Archive | January 15th, 2018

Sanctions, Subversion, and Color Revolutions: US Meddling in Cambodian Elections


After a nearly year-long marathon of daily, acrimonious accusations against Moscow for alleged, yet-to-be proven interference in the 2016 US presidential elections, Washington finds itself increasingly mired in its own hypocrisy – openly and eagerly pursing the very sort of interference abroad in multiple nations regarding elections and internal political affairs it has accused Russia of.

A particularly acute example of this is Cambodia where recently, the government has begun uprooting and expelling US State Department-funded fronts and media organizations as well as arresting members of the US-backed opposition party while disbanding the party itself – for interfering in preparations for upcoming elections.

The New York Times in its August article, “Cambodia Orders Expulsion of Foreign Staff Members With American Nonprofit,” would claim:

Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday ordered foreign staff members of an American nonprofit that gets support from the United States government to leave the country within a week, part of an apparent attempt to silence opposition voices before national elections next year.

The NYT would elaborate, reporting:

The nonprofit, the National Democratic Institute [a subsidiary of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED)], is loosely affiliated with the Democratic Party in the United States, and has provided training to various Cambodian political parties, including those from the opposition. Local news media organizations with ties to Mr. Hun Sen’s party have accused the nonprofit of conspiring against him.

Unsurprisingly, the NYT attempts to portray Cambodia’s uprooting of US government-funded fronts, media, and opposition directly and openly manipulating its political affairs as undemocratic. Such a narrative concurrently takes shape in the NYT’s pages side-by-side an entire section titled, “Russian Hacking and Influence in the U.S. Election.”

While Western media like the NYT claims foreign interference in America’s affairs constitutes the destruction of American democracy, it simultaneously proposes that extensive US meddling in elections abroad – including in Cambodia – constitutes the promotion of democracy.

Unfortunately for many, the hypocrisy this glaring double standard represents goes unnoticed – due in part to the notion of American – and to a larger extend – Western exceptionalism.

Washington’s Khmer Marionettes 

The move by Phnom Penh is the culmination of years of US meddling in Cambodia’s internal political affairs and political processes including its elections.

The opposition party – the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) – is led by long-time US proxies Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha. Both have divided their time and activities between politicking in Cambodia and residing in Western capitals, including Washington D.C. openly conspiring with the US government to overthrow Cambodia’s current political order, and install themselves into power.

US State Department officials threaten Cambodia with sanctions for uprooting US-funded organizations openly engaged in political interference in Cambodia’s upcoming elections.

Kem Sokha in particular has been seen on video and quoted by the Cambodian press on numerous occasions causally discussing his leading role in US-backed sedition.

The Phnom Penh Post in its article, “Kem Sokha video producer closes Phnom Penh office in fear,” would quote Kem Sokha who claimed (emphasis added):

And, the USA that has assisted me, they asked me to take the model from Yugoslavia, Serbia, where they can changed the dictator Slobodan Milosevic,” he continues, referring to the former Serbian and Yugoslavian leader who resigned amid popular protests following disputed elections, and died while on trial for war crimes.

“You know Milosevic had a huge numbers of tanks. But they changed things by using this strategy, and they take this experience for me to implement in Cambodia. But no one knew about this.”

Kem Sokha is referring to the openly admitted US-engineered regime change mechanism known as “color revolutions” and in particular the successful use of such “revolutions” in the overthrow of Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic in 2000.

It is also mentioned in the article that Kem Sokha has traveled to the United States every year since 1993 to “learn about the democratization process.”

The video producer mentioned in the above article, the Australian-based “Cambodia Broadcasting Network” (CBN), had published a video of Kem Sokha with US Senator Ed Royce in Washington DC openly calling for the deposing of the Cambodian government.

This clear cut evidence was cited by the Cambodian government upon Kem Sokha’s arrest on charges of treason. It would be difficult to fathom Washington not likewise responding with swift and severe charges of treason in light of similar, explicit evidence of a US politician collaborating with a foreign power to overthrow the US government – especially considering the current fallout in the US over mere innuendo and outright fabrications. 

Yet Washington’s hypocrisy is once again highlighted by its counterstroke to Cambodia’s efforts to uproot foreign interference. 

Washington Strikes Back 

In the wake of Cambodia’s moves against US government-funded media, opposition fronts, and the nation’s main opposition party itself, a quickly escalating confrontation with Washington is unfolding.

The Phonom Post in its article, “US says more sanctions on table in response to political crackdown,” would report:

Visiting US State Department official W Patrick Murphy yesterday warned that further punitive action could be forthcoming in response to the government’s recent crackdown on the main opposition, while repeatedly pointing to the US’s warm relationship with the people of Cambodia – if not their leaders. 

In diplomatic but firm remarks made at a press roundtable yesterday, Deputy Assistant Secretary Murphy noted recent “negative developments with regards to democracy”, and implied that the US would be unable to recognise the legitimacy of an election that took place without the now-dissolved opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party.

Kem Sokha’s daughter, Kem Monovithya, in Washington DC appealing for more US interference in Cambodia’s internal affairs as her father resides in jail for treason associated with seeking US interference in Cambodia’s internal affairs.

The article would also report (emphasis added):

…in Washington, a panel of “witnesses” convened by the House Foreign Affairs Committee – including Kem Sokha’s daughter, Kem Monovithya – called for additional action in response to the political crackdown. In a statement, Monovithya urged targeted financial sanctions against government officials responsible for undermining democracy. She also called on the US to suspend “any and all assistance for the central Cambodian Government”, while “continuing democracy assistance programs for civil society, particularly those engaged in election-related matters”. 

Monovithya also asked America to review “Cambodia’s eligibility for the Generalized System of Preferences”, a program which gives favourable trade treatment to Cambodia’s garment exports.

In other words, not only has Kem Sokha and the CNRP been accused of treason, but in its response, the Cambodian opposition has doubled down in its open collaboration with the United States to attack and undermine the Cambodian government while working its way – with continued US support – into power.

Realism Required to Break Free from the Illusion of “Democracy” 

One can only imagine the headlines in the NYT should a US politician passionately plead within the walls of the Kremlin for Russian intervention in American elections – for the enacting of sanctions to target incumbents in power and for additional and open financial support to contest those elections.

In reality, democracy is – at its core – a process of self-determination. Self-determination is untenable if any “democratic process” is subject to outside interference, particularly the full-spectrum institutional meddling the United States engages in.

And despite America’s immense hypocrisy, the geopolitical maxim of “might makes right” prevails, enabling the US to both accuse and attack other nations for alleged political meddling, while overseeing institutionalized political meddling and electioneering abroad on a global scale.

Cambodia has taken a risk in directly confronting Washington’s “democracy promotion” racket head-on. It risks not only sanctions and additional political subversion underwritten by the United States government, but also covert military aggression, proxy terrorism, and economic warfare – all ushered in under a US-sponsored color revolution. It was a color revolution that Kem Sokha sought US assistance in organizing in Cambodia.

To confront this, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has publicly warned about a color revolution by name and is making preparations to combat it.

The Phnom Penh Post in its article, “New spy school announced,” would report:

Prime Minister Hun Sen announced the creation of a school to train spies to combat “colour revolution” and terrorism in Cambodia yesterday, tapping his son and Ministry of Defence Intelligence Director Hun Manith to lead it. 

In front of an audience of hundreds of military and police officials, Manith said the facility will train soldiers and police in intelligence-gathering and maintaining “covert identities”.

The article would also cite Human Rights Watch – a US-European government and corporate-financier-funded front posing as a rights advocate – attempting to dismiss the threat of color revolutions as “non-existent.” Human Rights Watch would claim:

The government has excelled in manufacturing non-existent threats, like a colour revolution, to justify its crackdown on human rights and civil society. And now it’s going a couple steps further by creating permanent intelligence training facilities to combat these and other threats, like Islamic terrorism, which has also yet to appear in Cambodia.

And yet, there is nothing at all “non-existent” about the threat of color revolutions. Kem Sokha himself openly admitted he was conspiring with the US to organize one. The same Western media dismissing Cambodia’s concerns as a pretext for an otherwise unwarranted crackdown, has openly admitted that the US organized and executed color revolutions from Eastern Europe to North Africa and the Middle East.

The New York Times itself would admit regarding the so-called “Arab Spring” in an article titled, “U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings,” that:

A number of the groups and individuals directly involved in the revolts and reforms sweeping the region, including the April 6 Youth Movement in Egypt, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and grass-roots activists like Entsar Qadhi, a youth leader in Yemen, received training and financing from groups like the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House, a nonprofit human rights organization based in Washington.

The article would also add, regarding the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED) – a key component in US subversion in Cambodia, that:

The Republican and Democratic institutes are loosely affiliated with the Republican and Democratic Parties. They were created by Congress and are financed through the National Endowment for Democracy, which was set up in 1983 to channel grants for promoting democracy in developing nations. The National Endowment receives about $100 million annually from Congress. Freedom House also gets the bulk of its money from the American government, mainly from the State Department.

In essence, the very same organizations admittedly responsible for plunging the Middle East and North Africa into chaos are  the very same organizations Cambodia has targeted and expelled – while arresting and charging their Cambodian accomplices with treason. Considering the toll in human suffering, loss of life, and economic devastation nations targeted by US-sponsored color revolutions have suffered elsewhere, Cambodia’s moves are far from unwarranted – and instead constitute measures a responsible nation would take in defending peace and stability.

Cambodia’s efforts must go one step further. Media organizations and genuine, local nongovernmental organizations must fill the space left by expelled foreign fronts. Russia and China have provided a successful example of producing both local and international media and organizations to confront and displace foreign influence within their borders and to have their side of the story told beyond them.

The notion of “soft power” is as important as a conventional army. While most nations possess conventional armies able to keep foreign powers from outright invading, many are ill-equipped to defend against more subtle intrusions into their information, digital, sociocultural, and economic space. Developing and honing these tools will be essential for Cambodia and many other nations still targeted by US subversion. Noting America’s immense hypocrisy is not enough. In a “might makes right” world, developing a defense to face America’s might is an absolute necessity.

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Justice for Hassan Diab and the Unbearable Banality of Evil


Great joy and relief came with the news this January 12th that French investigative judges issued an “order of final release” for Dr. Hassan Diab from a French maximum security prison. Dr. Diab, a sociology professor and Canadian citizen, was charged with bombing the Rue Copernic Synagogue in 1980.

His release follows eight previous orders for his conditional release by four French judges which were all reversed on appeal. But so far this ruling appears to be final and is hopefully a very belated vindication of Dr. Diab and for truth and justice. Since 2007 when France sought his extradition from Canada, credible and verifiable evidence testifying to his innocence was concealed or challenged by Canadian Crown and French anti-terrorism investigators. What followed was heartrending for Diab and for his family. His ten year ordeal warrants a study of the barriers to justice.

Early January also marks the anniversary of Zola’s J’Accuse, the eloquent denunciation of politicized racism a century ago in France when French-Jewish Alfred Dreyfus was framed for treason. Hassan Diab’s case in ways parallels the Dreyfus case. Jewish Dreyfus and Muslim Diab were arrested on the basis of flawed, fraudulent handwriting analysis at a time of politicized racism and nationalism.

Support for Diab

Diab has substantial public support in Canada, and there is absence of widespread public racism calling for ‘Death to Jews’ or ‘Death to Arabs’. Supporting Diab were his devoted wife and friends, excellent lawyers and journalists, the Canadian Association of University Teachers and several unions, Amnesty International and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, many prominent people, and progressive Jewish organizations in Canada and in France.

A careful review of Diab’s case suggests that perhaps even more relevant than Zola is Hannah Arendt’s “banality of evil” within the Canadian and French judicial process. During the entire investigation, the investigators seeking extradition and charges of terrorism opposed testimonies by experts and by Diab himself, concealed evidence, and made use of secret intelligence to falsify information. Among the factors that allowed for gross wrongdoing were Canada’s extradition laws, anti-terrorism measures in both countries, political opportunism that capitalized on fears of terrorism, and foreign interference.

There is also unclarity about who legitimately makes the enforceable decisions and this is where Arendt’s work is insightful. What stands out in Diab’s case is the interface between the personal and political, the individual and the institution. Arendt described the banality of evil in reporting the trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann, a man focused exclusively on his own competence within his bureaucracy, a man so incapable of human relatedness and of self-criticism that he could not absorb the fact that he facilitated millions of deaths. Evil does not necessarily have a monstrous face. Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice also comes to mind in the excruciating exploration of legalistic cruelty and racism; in effect the accused Jew asks “can’t you see I’m a person?” whereas on a human level, it is the clever prosecutor who is pitiless and unjust.

Diab was never charged with a crime but lost ten years of his life. He spent six years under strict house arrest in Canada, lost his university job, and was in solitary confinement in France in a maximum security prison for just over three years. He was charged $30,000/year by the government for his monitoring device and had substantial legal fees. When he was finally extradited to France in November 2014, he was treated with gratuitous cruelty. Although the law allowed up to 45 days to carry out extradition, Diab was whisked away early the next day without being able to say goodbye to his pregnant wife and toddler daughter.

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Between 2007 and 2014 Diab endured innumerable hearings in Canada that required constant challenges to Canadian extradition law and to the evidence presented by France and by an undisclosed foreign country. Robert J. Currie, an expert in extradition law at Dalhousie University, writes that Diab’s “deplorable situation” in France was a “direct, even logical, result of the current state of Canadian extradition law. Specifically, our law prevents individuals sought for extradition from making any meaningful challenge to a foreign state’s extradition request on the basis that the requesting state does not have sufficiently reliable evidence.” Canada automatically presumes that the requesting state has solid evidence and a sound judicial system. Problems with Canadian extradition law were presented on behalf of Diab by expert witnesses, but to little avail as the Supreme Court refused to hear his case and Diab was immediately extradited to France. Currie pointed out that Canadian extradition judges were in effect “rubber stamps” and that justice for defendants was “practically unattainable.”

Justice Robert Maranger, the Canadian investigative judge, maintained that he had to extradite Diab even though the evidence would not stand in a Canadian court and though the handwriting evidence was “illogical,” “very problematic” and that a fair trial in France was “unlikely.” The Canadian decision was questionably illegal because France had not even charged Dr. Diab; he was wanted for investigation which could lead to years in a French prison.

Cherry-Picked Evidence

In one extradition hearing, Diab’s lawyer Don Bayne pointed out that the assumption that foreign states could “omit, edit out, cherry-pick, or bury exonerating evidence.” For example, palm and finger prints connected with the synagogue bombing did not match those of Diab but this was not disclosed by the French for two years. There was already other questionable evidence: “The Crown prosecutors admitted that there was confusion about the colour of the suspect’s hair, which was variously described by witnesses as black, blond, brown, or dark with blond touches.” The prosecutor responded that the inconsistencies in the French case were “simple and innocent mistakes” as the French magistrate was a “busy man.”

Expert witnesses also pointed out the difference between evidence and intelligence. Intelligence is allowable in extradition and anti-terrorism cases and does not require verifiability. Intelligence can be obtained secretly and can plausibly be connected with torture. Government investigations found that Maher ArarAbdullah AlmalkiAhmad Abou-Elmaatiand Muayyed Nureddin were imprisoned and tortured in violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights. Canadian expert witness Wesley Warkstated that intelligence does not meet the legal standard of evidence and that “to deprive an individual of his liberty on the basis of such material would be manifestly unjust.” Stephane Bonifassi, a leading member of the Paris bar and an expert witness in French extradition cases, confirmed that intelligence is regularly used as a basis for conviction in terrorism cases in France.

“French law makes no distinction between evidence and intelligence, and it is particularly difficult for a defence lawyer to challenge such intelligence.”

Expert witness Kent Roach further stated that in Diab’s case, intelligence appears to come from an unidentified foreign government.

The detailed record of the case that is available on the Justice for Hassan website reports that the Canadian extradition judge refused Dr. Diab the opportunity to meaningfully challenge the evidence, claiming that he would have this opportunity in France. A Human Rights Watch report criticizes France for running unfair trials. The report states that there is a low standard of proof in terrorism cases and that French counterterrorism laws “undermine the right of those facing charges of terrorism to a fair trial.” Diab’s French lawyer stated that he “is detained because of the judges’ fear to be accused of laxity in the context of today’s fight against terrorism in France. Such a situation would be inconceivable in an ordinary law procedure.” Canadian Minister of Justice Rob Nicholson stated that he interpreted Canada’s Extradition Act in a “flexible manner” in surrendering Diab to France. Remarkably, the main evidence against Diab was finally withdrawn by France when it was proven that the handwriting samples were not even written by Diab. In the last year it was confirmed that Diab was in Lebanon writing university exams at the time of the bombing.

Though there were a number of allusions to foreign involvement, it was not until September 2017 that Israeli interference was identified. In Canada and in France, two Jewish organizations that are unquestioningly supportive of Israel and particularly vocal about Islamic terrorism have relentlessly accused Diab of terrorism. B’nai Brith and Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre publicly demanded Diab’s extradition and his firing from Carleton University. Both organizations have members who have close ties with political leaders. As reported in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, Wiesenthal Centre CEO Avi Benlolo called Diab “an accused terrorist mass murderer.”

On his website, Benlolo lists his connections with G.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Shimon Peres, Tony Blair. He accompanied former Prime Minister Stephen Harper to Israel along with a member of the violent Jewish Defense League. In a startling passage from the 2017 book The End of Europe, published by Yale University press, the author James Kirchick appears to uncritically suggest that the Jewish Defense League was crucial in preventing a pogrom at a Parisian synagogue in 2014 which occurred during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge against Gaza.

Kirchick writes that a crowd of several hundred people, chanting “death to the Jews” and wielding iron bars and axes, tried to break into the Don Isaac Abravanel synagogue in Paris. “Shimon Samuels, of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, reported seeing Socialist Party politicians in the crowd” and that one eyewitness reported that, had it not been for members of the vigilante Jewish Defense League, ‘the synagogue would have been destroyed, with all the people trapped inside.’” Kirchick does not check the accuracy of this report. It was not widely reported, but other sources indicated that there were perhaps 100 protesters and they were not carrying iron bars and axes. Kirchick further implies that the red-green coalition in Europe endangers European civilization by minimizing the Islamic threat. It will be important to investigate the involvement of Israel and Zionist groups in Diab’s case.

The next few weeks will hopefully see Dr. Diab home with his family and with the large number of people who have worked for his release and full exoneration. Understanding his ordeal should motivate fundamental change to Canada’s extradition law and yield insights about the sociology and politics of injustice. Questions arise about how and why the banality of a small number of people can wreak havoc on the justice system and cause torment to many.

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15th Annual Detroit MLK Day Rally & March Focuses on Escalating the Struggle


Cross spectrum of activists speak alongside veteran Civil Rights organizer Rev. Dr. Bernard Lafayette


Featured image: Abayomi Azikiwe chairing Detroit MLK Day Rally, Jan. 15, 2018

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would have been 89 years old this year if he had not been gunned down in Memphis, Tennessee nearly a half century ago.

Today amid the openly racist character of the United States Government under President Donald Trump may have been partly responsible for the enhanced participation in activities commemorating the federally-recognized holiday of the martyred Civil Rights, social justice and antiwar leader who was only 39 when he was assassinated on April 4, 1968.

Detroit has already been ranked as the top municipality for the commemoration of MLK Day in the country. This was reported in the Metro Times, a citywide weekly newspaper which provides not only the most comprehensive entertainment coverage notwithstanding in recent months where articles on the economic direction of Detroit have staked out an alternative viewpoint from the public relations narrative of the current administration and the corporate elite. (Jan. 12)

The Metro Times noted that:

Treetopia is a website that ranks the best places to celebrate different holidays. Based on metrics from Google Trends and Analytics, data points, news articles, and online reviews, this will be the second year in a row Detroit was the number one city to celebrate MLK day. In 2016 Detroit scored a 100 in Treetopia’s scale, New Orleans came in second at 84, and Memphis third at 71.” ()

Detroit has been a center of the African American liberation struggle since the times of the Underground Railroad in the 19th century. During the 20th century the city was a center for Black migration from the South, the campaigns to win recognition for labor rights within the industrial companies, and the birthplace of significant organizations such as the Nation of Islam (NOI), Motown Records, the Republic of New Africa (RNA), the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, among others.

The first massive march for Civil Rights was held in the city on June 23, 1963 where hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated for an end to segregation and institutional racism both in Detroit and throughout the South. Dr. King delivered an earlier version of his “I Have a Dream” speech prior to the March on Washington some two months later.

This “Detroit Walk to Freedom” was led by Dr. King along with local luminaries who were the principal organizers such as Rev. C.L. Franklin, James Del Rio and Rev. Albert Cleage (later known as Jaramogi Abebe Agyeman). Unions, churches, community organizations and civic groups provided tremendous material and political assistance to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in the 1950s and 1960s.

King’s Legacy is a Living Force

For 15 consecutive years Detroit activists have held a rally and march in downtown Detroit in an explicit effort to honor the actual Civil Rights and peace legacy of Dr. King. The event is held at Central United Methodist Church (CUMC) and St. John’s Episcopal Church located on Woodward Avenue, two locations where the Civil Rights leader had spoken over the course of his life.

Bernard Lafayette addressing the Detroit MLK Day Rally, Jan. 15, 2018

The rally took place at CUMC beginning at Noon where Rev. Dr. Bernard Lafayette was the honored guest and keynote speaker. Lafayette worked with the two leading Civil Rights organizations of the 1960s, SNCC and the SCLC.

King’s last effort was centered on building the Poor People’s Campaign where thousands of people were mobilized to occupy space in Washington, D.C. to demand that Congress take immediate legislative action to end racism, unemployment, poverty and inadequate housing. People of all races and nationalities were recruited including African Americans, Mexican Americans, Indigenous nations, Puerto Ricans and low-income whites. The Poor People’s Campaign demanded that there be full employment, a guaranteed annual income, national health insurance and the rebuilding of the urban and rural areas where the oppressed and marginalized workers resided.

Lafayette spoke on how he became involved in the Civil Rights Movement after growing up in Tampa, Florida in the 1940s and 1950s. In 1958 he was accepted to the Baptist Theological Seminary in Nashville and as a freshman attended courses delivered by James Lawson of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, where the genesis of the mass campaigns to end Jim Crow was intellectually conceived.

He was a participant in the sit-ins and freedom rides in the early 1960s. Lafayette was involved when Dr. King and SCLC came to Chicago in 1966 to test out their model of nonviolent resistance in a northern city.

Detroit Activists and Artists Featured

Other speakers and artists presenting at the rally included: Frank Hammer of the ASOTRECOL Solidarity Network in support of injured General Motors workers in Colombia; Jonathan Roberts, an organizer for the Restaurant Opportunity Center of Michigan and the One Fair Wage campaign; two youth spokespersons for the Poor People’s Campaign of 2018, Crystal Bernard and Carlos Santa CruzKimberly Simmons of the Juvenile Lifers Support Group; Cynthia Thornton, president of Pride at Work Michigan; Atty. Vanessa Fluker spoke on the rising rates of blood lead levels among children in Detroit; Amer Zahr, a Palestinian American writer and Adjunct Professor at University of Detroit Mercy Law School brought solidarity messages; Detroit Jazz artist Bill Meyer performed as well as Bobbi Thompson’s Deep River Choir, and soloist Shirley Jackson.

Medallion awards for participation in the Selma to Montgomery March of 1965 were awarded to Detroit activists George Giffin, Frank H. Joyce, Wilbert McClendon, Atty. Dean Robb, Selma native Terry Shaw and Rudy Simons. The People’s Spirit of Detroit Awards were given to Zonzie Whitlow, a Detroit proprietor and longtime friends of the late Rosa and Raymond Parks; Alfonzo Hunter, lifelong resident of the West Grand Blvd.-Clairmount neighborhood and board member of the Virginia Park Investment Associates; Katrina Brown, a teacher in the Detroit Public School Community District; and Jim Rehberg of the Wobbly Kitchen.

At 2:30 the march stepped off from CUMC weaving through downtown to demonstrate against ongoing foreclosures and evictions, water shut-offs, mass incarceration, the role of the banks in creating the economic crisis in the city and the subsidization of wealthy corporations at the expense of the majority African American and working class residents of Detroit. The day ended with a community meal prepared by the Wobbly Kitchen and a cultural program held at St. John’s Episcopal Church. A host of artists performed including Marilyn Lowen, Wardell Montgomery, Students from the Arts Academy in the WoodsWillie Williams, Shushanna Shakur, Joe Kidd and Sheila Burke and Jim Perkinson. The cultural performances were assembled and coordinated by Detroit writer and educatorAurora Harris.

Abayomi Azikiwe photographs for MLK Day, Jan. 15, 2018

The event was sponsored and endorsed by numerous organizations, businesses and individuals throughout Metropolitan Detroit such as the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice (MECAWI), U.S. Palestine Community Network, the Metro Detroit A. Phillip Randolph Institute, Michigan Coalition for Human Rights (MCHR), the ACLU of Michigan, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, Buck Dinner, Detroit Active and Retired Employees Association (DAREA), Green Party of Michigan, Episcopal Diocese of Michigan, Retired Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, Huntington Woods Peace, Citizenship & Education Project, Jewish Voice for Peace, Michigan Peoples Defense Network (MPDN), Michigan Welfare Rights Organization (MWRO), Workers World Party, On the Rise Bakery, People’s Water Board, David Smokler, Linda Szysko, Melvin Thompson as a former President of UAW 140, UAW Local 140 Civil and Human Rights Committee, UAW Local 160, Viola Liuzzo Park Association, Retired Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellerman of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Charlevoix Village Association (CVA), Mothering Justice, The Spark, UAW Local 869 and Avalon Bakery, to name some of them.

The MLK Day Rally & March enjoyed wide press coverage from all of the Detroit television stations, WWJ News Radio and the Associated Press.

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Neoconning the Trump White House


Washington’s well-funded web of interventionist elites is quietly populating the president’s national security circle, again.


Featured image: U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster during September briefing on North Korea. (Source: White House)

Over the last year critics have warned of the returning neoconservative influence on the executive branch’s national security apparatus, each day a little less confident that President Donald Trump will keep to the seeming anti-interventionist impulses he demonstrated during the 2016 campaign.

News flash: We’re already there.

Of course the most garish of the pro-war set—Sebastian Gorka, K.T. McFarland, John Bolton—are easy to identify in or on the periphery of Trump’s orbit (in Gorka’s case, he was cast out of the White House, only to flak away in any media outlet that will pay attention). Meanwhile, elite neoconservative voices like Bill Kristol and Max Boot have become darlings of the “Never Trump” cadre, finding new life as conservative tokens on “Resistance” media like MSNBC.

What has been less obvious, but has become much clearer in these last few months, is these neocons are quietly filling the vacuum left by Obama’s cadre of liberal interventionists. Many of them had taken a pass on “Never Trumping” publicly, and are now popping up at the elbows of top cabinet officials.

Take Nadia Schadlow, for instance. Never heard of her? Unless you’ve been navigating the rice paddies of Washington’s post-9/11 national security enterprise for the last several years, there’s no reason you would have. But she has been at the National Security Council since last winter, and is set to replace Dina Powell as deputy national security advisor, at the right hand of NSC chief H.R. McMaster. She was also the lead on the White House National Security Strategy, released last month.

This was Schadlow’s first position in government. Her résumé includes doctoral degrees from Johns Hopkins Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) under the tutelage of vocal Never Trumper and Iraq war promoter Eliot Cohen, who runs the largely neoconservative Strategic Studies program there, and whose last book, The Big Stick: The Limits of Soft Power, argued that the U.S., backed by a more robust military, must be the “guardian of a stable world order.” In that vein, Schadlow published a book last year, War and the Art of Governance, that extols the virtues of long-term military intervention for “achieving sustainable political outcomes,” requiring “the consolidation of combat gains through the establishment of stable environments.” Schadlow has repeated this for years as a mantra for reordering military strategy in the wake of the disastrous wars she and her contemporaries helped sustain, in Iraq, Libya, and elsewhere. Call it nation-building by another name.

Nadia Schadlow (center) at New America Foundation panel on “Hezbollah, Ukrainian Rebels, and ISIS: Are Hybrid Superguerrillas the Future of War?” in 2016. (Source: The American Conservative)

In a 2012 Weekly Standard commentary, she criticized the Obama administration for saying “the tide of war is receding,” and exclaimed “the line of thinking that now pervades the Pentagon avoids recognizing that combat and the restoration of political order go hand and hand.” While she gives a nod to “civil-military operational planning and execution,” she never utters the words “State Department.” No surprise there, either, since her neocon friends were responsible for the long slide of Foggy Bottom’s resources and influence in favor of military leadership, beginning with the “political reconciliation” and reconstruction of Iraq, and then Afghanistan.

What is significant about Schadlow’s role in the White House—she’s reportedly a “trusted confidant” of General McMaster, who was lionized in the New Yorker for his T.E. Lawrence approach to counterinsurgency in Tal Afar in 2006—is not her bibliography, but her vast connections to Washington’s foreign policy and national security clique, especially its neoconservative elite. If one were using the metaphor of chain migration, she would have plenty of friends on either side of the Potomac to tap for high-level placement, consulting, and advice.

Why? As recent senior program director for the expansive, multi-million dollar International Security and Foreign Policy Program under the Smith Richardson Foundation, she has helped to fund and facilitate countless authors, conferences, think tanks, and university programs since 9/11, most of which hew to the doctrine of sustained military intervention towards the goal of U.S. global power and influence. That includes preemptive war strategy, counterinsurgency, democracy promotion, and the continued push for bigger military budgets and solutions to regional conflicts in the Middle East and Ukraine. If there was a prominent player in the U.S. security community over the last 20 years, you can bet Schadlow and Smith Richardson were more often than not connected to him.

But it goes back so much further than that. The foundation has a rich history cleaved to neoconservative pioneers such as Irving Kristol, father of Bill, who in his own memoirs credits the philanthropic institution and its then-director Randall Richardson (heir to the Vicks fortune) with helping him jumpstart the Public Interest, known as the premier neoconservative organ, a label Irving fully embraced. The foundation also served as a key backer of Commentary magazine after Norman Podhoretz took the helm in 1960.

It is in international affairs that Smith Richardson has made some of its biggest impacts, during the anti-communist Reagan era and into the Middle East conflicts under Presidents Clinton, Bushes, Obama, and Trump. To say the foundation was involved at every level in the lobbying for and crafting of the so-called global war on terror after 9/11 would be an understatement. Example: Former Smith Richardson research director Devon Gaffney Cross became a director of the Project for a New American Century, the intellectual vehicle that drove the removal of Saddam Hussein and shaped George W. Bush’s foreign policy. In 2000, Cross was listed as one of the participants in PNAC’s seminal treatise, “Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century.” The rest of the contributors are a who’s who of Washington’s war theocracy, most of whom have benefitted from Smith Richardson support.

Meanwhile, since 1998, the foundation has given over $10 million to the American Enterprise Institute (AEI was built, literally, on Smith Richardson money), which fielded many of the Iraq war architects and promoters, including Frederick Kagan, John Bolton, former vice president Dick Cheney, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Eliot Cohen, Michael Ledeen, Joshua Muravchik, David Frum, and Danielle Pletka.

Just as telling is Smith Richardson’s continued backing of the Institute for the Study of War, headed by Kimberly Kagan, wife of Frederick, with whom she was a “de facto advisor” to General Petraeus for a year as he set about his then-vaunted COIN strategy in Afghanistan. ISW, chaired by retired General Jack Keane, known as the “godfather of the surge,” was founded in part by the generosity of Smith Richardson in 2007. It not only promoted more troops, but an extended occupation in Afghanistan, regime change in Syria, and ongoing hostilities with Iran. No surprise, then, that ISW has numerous intertwining relationships with the military and the defense industry. It received $895,000 for program work from Smith Richardson between 2014 and 2016 alone.

According to Philip Rojc of Inside Philanthropyother recipients of Smith Richardson grants since 1998 include the the Hudson Institute ($6,032,230), the Jamestown Institute ($5,779,475), the Hoover Institution ($3,645,314), and the Center for a New American Security ($1,595,000). Totals have been adjusted to include 2016 numbers.

The last one—CNAS—is more indicative of Smith Richardson’s broader strategy, in that it doesn’t only give to hardline neoconservative outfits like, say, the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (which has received no less than $500,000 since 2014 and says it helped write Trump’s new Iran policy). On the contrary, Smith Richardson has been a major patron of the conventional establishment, too, even largely Democratic think tanks like CNAS, Brookings Institute, and the Carnegie Endowment—all of which invariably host scholars and programs that promote America’s military-driven global influence, counterinsurgency doctrine (CNAS was a virtual hothouse for COIN early in Obama’s presidency), and democracy promotion in places like Russia and Ukraine, a major yet failed project of humanitarian interventionists in the Obama administration.

No surprise, then, that the worldview of people like Nadia Schadlow is no different from the wider Washington policy orbit that has enjoyed a pipeline of patronage from her former employer. She is not only affiliated with the Foreign Policy Institute, but is a full member of the Council on Foreign Relations. When she was named to the NSC staff in March 2017, along with “Kremlinologist” and former Eurasian Foundation strategist Fiona Hill, national security establishment courtier Thomas Ricks called them both “well-educated, skeptical, and informed. In other words, the opposite of the president they serve.”

You know the “right” kind of operator has arrived in the White House when establishment commentariat like Ricks and Josh Rogin get all gushy about their calming, “soft power” influence over Trump, which sounds like a lot of bunk when you consider their well-documented points of view.

Simply put, after years of cross-pollination brought on by a slush fund of wealthy private donors like Smith Richardson and an even more eager defense industry, neoconservative views are no longer distinguishable from the sanctioned goals of the Washington policy establishment. They are all working, really, as proper stewards of the military-industrial complex, which is essential for advancing their (sometimes competing) visions of world power politics and American exceptionalism. There is little room for realism and restraint, as voiced by this magazine and other critics.

That is why there seemed to be such relief upon the recent release of the Trump administration’s National Security Strategy, with Washington scribblers lauding it as “well within the bipartisan mainstream of American foreign policy” and “a well crafted document that should reassure allies and partners.”

What it actually does is to reinforce Trump’s turn towards a harder line against Iran, as evidenced in McMaster’s recent speechesNikki Haley, ambassador to the UN, is threatening fellow members on the Security Council, and the Trump administration is seen as taking sides with Israel in the fragile Middle East peace process (or what’s left if it). Meanwhile, the White House has just given a green light to arming Ukraine against Russia.

Call it the new “adults in the room,” if you want, or peg it as the neoconservative influence that it is. Strikingly, Dan Drezner writes that the NSS is “Straussian” in that its “subtext matters at least as much as the text.” The preeminent scholar Leo Strauss is considered one of the key founders of the neoconservative movement, a fact the Washington Post columnist should be well aware of. Like most of the elites here in Washington, however, Drezner is trying to have it both ways—calling it neocon without have the guts to say it outright.

Posted in USAComments Off on Neoconning the Trump White House

Trump’s Nuclear Posture Review: Planning for Nuclear War?



In December 2016, President-elect Trump on nuclear weapons ominously tweeted:

“Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all.”

Early in his tenure, he said

“if countries are going to have nukes, we’re going to be at the top of the pack.”

Instead of stepping back from the brink, he wants America’s nuclear arsenal greatly expanded. As long as these weapons exist, they’ll likely be used with devastating effects, risking doom.

The only way to prevent eventual nuclear war is by eliminating these weapons entirely. Nuclear roulette assures losers, not winners.

Einstein said splitting the atom “changed everything save our modes of thinking, and thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.”

Washington wants all sovereign independent governments replaced by pro-Western puppet regimes.

Most are non-nuclear states. US policymakers reserve the right to attack them with nuclear weapons, a possible armageddon scenario.

Trump’s reckless remarks show he has no understanding of the destructive power of today’s thermonuclear weapons, able to incinerate major cities like New York, along with surrounding areas, killing millions.

Reportedly, Trump wants America’s nuclear arsenal increased 10-fold. Last October, he called for “greatly strengthen(ing) and expand(ing) (the nation’s) nuclear capability” – at a time its only enemies are invented ones, no others.

According to the Federation of American Scientists, the Pentagon currently has around 4,000 nuclear warheads.

Bush/Cheney and Obama administrations’ Nuclear Posture Reviews asserted America’s preemptive right to unilaterally declare and wage future wars using first strike nuclear weapons.

Madness remains US policy under Trump. Its agenda poses an unparalleled nuclear threat – North Korea, Iran, Russia and China prime targets.

The risk of nuclear war on his watch is ominously high, life on earth threatened by this recklessness.

Days earlier, the Huffington Post released a draft of Trump’s Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), the final version due out in February.

It calls for hugely increasing America’s nuclear arsenal, including greater numbers of low-yield tactical nukes – as powerful as bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, destroying the cities gratuitously after war was won, killing or irradiating hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians.

Does Trump intend waging nuclear war? He bragged about his “Nuclear Button,” saying it’s “much bigger and more powerful” than North Korea’s.

Commenting on the risk of nuclear war on the Korean peninsula, Global Zero executive director Derek Johnson said the following in part on January 4:

“This latest flare-up between Trump and Kim puts us into very dangerous, very Freudian waters.”

“We have every reason to expect he will continue to brandish these nuclear threats – which means this crisis will only worsen.”

“(W)e are flirting with unacceptably high risks that carry catastrophic consequences for the country and the world.”

As president and commander-in-chief, Trump “can pick up the phone and order a nuclear strike. Once he makes the call, there are zero safeguards we can count on to prevent that order from being executed.”

“Every effort must be made to avoid that nightmare scenario.”

Given Trump’s rage for war, catastrophic nuclear war is ominously possible on his watch.

In office, Jack Kennedy transformed himself from a warrior to peace president. He abhorred nuclear weapons, wanted them eliminated because of the unacceptable risk they pose.

At odds with Pentagon commanders, the CIA, most congressional members, and nearly all his advisors, he favored general and complete disarmament.

He opposed Pax Americana enforced dominance. He signed the Limited Test Ban Treaty with Soviet Russia. In his first State of the Union address, he said the following:

“The deadly arms race, and the huge resources it absorbs, have too long overshadowed all else we must do.”

“We must prevent the arms race from spreading to new nations, to new nuclear powers and to the reaches of outer space.”

In July 1961, he said “(i)n the thermonuclear age, any misjudgment on either side about the intentions of the other could rain more devastation in several hours than has been wrought in all the wars of humanity,” adding:

“Today, every inhabitant of this planet must contemplate the day when this planet may no longer be habitable.”

“Every man, woman and child lives under a nuclear sword of Damocles, hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by accident or miscalculation or by madness. The weapons of war must be abolished before they abolish us.”

“(I)t is a practical matter of life or death The risks inherent in disarmament pale in comparison to the risks inherent in an unlimited arms race” – especially with nukes.

Nuclear powers have a choice. Either eliminate these weapons of mass destruction or risk humanity being eliminated by them.

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Politics 101: The Influence of Money on U.S. Foreign Policy


Politics 101: The Influence of Money on U.S. Foreign Policy The Cases of Iraq, Libya, Syria and Iran


“I am driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, ‘George go and fight these terrorists in Afghanistan’. And I did. — And then God would tell me ‘George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq’. And I did.” – U.S. Republican President George W. Bush (1946- ), in a conversion with a Palestinian delegation in July 2003, during the Israeli-Palestinian summit at the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

“They [the George W. Bush administration] lied… They said there were weapons of mass destruction [in Iraq]. There were none. And they knew there were none. There were no weapons of mass destruction… We spent $2 trillion, thousands of lives. … Obviously, it was a mistake. George Bush made a mistake. We can make mistakes. But that one was a beauty. We should have never been in Iraq. We have destabilized the Middle East.” – U.S. Republican President Donald Trump (1946- ), statement made during a CBS News GOP presidential debate, on Saturday, February 13, 2016.

“I know what America is. America is a thing you can move very easily, move it in the right direction. They won’t get in the way.”  – Benjamin Netanyahu (1949- ), current Israeli Prime Minister, in a video in 2001, addressing Israeli settlers.

[After 9/11 in 2001, I was shown] “a memo that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.” – General Wesley Clark (1944- ), in a video interview on Tues. Mar. 2, 2007 by journalist Amy Goodman.

Just as Republican George W. Bush invented the pretext of “weapons of mass destruction”, in 2003, to deceive Americans and the rest of the world and to justify a military invasion of Iraq, Donald Trumpseems to follow on Bush’s footsteps in actively searching for a pretext for another military confrontation in the Middle East, this time against Iran. George W. Bush had even claimed, at the time, that religion was behind his military interventionism when he said, in the summer of 2003, in a bout of hubristic delusion, that “God told me to end the tyranny in Iraq.”

Now another American Republican president, Donald Trump, appears to see himself on a similar mission, i.e. to attack another country, in violation of international law. This time the target of his nasty attack du jour is the country of Iran, a country run by theocrats, which is facing deep domestic problems, both economic and political. Indeed, for some time now, Trump has been making inflammatory remarks against that country’s domestic affairs, in the hope of provoking a response and thus justifying a military aggression.

According to Donald Trump, “We Should Have Never Been in Iraq.”

Donald Trump’s attacks against Iran are all the more amazing and unreal because, on multiple occasions during the last U.S. presidential campaign, candidate Trump openly accused George W. Bush of lying to invade Iraq, adding during a CBS News GOP presidential debate, on Saturday, February 13, 2016,

We should have never been in Iraq. We have destabilized the Middle East.”

Is Donald Trump suffering from amnesia, or is he simply incoherent in his thoughts?

As a matter of fact, and despite the neocon propaganda to the contrary, the Bush-Cheney administration did destabilize the Middle East, and these politicians caused the death of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children, and they created millions of refugees, many of them ending up in Europe. But possibly worse, from a U.S. and Israel point of view, the 2003 American military invasion of Iraq has resulted in significantly increasing the geopolitical influence of Shiite Iran in the region, by removing from power the Sunni government of Saddam Hussein (1937-2006) and by installing a Shiite government in its place.

This is a question that I raised in my book about the Iraq war, The New American Empire. In it, I not only questioned the legality of such a military invasion of a sovereign country, in violation of the U.N. Charter, but also its wisdom, since Iran was undoubtedly going to profit immensely from a newly installed Shiite government in Baghdad… as it did.

What is doubly amazing is that both Republican American presidents, George W. Bush and Donald Trump, received the same uncritical financial and political support from the very same super rich American Zionist donors and from American Evangelical Christiansalthough Bush’s support was more widespread than Trump’s, due to the 9/11 attacks in 2001. This time around, however, Donald Trump is not only an abnormal president; he is also a minority president, staunchly supported by only about one third of Americans.

Money is King in U.S. Foreign Policy, Especially Regarding the Middle East

Nowadays, in American politics, money talks and big money talks even louder. In 2010, the partisan U.S. Supreme Court made sure that this be the case when it imposed its anti-democratic doctrine of “Money Is Speech”, in a 5-4 decision. For instance, in 2016, because of huge campaign contributions from one-issue super rich donors (mega donors), nearly all GOP primary presidential contenders, Donald Trump in front, ended up promising to move the American embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem and to ring up Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on their first day in the Oval Office, according to a Newsweek report.

So far, Donald Trump has already paid some of his political debt to his mega donors by announcing his willingness to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. But even before his inauguration on January 20, 2017, Trump’s entourage was actively intervening on behalf of a foreign government, the Israeli government, at the United Nations.

Such subservience of American politicians to the wishes of big campaign contributors may partly explain why the United States has one of the lowest voter turnouts in its elections among modern world democracies. During the 2016 American Presidential election, for example, less than 56% of voting age citizens bothered to vote, a 20-year low. According to the Pew Research Center, among the 35 highly developed countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the United States ranks 28th in terms of turnout in recent national elections. For example, electoral turnouts in Belgium (87%), Sweden (83%) or Denmark (80%) were much higher.

Because of the overwhelming importance of money in U.S. politics and because rich pro-Israel lobbies are very active and prominent political donors, American policies in the Middle East have been increasingly skewed in the direction dictated by the Israeli government and its lobbies in the United States. There seems to exist a de facto US-Israel axis, which often includes Saudi Arabia, as far as the Middle East is concerned.


Indeed, it’s impossible to understand what has been going on for decades in that part of the world, with its string of wars, destruction and deaths, without taking into consideration the overwhelming influence of that axis, which goes beyond partisan party lines in Washington D.C. [In a speech during the Democratic primary in Pennsylvania, in April 2008, when she was a presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton declared “If I’m President, we will attack Iran… We would be able to totally obliterate them!”]

A Joint U.S.-Israeli Operation Against Iran could now be in the Making

When the U.S. government wishes to undermine a foreign government and create the conditions for a regime changeone should be on the lookout for some false flag operations by well-funded so called “intelligence or covert organizations”, which are specialists in fomenting destabilization in a country, under the hypocritical cover of defending human rights.

As General Wesley Clark  (1944- ) revealed in 2007 (see quote above), Iran is the last country in a long list of countries, whose government the Pentagon had plans to overthrow. The fact that some superficial media fail to inform their readers and listeners about such well-known plans is nothing less than a journalistic scandal.

Such an overall plan would fit perfectly well with the recently announced American-Israeli “strategic plan” against Iran. It is a curious coincidence that the most important political protests in Iran since 2009 have come about just after a secret agreement was finalized between the U.S and Israel, (with the assistance of Saudi Arabia), to destabilize Iran. Indeed, in their relations with Iran, the United States and Israel seem to be acting as a single political entity.

This could also explain why President Donald Trump, against all logic, is so adamant in insisting that the Iranian government is not in compliance with the P5+1 nuclear deal, even though the U.N. and the five other nations in the deal (China, France, Russia, the U. K. and Germany) all agree that Iran is actually in compliance with the agreement. On January 12, Trump renewed his charges against the Iran Deal, without completely withdrawing his country from the deal, but by adding new conditions and economic sanctions against Iran, an act that is, in itself, a violation of the deal. The only government that is in violation of the Iran Deal is the Trump administration, not the Iranian government.

About Iran, it can be said that Donald Trump is dutifully following the long established neoconservative script, at the U.S. Pentagon and elsewhere in Washington D.C., to target this country for the same destabilization overall plan, which was implemented successfully against Iraq in 2003, Libya in 2011 and Syria in 2013, without forgetting the coup in Ukraine in 2014.

It doesn’t matter much who sits in the White House or which political party controls the U.S. Congress, at a given time, the same political forces are dominant and the same neocon-inspired American foreign policy is implemented in the Middle East. The slight difference recently has been that Barack Obama was somewhat less enthusiastic in implementing the policy than George W. Bush or Donald Trump. The results, however, have been the same: governments have been overthrown and people have been killed.


In foreign affairs as in other matters, the Trump administration is going full speed ahead with improvised and dubious policies without fully considering all the consequences ahead. The crises will come later on.

Posted in USAComments Off on Politics 101: The Influence of Money on U.S. Foreign Policy

Obama’s Trojan Horse: America’s Cuban Soft Coup


Global Research News Hour episode 205


Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes 

(translation: Beware Greeks bearing gifts.)

– from the Aeneid by Virgil


Click to download the audio (MP3 format)

For more than half a century, the United States government, under both Democratic and Republican presidents, presented what could only be described as a campaign of terror against the population of Cuba.

The Cuban people, under the Revolutionary leadership of Fidel Castro Ruz, had overthrown the regime U.S. Proxy Battista. With popular support, the Castro-led government ushered in reforms that improved the conditions of the people, investing in health care, education, social security, and infrastructure.

The government survived the U.S. backed ‘Bay of Pigs’ invasion as well as the Mongoose operation offensives. An embargo was placed on the country, crippling its ability to trade with the U.S. And its partners.

When the U.S.S.R collapsed in the early ’90s, Cuba’s economic development was severely compromised. Then, on December 17 2014, a remarkable announcement: the U.S. And Cuba would re-establish diplomatic relations and move toward normalizing that relationship. As part of this re-visioning of Cuba-U.S. Relations, President Obama agreed to release the remaining Cuban Five!

There seemed to be cause for celebration. Withstanding everything that the Empire had to throw at Cuba, the U.S. seemed to have waved the white flag, and embarked on a new path on the world stage.

Except that new path turns out to be merely a different route to the same destination. Or so believes Arnold August. The author and long-time Cuba scholar believes that Obama’s charm offensive from ’17D’ right up to the end of his presidency a year ago, was far from a declaration of surrender. It signalled a new assault, albeit with a different character.

In his most recent book, Cuba-US relations: Obama and Beyond, August holds that the U.S. under Obama has adopted a ‘Trojan Horse’ strategy. Essentially, by gaining diplomatic and economic access to the country, the U.S. President is hoping to identify, co-opt, and corrupt elements of the society, and use them as instruments to undermine the Revolution.

August elaborates on the U.S. Change of strategy in the first part of the program.

In the second half, Professor Michel Chossudovsky examines one specific element of Cuban Society: The Intelligentsia. Professor Chossudovsky identities the ways by which U.S. aligned Non-Governmental organizations and foundations are sponsoring a sophisticated insurgency on the minds of the Cuban leaders of tomorrow. He also opens up about a personal encounter he had with this diabolical scheme, when he responded to a conference invitation to Cuba in the fall of 2015.

Arnold August has an M.A. in political science from McGill University, in Montreal, Quebec. An accomplished author, he is the author of the recent book, Cuba-US Relations: Obama and Beyond.

Arnold August will speak in Winnipeg on January 18 7pm at McNally Robinson Booksellers at 1400 Grant Avenue.

Professor Michel Chossudovsky is Founder and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization and Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Ottawa. A visiting professor to several institutions around the world, he has authored more than 800 scholarly articles and 11 books, including his most recent: The Globalization of War: Washington’s Long War on Humanity (2015).Professor Chossudovsky speaks in Winnipeg on Monday, January 15th and in Vancouver on January 16th on the question of North Korea and the Danger of Nuclear War.

Click to download the audio (MP3 format)

The Global Research News Hour airs every Friday at 1pm CT on CKUW 95.9FM in Winnipeg. The programme is also podcast at . The show can be heard on the Progressive Radio Network at Listen in everyThursday at 6pm ET.

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The FBI Hand Behind Russia-gate

By Ray McGovern | Consortium News 

Russia-gate is becoming FBI-gate, thanks to the official release of unguarded text messages between loose-lipped FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok and his garrulous girlfriend, FBI lawyer Lisa Page. (Ten illustrative texts from their exchange appear at the end of this article.)

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in their third debate,
as Clinton called Trump Vladimir Putin’s “puppet.”

Despite his former job as chief of the FBI’s counterintelligence section, Strzok had the naive notion that texting on FBI phones could not be traced. Strzok must have slept through “Security 101.” Or perhaps he was busy texting during that class. Girlfriend Page cannot be happy at being misled by his assurance that using office phones would be a secure way to conduct their affair(s).

It would have been unfortunate enough for Strzok and Page to have their adolescent-sounding texts merely exposed, revealing the reckless abandon of star-crossed lovers hiding (they thought) secrets from cuckolded spouses, office colleagues, and the rest of us. However, for the never-Trump plotters in the FBI, the official release of just a fraction (375) of almost 10,000 messages does incalculably more damage than that.

We suddenly have documentary proof that key elements of the U.S. intelligence community were trying to short-circuit the U.S. democratic process. And that puts in a new and dark context the year-long promotion of Russia-gate. It now appears that it was not the Russians trying to rig the outcome of the U.S. election, but leading officials of the U.S. intelligence community, shadowy characters sometimes called the Deep State.

More of the Strzok-Page texting dialogue is expected to be released. And the Department of Justice Inspector General reportedly has additional damaging texts from others on the team that Special Counsel Robert Mueller selected to help him investigate Russia-gate.

Besides forcing the removal of Strzok and Page, the text exposures also sounded the death knell for the career of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, in whose office some of the plotting took place and who has already announced his plans to retire soon.

But the main casualty is the FBI’s 18-month campaign to sabotage candidate-and-now-President Donald Trump by using the Obama administration’s Russia-gate intelligence “assessment,” electronic surveillance of dubious legality, and a salacious dossier that could never pass the smell test, while at the same time using equally dubious techniques to immunize Hillary Clinton and her closest advisers from crimes that include lying to the FBI and endangering secrets.

Ironically, the Strzok-Page texts provide something that the Russia-gate investigation has been sorely lacking: first-hand evidence of both corrupt intent and action. After months of breathless searching for “evidence” of Russian-Trump collusion designed to put Trump in the White House, what now exists is actual evidence that senior officials of the Obama administration colluded to keep Trump out of the White House – proof of what old-time gumshoes used to call “means, motive and opportunity.”

Even more unfortunately for Russia-gate enthusiasts, the FBI lovers’ correspondence provides factual evidence exposing much of the made-up “Resistance” narrative – the contrived storyline that The New York Times and much of the rest of the U.S. mainstream media deemed fit to print with little skepticism and few if any caveats, a scenario about brilliantly devious Russians that not only lacks actual evidence – relying on unverified hearsay and rumor – but doesn’t make sense on its face.

The Russia-gate narrative always hinged on the preposterous notion that Russian President Vladimir Putin foresaw years ago what no American political analyst considered even possible, the political ascendancy of Donald Trump. According to the narrative, the fortune-telling Putin then risked creating even worse tensions with a nuclear-armed America that would – by all odds – have been led by a vengeful President Hillary Clinton.

Besides this wildly improbable storyline, there were flat denials from WikiLeaks, which distributed the supposedly “hacked” Democratic emails, that the information came from Russia – and there was the curious inability of the National Security Agency to use its immense powers to supply any technical evidence to support the Russia-hack scenario.

The Trump Shock

But the shock of Trump’s election and the decision of many never-Trumpers to cast their lot with the Resistance led to a situation in which any prudent skepticism or demand for evidence was swept aside.

So, on Jan. 6, 2017, President Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper released an evidence-free report that he said was compiled by “hand-picked” analysts from the CIA, FBI and NSA, offering an “assessment” that Russia and President Putin were behind the release of the Democratic emails in a plot to help Trump win the presidency.

Despite the extraordinary gravity of the charge, even New York Times correspondent Scott Shane noted that proof was lacking. He wrote at the time: “What is missing from the [the Jan. 6] public report is what many Americans most eagerly anticipated: hard evidence to back up the agencies’ claims that the Russian government engineered the election attack. … Instead, the message from the agencies essentially amounts to ‘trust us.’”

But the “assessment” served a useful purpose for the never-Trumpers: it applied an official imprimatur on the case for delegitimizing Trump’s election and even raised the long-shot hope that the Electoral College might reverse the outcome and possibly install a compromise candidate, such as former Secretary of State Colin Powell, in the White House. Though the Powell ploy fizzled, the hope of somehow removing Trump from office continued to bubble, fueled by the growing hysteria around Russia-gate.

Virtually all skepticism about the evidence-free “assessment” was banned. For months, the Times and other newspapers of record repeated the lie that all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies had concurred in the conclusion about the Russian “hack.” Even when that falsehood was belatedly acknowledged, the major news outlets just shifted the phrasing slightly to say that U.S. intelligence agencies had reached the Russian “hack” conclusion. Shane’s blunt initial recognition about the lack of proof disappeared from the mainstream media’s approved narrative of Russia-gate.

Doubts about the Russian “hack” or dissident suggestions that what we were witnessing was a “soft coup” were scoffed at by leading media commentators. Other warnings from veteran U.S. intelligence professionals about the weaknesses of the Russia-gate narrative and the danger of letting politicized intelligence overturn a constitutional election were also brushed aside in pursuit of the goal of removing Trump from the White House.

It didn’t even seem to matter when new Russia-gate disclosures conflicted with the original narrative that Putin had somehow set Trump up as a Manchurian candidate. All normal journalistic skepticism was jettisoned. It was as if the Russia-gate advocates started with the conclusion that Trump must go and then made the facts fit into that mold, but anyone who noted the violations of normal investigative procedures was dismissed as a “Trump enabler” or a “Moscow stooge.”

The Text Evidence

But then came the FBI text messages, providing documentary evivdence that key FBI officials involved in the Russia-gate investigation were indeed deeply biased and out to get Trump, adding hard proof to Trump’s longstanding lament that he was the subject of a “witch hunt.”

Justified or not, Trump’s feeling of vindication could hardly be more dangerous — particularly at a time when the most urgent need is to drain some testosterone from the self-styled Stable-Genius-in-Chief and his martinet generals.

On the home front, Trump, his wealthy friends, and like-thinkers in Congress may now feel they have an even wider carte blanche to visit untold misery on the poor, the widow, the stranger and other vulnerable humans. That was always an underlying danger of the Resistance’s strategy to seize on whatever weapons were available – no matter how reckless or unfair – to “get Trump.”

Beyond that, Russia-gate has become so central to the Washington establishment’s storyline that there appears to be no room for second-thoughts or turning back. The momentum is such that some Democrats and the media never-Trumpers can’t stop stoking the smoke of Russia-gate and holding out hope against hope that it will somehow justify Trump’s impeachment.

Yet, the sordid process of using legal/investigative means to settle political scores further compromises the principle of the “rule of law” and integrity of journalism in the eyes of many Americans. After a year of Russia-gate, the “rule of law” and “pursuit of truth” appear to have been reduced to high-falutin’ phrases for political score-setttling, a process besmirched by Republicans in earlier pursuits of Democrats and now appearing to be a bipartisan method for punishing political rivals regardless of the lack of evidence.

Strzok and Page

Peter Strzok (pronounced “struck”) has an interesting pedigree with multiple tasks regarding both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump. As the FBI’s chief of counterespionage during the investigation into then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s unauthorized use of a personal email server for classified information, Strzok reportedly changed the words “grossly negligent” (which could have triggered legal prosecution) to the far less serious “extremely careless” in FBI Director James Comey’s depiction of Clinton’s actions. This semantic shift cleared the way for Comey to conclude just 20 days before the Democratic National Convention began in July 2016, that “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring charges against Mrs. Clinton.

Then, as Deputy Assistant Director of the Counterintelligence Division, Strzok led the FBI’s investigation into alleged Russian interference in the U.S. election of 2016. It is a safe bet that he took a strong hand in hand-picking the FBI contingent of analysts that joined “hand-picked” counterparts from CIA and NSA in preparing the evidence-free, Jan. 6, 2017 assessment accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin of interfering in the election of 2016. (Although accepted in Establishment groupthink as revealed truth, that poor excuse for analysis reflected the apogee of intelligence politicization — rivaled only by the fraudulent intelligence on “weapons of mass destruction“ in Iraq 15 years ago.)

In June and July 2017 Strzok was the top FBI official working on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible links between the Trump campaign and Russia, but was taken off that job when the Justice Department IG learned of the Strzok-Page text-message exchange and told Mueller.

There is no little irony in the fact that what did in the FBI sweathearts was their visceral disdain for Mr. Trump, their cheerleading-cum-kid-gloves treatment of Mrs. Clinton and her associates, their 1950-ish, James Clapperesque attitude toward Russians as “almost genetically driven” to evil, and their (Strzok/Page) elitist conviction that they know far better what is good for the country than regular American citizens, including those “deplorables” whom Clinton said made up half of Trump’s supporters.

But Strzok/Page had no idea that their hubris, elitism and scheming would be revealed in so tangible a way. Worst of all for them, the very thing that Strzok, in particular, worked so hard to achieve — the sabotaging of Trump and immunization of Mrs. Clinton and her closest advisers is now coming apart at the seams.

Congress: Oversee? or Overlook?

At this point, the $64 question is whether the various congressional oversight committees will remain ensconced in their customarily cozy role as “overlook” committees, or whether they will have the courage to attempt to carry out their Constitutional duty. The latter course would mean confronting a powerful Deep State and its large toolbox of well-practiced retaliatory techniques, including J. Edgar Hoover-style blackmail on steroids, enabled by electronic surveillance of just about everything and everyone. Yes, today’s technology permits blanket collection, and “Collect Everything” has become the motto.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, with almost four decades of membership in the House and Senate, openly warned incoming President Trump in January 2017 against criticizing the U.S. intelligence community because U.S. intelligence officials have “six ways from Sunday to get back at you” if you are “dumb” enough to take them on.

Thanks to the almost 10,000 text messages between Strzok and Page, only a small fraction of which were given to Congress four weeks ago, there is now real evidentiary meat on the bones of the suspicions that there indeed was a “deep-state coup” to “correct” the outcome of the 2016 election. We now know that the supposedly apolitical FBI officials had huge political axes to grind. The Strzok-Page exchanges drip with disdain for Trump and those deemed his smelly deplorable supporters. In one text message, Strzok expressed visceral contempt for those working-class Trump voters, writing on Aug. 26, 2016, “Just went to a southern Virginia Walmart. I could SMELL the Trump support. … it’s scary real down here.”

The texts even show Strzok warning of the need for an “insurance policy” to thwart Trump on the off-chance that his poll numbers closed in on those of Mrs. Clinton.

An Aug. 6, 2016 text message, for example, shows Page giving her knight in shining armor strong affirmation: “Maybe you’re meant to stay where you are because you’re meant to protect the country from that menace [Trump].” That text to Strzok includes a link to a David Brooks column in The New York Times, in which Brooks concludes with the clarion call: “There comes a time when neutrality and laying low become dishonorable. If you’re not in revolt, you’re in cahoots. When this period and your name are mentioned, decades hence, your grandkids will look away in shame.”

Another text message shows that other senior government officials – alarmed at the possibility of a Trump presidency – joined the discussion. In an apparent reference to an August 2016 meeting with FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, Strzok wrote to Page on Aug. 15, 2016, “I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office — that there’s no way he [Trump] gets elected — but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk.”  Strzok added, “It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event that you die before you’re 40.”

Insurance Policy?

Senate Judiciary Committee chair Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, says he will ask Strzok to explain the “insurance policy” when he calls him to testify. What seems already clear is that the celebrated “Steele Dossier” was part of the “insurance,” as was the evidence-less legend that Russia hacked the DNC’s and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails and gave them to WikiLeaks.

If congressional investigators have been paying attention, they already know what former weapons inspector Scott Ritter shared with Veteran intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) colleagues this week; namely, that Fusion GPS’s Glenn Simpson, who commissioned the Russia dossier using Democratic Party money, said he reached out to Steele after June 17, just three days before Steele’s first report was published, drawing on seven sources.

“There is a snowball’s chance in hell that this is raw intelligence gathered by Steele; rather he seems to have drawn on a single ‘trusted intermediary’ to gather unsubstantiated rumor already in existence.”

Another VIPS colleague, Phil Giraldi, writing out of his own experience in private sector consulting, added: “The fact that you do not control your sources frequently means that they will feed you what they think you want to hear. Since they are only doing it for money, the more lurid the details the better, as it increases the apparent value of the information. The private security firm in turn, which is also doing it for the money, will pass on the stories and even embroider them to keep the client happy and to encourage him to come back for more. When I read the Steele dossier it looked awfully familiar to me, like the scores of similar reports I had seen which combined bullshit with enough credible information to make the whole product look respectable.”

It is now widely known that the Democrats ponied up the “insurance premiums,” so to speak, for former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele’s “dossier” of lurid — but largely unproven — “intelligence” on Trump and the Russians. If, as many have concluded, the dossier was used to help justify a FISA warrant to snoop on the Trump campaign, those involved will be in deep kimchi, if congressional overseers do their job.

How, you might ask, could Strzok and associates undertake these extra-legal steps with such blithe disregard for the possible consequences should they be caught? The answer is easy; Mrs. Clinton was a shoo-in, remember? This was just extra insurance with no expectation of any “death benefit” ever coming into play — save for Trump’s electoral demise in November 2016. The attitude seemed to be that, if abuse of the FISA law should eventually be discovered — there would be little interest in a serious investigation by the editors of The New York Times and other anti-Trump publications and whatever troubles remained could be handled by President Hillary Clinton.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, who chairs the Judiciary Subcommittee of Judiciary on Crime and Terrorism, joined Sen. Grassley in signing the letter referring Christopher Steele to the Justice Department to investigate what appear to be false statements about the dossier. In signing, Graham noted the “many stop signs the Department of Justice ignored in its use of the dossier.” The signature of committee ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, however, was missing — an early sign that a highly partisan battle royale is in the offing. On Tuesday, Feinstein unilaterally released a voluminous transcript of Glenn Simpson’s earlier testimony and, as though on cue, Establishment pundits portrayed Steele as a good source and Fusion GPS’s Glenn Simpson as a victim.

The Donnybrook is now underway; the outcome uncertain.


Sample text messages between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, released to Congress and the media on December 13, 2016



Strzok – God Hillary should win. 100,000,000-0.

Page – I know



Page – So look, you say we text on that phone when we talk about Hillary because it can’t be traced, you were just venting, bc you feel bad that you’re gone so much but that can’t be helped right now.



Strzok – And meanwhile, we have Black Lives Matter protestors, right now, chanting “no justice no peace” around DoJ and the White House…

Page – That’s awful.



Page – Have you read this? It’s really frightening. For Whites Sensing Decline, Donald Trump Unleashes Words of Resistance http://NYTI/ms/29WCu5!

Strzok – I have not. But I think it’s clear he’s capturing all the white, poor voters who the mainstream republicans abandoned in all but name in the quest for the almighty $$$

Page – Yeah, it’s not good.

Strzok – Poll Finds Emails Weighing on Hillary Clinton, Now Tied With Donald Trump

Page – It is



Strzok – And hey. Congrats on a woman nominated for President in a major party! About damn time! Many many more returns of the day!!

Page – That’s cute. Thanks



Page – Jesus. You should read this. And Trump should go f himself. Moment in Convention Glare Shakes Up Khans American Life

Strzok – God that’s a great article. Thanks for sharing. And F TRUMP.



Page – And maybe you’re meant to stay where you are because you’re meant to protect the country from that menace. To that end comma, read this:

Page – Trump Enablers Will Finally Have to Take A Stand

Strzok – Thanks. It’s absolutely true that we’re both very fortunate. And of course I’ll try and approach it that way. I just know it will be tough at times. I can protect our country at many levels, not sure if that helps



Page – He’s not ever going to become president, right? Right?!

Strzok – OMG did you hear what Trump just said?



Strzok – Just went to a southern Virginia Walmart. I could SMELL the Trump support…

Page – Yep. Out to lunch with (redacted) We both hate everyone and everything.

Page – Just riffing on the hot mess that is our country.

Strzok – Yeah…it’s scary real down here



Strzok: I am riled up. Trump is a f***ing idiot, is unable to provide a coherent answer.


Page– I don’t know. But we’ll get it back. We’re America. We rock.

Strzok– Donald just said “bad hombres”

Strzok– Trump just said what the FBI did is disgraceful.

Posted in USA, RussiaComments Off on The FBI Hand Behind Russia-gate

Terrorists Keep Obtaining Weapons of States in US-led Coalition


It’s been three days since Russia prevented a terrorist attack on its bases in Syria, with terrorists, as unexpected as it may seem, using sophisticated drones to strike the facilities.

Commenting on the issue, Pentagon said that the devices of such kind “could easily be obtained in the open market,” while the Russian Defense Ministry has stated that such technology could be supplied only by an advanced state.

While it is still being investigated, where did the terrorists get the technology? This is not the first time they have gotten access to advanced technologies, sometimes entirely by a chance.

Sputnik recaps the most resonant cases, when terrorist groups in the Middle East got hold of highly sophisticated weaponry.

Syrian MoD Report

In October 2017, the Syrian Defense Ministry released a report with footage of ammunition confiscated from numerous terrorist organizations, including Daesh and al-Nusra Front, now named Tahrir al-Sham, claiming that those weapons had been manufactured in the United States or by its close allies. The report outlined that those groups were supplied with “rockets, rifles, machine guns, anti-air weapons and even tanks” allegedly in exchange for oil from the territories. By a cruel twist of fate, those weapons happened to be a part of the routine “arms delivery” by the anti-Daesh coalition to the “moderate opposition”.

Anti-Aircraft Missiles

In August 2017, the Lebanese army, which has been engaged in rooting Daesh out from a northeastern region of Lebanon bordering Syria, discovered anti-aircraft missiles, among other weapons, in an abandoned area. Moreover, the Lebanese, who have apparently done a great job, uncovered surface-to-air missiles left by al-Nusra Front militants in an area captured by Hezbollah and then taken over by the army. As early as 2013, The New York Times reported that Qatar was sending MANPADS (“man-portable air-defense-system”) to Syria and said that these might potentially go straight to Al-Qaeda to shoot down civilian aircraft.

Rebel-fighters monitor the sky holding a man-portable air-defence system (MANPADS) in the Syrian village of Teir Maalah, on the northern outskirts of Homs, on April 20, 2016.

Rebel-fighters monitor the sky holding a man-portable air-defence system (MANPADS) in the Syrian village of Teir Maalah, on the northern outskirts of Homs, on April 20, 2016.


In 2015, Iraqi security forces lost 2,300 Humvee armored vehicles, supplied by the United States, when the northern city of Mosul collapsed. They were designed as a fast means to carry personnel and supplies to the battlefield, but later Daesh re-purposed them into car bombs with improvised explosive devices. Since then, Humvee car bombs became an integral part of the group’s military tactics due to the weapons’ devastating power and the vehicle’s ability to move fast.

Anti-Tank Missiles

By spring 2014, a year after then-President Barack Obama approved the first direct US military aid to rebel groups in Syria, the US-manufactured BGM-71 TOW anti-tank missiles began to appear in the hands of various anti-Bashar Assad groups. Subsequently, in November 2015, Russian journalists were attacked with the use of those ant-tank missile systems.

Supplies for Kurds

In October 2014, the Pentagon admitted that due to unforeseen circumstances, one of the airdrops initially intended for Kurds in the besieged Kobani, wound up in the hands of Daesh militants. The group immediately issued a video to boast of the newly-acquired weapons, which were meant to destroy them.


Probably everyone who has ever watched videos released by the terrorist group Daesh has noticed that jihadists have been driving Toyota trucks. Certainly, cars are not related to “sophisticated weapons,” but many have wondered how the famous car-maker wound up becoming part of the Daesh “brand”. Well, here’s an explanation: when the US State Department decided to send aid to Syrian rebels, their wish-list, among many other things, included 43 Toyota trucks, which would make it easier for them to move on the ground.


Attackers of Russian Bases in Syria Couldn’t Get Their Location From Net — MoD

US Weapons Went From Syrian Rebels to Daesh in Less than Two Months — Study

Posted in USA, SyriaComments Off on Terrorists Keep Obtaining Weapons of States in US-led Coalition

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