Archive | September 16th, 2019

Power and Tragedy

by EVAGGELOS VALLIANATOS

Starting with the Trojan War in the thirteenth century BCE, the Greeks embarked on a gigantic Grexit that lasted for centuries. They migrated to other more prosperous lands.

The Greeks of Euboea were pioneers in this political movement: searching and finding better life outside of Greece. In the eighth century BCE, some of them abandoned the island of Euboea for another island in Italy. This was Ischia in the Gulf of Naples. They gave their new polis a strange name: Pithekousa. This is a name derived from the Greek word for monkey: Pithekos.

Three hundred years after the Euboeans established their prosperous monkey kingdom in Italy, by the fifth century BCE, the Greeks had made southern Italy into Great Greece (Megale Hellada, Magna Graecia) and converted the Mediterranean into a Greek lake dotted with hundreds of poleis.

This cultural and imperial expansion of Greece slowed down considerably in late fifth century BCE. War broke out between Athens and Sparta, threatening Greek society and institutions, including Greek society outside of mainland Greece.

The Peloponnesian War

We call this war the Peloponnesian War. Sparta started it. And Sparta was at the heart of Peloponnesos.

The Peloponnesian War wrecked Greek dreams and triumphs at home and abroad. Centuries of efforts in building a free, prosperous, mostly democratic, and civilized country, the first in the world, never reached completion. Most went up in the smoke of war.

The Peloponnesian War stripped the Greeks naked. It revealed an intensely agonistic and often antagonistic culture. Thucydides, the fifth century BCE Athenian general turned the world’s greatest historian, wrote in his story of The Peloponnesian War (6.80.3) that the Spartans and the Athenians, like good Dorians and Ionians, were eternal enemies. The two highly contested words are αἰεὶπολεμίων(aiei polemion) – being in perpetual war or enemies forever.

Now, why should Athens and Sparta be such bitter enemies? Could Thucydides be exaggerating?

Ionians and Dorians

Both Ionians and Dorians were Hellenes (Greeks). The Ionians were primarily from Athens and Attica and the Dorians were primarily from the northern region of Hellas known as Epirus. Dorians settled in Peloponnesos. The Spartans were their chief champions.

Unlike modern scholars’ pet theory of a Dorian invasion of Greece from somewhere in northern Europe or Asia, the Dorians did not “invade” Greece from outside or inside Greece. The Dorians were Greek people who migrated from Epirus to  Peloponnesos.

In addition, it was the mingling of the traditions of the Dorians with those of the Ionians that gave birth to Hellenic freedom, science, architecture, art, philosophy, literature and religion.

Ionians and Dorians invented and designed the Olympics and other Panhellenic athletic and religious festivals primarily as patriotic and anti-war institutions. Hostile acts or war ceased during those sacred games. The heroes reputed to have invented the Olympics, Herakles and Pelops, were Panhellenic heroes.

The Dorians and Ionians were children of the Mycenaean and Minoan civilization that reached its climax in the second millennium BCE.

In late thirteenth century BCE, the Dorians and Ionians, fought and won the Trojan War. The protagonists of that  conflict included the Dorian Helen, daughter of Zeus and wife of the Spartan King Menelaos. Sparta sent sixty ships to Troy; King Agamemnon of Argos was commander-in-chief of the Greek troops in Troy and brother of Menelaos; and the Ionian king of Ithaca, Odysseus, was decisive in the execution of the war. Menelaus, Agamemnon and Odysseus worked very closely together.

Athens sent fifty ships to Troy under the leadership of Menestheus.

The Homeric epics don’t sing any struggle between Athens and Sparta. On the contrary, the epics nourished the Ionian Thucydides as much as the Dorian Spartan King Brasidas. Thucydides was the Athenian general responsible for the protection of the Athenian polis of Amphipolis in Macedonia. Yet Brasidas outwitted Thucydides and captured Amphipolis. Athens retaliated against Thucydides. It exiled him for 20 years.

The Peloponnesian Wart became a killing ground that engulfed the entire Greek world for twenty-seven years in the last three decades of the fifth century BCE.

There are about 2,500 years between the fifth century BCE and us living in the twenty-first century.

The fifth century BCE

The fifth century BCE was the first epoch of Greek Enlightenment that gave birth and nourished some of the most original and lasting inventions and creations of Greek culture: natural philosophy, scientific medicine, political theory, democracy, classical architecture and art, and dramatic theater.

In the fifth century BCE, Athens and Sparta were at the height of their material prosperity and power. Together, in the beginning of the fifth century, Athenians and Spartans defeated the Persians and, perhaps, without exaggeration, they started thinking themselves to be the Greek superpowers that had a right to rule the rest of the Greek people.

It’s quite possible Athens was planning of uniting all the Greek poleis into a Hellenic republic. Sparta might have had a similar ambition.

The Peloponnesian War shattered the dreams of both Athens and Sparta. It was an unforeseen catastrophe. Thucydides recorded the history of the  war. He was certain his story would be “of permanent value ” (1.22). He was right.

Thucydides

It is fitting I praise Thucydides. His story of The  Peloponnesian War is a work of everlasting importance. I find it wrenching, dramatic, violent, and yet beautiful.

In his book, Greece (1963, 156). M. Rostovtzeff, one of the greatest twentieth-century scholars on Greek and Roman history, described Thucydides’ work  as “one of the noblest monuments of the Greek genius in literature and art — a masterpiece both in detail and in its general survey of a period of primary importance.”

The narrative stuns me, revealing hatred, atrocities, and raw power. How could this happen, I keep asking myself, among people who spoke the same language, worshipped the same gods, and lived in the land of their ancestors.

The lament of Thucydides is about the ferocious killing among the Hellenes.

Yet that story of killing and tragedy also includes political power, Eros, philosophy, and beauty of what the Greeks were creating, doing, and saying in the fifth century and after.

The Greeks were surrounded by people who plundered for living and slept armed to the teeth. The Greeks contemptuously called their neighbors barbarians. The Greeks thought they were not far removed from being gods. They knew they were at least relatives of the gods.

Greek mythology

The Greeks drew their early history from myths. Modern scholars, sometimes in error but more often in ignorance and malice, describe Greek myths as unbelievable childish legents. However, the Greeks looked at their myths differently. They saw the myths bringing them closer to the gods, particularly Prometheus,  Zeus, Demeter, Dionysos, Athena, Hephaistos, and Apollo — divine powerhouses of knowledge, rain, thunder and the heavens, hospitality, agrarian civilization, science, technology, culture and the arts.

The Greeks thought the gods were mostly on their side. They loved the stories they inherited about their gods — and had no doubt these stories, myths, were true. Plato (Republic 621b8-c1) and Aristotle (Poetics 1450a3-5) thought so.

The elimination of the Persian danger gave the Greeks confidence and pride, even hubris, in their mission: each polis becoming the best in Greece, and each citizen striving to be the best in his polis.

Hubris

Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides — probably more than any other Greek dramatists — understood the rising insolence among their contemporary Greeks. They pleaded with them to preserve their freedom by being moderate towards each other and by following their sacred religious traditions.

That’s why they gave birth to tragedy. That’s why they gave such a powerful and beautiful expression of the Greek Eros for freedom. They read Homer and created a thousand tragedies out of his immortal epics.

If and when men stepped beyond the bounds allowed by their ancient customs and the gods, tragedy was inevitable. The dramatic poets captured tragedy’s passion: tears, anguish, and suffering that brought the catharsis of the drama.

The Peloponnesian War was the ultimate tragedy, to which Thucydides gave the greatest stage of all — the entire Greek world. Thucydides condensed the historic drama of the Greek people, with the result his story explains not merely the destructive fight of Athens and Sparta but throws light on nearly all subsequent Greek history.

The defeat of Athens by Sparta led to the corrupt excesses of democracy in Athens, including the state execution of Socrates – teacher of Plato and moral philosopher.

Plato and Aristotle

These political events made Plato. He grew up during the Peloponnesian War. His dialogues are linked to Athens, Greek history, and the heavens. His anger fertilized his imagination and obsession about things extraterrestrial: the ideal and heavenly models of everything, including the irreconcilable struggle between body and soul.

Plato painted this dramatic ideal in an unforgettable canvass in the dialogue Phaedo. We see Socrates in prison spending the last hours of his life with a few dedicated followers discussing matters of life and death.

Socrates zeros in on the body (tempted and influenced by food, desires, pain, pleasures, corruption and sex) and the soul (invisible, divine,  master of consciousness and knowledge and truth). Every piece of tasty food, pleasure and pain, Socrates says, nail the soul to the body, polluting and drugging it to the point of uselessness.

The soul is infected by the evils of the body, wrecking its mission of searching and discovering the truth. In such a state, the soul is out of touch with the pure and the divine. This reality, Plato says, undermines philosophy and the true lovers of learning and wisdom, philosophers. The body becomes an impediment to their search for truth. This means searching for wisdom and  pure knowledge becomes a death wish. True philosophers are always busy practicing death. Would it not be better for those philosophers  dying rather than staying alive?

Plato is a great philosopher and profound thinker. Yet I always felt uncomfortable with his abstract thinking – about the soul and the body. We don’t know what soul is. We have no evidence such a thing exists. But even if we associate the soul with our inner world of thought and intelligence, dreams and ambition and affection and passion, we cannot separate it from the body. They are one.

I think Plato invented  abstractions out of desperation. The Greeks of his time failed him miserably. He could not explain the violence of the Peloponnesian War, the collapse of Athens, and the death of Socrates. Plato witnessed things falling apart.

Violence and tyranny also gave birth to Christianity, Islam, theology, monasticism, the dark ages, the Cold War and nuclear bombs. Not that Plato had anything to do with those later developments, but his struggle to explain the unexplainable was not unique.

Tragedy

The Christians borrowed Plato’s views on flesh, pleasures and the soul, only to make them monstrous in their theology and politics of total control of the faithful human sheep.

Aristotle studied with Plato for twenty years. Plato influenced Aristotle. But the Peloponnesian War was history to Aristotle. He grew up in the royal house of the Macedonian kings. His  father  was the physician to those kings. Aristotle breathed curiosity and politics. His feet were solidly planted on Greek soil and the Earth.

He tutored Alexander the Great who conquered the world and made Greek thought universal. The successors of Alexander built their kingdoms around the ideas of Aristotle.

Despite the magnificent works of Aristotle in natural philosophy, metaphysics, politics, ethics, rhetoric, and poetry, including his invention of zoology and science, and his influence in the civilization of the Greek kingdoms in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, Hellas was doomed.

Antagonisms and wars among the political successors of Alexander took off after the death of Alexander. These Hellenic conflicts made it easier for Rome stepping into a divided Greece. The inevitable result was decline and the eclipse of Greek political independence and freedom.

The final humiliation and gigantic tragedy came with the Christianization of Greece and Europe in the fourth century. Christians uprooted Hellenic civilization. Yet fragments of that controversial but original culture survived, fueling the Renaissance and our world.

Posted in Literature0 Comments

Tracks to Nowhere

by RAOUF HALABY

Reporting on the failed Camp David plan to sign an agreement between the U.S. and the Taliban, on 8 September, 2019, a CNN reporter stated that Trump’s plan for talks on an agreement between the U.S. and the Taliban, and, by extension, Trump’s foreign policy, “went off tracks.”

Really?

Tracks or no tracks, the reality is that Trump’s never had a foreign policy. Much like the recent fires, hurricanes, floods, and tornados that have ravaged every continent, Trump’s erratic, fitful, unpredictable, inconsistent, and incoherent foreign policy exposes him for what he is: Trump is a pompously egotistical charlatan who fancies the U.S. and the world as his private casino in which he is willing to gamble, even when the odds are not in his favor.

For the last two years I’ve taken to asking La Belle Femme the following question: “What’s he up to, today?” The man-child never disappoints.

On Sunday last it was the termination of U.S./Taliban talks; on the campaign trail yesterday Trump admonished North Carolinians that they “don’t have any choice. You have to vote for me,” the chosen one; and today it was the firing of John Bolton.

And on Sunday last Pompeo spent some 15 minutes on Face the Nation and other programs presenting disjointed arguments about the cancellation of the talks. For some reason Pompeo’s speech was slurred and incoherent; he was either befuddled or uncertain about the fallout from the day’s big news story, a bombshell of a story that no doubt precipitated today’s other Bolton bombshell. Or, he was speaking from both sides of his mouth and was incapable of keeping up with fabricated facts. Or, he was afraid of being summarily fired. Pompeo is as much a flawed character as the man he works for.

In arguing for the new “Trust but Verify” policy vis a vis Afghanistan, Pompeo criticized the Obama Afghan policy and then bragged about the recent killing of over a thousand Afghani citizens (65% Taliban fighters, and 35% innocent civilians, including women, and children – to which TrumPeo will never admit). Like their predecessors, their flawed logic can be summarized thusly: killing large numbers of Afghani citizens will force the Taliban to come to the table so as to facilitate a cosmetic withdrawal timed with next year’s elections.

Trump’s hasbara claims that unlike his predecessor, Trump is portrayed as a decisive leader, a leader who makes bold moves when and if the opportunity arises.

Truth be told, Trump’s putting all the stakes on the table for an agreement to coincide with the 9/11 date blew up in his face big time. To wit Trump’s two meetings with Kim Jung-un, his Syria, Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, Iraq, Palestine, and Yemen scurvy debacles.

As admirable as it was, Trump’s campaign pledge to pull out U.S. forces from Afghanistan at any cost exposes his splenetic, petulant, and snappish decision-making processes in every area of governance.

Sometime last year I observed to a Pakistani professor (a Muslim) that it was going to take 50 years for the Muslim world to catch up with the 21st century. “Fifty years?” Responded he, adding: “No, more like 350 years.”

Reporting from Afghanistan for CNN on Sunday last, during the initial segment of the interview, Clarissa Ward was told by a Taliban leader she was interviewing that CNN should have sent a man, instead of a woman. And, while she was modestly dressed according to Afghan standards (completely covered with only her face exposed), during the second part of the report Ward drew the veil to cover her face – with only her eyes and nose exposed. While walking in a dusty alley, the last segment of the interview depicts Ward lagging behind the Taliban elders; she’d been instructed to walk some twenty feet behind the all-male group.

All this to say the following: The Carter Administration should never have supported the Taliban and Osama bin Laden in their fight against Russia (thus helping spawn the Al Qaeda/Taliban hydra; Bush should never have invaded Afghanistan, the graveyard of empires; Obama should not have followed the Bush playbook; Trump should never have made a promise he can’t keep.

At some point the U.S. should make the decision to pull out of Afghanistan. Betting on the rewards of exploiting Afghanistan’s immensely rich natural resources (trillions of dollars’ worth gold, zinc, copper, barite,, iron ore, salt, sulfur, lead, natural gas, petroleum chromite) post a U.S. pullout is a big gamble. The U.S. will have to stand in line behind China, Russia, and India. While the U.S. has been waging wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya and at least half a dozen places, China, Russia, and India have been cultivating friendships and seeking markets in Afghanistan and Africa. And, as long as Afghani society adheres to ancient ossified tribalism, including the distortion of Koranic teachings that are based on respect for all members of its society, especially women and children, then Afghanistan is doomed for the next 350 years.

The virulent religious fanaticism, whether it be Judaism in Occupied Palestine, Islam across North and Central Africa, the Near and Far East, Hinduism in the Asian subcontinent, or Christianity in various locales, is the grist that feeds zealotry and bigotry and jolts humanity onto the tracks of primordial behavior.

Posted in USA, Afghanistan0 Comments

Is Killing Peasants Protecting America’s Interests?

by RON JACOBS

Photograph Source: Fibonacci Blue – CC BY 2.0

The war drags on. There is no end in sight. Peace negotiations are thwarted again. Republicans and Democrats alike appear in the press decrying the possibility of the enemy coming to talk peace and staying at Camp David. Personally, I was surprised by the Camp David aspect of the story only because I figured Trump might try and get the Taliban negotiators a floor or two in one of his hotels or resorts. Why go to Camp David if the family Trump can make a few bucks? If Trump properties are good enough for the Chinese and the US Air Force, why not the Taliban, too?

Perhaps the real reason for the most recent failure of the peace negotiations between the Taliban, the Afghan client regime and the US can be found in Secretary Pompeo’s remarks on CNN’s State of the Union show this past weekend.

“You should know in the last 10 days we’ve killed over a thousand Taliban.” Pompeo told the audience. “And while this is not a war of attrition, I want the American people to know that President Trump is taking it to the Taliban in an effort to make sure that we protect America’s interests.”

Sarcastically speaking, there’s nothing bloodthirsty in that statement. Sounds like a man seeking peace to me. As for the veracity of the quote, let’s take a look. To begin with, if the US and its client forces really did kill one thousand Afghans in the preceding ten days, how can they be certain the dead were Taliban? A more likely scenario is that the dead, whether it’s a few hundred or a thousand, included many Afghan civilians who happened to live in areas controlled by the Taliban who are, after all, Afghans too. Indeed, since the Trump administration took control of the White House and Washington’s wars in 2017, the number of civilians killed by so-called US-led forces has increased each year. This is largely due to the US change in strategy from counterinsurgency to a war primarily fought from the air. In other words, the US is bombing and otherwise attacking anti-occupation forces and the places that shelter them with less intimate targeting than previously. As any observer of modern warfare can tell you, this means that more civilians die—what warmakers call collateral damage.

As for the idea that the US occupation and war in Afghanistan is not a war of attrition. If this statement means that the US hopes to wear down the Afghan resistance to the occupation, then Pompeo’s statement could not be truer. In fact, most reports indicate the Taliban and other resistance groups are actually more aggressive now than they were before Trump’s inauguration. Truth to tell, the only war of attrition that is being won regarding the US and Afghanistan is the war to wear down the opposition to US military adventurism among the United States’ population.  The warmakers and their media have clearly won that battle. Barely a peep emanates from any quarter regarding Washington’s war on much of the world anymore.

I remember the disbelief so many US residents felt on September 11, 2001 after the bloodshed blamed on Al Qaeda. I also remember the anger and calls for revenge. It was this combination of factors that made it very easy for the US war machine to begin its global war on terror. Those events were the excuse the war machine was waiting for. Eighteen years later, the world is not safer, not freer, and not peaceful. Instead, millions of people are refugees from countries affected directly and indirectly by the US-led wars on people and places in Washington’s way. The military and homeland security establishment sucks the homeland dry while building a police and surveillance state that locks up innocents and kills them in their homes. Its stretch is broader and deeper than at any point in human history. There is no apparent end to any of this. Local wars like that in Afghanistan go on forever. The strategy for these wars is unclear to almost everyone, including those fighting it. The desire to end them—like this most recent round of peace negotiations that almost reached Camp David—cycles in and out of favor with the rulers in the White House. The grotesque amounts of money and human hours wasted in these endeavors would be better spent by giving every Afghan and resident of other nations under fire from the US a million dollars each. This would be cheaper and more likely to end the killing than any military undertaking.

So, let’s go back to Pompeo’s statement and that part about protecting America’s interests. This is where the lies told by successive administrations becomes apparent. What exactly are America’s interests? How does occupying and continuing the war on the Afghan people further American interests? The only logical conclusion to draw is that nobody in power really wants the war to end. Its continuation—and the continuation of US wars and subversion around the world—serves the interests of some Americans. They are not the majority but they are the wealthiest and most powerful. The fact that so many of the rest of those living in the US accept this definition of American interests bodes ill for us all.

9-11 occurred eighteen years ago. The state terrorism of the war on terror continues. Its justification, if it ever had one, is long past.

Posted in USA0 Comments

19 detainees in the West Bank, including a Hamas leader

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By: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

The Nazi Occupation Forces (IOF ) arrested at dawn on Monday 19 Palestinians, following raids and raids in the occupied West Bank.

In the north of the West Bank, the Nazi occupation forces stormed the eastern area of ​​the city, and arrested Hamas leader Ahmad Nabhan Saqer (59 years) from Askar refugee camp; “.

They also raided the house of the liberated prisoner Anas Hamadneh in Asira al-Shamalia, north of Nablus.

They also stormed the town of Kafel Haris north of Salfit and arrested the young Mahmoud Abdel Raouf.

In the south, the Nazi occupation forces arrested four Palestinians: Bassam ‘Atiya al-Zuhoor and his son Amir, Omar Mahmoud Asafra and Nasser Mahmoud Abriush, after they broke into their homes in the town of Beit Kahel, northwest of Hebron.

In al-‘Arroub refugee camp, north of Hebron, the Nazi occupation forces arrested Mohammed Jamal Abu Sall, after breaking into his house.

In al-Fawwar refugee camp, south of Hebron, Nazi occupation forces arrested the freed prisoner Sami Ganazra after breaking into his house.

In Bethlehem, Nazi occupation forces arrested Iyad Taqatqa after searching his house in the town of Beit Fajjar, south of Bethlehem.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Human Rights0 Comments

Serious deterioration of the situation of the captive striker

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By: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

It occupied West Bank – Quds News : According Board Prisoners Affairs, on Monday morning,deteriorating health condition ofprisonershunger strike for Sultan Ahmed Khallouf “38 years” from village Burqin near Jenin city.

According to the prisoner’s lawyer, Khallouf, who has been on the rampage for 61 days, has entered a critical stage, suffering from a brain dysfunction, severe mouth ulcers, severe vision impairment, pain throughout his body, and significant weight loss.

She also said that the prisoner also suffers from constant “inhalation” and can not make any movement or suffer from severe headaches, warning that the prisoner enters the stage of deadly danger at any moment if the administration continues to intransigence in not responding to his request to end his administrative detention.

Yesterday, the Palestinian prisoner Ramadan, 44, was transferred to an Zionist hospital after his health deteriorated. The Prisoners ‘and Editors’ Affairs Authority explained that the prisoner started his hunger strike on 8/9/2019 to protest the installation of jamming devices in Gilboa detention centers. .

It is noteworthy that the famous prisoner, from Jabal Mukaber, south of occupied Jerusalem, entered his 18th consecutive year in the jails of the occupation, and is sentenced to life for 20 times.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Uncategorized, Human Rights0 Comments

Is Killing Peasants Protecting America’s Interests?

by RON JACOBS

Photograph Source: Fibonacci Blue – CC BY 2.0

The war drags on. There is no end in sight. Peace negotiations are thwarted again. Republicans and Democrats alike appear in the press decrying the possibility of the enemy coming to talk peace and staying at Camp David. Personally, I was surprised by the Camp David aspect of the story only because I figured Trump might try and get the Taliban negotiators a floor or two in one of his hotels or resorts. Why go to Camp David if the family Trump can make a few bucks? If Trump properties are good enough for the Chinese and the US Air Force, why not the Taliban, too?

Perhaps the real reason for the most recent failure of the peace negotiations between the Taliban, the Afghan client regime and the US can be found in Secretary Pompeo’s remarks on CNN’s State of the Union show this past weekend.

“You should know in the last 10 days we’ve killed over a thousand Taliban.” Pompeo told the audience. “And while this is not a war of attrition, I want the American people to know that President Trump is taking it to the Taliban in an effort to make sure that we protect America’s interests.”

Sarcastically speaking, there’s nothing bloodthirsty in that statement. Sounds like a man seeking peace to me. As for the veracity of the quote, let’s take a look. To begin with, if the US and its client forces really did kill one thousand Afghans in the preceding ten days, how can they be certain the dead were Taliban? A more likely scenario is that the dead, whether it’s a few hundred or a thousand, included many Afghan civilians who happened to live in areas controlled by the Taliban who are, after all, Afghans too. Indeed, since the Trump administration took control of the White House and Washington’s wars in 2017, the number of civilians killed by so-called US-led forces has increased each year. This is largely due to the US change in strategy from counterinsurgency to a war primarily fought from the air. In other words, the US is bombing and otherwise attacking anti-occupation forces and the places that shelter them with less intimate targeting than previously. As any observer of modern warfare can tell you, this means that more civilians die—what warmakers call collateral damage.

As for the idea that the US occupation and war in Afghanistan is not a war of attrition. If this statement means that the US hopes to wear down the Afghan resistance to the occupation, then Pompeo’s statement could not be truer. In fact, most reports indicate the Taliban and other resistance groups are actually more aggressive now than they were before Trump’s inauguration. Truth to tell, the only war of attrition that is being won regarding the US and Afghanistan is the war to wear down the opposition to US military adventurism among the United States’ population.  The warmakers and their media have clearly won that battle. Barely a peep emanates from any quarter regarding Washington’s war on much of the world anymore.

I remember the disbelief so many US residents felt on September 11, 2001 after the bloodshed blamed on Al Qaeda. I also remember the anger and calls for revenge. It was this combination of factors that made it very easy for the US war machine to begin its global war on terror. Those events were the excuse the war machine was waiting for. Eighteen years later, the world is not safer, not freer, and not peaceful. Instead, millions of people are refugees from countries affected directly and indirectly by the US-led wars on people and places in Washington’s way. The military and homeland security establishment sucks the homeland dry while building a police and surveillance state that locks up innocents and kills them in their homes. Its stretch is broader and deeper than at any point in human history. There is no apparent end to any of this. Local wars like that in Afghanistan go on forever. The strategy for these wars is unclear to almost everyone, including those fighting it. The desire to end them—like this most recent round of peace negotiations that almost reached Camp David—cycles in and out of favor with the rulers in the White House. The grotesque amounts of money and human hours wasted in these endeavors would be better spent by giving every Afghan and resident of other nations under fire from the US a million dollars each. This would be cheaper and more likely to end the killing than any military undertaking.

So, let’s go back to Pompeo’s statement and that part about protecting America’s interests. This is where the lies told by successive administrations becomes apparent. What exactly are America’s interests? How does occupying and continuing the war on the Afghan people further American interests? The only logical conclusion to draw is that nobody in power really wants the war to end. Its continuation—and the continuation of US wars and subversion around the world—serves the interests of some Americans. They are not the majority but they are the wealthiest and most powerful. The fact that so many of the rest of those living in the US accept this definition of American interests bodes ill for us all.

9-11 occurred eighteen years ago. The state terrorism of the war on terror continues. Its justification, if it ever had one, is long past.

Posted in USA, Afghanistan0 Comments

China-Thailand Military Cooperation. Shifting Global Balance of Power

By Joseph Thomas

Global Research,

Recent news of Bangkok signing a 6.5 billion Thai Baht deal with China to procure a naval landing ship (a landing platform dock or LPD) further illustrates growing ties between Beijing and Bangkok in the sphere of military matters.

The Thai Royal Navy’s only other ship of similar capabilities is the HTMS Angthong, built by Singapore, Bangkok Post reported.

The deal comes in the wake of several other significant arms acquisitions made by Bangkok in recent years including 39 Chinese-built VT-4 main battle tanks (with another batch of 14 being planned), China’s Type-85 armoured personnel carriers and even the nation’s first modern submarine made by China expected to be in service by 2023.

These are more than merely arms deals. The purchasing of sophisticated weapons systems like submarines and ships will require closer military cooperation between Beijing and Bangkok in order to properly train crews, transfer critical knowledge of maintaining the vessels and operate them at sea.

There are also joint Thai-Chinese weapon development programmes such as the DTI-1 multiple rocket launcher system.

The interoperability that is being created between Thai and Chinese armed forces (and arms industries) ensures ample opportunity for joint training exercises and weapon development programmes in the future, several of which have already been organised, with many more on the horizon.

The Myth of Thai Subservience to Washington 

Thailand is often labeled a close “non-NATO ally” of the United States by both the United States itself and many analysts still clinging to Cold War rhetoric.

However, today’s Thailand is a nation that has significantly expanded its cooperation with China and not only in military matters, but across economic spheres as well.

Thailand’s lengthy history of weathering Western colonisation that otherwise consumed its neighbours is a story of adeptly playing great powers against one another and ensuring no single nation held enough power or influence over Thailand to endanger its sovereignty. This is a balancing act that continues today, with Thailand avoiding major confrontations and overdependence on outsiders by attempting to cultivate a diversity of ties with nations abroad.

Thai cooperation with nations like the United States, particularly now, is done cynically and as a means to keep the US from investing too deeply in the disruptive regime-change methods it has aimed at other nations including neighbouring Myanmar but also distant nations like Syria and Libya ravaged by US meddling.China – Thailand Geopolitical Realignments. Thai-Chinese Military Ties, Infrastructure Projects

Despite these efforts to appease Washington, the US still backs opposition parties determined to overthrow the current Thai political order and replace it with one openly intent on rolling back progress between Thailand and its growing list of Eurasian partners, especially China.

What little the US has to offer has been reduced to deals bordering bribery, such as offering free military hardware.

A recent deal included Thailand buying discounted, refurbished Stryker armoured vehicles under the condition that the US would provide 40 more for free.

However the Stryker is not a particularly sophisticated weapon system and will do little to bolster fading Thai-US military cooperation and interoperability. The Stryker system will likely be absorbed into Thailand’s own growing domestic defence industry which is already manufacturing wheeled armoured vehicles.

Blurring of Lines between Military and Economic Cooperation 

So far has the balance of power shifted in Asia, that demands by the US for its “allies” to boycott China’s telecom giant Huawei have gone ignored. Thailand, as well as Malaysia and the Philippines, have included Huawei in their efforts to develop national 5G infrastructure.

While something like telecom appears to be more a matter of economics than of national defence, so entwined recently has telecom and information technology become with national security that choosing partners for developing telecom infrastructure really is a matter of defence.

How far will this peripheral cooperation go? The US is still using its control of Thai information space, particularly through Facebook’s primacy across Thai social media, to influence public opinion and sow political instability across Thai society.

The idea of Thailand cooperating further with China to develop domestic social media networks to regain control over this aspect of Thailand’s information space seems plausible. Thai cooperation with Russia for similar reasons has already been openly discussed by Thai policymakers.

A Shifting Global Balance of Power 

Many analysts have tried to reduce growing cooperation between Thailand and China as a temporary trend spurred by the Thai military’s 2014 ousting of a US-backed government and the US decision to reduce ties with Bangkok.

However, Thailand’s pivot eastward is one made with the rest of Southeast Asia and in fact, with much of the non-Western world. It is part of the wider trend away from Western-dominated unilateralism and toward greater mulipolarism. It is also a process that began long before 2014.

The ability for Thailand to move its dependence away from US markets and financial systems dominated by Washington will be key in avoiding more aggressive attempts by the US to coerce Thailand politically or economically in the future as it is nations like North Korea, Iran, Syria, Russia and now even China today.

Thailand is a relatively large Southeast Asian state with ASEAN’s second largest economy. What it does in regards to building military ties with China and strengthening its economic and political resilience against US “soft power” may set trends that are followed by others in ASEAN, opening up opportunities not only for China, but other Eurasian powers like Russia who can fulfill the role of balancing power not only against America’s dominant position in the region, but also against China from acquiring too much power and influence once US primacy collapses.

Expanding Thai-Chinese military cooperation is a sign of the times. It is a sign of US primacy fading, of China’s rise and of a shifting balance of power. It is a time when nations must carefully execute this shift, ensuring the threat the US poses to regional peace and prosperity is reduced but also that China is never tempted with the opportunity to simply replace the US as a regional and global menace.

So far, mulipolarism has shaped China’s policies in a much different manner than those pursued by the US over the past half century. Only time will tell of the success of multipolarism, but it is important to understand that Thai-Chinese cooperation is not a temporary trend. It is a new reality and one that reflects a fundamental shift in geopolitics from the Atlantic consensus to a much more global one.

Posted in China, Thailand0 Comments

Turkey’s “Refugee City” Proposal for Syria Amounts to Demographic Engineering

By Andrew Korybko

Global Research,

Turkish President Erdogan’s recently announced proposal to build a “refugee city” in Northern Syria amounts to demographic engineering intended to stop the creation of a “Kurdish Corridor” there and also prevent the region from fully reintegrating into Damascus’ fold after the war.

Turkish President Erdogan proposed the building of a “refugee city” in Northern Syria after the latest trilateral talks with his Russian and Iranian counterparts in Ankara, declaring that

“for the refugees there (on the Syrian border), it is necessary to create a city for them to participate in agriculture. I explained to my colleagues that it is necessary to build infrastructure for them. It is necessary to prevent the formation of a terrorist corridor.”

The stated intention of his plans makes no secret of the fact that they’re supposed to thwart the creation of a “Kurdish Corridor” and therefore reinforce Turkey’s national security through the nascent “buffer zone” that it’s carving out there, which also implies that more than one “refugee city” would have to eventually be established in order to sustainably accomplish this. On the surface, this proposal is being portrayed in such a way as to maximize the support that it receives from the International Community, but it’s actually not as “purely” intended as it may seem.

Turkey’s self-interested reasons in massively returning the millions of refugees that came to its territory during the war do indeed overlap with some of the multilateral interests shared by the International Community, but the means through which they’re being pursued are a lot less noble. It’s true that the US-backed Syrian Kurds have conquered territory beyond their traditional regions in the country (where they only rarely constituted a majority in just a few local communities anyhow) and that there are credible reasons for believing that they’ve carried out ethnic cleansing against the indigenous Arab and “Turkmen” (a trendy term for simply referring to Syrian Turks) populations there, but it’s equally true that Turkey’s “refugee city” proposal also amounts to a form of demographic engineering too, and not just in the sense of returning Northern Syria back to its pre-war status (which is practically impossible to ever do anyhow). Only a fraction of the refugees and other Syrians that came to Turkey since 2011 are from that region, so literal “outsiders” would end up being relocated there.

They, however, aren’t being considered by Turkey as such because of their nationality as Syrians and their ethnicity as either Arabs or “Turkmen”, with the unstated notion being that citizens of the same country should have the right to move anywhere within its territory that they’d like. While that approach is generally the legal standard in most states, it’s clearly being exploited in this case for self-interested demographic but also geopolitical reasons. About the first-mentioned and going beyond the obvious intent of stopping the creation of a “Kurdish Corridor”, Turkey wants to populate this sparely inhabited region with non-Kurds in order to prevent the latter from ever reviving their expansionist dreams in the future, which they’ve since “moderated” by attempting to become “more inclusive” by emphasizing their political goal of “autonomy” instead of the blatant ethnic chauvinism that used to characterize their movement. To assist with Ankara’s ambitions, it’s likely going to rely on anti-government Syrians (both Arabs and “Turkmen” alike), which conforms with its geopolitical goals.

Although no universally accepted figures have ever been released, it’s widely thought that the majority of Syrians who moved to Turkey after 2011 are opposed to their country’s democratically elected and legitimate government, and this group of people regularly claims that they don’t feel safe returning back to their homes in the now-liberated majority of the country where they used to reside because they don’t trust the authorities to guarantee their well-being and truly ensure that no legal or other consequences befall them. For the record, the Syrian government has invited them to return and even recently issued a broad amnesty, though those folks still refuse to come back for whatever their personal and/or political reasons may be. Nevertheless, Turkey also doesn’t want to continue indefinitely hosting them, especially if there’s another influx of incomers in the event that the situation deteriorates even more around Idlib, hence why it wants to relocate all of them (both the minority of those originally from the North and everyone else from elsewhere alike) to Northern Syria.

Should this plan even partially succeed, then it would create a major stumbling block to Damascus’ drive to reintegrate that part of the country into the national fold without granting it special status like its future inhabitants might demand in exchange. Furthermore, that “refugee city” (or very likely “cities”) will probably be defended by the Turkish military for at least a transitional period and then secured through pro-Turkish armed proxies, thus making it even more difficult for Damascus to reintegrate with that region and its possibly significantly sized population without making political “concessions” such as the granting of autonomy whether for the whole region or just specific municipalities. All told, it’s understandable why Turkey is pushing for the implementation of its “refugee city” proposal because it strongly advances its strategic interests in Syria, though the most responsible members of the International Community should ask themselves if the end truly justifies the means, and if not, whether they’re even capable of modifying these plans or if they’re already a fait accompli.

Posted in Syria, Turkey0 Comments

Boris Johnson Government, Accused of “Misleading” the Queen, Goes on Trial

By Johanna Ross

Global Research

The UK government’s decision to prorogue parliament till 14th October is to be scrutinised by the highest court in the land on Tuesday, after it was ruled by a Scottish court last week that it ‘misled the Queen’ by suspending parliament. Two cases are to be examined by the Supreme Court in London; the first being the one brought by activist Gina Miller, that Boris Johnson had no right to shut down parliament, and another will be the government’s appeal against the Scottish ruling that the suspension was unlawful.

Various scenarios are possible – the government could be vindicated by the court upholding the government’s appeal against the Scottish verdict and dismissing Gina Miller’s case (it could argue that the matter is a political one and not one for the courts). Or it could rule in favour of the Scottish court whilst ruling against Gina Miller. In this instance, because it upheld the Scottish verdict, the court would have to rule that it was unlawful overall. (It’s a complicated business in the UK as Scotland and England have their own separate legal systems; however the Supreme Court deals with both.) In any case, if either ruling does go against the government it will be extremely damaging for the government and in particular for Boris Johnson and his Brexit strategy.

Gina Miller’s lawyer today is to argue that if the courts do indeed ‘wash their hands’ of this case then it is setting a dangerous precedent for future governments to dismiss parliament as they please for any length of time required, without fear of the repercussions. Last week the Scottish court ruled:

“It was to be inferred that the principal reasons for the prorogation were to prevent or impede Parliament holding the executive to account and legislating with regard to Brexit, and to allow the executive to pursue a policy of a no-deal Brexit without further Parliamentary interference.”

The judges highlighted in particular the length of the suspension which they said was indicative that this was a deliberate tactic to avoid parliamentary scrutiny of Johnson’s Brexit plans.

Such an avoidance tactic is typical however of Prime Minister Johnson. When faced with an awkward situation, his instinct is to run a mile. One only has to recall how he avoided protestors during his visit to Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in July, when he left via the back door. Or more recently on Monday during his visit to Luxembourg, when he refrained from taking part in an outdoor press conference with the Prime Minister of Luxembourg for fear of being heckled by the angry anti-Brexit mob nearby. So the prorogation of parliament can equally be seen as Johnson’s bid to find an escape route: an easy way out, by which he doesn’t have to face any questions and can hide away from opposition.

The flippant way in which the lives of UK citizens are being played with during this Brexit saga was revealed in an interview with former Prime Minister David Cameron for ITV aired on Monday night. Cameron said that on the eve of his declaration that he would campaign to Leave the EU, Boris Johnson sent Cameron a text stating that he thought the Vote Leave campaign would be ‘crushed like a toad under the harrow’.  Cameron elaborated by saying he thought Johnson simply wanted to be on the ‘romantic, patriotic, nationalistic, side of Brexit’ but never really expected his side would win.

Such a revelation only further indicates that Boris Johnson is currently a Prime Minister playing a game; and it wasn’t one he ever expected to be allowed to play. The fact that millions of citizens put their faith in this campaign – one built around mistruths and exaggerations – and voted to Leave does not likely perturb the PM however. Johnson is willing to push his party, country and own reputation to the brink for the sake of the Brexit experiment.

27 days ago when Boris Johnson met Angela Merkel to discuss a future deal, she gave him 30 days to do so. That time is almost up and European leaders have seen no fresh proposals from the UK government that would suggest it is serious about getting a deal. This, together, with the fiasco created by suspending parliament have only caused more concern in Europe about the UK’s intentions, expressed by the Prime Minister of Luxembourg on Tuesday when he said that EU leaders do not want to be blamed for the current ‘nightmare’ as he put it.

The Luxembourg meeting was supposed to be a key event in the Brexit calendar, but as one could have expected, with no new propositions from the UK government, it proved to be just another part of Boris Johnson’s charade. Still intent on pursuing a No Deal Brexit, he is simply going through the motions when it comes to persuading the world that he wants a withdrawal agreement.

Within several days we should have the verdict of the Supreme Court regarding both cases, a ruling which will have consequences of historical significance.  With Britain’s future hanging in the balance, the stakes could not be higher…

Posted in UK0 Comments

Trump Sacks Bolton. Who is the Next National Security Advisor?

By Stephen Lendman

Global Research

It’s a good start, way short of what’s needed — cleaning house of all Trump regime far-right extremists, notably Pompeo and likeminded hardliners.

Chance for positive change is virtually nil. Dirty business as usual in Washington won’t miss a beat — other than perhaps somewhat less toxic rhetoric with Bolton gone, short of enough to matter.

From inception, the US has been a culture of violence. Throughout most of its history, it’s been at war at home and/or abroad.

Since attacking North Korea preemptively in June 1950, it’s been permanently at war against one or more nonthreatening states, waging them endlessly today in multiple theaters.

Democracy is its deadliest export, a notion it deplores, tolerating it nowhere, especially at home.

US post-WW II history isn’t pretty. Its record includes assassinations of foreign leaders, staging color revolutions and coups, along with meddling in elections worldwide — what imperialism is all about.

Trump announced the news on Bolton, tweeting:

“I informed (him) last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House. I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the Administration, and therefore I asked John for his resignation, which was given to me this morning.”

Trump added that he’ll name a new national security advisor next week. Bolton’s deputy Charles Kupperman replaced him on an interim basis — perhaps to remain in the post.

Hold the cheers. He’s closely tied to US military, industrial, security interests, earlier holding senior Lockheed Martin and Boeing positions.

From 2001 – 2010, he was a board member of neocon/Islamophobe Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy, a far-right figure The American Conservative called an “uber-foreign policy hawk…re-ascendent in Trump’s orbit” through his connection to Kupperman.

Bolton earlier praised his deputy, saying

he “has been an advisor to me for more than thirty years, including during my tenure as National Security Advisor to President Trump,” adding:

“Charlie’s extensive expertise in defense, arms control and aerospace will help further President Trump’s national security agenda.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif accused Bolton and Netanyahu of “lur(ing) Donald Trump into killing (the) JCPOA (by) delu(ding)” him.

On Tuesday, Russia’s envoy to the IAEA Mikhail Ulyanov said Iran’s “full cooperation with the” agency confirms its nuclear program is peaceful.

Bolton’s announced sacking came shortly before a press conference with Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin he was scheduled to attend.

In office since April 9, 2018, he proved his raging hawk reputation time and again — one critic saying “(h)e never met a country he didn’t want to destroy.”

Another said he’s far more than “a run-of-the-mill hawk…He’s never seen a foreign policy problem that couldn’t be solved by bombing.”John Bolton’s Blueprint for War on Iran

He earlier called for military action against North Korea and Iran.

On the DPRK, he said  “the only longterm way to deal with (its) nuclear weapons program is to end (the) regime,” adding:

“It’s not enough…to impose sanctions…(North Korea) poses a threat to stability in the region that undermines security…”

“I think further discussions with North Korea, further efforts to pressure North Korea, are basically a waste of time. The way to end the North’s nuclear program is to end the North.”

He falsely said “Iran’s steady progress toward nuclear weapons has long been evident,” adding:

“The inescapable conclusion is that Iran will not negotiate away its nuclear program. Nor will sanctions block its building a broad and deep weapons infrastructure.”

“The inconvenient truth is that only military action like Israel’s 1981 attack on Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor in Iraq or its 2007 destruction of a Syrian reactor, designed and built by North Korea, can accomplish what is required.”

Iran’s legitimate nuclear program has no military component — confirmed time and again by the IAEA. The US intelligence community found no evidence of Iran seeking the bomb because none exists.

Pyongyang called Bolton a “war maniac,” adding:

“(I)t will be fit to call (him) not a security adviser striving for security but a security-destroying adviser who is wrecking peace and security” worldwide.

He earlier said

“(t)here is no United Nations. There is a international community that occasionally can be led by the only real power left in the world (the US) when it suits our interest, and when we can get others to go along.”

Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation director Alexandra Bell said

“(b)etween Pompeo and Bolton, you’re looking at a neocon foreign policy (team) jacked up on steroids.”

They and their henchmen are militantly hostile toward Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Cuba, Nicaragua, and other countries unwilling to subordinate their sovereign rights to US interests.

They never met a conflict resolution plan they didn’t want to undermine — notably against Trump’s announced troop pullout from Syria, rapprochement steps with North Korea, and cutting a deal with the Taliban.

They sabotaged Obama’s Cuba agenda by Trump’s imposition of new illegal sanctions on the country. They orchestrated a color revolution attempt in Nicaragua that failed — so far.

They planned and got Trump to go along with all-out war by other means on Venezuelan social democracy and nonbelligerent Iran — both countries threatening no one, seeking cooperative relations with other nations.

They got Trump to veto a congressional measure to end US involvement in Yemen. They convinced him to escalate hot wars he inherited, wage trade war on China, and helped prevent improved relations with Russia.

In Washington, names and faces change. Dirty business as usual continues under both right wings of the US war party — waging endless wars at home and abroad, serving privileged interests exclusively at the expense of ordinary people everywhere.

Bolton’s departure won’t change a thing with Pompeo at state, Abrams as White House envoy for regime change in Venezuela, Brian Hook in the same capacity against Iran, along with numerous other Trump regime hardliners in place, and a hornet’s nest of likeminded bipartisan congressional members.

Commenting on Bolton’s ouster, Iranian President Rouhani advisor Hesameddin Ashena  mistakenly said it’s a “sign of the failure of US ‘maximum pressure’ strategy.

Last week, Brian Hook said more Trump regime sanctions on Iran are coming, indicating no letup in its “maximum pressure” policy.

Through his spokesman Abbas Mousavi, Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif said

“(w(e) will not be issuing any statement on US internal affairs” — referring to Bolton’s sacking.

Iran’s UN envoy Majid Takht-e Ravanchi stressed that

“there is no room for talks as long as the US administration’s economic terrorism and cruel sanctions against the Iranian people are in place.”

“The topic could be discussed only when they lift the sanctions,” adding: Possible future talks will only occur through the P5+1, indicating they also depend on the Trump regime returning to the JCPOA it illegally abandoned, breaching international law.

In Washington and the West, everything changes but stays the same.

Since the neoliberal 90s, it’s been for the worse with no prospect for positive change.

Posted in USA0 Comments


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