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Costs which Obama is about to pay for Ukraine

By Andre Fomine | Oriental Review | March 1, 2014

Yesterday the United States lost the propaganda war on Ukraine. President Obama made a reluctant and senseless statement which Washington Post entitled “There will be costs”.

He pronounced standard phrases like “the Ukrainian people deserve the opportunity to determine their own future”, proposed that Russia be a “part of an international community’s effort to support the stability and success of a united Ukraine”, lamented over the alleged “violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” and assured that “the United States supports his government’s efforts and stands for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and democratic future of Ukraine”.

It looks like the United States administration was not mentally prepared for the development of the Ukrainian crisis. The synchronized actions of the new Crimean authorities and the press-conference of the expelled president Victor Yanukovych in Rostov-on-Don gave undeniable judicial advantage to the opposite side in Ukraine who are not ready to acknowledge the illegitimate “government” elected by the rowdy Euro-mob in Kiev three days ago. The United States has no tangible tools to destabilize Crimea, de facto controlled by the Ukrainian anti-putschist resistance forces, while the judicial status of Victor Yanukovych (whatever we think about him as a person and political figure) is indubitable.

Since the very beginning of the crisis in Ukraine it was clear that the US goal was not imposing a pro-American government in Kiev, but rather making Ukraine a sticking point for Russia-European relations. The bloody events on Independence Square were organized in order to pull Russia into the vortex of the chaos in Ukraine. The Washington strategists thought that Moscow would become recklessly involved in the dirty games with Poland, Hungary and Romania over “federalization of Ukraine” and the street battles against the fascist thugs in Kiev.

On Saturday the Kremlin unexpectedly broke its skillful political pause after last night’s attempted assault on the Crimea Interior Ministry in Simferopol by unidentified special units sent from Kiev. Until that moment the Russian ‘inaction’ was much more powerful than thousands of nervous actions in Kiev and statements from Washington. The Russian move is going to be even more impressive.

Among all “interested parties” in the Ukrainian crisis, Russia is the only global power that has demonstrated its ability to act within the framework of international law and to take responsible and sovereign decisions.

Ironically, today’s Crimea is probably the only region where the Constitution of Ukraine is still strictly implemented. The referendum on the issue of the wide autonomy, announced to be held on March 30, 2014, was initiated in full compliance with the national law. The Russian military presence in Crimea is also regulated by the 1997 Russian-Ukrainian agreement on the Russian Navy base in Sevastopol. The new Crimean government, unlike the central one in Kiev, was appointed by the local legislative body as a result of a properly performed legal procedure.

So Moscow’s message to President Obama is simple. We are the real guarantors of Ukrainian sovereignty. We are protecting the life of its incumbent president, elected by the people of Ukraine at the free and competitive poll in 2010, from the direct personal threat from illegitimate “new authorities”. For the last three months, unlike you, we were not interfering in the internal political process in Ukraine while your Assistant Secretary of State was handing buns to the “peaceful protesters” in Kiev and talking smut about your European dialogue partners. We followed the letter and spirit of the international law whether we liked it or not. And today we are giving hope to millions of the Russian Ukrainians who categorically reject banderist authorities in Kiev. We are defending their right to determine their future. Therefore you will be brought to account for the billions of dollars invested for years long into the chimera project of the Orange revolution in Ukraine, which in its second incarnation turned Brown. You will be charged for months of explicit incitements for riots and civilian disobedience to legitimate authorities in Ukraine, committed by your officials and congressmen. And you will be responsible for the recognition of the shady Kiev “cabinet”, not only lacking any public support in Ukraine, but also any real resources to secure minimal level of life and the rule of law in this 45-million strong nation, lost in a non-existent “transition”, invented by your insolvent foreign policy consultants. These are the costs you are about to pay in Ukraine, President Obama.

March 1, 2014 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , | 1 Comment

How International Financial Elites Change Governments to Implement Austerity

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By ISMAEL HOSSEIN-ZADEH | CounterPunch | February 28, 2014 

Many countries around the world are plagued by all kinds of armed rebellions, economic sanctions, civil wars, “democratic” coup d’états and/or wars of “regime change.” These include Ukraine, Venezuela, Syria, Thailand, Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, Yemen, Somalia and Lebanon. Even in the core capitalist countries the overwhelming majority of citizens are subjected to brutal wars of economic austerity.

While not new, social convulsions seem to have become more numerous in recent years. They have become especially more frequent since the mysterious 9-11 attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001 and the 2008 financial collapse in the United States, which soon led to similar financial implosions and economic crises in Europe and beyond.

Despite their many differences, these social turbulences share two common features. The first is that they are largely induced, nurtured and orchestrated from outside, that is, by the Unites States and its allies—of course, in collaboration with their class allies from inside. And the second is that, contrary to the long-established historical pattern of social revolutions, where the desperate and disenfranchised masses rebelled against the ruing elites, in most of the recent struggles it is the elites that have instigated insurgencies and civil wars against the masses. The two features are, of course, integrally intertwined: essentially reflecting the shared interests and collaborative schemes of the international plutocracies against the global 99%.

Fighting to Make Austerity Economics Universal

The official rationale (offered by the U.S. and its allies) that the goal of supporting anti-government opposition forces in places such as Syria, Ukraine and Venezuela is to spread democracy no longer holds any validity; it can easily be dismissed as a harebrained pretext to export neoliberalism and spread austerity economics. Abundant and irrefutable evidence shows that in places where the majority of citizens voted for and elected governments that were not to the liking of Western powers, these powers mobilized their local allies and hired all kinds of mercenary forces in order to overthrow the duly elected governments, thereby quashing the majority vote.

Such blatant interventions to overturn the elections that resulted from the majority vote include the promotion of the Orange Revolution in Ukraine (2004 and 2014), Rose Revolution in Georgia (2003), Cedar Revolution in Lebanon (2005), Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan (2005) and the Green Revolution in Iran (2009). They also include the relentless agitation against the duly elected governments of the late Hugo Chavez and now his successor Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela, as well as the rejection (and effective annulment) of the duly elected Hamas government in Palestine.

So, the real driving forces behind wars of regime change need to be sought elsewhere; specifically, in the imperatives of expansion and accumulation of capital on a global level. Socialist, social-democratic, populist or nationalist leaders who do not embrace neoliberal economic policies, and who may be wary of having their markets wide open to unbridled foreign capital, would be targeted for replacement with pliant leaders, or client states. This is, of course, not a new explanation of economic imperialism; it is as old as the internationalization of trade and investment.

What is relatively new, and seems to be the main driving force behind the recent wars of regime change, is that, as the U.S. and other major capitalist powers have lately embarked on austerity economic policies at home they also expect and, indeed, demand that other countries follow suit. In other words, it is no longer enough for a country to open its markets to investment and trade with Western economic powers. It seems equally important to these powers that that country also dismantle its public welfare programs and implement austerity measures of neoliberalism.

For example, after resisting imperialist pressures for years, the late Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi eventually relented in 1993, and granted major oil and other transnational corporations of Western powers lucrative investment and trade deals. Under pressure, he even dismantled his country’s nuclear technology altogether in the hope that this would please them to “leave him” alone, so to speak. None of the concessions he made, however, proved satisfactory to the U.S. and its allies, as his regime was violently overthrown in 2011and he was literally butchered by the thuggish gangs that were trained and armed by Western powers.

Why? Because the U.S. and its allies expected more; they wanted him to follow the economic guidelines of the “experts” of global finance, that is, of the U.S. and European economic “advisors,” of the International Monetary Fund and of the World Trade Organization—in short, to dismantle his country’s rather robust state welfare programs and to restructure its economy after the model of neoliberalism.

The criminal treatment of al-Gaddafi can help explain why imperialist powers have also been scheming to overthrow the populist/socialist regimes of the late Hugo Chavez and his successor in Venezuela, of the Castro brothers in Cuba, of Rafael Correa Delgado in Ecuador, of Bashar Al-assad in Syria and of Evo Morales in Bolivia. It also helps explain why they overthrew the popularly elected nationalist governments of Mohammad Mossadeq in Iran, of Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala, of Kusno Sukarno in Indonesia, of Salvador Allende in Chile, of Sandinistas in Nicaragua, of Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Haiti and of Manuel Zelaya in Honduras.

The imperialist agenda of overthrowing al-Gaddafi and other “insubordinate” proponents of welfare state programs abroad is essentially part of the same evil agenda of dismantling such programs at home. While the form, the context and the means of destruction may be different, the thrust of the relentless attacks on the living conditions of the Libyan, Iranian, Venezuelan or Cuban peoples are essentially the same as the equally brutal attacks on the living conditions of the poor and working people in the US, UK, France and other degenerate capitalist countries. In a subtle way they are all part of an ongoing unilateral class warfare on a global scale. Whether they are carried out by military means and bombardments or through the apparently “non-violent” processes of judicial or legislative means does not make a substantial difference as far as their impact on people’s lives and livelihoods is concerned.

The powerful plutocratic establishment in the core capitalist countries does not seem to feel comfortable to dismantle New Deal economics, Social Democratic reforms and welfare state programs in these countries while people in smaller, less-developed countries such as (al-Gaddafi’s) Libya, Venezuela or Cuba enjoy strong, state-sponsored social safety net programs. Plutocracy’s intolerance of “regimented” economies stems from a fear that strong state-sponsored economic safely net programs elsewhere may serve as “bad” models that could be demanded by citizens in the core capitalist countries.

In a moment of honesty, former U.S. President Harry Truman is reported as having expressed (in 1947) the unstated mission of the United States to globalize its economic system in the following words: “The whole world should adopt the American system. The American system can survive in America only if it becomes a world system” [1].

In a similar fashion, Lord Cecil Rhodes, who conquered much of Africa for the British Empire, is reported to have suggested during the heydays of the Empire that the simplest way to achieve peace was for England to convert and add the rest of the world (except the United States, Germany and few other Western powers of the time) to its colonies.

The Mafia equivalent of Truman’s or Rhodes’ statements would be something like this: “You do it our way, or we break your leg.”

The mindset behind Truman’s blunt statement that the rest of the world “should adopt the American system” has indeed served as something akin to a sacred mission that has guided the foreign policy of the United States ever since it supplanted the British authority as the major world power.

It explains, for example, the real and the main reason behind the Cold War hostilities between the U.S. and its allies, on the one side, and the Soviet Union and its allies, on the other. While the “threat of communism” has been the official rationale for the start and escalation of those hostilities, there is convincing evidence that not only Joseph Stalin and his successors in the Soviet Union had no plans to wage war against the United States or its allies but that, in fact, they played a restraining role to contain independent revolutionary movements worldwide. “It is often forgotten,” points out Sidney Lens, “that for a few years after the war, he [Stalin] assumed an exceedingly moderate posture. . . . His nation had lost 25 million people in the war, was desperately in need of aid for rebuilding, and continued for a long time to nurture hopes of coexistence. Far from being revolutionary, Stalin in those years put the damper on revolution wherever he could” [2]. To accommodate the United States and other Western powers in the hope of peaceful coexistence, Stalin often advised, and sometimes ordered, the pro-Moscow communist/leftist parties in Europe and elsewhere in the world to refrain from revolutionary policies that might jeopardize the hoped-for chances of coexistence.

The goal or mission of converting other economies to the U.S.-style capitalism also helps  explain why the United States has engaged in so many military operations and engineered so many coup d’états and regime changes around the world. The Federation of American Scientists has recorded a list of U.S. foreign military engagements which shows that in the first decade after the collapse of the Berlin Wall (1989-99) the U.S. engaged in 134 such operations, the majority of which are altogether unknown to the American public [3].

Global financial elites change “unaccommodating” regimes not only in the less developed countries but also in the core capitalist countries. They accomplish this not so much by military means as by utilizing two very subtle but powerful means: (a) artificial, money-driven elections, peddled as “democracy in action”; and (b) powerful financial institutions and think tanks such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), central banks and bond/credit rating agencies like Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Group. An unfavorable rating report by these agencies on the credit status of a country can create havoc on that country’s economic, financial and currency position in world markets, thereby dooming its government to collapse and replacement. This is how during the ongoing financial turbulence of recent years a number of governments have been changed in places like Greece and Italy—no need for the traditional or military style regime change, the “soft-power” financial coup d’état engineered by the IMF and/or rating agencies would serve the purpose even more effectively.

Class War on a Global Scale

As noted, all the schemes and wars of regime change, whether by the traditional military means or by the “soft” power of the global financial juggernaut, essentially represent one thing: a disguised class war on a global level, a relentless worldwide economic war by the one percent financial-economic oligarchy against the rest of the world population.

Class struggle in an economically-tiered society is of course not new. What is relatively new in the recent years’ war of the 1% against the 99% is its escalated pace, its widespread scale and its globally orchestrated character. While neoliberal austerity attacks on the living conditions of the public in the core capitalist countries began (formally) with the supply-side economics of President Ronald Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher more than three decades ago, the brutality of such attacks have become much more severe in the context of the current financial/economic crisis, which began with the 2008 financial crash in the United States.

Taking advantage of the crash (as an economic shock therapy, as Naomi Klein put it), the financial oligarchy and their proxies in the governments of the core capitalist countries have been carrying out a systematic economic coup d’état against the people the ravages of which include the following:

• Transfer of tens of trillions of dollars from the public to the financial oligar­chy through merciless austerity cuts;

• Extensive privatization of public assets and services, including irreplaceable historical monuments, priceless cultural landmarks, and vital social services such as healthcare, education and water supply;

• Substitution of corporate/banking welfare policies for people’s welfare programs;

• Allocation of the lion’s share of government’s monetary largesse (and of credit creation in general) to speculative investment instead of real investment;

• Systematic undermining of the retirement security of millions of workers (both white and blue collar) and civil servants;

• Ever more blatant control of economic and/or financial policies by the rep­resentatives of the financial oligarchy.

Combined, these policies have significantly aggravated the already lopsided income/wealth distribution in these countries. The massive cuts in social spending have resulted in an enormous transfer of economic resources from the bottom up. The transfer has, indeed, more than made up for the 2008 losses of the financial speculators. In the U.S., for example, the wealthiest one percent now own 40 percent of the entire country’s wealth; while the bottom 80 percent own only seven percent. Likewise, the richest one percent now take home 24 percent of the country’s total income, compared to only nine percent four decades ago [4].

This shows that, as pointed out earlier, while neoliberal attacks on the 99% in the core capitalist countries may not seem as violent as those raging, for example, in Venezuela, Syria or Ukraine, the financial impact of such attacks on the living conditions of the 99% is not any less devastating.

Plutocrats of the World Are United

Policies of regime change are usually designed and carried out as collaborative schemes by cross-border plutocracies, that is, by the financial oligarchies of the imperialist countries in partnership with their native counterparts in the less-developed countries.

In addition to constant behind-the-scenes strategizing, representatives of transnational capital and their proxies in capitalist governments also routinely meet at international conferences in order to synchronize their cross-border business and financial policies—a major focus of which in recent years has been to implement global austerity measures and entrench neoliberal policies worldwide. These include the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the World Bank and IMF annual meetings, the Periodic G20 meetings, the Aspen Institute’s Ideas Festival, The Bilderberg Group annual geopolitics forum, and the Herb Allen’s Sun Valley gathering of media moguls—to name only a handful of the many such international policy gatherings.

Through its global strategies and operations, transnational capital has broken free from national constraints and commitments at home and successfully shifted the correlation of class forces and social alliances worldwide. Today’s elites of global capitalism “are becoming a trans-global community of peers who have more in common with one another than with their countrymen back home,” writes Chrystia Freeland, Global Editor of Reuters, who travels with the elites to many parts of the world. “Whether they maintain primary residences in New York or Hong Kong, Moscow or Mumbai, today’s super-rich are increasingly a nation unto themselves,” she adds [5].

Implications for Globalization from Below

What conclusions can the 99% draw from this? What can the working people and other grassroots do to protect their jobs, their sources of livelihood, their communities and their environment? What can communities of ordinary people do to undermine the strategies of the global 1% that block life-sustaining progressive social and economic reforms?

In the same fashion that, in their fight against the working people, the elites of the international capitalist class are not bound by territoriality or national boundaries, so does the working class need to coordinate its response internationally.

A logical, first step deterrent to transnational capital’s strategy of blackmailing labor and communities through threats such as destroying or exporting jobs by moving their business elsewhere would be to remove the lures that induce plant relocation, capital flight or outsourcing. Making labor costs of production comparable on an international level would be crucial for this purpose. This would entail taking the necessary steps toward the international establishment of wage and benefits, that is, of labor cost parity within the same company and the same trade, subject to (a) the cost of living, and (b) productivity in each country.

A strategy of this sort would replace the current downward competition between workers in various countries with coordinated bargaining and joint policies for mutual interests and problem-solving on a global level. While this may sound radical, it is not any more radical than what the transnational 1% is doing: coordinating their anti-99% strategies on a global scale. If at an earlier stage of capitalist development “workers of the world unite” seemed an outlandish dream of the leading labor champion Karl Marx, internationalization of capital, the abundance of material resources and developments in technology, which has greatly facilitated cross-border organizing and coordination of actions by the 99%,  has now made that dream an urgent necessity.

As capital and labor are the cornerstones of capitalist production, their respective organizations and institutions evolve more or less apace, over time and space. Thus, when production was local, so was labor: carpenters, shoemakers, bricklayers, and other craftsmen organized primarily in their local communities. But as capitalist production became national, so did trade unions. Now that capitalist production has become global, labor organizations too need to become international in order to safeguard their and their communities’ rights against the profit-driven whims of the footloose and fancy-free transnational capital.

Many would argue that these are not propitious times to speak of radical alternatives to capitalism. The present state of the sociopolitical landscape of our societies appears to support such feelings of pessimism. The high levels of unemployment in most countries of the world and the resulting international labor rivalry, combined with the austerity offensive of neoliberalism on a global level, have thrown the working class and other grassroots on the defensive. The steady drift of the European socialist, Social Democratic, and labor parties/governments toward the U.S.–style market economies and the erosion of their traditional ideology, power, and prestige have led to workers’ confusion there. The collapse of the Soviet Union, however much some socialists have always distanced themselves from that system, haunts the specter of socialism, and is likely to do so for some time to come. These developments have understandably led to workers’ and other grassroots’ confusion and disorientation globally.

None of these, however, mean that there is no way out of the status quo. Capitalism is not only “destructive,” it is also “regenerative,” as Karl Marx put. As it captures world markets, universalizes the reign of capital, and disrupts the living conditions for many, it simultaneously sows the seeds of its own transformation. On the one hand, it creates common problems and shared concerns for the majority of the world population; on the other, it creates the material conditions and the technology that facilitate communication and cooperation among this majority of world citizens for joint actions and alternative solutions.

When the majority of world population, the global 99%, will come to the realization and determination to actually appropriate and utilize the existing technology and material resources for a better organization and management of the world economy, no one can tell. But the potential and the long term trajectory of global socioeconomic developments point in that direction. The distance between now and then, between our immediate frustrations and the superior but elusive civilization of our desire, can be traversed only if we take the necessary steps toward that end [6].

Ismael Hossein-zadeh is Professor Emeritus of Economics, Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa. He is the author of The Political Economy of U.S. Militarism (Palgrave – Macmillan 2007), the Soviet Non-capitalist Development: The Case of Nasser’s Egypt (Praeger Publishers 1989), and most recently, Beyond Mainstream Explanations of the Financial Crisis (forthcoming from Routledge, April 29, 2014).

March 1, 2014 Posted by | Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ukrainian Democracy: A Barrier to Washington’s Goals

What Do Ukrainians Really Want?

By Nick Alexandrov | CounterPunch | February 28, 2014

When Ukraine is the topic, the major U.S. media outlets agree: “Europe and the United States have made a priority of fostering democracy in the former Soviet republics,” David M. Herszenhorn wrote in the New York Times.  The Washington Post asserted that Ukraine is “a country that has been struggling to become a genuine democracy” with help from Western powers, who keep it “from becoming an autocratic Kremlin colony, like neighboring Belarus.”  “Ukraine is the crossroads between a free and an authoritarian Europe,” the Wall Street Journal concurred, while Yale professor Timothy Snyder urged, in a CNN piece, Europe and America to back the Ukrainian protesters—“a chance to support democracy,” he emphasized.  Marvelous.  But in the real world, Ukrainian democracy is not merely something Washington has failed to support, but is actually incompatible with U.S. governmental aims.

U.S. officials are quite open about their opposition to Ukrainian self-determination and well-aware how unpopular Washington’s preferred policies are.  Nearly a decade ago, for example, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Europe met for a hearing on “Ukraine’s Future and U.S. Interests.”  Rep. Doug Bereuter (R-NE) opened the session, noting that “a recent survey conducted by a center for economic and political research suggests that up to 40 percent of Ukrainians believe that relations with Russia should be a priority.”  Meanwhile, “28 percent gave preference to the EU,” and “2 percent said that relations with the U.S. should be a foreign policy priority.  Another survey suggested that almost two-thirds of the population would consider supporting a political union with Russia,” Bereuter concluded.  “So,” he went on, “I think that United States policy must remain focused” on incorporating Ukraine “into European and Euro-Atlantic structures.”  Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL) spoke next, reiterating that U.S. policy should “further Ukraine’s integration in Euro-Atlantic institutions;” Steven Pifer, the former Ambassador to Ukraine, drove the point home, outlining “the United States Government’s vision for Ukraine”: “increasingly close ties to Europe and Euro-Atlantic institutions.”  This vision persisted over the following decade.  The Atlantic Council’s Damon Wilson, speaking before the U.S. Senate’s Subcommittee on European Affairs—the topic was “Ukraine at a Crossroads”—in February 2012, explained that “Ukraine’s genuine European integration” remained a major objective.

And recent commentary and news coverage depicts European integration as something most Ukrainians desire.  In early February, Secretary of State Kerry, at the Munich Security Conference, remarked that Ukrainians should be permitted “to associate with partners who will help them realize their aspirations”—Europe and the U.S. obviously being the partners, integration to be deepened via what the Times’ Herszenhorn referred to as “sweeping political and trade agreements” that Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych “refused to sign” last November, resulting in “a broken promise between a leader and his citizens,” and then the uprisings.  Now Al Jazeera reports that the acting president, Oleksander Turchinov, has “made clear that Kiev’s European integration would be a priority,” thereby giving Ukrainians what we’re told they want.

But British and U.S. governmental studies reveal the Ukrainian public is ambivalent about European integration.  Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, for example, funded a “scoping study” through the British Embassy in Kyiv a year ago, titled “A blueprint for enhancing understanding of and support for the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement [AA] including DCFTA [Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area] in Ukraine.”  The AA was one of the key “sweeping political and trade agreements” Yanukovych refused to sign.  British officials, in their report, stressed that “support for the AA is not overwhelming amongst the population at large,” observing that “opinion polls show that about 30% of respondents are in favour of European integration, 30% for the Customs Union [Moscow-led integration], and about 30% are undecided.”  This bleak situation called for a propaganda offensive, or “a national public awareness ‘Campaign of Arguments,’” as the British dubbed it, which was to “be aimed at the general public as its primary target audience.”  British advisers urged PR teams “to formulate advertising slogans, global and targeted messages,” and to play up “the European civilizational model” and other benefits the AA allegedly would bring.  This “civilizational model” today entails “massive attacks on public services, wages, pensions, trade unions, and social rights” under imposed “draconian austerity policies,” Asbjørn Wahl wrote in January’s Monthly Review—a reality the British indoctrination scheme’s outline studiously avoided, it’s hardly worth mentioning.

The propaganda barrage may have been successful to some extent.  But as the year progressed, the U.S. government had a hard time finding evidence of overwhelming Ukrainian support for European integration.  The International Republican Institute (IRI), for example, polled Ukrainians last September: “If Ukraine was able to enter only one international economic union, with whom should it be?”  Forty-two percent of respondents chose the EU, while 37% preferred the Russian Customs Union.  IRI then asked, “How would you evaluate your attitude towards the following entities?”  Fifty percent of respondents felt “warm” towards Russia; 41% felt “warm” towards Europe—and just 26% were fond of the U.S.  IRI figures resembled those USAID published in a December 2013 report.  Its authors found it “interesting to note that Ukrainians are split on whether the country should join the European Union or the Customs Union.  Thirty-seven percent would like Ukraine to take steps to join the European Union, 33% prefer the Customs Union and 15% say Ukraine should join neither of these blocs.”  Furthermore, “34% say that Ukraine should have closer economic relations with Russia, 35% say it should have closer economic relations with Europe and 17% say it should have good relations with both.”  A Kyiv International Institute of Sociology poll reinforced these findings: “Ukraine is split practically 50/50 over the accession to the European Union or the Customs Union,” Interfax-Ukraine summarized the study’s conclusions.

Reviewing this data forces us to ask: Who is Washington’s chief enemy in Ukraine?  Is it Russia, bent on killing Ukraine’s budding democracy?  Is it the tyrant Yanukovych?  The U.S. policy record points to a different conclusion, one a Johns Hopkins Center for Transatlantic Relations study—included in the official transcription of the Senate’s 2012 “Ukraine at a Crossroads” hearing—discusses in the context of Ukraine’s potential NATO membership.  “The main obstacle” to Ukraine’s joining the organization “is not Russian opposition,” its authors emphasized, “but low public support for membership in Ukraine itself.”  Again: on this and other issues, the Ukrainian people are “the main obstacle” to U.S. foreign policy aims.  We should bear this fact in mind as the crisis deepens in Eastern Europe.

Nick Alexandrov lives in Washington, DC.

March 1, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gunmen from Kiev attempted to seize Crimea’s Interior Ministry overnight – Russia

RT | March 1, 2014

Unknown armed men from Kiev have tried to seize the Crimean Interior Ministry overnight, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement. It’s as Crimea’s PM urges Russia to help cope with the crisis, ensuring “peace and calm” in the region.

“Thanks to the decisive action of self-defense squads, the attempt to seize the building of the Interior Ministry was derailed. This attempt confirms the intention of prominent political circles in Kiev to destabilize the situation on the peninsula,” the statement added.

“We believe it is extremely irresponsible to further pressure the already tense situation in the Crimea,” the ministry stated stressing its concerns over the latest developments in the region.

Earlier, Crimea’s Prime Minister Sergey Aksyonov declared that firearms have been used in the clashes in the region, Itar-Tass news agency reported. The PM said the local Ministers’ Council and Supreme Court came under an attack.

He said he would temporarily manage all national security forces in the region, including police, emergency services and the Interior Ministry.

“All chiefs of staff should follow my orders. As for those who disagree, I ask them to leave the service,” Aksyonov said in an urgent statement to the region’s security forces.

Aksyonov said he had asked Russia’s President Vladimir Putin to “help ensure peace and calm on the territory of the autonomous region.” The request, the premier said, was due to “the understanding of the responsibility for the life and safety of the residents.”

Russian MPs urge Putin to react to Crimea crisis

A source in the Kremlin administration replied, “Russia won’t ignore that address,” Russian news agencies reported. Later in the day, both chambers of the Russian parliament asked Putin to take measures to ensure stability in Crimea.

“The Duma Council adopted an appeal to the president of Russia, in which parliamentarians are calling on the president to take measures to stabilize the situation in Crimea and use all available means to protect the people of Crimea from tyranny and violence,” said Lower House speaker Sergey Naryshkin.

The State Duma also said that currently it is impossible to conduct legitimate and democratic elections in Ukraine due to actions of “radical forces.”

The Upper Chamber of the Russian Parliament admitted a limited number of Russian troops could be brought to Crimea to ensure safety, speaker Valentina Matvienko said.

“It’s possible in this situation, complying with a request by the Crimean government, even to bring a limited contingent of our troops to ensure the safety of the Back Sea Fleet and the Russian citizens living on the Crimea territory. The decision is for the president, the chief military commander, to make of course. But today, taking the situation into account, even that variant can’t be excluded. We need to protect the people,” Matvienko said.

In their turn, Ukraine’s self-proclaimed authorities urged Moscow to “withdraw troops and comply with bilateral agreements” and “resolve the crisis peacefully and politically,” interim President Arseny Yatsenyuk said.

This comes despite Russia’s repeated statements that all military operations in the region fall within in the framework of the agreement that concerns the Russian naval base in the Black Sea.

Although Western politicians and the media have expressed concern over Russia’s alleged involvement in Crimea, they have not been able to produce any solid evidence. A US State Department spokeswoman told a press conference they have no confirmation of “intervention” in Crimea.

So far, Moscow and the Crimean authorities have agreed to guard objects belonging to the Russian Black Sea Fleet, whose main base is located in Sevastopol, according to RIA Novosti.

Crimeans began protesting after the new self-proclaimed government in Kiev introduced a law abolishing the use of other languages in official circumstances in Ukraine. More than half the Crimean population are Russian and use only this language for their communication. The residents have announced they are going to hold a referendum on March 30 to determine the fate of the Ukrainian autonomous region.

March 1, 2014 Posted by | Aletho News | Leave a comment

Roger Cohen Defecates On Argentina, Gets Many Things Wrong

By Mark Weisbrot | CEPR Americas Blog | February 28, 2014

Roger Cohen, what a disappointment. He is not Tom Friedman or David Brooks, and shouldn’t be insulting an entire nation based on a clump of tired old clichés and a lack of information. Argentina is “the child among nations that never grew up” he writes, and “not a whole lot has changed” since he was there 25 years ago.  OK, let’s see what we can do to clean up this mess with a shovel and broom made of data.

For Cohen, Argentina since the government defaulted on its debt has been an economic failure. Tens of millions of Argentines might beg to differ.

For the vast majority of people in Argentina, as in most countries, being able to find a job is very important. According to the database of SEDLAC (which works in partnership with the World Bank),  employment as a percentage of the labor force hit peak levels in 2012, and has remained close to there since. This is shown in Figure 1.

FIGURE 1
Argentina: Employment Rate, Percent of Total Population

cohenfig1finaleoSource: SEDLAC (2014).

We can also look at unemployment data from the IMF (Figure 2). Of course the current level of 7.3 percent is far below the levels reached during the depression of 1998-2002, which was caused by the failed neoliberal experiment that the Kirchners did away with – it peaked at 22.5 percent in 2002. But it is also far below the level of the boom years of that experiment (1991-1997) when it averaged more than 13 percent.

FIGURE 2
Argentina: Unemployment Rate
cohenfig2Source: IMF WEO (Oct 2013).

How about poverty? Here is data from SEDLAC (Figure 3), which does not use the official Argentine government’s inflation rate but rather a higher estimate for the years after 2007. It shows a 76.3 percent drop in the poverty rate from 2002-2013, and an 85.7 percent drop in extreme poverty.

FIGURE 3
Argentina: Poverty and Extreme Poverty
cohenfig3Source: SEDLAC (2014).

Most of the drop in poverty was from the very high economic growth (back to that in a minute) and consequent employment. But the government also implemented one of the biggest anti-poverty programs in Latin America, a conditional cash transfer program.

Finally, there is economic growth. In a terribly flawed article today, the Wall Street Journal reported on a soon-to-be published study showing that Argentina’s real (inflation-adjusted) GDP is 12 percent less than the official figures indicate. (As the article noted, the government, in co-operation with the IMF, implemented a new measure of inflation in January, which should resolve this data problem that has existed since 2007). If we assume that the 12 percent figure is correct, then using IMF data Argentina from 2002-2013 still has real GDP growth rate of 81 percent, or 5.6 percent annually. That is the third highest of 32 countries in the region (after Peru and Panama). And incidentally, very little of this growth was driven by a “commodities boom,” or any exports for that matter.

Despite current economic problems, the country that Cohen ridicules has done extremely well by the most important economic and social indicators, since it defaulted on most of its foreign debt and sent the IMF packing at the end of 2002. This is true by any international comparison or in comparison with its past. Many foreign corporations and the business press, as well as right-wing ideologues, are upset with Argentina’s policies for various reasons. They don’t really like any of the left governments that now govern most of South America, and Washington would like to get rid of all of them and return to the world of 20 years ago when the U.S. was in the drivers’ seat. But there’s really no reason for Roger Cohen to be jumping on this bandwagon.

March 1, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Russian senators vote to use stabilizing military forces on Ukrainian territory

RT | March 1, 2014

Russia’s Federation Council has unanimously approved President Vladimir Putin’s request to use Russian military forces in Ukraine. The move is aimed to settle the turmoil in the split country.

The upper house of the Russian parliament has voted in favor of sending troops to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, which would ensure peace and order in the region “until the socio-political situation in the country is stabilized.”

The debate in the Federation Council has revealed that Russian MPs are united on the issue, with many of them sharing concerns on the recent events in Ukraine. The common notion was that since power was seized in Kiev, the situation has only been deteriorating with radical nationalists rapidly coming to power and threatening the lives of those opposing their actions, most notably the Russian citizens living in Ukraine.

The developments follow an appeal by the Prime Minister of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Sergey Aksyonov, who requested that Russia help cope with the crisis and ensure “peace and calm” in the region.

Crimeans began protesting after the new self-proclaimed government in Kiev introduced a law abolishing the use of other languages in official circumstances in Ukraine. More than half the Crimean population are Russian and use only this language in their everyday life. The residents have announced they are going to hold a referendum on March 30 to determine the fate of the Ukrainian autonomous region.

Putin on Saturday requested the Federation Council to use the Army for normalizing the socio-political situation in Ukraine in connection with the “extraordinary situation” there. The events in Ukraine indicate there is a “threat to the lives of citizens of the Russian Federation… and the personnel of the armed forces of the Russian Federation on Ukrainian territory,” the Russian president said.

According to Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, the president has not yet made a decision on sending the troops to Ukraine.

Moreover, taking the decision to use the Armed Forces in Ukraine does not mean that it will be carried out immediately, Grigory Karasin, Putin’s official representative in the Federation Council, has said.

“The approval, which the president will receive, does not literally mean that this right will be used promptly,” Karasin said.

Russian citizens are among the victims of the turmoil gripping Ukraine, the speaker of the Federation Council, Valentina Matvienko, has said. In Crimea, there were Russian casualties during the storming of the local Interior Ministry building by gunmen overnight, she added.

“During the attempts to seize the building of the Interior Ministry in Crimea some were injured, there were victims also, the people are being threatened, and in this situation they are naturally voicing concerns for the security of their lives and families. This compelled the government of Crimea to ask Russia for help,” Matvienko said.

The speaker’s words coincided with the statement issued by Russian Federal Migration Service noting that some 143,000 Ukrainians have sought asylum in Russia. The number represents a sharp rise in such requests, the authority said.

The new Ukrainian authorities have been formed “under the dictate of Maidan” and “continue to use force in the forming of the decision-making structures,” Karasin said.

“We are particularly concerned with the situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, where, in accordance with the international treaty, the Black Sea Fleet is stationed; where 1.5 million Russian people live,” Putin’s representative stressed.

The Crimean population “resents” the attempts to seize local administration buildings and the threats thrown at regional authorities, and demands stability, he said.

At the same time, Karasin said he believes the international community and those states that backed the February 21 agreement between the opposition and the legitimate Ukrainian government “have the power” to influence the self-proclaimed Kiev authorities to bring the situation back to “constitutional ways.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry also said that Moscow is expecting that the international community will influence the self-proclaimed Kiev regime to normalize the situation in the country.

March 1, 2014 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Oppose Force to Save Starving Syrians

By David Swanson | FDL | February 27, 2014

I’ve been asked to debate Danny Postel on the question of Syria, and so have read the op-ed he co-authored with Nader Hashemi, “Use Force to Save Starving Syrians.”

Excellent responses have been published by Coleen Rowley and Rob Prince and probably others. And my basic thinking on Syria has not changed fundamentally since I wrote down my top 10 reasons not to attack Syria and lots and lots of other writing on Syria over the years. But replying to Postel’s op-ed might be helpful to people who’ve read it and found it convincing or at least disturbing. It might also allow Postel to most efficiently find out where I’m coming from prior to our debate.

So, here’s where I’m coming from. Postel’s op-ed proposes the use of force as if force hadn’t been tried yet, as if force were not in fact the very problem waiting to be solved. What he is proposing is increased force. The arming and funding and training of one side in Syria by the CIA, Saudi Arabia, et al, and the other side by Russia, et al, is not enough; more is needed, Postel believes. But “force” is a very non-descriptive term, as are all the other terms Postel uses to refer to what he wants: “air cover,” “coercive measures,” “Mr. Assad … [should] be left behind.”

I find it hard to imagine people on the ground while NATO dropped thousands of bombs on Libya pointing to the sky and remarking “Check out the air cover!”

Or this: “What happened to your children, Ma’am?” “They experienced some coercive measures.”

Or this: “What became of Gaddafi?” “Oh, him? He was left behind.”

When people who experience modern wars that wealthy nations launch against poor ones talk about them, they describe detailed horror, terror, and trauma. They recount what it’s like to try to hold a loved one’s guts into their mutilated body as they gasp their last. Even the accounts of recovering and regretful drone pilots in the US have much more humanity and reality in them than do Postel’s euphemisms.

I’m not questioning the sincerity of Postel’s belief that, despite it’s long record of abysmal failure, humanitarian war would find success in a nation as divided as Syria, of all unlikely places. But Postel should trust his readers to share his conclusion after being presented with the full facts of the case. If Postel believes that the people whose lives would be ended or devastated by “air cover” are out-weighed by the people who he believes would be thereby saved from starvation, he should say so. He should at the very least acknowledge that people would be killed in the process and guesstimate how many they would be.

Postel claims Somalia as a past example of a “humanitarian intervention,” without dwelling on the chaos and violence aggravated and ongoing there. This seems another shortcoming to me. If you are going to make a moral decision, not only should it include the negative side of the ledger, but it should include the likely medium-term and long-term results, good and bad. Looking at Somalia with a broader view hurts Postel’s case, but so does looking at Libya, Afghanistan, or Iraq. Studies by Erica Chenoweth and others have documented that violent solutions to oppression and tyranny are not only less likely to succeed, but if they succeed their success is shorter lived. Violence breeds violence. “Force,” translated into the reality of killing people’s loved ones, breeds resentment, not reconciliation.

So, I think Postel’s case for dropping tons of deadly “coercive measures” on Syria would be a weak one even if it were likely to resemble his outline. Sadly, it isn’t. The war on Libya three years ago was sold as an emergency use of “force” to protect supposedly threatened people in Benghazi. It was immediately, illegally, predictably, cynically, and disastrously turned into a campaign of bombing the nation to overthrow its government — a government that, like Syria’s, had long been on a Pentagon list to be overthrown for anything but humanitarian reasons. Postel presents a quick and antiseptic “leaving behind” operation to provide food to the starving, but surely he knows that is not what it would remain for any longer than it takes to say “R2P.” Why else does Postel refer so vaguely to leaving Assad behind?

It may be worth noting that it’s not aid workers advocating for “coercion” strikes on Syria. I spoke with a US government aid worker in Syria some months back who had this to say:

“Before we contemplate military strikes against the Syrian regime, we would do well to carefully consider what impact such strikes would have on our ongoing humanitarian programs, both those funded by the US and by other countries and international organizations. These programs currently reach hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people throughout Syria, in areas controlled both by the regime and the opposition. We know from past military interventions, such as in Yugoslavia and Iraq that airstrikes launched for humanitarian reasons often result in the unintended deaths of many civilians. The destruction of roads, bridges, and other infrastructure, which such airstrikes may entail, would significantly hamper the delivery of humanitarian aid in Syria.

“The provision of this assistance in regime controlled areas requires the agreement, and in many cases the cooperation, of the Assad government. Were the Assad regime, in response to US military operations, to suspend this cooperation, and prohibit the UN and nongovernmental organizations from operating in territory under its control, hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians would be denied access to food, shelter, and medical care. In such a scenario, we would be sacrificing programs of proven effectiveness in helping the people of Syria, in favor of ill considered actions that may or may not prevent the future use of chemical weapons, or otherwise contribute to U.S. objectives in any meaningful way.”

Let’s grant that the crisis has continued for months and worsened. It remains the fact that it is advocates of war advocating war, not aid workers advocating war. The option of ceasing to arm both sides, and of pursuing a negotiated settlement, is simply ignored by the war advocates. The option of nonviolent efforts to deliver aid is avoided entirely. The failure to provide adequate aid to refugees who where that can be reached seems far less pressing than the failure to provide aid where that failure can become a justification for an escalated war.

“Humanitarian interventions,” Postel writes, “typically occur when moral principles overlap with political interests.” This seems to be an acknowledgment that political interests are something other than moral. So, there’s no cry for “humanitarian intervention” in Bahrain or Palestine or Egypt because it doesn’t fit “political interests.” That seems like an accurate analysis. And presumably some interventions that do fit political interests are not moral and humanitarian. The question is which are which. Postel believes there have been enough humanitarian interventions to describe something as being typical of them, but he doesn’t list them. In fact, the record of US military and CIA interventions is a unbroken string of anti-humanitarian horrors. And in most cases, if not every case, actual aid would have served humanity better than guns and bombs, and so would have ceasing pre-existing involvement rather than escalating it and calling that an intervention.

But once you’ve accepted that the tool of war should be encouraged in certain cases, even though it’s misused in other cases, then something else has to be added to your moral calculation, namely the propagation of war and preparations for war. Those of us who cannot find a single war worth supporting differ only slightly perhaps from those who find one war in a hundred worth backing. But it’s a difference that shifts opposition to support for an investment that costs the world some $2 trillion a year. The United Nations believes that $30 billion a year could end serious starvation around the world. Imagine what, say, $300 billion could do for food, water, medicine, education, and green energy. Imagine if the United States were to offer that kind of aid to every nation able to peacefully and democratically accept it. Would polls continue to find the US viewed as the greatest threat to peace on earth? Would the title of most beloved nation on earth begin to look plausible?

Members of the nonviolent peace force, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Mairead Maguire, and other advocates of de-escalation in Syria traveled freely around Syria some months back. How were they able to do that? What might trainers in creative nonviolent action offer Syria that CIA and military trainers aren’t offering? The alternative is never even considered by advocates of war-or-nothing. Postel wants to back “democratically oriented” rebel groups, but is violence clearly democratically oriented? Turning our eyes back on ourselves suggests a rather disturbing answer. In September 2013, President Obama gave us the hard sell. Watch these videos of suffering children, he said, and support striking their nation with missiles or support their ongoing suffering. And a huge majority in the US rejected the idea that those were the only two choices. A majority opposed the strikes. An even larger majority opposed arming the rebels. And a large majority favored humanitarian aid. There is a case to be made that democracy would be better spread by example than by defying the will of the US people in order to bomb yet another nation in democracy’s name.

Postel, to his credit, calls the “Responsibility to Protect” a “principle.” Some have called it a “law.” But it cannot undo the UN Charter. War being illegal, its use damages the rule of law. That result must also be factored into a full moral calculation of how to act. Act we must, as Postel says repeatedly. The question is how. Rob Prince presents a useful plan of action in the article linked above.

Postel’s most persuasive argument is probably, for many readers, his contention that only threatening to act will save the day. He claims that Syria has responded positively to threats of force. But this is not true. Syria was always willing to give up its chemical weapons and had long since proposed a WMD-free Middle East — a proposal that ran up against the lack of “political interest” in eliminating Israel’s illegal weapons. Also false, of course, were claims by the Obama administration to know that Assad had used chemical weapons. See Coleen Rowley’s summary of how that case has collapsed in the article linked above.

Granted, there can be a good honest case for an action for which misguided, false, and fraudulent cases have been offered. But I haven’t seen such a case yet for taking an action in Syria that would, to be sure, dramatically declare that action was being taken, release a lot of pent-up tension, and enrich Raytheon’s owners, but almost certainly leave Syrians, Americans, and the world worse off.

March 1, 2014 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Leave a comment

‘Critical juncture’: Battles, attacks on convoys delay Syrian chemical weapons destruction

RT | March 1, 2014

Syrian convoys transporting chemical weapons under the international agreement were attacked twice late last month, according to a UN report, causing a delay in chemical shipments out to sea.

In a monthly report to the UN Security Council, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said that the Syrian authorities told their team overseeing the destruction of its arsenal that the attempted attacks took place on January 27.

“In addition, Syrian authorities indicated that ongoing military activities rendered two sites inaccessible during most of the reporting period,” the five-page UN report said.

This caused the delay of “in-country destruction of the final quantities of isopropanol [one of two key ingredients for sarin gas production], preventing some activities to consolidate chemical material into a reduced number of locations, and preventing the physical verification of chemical material prior to movement on 27 January 2014.”

“When we talk about transferring those weapons, we talk about hundreds of kilometers that should be passed in safe conditions,” Charles Shoebridge, former British intelligence officer told RT. “They’ve attacked weapons carriers and made transporting the chemicals even more difficult and dangerous.”

The report also said that the elimination of the chemical weapons program in Syria stands at a “critical juncture.” It calls on Syria to “intensify and accelerate” its efforts to eliminate its stockpile, after falling behind on schedule. Syria denies in the very strongest terms that it is deliberately slowing things down.

“A look at the history of Syria since the formation of the United Nations, of which Syria is an establishing member, will recognize that Syria has always been committed to its vows,” Dr. Hassan Hassan, Syrian expert, told RT. “It has never given a promise without fulfilling it.”

The fourth shipment of mustard gas, left Latakia, Syria on Wednesday. Earlier in February the OPCW reported that Syria had shipped out only 11 percent of its stockpile, falling short of the February 5 deadline to have chemical stockpiles removed from the country.

Syria last week submitted a new 100-day plan to remove the remaining chemicals, which would have set a target of late May or early June for completion. The UN is considering the new timetable. Under the OPCW schedule, all Syria’s declared chemical weapons must be destroyed by June 30.

“Measurable progress has been made over the last months in the destruction of critical equipment and special features at a number of chemical weapons production facilities, as well as unfilled chemical munitions,” the report said. “As a result, the production, mixing and filling capabilities of the Syrian Arab Republic have been rendered inoperable.”

Syria has declared around 700 tons of the most-dangerous chemicals, 500 tons of less-dangerous precursor chemicals and 122 tons of isopropanol – an active ingredient in sarin gas production.

March 1, 2014 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

People of Crimea express desire to join Russia: Report

Press TV – March 1, 2014

People in the port city of Sevastopol in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea have been voicing support for the notion of Crimea joining Russia, a report says.

“In Sevastopol, where Russia’s Black Sea fleet has a base, residents speak unabashedly of wanting Crimea to return to Russia,” reads a report by Reuters on February 28, referring to the fact that the now autonomous Crimea was once part of the former Soviet Union.

“Crowds rally daily in front of city hall, and voted with roars of approval this week for Russian citizen, Alexei Chaliy, as their de facto mayor, chanting: ‘A Russian mayor for a Russian town.’”

Crimea, an autonomous region within Ukraine, has been the focal point of concern ever since Ukrainian politics became chaotic. Ukraine has been experiencing unrest since November 2013, when now-ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych refrained from signing an Association Agreement with the EU in favor of closer ties with Russia.

The Ukrainian parliament ousted Yanukovych and named Oleksandr Turchynov, the legislature’s speaker, as interim president on February 23.

When Russia confirmed on Friday that it had moved its troops already based in Ukraine’s Crimea region to protect its naval fleet, a move Moscow said was in compliance with Russian-Ukrainian agreements, it was met with warnings from Ukraine’s new authorities as well as Western officials, who warned against “provocations” on the Crimean peninsula, where the Autonomous Republic of Crimea is also located.

As the crisis was brewing in Ukraine, US and European officials repeatedly expressed support for the anti-government Ukrainian protesters. The protests took violent forms as an increasing number of the protesters resorted to violence in confronting Ukrainian security forces.

The Reuters report said that while the anti-government protesters who “brought down” the Yanukovych administration in Ukraine are “heroes in the capital (Kiev) and the West,” in Crimea, “they are compared to the nationalist militias sometimes accused of siding with Nazi troops against Soviet forces during World War Two.”

The report quoted a resident of Sevastopol as saying, “Crimea has historically never belonged to Ukraine. We want historical justice. This is an exclusively Russian city. It was and will remain so.”

Ukraine’s Interior Minister Arsen Avakov recently claimed that Russian troops, backed by armored personnel carriers, entered the Belbek airfield near Sevastopol. Russia’s Interfax news agency, however, quoted an unnamed source as saying that the country’s Black Sea Fleet forces did not seize the airfield or take any other action there.

Referring to the calls by the people of Crimea for the autonomous region to join Russia, the Reuters report said that, “Moscow has not responded directly to calls… but a number of Russian lawmakers have visited Crimea, and are given a hero’s welcome.”

March 1, 2014 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

Israel, US Mulling Training Syria Terrorists with Saudi Arabia

Al-Manar | April 1, 2014

Top Israeli and US military officials discussed on Monday the possibility of “security cooperation” between the Zionist entity and some Arab states in the Persian Gulf.

The New York Times reported that a meeting took place on Monday between Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and Gen. Martin Dempsey, visiting chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff in al-Quds.

Prior to the meeting, Gantz hinted that even in the current period of instability there could be opportunities, Israeli daily, Haaretz reported.

Those opportunities became clearer when Dempsey said after the meeting that the discussions included “an outreach to other partners who may not have been willing to be partners in the past,” the Israeli daily said according to NYT.

“What I mean is the Gulf States in particular, who heretofore may not have been as open-minded to the potential for cooperation with Israel, in any way.” Dempsey said.

Haaretz noted that while Dempsey did not go into specifics, other American military officials said that possibilities include “intelligence-sharing, joint counterterrorism exercises and perhaps looking for how Israeli and Saudi troops could jointly work on the training of Syrian opposition fighters.”

Remarking that “world jihadists are not fighting only against Israel,” Gantz added that it would be in the interests of both Israel and neighboring states to “look for ways to combat common enemies.”

Syria has been gripped by deadly violence since 2011. Over 140,000 people have been reportedly killed and millions displaced due to the violence fueled by the foreign-backed militants.

Western powers and some of their regional allies – especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey – are reportedly supporting the militants operating inside Syria.

March 1, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | Leave a comment