Money talks as Trump does u-turn on Nazi regime

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Money talks as Trump does u-turn on Israel
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The grubby underside of US electoral politics is on show once again as the Democratic and Republican candidates prepare to fight it out for the presidency. And it doesn’t get seamier than the battle to prove how loyal each candidate is to Israel.

New depths are likely to be plumbed this week at the Republican convention in Cleveland, as Donald Trump is crowned the party’s nominee. His platform breaks with decades of United States policy to effectively deny the Palestinians any hope of statehood.

The question now is whether the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, who positions herself as Israel’s greatest ally, will try to outbid Trump in cravenly submitting to the Israeli right.

It all started so differently. Through much of the primary season, Benjamin Netanyahu’s government had reason to be worried about Israel’s “special relationship” with the next occupant of the White House.

Early on, Trump promised to be “neutral” and expressed doubts about whether it made sense to hand Israel billions of dollars annually in military aid. He backed a two-state solution and refused to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

On the Democrat side, Clinton was challenged by outsider Bernie Sanders, who urged “even-handedness” towards Israel and the Palestinians. He too objected to the huge sums of aid the US bestows on Israel.

Sanders exploited his massive support among Democrats to force Clinton to include well-known supporters of Palestinian rights on the committee that drafts the party’s platform.

But any hopes of an imminent change in US policy in the Middle East have been dashed.

Last week, as the draft Republican platform was leaked, Trump proudly tweeted that it was the “most pro-Israel of all time!” Avoiding any mention of a two-state solution, it states: “Support for Israel is an expression of Americanism. … We reject the false notion that Israel is an occupier.”

The capitulation was so complete that even the Anti-Defamation League, a New York-based apologist group for Israel, called the platform “disappointing” and urged the Republican convention to “reconsider”. After all, even Netanyahu pays lip service to the need for a Palestinian state.

But Trump is not signaling caution. His new advisers on Israel, David Friedman and Jason Greenblatt, are fervent supporters of the settlements and annexation of Palestinian territory.

Trump’s running mate, announced at the weekend, is Indiana governor Mike Pence, an evangelical Christian and a stalwart of pro-Israel causes.

So why the dramatic turnaround?

Candidates for high office in the US need money – lots of it. Until now Trump has been chiefly relying on his own wealth. He has raised less than $70 million, a fifth of Clinton’s war-chest.

The Republican party’s most significant donor is Sheldon Adelson, a casino magnate and close friend of Netanyahu. He has hinted that he will contribute more than $100 million to the Trump campaign if he likes what he sees.

Should Netanyahu offer implicit endorsement, as he did for Mitt Romney in the 2012 race, Christian Zionist preachers such as John Hagee will rally ten of millions of followers to Trump’s side too – and fill his coffers.

Similar indications that money is influencing policy are evident in the Democratic party.

Sanders funded his campaign through small donations, giving him the freedom to follow his conscience. Clinton, by contrast, has relied on mega-donors, including some, such as Haim Saban, who regard Israel as a key election issue.

That may explain why, despite the many concessions made to Sanders on the Democratic platform, Clinton’s team refused to budge on Israel issues. As a result, the draft platform fails to call for an end to the occupation or even mention the settlements.

According to The New York Times, Clinton’s advisers are vetting James Stavridis as a potential running mate. A former Nato commander, he is close to the Israeli defense establishment and known for his hawkish pro-Israel positions.

Clinton, meanwhile, has promised to use all her might to fight the growing boycott movement, which seeks to isolate Israel over its decades-long occupation of Palestinian territory.

The two candidates’ fierce commitment to Israel appears to fly in the face of wider public sentiment, especially among Democrats.

A recent Pew poll found 57 per cent of young, more liberal Democrats sympathized with the Palestinians rather than Israel. Support for hawkish Israeli positions is weakening among American Jews too, a key Democratic constituency. About 61 per cent believe Israel can live peacefully next to an independent Palestinian state.

The toxic influence of money in the US presidential elections can be felt in many areas of policy, both domestic and foreign.

But the divorce between the candidates’ fervor on Israel and the growing doubts of many of their supporters is particularly stark.

It should be dawning on US politicians that a real debate about the nation’s relationship with Israel cannot be deferred much longer.

 

Posted in Palestine Affairs, USA, ZIO-NAZI0 Comments

Henry A. Giroux on Violence, Neoliberalism and the Hallucinatory Anti-Politics of the Trump Era

NOVANEWS

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Scholar Henry Giroux tells Paul Jay that Donald Trump is not an eccentric populist, but the representative of a neofascist politics that ignores evidence, believes truth is merely an opinion and says dissent is unpatriotic.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

Paul Jay is CEO and Senior Editor of The Real News Network. As Senior Editor of TRNN Paul has overseen the production of over 4,500 news stories and is the Host of our news analysis programming. As Executive Producer of CBC Newsworld’s independent flagship debate show counterSpin he produced over 2,000 shows during its 10 yrs on air. He is an award-winning documentary filmmaker with over 20 films under his belt and was founding Chair of Hot Docs!, the Canadian International Documentary Film Festival (now the largest in North America).

Cultural critic Henry Giroux explains how violence seeped from the United States’ background into the foreground of our psychology, robbing our politics of solidarity, our economy of morality, and our language of meaning and memory — and why the left must turn beyond (and against) our current political leaders, to reclaim collectivity and justice for the public, and to rally against not just this Trump, but all the Trumps to come.

Henry is author of the essay Anti-Politics and the Plague of Disorientation: Welcome to the Age of Trump for Truthout and the upcoming book America at War with Itself from City Lights Books.

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Are We in for Another Increase in Military Spending?

NOVANEWS

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At the present time, an increase in US military spending seems as superfluous as a third leg. The United States, armed with the latest in advanced weaponry, has more military might than any other nation in world history. Moreover, it has begun a $1 trillion program to refurbish its entire nuclear weapons complex.

America’s major military rivals, China and Russia, spend only a small fraction of what the United States does on its armed forces — in China’s case about a third and in Russia’s case about a ninth. Furthermore, the economic outlay necessary to maintain this vast US military force constitutes a very significant burden. In fiscal 2015, US military spending ($598.5 billion) accounted for 54 percent of the US government’s discretionary spending.

Certainly most Americans are not clamoring for heightened investments in war and war preparations. According to a Gallup poll conducted in February 2016, only 37 percent of respondents said the US government spent too little “for national defense and military purposes,” compared to 59 percent who said it spent too much (32 percent) or about the right amount (27 percent).

These findings were corroborated by a Pew Research Center survey in April 2016, which reported that 35 percent of American respondents favored increasing US military spending, 24 percent favored decreasing it, and 40 percent favored keeping it the same. Although these latest figures show a rise in support for increasing military spending since 2013, this occurred mostly among Republicans. Indeed, the gap in support for higher military spending between Republicans and Democrats, which stood at 25 percentage points in 2013, rose to 41 points by 2016.

Actually, it appears that, when Americans are given the facts about US military spending, a substantial majority of them favor reducing it. Between December 2015 and February 2016, the nonpartisan Voice of the People, affiliated with the University of Maryland, provided a sample of 7,126 registered voters with information on the current US military budget, as well as leading arguments for and against it.

The arguments were vetted for accuracy by staff members of the House and Senate appropriations subcommittees on defense. Then, when respondents were asked their opinion about what should be done, 61 percent said they thought US military spending should be reduced. The biggest cuts they championed were in spending for nuclear weapons and missile defense systems.

When it comes to this year’s presumptive Presidential candidates, however, quite a different picture emerges. The Republican nominee, Donald Trump, though bragging about building “a military that’s gonna be much stronger than it is right now,” has on occasion called for reducing military expenditures. On the other hand, his extraordinarily aggressive foreign policy positions have led defense contractors to conclude that, with Trump in the White House, they can look forward to sharp increases in US military spending.

Indeed, insisting that US military power has shrunk to a pitiful level under President Obama, he has promised that, under his presidency, it would be “funded beautifully.” In March 2016, when Trump appeared on Fox News, he made that commitment more explicit by promising to increase military spending.

Given the considerably more dovish orientation of the Democratic electorate, one would expect Hillary Clinton to stake out a position more opposed to a military buildup. But, thus far, she has been remarkably cagey about this issue. In September 2015, addressing a campaign meeting in New Hampshire, Clinton called for the creation of a high-level commission to examine US military spending. But whether the appointment of such a commission augurs increases or decreases remains unclear.

Meanwhile, her rather hawkish foreign policy record has convinced observers that she will support a military weapons buildup. The same conclusion can be drawn from the “National Security” section of her campaign website, which declares: “As president, she’ll ensure the United States maintains the best-trained, best-equipped, and strongest military the world has ever known.”

Although the big defense contractors generally regard Clinton, like Trump, as a safe bet, they exercise even greater influence in Congress, where they pour substantially larger amounts of money into the campaign coffers of friendly US Senators and Representatives.

Thus, even when a President doesn’t back a particular weapons system, they can usually count on Congress to fund it. As a Wall Street publication recently crowed: “No matter who wins the White House this fall, one thing is clear: Defense spending will climb.”

Will it? Probably so, unless public pressure can convince a new administration in Washington to adopt a less militarized approach to national and international security.

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Free Trade Agreements Have Exacerbated a Humanitarian Crisis in Central America

NOVANEWS
By Manuel Perez-Rocha 

U.S. trade negotiators continue to claim that free trade agreements help to support security, but in reality, they exacerbate the root causes of instability in the Mesoamerican region, IPS’s Manuel Perez-Rocha said in a speech at the AFL-CIO conference on U.S. trade policy.

“Real security encompasses economic, human, financial, and political security,” he said.

Today the Northern triangle of Latin America is one of the most dangerous places in the world. In Mexico alone, there are more than 27,000 people reported missing on top of the 100,000 killed in the so-called war on drugs, Perez-Rocha said.

He explained that the origins of this crisis are rooted in structural adjustment policies that the IMF and the World Bank imposed on Central America to pave the way for free trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) and now the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

“Instead of bringing prosperity, [NAFTA] took away domestic protections from Mexico’s food production, leading to greater food insecurity and the widespread loss of our agricultural livelihoods,” he said.

Perez-Rocha said the abandonment of national production of food to favor imports, brought on by NAFTA, has meant the fall of production, employment, and income and the increase of inequality, poverty, and migration. He said this abandonment of the countryside by the government propelled the vacuum that has become occupied by organized crime.

“NAFTA is responsible,” he said. “for the increase of violence and public insecurity in the countryside and in all of Mexico.”

Ten years later, CAFTA was imposed in Central America, ushering in what Perez-Rocha called “the deterioration of economic conditions for working people and major new threats to the environment.”

Perez-Rocha offered one of the most egregious examples in the case of the Pacific Rim mining company which is demanding millions of dollars from El Salvador for protecting its environment.

“This is a deep humanitarian crisis that should be recognized as such,” he said. He quoted U.S. Vice President Biden as saying ‘confronting these challenges requires nothing less than systematic change, which we in the United States have a direct interest in helping to bring about.’

However, the proposal in the Alliance for Prosperity Plan does not address the roots of the crisis, Perez-Rocha said.

“The goal of the alliance, as we see it,” Perez-Rocha said, “is to attract foreign direct investment for the exploitation of natural resources.”

The alliance and agreements like the TPP, on top of the destruction already brought on by NAFTA and CAFTA, will only mean an acceleration of the race to the bottom for the region’s working families, further dislocation and displacement, and regional insecurity, he said.

Posted in Canada, Mexico, USA0 Comments

Public Editors and Structural Bias

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By Edward S. Herman 

The  tenure of  Margaret Sullivan as Public Editor of the New York Times (NYT) ended on April 16, 2016, with her column “Public Editor No. 5 Is Yesterday’s News.” This followed four years of  challenging work and the 691 columns and blogs she produced in carrying out her role, which she describes as  “spokesperson for readers.” Sullivan was the fifth and best of the paper’s public editors, but there were serious limits to what she did or could do in that position, and she must have known and accepted them in advance. The Times officials who hired her would have vetted her carefully–she had edited the Buffalo News for over a decade– and known that she would operate within acceptable limits. She is moving on to the position of media columnist at the Washington Post  (WP), And her NYT replacement, Elizabeth Spayd, worked for some years at the WP and comes directly from the editorship of the Columbia Journalism Review. Both the NYT and WP are top level establishment institutions: both supported the invasion of Iraq in 2003; both have been durable supporters of the U.S.-Israel alliance and Israeli policy;  and neither has paid significant attention to the war on, and slow decline of, labor unions in the United States over the last 35 years.

Sullivan claims that the NYT has and should maintain “abiding attention to society’s havenots.” To the war on labor and decline of labor unions, which they have scanted for years? She doesn’t speak about treatment of this society’s external victims and those of our client states, which are so commonly treated in the NYT and elsewhere as “unworthy” victims, but Sullivan does mention the importance of  “values,” “journalistic integrity,” “balance,”  and the “core mission… to find and tell the truth ‘without fear or favor’.” These are fuzzy and leave lots of room for ideological and other forms of bias. She also stresses the danger of pushing news defined by the algorithms and priorities of the increasingly important news operations of social media. This is a good point, but more important is the threat  of accepting as news and specific interpretations of the news alleged facts and interpretations that are pushed by governments and powerful  interest groups in their own perceived interest. Recall once again “the lie that wasn’t shot down” by the NYT in 1983 on the shooting down of  KAL-007, in service to a Cold War propaganda program. There is a very good case that this same kind of lie has been pushed by the NYT as regards the July 17, 2014 shooting down of Malaysian airliner MH-17 over southeastern Ukraine.1

Where powerful political interests are involved and a party line has been established, ”balance” and “truth telling …without  fear or favor” go out the window. The war party, which includes the members of the military-industrial complex and pro-Israel interests, led to the party-line acceptance by the NYT and WP of the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction threat in 2002-2003 and the major aggression that followed. For many years Israel has been able to engage in a steady and theoretically illegal process of ethnic cleansing in Palestine, punctuated by major acts of war and war crimes, with the steady support of the United States and its allies, and hence the NYT and WP.

There was no “balance” in the news or editorial coverage of this process. Language was adapted to support this political bias—most notably, the Israelis “retaliating” to the “terrorism” of the victimized and terrorized unchosen people who regularly upset a mythical “peace process.”  The evidence of  imbalance in the NYT coverage is massive. Take this small pair of illustrations:  First, in the course of a Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony in Israel on May 5, Major-General Yair Golan, deputy chief of staff of the Israel Defence Forces, gave a speech in which he denounced “revolting trends” that occurred in Nazi Germany  and were now taking place “among us, in 2016.” These remarks caused an uproar in Israel, with Golan both denounced and defended. His statement was made shortly after a judicial exoneration of an Israeli soldier who had shot dead a wounded Palestinian prisoner. The shooting and decision were widely condemned, but also widely praised. In this context, Defense Minister  Moshe Yaalon, who had denounced this assassination and decision, and said of  their supporters that they “don’t back our laws and values,” resigned, with his defense portfolio  given to the extremist rightwinger Avigdor Lieberman.

Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak entered this controversy, stating on a TV interview that “extremists have taken over Israel” and that the country has been “infected by the seeds of fascism.” This was reported by Haaretz on May 20, which, among other things, published a satirical piece by one of their regular contributors, B. Michael, entitled “Why would that general compare Israel to 1930s Germany? Hmm…” (May 16). Michael goes on to list 25 possible reasons that might have passed through “that anti-Semitic general’s head” when he made his comparison: To take just two as illustrative—“(13) The brilliant legal sophistry that prohibits the ‘unchosen’ from purchasing state lands. Only the chosen people may do so.…. (24) A state that insists it is the ‘only democracy’ in the Middle East, whereas it is actually the only ‘military theocracy’ in the entire world.”

The NYT failed to mention the much debated Golan statement, or the followup remarks of Ehud Barak. They also failed to reprint Michael’s piece!

The second illustration is the small Israeli controversy over the Independence Day festival’s soldiers’ performance where the soldiers  formations depicted a peace dove, a Star of David, and then suddenly formed the phrase: “One Nation, One People.” Some observers found this disquieting, too close to the old Nazi formula of “One Nation, One People, One Fuhrer.”  There is a large minority non-Jewish population in Israel, and a majority in the occupied territories that Israel has gradually and de facto absorbed into a greater Israel. In this connection it is notable that Culture Minister Miri Regev, who organized the ceremony, said that ”The phrase ‘one people, one nation’ is an expression of the just aspiration of the Zionist movement since its inception to establish a Jewish state.” This would seem to make the link to Nazi usage more salient. Commentators in Israel, while mainly stressing the great distance of Israel from the Nazi model, are more frequently calling attention to the threat of trends in the same direction, as did Yair Golan and Ehud Barak.2 The NYT chose to play dumb on this story.

It is not just an angry Israeli critic like B. Michael you are not likely to see in the NYT, you will very very rarely see those outstandingHaaretz reporters Gideon Levy and Amira Hass, or U.S. analysts like Noam Chomsky, Richard Falk and Norman Finkelstein. Of these five, there was a single byline by Amira Hass in 2001 and one each for Chomsky and Falk in the years from January 1, 2000 to May 30, 2016 (grand total, 3). On the other hand, strong supporters of the Israeli establishment and Israeli policy Martin Indyk, Dennis Ross and Bernard-Henri Levy had 19, 16 and 9 bylines in the paper during the same period, for a grand total of  44. Balance anyone?

This imbalance and bias is not confined to the opinion pages. Another important Times-related source on Israel and Palestine is the web site TimesWarp, run since late 2012 by retired journalist Barbara Erickson. She has produced a steady stream of critiques of NYT news coverage of Israel/Palestine, her rather short pieces appearing roughly once a week. Her latest at time of writing is “The NY Times Plays the Israeli Army’s Game: Hyping Threats, Shielding Criminals” (May 30, 2016). The first three paragraphs proceed as follows:

The New York Times reports today that Israel faces ‘monumental security challenges’ and is now caught in a debate over just how tough the military should be with those who threaten to harm its soldiers and civilians.

The story, by Isabel Kershner, is framed around ‘months of Palestinian attacks’ that have left some 30 Israelis dead. She makes no mention anywhere of the more than 200 Palestinians killed by security forces over the same time period, nor does she say anything about the brutal conditions of the occupation that provide the impetus for Palestinian assaults.

Kershner briefly notes that Palestinian and human rights groups have accused the Israeli military of ‘excessive force,’ but she fails to say that the charges go beyond this vague reference: In fact, numerous groups have accused Israel of carrying out ‘street executions’ of Palestinians who posed no real threat to soldiers or civilians.

Erickson’s critiques of the NYT news reporting have been detailed and crushing, yet they have not had any observable impact on the paper’s coverage of this area, and Erickson’s name has never been mentioned in print by the public editor. Israel’s ethnic cleansing is protected by the United States and thus by the editors of the Newspaper of Record. This is how a unified and effective power system does its job.

  1. See Robert Parry, “More Game-Playing on MH-17 ?” Consortiumnews.com, May 24, 2016
  2. See Asher Schechter, “’One People, One Nation’: A Visual Representation of the Ignorance That Threatens to Consume Israel,”Haaretz.com, May 13, 2915

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Where’s the US Chilcot Report? Blame Obama, Hillary, Biden and Kerry

NOVANEWS

By John Stauber 

Nothing exposes the fraud of so-called “peace candidate” Barack Obama more than his handling of the illegal government propaganda campaign and eventual war on Iraq. As the UK reads and debates the Chilcot report investigating the Blair government’s role in lying that country into the war, there is no notice in the US that Obama announced before taking office in late 2008 there would be no similar investigation in the US.

It was of course George Bush and his neocons from the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) gang that seized on the September 11, 2001 attacks to manipulate events into an opportunity to wage offensive war on Iraq.  And it was the Democrats in the U.S. Senate, led by Clinton, Kerry, Biden et. al., who provided the votes a year after 9/11 that green-lighted the war.

We can know because of a rather small number of journalists including this writer the extent and depth of the massive propaganda campaign, coordinated with and exploiting a willing corporate news media, that greased the skids for the war.  I co-authored books in 2003 and 2006 summarizing what was known at the time, and in 2008 David Barstow released his mind-blowing and Pulitzer winning investigation of the Pentagon Pundits program that turned the major TV networks, beginning in 2002, into third party advocates for Cheney and Rumsfeld, through puppetry using retired military analysts who were fed and regurgitated the Bush talking points.

But the overwhelming majority of Americans never received this information and are still awash in the continuing propaganda campaign. The last time I looked at a poll most Americans were so duped by the bipartisan and major media propaganda that a majority still believe the non-existant Weapons of Mass Destruction were found.

Obama of course won election to the White House in 2008 by beating Hillary Clinton over the head, and over and over and over, because she voted for war. Obama had the good fortune to still be stuck in state politics in Illinois, not even in the Congress, when Hillary voted for war in 2002. Who knows how he would have voted had he actually been there, but he was never put to that test.

I have written previously about how beginning in 2006 the Democrats progressive front group MoveOn, who had the money and PR to position themselves as the leading antiwar organization, worked with Nancy Pelosi to co-opt the movement into a campaign vehicle for the party, making sure the war was funded all the while Bush was in office, and using it like a gift to attack Republicans in 06 and 08.

In the pathetic giddiness that overtook progressives after Obama’s election, there was little notice given to his announcement that there would be no investigation of how America was led to and lied into war, that page would be turned and we would move forward.  After all, the war was a bipartisan venture, and his soon to be cabinet members Vice President Biden, Secretary of State Clinton, and future Secretary of State Kerry were all pro-war culprits.

In late 2011, Obama pulled a George Bush type PR stunt, and declared the Iraq war had ended, welcoming home the troops. That news story now reads like the front page of The Onion.

So no Chilcot type investigation for America, the source of the war. Thirteen years after the launch of the illegal, first-strike offensive attack that created ISIS and has killed and displaced millions, some are asking why not. Blame Obama the peace poser and his pro-war Democrats. American Exceptionalism strikes again.

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US Missile Defense Test Failed Miserably, and the Pentagon Lied About It

NOVANEWS
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Sputnik 

After spending billions of dollars, the US government is having trouble getting its state-of-the-art homeland missile defense system to function according to plan, and it’s driven the Pentagon to lie about the program’s success rate.

On January 28, the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency conducted the first test flight of new so-called divert thrusters, to be used on anti-missile interceptors. A military statement deemed this a “successful test flight,” claiming the thrusters allowed the interceptors to stop a mock warhead.

“On this flight, we validated key design improvements in the divert and attitude control system, demonstrating improved performance, reliability and productibility,” said Michael Bright of Aerojet Rocketdyne, maker of the thrusters, in a statement.

“The overall goal of the Missile Defense Agency is to make a more capable and reliable system, and this successful test demonstrated significant progress toward reaching that goal.”

According to the Los Angeles Times, however, these claims were falsified. During the test, one of the thrusters failed. This caused the interceptor to lose control and the mock missile to slip through the defense shield.

“The mission wasn’t successful,” a project scientist, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the LA Times. “Did the thruster perform as expected? No, it did not provide the control necessary for a lethal impact of an incoming threat.”

A second scientist said that claims of success were “hyperbole, unsupported by any test data.”

Other engineers indicated that the faulty thrusters caused the interceptor to miss its target by “a distance 20 times greater than what was expected,” the LA Times reported.

The program, known as Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD), has cost US taxpayers over $40 billion since 2004. It was designed as a means to prevent a potential nuclear attack, and involves 30 interceptors that can be launched from various terrestrial locations across the United States.

The thrusters have come under scrutiny before. Two unsuccessful tests in 2010 were attributed to the component, and ultimately led to the creation of the latest model. An earlier test of the new thrusters occurred in 2013 and resulted in failure.

According to a report from the US Government Accountability Office, these failures were the result of rushed engineering work and “omitting steps in the design process.”

When asked for comment by the LA Times, the Missile Defense Agency acknowledged that problems had occurred during the “successful” test.

“There was an observation unrelated to the new thruster hardware that has been investigated and successfully root-caused,” the agency said. “Any necessary corrective actions will be taken for the next flight test.”

The agency maintained that “the new thrusters performed as designed” and within “critical performance parameters.”

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The Risky Business of Being a US Ally

NOVANEWS
By Martin Berger 

It’s hardly a secret that the hardships of common people are getting worse by the year. Due to continuous attempts by Washington to redraw the map of the world, in many countries, American intelligence agencies have been particularly active in launching so-called “color revolutions” and staging military conflicts, bringing bitter hunger and poverty upon the heads of millions of people in the Middle East and other regions of the world. Consequently those events have triggered a massive and uncontrolled wave of migration to Europe.

The “War on Terror” that the White House declared has in fact resulted in the US military establishment, American intelligence agencies and a number of other states obtaining huge financial support in return for a brutal assault on the fundamental human rights as embodied in the adoption of the so-called USA PATRIOT Act and similar laws in a number of states.

In the constant pursuit of huge profits, political and military circles in the US are coming up with new “military threats” in a bid to push their allies into greater spending on NATO, the purchases of additional weapons, which in turn undermines the living conditions of the common people in the United States and its satellite states.

However, despite the so-called strengthening of these global security measures the  actual security situation has not improved. There’s an ever increasing number of terrorist attacks carried out every year, while terrorist threats persist. Moreover, various terrorist organizations across the globe are receiving direct support from the White House itself, which drives a wedge between the US and its allies, especially in Europe.

It must be emphasized that the fate of US allies, who are constantly demanded to pay for Washington’s ambitions, is becoming grimmer by the day. If we take a look at the governments who agreed to host US military bases, those governments are usually the first to suffer for for their hospitality.

The constant desire of the White House to dictate its rules to each and every nation resulted in the so-called Brexit, while a number of other European countries have been examining the benefits of leaving the EU as well. Moreover, certain American states are facing a sharp increase in separatist sentiments.

Moreover, Washington’s allies are paying a high price in the blood of their soldiers for countless military adventures as they are recruited to fight alongside the US in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and other regions of the world.

For instance, the newly assembled new Syrian army was defeated on the battlefield by ISIS militants, when US Air Force aircraft abandoned them at the most crucial moment, reports the Washington Post. Certain sources in the US government argue that this was not a complete defeat, since small detachments of the new Syrian army allegedly continued the fighting, although they don’t deny the withdrawal of air support at the most difficult moment of the whole operation, which sealed the fate of the rebels.

Last May, as the US intensified its so-called fight against ISIS in the northern part of Syria, the US Air Force started bombarding the outskirts of the Syrian city of Mara, bringing a group of Syrian rebels that Americans trained and armed under heavy fire. The Wall Street Journal would note:

A statement issued by the U.S. military at the time said three strikes were carried out near Ma’ra that “struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL tactical vehicles and an ISIL vehicle,” using the Pentagon’s preferred acronym for Islamic State.

But leaders with the brigade in interviews said a U.S. airstrike hit brigade members while they were fighting Islamic State militants. Mustafa Sejry, the head of Mutasim’s political office, said 10 of the brigade’s fighters were killed in the U.S. strike.

On June 26, Afghan authorities reported that US Air Force strikes resulted in seven Afghans killed. Those Afghans were held hostage by the Taliban in the Kunduz governorate in the north of the country.

In December 2015, the Washington Post reported the deaths of US-friendly Iraqi soldiers during the military operation against ISIS near the city of Fallujah, when the US Air Force aircraft were “providing close air support to the Iraqi army.”

In July 2015, the so called “worst friendly fire incident” of the US war in Afghanistan occurred when ten Afghan soldiers were killed and others wounded after their compound was fired on by US military helicopters.

It should be noted that the “friendly fire” – is a common occurrence in the US Army. This notion is confirmed by historical facts, since during the Battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862, friendly fire events taken together were thought to have accounted for 1,150 killed and wounded, or approximately 5% of the total casualties.

In August 1944, 8th USAAF heavy bombers bombed the headquarters of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division and 1st Polish Armoured Division during Operation Totalize, killing 65 and wounding 250 Allied soldiers.

Friendly fire casualty rates have gotten worse, with such incidents during Operation Desert Storm in Iraq reaching approximately 23% of the total number of casualties the US military suffered during the conflict.

Therefore, it’s a highly risky endeavor to take part in one of the many military adventures of the White House.The only way to save a nation’s blood is to abstain from such adventuresAnd there’s little doubt that once Hillary Clinton takes office, direct military aggression will remain the main occupation of the White House for years to come.

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Washington’s ‘New Managers’ in Latin America: Oligarchs, Bankers and Swindlers

NOVANEWS
Map of Latin America
By James Petras 

Amid raging corruption, social pathologies and outright political thuggery, a new gang of vassal regimes has taken-over Latin America. The new rulers are strictly recruited as the protégé’s of US financial and banking institutions. Hence the financial press refers to them as the “new managers” – of Wall Street.

The US financial media has once again provided a political cover for the vilest crimes committed by the ‘new managers’ as they launch their offensive against labor and in favor of the foreign and domestic financiers.

To understand the dynamics of the empire’s new vassal managers we will proceed by identifying (1) the illicit power grab (2) the neo-liberal policies they have pursued (3) the impact of their program on the class structure (4) their economic performance and future socio-political perspectives.

Vassals as Managers of Empire

Latin America’s current vassalage elite is of longer and shorter duration.

The regimes of longer duration with a historical legacy of submission, corruption and criminality include Mexico and Colombia where oligarchs, government officials and death squads cohabit in close association with the US military, business and banking elites.

Over the past decades 100,000 citizens were murdered in Mexico and over 4 million peasants were dispossessed in Colombia. In both regimes over ten million acres of farmland and mining terrain were transferred to US and EU multinationals.

Hundreds of billions of illicit narco earnings were laundered by the Colombian and Mexican oligarchy to their US accounts via private banks.

The current political managers, Peña in Mexico and Santos in Colombia are rapidly de-nationalizing strategic oil and energy sectors, while savaging dynamic social movements – hundreds of students and teachers in Mexico and thousands of peasants and human rights activists in Colombia have been murdered.

The new wave of imperial vassals has seized power throughout most of Latin America with the direct and indirect intervention of the US. In 2009, Honduras President Manuel Zelaya was ousted by a military coup backed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Zelaya’s program of agrarian reform, regional integration (with Venezuela) and constitutional elections was abolished. Zelaya was replaced by a US vassal, Roberto Micheletti who proceeded to murder several hundred landless rural workers and indigenous activists.

Washington moved to organize a constitutional cover by promoting a highly malleable landowner, Porfirio Lobo Sosa to the presidency.

The State Department next ousted Paraguyan President Francisco Lugo who governed between 2008-2012. Lugo promoted a moderate agrarian reform and a centrist regional integration agenda.

With the backing of Secretary of State Clinton, the Paraguayan oligarchy in Congress seized power , fabricated an impeachment decree and ousted President Lugo. He was briefly replaced by Vice President Federico Franco (2012-2013).

In 2013, Washington backed , the capital, Asuncion’s, notorious crime boss for President, one Horacio Castes – convicted for currency fraud in 1989, drug running in 1990, and most recently (2010) money laundering.

The Honduras and Paraguayan coups established (in miniature) the precedent for a new wave of ‘big country’ political vassals. The State Department moved toward the acceleration of banking takeovers in Brazil, Argentina and Peru.

In rapid succession, between December 2015 and April 2016 vassal managers seized power in Argentina and Brazil. In Argentina millionaire Mauricio Macri ruled by decree, bypassing constitutional legality. Macri fired scores of thousands of public service workers, closed social agencies and appointed judges and prosecutors without Congressional vote. He arbitrarily arrested social movement leaders – violating democratic procedures.

Macri’s Economic and Finance Ministers gained millions of dollars by ‘buying into’ multinational oil companies just prior to handing over private options on public enterprises.

The all-encompassing swindles and fraud carried out by the ‘new managers’ were covered up by the US media, who praised Macri’s professional team.

Moreover, Macri’s economic performance was a disaster. Exorbitant user fees on utilities and transport for consumers and business enterprises, increased three to ten-fold, forcing bankruptcy rates to soar and households to suffer light and gas closures.

Wall Street vulture funds received a seven billion dollar payment from Macri’s managers, for defaulted loans purchased for pennies over a dollar, twenty-fold greater then the original lenders.

Data based on standard economic indicators highlights the worst economic performance in a decade and a half.

Price inflation exceeds 40%; public debt increased by twenty percent in six months. Living standards and employment sharply declined. Growth and investment data was negative. Mismanagement, official corruption and arbitrary governance, did not induce confidence among local small and medium size businesses.

The respectable media, led by the New York Times, the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post falsified every aspect of Macri’s regime. Failed economic policies implemented by bankers turned cabinet ministers were dubbed long-term successes; crude ideologically driven policies promoting foreign investor profiteering were re-invented as business incentives.

Political thugs dismantled and replaced civil service agencies were labelled ‘a new management team’ by the vulgar propaganda scribes of the financial press.

In Brazil, a phony political power grab by Congressional opportunists ousted elected President Dilma Rousseff. She was replaced by a Washington approved serial swindler and notorious bribe taker, Michel Temer.

The new economic managers were predictably controlled by Wall Street, World Bank and IMF bankers. They rushed measures to slash wages, pensions and other social expenditures, to lower business taxes and privatize the most lucrative public enterprises in transport, infrastructure, landholdings, oil and scores of other activities.

Even as the prostitute press lauded Brazil’s new managers’, prosecutors and judges arrested three newly appointed cabinet ministers for fraud and money laundering. ‘President’ Temer is next in line for prosecution for his role in the mega Petrobras oil contracts scandal for bribes and payola.

The economic agenda by the new managers are not designed to attract new productive investments. Most inflows are short-term speculative ventures. Markets, especially, in commodities, show no upward growth, much to the chagrin of the free market technocrats. Industry and commerce are depressed as a result of the decline in consumer credit, employment and public spending induced by ‘the managers’ austerity policies.

Even as the US and Europe embrace free market austerity, it evokes a continent wide revolt. Nevertheless Latin America’s wave of vassal regimes, remain deeply embedded in decimating the welfare state and pillaging public treasuries led by a narrow elite of bankers and serial swindlers.

Conclusion

As Washington and the prostitute press hail their ‘new managers’ in Latin America, the celebration is abruptly giving way to mass rage over corruption and demands for a shift to the political left.

In Brazil, “President” Temer rushes to implement big business measures, as his time in office is limited to weeks not months. His time out of jail is nearing a deadline. His cabinet of ‘technocrats’ prepare their luggage to follow.

Maurico Macri may survive a wave of strikes and protests and finish the year in office. But the plunging economy and pillage of the treasury is leading business to bankruptcy, the middle class to empty bank accounts and the dispossessed to spontaneous mass upheavals.

Washington’s new managers in Latin America cannot cope with an unruly citizenry and a failing free market economy.

Coups have been tried and work for grabbing power but do not establish effective rulership. Political shifts to the right are gyrating out of Washington’s orbit and find no new counter-balance in the break-up of the European Union.

Vassal capitalist takeovers in Latin America generated publicist anesthesia and Wall Street euphoria; only to be rudely shocked to reality by economic pathologies.

Washington and Wall Street and their Latin America managers sought a false reality of unrestrained profits and pillaged wealth. The reality principle now forces them to recognize that their failures are inducing rage today and uprisings tomorrow.

Posted in South America, USA0 Comments

How the UN and Canada colluded to kill Lumumba

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The United Nations, then under Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold, and Canada played key roles in the assassination of popular Congolese Prime Minister and eminent African statesman Patrice Lumumba. To Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, Lumumba was a “major threat to Western interests”. Neither the UN nor Ottawa has ever accepted responsibility.

Fifty-six years ago today the United Nations launched a peacekeeping force that contributed to one of the worst post-independence imperial crimes in Africa. The Organisation des Nations Unies au Congo (ONUC) delivered a major blow to Congolese aspirations by undermining elected Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba. Canada played a significant role in ONUC and in Lumumba’s assassination, which should be studied by progressives demanding Ottawa increase its participation in UN “peacekeeping”.

After seven decades of brutal rule, Belgium organized a hasty independence in the hopes of maintaining control over the Congo’s vast natural resources. When Lumumba was elected to pursue a genuine de-colonization, Brussels instigated a secessionist movement in the eastern part of the country. In response, the Congolese Prime Minister asked the UN for a peacekeeping force to protect the territorial integrity of the newly independent country. Washington, however, saw the UN mission as a way to undermine Lumumba.

Siding with Washington, Ottawa promoted ONUC and UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold’s controversial anti-Lumumba position. 1,900 Canadian troops participated in the UN mission between 1960 and 1964, making this country’s military one of its more active members. There were almost always more Canadian officers at ONUC headquarters then those of any other nationality and the Canadians were concentrated in militarily important logistical positions including chief operations officer and chief signals officer.

Canada’s strategic role wasn’t simply by chance. Ottawa pushed to have Canada’s intelligence gathering signals detachments oversee UN intelligence and for Quebec Colonel Jean Berthiaume to remain at UN headquarters to “maintain both Canadian and Western influence.” (A report from the Canadian Directorate of Military Intelligence noted, “Lumumba’s immediate advisers… have referred to Lt. Col. Berthiaume as an ‘imperialist tool’.”)

To bolster the power of ONUC, Ottawa joined Washington in channeling its development assistance to the Congo through the UN. Ghanaian president Kwame Nkrumah complained that this was “applying a restriction to Congo which does not apply to any other African state.” Ottawa rejected Nkrumah’s request to channel Congolese aid through independent African countries.

Unlike many ONUC participants, Canada aggressively backed Hammarskjold’s controversial anti-Lumumba position. External Affairs Minister Howard Green told the House of Commons: “The Canadian government will continue its firm support for the United Nations effort in the Congo and for Mr. Hammarskjold, who in the face of the greatest difficulty has served the high principles and purposes of the charter with courage, determination and endless patience.”

Ottawa supported Hammarskjold even as he sided with the Belgian-backed secessionists against the central government. On August 12 1960 the UN Secretary General traveled to Katanga and telegraphed secessionist leader Moise Tchombe to discuss “deploying United Nations troops to Katanga.” Not even Belgium officially recognized Katanga’s independence, provoking Issaka Soure to note that, “[Hammarskjold’s visit] sent a very bad signal by implicitly implying that the rebellious province could somehow be regarded as sovereign to the point that the UN chief administrator could deal with it directly.”

The UN head also worked to undermine Lumumba within the central government. When President Joseph Kasavubu dismissed Lumumba as prime minister — a move of debatable legality and opposed by the vast majority of the country’s parliament — Hammarskjold publicly endorsed the dismissal of a politician who a short time earlier had received the most votes in the country’s election.

Lumumba attempted to respond to his dismissal with a nationwide broadcast, but UN forces blocked him from accessing the main radio station. ONUC also undermined Lumumba in other ways. Through their control of the airport ONUC prevented his forces from flying into the capital from other parts of the country and closed the airport to Soviet weapons and transportation equipment when Lumumba turned to Russia for assistance. In addition, according to The Cold War “[the Secretary General’s special representative Andrew] Cordier provided $1 million — money supplied to the United Nations by the US government — to [military commander Joseph] Mobutu in early September to pay off restive and hungry Congolese soldiers and keep them loyal to Kasavubu during his attempt to oust Lumumba as prime minister.”

To get a sense of Hammarskjold’s antipathy towards the Congolese leader, he privately told officials in Washington that Lumumba must be “broken” and only then would the Katanga problem “solve itself.” For his part, Cordier asserted “[Ghanaian president Kwame] Nkrumah is the Mussolini of Africa while Lumumba is its little Hitler.”

(Echoing this thinking, in a conversation with External Affairs Minister Howard Green, Prime Minister John Diefenbaker called Lumumba a “major threat to Western interests” and said he was “coming around to the conclusion” that an independent Western oriented Katanga offered “the best solution to the current crisis.”)

In response to Hammarskjold’s efforts to undermine his leadership, Lumumba broke off relations with the UN Secretary General. He also called for the withdrawal of all white peacekeepers, which Hammarskjold rejected as a threat to UN authority.

A number of ONUC nations ultimately took up Lumumba’s protests. When the Congolese prime minister was overthrown and ONUC helped consolidate the coup, the United Arab Republic (Egypt), Guinea, Morocco and Indonesia formally asked Hammarskjold to withdraw all of their troops.

Canadian officials took a different position. They celebrated ONUC’s role in Lumumba’s overthrow. A week after Lumumba was pushed out prominent Canadian diplomat Escott Reid, then ambassador to Germany, noted in an internal letter, “already the United Nations has demonstrated in the Congo that it can in Africa act as the executive agent of the free world.” The “free world” was complicit in the murder of one of Africa’s most important independence leaders. In fact, the top Canadian in ONUC directly enabled his killing.

After Lumumba escaped house arrest and fled Leopoldville for his power base in the Eastern Orientale province, Colonel Jean Berthiaume assisted Lumumba’s political enemies by helping recapture him. The UN Chief of Staff, who was kept in place by Ottawa, tracked the deposed prime minister and informed Joseph Mobutu of Lumumba’s whereabouts.

Three decades later the Saint-Hyacinthe, Québec, born Berthiaume told an interviewer: “I called Mobutu. I said, ‘Colonel, you have a problem, you were trying to retrieve your prisoner, Mr. Lumumba. I know where he is, and I know where he will be tomorrow. He said, what do I do? It’s simple, Colonel, with the help of the UN you have just created the core of your para commandos — we have just trained 30 of these guys — highly selected Moroccans trained as paratroopers. They all jumped — no one refused. To be on the safe side, I put our [Canadian] captain, Mario Coté, in the plane, to make sure there was no underhandedness. In any case, it’s simple, you take a Dakota [plane], send your paratroopers and arrest Lumumba in that small village — there is a runway and all that is needed. That’s all you’ll need to do, Colonel. He arrested him, like that, and I never regretted it.”

Ghanaian peacekeepers near where Lumumba was captured took quite a different attitude towards the elected prime minister’s safety. After Mobutu’s forces captured Lumumba they requested permission to intervene and place Lumumba under UN protection. Unfortunately, the Secretary-General denied their request. Not long thereafter Lumumba was executed by firing squad and his body was dissolved in acid.

In 1999 Belgium launched a parliamentary inquiry into its role in Lumumba’s assassination. Following Belgium’s lead, the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs should investigate Canada’s role in the Congolese independence leader’s demise and any lessons ONUC might hold regarding this country’s participation in future UN missions.

Posted in Africa, Canada0 Comments

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