Archive | August 7th, 2018

How Identity Politics Makes the Left Lose Its Collective Identity

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The identity politics phenomenon sweeping across the Western world is a divide and conquer strategy that prevents the emergence of a genuine resistance to the elites.

A core principle of socialism is the idea of an overarching supra-national solidarity that unites the international working class and overrides any factor that might divide it, such as nation, race, or gender. Workers of all nations are partners, having equal worth and responsibility in a struggle against those who profit from their brain and muscle.

Capitalism, especially in its most evolved, exploitative and heartless form – imperialism – has wronged certain groups of people more than others. Colonial empires tended to reserve their greatest brutality for subjugated peoples whilst the working class of these imperialist nations fared better in comparison, being closer to the crumbs that fell from the table of empire. The international class struggle aims to liberate all people everywhere from the drudgery of capitalism regardless of their past or present degree of oppression. The phrase ‘an injury to one is an injury to all’ encapsulates this mindset and conflicts with the idea of prioritising the interests of one faction of the working class over the entire collective.

Since the latter part of the 20th century, a liberally-inspired tendency has taken root amongst the Left (in the West at least) that encourages departure from a single identity based on class in favour of multiple identities based upon one’s gender, sexuality, race or any other dividing factor. Each subgroup, increasingly alienated from all others, focuses on the shared identity and unique experiences of its members and prioritises its own empowerment. Anyone outside this subgroup is demoted to the rank of ally, at best.

At the time of writing there are apparently over 70 different gender options in the West, not to mention numerous sexualities – the traditional LGBT acronym has thus far grown to LGBTQQIP2SAA. Adding race to the mix results in an even greater number of possible permutations or identities. Each subgroup has its own ideology. Precious time is spent fighting against those deemed less oppressed and telling them to ‘check their privilege’ as the ever-changing pecking order of the ‘Oppression Olympics’ plays out. The rules to this sport are as fluid as the identities taking part. One of the latest dilemmas affecting the identity politics movement is the issue of whether men transitioning to women deserve recognition and acceptance or ‘whether trans women aren’t women and are apparently “raping” lesbians’.

The ideology of identity politics asserts that the straight white male is at the apex of the privilege pyramid, responsible for the oppression of all other groups. His original sin condemns him to everlasting shame. While it is true that straight white men (as a group) have faced less obstacles than females, non-straight men or ethnic minorities, the majority of straight white men, past and present, also struggle to survive from paycheck to paycheck and are not personally involved in the oppression of any other group. While most of the world’s wealthiest individuals are Caucasian males, millions of white men exist who are both poor and powerless. The idea of ‘whiteness’ is itself an ambiguous concept involving racial profiling. For example, the Irish, Slavs and Ashkenazi Jews may look white yet have suffered more than their fair share of famines, occupations and genocides throughout the centuries. The idea of tying an individual’s privilege to their appearance is itself a form of racism dreamed up by woolly minded, liberal (some might say privileged) ‘intellectuals’ who would be superfluous in any socialist society.

Is the middle-class ethnic minority lesbian living in Western Europe more oppressed than the whitish looking Syrian residing under ISIS occupation? Is the British white working class male really more privileged than a middle class woman from the same society? Stereotyping based on race, gender or any other factor only leads to alienation and animosity. How can there be unity amongst the Left if we are only loyal to ourselves and those most like us? Some ‘white’ men who feel the Left has nothing to offer them have decided to play the identity politics game in their search of salvation and have drifted towards supporting Trump (a billionaire with whom they have nothing in common) or far-right movements, resulting in further alienation, animosity and powerlessness which in turn only strengthens the position of the top 1%. People around the world are more divided by class than any other factor.

It is much easier to ‘struggle’ against an equally or slightly less oppressed group than to take the time and effort to unite with them against the common enemy – capitalism. Fighting oppression through identity politics is at best a lazy, perverse and fetishistic form of the class struggle led by mostly liberal, middle class and tertiary-educated activists who understand little of left-wing political theory. At worst it is yet another tool used by the top 1% to divide the other 99% into 99 or 999 different competing groups who are too preoccupied with fighting their own little corner to challenge the status quo. It is ironic that one of the major donors to the faux-left identity politics movement is the privileged white cisgender male billionaire George Soros, whose NGOs helped orchestrate the Euromaidan protests in Ukraine that gave way to the emergence of far right and neo-nazi movements: the kind of people who believe in racial superiority and do not look kindly on diversity.

There is a carefully crafted misconception that identity politics derives from Marxist thought and the meaningless phrase ‘cultural Marxism’, which has more to do with liberal culture than Marxism, is used to sell this line of thinking. Not only does identity politics have nothing in common with Marxism, socialism or any other strand of traditional left-wing thought, it is anathema to the very concept.

An injury to one is an injury to all’ has been replaced with something like ‘An injury to me is all that matters’. No socialist country, whether in practice or in name only, promoted identity politics. Neither the African and Asian nations that liberated themselves from colonialist oppression nor the USSR and Eastern Bloc states nor the left-wing movements that sprung up across Latin America in the early 21st century had any time to play identity politics.

The idea that identity politics is part of traditional left-wing thought is promoted by the right who seek to demonise left wing-movements, liberals who seek to infiltrate, backstab and destroy said left-wing movements, and misguided young radicals who know nothing about political theory and have neither the patience nor discipline to learn. The last group seek a cheap thrill that makes them feel as if they have shaken the foundations of the establishment when in reality they strengthen it.

Identity politics is typically a modern middle-class led phenomenon that helps those in charge keep the masses divided and distracted. In the West you are free to choose any gender or sexuality, transition between these at whim, or perhaps create your own, but you are not allowed to question the foundations of capitalism or liberalism. Identity politics is the new opiate of the masses and prevents organised resistance against the system. Segments of the Western Left even believe such aforementioned ‘freedoms’ are a bellwether of progress and an indicator of its cultural superiority, one that warrants export abroad be it softly via NGOs or more bluntly through colour revolutions and regime change.

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‘No surprise if Moscow recalls ambassador’: Russia will lash out against new sanctions, say experts

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‘No surprise if Moscow recalls ambassador’: Russia will lash out against new sanctions, say experts
Washington’s latest sanctions have left no room for a constructive response from Moscow, analysts explain, but opinions differ widely on how much the measures will affect relations between the two countries.

All interviewed by RT railed against the framing of the sanctions, nominally prompted by the alleged use of chemical weapons against the Skripals in the UK back in March. Russia will be punished with a first set of measures from August 22, and is given 90 days to assure Washington that it will no longer deploy chemical weapons, and to open up its chemical production facilities to international inspectors.

One problem: Russia denies that it has used chemical weapons in the first place and says that it had already disposed of its stockpile in accordance with international treaties. So, to use the proverbial example, the US is asking Russia: “When will you finally stop beating your wife?”

READ MORE: Sanctioning Russia for false link to UK poisonings ‘unacceptable & unlawful’ – Kremlin

“Russia can’t admit what it hasn’t done. It’s as if the US is asking Russia, ‘Show us your Yeti’ and if you don’t we will punish you. There are literally no facilities to even show,” Vladimir Kornilov, a political analyst for RIA news agency, told RT.

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© Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

“The very way that the conditions of dropping the sanctions are posed by the US –we will abandon them if you confess your sins and repent– is so humiliating and unacceptable that any response will have to be very firm,” said Andrey Kortunov, Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council.

Leonid Polyakov, from the Higher School of Economics, says that Washington must be aware that the Kremlin would never agree to its conditions, so setting them in the first place is a cheap pretense at diplomacy.

“Historically, under the current leadership Russia can never do two things. It can never move from officially stated positions on certain international issues and incidents – for example, on Skripal. Russia is not going to turn around and say ‘Sorry, we actually did poison him,’”he told RT.

“And secondly, Vladimir Putin will never agree to any unilateral concessions. Any previous offers Moscow has made are always on a quid-pro-quo basis,” Polyakov pointed out, citing the recent offer by the Russian president to allow the questioning of its citizens involved in alleged election-meddling, but only in exchange for William Browder and others being interviewed by Moscow’s investigators.

US ‘showing who’s boss’ or playing to home audience?

All three experts agreed that not only will the sanctions be rejected, but they are unlikely to have any indirect effect on Russia’s international policies, or its economic outlook.

So, why implement them at all?

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© Regis Duvignau

Kortunov says this is an attempt to claw back international prestige, particularly in the wake of the US failure to impose its will in Syria, fraying relations with Europe and China, and Donald Trump’s perceived softness in negotiating with Putin in Helsinki last month.

“This is an attempt to make a statement from the US establishment – to show who is boss in international politics. Over the last two or three years the role of the US as the commander-in-chief of world affairs has been cast into doubt, and Russia has been chosen as the whipping boy as Washington tries to reassert control,” Kortunov said.

For Polyakov, this is all about “looking strong on Russia” ahead of October’s mid-term elections.

“The people putting these sanctions forward aren’t aware of the international consequences. First and foremost, they are driven by a desire to play to their domestic audience, particularly with the midterms coming up. Showing you are not beholden to Russia is a campaign move,” he said to RT.

The professor of political science adds that a lack of ideas over how to corral a feisty Russia is pushing American officials to press the sanctions button again and again.

“As the saying goes, when you don’t know what to do, do what you know. The international situation is such that no side can expect to back down without losses. Everyone knows that sanctions don’t work. But it is a simple tool, easy to understand, and one that has been widely used before by the US. It is almost a reflex reaction by now.”

Yet Kornilov believes that sanctions are not just a shield for a beleaguered establishment, but an offensive weapon.

“It is clear that if it wasn’t going to be the Skripals, it would be something else. Sanctions have become a tool in economic and trade wars, and no one is bothering to hide this,” he said.

Can things get worse?

Since hostility between Moscow and Washington is at a post-war high as it is, Polyakov believes it will be impractical for the two nuclear powers to escalate tensions still further, beyond the headlines.

“Any proposed downgrading of diplomatic relations will likely be more symbolic than practical, as there is constant contact between Moscow and Washington that doesn’t go through diplomatic channels, but directly between government departments, for example as in Syria,” he said, referring to the military hotline that has allowed the two countries to operate side-by-side during the ongoing conflict there.

Kortunov is less sanguine.

“I would not be surprised if the Russian ambassador from Washington is recalled as a counter-measure,” he says, adding that this could detonate all tentative plans between the two countries negotiated at the Helsinki summit.

But Vladimir Kornilov isn’t just worried about the State Department steps, but also about a proposed new legislative initiative that aims to stop Russian banks from operating with US clients, and plans to designate the country as a state sponsor of terrorism.

“This isn’t just about worsening relations, this is going to be tantamount to a breakdown of diplomatic relations between Moscow and Washington. This will be beyond the pale. I hope Americans come to their senses and step back from the brink,” said the analyst.

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Saudi Arabia and Its Western Allies Are Losing the War on Syria

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An Interview with Syria Times

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The Canadian Political analyst and research associate at Global Research Mark Taliano has stressed that Saudi Arabia and its Western allies are losing the war on Syria and that will impact ogeopolitical relations, referring to the fact that Canada is a partner with Wahhabi Saudi Arabia in the destruction of Syria. 

In an interview with the Syriatimes e-newspaper over the current rift between Ottawa and Riyadh, Taliano said:

“Both Canada, NATO, and their allies (including Saudi Arabia) support sectarian terrorists in Syria, including al Qaeda and ISIS, who seek to transform democratic, pluralist, secular Syria into an Islamic Caliphate.”

He added that the entire criminal regime change war and the unilateral criminal sanctions are a full frontal assault on Syria, on Syrian women, and on civilization itself.

“The human catastrophe that is the War on Syria is a direct result of the war waged by the West and its allies (including Saudi Arabia) on Syria. It is inhumanity personified.  So Canada has absolutely no moral supremacy at all.  All it has is concocted moral supremacy in matters such as these,” the Canadian analyst said, asserting the need to end Canada’s military hardware trafficking with Saudi Arabia.

Taliano, in addition, indicated that Saudi Arabia’s human rights record is surely abysmal, as is its treatment of women, but this is precisely what Canada supports.

“Saudi Arabia, with NATO assistance (command and control) is waging war against Yemen, and again, they are using al Qaeda proxies and deadly sanctions and all the inhuman weapons of war. This is necessarily affecting geopolitical relations.  Hopefully we are shifting to a multi-polar world orientation in which Saudi Arabia will lose some of its influence,” he said.

The Canadian analyst indicated that Saudi Arabia would likely prefer that Canada not expose Saudi Arabia’s horrible human rights record.

“Saudi Arabia and Canada should cease their terrorist-supporting partnership. Both Saudi Arabia and Canada should face trials at The Hague for the Supreme International War Crimes that they have committed against Syria.  Saudi Arabia at least should also face trials for Supreme International War Crimes Against Yemen,” he said.

Taliano advised Saudi Arabia and Canada to consult Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, separately, or together, as soon as Syria wins the war and the war crimes trials are over, if they want to learn about human rights and democracy.

“Moving forward, I’m sure President Assad could also teach these two countries about international law as well,” he added.

Canada’s Perception Managers 

Asked about Saudi Arabian regime’s response to Canada’s criticism of the jailing of rights activists in Riyadh, Taliano replied:

“Saudi Arabia’s position is not logical. Surely they must have known that Canada’s Perception Managers would exploit this issue… The Canadian government will leverage this case, and is already leveraging this case, to present the perception that Canada is interested in human rights, including women’s rights, abroad. Canada may have fabricated the rift in the first place, with a view to improving its public imagine. “Perception managers” will have a field day.  But, as per usual, the fabricated public perceptions will be entirely false.

He explained to us the effects of steps being adopted by the Saudi regime at diplomatic and educational levels on Canada by saying:

“Reuters describes the “bilateral trade relationship” between the Kingdom and Canada as “modest”, but Canada’s trafficking of military hardware may also be impacted. If the military hardware trafficking between the Kingdom and Canada were to end, that would be a very positive outcome. Trafficking in military hardware for profit should be illegal.”

“On the other hand, Saudi Arabian students may lose educational opportunities in Canada as a result of sanctions, so that would be a negative outcome. At the diplomatic level, if this rift were to push Canada in the direction of aligning itself with more civilized partners such as Syria, that would be a wonderful outcome.  Syria has much to teach Canada about human rights, freedom, and democracy,” he affirmed.

Taliano concluded by saying:

“I would think that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will try to enlist other countries to mediate the dispute.  That appears to be his intention.”

The Canadian political analyst, who was in Syria in in April, 2018, at the same time that the U.S, France, and U.K bombed Syria with their cruise missiles following the Ghouta false flag, published one year ago a book entitled ‘Voices from Syria’ after he came to Syria in September 2016 as he sensed that the official narrative being fed to North Americans across TV screens, in newsprint and on internet were false.

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Silence on US Political Meddling Abroad

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Among the most fascinating aspects of the brouhaha over supposed Russian meddling in America’s electoral system is the total silence in the U.S. mainstream press about U.S. meddling in the political affairs of other countries.

Consider the mass outrage and indignation among the mainstream press that Russia would actually want to help a U.S. presidential candidate who favors normalizing relations with Russia over a candidate that was determined to do the opposite.

Why not the same outrage against the U.S. national-security establishment for helping its favorite people come to office in foreign countries?

By their silence regarding U.S. meddling in foreign countries, one could easily draw the conclusion that the U.S. mainstream press is saying the following: It’s wrong for Russia to meddle in the U.S. electoral system but it’s okay for the U.S. national-security establishment (i.e., the military, CIA, and NSA) to meddle in the electoral affairs of foreign countries.

But if that’s their position — and it certainly seems like that is their position based on their silence — then why don’t they explain it? Why is it considered okay for the U.S. national-security establishment to meddle but not okay for the Russian national-security establishment to meddle?

Or to put it another way, if it’s wrong in principle to meddle, then why is the U.S. government doing it, and why isn’t the U.S. mainstream press condemning both U.S. meddling and Russia meddling?

After all, even if Russian officials actually did do what they are accused of doing, it actually pales in comparison to what U.S. officials do when they meddle in foreign countries. After all, what’s a few Facebook ads and hacking into email accounts compared to murder, kidnapping, bribery, sanctions, embargoes, and coups?

In the 1970s, the U.S. government meddled in the Chilean presidential election, with bribery, kidnapping, murder, and a coup. Trying to prevent the democratically elected president, Salvador Allende, from taking office, the CIA attempted to bribe Chilean congressmen from confirming Allende as president.

But that was nothing compared to what happened after that. The CIA conspired to kidnap the commanding general of the Chilean armed forces. The reason? Gen. Rene Schneider refused to go along with the military coup that U.S. officials were demanding. Schneider was actually shot dead during the kidnapping attempt.

How’s that compared to some Facebook ads and email hacking?

Whether you call the kidnapping/murder of Rene Schneider “collusion” or “conspiracy,” there is no doubt that the plot originated in Washington and Virginia. There is no statue of limitations when it comes to felony-murder and conspiracy to commit felony-murder. Why not call for an official investigation to determine whether anyone involved in that collusion/conspiracy is still alive and should be brought to justice? Why the silence on the Schneider kidnapping/murder?

Once U.S. national-security state officials removed Schneider as an obstacle, that paved the way for the U.S. military coup, which brought U.S.-favored Gen. Augusto Pinochet to power, along with the rapes, torture, abuse, incarceration, disappearances, or executions of tens of thousands of innocent people, including two Americans, Charles Horman and Frank Teruggi. Why not criminally prosecute anyone who is still alive and who was involved in the collusion/conspiracy?

For that matter, let’s not forget the U.S. national-security establishment’s intentional destruction of the democratic systems in Guatemala and Iran in the 1950s.

For those who say that all that is ancient history, how about the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, the one based on bogus fears of WMDs by U.S. officials? Or the U.S. regime-change operations in Libya, Syria, and Afghanistan, which  have left countless dead and the entire countries devastated? It’s hard to get better examples of meddling in the political affairs of other countries than those. Or how about the U.S. national-security establishment’s anti-democratic coup in Ukraine, which, along with NATO expansion into Eastern Europe, is the root of the Ukraine-Russia-U.S. crisis? Why aren’t those U.S. meddlers being charged with criminal meddling and conspiracy to criminally meddle?

For that matter, how about the decades-old U.S. embargo against Cuba, whose aim has always been regime change. The same, of course, applies to the US. sanctions against Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and, of course, Russia. Why not investigate and prosecute those meddlers?

The U.S. media helps to remind us of an old principle: When one points his finger at someone in an accusatory way, oftentimes there are three fingers pointing back at the accuser and his silence.

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New US Sanctions on Iran – and Their Impact

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Transcript (slightly expanded) of a PressTV Skype Interview

 

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PressTV – referring to the New Sanctions regime imposed by the US, as of 7 August 2018.

PressTV: How do you see this?

Peter Koenig: Thank you. First of all  – this is just another flagrant violation of international law, even of US law, after having ratified the Nuclear Deal. Any interference in another country’s economic affairs, including in a country’s trade sovereignty, is in derogation of international law, That’s precisely what Trump under the leadership of those who command him is doing. For example, Netanyahu, is largely calling the shots in Washington.

The idea is weakening Iran to the point – that a war would be easier. Although, I really do not believe that the US is daring to go to war with Iran. They know too well what’s at stake – with Russia and China firmly behind Iran.

They may send Israel as a forerunner to attack Iran – and wait for Iran’s reaction. But even that, I believe will be a losing proposition. The empire knows it’s on a descending course. This is fearmongering and warmongering, which will allow the war industrial complex to increase its profits as a last-ditch effort.

But Iran – in fact has nothing to fear if she plays her cards according to what she knows is best: Applying the principles of resistance economy, meaning foremost delinking from the dollar economy and becoming quickly food self-sufficient, with increased trading with the East, i.e. the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) countries.

PressTV: What are Iranian options to counter this?

PK: Well, as indicated before, Iran should gradually but ever so fast detach from the dollar economy. As a matter of fact, one of the sanctions prohibits Iran from dealing in dollars. All the better. Iran has other resources, or it must now look for other resources, like the Yuan and the Ruble – and other SCO currencies – and definitely do whatever is needed to hasten the pace towards full integration into the eastern economy. – And, realize her plan of creating her own crypto-currency, similar to Venezuela’s Petro, based on and backed by Iran’s immense reserves of hydrocarbon.

Let’s not forget, and I have said this many times before – the future is in the East.

Always remember what president Putin has come to tell The Ayatollah last November, namely that sanctions were the best thing that ever happened to Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union – it forced Russia to rebuild their economy towards self-sufficiency, especially agriculture – where in the 90s everything was imported from the EU. Now Russia is fully food self-sufficient, actually Russia has become the world’s largest exporter of wheat – by far, for the last two years, and this year also promises to be a record year.

Similarly, with renewing Russia’s industrial park. Russia today has a cutting-edge technology industry, and can compete everywhere in the world. Russia is immune to sanctions.

Iran can do the same. Mr. Rouhani a few weeks ago said something to this effect, namely that the course of moving away from the west – meaning also the EU / Europe – and the Euro – may hurt at the beginning for a short while, but once that hurdle is overcome, they will be independent, gained new political and economic sovereignty. – And that’s the way to go.

However, Iran has a strong Fifth Column which will not shy away from starting internal protests and upheavals, against the government. These are people trained by the US / CIA, NATO to do exactly that – bringing an internal conflict about – that the US and its vassals hope will eventually lead to Regime Change, forced from within.

This, I believe is the biggest challenge, confronting and combatting the Iranian Fifth Column.

Mind you Fifth Column are everywhere. They are also in Russia, China, Venezuela, North Korea…

His is the means the empire uses.
Fifth Columnists were largely responsible for the Araba Spring and for what was eventually called the ‘civil war’ (sic) in Syria.

PressTV: How will EU, Russia and China hold up to their side of the deal?

PKSurely Russia and China will stand up for Iran. They are true allies.

I would not trust Brussels, i.e. the EU – not for an inch.

They say now they will stand up to the Nuclear Deal, respect it. But when it comes down to it, they will abandon it all the same.

I think their saying so now, is maybe just a ruse to incite Iran to trust them and to continue doing business with them. But you know, doing business with the EU, meaning with euro as trading currency, is the same as doing business in dollars. The euro is but a foster child of the US dollar, and therefore Iran would still be bound and linked to the US dollar hegemony. – And, worst, would continue being vulnerable to US sanctions.

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North Korea and The Washington Trap

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North Korea claims that it has shown, by concrete actions, its sincere desire to get rid of nuclear bombs and related facilities. But, the U.S. has done little in return; it is even adding sanctions against Pyongyang. Where does the Singapore Agreement go? It could go on  a long bumpy road. 

More than a month and half have passed since the historical Kim-Trump summit in Singapore. But in the eyes of many of the Washington elite group, the South Korean conservative politicians, the corporate media and some of the Korea experts of corporate funded think – tank establishments, the Singapore summit is a failure.

They claim that Trump has given too much to Kim Jong-un by treating him as equal and cancelling the U.S.-ROK joint military exercises. On the other hand, North Korea has dismantled the nuclear test facilities in Punggye-ri even before the Singapore summit; it has dismantled the ICBM assembly facilities near Pyongyang; there are also signs that missile launch site at Tongchong-ri are being removed.

Moreover, Kim Jong-un returned, on the 30th of July, to the U.S. fifty-five remains of UN soldiers – mainly US GIs- who died in North Korea during the Korean War.

Pyongyang thinks that it has done enough to deserve some concrete signs of Washington’s actions such as the declaration of the “End of the Korean War”. This is not a legal commitment. But, it is a precondition for a peace treaty. 

Unfortunately, it appears that the possible participation of China at the declaration is an important factor of delaying Washington’s final decision. Both Koreas hope that it will happen, at latest, during the coming UN general assembly.

I believe that North Korea really wishes to get rid of its nuclear weapons, if conditions are met. What Kim Jong-un wants after the launching of Hwasung-15 late last year is to make his country to become a “normal country” and let his people enjoy prosperity and live in peace. In fact, he has officially abandoned the “Byung-jin” strategy, that is, he is no longer interested in pursuing nuclear program so that he can focus on the economic development.

By contrast, Trump’s behaviour and his rhetoric since his handshake with Kim in Singapore make us to wonder if he really intends to respect the agreement.

Nevertheless, let us assume that he is really sincere in implementing the content and the spirit of the Singapore agreement. 

But, the real question is this: “Can he do it?” “Can he actually keep his promise to secure Kim’s regime, the security and the prosperity for the North Korean people, in exchange of CVID (Complete Verifiable Irreversible Denuclearization) carried out by Pyongyang?”

It seems that it is almost impossible for Trump to keep his promise, unless he is free from the “Washington Trap”.

President Donald J. Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sign a joint statement | June 12, 2018 (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

By Washington Trap, I mean Washington’s anti-North Korea policy frame which is so deeply rooted in the minds of the majority of Americans that no US president can propose and apply policies favourable to Pyongyang. Trump is no exception; he is caught in the trap. Even he wants it, he may not be able to make significant concessions to Kim Jong-un without being free from the trap.

The purpose of the trap is to make North Korea the most undesirable entity in the word deserving to be destroyed. In fact, Trump along with John Bolton, National Security advisor, declared that North Korea deserves to be annihilated. To justify such drastic measure, Americans are made to dislike and mistrust North Korea. To achieve this, mainstream media and corporate funded research establishments are mobilized.

The trap is constructed in a very offensive logical sequence. 

First, North Korea is presented as threatening the U.S., South Korea and Japan. In other words, North Korea is dangerous.

During the global cold war era, North Korea was a part of the communist block and, as such, it could be considered as threatening to South Korea. But after the collapse of the Soviet block, North Korea neither had the intention of threatening South Korea nor had the capacity to do so.

North Korea has never threatened the U.S., nor had it the capacity to do so. North Korea was saying all along that if, and only, if the U.S. attacks it first, it will respond with nuclear arms.

In other words, since the 1990s, North Korea has never been a threat either to South Korea or the U.S. 

However, the South Korean conservative and American media have been highlighting the danger of North Korean threat so long and so hard that it is now accepted as a truth. It is especially so among conservatives in South Korea. The most conservative South Korean media which have faithfully devoted to the creation of such dreadful image of North Korea are the three largest daily papers: ChoselIlbo, Joong-Ang-Ilbo and Dong-Ah-Ilbo, called the Cho-Joong-Dong. 

Second, North Korea is labelled as delinquent state. North Korea has been made a “evil monster”. North Korea is given an overall label of “tyranny”, “rogue state”, “part of axis of evil”, and “corrupted”. These labels have been so often repeated in the media that Americans believe what they have read and heard.

It is true that these terrible images of North Korea and its people have been somewhat changed in positive way owing to the North-South Summit of April 27 and the Trump-Kim summit of June 12, but it is not easy to erase the image which has been deeply planted in the minds of many.

The third weapon in the tool bag of anti-North Korea propaganda is non-trustworthiness of Pyongyang.

There are politicians, government officials, media people and think -tank experts who have been saying that North Korea cannot be trusted.

At the end of 2017, that is, more than twenty years after the signing of Framework Agreement of 1994, the CNN stated: 

“The Clinton administration signed the Framework Agreement. But North Korea has violated the Agreement even before the ink dried“.(Juliette Morillot) and Dorian Malovic. Le monde selon Kim Jong-un: Guerre ou Paix-The Kim Jong-un’s World: War or Peace. Éditions, Robert Laffond, 2018).

Anthony Ruggiero, a proliferation expert who participated in the negotiations of 1994 observed:

“Pyongyang has violated the Agreement of 1994. One cannot trust   North Korea. No dialogue can resolve the problem. One must intensify the sanction against North Korea.”

Former CIA agent Bruce Klinger and Christopher Hill, former ambassador to South Korea who participated in the negotiation in 2007 and 2008 said that North Korea was a rogue country

President George W. Bush qualified North Korea as a part of the “axis of evil”.

The suspicion about the honesty of North Korea went even further. The U.S. accused Pyongyang for having violated the 1994 agreement for the activities which had nothing to do with the agreement.

For instance, in 1988, North Korea launched a satellite flying over Japan. This was interpreted as if it were violation of the agreement. The fact was that it had nothing to do with the agreement.

But, there are many witnesses who say otherwise. The IAEA confirmed in 1994 that North Korea stopped the production of plutonium. In 1988, the State Department of the George W. Bush government confirmed that there was no violation of the agreement. Colin Powell, former Secretary of State of the Bush government said that the 1994 agreement was solid..

In fact, in accordance with the Framework Agreement, Pyongyang stopped all the activities of the Yongbyon reactors as well as the construction of two reactors capable of producing many nuclear bombs.

Despite North Korea’s honest efforts to respect the agreement, the U.S. did not take any actions to implement the agreement. North Korea complained about the delay of the U.S. and its allies in taking any concrete actions. 

In fact, they failed to provide the funds to KEDO (Korea Energy Development Organization), a consortium of the U.S., South Korea and Japan. These funds were needed for the construction of the two Light-Water reactors promised in the agreement. The U.S. failed to provide the 500,000 tons of fuels promised in the agreement..

Who has violated the 1994 Agreement? It was not North Korea; it was the U.S. and its allies. Having realized that the agreement was of no use, North Korea begun to seek for military options

The behaviour of the U.S. after the 1994 agreement makes us to ask this question: What was the true intention of its North Korea policy? The denuclearization does not seem to be Washington’s true intention, because, if the agreement was implemented, North Korea would not have been possible to produce the nuclear bombs. In 1994, North Korea had no finished nuclear bombs.

Washington’s true objective of its North Korea policy could be something other than the denuclearization; it could be the regime change even through the use of military force. 

In fact, it is reported that President Bill Clinton, in the 1990s, tried to use force to destroy North Korea, but owing to the intervention of President Jimmy Carter, the war was avoided. 

Trump himself has mentioned often of military actions and, in fact, if the conservative government of Park Geun-hye were still in the Blue House (Korean White House) in 2017, the military attack against North Korea could have happened.

It is obvious that if the war breaks out against North Korea, hundreds of thousand Koreans and perhaps one hundred thousand Americans in South Korea and Japan could be killed. It could be the beginning of the third world war. But, some of American leaders did not seem to be much concerned. 

For instance, Senator of South Carolina, Lindsey Graham would have said that the war “will be terrible. But the war will take place in Korea. It will be bad for Japan, South Korea and even worse for North Korea. But the war will not touch America.” (Morillot-Malovic. Le monde selon Kim Jong-un: Guerre ou Paix, 2018)

I just cannot believe that such view can be made by a US senator.

It appears that, for the time being, Trump does not planning a war against North Korea. But, he has repeated saying that, unless North Korea carries out the CVID, the US would keep all options including the military one. 

The sanctions have become, over the years, more and more wide -ranged, more intensified and more efficient. They could have caused the collapse of the Juche regime, if North Korean people had not developed underground networks of trade and financial transaction. The courage, the patience, the imagination and the creativity of North Korean people were surely one of the factors of their survival under these terrible sanctions.

The joint U.S.-ROK joint military exercises have begun right after the Korean War. Over the years, they have become larger in size and more threatening in effects. This trend has been much more visible since 2008 when two of the most ardent anti-North Korea politicians, Shinzo Abe in Japan and Lee Myong-buk in South Korea took power.

These two politicians are the most conservative politicians in the region. And they have more than fully exploited the nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula for their political and other personal interests.

What emerges from the above observations is clear; Washington’s North Korea policy is an integral part of the American imperialistic world domination. On this point, Stephen Lendman made an interesting analysis.

“Washington wants pro-western puppet regimes replacing all sovereign independent government. North Korea is very much included. Peace and stability on the Korean peninsula depends on its subservience to Washington interests”. (Trump Regime Remains Adversarial toward North Korea, Global Research, July 9, 2018)

To sum up, the American North Korea policy has had a logical frame in which North Korea is a threat to the U.S and South Korea; it is a rogue state; it cannot be trusted; a dialogue is not the best way to treat it. The only way to treat it is to change the regime either through a war or internal upheaval. Since the war is too expensive, the internal upheaval is the solution.

The Washington Trap is built by the military/security oligarchy in Washington in complicity with the conservatives in South Korea and Japan. It is marketed by media and conservative intellectuals. This trap is so well built and well presented that the American general public seems to accept it without knowing what is at stake. The American general public is simply cheated by the Washington elite and corporate media.

Stephen Lendman (The Russian US Election Meddling is Lie, Global Research July 10, 2018) made an interesting observation.

“Americans are easy to be fooled. No matter how many times they were deceived before, they are easily manipulated to believe most anything drummed into their mind by the power of repetitive propaganda- fed them through the major media megaphone- in lock step with official falsified narration.”

More than five weeks have passed since the Singapore Summit and Trump is facing a difficult challenge. He says that he is eager to speed up the CVID which are his concrete actions to show his good intention of fulfilling the Singapore agreement. But he has done little, so far.

By contrast, Pyongyang has done several things to show its sincere desire to keep the promise. As we saw above, its latest gesture was the transferring the remains of soldiers fallen in North Korea during the Korean War.

We are asking why Trump is not giving something in return. He is in dilemma; he is caught in the Washington Trap. If he gives too much in the eyes of Americans, he may have to find himself in a situation where the anti-Trump wind can blow even harder. 

If he does not give something corresponding to North Korea’s expectation, the process of CVID will be delayed or even stopped.

What can Trump do about it? What are the options available for him? 

There seem to be only one option. It is to be free from the Washington Trap by destroying all, or at least, some of the fabricated negative images of North Korea. This requires such measure as cultural, and sports exchanges; exchanges of academics and research establishment could be useful. 

If this is done, then, Trump could provide what Kim Jong-un wants in function of the progress of the denuclearization of North Korea.

If Trump fails to free himself from the trap, whatever he does to solve the North Korean problem, he will have to face the roadblock set by the conservative military/security group, mainstream media and, especially the general public. 

Thus Trump has a very narrow margin of actions in making concessions to Kim Jong-un. In this situation, the CVID will not be done or at best partially done. In such case, he will have to fact the political guillotine.

However, there could be one way out. It is the matter of convincing the hardliner and the general public in the U.S. that, even if North Korea is a rogue nation and has all the negative traits, it can be made pro-U.S. and an interesting tool for China containment policy. 

To do this, Trump has to tell those who are in the trap that North Korea is a docile vassal of Washington. 

North Korea will never accept this

Nevertheless, he must do something in response to Pyongyang’s gesture of denuclearization. Given the domestic situation, Trump may try to gain time; he asks Pyongyang to produce the list of all nuclear products.

Pyongyang may produce a list of nuclear arsenal and nuclear facilities, The trouble is this; it is more than probable that Washington would not accept it; it would say that there should be more hidden nuclear bombs and facilities. This is the inevitable outcome of fabricated mistrust of American about North Korea.

The Korea Times (August 3) quotes a Washington Post article which said:” North Korean officials have talked about how they plan to deceive the U.S. about the size of their arsenal of nuclear warheads and facilities.”

It is hard to believe that North Korea officials could be so stupid to publicize such plan; this episode shows how deep the mistrust about North Korea is rooted in the U.S.

The whole process of denuclearization could stop because of mistrust; the tension on the Korean peninsula will persist; this will make the military/security oligarchy in Washington and the South Korean conservatives happy. 

Trump will say that he has done his best; it is the fault of Pyongyang if the Singapore summit fails.

But, the world would not buy this; the U.S. will be more isolated and lose the authority of being the global super power. 

The Pax Americana will lose its true meaning.

Posted in USA, North KoreaComments Off on North Korea and The Washington Trap

Venezuela’s Monetary Revolution Vis-à-vis Economic Sanctions

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Monetary revolution in Venezuela

Venezuela has undergone many challenges in the last twenty years since Hugo Chavez was elected president and continued after his death in 2013. The main reason is that Venezuela has taken seriously the internationally recognized right to be sovereign and establish its own social model. Violence has never been part of the model. However, violence has been the reaction of those who do not want to change the status quo despite people’s majority democratic electoral choice.

The new social model chosen by Venezuela has been widely called the Bolivarian Revolution. It is a revolution that is still under construction. In fact, having defused the rampant rightwing violence, and with Nicolas Maduro as the reelected president last May 20, Venezuela continues building an unequivocal socialist anti-imperialist society by strengthening its Bolivarian Revolution. It is succeeding socially and politically by retaining a large popular support while it is struggling economically because of foreign induced hyperinflation, crippling sanctions and financial U.S. blockade.

Last July 25 President Maduro announced a series of economic measures that many were expecting following the creation on the crypto currency, the Petro, last March. [1] The most relevant announcement was that on August 20 Venezuela will put in circulation a new currency, the Sovereign Bolivar (Bolivar Soberano, BsS), that will reduce by five zeros the current value of the Strong Bolivar (Bolivar Fuerte, BsF). The referential value of the BsS will be linked to the Petro, whose value is pegged to the price of a barrel of oil. To give substance to this action, the state oil company PDVSA – with the largest oil reserves in the world – will transfer a large oil field in the Orinoco Belt, with almost 30,000 million barrels of oil, to the Venezuelan Central Bank.

Undoubtedly, this sent shockwaves to the world monetary and financial system in what may be dubbed a “monetary revolution” that signals the beginning of a possible trend to drop the U.S. dollar as a reference and the expansion of the use of crypto currencies. Iran has already suggested it might take a similar path. Also, Russia and China are already building their gold reserves to back up their currency and they may welcome Venezuela’s move since they have economic interests in Venezuelan oil.

It is still too soon to understand the full implications of this monetary revolution, also considering that we do not know the details of the monetary conversion. We do know its stated intentions, which are to stabilize the currency, stop capital flight, increase production and encourage international investment all leading to economic recovery. We also know that there was a pre-emptive reaction last March when the U.S. announced sanctions to forbid U.S. citizens and business from doing any transactions in Petros. [2]

But the difficulty of predicting any real impact on the Venezuelan economy is also due to a great extent to the level of trust from Venezuelans. Maduro was quite aware of this when he said:

“I ask for your confidence, I ask for your support, beyond ideologies and political positions, because Venezuela needs this change.” [1]

Surely, we do know the political reasons why “Venezuela needs this change.’ In a sentence, the U.S. is using all its power to produce another type of change in Venezuela – a regime change – in order to have imperial control over it by creating economic havoc.

U.S. financial system and economic sanctions

Military threats as the ones already used against Venezuela under the pretext of alleged humanitarian crisis can be quite a strong disincentive on the economy, however, even with its military might U.S. imperialism could not survive or spread without the financial system that keeps track of the global capital.

If the military industrial complex, armies and banking institutions can be seen as the hardware of the U.S. imperial machine, the U.S.-based financial system is the software that operates the day-to-day operations of policing trade, competitors and governments to ensure the generation and protection of wealth for the empire through financial monopoly.

The policing of all financial transactions by the U.S. was facilitated when the gold standard was dropped by the Nixon administration and the dollar became the new monetary standard. But we need to keep in mind that the dollar also has a psychological value based on the trust people put on it. We could say that it is largely a paper “crypto” currency, whose value is manipulated by the U.S. financial system and enforced by the military power.

In fact, part of the policing process is punishing all those deemed to challenge any aspect of U.S. power. And that’s when sanctions and financial blockade come into the picture. The U.S. has used sanctions and financial blockade regularly as instruments of intervention. 

A recent report titled “To whom and why does the United States impose sanctions?” about some of the countries affected by this perverse strategy states, “Beyond the rhetoric that justifies it in the name of “democracy”, sanctions are an instrument of war, designed to make people suffer in order to bend sovereign States.” [3]

The same report further states,

“In Latin America, during the post-war period, economic sanctions have been an instrument of intervention and interference, used to ‘punish’, extort and destabilize governments that posed some kind of obstacle to the expansion of U.S. interests.” [3]

To those who believe that this is an exaggeration we remind them of former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright reaction to the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children as a result of sanctions: “We think the price was worth it.” And paraphrasing Canadian author Stephen Gowans, “sanctions overall have killed more people than the nuclear bombs used by the U.S.” [4]

Another report, drafted by the People’s Power Ministry for Foreign Relations of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, titled “Sanctions and blockade: Aggression To The Bolivarian Republic Of Venezuela” refers more specifically to that country. The report presents “arguments and facts that demonstrate the existence – since 2014 – of a hostile and aggressive policy undertaken by the United States of North America towards Venezuela. This policy is expressed with particular intensity in the adoption of unilateral and coercive measures (sanctions) aiming at affecting the economic and political stability of Venezuelan democracy, within a framework that looks to achieve the overthrowing of the constitutional government.” [5]

Concluding remarks

At the time of writing a failed attempt on the life of president Nicolas Maduro was carried out on August 4 while he was delivering a speech to a gathering of the Bolivarian National Guard. Preliminary official information reports that the security forces immediately began the investigations and that several of the material authors of the attack have been captured together with part of the evidence of the attack. The effective initial investigation made it absolutely clear that this is a conspiracy against the life of the President employing an act qualified as terrorism.

The Government of Venezuela is convinced that this attack desperately sought to stop the implementation of the new measures for economic recovery announced by the Maduro administration and that are to be launched on August 20. These measures are meant to be effective responses to the country’s crisis that will bring stability, prosperity to all citizens and hopefully peace.

The Maduro government is doing everything possible to tackle the foreign induced economic crisis by announcing what can be called a “monetary revolution” with a new currency linked to a crypto currency pegged to the price of oil, while at the same time preserving its on-going revolution, the socialist Bolivarian Revolution.

We do not know what the ultimate impact will be on the economy because there are too many factors involved. Some observers are skeptical about a positive impact and even call on the government to implement other economic measures that might include a compromise of its socialist principles. Others consider any compromise as a myopic approach – no matter what the short-term intentions might be – that will play in the interests of the U.S.

We should not doubt for a moment that any attempt to liberalize the Venezuelan economy under the banner of Bolivarian Revolution will not be allowed to succeed, as more liberal policies are not allowed to succeed in Nicaragua under the banner of Sandinismo. The U.S. will never give up its goal of regime change. The almost 60-year-old blockade of Cuba is another point in case despite the recent cautious introduction of “market economy” elements in the country.

Disillusioned Venezuelans and the international community of experts, analysts, observers and activists – indeed all who care about a sovereign Venezuela and a more just world community – should turn their gaze on, and reject, the real intentions of the U.S. as the world power, and vociferously call on other nations to a more radical rebellion of the oppressed. The rapid success of this rebellion lies on the strength of unity and solidarity.

We do know the devastating impact of economic sanctions on the population, and stopping the human suffering needs to be the focus of our attention.

It is encouraging to see that a new campaign is taking shape “to end U.S. and Canada sanctions against Venezuela.” [6] An initial subscription to the campaign gathered dozens of signatures from the U.S. and Canada. 

This is precisely what Venezuela needs from the international community.

*

Notes

[1] https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/13967

[2] https://venezuelanalysis.com/News/13723

[3] Download full report from https://chicagoalbasolidarity.files.wordpress.com/2018/07/venezuela-reporte-5julio_ingles.pdf 

[4] http://peoplesvoice.ca/2018/06/25/peoples-voice-25th-anniversary-food-for-the-body-and-food-for-thought/ 

[5] Download full report from https://chicagoalbasolidarity.files.wordpress.com/2018/06/doc_sanctions_ver_-7_jun_-ingles.pdf 

[6] https://afgj.org/campaign-to-end-us-and-canada-sanctions-against-venezuela. For more information on the campaign, e-mail: EndVenezuelaSanctions@gmail.com

Posted in VenezuelaComments Off on Venezuela’s Monetary Revolution Vis-à-vis Economic Sanctions

Palestine: Jewish Nazi Settlers Destroy 2,000+Trees and Vines

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Settlers Destroy 2,000+ Palestinian-owned Trees and Vines, Backed by Israeli Authorities

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In just over two months, from the beginning of May to 7 July 2018, B’Tselem documented 10 instances in which settlers destroyed a total of more than 2,000 trees and grapevines and burned down a barley field and bales of hay. In some places, the settlers left behind them graffiti slogans in Hebrew, reading “No to farmer terrorism” and “”There’s not place we won’t reach”. Some of the farmers had already suffered settler violence in recent years. 

While this high incidence of the assaults is unusual, the phenomenon itself has long since become routine in the West Bank. Settler violence and vandalism takes place with full backing by the Israeli authorities. Sometimes soldiers take part in the assault; at other times, they stand idly by. The police makes no substantial effort to investigate the incidents, nor takes measures to prevent them or stop them in real time.

Israel benefits from the repercussions, as settler violence has gradually dispossessed Palestinians of more and more areas in the West Bank, paving the way for a state takeover of land and resources. This occurs because Palestinians avoid entering areas in which they have been attacked, usually close to settlements. As a result, extensive Palestinian farmland near settlements has been vandalized and neglected to such an extent that it yields poor crops, making it not worthwhile for the owners to risk their safety to get there. This process has essentially erected invisible walls throughout the West Bank, which Palestinians know crossing will expose them to violence and even danger to their lives.

Some of the testimonies given to B’Tselem field researchers from the landowners whose property was vandalized follow.

Hebron area

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Vines whose trunks were sawed off in the abu rajab brothers’ vineyard in the south hebron hills. Photo by Muhammad Abu Rajab, 27

South Hebron Hills, 26 May 2018, approx. 700 grapevines cut down: 

Muhammad Abu Rajab, 63, a resident of Hebron, is married and has three children. Along with his three siblings, he owns two vineyards with a total of about 700 grapevines in the area of al-Ballutah, south of the town of Yatta. In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Musa Abu Hashhash on 27 May 2018, he related how he discovered the vines had been cut down:

We jointly own about 700 grapevines in two vineyards that we planted some seven years ago. Last year they yielded seven tons of grapes, which earned us about 100,000 shekels (USD 27,224) altogether. This year we were supposed to harvest double that. My brothers and I tended the land and cultivated it over the years. We plowed it and planted the vines. We were very happy. We go to the vineyards almost every day to tend to the vines, and that’s how we make a living.

On Thursday, 24 May 2018, I sprayed the vines and everything was normal. The next day I didn’t go because of Ramadan Friday prayers. On Saturday, the neighbors called me and said something looked off about the vines, and that they thought something had happened to them. I went to the land and was shocked at the sight. All the vines in both vineyards had been chopped down. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I thought, who could have done such a thing to the vines, which never harmed a soul? In a shed between the two vineyards, where we rest sometimes, I saw Hebrew graffiti sprayed on the floor. Later, someone told me they said “No to farmer terrorism” and “We’ll get you everywhere”. From the state of the vines, it looked like they’d been cut down with a power saw. Sawing off 700 vines takes a lot of time, and it’s an area where police cars and army patrols pass by once in a while. I guess the settlers weren’t afraid of them at all.

After I came to my senses, I called my brothers and told them what had happened. They immediately called the Palestinian DCO and came to the land. The DCO called the Israel Police, and police officers and forensic experts arrived. They took my testimony and I noticed that they found a mobile phone. Maybe it belonged to one of the offenders.

The losses we incurred from the damage to the vines can’t be measured in numbers. We invested seven years of work in those vineyards. Every grapevine cost us hundreds of shekels, in my estimation, by the time it grew and bore fruit. It’s also impossible to quantify the hours we put in and how tiring the work was. We cared for those vines like we care for our own children, and it all went down the drain in one moment. Now we’ll have to uproot the remaining trunks, which will be very costly, and plant new seedlings – although we have no guarantee they’ll be safe now.

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‘Issa Idris next to a severed vine in his vineyard in Hebron. Photo by Manal Al-ja’bri, B’tselem, 18 June 2018

Hebron, 25 June 2018, 82 grapevines cut down: 

‘Issa Idris, 60, a resident of the Jaber neighborhood in Hebron, is married and has seven children. The family owns a third of a hectare in the area of Khalet a-Natsheh, which Idris cultivates with his brothers and sisters. The settlement of Qiryat Arba was established north of the plot. In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Musa Abu Hashhash on 28 June 2018, Idris described the damage incurred by the destruction of 82 grapevines on the family land:

I’ve been growing grapes with my brothers and sisters on our family land for 35 years. Last Monday, 25 June 2018, my cousin called me and told me the vines in our vineyard had been cut down. I couldn’t go there immediately because I was at work. My siblings were also at work and couldn’t make it. I got to the land only around seven in the evening. I counted 82 vines that had been chopped down. From the look of them, they were cut with a power saw. The vineyard is about twenty meters off Route 60, where soldiers patrol all the time. There are also cameras nearby belonging to Qiryat Arba, and they cover the area of the vineyard.

We lost our entire crop for the year. That’s tens of thousands of shekels lost. But it’s more than that – it’s years upon years of tending the trees and caring for them down the drain. Now we’ll have to invest money in uprooting the trunks, preparing the soil and replanting the vines. But I don’t know, maybe we won’t replant because the police and army offer no protection. They can do this to us again. In 2010, settlers damaged dozens of trees on another of our plots. We filed a complaint but no one did anything about it. This time I didn’t file a complaint, because I don’t think there’s any point.

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Severed vines in Haitham Jahshan’s vineyard in Halhul. Photo by Musa Abu Hashhash, B’tselem, 16 May 2018

Halhul, May 2018, approx. 880 grapevines cut down: 

Throughout the month of May, some 880 grapevines were cut down in five different plots in the area of Halhul. The testimonies of two of the landowners follow:

Halhul, 16 May 2018, 400 vines cut down: 

Haitham Jahshan, 42, is a resident of Halhul and a married father of four. He and his uncles own a 2.9-hectare plot by Route 60. There is a military watchtower directly overlooking the plot. In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Musa Abu Hashhash on 16 May 2018, Jahshan related:

Most of the trees on our land were planted more than fifteen years ago. This morning at six o’clock, my uncles and I went there to continue spraying the soil, which we began yesterday. When we got there, we were shocked to see all the grapevines destroyed in four vineyards, which cover half a hectare. There were almost 400 fruit-bearing vines there. From what I could see, they were sawed off with a power saw at about 40-50 centimeters above ground. You can’t begin to comprehend what a disaster it is. They didn’t leave a single vine standing in all four vineyards. On one rock we found a slogan in Hebrew that said “We’ll reach every spot”. That’s how we understood that settlers were behind this.

There’s a military watchtower opposite the plot, manned by soldiers. I guess the settlers weren’t afraid of them. There are also military security cameras nearby, and they may have captured what happened.

We went to the Palestinian DCO, and they notified the Israel Police. Israeli police officers came the next morning at nine and took photos of the chopped vines, and then I went and filed a complaint at the Qiryat Arba police station.

We lost more than 50,000 shekels (USD 13,600), but it’s about more than money. We’re deeply attached to those vines. We grew and tended them with joy and happiness for years until they bore fruit.

Halhul, 22 May 2018, 180 grapevines cut down: 

Maher Karajah, 49, is a resident of Halhul and married father of five. He owns a quarter of a hectare on which he grew 180 grapevines. On 22 May 2018, at 8:00 A.M., he arrived at the vineyard as usual and found it entirely destroyed. In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Musa Abu Hashhash on 24 May 2018, he detailed the repercussions:

I lost the season’s entire crop of grapes and vine leaves. I still can’t fully grasp the extent of this sudden blow. I’m in shock. I spent my youth in this vineyard. It’s part of my life and my family’s life. We cared for those vines as though they were our children. My father left me this land.

Now I have to uproot the vines, clean up the land and plant new ones. It will cost a lot of money and take a lot of work. I’ll have to bring in a bulldozer to remove all the trunks and trellises that were holding up the vines. It will take at least five or six years for the new vines to bear fruit, and they’ll yield a smaller crop than the ones we had. But I have no choice. It was my main source of income. To be honest, I feel like I lost one of my children, and I’m not exaggerating.

Bethlehem Area 

Al-Khader, early July 2018, 168 grapevines cut down: 

Hassan ‘Issa, 70, is a married father of eight who lives in the village of al-Khader. He owns almost half a hectare (0.45) off Route 60. The settlement of Elazar was established opposite his plot. On 7 July 2018, after not working the land for several days, he discovered that 168 of his 250 grapevines had been cut down. In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Musa Abu Hashhash on 9 July 2018, ‘Issa described what happened:

During the month of Ramadan I worked the land every day, weeding, plowing, spraying and checking the grapevines. I’m in love with the earth and with my trees, and care for them the way I care for myself and for my children. Last Saturday afternoon I was next to a mosque close to my house when Abu Jbarah, who owns land next to mine, came up to me. He said he’d seen that my vines had been cut down. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I ran home and asked my son ‘Omar to drive me to the land in his car. When I got there, I saw the leaves all dry and collapsed. I sat down on the ground and burst out crying like a little boy. My son walked among the vines checking them, and then he drove me home because I couldn’t stand the sight.

When we got there, the DCO called ‘Omar and told us to go back to the land because people from the Civil Administration and police officers were about to arrive. I guess Abu Jbarah, who told me the vines had been cut down, let the DCO know, too. We went back and saw that the police had already started examining the trees and taking photos of them. They told me to go to the police station in the settlement of Betar Illit and file a complaint. The next day, Sunday, I went there. The officers had counted the vines that were cut and told me there were 168 of them. I’ve heard of similar incidents in our area.
Despite what happened, I’ll continue working the land. I’ll remove the severed trunks and plant new vines. That means I’ll have to wait several years until they bear fruit – if the settlers don’t destroy them too. It’s hard to protect my land because it’s far from my house. The army, the police and the Civil Administration are the ones that should be protecting it. My vineyard is right by Route 60, where there are frequent patrols. What happened to my vines feels like a terrible injustice, and I feel incredibly frustrated and deeply sad.

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Destroyed vines in Islam Jaber’s vineyard in Al-khader. Photo by Musa Abu Hashhash, B’tselem 5 July 2018

Al-Khader, 5 July 2018, 170 grapevines cut down: 

Islam Jaber, 70, is a married father of four who lives in the village of al-Khader and works part-time at a computer store. He also owns 0.8 of a hectare off Route 60 near which the settlement of Neve Daniel was established. Jaber planted about 800 grapevines, olive trees and fig trees on his land. This is what he related in a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Musa Abu Hashhash on 9 July 2018:

In 2010, we invested about 200,000 shekels (USD 54,407) in our land to enhance the soil, and then we planted grapevines. Three years later they bore fruit and since then, every season they yielded seven to eight tons of grapes. We made an average of about 30,000 shekels (USD 8,161) a year. We cultivated the trees and the land – plowing, pruning and fertilizing – until they became our family’s main source of income. In the last few days we worked all day in the vineyard, preparing for the coming harvest. My mother picked vine leaves to sell almost every day. The last time I was at the vineyard was 1 July 2018. I felt delighted when I saw the clusters of grapes on the vines.

On 5 July, at about 5:30 in the morning, my mother went to pick leaves and noticed that some of the vines looked wilted. She checked closely and discovered they’d been cut. She called me at 6:00 and I came immediately. I was shocked when I saw what had been done to the vines. They were chopped off at the bottom and the leaves were wilted. It was very painful to see the clusters of grapes all dry. I called the Israel Police, the Civil Administration and the Palestinian DCO. About half an hour later, police, soldiers and Civil Administration people arrived. The police took photos and counted 170 chopped vines. They also found slogans on the cover of the well and on a plastic board reading “No to farmer terrorism” and “Revenge”. They collected tissue paper that was lying on the ground and took photos of shoe prints. They asked me to come give my testimony at the Betar Illit police station, and I did.

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A severed olive sapling in Rabah Hazmah’s orchard in Turmusaya. Photo by Iyad Hadad, B’tselem, 10 June 2018

The Ramallah area

Turmusaya, 9 June 2018, some 130 olive trees broken: 

Rabah Hazmah, 21, is married and lives in the village of Turmusaya, near Ramallah. He owns about one and a half hectares east of the village. The settlement of Adei Ad was established about half a kilometer south of there. In 2014 and 2015, settlers vandalized hundreds of Hazmah’s trees in several incidents. Today, there are more than 300 olive trees in his grove. On 9 June 2018, settlers broke the branches on approximately 100 of his trees, and on some 30 other trees in nearby groves. Hazmah described what happened in a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad on 10 June 2018:

Yesterday – Saturday, 9 June – I went to my land. A relative of mine, ‘Azmi al-‘Araj, also came in his car. About 200 meters away we saw a group of about ten settlers breaking the olive trees. They were wearing black and white clothes and some had a yarmulka (kippa). We couldn’t see their faces from afar. We immediately stopped the cars and started walking towards them and shouting, in the hope that they would see us and run off. Instead, they ran towards us with stones. We ran back to the cars.

I immediately called Husam, who works at the Israeli DCO. He gave me his number after the last time I was attacked, in May 2015. Husam told me he’d come himself, and that he’d also notify the police. Then I called people from the village to come help me. The settlers kept on breaking branches and took no notice of us. Every now and then we tried to come close but they ran towards us, we fled, they went back to breaking the trees, and so on. They destroyed the trees with no compassion and no mercy. I felt like they were breaking my ribs.
About twenty minutes later, Husam arrived with some soldiers and police officers. Only then did the settlers stop and move away, but they stayed on my land. Husam, the soldiers and the police officers saw them but did nothing to them and didn’t even go up to them.

It was only after they arrived that I dared to go over to the trees to see what happened. At that stage, some people from the village also arrived. The soldiers and police officers were with me. I saw that about 100 of my trees had been broken, and about 30 trees in neighboring plots. The police officers took photos of the trees and one of them took my testimony. They told me to file a complaint at the Binyamin Region police station.

This isn’t the first time settlers have attacked our trees and land. It’s happened dozens of times and the villagers have filed dozens of complaints with the police, but there has never been a serious investigation and no settler has ever been arrested or punished. We also never received compensation. I can’t estimate the financial damage yet. Some trees die after their branches are snapped off, but sometimes they can be saved.

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A cut vine in Nizam Ma’tan’s vineyard in Burqa. Photo by Iyad Hadad, 26 June 2018

Burqa, 25 June 2018, 48 grapevines and trees cut down

Nizam Ma’tan, 45, is a married father of seven and lives in the village of Burqa. He owns a third of a hectare about a kilometer from his house, and planted grapevines, olive trees and almond trees on the land. Over the years, Mu’tan has suffered many attacks by settlers. Most recently, in April , settlers assaulted him and his son and killed one of his sheep.

On 25 June 2018, Ma’tan discovered that settlers had chopped down 48 of his trees: 30 grapevines, 11 fig trees and seven almond trees. They also sprayed graffiti reading “No to farmer terrorism” and “We’ll reach every spot”. In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad on 26 June 2018, he related:

I don’t feel like going to my land anymore. I’m frustrated and filled with despair from filing so many complaints with the police. The complaints go nowhere. They either chop down trees or burn cars or attack us or kill our sheep. They are free to attack and kill without paying a price. I don’t believe they will let us be and I don’t believe they’ll be punished.

Every one of the trees they cut down was like one of my children. I cared for them, watered them, plowed the land, pruned the branches, fertilized the earth, removed weeds, and they slowly grew – just like my sons Muhammad and ‘Omar. Suddenly, I lost them. I have no words to describe how awful it feels. You can only understand if you’ve been through it yourself.

It’s especially hard because this isn’t the first time. This has been going on for years. Every time I manage to plant trees instead of the ones they destroyed, and the trees grow, they come and destroy everything again. There is no one to help and protect us. We’ve done everything we can to prevent it except resort to violence. I’m not a violent man and all I want is to make sure my children have a safe and peaceful future.

Deir Jarir, 27 June 2018, barley field burned down: 

On Wednesday, 27 June 2018, settlers torched a 10-hectare barley field in the area of Deir Jarir. The field was cultivated by Muhammad Ka’abneh, 48, a married father of nine who leased the field from a family in the village. In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad on 28 June 2018, Ka’abneh related:

Last night, at around nine, we saw that our field was going up in flames. I went there with my brothers and sons and other residents of the village, and we saw two settlers passing by near the field. We called the Palestinian fire brigade and DCO, and meanwhile started putting out the fire with dirt and stones. About twenty minutes later, a fire truck came and the firemen put out the remaining fires.

Then the Israeli DCO people arrived with soldiers and police officers. They did nothing. One of the officers walked around the area and saw there were also 15 broken olive trees in a nearby grove that belongs to another family. The officer who took photos of the damage caused by the fire claimed that it had occurred two or three days earlier and that there was nothing they could do about it. I said: “Can’t you see there’s still smoke rising from the earth?” He paid no attention and just told me to go to the Binyamin police station to file a complaint. If an officer who’s there on the ground doesn’t want to listen to us, it’s a waste of time to go to a police station and file a complaint.

The fire caused huge damage, especially because we were days away from the harvest. Now we have to buy animal feed for 50,000 or 60,000 shekels (USD 13,600-16,300). We may have to sell some of the flock or take out a loan to pay for the feed, because obviously we’re not going to get any compensation. All we can do is pray.

Kafr Malek, 28 May 2018, 60 grapevines cut down: 

On 28 May 2018, settlers cut down about 60 out of more than 100 grapevines in the vineyard of Iyad ‘Issa, 46, a married father of three and teacher from Kafr Malek, east of the village. The settlers sprayed the slogan “Regards from Esh Kodesh” on a nearby rock. See ‘Issa’s testimony in the above video.

The Nablus area: 

Burin, 23 June 2018, 150 olive trees burned down: 

On Saturday, 23 June 2018, settlers burned down 150 olive trees belonging to five families in the village of Burin. The settlement of Yitzhar was established some two kilometers from the village. The trees are on land that Palestinians cannot go to alone because it lies near the settlement, so they have to coordinate access with the Israeli DCO. When the villagers noticed the fire they called the Palestinian fire brigade, but it couldn’t get in until the DCO gave its okay.

Shadi Zaban, 37, a married father of two, is one of the firemen who arrived. Zaban also owns a quarter of a hectare with 180 trees, of which 70 burned down. He described what happened in a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i on 26 June 2018:

On Saturday, 23 June 2018, at around 4:30 in the afternoon, I was at work at the Civil Defense unit in the Burin village center. I saw smoke rising in the southern part of the village, where my land is. I reported it immediately to my boss and asked him to call the DCO for authorization to send firemen there. That took about half an hour, and in the meantime I watched the fire devour the trees. After we got the okay, I went there with four other firemen.

There is no road to the site of the fire, so one guy stayed behind in the fire truck and the others and I continued on foot with fire extinguishers. We walked for about fifteen minutes. People from the village came and helped us put the fire out. It was a complete disaster. The hot weather made the fire spread quickly. Once the sun went down, the permission from the DCO to be on the land expired and we had to leave, for fear of the settlers. I saw about eight settlers watching us from the Yitzhar security road, standing next to the settlement security officer’s vehicle.

The olive oil and olives we get from the grove are used by my entire extended family. It’s an important part of our lives, and now we’ve lost 70 trees.

Akram ‘Imran, 49, a married father of seven who lives in Burin, lost seven of his roughly 110 olive trees in the fire. In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i on 26 June 2018, he stated:

On Saturday, 23 June 2018, at around four o’clock in the afternoon, I was at home. Suddenly I saw a fire spreading across the hill opposite my home, close to my land. I saw some eight to ten settlers about 1.5-2 kilometers from the land. I didn’t wait for coordination [with the DCO] and immediately drove there with my tractor. When I got close, near the road to Yitzhar, I saw that other people from the village had come because they had noticed the fire. By the time we got there, the settlers had already headed back towards Yitzhar and were watching us from afar, standing on the road to the settlement. The only thing we could do was use tree branches to try and put out the fire.

About fifteen minutes later, a fire truck from the village arrived, but they had to stop about a kilometer and a half away from the fire because there’s no road leading there. The firemen had to continue on foot, carrying fire extinguishers. The fire damaged about 150 trees, seven of them mine.

We want to go back to the land to evaluate the damage. Often a fire leaves no visible marks on trees but a few days later they dry up and die. Sometimes you can revive them by pruning them. We asked the head of the local council to speak with the Israeli DCO and organize urgent permission for us to access the land and save the trees that can still be saved.

*Update: Inquiries made by B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i reveal that as of 17 July 2018, ‘Imran has been unable to receive coordination to access his land and tend to the salvageable trees. He was told he would be able to get coordination to access the land only during the harvest.

Burin, 8 June 2018, 86 bales of hay burned: 

Munir Qadus, 42, is a married father of one from Burin who leases a quarter of a hectare near the southern outskirts of the village. The settlement of Yitzhar was established about three kilometers from there. Qadus grows wheat and barley on the land to feed his livestock. He planted the barley in November 2017 and harvested it in May 2018, leaving it out in the sun to dry. Qadus stacked the hay in bales but as he couldn’t find hired help during Ramadan, was awaiting the end of the month to store it. A few days before he planned to do so, on 8 June 2018, settlers set fire to the bales.

Qadus described what happened in a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i on 13 June 2018:

At 1:30 in the morning, I was praying at the mosque in the village center when my brother-in-law came in and told me my hay was on fire. I went to the land immediately with some young men who helped me put out the fire. We stayed there until 3:30. The settlers removed three bales of hay from the area they torched and sprayed graffiti on them. An official from the Israeli DCO who arrived said the slogans read “No to farmer terrorism”. I found that odd and asked him: Who is the victim of terrorism, us or the settlers?

I worked with my brother for a long time and we put a lot of money and effort into that field. In the end, the bales of hay went up in a whiff of smoke. I need the hay to feed my flock, because we don’t have enough pastureland in the village. We’re surrounded by settlements to the east and south and have nowhere to take our flocks to graze. In any case, what I grow isn’t enough for the whole year and I have to buy more, including nutritional supplements. Now I’ll have to buy a lot more than usual. I would say that every bale of hay was worth about 25 shekels, so all in all I lost 2,150 shekels (USD 585).

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Palestine: Jewish Nazi Settlers Destroy 2,000+Trees and Vines

“Naya Pakistan”: New Pakistan Should Apply to Join the Eurasian Development Bank

NOVANEWS

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The “Naya Pakistan” (New Pakistan) of Prime Minister-elect Imran Khan should build upon the foreign policy rebalancing of the previous administrations and apply to join the Russian-led Eurasian Development Bank.

Pakistan is on the cusp of such major changes following last month’s elections that many have begun speaking about a “Naya Pakistan” (New Pakistan) under the leadership of Prime Minister-elect Imran Khan, one which would naturally differentiate itself in the foreign policy realm just as much as the domestic one. Recognizing that this represents an exciting moment for Pakistan to build off of the regional rebalancing strategy begun by the previous administrations and take these moves to their next level, it’s fitting to revisit the author’s original proposal from December 2017 about how “It’s Time For Pakistan To Join The Eurasian Development Bank”, which takes on an increased importance in the present day.

Pakistan is expected to continue enhancing its strategic relations with Russia, but their expanding military, energy, and diplomatic cooperation is missing the crucial real-sector economic component that only membership in the Eurasian Development Bank can advance. Russia needs to become a stakeholder in Pakistan’s overall success, and providing multilateral financing solutions to its forthcoming developmental projects would be the fastest and most mutually beneficial way of achieving that. Although the process of joining the regional bank might take a few years, it would unprecedentedly signal the first time that a state outside of the former Soviet Union expressed a serious interest in membership.

This alone is bound to attract the attention of all manner of Russian decision makers who are already eager as it is to expand their country’s influence beyond its traditional spheres, and it might also appeal to their Pakistani counterparts who are keen to diversify their sources of future financing. Because of the bank’s focus on infrastructure, there’s a perfect complementarity between President Putin’s vision of Eurasian integration and Prime Minister-elect Khan’s of domestic development, and the corresponding membership talks could most immediately serve as a pivotal platform for bringing together both countries’ elite to discuss the prospects for further economic cooperation.

The “gateway effect” that this could gave might be an actual game-changer in the Russian-Pakistan rapprochement by showcasing the South Asian state’s investment potential and resultantly incentivizing its northern partner to make a tangible commitment to its success. In addition, the Eurasian Development Bank could also give Pakistan the opportunity to strengthen its relations with the organization’s three Central Asian members and lay the groundwork for the blossoming of ties with each of them that would naturally occur if a Russian-Pakistani trade corridor through the region was ever commenced. It’s therefore in Pakistan’s best interests that the incoming government seriously considers approaching the Eurasian Development Bank and exploring the possibility for membership.

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US: Funding for Nazi Killing Machine

NOVANEWS

Washington Increases Funding for Israel’s Killing Machine

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Israel is Washington’s largest recipient of foreign aid. It’s mostly for militarism and belligerence – billions of dollars annually, far more than to any other nation.

The Jewish state’s imperial wars, occupation harshness, and apartheid high crimes don’t matter – nor its flagrant violations of international law, not even its abusive spying on US military and other operations.

The CIA earlier called Israel its main regional spy threat. The FBI once uncovered a large-scale US-based Israeli spy ring – still active the agency believes.

The Pentagon accused Israel of “actively engag(ing) in military and industrial espionage in the United States.”

Israel tries stealing everything it can get its hands on, including US military and industrial secrets, its main ally and benefactor.

The FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) includes $500 million for US-Israel missile defense cooperation, $50 million more for the Jewish state’s war on Gaza’s tunnel economy, wanting vital goods it supplies cut off, further strangling its beleaguered people.

The measure authorizes an additional billion dollars to stockpile US weapons in Israel – available for its killing machine, used to terrorize Palestinians, to terror-bomb Gaza and Syria, to partner in Washington’s imperial aggression.

Like America, Israel’s only enemies are invented ones, no others. Both nations wage endless wars without declaring them.

For the first time, the FY 2019 NDAA establishes a cooperative US/Israeli R&D program to enhance countering unmanned aerial vehicles.

On August 1, Senate members passed S. 2497: United States-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act of 2018 – unanimously without a roll call vote. Rubber-stamp House passage is certain.

The measure amends the 1961 Foreign Assistance Act and Arms Export Control Act. It authorizes additional funding for Israel’s killing machine, “and for other purposes” related to militarism and warmaking.

Congressional support for Israel is virtually unanimous. Both countries partner in each other’s high crimes.

New US funding for the Jewish state’s killing machine increases the Obama regime’s 2016 $38 billion package through 2026 – $3.8 billion annually, up from $3.1 billion a year earlier.

Most often, whatever Israel wants it gets – from the pockets of US taxpayers.

They’re largely unaware how their taxes are misused – for militarism, war-making and corporate handouts at the expense of social justice and other vital homeland needs.

*

 

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