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In Afghanistan, Civilian Casualties Happen by Design, Not by Accident

NOVANEWS

The people of few conflicted countries including Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria hardly seem to get out of bloody wars. Syria, which is battling the regime change, would land into the same bloody fate of Afghanistan if it undergoes this transition. In both cases – before and after the regime change- the natives of these territories should pay the price of the West’s ambitious and hegemonic conspiracies.

Afghanistan’s death toll from the US-led war is placed at 100,000 people. This startling figure sparks the speculation that the US and allies were just watching the people dying over this period. The US-based Brown University’s “Costs of War” study finds that at least 100,000 civilians have lost their lives to the war between 2001 through 2014.

It added to the injury when the year 2015 ended up with record-high human casualities than any single year since 2001. And then at the end of the following year 2016, United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) described the causalities “shocking” and “unprecedented”. The rate is set to go up as the US mulls over sending further reinforcements and F-16 fighters jets that suggest fierce war.

The Brown University’s finding seems to be authentic, because it is strongly circulated among Afghan war experts that an average of 20 people die a day in Afghanistan that constitute the estimated number when calculated. On the opposite front, the UNAMA reports the Afghan fatalities about one third of the Brown University’s figure. This UN agency’s compilation of war victims is unfounded and impartial and it amounts to complicity or clemency towards war instigators – by not disclosing the right statistic or just by sufficing to call on warring sides to heed for civilians life.

The Brown University’s study concludes that over 370,000 people have died due to direct war violence in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan since 2001. It also revealed that the costly war in terms of life and expenditure didn’t result in inclusive, transparent, democratic governments in Afghanistan and Iraq.

According to the Syrian Centre for Policy Research (SCPR), Syrian fatalities caused by war, directly and indirectly, amount to 470,000 people. It states the number is twice the UN’s figure of 250,000 victims collected nearly a year ago. The SCPR’s report estimates that 11.5% of the country’s population has been killed or injured since the crisis erupted in March 2011.

In Afghanistan, civilians are killed for certain causes, and it is not by accident. Last month, ten Taliban suicide infiltrates killed 170 soldiers in a military headquarter in northern Balkh province [the unofficial figure put dead between 300 and 400 soldiers]. The harrowing and murderous Balkh carnage could serve as a best example behind many civilian and military deaths in Afghanistan. In days after the massacre, the US Secretary of Defense James Mattis arrived in Kabul and informed of a new Washington strategy on the way in a press conference with the top US commander, as a response to the incident.

The carnage apparently became a motive for the likely shift in US’s policy that might be deployment of further US troops, more military hardware and demanding additional NATO forces in Afghanistan. In this context, Australia has already said it is open to sending more soldiers after Berlin signaled reservations.

In a single sentence: it was not the carnage that caused the strategy change, but it was, indeed, the strategy change that caused the carnage.

Afterwards, in a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, the US National Intelligence Chief Daniel Coats spoke of a downhill security in Afghanistan through 2018. He said:

“Even if NATO deploys more troops, the political and security situation in Afghanistan will likely get worse”.

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In spite of being the most powerful military in a recent ranking, the US casts the Taliban “unbeatable”. The US officials since long predict each coming year “dangerous” for Afghanistan. But how do they know that?

The other day, the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford speaking at Saint Michael’s College in Vermont also followed the track of James Mattis and Daniel Coats and stressed on sending more troops to Afghanistan. While speaking, he hinted at the latest Afghan Army massacre and raised it as basis to lobby the audience. The US never bothers to deliver a statement repeatedly unless the issue is concerned for it.

These high-ranks’ back-to-back rhetoric speech comes as the US is vigilant of measurable Russian support of the Taliban fronts in parts of Afghanistan.

In October 2015, the Taliban militants rushed into the unseen mass-killing of civilians on the streets of northern Kunduz city and converted it into a ghost city. The war analysts believed it was the US’s intrigue to send shockwaves into the Central Asian countries and importantly Russia.

Following the Kunduz attack, Sen. John McCain appeared to say that:

“The Taliban’s strength has been fueled by the Obama Administration’s scheduled troop withdrawal”.

He critically directed the Kunduz attack’s blame to Obama administration’s “untimely” troop drawdown. He wanted the troops to stay behind and only such a tragedy was feasible to push the troop-pullout plan in reverse.

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Even though McCain and others have long sought more troops or continued war on terrorism, Afghanistan loses more inhabitants to the fake war with every year going by.

Even the waves of so-called “terrorists attacks” in Germany, Holland and France last year underscores that these are the conspiracy theories aimed at continuous war in Syria and elsewhere. Many Europeans would still keep faith with the war-mongers’ cooked-up stories and back the US and NATO’s intervention in Syria. The sole purpose of all these planned attacks was and is to demonize the Islamic State or Al-Qaeda and draw a whole support to wage a filthy war against “the nations” where these terrorists operate.

Unrest in Afghanistan is a recipe for more US weapons’ sales to war-exposed countries, viable drug trafficking that generates a profit far beyond measure, unearthing of underground resources worth of several trillion dollars, restraining of the regional military and economic rival powers and so others.

The insurgent groups – be it in Afghanistan, Syria or Iraq depending on the nature of war – have always chanted their slogans against the military forces or the incumbent governments – not civilians. But the wars have instead largely cost the ordinary people’s lives.

In almost every Taliban attack where the NATO and Afghan forces or government officials were targets, quite a few normal people have fallen victim. Typically, in a recent suicide attack on NATO fleet in Kabul, no international servicemen died or injured, but dead were only passersby and passengers of a minivan running behind the convoy.

The terrorist groups have left almost no public establishment un-attacked over this period, from hospitals and TV stations to universities and restaurants have tasted the undue violent killings. In March, Kabul’s Sardar Mohammad Daoud Khan hospital was penetrated by several suicide bombers. Every war front including the Taliban leadership understands the immunity and neutrality of hospitals having no issue with war, but the armed men indifferently set off a killing spree and shot dead every one they came across in the hospital including ailing and elderly people and children.

The militants are, of course, aided and abetted by external and internal elements and this is just a show of distorted reality in Afghanistan used by war architects to hold a foot on the ground. While the terrorist groups have nothing in mind to achieve by slaughtering innocents, it rather give birth to grounds for the West’s presence and drag the fake war well into the future.

This war is stoked or afloat thanks, in most part, to the “kill and then blame” policy. This is well captured in Syria’s Khan Sheikhon chemical attack. First the gas attack that was over-amplified in the world media was fabricated and later the ground was prepared for the US to carry out Tomahawk missile strikes on Syrian Shayrat airbase without finding that the Khan Shaikhon chemical attack was launched from this base.

According to Afghan Human Rights organization, the Afghan war has claimed some 40,000 lives only between 2009 and 2016. Laal Gul an Afghan Human Rights expert says:

 “The Afghan and NATO security officials never disclose a true statistic of victims of an attack”.

It is aimed to simmer down public fury.

In Afghanistan, another excuse for civilian causalities is that the Taliban loyalists bury IEDs or landmines on public avenues allegedly for striking Afghan Army or the NATO’s convoy, but in many instances a civilian vehicle often packed with people has run over the explosives and torn apart. In an extremely disturbing episode, a footage released earlier showed that an old man rushes to the scene where his entire family’s car was blown up by a roadside bomb and desperately looks to women and children’s blood-soaked corpses that litter around the explosion point. Later it features that the man burst into tears as he lifts a lifeless child’s body.

People of Afghanistan are put to suffer this way along the one-and-a-half-decade-long US “war on terror”.

This is while Trump is considering sending more troops to Afghanistan. In 2011, there were 100,000 US soldiers on the ground with almost the same causality rate of present day. Fewer more troops are not up to making a twist in civilian life.

Many years ago, an Afghan journalist who was not named over security reasons learned about a mind blowing fact after contacting a Taliban spokesman and asking about those innocents killed in the Taliban suicide bombing, who replied:

“Those Afghans [other than foreign troops] killed in the blast would go straight to the heaven along with the suicide bomber”.

The intensifying conflict tells that another huge bulk of people is about to perish in the future. The people of Afghanistan and other war-wrecked nations can no longer tolerate such a vortex which is putting them on agony.

Posted in Afghanistan0 Comments

A Murderous History of Korea

More than four decades ago I went to lunch with a diplomatic historian who, like me, was going through Korea-related documents at the National Archives in Washington. He happened to remark that he sometimes wondered whether the Korean Demilitarised Zone might be ground zero for the end of the world. This April, Kim In-ryong, a North Korean diplomat at the UN, warned of ‘a dangerous situation in which a thermonuclear war may break out at any moment’. A few days later, President Trump told Reuters that

‘we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea.’

American atmospheric scientists have shown that even a relatively contained nuclear war would throw up enough soot and debris to threaten the global population:

‘A regional war between India and Pakistan, for instance, has the potential to dramatically damage Europe, the US and other regions through global ozone loss and climate change.’

How is it possible that we have come to this? How does a puffed-up, vainglorious narcissist, whose every other word may well be a lie (that applies to both of them, Trump and Kim Jong-un), come not only to hold the peace of the world in his hands but perhaps the future of the planet? We have arrived at this point because of an inveterate unwillingness on the part of Americans to look history in the face and a laser-like focus on that same history by the leaders of North Korea.

North Korea celebrated the 85th anniversary of the foundation of the Korean People’s Army on 25 April, amid round-the-clock television coverage of parades in Pyongyang and enormous global tension. No journalist seemed interested in asking why it was the 85th anniversary when the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was only founded in 1948. What was really being celebrated was the beginning of the Korean guerrilla struggle against the Japanese in north-east China, officially dated to 25 April 1932.

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After Japan annexed Korea in 1910, many Koreans fled across the border, among them the parents of Kim Il-sung, but it wasn’t until Japan established its puppet state of Manchukuo in March 1932 that the independence movement turned to armed resistance. Kim and his comrades launched a campaign that lasted 13 difficult years, until Japan finally relinquished control of Korea as part of the 1945 terms of surrender. This is the source of the North Korean leadership’s legitimacy in the eyes of its people: they are revolutionary nationalists who resisted their country’s coloniser; they resisted again when a massive onslaught by the US air force during the Korean War razed all their cities, driving the population to live, work and study in subterranean shelters; they have continued to resist the US ever since; and they even resisted the collapse of Western communism – as of this September, the DPRK will have been in existence for as long as the Soviet Union. But it is less a communist country than a garrison state, unlike any the world has seen. Drawn from a population of just 25 million, the North Korean army is the fourth largest in the world, with 1.3 million soldiers – just behind the third largest army, with 1.4 million soldiers, which happens to be the American one. Most of the adult Korean population, men and women, have spent many years in this army: its reserves are limited only by the size of the population.

Image result for Kim Il-sung 1932The story of Kim Il-sung’s resistance against the Japanese is surrounded by legend and exaggeration in the North, and general denial in the South. But he was recognisably a hero: he fought for a decade in the harshest winter environment imaginable, with temperatures sometimes falling to 50° below zero. Recent scholarship has shown that Koreans made up the vast majority of guerrillas in Manchukuo, even though many of them were commanded by Chinese officers (Kim was a member of the Chinese Communist Party). Other Korean guerrillas led detachments too – among them Choe Yong-gon, Kim Chaek and Choe Hyon – and when they returned to Pyongyang in 1945 they formed the core of the new regime. Their offspring now constitute a multitudinous elite – the number two man in the government today, Choe Ryong-hae, is Choe Hyon’s son.

Kim’s reputation was inadvertently enhanced by the Japanese, whose newspapers made a splash of the battle between him and the Korean quislings whom the Japanese employed to track down and kill him, all operating under the command of General Nozoe Shotoku, who ran the Imperial Army’s ‘Special Kim Division’. In April 1940 Nozoe’s forces captured Kim Hye-sun, thought to be Kim’s first wife; the Japanese tried in vain to use her to lure Kim out of hiding, and then murdered her. Maeda Takashi headed another Japanese Special Police unit, with many Koreans in it; in March 1940 his forces came under attack from Kim’s guerrillas, with both sides suffering heavy casualties. Maeda pursued Kim for nearly two weeks, before stumbling into a trap. Kim threw 250 guerrillas at 150 soldiers in Maeda’s unit, killing Maeda, 58 Japanese, 17 others attached to the force, and taking 13 prisoners and large quantities of weapons and ammunition.

In September 1939, when Hitler was invading Poland, the Japanese mobilised what the scholar Dae-Sook Suh has described as a ‘massive punitive expedition’ consisting of six battalions of the Japanese Kwantung Army and twenty thousand men of the Manchurian Army and police force in a six-month suppression campaign against the guerrillas led by Kim and Ch’oe Hyon. In September 1940 an even larger force embarked on a counterinsurgency campaign against Chinese and Korean guerrillas:

‘The punitive operation was conducted for one year and eight months until the end of March 1941,’ Suh writes, ‘and the bandits, excluding those led by Kim Il-sung, were completely annihilated. The bandit leaders were shot to death or forced to submit.’

A vital figure in the long Japanese counterinsurgency effort was Kishi Nobusuke, who made a name for himself running munitions factories. Labelled a Class A war criminal during the US occupation, Kishi avoided incarceration and became one of the founding fathers of postwar Japan and its longtime ruling organ, the Liberal Democratic Party; he was prime minister twice between 1957 and 1960. The current Japanese prime minister, Abe Shinzo, is Kishi’s grandson and reveres him above all other Japanese leaders. Trump was having dinner at Mar-a-Lago with Abe on 11 February when a pointed message arrived mid-meal, courtesy of Pyongyang: it had just successfully tested a new, solid-fuel missile, fired from a mobile launcher. Kim Il-sung and Kishi are meeting again through their grandsons. Eight decades have passed, and the baleful, irreconcilable hostility between North Korea and Japan still hangs in the air.

In the West, treatment of North Korea is one-sided and ahistorical. No one even gets the names straight. During Abe’s Florida visit, Trump referred to him as ‘Prime Minister Shinzo’. On 29 April, Ana Navarro, a prominent commentator on CNN, said: ‘Little boy Un is a maniac.’ The demonisation of North Korea transcends party lines, drawing on a host of subliminal racist and Orientalist imagery; no one is willing to accept that North Koreans may have valid reasons for not accepting the American definition of reality. Their rejection of the American worldview – generally perceived as indifference, even insolence in the face of overwhelming US power – makes North Korea appear irrational, impossible to control, and therefore fundamentally dangerous.

But if American commentators and politicians are ignorant of Korea’s history, they ought at least to be aware of their own. US involvement in Korea began towards the end of the Second World War, when State Department planners feared that Soviet soldiers, who were entering the northern part of the peninsula, would bring with them as many as thirty thousand Korean guerrillas who had been fighting the Japanese in north-east China. They began to consider a full military occupation that would assure America had the strongest voice in postwar Korean affairs. It might be a short occupation or, as a briefing paper put it, it might be one of ‘considerable duration’; the main point was that no other power should have a role in Korea such that ‘the proportionate strength of the US’ would be reduced to ‘a point where its effectiveness would be weakened’. Congress and the American people knew nothing about this. Several of the planners were Japanophiles who had never challenged Japan’s colonial claims in Korea and now hoped to reconstruct a peaceable and amenable postwar Japan. They worried that a Soviet occupation of Korea would thwart that goal and harm the postwar security of the Pacific. Following this logic, on the day after Nagasaki was obliterated, John J. McCloy of the War Department asked Dean Rusk and a colleague to go into a spare office and think about how to divide Korea. They chose the 38th parallel, and three weeks later 25,000 American combat troops entered southern Korea to establish a military government.

It lasted three years. To shore up their occupation, the Americans employed every last hireling of the Japanese they could find, including former officers in the Japanese military like Park Chung Hee and Kim Chae-gyu, both of whom graduated from the American military academy in Seoul in 1946. (After a military takeover in 1961 Park became president of South Korea, lasting a decade and a half until his ex-classmate Kim, by then head of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency, shot him dead over dinner one night.) After the Americans left in 1948 the border area around the 38th parallel was under the command of Kim Sok-won, another ex-officer of the Imperial Army, and it was no surprise that after a series of South Korean incursions into the North, full-scale civil war broke out on 25 June 1950. Inside the South itself – whose leaders felt insecure and conscious of the threat from what they called ‘the north wind’ – there was an orgy of state violence against anyone who might somehow be associated with the left or with communism. The historian Hun Joon Kim found that at least 300,000 people were detained and executed or simply disappeared by the South Korean government in the first few months after conventional war began. My own work and that of John Merrill indicates that somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 people died as a result of political violence before June 1950, at the hands either of the South Korean government or the US occupation forces. In her recent book Korea’s Grievous War, which combines archival research, records of mass graves and interviews with relatives of the dead and escapees who fled to Osaka, Su-kyoung Hwang documents the mass killings in villages around the southern coast.

In short, the Republic of Korea was one of the bloodiest dictatorships of the early Cold War period; many of the perpetrators of the massacres had served the Japanese in their dirty work – and were then put back into power by the Americans.

Americans like to see themselves as mere bystanders in postwar Korean history. It’s always described in the passive voice: ‘Korea was divided in 1945,’ with no mention of the fact that McCloy and Rusk, two of the most influential men in postwar foreign policy, drew their line without consulting anyone. There were two military coups in the South while the US had operational control of the Korean army, in 1961 and 1980; the Americans stood idly by lest they be accused of interfering in Korean politics. South Korea’s stable democracy and vibrant economy from 1988 onwards seem to have overridden any need to acknowledge the previous forty years of history, during which the North could reasonably claim that its own autocracy was necessary to counter military rule in Seoul. It’s only in the present context that the North looks at best like a walking anachronism, at worst like a vicious tyranny. For 25 years now the world has been treated to scaremongering about North Korean nuclear weapons, but hardly anyone points out that it was the US that introduced nuclear weapons into the Korean peninsula, in 1958; hundreds were kept there until a worldwide pullback of tactical nukes occurred under George H.W. Bush. But every US administration since 1991 has challenged North Korea with frequent flights of nuclear-capable bombers in South Korean airspace, and any day of the week an Ohio-class submarine could demolish the North in a few hours. Today there are 28,000 US troops stationed in Korea, perpetuating an unwinnable stand-off with the nuclear-capable North. The occupation did indeed turn out to be one of ‘considerable duration’, but it’s also the result of a colossal strategic failure, now entering its eighth decade. It’s common for pundits to say that Washington just can’t take North Korea seriously, but North Korea has taken its measure more than once. And it doesn’t know how to respond.

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To hear Trump and his national security team tell it, the current crisis has come about because North Korea is on the verge of developing an ICBM that can hit the American heartland. Most experts think that it will take four or five years to become operational – but really, what difference does it make? North Korea tested its first long-range rocket in 1998, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the DPRK’s founding. The first medium-range missile was tested in 1992: it flew several hundred miles down range and banged the target right on the nose. North Korea now has more sophisticated mobile medium-range missiles that use solid fuel, making them hard to locate and easy to fire. Some two hundred million people in Korea and Japan are within range of these missiles, not to mention hundreds of millions of Chinese, not to mention the only US Marine division permanently stationed abroad, in Okinawa. It isn’t clear that North Korea can actually fit a nuclear warhead to any of its missiles – but if it happened, and if it was fired in anger, the country would immediately be turned into what Colin Powell memorably called ‘a charcoal briquette’.

But then, as General Powell well knew, we had already turned North Korea into a charcoal briquette. The filmmaker Chris Marker visited the country in 1957, four years after US carpet-bombing ended, and wrote:

Extermination passed over this land. Who could count what burned with the houses? … When a country is split in two by an artificial border and irreconcilable propaganda is exercised on each side, it’s naive to ask where the war comes from: the border is the war.’

Having recognised the primary truth of that war, one still alien to the American telling of it (even though Americans drew the border), he remarked:

‘The idea that North Koreans generally have of Americans may be strange, but I must say, having lived in the USA around the end of the Korean War, that nothing can equal the stupidity and sadism of the combat imagery that went into circulation at the time. “The Reds burn, roast and toast.”’

Since the very beginning, American policy has cycled through a menu of options to try and control the DPRK: sanctions, in place since 1950, with no evidence of positive results; non-recognition, in place since 1948, again with no positive results; regime change, attempted late in 1950 when US forces invaded the North, only to end up in a war with China; and direct talks, the only method that has ever worked, which produced an eight-year freeze – between 1994 and 2002 – on all the North’s plutonium facilities, and nearly succeeded in retiring their missiles. On 1 May, Donald Trump told Bloomberg News:

‘If it would be appropriate for me to meet with [Kim Jong-un], I would absolutely; I would be honoured to do it.’

There’s no telling whether this was serious, or just another Trump attempt to grab headlines. But whatever else he might be, he is unquestionably a maverick, the first president since 1945 not beholden to the Beltway. Maybe he can sit down with Mr Kim and save the planet.

Posted in North Korea0 Comments

Last to Die in Afghanistan: US Marines Back to Helmand

Some 300 US Marines are once again being deployed to Helmand province, Afghanistan after upward to 20,000 US Marines had spent between 2009-2014 attempting, but clearly failing to secure the province for the US-installed client regime in the nation’s capital of Kabul. 

The latest deployment of US forces in Afghanistan after allegedly “ending” combat operations and the “Afghanistan War” in 2014, exposes several realities surrounding US foreign policy that directly conflict with the political narratives emanating from Washington.

The War Isn’t Over 

The United States and members of its coalition involved in the invasion and now 16 plus year occupation of Afghanistan have not in fact ended the war, let alone won it. The fact that entire districts, and even provinces remain beyond the control of America’s client regime, and even those that are under Kabul’s control remain contested, reveals an ongoing conflict with little prospect of ending.

Fighters resisting the US occupation and the US-backed client regime have established networks that extend beyond Afghanistan’s borders far from where US forces can reach. Afghanistan’s neighbors have attempted to broker practical peace deals between groups like the Taliban and other factions within Afghanistan’s patchwork of tribes for the sake of long-term stability, undermining entirely the artificially imposed political order the US has attempted to create and maintain. 

Attempts at “nation building” have failed, with foreign contractors and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) seeking to profit from their activities within Afghanistan with little to no genuine interest in a collaborative and fundamentally constructive effort to develop the nation.

Attempts to build up local Afghan governance and military forces have also failed because of a fundamental disconnect with American objectives and the actual aspirations of the people the US is attempting to impose its version of governance upon.

The New York Times in an article titled, Marines Return to Helmand Province for a Job They Thought Was Done,”  explains the current situation in Helmand province:

The Marines’ new mission is a difficult one: to assist and train Afghan soldiers and police to defend the provincial capital. The Taliban control seven of the province’s 14 districts and are encroaching on five others. The government fully controls just two, local officials say.

The process of US Marines taking and holding towns, cities and districts only to have them fall immediately back into the armed opposition’s hands after withdrawing is a familiar one for US foreign policy. It is the same process that played out repeatedly in Southeast Asia as the United States struggled to impose its political will upon the people of Vietnam.

Ultimately the US conceded defeat in Vietnam with the nation then able to determine its own future for itself. Fear-mongering over the consequences of a communist Vietnam creating a cascading effect across all of Asia and placing entire nations under the control of the Soviet Union and communist China were revealed as unfounded. The people of Vietnam were just as adamantly opposed to being dictated to by their Asian neighbors as they were by French and American invaders.

Afghanistan is no different.

The War Has Nothing to do with “Terrorism” 

The entire premise for the initial invasion of Afghanistan was fighting terrorism. Predicated on the attack on September 11, 2001 in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania which cost nearly 3,000 lives and blamed on Al Qaeda, the invasion of Afghanistan was meant to strike at the senior leadership of the terrorist organization, including Osama Bin Laden.

Instead, from the beginning, the US invasion focused almost exclusively on regime change, targeting the ruling Taliban, not Al Qaeda. The invasion and toppling of the Taliban government transformed into a protracted occupation and counterinsurgency as the United States struggled to assert its political order via a supremely corrupt and incompetent client regime residing in Kabul.

And while time to time news stories would circulate regarding alleged US military operations targeting Al Qaeda, it is clear, specifically with the most recent deployment of US Marines to Helmand, that asserting, reasserting and struggling to maintain control over the Central Asian state remains America’s primary objective. 

In fact, within the body of the New York Times’ nearly 1,000 word article regarding the return of US Marines to Helmand province, Al Qaeda and “terrorism” weren’t mentioned once.

Sadly, actual terrorists, including Al Qaeda itself, have been intentionally bolstered by the US and its allies, specifically in Syria where weapons, training, money and other forms of material support are being funneled into their hands to carry out regime change by proxy against Damascus.

The common denominator defining US foreign policy appears to be  imposing Washington’s political will upon nations and regions, with terrorism serving as the most tenuous of excuses, and at other times, being used explicitly as a tool to carry out US foreign policy.

America, Its Client Regime Unwanted

Toward the end of the article, the New York Times admits (emphasis added):

But the biggest challenge for the Marines will be to help Afghan forces regain territory and hold it. Abdul Jabar Qahraman, President Ashraf Ghani’s former envoy in charge of operations in Helmand, said that for a long time the people of Helmand had sided with the Afghan forces, but that the government had repeatedly failed the civilian population and “left them handcuffed for the brutal enemy.” He said he expected that the Afghan forces would struggle to regain the population’s trust.

“There is no contact between the security forces and the local people,” Mr. Qahraman said. “People do not believe the promises of security forces, and the security forces always remain inside their bases, they don’t get out.”

It is clear that the problem is not just the “Taliban,” but rather the United States’ entire agenda, not only in Helmand province, or even in Afghanistan, but overseas in general. 

It is attempting to impose a self-serving political order that suits its sociopolitical and economic interests at the cost of peace, stability and security for entire regions of the planet. Its presence in Afghanistan and the proxies it has established to administer the nation to serve Washington’s interests are admittedly unwanted by the very people being administered.

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The 300 US Marines who have dutifully deployed to Helmand will once again risk life and limb for a nebulous objective serving a geopolitical agenda divorced from the best interests of both the American and Afghan people.

Far from enhancing the national security of the United States, the costly, protracted occupation of Afghanistan is demonstrating tactical and strategic weakness, geopolitical ineptitude and exposing the dangerous shortsighted greed that drives US foreign policy at the cost of long-term, rational planning and implementation.

What 300 US Marines are supposed to accomplish that 20,000 couldn’t years before with a much larger NATO force supporting them is difficult to discern. Like during the late stages of the Vietnam War, it appears that US foreign policymakers are designating these US Marines as the “last to die” in Afghanistan for the sake of “saving face,” though 16 years onward and with the state of Afghanistan as it is, there is little left to save.  

Posted in USA, Afghanistan0 Comments

US-Backed Regime Change in Thailand: When Warning Bells Should Go Off

It is unfortunate that despite the practice of Western-backed color revolutions becoming a widely familiar tactic exposed across the alternative media including larger national networks like RT – ideology, emotions, and ignorance are still being used to perpetuate this tactic in the service of Western special interests.

More unfortunate still is that occasionally the alternative media charged with exposing these tactics ends up an unwitting accomplice because of sloppy research, emotions, and ideology taking over where realism, fact, and solid research should guide headlines and analysis.

Not only is Western-backed regime change still being carried out on well-known battlefields like Syria, it is a tactic the West has aimed at other nations all around the world from Venezuela to Azerbaijan, and from North Korea to Thailand. The West depends on touching raw ideological and emotional nerves to circumvent the facts regarding who opposition groups really are, who funds them, and what wider agenda their activities truly fit into.

However, when a nation, leader, or institution suddenly finds itself under concerted attack by the West, warning bells should go off.

Thailand is Targeted by US-Backed Regime Change

Thailand is the only Southeast Asian state to avoid Western colonization. For seven centuries Thailand has been unified and led by its own sovereign institutions including its widely revered monarchy. Modern attempts to overthrow and replace the monarchy by British and American interests stretch back to an Anglo-American backed coup in 1932 that ended absolute monarchy in Thailand. Since then, attempts have been made to co-op or topple the monarchy, up to and including present day.

Thaksin Shinawatra, client regime of choice for US and European special interests.

Currently, efforts to destabilize, divide, and destroy Thailand are led by US-backed opposition groups and an ousted US client regime headed by billionaire Thaksin Shinawatra. He assumed office as prime minister between 2001-2006. In 2006 he was ousted in a military coup. He has attempted to seize back power in two Western-backed color revolution – the color of choice being “red” – in 2009 and 2010. His sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, would assume the office of prime minister as his illegal proxy between 2011-2014 before a second coup ousted her from power.

Throughout the process, the Shinawatras’ efforts to take and hold power has been augmented by fronts funded by the US State Department’s National Endowment for Democracy (NED), convicted financial criminal George Soros’ Open Society foundation, and a collection of other US and European government funds.

Posing as nongovernmental organizations. “academics,” media platforms, and student groups, these fronts have worked not specifically on promoting the Shinawatras, but instead on concerted attacks aimed at the Shinawatras’ opponents – Thailand’s independent institutions.

Former US Ambassador Kristie Kenney touring US-funded Prachatai’s office in Bangkok, Thailand. Prachatai had previously denied it was funded by the US government despite the information being available on the US NED’s own website.

These include Prachatai – who initially both withheld information about its US State Department funding and even lied to its readers about a lack of resources while soliciting cash from them – fronts like the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, Democracy Cafe, ENLAWTHAI, and many others. Many share offices, openly collaborate and coordinate campaigns among themselves and with the Western media, and many have gone through great lengths to conceal or downplay the significance of their US funding and their dealings with US representatives.

And while these fronts claim they stand for “human rights” including “democracy” and “free speech,” they selectively target Thailand’s independent institutions while omitting, spinning, excusing, or otherwise deceiving the public regarding abuse carried out by the Shinawatra regime and its supporters. This includes covering up concerted and widespread terrorism, mass murder, and an array of very real human rights abuses.

“Thailand is a nation many are not familiar with. The concept of “monarchy” to many in the West is unappealing, and issues of “free speech” regarding it get almost instinctual and unconditional support. Exploiting this ideological and emotional flaw, the West has managed to get many of the sharpest minds in the alternative media to help spread their concerted attack rather than expose it.” 

More important than understanding US designs for Thailand is understanding that they go beyond dividing and destroying a single nation. It is part of a much larger and long-term agenda of encircling and containing China either with a unified front of US-controlled client regimes, or failed states that drag Beijing down in a series of political, economic, and security crises.

It is a verbatim replay of other US-backed destabilizations either having already divided and destroyed other nations around the world, or currently consuming them. Despite the obvious body of evidence regarding Thailand’s current and ongoing political crisis, some are still falling for the same tricks and tactics used to garner support for US regime change operations elsewhere such as in Libya, Egypt, Syria, Ukraine, and beyond.

How the West is Short-Circuiting Critical Thinking 

In order to get an increasingly astute global public to forget the West’s history of meddling worldwide and to sidestep evidence of its involvement elsewhere, the Western media seeks ways to prey on ignorance, emotions, and ideology.

An example of this comes in the form of an unfortunate article gracing RT’s headlines regarding the current Thai head of state, King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

The video included in the article itself allegedly features inconsequential details of his private life, depicting him on an outing abroad with “tattoos” covering his upper body. Despite its inconsequential nature, it was spread across the Western media in a deliberate and concerted manner. It is a “juicy” video for gossipers and those seeking to present the head of state of a nation targeted for US-backed regime change in an unflattering light.

Image result for us-backed regime thailand

That the Western media is now eagerly and concertedly attempting to undermine the Thai head of state and create controversy over the Thai government’s reaction should immediately have warning bells go off for any objective analyst applying critical thought. But because of ideology, emotions, and sloppy research, many have failed to hear these bells.

Thailand is a nation many are not familiar with. The concept of “monarchy” to many in the West is unappealing, and issues of “free speech” regarding it get almost instinctual and unconditional support. Exploiting this ideological and emotional flaw, the West has managed to get many of the sharpest minds in the alternative media to help spread their concerted attack rather than expose it.

In reality, King Maha Vajiralongkorn and his circle of advisers represents a continuity in leadership and principles that have guided Thailand through centuries of stability and defended it against centuries of attempts by outside powers to subjugate and colonize it. This goes far in explaining why the Western media has committed to a concerted effort to undermine and overthrow this institution.

For the majority of Thais, they revere their institutions and share pride and prestige with them in a way unique from Western “monarchies” and “democratic” institutions. They have been unphased by literally decades of rumors and slander aimed at their institutions by the Western media.

The Thai government’s move to control the spread of Western-backed sedition across social media like Facebook is not out of fear of the truth, but out of fear of what Western-backed lies have done to other nations when allowed to spread unchecked.

The West’s ability to create the illusion that the majority of a population stands against a targeted nation was key in provoking and perpetuating the crisis in Syria. That Syria has failed to fall precisely because the majority was not behind regime change, exposes not only this tactic, but the absolute danger of not stopping it in time.

Clearly, there is much more behind this story than meets the eye. RT has been instrumental in telling both sides of stories like these, and hopefully will continue to do so. It was encouraging to see in the comment section of the story, regular readers of RT catching on to the possibility that the controversy represents Western-backed agitation more than an issue of “free speech.” Hopefully RT will be more careful in the future and continue exposing and opposing Western lies rather than serving as a means of magnifying them.

As for those in the alternative media who have lent this narrative credibility, they stand as proof that there are still buttons the West can push even among the most informed to illicit emotional and ideological knee-jerk reactions where sober analysis and research should be applied.

Posted in USA, Far East0 Comments

Pyongyang slams ‘Israel’ as ‘disturber of peace armed with illegal nukes under US patronage’

NOVANEWS
Image result for ISRAELI NUCLEAR CARTOON

North Korea has accused the Jewish Nazi regime of being the “only illegal possessor” of nukes and threat to peace in the Middle East, and threatened Tel Aviv with a “thousand-fold punishment” after Nazi Defense Minister called Pyongyang’s leadership a “crazy and radical group.”

In an interview with Hebrew news site Walla this week, Nazi Avigdor Lieberman stated that North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un is a “madman” in charge of a “crazy and radical group” which is “undermining global stability.”

Pyongyang “seems to have crossed the red line with its recent nuclear tests,” the Nazi defense minister said, according to the Times of Israel.

In response, Pyongyang promised a “thousand-fold punishment to whoever dares hurt the dignity of its supreme leadership,” calling Nazi Lieberman’s “sordid and wicked” remarks a part of Nazi regime smear campaign to cover up its own crimes.

Firing back at the perceived hypocrisy, the North Korean Foreign Ministry said that, unlike the Jewish Nazi regime, which is a “disturber of peace” in its neighborhood, their country is fully entitled to seek deterrence against “US aggression.”

“Israel is the only illegal possessor of nukes in the Middle East under the patronage of the US. However, Israel vociferated about the nuclear deterrence of the DPRK, slandering it, whenever an opportunity presented itself,” the Foreign Ministry spokesman said, as cited by state-run agency KCNA.

While Nazi regime has never publicly confirmed or denied possessing nukes, it is universally believed to have dozens of warheads, and maintains ambiguous policy that it will not be the first to “introduce” them in the Middle East.

“The DPRK’s access to nuclear weapons is the legitimate exercise of its righteous right for self-defense to cope with the US provocative moves for aggression and the DPRK’s nuclear force is the treasured sword of justice firmly defending peace on the Korean peninsula and in the region,”  the North Korean statement added.

Pyongyang went on to call ‘Israel’ a “culprit of crimes against humanity” and an “occupier” which seeks to dominate the region and oppress Palestinians.

Nazi Lieberman’s remarks also sparked criticism at home, with some Nazi politicians noting that their country has enough enemies to create even more with such reckless statements.

“We have enough enemies. Let’s focus on them,” MP Shelly Yachimovich of the Zionist Union said on Twitter.

“The minister of talk is chattering irresponsibly about North Korea. And there is no prime minister to rein in the babbling and posturing ministers,” former defense minister Nazi Moshe Ya’alon wrote on Twitter, Times of Israel reports.

Already heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula escalated further on Saturday after the North conducted yet another failed test of its ballistic rocket technology. The test was conducted as US kicked off joint naval exercises with South Korea just after the US aircraft carrier group led by the USS Carl Vinson entered the Sea of Japan.

For some time now, it has been speculated that Pyongyang is also getting ready to conduct its sixth nuclear test. Speaking about North Korea on Saturday, Trump noted that neither China nor the US would welcome a further North Korean nuclear test.

“I would not be happy,” Trump said in a CBS interview for Sunday’s Face the Nation. When asked if the sixth Korean nuclear test would prompt American military action, Trump responded: “I don’t know. I mean, we’ll see.”

Posted in ZIO-NAZI, North Korea0 Comments

Anti-DPRK Propaganda War – a Cavalcade of Comedy

NOVANEWS

dprk 123

People living in western Europe and North America are bombarded with stories about north Korea – often centred around rumour, mysterious ‘intelligence’ sources, or the south Korean and US governments.

Most stories are nothing but rumours, spread to portray the DPRK as crazy and unpredictable, but now, more and more often, we are seeing major news sources such as the Guardian, the Telegraph, and the Independent being forced to apologise and write retractions after these blatant lies have been exposed.

This writer’s favourite example is a story published this year by Yonhap news agency (a south Korean news company) claiming that south Korea had ‘captured a spy drone’ from the north.

The ‘drone’ was examined by the south Korean military and, upon closer inspection, was revealed to be the door of a portable toilet and not, after all, a piece of sophisticated military hardware.

RT wrote a story in response titled ‘Truth flushed out:”Crashed drone” near Seoul is portable toilet door’.

RT: http://rt.com/news/158980-korea-drone-crashed-door/

Think about this for a second.

The USA can fly heavily-armed bombing or hi-tech surveillance drones over foreign countries with no objection from imperialist politicians and media. It can blow up weddings and kill scores of innocent people in countries where it has no jurisdiction without consequences. But if the DPRK is suspected of fling a single unarmed drone within its own borders then the world needs to be alerted to its ‘criminal’ activity.

The emperor can light entire villages on fire but the people are forbidden from lighting a single candle.

But not only did the ‘drone’ turn out to be the door of a portable toilet, but YTN (a south Korean news channel) superimposed an image of the ‘drone’ onto a photograph of Kim Jong-un.

Now we’ve established the level of desperation that the bourgeoisie media go to ridicule the DPRK, let’s have a brief look at some of the other ludicrous stories that have emerged in the last few years – this cavalcade of comedy is a gift that keeps on giving.

1. North Korea discovers a unicorn lair

In 2012, a story spread which asked us to believe that the DPRK was claiming to have discovered the lair of a unicorn and this was a conformation that the people there believe the creatures really exist.

In reality, DPRK archaeologists had reported the discovery of a rock with engravings that translated to “unicorn lair” and that this was an important archaeological site that referred to an ancient legend of a unicorn ridden by King Tongmyong – one of the founders of the kingdoms of Korea 2,000 years ago.

One of the first western media sources to report this was a media source called USnews, and the Guardian was among the many papers that repeated the story. It later printed a retraction, blaming the original on a mistranslation.

USnews: http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2012/11/30/north-korea-says-its-found-a-unicorn-lair

Guardian repeat: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/nov/30/unicorn-lair-discovered-north-korea

Guardian retraction: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/dec/05/north-korea

2. Execution by pack of dogs

Following the arrest of DPRK political official Jang Song-thaek on charges of corruption, the media went wild with stories that he had reportedly been fed to a pack of starving dogs.

The British Independent spread the story that Kim Jong-un’s uncle had been fed to a pack of hungry dogs, but later published a retraction admitting the story was satire.

According to the Independent, “The story was nonetheless reported by the English-language Singapore daily Straits Times, and from there quickly made headlines around the western world.

Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/kim-jonguns-executed-uncle-jang-song-thaek-stripped-naked-fed-to-120-dogs-as-officials-watched-9037109.html

Independent retraction: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/kim-jongun-uncle-fed-to-120-dogs-story-begun-by-chinese-satirist-9042072.html

Explanation on RT with George Galloway and Keith Bennet from the CPGB-ML:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7_GnhOSEyY&list

3. Executions for watching foreign films

This was another satire story that was shared by the Independent as fact.

The Independent said “Seoul’s Joong Ang Ilbo daily reported that the killings were carried out in seven separate cities on 3 November, with an alleged 10,000 people forced to attend one group execution held in a sports stadium in the eastern port city Wonsan.

This story might seem solid on the front – that is, if we didn’t live in the information age, where a quick YouTube search for Pyongyang’s 13th International Film Festival can prove this story false.

The festival featured films from countries including France, Indonesia, China, Pakistan, Egypt, Russia and Switzerland (and a joint film was made by artists from Britain and the DPRK called Comrade Kim Goes Flying).

Germany won Best Actor for Daniel Brühl in a film called Der Ganz Grosse Traum des Konrad Koch, a movie about an English teacher in a German boarding school who upsets the strict rigged order of the school to teach the children football.

He also played parts in films such as The Fith EstateInglorious Bastards7 Days in Havana,Eva, and Goodbye Lenin.

Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/north-korea-executes-80-people-for-watching-foreign-films-8932104.html

Pyongyang 13th International Film Festival: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCPZJ6plxR0

Daniel Brühl and his movie, Der Ganz Grosse Traum des Konrad Koch:http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/daniel-bruhl-kicks-german-soccer-25223

4. Kim Jong-un executed his girlfriend

The Chosun Ilbo published a story saying “Sources in China said singer Hyon Song-wol as well as Mun Kyong-jin, head of the Unhasu Orchestra, were arrested on 17 August for violating north Korean laws against pornography and were executed in public three days later.

The article went on to say they were accused of videotaping themselves having sex and selling the videos. The tapes have apparently gone on sale in China as well.

The Huffington PostBusiness Insider and the Telegraph repeated the story that Hyon Song-Wol had been executed.

However, after some time had passed the Telegraph published a retraction admitting that Ms Hyon had actually appeared alive and well on television.

Business Insider wrote that the reported ‘sex tape’ was actually a video of a woman dancing to Elvis Presley’s, Aloha Oe.

Chosun Ilbo: http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2013/08/29/2013082901412.html

Business Insider: http://www.businessinsider.com/hyon-song-wol-pornographic-video-kim-jong-un-ex-girlfriend-2013-9

Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/08/29/kim-jong-uns-ex-lover-hyon-song-wol-executed-north-korean-firing-squad-sex-tape_n_3835131.html?utm_hp_ref=uk

Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/northkorea/10272953/Kim-Jong-uns-ex-lover-executed-by-firing-squad.html

Telegraph retraction: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/northkorea/10837897/Executed-Kim-Jong-Un-girlfriend-reappears-on-North-Korea-television.html

5. How Americans live

In 2013, a short film entitled How Americans Live spread on YouTube.

The film featured film scenes from the USA with an English narrator making over-the-top claims about how the people there were forced to eat snow for sustenance.

Spencer Ackerman of WIRED called the film evidence of a “north Korean propaganda video” while the Washington Post, in its ‘analysis’, declared that the video’s “message is consistent with north Korean propaganda“.

The film actually turned out to be satire posted by the British travel writer Alun Hill.

Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/13/how-americans-live-today-north-korea-fake-video_n_2868121.html

There are far too many such stories for us to dismantle them all, but these are just a sample of the most prominent.

If you would like to get behind the hostile imperialist propaganda barrage and understand a little more of the truth about the DPRK, we recommend this short interview with CPGB-ML member Keith Bennet on George Galloway’s RT programme Sputnik:

Posted in North Korea0 Comments

Will Trump Agree to the Pentagon’s Permanent War in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria?

NOVANEWS
If Trump approves expected proposals for the three countries, the US ground combat role in the region will be extended for years to come
 

The two top national security officials in the Trump administration – Secretary of Defence James Mattis and national security adviser HR McMaster – are trying to secure long-term US ground and air combat roles in the three long-running wars in the greater Middle East – Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. 

Proposals for each of the three countries are still being developed, and there is no consensus, even between Mattis and McMaster, on the details of the plans. They will be submitted to Trump separately, with the plan for Afghanistan coming sometime before a NATO summit in Brussels on 25 May.

But if this power play succeeds in one or more of the three, it could guarantee the extension of permanent US ground combat in the greater Middle East for many years to come – and would represent a culmination of the “generational war” first announced by the George W Bush administration.

‘Open-ended commitment’

It remains to be seen whether President Donald Trump will approve the proposals that Mattis and McMaster have pushed in recent weeks.

Judging from his position during the campaign and his recent remarks, Trump may well baulk at the plans now being pushed by his advisers.

The plans for the three countries now being developed within the Trump administration encompass long-term stationing of troops, access to bases and the authority to wage war in these three countries.

These are the primordial interest of the Pentagon and the US military leadership, and they have pursued those interests more successfully in the Middle East than anywhere else on the globe.

US military officials aren’t talking about “permanent” stationing of troops and bases in these countries, referring instead to the “open-ended commitment” of troops. But they clearly want precisely that in all three.

Shifting timetables

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The George W Bush administration and the Barack Obama administration both denied officially that they sought “permanent bases” in Iraq and Afghanistan, respectively. But the subtext in both cases told a different story.

A Defense Department official testifying before Congress at the time admitted that the term had no real meaning, because the Pentagon had never defined it officially.

In fact, at the beginning of the negotiations with Iraq on the US military presence in 2008, the US sought access to bases in Iraq without any time limit. But the al-Maliki government rebuffed that demand and the US was forced to agree to withdraw all combat forces in a strict timetable.

Despite efforts by the Pentagon and the military brass, including Gen David Petraeus, to get the Obama administration to renegotiate the deal with the Iraqi government to allow tens of thousands of combat troops to stay in the country, the Iraqis refused US demands for immunity from prosecution in Iraq, and the US had to withdraw all its troops.

Reversing withdrawals

Now the regional context has shifted dramatically in favour of the US military’s ambitions. On one hand, the war against Islamic State (IS) is coming to a climax in both Iraq and Syria, and the Iraq government recognises the need for more US troops to ensure that it can’t rise again; and in Syria, the division of the country into zones of control that depend on foreign powers is an overriding fact.

Meanwhile in Afghanistan, growing Taliban power and control across the country is being cited as the rationale for a proposal to reverse the withdrawals of US and NATO troops in recent years and to allow a limited return by US forces to combat.

Now that Islamic State forces are being pushed out of Mosul, both the Trump administration and the Iraqi government are beginning to focus on how to ensure that the terrorists do not return.

They are now negotiating on an agreement that would station US forces in Iraq indefinitely. And the troops would not be there merely to defeat IS, but to carry out what the war bureaucracies call “stabilisation operations” – getting involved in building local political and military institutions.

Plans for Syria

The question of what to do about Syria is apparently the subject of in-fighting between Mattis and the Pentagon, on one hand, and McMaster, on the other.

The initial plan for the defeat of IS in Syria, submitted to Trump in February, called for an increase in the size of US ground forces beyond the present level of 1,000.

But a group of officers who have worked closely with Gen Petraeus on Iraq and Afghanistan, which includes McMaster, has been pushing a much more ambitious plan, in which thousands – and perhaps many thousands – of US ground troops would lead a coalition of Sunni Arab troops to destroy Islamic State’s forces in Syria rather than relying on Kurdish forces to do the job.

Both the original plan and the one advanced by McMaster for Syria would also involve US troops in “stabilisation operations” for many years across a wide expanse of eastern Syria that would require large numbers of troops for many years.

Both in its reliance on Sunni Arab allies and in its envisioning a large US military zone of control in Syria, the plan bears striking resemblance to the one developed for Hillary Clinton by the Center for New American Security when she was viewed as the president-in-waiting.

Reversing Obama’s Afghanistan policy

The Pentagon proposal on Afghanistan, which had not been formally submitted by Mattis as of this week, calls for increasing the present level of 8,400 US troops in Afghanistan by 1,500 to 5,000, both to train Afghan forces and to fight the Taliban. It also calls for resuming full-scale US air strikes against the Taliban. Both policy shifts would reverse decisions made by the Obama administration.

Five past US commanders in Afghanistan, including Petraeus, have publicly called for the US to commit itself to an “enduring partnership” with the Afghan government. That means, according to their joint statement, ending the practice of periodic reassessments as the basis for determining whether the US should continue to be involved militarily in the war, an idea that is likely part of the package now being formulated by Mattis.

But the problem with such a plan is that the US military and its Afghan client government have now been trying to suppress the Taliban for 16 years. The longer they have tried, the stronger the Taliban have become. The US and NATO were not able to pressure the Taliban to negotiate with the government even when they had more than 100,000 troops in the country.

Committing the US to endless war in Afghanistan would only reinforce the corruption, abuses of power and culture of impunity that Gen Stanley A McChystal acknowledged in 2009 were the primary obstacles to reducing support for the Taliban. Only the knowledge that the US will let the Afghans themselves determine the country’s future could shock the political elite sufficiently to change its ways.

Most political and national security elites as well as the corporate news media support the push to formalise a permanent US presence in Afghanistan, despite the fact that national polls indicate that it is the most unpopular war in US history with 80 percent of those surveyed in a CNN poll in 2013 opposing its continuation.

Beltway brawl?

There are signs that Trump may reject at least the plans for Afghanistan and Syria. Only days after his approval of the missile strike on a Russian-Syrian airbase, Trump told Fox Business in an interview,

“We’re not going into Syria.”

And White House spokesman Sean Spicer seemed to suggest this week that Trump was not enamoured with the plan to spend many more years trying to “transform” Afghanistan.

“There is a difference between Afghanistan proper and our effort to defeat ISIS,” Spicer said

Despite Trump’s love for the military brass, the process of deciding on the series of new initiatives aimed at committing the US more deeply to three wars in the greater Middle East is bound to pose conflicts between the political interests of the White House and the institutional interests of the Pentagon and military leaders.

Posted in USA, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria0 Comments

China’s “One Belt, One Road” Initiative: “A New Silk Road linking Asia, Africa and Europe”

NOVANEWS
 

On Sunday May 14, China’s President Xi Jinping will inaugurate the One Belt One Road summit, the object of which is to to build a “new Silk Road linking Asia, Africa and Europe”, largely focussing on infrastructure investment. Global Research brings to the attention of its readers this carefully researched review by political scientist Zhao Bingxing

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The debate on China’s ambitious “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR, also referred to as “Belt and Road”) initiative seems gradually cooled down in the last year and one plausible reason was the relatively slow and limited progress it made. But recent news released by Chinese government reheated it: The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation will be held in Beijing in the middle of this May and 28 heads of state and government leaders [including North Korea] have confirmed their attendance.

For international observers, at least two factors make this forthcoming meeting eye-catching. On the one hand, it may tell whether China can convince other countries it is capable of playing a leading role in promoting global free trade by implementing OBOR when the U.S. turns to isolationism and protectionism.

On the other hand, three and a half years have passed since this initiative was announced and a mid-term review is required, which should preferably in a summit or high-level forum, rather than by a one-sided progress report, and the conclusion of this review will be a focus. To make judgment on either of the issues, the analysis of the motive, rationale of OBOR are necessary but still not enough. We need to examine how successful this initiative was implemented in those relevant countries so far and what impact OBOR will bring to them. Considering the different national power, developing level, economic institution of these countries, and even their complicated relations with China, an unified or too generalized view without studying of each country should be avoided.

In this article, four countries in the OBOR scope, i.e. Russia, Uzbekistan, Malaysia and Germany are selected to do case studies and it shows that OBOR, though based on  positive principles, which focus on enhancing connectivity, facilitating trade and improving infrastructure, may not bring equal benefit to the relevant countries along this route and its impact on these countries differs significantly from one to another. In the meantime, the response of these countries also differs, which is closely relates to their economic, geopolitical and ideological consideration.

Russia

According to Vision and Actions on Jointly Building Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road (hereafter referred to as Vision and Actions), the official guiding document of OBOR, one of the three routes of the “Belt” passes Russia and two passes Central Asia, whereby Russia considers it to be a part of its historical economic and regional interests.[1][2] Hence, Russia can be viewed as a key to the success of OBOR. In a sense, the construction of the “Belt” will face more challenges if it lacks Russia’s cooperation, or at least consent.

A recent official remark in respect to bilateral relations between Russia and China seems quite optimistic. On Jan 17 and 18, 2017, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and a Chinese spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs respectively stated that Sino-Russian relations were “at their best level ever in the two countries’ history”.[3] Both of them also mentioned OBOR as a part of Sino-Russian cooperation.[4] Though China has consistently been seeking support and cooperation with Russia (and all the other countries along OBOR as well), it is important to note, however, that Russia’s position was not consistent and underwent an obvious shift.

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Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin

Initially the Kremlin didn’t give the OBOR initiative positive feedback and it didn’t show enthusiasm for Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in the first place, either, which reflected a dominant view of Russian elites that these would lead to a mutual distrust between the two countries.[5]

Russia’s concern about losing freight traffic was one reason for its unwillingness because the original route based on Chinese planning was to bypass Russia.[6] More importantly, it worried that the closer economic ties between China and the Central Asian countries would compete with Russia’s own integration plans for this region, which may further make the Central Asian countries drift away from Russia and embrace China.[7] But President Putin soon changed his position when China acknowledged Russia’s concerns and agreed to make some concessions to accommodate Russia’s needs, followed by the Russia’s endorsement of OBOR and its joint declaration with China on coordinating and linking OBOR to Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) in the middle of 2015.[8]

In fact, China did show considerable willingness and flexibility to cooperating and this was exemplified by China’s “creation” of an economic corridor with Russia and Mongolia, which would connect the “Belt” to Russia’s transcontinental railroad plan which was not in the initial plan of the OBOR.[9] Besides, China’s “Three Nos” principle in Central Asia, i.e. no interference with Central Asian countries’ internal affairs; no attempt to seek a dominant role in regional affairs; and no desire to create a sphere of influence, being a policy for dealing with its relations with Central Asian countries, to some extent eased Russia’s concern about China’s involvement in this region, because such showed that China had no intention of changing the status quo (Russia’s dominant influence) even though China didn’t formally acknowledge Central Asia as Russia’s backyard.[10] So far the concessions China made with regards to Russia are probably the most significant ones made during the promotion of OBOR because no other country alone constituted a reason for China to change the route.

Russia’s consideration is also based on the fact that some benefits, including infrastructure construction and cooperation on industrial capacity with China are not a priority and the only significant and substantial benefit to be incurred may be the receipt of funding from China. Rather, apart from the competing interest in Central Asia, some cooperation models as used in other countries such as contracting a construction project and dispatching thousands of Chinese workers there would hardly be acceptable for Russia due to its vigilance on the issue of Chinese migrants, especially in Far East region.

However, there are some reasons that Russia eventually decided to support this initiative. First, there is some tangible benefit that Russia can expect, though it doesn’t seem so imperative for Russia to seek out for the time being. In addition to being another channel for funding of infrastructure, OBOR, after an adjustment to its route as per Russia’s requirements, both in the plan and in practice, has brought some benefits to Russia.

Since Russia’s transcontinental rail was connected to OBOR and China-Mongolia-Russia economic corridor started to build, freight volume rocketed up in the railway routes from China to Russia, and to Europe via Russia, both of which used Russia’s transcontinental railroad, such as Chongqing-Inner Mongolia-Russia (Yu-Meng-E) and Hunan-Inner Mongolia-Europe (Xiang-Meng-Ou), which had positive effects for both China and Russia.[11]

Second, EEU is currently Russia’s priority. Though initially OBOR was viewed more as a rival, China’s clarification and commitment on connecting the two projects eased Russia’s concerns to a large extent. As a concrete step, a document was signed in the middle of 2016 in which the two governments decided to formally start negotiations on an economic partnership, mainly focusing on trade facilitation, merging different standards on intellectual property, customs, and other areas.[12] Third, it might not be wise nor feasible for Russia to contain China’s influence in Central Asia, or larger scope by boycotting this initiative.

For one thing, though the influence of Russia, the “elder brother” in Eurasia is still dominant, which is determined by its close political, economic, cultural, language and even people-to-people ties with the five republics in this region, the latter have long been seeking reducing their overdependence on Russia and striking a balance among big powers. Of course, Russia and China are the most important two in the region. In the past decade, China’s influence in the field of economics in this region grew very quickly and as such China has been able to compete with Russia, if not surpass it.

In 2015, all Central Asian countries have a larger share of their two-way trade with China than with Russia except for China’s exports to Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan and imports from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.[13] Besides, the build-up of mutual trust and cooperation in other areas such as that of anti-terrorism also increased China’s influence and say in this region. These facts make it very difficult for Russia to sway these countries by one-sided action. It is even interesting that Kazakhstan, where Xi Jinping first announced the “One Belt” initiative, is exactly the country which has the closest relations with Russia in Central Asia. For the other, OBOR is basically based on the actual needs of both China and many other countries. Also, China has enough political will and financial resources to push forward with. These factors mean that it can still proceed even if the support from some of the local big powers is absent.

Image result for silk road economic belt

In addition, it is necessary to examine Russia’s position beyond the calculation of the benefit or loss of OBOR per se and put it in a broader context. After the annexation of Crimea, the Ukrainian territory in March, 2014, the West imposed the harshest sanctions since the Cold War was over against Russia and this was a heavy, though not devastating blow to Russia, both in politics and in economy.

Data showed that Russia entered into a recession, with GDP growth of -2.2% for the first quarter of 2015, as compared to the first quarter of 2014, which was regarded as a success of Western sanctions in terms of the proximate goal of inflicting damage on the Russian economy.[14] Under this great pressure, it is no surprise that the Kremlin turned to the East and sought cooperation opportunities from China. Though China didn’t support Russia’s annexation of the Crimea and basically held a neutral position, it did have a great deal of interest in strengthening bilateral cooperation with Russia in economic, military and other areas because China also faced pressure from the West and needed political support from Russia. Admittedly, joining OBOR cannot bring enough benefits to Russia to offset its losses from the sanctions, nor can the closer relations with China.

However, a positive attitude to OBOR is vital for Russia if it hopes to get more financial support from China, whether under the OBOR initiative or other bilateral projects. It is hard to image that the $400 billion USD gas deal between the two countries, which was signed shortly after Russia annexed the Crimea and other cooperation projects can be implemented smoothly if Russia eventually declines this initiative that China attaches the most importance to.

On the whole, the benefit of OBOR seems more symbolic than substantial for Russia and thus Russia still sticks to the EEU project, which can help to bolster its economic and political dominance in Eurasia. This has been evidenced by the wording used when Lavrov mentioned that the Russia-China relations were at the best of all time this January. He emphasized “aligning” the two projects, instead of “joining” OBOR. Nevertheless, Russia still cannot neglect OBOR because the latter is closely related to China, who is able to provide key support to Russia. This support was vital to Russia when it suffered from the sanctions from the West and is expected to continue to play an important role in the near future because the relations between Russia and the West have been in a stalemate and chances of lifting the sanctions look very slim in the near future.

Uzbekistan

It is not a coincidence that Xi chose Central Asia to announced the “One Belt” initiative first. One plausible explanation for such is that this is the region where the ancient Silk Road first passed by when it left West China, but the underlying reason may be that the five republics of Central Asia are the countries who best match the ideas of OBOR and support it most as well. Since they gained independence twenty-five years ago, these landlocked countries had to face a common challenge, i.e. how to develop their economies in the Post-Soviet time?

Although Putin showed a strong desire to play an even bigger role in this region, Russia’s capabilities alone are not enough to ensure the prosperity of these counties. More importantly, such support is not without a price—overreliance on one big power will risk their independence. The rise of China provided an alternative to these countries which enabled them to choose partners from a wider range and benefit from both. OBOR is attractive to Central Asian countries because the focuses of this initiative, such as promoting connectivity, facilitating trade and investment, and improving infrastructure are all imperative to them. In this section, Uzbekistan is selected as an example, which can be a representative of the other four countries.
In May 2014, one year before the Vision and Actions was released, the then Uzbek President Karimov stated that Uzbekistan would actively participate in the building of the Silk Road economic belt when he met with Chinese President Xi.[15] In June 2015 China and Uzbekistan agreed to expand trade and economic cooperation under the framework of the “Belt initiatives”.[16] In June 2016, Karimov and Xi agreed to focus on jointly promoting this initiative.[17] All of which clearly shows Uzbekistan’s positive attitude to OBOR.

Image result for karimov jinping

Uzbek President Karimov and Chinese President Xi Jinping

The main areas of cooperation under the OBOR framework include economic and trade cooperation, gas pipeline, railway tunnel construction, people-to-people exchange, etc. and much progress has been witnessed since a series of pacts were signed.[18] For example, the Qamchiq Tunnel in Uzbekistan, which is a part of the Angren-Pap railway line that connects Tashkent and Namangan, was completed on June 22, 2016 as a major achievement of OBOR.[19]

There is also some uncertainty about the implementation of OBOR in this country, which not only comes from the death of Karimov in last September, but also comes from local Uzbekistanis’ insufficient knowledge and recognition of OBOR, and too even China’s overall model of economic development.[20] In spite of this, cooperation related to OBOR still seems to be on track and there is no sign that it has been set aside by Uzbekistan.

Admittedly, the five republics in Central Asia differ from each other in terms of levels of democracy, natural resources, economic development levels, even in terms of domestic tensions or conflicts. Nevertheless, their common feature in geographic location cannot be overlooked. Being landlocked states, their trade connectivity with the rest of the world is limited, but they are also the overland juncture between East Asia and Europe, which gives them the potential to become a transportation hub that can connect the East and the West.[21] OBOR looks like a perfect solution to this situation.

If properly managed, it can better the connectivity within their individual country and that with other countries, which will bring triple benefits to them. First benefit is in meeting their local needs. Second is in facilitating their own export and import, and the third is to make profit by providing transshipment services. Also, appealing to Central Asian countries is China’s “no intervention in domestic politics”, “business-is-business” and economic oriented approach. When compared to Russia or other powers, China “is more inclined to perceive the local situation in terms of a sophisticated win-win scenario rather than in terms of aspirations of geopolitical dominance in the region” and such this policy has been approved to be successful.[22]

Overall, OBOR is beneficial to Uzbekistan and joining this initiative can be a reasonable choice. In fact, Uzbekistan can be a typical case with regards to OBOR from two different angles. One is that it represents the other four Central Asian countries which have similar geographic advantages as well as disadvantages and economic status quo. The other is that it can represent many medium or small developing states which have little direct conflicting interest with China in terms of geopolitics and thus can focus more on the economic cooperation they are mutually interested in. Basically, it is not difficult for them to find some areas in which they can cooperate with China on and benefit from them together.

Malaysia

Being an important part of 21st century Maritime Silk Road, or “One Road”, the other half of the OBOR, Malaysia, has its significance in two aspects. First, it is sitting on a strategic spot, in that Kuala Lumpur is quite close to the Malacca Strait, the second busiest waterway in the world. Trade statistics show that almost half of the world’s total annual seaborne cargo passed through this passage, which is jointly administered by Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.[23] Second, Malaysia is now China’s largest trading partner in ASEAN and the third largest in Asia and its policy option can be used as reference for some other countries.[24] In addition, Malaysia is able to help China expand markets in other ASEAN and neighboring countries.[25] All these factors together make Malaysia’s position key to the prospects of “One Road”.

In fact, Malaysia is perhaps the most active country regarding the OBOR in ASEAN, or Southeast Asia. In October 2014, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak voiced his country’s readiness to support both OBOR and AIIB when meeting with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi.[26] In addition, many other high-ranking governmental officials also echoed Najib’s position on OBOR. For example, Liow Tiong Lai, the Minister of Transport of Malaysia reiterated that the OBOR was a win-win project and indicated that Malaysia was ready for that in his speech at the Boao Forum for Asia in June 2015.[27]

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Malaysian PM Najib Razak and Chinese President Xi Jinping

Several key areas and projects have been highlighted by both Malaysia and China under the umbrella of OBOR, including infrastructure, transportation, energy, property and even education and some progress have been made on each to date. For example, 60% of the equity of the 1MDB-owned Bandar Malaysia project in Kuala Lumpur was sold to a consortium led by a Malaysian company and China Railway Engineering Corp (CREC, a stated owned Chinese company) at RM7.41 billion in early 2016.[28] In November of the year, following an official visit to China by Najib, Malaysian and Chinese companies saw the signing of fourteen agreements on several iconic and mega agreements worth RM144 billion.[29] Another eye-catching project which China hopes to incorporate into OBOR is the High Speed Rail (HSR) connecting Malaysia and Singapore. Though the final result of HSR bidding will not be available until 2018, it is a general consensus that a Chinese-led consortium is one of the two most promising competitors (the other is Japanese-led consortium) because of its successful precedent as set in Indonesia.

There are several reasons that can explain the positive attitude of both government and business sectors. First, Malaysia has basically maintained friendly relations with China over the past few decades. In fact, Malaysia was the first country in Southeast Asia to build formal ties with China in 1974.[30] Such good relations are also based on the fact that there was little strategic conflict between the two countries after 1980s whereas there was also a frequent people-to-people exchange that occurred because of the large Chinese ethnic population present in Malaysia. It should be noted that territory disputes between the two countries do exist, which is about the waterways in the South China Sea. However, both Malaysia and China seem to be restrained about such and downplay this dispute, which is unlike the situation between the Philippines and China in the last several years. As a result, this dispute didn’t impede the bilateral relations. Second, both Malaysia and China have benefited a lot from previous economic cooperation and thus there is a strong driving force for them to maintain such development. A closer look at the bilateral economic cooperation between the two countries shows that two-way investment and trade involves different sectors, from manufacturing to construction, and different regions in these two countries, which reflects the in-depth and successful cooperation of both. Third, Malaysia believes that much of its needs in infrastructure, transportation and investment can be met by joining OBOR. As Najib notes, for instance,

“[The double-track East Coast Rail Line] will spur socio-economic growth in specific areas and bring great benefit to the people in the East Coast [of Malaysia]”.

Image result for east coast rail line malaysia

Also, with the implementation of OBOR, Malaysia sees more opportunities to attract Chinese investment.[31]
OBOR can be a good opportunity for Malaysia too because it is more likely to succeed in this country than in some other developing countries along the OBOR. Aside from the strategic significance, Malaysia has a relatively stable political environment, well-established legal system and sound economic framework and good infrastructure. Its unique advantages include its large Muslim population as well as its Chinese ethnic population. The latter can help Chinese businesses easily enter into the local market and the former provide a possibility to connect the Chinese halal industry to the Muslim world.[32]

Though geopolitical consideration is not frequently and publicly emphasized when Malaysian high-ranking officials talk about OBOR, there is good reason to believe that Malaysia is trying to seek a balance between the two big powers of the United States and China. While actively getting involved in OBOR, Malaysia is also a member of TPP, a US-led trade agreement.[33] Since OBOR and TPP are widely considered to be part of a rivalry between China and the US, the involvement of both projects clearly shows that Malaysia hopes to benefit from both but not to overly rely on any. In a sense, the choice of “OBOR or TPP” reflects the choice of “US or China”, which is a common issue facing almost all the ASEAN countries, which is largely due to the geographic location of these countries. Although ASEAN countries try to speak with one voice, each of them have different responses to the “US or China” issue — some are more pro-American and others seem more pro-China. Of course, such is subject to change depending on their leadership and certain circumstances and the dispute over the South China Sea plays a key role in the policy option.

Last but not least, skepticism and concerns about OBOR can also be found in Malaysia. In addition to the dispute concerning the South China Sea, the “indifference” of Malay ethnic people as opposed to the “enthusiasm” of Chinese ethnic people and the exaggeration of the potential effect of OBOR are also challenges.[34] However, it seems that the Malay-Chinese cooperation on OBOR hasn’t been influenced much by such opinions.

Germany

China became the biggest trading partner of Germany in 2016 for the first time, overtaking France and the US, and Germany has long been China’s biggest trading partner in Europe.[35] This clearly shows the even closer economic relations between the two countries. From China’s perspective, Germany’s significance for OBOR primarily lies in its geographic location as one of the destinations of OBOR as well as its identity as an important actor among Western countries, which means that cooperation on OBOR, if successfully implemented, may set an example for other Western countries in Europe and attract more Western partners. Overall, the German government holds a relatively positive position towards OBOR and its focus is mainly on the areas of improving connectivity and trade and investment facilitation. Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel has welcomed the initiative to secure more Chinese investment in Europe.[36] At the same time, reservations and ambiguity can also be read from German government positions. German Consul General in Hong Kong when asked about the position of Germany on OBOR, said that Germany welcomed China’s openness to the rest of the world but he also highlighted that “any roads and any belts should be and will be in both directions”.[37]

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese President Xi Jinping

Although German government is not very willing to provide clear and strong support to OBOR, it didn’t refuse the relevant business opportunities that came with such. However, when compared to the Central Asian countries or some Southeast Asian countries, the result yielded in Germany under OBOR seems rather limited. The most prominent progress related to OBOR made in Germany is the Sino-European freight trains. In fact, the only five big projects to be undertaken by the end of 2016 were those linking the existing railroads. But it should be noted that several of them had been planned long before the announcement of OBOR and were just included in this initiative later.[38]

Unlike some countries which are China’s immediate rivals or have territory disputes with China, Germany can stay away from such tricky problems. As a result, the responses of Germany regarding OBOR, especially those positive ones, including the statements of the government or business sectors and projects discussed or agreed to are almost all based on economic calculations. In fact, the realistic or foreseeable benefits for Germany may also lie in this area. For one thing, the operation of Sino-German freight train provided a new option for the transportation of goods between China and Germany, and other European countries with a shorter timeline and more affordable cost. According to the China Railway, the total freight volume of the Sino-European railway reached 42 million tons in 2016, an increase of 12% and Germany was the main destination.[39] It should be noted that there are other destination countries of eastbound freight trains aside from China, such as Kazakhstan.[40] This demonstrates that the connectivity achieved can be beneficial to all the countries along OBOR. For the other, it did attract more Chinese investors to Germany. So far around seventy enterprises have settled in Duisburg, one of the destinations of Sino-German freight train, and most of them entered the European market within the last two years.[41] Overall trade and investment statistics show a very positive trend for the past three years and OBOR did play “some” positive role in such, though it may not be easy to measure precisely to what extent OBOR contributed to this trend.

Admittedly, the challenge facing OBOR in Germany is huge, and such a challenge is quite different from that in the developing countries or in China’s neighboring rivals. For a Westernized developed economy like Germany’s, infrastructure, one of the key pillars of OBOR, which is also a focus for many of the countries in Central Asia and Southeast Asia, is not a priority, nor even a concern of Germany’s because infrastructure is well-established throughout the country. Foreign investment is generally welcomed but not a pressing need. The cooperation on manufacturing capacity which has been in operation by China and some developing countries along OBOR is not applicable to Germany at all. This explains why the major benefit, if not the only benefit, that is attractive to Germany may be the connectivity created by OBOR and the resultant trade and investment opportunities.

In addition to the mismatch as mentioned, the obvious divergence between Germany and China regarding China’s markets, transfer of cutting-edge technology to Chinese companies, Chinese state-owned enterprises, or ultimately, China’s model of economic development is also a big obstacle for OBOR. For example, Berlin became seriously concerned that Chinese acquisition of hi-tech German companies would make China an even more aggressive competitor while Chinese officials criticized this new protectionist tendencies in Germany in response.[42] Needless to say, this is a common issue between almost all the EU countries and China. Furthermore, the EU’s approach has, to a large extent been based on a democratization and human right paradigm, which can be viewed as one of the root causes of their indifference and skepticism of OBOR.[43]  As a result, Germany’s involvement with OBOR is limited and the influence of OBOR to this country is drastically weakened.

Related image

Siemens is a German conglomerate company with headquarter in Beijing, China.

For years Germany’s policy on China has been split between the economic interests and ideological considerations. On the one hand, it cannot ignore the Chinese markets and cooperation with China, which has brought huge benefit to its economy. On the other hand, Germany’s free market capitalism and values can hardly accommodate China’s development and expansion based on the Chinese model and thus deterrence is required. This dilemma has inevitably influenced how Germany looks at OBOR and what impact OBOR will bring to Germany. The result is, not surprisingly, a temporary balance between the two objectives. Of course, such a balance is not unchangeable and the struggle over economic interests and ideological principles will continue. A recent and noticeable event that occurred which may sway Germany’s position might be US president Trump and his isolationism. Before Merkel’s meeting with Trump, Merkel and Xi stressed a commitment to free trade during a telephone call.[44] This move signals that Germany may have to attach more importance to achieving economic cooperation with China, which means OBOR will probably have a more favorable environment in Germany in the future.

The case of Germany can reflect the general European situation to some degree and it basically coincides with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s statement, who also emphasizes the importance of investment and links and holds that this initiative can bring huge benefit to both China and the EU, if it works well.[45] However, the representation of Germany shouldn’t be overestimated. On the one hand, there is no official EU position on OBOR as of yet and EU countries also lack a collective voice.[46] On the other hand, the Germany case is more applicable to Western Europe than Eastern, Central and Southeastern Europe. Unlike Germany, most countries in the Central, Eastern and Southeastern parts of Europe are less developed and thus need more infrastructure building assistance and foreign investments, which brings them more opportunities to cooperate with China under OBOR. And this has been evidenced by a series of cooperation between two parties, such as the China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO)’s purchase of the Greek port of Piraeus and China’s building of a high-speed railway from Hungary to Serbia.

Conclusion

The analysis of the four countries, though fragmented and not adequate to provide a whole picture of the impact of OBOR for those countries within the scope as well as their response, to some extent reveals the trend of the relations between OBOR and the relevant countries, because each of the four countries can represent a group of countries, or at least reflects some key consideration of the countries with the same features.

First, big powers are more inclined to put OBOR in the context of power rivalry and this inevitably reinforces OBOR as a challenge and usually leads to distrust of this initiative. Russia’s response initially reflected

this relationship but China’s immense move towards making concessions and Russia’s plight in the Ukraine eventually changed Russia’s position. By comparison, India is a case in point to show how another power is wary of China’s OBOR initiative. Since India positions China more as a rival than a partner, and there are no key drivers that emerged like those which occurred in Russia’s case that could reverse the trend, to date India hasn’t endorsed this initiative and there is little hope it will in the future. To some degree, the benefits or losses that OBOR can yield have become secondary to geopolitical considerations. Small or medium states, such as the Uzbekistan and Malaysia cases suggest, however, don’t want to get involved in the great power games and tend to focus on the tangible and immediate gains that can be derived from OBOR. They don’t seem to care whether or not China can get more from the bilateral cooperation than they do. In reality, many of them tend to seize the opportunity as it presents itself and transform it to improve their own country’s economy.

Second, developing countries are meant to benefit more from OBOR. Overall, the trade and investment facilitation, one of main goals of OBOR is universally welcomed by both developed countries and developing countries alike. But only the developing countries have huge demands for infrastructure building and requirements for relevant funding to be invested, which can probably be met by the implementation of OBOR. Then it should come as no surprise that developing countries along OBOR show relatively more positive attitudes towards it.

Third, political and economic institutions and too even ideology can play a important role in the assessment of OBOR as well as the position a country takes on it. Western counties are more concerned about the role of the Chinese government and state-owned enterprises in OBOR and are prone to link the implementation of this initiative outside China to the market environment within China. By contrast, non-Western countries have less concern in this regard partly because some of them are also practicing state capitalism, rather than free market capitalism. Therefore, their judgment is basically centered on what result OBOR can yield and to what degree such is beneficial to them.

In general, the idea of enhancing connectivity and promoting trade, which constitutes the main rationale of OBOR, is positive and this explains why OBOR won quite a bit of recognition after three years of intensive promotion, though it has always been accompanied by skepticism and challenges outside China. However, this initiative is still not a one-size-fits-all solution because its real effect relies heavily on the different situation of each country. Then it is no surprise that each country has different positions, all depending on the consideration of various factors, including economic, geopolitical, ideology, etc. Roughly speaking, OBOR is more of an opportunity for small and medium developing states than big powers or Western countries.

In a sense, Trump’s new policy, Brexit and even the rise of right-wing political force in West Europe provided an unexpected opportunity for China’s OBOR initiative because most countries in the world are still in favor of open and free trade. In the meantime, they also need some kind of mechanism and project to materialize this conception. Intentionally or unintentionally, OBOR may probably play a positive role in this regard, but we also need to realize its limit and avoid too optimistic or unrealistic expectation.

NOTES

[1]National Development and Reform Commission, Vision and Actions on Jointly Building Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road.
[2]Linn, J. F., Central Asian Regional Integration and Cooperation: Reality or Mirage?, 96.
[3]See Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions at a news conference on the results of Russian diplomacy in 2016, Moscow, and
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying’s regular press conference on January 18, 2017.
[4]Ibid.
[5]Li, X., Silk Road Can Find Common Ground with Eurasian Economic Union.
[6]Wilson, The Eurasian Economic Union and China’s Silk Road: Implications for the Russian–Chinese Relationship, 119.
[7]Yu, China-Russia Relations: Putin’s Glory and Xi’s Dream.
[8]Wilson, The Eurasian Economic Union and China’s Silk Road: Implications for the Russian–Chinese Relationship, 119.
[9]Li, X., Silk Road Can Find Common Ground with Eurasian Economic Union.
[10]Yu, China-Russia Relations: Putin’s Glory and Xi’s Dream.
[11]Xinhua, China Uses Cooperation on Regional Ports to Boost China-Mongolia-Russia Economic Corridor.
[12]Shtraks, China’s One Belt, One Road Initiative and the Sino-Russian Entente: An Interview with Alexander Gabuev.
[13]Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook,
[14]Christie, Sanctions after Crimea: Have They Worked?
[15]Ministry of Foreign Affairs of PRC, Xi Jinping Meets with President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan.
[16]Xinhua, China, Uzbekistan to Strengthen Cooperation Under the Silk Road Initiative.
[17]Xinhua, China, Uzbekistan Agree to Focus on Belt and Road Development.
[18]Xing, Guangcheng, and Weiwei Zhang, Promote the Building of Sino-Uzbeki “One Belt, One Road”.
[19]Xinhua, Chinese, Uzbek Leaders Hail Inauguration of Central Asia’s Longest Railway Tunnel.
[20]Chen, Julie Yu-Wen, and Olaf Günther, China’s Influence in Uzbekistan: Model Neighbor or Indifferent Partner?
[21]Li, Z. G., Central Asia Embraces “One Belt, One Road” Because of the Matched Interest.
[22]Kozłowski, The New Great Game Revised: Regional Security in Post-Soviet Central Asia.
[23]InvestKL, One Belt One Road: Kuala Lumpur is Sitting on a Strategic Spot.
[24]Foon, “Belt-road” to Benefit Businesses.
[25]Ibid.
[26]Xinhua, China, Malaysia Wow to Promote Bilateral Relationship.
[27]Liow, Speech By YB Dato’ Sri Liow Tiong Lai, Minister Of Transport, Malaysia, Boao Forum For Asia – Luncheon Speech One Belt One Road Strategy, Vision, Action Plan.
[28]Khoo, China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ Initiatives in Malaysia.
[29]Bizhive, Riding the dragon: Harnessing Malaysia-China’s Trade Partnership.
[30]Foon, “Belt-road” to Benefit Businesses.
[31]Bizhive, Riding the Dragon: Harnessing Malaysia-China’s Trade Partnership.
[32]Liow, Speech By YB Dato’ Sri Liow Tiong Lai, Minister Of Transport, Malaysia, Boao Forum For Asia – Luncheon Speech One Belt One Road Strategy, Vision, Action Plan.
[33]With the inauguration of President Trump, the US quitted TPP on Jan 23, 2017. See http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-38721056
[34]Chen, J.S., Where is “One Belt, One Road” Heading for?
[35]Xinhua, Sino-German Trade Reaches a New Level Based on Mutual Benefit.
[36]Gaspers, Germany Wants Europe to Help Shape China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
[37]Lau, Make China’s Belt and Road Initiative a Two-way Street, Says German Consul General in Hong Kong.
[38]Ibid.
[39]Guan, “One Belt, One Road” Is a Lucky Key for Us.
[40]Ibid.
[41]Ibid.
[42]Larres, China and Germany: The Honeymoon Is Over.
[43]Arduino, China’s One Belt One Road: Has the European Union Missed The Train? 14.
[44]DW, Germany, China Stress Commitment to Free Trade Ahead of Merkel’s Meeting with Trump.
[45]Xinhua, Interview: Europe to Benefit from China’s One Belt, One Road Initiative: EC chief.
[46]European Parliament, One Belt, One Road (OBOR): China’s Regional Integration Initiative.

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Why Do North Koreans Hate Us?

NOVANEWS

Korean women weep as they identify bodies on Oct. 28, 1953. The army said the victims were among political prisoners killed by suffocation by the Communists outside Hambung, Korea. The Army said the victims were forced into caves which were then sealed off. (AP Photo)

[Editor’s note: The great secret of the Korean War is that the North invaded the South in order to liberate them from the brutal, murderous totalitarian Rhee regime that had been installed by the US. They almost succeeded in pushing the foreigners out of the country but in the end, they got embroiled in three long years of war that saw the US and their UN allies burn virtually every village and town in the North and bombing raids to rival those inflict on Japan in WW2 in their murderous slaughter of civilians. By the time of the ceasefire the North was a wasteland and it’s people were starving, homeless refugees; they had been ‘bombed back to the stone age’ to use a US military phrase. Small wonder the North has not forgiven or forgotten and maintains a burning hatred. Ian]

__________
The Intercept
Why Do North Koreans Hate Us? One Reason — They Remember the Korean War.

“WHY DO THEY hate us?”

It’s a question that has bewildered Americans again and again in the wake of 9/11, in reference to the Arab and Muslim worlds. These days, however, it’s a question increasingly asked about the reclusive North Koreans.

Let’s be clear: There is no doubt that the citizens of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea both fear and loathe the United States. Paranoia, resentment, and a crude anti-Americanism have been nurtured inside the Hermit Kingdom for decades. Children are taught to hate Americans in school while adults mark a “Struggle Against U.S. Imperialism Month” every year (it’s in June, in case you were wondering).

North Korean officials make wild threats against the United States while the regime, led by the brutal and sadistic Kim Jong-un, pumps out fake news in the form of self-serving propaganda, on an industrial scale. In the DPRK, anti-American hatred is a commodity never in short supply.

“The hate, though,” as longtime North Korea watcher Blaine Harden observed in the Washington Post, “is not all manufactured.” Some of it, he wrote, “is rooted in a fact-based narrative, one that North Korea obsessively remembers and the United States blithely forgets.”

Forgets as in the “forgotten war.” Yes, the Korean War. Remember that? The one wedged between World War II and the Vietnam War? The first “hot” war of the Cold War, which took place between 1950 and 1953, and which has since been conveniently airbrushed from most discussions and debates about the “crazy” and “insane” regime in Pyongyang? Forgotten despite the fact that this particular war isn’t even over — it was halted by an armistice agreement, not a peace treaty — and despite the fact that the conflict saw the United States engage in numerous war crimes, which, perhaps unsurprisingly, continue to shape the way North Koreans view the United States, even if the residents of the United States remain blissfully ignorant of their country’s belligerent past.

For the record, it was the North Koreans, and not the Americans or their South Korean allies, who started the war in June 1950, when they crossed the 38th Parallel and invaded the south. Nevertheless, “What hardly any Americans know or remember,” University of Chicago historian Bruce Cumings writes in his book “The Korean War: A History,” “is that we carpet-bombed the north for three years with next to no concern for civilian casualties.”

How many Americans, for example, are aware of the fact that U.S. planes dropped on the Korean peninsula more bombs — 635,000 tons — and napalm — 32,557 tons — than during the entire Pacific campaign against the Japanese during World War II?

How many Americans know that “over a period of three years or so,” to quote Air Force Gen. Curtis LeMay, head of the Strategic Air Command during the Korean War, “we killed off … 20 percent of the population”?

Twenty. Percent. For a point of comparison, the Nazis exterminated 20 percent of Poland’s pre-World War II population. According to LeMay, “We went over there and fought the war and eventually burned down every town in North Korea.”

Every. Town. More than 3 million civilians are believed to have been killed in the fighting, the vast majority of them in the north.

How many Americans are familiar with the statements of Secretary of State Dean Rusk or Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas? Rusk, who was a State Department official in charge of Far Eastern affairs during the Korean War, would later admit that the United States bombed “every brick that was standing on top of another, everything that moved.” American pilots, he noted, “were just bombing the heck out of North Korea.”

Douglas visited Korea in the summer of 1952 and was stunned by the “misery, disease, pain and suffering, starvation” that had been “compounded” by air strikes. U.S. warplanes, having run out of military targets, had bombed farms, dams, factories, and hospitals. “I had seen the war-battered cities of Europe,” the Supreme Court justice confessed, “but I had not seen devastation until I had seen Korea.”

How many Americans have ever come across Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s unhinged plan to win the war against North Korea in just 10 days? MacArthur, who led the United Nations Command during the conflict, wanted to drop “between 30 and 50 atomic bombs … strung across the neck of Manchuria” that would have “spread behind us … a belt of radioactive cobalt.”

How many Americans have heard of the No Gun Ri massacre, in July 1950, in which hundreds of Koreans were killed by U.S. warplanes and members of the 7th U.S. Cavalry regiment as they huddled under a bridge? Details of the massacre emerged in 1999, when the Associated Press interviewed dozens of retired U.S. military personnel. “The hell with all those people,” one American veteran recalled his captain as saying. “Let’s get rid of all of them.”

How many Americans are taught in school about the Bodo League massacre of tens of thousands of suspected communists on the orders of the U.S.-backed South Korean strongman, President Syngman Rhee, in the summer of 1950? Eyewitness accounts suggest “jeeploads” of U.S. military officers were present and “supervised the butchery.”

Millions of ordinary Americans may suffer from a toxic combination of ignorance and amnesia, but the victims of U.S. coups, invasions, and bombing campaigns across the globe tend not to. Ask the Iraqis or the Iranians, ask the Cubans or the Chileans. And, yes, ask the North Koreans.

For the residents of the DPRK, writes Columbia University historian Charles Armstrong in his book “Tyranny of the Weak: North Korea and the World, 1950-1992,” “the American air war left a deep and lasting impression” and “more than any other single factor, gave North Koreans a collective sense of anxiety and fear of outside threats, that would continue long after the war’s end.”

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not pretending that Kim’s violent and totalitarian regime would be any less violent or totalitarian today had the U.S. not carpet-bombed North Korea almost 70 years ago. Nor am I expecting Donald Trump, of all presidents, to offer a formal apology to Pyongyang on behalf of the U.S. government for the U.S. war crimes of 1950 through 1953.

But the fact is that inside North Korea, according to leading Korea scholar Kathryn Weathersby, “it is still the 1950s … and the conflict with South Korea and the United States is still going on. People in the North feel backed into a corner and threatened.”

If another Korean war, a potentially nuclear war, is to be avoided and if, as the Czech-born novelist Milan Kundera famously wrote, “the struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting,” then ordinary Americans can no longer afford to forget the death, destruction, and debilitating legacy of the original Korean War.

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France: Macron’s Election Victory, Will Discrimination against the Muslims Continue?

NOVANEWS

The centrist Emmanuel Macron was elected French president by defeating the ultra-nationalist and far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in the second round of the French presidential election, held on Sunday (May 7, 2017). Macron of the independent En Marche party won 23.75 percent votes and Le Pen of France’s National Front party won 21.53 percent votes.

The election victory of Macron has been hailed by his supporters and the ongoing President of France François Hollande, including various leaders and politicians of the Western World, especially Europe. The US President Donald Trump also congratulated the president-elect Emmanuel Macron and said, “I look very much forward to working with him”

His emphatic victory has brought huge relief to European allies who had feared another populist upheaval to follow Britain’s vote to quit the EU and Donald Trump’s election as US president.

In his victory speech, the president-elect Macron said that he would unite a divided and fractured France. He stated “I will work to recreate the link between Europe and its peoples, between Europe and citizens.”  Macron added that the world was watching and “waiting for us to defend the spirit of the Enlightenment, threatened in so many places”.

While, Macron who favours globalization, sees France’s way forward in boosting the competitiveness of an open economy.

The far-right candidate Le Pen had vowed to defend France against the forces of globalization and declared that now was the time to free the French population from arrogant elite. On April 24, this year, Le Pen had continued to emphasize the anti-immigrant and anti-globalization views and she denounced the efforts of the mainstream parties to keep her out of the presidency. She continuedhostility to the European Union, NATO and wanted to shield French workers by closing borders, quitting the EU’s common currency, the euro, radically loosening the bloc and scrapping trade deals.

It is notable that three days before the first round of France’s presidential elections, held on Sunday (April 23, 2017), a French policeman was shot dead and two others were wounded in central Paris on April 20, 2017 when a gunman wielding a machine gun leapt out of a car and opened fire on the Champs-Elysees, Paris’s most famous boulevard. Via its Amaq news agency, the Islamic State group (Also known as Daesh, ISIS, ISIL) claimed that the attack was carried out by “Abu Yousuf al-Baljiki (the Belgian) and he is one of the Islamic State’s fighters.”

French President Francois Hollande said that he was convinced the “cowardly killing” on the Champs Elysees boulevard was an act of terrorism.

Karim Cheurfi, a 39-year-old French national who was shot dead by the police was identified as the attacker. Prosecutors said that a note defending ISIS fell out of his pocket, although there was no previous evidence of radicalization.

After the shooting, the three main candidates canceled campaign events and instead made televised statements in which they competed to talk tough on security and vowed a crackdown on ISIS.

The incident brought issues of terrorism, the French Muslims, security and immigration back to the forefront of the campaign. Marine Le Pen demanded the closure of all Islamist mosques, repeating her call for Europe’s partly open borders to be closed. Le Pen also called Macron “weak” on terrorism and ISIS, as terror-incident of Champs-Élysées had drawn renewed attention.

The fact of the matter is that the French president-elect Emmanuel Macron will maintain the US-led status quo in the world and will further advance the Israeli agenda against Russia, China, Syria, Pakistan etc, and the Muslims, while further advancing the international forces of globalization, controlled by the wealthy Jews and the elite class at the cost of small countries and the poor class.

In this regard, Gil Hoffman, under the Caption “Emmanuel Macron’s Israeli Ties”, Gil Hoffman and Michael Wilner, under the title Macron Fights for France’s Jewish Vote had already pointed out Macron’s connections with Israel by writing in Jerusalem Post.

In this respect, Haaretz an Israeli newspaper (www.haaretz.com) reported on April, 23 and 24, 2017, “In a race…Macron, a pro-European Union ex-banker and economy minister…received slightly more votes than Le Pen…Speaking on Holocaust Remembrance Day, Moshe Kantor described Le Pen as “dangerous” and added that “the 48-year-old National Front leader recently made comments against the historic record of the Holocaust which makes her no less dangerous than her Holocaust-denying father who she has tried to hide…Le Pen recently called for banning the wearing of the kippah in public and for making it illegal for French nationals to also have an Israeli passport.”

Therefore, three days before France’s presidential elections, shooting at Champs-Elysees-Paris-famous Boulevard was conducted by the Israeli secret agency Mossad through ISIS to ensure the victory of the pro-Israeli Emmanuel Macron in the first round of the election.

It is mentionable that Macron did not mention, as to how he will eliminate ISIS, while all other candidates have vowed to destroy the ISIS. It further creates doubt about her Israeli links.

Unlike several of his opponents on the left and right, Macron has avoided making pronouncements against Muslim dress codes and discriminatory laws which are, in fact, being applied against the Muslims in France.

Regarding France’s Presidential election and the French Muslims, The Washington Post, under the caption, “Anti-Muslim rhetoric permeates French presidential election campaign”, wrote on April 18,2017, “For some, the French presidential election will alter the course of a troubled nation steeped in economic and social turmoil…In a country that remains under an official “state of emergency” following an unprecedented spate of terrorist violence in the past two years, the election also has become a referendum on Muslims and their place in what is probably Europe’s most anxious multicultural society.

Before the election’s first round of voting Sunday, each of the five leading contenders—from across the ideological spectrum—has felt compelled to address an apparently pressing “Muslim question” about what to do with the country’s largest religious minority. Marine Le Pen…has made her answer crystal clear. In February, in the same speech, she decried “Islamist globalization,” which she called an “ideology that wants to bring France to its knees…While Le Pen’s diverse array of opponents do not all share her extremity…each seems to agree that, when it comes to Muslims, something needs to be done…“I want strict administrative control of the Muslim faith,” announced François Fillon, the now-disgraced mainstream conservative candidate, in a January campaign speech.

By contrast, Emmanuel Macron, the popular independent candidate, has spoken frequently of what he considers the urgent need to “help Muslims restructure the Islam of France.” The far-left Jean-Luc Melenchon, who has condemned Islamophobia, ultimately wants to stamp out “all communitarianisms” and has reiterated what he calls the “urgent” need to “put an end to the misappropriation of public funds attributed to private denominational education…With many of the devastating terrorist attacks perpetrated by French or European passport-holding militants affiliated with or inspired by the Islamic State, public opinion has grown increasingly suspicious of the Muslim population that has existed in this country for centuries… Despite the intricate diversity of that population, there is widespread anxiety that if either Le Pen or Fillon is elected, things could get significantly worse.

Both candidates probably would move quickly to advance crackdowns on veils, mosques and Muslim community organizations in the name of state secularism… Few French Muslims see a candidate in the running who would change a status quo that many view as unsustainable… Hakim El Karoui, the author of a widely circulated 2016 report on Islam in France…a Paris-based think tank said, said, “the strict anti-terrorist stance adopted by the Socialist administration of President François Hollande—who famously persecuted the “burkini” last summer has undercut the desire among French Muslims to support the left in the 2017 election…The right has always been against Muslims and immigrants….Chief among the concerns many Muslims harbor is over the so-called state of emergency…Since its imposition, French authorities have been permitted to carry out upward of 4,000 warrantless searches on French homes, and likewise have placed more than 700 people under house arrest. But many Muslims say they have been targeted unlawfully. According to France’s Collective Against Islamophobia (in French, CCIF), an advocacy organization committed to fighting discrimination, more than 400 French Muslims reported having their homes searched for no clear reason in 2016. Approximately 100 of those also were placed under house arrest, while nearly 30 were asked to leave the country.”

Nevertheless, a majority of the Muslims in France and other Islamic country have shown pleasure over Macron’s election triumph, because, they considered him better for the French Muslims than the fanatic Le Pen. However, it is wishful thinking of the Muslims who do not know the secret strategy of the US and Israel and their anti-Muslim war.

Remember that when Barack Obama won the presidential election on November 4, 2008; a wave of wishful thinking prevailed over the Muslims, including the Islamic countries that he is Muslim and would protect the interests of the Muslims. Since his campaign for the US Senate in 2004 and during the presidential election, his political opponents raised questions about his citizenship. Some said that Obama secretly practices Islam.

These claims in the public expanded during Obama’s pre-presidency and according to the Pew Research Center, 17% of Americans believed him to be a Muslim in a 2012 poll.

A wave of jubilation had been noted all over the world on January 20, 2009 when American President Barack Obama took oath. His first address had indicated a positive change in the US foreign policy. In this respect, most of the political experts had hoped that he would rectify the blunders, committed by his predecessor in the name of phony war on terror.

Addressing a crowd at Cairo University on June 9, 2009, while speaking optimistically in relation to the issues of Muslims like the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, President Obama had said, “To the Muslim World, we seek a new way forward, based upon mutual interest and mutual respect”, and “based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition.” Several times during the hour-long speech, members of the audience shouted, “We love you.”

A majority of the Muslims hoped that President Obama would resolve the issues which were affecting the Islamic World.

Similarly, while accusing President Bush’s policies in South Asia and recognizing interrelationship between war on terror in Afghanistan and dispute of Kashmir, Obama had stated on September 25, 2008, that if elected, he would encourage India and Pakistan to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and resolve the Kashmir problem to reduce nuclear dangers in South Asia—so that Islamabad could fully concentrate on fighting terrorism.

Quite contrary to his commitments, Obama not only set aside the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, but also the Kashmir issue. Instead, during his first visit to New Delhi, on November 6, 2010 President Obama announced the measures, America would take regarding removal of Indian space and defence companies from a restricted “entities list”, and supported Indian demand for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council, including membership of four key global nuclear nonproliferation regimes.

Ignoring the solution of Kashmir dispute which like Syria, remains a nuclear flashpoint between Pakistan and India, America started backing Indian hegemony in Asia to counterbalance the presumed threat of China.

And as part of the double standards, while preferring New Delhi at the cost of Pakistan—despite, Indian violations of various international agreements and its refusal to sign Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), CTBT and Additional Protocol with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Washington signed a pact of nuclear civil technology with New Delhi in 2008. During President Obama’s visit to India, on January 25, 2016, the US and India announced a breakthrough on the pact which would allow American companies to supply New Delhi with civilian nuclear technology.

Following his predecessor’s fake global war on terror and his anti-Muslim policies in its worst form, President Obama who created ISIL, used it and Al-Qaeda, including their affiliated outfits through CIA and Israeli Mossad to secure the illegitimate interests of Israel. If the double game of President Bush (The Senior) and George W. Bush franchised Al-Qaeda on global level, President Obama’s dual policy franchised both Al-Qaeda and ISIS as part of the anti-Muslim campaign and left no stone unturned in advancing the agenda of the Zionists, Israeli lobbies and the neoconservatives.

However, the September 11 tragedy was fully manipulated by Israel who had joined the Bush’s anti-war terrorism enterprise so as to target Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and Pakistan in particular and other Muslim countries in general. For this purpose, extremist Jews also got the services of some radical Hindus to continue their anti-Muslim campaign. In this connection, by availing the international phenomena of terrorism, Indo-Israeli lobbies which are collectively working in America and other European countries have been exploiting the double standards of the US-led West regarding terrorism and human rights vis-à-vis China, Pakistan, Iran, Syria, Libya, Yemen etc.

Overtly, like Bush, President Obama had repeatedly stated that Muslims are moderate and Islam is a religion of peace, but covertly, he followed the agenda of the Bush to secure the Zionist-shaped policies.

Learning no lesson from the US and NATO’s longest war in Afghanistan, facing defeatism in that country, Obama continued state terrorism and extrajudicial killings of the Muslims through illegitimate drone attacks, CIA-torture cells, sectarian divide and violence on the basis of Shia and Sunni—assisting undemocratic forces such as the return of a military strongman in Egypt by toppling the elected government, and like Iraq, his policies created more collapsed states such as Libya, Syria, Yemen etc., which opened the door for Al-Qaeda and ISIL activists, coupled with total failure to convince Tel Aviv to abandon “settlements,” or to end delaying tactics in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the perennial humiliations of the Palestinians.

Since September 30, 2015, various unexpected developments had frustrated Israel and America. In this respect, Russian successful airstrikes on the ISIS targets in the northern Syria and Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, its coalition with Iran, Iraq, the Syrian army-the National Defense Forces (NDF) and Lebanon-based Hezbollah in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, retreat of the CIA-supported rebels and mercenaries after their failure to topple the Assad government, proving links of Al-Qaeda’s Al-Nusra Front and ISIS with America and Israel, Putin’s clear-cut statement, indicating the Zionist regime in the US and  Israel for their “phony war on ISIS” surprised the Israel-led America and some European countries who wanted to oust the Assad regime.

As a matter of fact,  the agents of Mossad who are in collaboration with the CIA sympathizers, Syrian rebel groups and the ISIL militants arranged terror attacks in Paris, Brussels, Orlando, San Bernardino, Nice, Munich, London, St. Petersburg (Metro train) and in Stockholm. While, a gunman who went by the nickname Black Jesus was identied—39-year-old Kori Ali Muhammad, making militant comments on social mediakilled three white men in downtown Fresno, California, on April 18, 2017 and fired at another before he was taken into custody while shouting “Allahu Akhbar,” as the Fresno police stated.

All these were false flag terror attacks, as the US and Israel wanted to obtain their covert aims against Russia and the Muslims. Mossad had also provided the US President Donald Trump with an opportunity to exploit various terror assaults to win the US presidential election and to reunite America and Europe, as a rift was created between America and its Western allies, especially Europe on a number of issues, including NATO.

And, President Donald Trump had left no stone unturned in implementing anti-Muslim policies, while speaking openly against the Muslims and Syrian immigrants.

Earlier, taking note of various developments and some other ones such as reluctance of NATO countries to support America’s fake global war on terror, acceptance of Syrian refuges by the European countries, especially Germany and the EU rule to boycott goods produced in Israeli settlements on the West Bank, Israeli Mossad which was in collaboration with the vulnerable CIA operatives arranged terror attacks in Paris on the night of November 13, 2016. As part of the double game, these terror assaults were conducted by these secret agencies, particularly Mossad which was in connivance with the ISIS terrorists who used the home-grown terrorists of France.

French President Francois Hollande who declared emergency in the country had said, “It is an act of war that was committed by a terrorist army, a jihadist army, Daesh against France…France would act with “all the necessary means, and on all terrains, inside and outside, in coordination with our allies, who are, themselves, targeted by this terrorist threat.”

Israel succeeded in its sinister designs, Europe was put on high alert and Paris attacks were being taken as assaults on the whole continent. Afterwards, France started airstrikes on the ISIS targets in Syria.

ISIS which is being driven out of its areas of territorial control in Iraq and Syria by the Russian-led coalition and the so-called Western-assisted alliance has hundreds of French-speaking fighters, which have claimed responsibility for several terrorism-related assaults.

France which has lived under a state of emergency since 2015 and has suffered a spate of Islamist militant attacks mostly perpetrated by young men who grew up in France have killed more than 230 people in the past two years.

In France, around five million Muslims are living—roughly 7.5 percent of the population—the largest share of any country in Europe.

At least two million Muslims have French citizenship. The Muslim community is made up of immigrants from Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and a small population from South Asia

Historically, the immigration started in 1960-70s and consisted mainly of “economic migrants,” who filled the blue collared jobs which the native French did not want. However, their second and third generation is educated, but ostracized from the mainstream French society.

Muslims came to France following France’s colonization of North Africa. The current relationship between the French state and its Muslim population is based upon discrimination, because Muslims are being considered as an underclass—was conditioned by the twin legacies of imperial history and economic exploitation.

Unlike other colonies, Algeria was officially considered a part of France, meaning that Algerian Muslims could come freely to France to live. Once there, however, they faced systematic and often brutal repression.

Antagonism with a subject Muslim population is written into France’s political structure: the current constitution—which established the Fifth Republic — was designed to resolve the state crisis provoked by Muslim resistance to colonialism.

When General De Gaulle called for constitutional reform in 1958, he did so precisely in order to shore up presidential authority, weakened by the upheavals of the Algerian war of independence.

There are also some other purposes behind creation of xenophobia against the Muslims in France.

Firms sometimes made prayer rooms available to their employees, a startling difference from today, when the private sector is collaborating with the state to eradicate manifestations of Islam in every sphere outside the home.

French perceptions of Muslims and Islam changed significantly over the past decade. Since 9/11, a number of terrorist attacks in Europe and in France in particular led to an increase in debates, such as “Clash of Civilizations”, “Islamisation of Europe” and the “Islam problem.” It has, thus resulted in dividing the French society between “us” and “them.”

In the pretext of the fear of Muslims and Islam, growing in Europe, France has enacted a number of laws to maintain the so-called “secularism” of the French society. In this context, the controversial ban on the traditional veil, worn by Muslim women is notable. France has banned the traditional veil in public areas, considering it to be a symbol of “oppression” against women. Consequently, women, wearing veils cannot enter universities, banks, hospitals, offices etc., thus making it difficult for Muslim women to avail public facilities.

Head scarves and other religious traditional dresses have been banned in schools. This has, mainly, affected Muslim children, while, proposals for discontinuation of substitute for pork and “Halal” (Permitted in Islam) food in school cafeterias are also being voiced.

Many Muslims, however, find these laws part of discrimination, which have further broadened the divide between the Muslim community and the Christians.

Besides, the Muslim youth is facing discrimination in employment opportunities. In this regard, “Muslim Diaspora” is twice more likely to work in factories than the rest of French force. They are also underrepresented in executive positions.

It is noteworthy that another false flag terror operation-the Charlie Hebdo incident has also put Muslim population under greater scrutiny. Violence against Muslims increased twofold after the incident. As regards the incident, on January 7, 2015, two Islamic militants attacked the office of French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris, and killed 13 people on January 9, 2015, two brothers namely Said and Cherif Kouachi suspected for the incident were killed in a shootout with Police—in a hostage-taking situation, at a signage company in Dammartinen-Goele where some people were also targeted.

Thus, the gunmen killed total 17 persons. Mossad manipulated the anti-Muslim approach of France, and indirectly used these Algerian Muslims for the terror attack through ISIS. Afterwards, Mossad’s connections with Charlie Hebdo episode had been proved by many senior writers, analysts and social media bloggers—a video titled “Did Mossad Do Charlie Hebdo” prepared/uploaded by www.brothernathanaelchanne.com is worth-watching. In fact, besides creating differences between Christians and Muslims, Zionist groups and Mossad used the episode to punish France on recognizing Palestinian state and to desist other EU countries to avoid such approach on Palestinians. However, the magazine had continued to print anti-Muslim publications, under the pretext of freedom of speech, thus creating resentment in the Muslim community. Similarly, one of the most confrontational debated books of 2015 has been, “Submission” by Michel Houellebecq, which portrays France being ruled under Islamic law by 2022. The book thrives on paranoia of the European society towards Islam and Muslims.

As part of discrimination, radicalized Muslim inmates are detained separately from the rest of the inmates. The second and third generation Muslim youth which has been brought up and educated in France, is faced with an “identity crisis,” despite being a French Muslim in a society which is unwilling to accept them as truly French. This lack of identity which has been exploited by the Mossad and some CIA agents, forced a number of the French citizens (Muslims) to fight in Syria against the Assad regime.

As regards the discriminatory treatment with the Muslims,  Under the title, “French police abuse Muslims under emergency laws-Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International report physical and psychological abuse as raids target Muslim minority”, Aljazeera multimedia network wrote on February 4, 2016,  “France has carried out abusive and discriminatory raids and house arrests against Muslims under its current state of emergency…stigmatising those targeted, including children and the elderly…Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International published separate research…pointing to cases where excessive force had been used, leading to human rights violations including violence…Those targeted said the police burst into homes, restaurants, or mosques; broke people’s belongings; threw Qurans on the floor; terrified children; and placed restrictions on people’s movements so severely that they lost jobs and income, or suffered physically…ISIL’s claim[For terror attacks] triggered a backlash-not just in France, but across Europe and elsewhere- as Muslim communities were collectively punished…France has a responsibility to ensure public safety and try to prevent further attacks, but the police have used their new emergency powers in abusive, discriminatory, and unjustified ways, said Izza Leghtas, Western Europe researcher at HRW, calling for an immediate end to warrantless searches and house arrests…This abuse has traumatised [Muslims] families and tarnished reputations, leaving targets feeling like second-class citizens…In one house raid, HRW said, police broke four of a disabled man’s teeth before they realised he was not the person they were looking for…In another case, a single mother’s children were transferred to foster care following a raid…Freedom, equality and fraternity have been badly damaged in the weeks since the November attacks.”

On August 29, 2016, Nick Riemer, under the caption, “The Roots of Islamophobia in France” wrote on the website https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/08/burkini-ban-islamophobia-valls-france-secularism-islam/, “Children have watched as their parents are dragged from their beds by heavily armed police…Mosques have been violently ransacked by the police. Worshippers are humiliated and degraded, including through the use of police dogs. Around twenty mosques have simply been closed, and more will soon be shuttered. Political organizations with Muslim links have also been threatened with closure; demonstrations, including, including pro-Palestinian ones…Muslims appealing for asylum find themselves even more vulnerable than residents. The government delivers anti-Islamic broadsides while destroying refugee camps in Calais and elsewhere. Meanwhile, the French have blessed the European Union’s deal with Turkey on refugees, under which Syrian refugees arriving by boat on Greek islands are deported to Turkey.

In pursuing these policies, French politicians have knowingly ignored the fact that long-standing and state-sponsored Islamophobia, combined with military activity in Muslim countries, has only encouraged extremism. The political classes have refused to recognize how their economic and social policies fuel the alienation that drives people to join groups like ISIS. A ferocious escalation of Islamophobic propaganda from all quarters of French culture and politics accompanies these measures. According to Abdellali Hajjat and Marwan Mohammed, the construction of the ‘Muslim problem’ over recent years constitutes one of the main vectors for French and even European elites’ unification” across the political spectrum.”

A website http://www.middleeasteye.net/essays/muslim-and-french-2084594508 pointed out on August 8, 2016Laïcité went from being a constitutional principle to becoming an ideological weapon used to justify the social death sentence against Muslims in France…Several primary school children were either physically assaulted by their teachers or school principa…such a story did not move the minister of education, Mrs Najat Vallaud Belkacem, who not only refused to condemn the school personnel’s violence against a child but further stated that they had acted according to the procedures in place. This cynical position was confirmed a few weeks later when the international media turned its attention to a new witch hunt against Muslim students…Western Muslims, and particularly French Muslims whose country has become the laboratory of Islamophobia…are the clear indicator of how well our democracies are doing.

The recent drift toward authoritarian regimes, the rise of fascist discourse in not only US politics but also in most of Europe, the acceptance of regimes of exception like the current state of emergency in France, pre-emptive prosecution in the US or the capacity for the UK government to deport a person or stripping citizenships while people are abroad should worry us; not because they are applied against people we may disagree with but because we leave it to the state to decide alone without any accountability and look away when minorities are being put under increasing pressure. But once you create a precedent, you seldom go back. In the case of France, a concept keeps steering violent debate about Muslims.Laïcité is a constitutional principle granting the French state’s religious neutrality and that there is no official religion in France. Proclaimed in 1905, it put a clear separation between the state and the church. Laïcité was seldom debated until Muslim immigrants who were once invisible sociological subjects reduced to mere statistics became a visible part of French society.”

Recall, just after the September 11 tragedy inside the United States, chauvinism and extremism were deliberately developed among the Americans through media and statements of high officials of the Bush Administration. President Bush used the words, “crusade against the evil-doers”, adding to the perception that the ongoing ‘different war’ against terrorism is actually a war against the Muslim countries. Inside the US, suddenly, every Muslim found himself divested of his nationality. Arrests, detentions and harassment of the Muslims by the CIA and the FBI were other steps which still continue. Israeli atrocities on the Palestinians were brushed aside.

Learning no lesson from the drastic aftermath and the implications of the post-9/11 tragedy, some irresponsible politicians, rulers, writers and think-tanks of the Western countries, especially Europe, including their media are repeating similar anti-Muslim chauvinism which has, particularly, been accelerated in France after the Paris attacks of November 13, 2016 and those occurred afterwards. They have been misguiding their general public by creating prejudice against the Muslims.

They are propagating the so-called threat of Islamophobia. In one way or the other, the Muslims are being persecuted in the US and other Western countries, particularly in Europe. Especially, France shows the anti-Muslim phenomenon of the post 9/11 tragedy in its worst form.

In this regard, scholars of international affairs agree that “foreign affairs are too foreign” to the citizens of a country. Renowned scholar Prof. Hoslti opines that “issues and situations” have “influence on public opinion” which in turn “influences the objectives and actions.”

So, fault cannot be laid on the general masses, a majority of whom does not have much time to go in-depth. Hence, they are swayed by emotions, stereotypes and prejudices created by the political leaders who keep on manipulating any crisis for their own self-interests with the sole aim of getting their sympathies to increase their vote bank. There are equal strong pressures from religious and nationalist forces in wake of global war on terror which is dividing the world on religious lines.

Nonetheless, owing to the irresponsible approach of the Western leaders, far right-wing parties and “Stop Islam” movement in the West, especially in Europe are becoming popular by largely attracting their people. Amid a migrant crisis, sluggish economic growth and growing disillusionment with the European Union, right-wing parties in a growing number of European countries have made electoral gains. The right-wing parties range across a wide policy spectrum, from populist and nationalist to far-right neofascist.

But, some other developments such as criticism of the controversial Turkish-EU refugee deal by a number of human rights groups, Britain’s decision to leave the European Union (EU), after the referendum (Brexit) on June 24, 2016, prospects of Scotland and some other countries for separation from the EU, and the divide between the elite class which run multinational companies with the direct or indirect control of the Jews and the general masses who are suffering from multiple problems in wake of differences on the refugee crisis, Syrian war, Greece’s weak economy, violent protests and strikes against the labour laws in France in 2016 in favour of the employers at the cost of the employs etc.—the chances of European Union’s disintegration which will give a greater blow to the US-Europe alliance against Russia the “Stop NATO protests” in Europe were quite opposite to the Israeli secret interests.

Besides revival of the fake global war on terror, Israeli-led America also got the support of its Western allies (NATO) against Russia in relation to Syrian civil war, and as part of the double game and secret strategy, American jet fighters and those of its Western coalition started targeting the ISIS terrorists in Iraq and Syria.

Notably, backing out from his earlier statements, American President Trump has changed his policy regarding Europe and NATO. In this connection, he stated on April 13, 2017 that US relations with Russia may be at “an all-time low” and declared a new-found faith in NATO, suggesting the alliance was “no longer obsolete”. Besides, the White House said on May 21, this year, that US President Donald Trump will attend a summit of leaders of NATO nations on May 25 in Brussels.

Undoubtedly, international terrorism is the by-product of the US-led Western intervention in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and the proxy war being waged in Syria.

We may conclude that despite the victory of Emmanuel Macron in the presidential election of France, discrimination against the Muslim will continue in France in particular and other Western countries in general.

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