Archive | March 3rd, 2017

Trump and the Deep State: Investigating Russia, Détente with Canada, Speech to US Congress

Part III: Global Research News Hour Episode 172
Trump and Putin

blood in the water:

The exposure of a competitive weakness in an opponent that arouses increased competitive aggression in others. Likened to the literal presence of blood in water that causes aquatic predators (such as sharks) to seek out and attack prey. [1]


Length (59:27)

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The CIA, the military industrial complex and other elite elements within the US are redoubling their efforts to remove or at least contain U.S. President Donald Trump.

The accusations that Trump is a kind of Manchurian candidate, functioning as a puppet of the Russian President, have not diminished in spite of being contested by independent journalists and a group of retired Intelligence officials, not to mention Russian government officials.

Intelligence agencies argued last year that there was clear evidence of Russian government-authorized hacking that interfered with the outcome of the 2016 election.

In January, unverified and unproven claims were disseminated alleging that Donald Trump had had escapades with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel room. Government officials argued that Russian Intelligence may have video-taped the encounters giving President Putin ammunition with which to blackmail the leader of the free world.

Then in February, a massive blow: Michael Flynn, a Trump ally within Cabinet, was forced to resign his position as National Security Adviser on the questionable grounds that he had failed to accurately disclose the contents of a conversation he had with the Russian Ambassador to the US.

The most recent coup de Grace came when another Trump Administration official, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, recused himself  from the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election on the grounds that he too had failed to disclose conversations he had had with the Russian Ambassador.

On this week’s episode of the Global Research News Hour, we hear from James Petras about why Trump’s enemies within the CIA, and the Deep State generally, are invoking Russia as a cudgel with which to beat the billionaire president. He also reflects on the hazards of authentic progressive movements aligning themselves with these elements within the ruling elite determined to bring down Trump.

After this interview we spend time examining the Canadian government’s response to the Trump Administration, especially in the wake of the Canadian Prime Minister’s February visit to Washington and a controversial shuffle of his Cabinet. Roger Annis helps listeners understand these international dynamics and what is at stake for Canadian domestic and foreign policy.

Finally, Barrie Zwicker returns to the show to share his reflections on the President’s February 28 speech to Congress, and suspicious omissions in major media coverage of that event.

 James Petras is a retired Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology from Binghampton University in Binghamton, New York, and Adjunct Professor at St. Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. He is the author of 62 books published in 29 languages as well as numerous articles published in professional journals. He is a member of the Canadian Dimension editorial collective, and has contributed to independent news publications including Counterpunch, Atlantic Free Press, and Global Research

Roger Annis is a socialist, a trade union activist and a retired aerospace worker. He has written extensively on peace and social justice issues. His articles can be found at and on, which he also edits. 

Barrie Zwicker is a retired print and broadcast journalist and a media critic. Some of his most recent articles appear at


Length (59:27)

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1) The Free Dictionary (online);

Posted in USAComments Off on Trump and the Deep State: Investigating Russia, Détente with Canada, Speech to US Congress

Global Environmental Pollutants: Is Anthropogenic Activity Despoiling the Planet?

Or is it Mainly the Anti-Human Activity of Multinational Corporations?

Definition of Anthropogenic: “an adjective used to describe the environmental pollution and pollutants that originate from human or corporate activity.”

Conscientious whistleblowers in the honor-the-earth, protect-the-water and assorted other environmental movements regularly point out the glaring reality that it is actually the amoral, conscienceless multinational corporations that are the main cause of local, regional and planetary environmental pollution.

But if an investigative journalist accidentally allows those assertions to be published or voiced, the media’s propaganda machine predictably goes into defensive mode or attack mode, first casting doubt on the whistle-blower’s assertions or else it issues an ad hominem attack upon the whistle-blower.

The corporation’s stable of lawyers and public relations department  – with the assistance of assorted media mouthpieces – start mis-directing the public’s perceptions by repeatedly using the “time-honored” phrase of human activity or “man-made activity” for causing the problem (even though all the credible truly scientific evidence implicates corporate activity” for the damage).

Thereafter, especially if the media outlet depends on advertising revenue from the corporate polluter, the whistle-blower will likely be black-balled from further interviews.

Every polluting, fossil fuel-burning multinational corporation could be indicted in any unbiased court of law for crimes against humanity and for crimes against the planet – if any courageous lawyer could be found to prosecute the case. Plenty of solid scientific data exists to convict polluting corporations for their crimes against the planet – if a fair-minded judge could be found that is not beholden to corporate interests.

And any legislative body containing a majority of honorable politicians (that have not taken corporate campaign bribes) would easily pass legislation protecting the planet rather than listening for even another minute to the corrupted “pseudoscience” that is spouted so regularly by the highly-paid mercenary lobbyists that do the bidding their industry paymasters.

It is the rare corporation that does not pollute the earth in the process of mining the earth’s natural resources and in the manufacturing of their products. And then the end-products invariably cause serious pollution in many ways, including the act of disposing of the often toxic used-up product.

Pentagon SuperFund Sites, the Worst of the Worst

The Pentagon and its military-industrial complex of weapons suppliers are acknowledged to be the worst and most plentiful polluters on the face of the earth, with hundreds of military bases and weapons production sites that qualify for the designation of SuperFund sites. Those sites contain the most toxic by-products of war-making and the environmental pollution is so bad that the government and the taxpayers are on the hook for doing the impossible clean-up!

The same can be said of the mining industry, so that when a mine shuts down, the metallic ore plays out or the mining company goes belly-up, the government and the taxpayers are on the hook to do the clean-up. (The so-called clean-up is particularly difficult in the deadly residue and toxic tailing ponds at the sites of sulfide (sulfuric acid-producing)  mines where gold, silver, copper and zinc had been mined.

(For much more information about sulfide mining, see my column on the Butte, Montana SuperFund open pit copper mine that is located just outside of the dying community of Butte, Montana. The Butte mine clearly illustrates the long-term pollution that just one abandoned copper mine invariably causes as it gradually fills up with heavy metals that are dissolved in  sulfuric acid that has a  highly acidic pH of 2.5 [approximating stomach acid].) The Butte SuperFund site is just one of 16 Montana SuperFund sites that the has been assigned to remediate.

Here is the link:

Minnesota’s 25 EPA SuperFund Sites

Incidentally, Minnesota at one time had over 40 SuperFund sites, with 25 remaining on the EPA’s list, including Duluth’s St. Louis River site at the old US Steel Plant, where there are carcinogenic PAHs (Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), carcinogenic VOCs [volatile organic chemicals) , cyanide, naphthalene, and heavy metals – including mercury – in the sludge at the bottom of the river, where US Steel dumped its chemical and metallic refuse. Most of the Minnesota sites are either corporate refuse site, municipal landfill sites or weapons manufacturing sites. All have serious heavy metal and/or carcinogenic contaminants that are poisoning the ground water, soil and even the air.

The recently discussed irremediable pollution in the slip near Duluth’s Canal Park, where the decommissioned ore boat, the William A. Irvin, is moored, is not large enough to warrant SuperFund status, nor has the upstream St. Louis River Cloquet Paper Mill operation, which, for many decades, discharged toxic paper-processing by-products (especially carcinogenic chlorinated hydrocarbons from the bleaching process) directly into the St. Louis River before it was forced to change its manufacturing operations.

Corporate Disinformation Tactics

When confronted by damaging information about their corporate processes, one of the early disinformation tactics that CEOs order is to have their public relations propagandists play the “doubt card”, which tries to deflect blame for the malfeasance on some other entity, often by producing some pseudoscientific research that the industry concocted in secrecy.

Wealthy corporations have the monetary resources to use that tactic for decades if necessary, thus delaying real remedies while the profits keep rolling in. The “doubt card” tactic is currently being used by climate change deniers, especially the accused, amoral corporations in the Big Tobacco, Big Oil, Big Coal, gas, energy, pipeline, mining, pharmaceutical and weapons industries, despite the evidence for global warming that is everywhere that an unbiased, well-informed person might look.

Big Tobacco particularly has become infamous for casting doubt on whether or not cigarette smoking was a public health problem. Big Tobacco’s executives have even expressed pride in inventing that tactic, stating that doubt was their greatest weapon in delaying government interference in their obscenely profitable industry. Casting doubt delayed the public’s perception that cigarettes were carcinogenic or could cause respiratory illnesses, and thus they got away with murder for decades longer than they should have.

Science-minded physicians like US Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, who served under Ronald Reagan (who was Big Pharma’s, Big Food’s, Big Agribusiness’s and the nuclear weapons industry’s hero), knew the facts about tobacco’s lethality. But Koop and many other unbiased scientists were essentially accused of being conspiracy theorists when they tried to warn the public about the tobacco industry’s dangerous products. Selling highly addictive but highly lucrative products creates life-long customers and patients who will pay almost anything to get their next caffeine, nicotine, opioid or prescription drug fix in order to avoid the painful symptoms of withdrawal.

Is there a more devious way for an entity to make money than to sell customers a highly addictive product that also sickens and even kills its customers, while simultaneously lying about the addictive quality and lethality of its products?

Illicit vs. Legal Addictive Drugs

Welcome to the world of sociopathic Big Businesses that profit by pushing illicit – but highly addictive – street drugs like heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and speed, each of which are intended to get customers addicted, thus becoming regular customers.

And welcome to the world of sociopathic Big Pharma industries that maximize profits by marketing legal – and oftentimes highly addictive – psychopharmaceutical prescription drugs such as “anti-depressants”, tranquilizers, opioids, the so-called ADHD drugs, the various anorexic/weight loss drugs and psycho-stimulating drugs like Ritalin, Strattera, Wellbutrin, Effexor and Provigil. Any adverse effects from these prescription drugs are iatrogenic.

Big Pharma and Iatrogenocide

Big Pharma’s psychotropic drug marketing programs are virtually indistinguishable from Big Tobacco’s. Until they were caught in the lie, both industries (falsely) asserted that their products were safe, effective and not addictive, and to this day, they both continue to co-opt their partners in deception (the tobacco sellers and the prescribing physicians, allied health professionals, psych drug salespersons and pharmacists) by convincing those groups to continue prescribing or dispensing these dangerous synthetic chemicals long enough to make their clients physiologically dependent.

And then, when the patient who has been taking brain-altering substances long enough and then realizes that he might be addicted, or feels sick or out of control and then  to get off the drug, he is at high risk of developing withdrawal symptoms (that are usually totally different from the symptoms that caused him to start the drug in the first place).

When withdrawal from addictive drugs occurs, the prescribing physician often erroneously makes a knee-jerk diagnosis that the patient’s initial “mental illness” is “relapsing”. And then, because of the unfounded assertion that the withdrawal syndrome is just the old disorder coming back, the patient is often told that he will have to take a cocktail of drugs for the rest of his life.

Of course the longer a potentially addictive brain-altering drug is taken, the more likely it will be that the patient will have difficulty overcoming the brain’s dependence on the substance, and it doesn’t matter whether the drug was legal or illicit. There is also a great likelihood of long-term brain damage as these drugs accumulate with each dose and therefore can continue their neurotoxic adverse effects.

Whether using Big Tobacco’s or Big Pharma’s addictive products, smokers and drugged-up patients are likely to become lifelong consumers of the products and will be helping both industries keep the drug prices high, the next quarter’s financial report positive and the corporation’s stock price up; all of which keeps the gravy train going strong for the CEOs who regularly take home tens of millions of dollars annually.

Immediately below is one formula for the successful marketing of prescription psychotropic drugs. These principles are just a variation of how people get hooked on nicotine, heroin and other assorted street drugs.

1) Brain-wash prospective targets so they will want to try the potentially addictive drug;

2) Convince the target to demand a prescription from their physician;

3) Cheer-lead the patient to tolerate the inevitable adverse effects so that the patient will continue taking the drug until they are hooked;

4) Get the patient to take the drug even though it can be obscenely expensive;

5) Be ready for the patient to fail at trying to stop taking the drug;

6) Recommend additional drugs to cover-up the drug’s adverse effects (rather than quitting the drug altogether);

7) Encourage the patient to increase the dose of the addictive drug when he gets drug-withdrawal symptoms or even encourage the patient to take additional drugs to cover-up the symptoms (rather than taking the time to help the patient get off the drug completely).

Industries that sell addictive entertainment (such as videogames, online gambling and pornography), alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, sports, etc) are examples of addictive products that are regarded as good investments for the investor class, no matter what are the consequences for the patient.

Those examples of corporate amorality, malfeasance and greed could be called crimes against humanity and crimes against the planet. And just below is another crime against Mother Earth that has been essentially ignored by the national media. Pretending that the disastrous algae blooms in the Great Lakes aren’t there is irresponsible behavior whether corporations or individual humans are to blame. And to acknowledge the disaster might lead to criminal prosecution.  Of course, if the root causes of the algae blooms are identified, the next step is to identify the guilty entities (usually corporations) that should be legally responsible for the clean-up.

Toxic Algae Blooms in Herbicide and Pesticide-poisoned Lake Erie

The environmental catastrophe that has been well-documented in a multitude of satellite photographs (see one of them below) has been slowly killing off Lake Erie, the 11th largest “fresh” water lake in the world. The pro-corporate, anti-regulatory, neoliberal and neoconservative entities (from all political persuasions except for Greens and Social Democrats) from the rust-belt states of Michigan and Ohio have been negligent in their duty to ensure the sustainability of the environment. But all those politicians took large campaign contributions – and then acquiesced to pressure – from regional and multinational corporations to do what was best for the polluting industries and not for the environment. The corporations most responsible were the ALEC-associated Big Agribusiness, Big Chemistry, Big Mining, Big Energy, Big Food and Wall Street industries in whose interest it has always been to see abolished the common-sense efforts of the Department of Natural Resources and the Environmental Protection Agency for the regulation of toxic pollutants. Immediately below are named some of the corporate pollutants.

1) Pesticides and insecticides used in corporate agribusiness,

2) Phosphorus- and nitrogen-containing nutrients in corporate agribusiness-promoted fertilizer and phosphate detergents (PO4),

3) Corporate sewage treatment plants,

4) Corporate garbage-burning facilities,

5) Corporate mining waste runoffs,

6) Corporate pharmaceuticals that are excreted by humans and livestock animals,

7) Organochlorine toxins (often carcinogenic, from upstream corporate paper mills, chlorinated drinking water, etc),

8) Fluoridated drinking water,

9) Corporate farm animal manure (virtually always contaminated with antibiotics),

10) PCBs and mercury from coal-fired corporate electric power plants,

11) Other synthetic, non-organic, toxic food waste and water in aquifers, lakes, rivers and streams (even water that is intended for drinking!), and

12) Global climate change because of the fossil fuel industry’s refusal to change to sustainable energy sources.

The following satellite image is of a massive toxic algae bloom from the summer of 2015, which was the worst bloom in years. The summer of 2016 was expected to be worse than 2015. The photo shows Michigan’s Lake St. Clair and the western part of Lake Erie, Both fresh water lakes received enormous amounts of Agribusiness-facilitated, fertilizer-laden, herbicide-laden, pesticide-laden, highly polluted water from streams and rivers that drain the area’s chemically-treated, corporate-managed farm land. Normal lakes should be uniformly blue with zero green color! The green, of course, represents the algal bloom.

These algae are often toxic. They are able to thrive partly because of the warming water (more proof of global climate change), but the bloom is made much worse because of the combination of high nitrogen and phosphorus nutrient load from farm fertilizer and livestock manure and because algae are resistant to the above list of cellular toxins that kill off algae’s competitors, such as fish and other aquatic life.

Highly toxic herbicides and insecticides are commonly found in the watersheds leading into Lake St Clair and Lake Erie. The poisons that are secreted by the algae can be lethal to fish and animals, including humans, given a large enough exposure. Some of the toxic chemical herbicides and pesticides listed below are commonly sprayed on farm fields of large American corporate farming operations, thanks to Big Agribusinesses like Monsanto. They include:

1) Metolachlor, atrazine, deethylatrazine, cyanazine, simazine and Round-up are among the most frequently detected herbicides.

2) Diazinon, chlorpyrifos, and carbaryl were among the most frequently detected insecticides.

Algae are simple plant species that do not thrive in unpolluted cold water. Under certain conditions, the overgrowth of some algae species can produce deadly toxins that can kill or sicken fish, shellfish, mammals, birds and humans, and, of course, will make the water smelly and undrinkable.

When masses of algae die and decompose and de-oxygenate the water, massive fish die-offs – if there are any fish left – will occur.

Non-human corporations are the major culprits, not individual human persons. Corporations are not persons, no matter what the Supreme Court said in 2010, but they should be held responsible.

In a strict law and order society like Donald Trump claimed his presidency was all about, such crimes against humanity and the earth should be punished with the death penalty.

I say take the culprits to court and lock ‘em up before they kill again.

Posted in HealthComments Off on Global Environmental Pollutants: Is Anthropogenic Activity Despoiling the Planet?

Trump’s Executive Order on Immigration Barring Muslims: Interview with Civil Rights Leader Hatem Abudayyeh


A Muslim American Leader Speaks out on the Growing Oppression in the ‘Craddle of Democracy’

trump executive order

In September of 2010, American federal agents in Chicago unjustifiably raided the Jefferson Park residence of Hatem Abudayyeh, Executive Director of Arab American Action Network (AAAN), in a time that federal agents were executing search warrants in residences and offices of several people in Chicago and in Minneapolis. Some of many “huntings for Muslims” everywhere since the 9/11 attacks

The FBI agents took away a computer, video tapes and a cell phone of the Muslim civil rights leader. “They took everything in my home that had the word Palestinian on it,” Abudayyeh said. The federal investigation was focused on whether Abudayyeh and the others have funded foreign terrorist organizations. Abudayyeh has never been charged

According to the AAAN leader, son of Palestinians, the FBI then targeted him merely for having a pro-Palestinian view. “This is a massive escalation of the attacks on people that do Palestine support work in this country and anti-war work,” said Abudayyeh at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, three months later as he refused to grant an interview for ABC. “We’re not going to stop speaking out against the war. We’re not going to stop speaking out against U.S. support of Israel’s violations of the Palestinian people.”

In this interview, Hatem Abudayyeh speaks out about President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration that bars citizens of Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for the next 90 days, and refugees from around the world for four months. He says: “Trump and the other racists and white supremacists in his government are extremely dangerous, not only to Arabs and Muslims, but also to immigrants in general, black people, workers, women, and all other marginalized and oppressed communities in the US. I believe that Trump wants to truly ‘make American white again’.”

He states that Arabs and Muslims want to live in peace and dignity, as many of them have been intimidating and a number of their organizations devoted to social services, youth programming, and cultural outreach have been shut down in the “craddle of democracy”. 

Nothing has changed in the United Police States of America since the oppression he suffered in 2010, in the name of an endless “War on Terror” which spreads fear, violence and hate in the country, and all over the world. “Post 9-11 policies have criminalized Arabs and Muslims to such an extent that we are living in constant fear of detention, deportation, surveillance, and general repression,” he says. “Our community is facing massive, documented surveillance and repression.”

But not only that, according to the Muslim activist: “He [Trump] criminalizes Arabs and Muslims in the U.S. to get support from the people here for imperialist goals in our countries abroad.” 

Nothing has changed in US “security policy” (a eufemism for institutionalised crimes) since the dark years of George W. Bush – but a world and the United States themselves much more insecure. That is all that totalitarian powers need to justify the lack of civil liberties and hard-line policies in general, in order to dominate and explore.

Below, the full interview with Hatem Abudayyeh.

Edu Montesanti: Hatem Abudayyeh, thank you so very much for granting this interview. Would you please tell us how does the Arab American Action Network (AAAN) work?

Hatem Abudayyeh: The AAAN was established in 1995 to provide support to the Arab community of Greater Chicago in the areas of community organizing, advocacy, social services, youth programming, and cultural outreach.

It is unique in that we are the only Arab organization in Illinois, and one of the very few in the entire U.S. that challenge structural and institutional racism and national oppression with a grass-roots, base-building organizing lens.

We provide leadership development for youth and immigrant women, and the most affected community members lead our campaigns for social justice and systemic change.

What does it mean being an Arab in the United States today, especially Muslim Arabs after 9/11/2001, and what has changed since President Donald Trump won the American election?

Arabs in the U.S. have faced national oppression and racism for many decades, since way before 9-11 and now Trump, but the challenges are much more acute now.

Post 9-11 policies have criminalized Arabs and Muslims to such an extent that we are living in constant fear of detention, deportation, surveillance, and general repression.

A number of our organizations have been shut down; prominent individuals like Rasmea Odeh have faced political indictments; and the court system, the media, the educational system, and others have made it very intimidating for Arabs and Muslims to live here in peace and dignity.

In his inauguration speech, President Donald Trump called for the “civilized world” to unite “against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth.” Later, President Trump confirmed Rep. Mike Pompeo as head of the CIA: Pompeo is a Tea Party Republican. Pompeo favors the reinstatement of “waterboarding, among other torture techniques”. He views Muslims as a threat to Christianity and Western civilization. He is identified as “a radical Christian extremist” who believes that the “global war on terrorism” (GWOT) constitutes a “war between Islam and Christianity”. Your view, please, Hatem.

Trump and the other racists and white supremacists in his government are extremely dangerous, not only to Arabs and Muslims, but also to immigrants in general, Black people, workers, women, and all other marginalized and oppressed communities in the U.S.

There is not much of a difference between Republicans and Democrats in this country, especially when it comes to U.S. foreign policy and even most domestic and economic policy, but Trump is clearly different.

He is clearly pandering to the worst racism in U.S. society, has put avowed white supremacists in his government, and is attacking immigrants, Black people, and workers with every executive order that he signs.

The specific attack against Arabs and Muslims serves a very specific cause, a cause that has been served by every president since 9-11; i.e., to justify U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East — invasion, occupation, support for the destabilization of Syria, the threats against Iran and Lebanon, etc.–the government here needs to put a local face on the “enemy” abroad.

He criminalizes Arabs and Muslims in the U.S. to get support from the people here for imperialist goals in our countries abroad. Yes, Trump and Pompeo are ultra-right radical racists, but this is just a continuation of imperialist policy, albeit maybe more devastating.

How do you see Trump’s executive order on immigration that bars citizens of Muslim-majority countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – from entering the United States for the next 90 days, and refugees from around the world for four months?

I believe that Trump wants to truly “make American white again.” The #MuslimBan and previous executive order implementation memos have the express intent of banning immigrants of color from coming here, and kicking out others who are already here–mostly Mexicans and Central Americans.

The AAAN does not believe that these policies are only affecting Arabs and Muslims. In fact, the people who are and will bear the brunt are Latinos, who constitute the largest population of undocumented immigrants in this country.

The vast majority of them work and pay taxes and try to support their families here, but Trump wants to deport them all. He is claiming that they have “broken the law,” but the only thing broken is our immigration system, which has a massive backlog of applications for people trying to become permanent residents.

They have been here for years and years, and have mostly been forced here because of neo-liberal economic policies like NAFTA and CAFTA, but now they are being threatened daily with deportations.

Trump is a racist autocrat who is using executive actions to try to make the country look more like what his supporters want it to, i.e. the white European politically dominated society of the 30s, 40s, and 50s in the U.S.

How will it affect the American society and the world in the coming years?

These #MuslimBan and anti-immigrant policies in general are already affecting American society, causing massive apprehension and intimidation, but also massive resistance.

We have not seen the kinds of daily, consistent protests like those triggered by Trump and his racism since the civil rights era, and it is clear that they will not slow down. At the same time that immigrants are under attack, Black people and their Black Liberation Movement are as well, as evidenced by the Trump plan to rescind Obama’s policy of phasing out private prisons, and the Trump administration’s propaganda attacks on the Movement for Black Lives and its demands that law enforcement in this country stop its racial profiling and killing of Black people.

The other current danger that we see today is white supremacist crimes against people in communities of color. Because Trump has normalized racism against Black people, Latinos, Arabs, Muslims, and so many others, white supremacists have perpetrated racist hate crimes against all of these communities.

From a massacre in a Black church and armed white racists protesting against mosques to an Indian American shot because he looked Arab and Latinos being assaulted by white mobs, Trump’s America looks very much like “Bull” Connor’s America in Alabama in the 50s and 60s.

But like the civil rights movement in Alabama and throughout the U.S., people today will not allow themselves to be victims. They will defend themselves, they will resist, and they will fight back.

And Trump’s policies will be stopped by the masses, like the #MuslimBan was. The federal court that froze the ban stated clearly that it had caused “chaos,” meaning our resistance, mass protests, and shutting down of airports had as much to do with the court decision as the unconstitutionality of the ban.

You once denounced F.B.I. repression against activists, and you was victim of an F.B.I. raid in 2010. Does it still happen? Do you and your community feel vicitm of any surveiiance and repression?

Our community is facing massive, documented surveillance and repression. There are thousands of FBI informants in our communities, staking out mosques, community centers, and small businesses.

A federal program started by Obama’s administration, called Countering Violent Extremism (CVE), gives massive amounts of money to communities to target young Arabs and Muslims, and considers our community to be extreme, but not the white supremacists who have perpetrated more terrorist attacks than anyone else in this country over the years.

Most specifically, we believe that surveillance and political repression affects Palestinians and their supporters the most, from students advocating for Palestinian rights and the Midwest 23 to community based Palestinian organizations and the aforementioned Rasmea Odeh.

Political criticism of Israeli occupation and colonization is becoming the norm in this country, and the U.S. government, because of its unequivocal support of Israel, needs to repress Palestine support organizing to continue to ensure that Israel remains its watchdog in the Arab World.

And now the ultra-right government of Trump is in place at the same time as the ultra-right government of Netanyahu rules Israel, so we should expect the repression to get worse.

Posted in USAComments Off on Trump’s Executive Order on Immigration Barring Muslims: Interview with Civil Rights Leader Hatem Abudayyeh

Trump’s Address to the US Congress: Making America Safe for Wall Street and War Profiteers


His Tuesday address was long on making America safe for Wall Street, war profiteers and other corporate predators, short on what’s most needed to serve all Americans equitably and promote world peace.

He focused on increased military spending at a time major cuts are needed, combating terrorism without explaining ISIS and likeminded groups are US creations, used as imperial foot soldiers.

He called for repealing and replacing Obamacare, omitting what he and GOP lawmakers want is something worse, maybe devastating for the nation’s most vulnerable.

We will soon begin the construction of a great wall along our southern border,” he said. He lied claiming it’ll deter illicit drugs and crime.

He covered his notion of immigration reform, falsely claiming “it will save countless dollars, raise workers’ wages, and help struggling families,  including immigrant families, enter the middle class.

Middle America has been disappearing for years. Neoliberal harshness since the 1990s wrecked it. Nothing in prospect suggests resurrection.

He wants America more militarized than ever, intending greater funding for police – to protect the nation’s privileged class from beneficial social change.

Changes he’ll propose in America’s tax code are unrelated to letting “our companies…compete and thrive anywhere and with anyone.” He lied claiming otherwise.

Corporate tax cuts don’t create jobs. Economic growth does. GW Bush and Obama gave business trillions of dollars in tax breaks. Their balance sheets and bottom line performance benefitted.

Enormous amounts of corporate wealth went to tax havens, were used for stock buybacks, along with higher executive pay and bonuses, nothing helping workers, nothing creating jobs.

Job reductions accompanied foreign investments. Offshoring was rewarded. Rotten part-time jobs replaced good full-time ones.

Corporate America and high-net worth households never had things better. Unprecedented wealth amounts shifted from ordinary people to them.

The great wealth transfer heist continues, America thirdworldized in the process, nothing being done to change things. Trump’s economic plan may make conditions worse with Goldman Sachs in charge of administration policy.

His address said nothing about Russia, little about foreign policy. America remains the world’s leading pariah state on his watch, its leading bully, waging endless wars of aggression.

He lied claiming the “United States respects the right of all nations to chart their own path.” Humanity profoundly disagrees.

Candidate Trump called NATO “obsolete.” Before Congress he expressed strong support for “an alliance forged through the bonds of two World Wars that dethroned fascism, and a Cold War that defeated communism.”

NATO is a killing machine, used for offense, not defense. World peace, stability and security are impossible as long as the alliance exists.

Saying he “want(s) harmony and stability, not war and conflict,” imperial wars rage on his watch in multiple theaters – nothing said about ending US aggression against nations threatening no one, nothing about the grand deception of America’s war on terrorism.

His address was long on hyperbole and bluster, short on a compelling need for a new direction.

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Did Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton Approve Sending Sarin Gas to Syrian Rebels?


Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh

Clinton lunettes noires

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh believes that Hillary Clinton approved the sending of sarin gas to Syria. At a time when Clinton is trying to secure the 2016 democratic presidential nomination, Hersh is coming forward with allegations that the democratic presidential front-runner and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was a go-between the Obama Administration and the leaders of Middle Eastern nations (namely Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey) to set up a horrific sarin gas attack and place the blame on the shoulders of Assad. Why? So that the U.S. could invade Syria and blame Assad.

“By the terms of the agreement, funding came from Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar; the CIA, with the support of MI6, was responsible for getting arms from Gaddafi’s arsenals into Syria.”

Hersh didn’t elaborate as to whether the “arms” he referred to encompassed the chemical precursors for creating sarin gas, which Libya stockpiled. However, multiple independent reports have independently confirmed that Gaddafi of Libya did, indeed, possess such stockpiles. Additionally, the The Free Thought Project reports, the much-touted U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya was operating as a “rat line” for Gaddafi’s weaponry while Hillary Clinton was at the helm.

Seymour Hersh isn’t the first or only reporter to publicly call out the Hillary Clinton/Syria connection. Christopher Lehmann said on October 7, 2013 that top U.S. (and Saudi) officials were responsible for the chemical weapons being used in Syria. Interestingly, Lehmann’s sources were completely different than Hersh’s.

“Evidence leads directly to the White House, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey, CIA Director John Brennan, Saudi Intelligence Chief Prince Bandar, and Saudi Arabia´s Interior Ministry.”

The headline of Lehmann’s article? “Top US and Saudi Officials responsible for Chemical Weapons in Syria.”

To make matters more damning for Hillary Clinton, two industry-leading U.S. analysts determined that Lehmann was correct. Indeed, the Lloyd-Postal report reportedly concluded that the U.S. government’s public claims regarding the attack are inaccurate.

“The US Government’s Interpretation of the Technical Intelligence It Gathered Prior to and After the August 21 Attack CANNOT POSSIBLY BE CORRECT.”

As one news outlet reports, “Obama has clearly been lying.”

However, for the first documented time, Hersh has now pointed the finger at democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton. Indeed, during an interview with, Hersh said that during the Hillary Clinton Secretary of State/Obama Administration, the Benghazi role was to “collect weapons from Libyan stockpiles and send them through Turkey into Syria for a set-up sarin-gas attack, to be blamed on Assad in order to ‘justify’ the US invading Syria, as the US had invaded Libya to eliminate Gaddafi.”

“That ambassador who was killed, he was known as a guy, from what I understand, as somebody, who would not get in the way of the CIA. As I wrote, on the day of the mission hewas meeting with the CIA base chief and the shipping company. He was certainly involved, aware and witting of everything that was going on. And there’s no way somebody in that sensitive of a position is not talking to the boss, by some channel.”

According to Hersh, this was (in fact) a large part of the Hillary Clinton State Department’s operation in Libya. While Hillary Clinton was running the show, her job description reportedly included doing to Syria what had already been done successfully in Libya.

Hersh ultimately wrote a book, The Killing of Osama bin Laden, in which an ex-U.S. intelligence official says that the Hillary Clinton White House rejected 35 targets because they were “insufficiently painful to the Assad regime.” Later, the Hillary Clinton White House put forth a target list that included, among other things civilian infrastructure.

“What would the toll to civilians have been if the White House’s proposed strike had been carried out?”

In response, Hersh said that he U.S. “tradition” had been to ignore civilian casualties, and he presumed that the tradition would continue under Hillary Clinton.

“U.S. attacks are okay or even desired (so as to terrorize the population into surrender) – not an ‘issue’, except, perhaps, for the PR people.”

When asked why Obama and Hillary Clinton are so “obsessed” with replacing Assad in Syria, the answer was not forthcoming.

“Nobody could figure out why. Our policy has always been against him [Assad]. Period.”

This White House policy came long before Hillary Clinton. Indeed, since the Ba’ath Party in 1957, Assad’s party has been the subject of a CIA coup. Why? To enable an oil pipeline for the democratic (and Hillary Clinton) favorites, the Saudi’s through Syria. Before Hillary Clinton’s decades-old plan could come to fruition; however, a multitude of Syrian coups took place.

Despite the efforts of the Hillary Clinton State Department and the Barrack Obama White House, the Trans-Arabia pipeline still doesn’t exist.

However, Obama, via Hillary Clinton, is the first U.S. president to serious tried to push for the long-anticipated Syrian regime change that would be required for the pipeline to come to pass.

The issue has drawn Russia into the most substantial conflict with the U.S. since the Cold War, all under Hillary Clinton’s leadership of the State Department.

“The US is allied with the Saud family (and with their friends, the royal families of Qatar, Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain, and Oman). Russia is allied with the leaders of Syria – as Russia had earlier been allied with Mossadegh in Iran, Arbenz in Guatemala, Allende in Chile, Hussein in Iraq, Gaddafi in Libya, and Yanukovych in Ukraine (all of whom except Syria’s Ba’ath Party, the US has successfully overthrown).”

Maybe Hersh was incorrect to proclaim that “nobody could figure out why” Obama (and previously Hillary Clinton) were so obsessed with overthrowing Assad. According to Hersh, they have all been hired to do specific jobs. Jobs that remained the same after the Warsaw Pact was disbanded.

“Hersh then said that Obama wanted to fill Syria with foreign jihadists to serve as the necessary ground forces for his planned aerial bombardment there, and, ‘if you wanted to go there and fight there in 2011-2013, Go, go, go… overthrow Bashar!’ So, they actually pushed a lot of people [jihadists] to go. I don’t think they were paying for them but they certainly gave visas.”

However, Hillary Clinton’s America is not required to ally so closely with her Middle Eastern allies.

Rather, the support of the U.S. government to the Syrian rebels is solely at the behest of Hillary Clinton and her friends. If things go right, the Hillary Clinton-supporting aristocrats in the U.S. will be both supplying salaries for jihadists and walking off with a substantial profit.

As CNN reports, Ted Cruz dropped out of the 2016 presidential race tonight. It looks like it’s going to be a contest between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Do you really want a U.S. president in 2017 that is conspiring with our enemies, as Hillary Clinton is reportedly doing?

Posted in USA, SyriaComments Off on Did Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton Approve Sending Sarin Gas to Syrian Rebels?

Reading Marx’s Capital Today: Lessons from Latin America

south america

This paper was presented at the International conference 150 years Karl Marx’s Capital – Reflections for the 21st century held in Athens, Greece on January 14-15, 2017. Organized by the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung – Athens Office in cooperation with Theseis, the conference discussed the actuality of Marx’s theoretical system of the critique of political economy 150 years on from the publication of CapitalVolume I.

The video of this presentation is available on YouTube. This article first published by Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal.

It reproduces much of what I have outlined in my book A World to Build. New Paths Toward Twenty‑First Century Socialism, Monthly Review Press, New York, 2015.

1. One hundred and fifty years ago, Karl Marx published his book Capital, an intellectual effort of great breadth, with the aim of revealing the logic of capitalist production and providing workers with theoretical instruments for their liberation. Having discovered the logic of the system, he was able to foresee with great anticipation much of what is happening in the world capitalist economy today. But, we cannot mechanically apply what is outlined in Capital to the current reality of Latin America.

2. As Marx explained in the preface to the first edition, the goal of his research was not to study a concrete social formation; England was only taken as an illustrative example of the most advanced concrete expression of capitalist production at that time.

3. Marx’s major intellectual effort was directed to studying “the capitalist mode of production and the forms of intercourse that correspond to it,” in order “to lay bare the economic law of motion of modern society.” That is why “it is not a question of the higher or lower degree of development of the social antagonisms that springs out from the natural laws of capitalist production. It is a question of these laws themselves […].”

4. We must be able to distinguish between the study of the capitalist mode of production, a theoretical abstract object, and the concrete historical study of a social formation and the study of the class struggles within it. Not keeping in mind these different levels of abstraction and applying Marx’s concepts mechanically as if reality has not changed over the last 150 years, led many of our Latin American Marxist intellectuals and activists to try to insert our reality in the classic concepts, thereby preventing them from understanding the new phenomena occurring in our region outside those parameters.

5. The object of this paper is to look at these new phenomena and to carry out some reflections on what has happened in our region in the last decades, looking at the ways they approach and differ from what Marx outlined in Capital.

I. Latin America: Pioneer in the Rejection of Neoliberalism

6. Today, when there is a growing rejection of neoliberalism in the world, we should remember that Latin America was the first region to implement neoliberal policies. Chile, my country, was used as a testing ground for neoliberal policies before Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s government implemented them in the United Kingdom. But it was also the first region in the world after the collapse of socialism in Eastern Europe and the USSR, that gradually came to reject these policies that only served to increase poverty, aggravate social inequalities, destroy the environment, and weaken working class and popular movements in general.

Horrors of neoliberalism

7. Our situation in the 1980s and 1990s was in some way comparable to that experienced by pre-revolutionary Russia in the beginning of the twentieth century. What the imperialist war and its horrors were for Russia, neoliberalism and its horrors was for Latin America. In these circumstances, our peoples said “Enough!” and began to struggle, resisting at first, and then going on the offensive, making possible the victory of left-wing presidential candidates with anti-neoliberal programs in our region.

Popular movements: the main protagonists. The labour movement: the great absentee

8. We can say that in each and every country, albeit in different ways, popular movements, and not political parties, were at the forefront of the struggle, especially rural and indigenous movements. The disastrous effects of neoliberalism led them in many cases to shift their focus from isolated issues to national matters, which not only enriched their struggles and demands but also enabled them to call on support from highly diverse social sectors, all of them negatively affected by that same system.

* Hit by neoliberal measures

9. Missing in much of the Latin American political scene, was the traditional workers’ movement.

10. This was due in great measure to the implementation of neoliberal economic measures such as precarious labour conditions and subcontracting and its strategy of social fragmentation that divided the working class internally.[1] Nevertheless we cannot deny that ideological differences and the personalism of their leadership also contributed.

* Domestication through debt

11. Another form of weakening the working class has been the promotion of consumerism. In making the superfluous a necessity[2](something intrinsic to capitalist development, as Marx points out in Capital) and in promoting credit loan, a new “mechanism of domestication” was created.[3]

12. As Tomas Moulián, a Chilean sociologist, says, “indebtedness” worsens the panic of losing employment and is therefore an important “factor of social demobilization.”[4]

A mechanical application of the structure of classes in Capital

13. The critical emphasis placed on the industrial working class led Marxists to pay no attention to the specific characteristics of the continent’s revolutionary social subject, ignoring the reflections that had been carried out in this respect by Latin American thinkers such as Jose Mariátegui and Haya de la Torre. For many years we were not able to perceive the role that indigenous people and Christians can play in revolutions in Latin America.

14. We applied, in a very mechanical way, the categories of classes employed by Marx in Capital to our reality in Latin America, not knowing about his later analyses regarding Russia’s situation, where he could verify the important role played by peasants in a country where the industrial working class was a minority.

A wider concept of the revolutionary subject

15. It was the Salvadoran guerrilla’s commandant, Schafik Jorge Handal, general secretary of Communist Party of that country, who indicated in the ’80s that the industrial working class couldn’t be considered the only revolutionary social sector, that new social sectors should also be considered revolutionary subjects.

II. Actual Correlation of Forces

Changes in Latin America’s political landscape

16. We all know Latin America’s political landscape has been radically altered since Hugo Chávez was elected in 1998. Within a few years, progressive or left candidates were elected in most of the region’s countries.

17. A new correlation of forces has been established that makes it more difficult for the United States to achieve its objectives in the region.

18. But, as could be expected, the U.S. government has never ceased in its intents to stop the advance of our processes, intents that have achieved some important temporary successes in this last few years. Taking advantage of the big economic difficulties arising because of the world crisis of capitalism, and especially the drop in the prices of our raw materials, ultra neoliberal rulers had been installed in Argentina and Brazil and they are trying to block the advances of the Bolivarian revolution. Nobody can deny that the correlation of forces today is not as favourable as it was a few years ago. [Ed.: see Bullet No. 1293.]


19. In our region, we have governments of a very different type. A minority defend neoliberalism, but it is a minority with significant economic and political weight. The majority are progressive or leftist that are looking for alternative solutions to this system.

20. These last governments, even though very different from each other, have at least four identical planks in their platforms: the struggles for social equality, for political democratization, for national sovereignty, and for regional integration.

21. We can divide them into governments that, without breaking with neoliberal policies, emphasize social issues (until recently Brazil and Argentina), and those governments that are trying to break with neoliberal policies using the support of popular mobilization (Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador).

III. Chávez’s Role


22. It was Hugo Chávez who had the courage to call this alternative to capitalism – socialism, in spite of its negative connotations. He called it Twenty-First Century Socialism, adding the adjective twenty-first century to differentiate this new socialism from the errors and deviations that occurred in implementing twentieth-century socialism. This new socialism should not fall into “the errors of the past” and commit the same “Stalinist deviations” whereby the party became bureaucratized and ended up eliminating popular protagonism.

Popular protagonism

23. The need for popular protagonism was a recurring theme in the Venezuelan president’s speeches and was an element that distinguished his proposals for democratic socialism from others where the state solves problems and the people are accustomed to receiving benefits like a gift.

24. He was convinced that socialism could not be decreed from above; that it was necessary to build it with the people. And, like Marx, he understood that protagonistic participation is what allows human beings to grow and achieve self-confidence, to develop themselves as human beings and build a new life.


25. I always remember the first “Theoretical Aló Presidente,” broadcast on television and radio on June 11, 2009, where he quoted at length from a letter that Peter Kropotkin – the Russian anarchist – wrote to Lenin on March 4, 1920.

“Without the participation of local forces, without an organization from below of the peasants and workers themselves, it is impossible to build a new life.

“It would seem that the Soviets were going to fulfill precisely this function of creating an organization from below. But Russia has already become a Soviet Republic in name only. The party’s influence over people has already destroyed the influence and constructive energy of this promising institution – the Soviets.”[5]

Chávez coined the term “twenty-first century socialism”

26. We can say, without a doubt, that Chávez was the person who coined the phrase “Twenty-First Century Socialism.” I say he “coined” it in the sense that he was responsible for popularizing the name, because some authors had already used it, for example, the Chilean sociologist, Tomas Moulián, in his book Twenty-First Century Socialism: The Fifth Way, which was published in 2000.

27. Conscious of the negative baggage that came with the term, the Bolivarian leader decided to explain to his people, via numerous public interventions, all the benefits that this new society would bring them, contrasting this with the situation created by capitalism. His pedagogical efforts were so successful that, according to polls before Chávez’s death, more than half of the Venezuelan population preferred socialism to capitalism.

What to understand about twenty-first century socialism

28. When we use the term Twenty-First Century Socialism we are thinking of a humanist and solidarian society, with full popular protagonism. A society that applies an ecologically sustainable model of development. A model that satisfies in an equal way the population’s true necessities and not the artificial necessities created by capitalism in its campaign to obtain more profit. A society in which the organized people decide what, how much and how to produce.

29. As we will see later on, many of these ideas recover Marx’s original thought, synthetically expressed in some lines of Capital and expanded in later works.

30. Chávez was not naive, as some might think. He knew that the forces opposed to this project were tremendously powerful. However, being a realist does not mean one must accept the conservative vision of politics that sees it as simply the art of the possible. For Chávez, the art of politics was to make the impossible possible, not by sheer willpower, but by taking the existing reality as one’s starting point and working to build favourable conditions and a correlation of social forces capable of changing that reality. He knew that to make possible in the future what today appears impossible required changing the correlation of forces at both the national and the international level. While in government, he worked masterfully to achieve this, understanding that to build political power, agreements among top leaders were not enough. The most important task was building up social forces.

31. The Venezuelan leader understood that an alternative society to capitalism simultaneously required an alternative globalization to neoliberal globalization. He never sought to build socialism in one country. Chávez was completely clear that this was not possible, which is why he put such an emphasis on shifting the correlation of forces at both the regional and international level.

IV. A Transition Starting with the Conquest of Government

Transition in advanced countries

32. The most common interpretation of Marxism up until the Russian Revolution maintained that socialism would start with the more advanced countries, where capitalism itself had created the material and cultural conditions for it, as Marx himself outlined in Capital: the concentration of capital every day into fewer and fewer hands contrasts with the ever greater “socialization of labour,” the huge development of the productive forces, “the conscious technical application of science, the planned exploitation of the soil,” “the entanglement of all peoples in the net of the world market, and, with this, the growth of the international character of the capitalist regime,” “a [working] class constantly increasing in numbers, and trained, united and organized by the very mechanism of the capital process of production,” a growing contradiction between productive forces / relations of production, collective work.[6]

33. This situation should lead, according to Marx, to a revolutionary conquest of state power that was thought to be the sine qua non that would make it possible to expropriate the expropriators, arriving at “cooperation and possession in common of the land and the means of production produced by labour itself.”[7]

34. This idea of transition – which never actually took place – has been used as an argument against Marx, but this only reflects that those who raise this issue have not read his later writings, in which he modified his initial vision and began to focus much more on the political, rather than economic, conditions for revolution.

35. In his September 27, 1877 letter to Friedrich Adolph Sorge, Marx maintained: “This time the revolution will begin in the East.” Why did he say this? Due to the political situation he could see brewing in Russia at the time, everything seemed to indicate that a war between Russia and Turkey would break out, and that the Russian government would be defeated, with grave economic and political consequences flowing out of this defeat.[8]

36. But Marx not only foresaw the possibility of political revolution in a backward country; he also saw the possibilities arising out of the tradition of collective property in the countryside, which could provide the basis for a transition from the commune to socialism that bypassed a period of capitalist agriculture.[9]

Transition in underdeveloped countries

37. History demonstrated that Marx was right. The construction of socialism did not begin in advanced capitalist countries that had a large and experienced industrial working class but in countries where capitalist development was only just beginning, whose population was predominantly peasant, and whose working class was a minority of the population.

38. Why did it happen like that? Because political conditions out-stripped economic conditions.

39. The outcome of the February 1917 Russian Revolution was considered by Lenin to be “the first stage of the first of the proletarian revolutions which are the inevitable result of war.” According to Lenin, it was the horrors of the imperialist war that led to these proletarian insurrections and these evils could only be cured if the proletariat took power in Russia and adopted measures that, even if not yet socialist, were steps toward socialism.

40. And, as I already said, something like this happened in Latin America.

The institutional road to socialism: a difficult transition

41. In Latin America the transition process is occurring under very different social conditions to those imagined by Marx in Capital and – even though there are some similarities – very different to those of the Russian revolution.

42. Chávez perceived early on the particularities of this transition process that he initiated in his country, and which was to become a precursor of similar processes in other countries in Latin America. Among them, that they had only been able to conquer government and not all state power, and that because of this the process of transition would begin with an inherited state apparatus with characteristics that were functional to the capitalist system, not the advancement of socialism.

43. Nevertheless, practice has demonstrated that – contrary to the theoretical dogmatism of some sectors of the radical left – you can use this inherited state and transform it into an instrument that collaborates with building the new society.

44. But this is only possible if two conditions are met. First, state institutions run by revolutionary cadres willing to adopt measures to transform these institutions. Second, an organized popular movement able to control its actions and to press for that transformation.

Changing the rules of the game

45. But we must be clear that this does not mean we can simply limit ourselves to using the inherited state. It is necessary to build the foundations of a new institutional body and of a new political system.

46. And a first step for achieving this goal is changing the rules of the institutional game. Therein lies the importance of the constituent processes that occurred in Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia and enshrined those new rules in new constitutions.

47. I am convinced that it is not possible to build socialism via the peaceful road without carrying out a constituent process. But this does not mean that we can deal with this issue in a voluntaristic manner. It only makes sense to promote a process of this type once revolutionary forces believe they can obtain the electoral support required to ensure the approval of the necessary changes. It makes no sense to promote a constituent process if the end result is the approval of a new institutional framework that will act as an obstacle to change.

48. This was precisely why the Popular Unity (UP) in Chile decided against convoking a constituent assembly: they were unsure they could win. But I have always wondered, what would have happened if we had pushed our forces to the limit and gone door-to-door promoting this issue? It is important to remember that when the opposition in Venezuela proposed a recall referendum as a means to remove Chávez from power, the polls indicated they had a majority, and that there was a real risk that the vote against Chávez would win. Nevertheless, Chávez decided to accept the challenge and campaigned hard to build a correlation of forces capable of ensuring his victory.

49. That is why I have asked myself, what are the possibilities for converting the generalized discontent that exists among Chileans today toward the current institutional framework – something the youth of my country have so brilliantly exposed with their struggles – into a demand for a constituent assembly that no politician could oppose, if we were to tap into this discontent by carrying out a consciousness-raising campaign on this issue, going door-to-door, classroom to classroom, workplace to workplace?

Create new institutions (missions)

50. Apart from changing the rules of the institutional game, it is necessary to look for unexplored roads to confront the inherited bureaucratic apparatus. To provide medical assistance to the most neglected sectors, Chávez decided to create institutions to run programs outside of the old state apparatus. This was the objective of the different social missions created by the government: health, education, distribution of essential products on lower prices, etc.

51. For example, the Ministry of Health’s bureaucratic apparatus was not able to respond to the healthcare demands of the very poor who lived in far away places or areas that are hard to get to, such as the poor neighbourhoods located on hillsides in Caracas, small rural towns, etc.

52. Where did that inability come from?

53. On one hand, because doctors working in the inherited health system didn’t want to go to these places – they weren’t really interested in providing healthcare; their aim was to make money. Additionally, they were not prepared to provide the type of healthcare that was needed, since they were basically educated as specialists and not as general practitioners.

54. While a new generation of Venezuelan doctors was being educated to meet this demand, the government decided to create Misión Barrio Adentro, building medical clinics in the cerros (hillsides) and barrios (shanty towns) to provide basic healthcare to the poorest people. The government sought the collaboration of Cuban doctors to help them in this endeavour. The Misión has had such positive results and an excellent reception from the Venezuelan people that the opposition is now saying in their electoral campaigns that it will keep the missions but will make them much more efficient.

Transform inherited institutions (the military)

55. The government is not only capable of creating new institutions more suited to the new tasks; it is also capable – up to a point – of transforming the inherited state apparatus, for example, the armed institution.

56. And a factor that can help very much in this sense is a new constitution that enshrines in its articles new ways for organizing society and establishes a new social order that serves the majority of the population, not the elites. Such a constitution can ensure that the natural wealth of a country, previously ceded to transnational companies, returns to state hands. It can ensure the construction of independent and sovereign states in which different forms of popular protagonism are promoted. And as one of the functions of the armed forces is to defend the order of a country, by defending this new order, they will thus be defending the homeland and the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population, not the interests of the elites.

57. That is what happened in Venezuela. The new constitution became an important ally of the process, because defending the constitution means nothing if not defending the changes undertaken by the Chávez government. It was this constitution that allowed the majority of the Venezuelan military to rebel against the coup-supporting officers and decide to disobey the orders of their superiors.

58. For reasons of time I cannot expand here on a series of other measures for transforming important state institutions.

V. Other Important Tasks and the Problems that Emerge

1. Changing the relations of production

59. These governments are capable of going about implementing a coherent strategy toward changing the relations of production, materializing Marx’s idea that the producers of social wealth are the ones who should take their destiny into their own hands.

What to understand by social wealth?

60. But, what do we mean by social wealth?[10] Marx argued there were only two sources of wealth: nature and human labour, this last one being the most decisive. Without its intervention, the potential wealth contained in nature would never be able to become real wealth.[11]

61. Marx noticed that along with “living human labour,” there is also what the author of Capital called “dead labour.” The labour embodied in the tools, machines, improvements made to land, and, of course, intellectual and scientific discoveries that substantially increased social productivity are a legacy passed down from generation to generation; they are a social heritage – a wealth of the people.

62. But who owns this wealth, these social assets? Capitalism, through a process of mystification, has convinced us that the rightful owners of this wealth are the capitalists. Socialism, by contrast, begins by recognizing that wealth incorporating the labour of generations is a social heritage; it does not belong to specific people or specific countries, and because of that must be used in the interests of society as a whole rather than to serve private interests.

63. The question is: how do we ensure this happens? The only way is to de-privatize these resources, transforming them into social property.

From state property to collective property
State property: only a juridical change

64. But, social property is not the same as state property. During the initial phase of socialism, the placement of the principal means of production in state hands represents nothing more than a juridical change of property; the process of labour suffers very few variations. The alienated status of the workers in the production process remains unchanged, the subordination to an external force – the new socialist managers – continues. This is formally collective property, because the state represents society, but real appropriation (ownership) is still not collective.

65. That is why Engels argues:

“State ownership of the productive forces is not the solution of the conflict, but concealed within it are the technical conditions that form the elements of that solution. This solution can only consist in the practical recognition of the social nature of the modern forces of production, and therefore in the harmonizing of the mode of production, appropriation and exchange with the socialized character of the means of production. And this can only come about by society openly and directly taking possession of the productive forces which have outgrown all control, except that of society as a whole.”[12]

66. This is what Marx conceived of as the exercise of a “conscious and planned control.”[13]

Participatory planning: How society takes possession of social wealth

67. These ideas exposed by Marx and Engels were interpreted in twentieth-century socialism as the necessity of a central authority to fix goals and the means by which to reach them, coordinating from above all efforts to build the new society. This led to bureaucratic planning that ignored people’s needs.

68. The process of planning in twenty-first century socialism should have a very different focus. It should be an eminently participatory process where the people in their neighbourhoods and in their work places lead the process.

69. It is here that Pat Devine’s contribution seems important to me. He distinguishes different levels of participation in relation to the different levels of social ownership. Each level is associated with those “affected by decisions over the use of the assets involved, in proportion to the extent to which they are affected.”

70. According to this logic, a bakery that produces bread and sweets for a given geographic area (for example, a commune), whose workers live in that area and whose raw material also comes from nearby farmers within the local area, should be owned by that commune. It makes no sense for that bakery to be owned by the nation as a whole.

71. In contrast, in the case of a strategic sector such as oil, it would be absurd for the oil workforce to claim ownership of a resource that belongs to all inhabitants of the country (or even to humanity as a whole). The surplus that is produced cannot only be dedicated to improve the conditions of their workers’ lives, but rather it should also be dedicated to new investments in the company, to support the development of the communities, and, as a wealth that belongs to the whole nation, a significant part of that surplus should contribute to the national budget. The legal ownership of this enterprise should be in the hands of the state; the effective possession or control of the process of production should be in the hands of the enterprise’s workers; but the destination of the product, once investments and labour remuneration have been deducted, should be defined by society as a whole.

72. I share with Pat Devine the idea that the actors in participatory planning will vary according to the different levels of social ownership. In the case of the community bakery, decisions on how much to produce, with what raw materials, what quality, what variety, when the product should be ready, how to distribute it, how much to invest in maintaining or expanding the enterprise, etc., should be made not only by those who work in the bakery but also by the people who produce the raw material used and by the consumers of bread and sweets in the little town.

73. Although the oil workers should participate in the management of the process of production of their company, decisions concerning reinvestment, new investment, marketing, the destination of the rest of the surplus, etc., must involve the entire society. In both cases, the local society or the national society should be present through its various representatives or spokespersons.

74. I am convinced that the process of participatory planning is an instrument for ensuring that property that has legally passed into the hands of the state (one of the central characteristics of socialism) is transformed into real social property. The modalities will depend on the level of social property.

Strategy for changing the relations of production

75. If we understand that changing the relation of production does not mean simply placing companies into the hands of the state; that it is not simply about a juridical change of property ownership to new owners (the popular state), we will understand that it is not an easy task. To change the relations of production means to change attitudes and ideas[14] and these changes cannot be carried out from one day to the next. It is a complex process that requires time.

76. It is therefore necessary to design a coherent strategy aimed at transforming the existing relations of productions into the new relations that are the hallmark of twenty-first century socialism. The steps to be taken and the speed with which these can be implemented will depend on the starting point and on the existing balance of forces.

77. To explain this more clearly, I have listed below some of the steps that will have to be taken – following the lead of Michael Lebowitz – when dealing with state-owned companies, when dealing with cooperatives, and when dealing with capitalist companies.

State companies

78. It goes without saying that the easiest transition is the one that can take place in state companies, since these are formally owned by society in general and are explicitly directed toward serving the interests of society.

79. In such companies it will be possible to move from formal ownership to real appropriation by:

  • creating workers’ council that allow workers to play a part in running the company;
  • organizing production to satisfy communal needs;
  • opening the books and ensuring complete transparency, thereby allowing workers to exercise a social accounting function and combat waste, corruption, and bureaucratic interest;
  • electing managers who share this vision and who have the trust of the workers;
  • applying a new type of efficiency in these companies that, as productivity improves, makes it possible for the workers to achieve more and more human development (introducing a workday that includes time for worker education so involvement in management is truly effective and not merely formal), and also respects the environment.

80. According to Michael Lebowitz, it is possible that specific companies that follow this type of social policy may not initially be profitable, but because these policies can be thought of as social investment, all of society should cover their costs.


81. Cooperatives must be encouraged to overcome their narrow focus on the interests of the group that makes up the cooperative. How can this be achieved? One way to do it is to develop organic links with the rest of society.

82. In order to do this it is important to encourage:

  • forging links between cooperatives so they relate to each other in a cooperative and not a competitive way. In some cases it might be possible to integrate their activities directly without them being separated by commercial operations, and
  • forging relations between cooperatives and the communities. This is the best way to begin to move away from the private interests of each cooperative and focus on the interests and needs of people in general.

Capitalist companies

83. It may be possible to gradually transform capitalist companies by finding various ways to subordinate their economic activity to the interests of the national economic plan. Michael Lebowitz has called this “socialist conditionality.”

84. These measures could include:

  • demanding transparency and open books so communities and workers can inspect them;
  • using a system of prices and taxes that obliges companies to transfer a portion of their surpluses to other sectors of the economy, thus making it possible to set up new companies or to improve social services for the population;
  • using competition with state companies or subsidized cooperatives to oblige the capitalist companies to lower their prices and reduce their profits;
  • using government regulations that require companies to transform the workday so that a given number of hours is set aside for educating workers, and requiring them to implement specific ways for workers to participate in decision-making about how the company will be run.

85. But why would capitalist companies accept such impositions if they can move to other parts of the world where these costs do not exist? They might be willing to do so if the owners have a strong patriotic consciousness and if the revolutionary government rewards their collaboration with the national development plan by giving them easy credit from state banks and by guaranteeing that state companies or the state itself will purchase their products at prices acceptable to them. That is, the state can use its power to change the rules of the game under which capitalist companies can survive.

86. But if the government’s aim is to begin to move toward a society without exploiters and exploited, why design a strategy to incorporate capitalist companies into the national plan, if they continue to exploit workers?

87. The reason is very simple: the state is not capable of running all of these companies overnight. It has neither the economic resources nor the managerial experience needed. Nevertheless, we must never lose sight of the fact that capitalist companies placed in this situation are continually going to try to reduce the burden of the aforementioned “socialist conditionality.” At the same time, the revolutionary government, with the cooperation of workers and communities, will try to introduce more and more socialist features into these companies. There will therefore be a process of class struggle in which some will try to recover lost ground by returning to the capitalist past and others will try to continue to replace capitalist logic with a humanist, solidarity-based logic that makes it possible for all human beings to fully develop.

88. In general, we must strive to ensure that ownership of the means of production becomes increasingly social, while also ensuring that small-scale private property is allowed to exist.

2. A development model that respects nature

89. Another important task our governments face is implementing an economic development model that is not based on the indiscriminate exploitation of natural resources – as Marx points out in Capital[15] – but instead seeks to gradually re-establish the necessary harmonic metabolism between humans and nature.

Overcome poverty and respect nature

90. This is far from an easy task. The big dilemma our countries face is how to raise our people out of poverty and attend to their basic needs, while respecting nature. To aim for some kind of “zero growth,” as some propose, and to avoid the consumption of polluting energy and its degrading consequences for the environment, would mean enshrining existing inequalities between rich and poor countries, that is, between developed societies that have reached a high standard of living and the majority of humanity that are a long way from reaching those conditions. It is much easier to ask others to stop growing if one’s own needs are already satisfied.

91. I believe that in order for a fruitful debate to occur on this topic we should accept two facts. The first is that we should begin by recognizing that human beings have had to extract from nature since the dawn of time and that there is every likelihood that they will have to continue doing so, to one degree or another. The problem is not whether or not to extract but how to extract in a way that maintains what Marx termed the healthy metabolism between humankind and nature. The first inhabitants of the planet extracted fruit from trees, fish from the seas, etc., but in those times and in later centuries they extracted from nature in a manner that maintained that healthy metabolism. However, when the capitalist system arose, the profit motive inherent to it led it to prioritize the exploitation of nature to the maximum regardless of the effects its economic activity had on nature, thereby destroying the healthy metabolism that had existed previously. In this context, more and more is extracted, and natural resources are becoming depleted, with all the additional consequences that this behaviour has on climate change.

92. My second point is that in order to be able to initiate a productive debate, I think it is essential to understand that the resources located in a particular territory – minerals, petroleum, gas, aquifer springs, forest reserves – should not be considered resources that belong to the inhabitants of those places. The oil in Venezuela and Ecuador, the gas in Bolivia, and copper in Chile are gifts from heaven. They are resources that belong to society as a whole, so it is society as a whole that should decide whether to extract or not. Of course it is necessary to engage in serious dialogue with those who live in the area to ensure that their concerns are addressed and their needs met to the best of our ability. But they need to understand that interests are at stake in such situations that transcend those of particular communities.

The need for a different kind of development

93. If we can agree on the two previous points, then we need to look at concrete proposals for how to use our natural resources under today’s prevailing circumstances in order to advance, little by little, toward building an economic development model that allows us to re-establish that healthy metabolism between human beings and nature.

94. It is therefore not about saying no to development, but instead “conceiving and making reality genuinely human models of development,” those that satisfy “in an equal way the necessities of their inhabitants without putting in danger the satisfaction of the necessities of the future generations,” a society in which it is the organized people who decide what is produced and how it is produced.

95. In this sense our governments have made advances and taken some significant steps in this regard. Nevertheless, we should recognize that there is still a big gap between the discourse and practical steps taken so far. But, at least, they have demonstrated that there is an intention of advancing in that sense.

96. An important step has been to use extractive resources to tackle poverty. By doing so we are also creating better environmental conditions, because in many cases, poverty is a big contributing factor to environmental degradation. Illegal logging for firewood to use in cooking and to keep warm is one of the clearest examples of this.

Popular participation in the defence of the environment

97. As the challenge is enormous and the temptations are many I find very interesting what the Bolivian constitution proposes in terms of “popular action” against any violation or threat to a series of rights, including among them, those of the environment.[16] It also proposes the creation of a tribunal dedicated exclusively to agro-environmental issues.[17] Authorities to this tribunal were elected by the people in unprecedented elections held in October 2011.

3. Government actions should always consider the double product of every human activity

Transforming nature and transforming oneself

98. We have said that one of the fundamental characteristics of twenty-first century socialism is that it cannot be decreed from above but rather it has to be built by the people.

99. Again here we find Marx’s original thought. He affirmed that not only does labour transform nature but, at the same time, it transforms the person that executes that labour.[18] Whereas the worker is alienated and crushed in the case of capitalism,[19] the society of associate producers will allow a higher form of society, a society in which “the full and free development of every individual [is] the ruling principle.”[20]

100. Michael Lebowitz has widely explored this idea in a number of his books dedicated to the issue of twenty-first century socialism. He has identified the relationship between human development and revolutionary practice as the “key link” in Marx. According to him[21] every human activity has two products: “both the change in the object of labour and the change in the labourer herself.”[22]

101. Sharing his perspectives, I prefer to speak of a material, objective product (the object produced), and a subjective or human product (the change in the person that carries out that work or that practice).

102. Given I previously referred to the very important role participatory planning plays in the construction of socialism, I wanted to use this example to illustrate the idea of the double product. When the inhabitants of a community design their community plan, this activity results in a double product. The first product is the plan itself, which is an objective, material product that has been elaborated in a participatory manner and is tangible in the sense that it is there for all to see. The second is a subjective, spiritual product that is much less tangible and can only be seen through discerning eyes. It is the transformation of the people, their growth as human beings, which occurs as a result of their involvement in this process.

103. This is an educational process in which those that participate learn to enquire about the causes of things, to respect the opinion of others, to understand that the problems they face are not exclusive to their street or neighborhood but are related to the overall situation of the economy, the national social situation, and even the international situation. They learn that everyone’s problems and every community’s problems should be examined within the context of the reality that other people and other communities face, which may be much more difficult and urgent than theirs. Through this, new relations of solidarity and complementarity are created that place an emphasis on the collective rather than the individual.

104. All this means that those who participate in this process are politicized, in the broader sense of the term, and develop an independent mind that can no longer be manipulated by a media that remains overwhelmingly in the hands of the opposition.

105. When people become involved in the planning process, they grow as human beings; it gives them dignity, it increases their self-esteem and broadens their knowledge on political, cultural, social, economic and environmental issues. And most importantly, they no longer feel like beggars demanding solutions from the state. They become the creators of their own destiny and the destiny of their communities.

106. This subjective product is what the technocrats never keep in mind. They prefer perfect documents to those of smaller quality but that have the merit of having been made by the people.

107. I believe that after this explanation we can better understand why popular participation plays such a central role in twenty-first century socialism. Participation, protagonism in all spaces, is what allows people to grow, to win self-confidence, that is, to achieve full human development.

108. I find it interesting to note that the Bolivarian constitution (draft via a Constituent Assembly and approved in a referendum in 1999) is probably the only one of its kind in terms of drawing a direct relationship between protagonism and integral human development, both individual and collective.

109. How different would the current situation in Latin America be if our progressive governments had always had in their mind, in the different actions they have adopted, this idea of the double product; if instead of solving problems from above, they appealed to the participation of the people to solve them!

110. Unfortunately, many times technocratic vision has dominated: “If the top cadres have clear and right ideas, why lose time in discussions with the people, what matters is quick solutions.” They have never considered the subjective, human result obtained when they execute such actions. They have realized too late that without the participation of the people many measures have not achieved the prospective effectiveness and, what is worse, they have not prepared the people to defend the conquests; they have not created the capabilities for fighting new successful battles.

111. To conclude, Marx’s purpose in Capital – published 150 years ago – was to widely expose the logic in which the capitalist mode of production functions. He did so after dedicating years to investigating what was happening in the more advanced capitalist countries. But, as we know, he recognized a difference between the Western European path and the Russian path. Our purpose, as Latin American revolutionary activists, should be to develop a Latin American path for the construction of socialism, looking for solutions without the blinders of dogmatic Marxism.

112. Even though the objectives we intend to reach are identical to those briefly outlined by Marx in Capital, especially the one about seeking full human development, this, without a doubt, requires an original path. We are obliged, as Simón Rodríguez says, “to invent in order not to commit errors.” But to build a solid economic base that allows us to realize that full human development, we should also keep in mind the logic of the capitalist mode of production and its effects on the current world, as described by Marx in his masterpiece.


1. The number of workers in precarious, insecure jobs, and those excluded by the system, increases day by day. The industrial and mining working class has greatly diminished. The strategic companies subcontract many of the tasks that previously undertook, thereby vastly decreasing the weight of the labour force in strategic places, many of which have passed into the hands of foreign capitals.

2. Herbert Marcuse, El hombre unidimensional. Ensayo sobre la ideología de la sociedad industrial avanzada, Ed. Planeta/Agostini, Barcelona, 1993 (1ª ed. 1954) p. 39.

3. T. Moulián, Chile actual, anatomía de un mito, Ed. Arcis / LOM, Stgo de Chile, p.105.

4. Op. cit.

5. See: Kropotkin Letter to Lenin,” March 4, 1920.

6. Karl Marx, Capital, Volume I, Vintage Books, New York, 1977, p. 929. Marx adds: “The centralization of the means of production and the socialization of labour reach a point at which they become incompatible with their capitalist integument. This integument is burst asunder. The knell of capitalist private property sounds. The expropriators are expropriated.” (Ibidem).

7. Op. cit. p. 929.

8. Karl Marx, “Letter to Friedrich Adolph Sorge,” Londres, September 27, 1877 in: Marx and Engels, Selected Correspondence, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965, p.308.

9. On this topic see: Teodor Shanin and others, Late Marx and the Russian Road, Marx and the Peripheries of Capitalism, Monthly Review Press, New York, 1983.

10. Michael Lebowitz has an entire chapter dedicated to analyze this topic in his book: The Socialist Alternative: Real Human Development, Monthly Review Press, New York, Chapter 1: The wealth of people, pp. 31-45.

11. “Labour,” Marx said, “is the father of material wealth, the earth is the mother.” (Capital, Volume I. p. 134.

12. F. Engels, Socialism, Utopian and Scientific, p. 90.

13. Marx imagined “the material process of production” that will replace capitalism as “the production of free associated men [that] stands under their conscious and planned control” (Karl Marx, Capital, Volume I, 171), “[…] an association of free men, working with the means of production held in common, and expending there many different forms of labour‑power in full self awareness as one single social force. […] The total product of our imagined association is a social product. One part of this product serves as fresh means of production and remains social. But another part is consumed as means of subsistence. This part must be divided among them. Labour‑time would in that case play a double part. Its apportionment in accordance with the definitive social plan maintains the correct proportion between the different function of labour and the various needs of the associations. On the other hand, labour‑time also serves as a measure of the part taken by each individual in the common labour, and of his share in the part of the total product destined for individual consumption, […] (pp.171‑172) In the Critique of the Gotha Programme Marx will specify more the characteristics that this distribution should have.

14. Michael Lebowitz, “Building New Productive Relations Now,” in The Socialist Imperative, From Gotha to Now; Monthly Review Press, New York, 2015. Most of the ideas that I outline here are developed with more depth in this text.

15. “[…] all progress in capitalist agriculture recent progress in the art, not only of robbing the worker, but of robbing the soil; all progress in increasing the fertility of the soil for a given time is a progress toward winning the more long-lasting sources of that fertility. […] Capitalist production, therefore, only develops the techniques and the degree of combination of the social process of production by simultaneously undermining the original of sources of all what is wealth – the soil and the worker.” (Capital, Volume I, p. 638).

16. Article 135 of the Bolivian constitution proposes that the organized people can and should react via what the constitution calls “popular action” to any violation or threat against a series of rights, including among them, those of the environment.

17. Articles 187-190 allows for the creation of a tribunal dedicated exclusively to agro-environmental issues. Authorities to this tribunal were elected by the people in unprecedented elections held in October 2011 for the entire judicial system.

18. “[…] Through this movement he acts upon external nature and changed it, and in these way he simultaneously changes his own nature,” Karl Marx, Capital, Volume One, Op. cit, p. 383.

19. “[…] the capitalist transformation of the process of production also appears as a martyrology for the producer; the instruments of labour appear as a means of enslaving, exploiting, and impoverishing the worker; the social combination of labour process appears as an organized suppression of his individual vitality, freedom and autonomy.” (Capital, Volume I, p.638). In Chapter 15: Machinery and Large Scale Industry, Marx dedicates more than 150 pages to analyze the different effects capitalist system has had in the working class. (Op. cit. pp. 492-642).

20. Op. cit. p. 739.

21. See his book: The Socialist Alternative: Real Human Development, Monthly Review Press, New York, 2010, Chapter 2. The production of people, pp. 47‑63.

22. Op. cit. p. 52.

Posted in South AmericaComments Off on Reading Marx’s Capital Today: Lessons from Latin America

Turkey’s Euphrates Shield Military Intervention. Towards the Division of Northern Syria?

Document points to alleged military plot against Turkish government

On February 23, the Turkish Army and a coalition of pro-Turkish militant groups known as the Free Syrian Army (FSA) seized control of the key Syrian town of al-Bab. Al-Bab is located in the northern part of the Aleppo Province [about 36km northeast of Aleppo,  about 26km south of border with Turkey], and had been remaining under ISIS control for over 2 years.

At the same day, Chief of the Turkish General Staff Hulusi Akar announced the goals set at the beginning of the Euphrates Shield operation in Syria were achieved. On February 27, Ilnur Cevik, adviser to Turkish President Recep Erdogan made a contrary statement, announcing that Turkey will end its military operation in Syria after the town of Manbij is captured. While there are serious doubts that the Turkish involvement into the Syrian crisis would be limited, the capture of al-Bab became an important victory for Ankara.

Al-Bab’s strategic importance increased after the Syrian Democratic Forces, predominantly the Kurdish YPG, took Manbij which had served as an important ISIS logistical node for 2.5 years, helping transfer jihadists from Turkey to Syria and back, and also facilitating oil and arms shipments.

The Kurds also wanted to take Al-Bab to reassemble the fragmented Shahba canton (with a administrative center of Tal Rifaat and Manbij), consolidate the areas they control, and proclaim a Syrian Kurdistan as an independent country or a broad autonomy nominally within Syria.

In response, Turkey implemented Operation Euphrates Shield, with Turkish Army regular units and the FSA (Ahrar al-Sham, Sultan Murad Division, Jaysh al-Tahrir, al-Mu’tasim Brigade, Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement, Descendants of Saladin Brigade, Hamza Division) are advancing on the city from the North with artillery and air support provided by Turkey. The Operation Euphrates Shield was launched on August 24, 2016 and since then Turkey-led forces seized control of the key towns of Jarabulus, Al-Rai and al-Bab, securing the Al-Bab-Azaz-Jarabulus triangle. According to estimates in open sources, the operation involved over 4,000 Turkish troops and some 7,000 members of pro-Turkish militant groups. 71 member of the Turkish Armed Forces and 515 pro-Turkish militants have been killed since the start of the operation. In turn, about 2,300 ISIS militants were killed by Ankara-led forces according to pro-Turkish sources.

From the Turkish perspective, preventing a Kurdish autonomy or an independent state runs to national interest. Any such Kurdish entity at the Syrian-Turkish border would heighten ethnic tensions in Turkey and escalate Turkish Kurds’ armed campaign. Some experts believe that several possible agreement frameworks between Turkey and Syria have already been drafted that would divide northern part of Aleppo province into Turkish and Syrian spheres of influence, while preserving the de jure status quo. Moreover, in spite of its significant military potential and position, Turkey is either ready or forced to negotiate with Damascus as an equal partner. The so-called “Astana Talks” involving Turkey, Iran, Russia, Syria and a pro-Turkish part of the so-called “Syrian opposition” are a clear example of this situation.

The US strategy in the conflict is one of the reasons of the current Ankara attitude. While the US-led coalition clearly supports Kurdish YPG units in Syria, Washington can’t give Turkey ironclad guarantees that the Kurds won’t proclaim a Syrian Kurdistan since it doesn’t fully control the Kurds. The Supreme Kurdish Council (DBK) is split between the Kurdish National Council, which looks to Iraqi Kurds who are pro-US, and the Democratic Union (PYD) which is for broad autonomy within the Syrian state, but against a complete separation. However, the US cannot withdraw its support from the Syrian Kurds because in this case Washington will have no force to rely on the ground in Syria. Especially amid Trump’s promises to deliver a devastating blow to ISIS in Syria which mean the intensification of the campaign in Raqqah.

The most important battle right now is ongoing on the diplomatic level where Turkey, Iran, Syria, the US and Russia are struggling to find a common ground which should allow to defeat ISIS and to solve the crisis. At the first look, it seems that Syrian-Russian-Iranian alliance prevails. One must, however, remember Erdogan’s inconstancy, his expansionism, and the general style of Turkey’s foreign policy. Nobody can guarantee that now when Al Bab and much of Aleppo province is taken, the Turkish government will not step up its support of militants in other parts of the province, using the FSA and “moderates” as cover.  On February 26 and February 27, clashes between Turkish-backed militants and the Syrian army already took place near al-Bab. However, the full-scale escalation has not taken place yet. The military situation at the demarcation line between pro-Turkish and Syrian government forces will be a clear indication of the ongoing competition on the diplomatic level.

Posted in SyriaComments Off on Turkey’s Euphrates Shield Military Intervention. Towards the Division of Northern Syria?

Bosnia- Herzegovina “Referendum Caravan” against NATO and Euro-Atlantic Integration

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Activists of the opposition political forces and public organizations from Montenegro initiated a rally from Podgorica to Brussels. According to the organizer of the action, the head of the movement “Hopeless Resistance” Marco Milachich, the activists are to declare in front of the international community about the necessity of a referendum on the country’s accession to NATO.

The event “Referendum caravan” which was launched on February 20 will end on March 3. After Belgrade the activists still have to overcome the way to the capital of Belgium through the city of Banja Luka, Zagreb, Ljubljana, Vienna, Prague and Berlin.

One of the stop on the way to Brussels was the city in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Banja Luka is the capital of one of the two national entities within the country called the Republic of Srpska (RS). The Montenegrin opposition expected to get considerable support from the Serbian population, negatively related to the prospect of accession of Bosnia and Herzegovina to NATO.

According to the official position of Sarajevo, the most important issue of Bosnia and Herzegovina external policy is to create conditions for the early entry into NATO and the EU. This policy of Euro-Atlantic integration is welcomed in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, where 50-70 percent of the people support country’s membership in NATO. In the Srpska Republic, the vast majority of the population does not support the idea of accession.

The protests against the country accession to NATO have been held in Banja Luka before. Residents of city often gather on the main square, to remind of the bloody NATO military actions in Yugoslavia in 1999.

According to the leader of public patriotic organization of the Republic of Srpska “Our Serbia” Mladjan Djordjevic, the West is actively working to maintain artificial separatist movements inside the RC. Moreover, the West is providing active support for Sarajevo, to deprive Banja Luka sovereignty and the right to resist the policy of Bosnia and Herzegovina to join NATO. At the same time, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina actually lives on external funds. The corruption reaches colossal scales, and the authorities have become puppets of the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina.

However, despite the political pressure from the West and the official Sarajevo, the Srpska Republic, headed by its national leader Milorad Dodik, continues to protect its sovereignty and legitimacy. They actively supported the rally on February 24 in Banja Luka.

Posted in Bosnia, Croatia, SerbiaComments Off on Bosnia- Herzegovina “Referendum Caravan” against NATO and Euro-Atlantic Integration

1983 CIA Document Reveals Plan To Destroy Syria, Foreshadows Current Crisis


As the Syrian crisis enters its sixth year, the Donald Trump administration is looking more and more like the Obama administration every day. With the Trump regime refusing to open useful dialogue with Russia regarding Syria, its obvious anti-Iran and pro-Israel positioning, and support for a very questionable “safe zone” plan for Syria, the odds of a rational U.S. policy in regards to Syria has lower and lower odds of existence as time progresses.

Yet, despite the fact that the Trump administration is apparently poised to continue the Obama regime’s proxy war of aggression against the people of Syria, an example of seamless transition, it should also be remembered that the plan to destroy Syria did not begin with Obama but with the Bush administration.

Even now, as the world awaits the continuation of the Syrian war through a Democratic and Republican administration, the genesis of that war goes back to the Republican Bush administration, demonstrating that there is indeed an overarching agenda and an overarching infrastructure of an oligarchical deep state intent on moving forward regardless of which party is seemingly in power.

As journalist Seymour Hersh wrote in his article,The Redirection,”

To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has cooperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.

“Extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam” who are “hostile to America and sympathetic to al-Qaeda” are the definition of the so-called “rebels” turned loose on Syria in 2011. Likewise, the fact that both Iran and Hezbollah, who are natural enemies of al-Qaeda and such radical Sunni groups, are involved in the battle against ISIS and other related terrorist organizations in Syria proves the accuracy of the article on another level.

Hersh also wrote,

The new American policy, in its broad outlines, has been discussed publicly. In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that there is “a new strategic alignment in the Middle East,” separating “reformers” and “extremists”; she pointed to the Sunni states as centers of moderation, and said that Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah were “on the other side of that divide.” (Syria’s Sunni majority is dominated by the Alawi sect.) Iran and Syria, she said, “have made their choice and their choice is to destabilize.”

Some of the core tactics of the redirection are not public, however. The clandestine operations have been kept secret, in some cases, by leaving the execution or the funding to the Saudis, or by finding other ways to work around the normal congressional appropriations process, current and former officials close to the Administration said.

. . . . . .

This time, the U.S. government consultant told me, Bandar and other Saudis have assured the White House that “they will keep a very close eye on the religious fundamentalists. Their message to us was ‘We’ve created this movement, and we can control it.’ It’s not that we don’t want the Salafis to throw bombs; it’s who they throw them at—Hezbollah, Moqtada al-Sadr, Iran, and at the Syrians, if they continue to work with Hezbollah and Iran.”

. . . . . .

Fourth, the Saudi government, with Washington’s approval, would provide funds and logistical aid to weaken the government of President Bashir Assad, of Syria. The Israelis believe that putting such pressure on the Assad government will make it more conciliatory and open to negotiations. Syria is a major conduit of arms to Hezbollah.

. . . . .

In January, after an outburst of street violence in Beirut involving supporters of both the Siniora government and Hezbollah, Prince Bandar flew to Tehran to discuss the political impasse in Lebanon and to meet with Ali Larijani, the Iranians’ negotiator on nuclear issues. According to a Middle Eastern ambassador, Bandar’s mission—which the ambassador said was endorsed by the White House—also aimed “to create problems between the Iranians and Syria.” There had been tensions between the two countries about Syrian talks with Israel, and the Saudis’ goal was to encourage a breach. However, the ambassador said, “It did not work. Syria and Iran are not going to betray each other. Bandar’s approach is very unlikely to succeed.”. . . . . .

The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, a branch of a radical Sunni movement founded in Egypt in 1928, engaged in more than a decade of violent opposition to the regime of Hafez Assad, Bashir’s father. In 1982, the Brotherhood took control of the city of Hama; Assad bombarded the city for a week, killing between six thousand and twenty thousand people. Membership in the Brotherhood is punishable by death in Syria. The Brotherhood is also an avowed enemy of the U.S. and of Israel. Nevertheless, Jumblatt said, “We told Cheney that the basic link between Iran and Lebanon is Syria—and to weaken Iran you need to open the door to effective Syrian opposition.”

. . . . .

There is evidence that the Administration’s redirection strategy has already benefitted the Brotherhood. The Syrian National Salvation Front is a coalition of opposition groups whose principal members are a faction led by Abdul Halim Khaddam, a former Syrian Vice-President who defected in 2005, and the Brotherhood. A former high-ranking C.I.A. officer told me, “The Americans have provided both political and financial support. The Saudis are taking the lead with financial support, but there is American involvement.” He said that Khaddam, who now lives in Paris, was getting money from Saudi Arabia, with the knowledge of the White House. (In 2005, a delegation of the Front’s members met with officials from the National Security Council, according to press reports.) A former White House official told me that the Saudis had provided members of the Front with travel documents.

Hersh also spoke with Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the Shi’ite Lebanese militia, Hezbollah. In relation to the Western strategy against Syria, he reported,

Nasrallah said he believed that America also wanted to bring about the partition of Lebanon and of Syria. In Syria, he said, the result would be to push the country “into chaos and internal battles like in Iraq.” In Lebanon, “There will be a Sunni state, an Alawi state, a Christian state, and a Druze state.” But, he said, “I do not know if there will be a Shiite state.” Nasrallah told me that he suspected that one aim of the Israeli bombing of Lebanon last summer was “the destruction of Shiite areas and the displacement of Shiites from Lebanon. The idea was to have the Shiites of Lebanon and Syria flee to southern Iraq,” which is dominated by Shiites. “I am not sure, but I smell this,” he told me.

Partition would leave Israel surrounded by “small tranquil states,” he said. “I can assure you that the Saudi kingdom will also be divided, and the issue will reach to North African states. There will be small ethnic and confessional states,” he said. “In other words, Israel will be the most important and the strongest state in a region that has been partitioned into ethnic and confessional states that are in agreement with each other. This is the new Middle East.”

Yet, while even the connections between the plans to destroy Syria and the Bush administration are generally unknown, what is even less well-known is the fact that there existed a plan to destroy Syria as far back as 1983.

Documents contained in the U.S. National Archives and drawn up by the CIA reveal a plan to destroy the Syrian government going back decades. One such document entitled,Bringing Real Muscle To Bear In Syria,” written by CIA officer Graham Fuller, is particularly illuminating. In this document, Fuller wrote,

Syria at present has a hammerlock on US interests both in Lebanon and in the Gulf — through closure of Iraq’s pipeline thereby threatening Iraqi internationalization of the [Iran-Iraq] war. The US should consider sharply escalating the pressures against Assad [Sr.] through covertly orchestrating simultaneous military threats against Syria from three border states hostile to Syria: Iraq, Israel and Turkey.

Even as far back as 1983, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s father, Hafez Assad, was viewed as a gadfly to the plans of Western imperialists seeking to weaken both the Iraqis and the Iranians and extend hegemony over the Middle East and Persia. The document shows that Assad and hence Syria represented a resistance to Western imperialism, a threat to Israel, and that Assad himself was well aware of the game the United States, Israel, and other members of the Western imperialist coalition were trying to play against him. The report reads,

Syria continues to maintain a hammerlock on two key U.S. interests in the Middle East:

— Syrian refusal to withdraw its troops from Lebanon ensures Israeli occupation in the south;

— Syrian closure of the Iraqi pipeline has been a key factor in bringing Iraq to its financial knees, impelling it towards dangerous internationalization of the war in the Gulf

Diplomatic initiatives to date have had little effect on Assad who has so far correctly calculated the play of forces in the area and concluded that they are only weakly arrayed against him. If the U.S. is to rein in Syria’s spoiling role, it can only do so through exertion of real muscle which will pose a vital threat to Assad’s position and power.

The author then presents a plan that sounds eerily similar to those now being discussed publicly by Western and specifically American corporate-financier think tanks and private non-governmental organizations who unofficially craft American policy. Fuller writes,

The US should consider sharply escalating the pressures against Assad [Sr.] through covertly orchestrating simultaneous military threats against Syria from three border states hostile to Syria: Iraq, Israel and Turkey. Iraq, perceived to be increasingly desperate in the Gulf war, would undertake limited military (air) operations against Syria with the sole goal of opening the pipeline. Although opening war on a second front against Syria poses considerable risk to Iraq, Syria would also face a two-front war since it is already heavily engaged in the Bekaa, on the Golan and in maintaining control over a hostile and restive population inside Syria.

Israel would simultaneously raise tensions along Syria’s Lebanon front without actually going to war. Turkey, angered by Syrian support to Armenian terrorism, to Iraqi Kurds on Turkey’s Kurdish border areas and to Turkish terrorists operating out of northern Syria, has often considered launching unilateral military operations against terrorist camps in northern Syria. Virtually all Arab states would have sympathy for Iraq.

Faced with three belligerent fronts, Assad would probably be forced to abandon his policy of closure of the pipeline. Such a concession would relieve the economic pressure on Iraq, and perhaps force Iran to reconsider bringing the war to an end. It would be a sharpening blow to Syria’s prestige and could effect the equation of forces in Lebanon.

Thus, Fuller outlines that not only would Syria be forced to reopen the pipeline of interest at the time, but that it would be a regional shockwave effecting the makeup of forces in and around Lebanon, weakening the prestige of the Syrian state and, presumably, the psychological state of the Syrian President and the Syrian people, as well as a message to Iran.

The document continues,

Such a threat must be primarily military in nature. At present there are three relatively hostile elements around Syria’s borders: Israel, Iraq and Turkey. Consideration must be given to orchestrating a credible military threat against Syria in order to induce at least some moderate change in its policies.

This paper proposes serious examination of the use of all three states – acting independently – to exert the necessary threat. Use of any one state in isolation cannot create such a credible threat.

The strategy proposed here by the CIA is virtually identical to the one being discussed by deep state establishment think tanks like the Brookings Institution today. For instance, in the Brookings documentMiddle East Memo #21: Saving Syria: Assessing Options For Regime Change,” it says,

Turkey’s participation would be vital for success, and Washington would have to encourage the Turks to play a more helpful role than they have so far. While Ankara has lost all patience with Damascus, it has taken few concrete steps that would increase the pressure on Asad (and thereby antagonize Tehran). Turkish policy toward the Syrian opposition has actually worked at cross-purposes with American efforts to foster a broad, unified national organization. With an eye to its own domestic Kurdish dilemmas, Ankara has frustrated efforts to integrate the Syrian Kurds into a broader opposition framework. In addition, it has overtly favored the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood over all other opposition groups. Washington must impress upon Turkey the need to be more accommodating of legitimate Kurdish political and cultural demands in a post-Asad Syria, and to be less insistent on the primacy of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Some voices in Washington and Jerusalem are exploring whether Israel could contribute to coercing Syrian elites to remove Asad. The Israelis have the region’s most formidable military, impressive intelligence services, and keen interests in Syria. In addition, Israel’s intelligence services have a strong knowledge of Syria, as well as assets within the Syrian regime that could be used to subvert the regime’s power base and press for Asad’s removal. Israel could posture forces on or near the Golan Heights and, in so doing, might divert regime forces from suppressing the opposition. This posture may conjure fears in the Asad regime of a multi-front war, particularly if Turkey is willing to do the same on its border and if the Syrian opposition is being fed a steady diet of arms and training. Such a mobilization could perhaps persuade Syria’s military leadership to oust Asad in order to preserve itself. Advocates argue this additional pressure could tip the balance against Asad inside Syria, if other forces were aligned properly.

While Syria is not in conflict with Iraq today, after being destroyed by the United States in 2003, Western Iraq now houses the mysteriously-funded Islamic State on the border between Iraq and Syria.

That being said, this plan is not merely being discussed, it is being implemented as one can clearly see by the fact that Israel routinely launches airstrikes against the Syrian military, Turkey continues to funnel ISIS and related terrorists into Syria through its own territory, and ISIS continues to present itself as an Eastern front militarily. As a result, the “multi-front” war envisioned and written about by the CIA in 1983 and discussed by Brookings in 2012 has come to fruition and is in full swing today.

The trail of documentation and the manner in which the overarching agenda of world hegemony on the behalf of corporate-financier interests have continued apace regardless of party and seamlessly through Republican and Democrat administrations serves to prove that changing parties and personalities do nothing to stop the onslaught of imperialism, war, and destruction being waged across the world today and in earnest ever since 2001. Indeed, such changes only make adjustments to the appearance and presentation of a much larger Communo-Fascist system that is entrenching itself by the day.

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In Memory of Vitali Churkin, Russia’s Charismatic Ambassador to the UN

Vitali Churkin succeeded in creating and sustaining a balance in the UN Security Council, a balance between East and West, a multipolar world crucial to global peace and economic justice.

On February 20, 2017 the shattering news reverberated throughout the United Nations, and the world:  the  charismatic and world renowned  Russian Ambassador to the United Nations, Vitali Churkin, was suddenly stricken in his office at the Russian Mission and pronounced dead upon arrival at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. 

The New York City Medical Examiner failed to discover the cause of Ambassador Churkin’s sudden death, stating that the autopsy is inconclusive and ‘determining the cause and manner of his death requires further study, which could require weeks of further screenings.’  For ten years Churkin had illuminated the corridors of the United Nations, and  a surrealistic atmosphere of disbelief and incredulity now permeates the United Nations, as unanswered questions regarding Ambassador Churkin’s death increase.

Vitali Churkin’s colossal intellectual power prevailed over the crass propaganda and hypocrisy of his detractors at the UN Security Council.  In so doing, he restored the credibility of the UN Security Council, and restored the dignity and independence of the United Nations.  His moral force and courage, even in isolation,  towered above his detractors at the Security Council, and within the General Assembly.

His prodigious knowledge of the historic context and realities being distorted by his opponents was a formidable obstacle to their chronic attempts to hijack and deform both the Security Council, and the UN itself, into becoming a tool for geopolitical engineering antithetical to the very purposes for which the UN was established.

Following the first Persian Gulf War, authorized by Security Council Resolution 678, the United Nations had become regarded as an annex of the US State Department and the Pentagon.  Security Council Resolution 1973 reinforced that impression, and, indeed, when Lakhdar Brahimi, formerly Foreign Minister of Algeria and top United Nations envoy, was asked why UN offices were so often  bombed, he replied that the UN was becoming perceived as a “party to disputes.”

Churkin’s arrival at the UN, and the re-emergence of Russia as a world power, with the Presidency of Vladimir Putin, re-established the United Nations as a multipolar organization, and with the six vetoes cast by Vitali Churkin, the United Nations was prevented from further debasement, as those vetoes prohibited the UN endorsement of the barbaric slaughter of yet another country in the Middle East.  Vitali Churkin commanded the respect of even those attempting to discredit him, and he was admired by even those who hated him for his capacity to expose their duplicity.

More than 25 years ago I first met Vitali Churkin at his office in the Soviet Foreign Ministry in Moscow.  I had been invited to Russia by Vladimir Petrovsky, First Deputy Foreign Minister of the Soviet Union, and  I had been referred to Churkin by the International Editor of a major Soviet newspaper, who advised me that Mr. Churkin could solve an urgent problem I was confronting.

On the morning of December 21, 1991, Vitali Churkin immediately welcomed me to his office, assured me that he would take care of my problem – which he did with alacrity, and we then spoke for hours about subjects ranging from capitalism versus communism, my previous work in Santiago, Chile during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, the consequences of the imminent dismembering of the Soviet Union, his close friendship with Boris D. Pyadyshev, the distinguished editor of the prestigious journal,  “Mezhdunarodnaya Zhizn,” and we discussed other subjects too numerous to mention.  Churkin’s presence was electrifying, his intellect dazzling, his warmth disarming and engaging, and he impressed me as a man who did not suffer fools gladly. We shared contempt for hypocrisy and double standards.  His personality could be described with two words:  formidable and unique.   But he was completely unpretentious, and retained that magnetic human warmth which charmed even the most dour opponents.

Two days after I first met Churkin,  Mikhail Gorbachev, Soviet President and General -Secretary of the Communist Party resigned, the Soviet Union collapsed, and an abyss opened, the catastrophic consequences of which would unfold throughout the ensuing decades.  But that freezing Moscow winter, with his world – (and ours, ultimately) disintegrating around him, Churkin’s steely discipline and good will guided the foreign press through the devastated terrain of the dying Soviet empire, as we instinctively shuddered at what was to come.

On January 31, 1992 we returned to the United Nations for the summit meeting of US President George H.W. Bush and Russian President Boris Yeltsin, held at Conference room 4 of the UN.  Prior to the meeting, he and I discussed my plans to return to Moscow, and following the boilerplate speeches of both the American and Russian Presidents, as they exited the chamber, with Churkin a member of that solemn entourage, he winked at me as they departed, a gesture revealing both his great sense of fun, and his utter disdain for stultifying bureaucratic restraint.

In the early weeks of February, 1992, I awaited the visa for my return to Moscow, which Alex, a Russian  foreign ministry official had promised to arrange.  After weeks sped by, without my Russian visa arriving at the Russian Consulate in Washington, I phoned Mr. Churkin in Moscow.  He immediately took my call, and I explained that Alex had not arranged for my return visa, as he had promised to do.  Mr. Churkin replied:  “I’m sure he will do as he promised, but I’ll look into it.” The following morning I received a telephone call from the Russian Consulate informing me that they had just received two visas for me!  That was typical of Churkin’s style:  he was extraordinarily effective, and totally sincere.

Following my return to Moscow in late February, 1992, Churkin informed me that he had been appointed Ambassador to Chile, which he regarded as a form of exile.  Andrei Kozyrev was now Foreign Minister.  Life in Moscow was becoming chaotic, and denial no longer shielded me from the reality of the collapse of the Soviet Union.  The deterioration of conditions of life following that collapse was inevitable and demoralizing, and, of course, only the beginning of what would become catastrophic.  Russia had been my sanctuary, following my exposure to fascism, in Chile, and, to certain elements of it in the USA, but that sanctuary in Moscow no longer existed.

On April 7, 1992, I wrote a long letter to Churkin to say good bye, and apologizing for having cut short my visit.  On April 8 we met again, at length, and Churkin tried to convince me to remain in Moscow.   That afternoon he spoke with sorrow  of the collapse of the socialist government of President Najibullah in Afghanistan, and I shared his grief, and perhaps we both, subliminally, at least, expected the disastrous consequences which ensued from the destruction of that last civilized and Soviet supported government in Afghanistan.  Churkin told me that he had just returned from Tbilisi, Georgia, where he had been meeting with Edouard Shevardnadze.  The conversation continued, and he offered to help me with my work.  Churkin ultimately succeeded in persuading me to stay in Moscow.

But, eventually, flashbacks and horrific memories of my experiences in Pinochet’s Chile, and elsewhere, and fear of the dire long-term consequences of the Soviet collapse continued troubling me, and in June  I finally left Russia, which, bitterly ruptured my friendship with Churkin.

Fifteen years later, unexpectedly,  I met Vitali Churkin again at the United Nations.   Miraculously, our friendship survived the preceding years of turmoil.  At times, we had argued ferociously, at times, incessantly.  But what we shared was indestructible.

Russia was being resuscitated as a world power, and Churkin was beginning his mastery of the United Nations environment.  On July  13, 2009, Churkin graciously invited me to participate in a roundtable celebration of the 100 year anniversary of the birth of Andrei  Gromyko, one of the founding fathers of the United Nations.  The meeting was held in Conference Room 8.

Participants included Henry Kissinger, Anatoly Gromyko, Ambassador William VandenHeuvel, Veronika Krasheninnikova and Alfred Ross.  When the translator failed to appear, Churkin blithely announced we would move to plan B, and speak in English, a language he commanded impeccably.  Gromyko’s son, Anatoly, summarized the history of Soviet diplomacy, and comments were requested of Ms. Krasheninnikova, one of Russia’s expert advisers who helped author the law requiring disclosure of the identity of funders of the many foreign organizations in Russia, a law she had observed in the USA, and which helped to protect Russia from pernicious and destabilizing “color revolutions.”  Ms. Krashenninikova then courteously invited Ambassador VandenHeuvel to contribute to the discussion.  Throughout that unforgettable morning, Vitaly Churkin glowed with pride at the splendid legacy of great Soviet diplomats who had helped to champion the cause of peace, economic justice, and a world based on humanitarian principles, above all.   That Gromyko roundtable seemed to be one of Churkin’s most joyous presentations.

Later, at a Vietnamese reception, to which I realized I was the only journalist invited, Ambassador Churkin came over to me and said:  “Carla, you were right all along.”  I was so astounded by his words I was unable to reply and ask him to specify about what, precisely, I had been “right all along,” and I’ll always regret that lost opportunity.

But Vitali Churkin attained his greatness of stature, that for which he will be remembered by the United Nations, and honored by history, following the UN Security Council’s ill advised and  reckless adoption of Resolution 1973, in 2011, authorizing, by “all necessary measures,” the barbarous NATO slaughter of Libya, one of the Arab world’s most progressive nations, an attack which pulverized that previously functioning state, and transformed it into an incubator of terrorism.  Thereafter, Churkin, indefatigably represented Russia’s categorical opposition to a UN sponsored attack on Syria, which would, otherwise, have been the third progressive Arab country destroyed  with collusion by the UN, and could, very likely, precipitate a World War.  Churkin was a great diplomat, but in his latter years at the UN, he emerged as a great statesman, transcending the technical limits of his position, at the zenith of his power.

Vitaly Churkin spearheaded the three famous “double vetoes” of Chapter VII draft resolutions which the dogs of war were attempting to force upon the UN.  And in this he was immeasurably strengthened by his friend and comrade, Li Baodong, China’s brilliant and noble Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, and formerly Ambassador to the UN.  Both Vitali Churkin and Li Baodong were intellectual aristocrats of the highest order.  When, together, they raised their arms to veto the draft war resolutions at the Security Council, spectators at the UN and worldwide gasped in awe at the enormity of their power to command peace and to halt in their lethal tracks the insane march of the merchants of death toward Armageddon. Again and again and again Churkin and Li Baodong cast double vetoes, repelling and defeating ravenous attempts to inflict on Syria the barbaric slaughter that had already been inflicted on Iraq and Libya.  Those moments were spellbinding.  Their triumphant double-vetoes were a legendary victory for peace and justice and a turning point in UN history, which laid the foundation for a progressive transformation of the global order.

Following Li Baodong’s transfer to Beijing, Churkin alone at the United Nations shouldered the huge burden of staving off  savage attacks on Syria, continuing to veto those draft resolutions that would have led, ominously and treacherously to ”regime change.”  As TASS so accurately described him, posthumously, “Churkin was like a rock against which were broken the attempts by our enemies to undermine what constitutes the glory of Russia.”  But he represented much more than that:  he was like a rock against which were broken the aggressive actions of neo-colonialists who attempted to mask their ruthless greed with sanctimonious and arrogant contrivances.  He exposed this prevarication.  But his was a Russian heroism – an unbreakable moral force reminiscent of Kutuzov at Borodino.

The deadly resurgence of Russophobia, a form of neo-McCarthyist fascism in America, a cancer infecting the Security Council and even the General Assembly reached ominous proportions recently, and an atmosphere targeting Russia as “fair game,” an atmosphere resembling the blood lust that precedes a lynching, and described by Chinese Ambassador Liu as “poisonous,” preceded the sixth and last veto cast by Ambassador Churkin.  China also cast a veto against this recent draft resolution,  with the Security Council again experiencing the titanic force of another double veto.  The date was December 5, 2016.  The Syrian Government had just recovered Aleppo.  Soon thereafter, the Russian Ambassador to Turkey was assassinated, followed by the death of the Russian Ambassador to India.

On February 21,  a Security Council meeting opened, commemorating the life and work of Ambassador Churkin.  One of the most moving and beautiful – and revealing – speeches was delivered by  Japanese Ambassador Koro Bessho who stated:  “I was deeply shocked and saddened by the news of the passing of Ambassador Vitaly Churkin.  I happened to meet him on Sunday (yesterday) at lunchtime, coincidentally, we were seated next to each other at a restaurant.  He was with his wife, I was with my wife, and we were all very happy at the time.  In fact, he had arrived a bit after I did, so I did not realize that he was there.  I suddenly heard a voice saying, ‘Koro, what do you recommend?’  I looked back and there was Vitaly, looking happy, looking very well and with his usual big smile.” According to Ambassador Bessho, he was ebullient, and evidently took a walk with his wife in the park afterward.  Within less than 24 hours Churkin was dead in his own office.  Three Russian Ambassadors have died in the line of duty within the past three months.

Like a great impresario, Vitali Churkin succeeded in creating and sustaining a balance in the UN Security Council, a balance between East and West, a multipolar world crucial to global peace and economic justice.  Churkin’s death destroys this balance, and leaves the Security Council, and the United Nations vulnerable to the manipulation and control by those member states and interests he succeeded in commanding and so skillfully held at bay.  Seldom is one person so indispensable.  But Vitali Churkin was such a person.  His star blazed brilliantly, but too briefly.

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