Archive | August 31st, 2018

Accusing Trump of ‘Naked Economic Aggression,’ Iran Urges UN High Court to Halt US Sanctions

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“The U.S. is publicly propagating a policy intended to damage as severely as possible Iran’s economy and Iranian national companies, and therefore inevitably Iranian nationals.”

In an interview on Sunday, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif accused the Trump administration of waging a "psychological war against Iran." (Photo: PressTV)

In an interview on Sunday, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif accused the Trump administration of waging a “psychological war against Iran.” (Photo: PressTV)

Amid reports of the “devastating” impact U.S. President Donald Trump’s newly reimposed sanctions are having on ordinary Iranians’ ability to afford basic necessities and life-saving medicines, Iran accused the U.S. of “naked economic aggression” before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Monday and called on the United Nations body to order a suspension of the penalties.

“Sanctions hurt ordinary people on the streets and do not inflict pain at all whatsoever on the government. How is withholding chemotherapy from my 80-year-old grandmother helpful?”
—Meisam, Iranian-American doctor
“The U.S. is publicly propagating a policy intended to damage as severely as possible Iran’s economy and Iranian national companies, and therefore inevitably Iranian nationals,” Mohsen Mohebi, a lawyer representing Iran before the U.N.’s highest court, declared on Monday, arguing that Trump’s sanctions violate the bilateral Treaty of Amity. “This policy is nothing but a naked economic aggression against my country. Iran will put up the strongest resistance to the U.S. economic strangulation, by all peaceful means.”

As Common Dreamsreported, critics warned that Trump’s decision to violate the Iran nuclear accord and reimpose sanctions—which officially went into effect earlier this month—significantly heighten the risk of a “new war in the Middle East.”

The trade penalties are just one component of the Trump administration’s broader push to “foment unrest” in Iran, an effort that critics have condemned as a thinly veiled push for regime change.

In an interview on Sunday, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif accused the Trump administration of waging a “psychological war against Iran.”

Iran’s legal case against the U.S. sanctions comes as ordinary Iranians report being unable to access crucial medicines as a result of the Trump administration’s so-called pressure campaign.

“Sanctions hurt ordinary people on the streets and do not inflict pain at all whatsoever on the government,” Meisam, an Iranian-American doctor whose grandmother has been unable to access her chemotherapy medicine because of the new restrictions, toldThe Independent. “How is withholding chemotherapy from my 80-year-old grandmother helpful to anyone’s objective?”

 

NIAC

@NIACouncil

The lives being affected by sanctions are not the regime, they’re ordinary people worrying for their families, lacking necessities like medicine. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/iran-us-sanctions-latest-rial-currency-protests-medicine-rouhani-khameini-a8505166.html 

“International sanctions must have a lawful purpose, must be proportional, and must not harm the human rights of ordinary citizens, and none of these criteria is met in this case,” Jazairy argued. “These unjust and harmful sanctions are destroying the economy and currency of Iran, driving millions of people into poverty and making imported goods unaffordable.”

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Eyeing Landmark Verdict in Roundup Cancer Case, Vietnam Demands Monsanto Be Held Liable Over Agent Orange

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“We believe Monsanto should be responsible for compensating Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange for the damages caused by the company’s herbicides”

A man wears a shirt calling for justice for Agent Orange victims during the March Against Monsanto in San Francisco on May 23, 2015.

A man wears a shirt calling for justice for Agent Orange victims during the March Against Monsanto in San Francisco on May 23, 2015. (Photo: Peg Hunter/flickr/cc)

In the wake of a U.S. court ordering Monsanto to pay $289 million in damages to man who says its weedkiller Roundup caused his cancer, Vietnam has called on the agrichemical giant to pay reparations to Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange.

“This case is a precedent that rejects previous arguments that the herbicides supplied to the U.S. military by Monsanto and other U.S. chemical companies during the Vietnam War are not harmful to people’s health,” spokesperson for the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Phuong Tra said to reporters last week.

“We believe Monsanto should be responsible for compensating Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange for the damages caused by the company’s herbicides,” she said.

Monsanto, now a unit of Bayer, was one of the manufacturers of Agent Orange. The U.S. dumped roughly 45 million liters of the notorious compound, which contained dioxin, on Vietnam during the war, unleashing “a slow-onset disaster whose devastating economic, health, and ecological impacts … are still being felt today.”  With its long-lasting impacts on the Vietnamese, as well as U.S. service-members, it’s been called “one of the most tragic legacies of the war.”

Viet Nam News reported Sunday that the Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA), which is working for justice on behalf of roughly 3 million Vietnamese affected by the chemical warfare, is also hopeful given the new verdict.

“No matter how difficult and prolonged this case might be, we won’t ever give up on it, for the sake of the millions of Vietnamese victims,” said Quách Thành Vinh, VAVA’s chief of office and director of liaison lawyers office.

Former U.S. school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson, who’s suffering from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, secured his legal victory against Monsanto on Aug. 10. CNNreported that the ruling “could set a massive precedent for thousands of other cases claiming Monsanto’s famous herbicide causes non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.”

Monsanto has said it is appealing the verdict.

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Julian Assange and the fate of journalism

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WikiLeaks

By Lawrence Davidson

Julian Assange

Julian Assange is the Australian founder of WikiLeaks, a website dedicated to the public’s right to know what governments and other powerful organisations are doing. WikiLeaks pursues this goal by posting revelatory documents, often acquired unofficially, that bring to light the criminal behaviour that results in wars and other man-made disasters. Because WikiLeaks’ very existence encourages “leaks”, government officials fear the website, and particularly dislike Julian Assange.

Essentially, WikiLeaks functions as a wholesale supplier of evidence. Having identified alleged official misconduct, WikiLeaks seeks to acquire and make public overwhelming amounts of evidence – sometimes hundreds of thousands of documents at a time – which journalists and other interested parties can draw upon. And since the individuals and organisations being investigated are ones ultimately responsible to the public, such a role as wholesale supplier of evidence can be seen as a public service.

Unfortunately, that is not how most government officials see the situation. They assert that government cannot be successful unless aspects of its behaviour are conducted in secret. The fact that those aspects in question thereby lose any accountable connection to the public is discounted. The assumption here is that most citizens simply trust their governments to act in their interests, including when they act clandestinely. Historically, such trust is dangerously naive. Often government officials, even the democratic ones, feel no obligation to their citizens in general, but rather only to special interests.

One reason for this is that large and bureaucratic institutions that last for any length of time have the tendency to become standalone institutions – ones with their own self-referencing cultures, loyalty to which comes to override any responsibility to outside groups other than those with particular shared interests. In other words, long-lasting institutions/bureaucracies take on a life of their own.

Thus, it should come as no surprise that many governments look upon WikiLeaks as a threat to institutional wellbeing. And so, in an effort to cripple WikiLeaks and have their revenge on Assange, the United States and the United Kingdom, with the cooperation of Sweden, first sought to frame Assange (2010) on a sexual assault charge. This having failed, Assange was still left liable for jumping bail in the UK in order to avoid seizure and deportation to the US, where he would certainly be put on trial for revealing secrets. He escaped to the Ecuadorian embassy in London (2012), where he was given asylum. As of this writing, he is still there. However, a recent change in government in Quito has led to discussions between Ecuador and the UK that may well lead to Assange’s eviction from the embassy.

The ideals of journalism

Some of the anger over Assange’s fate has been directed at the journalistic profession which he has sought to serve. After all, Assange has ardently supported the notions of free speech, free press and the public’s right to know. Nonetheless, as the documentary filmmaker John Pilger, a supporter of Assange, has noted,

@@There has been no pressure [in support of Assange] from media in the United States, Britain, Australia or pretty much anywhere except in [media] programmes… outside the mainstream… “The persecution of this man has been something that should horrify all free-thinking people.@@

He is quite right. Unfortunately, there never have been many brave free-thinkers about, so no one should be surprised at Assange’s poor prospects.

This brings up the difference between the ideals of the journalistic profession and the reality within which it operates. There is a model of journalism that presents it as a pillar of democracy. The journalist is a tough and persistent person who digs up facts, asks hard questions and explains the truth to his or her readers/viewers. Few seem to have noticed that, to the extent that this picture is accurate, the ideal model has alienated those readers/viewers who cannot tell the difference between “the truth” and their own opinions. Recently, this alienation has opened the entire media industry to the charge that it is really the “enemy of the people” because it peddles “fake news” – that is, news that belies one’s opinions.

To bring the idealistic journalist in line with real public expectations, editors put pressure on media workers to compromise their professional ideals. The result is most often manipulated reports aimed at fitting the particular outlook of the particular media operation’s target audience. Thus, it is simply wrong to think that, on the average, those who investigate, do research, write about things, and report through the various media are any braver or, ultimately, any more principled than the rest of the population. As Julien Benda showed us in his 1928 book, The Betrayal of the Intellectuals, while it is in fact the job of those who research and report to remain independent of the ideologies and biases of both their community and their government, the truth is that most often these people end up serving power. This is particularly the case when there is an atmosphere of patriotic fervor, or just plain pressure from sources that can hurt one’s career. At that point you will find that bravery does exist but it is the exception and not the rule – and the brave will, more often than not, stand alone.

That is what is happening in the case of Julian Assange. Many American news outlets are willing to selectively use the documented evidence made available by WikiLeaks. To do so is to draw on what the website has placed in the public domain. But they will not stand up and publicly defend the “whistleblower” who makes the information public. I imagine publishers, editors, and media moguls, and the vast majority of those they employ, just don’t have the courage to support the individual who breaks some unprincipled law or regulation designed to enforce silence in relation to official crimes and hypocrisy.

A shared problem

The United States is certainly not the only country facing this dilemma. To one extent or another this is a shared problem in all those lands claiming to have a free press. For example, a similar problem has long existed in Israel. Here one finds a whole ethnicity whose journalists are open to persecution.

Take the case of Omar Nazzal, a member of the board of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate. In a 10 August 2016 report appearing in the online blog +972 Magazine, and entitled “Israeli journalists silent as their Palestinian colleagues are jailed”, we are told that Nazzal was taken into custody by Israeli forces in April 2016, without charges. Like Assange, there has been an attempt, after the fact, to claim that Nazzal is a criminal. The Shin Bet, one of those Israeli security forces that only the naive or venal take at face value, claims that he is a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which they consider to be a terrorist organisation. No proof of this charge has been publicly presented (Shin Bet claims the “proof” is secret) and Nazzal denies any affiliation. As it turns out, the real reason he was arrested somewhat parallels Assange’s activity. At the time of his seizure, Nazzal was on his way to Sarajevo for a meeting of the European Federation of Journalists. No doubt, the Israelis did not want him telling true, documentable, stories to an organisation of European journalists. Most Israeli Jewish journalists, like their American counterparts, remain silent. So do their respective publics.

Conclusion

One might ask just how seriously “the public” wants a media that tells them “the truth”. The most watched cable news channel in the US is Fox News, a media ally of Donald Trump that has no demonstrable interest in objective facts. It is more likely that Americans (and others) chose their news outlets on the basis of which one most often tells them what they want to hear – in other words, the search for “accurate” reporting is really driven by a desire for confirmation of bias.

Under these circumstances it is easy to understand why a for-profit media industry need not be beholden to the general citizenry or any ideal of supplying fact-based news. This situation puts truth tellers like Assange, and in the case of Israel, Omar Nazzal, in a bad position. They will have their defenders but they will be outside the mainstream – because truth itself is also outside the mainstream. That is their predicament, and ours as well.

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Turkey Now, America Later?

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President Trump recently imposed sanctions on Turkey to protest the Turkish government’s detention of an American pastor. Turkey has responded by increasing tariffs on US exports. The trade war is being blamed for the collapse of Turkey’s currency, the lira. While the sanctions may have played a role, Turkey’s currency crisis is rooted in the Turkish government’s fiscal and (especially) monetary policies.

In the past seven years, Turkey’s central bank has tripled the money supply and pushed interest rates down to 4.5 percent. While Turkey’s government did not adopt Ben Bernanke’s proposal to drop money from helicopters, Turkish politicians have taken advantage of easy money policies to increase subsidies for key voting blocs and special interests.

The results of the Turkish government’s inflation-fueled spending binge are not surprising to anyone familiar with Austrian economics or economic history. Turkey is now plagued with huge deficits, a collapsing currency, and a looming economic crisis, making it the next candidate for a European Union or Federal Reserve bailout.

Turkey’s combination of low interest rates, money creation, and massive government spending to “stimulate” the economy parallels the policies the US government has pursued for the past ten years. Without drastic changes in fiscal and monetary policies, economic trouble in America is around the corner.

The very large and growing federal debt will cause a major crisis as the government’s debt burden will be unsustainable. Instead of cutting spending or raising taxes, politicians can be expected to pressure the Federal Reserve to do their dirty work for them via inflation. We may even see the Fed “experiment” with negative interest rates, which would punish Americans for saving. The monetization of the federal debt will erode the dollar’s purchasing power and decimate middle-and-working-class Americans who are already seeing any gains in their incomes eaten away by inflation.

If we are lucky, the next Fed-caused downturn will cause only a resurgence of 1970s-style stagflation. The more likely scenario is the type of widespread economic chaos not seen in America since the Great Depression. The growth of cultural Marxism, the widespread entitlement mentality, and the willingness of partisans of various sides to use force against their political opponents suggests that this economic crisis will result in civil unrest that will be used to justify new crackdowns on individual liberty.

Those who understand the causes of, and cures for, our current predicament have two responsibilities. First, prepare a plan to protect your family when the crisis occurs. Second, do all you can to spread the truth in hopes the liberty movement reaches critical mass so it can force Congress to make the changes necessary to avert disaster.

Since the crisis will result in a rejection of the dollar’s world reserve currency status, individuals should consider alternatives such as gold and other precious metals. Restoring a free-market monetary system should be a priority for the liberty movement. Other priorities include ending our interventionist foreign policy, cutting spending in all areas, rolling back the surveillance state, protecting all civil liberties, and auditing (and ending) the Federal Reserve. If we do our jobs, we can build a society of peace, prosperity, and liberty atop the ashes of the welfare-warfare state.

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Iran and Saudi Arabia’s “Deep State” Factions Are Striking Back

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Rival Great Powers Iran and Saudi Arabia are both experiencing different degrees of pushback from certain “deep state” factions in their permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies, with this dynamic being responsible for several of the latest breaking news developments in the region.

Four breaking news developments almost simultaneously emerged from the Persian Gulf region recently, and they’re all connected in one way or another to the “deep state” struggles that Iran and Saudi Arabia are presently undergoing. The first is that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s (MBS) plan to partially privatize the Aramco oil giant was indefinitely delayed after the King’s intervention, which was shortly thereafter followed by Iran’s Finance Minister being impeached. Then, on Monday, Iran claimed full control over the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz, which in turn prompted Saudi Arabia to predict that the UNSC would authorize military intervention against the Islamic Republic if it prevented transit through these waterways.

Domestic Power Plays

Although seemingly disconnected to the casual observer, the common denominator between everything that just unfolded is that competing “deep state” factions in each of the two rivals’ permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies are vying for control of their respective state.

The rapidly redeveloping rift between Iran’s “principalists” and “reformers” (regarded in the Western Mainstream Media as “conservatives/hardliners” and “moderates”, respectively) isn’t a surprise to anyone who follows the country’s domestic political scene, but the impeachment of “reformist” President Rouhani’s Finance Minister proves that the “principalists” are on the ascendency and unafraid of making bold power plays in parliament. Their goal is manifold but mostly deals with “punishing” Rouhani’s “reformers” for their unsuccessful rapprochement with the US and consequently coercing them into implementing the “principalists’” domestic and foreign policies. Given the increasing bouts of local unrest caused by the deteriorating economic situation in the country, it’s likely that Rouhani will sooner or later have to ironically “reform” his “moderate” policies and become more “conservative”.

As for Saudi Arabia, MBS’ structurally “revolutionary” policies of progressively mitigating the influence of Wahhabism on his society in parallel with carrying out his own “deep state” coup against many of his own extended family members under an “anti-corruption” guise has earned him plenty of enemies, some of whom may have tried to overthrow or even assassinate him during a mysterious event in late-April that led to the Crown Prince’s prolonged absence from public life. It was likely during this time that his enemies took advantage of his father’s reported dementia to brainwash him into sabotaging Aramco’s planned partial privatization. Not only would this ruin MBS’ ambitious Vision 2030 strategy of socio-economic reform, but it would also stop their corrupt practices revealed to the public as part of the privatization process and therefore prevent even more of them from being purged by the Crown Prince on those grounds.

Basically, manipulating the King amounted to an act of temporary self-preservation for MBS’ “deep state” royalist foes that nevertheless undermines the country’s grand strategic interests, hence why it was wildly cheered on by the Kingdom’s Iranian-friendly Alt-Media foes.

International Drama

Sensing Saudi weakness and also eager to signal to their domestic audience that they’re calling the shots at home after successfully impeaching Rouhani’s Finance Minister, the “principalists’” “deep state” representatives in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) stunningly declared that they now have full control over the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz. This immediately produced a flurry of reactions across the world ranging from celebrations to condemnations, though most people neglected to realize that Tehran is unlikely to trigger a world war at this time and is simply flexing its muscles for the aforementioned symbolic reasons.

It’s important in the context of domestic Iranian politics for the “principalists” to show their people that they’re taking a strong stand against America in advance of the anticipated worsening of economic conditions at home. This helps to galvanize support for the country’s governing system during these trying times, ensuring that public opposition responsibly refrains from challenging it and instead remains safely in the realm of partisan politics. So long as the state occasionally carries out dramatic gestures of resistance against the US, then it won’t lose much legitimacy in the eyes of the people like Washington intends to happen throughout the course of the presentHybrid War.

Concerning Saudi Arabia, it skillfully (though hypocritically) resorted to speaking about international law in response to Iran’s recent military declaration, which allows the Kingdom to present itself in a better light by contrast. If Iran were to take military action to halt the transit of US naval vessels and other countries’ oil tankers through the region, then it would veritably be in violation of international law, which is another reason why this is all probably just one big virtue signaling show for the previously described reasons. In any case, the perception of an external Iranian threat strengthens “deep state” solidarity in Saudi Arabia, so Tehran’s tactics might actually be counterproductive.

Still, it can’t be disregarded that the Saudi “deep state” is indeed divided at this very moment between MBS’ loyalists who helped him almost flawlessly carry out his “anti-corruption” de-facto coup late last year and those who are opposed to the fast-moving and unprecedented full-spectrum changes that he’s presided over. The unexpected success of the Crown Prince’s enemies in convincing the King to go against one of the key pillars of his son’s Vision 2030 strategy for procuring the funds necessary to rapidly modernize the Kingdom speaks to their rising influence in the court, but it also suggests that MBS and his “deep state” backers now have an urgent reason to seek the King’s “resignation” and carry out a “regime change” before a lower-level one is undertaken against them.

Will One De-Facto Coup Lead To Another?

The current trajectory of Iranian “deep state” developments is that the “principalists” will succeed in regaining full de-facto control over the state following the brief and strategically unsuccessful period of “reformist” rule that only delivered high and ultimately failed hopes to the country’s masses. The enormous youth population that was responsible for Rouhani’s electoral success twice in a row was predisposed by typical generational factors to favor the “reformists” over the “principalists”, though some of them might finally be coming around to realizing the fallacy of their ways after the military-intelligence faction of the “deep state” has now been vindicated for its cautionary approach towards the US. There will expectedly be some who will object to the most likely outcome of a newly emboldened “principalist” state operating behind a “reformist” face, though they’ll probably remain in the minority because most of Rouhani’s supporters might reconcile themselves with the fact that he had to “reform” his original policies due to the latest domestic and international circumstances, while his opponents will be satisfied that their faction is practically back in power.

Iran’s “deep state” transition (or “de-facto coup”, if one wants to take a cynical perspective towards this process) will more than likely be peaceful, which is more than can be said for Saudi Arabia’s. MBS and the powerful members of his country’s military-intelligence “deep state” faction that are supporting him won’t allow their “revolutionary” to be sidelined by the royalist-Wahhabi alliance (which is in essence the traditional basis of the Saudi state, especially after 1979) up to the point of possibly even being unseated from his position as Crown Prince just like his predecessor was. The proverbial writing is on the wall and both factions know it, which is why one or the other might make a dramatic move sometime in the future, which could possibly be triggered by the success of Iran’s “principalists” faction across the Gulf. Decontextualized, misportrayed, and over-amplified infowar narratives pertaining to this development – inadvertently assisted by some of Iran’s own statements such as those regarding the Gulf and Strait of Hormuz – could even be used by MBS to “justify” taking the first step.

Concluding Thoughts

The Iranian and Saudi “deep states” have indeed acted against their public faces guiding their countries’ affairs, and each has relatively succeeded in what they set out to do. The “principalists” have proven that they can not only twist the “reformists’” arm on the domestic front, but also showed their people that they’re in total control of Iran’s international and military affairs after their latest declaration concerning the Gulf and Strait of Hormuz. Regarding Riyadh, the royal intrigue in the Saudi capital saw MBS’ foes temporarily offset one of the main policies of his and his “deep state” backers’ Vision 2030 socio-economic reform project, which works out to their temporary self-interest though at the obvious expense of long-term national ones. Whereas Iran’s “deep state” transition (“de-facto coup”) will probably be peaceful and has already pretty much succeeded, Saudi Arabia’s is still uncertain and might even lead to violence.

Another factor to be considered is that the US now has a pressing interest in supporting MBS, unlike last year when it was thought to have been cultivating some of his “deep state” enemies in order to influence him to scale back his fast-moving rapprochements with America’s Russian and Chinesemultipolar rivals. Nowadays, however, the US would rather that MBS remain in power and eventually become King because the partial privatization of Aramco would preserve the complex economic interdependency between the US and Saudi Arabia in the post-oil era and contribute to countering rising Russian and Chinese influence in the Kingdom. The US also needs a strong Saudi Arabia as its “Lead From Behind” partner against Iran, especially a “principalist”-led one like it’s basically turning into nowadays, and MBS is its best bet for achieving this so long as they can retain a comfortable amount of influence over his country through strategic Vision 2030 investments.

All told, the primary takeaway is that the latest breaking news developments in the Gulf are driven by the “deep state” struggles within Iran and Saudi Arabia as each country’s aspirational power faction tries to unseat the one that’s already in charge of the state, be it formally or informally. The process underway in Iran was catalyzed by the external pressure being put on the country by the US and is intended (key word) by its participants to be to the benefit of its national interests, though the one in Saudi Arabia is entirely caused by domestic circumstances and is counter to the country’s national interests. The US is against both progressively unfolding “deep state coups” for different but interrelated reasons because the success of the one in Iran might make America’s chief regional adversary even stronger while the victory of MBS’ royalist-Wahhabi foes in Saudi Arabia would weaken the US’ main regional partner.

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The Crucifixion of Jeremy Corbyn

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Many believe that the easily observable dominance of the friends of Israel over some aspects of government policy is a phenomenon unique to the United States, where committed Jews and Christian Zionists are able to control both politicians and the media message relating to what is going on in the Middle East. Unfortunately, the reality is that there exists an “Israel Lobby” in many countries, all dedicated to advancing the agendas promoted by successive Israeli governments no matter what the actual interests of the host country might be. Failure to confront Israel’s crimes against humanity combined with an inability to resist its demands regarding how issues like anti-Semitism and hate speech are defined has done terrible damage to free speech in Western Europe and, most notably, in the Anglophone world.

For the United States this corruption of the media and the political process by Israel has meant endless wars in the Middle East as well of loss of civil liberties at home, but some other countries have compromised their own declared values far beyond that. Former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper praised Israel completely inaccurately as a light that “…burns bright, upheld by the universal principles of all civilized nations – freedom, democracy justice.” He has also said “I will defend Israel whatever the cost” to Canada, an assertion that some might regard as very, very odd for a Canadian head of state.

In some other cases, Israel plays hardball directly, threatening retribution against governments that do not fall in line. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently warned New Zealand that backing a U.N. resolution condemning Israeli settlements would be a “declaration of war.” He was able to do so because he had confidence in the power of the Israel Lobby in that country to mobilize and produce the desired result.

Screengrab from The Guardian

It might surprise some that the “Mother of Parliaments” in Great Britain is perhaps the legislative body most dominated by Israeli interests, more in many respects than the Congress in the United States. The ruling Conservative Party has a Friends of Israel caucus that includes more than 80% of its Parliamentary membership. BICOM , the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre, is an American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC) clone located in London. It is well funded and politically powerful, working through its various “Friends of Israel” proxies. Americans might be surprised to learn how that power is manifest, including that in Britain Jewish organizations uniquely are allowed to patrol heavily Jewish London neighborhoods in police-like uniforms while driving police-type vehicles. There have been reports of the patrols threatening Muslims who seek to enter the areas.

Prime Minister Theresa May is careful never to offend either Israel or the wealthy and powerful British Jewish community. After Secretary of State John Kerry described Israel’s government as “extreme right wing” on December 28, 2016, May sprang to Tel Aviv’s defense, saying

“we do not believe that it is appropriate to attack the composition of the democratically elected government of an ally.”

May’s rejoinder could have been written by Netanyahu, and maybe it was. Two weeks later, her government cited “reservations” over a French government sponsored mid-January Middle East peace conference and would not sign a joint statement calling for a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after Netanyahu vociferously condemned the proceedings.

This deference all takes place in spite of a recent astonishing expose by al-Jazeera, which revealed how the Israeli Embassy in London connived with government officials to “take down” parliamentarians and government ministers who were considered to be critical of the Jewish State. It was also learned that the Israeli Embassy was secretly subsidizing and advising private groups promoting Israeli interests, including associations of Members of Parliament (MPs).

British Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn has been under unrelenting fire due to the fact that he is the first major political party leader in many years to resist the demands that he place Israel on a pedestal. Corbyn is indeed a man of the left who has consistently opposed racism, extreme nationalism, colonialism and military interventionism. Corbyn’s crime has been that he is critical of the Jewish state and has called for an “end to the repression of the Palestinian people.” As a reward, he has been hounded mercilessly by British Jews, even those in his own party, for over two years.

The invective being spewed by some British Jews and Israel has increased of late, presumably because Theresa May’s Conservative government is perceived as being weak and there is a distinct possibility that the leader of the Labour Party will be the next Prime Minister. That a Prime Minister might be sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians is viewed as completely unacceptable.

Related image

Last month, rightwing Labour Parliamentarian Margaret Hodge (image on the right) raised the stakes, calling Corbyn “a fucking anti-Semite and a racist”. She then wrote in the Guardian that Labour is “a hostile environment for Jews.” The traditionally liberal Guardianhas in fact been in the forefront of Jewish criticism of Corbyn, led by its senior editor Jonathan Freedland,who reportedly believes that “his Jewish identity is intimately tied to Israel, and that to attack Israel is to attack him personally… he is demanding the exclusive right to police the parameters of discussions about Israel.” Last month he featured in his paper a letter attacking Corbyn signed by 68 rabbis.

All of the invective has been more-or-less orchestrated by the Israeli government, which directly supports the gaggle of groups that have coalesced to bring down Corbyn. This effort to destroy the Labour leader has included the use of an app disseminating messages via social media accusing Corbyn of anti-Semitism. The app was developed by Israel’s strategic affairs ministry, which “directs Israel’s covert efforts to sabotage the Palestine solidarity movement around the world”.

There are two principal objectives to the “get Corbyn” campaign. The first is to remove him from the Labour Party leadership position, thereby ensuring that he will never be elected Prime Minister, while also eliminating from the party any and all members who are perceived as being “too critical” of Israel. In practice that has meant anyone who criticizes Israel at all. And second it is to establish as a legal principle that the “hate crime” offense of anti-Semitism specifically be defined to include criticism of Israel, thereby making it a criminal offense to write or speak about Israel’s racist behavior towards its Muslim and Christian minority while also making it impossible to freely discuss its war crimes.

The principal argument being made against Corbyn is that the Labour Party is awash with anti-Semitism and Corbyn has done little or nothing to oppose it. Some of the most brutal shots against Corbyn have come from the usual crowd in the United States. Andrew Sullivan recently observed in New York Magazine that

“When it emerged, that Naz Shah, a new Labour MP, had opined on Facebook before she was elected that Israel should be relocated to the U.S., and former London mayor Ken Livingstone backed her up by arguing that the Nazis initially favored Zionism, Corbyn didn’t make a big fuss.”

Sullivan then went on to write that

“It then emerged that Corbyn himself had subscribed to various pro-Palestinian Facebook groups where rank anti-Semitism flourished” and had even “…attended a meeting on Holocaust Memorial Day in 2010, called ‘Never Again for Anyone: Auschwitz to Gaza,’ equating Israelis with Nazis.”

In other words, Corbyn should have been responsible for policing the personal views of Shah and Livingstone, both of whom were subsequently suspended from the Labour Party with Livingstone eventually resigning. He should have also avoided Palestinian Facebook commentary because alleged anti-Semites occasionally contribute their views and ought not to acknowledge in any fashion the Israel war crimes being committed on a daily basis in Gaza.

So Corbyn must go based on the “fact” that he has to be a closet anti-Semite as discerned by the likes of Andrew Sullivan on this side of the Atlantic and a host of Israel-firsters in Britain. But the Labour leader’s worst crime that is being regarded as an “existential threat” to Jewish people everywhere is his resistance to the pressure being exerted on him to endorse and adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) precise multi-faceted definition of what constitutes anti-Semitism. The IHRA basic definition of anti-Semitism is reasonable enough, including “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

The Labour Party and Corbyn have accepted that definition but have balked at eleven “contemporary examples of anti-Semitism” also provided by IHRA, four of which have nothing to do with Jews and everything to do with Israel. They are:

  • Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.
  • Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
  • Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
  • Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.

One might observe that many Jews – not all or even most – but many, do have dual loyalty in which the allegiance to Israel is dominant. I would cite as a prime example the current U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman who spends much of his time defending Israel. And there are also the American Jews who have spied for Israel, to include Jonathan Pollard and AIPAC luminaries Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman who obtained classified information from Lawrence Franklin and then passed what they had obtained to Israeli intelligence.

And yes, Israel is a “racist endeavor.” Just check out the recent nationality law passed by the Knesset declaring Israel to be a Jewish State. It grants self-determination only to those living within its borders who are Jews. And if using racial distinctions for full citizenship while also bombing hospitals and schools while lining up snipers to shoot thousands of unarmed Palestinian demonstrators is not Nazi-like behavior, then what is? Israel and its leader are sometimes compared to Nazis and to Adolf Hitler because they behave like Nazis and Adolf Hitler.

And finally there is the definition that challenges any “double standard” in demanding behavior from Israel that is not expected from any other democratic nation. Well, first of all Israel is not a democracy. It is a theocracy or ethnocracy if you prefer wrapped around a police state. Other countries that call themselves democracies have equal rights under law for all citizens. Other democracies do not have hundreds of thousands of settlers stealing land and even water resources from the indigenous population and colonizing it to the benefit of only one segment of its population. Other democracies do not regularly shoot dead unarmed protesters. How many democracies are currently practicing ethnic cleansing, as the Israeli Jews are doing to the Palestinians?

Will Corbyn give in to the IHRA demands to save his skin as party leader? One has to suspect that he will as he is already regularly conceding points and apologizing, publicly delivering the required obeisance to the holocaust as “the worst crime of the twentieth century.” And every time he tries to appease those out to get him he emerges weaker. Even if he submits completely, the Israel firsters who are hot to get him, having just like in American significant control over the media, will continue to attack until they find the precise issue that will bring him down. The Labour National Executive Council will meet in September to vote on full acceptance of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism. When they, as is likely, kneel before force majeure that will be the end of free speech in Britain. Criticize Israel and you go to jail.

And the same thing is happening in the United States in precisely the same fashion. Criticism of Israel or protesting against it will sooner rather than later be criminalized. I sometimes wonder if Senator Ben Cardin and the others who are promoting the hate legislation really understand what will be lost when they sacrifice the U.S. Constitution to defend Israel. Once free speech is gone, it will never return.

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UN Report on Myanmar Ignores Western Imperial High Crimes

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A UN Human Rights Council fact-finding mission accused Myanmar’s military and security forces of genocide and war crimes against Royinghas and other ethnic minorities – calling their actions “the gravest crimes under international law.”

According to former Indonesian attorney general mission chair Marzuki Darusman, Myanmar’s military committed “shocking human rights violations,” showing “flagrant disregard for lives,” displaying “extreme levels of brutality.”

Its military shows “contempt for human life, dignity and freedom – for international law in general.”

“The Rohingya are in a continuing situation of severe systemic and institutionalized oppression from birth to death.”

Offenses cited include gang rape, torching villages, enslavement, massacres, false imprisonments, torture, and other crimes against humanity in Kachin, Shan and Rakhine states.

The report called for a mechanism to hold Myanmar authorities accountable – including state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, complicit through silence and inaction.

The report said she

“has not used her de facto position as Head of Government, nor her moral authority, to stem or prevent the unfolding events in Rakhine State.”

“The Government and the Tatmadaw (Myanmar’s military) have fostered a climate in which hate speech thrives, human rights violations are legitimized, and incitement to discrimination and violence facilitated.”

The International Criminal Court has no jurisdiction over the country because it’s not a Rome Statute signatory.

The universal jurisdiction principle (UJ) holds that certain crimes are too grave to ignore, including genocide, crimes of war and against humanity.

Under UJ, nations may investigate and prosecute foreign nationals when their country of residence or origin won’t, can’t, or hasn’t for any reason. Israel used it to convict and execute Adolph Eichmann.

A US court sentenced Chuckie Taylor, son of the former Liberian president, to 97 years in prison for torture.

Britain used a Spanish court provisional warrant to apprehend former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, holding him under house arrest for 18 months.

Instead of prosecuting him for high crimes too grave to ignore, he was released and sent home, based on bogus ill health claims.

Under Article 7 of the Charter of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg:

“The official position of defendants, whether as Head of State or responsible officials in Government departments, shall not be considered as freeing them from responsibility or mitigating punishment.”

No one deserves immunity for high crimes demanding accountability. It’s time that standard applied to America, other NATO countries, Israel, and their imperial partners for high crimes too egregious to ignore.

Established by the Rome Statute in July 2002, the International Criminal Court (ICC) is empowered to prosecute individuals for genocide and aggression, as well as crimes of war and against humanity.

The UN was created “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our life time has brought untold sorrow to mankind.”

Its leadership did nothing to deter endless wars of aggression, human rights abuses, or other high crimes committed by powerful member states, notably Western ones, Israel, and their imperial partners, doing what they please, operating with impunity.

Nor has the ICC, functioning as an imperial tool, targeting officials of nations Washington and NATO want prosecuted, victims of US-led aggression.

The court, world body, and special international tribunals never sought to hold officials of Western nations, Israel, and their allies accountable for naked aggression and related high crimes too egregious to ignore.

Myanmar officials are easy targets. So were former Yugoslav officials Slobodan Milosevic and Ratko Mladic, Iraq’s deputy PM and foreign minister Tariq Aziz, Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam, the DRC’s Jean-Pierre Bemba, Uganda’s Joseph Kony, and Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir, among others.

The highest of high crimes committed by Western and allied officials go unpunished.

Their adversaries and enemies are held accountable for crimes of war, against humanity, and genocide committed against their countries by foreign powers.

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Trump’s Desperate Measures Against Iran Could Lead to US Isolation: Prof. Tim Anderson

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A senior professor and political analyst based in Australia described the recent formation of an Iran Action Group (IAG) in the US as one of the Donald Trump administration’s desperate moves against Tehran, which will only isolate Washington.

“The new measures against Iran by the Trump administration, including the formation of an Iran Action Group, are measures of desperation,” Professor Tim Anderson, a lecturer at the University of Sydney, said in an interview with the Tasnim News Agency.

“Washington has no real allies in this, just some countries which are afraid to contradict Washington,” he added.

The main effect of these desperate measures “will be to isolate the USA” in the long term, the analyst said.

Professor Tim Anderson is a distinguished author and senior lecturer of political economy at the University of Sydney, Australia. Author of the ‘The Dirty War on Syria’, he has been largely published on various issues particularly the Syrian crisis.

The following is the full text of the interview.

Tasnim: As you know, the US government’s hostility toward Iran has recently entered a new stage. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has formed a dedicated group to coordinate and run the country’s policy towards Iran following President Donald Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran. Pompeo announced the creation of the Iran Action Group (IAG) at a news conference, naming Brian Hook, the Department of State’s director of policy planning, as its head. What do you think about the group and its objectives and do you think that it would be able to reach its goals?

Anderson: The new measures against Iran by the Trump administration, including the formation of an Iran Action Group, are measures of desperation. Washington has no real allies in this, just some countries which are afraid to contradict Washington. Other countries, which formerly backed the nuclear disarmament moves against Iran (notably Russia and China, but also some European countries) have abandoned the US, leaving it isolated. And that isolation is deepening because Washington is now threatening all its so-called allies.

All this might seem quite irrational, but we should remember that, for the US, the stakes are high.  The destruction of Syria was meant to pave the way for the isolation of and siege on Iran. That was the goal of the ‘New Middle East’ (by the Bush 2 and Obama regimes), which was supposed to usher a world of ‘freedom and democracy’, under North American tutelage.

Yet after several bloody wars the US proxy armies led by Jabhat al Nusra and DAESH, financed and armed by US agents in the region, were defeated by resistance forces in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq. Syria and its allies prevailed. So while the US and its proxies remain dangerous, and they continue to kill and destabilize, strategically they have failed, and they know it.

Compounding the US obsession with Iran is the fact that, as the ‘New Middle East’ project was failing, an even greater counter project for Eurasia integration was building, and here also Iran is important. Tehran now has mega linkage projects with Russia and China, and developing links across central Asia. Pepe Escobar’s recent article ‘Economic war on Iran is war on Eurasia integration’ outlines this quite well.

China’s new network of infrastructure projects (the Belt and Road Initiative) move forward inexorably, as Russia’s economic links with East Asia, West Asia and parts of Europe steadily grow, avoiding US interference. If Asia and Europe succeed in building strong economic links, the role and influence of North America across the entire Eurasian super-continent will be reduced.

In short, Washington sees Iran as the major obstacle to its plan to dominate West Asia, and also an important part of the Chinese and Russian led Eurasian integration, which they oppose. That is why, in my view, we see these desperate measures, with President Trump threatening most of his ‘allies’ over Iran. The main effect, in the longer run, will be to isolate the USA.

Tasnim: The Trump administration recently threatened to cut Iranian oil exports to zero, saying that countries must stop buying its oil from Nov. 4 or face financial consequences. Washington later softened its threat, saying that it would allow reduced oil flows of Iranian oil, in certain cases. Since oil is a strategic product and countries around the world always demand it, do you think that the US is able to carry out this threat at all?

Anderson: The US has been threatening many countries not to buy Iran’s oil. This has some influence on some countries. India, for example, seems to be hedging its bets. The French company Total has pulled out of its investments, no doubt judging that its business in the USA is worth more to it than those in Iran. However, oil is a global commodity and there are limits on how much economic loss companies and states will tolerate in seeking ‘safer’ but more expensive alternatives. And of course, the sanctions on Iran hardly deter the other countries which face their own unilateral sanctions from Washington.

For those which chose to maintain at least normal business links with Iran, there are some unintended consequences which are unfavorable to the US. China, for example, which has no problems in purchasing Iran’s oil, seems to have created a boom in Iranian shipping, through its deal to import Iranian oil in Iran’s ships, with Iran covering the insurance side (See this). The ‘petrodollar’ is also being undermined. China, which has been trading in bilateral swaps with many countries over the last decade, is quite happy to pay for its oil in Yuan.

US sanctions do bring pressure to bear on vulnerable countries, not least Iraq, still struggling to escape a virtual colonization by the US, after the brutal 2003 invasion. Iran-Iraq trade is substantial and of strategic importance, for both neighboring countries. In the short term, the US can pressure Iraq over its use of US dollars. However, as US analysts have recognized, these pressures are ‘backfiring’. Given the popular mood and economic realities, even the most compliant Iraqi leaders ‘cannot afford’ to cut economic ties with Iran. If Iraq ‘violates sanctions and is hit by US penalties, it is likely to place the country further into Iran’s sphere of influence’ (See this).

US unilateral sanctions on Russia also add to pressures on other US allies to move out of the North American financial sphere. Germany’s foreign minister Heiko Mass recently called for an alternative to the SWIFT system for international transactions (See this), not least so as German industry can purchase cheaper Russian gas. Now the Europeans have been slow in this regard, but at least they are talking openly about seeking greater independence from their NATO ‘big brother’.

In short, US sanctions will cut some markets and force some adjustments. However, the demand for Iran’s oil is not going away. Unlike a decade ago, the US has few allies in this campaign. Fairly rapidly this economic aggression will consolidate relations amongst Iran’s more reliable strategic partners, weaken the petrodollar and pressure a range of more independent policies amongst US allies.

Tasnim: Trump’s threat is part of his walking away from the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). He also plans to fully reinstate anti-Tehran sanctions from November 4. In the meantime, the EU has vowed to counter Trump’s renewed sanctions on Iran, including by means of a new law to shield European companies from punitive measures. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas recently said Europe should set up payment systems independent of the US if it wants to save the JCPOA. What do you think about the EU’s role in reducing Washington’s pressures against Tehran and saving the deal?

Anderson: Washington’s cynical rejection of the JCPOA / Barjam has undermined its support across the board. The Europeans clearly took the nuclear agreement more seriously than Washington. While European companies are now under serious pressure to abandon their Iranian investments, so as to maintain their US investments, the European Union has begun to ‘grow a spine’ in face of Trump’s bullying.

Alongside the German proposal for bypassing the US controlled SWIFT system, the EU has re-activated its ‘block law’, to protect companies doing business in Iran (See this). This law was first created to avoid the third-party impact of unilateral US sanctions on Cuba. The statute protects ‘against the effects of the extra-territorial application of legislation adopted by a third country’. It prohibits compliance with non-recognized US sanctions while rejecting any court rulings to apply US penalties.

There is genuine resentment in Europe at US unilateralism and at Trump’s bullying, but the EU has been deeply embedded in US strategy for some time and its incipient moves must be read in that light. There are some rumblings of European economic independence, as regards US aggression against both Russia and Iran; but greater dynamism for structural change is coming from the east, through the Eurasian initiatives of China and Russia.

Will the JCPOA/Barjam survive? I suspect not. The US has openly betrayed the deal and split with all other players. Most of the Europeans seem to want to maintain the deal, but if they cannot deliver on their side, to remove sanctions against Iran, there is nothing in it for Tehran. Russia and China are long gone. US analysts recognize that Washington has no credibility to renegotiate anything and nothing to offer; so there will be no second JCPOA (See this). Both Iran’s Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and the country’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif are now calling the 2015 agreement a ‘mistake’. That seems to bridge the gap between Iran’s liberals and ‘principlists’ over the matter: greater Iranian unity in face of an imperial project with seriously eroded support. Why would Iran allow foreign surveillance of its energy and nuclear sector, and get nothing in return? Time to move on, it seems.


The Dirty War on Syria

Author: Tim Anderson

ISBN Number: 978-0-9737147-8-4

Year: 2016

Pages: 240

List Price: $23.95

Special Price: $15.00

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Second UN Meeting on New Syrian Constitution Set for this Month

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The U.N. peace envoy for Syria will host senior officials from a range of Western and Middle-Eastern countries next month for talks on drafting a new Syrian constitution, the U.N. said Tuesday.

Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura has been tasked with setting up a committee to write a new constitution for the war-ravaged country.

He is already set to host a meeting on Sept. 11-12 at the U.N.’s European headquarters in Geneva of senior officials from the main foreign powers backing the project, Syrian government allies Russia and Iran, as well as Turkey, which supports some opposition groups.

And on Tuesday, U.N. spokeswoman Alessandra Vellucci said de Mistura had convened a one-day meeting on Sept. 14 with senior representatives from Egypt, France, Germany, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The meeting, Vellucci said, was to focus on “the way ahead on the political process” for Syria, “including the U.N. effort to facilitate the establishment of a constitutional committee.”

De Mistura has said he wants to have the constitutional committee in place before world leaders meet at the General Assembly in New York in late September.

De Mistura’s previous efforts to negotiate an end to the Syrian conflict have achieved no breakthroughs.

More than 350,000 people have been killed and millions displaced since Syria’s war started in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.

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The Other Side of John McCain

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If the paeans to McCain by diverse political climbers seems detached from reality, it’s because they reflect the elite view of U.S. military interventions as a chess game, with the millions killed by unprovoked aggression mere statistics, says Max Blumenthal.

 

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As the Cold War entered its final act in 1985, journalist Helena Cobbanparticipated in an academic conference at an upscale resort near Tucson, Arizona, on U.S.-Soviet interactions in the Middle East. When she attended what was listed as the “Gala Dinner with keynote speech”, she quickly learned that the virtual theme of the evening was, “Adopt a Muj.”

I remember mingling with all of these wealthy Republican women from the Phoenix suburbs and being asked, ‘Have you adopted a muj?” Cobban told me. “Each one had pledged money to sponsor a member of the Afghan mujahedin in the name of beating the communists. Some were even seated at the event next to their personal ‘muj.’”

The keynote speaker of the evening, according to Cobban, was a hard-charging freshman member of Congress named John McCain.

During the Vietnam war, McCain had been captured by the North Vietnamese Army after being shot down on his way to bomb a civilian lightbulb factory. He spent two years in solitary confinement and underwent torture that left him with crippling injuries. McCain returned from the war with a deep, abiding loathing of his former captors, remarking as late as 2000,

“I hate the gooks. I will hate them as long as I live.”

After he was criticized for the racist remark, McCain refused to apologize.

“I was referring to my prison guards,” he said, “and I will continue to refer to them in language that might offend some people because of the beating and torture of my friends.”

Image on the right: ‘Hanoi Hilton’ prison where McCain was tortured. (Wikimedia Commons)

McCain’s visceral resentment informed his vocal support for the mujahedin as well as the right-wing contra death squads in Central America — any proxy group sworn to the destruction of communist governments.

So committed was McCain to the anti-communist cause that in the mid-1980s he had joined the advisory board of the United States Council for World Freedom, the American affiliate of the World Anti-Communist League (WACL). Geoffrey Stewart-Smith, a former leader of WACL’s British chapter who had turned against the group in 1974, described the organization as “a collection of Nazis, fascists, anti-Semites, sellers of forgeries, vicious racialists, and corrupt self-seekers. It has evolved into an anti-Semitic international.

Joining McCain in the organization were notables such as Jaroslav Stetsko, the Ukrainian Nazi collaborator who helped oversee the extermination of 7,000 Jews in 1941; the brutal Argentinian former dictator Jorge Rafael Videla; and Guatemalan death squad leader Mario Sandoval Alarcon. Then-President Ronald Reagan honored the group for playing a leadership role in drawing attention to the gallant struggle now being waged by the true freedom fighters of our day.

Being Lauded as a Hero

On the occasion of his death, McCain is being honored in much the same way — as a patriotic hero and freedom fighter for democracy. A stream of hagiographies is pouring forth from the Beltway press corps that he described as his true political base. Among McCain’s most enthusiastic groupies is CNN’s Jake Tapper, whom he chose as his personal stenographer for a 2000 trip to Vietnam. When the former CNN host Howard Kurtz asked Tapper in February, 2000,

“When you’re on the [campaign] bus, do you make a conscious effort not to fall under the magical McCain spell?”

“Oh, you can’t. You become like Patty Hearst when the SLA took her,” Tapper joked in reply.

But the late senator has also been treated to gratuitous tributes from an array of prominent liberals, from George Soros to his soft power-pushing client, Ken Roth, along with three fellow directors of Human Rights Watch and “democratic socialist” celebrity Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (image on the left), who hailed McCain as “an unparalleled example of human decency.” Rep. John Lewis, the favorite civil rights symbol of the Beltway political class, weighed in as well to memorialize McCain as a “warrior for peace.”

If the paeans to McCain by this diverse cast of political climbers and Davos denizens seemed detached from reality, that’s because they perfectly reflected the elite view of American military interventions as akin to a game of chess, and the millions of dead left in the wake of the West’s unprovoked aggression as mere statistics.

There were few figures in recent American life who dedicated themselves so personally to the perpetuation of war and empire as McCain. But in Washington, the most defining aspect of his career was studiously overlooked, or waved away as the trivial idiosyncrasy of a noble servant who nonetheless deserved everyone’s reverence.

McCain did not simply thunder for every major intervention of the post-Cold War era from the Senate floor, while pushing for sanctions and assorted campaigns of subterfuge on the side. He was uniquely ruthless when it came to advancing imperial goals, barnstorming from one conflict zone to another to personally recruit far-right fanatics as American proxies.

In Libya and Syria, he cultivated affiliates of Al Qaeda as allies, and in Ukraine, McCain courted actual, sig-heiling neo-Nazis.

While McCain’s Senate office functioned as a clubhouse for arms industry lobbyists and neocon operatives, his fascistic allies waged a campaign of human devastation that will continue until long after the flowers dry up on his grave.

American media may have sought to bury this legacy with the senator’s body, but it is what much of the outside world will remember him for.

‘They are Not al-Qaeda’

When a violent insurgency swept through Libya in 2011, McCain parachuted into the country to meet with leaders of the main insurgent outfit, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), battling the government of Moamar Gaddafi. His goal was to make kosher this band of hardline Islamists in the eyes of the Obama administration, which was considering a military intervention at the time.

McCain with Abdelhakim Belhaj, leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, a former Al Qaeda affiliate.

What happened next is well documented, though it is scarcely discussed by a Washington political class that depended on the Benghazi charade to deflect from the real scandal of Libya’s societal destruction. Gaddafi’s motorcade was attacked by NATO jets, enabling a band of LIFG fighters to capture him, sodomize him with a bayonet, then murder him and leave his body to rot in a butcher shop in Misrata while rebel fanboys snapped cellphone selfies of his fetid corpse.

slaughter of Black citizens of Libya by the racist sectarian militias recruited by McCain immediately followed the killing of the pan-African leader. ISIS took over Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirte while Belhaj’s militia took control of Tripoli, and a war of the warlords began. Just as Gaddafi had warned, the ruined country became a staging ground for migrant smugglers on the Mediterranean, fueling the rise of the far-right across Europe and enabling the return of slavery to Africa.

Many might describe Libya as a failed state, but it also represents a successful realization of the vision McCain and his allies have advanced on the global stage.

Following the NATO-orchestrated murder of Libya’s leader, McCain tweeted,

“Qaddafi on his way out, Bashar al Assad is next.”

McCain’s Syrian Boondoggle

Like Libya, Syria had resisted aligning with the West and was suddenly confronted with a Salafi-jihadi insurgency armed by the CIA. Once again, McCain made it his personal duty to market Islamist insurgents to America as a cross between the Minutemen and the Freedom Riders of the civil rights era. To do so, he took under his wing a youthful DC-based Syria-American operative named Mouaz Moustafa who had been a consultant to the Libyan Transitional Council during the run-up to the NATO invasion.

In May 2013, Moustafa convinced McCain to take an illegal trip across the Syrian border and meet some freedom fighters. An Israeli millionaire named Moti Kahana who coordinated efforts between the Syrian opposition and the Israeli military through his NGO, Amaliah, claimed to have “financed the opposition group which took senator John McCain to visit war-torn Syria.”

This could be like his Benghazi moment,” Moustafa remarked excitedly in a scene from a documentary, “Red Lines,” that depicted his efforts for regime change. “[McCain] went to Benghazi, he came back, we bombed.”

During his brief excursion into Syria, McCain met with a group of CIA-backed insurgents and blessed their struggle. “The senator wanted to assure the Free Syrian Army that the American people support their cry for freedom, support their revolution,” Moustafa said in an interview with CNN. McCains office promptly released a photo showing the senatorposing beside a beaming Moustafa and two grim-looking gunmen.

Days later, the men were named by the Lebanese Daily Star as Mohammad Nour and Abu Ibrahim. Both had been implicated in the kidnapping a year prior of 11 Shia pilgrims, and were identified by one of the survivors. McCain and Moustafa returned to the U.S. the targets of mockery from Daily Show host John Stewart and the subject of harshly critical reports from across the media spectrum. At a town hall in Arizona, McCain was berated by constituents, including Jumana Hadid, a Syrian Christian woman who warned that the sectarian militants he had cozied up to threatened her community with genocide.

McCain with then-FSA commander Salam Idriss, right, and an insurgent, left, later exposed for kidnapping Shia pilgrims.

But McCain pressed ahead anyway. On Capitol Hill, he introduced another shady young operative into his interventionist theater. Named Elizabeth O’Bagy, she was a fellow at the Institute for the Study of War, an arms industry-funded think tank directed by Kimberly Kagan of the neoconservative Kagan clan. Behind the scenes, O’Bagy was consulting for Moustafa at his Syrian Emergency Task Force, a clear conflict of interest that her top Senate patron was well aware of. Before the Senate, McCain cited a Wall Street Journal editorial by O’Bagy to support his assessment of the Syrian rebels as predominately moderate,” and potentially Western-friendly.

Days later, O’Bagy was exposed for faking her PhD in Arabic studies. As soon as the humiliated Kagan fired O’Bagy, the academic fraudster took another pass through the Beltway’s revolving door, striding into the halls of Congress as McCain’s newest foreign policy aide.

McCain ultimately failed to see the Islamist “revolutionaries” he glad handled take control of Damascus. Syria’s government held on thanks to help from his mortal enemies in Tehran and Moscow, but not before a billion dollar CIA arm-and-equip operation helped spawn one of the worst refugee crises in post-war history. Luckily for McCain, there were other intrigues seeking his attention, and new bands of fanatical rogues in need of his blessing. Months after his Syrian boondoggle, the ornery militarist turned his attention to Ukraine, then in the throes of an upheaval stimulated by U.S. and EU-funded soft power NGO’s.

Coddling the Neo-Nazis of Ukraine

On December 14, 2013, McCain materialized in Kiev for a meeting with Oleh Tyanhbok, an unreconstructed fascist who had emerged as a top opposition leader. Tyanhbok had co-founded the fascist Social-National Party, a far-right political outfit that touted itself as the last hope of the white race, of humankind as such.” No fan of Jews, he had complained that a “Muscovite-Jewish mafia” had taken control of his country, and had been photographed throwing up a sieg heil Nazi salute during a speech.

None of this apparently mattered to McCain. Nor did the scene of Right Sector neo-Nazis filling upKiev’s Maidan Square while he appeared on stage to egg them on.

Ukraine will make Europe better and Europe will make Ukraine better! McCain proclaimed to cheering throngs while Tyanhbok stood by his side. The only issue that mattered to him at the time was the refusal of Ukraine’s elected president to sign a European Union austerity plan, opting instead for an economic deal with Moscow.

Image on the right: McCain met with Social-National Party co-founder Oleh Tyanhbok.

McCain was so committed to replacing an independent-minded government with a NATO vassal that he even mulled a military assault on Kiev. “I do not see a military option and that is tragic, McCain lamented in an interview about the crisis. Fortunately for him, regime change arrived soon after his appearance on the Maidan, and Tyanhbok’s allies rushed in to fill the void.

By the end of the year, the Ukrainian military had become bogged down in a bloody trench war with pro-Russian, anti-coup separatists in the country’s east. A militia affiliated with the new government in Kiev called Dnipro-1 was accused by Amnesty International observers of blocking humanitarian aid into a separatist-held area, including food and clothing for the war torn population.

Six months later, McCain appeared at Dnipro-1’s training base alongside Sen.’s Tom Cotton and John Barasso.

“The people of my country are proud of your fight and your courage,” McCain told an assembly of soldiers from the militia.

When he completed his remarks, the fighters belted out a World War II-era salute made famous by Ukrainian Nazi collaborators:

“Glory to Ukraine!”

Today, far-right nationalists occupy key posts in Ukraine’s pro-Western government. The speaker of its parliament is Andriy Parubiy, a co-founder with Tyanhbok of the Social-National Party and leader of the movement to honor World World Two-era Nazi collaborators like Stepan Bandera. On the cover of his 1998 manifesto, View From The Right,” Parubiy appeared in a Nazi-style brown shirt with a pistol strapped to his waist. In June 2017, McCain and Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan welcomed Parubiy on Capitol Hill for what McCain called a “good meeting.” It was a shot in the arm for the fascist forces sweeping across Ukraine.

The past months in Ukraine have seen a state sponsored neo-Nazi militia called C14 carrying out a pogromist rampage against Ukraine’s Roma population, the country’s parliament erecting an exhibitionhonoring Nazi collaborators, and the Ukrainian military formally approving the pro-Nazi “Glory to Ukraine” greeting as its own official salute.

Ukraine is now the sick man of Europe, a perpetual aid case bogged down in an endless war in its east. In a testament to the country’s demise since its so-called “Revolution of Dignity,” the deeply unpopular President Petro Poroshenko has promised White House National Security Advisor John Bolton that his country — once a plentiful source of coal on par with Pennsylvania — will now purchase coal from the U.S. Once again, a regime change operation that generated a failing, fascistic state stands as one of McCain’s greatest triumphs.

McCain’s history conjures up memory of one of the most inflammatory statements by Sarah Palin, another cretinous fanatic he foisted onto the world stage. During a characteristically rambling stump speech in October 2008, Palin accusedBarack Obama of “palling around with terrorists.” The line was dismissed as ridiculous and borderline slander, as it should have been. But looking back at McCain’s career, the accusation seems richly ironic.

By any objective standard, it was McCain who had palled around with terrorists, and who wrested as much resources as he could from the American taxpayer to maximize their mayhem. Here’s hoping that the societies shattered by McCain’s proxies will someday rest in peace.

Posted in USAComments Off on The Other Side of John McCain


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