Solidarity – Why it applies to justice for Palestine now

Palestine Update 548

Solidarity – Why it applies to justice for Palestine now

Ranjan Solomon
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New Israeli rules on foreigners visiting West Bank stir outrage

“Palestinian legal experts, academics and digital rights groups have expressed outrage over an incoming Israeli policy for the entry and residence of foreigners in the occupied West Bank, which they say further, complicates the rules of movement, and adds restrictions to an already convoluted system. The 97-page ordinance, called Procedure for Entry and Residence for Foreigners in Judea and Samaria Area (PDF), replaces the current four-page document…Foreign-passport holding Palestinians must provide information – for visa purposes – on an application for approval prior to travel, which includes the names and national ID numbers of “first-degree” relatives, or other non-relatives with whom they may stay or visit. Digital rights experts say that personal information on travelers and their families and acquaintances is likely to be used in Israel’s mass surveillance and data collection efforts. “It’s a surveillance exercise,” said Marwa Fatafta, a Palestinian digital rights expert and Al Shabaka policy analyst. “With the new policy, Israeli authorities want to map out the social circles and property of Palestinians who live abroad with foreign passports… “The entire identification system is built to control the most two crucial aspects of Palestine: people and land. Now, in a way, it will also apply to Palestinians with ties to the West Bank,” she told Al Jazeera.”
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Legalized Discrimination: How Israel’s “Citizenship & Entry” law harms Palestinian families by design

Last month, the Israeli Knesset passed a new version of Israel’s infamous “Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law.” This law denies to Palestinian citizens of Israel a fundamental right that Israel’s Jewish citizens take for granted (and, indeed, citizens around the world hold dear): the right to make a life together with one’s chosen spouse, in the country where one hold’s citizenship. Adopted originally by the Knesset in 2003 as a “temporary” measure ostensibly for “security” reasons, the law has been repeatedly renewed for almost 20 years, most recently in March 2022. The renewed law includes explicit provisions referring to its “demographic” purpose, leading Adalah to call it “one of the most racist and discriminatory laws in the world.” In March, Israel’s Minister of Interior Ayelet Shaked celebrated the law’s passage on Twitter, saying; “Jewish & Democratic State – 1; State for all its citizens – 0”
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Palestinians in Detention Without Trial in Israel Hits 5-year High
There are currently 579 Palestinians in administrative detention and over the past month 19 detention orders were issued against Israeli citizens, 2 of whom are Jewish. According to data supplied by the Israel Prison Service to Haaretz, there are currently 579 Palestinians in administrative detention…By comparing the data provided to Haaretz and the statistics obtained by Hamoked, it appears that between March and April of this year, the number of administrative detainees increased by 109. The last time that such a leap was recorded was between May and July of last year – amid the war between Israel and Hamas and its allies in Gaza and widespread riots in mixed Jewish-Arab cities. Despite the increase then, the absolute number of administrative detainees was lower than it is now. In addition to Palestinians under detention without trial, 19 administrative detention orders were issued against Israeli citizens over the past month, 17 of whom are Arab and the other two Jewish.”
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Why is Israel’s antisemitism envoy sharing investigation files against a Palestinian child?,

“Are Israeli security authorities handing over investigation materials to online hasbara stars in order to score points on social media? It certainly seems so. Last Friday, Israeli actress Noa Tishby, who this month was appointed Israel’s first-ever special envoy for combating antisemitism and the delegitimization of Israel, released a video on her personal Instagram account in response to a post by Palestinian-American supermodel Bella Hadid. Hadid had shared a story about Athal al-Azzeh, a 14-year-old Palestinian boy who was arrested two weeks ago by the Israeli army, who accused him of throwing stones – a charge Athal has adamantly denied. In her response video, Tishby featured two photos of a masked Palestinian rolling a tire, which appear to have been part of the Israeli military’s investigation file on Athal — a fact corroborated by his mother, Jinan, who says she was shown the photos by Israeli interrogators several days before Tishby’s post. The investigation file, which is not public, was most likely handed over to Tishby by the authorities…Riham Nassra, an attorney who represents Palestinian detainees in military courts, said that publishing investigative materials before an indictment is issued, as Tishby did, is illegal, and indicates that the materials had in fact been leaked…Noa Tishby did not respond to a request for comment, but following publication of this article took down her original post on Instagram.”
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GEICO rescinds invitation to Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour

Zionist organizations pressured the auto-insurance giant GEICO to rescind their invitation to Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour to speak at an internal event celebrating Middle Eastern and North African heritage month. GEICO had caved to a smear campaign launched by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and canceled the event.

GEICO, in other words, not only disinvited Sarsour. They unquestioningly accepted the anti-Palestinian and Islamophobic logic the ADL and AJC relied on in their attacks by automatically equating Sarsour’s presence with condoning hatred. GEICO’s actions did not merely deprive Sarsour of a platform. They normalized the racist Zionist idea that Muslims and/or Palestinians who advocate for Palestinian freedom are inherently anti-Semitic, when in reality the fight for Palestinian liberation is guided by the principle that all peoples deserve to live free of colonial oppression and racist subjugation.

 “GEICO decided they were more comfortable publicly vilifying and dehumanizing a prominent advocate for Arab Americans, US Muslims, Palestinians and other marginalized communities, than simply having a conversation,” reads a petition by MPower Change, the Muslim advocacy organization for which Sarsour is executive director. The petition was included in a mass email sent out by the organization to its followers on 8 April, just a day after Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the ADL, took to Twitter to credit his organization with successfully pressuring GEICO to disinvite Sarsour.
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Boycotting Apartheid Is a Moral Duty

This week (26 April 2022), the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, along with forty-seven other civil society organisations, released a statement opposing government plans to introduce an ‘anti-boycott bill’ to stop public bodies from boycotting or divesting from companies involved in human rights abuse or environmental destruction. Such a bill will threaten so many campaigns for social and climate justice, including international solidarity campaigns like ours in support of Palestinian rights.

While the statement is intended to raise alarm about the government’s plans, it also reveals something exciting: a wide range of organisations committing to defend our collective right to use boycott and divestment tactics. Signatories include: nine national trade unions (representing millions of workers between them); faith-based institutions; climate justice organisations, large and small; anti-militarism and anti-war groups; human rights groups; community organisations; and more. When the bill is finally tabled, likely before the summer recess, we expect even more to take up the call to defend our #RightToBoycott.

The text of the bill has not appeared yet, but we have indications of its contents based on the government’s 2016 attempt to ban local government pension schemes from using ‘divestment and sanctions against foreign nations and UK defence industries’. PSC took the government to court over it, and we won a landmark case in the Supreme Court in 2020, forcing the government to scrap its unlawful regulations.

The government hit back threatening primary legislation to ‘ban public bodies from imposing their own direct or indirect boycotts, disinvestment or sanctions campaigns against foreign countries, or those linked to them; the sale of goods and services from foreign countries; UK firms which trade with such countries, where such an approach is not in line with UK Government sanctions’.
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Palestine Updates is a clearing house for historical and current
information about happenings especially in the Palestinian territories,
global campaigns, Israeli peace movement initiatives, and critiques of
government policies in Israel and Palestine which hurt the people.

29 April 2022

Source: palestineupdates.com

Video: Col. Richard Black — U.S. Leading World to Nuclear War

Col. Richard Black: U.S. Leading World to Nuclear War

Mike Billington with Executive Intelligence Review interviews Col. Richard Black (ret.).

BILLINGTON: Hi, this is this is Mike Billington with Executive Intelligence Review and the Schiller Institute. I am here today with Col. Richard Black, Sen. Richard Black, who, after serving 31 years in the Marines and in the Army, then served in the Virginia House of Delegates from 1998 to 2006, and in the Virginia Senate from 2012 to 2020. I’ll also allow Colonel Black to describe his military service himself.

So, Colonel Black, welcome. With the with the U.S. and U.K. and NATO surrogate war with Russia, which is taking place in Ukraine, and the economic warfare being carried out directly against Russia, this has been accompanied by an information war which is intended to demonize Russia and especially President Vladimir Putin. One repeated theme is that the Russian military is carrying out ruthless campaigns of murder against civilians and destruction of residential areas, often referring to the Russian military operations in Syria, claiming that they had done the same thing in Syria, especially against Aleppo. These are supposedly examples of their war crimes and crimes against humanity.

You have been a leading spokesman internationally for many years, exposing the lies about what took place in Syria and the war on Syria. So first, let me ask: How and why did Russia get involved in Syria militarily? And how does that contrast with the U.S. and NATO supposed justification for their military intervention in Syria?

BLACK: Well, let me begin, if I could, by telling our listeners that I’m very patriotic: I volunteered to join the Marines and I volunteered to go to Vietnam. I fought in the bloodiest Marine campaign of the entire war. And I was a helicopter pilot who flew 269 combat missions. My aircraft was hit by ground fire on four missions. I, then, fought on the ground with the First Marine Division, and during one of the 70 combat patrols that I made, my radioman were both killed, and I was wounded while we were attacking and trying to rescue a surrounded Marine outpost.

So I’m very pro-American. I actually was a part of NATO and was prepared to die in Germany, to defend against an attack by the Soviet Union.

But Russia is not the Soviet Union at all. People don’t understand that because the media have not made it clear. But Russia is not a communist state; the Soviet Union was a communist state.

Now, one of the things that I’ve seen claimed, that has been particularly irritating to me because of my experience with Syria: I have I have been in Aleppo city. Aleppo city is the biggest city in Syria, or it was at least before the war began. And there was a tremendous battle. Some some call it the “Stalingrad of the Syrian war,” which is not a bad comparison. It was a terribly bitter battle that went on from 2012 until 2016. In the course of urban combat, any forces that are fighting are forced to destroy buildings. Buildings are blown down on a massive scale. And this happens any time that you have urban combat. So I have walked the streets of Aleppo, while combat was still in progress. I have looked across, through a slit in the sandbags at enemy controlled territory; I’ve stood on tanks that were blown out and this type of thing.

What I do know, and I can tell you about Aleppo is that Russia was extremely reluctant to get involved in combat in Syria. The war began in 2011, when the United States landed Central Intelligence operatives to begin coordinating with Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. And we had been unwavering supporters of Al Qaeda, since before the war formally began. We are supporters of Al Qaeda today, where they’re bottled up in Idlib province. The CIA supplied them under secret Operation Timber Sycamore. We gave them all of their anti-tank weapons, all of their anti air- missiles. And Al Qaeda has always been our proxy force on the ground. They, together with ISIS, have carried out the mission of the United States, together with a great number of affiliates that really are kind of interchangeable. You have the Free Syrian Army soldiers move from ISIS to Al Qaeda to Free Syrian Army, rather fluidly. And so we started that war.

But the United States has a strategic policy of using proxies to engage in war. And our objective was to overthrow the legitimate government of Syria, and in order to do that, we employed proxy soldiers who were the most vile of all terrorists. Something very similar is happening right now in in Ukraine.

But going back to Aleppo, the Syrian army, together with Hezbollah, which was very effective; there were some troops that were organized by Iran also, but it was pretty much a Syrian show, certainly directed by Syrian generals. And they had fought this bitter urban combat, very brutal, very deadly. And they had fought it for four years, before Russia ever joined the battle. So after four years, the city of Aleppo had enormous destruction. And at that point, the Russians, at the invitation of the legitimate government of Syria, entered the war. But unlike many of the media reports, they did not enter the war as a ground force. Now, they had some small ground forces. They had military police, they had a few artillery units, a few special operations people, and quite a number of advisers and that sort of thing. But they were not a significant ground force.

On the other hand, they were a significant and very effective air force, that supplemented the Syrian Air Force. But it really was just the last year of the war, the battle for Aleppo, just the last year, that they entered and their air power was very effective. And by this time, the Syrians had pretty well worn down the terrorist forces. And the Russian assistance was able to tip the balance, and Aleppo was the grand victory of the entire Syrian war.

But to blame the Russians for the massive destruction that took place within Aleppo, it’s bizarre: Because they were not there, they were not even present when this happened. So this is simply another part of the propaganda narrative, which is which hasbeen very effective for the West, demonizing Russia, and making claims that have no substance. But people don’t remember the history of these things—they’re rather complex. So, no: Russia was not in any respect responsible for the massive destruction of the city of Aleppo.

BILLINGTON: How would you contrast the methods of warfare followed by Russia, as opposed to the U.S. and allied forces in Syria?

BLACK: Well, first of all, the American involvement, the United States war against Syria is a war of aggression. We put a highly secretive CIA special activities center—these are kind of the James Bond guys of the Central Intelligence Agency, total Machiavellian; they will do anything, there’s no it’s no holds barred with these guys. We sent them in and we started the war in Syria. The war didn’t exist until we sent the CIA to coordinate with Al Qaeda elements. So we began the war and we were not invited into Syria.

In fact, the United States has seized, two significant parts of Syria. One is a very major part, the Euphrates River, carves off about a third of the northern part of Syria: The United States invaded that portion. We actually put troops on the ground, illegal—against any standard international law of war—it was it was a just a seizure. And this was this was something that was referred to by John Kerry, who was then the Secretary of State, and he was frustrated at the tremendous victory by the Syrian Armed Forces against Al Qaeda and ISIS. And he said, well, we probably need to move to Plan B. He didn’t announce what Plan B was, but it had it unfolded over time: Plan B was the American seizure of that northern portion of Syria. The importance of taking that part of Syria is, that it is the bread basket for all of the Syrian people. That is where the wheat—Syria actually had a significant wheat surplus and the people were very well fed in Syria, before the war. We wanted to take the wheat away, to cause famine among the Syrian people.

The other thing we were able to do, is to seize the major part of the oil and natural gas fields. Those also were produced in that northern portion beyond the Euphrates River. And the idea was that, by stealing the oil and then the gas, we would be able to shut down the transportation system, and at the same time, during the Syrian winters, we could freeze to death the Syrian civilian population, which in many cases were living in rubble, where these terrorist armies, with mechanized divisions had attacked and just totally destroyed these cities, and left people just living in little pockets of rubble.

We wanted to starve and we wanted to freeze to death the people of Syria, and that was Plan B.

Now, we became frustrated at a certain point that somehow these Syrians, these darned Syrians—it’s a tiny little country, and why are these people resilient? They’re fighting against two-thirds of the entire military and industrial force of the world. How can a nation of 23 million people possibly withstand this for over a decade? And so we decided we had to take action or we were going totally lose Syria. And so the U.S. Congress imposed the Caesar sanctions. The Caesar sanctions were the most brutal sanctions ever imposed on any nation. During the Second World War, sanctions were not nearly as strict as they were on Syria.

We weren’t at war with Syria! And yet we had a naval blockade around the country. We devalued their currency through the SWIFT system for international payments, making it impossible for them to purchase medications. So you had Syrian women who would contract breast cancer, just like we have here in this country. But instead, where in this country where breast cancer has become relatively treatable, we cut off the medical supplies so that the women in Syria would die of breast cancer because they could not get the medications, because we slam their dollars through the SWIFT system.

One of the last things that we did and the evidence is vague on it, but there was a mysterious explosion in the harbor in Lebanon, and it was a massive explosion of a shipload of ammonium nitrate fertilizer. It killed hundreds of Lebanese people. It wounded thousands and thousands, destroyed the economy of Lebanon. And, most importantly, it destroyed the banking system of Lebanon, which was one of the few lifelines remaining to Syria. I don’t think that explosion was accidental. I think it was orchestrated, and I suspect that the Central Intelligence Agency was aware of the nation that carried out that action to destroy Beirut Harbor.

But throughout you see this this Machiavellian approach, where we use unlimited force and violence. And at the same time, we control the global media, to where we erase all discussions of what’s truly happening. So, to the man or the woman in the street, they think things are fine. Everything is being done for altruistic reasons, but it’s not.

BILLINGTON: Part of your military service was as a JAG officer, and for a period of time, you were the Army’s head of the criminal law division at the Pentagon. And in that light, what do you see as of how these Caesar sanctions—how would you look at those from the perspective of international law and military law?

BLACK: Well, now, I was not the international law expert. I was the criminal law expert. But I would say that making war on a civilian population is a crime of grave significance in the law of war.

One of the things that we did as we as we allied ourselves with Al Qaeda, and on and off with ISIS; I mean, we fought ISIS in a very serious way, but at the same time, we often employed them to use against the Syrian government. So it’s kind of a love-hate. But we have always worked with the terrorists. They were the core.

One of the policies that was followed was that under this extreme version of Islam, this Wahhabism, there was this notion that you possess a woman that you seize with your strong right arm in battle. And this goes back to the seventh century. And so we facilitated the movement of Islamic terrorists from 100 countries, and they came and they joined ISIS, they joined Al Qaeda, they joined the Free Syrian Army, all of these different ones. And one of the things that they knew when they arrived is that they were lawfully entitled to murder the husbands—I’m not talking about military people, I’m talking about civilians—they could murder the husbands, they could kill them, and then they could possess and own their wives and their children. And they did it in vast numbers.

And so there was there was a campaign of rape, it was an organized campaign of rape across the nation of Syria. And there actually were slave markets that that arose in certain of these rebel areas where they actually had price lists of the different women. And interestingly, the highest prices went to the youngest children, because there were a great number of pedophiles. And the pedophiles wanted to possess small children, because under the laws that were applied, they were permitted to rape these children repeatedly. They were able to rape the widows of the slain soldiers or the slain civilians, and possess them and buy them and sell them among themselves. This went on.

I’m not saying that the CIA created this policy, but they understood that it was a widespread policy, and they condoned it. They never criticized it in any way.

This was so bad, that I spoke with President Assad, who shared with me that they were in the process—when I visited in 2016; I was in a number of battle zones, and in the capital. And I met with the President, and he said that at that time, they were working on legislation in the parliament, to change the law of citizenship. They had always followed the Islamic law, which was that that a child citizenship derived from the father. But there were so many tens, hundreds of thousands of Syrian women impregnated by these terrorists who were imported into Syria, that it was necessary to change the law, so that they would have Syrian citizenship and they wouldn’t have to be returned to their ISIS father in Saudi Arabia, or in Tunisia. They could be retained in Syria. And I checked later and that law was passed and was implemented.

But it just shows the utter cruelty. When we fight these wars, we have no limits on the cruelty and the inhumanity that we’re prepared to impose on the people, making them suffer, so that somehow that will translate into overthrowing the government, and perhaps taking their oil, taking their resources.

BILLINGTON: Clearly, the policy against Russia today, by the current administration.

BLACK: Yes. Yes. You know, Russia is, perhaps more blessed with natural resources than any other nation on Earth. They are a major producer of grain, of oil, of aluminum, of fertilizers, of an immense number of things that tie into the whole global economy. And no doubt there are people who look at this and say, “if we could somehow break up Russia itself, there will be fortunes made, to where trillionaires will be made by the dozens.” And there’s some attraction to that. Certainly you’ve seen some of this taking place already, with foreign interests taking over Ukraine, and taking their vast resources.

But, we began a drive towards Russia, almost immediately after the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991. The Soviet Union dissolved, the Warsaw Pact dissolved. And unfortunately, one of the great tragedies of history is that we failed to dissolve NATO. The sole purpose of NATO was to defend against the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union no longer existed. NATO went toe toe with the Warsaw Pact. The Warsaw Pact was gone; it no longer existed. There was no purpose in NATO’s continuing to exist. However, we retained it, and it could not exist unless it had an enemy. Russia was desperate to become part of the West.

I met with the head of Gazprom, the largest corporation in Russia, And this was shortly after the demise of the Soviet Union, and he described for me how they were struggling to have their media be as free as it was in the West. And they perceived us as being much more free and open than we were. And he said, you know, we’ve got this problem because we have this uprising in Chechnya, which is part of Russia. And he said the Chechnyan rebels send videos to Russian television and we play them on Russian television, because that’s the way freedom of speech works.

And I said, “Are you kidding me?” I said, “You’re publishing the enemy propaganda films?” He said, “Yeah.” He said, “Isn’t that the way you do it in the United States?” I said, “No. In the Second World War, we took the head of the Associated Press and we put him in charge of wartime censorship, and it was very strict.”

So but this is just an example of how they were struggling. They went from being an officially atheist country, to where they became the most Christianized major nation in Europe, by far. Not only were the people, the most Christianized people in any major country in Europe, but the government itself was very supportive of the church, of the Christian faith. They altered their Constitution to say that marriage was the union of one man and one woman. They became very restrictive on the practice of abortion. They ended the practice of overseas adoptions, where some people were going to Russia and adopting little boys for immoral purposes. So they became a totally different culture and.

In any event, the United States has this long-standing strategy, this political-military strategy, of expanding the empire. We did it in the Middle East, where we attempted to create a massive neocolonial empire. It’s it became rather frayed. The people did not want it. And it seems to be doomed to extinction sometime—but it may go on for another 100 years. But in any event, we are trying to do something similar, as we roll to the East, right up virtually to the Russian border.

BILLINGTON: So, the U.S. and U.K. position on the war in Ukraine, just over these last few weeks has now become not only supporting the war, but victory at all costs. This has been declared by Defense Secretary Austin and others. And they are pumping in huge quantities of not only defensive but offensive military weaponry to the Kyiv regime. What do you see as the consequence of this policy?

BLACK: I think one thing that it will do is it will ensure that a tremendous number of innocent Ukrainian soldiers will die needlessly. A lot of Russian soldiers will die needlessly. These are kids. You know, kids go off to war. I went off to war as a kid. You think your country, right or wrong, everything they’re doing is fine. It just it breaks my heart, when I look at the faces of young Russian boys, who have been who have been gunned down—in some cases very criminally by Ukrainian forces. And likewise, I see Ukrainian young men, who are being slaughtered on the battlefield.

We don’t care! The United States and NATO, we do not care how many Ukrainians die. Not civilians, not women, not children, not soldiers. We do not care. It’s become a great football game. You know, we’ve got our team. They’ve got their team, rah rah. We want to get the biggest score and run it up. And, you know, we don’t care how many how many of our players get crippled on the playing field, as long as we win.

Now, we are shipping fantastic quantities of weapons, and it’s caused the stock of Raytheon, which creates missiles, and Northrop Grumman, which creates aircraft and missiles, all of these defense industries have become tremendously bloated with tax dollars. I don’t think it’s ultimately going to change the outcome. I think that Russia will prevail. The Ukrainians are in a very awkward strategic position in the East.

But if you look at the way that this unfolded, President Putin made a desperate effort to stop the march towards war back in December of 2021. He went so far as to put specific written proposals on the table with NATO, peace proposals to defuse what was coming about. Because at this point, Ukraine was massing troops to attack the Donbas. And so, he was trying to head this off. He didn’t want war. And NATO just blew it off, just dismissed it; never took it seriously, never went into serious negotiations.

At that point, Putin seeing that armed Ukrainians, with weapons to kill Russian troops were literally on their borders, decided he had to strike first. Now, you could see, that this was not this was not some preplanned attack. This was not like Hitler’s attack into Poland, where the standard rule of thumb, is that you always have a 3-to-1 advantage when you are the attacker. You have to mass three times as many tanks and artillery and planes and men, as the other side has. In fact, when Russia went in, they went in with what they had, what they could cobble together on short notice. And they were outnumbered by the Ukrainian forces. The Ukrainian forces had about 250,000. The Russians had perhaps 160,000. So instead of having three times as many, they actually had fewer troops than the Ukrainians. But they were forced to attack, to try to preempt the battle that was looming, where the Ukrainians had massed these forces against the Donbas.

Now, the Donbas is adjacent to Russia. It is a portion of Ukraine that did not join with the revolutionary government that conducted the coup in 2014 and overthrew the government of Ukraine. They refused to become a part of the new revolutionary government of Ukraine. And so they declared their independence. And Ukraine had massed this enormous army to attack against the Donbas. And so Russia was forced to go in to preempt that planned attack by Ukraine. And you could see that Russia very much hoped that they could conduct this special operation without unduly causing casualties for the Ukrainians, because they think of the Ukrainians, or at least they did think of the Ukrainians as brother Slavs; that they wanted to have good relations. But there is a famous picture with a Russian tank, that had been stopped by a gathering of maybe 40 civilians who just walked out in the road and blocked the road and the tank stopped. I can tell you, in Vietnam, if we had had a bunch of people who stood in the way of an American tank, going through, that tank would not have slowed down, in the slightest! It wouldn’t honk the horn, it wouldn’t have done anything; wouldn’t have fired a warning shot. It would have just gone on. And I think that’s more typical—I’m not I’m not criticizing the Americans. I was there and I was fighting, and I probably would have would have driven the tank straight through myself.

But what I’m saying is that the rules of engagement for the Russians were very, very cautious. They didn’t want to create a great deal of hatred and animosity. The Russians did not go in—they did not bomb the electrical system, the media systems, the water systems, the bridges and so forth. They tried to retain the infrastructure of Ukraine in good shape because they wanted it to get back. They just wanted this to be over with and get back to normal. It didn’t work. The Ukrainians, the resistance was unexpectedly hard. The Ukrainian soldiers fought with great, great valor, great heroism. And. And so now the game has been upped and it’s become much more serious.

But it is amazing to look and to see that Russia dominates the air. They haven’t knocked out the train systems. They haven’t knocked out power plants. They haven’t knocked out so many things. They’ve never bombed the buildings in the center of Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine; they haven’t bombed the buildings where the parliament meets. They’ve been incredibly reserved about these things, hoping against hope that peace could be achieved.

But I don’t think I don’t think Ukraine has anything to do with the decision about peace or war. I think the decision about peace or war is made in Washington, D.C. As long as we want the war to continue, we will fight that war, using Ukrainians as proxies, and we will fight it to the last Ukrainian death.

BILLINGTON: How do you project the potential of a war breaking out directly between the United States and Russia? And what would that be like?

BLACK: You know, if you go back to the First World War in 1914, you had the assassination of the Archduke of Austria-Hungary. He and his wife were killed. As a result of those two people being killed, you had a domino effect of all of these alliances, and anger, and media hysteria. And before it was over, I think it was 14 million people had been killed. It’s always hard to get true numbers, but anyway, it was an enormous number of millions of people who died as a result of that.

We need to recognize the risk of playing these games of chicken. Where, for example, the Turkish media just published an article saying that at Mariupol, where there was a great siege, that the Russians ultimately won. The one area they haven’t taken over is this tremendous steel plant. There are a lot of Ukrainian soldiers who are holed up there. And now it has come to light that apparently there are 50 French senior officers, who are trapped in that steel plant along with the Ukrainians. The French soldiers have been on the ground fighting, directing the battle. And this was kept under wraps, ultra-secret, because of the French elections that just occurred. Had the French people known that there were a large number of French officers trapped and probably going to die in that steel plant, the elections would have gone the other way: Marine Le Pen would have won. And so it was very important that for the entire deep state, that it not come to light that these French officers were there.

We know that there are NATO officers who are present on the ground in Ukraine as advisors and so forth. We run the risk. Now, my guess is—and this is this is a guess, I could be wrong—but the flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, the Moskva, was sunk as a result of being struck by anti-ship missiles. My guess is that those missiles, I think there’s a good chance they were fired by the French. Now, I could be wrong, but those missiles are so ultra-sensitive and so dangerous to our ships, that I don’t think that NATO would trust the missiles to Ukrainians, or to anybody else. I think I think they have to be maintained under NATO control and operation. So I think that it was probably NATO forces that actually sunk the Moskva.

And you can see we’re taking these very reckless actions, and each time we sort of up the ante—I happen to be a Republican—but we have two Republican U.S. senators who have said that, “well, we might just need to use nuclear weapons against Russia.” That is insane. I think it’s important that people begin to discuss what a thermonuclear war would mean.

Now, we need to understand, we think, “oh, we’re big, and we’re bad, and we have all this stuff.” Russia is roughly comparable to the United States in nuclear power. They have hypersonic missiles, that we do not have. They can absolutely evade any timely detection, and they can fire missiles from Russia and reach San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., New York City.

And if you think about just Virginia, where I happen to live, if there were a nuclear war—and keep in mind, they also have a very large and effective fleet of nuclear submarines that lie off the coast of the United States. They have a great number of nuclear-tipped missiles, and they can evade any defenses we have. So just in Virginia, if you look at it, all of Northern Virginia would be essentially annihilated. There would hardly be any human life remaining in Loudoun County, Prince William County, Fairfax County, Arlington, Alexandria. The Pentagon lies in in Arlington County: The Pentagon would simply be a glowing mass of molten sand. There would be no human life there. And there would be no human life for many miles around it. Just across the Potomac, the nation’s capital, there would be no life remaining in the nation’s capital. The Capitol building would disappear forever. All of the monuments, all of these glorious things—nothing would remain.

If you go to the coast of Virginia, you have the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, you have the Port of Norfolk. You have you have the greatest accumulation of naval power on the face of the Earth. This is where we park all of our aircraft carriers, our nuclear submarines, all of those things. There would be nothing remaining. There would be nothing remaining of any of those shipping industries there.

And you can carry this on. You talk about New York City, probably New York City itself, not only would everybody be killed, but it would probably be impossible for people to inhabit New York City for hundreds of years afterwards. But not only would it cease to be a place of vibrant human life, but probably going out for maybe half a millennium, it would not recover any sort of civilization.

We need to understand the gravity of what we’re doing. Perhaps if it were a matter of life and death for the United States, what happens in Ukraine, that would be one thing. Certainly when the Soviet Union put missiles in Cuba, that targeted the United States, that was worth taking the risk, because it was right on our border and it threatened us. And it was it was a battle worth fighting for and a risk worth taking. The Russians are in this in exactly the mirror image of that situation, because for them, the life of Russia depends on stopping NATO from advancing further right into Ukraine, right to their borders. They cannot afford not to fight this war. They cannot afford not to win this war.

So I think, toying with this constant escalation in a war that, really, in a place that has no significance to Americans—Ukraine is meaningless to Americans; it has no impact on our day-to-day lives. And yet we’re playing this reckless game that risks the lives of all people in the United States and Western Europe for nothing! Just absolutely for nothing!

BILLINGTON: Many flag grade officers certainly understand the consequences that you just described in a rather hair-raising way. Why is it that, while there are some generals speaking out in Italy, in France, in Germany, warning that we are pursuing a course that could lead to nuclear war, why are there not such voices from flag grade officers—retired, perhaps—saying what you’re saying here today?

BLACK: You know, there’s been a tremendous deterioration in the quality of flag officers, going back to, well, certainly the 1990s. We had very, very fine flag officers, during the time I was on active duty—I left in ‘94—just superior quality people. But what happened is, subsequently, we had President Clinton take over, later, we had Obama. We’ve got Biden now. And they apply a very strict political screen to their military officers. And we now have “yes men.” These are not people whose principal devotion is to the United States and its people. Their principal devotion is to their careers and their ability to network with other military officers upon retirement. There’s a very strong network that can place military generals into think tanks, where they promote war, into organizations like Raytheon and Northrop Grumman, and all of these defense operations, where they can get on boards and things like that. So there’s quite a personal price that you pay for saying, “Hey, stop. War is not in the interests of the American people.” If we had a better quality of individual, we would have people with the courage who would say, “I don’t care what it costs me personally.” But it is very difficult to get into the senior ranks, if you are an individual guided by principle, and patriotism, and devotion to the people of this nation. That’s just not how it works. And at some point, we need a President who will go in and shake the tree, and bring a lot of these people falling down from it, because they’re dangerous. They’re very dangerous to America.

BILLINGTON: Helga Zepp-LaRouche and the Schiller Institute have a petition — and we held a conference on April 9th on the same theme — that the only way to really stop this descent into hell and into potential nuclear holocaust is for a new Peace of Westphalia. In this case, an international conference to secure a new security architecture and a new development architecture, the right to development for all countries. And like the Peace of Westphalia, one in which all sides sit down together, recognize their interests, their sovereign interests, as including the sovereign interests of the others, and forgiving all past crimes. Anything short of that is going to keep this division of the world into warring blocs. Just like I asked what’s keeping the generals from speaking out, why, and what will it take, to get Americans to recognize that we can and must sit down with Russians, and with Chinese, and with all other nations and establish a true, just world based on the dignity of man and the right to development and security?

BLACK: I think, unfortunately, there’s going to have to be enormous pain to drive that, just as there was with the Peace of Westphalia. A nuclear war would do it; an economic cataclysm of unprecedented proportions, resulting from the unbridled printing of money that we’ve engaged in over the last 20 years, there are things that could bring it about. But at this point, the media have been so totally censored and so biased that the American people really don’t have a perception of the need for anything of that sort. It’s going to be difficult.

You know, here’s something that’s interesting that has happened. Here in this country, you would think the entire world is against Russia. It’s not. In fact, there are major countries of the world that lean towards Russia in this war, starting with China, but then Brazil, you’ve got South Africa, Saudi Arabia—a wide array of countries. India. India is tremendously supportive of Russia. The idea that somehow we have this enormously just cause, it doesn’t strike a great deal of the world that it is just, and much of the world does not accept the latest propaganda about war crimes: this thing about Bucha. That’s probably the most prominent of all the war crimes discussions.

And what was Bucha? There was a film taken of a vehicle driving down the road in Bucha, which had been recaptured from the Russians. And every hundred feet or so there was some person with his hands, zip tied behind his back, and he’d been killed. It was not announced until four days after the Ukrainians had retaken Bucha.

Now, we knew almost nothing about it. We actually didn’t even have proof that people had been killed. But assuming they had, we didn’t know where they had been killed. We did not know who they were. We did not know who killed them. We did not know why they were killed. No one could provide an adequate motive for the Russians to have killed them. The Russians held Bucha for a month. If they were going to kill them, why didn’t they kill them during that month? And if you’re going to slaughter a bunch of people, wouldn’t they all be in one place and wouldn’t you gun them all down there? Why would they be distributed along a roadside, a mile along the way? It makes no sense!

What we do know is that four days after the mayor of Bucha joyously announced that the city was liberated, four days after the Ukrainian army had moved in, and their special propaganda arm of the Ukrainian military were there, all of a sudden there were these dead people on the road. How come they weren’t there when the Russians were there? How come they only appeared after the Russians were gone?

If I were looking at it as simply a standard criminal case, and I was talking to Criminal Investigation Division or the FBI, or military police or something, I’d say, “OK, the first thing, let’s take a look at the Ukrainians.” My guess would be, and you start with a hunch when you’re investigating a crime—my hunch is that the Ukrainians killed off these people after they moved in, and after they looked around, and said, “OK, who was friendly towards the Russian troops while the Russians were here? We’re going to execute them.” That would be my guess. Because I don’t see any motive for the Russians to have just killed a few people on their way out of town.

And nobody questions this, because the corporate media are so monolithic. We know for a fact, from the mouth of the head of a Ukrainian hospital, the guy who ran the hospital, he boasted that he had given strict orders to all of his doctors, that when wounded Russian POWs, when casualties were brought in, they were to be castrated. Now, this is a horrific war crime, admitted from the mouth of the hospital administrator, and the Ukrainian government said, “we’ll kind of look into that,” Like it’s no big thing. I can’t think of a more horrific, horrific war crime, ever. Where did you hear about it, on ABC and MSNBC and CNN and FOX News? Not a whisper. And yet the proof is undeniable. We had another clip where there was a POW gathering point, where the Ukrainians would bring POWs to a central point for processing—and this is about a seven-minute video—and the Ukrainian soldiers simply gunned them all down. And they had probably 30 of these wounded Russian soldiers lying on the ground, some of them clearly dying from their wounds. Some of them, they put plastic bags over their heads. Now, these are these are guys who are laying there, sometimes fatally wounded with their hands zip-tied behind their backs, and they’ve got plastic bags over their heads, making it difficult to breathe. And because they can’t raise their hands, they can’t take the bags off, so that they can breathe. At the end of the video, the Ukrainians bring in a van, and there are three unwounded Russian POWs. Without the slightest thought or hesitation, as the three come off, and their hands are bound behind their backs, they gunned down two of them, right on camera and they fall over. And the third one gets on his knees, and begs that they won’t hurt him. And then they gun him down! These are crimes. And these were not refuted by the Ukrainian government. But you’d never even know that they occurred! So far, I will tell you that the only proven—I’m not saying that there aren’t war crimes happening on both sides. I’m just telling you, that the only ones where I have seen, fairly irrefutable proof of war crimes, have been on the Ukrainian side.

Now, often you hear it said, well, the Russians have destroyed this or destroyed that. Well, I’ve got to tell you, you go back to the wars that we fought when we invaded Iraq, the “Shock and Awe,” we destroyed virtually everything in Iraq, everything of significance. We bombed military and civilian targets without much discrimination. The coalition flew 100,000 sorties in 42 days. You compare that to the Russians, who have only flown 8,000 sorties in about the same period of time. 100,000 American sorties versus 8,000, in about the same time. I think the Russians have tended to be more selective. Whereas we went out — the philosophy of Shock and Awe is that you destroy everything that is needed to sustain human life and for a city to function. You knock out the water supply, the electrical supply, the heat, the oil, the gasoline; so that you knock out all of the major bridges. And then you just continue to destroy everything.

So it’s really ironic. And keep in mind, Iraq is a relatively small country. Ukraine is a huge country. 100,000 sorties in 42 days, 8,000 sorties in about the same time. A tremendous difference in violence between what we did in Iraq, and what they have done in Ukraine. So there’s simply no credibility when you actually get down to the facts and you look at the way that the war has been conducted.

BILLINGTON: Well. Senator Black, Colonel Black. I think the way you have described the horror that’s already taking place, and considering that we can’t wait for a nuclear war to provoke a new a Peace of Westphalia, I would suggest that what you have described is already horrific enough. And when combined with the hyperinflationary breakdown now sweeping the Western world, with everybody being affected, we believe that we have to take that as the adequate horror, and a recognition of a descent into a dark age, to motivate citizens in Europe, in the United States.

We are finding that there is a waking up of people who have not wanted to look at their responsibility to the human race as a whole in the past, but who now are forced to consider that, which is the basis on which we’ve called for this, in this petition, for an international conference of all nations, with the U.S., Russia, China, India and so forth, sitting down to end this horror; but to also bring about a true peace for mankind and an era of peace through development.

And we thank you for giving this breath of ugly truth to a population which needs to hear it. If you have any final thoughts, I ask you to give your final greetings.

BLACK: I’ll just add one thing, and I thank the Schiller Institute for the tremendous effort that you’ve made towards achieving world peace. It is one of the most important efforts ever made, and I certainly applaud that.

If you look at Russia, the Russian troops that went into battle in Ukraine, for the most part had never experienced combat. This is a peacetime army. Russia doesn’t fight overseas wars. Syria is the only significant overseas engagement that they have had. You compare that with the United States, where literally speaking, if a soldier retires today after a 30-year career in the military, he will not have served a single day when the United States was at peace. Kind of an amazing thing. And you contrast that with the Russian military, where, with few exceptions, the country has been at peace.

So we really need to start thinking about peace and about the limits of warfare, this idea that somehow we need a zero sum game where we take from you and that enhances us. We’re in a world where everyone can gain and prosper by peace. But I’m concerned that the hyperinflation may be the wake-up call that jolts the world into a recognition that we must have a new paradigm for the future, and I think the Peace of Westphalia at that point might become a possibility.

So thank you again for the opportunity to be here. There’s always hope and I think there’ll be good things in the future, with the blessings of God.

BILLINGTON: And thank you very much from Schiller Institute, The LaRouche Organization, and EIR. We’ll get this posted as quickly as we possibly can, because it’s going to have a tremendous impact. Thank you.

BLACK: Thank you very much.

30 April 2022

Mike Billington
EIR
16839 Hill Haven Lane
Hamilton, VA 20158

 

Rouble Gains, Euro Falls As Russia Cuts Gas Supplies To Bulgaria and Poland

By Countercurrents Collective

The euro plummeted to a five-year low against the US dollar during Wednesday’s trading, amid heightened fears of a possible energy crisis and an economic slowdown in Europe.

Media reports from Europe said:

As of 11:01am GMT, the euro/dollar exchange rate was down to $1.061 from the previous closing level of $1.0636. Earlier in the day’s trading, the index fell to $1.0586, dropping below $1.06 for the first time since April 2017.

The euro weakened further after Russian energy giant Gazprom cut off gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria over their refusal to pay in rubles, leading to uncertainty about the bloc’s energy security.

In March, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that payments for natural gas supplies to the European Union and other countries that had imposed sanctions on Russia, were to be made in the Russian currency. The new payment mechanism has now been implemented, the Kremlin announced on Tuesday.

Rouble Vs Euro In Moscow

A Reuters report said on April 27, 2022:

The rouble soared to a more than two-year high against the euro in Moscow trade on Wednesday, supported by existing capital controls and upcoming income tax payments, after Russia upped the ante in a gas dispute with Europe.

Russia halted gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland for rejecting its demand for payment in roubles, taking direct aim at European economies in its toughest retaliation so far against international sanctions over Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.

By 1418 GMT, the rouble had gained 1.8% to trade at 75.43 versus the euro, its strongest since early March 2020.

It was 1.1% stronger against the dollar at 72.75.

The suspension of gas supplies to a number of European countries could exacerbate geopolitical tensions and further worsen relations with Europe, negatively impacting sentiment, Veles Capital said in a note.

Promsvyazbank analysts said corporate income taxes due on Thursday could deter the greenback from strengthening significantly against the rouble.

The market is also looking ahead to Friday’s rate decision. The central bank is widely expected to cut its key interest rate by 200 basis points to 15% as it tries to stimulate more lending in the economy in the face of high inflation, a Reuters poll showed.

Lower rates support the economy through cheaper lending but can also fan inflation and make the rouble more vulnerable to external shocks.

Trading activity remains subdued and somewhat erratic compared with levels seen before Feb. 24, when Moscow sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine. On the interbank market, the rouble was weaker: banks offered to buy dollars for 74.15 roubles and were selling them for 74.57.

The Reuters report said:

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia had withstood the impact of sanctions, but an economy ministry document seen by Reuters on Wednesday showed it expects gross domestic product to shrink by 12.4% in its most conservative scenario, suggesting that sanctions pressure is taking its toll.

European Gas Prices Soar After Supply Disruption

Other media reports said:

Natural gas prices in Europe skyrocketed on Wednesday after Poland and Bulgaria were hit by a supply freeze from Russia in response to the countries’ refusal to pay for deliveries in rubles.

May futures on the Netherlands-based TTF trading hub climbed to $1,374 per 1,000 cubic meters on Wednesday morning, or nearly $125 per megawatt-hour in household terms, according to data from London’s ICE exchange.

Russian state energy giant and major gas exporter Gazprom said earlier on Wednesday it had completely halted gas flows to Bulgaria and Poland after the two countries failed to pay for April supplies in the Russian currency. According to Gazprom, the suspension will remain in force until payment is received in rubles.

Russia demanded in March that its natural gas exports to “unfriendly” countries be paid for in rubles, as Western sanctions over the conflict in Ukraine severely restricted Moscow’s ability to conduct transactions in dollars and euros. Most EU countries refused to accept the terms, leading to concerns that Russian supplies would be halted from April 20, when contract payments were due. Among EU member states, so far only Austria and Hungary have agreed to pay for Russian gas in rubles, with Germany indicating it could be a possibility.

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28 April 2022

Source: countercurrents.org

Americans Are “In Charge” of the War Says French Journalist Who Returned from Ukraine

By Paul Joseph Watson

A French journalist who returned from Ukraine after arriving with volunteer fighters told broadcaster CNews that Americans are directly “in charge” of the war on the ground.

The assertion was made by Le Figaro senior international correspondent Georges Malbrunot.

Malbrunot said he had accompanied French volunteer fighters, two of whom had previously fought against ISIS.

“I had the surprise, and so did they, to discover that to be able to enter the Ukrainian army, well it’s the Americans who are in charge,” said Malbrunot.

Adding that he and the volunteers “almost got arrested” by the Americans, who asserted they were in charge, the journalist then revealed that they were forced to sign a contract “until the end of the war.”

“And who is in charge? It’s the Americans, I saw it with my own eyes,” said Malbrunot, adding, “I thought I was with the international brigades, and I found myself facing the Pentagon.”

Malbrunot also mentioned America providing Ukraine with switchblade suicide drones, something highlighted by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in a tweet that revealed Ukrainian soldiers were being trained to use the devices in Biloxi, Mississippi.

Citing a French intelligence source, Malbrunot also tweeted that British SAS units “have been present in Ukraine since the beginning of the war, as did the American Deltas.”

Russia is apparently well aware of the “secret war” being waged in Ukraine by foreign commandos who have been in the region since February.

Both the United States and the UK have publicly asserted that there won’t be “boots on the ground” in Ukraine, but apparently there has been a US-UK military presence since the start of the war.

“Polls showed in the run up to the war the overwhelming majority of Americans wanted our government to stay out of it but our leaders know best and are more than happy to risk World War III in defense of Ukraine’s puppet regime,” writes Chris Menahan.

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28 April 2022

Source: www.globalresearch.ca

The Alternative to The “Authoritarian New Normal”: Localization and Local Futures

By Colin Todhunter

‘World Localization Day’ will be celebrated on 20 June. Organised by the non-profit Local Futures, this annual coming together of people from across the world began in 2020 and focuses on the need to localise supply-chains and recover our connection with nature and community. The stated aim is to “galvanize the worldwide localization movement into a force for systemic change”.

Local Futures, founded by Helena Norberg-Hodge, urges us to imagine a very different world, one in which most of our food comes from nearby farmers who ensure food security year round and where the money we spend on everyday goods continues to recirculate in the local economy.

We are asked to imagine local businesses providing ample, meaningful employment opportunities, instead of our hard-earned cash being immediately siphoned off to some distant corporate headquarters.

Small farms would be key in this respect. They are integral to local markets and networks, short supply chains, food sovereignty, more diverse cropping systems and healthier diets. And they tend to serve the food requirements of communities rather than the interests of big business, institutional investors and shareholders half a world away.

If the COVID lockdowns and war in Ukraine tell us anything about our food system, it is that decentralised, regional and local community-owned food systems based on short(er) supply chains that can cope with future shocks are now needed more than ever.

The report Towards a Food Revolution: Food Hubs and Cooperatives in the US and Italy offers some pointers for creating sustainable support systems for small food producers and food distribution. Alternative, resilient food models and community supported agriculture are paramount.

Localization involves strengthening and rebuilding local economies and communities and restoring cultural and biological diversity. The ‘economics of happiness’ is central to this vision, rather than an endless quest for GDP growth and the alienation, conflict and misery this brings.

It is something we need to work towards because multi-billionaire globalists have a dystopian future mapped out for humanity which they want to impose on us all – and it is diametrically opposed to what is stated above.

The much-publicised ‘great reset’ is integral to this dystopia. It marks a shift away from ‘liberal democracy’ towards authoritarianism. At the same time, there is the relentless drive towards a distorted notion of a ‘green economy’, underpinned by the rhetoric of ‘sustainable consumption’ and ‘climate emergency’.

The great reset is really about capitalism’s end-game. Those promoting it realise the economic and social system must undergo a reset to a ‘new normal’, something that might no longer resemble ‘capitalism’.

End-game capitalism

Capital can no longer maintain its profitability by exploiting labour alone. This much has been clear for some time. There is only so much surplus value to be extracted before the surplus is insufficient.

Historian Luciana Bohne notes that the shutting down of parts of the economy was already happening pre-COVID as there was insufficient growth, well below the minimum tolerable 3% level to maintain the viability of capitalism. This, despite a decades-long attack on workers and corporate tax cuts.

The system had been on life support for some time. Credit markets had been expanded and personal debt facilitated to maintain consumer demand as workers’ wages were squeezed. Financial products (derivatives, equities, debt, etc) and speculative capitalism were boosted, affording the rich a place to park their profits and make money off money. We have also seen the growth of unproductive rentier capitalism and stock buy backs and massive bail outs courtesy of taxpayers.

Moreover, in capitalism, there is also a tendency for the general rate of profit to fall over time. And this has certainly been the case according to writer Ted Reese, who notes it has trended downwards from an estimated 43% in the 1870s to 17% in the 2000s.

The 2008 financial crash was huge. But by late 2019, an even bigger meltdown was imminent. Many companies could not generate enough profit and falling turnover, squeezed margins, limited cashflows and highly leveraged balance sheets were prevalent. In effect, economic growth was already grinding to a halt prior to the massive stock market crash in February 2020.

Fabio Vighi, professor of critical theory, describes how, in late 2019, the Swiss Bank of International Settlements, BlackRock (the world’s most powerful investment fund), G7 central bankers, leading politicians and others worked behind closed doors to avert a massive impending financial meltdown.

The Fed soon began an emergency monetary programme, pumping hundreds of billions of dollars per week into financial markets. Not long after, COVID hit and lockdowns were imposed. The stock market did not collapse because lockdowns occurred. Vighi argues lockdowns were rolled out because financial markets were collapsing.

Closing down the global economy under the guise of fighting a pathogen that mainly posed a risk to the over 80s and the chronically ill seemed illogical to many, but lockdowns allowed the Fed to flood financial markets (COVID relief) with freshly printed money without causing hyperinflation. Vighi says that lockdowns curtailed economic activity, thereby removing demand for the newly printed money (credit) in the physical economy and preventing ‘contagion’.

Using lockdowns and restrictions, smaller enterprises were driven out of business and large sections of the pre-COVID economy were shut down. This amounted to a controlled demolition of parts of the economy while the likes of Amazon, Microsoft, Meta (Facebook) and the online payment sector – platforms which are dictating what the ‘new normal’ will look like – were clear winners in all of this.

The rising inflation that we currently witness is being blamed on the wholly avoidable conflict in Ukraine. Although this tells only part of the story, the conflict and sanctions seem to be hitting Europe severely: if you wanted to demolish your own economy or impoverish large sections of the population, this might be a good way to go about it.

However, the massive ‘going direct’ helicopter money given to the financial sector and global conglomerates under the guise of COVID relief was always going to have an impact once the global economy reopened.

Similar extraordinary monetary policy (lockdowns) cannot be ruled out in the future: perhaps on the pretext of another ‘virus’ but possibly based on the notion of curtailing human activity due to ‘climate emergency’. This is because raising interests rates to manage inflation could rapidly disrupt the debt-bloated financial system (an inflated Ponzi scheme) and implode the entire economy.

Permanent austerity

But lockdowns, restrictions or creating mass unemployment and placing people on programmable digital currencies to micromanage spending and decrease inflationary pressures could help to manage the crisis. ‘Programmable’ means the government determining how much you can spend and what you can spend on.

How could governments legitimise such levels of control? By preaching about reduced consumption according to the creed of ‘sustainability’. This is how you would ‘own nothing and be happy’ if we are to believe this well-publicised slogan of the World Economic Forum (WEF).

The Great Reset: “You’ll own nothing and you’ll be happy.” (World Economic Forum)

But like neoliberal globalization in the 1980s – the great reset is being given a positive spin, something which supposedly symbolises a brave new techno-utopian future.

In the 1980s, to help legitimise the deregulated neoliberal globalisation agenda, government and media instigated an ideological onslaught, driving home the primacy of ‘free enterprise’, individual rights and responsibility and emphasising a shift away from the role of state, trade unions and the collective in society.

Today, we are seeing another ideological shift: individual rights (freedom to choose what is injected into your own body, for instance) are said to undermine the wider needs of society and – in a stark turnaround – individual freedom is now said to pose a threat to ‘national security’, ‘public health’ or ‘safety’.

A near-permanent state of ‘emergency’ due to public health threats, climate catastrophe or conflict (as with the situation in Ukraine) would conveniently place populations on an ongoing ‘war footing’. Notions of individual liberty and democratic principles would be usurped by placing the emphasis on the ‘public interest’ and protecting the population from ‘harm’. This would facilitate the march towards authoritarianism.

As in the 1980s, this messaging is being driven by economic impulses. Neoliberalism privatised, deregulated, exploited workers and optimised debt to the point whereby markets are now kept afloat by endless financial injections.

The WEF says the public will ‘rent’ everything they require: stripping the right of personal ownership under the guise of ‘sustainable consumption’ and ‘saving the planet’. Where the WEF is concerned, this is little more than code for permanent austerity to be imposed on the mass of the population.

Metaverse future

At the start of this article, readers were asked to imagine a future based on a certain set of principles associated with localization. For one moment, imagine another. The one being promoted by the WEF, the high-level talking shop and lobby group for elite interests headed by that avowed globalist and transhumanist Klaus Schwab.

As you sit all day unemployed in your high-rise, your ‘food’ will be delivered via an online platform bought courtesy of your programmable universal basic income digital money. Food courtesy of Gates-promoted farms manned by driverless machines, monitored by drones and doused with chemicals to produce crops from patented GM seeds for industrial ‘biomatter’ to be engineered, processed and constituted into something resembling food.

Enjoy and be happy eating your fake food, stripped of satisfying productive endeavour and genuine self-fulfilment. But really, it will not be a problem. You can sit all day and exist virtually in Zuckerberg’s fantasy metaverse. Property-less and happy in your open prison of mass unemployment, state dependency, track and chip health passports and financial exclusion via programmable currency.

A world also in which bodily integrity no longer exists courtesy of a mandatory vaccination agenda linked to emerging digital-biopharmaceutical technologies. The proposed World Health Organization pandemic treaty marks a worrying step in this direction.

This ‘new normal’ would be tyrannical, but the ‘old normal’ – which still thrives – was not something to be celebrated. Global inequality is severe and environmental devastation and human dislocation has been increasing. Dependency and dispossession remain at the core of the system, both on an individual level and at local, regional and national levels. New normal or old normal, these problems will persist and become worse.

Green imperialism

The ‘green economy’ being heavily promoted is based on the commodification of nature, through privatization, marketization and monetary valuation. Banks and corporations will set the agenda – dressed in the garb of ‘stakeholder capitalism’, a euphemism for governments facilitating the needs of powerful global interests. The fear is that the proposed system will weaken environmental protection laws and regulations to facilitate private capital.

The banking sector will engage in ‘green profiling’ and issue ‘green bonds’ and global corporations will be able to ‘offset’ (greenwash) their environment-degrading activities by, for example, protecting or planting a forest elsewhere (on indigenous people’s land) or perhaps even investing in (imposing) industrial agriculture which grows herbicide-resistant GMO commodity crop monocultures that are misleadingly portrayed as ‘climate friendly’. Imperialism wrapped in green.

Relying on the same thinking and the same interests that led the world to where it is now does not seem like a great idea. This type of ‘green’ is first and foremost a multi-trillion market opportunity for lining pockets and part of a strategy that may well be used to secure compliance required for the ‘new normal’.

The future needs to be rooted in the principles of localization. For this, we need look no further than the economics and the social relations that underpin tribal societies (for example, India’s indigenous peoples). The knowledge and value systems of indigenous peoples promote long-term genuine sustainability by living within the boundaries of nature and emphasise equality, communality and sharing rather than separation, domination and competition.

Self-sufficiency, solidarity, localization and cooperation is the antidote to globalism and the top-down tyranny of programmable digital currencies and unaccountable, monopolistic AI-driven platforms which aim to monitor and dictate every aspect of life.

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Renowned author Colin Todhunter specialises in development, food and agriculture. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG) in Montreal.

26 April 2022

Source: www.globalresearch.ca

Palestine’s Widening Geography of Resistance: Why Israel Cannot Defeat the Palestinians

By Ramzy Baroud

13 Apr 2022 – There is a reason why Israel is insistent on linking the series of attacks carried out by Palestinians recently to a specific location, namely the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank. By doing so, the embattled Naftali Bennett’s government can simply order another deadly military operation in Jenin to reassure its citizens that the situation is under control.

Indeed, on April 9, the Israeli army has stormed the Jenin refugee camp, killing a Palestinian and wounding ten others. However, Israel’s problem is much bigger than Jenin.

If we examine the events starting with the March 22 stabbing attack in the southern city of Beersheba (Bir Al Saba’) – which resulted in the death of four – and ending with the killing of three Israelis in Tel Aviv – including two army officers – we will reach an obvious conclusion: these attacks must have been, to some extent, coordinated.

Spontaneous Palestinian retaliation to the violence of the Israeli occupation rarely follows this pattern in terms of timing or style. All the attacks, with the exception of Beersheba, were carried out using firearms. The shooters, as indicated by the amateur videos of some of the events and statements by Israeli eyewitnesses, were well-trained and were acting with great composure.

An example was the March 27 Hadera event, carried out by two cousins, Ayman and Ibrahim Ighbariah, from the Arab town of Umm al-Fahm, inside Israel. Israeli media reported of the unmistakable skills of the attackers, armed with weapons that, according to the Israeli news agency, Tazpit Press Service, cost more than $30,000.

Unlike Palestinian attacks carried out during the Second Palestinian Intifada (2000-05) in response to Israeli violence in the occupied territories, the latest attacks are generally more pinpointed, seek police and military personnel and clearly aimed at shaking Israel’s false sense of security and undermining the country’s intelligence services. In the Bnei Brak attack, on March 29, for example, an Israeli woman who was at the scene told reporters that “the militant asked us to move away from the place because he did not want to target women or children.”

While Israeli intelligence reports have recently warned of a “wave of terrorism” ahead of the holy month of Ramadan, they clearly had little conception of what type of violence, or where and how Palestinians would strike.

Following the Beersheba attack, Israeli officials referred to Daesh’s responsibility, a convenient claim considering that Daesh had also claimed responsibility. This theory was quickly marginalized, as it became obvious that the other Palestinian attackers had other political affiliations or, as in the Bnei Brak case, no known affiliation at all.

The confusion and misinformation continued for days. Shortly after the Tel Aviv attack, Israeli media, citing official sources, spoke of two attackers, alleging that one was trapped in a nearby building. This was untrue as there was only one attacker and he was killed, though hours later in a different city.

A number of Palestinian workers were quickly rounded up in Tel Aviv on suspicion of being the attackers simply because they looked Arab, evidence of the chaotic Israeli approach. Indeed, following each event, total mayhem ensued, with large mobs of armed Israelis taking to the streets looking for anyone with Arab features to apprehend or to beat senseless.

Israeli officials contributed to the frenzy, with far-right politicians, such as the extremist Itamar Ben Gvir, leading hordes of other extremists in rampages in occupied Jerusalem.

Instead of urging calm and displaying confidence, the country’s own Prime Minister called, on March 30, on ordinary Israelis to arm themselves. “Whoever has a gun license, this is the time to carry it,” he said in a video statement. However, if Israel’s solution to any form of Palestinian resistance was more guns, Palestinians would have been pacified long ago.

To placate angry Israelis, the Israeli military raided the city and refugee camp of Jenin on many occasions, each time leaving several dead and wounded Palestinians behind, including many civilians. They include the child Imad Hashash, 15, killed on August 24 while filming the invasion on his mobile phone. The exact same scenario played out on April 9.

However, it was an exercise in futility, as it was Israeli violence in Jenin throughout the years that led to the armed resistance that continues to emanate from the camp. Palestinians, whether in Jenin or elsewhere, fight back because they are denied basic human rights, have no political horizon, live in extreme poverty, have no true leadership and feel abandoned by the so-called international community.

The Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas seems to be entirely removed from the masses. Statements by Abbas reflect his detachment from the reality of Israeli violence, military occupation and apartheid throughout Palestine. True to form, Abbas quickly condemned the Tel Aviv attack, as he did the previous ones, making the same reference every time regarding the need to maintain “stability” and to prevent “further deterioration of the situation”, according to the official Wafa news agency.

What stability is Abbas referring to, when Palestinian suffering has been compounded by growing settler violence, illegal settlement expansion, land theft, and, thanks to recent international events, food insecurity as well?

Israeli officials and media are, once again, conveniently placing the blame largely on Jenin, a tiny stretch of an overpopulated area. By doing so, Israel wants to give the impression that the new phenomenon of Palestinian retaliatory attacks is confined to a single place, one that is adjacent to the Israeli border and can be easily ‘dealt with’.

An Israeli military operation in the camp may serve Bennett’s political agenda, convey a sense of strength, and win back some in his disenchanted political constituency. But it is all a temporary fix. Attacking Jenin now will make no difference in the long run. After all, the camp rose from the ashes of its near-total destruction by the Israeli military in April 2002.

The renewed Palestinian attacks speak of a much wider geography: Naqab, Umm Al Fahm, the West Bank. The seeds of this territorial connectivity are linked to the Israeli war of last May and the subsequent Palestinian rebellion, which erupted in every part of Palestine, including Palestinian communities inside Israel.

Israel’s problem is its insistence on providing short-term military solutions to a long-term problem, itself resulting from these very ‘military solutions’. If Israel continues to subjugate the Palestinian people under the current system of military occupation and deepening apartheid, Palestinians will surely continue to respond until their oppressive reality is changed. No amount of Israeli violence can alter this truth.

Dr. Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and editor of The Palestine Chronicle.

18 April 2022

Source: www.transcend.org

‘We Will Prevail’: A Conversation With Cuba’s President Miguel Díaz-Canel

By Manolo De Los Santos

In 1994, Miguel Díaz-Canel began a new position in Santa Clara, not far from his birthplace of Placetas, as the provincial secretary of the Cuban Communist Party. He set aside the air-conditioned car given to him and went to work each morning on his bicycle, his long hair and jeans defining him. Díaz-Canel organized rock concerts, spent time with his family at El Mejunje, the local LGBTQ cultural center, and roamed about talking to people on the streets. This closeness to the people defined his tenure at Santa Clara, which shaped the man who is now the president of Cuba.

In March, I spent a few hours talking to Díaz-Canel, who—born in 1960—has lived his entire life as Cuba struggled against the suffocating policies from Washington to shape its socialist path. Raised by a teacher and a factory worker, Díaz-Canel saw firsthand the Cuban Revolution’s comprehensive program of social justice in which millions of members of the working class, peasants, Black people, and women began to access for the first time on equal terms the right to work, study and live with dignity. Díaz-Canel’s generation grew up in a period under Fidel Castro’s leadership in which, despite the existence of a U.S. blockade, most Cubans saw their standards of living and quality of life rise significantly due to national development plans, favorable trade relations with the Soviet Union and a growing network of support in the nonaligned world. Díaz-Canel studied electrical engineering at the Central University of Las Villas, but early on in his career teaching engineering there, he devoted much of his time to local activism with the Young Communist League. That led him to an internationalist mission in Nicaragua where, along with thousands of Cuban doctors and teachers, he served among the poorest, often in remote corners of this Central American country that was then trapped under a U.S.-funded war of counterinsurgency.

Díaz-Canel returned from Nicaragua in 1989 as the USSR neared its final days and as the U.S. government seized the opportunity to tighten restrictions on Cuba. In 1991, Cuba entered a Special Period as trade fell by 80 percent. Cubans were eating less (caloric intake decreased by 27 percent from 1990 to 1996), long queues for food became common, electricity became a rare occurrence, and millions took to riding bicycles as the island faced a severe oil shortage under an intensified blockade. Díaz-Canel was one of those on a bicycle. Cuba’s resilience during the Special Period shaped his view of the world.

Special Period II

In 2018, Díaz-Canel was elected to be the president of Cuba. U.S. President Donald Trump had tightened the U.S. blockade on Cuba, with 243 new sanctions measures, the prevention of remittances from overseas Cubans coming to the island, and Cuba being placed back on the United States’ State Sponsors of Terrorism list. This campaign of maximum pressure has hurt the Cuban economy, which began to see fuel and food shortages that echoed the Special Period. The Biden administration has kept each and every one of these measures in place.

During the pandemic, the U.S. did not allow Cuba any relief from its unilateral blockade. The Cuban government spent $102 million on reagents, medical equipment, protective equipment, and other material; in the first half of 2021, the government spent $82 million on these kinds of materials. This is money that Cuba did not anticipate spending—money that it does not have because of the collapsed tourism sector. Despite the severe challenges to the economy, the government continued to guarantee salaries, purchase medicines, and distribute food as well as electricity and piped water. Overall, the Cuban government added $2.4 billion to its already considerable debt overhang to cover the basic needs of the population.

In this context, public discontent spilled onto the streets in 2021, notably on July 11. Díaz-Canel’s first instinct was to go to the heart of the matter and speak with the people. He went to great lengths not merely to dismiss their concerns but rather to understand them within the broader context of what Cuba was facing. Díaz-Canel said of the people that most of them are “dissatisfied,” but that their dissatisfaction was fueled by “confusion, misunderstandings, lack of information, and the desire to express a particular situation.” “Imagine facing that situation in a country that is attacked, blocked, demonized on social networks, and then COVID-19 arrives,” he told me. “Therefore, I am convinced that they [the U.S.] bet that Cuba had no way out: ‘They cannot sustain the revolution; they cannot get out of this situation.’”

Among the many creative responses to these many challenges was the decision by the Cuban government to develop its own vaccine. On May 17, 2020, Díaz-Canel called together Cuba’s scientists. “I told them, ‘Look, there is no alternative; we need a Cuban vaccine. Nobody is going to give us a vaccine. We need a Cuban vaccine that guarantees us sovereignty,’” he told me. Seven weeks later, in the second half of July, the first bottle of a Cuban vaccine candidate was ready. Soon after Cuba would have five vaccine candidates. Of these, three are already in use: Abdala, Soberana 02, and Soberana Plus. Two others are in the final stages of clinical trials and are quite promising, including one called Mambisa, which can be applied nasally. This is all short of a miracle considering that Cuba was only able to invest $50 million to develop these vaccines.

With the many economic problems that Cuba faces, President Díaz-Canel, in line with his predecessors Fidel and Raúl Castro, has renewed the principle of self-reliance. “We have to face the economic battle ourselves with the concept of creative resistance,” he said. With a growing number of workers in the non-state sector, the economy has encouraged small local businesses. A new energy has emerged between the state-led sectors of the economy and these growing new businesses.

In regular visits made by Díaz-Canel across the island, a great deal of emphasis is being placed on the local capacities of each municipality. He advocates a line of continuity with politics based on the ethics of José Martí and Fidel Castro, whose premise is to study the contradictions that exist in society, find the causes of those contradictions, and propose solutions that eliminate the causes. “We are defending the need to increasingly expand democracy on the basis of people’s participation and control in our society,” said Díaz-Canel. This approach has already opened the door to deep debates about how to eradicate the vestiges of racism that remain in society, the transformation of neighborhoods in disrepair, and a proposed legal code that would radically expand the rights of LGBTQ people, including marriage. In hundreds of meetings, many of which are recorded and televised, Díaz-Canel listens patiently to religious leaders, university students, artists, intellectuals, community organizers, social activists, and other sectors of Cuban society who have much to say. These meetings can quite often be tense. Díaz-Canel smiles and says, “We have learned tremendously, proposals are made, we can share criteria, we can clarify doubts, and then we all go out together to work.”

Cuba continues to face great challenges, and many problems remain to be solved.

Yet it’s clear that Díaz-Canel is leading a profound renewal of the Cuban Revolution in a process that seeks to face many complex challenges by empowering local leaders and citizens to become democratic problem-solvers within their communities. Those who continue to see the Cuban system as a repressive dictatorship refuse to come to terms with an evolving society that, despite the cruel violence from Washington, exists and is creating its own future.

Manolo De Los Santos is the co-executive director of the People’s Forum and is a researcher at Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research.

8 April 2022

Source: countercurrents.org

Ukraine Is a Pawn on the Grand Chessboard

By Rick Sterling

22 Apr 2022 – Zbigniew Brzezinski’s book, The Grand Chessboard, was published 25 years ago. His assumptions and strategies for maintaining ‘U.S. global dominance’ have been hugely influential in US foreign policy. As the conflict in Ukraine evolves, with the potential of escalating into world war, we can see where this policy leads and how crucial it is to re-evaluate.

The Need to Dominate Eurasia

The basic premise of “The Grand Chessboard” is outlined in the introduction:

  • * With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States is the sole global power
  • * Europe and Asia (Eurasia) together have the largest land area, population and economy
  • * U.S. must control Eurasia and prevent another country from challenging US dominance

Brzezinski sums up the situation:

“America is now the only global superpower, and Eurasia is the globe’s central arena.” He adds, “It is imperative that no Eurasian challenger emerges, capable of dominating Eurasia and thus of challenging America.”

The book  surveys the different nations in Eurasia, from Japan in the east to the UK in the west. The entire land mass of Europe and Asia is covered. This is the “grand chessboard” and Brzezinski analyzes how the US should “play” different pieces on the board to keep potential rivals down and the US in control.

Brzezinski’s Influence

Brzezinski was a very powerful National Security Advisor to President Carter. Before that, he founded the Trilateral Commission. Later he taught Madeline Albright and many other key figures in US foreign policy.

Brzezinski initiated the “Afghanistan Trap”. That was the secret 1979 US program to mobilize and support mujahedin foreign fighters to invade and destabilize Afghanistan. In this period, Afghanistan was undergoing dramatic positive changes. As described by Canadian academic John Ryan, “Afghanistan once had a progressive secular government, with broad popular support. It had enacted progressive reforms and gave equal rights to women.”

The Brzezinski plan was to utilize reactionary local forces and foreign fighters to create enough mayhem that the government would ask the neighboring Soviet Union to send military support. The overall goal was to “bog down the Soviet army” and “give them their own Vietnam”.

With enormous funding from the US and Saudi Arabia beginning in 1978, the plan resulted in chaos, starvation and bloodshed in Afghanistan which continues to today. Approximately 6 million Afghans became refugees fleeing the chaos and war.

Years later, when interviewed about this policy, Brzezinski was proud and explicit: “We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.” When asked if he had regrets for the decades of mayhem in Afghanistan, he was clear: “Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? …. Moscow had to carry on a war that was unsustainable for the regime, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire…. What is more important in world history? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some agitated Muslims or the liberation of central Europe and the end of the Cold War?”

Afghanistan was a pawn in the US campaign against the Soviet Union. The amorality of US foreign policy is clear and consistent, from the destruction of Afghanistan beginning in 1978 continuing to the current starvation caused by US freezing of Afghan government reserves.

The blow-back is also clear. The foreign fighters trained by the US and Saudis became Al Qaeda and then ISIS. The 2016 Orlando nightclub massacre, where49 died and 53 were wounded was perpetrated by the son of an Afghan refugee who never would have come to the US if his country had not been intentionally destabilized. Paul Fitzgerald eloquently describes the tragedy in his article Brzezinski’s vision to lure Soviets into Afghan Trap now Orlando’s nightmare.

US Supremacy and Exceptionalism

The “Grand Chessboard” assumes US supremacy and exceptionalism and adds the strategy for implementing and enforcing this “primacy” on the biggest and most important arena: Eurasia.

Brzezinski does not countenance a multi-polar world. “A world without US primacy will be a world with more violence and disorder and less democracy and economic growth ….” and “The only real alternative to American global leadership in the foreseeable future is international anarchy.”

These assertions continue today as the US foreign policy establishment repeatedly talks about the “rules based order” and “international community”, ignoring the fact that the West is a small fraction of humanity. Toward the end of his book, Brzezinski suggests the “upgrading” the United Nations and a “new distribution of responsibilities and privileges” that take into account the “changed realities of global power.”

The Importance of NATO and Ukraine

With the dissolution of the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact, many people in the West believed NATO was no longer needed. NATO claimed to be strictly a defensive alliance and its only rival had disbanded.

Brzezinski and other US hawks saw that NATO could be used to expand US hegemony and keep weapons purchases flowing. Thus he wrote that, “an enlarged NATO will serve well both the short-term and the longer-term goals of U.S. policy.”

Brzezinski was adamant that Russian concerns or fears should be dismissed. “Any accommodation with Russia on the issue of NATO enlargement should not entail an outcome that has the effect of making Russia a de facto decision making member of the alliance.” Brzezinski was skillful at presenting an aggressive and offensive policy in the best light.

Brzezinski presents Ukraine as the pivotal country for containing Russia. He says, “Ukraine is the critical state, insofar as Russia’s future evolution is concerned.” He says, “Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire.” This is another example of his skillful wording because Ukraine as part of a hostile military alliance does not only prevent a Russian “empire”; it presents a potential threat. Kyiv is less than 500 miles from Moscow and Ukraine was a major route of the Nazi invasion.

Brzezinski was well aware of the controversial nature of Ukraine’s borders. On page 104 he gives a quote that shows many people of eastern Ukraine wanted out of Ukraine since the breakup of the Soviet Union. The 1996 quote from a Moscow newspaper reports, “In the foreseeable future events in eastern Ukraine confront Russia with a very difficult problem. Mass manifestations of discontent … will be accompanied by appeals to Russia, or even demands, to take over the region.”

Despite this reality, Brzezinski is dismissive of Russian rights and complaints. He bluntly says, “Europe is America’s essential geopolitical bridgehead on the Eurasian continent.” and “Western Europe and increasingly Central Europe remain largely an American protectorate.” The unstated assumption is that the US has every right to dominate Eurasia from afar.

Brzezinski advises Russia to decentralize with the free market and a loose confederation of “European Russia, a Siberian Russia and a Far Eastern Republic”.

Afghanistan Is the Model

Brzezinski realizes that Russia presents a potential challenge to US domination of Eurasia, especially if it allies with China. In the “Grand Chessboard”, he writes, “If the middle space rebuffs the West, becomes an assertive single entity, and either gains control over the South or forms an alliance with the major Eastern actor, then America’s primacy in Eurasia shrinks dramatically.” Russia is the “middle space” and China is the “major Eastern actor”.

What was feared by the US strategist has happened: For the past 20 years, Russia and China have been building an alliance dedicated to ending US hegemony and beginning a new era in international relations.

This may be why the US aggressively provoked the crisis in Ukraine. The list of provocations is clear: moral and material support for Maidan protests, rejection of the EU agreement (“F*** the EU”), the sniper murders and violent 2014 coup, ignoring the Minsk Agreement approved by the UN Security Council, NATO advisors and training for ultra-nationalists, lethal weaponry to Ukraine, refusal to accept Ukrainian non-membership in NATO, threats to invade Donbass and Crimea.

Before Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, active duty soldier and former Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said ,

“They actually want Russia to invade Ukraine. Why would they? Because it gives the Biden administration a clear excuse to levy draconian sanctions… against Russia and the Russian people and number two, it cements this cold war in place. The military industrial complex is the one who benefits from this. They clearly control the Biden administration. Warmongers on both sides in Washington who have been drumming up these tensions. If they get Russia to invade Ukraine it locks in this new cold war, the military industrial complex starts to make a ton more money …. Who pays the price? The American people … the Ukrainian people … the Russian people pay the price. It undermines our own national security but the military industrial complex which controls so many of our elected officials wins and they run to the bank.”

This is accurate but the reasons for the provocations go deeper. Hillary Clinton recently summed up the wishes and dreams of Washington hawks:

“The Russians invaded Afghanistan back in 1980 … a lot of countries supplied arms, advice and even some advisors to those who were recruited to fight Russia….a well funded insurgency basically drove the Russians out of Afghanistan…. I think that is the model people are now looking toward.”

US foreign policy has been consistent from Brzezinski to Madeline Albright, Hillary Clinton and on to Victoria Nuland. The results are seen in Aghanistan, Iraq, Yugoslavia, Libya, Syria and now Ukraine.

As with Afghanistan, the US “didn’t push Russia to intervene” but “knowingly increased the probability that they would.” The purpose is the same in both cases: to use a pawn to undermine and potentially eliminate a rival. We expect the US will make every to prolong the bloodshed and war, to bog down the Russian army and prevent a peaceful settlement. The US goal is just what Joe Biden said: regime change in Moscow.

Like Afghanistan, Ukraine is just a pawn on the chessboard.

Rick Sterling is a member of the TRANSCEND Network and an investigative journalist who lives in the SF Bay Area, California.

25 April 2022

Source: www.transcend.org

How Obama-Biden Team Empowered Terrorists in Syria

By Aaron Maté

Ukraine is the Obama-Biden team’s second major proxy war against Russia. The first was Syria, where US support for the insurgency helped create an Al Qaeda safe haven.

20 Apr 2022 – Hours after the Feb. 3 U.S. military raid in northern Syria that left the leader of ISIS and multiple family members dead, President Biden delivered a triumphant White House address.The late-night Special Forces operation in Syria’s Idlib province, Biden proclaimed, was a “testament to America’s reach and capability to take out terrorist threats no matter where they hide around the world.”

Unmentioned by the president, and virtually all media accounts of the assassination, was the critical role that top members of his administration played during the Obama years in creating the Al Qaeda-controlled hideout where ISIS head Abu Ibrahim al-Qurayshi, as well as his slain predecessor, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, found their final refuge.

In waging a multi-billion dollar covert war in support of the insurgency against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, top Obama officials who now serve under Biden made it American policy to enable and arm terrorist groups that attracted jihadi fighters from across the globe. This regime change campaign, undertaken one decade after Al Qaeda attacked the U.S. on 9/11, helped a sworn U.S. enemy establish the Idlib safe haven that it still controls today.

A concise articulation came from Jake Sullivan to his then-State Department boss Hillary Clinton in a February 2012 email: “AQ [Al Qaeda] is on our side in Syria.”

Sullivan, the current national security adviser, is one of many officials who oversaw the Syria proxy war under Obama to now occupy a senior post under Biden. This group includes Secretary of State Antony Blinken, climate envoy John Kerry, USAID Administrator Samantha Power, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, NSC Middle East coordinator Brett McGurk, and State Department Counselor Derek Chollet.

Their efforts to remake the Middle East via regime change, not just in Syria but earlier in Libya, led to the deaths of Americans – including Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other U.S. officials in Benghazi in 2012; the slaughter of countless civilians; the creation of millions of refugees; and ultimately, Russia’s entry into the Syrian battlefield.

Contacted through their current U.S. government agencies, none of the Obama-Biden principals offered comment on their policy of supporting an Al Qaeda-dominated insurgency in Syria.

The Obama-Biden team’s record in Syria resonates today as many of its members handle the unfolding crisis in Ukraine. As in Syria, the U.S. is flooding a chaotic war zone with weapons in a dangerous proxy conflict against Russia, raising the threat of military confrontation between the world’s top nuclear powers. “I deeply worry that what’s going to happen next is that we will see Ukraine turn into Syria,” Democratic Senator Chris Coons told CBS News on April 17.

Based on declassified documents, news reports, and scattered admissions of U.S. officials, this overlooked history of how the Obama-Biden team’s effort to oust the Assad regime – in concert with allies including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey – details the series of discrete decisions that ultimately led the U.S. to empower terror networks bent on its destruction.

Seizing Momentum – and Munitions – From Libya to Pursue Regime Change in Syria

The road to Al Qaeda’s control of the Syrian province of Idlib actually started hundreds of miles across the Mediterranean in Libya.

In March 2011, after heavy lobbying from senior officials including Secretary Hillary Clinton, President Obama authorized a bombing campaign in support of the jihadist insurgency fighting the government of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Backed by NATO firepower, the rebels toppled Gaddafi and gruesomely murdered him in October.

Buoyed by their quick success in Libya, the Obama administration set their sights on Damascus, by then a top regime change target in Washington. According to former NATO commander Wesley Clark, the Assad regime – a key ally of U.S. foes Iran, Hezbollah, and Russia – was marked for overthrow alongside Iraq in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. A leaked 2006 U.S. Embassy in Damascus cable assessed that Assad’s “vulnerabilities” included “the potential threat to the regime from the increasing presence of transiting Islamist extremists,” and detailed how the U.S. could “improve the likelihood of such opportunities arising.”

The outbreak of the Syrian insurgency in March 2011, coupled with the fall of Gaddafi, offered the U.S. a historic opportunity to exploit Syria’s vulnerabilities. While the Arab Spring sparked peaceful Syrian protests against the ruling Ba’ath party’s cronyism and repression, it also triggered a largely Sunni, rural-based revolt that took a sectarian and violent turn. The U.S. and its allies, namely Qatar and Turkey, capitalized by tapping the massive arsenal of the newly ousted Libyan government.

“During the immediate aftermath of, and following the uncertainty caused by, the downfall of the [Gaddafi] regime in October 2011,” the Defense Intelligence Agency reported the following year, “…weapons from the former Libya military stockpiles located in Benghazi, Libya were shipped from the port of Benghazi, Libya, to the ports of Banias and the Port of Borj Islam, Syria.”

The redacted DIA document, obtained by the group Judicial Watch, does not clarify whether the U.S. was directly involved in these shipments. But it contains significant clues. With remarkable specificity, it detailed the size and contents of one such shipment in August 2012: 500 sniper rifles, 100 rocket-propelled grenade launchers with 300 rounds, and 400 howitzer missiles.

Most tellingly, the document noted that the weapons shipments were halted “in early September 2012.” This was a clear reference to the killing by militants that month of four Americans – Ambassador Christopher Stevens, another State Department official, and two CIA contractors – in Benghazi, the port city where the weapons to Syria were coming from. The Benghazi annex “was at its heart a CIA operation,” U.S. officials told the Wall Street Journal. At least two dozen CIA employees worked in Benghazi under diplomatic cover.

Although top intelligence officials obscured the Benghazi operation in sworn testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, a Senate investigation eventually confirmed a direct CIA role in the movement of weapons from Libya to Syria. A classified version of a 2014 Senate report, not publicly released, documented an agreement between President Obama and Turkey to funnel weapons from Libya to insurgents in Syria. The operation, established in early 2012, was run by then-CIA Director David Petraeus.

“The [Benghazi] consulate’s only mission was to provide cover for the moving of arms” to Syria, a former U.S. intelligence official told journalist Seymour Hersh in the London Review of Books. “It had no real political role.”

The Death of a U.S. Ambassador

Under diplomatic cover, Stevens appears to have been a significant figure in the CIA program. More than one year before he became ambassador in June 2012, Stevens was appointed the U.S. liaison to the Libyan opposition. In this role, he worked with the Al Qaeda-tied Libyan Islamic Fighting Group and its leader, Abdelhakim Belhadj, a warlord who fought alongside Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. After Gaddafi’s ouster, Belhadj was named head of the Tripoli Military Council, which controlled security in the country’s capital.

Belhadj’s portfolio was not limited to post-coup Libya. In November 2011, the Al Qaeda ally traveled to Turkey to meet with leaders of the Free Syrian Army, the CIA-backed opposition military coalition. Belhadj’s trip came as part of the new Libyan government’s effort to provide “money and weapons to the growing insurgency against Bashar al-Assad,” the London Telegraph reported at the time. On September 14, 2012 – just three days after Stevens and his American colleagues were killed – the London Times revealed that a Libyan vessel “carrying the largest consignment of weapons for Syria since the uprising began,” had recently docked in the Turkish port of Iskenderun. Once unloaded, “most of its cargo is making its way to rebels on the front lines.”

The known details of Stevens’ last hours on September 11 suggest that shipping weapons was at the top of his agenda. Although based in Tripoli and facing violent threats, he nonetheless made the dangerous trek to Benghazi around the charged anniversary of 9/11. According to a 2016 report from the House Intelligence Committee, one of Stevens’ last scheduled meetings was with the head of al-Marfa Shipping and Maritime Services Company, a Libyan firm involved in ferrying weapons to Syria. His final meeting of the day was with Consul General Ali Sait Akin of Turkey, where the weapons were shipped. Fox News later reported that “Stevens was in Benghazi to negotiate a weapons transfer.”

With the Libyan channel shut down by Stevens’ murder, the U.S. and its allies turned to other sources. One was Croatia, where Saudi Arabia financed a major weapons purchase in late 2012 that was arranged by the CIA. The CIA’s use of the Saudi kingdom’s vast coffers continued an arrangement from prior covert proxy wars, including the arming of the mujahideen in Afghanistan and of the Contras in Nicaragua.

Although the Obama administration claimed that the weapons funneled to Syria were intended for “moderate rebels,” they ultimately ended up in the hands of a jihadi-dominated insurgency. Just one month after the Benghazi attack, the New York Times reported that “hard-line Islamic jihadists,” including groups “with ties or affiliations with Al Qaeda,” have received “the lion’s share of the arms shipped to the Syrian opposition.”

Covertly Arming An Al Qaeda-Dominated Insurgency

The Obama administration did not need media accounts to learn that jihadists dominated the Syrian insurgency on the receiving end of a CIA supply chain.

One month before the Benghazi attack, Pentagon intelligence analysts gave the White House a blunt appraisal. An August 2012 Defense Intelligence Agency report, disseminated widely among U.S. officials, noted that “Salafi[s], the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI [Al Qaeda in Iraq] are the major forces driving the insurgency.” Al Qaeda, the report stressed, “supported the Syrian opposition from the beginning.” Their aim was to create a “Salafist principality in eastern Syria” – an early warning of the ISIS caliphate that would be established two years later.

General Michael Flynn, who headed the DIA at the time, later recalled that his staff “got enormous pushback” from the Obama White House. “I felt that they did not want to hear the truth,” Flynn said. In 2015, one year after Flynn was forced out, dozens of Pentagon intelligence analysts signed on to a complaint alleging that top Pentagon intelligence officials were “cooking the books” to paint a rosier picture of the jihadi presence in Syria. (The Pentagon later cleared CENTCOM commanders of wrongdoing.)

The Free Syrian Army (FSA), the main CIA-backed insurgent force, also informed Obama officials of the jihadi dominance in their ranks. “From the reports we get from the doctors,” FSA officials told the State Department in November 2012, “most of the injured and dead FSA are Jabhat al-Nusra, due to their courage and [the fact they are] always at the front line.”

Jabhat al-Nusra (Al-Nusra Front) is Al Qaeda’s franchise in Syria. It emerged as a splinter group of Al Qaeda in Iraq after a falling out between AQI leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and his then-deputy, Mohammed al-Jolani. In 2013, Baghdadi relaunched his organization under the name of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Jolani led his Syria-based Al Qaeda faction under the black flag of al-Nusra.

“[W]hile rarely acknowledged explicitly in public,” Charles Lister, a Gulf state-funded analyst in close contact with Syrian insurgent groups wrote in March 2015, “the vast majority of the Syrian insurgency has coordinated closely with Al-Qaeda since mid-2012 – and to great effect on the battlefield.” As one Free Syrian Army leader told the New York Times: “No FSA faction in the north can operate without al-Nusra’s approval.”

According to David McCloskey, a former CIA analyst who covered Syria in the war’s early years, U.S. officials knew that “al-Qaeda affiliated groups and Salafi jihadist groups were the primary engine of the insurgency.” This, McCloskey says, was “a tremendously problematic aspect of the conflict.”

In his memoir, senior Obama aide Ben Rhodes acknowledged that al-Nusra “was probably the strongest fighting force within the opposition.” It was also clear, he wrote, that U.S.-backed insurgent groups were “fighting side by side with al-Nusra.” For this reason, Rhodes recalled, he argued against the State Department’s December 2012 designation of al-Nusra as a foreign terrorist organization. This move “would alienate the same people we want to help.” (Asked about wanting to help an Al Qaeda-dominated insurgency, Rhodes did not respond).

In fact, designating al-Nusra as a terror organization allowed the Obama administration to publicly claim that it opposed Al Qaeda’s Syria branch while continuing to covertly arm the insurgency that it dominated. Three months after adding al-Nusra to the terrorism list, the U.S. and its allies “dramatically stepped up weapons supplies to Syrian rebels” to help “rebels to try and seize Damascus,” the Associated Press reported in March 2013.

‘There Was No Moderate Middle’

Despite being privately aware of Nusra’s dominance, Obama administration officials continued to publicly insist that the U.S. was only supporting Syria’s “moderate opposition,” as then-Deputy National Security Adviser Antony Blinken described it in September 2014.

But speaking to a Harvard audience days later, then-Vice President Biden blurted out the concealed reality. In the Syrian insurgency, “there was no moderate middle,” Biden admitted. Instead, U.S. “allies” in Syria “poured hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad.” Those weapons were supplied, Biden said, to “al-Nusra, and Al-Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world.”

Biden quickly apologized for his comments, which appeared to fit the classic definition of the Kinsley gaffe: a politician inadvertently telling the truth. Biden’s only error was omitting his administration’s critical role in helping its allies arm the jihadis.

Rather than shut down a CIA program that was aiding the Al Qaeda-dominated insurgency, Obama expanded it. In April 2013, the president signed an order that amended the CIA’s covert war, codenamed Timber Sycamore, to allow direct U.S. arming and training. After tapping Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Qatar to fund its arms pipeline for insurgents inside Syria, Obama’s order allowed the CIA to directly furnish U.S.-made weapons. Just as with the regime change campaign in Libya, a key architect of this operation was Hillary Clinton.

Obama’s upgraded proxy war in Syria proved to be “one of the costliest covert action programs in the history of the C.I.A.,” the New York Times reported in 2017. Documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed a budget of nearly $1 billion per year, or around $1 of every $15 in CIA spending. The CIA armed and trained nearly 10,000 insurgents, spending “roughly $100,000 per year for every anti-Assad rebel who has gone through the program,” U.S. officials told the Washington Post in 2015. Two years later, one U.S. official estimated that CIA-funded militias “may have killed or wounded 100,000 Syrian soldiers and their allies over the past four years.”

But these militias were not just killing pro-Syrian government forces. As the New York Times reported in April 2017, US-backed insurgents carried out “sectarian mass murder.”

One such act of mass murder came in August 2013, when the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army joined an al-Nusra and ISIS offensive on Alawite areas of Latakia. A Human Rights Investigation found that the insurgents engaged in “the systematic killing of entire families,” slaughtering a documented 190 civilians, including 57 women, 18 children, and 14 elderly men. In a video from the field, former Syrian army general Salim Idriss, head of the U.S.-backed Supreme Military Council (SMC), bragged that “we are cooperating to a great extent in this operation.”

The Latakia massacres came four months after the U.S. ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, hailed Idriss and his fighters as “the moderate and responsible elements of the armed opposition.” The role of Idriss’s forces in the slaughter did not cancel the administration’s endorsement. In October, the Washington Post revealed that the “CIA is expanding a clandestine effort … aimed at shoring up the fighting power of units aligned with the Supreme Military Council, an umbrella organization led by [Idriss] that is the main recipient of U.S. support.”

[In an emailed response to questions about U.S. policy in Syria, Ford says that there was “no question” that Free Syrian Army engaged in war crimes but noted, “We denounced [them] publicly at the time and in private.” Ford said the administration’s official stance that moderates were engaged in the fight was accurate in light of the facts on the ground. “Our definition of moderates in the armed opposition,” he wrote, “were people willing to negotiate a peaceful end to the war.”]

Officially, the upgraded CIA program barred direct support to al-Nusra or its allies in Syria. But once U.S. weapons arrived in Syria, the Obama administration recognized that it had no way of controlling their use – an apparent motive for waging the program covertly. “We needed plausible deniability in case the arms got into the hands of al-Nusra,” a former senior administration official told the New York Times in 2013.

One area where U.S. arms got into al-Nusra’s hands was the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib.

‘Al-Qaeda’s Largest Safe Haven Since 9/11’

In May 2015, an array of insurgent groups, dubbed the Jaish al-Fatah (“Army of Conquest”) coalition, captured Idlib province from the Syrian government. The fight was led by al-Nusra, and showcased what Charles Lister, the D.C.-based analyst with contacts to insurgents in Syria, dubbed “a far improved level of coordination” between rival militants, including the U.S.-backed FSA and multiple “jihadist factions.”

For Lister, the conquest of Idlib also revealed that the U.S. and its allies “changed their tune regarding coordination with Islamists.” Citing multiple battlefield commanders, Lister reported that “the U.S.-led operations room in southern Turkey,” which coordinated support to U.S.-backed insurgent groups, “was instrumental in facilitating their involvement in the operation” led by al-Nusra. While the insurgents’ U.S.-led command had previously opposed “any direct coordination” with jihadist groups, the Idlib offensive “demonstrated something different,” Lister concluded: To capture the province, U.S. officials “specifically encouraged a closer cooperation with Islamists commanding frontline operations.”

The U.S.-approved battlefield cooperation in Idlib allowed al-Nusra fighters to directly benefit from U.S. weapons. Despite occasional flare-ups between them, al-Nusra was able to use U.S.-backed insurgent groups “as force multipliers,” the Institute for the Study of War, a prominent D.C. think tank, observed when the battle began. Insurgent military gains, Foreign Policy reported in April 2015, were achieved “thanks in large part to suicide bombers and American anti-tank TOW missiles.”

The jihadist-led victory in Idlib quickly subjected its residents to sectarian terror. In June 2015, al-Nusra fighters massacred at least 20 members of the Druze faith. Hundreds of villagers spared in the attack were forced to convert to Sunni Islam. Facing the same threats, nearly all of Idlib’s remaining 1,200 Christians fled the province, leaving a Christian population that reportedly totals just three people today.

In a 2017 post-mortem on the Obama administration’s covert war in Syria, the New York Times described the insurgents’ conquest of Idlib as among the CIA program’s “periods of success.” This was certainly the case for Al Qaeda.

“Idlib Province,” Brett McGurk, the anti-ISIS envoy under Obama and Trump, and now Biden’s top White House official for the Middle East, said in 2017, “is the largest Al Qaeda safe haven since 9/11.”

U.S. Allows ISIS Takeover

Al Qaeda is not the only sectarian death squad that managed to establish a safe haven in the chaos of the Syria proxy war. Starting in 2013, al-Nusra’s sister-turned-rival group, ISIS, seized considerable territory of its own. As with Al Qaeda, ISIS’ land-grab in Syria received a significant backdoor assist from Washington.

Before Al Qaeda captured Idlib, the first ISIS stronghold in Syria, Raqqa, grew out of a similar alliance between U.S.-backed “moderate rebels” and jihadis. After this coalition seized the city from the Syrian government in March 2013, ISIS took full control in November.

When ISIS declared its caliphate in parts of Syria and Iraq in June 2014, the U.S. launched an air campaign against the group’s strongholds. But the Obama administration’s anti-ISIS offensive contained a significant exception. In key areas where ISIS’s advance could threaten the Assad regime, the U.S. watched it happen.

In April 2015, just as al-Nusra was conquering Idlib, ISIS seized major parts of the Yarmouk refugee camp on the outskirts of Damascus, marking what the New York Times called the group’s “greatest inroads yet” into the Syrian capital.

In the ancient city of Palmyra, the U.S. allowed an outright ISIS takeover. “[A]s Islamic State closed in on Palmyra, the U.S.-led aerial coalition that has been pummeling Islamic State in Syria for the past 18 months took no action to prevent the extremists’ advance toward the historic town – which, until then, had remained in the hands of the sorely overstretched Syrian security forces,” the Los Angeles Times reported in March 2016.

In a leaked conversation with Syrian opposition activists months later, then-Secretary of State John Kerry explained the U.S. rationale for letting ISIS advance.

“Daesh [ISIS] was threatening the possibility of going to Damascus and so forth,” Kerry explained. “And we know that this was growing. We were watching. We saw that Daesh was growing in strength, and we thought Assad was threatened. We thought, however, we could probably manage, that Assad would then negotiate” his way out of power.

In short, the U.S. was leveraging ISIS’s growth to impose regime change on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The U.S. strategy of “watching” ISIS’s advance in Syria, Kerry also admitted, directly caused Russia’s 2015 entry into the conflict. The threat of an ISIS takeover, Kerry said, is “why Russia went in. Because they didn’t want a Daesh government.”

Russia’s military intervention in Syria prevented the ISIS government in Damascus that Kerry and fellow Obama administration principals had been willing to risk. Pulverizing Russian airstrikes also dealt a fatal blow to the Al Qaeda-dominated insurgency that the Obama team had spent billions of dollars to support.

From U.S. Enemy to ‘Asset’ in Syria

With U.S.-backed fighters vanquished and one of their main champions, Hillary Clinton, defeated in the November 2016 election, the CIA operation in Syria met what the New York Times called a “sudden death.” After criticizing the proxy war in Syria on the campaign trail, President Trump shut down the Timber Sycamore program for good in July 2017.

“It turns out it’s – a lot of al-Qaeda we’re giving these weapons to,” Trump told the Wall Street Journal that month.

With the exit of the Obama-Biden team, the U.S. was no longer fighting on Al Qaeda’s side. But that did not mean that the U.S. was prepared to confront the enemy that it had helped install in Idlib.

While Trump put an end to the CIA proxy war, his efforts to further extricate the U.S. from Syria by withdrawing troops were thwarted by senior officials who shared the preceding administration’s regime change goals.

“When President Trump said ‘I want everybody out of Syria,’ the top brass at Pentagon and State had aneurysms,” Christopher Miller, the Acting Secretary of Defense during Trump’s last months in office, recalls.

Jim Jeffrey, Trump’s envoy for Syria, admitted to deceiving the president in order to keep in place “a lot more than” the 200 U.S. troops that Trump had reluctantly agreed to. “We were always playing shell games to not make clear to our leadership how many troops we had there,” Jeffrey told Defense One. Those “shell games” have put U.S. soldiers in harm’s way, including four servicemembers recently wounded in a rocket attack on their base in northeastern Syria.

While thwarting a full U.S. troop withdrawal, Jeffrey and other senior officials have also preserved the U.S. government’s tacit alliance with Idlib’s Al-Qaeda rulers. Officially, al-Nusra remains on the U.S. terrorism list. Despite several name changes, the State Department has dismissed its rebranding efforts as a “vehicle to advance its position in the Syrian uprising and to further its own goals as an al-Qa’ida affiliate.”

But in practice, as Jeffrey explained last year, the U.S. has treated Al-Nusra as “an asset” to U.S. strategy in Syria. “They are the least bad option of the various options on Idlib, and Idlib is one of the most important places in Syria, which is one of the most important places right now in the Middle East,” he said. Jeffrey also revealed that he had communicated with al-Nusra leader Mohammed al-Jolani via “indirect channels.”

Jeffrey’s comments underscore a profound shift in the U.S. government’s Middle East strategy as a result of the Syria proxy war: The Syrian branch of Al Qaeda, the terror group that attacked the U.S. on 9/11, and which then became the target of a global war on terror aimed at destroying it, is no longer seen by powerful officials in Washington as an enemy, but an “asset.”

Since retaking office under Biden, the Obama veterans who targeted Syria with one of the most expensive covert wars in history have deprioritized the war-torn nation. While pledging to maintain crippling sanctions and keep U.S. troops at multiple bases, as well as announcing sporadic airstrikes, the White House has otherwise said little publicly about its Syria policy. The U.S. military raid that ended ISIS leader al-Qurayshi’s life in February prompted the only Syria-focused speech of Biden’s presidency.

While Biden trumpeted the lethal operation, the fact that it occurred in Idlib underscores a contradiction that his administration has yet to address. By taking out an ISIS leader in Al Qaeda’s Syria stronghold, the president and his top officials are now confronting threats from a terror safe haven that they helped create.

Aaron Maté is a journalist with The Grayzone, where he hosts “Pushback.” He is also a contributor to Real Clear Investigations and the temporary co-host of “Useful Idiots.”

25 April 2022

Source: www.transcend.org

The US Cries about War Crimes while Imprisoning a Journalist for Exposing Its War Crimes

By Caitlin Johnstone

20 Apr 2022 – In what his lawyers have described as a “brief but significant moment in the case,” a British magistrates’ court has signed off on Julian Assange’s extradition to the United States, bringing the WikiLeaks founder one step closer to a US trial under the Espionage Act which threatens press freedoms worldwide.

The extradition case now goes to UK Home Secretary Priti Patel for approval, which will likely be forthcoming as Patel is a reliably loyal empire manager. After that point, Assange’s legal team will be able to launch an appeal.

This is happening at the same time the United States and the United Kingdom are loudly demanding accountability for alleged war crimes by the Russian military in Ukraine, which is interesting because attempting to bring accountability for war crimes is precisely why Julian Assange is in prison.

“He is a war criminal,” President Biden said of Vladimir Putin following allegations of war crimes in Bucha, Ukraine earlier this month. “I think it is a war crime. … He should be held accountable.”

And that’s all I’d like to say here today, really. That this discrepancy is very interesting.

I mean, can we take a moment to deeply appreciate the irony of this? Because it’s so obscene and outrageous it’s actually hard to take in unless you really let it absorb. The most powerful government in the world, which serves as the hub of the most powerful empire that has ever existed, is working to extradite a journalist for exposing its war crimes while simultaneously rending its garments over war crime allegations against another government.

I mean, damn. You would think a power structure that had recently been caught red-handed committing war crimes and is currently in the process of imprisoning a journalist for exposing those war crimes would at least have the sense not to yell too loudly about war crimes for a little while. But this is how confident the empire is in its ability to control the narrative.

Really take it in. Really digest it. The more you think about it, the freakier it gets. Not only is the empire persecuting a journalist for exposing its war crimes while at the same time demanding that others be held accountable for war crimes, it is also attacking the free press for reporting the truth about the powerful while at the very same time engaging in a massive propaganda operation which holds that it is involved in Ukraine to protect its freedom and democracy.

I mean, the gall. The absolute temerity. The balls on this empire, man.

I have said it before and I will say it again: Assange exposed many ugly realities about the powerful in his work with WikiLeaks, but everything that he has managed to expose thereafter simply by forcing them to prosecute him far surpasses the revelations in those publications.

If the highest form of journalism is exposing the darkest secrets of the most powerful people in the world, then Julian Assange is the highest form of journalist.

Caitlin Johnstone is a rogue journalist, poet, and utopia prepper who publishes regularly at Medium.

25 April 2022

Source: www.transcend.org