Archive | December 7th, 2019

The Grand Illusion


Photograph Source: Nathaniel St. Clair

As the ecological crisis deepens, nearing the infamous Tipping Point – taking us closer to planetary catastrophe – we are being led to believe that an imminent “greening” of the world economy will deliver us from a very dark future. Somehow, against all logic, we have adopted a collective faith in the willingness of ruling governments and corporations to do the right thing. Carbon footprints will be drastically reduced thanks to a combination of market stratagems and technological magic. While greenhouse mitigation seamlessly advances, the ruling forces can return to what they do best – indulge their religion of endless accumulation and growth.

That scenario, so widely embellished, turns out to be the saddest – and most crippling – of all grand illusions. Nowhere is its peculiar influence stronger than in that worst of all environmental culprits, the United States.

The overblown 2015 Paris Agreement was touted as the last great hope, but is now better described as a well-intentioned exercise in futility, closer to James Hansen’s dismissive “fraud with no action, just promises”. At Paris the 200 members settled on a 20/20/20 formula: reduce carbon emissions by 20 percent, increase renewable energy sources to 20 percent of the total, elevate overall energy efficiency by 20 percent. That would theoretically keep global average temperatures at less than two degrees Celsius (ideally 1.5 degrees) above pre-industrial levels.

The problem is that all targets are voluntary, with no binding mechanisms. Under Paris each nation (currently 187 signatories) determines its own plans, sets its own outcomes, and reports on its carbon-mitigation efforts. In fact no members have yet moved forward to implement goals thought to be consistent with the 20/20/20 prescription – and most are woefully short. While President Trump has withdrawn the U.S. from the Paris arrangements, its added carbon footprint turns out to be no worse and indeed better than other major emitters – China, India, Russia, Japan, Germany, Canada, Mexico.

Despite greater reliance on sustainable energy in many nations, heightened overall economic growth has meant higher global carbon emissions of 1.6 percent in 2017 and 2.7 percent in 2018, with anticipated sharper increases for 2019. The fossil economy moves full-speed ahead: oil and gas extractions have reached all-time highs, with no slowdowns expected. Even as renewables significantly climb upward, as in China, India, the U.S., and Europe, we see a steadily rising carbon footprint because of total increases in economic growth and energy consumption. The top 10 countries presently account for 67 percent of all greenhouse emissions, with little change in sight.

Recently the United Nations Environmental Program, hardly a radical source, projected that by 2030 global production of fossil fuels will more than double what can be consumed to reverse further global warming. In other words, the Paris accords are essentially null and void. The UNEP report, extrapolating from emissions data among eight leading national emitters, concludes that “humanity” is moving along a suicidal path to ecological oblivion marked by temperature increases of four degrees Celsius, perhaps worse.

Even if the 20/20/20 targets were faithfully met by all leading nations, however, little would change. In fact the sum of all pledges at Paris would not keep temperatures from rising two degrees (even more) in coming decades. Overall fossil-fuel consumption dictated by soaring growth levels easily cancels such efforts, so that existing carbon-mitigation strategies turn out to be illusory. In fact many keen observers believe it is already too late, that burdened by a legacy of political failure we are headed straight toward planetary disaster. Waves of militant climate protests across the world speak to mounting public anger, yet these protests (and others before them) have yet to generate the kind of cohesive political opposition that could reverse the crisis. We appear trapped in a cycle of futility, a kind of psychological immobility that David Wallace-Wells, in Uninhabitable World, refers to as “climate nihilism”. Mass protests in such a milieu are not readily translated into anti-system change – or even far-reaching reforms like those associated with the various Green New Deals.

According to writers like Wallace-Wells, we are trapped in a world moving inexorably toward an additional four or five degree Celsius by the end of the century, if not sooner. He concludes: “. . . if the next 30 years of industrial activity trace the same arc upward as the last 30 years have, whole regions will become unlivable by any standard we have today.” Ecological cataclysm will befall large sections of Europe, North America, and South America. In this setting the world economy would be reduced to shambles, making Karl Marx’s famous crisis theory appear rather tepid. Wallace-Wells adds: “Warming by three degrees Celsius would unleash suffering beyond anything that humans have ever experienced through many millenia of strains and strife and all-out war.”

Along with “industrial activity” Wallace-Wells could have mentioned the even more problematic realm of agriculture and food: that will be the weakest link in a crisis-ridden system. Presently up to 80 percent of all fresh water goes to farming – half of that total utilized for meat production. We live in a world where it takes 2400 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef and 685 gallons for one gallon of milk, compared to just a few gallons for equivalent amounts of grains and vegetables. Half of all arable land goes to corrosive animal grazing, with no decline expected as more nations reach industrialized status. Taking fossil-fuel use into account, the carbon footprint of meat-based agriculture could be 30 percent of the total, even more. Since more than two billion people are now deprived of adequate food and water, the severe unsustainability of capitalist agribusiness and fast-food industry should need little elaboration.

Amid fashionable pleas to “save the planet” and recent surge in “climate activism”, few countries have embraced a program of serious carbon mitigation. For government and corporate elites, it is continued business-as-usual. Writing in Climate Leviathan, British Marxists Geoff Mann and Jonathan Wainwright lament: “The possibility of rapid global carbon mitigation as climate-change abatement has passed. The world’s elites, at least, appear to have abandoned it – if they ever took it seriously.” Instead, the real plan going forward is one of adaptation to a continuously heating planet.

The same corporate behemoths that dominate the world economy also shape decisions impacting the ecological future. At present, according to Peter Phillips in Giants, 389 major transnational corporations manage a world system worth an estimated $255 trillion, much of that invested in a boundless trove of fossil fuels. The U.S. and Europe hold nearly two-thirds of that total. No more than 100 of these corporations are currently responsible for at least 70 percent of all greenhouse emissions. At the top of this pyramid 17 financial giants drive the world capitalist economy. To date there are no signs that the chieftains of fossil capitalism are ready to deviate from their historically destructive course.

In the U.S. nowadays, there is much inflated talk among Big Tech elites of slashing the carbon footprint, a move obviously beneficial to the corporate image. Managers at Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook seem anxious to launch their own greening crusades. They ritually tout green technology as the preferred route to carbon mitigation. Jeff Bezos claims Amazon will derive 100 percent of its energy from alternative sources by 2030. Other tech oligarchs, in command of a dynamic technological universe, seem to be promising a carbon-free economy – at least partly in response to mounting worker protests.

Another fine illusion: Big Tech and Big Oil have in fact decided to march forward in tight partnership, much to the advantage of those supposedly harmful fossil-fuel interests. The idea of “greening” apparently does not extend to moves by Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and others to profit from assisting those giants (Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP, etc.) to locate better, cheaper, and more efficient drilling and fracking locations. Big Tech can furnish precisely what is most needed: lucrative cloud facilities, AI, robotics, troves of geological and meteorological data. This has been especially helpful in exploiting the mass shale oil boom in Canada and the U.S. Referring to ExxonMobil in particular, Bezos has said that “we need to help them instead of vilifying them.” That could mean an extra 50,000 barrels of shale oil daily for just one climate-destroying enterprise.

While business at Google, Microsoft, and Amazon is doing just fine, worker discontent flows through the hardly-dispossessed ranks – protests and walkouts directed not only at all the climate hypocrisy but at the spread of other “partnerships” with law enforcement, border-security agencies, intelligence operations, and of course the Pentagon. Another Big Tech scheme – to capture and sequester carbon emissions, or CCS – is widely viewed as another fantasy, highly problematic both technically and economically.

The stubborn reality is that, by 2040, the world will be consuming fully one-third more energy than is presently the case – probably 85 percent of that from oil, gas, and coal. Many trillions of dollars in fossil fuels remain to be exploited. Corporate logic dictates that such unbelievable sources of wealth be extracted to the maximum, whatever “greening” targets might be set at Paris and later environmental summits.

Meanwhile, reputable economic projections indicate that China will have a world-leading GDP of $50 trillion by 2040, followed by the U.S. at $34 trillion and India at $28 trillion. Those nations will presumably command more wealth than the rest of the world combined. More daunting, the leading two countries will possess more wealth – and control more resources – than the total of what exists on the planet today. What could this frightening scenario mean for energy consumption? For climate disruption? For social misery? For agriculture and food shortages? For resource wars and the militarism that figures to be both cause and effect of such wars? Could Paris and its succeeding international accords – or any Green New Deal – make a meaningful difference on such a wildly unsustainable planet?

As the crisis worsens, with few if any strong counter-forces on the horizon, what we desperately need is an entirely new political imaginary – one that finally sets the world free of transnational corporate domination.

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Why the UkraineGate Hearings Didn’t Move the Dial


CNN and MSDNC’s talking heads seemed surprised and disappointed that the recent televised impeachment hearings do not appear to have moved any but a small number of Republicans into supporting the impeachment and removal of the demented fascist oligarch Donald Trump.  Liberals roll their eyes while discussing surveys showing that Republican voters are unmoved by clear evidence of Trump’s corrupt conduct in trying to extort political dirt on Joe Biden out of Ukraine with the bribe of American missiles.

But there’s nothing remotely surprising about Republican Amerikaners’ refusal to abandon their Great Tangerine God in the wake of the daytime UkraineGate television show. It’s not just that the most ordinary people of any (or no) political party don’t have time to stay seated for hours in front of telescreens during the workday.  Equally significant is the ongoing savage partisan polarization of U.S. politics, so extreme that Trump could commit almost any crime (dare I say “shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue”?) without losing Republican backing (just as President Barack Obama could have done very little that would have cost him the support of mainstream “liberal” Democrats.)  Partisan polarization has been erasing red lines on executive branch behavior for quite some time when it comes to voters and presidents in the same party.

Another factor is the related extreme partisan polarization of U.S. political media.  Liberals get their political news and commentary from CNN, MSDNC and (further up the class pyramid) the New York Times and Washington Post.  Republicans take their political news and commentary from FOX News, right-wing talk radio, and other starboard outlets where media operatives take their cue from Dear Leader Donald by reporting and discussing UkraineGate as nothing more than a silly but vicious Democratic “hoax” and “witch hunt. The right-wing media bubble relays and amplifies the Trumpified Republican Party’s preposterous assaults on establishment UkraineGate whistleblowers and witnesses as “partisan Democrats” and “Never Trumpers” (a truly strange term of supposed abuse).  It spins wild right-wing conspiracy theories that both influence and reflect the paranoid-style mind of the neofascistic president himself.

Also relevant is the very different way in which the nation’s white Trumpenvolk understand the problem and meaning of corruption.  Trumpists think that Caucasians are becoming a besieged minority targeted for discrimination by “politically correct” liberal and left elites who are turning the nation against proper white values, culture, needs, rights and prerogatives. This “reverse discrimination” victim-whiteness (devoid of evidence for its claims) informs the Trump base’s understanding of the meaning of the word “corruption” in ways the liberal writer Peter Beinart captured well after Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen testified to Congress about his collaboration with the president in the classically corrupt violation of campaign finance laws. For Trump’s base, Beinart wrote in August of 2018, the idea of corruption isn’t so much about politics and the law as it is about racial and gender purity:

‘Trump supporters appear largely unfazed by the mounting evidence that Trump is the least ethical president in modern American history. … Once you grasp that for Trump and many of his supporters, corruption means less the violation of law than the violation of established hierarchies [of race and gender], their behavior makes more sense. … Why were Trump’s supporters so convinced that [Hillary] Clinton was the more corrupt candidate even as reporters uncovered far more damning evidence about Trump’s foundation than they did about Clinton’s? Likely because Clinton’s candidacy threatened traditional gender roles. For many Americans, female ambition—especially in service of a feminist agenda—in and of itself represents a form of corruption…. [Michael] Cohen’s admission makes it harder for Republicans to claim that Trump didn’t violate the law. But it doesn’t really matter. For many Republicans, Trump remains uncorrupt—indeed, anti-corrupt—because what they fear most isn’t the corruption of American law; it’s the corruption of America’s traditional identity. And in the struggle against that form of corruption—the kind embodied by Cristhian Rivera [the “illegal immigrant” accused of murdering the young white woman Mollie Tibbetts in rural Iowa two weeks ago]—Trump isn’t the problem. He’s the solution.’

Trump violated established presidential and foreign policy norms by trying to trade arms to Ukraine in return for political filth on Biden.  Even for Trumpenvolk who are willing to acknowledge this impeachable offense, however, it’s a big so what? The corruption that matters to Trump’s heavily identity-politicized “heartland” base is the purported liberal and left-led assault on and erosion of white-male supremacism.  Donito Assolini is the Amerikaner cohort’s anti-corruption crusader, nobly dedicated to making White Men Supreme Again.

Alongside the polarized partisans, there’s also a vast swath of Americans who checked out from the nation’s nonstop media-politics circus long ago.  Their opinions on Trumpeachment ala Pelosi and Schiff (TAPS) haven’t moved because they couldn’t have cared less before it started and couldn’t care less now.  They don’t see why UkraineGate matters – an all-too understandable sentiment since the Democrats are pursuing impeachment over a relatively small and very intra-elite crime among Trump’s long list of more socially, morally, and environmentally significant transgressions.

Meanwhile, as U.S. public Trump opinion remains largely unchanged in the face of the non-stop Trumpeachment carnival, the media can barely bring itself to report a recent United Nations warning that global temperatures are on pace to rise as much as 3.9 degrees Celsius (7 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century – a “catastrophic” rate of increase that calls for urgent global efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions.

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The Impunity Doctrine: The Meek Shall be Buried Beneath the Earth


Photograph Source: Chris West – CC BY 2.0

The ruling class are feeling the heat. By feeling the heat, I mean they are disproportionately perturbed by toothless condemnation of their tax-avoiding wealth accumulation by presidential hopefuls looking to shore up “progressive” support during the primaries. Never mind that this highly scripted spectacle is underwritten by Wall Street, and its executive producers are the military/tech/industrial complex, the plutocracy will no longer countenance ANY ruptures or least resistance to the neoliberal dragnet it has cast over the earth. Thus they have decided that impunity – as opposed to stealth avoidance of being detected at their crime scenes – is the only way to fortify the “borderless”, garrisoned, surveillance state against the huddled masses. The lucky few experience this heavily stratified, toxic biosphere as their own private pleasure dome, while the luckless majority, with their heads barely above water, are slowly being boiled alive.

Impunity is the tactical weaponry favored by the ruling class; a bipartisan, multinational entity that exclusively serves the interests of the world’s 2,064 billionaires. The immediate results afforded by impunity with its high-powered, shorter-range capabilities has proven more effective at relieving the pain and root causes of rich person suffering: Poor people being mean and totally unreasonable with their demands, resulting in the social unrest that has erupted into mass protests worldwide. Why treat a condition when you can lob tear gas at it, or smash it with a truncheon?

Stealth measures, long-range in scope with consequences that take more time to profitably reap, are insufficient for the task at hand: Stamp out all impediments to capitalism. “Step an inch away from the demarcated line that your chain gang is instructed to keep within, and you will be shot. If you are indigenous and Bolivian, better stay in the mountains or face a firing squad. Indigenous and Brazilian? We will run you over with a logging truck. Venezuelan? Good luck trying to survive without an economy. If you are Palestinian, you will spend the rest of your life in a wheelchair. If you are Saudi and dissident, we will come at you with a bone saw. If you live on a reservation in North America, we will shove a pipeline up your ass. If you are black and American, we will stop, frisk and execute you in your own home. Yemeni? You are already dead. Hong Kong rioter? We will give you a Congressional Medal of Freedom, and further instructions.

Contrast the identical foreign policy objectives of the Obama administration (stealth, long-range drone operators) with the Trump/Kushner regime (clowns wielding assault weapons at close range) to give you some idea of how so-called international diplomacy has shed its Ninja-like complicity with fascists in favor of overt support for their peasant-murdering objectives. Where the former President’s State Department tip-toed around Israel’s illegal settlements, hoping some vaguely worded condemnation would allow it to proceed under the radar, the current government just plows ahead, with Mike Pompeo in a hard hat, taking control of the bulldozers slated for Palestinian home demolitions. “This is totally legit under international law coz I say so”. Where the old Jesus wept, the new Jesus takes the wheel, stomps on the accelerator and proclaims, “The Meek Shall Be Buried Beneath The Earth”.

Impunity, on one hand, normalizes state-sponsored child abductions at the southern border and codifies white supremacy into law. With the other, it makes identity politics the centerpiece of a bourgeois struggle that seeks to elevate a few select candidates from a ‘diverse’ field in order to legitimize the same institutions that continue to benefit from the color and gender-based aspects of class stratification. They call this selective, highly conditional membership into their ranks “equality”, and recognition of its benefits to the few “woke”.

Not surprisingly, Canada’s own “woke” refugee-hugging, pipeline enabling Prime Minister offers his support for a self-proclaimed interim president of Bolivia (chosen by Jesus and Tesla’s shareholders) whose political support stands somewhere between the corpse of Lyndon LaRouche and an equally dead squirrel in a drainpipe. Justin Trudeau talks from the left side of his mouth while screwing progressives with his right fist. Impunity allows a serial offender of ‘blackface’ with a Haida raven tattoo to legitimize a white-faced fascist as her unelected government mows down indigenous protesters in La Paz. Speaking of Tesla, impunity makes it possible for its CEO to take a sledge hammer to his own nuts (and net worth) while launching a brutalist, testosterone-powered vehicle. Elon’s latest Muskmobile leaves no doubt that it’s designed not to transport children to school, but to run them over in the driveway.

Impunity isn’t the chosen weapon of any one political party, but an instrument wielded by the donor class to consolidate their claims on resources competitors in China and Russia might otherwise procure. Their savagery is evident, while the savages themselves despair the “lack of civility” in public discourse, and bemoan the contempt and ridicule leveled at them by jealous plebs. Even Microsoft’s milquetoast founder is baring his tiny yellow fangs at Elizabeth Warren and her tax plan, which is sort of like cutting off your nose to spite your bank account. What will he cut off if Bernie Sanders becomes his party’s nominee? Where politicians and statesmen resort to impunity, private sector profiteers opt for unmitigated gall, literally shedding tears at the prospect having to sacrifice a yacht in the near future to ensure their own survival as a class in the longer term. Most would call this ‘New-er, Better Deal’ for the one-percent a win-win-win for capitalism. The capitalists, however, see it as a pitchfork aimed squarely at their gonads.

“Radicals”, it seems, are defined by a desire to regulate industries, provide medical insurance universally, and levy taxes against the wealthiest members of society to allow more investment in the social sphere. In the not-so-distant past, this was the ‘centrist’ approach, favored by even right-leaning leaders in much of Europe, and even Japan. Today, such modest goals are regarded as “extremist ideology”, disseminated by Russian bots on Facebook, and justification for toppling democratically elected leaders who prioritize the needs of the poor over the desires of a global cabal of billionaires.

Steroid Centrists, like most violent offenders in this day and age, having realized that forensics and surveillance get them in the end, (so why bother even trying to evade punishment?) have opted to go out in an inglorious blaze of nothing-to-lose nihilism. The ‘smart’ solution is now the nuclear option. Consequences be damned for each blowback-inducing item on their bucket list: Give Israel carte blanche to carry out its final solution to the problem of still existing Palestinians. Further destabilize the Middle East. Fuck with China. Make all wildlife “functionally extinct”. Melt more ice-caps! Currently at the top of their list: Recognize right-wing coup plotters as the legitimate leaders of a country whose elected president is brown and socialist. Never mind that your self-appointed “interim president” is a genocidal half wit Avon lady in an ammo belt – all the better to convey your balls out agenda and leaving no ambiguity as to one’s own fate in a world order based on a spree killer’s ‘to do’ list before swallowing a bullet.

Our overlords are re-defining their ruthless predator role as a “moderate” and stabilizing force albeit one that will crush all resistance to its planet-destroying objectives. “Only we can provide the necessary bulwarks against school lunch programs and Islamic jihad alike”. Achieving these ends with brute force, often in front of a news camera, signals to us all that any resistance will be met with the same impunity that tortured and murdered a secular Libyan leader in broad daylight, and still shoots children when they wander too close to an apartheid wall.

Neoliberalism is hardly a rational (or as some would say, inevitable) progression from the diverse and disconnected economies of the Soviet-era to universal acceptance of a consumerist, market-driven monoculture once hailed by Frances Fukuyama as “the common ideological heritage of all mankind”. Nor can it be implemented without violent coercion or military force. Traditionally, it has relied less on the latter, and more heavily on propaganda provided by a wholly controlled media-apparatus (now calling its pundit panel of spooks ‘The Resistance’ in yet another Orwellian assault on the dictionary). This elite squadron of Deep State squids have appointed themselves the gatekeepers of information, protecting us all from ‘fake news’ through a steady regime of obfuscation and Party agitprop to ensure the duopoly remains stalwart to its fundraising goals, and wholly beholden to the donor class.

If you are the British establishment tabloid press, make Jeremy Corbyn worse than Hitler. Just replace his picture at a recent debate with images of desecrated Jewish cemeteries, while providing a platform for tear-strained Blair-ites to conjure up the coming holocaust under his leadership. While you are dredging up history to realign it with your own beliefs, why not reincarnate Joe McCarthy to defend liberal establishment plutocrats against Russian oligarchs? Enlist an elite cadre of lesbians to make the case for endless war and the lovability of war criminals. Elevate wheezing old apparatchik Josef Bidenevsky to replace the doddering nazi the party’s central committee “elected” while drunk on Grey Goose vodka.

Hybrid warfare, which usually provides cover for the aggressor nation or multinational, allowing it to avoid detection in the ‘grey zone’ it operates within, is no longer a covert strategy, but an openly waged campaign against humanity itself, with both the establishment left and the hard right steering its neoliberal course. Their propaganda efforts, rather than subtle tweaks on neutral-sounding terms like “human rights” so that they apply exclusively to oil companies, have now abandoned all attempts to disguise either authorship (the plutocracy and its Deep State subsidiaries) or intent (eliminate all competition from the international playing field).

The Impunity Doctrine is the blunt force expression of what was once called ‘soft power’. We are subjected daily to a relentless pummeling against reason, whether it’s Donald Trump’s Twitter feed or Rachel Maddow’s nightly (mis)infomercials for her corporate sponsors. Either way we toe party line, (Collusion! or ‘Covefef’) the result is a cry of “Banzai!” (and the sound of “Ka-Ching”) from the trading floors of Goldman Sachs. Just as the Corporate State tightens its oxygen-depleting chokehold across the globe, destroying all resistance with the speed and force of a flesh-eating superbug pandemic, its media organizations deliberately transmit this particularly deadly strain of the Capitalist Virus.

Impunity takes many forms, most of them almost comic in the audacity and willingness of the ruling class to push the proverbial envelope, and the rest of us down an elevator shaft. In case you missed the memo (Die now, stinking peasant!) our aggrieved overlords even made a movie. A dancing jackass in clown makeup kills everyone who was ever mean to him and ultimately widens his scope to take down ordinary folk standing in the way of his genius. Tragically, it’s a film that plays out whenever a billionaire is spooked by the possibility of a peasant’s publicly funded visit to the dentist.

As we navigate the charred, corpse-strewn terrain left in the wake of the plutocracy’s answered prayers (obliterating the Bolivarians, serving Palestine with an eviction notice, and weakening the Chinese government to name just a few items on its checked off wish list) it might be worth remembering that impunity offers encouraging signs of desperation on the part of the offenders who resort to it. Their short-term, ultimately self-destructive aims might suggest an awareness of their own declining power, and foreknowledge of their own demise. Having consigned the rubble of Empire to Donald Trump, the stateless superpower aka The Axis of Wealth that has replaced the old ‘America First’ Imperial order can only tilt so far in its own favor before losing all equilibrium. Peak Greed is an indication that the structural hold of present hierarchies is about to flip.

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The Real Danger in US Decision to Normalize Illegal Jewish Settlements

Israel’s Next Move: The Real Danger in US Decision to Normalize Illegal Jewish Settlements


It is hardly shocking that the United States government has finally decreed that illegal Jewish settlements which have been built in defiance of international law, are, somehow, “consistent” with international law.

US foreign policy has been edging closer towards this conclusion for some time. Since his advent to the White House in January 2017, President Donald Trump has unleashed a total and complete reversal of his country’s foreign policy regarding Palestine and Israel.

Let us not have any illusion regarding the American approach to the so-called ‘Israeli-Palestinian conflict’ prior to Trump’s Presidency. The US has never, not even once, stood up for Palestinians or Arabs since the establishment of the State of Israel over the ruins of historic Palestine in 1948. Moreover, Washington has bankrolled the Israeli occupation of Palestine in every possible way, including the subsidizing of the illegal Jewish settlements.

However, Pompeo’s statement at a State Department press conference on November 18 that, “the establishment of Israeli civilian settlements is not, per se, inconsistent with international law,” is still very dangerous and it does, in fact, constitute a political departure from previous US policies. How?

Historically, the US has struggled in its understanding of international law, not because of its lack of legal savvy but because, quite often, US interests clashed with the will of the international community. A recurring case in point is the Israeli occupation of Palestine, where the US has vetoed or voted against numerous United Nations Security Council and General Assembly resolutions that either criticized Israel or supported the rights of the Palestinians.

Only in 1978, did an American Administration dare describe Israeli settlements as “inconsistent with international law”. That declaration took place during Jimmy Carter’s Presidency, when Washington began earnestly fiddling with the “peace process” political model, which eventually led to the signing of the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty, signed at Camp David in 1979.

“Since then,” Joseph Hincks wrote in Time Magazine online, “Republican and Democratic Presidents have referred to settlements as ‘illegitimate’ but declined to call them illegal—a designation that would make them subject to international sanctions.”

That said, it was Reagan himself – although objecting to the principle of illegality of the settlements – who deemed them to be an “obstacle to peace”, demanding a freeze on all settlement construction.

Pompeo’s statement is, in fact, compatible with Washington’s self-contradictions regarding the construction of Israel’s illegal settlement in occupied Palestine.

In December 2016, the Barack Obama administration declined to veto a UN Security Council resolution that described the settlements as a “flagrant violation” of international law, adding that they have “no legal validity”.

Although Obama chose to abstain from the vote, that very decision was, itself, seen as a historical departure from traditional US foreign policy-making, further highlighting the US unconditional and, often, blind support for Israel.

While, in some way, the Trump administration’s support for Israel is a continuation of the dismal trajectory of American bias, it is also particularly unique and disturbing.

Previous US administrations attempted to maintain a degree of balance between their own interests and those of Israel. Trump, on the other hand, seems to have aligned his country’s foreign policy regarding Palestine and Israel entirely with that of Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his right-wing camp.

Indeed, for over two years, the State Department has been giving Israel political carte blanche, agreeing to all of Israel’s demands and expectations and asking for nothing in return. As a result, Washington has accepted Israel’s designation of Jerusalem, including occupied East Jerusalem, as Israel’s “eternal and undivided capital”; agreed to Israel’s sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights; and actively plotted to dismiss the issue of Palestinian refugees altogether. The latest announcement by Pompeo was but one of many such steps.

One theory regarding the ongoing surrender of US foreign policy to Israel is that Washington is slowly, but permanently, withdrawing from the Middle East, a process that began in the later years of George W. Bush’s presidency and continued unabated throughout the two terms of Obama administration as well. The current succumbing to Israel’s wishes is like America’s departing gift to its most faithful ally in the Middle East.

Another explanation is concerned with the apparently defunct “deal of the century”, a vaguely defined political doctrine that seeks to normalize Israel, regionally and internationally, while keeping the status quo of occupation and Apartheid untouched.

For that deal to be resurrected after months of inertia, Washington is keen to prolong Netanyahu’s premiership, especially as the long-serving Israeli Prime Minister is facing his greatest political challenge and even a possible jail time for various corruption charges.

Currently, Israel is undergoing a political crisis – two general elections within six months, with the possibility of a third election, coupled with a historic socio-economic and political polarization among the people. To keep Netanyahu politically alive, his allies in Washington have thrown him some major lifelines, all in the hope of winning him more support among Israel’s dominant right-wing political camp.

By rendering the illegal settlements “consistent” with international law, Washington is paving the road for Israel to annex all major settlement blocs in the occupied West Bank.

Israel, which was never truly concerned with international law in the first place, urgently required this American nod to move forward with annexing at least 60% of the West Bank.

With the hemorrhaging of US concessions to Israel, Netanyahu is eager for more. Desperate to strengthen his faltering grip on power, the Israeli leader agreed on November 20 to advance a bill that calls for the annexation of the Jordan Valley.

The bill was drafted by a member of the Israeli Likud – Netanyahu’s party – Sharren Haskel, who tweeted following Netanyahu’s decision, that the US announcement was “an opportunity to promote my law for sovereignty in the [Jordan] Valley.”

The US decision to defy international law on settlements is not dangerous because it violates international law, for the latter has hardly been a concern for Washington. The danger lies in the fact that the US foreign policy regarding the Israeli occupation has become a mere rubber stamp, that allows Israel’s extreme right-wing government to single-handedly determine the fate of the Palestinian people and sow the seed of instability and war in the Middle East for many years to come.

More articles by:RAMZY BAROUD

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Israel’s Next Move: The Real Danger in US Decision to Normalize Illegal Jewish Settlements

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Betrayed by Joe Biden: a Personal History


Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

Even at age 77, Joe Biden cuts a dashing figure. In 1972, when he was 29 and I was 15, he spoke at my high school in suburban Wilmington Delaware. I practically swooned over the handsome, charismatic young Biden as he spoke passionately about civil rights, environmental protection, womens’ rights and ending the Viet Nam War.  I’d already told my father that I wanted to work for environmental protection and he had assured me that he’d put me on the first train to Montreal if I were drafted for the war that Nixon had promised to end, but instead had escalated.  (My friend Rosemary’s older brother had returned from Viet Nam in a box.)  After hearing Biden, I enthusiastically volunteered to canvass Wilmington for both the presidential candidate George McGovern and Senate candidate Joe Biden.  On Election Day, we knocked on hundreds of doors to get out the vote. Biden’s victory felt like a silver lining to Senator McGovern’s lopsided defeat to Nixon.

Years later, in law school, as we read and discussed Supreme Court cases, Thurgood Marshall emerged as a hero to me.  He’d not only argued and won the Brown v. Board of Education case desegregating schools, during his tenure on the Court, Marshall and his colleagues, Justices Douglas and Brennan, had reshaped the law and our country, bringing to fruition more of the Constitution’s promises of civil rights and upholding newly-enacted environmental laws and regulations that were already under attack by the fossil fuel and chemical industries.  In the Rehnquist era, Marshall’s strongly-worded dissents left hope that the rightward trend of the country and the Court would not endure forever.  I hoped that, as Martin Luther King had said, “The arc of history bends toward justice.”

By September 1991, I was studying at George Washington University for a Master of Laws, specializing in environmental law and I’d taken a position as an enforcement attorney at EPA.  When President George H.W. Bush nominated Clarence Thomas to “replace” my idol, Thurgood Marshall, I was disgusted.  To me, Thomas seemed unfit to even carry Thurgood Marshall’s briefcase.

Apparently, other lawyers agreed.  The American Bar Association rated Clarence Thomas “unqualified,” the first time the ABA had rated any Supreme Court nominee unqualified.  And the press quoted women recounting vulgar and persistent harassment they’d endured from Thomas when he’d served as Chair of the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission – the very agency charged with eliminating workplace discrimination.

I was encouraged when Biden convened the Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearing of Thomas.  I expected Biden would fulfil the promises he’d made in numerous campaigns and speeches and at my high school two decades earlier.  The Judiciary Committee seemed to have plenty of ammunition to stop Thomas and force Bush to nominate a more moderate, better-qualified judge who hadn’t abused his power by harassing women.  At Biden’s urging, one of the complainants, Anita Hill, agreed to testify.

Well, the rest, as they say, is history.  Biden didn’t bother to call witnesses from the ABA to explain their “unqualified” rating or other lawyers who’d worked with Thomas.  He didn’t defend Anita Hill from vicious attacks by Republican Senators during the hearing and in the press.  And he didn’t bother to call corroborating witnesses to support her.  When Thomas (predictably) played the race card, describing the Senate hearing as a “high-tech lynching of an uppity black man,” Biden seemed to fold before the cameras.

The consequences of Biden’s ineptitude are profound and enduring.  In case anyone has forgotten, in 2000, Clarence Thomas was one of the five Supreme Court justices who voted to halt the Florida recount.  Arguably, if Biden had done his job, Bush might have been forced to nominate a moderate and more qualified judge who didn’t owe quite so much to the Republican Party.  And maybe a President Gore would have managed to enact climate legislation.

Alas, Biden’s mis-handling of the Thomas hearing is hardly an anomaly.  As chair of the Judiciary Committee, Biden pushed through bankruptcy “reform” over strong recommendations from Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren, whose research found that consumers got into too much debt primarily because of medical bills, student loans and predatory credit card lending practices along with abusively-high interest rates.  Acting on behalf of his campaign donors at credit card giant MBNA (headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware), Biden ignored Prof. Warren’s recommendations and proceeded to all but eliminate access to Chapter 7 bankruptcy for consumers and families.

Other instances of Biden’s perfidy: As Judiciary chair, he pushed through the “crime bill” in 1994, imposing mandatory sentences for petty drug possession.  The result has been well documented: Mass incarceration, primarily of poor people of color.  And while in recent years he evades this point, Senator Biden voted in support of two wars in the Middle East.

Biden fooled me and others students at A.I. DuPont High School in 1972.  Don’t let him fool you.  While Biden claims to be a champion of the people, his 36-year record reveals a Senator who consistently did the bidding of the powerful and privileged.

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Climate Change is a War Crime


Mill and power plan, Oregon City. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

Climate change is a war crime.

International jurisprudence recognizes the supreme crime as the making of aggressive war. This principle formed the basis of and justification for the Nuremberg and Tokyo War Crimes Tribunals (held variously from 1945 to 1949). Aggressive war is the supreme crime because all other possible crimes can occur in parallel, in association with, and as a consequence of the making of aggressive war; the perpetrators of war having opened a Pandora’s Box of destruction, death and evil. Also, the making of aggressive war is necessarily of international scope even if the combat is confined to one nation as a “civil war,” because any war causes disruptions, displacements and involvements that affect and include other nations.

Aggressive war is a drive to power by its perpetrators to gain dominion over other lands and people, and to consolidate dictatorial power within their own countries, all for the most-desired purposes of: structuring the national economies to enrich themselves exorbitantly; to compress the free will and independent thinking in the dominated societies into a monolithic and slavish obedience to, and adoration of the egos of, the war leaders; and to be able to crush opponents without mercy and to pass judgments and issue punishments without legal restraints or personal hazard.

Throughout history there have been many individuals who have sought success by pouring themselves into warmongering activity. As with any field of endeavor, some succeed spectacularly, some only achieve partial mediocre results, and many are utter failures — in this last case fortunately for humanity. Warmongering is always an activity that is anchored in a socio-political hierarchy, which the warmongers exploit. The job-seeker flunkies, technicians, thugs and bureaucrats — the Class B war criminals, if you will — who seek places in a warmonger-leader’s ideology and hierarchical movement so as to advance their own personal circumstances and social status, form the gear-train between the leadership and the herded masses; they transform the leaders’ intent into actions and forces that compel the movements and work of the masses.

Wars can be prosecuted along many dimensions of social activity. The most obvious is the violent use of technology — guns, bombs, armaments and war vehicles — provided by war-oriented industries. Another is by economic warfare: boycotts, embargoes, sanctions, industrial and agricultural sabotage. A nation with a large, strong and diversified economy can more easily intimidate a nation with a smaller, more primitive and narrowly defined economy. Other aspects of economic warfare are currency manipulation, and the selling of indebtedness to weaker nations under stress. Our early 21st century world is one in which the technology and use of electronic telecommunications have embedded themselves into the moment-by-moment operations of: military coordination; trade and economic transactions; the diffusion of news, entertainment and propaganda; and the transmission of personal messages. Warmongers who can control, manipulate and deny the use of communications infrastructure to an enemy population will have a powerful advantage.

Any warmonger’s drive to political power will require two essential ingredients: sources of physical energy for producing chemical and electro-mechanical power, and money. The most concentrated and transportable sources of such physical power today are fossil fuels, which are provided by petrochemical industries. Fossil fuels are the most easily used substances for powering the transport of the full spectrum of military vehicles; and petrochemicals are essential ingredients in the fabrication of explosives and propellants used in armaments. Money is essential to the schemes of a warmonger in order to purchase the hardware for prosecuting war, to buy the allegiance through employment of the lower level flunkies (patronage), and to sprinkle the herded masses with some minimal palliatives (bread and circuses).

Fossil fuels are how almost all of us acquire the external physical power we use in our daily lives. It powers our automobiles, our airplane and marine transportation; and the combustion of fossil fuels is the major source of the mechanical power used to turn the electric generators that supply our homes and businesses with electricity. It is technically possible to use solar, wind and hydro (gravity) sources of energy to crank our electric generators for civilian electrical power, but those ‘green’ sources are all of low concentration and require large collection areas (solar farms, windmill arrays, rivers and reservoirs and ocean tidal flows), so they are useless for mobile military purposes. Because fossil fuels — and in particular petroleum — are such potent and convenient sources of physical power, they are very highly desired worldwide, and that means that fortunes can be made by producing and selling them, and no serious war-making scheme can advance without them.

The most efficient engine of war that human ingenuity has ever devised is called capitalism. This engine is designed as an economic system that generates money — distributed hierarchically within the system to grease its own operation through cupidity — from the extraction of natural resources that are industrially processed into: fossil fuels, metals and plastics, solid state materials used in our electro-optical and telecommunications infrastructure, and industrialized agriculture. One type of industry that processes raw materials into technological products is that which supplies and maintains military forces. Politics in any society is how the economy is administered, how the costs and the benefits are distributed. Most of us will see a society as “militarist” if the military forces and their associated industries dominate the nation’s politics and the national economy, paying few of the public costs and extracting huge targeted benefits. Similarly, most of us will see a society as “socialist” (or democratic socialist, or capitalist welfare state) if the public costs required and personal benefits produced by its economy are very evenly and equitably distributed throughout the population, and military forces and war industries are only as large as prudent for national self-defense, and represent only minor parts of the economy and the political power-structure.

Capitalist societies (and which ones today aren’t?) that are misshaped to fit the schemes of warmongering elites will be those seeking “to gain dominion over other lands and people and to consolidate dictatorial power within their own countries.” This is aggressive war by a combination of military force, economic intimidation and cyber warfare, as described earlier. These aggressive wars — against the international public — are fossil-fueled, and are the primary sources of the CO2, methane (and hydrocarbon) and NOx emissions that cause global warming (climate change). Now, the globally accepted euphemisms for categorizing these wars are “competitiveness” and “economic competition.” The idea here is that “our” efforts to gain economic and physical advantages (money, resource extraction and privileged use of territory) over “them” is part of an economic-sport competition (“trade,” “free market,” “world market,” “the great game”). But in this arena of competition “it’s not how you play the game, but whether you win or lose,” and “nice guys finish last,” are the attitudes of choice. This is unregulated capitalism, it is war, and this is the source of global warming and its associated environmental degradation.

Therefore, since war in all its forms against the international public interest is always a crime: climate change is a war crime.

The ending of today’s many climate change-producing wars will require — as with so many earlier wars — an international alliance of the “regular people” outside the warmongering political-economic elites, in this case to support each other’s efforts to gain domestic political power to green-socialize their national economies, and to bring to justice in national and international tribunals the leading militarists, industrialists, bankers-financiers and authoritarian politicos whose supremely egotistical drives to power and wealth are withering the humanity, spirits and intellects of the societies they exploitatively herd, and are poisoning the habitability of Planet Earth.

I realize that this monumental task of popular revolutionary transformation will seem politically impossible to most “rational” people. But isn’t the achievement of a just management of national and international economics on an environmentally revitalized Planet Earth with sustainable energy production and use, with less exacerbation of global warming, with internationally cooperative forms of ameliorating the unavoidable effects of advancing localized changes of climate, and with no aggressive wars — both bloody and of “economic competition” — a vision worth investing political activity towards? Such political activity can gain some passion with the realization that: climate change is a war crime.

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Nuclear Lies and Broken Promises


Photograph Source: Jack W. Aeby – Public Domain

When Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told an economic meeting in the city of Sivas this September that Turkey was considering building nuclear weapons, he was responding to a broken promise.

When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the government of Iran of lying about its nuclear program, he was concealing one of the greatest subterfuges in the history of nuclear weapons.

And the vast majority of Americans haven’t a clue about either.

U.S. Cover for Israel

Early in the morning of September 22, 1979, a U.S. satellite recorded a double flash near the Prince Edward islands in the South Atlantic. The satellite, a Vela 5B, carries a device called a “bhangmeter” whose purpose is to detect nuclear explosions. Sent into orbit following the signing of the Partial Test Ban Treaty in 1963, its job was to monitor any violations of the agreement. The treaty banned nuclear explosions in the atmosphere, underwater, and in space.

Nuclear explosions have a unique footprint. When the weapon detonates, it sends out an initial pulse of light. But as the fireball expands, it cools down for a few milliseconds, then spikes again.

“Nothing in nature produces such a double-humped light flash,” says Victor Gilinsky. “The spacing of the hump gives an indication of the amount of energy, or yield, released by the explosion.” Gilinsky was a member of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and a former Rand Corporation physicist.

There was little question who had conducted the test. The Prince Edward islands were owned by South Africa, and U.S. intelligence knew the apartheid government was conducting research into nuclear weapons. But while South Africa had yet to produce a nuclear weapon, Israel had nukes — and the two countries had close military ties. In short, it was almost certainly an Israeli weapon, though Israel denied it.

In the weeks that followed, clear evidence for a nuclear test emerged from hydrophones near Ascension Island and a jump in radioactive iodine-131 in Australian sheep. Only nuclear explosions produce iodine-131.

But the test came at a bad time for U.S. president Jimmy Carter, who was gearing up his re-election campaign, a cornerstone of which was a peace agreement between Israel and Egypt. If the Israelis were seen to have violated the Partial Test Ban, as well as the 1977 Glenn Amendment to the Arms Export Control Act, the U.S. would have been required to cut off all arms sales to Israel and apply heavy sanctions. Carter was nervous about what such a finding would have on the election, since a major part of Carter’s platform was arms control and non-proliferation.

So Carter threw together a panel of experts whose job was not to examine the incident but to cover it up. The Ruina Panel cooked up a tortured explanation involving mini-meteors that the media accepted and, as a result, so did the American public.

But nuclear physicists knew the panel was blowing smoke and that the evidence was unarguable. The device was set off on a barge between Prince Edward Island (South Africa’s, not Canada’s) and Marion Island with a yield of between 3 and 4 kilotons. A secret CIA panel concurred but put the yield at 1.5 to 2 kilotons. For comparison, the Hiroshima bomb was 15 kilotons.

It was also clear why the Israelis took the risk. Israel had a number of Hiroshima-style fission bombs but was working on producing a thermonuclear weapon — a hydrogen bomb. Fission bombs are easy to use, but fusion weapons are tricky and require a test. That the Vela picked it up was pure chance, since the satellite had been retired. But its bhangmeters were still working.

From Carter on, every U.S. president has covered up the Israeli violation of the 1963 Partial Test Ban Treaty, as well as the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). So when Netanyahu says Iran is lying about its nuclear program, much of the rest of the world —  including the U.S. nuclear establishment — rolls their eyes.

Nuclear Apartheid

As for Turkish president Erdogan, he is perfectly correct that the nuclear powers have broken the promise they made back in 1968 when the signed the NPT.

Article VI of that agreement calls for an end to the nuclear arms race and the abolition of nuclear weapons. Indeed, in many ways Article VI is the heart of the NPT. Non-nuclear armed countries signed the agreement, only to find themselves locked into a system of “nuclear apartheid” — where they agreed not to acquire such weapons of mass destruction, while China, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, and the U.S. get to keep theirs.

The “Big Five” not only kept their weapons, they are all in the process of upgrading and expanding them. The U.S. is meanwhile shedding other agreements, like the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force Agreement. Washington is also getting ready to abandon the START treaty that limits the U.S. and Russia to a set number of warheads and long-range strategic launchers.

What is amazing is that only four other countries have abandoned the NPT: Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, and India (only the latter three have been sanctioned by the U.S.). But that situation cannot hold forever, especially since part of Article VI calls for general disarmament, a pledge that has been honored in the breach. The U.S. currently has nearly the largest defense budget in its history and spends as much on its military as 144 other countries combined.

While the U.S. doesn’t seem able to win wars with that huge military — Afghanistan and Iraq remain disasters — it can inflict a stunning amount of damage that few countries are willing to absorb. Even when Washington doesn’t resort to its military, its sanctions can decimate a country’s economy and impoverish its citizens. North Korea and Iran are cases in point.

If the U.S. were willing to cover up the 1979 Israeli test while sanctioning other countries that acquire nuclear weapons, why would anyone think that this is nothing more than hypocrisy on the subject of proliferation? And if the NPT is simply a device to ensure that other countries cannot defend themselves from other nations’ conventional and/or nuclear forces, why would anyone sign on or stay in the treaty?

Turkish President Erdogan may be bluffing. He loves bombast and uses it effectively to keep his foes off balance. The threat may be a strategy for getting the U.S. to back off on its support for Israel and Greece in their joint efforts to develop energy sources in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

But Turkey also has security concerns. In his speech, Erdogan pointed out “There is Israel just beside us. Do they have [nuclear weapons]? They do.” He went on to say that if Turkey did not response to Israeli “bullying,” in the region, “we will face the prospect of losing our strategic superiority in the region.”

Iran may be lying about the scope of its nuclear ambitions — although there is no evidence that Tehran is making a serious run at producing a nuclear weapon — but if they are, they in good company with the Americans and the Israelis.

The Path to Sanity

Sooner or later, someone is going to set off one of those nukes. The likeliest candidates are India and Pakistan, although use by the U.S. and China in the South China Sea is not out of the question. Neither is a dustup between NATO and Russia in the Baltic.

It is easy to blame the current resident of the White House for world tensions, except that the major nuclear powers have been ignoring their commitments on nuclear weapons and disarmament for over 50 years.

The path back to sanity is thorny but not impossible:

One: The U.S. should rejoin the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, thus making Russia’s medium range missiles unnecessary, and reduce tensions between the U.S. and China by withdrawing ABM systems from Japan and South Korea.

Two: The U.S. should reinstate the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Agreement and find a way to bring China, India, and Pakistan into it. That will require a general reduction of U.S. military forces in Asia coupled with an agreement with China to back off on its claims over most of the South China Sea. Tensions between India and Pakistan would be greatly reduced by simply fulfilling the UN pledge to hold a referendum in Kashmir. The latter would almost certainly vote for independence.

Three: The U.S. must continue its adherence to the START agreement, while the Big Five countries need to halt the modernization of their existing arsenals — and begin, at long last, to implement Article VI of the NPT in regards to both nuclear and conventional forces.

Pie in the sky? Well, it beats a mushroom cloud.

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Hunger Games: Food Abundance and Twisted Truths


Farm, Young’s Bay, Oregon. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

The world already produces enough food to feed 10 billion people but over two billion are experiencing micronutrient deficiencies (of which 821 million were classed as chronically undernourished in 2018). However, supporters of genetic engineering (GE) crops continually push the narrative that GE technology is required if we are to feed the world and properly support farmers.  

First of all, it must be stressed that there is already sufficient evidence to question the efficacy of GE crops; however, despite this, conventional options and innovations that outperform GE crops are in danger of being sidelined in a rush by powerful, publicly unaccountable private interests like the Gates Foundation to facilitate the introduction of GE into global agriculture; crops whose main ‘added value’ is the financial rewards accrued by the corporations behind them.

Secondly, even if we are to accept that at some stage GE can supplement conventional practices, we must acknowledge that from the outset of the GMO project, the sidelining of serious concerns about the technology has occurred and despite industry claims to the contrary, there is no scientific consensus on the health impacts of GE crops.

Both the Cartagena Protocol and Codex share a precautionary approach to GE crops and foods, in that they agree that GE differs from conventional breeding. There is sufficient reason to hold back on commercialising GE crops and to subject each GMO to independent, transparent environmental, social, economic and health impact evaluations.

To evaluate the pro-GMO lobby’s rhetoric that GE is needed to ‘feed the world’, we first need to understand the dynamics of a globalized food system that fuels hunger and malnutrition against a backdrop of food overproduction. As Andrew Smolski describes it: capitalism’s production of ‘hunger in abundance’.

Over the last 50 years, we have seen the consolidation of an emerging global food regime based on agro-export mono-cropping (often with non-food commodities taking up prime agricultural land) and linked to sovereign debt repayment and World Bank/IMF ‘structural adjustment’ directives. The outcomes have included a displacement of a food-producing peasantry, the consolidation of Western agri-food oligopolies and the transformation of many countries from food self-sufficiency into food deficit areas.

As long as these dynamics persist and food injustice remains an inherent feature of the global food regime, the rhetoric of GM being necessary for feeding the world is merely ideology and bluster. Furthermore, if we continue to regard food as a commodity in a globalized capitalist food system, we shall continue to see the comprehensive contamination of food with sugar, bad fats, synthetic additives, GMOs and pesticides and rising rates of diseases and serious health conditions, including surges in obesity, diabetes and cancer incidence, but no let-up in the under-nutrition of those too poor to join in the over-consumption.

Looking at India as an example, although it continues to do poorly in world hunger rankings, the country has achieved self-sufficiency in food grains and has ensured there is enough food available to feed its entire population. It is the world’s largest producer of milk, pulses and millets and the second-largest producer of rice, wheat, sugarcane, groundnuts, vegetables, fruit and cotton.

Farmers therefore produce enough food. It stands to reason that hunger and malnutrition result from other factors (such as inadequate food distribution, inequality and poverty). It is again a case of ‘scarcity’ amid abundance. The country even continues to export food while millions remain hungry.

While the pro-GMO lobby says GE will boost productivity and help secure cultivators a better income, this too is misleading as it again ignores crucial political and economic contexts; with bumper harvests, Indian farmers still find themselves in financial distress.

India’s farmers are not experiencing hardship due to low productivity. They are reeling from the effects of neoliberal policies, years of neglect and a deliberate strategy to displace smallholder agriculture at the behest of the World Bank and predatory global agri-food corporations. It’s for good reason that the calorie and essential nutrient intake of the rural poor has drastically fallen.

And yet, the pro-GMO lobby wastes no time in wrenching these issues from their political contexts to use the notions of ‘helping farmers’ and ‘feeding the world’ as lynchpins of its promotional strategy.

Agroecological principles

Many of the traditional practices of small farmers are now recognised as sophisticated and appropriate for high-productive, sustainable agriculture. These practices involve an integrated low-input systems approach to agriculture that emphasises, among other things, local food security and sovereignty, diverse nutrition production per acre, water table stability, climate resilience and good soil structure. Agroecology represents a shift away from the reductionist yield-output industrial paradigm, which results in enormous pressures on health and the environment.

A recent FAO high-level report called for agroecology and smallholder farmers to be prioritised and invested in to achieve global sustainable food security. Smallholder (non-GMO) farming using low-input methods tends to be more productive in total output than large-scale industrial farms and can be more profitable and resilient to climate change.

Despite the fact that globally industrial agriculture grabs 80 per cent of subsidies and 90 per cent of research funds, smallholder agriculture plays a major role in feeding the world. At the same time, these massive subsidies and funds support a system that is only made profitable because agri-food oligopolies externalize the massive health, social and environmental costs of their operations.

These corporations leverage their financial clout, lobby networks, funded science and political influence to cement a ‘thick legitimacy’ among policy makers for their vision of agriculture. In turn,  World Bank ‘enabling the business of agriculture’ directives, the World Trade Organization ‘agreement on agriculture’ and trade related intellectual property rights help secure their interests.

In the meantime, supporters of GMO agriculture continue to display a willful ignorance of the structure of the food system which produces the very problem it claims it can resolve. The pro-GMO scientific lobby arrogantly pushes its ideological agenda while ignoring the root causes of poverty, hunger and malnutrition and denigrating genuine solutions centred on food sovereignty.

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Final thoughts on Zionism’s success, Arab failure

Alan Hart

By Alan Hart

I am withdrawing from the battlefield of the war for the truth of history as it relates to the making and sustaining of the conflict in and over Palestine that became Israel, and the following is an explanation of why.

Exposing Zionism’s lies

More than three decades ago when I made my commitment to this war effort, in the full knowledge that it would make me persona non grata in the eyes of the mainstream media I had served with some distinction, I believed that the single most amazing thing about the conflict was Zionism’s success in selling its propaganda lies – lies which were told not only to justify anything and everything the Zionist (not Jewish) state of Israel did and does, but also to establish and fix the boundaries of what could and could not be discussed in public discourse about Israel’s policies and actions. (I mean what could and could not be discussed by non-Jews, Europeans and Americans especially, if they didn’t want to be terrorized by smears and false charges of anti-Semitism which could result in them losing their positions and jobs).

What could be called the Mother and Father of Zionism’s propaganda lies is the assertion that all the Jews of the world are descended from the ancient Hebrews and therefore have a common ethnic origin and national heritage. In other words, according to Zionism’s assertion, Palestine is by definition the ancestral homeland of all the Jews of the world; and this, it is further asserted by Zionism, means that Israel has the right to sovereignty over all the land it occupies today and Jews from anywhere have the right to settle on it.

As Israeli historian Shlomo Sand explains in his book The Invention of the Jewish People, that is simply not true. And as I noted in my book Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews(which was published before Sand’s work), almost all if not all the Jews who went to Palestine in answer to Zionism’s call had no biological connection to the ancient Hebrews. They, like almost all Jews, were the descendants of peoples from many homelands (mainly in Eastern and Western Europe) who converted to Judaism centuries after the brief rule of the ancient Hebrews ended and who, after their conversion, had only their religion and its rituals in common.

Though they subsequently converted to Islam and Christianity, it is possible that when Zionism declared itself to be in existence 1897 there were more Palestinian Arabs than Palestinian Jews who were descended from the ancient Hebrews.

Zionism’s claim that the Jews of the world have a right to the land now occupied by Greater Israel does not bear honest examination.

One of the most influential of Zionism’s follow-up propaganda lies asserted that Israel was given its birth certificate and thus its legitimacy by the United Nations Partition Resolution of 29 November 1947. As I document in detail in my book and have indicated over the years in more than a few articles and presentations of public platforms of all kinds, that is propaganda nonsense.

In the first place, the UN without the consent of the majority of the people of Palestine did not have the right to decide to partition Palestine or assign any part of its territory to a minority of alien immigrants in order for them to establish a state of their own.

Despite that, by the narrowest of margins, and only after a rigged vote (rigged by Zionist pressure amounting to blackmail on the leaders and governments of some member states), the UN General Assembly did pass a resolution to partition Palestine and create two states, one Arab, one Jewish, with Jerusalem not part of either. But the General Assembly resolution was only a proposal – meaning that it could have no effect, would not become policy, unless approved by the Security Council.

The truth is that the General Assembly’s partition proposal never went to the Security Council for consideration. Why not? Because the US knew that, if approved, it could only be implemented by force, and President Truman was not prepared to use force to partition Palestine.

So the partition plan was vitiated (became invalid), and the question of what the hell to do about Palestine after the occupying British had been driven out it by Zionist terrorism was taken back to the General Assembly for more discussion. The option favoured and proposed by the US was temporary UN Trusteeship. It was while the General Assembly was debating what to do next that Israel unilaterally declared itself to be in existence – actually, in defiance of the will of the organized international community as it then was, including the Truman administration.

The truth of the time was that Israel had no right to exist. It came into existence because Ben-Gurion had done everything necessary to guarantee that his Jewish forces would be more than sufficient in numbers and well enough armed to roll back and defeat any Arab military response to Israel’s unilateral declaration of independence, and that Zionist might would prevail over Palestinian right.

Thereafter Zionism was successful in convincing the Western world that poor little Israel lived in constant danger of annihilation, the “driving into the sea” of its Jews. The truth is that Israel’s existence has never, ever, been in danger from any combination of Arab military force. Despite some stupid, face-saving Arab rhetoric to the contrary, which played into Zionism’s hands, the Arab regimes never, ever, had any intention of fighting Israel to liberate Palestine. (When elements of the armies of the front-line Arab states went to war with Israel in 1948, their objective was not to destroy the “Jewish state” but to hold the land that had been assigned to the Palestinian Arab state by the vitiated partition plan, and they failed miserably, as Ben-Gurion was confident they would, to do that. Also true is that Jordan, whose king had been in secret dialogue with Zionism’s in-Palestine leaders, would not have been a serious party to the Arab war effort if Ben-Gurion had not tried to grab Jerusalem; if, in other words, he had been content for the Holy City not to be part of either the Jewish or Arab state of the vitiated partition plan.)

Israel always was the aggressor and oppressor, not and never the victim.

Its assertion, repeated over and over again, that it didn’t have Arab partners for peace was also a big, fat, propaganda lie (as the documented truth of history, including de-classified Israeli state papers, which are ignored by the mainstream media, proves).

War for truth

When I made my commitment to the war for truth more than three decades ago, I believed that calling and holding Israel to account for its crimes, in order for there to be peace based on justice for the Palestinians and security for all, would remain a mission impossible unless the citizens of the Western nations, enough of them and Americans especially, were informed about the truth of history.

That seemed obvious to me because it was clear that, unwilling to confront the Zionist lobby in all its manifestations, the governments of the major Western powers were not going to use the leverage they have to oblige Israel to end its defiance of international law unless and until they were pushed to do by informed public opinion – by manifestations of real democracy in action. The problem was that most citizens of the Western nations, Americans especially, were too misinformed and uninformed to do the pushing. In other words, because they had been conditioned by Zionist propaganda, peddled without question by the mainstream media, most citizens were too ignorant to make their democracies work for justice and peace in the Middle East.

So my starting point was the belief that the real conflict is an information war between Zionism’s masters of deception on the one side and the truth tellers on the other.

The truth tellers were few in number but among those who produced major truth-telling works (books) were Jews of real integrity including, for example, the Jewish-American Alfred M. Lilienthal, the first two Israeli “revisionist” meaning honest historians – Avi Shlaim and Ilan Pappe, the Jewish-American Norman Finkelstein and Auschwitz survivor Hajo Meyer. (In such company the gentile me felt secure in the frontline trenches of the war for truth. There was also comfort in knowing that we were taking on Zionism from the moral high ground.)

Over the last 20 years or so, with their books, articles and public speaking, the truth tellers have made an impact but not on a big enough scale to change the outcome of the war.

The truth today is that the situation of the occupied and oppressed Palestinians is worse than it has ever been and is worsening as Israel continues its defiance of international law and gobbles up more and more Palestinian land and water resources.

…I believe that Zionism could have been contained and defeated by now if the resources (yes, I do mean money) had been available to assist the promotion and spread of the truth of history on the scale necessary to empower the citizens of the Western nations, Americans especially, to make their democracies work for justice and peace, by demanding that their governments end their unconditional support for Israel right or wrong.

Also true today is that there is a rising, global tide of anti-Israelism, but it has little or nothing to do with the work of the truth tellers. It is being provoked by Israel’s policies and actions.

Some people (including perhaps President Obama) hope that Israel’s growing isolation will bring a majority of Israeli Jews to their senses and cause them to insist that their government be serious about peace on terms the Palestinians could accept. That has to be a possibility, but I think it is much more likely that the rising, global tide of anti-Israelism will have an opposite effect. I mean that it will assist Zionism’s deluded leaders to reinforce the message that what is happening is proof of what they have always said: that the world hates Jews, and that Israel’s leaders must therefore do whatever is necessary to preserve and protect their state as an insurance policy, a refuge of last resort, for all Jews everywhere, even if that means telling an American president and the whole world to go to hell.

On reflection today I believe that Zionism could have been contained and defeated by now if the resources (yes, I do mean money) had been available to assist the promotion and spread of the truth of history on the scale necessary to empower the citizens of the Western nations, Americans especially, to make their democracies work for justice and peace, by demanding that their governments end their unconditional support for Israel right or wrong. (In my view, which is based on my own engagements with audiences across the US, Americans in great numbers would have been open to the truth of history if they had also been made aware that unconditional support for Israel right or wrong is not in their own best interests.)

Because the resources were not made available, the war for the truth of history has remained the most asymmetric of all information wars. Zionism’s masters of deception have, as they always have had, virtually unlimited funds for the co-ordinated promotion of their propaganda lies. The truth-tellers are, as they always have been, without the resources needed to put together and implement a coordinated, winning campaign strategy.

The main providers of the resources necessary for winning the information war ought to have been seriously wealthy Arabs in general and seriously wealthy diaspora Palestinians in particular. They ought to have done for Palestine what seriously wealthy Jews did and still do for Zionism.

There are two main reasons why seriously wealthy diaspora Palestinians declined to play their necessary part in funding promotion of the truth of history.

Those who live in Western Europe and America are frightened that any association with the work of people who credibly challenge Zionism’s version of history would invite Zionist retribution which could result in their businesses being damaged and perhaps even destroyed.

Those who live in the Gulf States are frightened that assisting the truth-tellers could put their very comfortable positions and relationships with the rulers of those states at risk because they, the rulers, would not take kindly to blow back hassle from Zionism. (Zionist heavyweights in America do sometimes call Gulf Arab rulers directly to tell them what they should not do or allow. One such call was made to tell a ruler that he should not support Alan Hart and Ilan Pappe. The call was made after Ilan and I had made a joint presentation in the particular state, at its invitation, and had been promised support for our work.)

Another possible reason why some seriously wealthy diaspora Palestinians have not assisted the promotion of the truth of history could be that they don’t understand (at all or well enough) that Western governments are not going to confront the Zionist monster unless the citizens of nations, the voters, are informed enough to demand that they do.

It’s also not impossible that some seriously wealthy diaspora Palestinians have not contributed to the information war effort because they believe but dare not say that Palestine has long been a lost cause.

The brutal truth about seriously wealthy non-Palestinian Arabs is that most of them don’t care about the occupied and oppressed Palestinians and the many others, refugees still living in camps, who were dispossessed of their homes, their land and their rights. The Arab masses do care but their elites don’t. (That statement is something of an exaggeration to make a point but it contains much truth.)

Personal cost of commitment

Today I can quantify the cost of my own commitment to the war for truth.

If I had written a pro-Zionist book, I would have had wealthy Jews throwing money at it and me for global promotion of all kinds. But with Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews, (which is a complete rewriting of the entire history of the conflict exposing Zionist propaganda for the nonsense it is and replacing it with the documented truth of history), I was on my own. To fund the research and writing over nearly five years, then the printing and publication of the original, two-volume hardback edition, and then some promotion, I took out a loan against the security of the home my wife and I owned outright and have lived in for a quarter of a century.

My book was red-flagged by Zionism and therefore all the major Western publishing houses, this despite the fact that my extremely well connected and respected literary agent had on file letters from the chief executives of some of them with rare praise for my manuscript.

At the time I decided to do so (with my dear wife’s complete understanding and support), I didn’t think I was being stupid. My previous book (Arafat, Terrorist or Peacemaker?) had earned me significant income from the sale of the Arabic newspaper serialization rights, and I assumed that my latest book would do the same, enabling me to clear the remortgaged debt on my home.

I was, of course, aware that there were truths in Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews that would be more than uncomfortable for the Arab regimes and which they would not want their newspapers to publish. (When I was writing the book I had to be guided by the fact you can’t tell the truth about Zionism without telling the truth about why the Arab states were never a threat to Israel’s existence.) But newspaper serialization of a two-volume book (which became three volumes in its updated American edition) would have taken only a relatively small amount of total content. Arab editors doing the serialization could have left out everything that offended their political masters and still had more than enough material to inform and entertain their readers.

But it was no go. My book was red-flagged by Zionism and therefore all the major Western publishing houses, this despite the fact that my extremely well connected and respected literary agent had on file letters from the chief executives of some of them with rare praise for my manuscript. (One of the letters, which I quoted in the Preface to the original hardback edition, described my manuscript as “awesome… driven by passion, commitment and profound learning”. It added: “There is no question it deserves to be published.”).

… the Arab regimes were at one with Zionism in wanting the full truth of history to be suppressed to the maximum extent possible. They effectively endorsed Zionism’s strategy for dealing with me and my work – “Alan Hart and his book do not exist.”

For their part the Arab regimes were at one with Zionism in wanting the full truth of history to be suppressed to the maximum extent possible. They effectively endorsed Zionism’s strategy for dealing with me and my work – “Alan Hart and his book do not exist.” (I think my dear friend Ilan Pappe may well have been right when he said that Zionism was more frightened of my book than any other because of its title, which he described as “the truth in seven words.”)

Today I have to face the cost consequences of my commitment to the truth of history. To avoid being dispossessed of my home and land in the not too distant future because I don’t have the money to pay the principal sum of the outstanding remortgaged debt (I have been paying only the interest on it), I now have to sell and downsize. Preparing to downsize will require, among other things, months of my full time to sort through and dispose of much of what has been accumulated over decades and could not be accommodated and stored in a much smaller property with little or no land. And that in the proverbial nutshell is why I am withdrawing from the battlefield of the war for truth. The days when I could serve causes beyond self in order to feel that I was doing something useful with my life are gone. Like seriously wealthy diaspora Palestinians and other Arabs, I must now put my own interests, and above all those of my dear wife, first.

Today I have to face the cost consequences of my commitment to the truth of history. To avoid being dispossessed of my home and land in the not too distant future because I don’t have the money to pay the principal sum of the outstanding remortgaged debt (I have been paying only the interest on it), I now have to sell and downsize.

Justice and fear

Back in the early 1970s when I was making “Five Minutes To Midnight”, my documentary on global poverty and its implications for all, I had a verbal boxing match with Mother Teresa in Calcutta. After a day of filming with her as she collected some of those dying from poverty on the pavements to give them a few more days of life with shelter and loving care, she invited my camera crew and I to a frugal evening meal with some of her sisters. The question I posed for discussion over the meal was this: which is the most important word in any language – love or justice?

Mother Teresa argued with passion, sometimes angry passion, for love. I argued, with equal but not angry passion, for justice. If she was alive today I would say to her: “Mother Teresa, it’s justice not love that is required if the countdown to catastrophe in Palestine that became Israel is to be stopped.”

But it was not only my complete identity with the Palestinians’ irrefutable claim for justice and my admiration of the incredible, almost superhuman steadfastness of the occupied and oppressed that inspired, drove and sustained my commitment to the war for the truth of history.

For three decades I have done my best to contribute to the understanding … but I have now reached and passed the outer limits of what I can do when there’s a lack of will on the part of seriously wealthy diaspora Palestinian and other Arabs to assist the promotion and spread of the truth of history.

I feared, as I do even more so today, that if the information war that probably could have been won by now is lost, the endgame will most likely be a final Zionist ethnic cleansing of Palestine, followed, quite possibly, by another great turning against the Jews, provoked by Zionism’s insufferable self-righteousness and contempt for international law

For three decades I have done my best to contribute to the understanding needed to prevent both obscenities from happening, but I have now reached and passed the outer limits of what I can do when there’s a lack of will on the part of seriously wealthy diaspora Palestinian and other Arabs to assist the promotion and spread of the truth of history.

In the days and weeks to come I will no doubt find myself wondering if I was naive to believe that Palestinian right could be assisted to triumph over Zionist might.

To those all over the world who down the years have expressed appreciation for my books, articles and presentations on public platforms of all kinds – Thank You, your moral support helped to sustain my commitment.

Final note

A Palestinian friend once asked me if, on matters to do with Palestine, I was aware of the main difference between Arabs and Jews. He didn’t wait for me to respond. He said: “Arabs almost never do what they say they will do. Jews often do what they say they will not do.”

I said I thought there was an element of truth in that.

Editor’s note

Please consider supporting Alan Hart, a principled, articulate and persuasive journalist and author who has made huge personal sacrifices for the cause of truth and justice in Palestine. You can find options for supporting him, including by making a direct donation, here.

We also strongly recommend that you buy his book, Zionism: the Real Enemy of the Jews, an indispensable tool for all activists for truth and justice in Palestine.

Is Palestine a lost cause?

Is Palestine a lost cause?

The enduring power of Zionism’s propaganda lies

The enduring power of Zionism’s propaganda lies

Palestinian PR coordination and unity

Palestinian PR coordination and unity

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Final thoughts on Zionism’s success, Arab failure

No Jewish atonement for Zionism’s crimes against Palestinians

Jonathan Sacks

By Alan Hart

Alan hart argues that Days of Atonement which ignore the need for Jews to be honest with themselves about Zionism’s crimes against the Palestinians, starting with the creation in Arab Palestine of a state for Jews through terrorism and ethnic cleansing, are nothing but Jewish theatre.

Yom Kippur, the Day Atonement (25/26 September this year), is the holiest day in the Jewish year. On BBC Radio 4’s “Thought for the Day” programme”, Britain’s Chief Rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks, explained the significance of the day for Jews. He said, among other things: “We apologize for all the wrongs we’ve done and we seek forgiveness.”

I had the impression from everything he said and the way he said it that his lordship was in no doubt that he was speaking from the top of the moral high ground. Up there is words may sound fine but they are out of touch with one of the most important aspects of reality.

The vast majority of Jews refuse to acknowledge that a terrible wrong was done to the Palestinians by Zionism, the terrible wrong being, and only starting with, the creation in Arab Palestine of a state for some Jews mainly by terrorism and ethnic cleansing; a process which saw upwards of 700,000 Palestinians dispossessed of their land and their rights.

In that light, how can the chief rabbi claim that, on the Day of Atonement, Jews “apologize for all the wrongs we’ve done”? Either he doesn’t know that a wrong was done to the Palestinians by Zionism, in which case he sees no need for Jews to apologise for it and seek forgiveness; or he knows that a wrong was done but cannot – dare not – say so.

If there is ever to be a peaceful resolution of the conflict in and over Palestine that became Israel, the process to bring it about will have to be kick-started by a significant majority of Jews everywhere acknowledging (1) that a terrible wrong was done to the Palestinians by Zionism in the name of all Jews; and (2) that the wrong must be righted.

In the view of this goy (me), Days of Atonement which ignore the need for Jews to be honest with themselves about Zionism’s crimes in Palestine are nothing but Jewish theatre.

The curse of Zionism and the Jewish paradox

The curse of Zionism and the Jewish paradox

Israel-Palestine: the question Jews must answer

Israel-Palestine: the question Jews must answer

American Jews and Israel: A divorce in the making?

American Jews and Israel: A divorce in the making?

Posted in Palestine Affairs, UKComments Off on No Jewish atonement for Zionism’s crimes against Palestinians

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