Aletho News


Waiting Since 1948 for Justice

US Pressures Palestine to be Patient

By Stuart Littlewood | Dissident Voice | January 9, 2015

Dennis Ross, writing in the New York Times, criticises Mahmoud Abbas for using international institutions to put pressure on Israel.

Abbas, after failing to obtain a UN Security Council resolution requiring Israel to end its decades-long occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, had announced his intention to join Palestine to the International Criminal Court and seek justice via that route.

“Why not wait?” asks Ross. “If a new Israeli government after the elections is prepared to take a peace initiative and build settlements only on land that is likely to be part of Israel and not part of Palestine, there will be no need for a United Nations resolution.”

If not, and the Europeans decide to pursue a resolution, it must be balanced. “It cannot simply address Palestinian needs by offering borders based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps and a capital in Arab East Jerusalem without offering something equally specific to Israel — namely, security arrangements that leave Israel able to defend itself by itself, phased withdrawal tied to the Palestinian Authority’s performance on security and governance, and a resolution of the Palestinian refugee issue that allows Israel to retain its Jewish character.”

Why should the Israelis be offered anything? The aim is to make them give back what they have stolen at gunpoint. The Palestinians have been waiting 37 years while, week by week, Israel confiscates more of their land and water and plots to steal their offshore gas too. Why drag out the torment unless you’re the worst kind of sadist? Why wait a moment longer for restitution?

This is not a sudden demand. Back in November 1967 Resolution 242 was passed unanimously by the UN Security Council requiring “withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict [i.e. the Six-Day War]” in fulfillment of UN Charter principles. That’s 37 years for the Israelis to get used to it.

The preamble referred to the “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East in which every State in the area can live in security”. So would Palestine be able to “defend itself, by itself” and retain its Arab character? We hear ad nauseam about Israel’s security, never Palestine’s.

Israel’s interpretation of the Resolution seems to be that they needn’t withdraw until there’s a fully negotiated peace – as if peace was ever in their gameplan. But others such as the Russian, Kuznetsov, weren’t fooled. Kuznetsov explained the position for us thus:

In the resolution adopted by the Security Council, the ‘withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict’ becomes the first necessary principle for the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Near East. We understand the decision taken to mean the withdrawal of Israel forces from all, and we repeat, all territories belonging to Arab States and seized by Israel following its attack on those States on 5 June 1967. This is borne out by the preamble to the United Kingdom draft resolution [S/8247] which stresses the ‘inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war’. It follows that the provision contained in that draft relating to the right of all States in the Near East ‘to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries’ cannot serve as a pretext for the maintenance of Israel forces on any part of the Arab territories seized by them as a result of war.

Dennis Ross may have difficulty understanding the language of Resolution 242, but to your average native English speaker, like the man on the Clapham omnibus, it’s crystal clear. “Withdrawal from territories occupied in the recent conflict” plainly means “get the hell out of there”.

US Secretary of State Dean Rusk writing in 1990 remarked: “We wanted [it] to be left a little vague and subject to future negotiation because we thought the Israeli border along the West Bank could be “rationalized”; certain anomalies could easily be straightened out with some exchanges of territory, making a more sensible border for all parties…. But we never contemplated any significant grant of territory to Israel as a result of the June 1967 war.”

Palestinians blamed for saying ‘no’ to humiliating peace offers

Dennis Ross co-founded the AIPAC-sponsored Washington Institute for Near East Policy and has been described as more pro-Israel than the Israelis. He served the Bush, Clinton and Obama administrations as a top advisor and special envoy on Middle East affairs but is so cosy with the regime in Tel Aviv that few see him as the honest broker he is held out to be. The State Department seems stuffed to the gunwales with people like him and the consequences are worrying.

In his NYT article Ross blames the Palestinian leadership for not accepting “three serious negotiations that culminated in offers to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Bill Clinton’s parameters in 2000, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s offer in 2008, and Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts last year”. In each case, he says, a proposal on all the core issues was made to Palestinian leaders and the answer was either “no” or no response.

Ross’s accusation reminds me of the The Israel Project’s training manual designed to help the worldwide Zionist movement win the propaganda war. It teaches how to justify the endless occupation, the slaughter, the ethnic cleansing, the land-grabbing, the cruelty and the blatant disregard for international law and UN resolutions, how to demonize Hamas and Iran in particular, and how to make Israel smell sweeter with a few squirts of the aerosol of persuasive language. This advice at the beginning sets the tone: “Remember, it’s not what you say that counts. It’s what people hear.”

The manual recommends numerous messages that are aimed at the mass of “persuadables”, primarily in America but also in the UK. Here is one that’s not unlike the nonsense Ross is trying to put across…

How can the current Palestinian leadership honestly say it will pursue peace when previous leaders rejected an offer to create a Palestinian state just a few short years ago and now refuse to live up to their responsibilities as outlined in the Road Map?

This is surely a reference to Barak’s so-called “generous offer” of 2000, one of the three “serious negotiations” Ross now taunts Abbas with and also one of the many myths Israelis and their stooges love to peddle. The West Bank and the Gaza Strip, seized by Israel in 1967 and occupied ever since, comprise just 22% of pre-partition Palestine. When the Palestinians signed the Oslo Agreement in 1993 they agreed to accept the measly 22% and recognise Israel within ‘Green Line’ borders (i.e. the 1949 Armistice Line established after the Arab-Israeli War). Conceding 78% of the land that was originally theirs was an astonishing compromise.

But it wasn’t enough for greedy Barak. His ‘generous offer’ required the inclusion of 69 Israeli settlements within that 22% remnant. It was plain to see on the map that these settlement blocs would create impossible borders where Palestinian life in the West Bank was already severely disrupted. Barak also demanded the Palestinian territories be placed under “Temporary Israeli Control”, meaning Israeli military and administrative control indefinitely. The ‘generous offer’ also gave Israel control over all the border crossings of the new Palestinian State. What nation in the world would accept that? The map, never shown publicly, revealed the preposterous reality of Barak’s offer, but the truth was cunningly hidden by propaganda spin.

The following year at Taba, Barak produced a revised map but it was withdrawn after his election defeat. Don’t take my word for it – the facts are well documented and explained by organisations such as Gush Shalom.

The only thing this and the many other ‘peace’ exercises achieved was a deep distrust of any pretense of good intentions by Israel.

David Makovsky, a Fellow of Ross’s Washington Institute, says of Abbas’s move: “Internationalizing the conflict will have only one surefire result: making the prospects of Israelis and Palestinians resolving their own differences ever more distant.” After decades of brutal oppression during which the Palestinians have continued to be dispossessed and murdered, does he not think those prospects are distant enough?

Makovsky adds that the Palestinian Authority “has torpedoed any chances for near-term diplomacy” and “invited US financial countermeasures” merely by opening the ICC door. Once again the policy wonks in Washington are warning defenceless people criminally abused by America’s ally that seeking justice under the law is counter-productive. What a sad, sad world they are creating.

January 9, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 1 Comment

Will justice be served to Palestine by the ICC?


January 9, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Video | , , , | 1 Comment

US, allies must be held accountable for ISIL terrorism: Analyst

Press TV – January 9, 2015

The United States and its allies should be held responsible for the ongoing ISIL terror activities in various parts of the world, the Imam of Masjid al-Islam in Washington tells Press TV.

Imam Abdul Alim Musa, who is a strong critic of US support for terrorism, said in an interview with Press TV that the American administration, the Israeli regime and the Al Saud monarchy must held accountable for ISIL terror operations because “they created these groups from very beginning.”

The analyst further stressed that the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Israel’s Mossad spy agency and the Saudi regime have been deeply involved in creation of the ISIL Takfiri group.

Musa further said the US and its western allies were using Zionist and Wahhabi ideologies to fuel terrorism, adding, “The origin of these groups is mainly Saudi Arabia.”

The analyst added that the Western countries have a long history of supporting the terrorists fighting against the government of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

The backers and controllers of the ISIL extremist group are using it to “promote Islamophobia” and “launch invasions,” the analyst said.

The ISIL militants have seized large swathes of land in Syria and Iraq. They have been carrying out heinous crimes against all communities in both neighboring Arab states.

Commenting on a recent terrorist attack targeting a French magazine, the Muslim scholar said the French support for anti-Syria militants and Paris’ pro-invasion policies were partly to blame for the deadly raid.

On Wednesday, masked gunmen stormed into the Parisian headquarters of the satirical weekly, Charlie Hebdo, gunning down a dozen people, including eight journalists, two police officers, a maintenance worker and a visitor.

Paris has been among the staunch supporters of the Takfiri militants operating against the Damascus government since March 2011.

January 9, 2015 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

What is Going On in Spain?

The End of an Era and the Beginning of Podemos

By VICENTE NAVARRO | CounterPunch | January 9, 2015

Something is happening in Spain. A party that did not exist one year ago, Podemos, with a clear left-wing program, would win a sufficient number of votes to gain a majority in Spanish Parliament if an election were held today. Meanwhile, the leaders of the group G-20 attending their annual meeting in Australia were congratulating the president of the Spanish conservative-neoliberal government, Mr. Mariano Rajoy, for the policies that his government had imposed. (I use the term “imposed” because none of these policies were written in its electoral program.) These included: (1) the largest cuts in public social expenditures (dismantling the underfunded Spanish welfare state) ever seen since democracy was established in Spain in 1978 and (2) the toughest labor reforms, which have substantially deteriorated labor market conditions. Salaries have declined by 10% since the Great Recession started in 2007, and unemployment has hit an all-time record of 26% (52% among the youth). The percentage of what the trade unions defined as “shit work” (temporary, precarious work) has increased, becoming the majority of new contracts in the labor market (more than 52% of all contracts), and 66% of unemployed people do not have any form of unemployment insurance or public assistance.

These measures have created an enormous problem of lack of domestic demand, a major cause of the long-term recession. It has been only recently that very limited growth has appeared, due primarily to the decline in the price of gasoline, a devaluation of the euro, and a tentative commitment by the European Central Bank (ECB) to buy public bonds. The Spanish government did not have anything to do with any of these events, although it claims now that the short recovery is a result of its neoliberal policies.

These neoliberal policies were promoted by the European Union (EU) establishments (European Council, European Commission, and ECB) and by the International Monetary Fund. They were carried out in Spain with the support and encouragement of financial capital, major business enterprises, and their political instrument, the Popular Party (PP), now in government. It seems that the right-wing in Spain was finally getting what it had always wanted: the reduction of salaries and the weakening of social protection with a dismantling of the welfare state. Those policies are what the international elites of the G-20 who met in Australia were presenting as a model for all countries to follow, championing Spain as a model country.

The Historical Causes of These Events

I have written extensively about the reasons why Spain, Portugal, Greece, and Ireland are in deep trouble. I refer readers to one of these articles (“Capital-Labor: The Unspoken Causes of the Crises,”, Economic Section). Let me briefly summarize it. All these countries, referred to rather unkindly in the Anglo-Saxon economic literature as PIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Greece, and Spain), have had ultra-right-wing dictatorships (fascist or fascistoid), except Ireland, governed by a very conservative party close to the Church. These dictatorships were the result of military coups (in the case of Spain, supported by Hitler and Mussolini in 1936) against democratically elected governments that had initiated meaningful reforms affecting the privilege of the oligarchy, i.e., the agricultural, financial, and (in the case of Catalonia and Basque Country in Spain) industrial bourgeoisie, in addition to the Catholic Church and the Army. The Spanish fascist coup established one of the most brutal repressions that has ever taken place in Western Europe during the 20th century. For every political assassination that Mussolini carried out, Franco’s dictatorship had 10,000. Even today, there are more than 120,000 people who were assassinated during the dictatorship whose bodies have yet to be found. After Cambodia, Spain has the second-largest number of people who have disappeared for political reasons without any trace of their bodies being found. Franco’s dictatorship was a class dictatorship against the working population. That dictatorship was responsible for the enormous economic and cultural underdevelopment in Spain. When the military coup took place in 1936, Spain’s Gross National Product (GNP) per capita was similar to Italy’s. In 1978, when the dictatorship ended and the democracy was established, Spain’s GNP per capita was only 62% of Italy’s. That was the economic cost of having a fascist dictatorship.

The Transition from Dictatorship to Democracy

When the dictator died in 1975, the dictatorship had lasted 40 years. The apparatus of the state, a coalition of fascist forces known as El Movimiento Nacional and the Opus Dei (a religious sect of the Catholic Church), as well as the Army and the Catholic Church, had wanted to continue the dictatorship under the leadership of Franco’s deputy Admiral Carrero Blanco. But this admiral had been killed by ETA, creating a vacuum in the leadership of the dictatorship.

Meanwhile, the antifascist resistance had been growing considerably, with strong and wide social agitation, led primarily by the working class in the major cities of Barcelona, Bilbao, and Madrid and in specific areas of Spain such as the mining region in Asturias (the Appalachia of Spain). The working class clearly was asking for change. From 1975 to 1978, Spain had the largest number of labor strikes (despite these being forbidden) in Western Europe. This labor unrest shook up the Spanish establishment, which included large sectors of the Spanish bourgeoisie who did not consider the continuation of the dictatorship as a viable option. They wanted to be integrated in the EU, and even the Eurozone, and the dictatorship represented an obstacle to achieving that goal. King Juan Carlos, who had been appointed by Franco, was leading the demand for state changes that would guarantee the continuation of the Spanish financial and industrial establishments under a different political regime. He appointed Adolfo Suarez, who had been the general secretary of Movimiento Nacional, as president of the country, with the mandate to establish changes in the Spanish state. These changes were aimed primarily at integrating the Social Democratic Party (PSOE) into the state apparatus and marginalizing the Communist Party (PCE), which had been the main force in the antifascist struggle.

Before dissolving, the Movimiento Nacional had imposed a series of conditions. One was that the electoral law would be designed to make it impossible for the Communist Party to have a major parliamentarian representation. The law was approved and later modified during the democratic period, although it continued to discriminate against the working class in urban centers (where most of the communist votes existed). As a consequence, whereas a conservative city like Salamanca needs 32,000 votes to elect a member of the Spanish Parliament, Barcelona (a city historically aligned to the left) needed 150,000 votes. The new electoral law did favor bipartidismo, i.e., the permanence of a two-party system—the conservative neoliberal (PP) and socialist party (PSOE) that control the whole state apparatus, under the hegemony of the PP.

The Dominance of the Conservative Forces in the State

In this way, the right-wing establishment had full control of all the branches of the state and all the media (press, radio, and television). The democratic forces (led by the Communist party), however, had just left the clandestinity and/or come back from exile. Thus, the transition took place under very difficult conditions for the left. There was no equilibrium between right-wing and left-wing forces. The product of that disequilibrium was the Spanish Constitution and the democratic institutions, clearly influenced by conservative establishments. It solidified the structure of power that existed during the dictatorship. Banking continued to be the major player in the economic life of the country. And the major industries (established primarily in Barcelona, Bilbao, and Madrid) that were powerful during the dictatorship continued to be equally powerful, with new additions: the privatization of major public enterprises—from energy to communications—which were now controlled by the elites of the political parties, particularly by the Partido Popular (PP), which appointed friends of the president of the government and of the party to top positions in these newly privatized businesses. As in Russia, the major businesses that used to be controlled by the party apparatus were now controlled by the same individuals, as part of the new plutocracy.

The major inheritor of the Spanish dictatorship is the governing party, the PP, a coalition of post-fascist groups (such as the Alliance Popular, with ultra-right-wing ideology), liberal associations (“liberal” in Europe means very right-wing forces representing the major business community, with antagonisms toward labor), and conservative (such as Christian democratic institutions close to the Catholic Church). The PP also has a large post-fascist, chauvinist, and anti-migrant component, which explains why Spain does not have a major chauvinist movement, since this movement is already within the PP.

The Social and the National Question

One major consequence of the right-wing domination of the state has been the poverty of the welfare state and the very poor conditions of the labor markets. Unemployment has been a constant in Spain, and the public social expenditures per capita are among the lowest in the EU-15 (the group of richest countries in the EU). These situations have become even worse because of the crisis.

Another consequence was the continuation of a vision of Spain, inherited from the dictatorship and previous monarchic regimes, which denied its plurinationality. Instead, the Spanish Constitution recognized only one nation, the Spanish nation, denying the historical demand of the left-wing parties—the Socialist and the Communist—that saw Catalonia, Basque Country, and Galicia as other nations within Spain. Both parties had, during the clandestine time, called for the right to self-determination for the different nations of Spain. This demand was put aside, however, during the transition due to the opposition of the Monarch and the Army. Since 1978, when the new Constitution was established and democracy started, the socialist party (PSOE) has fully accepted the uninational vision of Spain.

Europe, from a Dream to a Nightmare: The Integration of Spain in the Euro

During the dictatorship, Europe had been a dream for the anti-fascist democratic forces, struggling against the fascist regime under very difficult conditions. Democracy and the welfare state were then identified with Europe, and they were considered to be the objective to be reached when democracy was established. Europe was what Spanish democratic forces had always wanted. Europe was the dream to be realized later on. It has become, however, a nightmare. Why?

The design of the euro was the starting point of the nightmare. It was formulated by financial interests to give financial capital a strong command of the governance of the euro. It is not by chance that the ECB is physically located in front of the Bundesbank, the German Central Bank, in Frankfurt. The Bundesbank is basically the spokesperson of German financial capital, the center of the European financial system.

The ECB, however, is not a central bank: It is a lobby for the banks, primarily the German ones. The ECB prints money but it does not help the states: It does not buy states’ public debt, making them dependent on the financial markets (i.e., the private banks). The ECB lends money to the private banks at very low interest rates. And the banks buy public debt at extremely high interest. It is a killing for the private banks! These are the causes of the enormous growth of the Spanish public debt (of which, German banks own 20% of all the public debt owed by foreign banks, which is 50% of all Spanish public debt). Consequently, the second item in the Spanish budget, after social security, is payment of public debt interests. Germany has 700,000 million euros it lent to the PIGS (200,000 to Spain). This was the reason the EU lent up to 100,000 million euros to Spain (el Rescate Bancario) with the understanding that Spain must pay back the debt to German banks. Meanwhile, public debt in Spain is increasing to an unpayable level.

But there was another reason the euro hurt the Spanish state. The Maastricht criteria had indicated that the public deficit of the state could not be higher than 3% of the GNP. Since it was 6%, it had to be cut. And it was cut, not by increasing taxes or correcting tax fraud (Spain’s tax fraud is among the highest in the Eurozone, with 80,000 million euros evaded, 80% of which is done by the banks, large fortunes, and large enterprises whose sales are more than 150 million euros a year, representing 0.12% of all enterprises) but by reducing public expenditures (in particular, public social expenditures). Spanish entry into the Eurozone took place at the cost of weakening the Spanish welfare state, used primarily by the popular classes.

Why the Cuts?

The reduction of salaries and of the number of people receiving salaries, as well as the reduction of public expenditures, meant an enormous decline of domestic demand and, as a result, of economic growth. The waning of salaries meant increased indebtedness of families and of small and medium enterprises. Debt increased enormously. This meant that banking also increased enormously (Spain has one of the largest banking sectors in Europe, proportionally three times as large as in the United States). But the low profitability of the productive economy meant a large increase of banking investments in speculation, causing huge bubbles, the most important of which was the housing bubble.

When the bubble was occurring, there was a feeling of euphoria among the political establishment. None other than the governing socialist leader, José Luis R. Zapatero, felt that, in a time of such exuberant growth, taxes should be reduced. His slogan was “Reducing taxes should be an objective of the left!” He reduced taxes enormously, primarily on capital and high incomes. He announced his slogan in 2005. He passed the Tax Reform Act with the tax cuts in 2006. And in 2007, when the bubble exploded, a huge hole appeared in state revenues: 27,000 million euros. According to economists of the statistical office of the Ministry of Finances, 70% of this hole was due to the tax cuts and only 30% to the decline of economic activity at the beginning of the Great Recession.

This is how the cuts started, under the false argument that the country needed to face austerity measures because it was spending too much. Actually, when the crisis started, the Spanish state was on surplus. In reality, Spain’s public expenditure is far too low, much lower than its economic level of development would call for. The cuts demonstrate the class nature of those interventions. Socialist Zapatero froze public pensions to save 1,500 million euros, when he could have obtained much more money, 2,500 million, by recovering the property taxes that he had abolished, reversing the lowering of inheritance taxes (2,300 million), or reversing the reduced taxes of individuals making 120,000 euros a year (2,200 million). These cuts were expanded later by conservative-liberal Rajoy, who cut 6,000 million from the National Health Service, stressing, as Zapatero said before, that “there were not alternatives,” the most frequently used sentence in the official narrative. There were alternatives, however. He could have reversed the lowering of taxes on capital to large corporations that he had approved, obtaining 5,500 million. The economists Vicenç Navarro, Juan Torres, and Alberto Garzón wrote a book There are Alternatives (Hay Alternativas: Propuestas para Crear Empleo y Bienestar Social en España). The book showed, with clear and convincing numbers, that there were alternatives. The book became a major bestseller in Spain and was widely used by the indignados movement.

The Indignados Movement

These cuts of public social spending and the three labor market reforms carried out first by the socialist (PSOE) government, and later by the liberal conservative-liberal (PP) government, angered people, since not one of these measures had any popular mandate. None of those policies had been mentioned in the electoral program of the governing parties. The supposedly democratic representative institutions have acted on behalf of financial and large-employer interests, who were achieving the policies they always wanted—the decline of salaries and the dismantling of social protections—and presenting these policies as the only possible ones, since “there were no alternatives.” This message was also promoted by the European Council, European Commission, and ECB (plus the IMF). This is how the European dream became a nightmare.

In response to this nightmare, the indignados movement appeared and quickly spread all over the country. Its slogans, such as “They, the political class, do not represent us” became widely popular. Consequently, state institutions started losing legitimacy very quickly. The state responded with enormous repression. That did not stop the indignados, however. Many of their leaders were young—very affected by the crisis.

The indignados movement demanded a second transition, calling for an end to the 1978 regime (the political system established in 1978 when the dictatorship ended) and for the establishment of a new democratic order, explaining the need to substitute existing representative institutions with new ones, complemented by other forms of democratic participation such as referendums and/or popular assemblies. The goal was to establish an authentic democratic system with systems of direct forms of citizen participation such as referendums, plus indirect forms of participation such as representative democracy, requiring political parties that were much more democratic than they are today.

This movement had an enormous impact, and its starting movement (a major manifestation in Plaza del Sol) was a protest against the slogan “There are no alternatives.” In fact, the leadership of the indignados showed the book Hay Alternativas in front of the police who were trying to control the demonstration. The photograph of thousands of people showing the book was widely distributed within the movement and published in the press. Their major slogan was to question the claim that “there are no alternatives,” showing that there were indeed alternatives, and to question the legitimacy of the state, which was imposing policies that did not have any popular mandate.

The New Political Party: Podemos

Such a movement wanted to go beyond simply a protest movement to be perceived as the conscience of the country. The indignados became aware that they had to intervene in the political arena, and this is how Podemos appeared. The leaders of Podemos were drawn from individuals who had played a leading role in the indignados movement. Some are junior faculty in the Department of Political and Social Sciences in the largest public university in Spain, Complutense. Many have been active in the youth movements of the Spanish Communist Party. Regardless of where they come from, they all felt that the root of the problem was the control of the state by a caste of politicians, based primarily in the major parties—the liberal-conservative party (PP) and the socialist (PSOE)—who were closely related and tied to the major financial and banking corporations that have corrupted state institutions. They called for the establishment of a democratic state and a democratic Europe, “a Europe of the people, not the Europe of the bankers.”

They presented themselves in the elections to the European Parliament and the great surprise is that they received a much larger vote than they had expected. But the most important event was that all the polls showed a fantastic growth of their electoral support, to a point that in the last poll, it became clear that they could become the governing party, a situation that they never felt would be possible, and so fast. Podemos’s message, “Vote against the caste: Throw all of them out,” was highly successful. It was clear that the majority of people were fed up with the political and media establishments.

Their problem was the party did not have a structure. That created an urgent need to develop an organization, based on an assembly-like type of structure within a frame developed by the leadership. To prepare its program, they asked the economists Vicenç Navarro and Juan Torres (authors of the Hay Alternativas book) to prepare an outline of the economic program that the Podemos government should carry out. This outline would be the basis for a full discussion within the Party. The title Democratizar la Economía para Salir de la Crisis Mejorando la Equidad, el Bienestar y la Calidad de Vida: Una Propuesta de Debate para Solucionar los Problemas de la Economía Española (The Need to Democratize the Economy in Order to End the Crisis and Improve Justice, Well-Being and Quality of Life: A Proposal to Initiate a Debate to Resolve the Problems of the Spanish Economy) described the intention of the document. It was very widely distributed by Podemos, under the new title Un Proyecto Económico para la Gente (An Economic Project for the People). It had an enormous impact.

The presentation of the proposal by Pablo Iglesias and the authors of the document became the major event of the day in Spain. The hostility of the mainstream and economic media, as well as the intellectuals and spokespersons of the major governing parties (PP and PSOE) became enormously aggressive against that document and its authors. And in Europe, the President of the Bundesbank, the German Central Bank, indicated that the proposals put forward in the document will be very harmful to the Spanish and the European economies. Never before had a document created such a hostile response from the financial, economic, political, and media establishments. However, it created considerable positive responses at the street level in Spain and contributed substantially to change the character of the economic debate, because it challenged frontally the neoliberal ideology.

The economic document was not a budget for the future Podemos government, but rather the strategic lines to be followed. The analysis of the causes of the crisis focused on the enormous growth of inequalities responsible for the financial, economic, and political crisis. It puts at the center of the analysis the conflict of capital (under the hegemony of financial capital) against labor. That has led to an enormous decline of domestic demand caused by the decline of wages, increase in unemployment, and cuts of social public expenditures. The proposals, therefore, aimed at reversing that growth of inequalities by increasing domestic demand (via salaries and employment growth) and by expanding public expenditures and investments (in particular, the social infrastructure). It also underlined the need to expand public banking, as a way of providing credit to families and to small and middle-sized enterprises. It also proposed reducing the working week to 35 hours and reducing the age of retirement from 67 to 65, reversing policies approved by the PP and the PSOE. The impact of the program would strengthen labor at the cost of capital. Also, it showed the great need to correct gender inequalities as a way to increase employment. It also suggested how all the proposals could be funded, asking for substantial changes in the fiscal policies of the country and the reduction of tax fraud.

Why the Success of Podemos?

It is easy to answer this question. There is enormous anger toward what Podemos calls “la casta,” the cast. That includes the governing elites in the political establishment who have developed close complicities with the major financial and non-financial corporations that dominate the political and media institutions of the country. The call for “throwing all of them out” awakens general support among the majority of the Spanish people.

In addition, Podemos uses a language that people relate to, redefining class struggle as the conflict between those on the top and everyone else, a narrative that mobilizes a transversal support. A third reason for its wide appeal is that Podemos makes the calls for democracy center in its strategy, redefining democracy to include different forms of democracy such as referendums (defined as the right to decide, el derecho a decidir) together with indirect or representative forms of democracy. It is because of this commitment to democracy that it has accepted the right of self-determination for the different nations that exist in Spain, breaking with the vision of Spain as a uninational state. This understanding of Spain as a plurinational state has been a historic demand of all left-wing parties (including the PSOE), abandoned during the Transition by the socialist party because of the King (appointed by Franco) and the Army. The enormous popular demand by the Catalan population for the right of self-determination (not to be confused with the call for independence: 82% of Catalans support the first, 33% support the second) has created enormous tension with the central government and today is very unpopular. Podemos has become the first party in Catalonia, by popular support, according to the polls (if there were elections for the Spanish Parliament).

The success of Podemos has become a major threat to the Spanish (and to the European) establishment. Today, the Spanish financial, economic, political, and media establishments are on the defensive and in panic, having passed laws that strengthen the repression. The heads of the major banks in Spain are particularly uneasy. Mr. Botín, president of the major bank Santander, indicated four days before he died (a few weeks ago) that he was extremely worried, indicating that Podemos and Catalonia were very threatening to Spain. He, of course, meant his Spain. And he was right. The future is quite open. As Gramsci once indicated, it is the end of a period without a clear view of what the next one will be. Europe, Spain, and Catalonia are ending an era. This is clear. What still is unclear is what will come next. We will see.

Barcelona, 28th December 2014.

Vicente (Vicenç in Catalan) Navarro, is professor of Public and Social Policy in The John Hopkins University USA and the Pompeu Fabra University Catalonia, Spain. He is also the Director of the JHU-UPF Public Policy Center in Barcelona, Spain.

January 9, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics | , , | 3 Comments

Former Chilean Secret Police Agents Sentenced to Prison

teleSUR | January 8, 2015

A Chilean judge sentenced 23 former agents from Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet’s secret police to prison on Thursday for their role in the forced disappearance of a left-wing activist following the 1972 coup that overthrew Salvador Allende’s government.

Among those sentenced was General Manuel Contreras Sepulveda, who was in charge of the notorious National Intelligence Directorate (DINA).

This is only the latest sentence for Contreras, who has been found guilty in numerous other cases of human rights violations. He has been sentenced to serve a total of 400 years for his crimes.

Six of those sentenced today will serve thirteen year terms, while another fifteen will serve ten years. Two others, who played an accomplice role, will serve four years.

Bernando de Castro, who was a member of the President Allende’s Socialist Party of Chile, was disappeared after being arrested by the DINA. The dictatorship deliberately targeted opposition activists.

De Castro was disappeared alongside four others who have yet to be found. Their forced disappearance was part of a cover-up coordinated between the Chile’s secret police forces known as “Operation Colombo.”

As part of the cover-up, magazines sympathetic to the dictatorship published articles claiming that 119 political prisoners had been killed in “internal purges” of the Revolutionary Left Movement, which had launched an armed struggle against the Pinochet dictatorship.

The Justice system in Chile has been working to process claims by victims of the dictatorship, however only 10 percent of Pinochet’s former agents are serving prison sentences.

January 9, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , , | 2 Comments

CIA’s Hidden Hand in ‘Democracy’ Groups

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | January 8, 2015

Freedom House and the National Endowment for Democracy stress their commitment to freedom of thought and democracy, but both cooperated with a CIA-organized propaganda operation in the 1980s, according to documents released by Ronald Reagan’s presidential library.

One document showed senior Freedom House official Leo Cherne clearing a draft manuscript on political conditions in El Salvador with CIA Director William Casey and promising that Freedom House would make requested editorial “corrections and changes” – and even send over the editor for consultation with whomever Casey assigned to review the paper.

In a “Dear Bill” letter dated June 24, 1981, Cherne wrote: “I am enclosing a copy of the draft manuscript by Bruce McColm, Freedom House’s resident specialist on Central America and the Caribbean. This manuscript on El Salvador was the one I had urged be prepared and in the haste to do so as rapidly as possible, it is quite rough. You had mentioned that the facts could be checked for meticulous accuracy within the government and this would be very helpful. …

“If there are any questions about the McColm manuscript, I suggest that whomever is working on it contact Richard Salzmann at the Research Institute [an organization where Cherne was executive director]. He is Editor-in-Chief at the Institute and the Chairman of the Freedom House’s Salvador Committee. He will make sure that the corrections and changes get to Rita Freedman who will also be working with him. If there is any benefit to be gained from Salzmann’s coming down at any point to talk to that person, he is available to do so.”

Cherne, who was chairman of Freedom House’s executive committee, also joined in angling for financial support from a propaganda program that Casey initiated in 1982 under one of the CIA’s top covert action specialists, Walter Raymond Jr., who was moved to President Ronald Reagan’s National Security Council staff.

In an Aug. 9, 1982 letter to Raymond, Freedom House executive director Leonard R. Sussman wrote that “Leo Cherne has asked me to send these copies of Freedom Appeals. He has probably told you we have had to cut back this project to meet financial realities. … We would, of course, want to expand the project once again when, as and if the funds become available. Offshoots of that project appear in newspapers, magazines, books and on broadcast services here and abroad. It’s a significant, unique channel of communication” – precisely the focus of Raymond’s work.

According to the documents, Freedom House remained near the top of Casey’s thinking when it came to the most effective way to deliver his hardline policy message to the American people in ways they would be inclined to accept, i.e., coming from ostensibly independent sources with no apparent ties to the government.

On Nov. 4, 1982, Raymond wrote to NSC Advisor William Clark about the “Democracy Initiative and Information Programs,” stating that “Bill Casey asked me to pass on the following thought concerning your meeting with [right-wing billionaire] Dick Scaife, Dave Abshire [then a member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board], and Co.

“Casey had lunch with them today and discussed the need to get moving in the general area of supporting our friends around the world. By this definition he is including both ‘building democracy’ … and helping invigorate international media programs. The DCI [Casey] is also concerned about strengthening public information organizations in the United States such as Freedom House. …

“A critical piece of the puzzle is a serious effort to raise private funds to generate momentum. Casey’s talk with Scaife and Co. suggests they would be very willing to cooperate. … Suggest that you note White House interest in private support for the Democracy initiative.”

The importance of the CIA and White House secretly arranging private funds was that these supposedly independent voices would then reinforce and validate the administration’s foreign policy arguments with a public that would assume the endorsements were based on the merits of the White House positions, not influenced by money changing hands.

In effect, like snake-oil salesmen who plant a few cohorts in the audience to whip up excitement for the cure-all elixir, Reagan administration propagandists salted some well-paid “private” individuals around Washington to echo White House propaganda “themes.”

In a Jan. 25, 1983 memo, Raymond wrote, “We will move out immediately in our parallel effort to generate private support” for “public diplomacy” operations. Then, on May 20, 1983, Raymond recounted in another memo that $400,000 had been raised from private donors brought to the White House Situation Room by U.S. Information Agency  Director Charles Wick. According to that memo, the money was divided among several organizations, including Freedom House and Accuracy in Media, a right-wing media attack organization.

When I wrote about that memo in my 1992 book, Fooling America, Freedom House denied receiving any White House money or collaborating with any CIA/NSC propaganda campaign. In a letter, Freedom House’s Sussman called Raymond “a second-hand source” and insisted that “this organization did not need any special funding to take positions … on any foreign-policy issues.”

But it made little sense that Raymond would have lied to a superior in an internal memo. And clearly, Freedom House remained central to the Reagan administration’s schemes for aiding groups supportive of its Central American policies, particularly the CIA-organized Contra war against the leftist Sandinista regime in Nicaragua.

In an Aug. 9, 1983 memo, Raymond outlined plans to arrange private backing for that effort. He said USIA Director Wick “via [Australian publishing magnate Rupert] Murdock [sic], may be able to draw down added funds” to support pro-Reagan initiatives. Raymond recommended “funding via Freedom House or some other structure that has credibility in the political center.” [For more details, see’sMurdoch, Scaife and CIA Propaganda.”]

Questions of Legality

Raymond remained a CIA officer until April 1983 when he resigned so – in his words – “there would be no question whatsoever of any contamination of this” propaganda operation to woo the American people into supporting Reagan’s policies.

But Raymond, who had been one of the CIA’s top propaganda and disinformation specialists, continued to act toward the U.S. public much like a CIA officer would in directing a propaganda operation in a hostile foreign country.

Raymond fretted, too, about the legality of Casey’s role in the effort to influence U.S. public opinion because of the legal prohibition against the CIA influencing U.S. policies and politics. Raymond confided in one memo that it was important “to get [Casey] out of the loop,” but Casey never backed off and Raymond continued to send progress reports to his old boss well into 1986.

It was “the kind of thing which [Casey] had a broad catholic interest in,” Raymond said during his Iran-Contra deposition in 1987. He then offered the excuse that Casey undertook this apparently illegal interference in domestic affairs “not so much in his CIA hat, but in his adviser to the president hat.”

As the Casey-Raymond propaganda operation expanded during the last half of Reagan’s first term, Freedom House continued to keep Raymond abreast of its work on Central America, with its attitudes dovetailing with Reagan administration’s policies particularly in condemning Nicaragua’s Sandinista government.

Freedom House also kept its hand out for funding. On Sept. 15, 1984, Bruce McColm – writing from Freedom House’s Center for Caribbean and Central American Studies – sent Raymond “a short proposal for the Center’s Nicaragua project 1984-85. The project combines elements of the oral history proposal with the publication of The Nicaraguan Papers,” a book that would disparage Sandinista ideology and practices.

“Maintaining the oral history part of the project adds to the overall costs; but preliminary discussions with film makers have given me the idea that an Improper Conduct-type of documentary could be made based on these materials,” McColm wrote, referring to a 1984 film that offered a scathing critique of Fidel Castro’s Cuba.

“Such a film would have to be the work of a respected Latin American filmmaker or a European. American-made films on Central America are simply too abrasive ideologically and artistically poor.”

McColm’s three-page letter reads much like a book or movie pitch, trying to interest Raymond in financing the project: “The Nicaraguan Papers will also be readily accessible to the general reader, the journalist, opinion-maker, the academic and the like. The book would be distributed fairly broadly to these sectors and I am sure will be extremely useful.

“They already constitute a form of Freedom House samizdat, since I’ve been distributing them to journalists for the past two years as I’ve received them from disaffected Nicaraguans.”

McColm proposed a face-to-face meeting with Raymond in Washington and attached a six-page grant proposal seeking $134,100.

According to the grant proposal, the project would include “free distribution to members of Congress and key public officials; distribution of galleys in advance of publication for maximum publicity and timely reviews in newspapers and current affairs magazines; press conferences at Freedom House in New York and at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.; op-ed circulation to more than 100 newspapers …; distribution of a Spanish-language edition through Hispanic organizations in the United States and in Latin America; arrangement of European distribution through Freedom House contacts.”

The documents that I found at the Reagan library do not indicate what subsequently happened to this proposal. McColm did not respond to an email request for comment about the Nicaraguan Papers plan or Cherne’s earlier letter to Casey about editing McComb’s manuscript. Raymond died in 2003; Cherne died in 1999; and Casey died in 1987.

But it is clear that Freedom House became a major recipient of funds from the National Endowment for Democracy, which Casey and Raymond helped create in 1983.

Financing Propaganda

In 1983, Casey and Raymond focused on creating a funding mechanism to support Freedom House and other outside groups that would engage in propaganda and political action that the CIA had historically organized and paid for covertly. The idea emerged for a congressionally funded entity that would serve as a conduit for this money.

But Casey recognized the need to hide the strings being pulled by the CIA. “Obviously we here [at CIA] should not get out front in the development of such an organization, nor should we appear to be a sponsor or advocate,” Casey said in one undated letter to then-White House counselor Edwin Meese III – as Casey urged creation of a “National Endowment.”

document in Raymond’s files offered examples of what would be funded, including “Grenada — 50 K — To the only organized opposition to the Marxist government of Maurice Bishop (The Seaman and Waterfront Workers Union). A supplemental 50 K to support free TV activity outside Grenada” and “Nicaragua — $750 K to support an array of independent trade union activity, agricultural cooperatives.”

The National Endowment for Democracy took shape in late 1983 as Congress decided to also set aside pots of money — within NED — for the Republican and Democratic parties and for organized labor, creating enough bipartisan largesse that passage was assured.

But some in Congress thought it was important to wall the NED off from any association with the CIA, so a provision was included to bar the participation of any current or former CIA official, according to one congressional aide who helped write the legislation.

This aide told me that one night late in the 1983 session, as the bill was about to go to the House floor, the CIA’s congressional liaison came pounding at the door to the office of Rep. Dante Fascell, a senior Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a chief sponsor of the bill.

The frantic CIA official conveyed a single message from CIA Director Casey: the language barring the participation of CIA personnel must be struck from the bill, the aide recalled, noting that Fascell consented to the demand, not fully recognizing its significance.

What the documents at the Reagan library now make clear is that lifting the ban enabled Raymond and Casey to stay active shaping the decisions of the new funding mechanism.

The aide said Fascell also consented to the Reagan administration’s choice of Carl Gershman to head the National Endowment for Democracy, again not recognizing how this decision would affect the future of the new entity and American foreign policy.

Gershman, who had followed the classic neoconservative path from youthful socialism to fierce anticommunism, became NED’s first (and, to this day, only) president. Though NED is technically independent of U.S. foreign policy, Gershman in the early years coordinated decisions on grants with Raymond at the NSC.

For instance, on Jan. 2, 1985, Raymond wrote to two NSC Asian experts that “Carl Gershman has called concerning a possible grant to the Chinese Alliance for Democracy (CAD). I am concerned about the political dimension to this request. We should not find ourselves in a position where we have to respond to pressure, but this request poses a real problem to Carl.

“Senator [Orrin] Hatch, as you know, is a member of the board. Secondly, NED has already given a major grant for a related Chinese program.”

Besides clearing aside political obstacles for Gershman, Raymond also urged NED to give money to Freedom House in a June 21, 1985 letter obtained by Professor John Nichols of Pennsylvania State University.

A Tag Team

From the start, NED became a major benefactor for Freedom House, beginning with a $200,000 grant in 1984 to build “a network of democratic opinion-makers.” In NED’s first four years, from 1984 and 1988, it lavished $2.6 million on Freedom House, accounting for more than one-third of its total income, according to a study by the liberal Council on Hemispheric Affairs that was entitled “Freedom House: Portrait of a Pass-Through.”

Over the ensuing three decades, Freedom House has become almost an NED subsidiary, often joining NED in holding policy conferences and issuing position papers, both organizations pushing primarily a neoconservative agenda, challenging countries deemed insufficiently “free,” including Syria, Ukraine (in 2014) and Russia.

Indeed, NED and Freedom House often work as a kind of tag-team with NED financing “non-governmental organizations” inside targeted countries and Freedom House berating those governments if they crack down on U.S.-funded NGOs.

For instance, on Nov. 16, 2012, NED and Freedom House joined together to denounce legislation passed by the Russian parliament that required recipients of foreign political money to register with the government.

Or, as NED and Freedom House framed the issue: the Russian Duma sought to “restrict human rights and the activities of civil society organizations and their ability to receive support from abroad. … Changes to Russia’s NGO legislation will soon require civil society organizations receiving foreign funds to choose between registering as ‘foreign agents’ or facing significant financial penalties and potential criminal charges.”

Of course, the United States has a nearly identical Foreign Agent Registration Act that likewise requires entities that receive foreign funding and seek to influence U.S. government policy to register with the Justice Department or face possible fines or imprisonment.

But the Russian law would impede NED’s efforts to destabilize the Russian government through funding of political activists, journalists and civic organizations, so it was denounced as an infringement of human rights and helped justify Freedom House’s rating of Russia as “not free.”

The Russian government’s concerns were not entirely paranoid. On Sept. 26, 2013, Gershman, in effect, charted the course for the crisis in Ukraine and the greater neocon goal of regime change in Russia. In a Washington Post op-ed, Gershman called Ukraine “the biggest prize” and explained how pulling it into the Western camp could contribute to the ultimate defeat of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Ukraine’s choice to join Europe will accelerate the demise of the ideology of Russian imperialism that Putin represents,” Gershman wrote. “Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.”

With NED’s budget now exceeding $100 million a year — and with many NGOs headquartered in Washington — Gershman has attained the status of a major paymaster for the neocon movement with his words carrying extra clout because he can fund or de-fund many a project.

Thus, three decades after CIA Director William Casey and his propaganda specialist Walter Raymond Jr. struggled to arrange funding for Freedom House and other organizations that would promote an interventionist agenda, their brainchild – the National Endowment for Democracy – was still around picking up those tabs.

[For more details, see’sThe Victory of Perception Management” and “Murdoch, Scaife and CIA Propaganda” or Robert Parry’s Lost History.]


Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and

January 9, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

NYT Still Pretends No Coup in Ukraine

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | January 6, 2015

During my years at Newsweek in the late 1980s, when I would propose correcting some misguided conventional wisdom, I’d often be told, “let’s leave that one for the historians,” with the magazine not wanting to challenge an erroneous storyline that all the important people “knew” to be true. And if false narratives only affected the past, one might argue my editors had a point. There’s always a lot of current news to cover.

But most false narratives are not really about the past; they are about how the public perceives the present and addresses the future. And it should fall to journalists to do their best to explain this background information even if it embarrasses powerful people and institutions, including the news organizations themselves.

Yet, rather than take on that difficult task, most major news outlets prefer to embroider onto their existing tapestry of misinformation, fitting today’s reporting onto the misshapen fabric of yesterday’s. They rarely start from scratch and admit the earlier work was wrong.

So, how does the mainstream U.S. news media explain the Ukraine crisis after essentially falsifying the historical record for the past year? Well, if you’re the New York Times, you keep on spinning the old storyline, albeit with a few adjustments.

For instance, on Sunday, the Times published a lengthy article that sought to sustain the West’s insistence that the coup overthrowing elected President Viktor Yanukovych wasn’t really a coup – just the crumbling of his government in the face of paramilitary violence from the street with rumors of worse violence to come – though that may sound to you pretty much like a coup. Still, the Times does make some modifications to Yanukovych’s image.

In the article, Yanukovych is recast from a brutal autocrat willfully having his police slaughter peaceful protesters into a frightened loser whose hand was “shaking” as he signed a Feb. 21 agreement with European diplomats, agreeing to reduce his powers and hold early elections, a deal that was cast aside on Feb. 22 when armed neo-Nazi militias overran presidential and parliamentary offices.

Defining a Coup

One might wonder what the New York Times thinks a coup looks like. Indeed, the Ukrainian coup had many of the same earmarks as such classics as the CIA-engineered regime changes in Iran in 1953 and in Guatemala in 1954.

The way those coups played out is now historically well known. Secret U.S. government operatives planted nasty propaganda about the targeted leader, stirred up political and economic chaos, conspired with rival political leaders, spread rumors of worse violence to come and then – as political institutions collapsed – chased away the duly elected leader before welcoming the new “legitimate” order.

In Iran, that meant reinstalling the autocratic Shah who then ruled with a heavy hand for the next quarter century; in Guatemala, the coup led to more than three decades of brutal military regimes and the killing of some 200,000 Guatemalans.

Coups don’t have to involve army tanks occupying the public squares, although that is an alternative model which follows many of the same initial steps except that the military is brought in at the end. The military coup was a common approach especially in Latin America in the 1960s and 1970s.

But the preferred method in more recent years has been the “color revolution,” which operates behind the façade of a “peaceful” popular uprising and international pressure on the targeted leader to show restraint until it’s too late to stop the coup. Despite the restraint, the leader is still accused of gross human rights violations, all the better to justify his removal.

Later, the ousted leader may get an image makeover; instead of a cruel bully, he is ridiculed for not showing sufficient resolve and letting his base of support melt away, as happened with Mohammad Mossadegh in Iran and Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala.

The Ukraine Reality

The reality of what happened in Ukraine was never hard to figure out. George Friedman, the founder of the global intelligence firm Stratfor, called the overthrow of Yanukovych “the most blatant coup in history.” It’s just that the major U.S. news organizations were either complicit in the events or incompetent in describing them to the American people.

The first step in this process was to obscure that the motive for the coup – pulling Ukraine out of Russia’s economic orbit and capturing it in the European Union’s gravity field – was actually announced by influential American neocons in 2013.

On Sept. 26, 2013, National Endowment for Democracy President Carl Gershman, who has become a major neocon paymaster, took to the op-ed page of the neocon Washington Post and called Ukraine “the biggest prize” and an important interim step toward toppling Russian President Vladimir Putin.

At the time, Gershman, whose NED is funded by the U.S. Congress to the tune of about $100 million a year, was financing scores of projects inside Ukraine – training activists, paying for journalists and organizing business groups.

As for that even bigger prize – Putin – Gershman wrote: “Ukraine’s choice to join Europe will accelerate the demise of the ideology of Russian imperialism that Putin represents. … Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.”

At that time, in early fall 2013, Ukraine’s President Yanukovych was exploring the idea of reaching out to Europe with an association agreement. But he got cold feet in November 2013 when economic experts in Kiev advised him that the Ukrainian economy would suffer a $160 billion hit if it separated from Russia, its eastern neighbor and major trading partner. There was also the West’s demand that Ukraine accept a harsh austerity plan from the International Monetary Fund.

Yanukovych wanted more time for the EU negotiations, but his decision angered many western Ukrainians who saw their future more attached to Europe than Russia. Tens of thousands of protesters began camping out at Maidan Square in Kiev, with Yanukovych ordering the police to show restraint.

Meanwhile, with Yanukovych shifting back toward Russia, which was offering a more generous $15 billion loan and discounted natural gas, he soon became the target of American neocons and the U.S. media, which portrayed Ukraine’s political unrest as a black-and-white case of a brutal and corrupt Yanukovych opposed by a saintly “pro-democracy” movement.

The Maidan uprising was urged on by American neocons, including Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who passed out cookies at the Maidan and told Ukrainian business leaders that the United States had invested $5 billion in their “European aspirations.”

In the weeks before the coup, according to an intercepted phone call, Nuland discussed with U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt who should lead the future regime. Nuland said her choice was Arseniy Yatsenyuk. “Yats is the guy,” she told Pyatt as he pondered how to “midwife this thing.”

Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, also showed up, standing on stage with right-wing extremists from the Svoboda Party and telling the crowd that the United States was with them in their challenge to the Ukrainian government.

As the winter progressed, the protests grew more violent. Neo-Nazi and other extremist elements from Lviv and western Ukrainian cities began arriving in well-organized brigades or “sotins” of 100 trained street fighters. Police were attacked with firebombs and other weapons as the violent protesters began seizing government buildings and unfurling Nazi banners and even a Confederate flag.

Though Yanukovych continued to order his police to show restraint, he was still depicted in the major U.S. news media as a brutal thug who was callously murdering his own people. The chaos reached a climax on Feb. 20 when mysterious snipers opened fire on police and some protesters, killing scores. As police retreated, the militants advanced brandishing firearms and other weapons. The confrontation led to significant loss of life, pushing the death toll to around 80 including more than a dozen police.

U.S. diplomats and the mainstream U.S. press immediately blamed Yanukovych for the sniper attack, though the circumstances remain murky to this day and some investigations have suggested that the lethal sniper fire came from buildings controlled by Right Sektor extremists.

To tamp down the worsening violence, a shaken Yanukovych signed a European-brokered deal on Feb. 21, in which he accepted reduced powers and an early election so he could be voted out of office. He also agreed to requests from Vice President Joe Biden to pull back the police.

The precipitous police withdrawal then opened the path for the neo-Nazis and other street fighters to seize presidential offices and force Yanukovych’s people to flee for their lives. Yanukovych traveled to eastern Ukraine and the new coup regime that took power – and was immediately declared “legitimate” by the U.S. State Department – sought Yanukovych’s arrest for murder. Nuland’s favorite, Yatsenyuk, became the new prime minister.

Media Bias

Throughout the crisis, the mainstream U.S. press hammered home the theme of white-hatted protesters versus a black-hatted president. The police were portrayed as brutal killers who fired on unarmed supporters of “democracy.” The good-guy/bad-guy narrative was all the American people heard from the major media.

The New York Times went so far as to delete the slain policemen from the narrative and simply report that the police had killed all those who died in the Maidan. A typical Times report on March 5, 2014, summed up the storyline: “More than 80 protesters were shot to death by the police as an uprising spiraled out of control in mid-February.”

The mainstream U.S. media also sought to discredit anyone who observed the obvious fact that an unconstitutional coup had just occurred. A new theme emerged that portrayed Yanukovych as simply deciding to abandon his government because of the moral pressure from the noble and peaceful Maidan protests.

Any reference to a “coup” was dismissed as “Russian propaganda.” There was a parallel determination in the U.S. media to discredit or ignore evidence that neo-Nazi militias had played an important role in ousting Yanukovych and in the subsequent suppression of anti-coup resistance in eastern and southern Ukraine. That opposition among ethnic-Russian Ukrainians simply became “Russian aggression.”

This refusal to notice what was actually a remarkable story – the willful unleashing of Nazi storm troopers on a European population for the first time since World War II – reached absurd levels as the New York Times and the Washington Post buried references to the neo-Nazis at the end of stories, almost as afterthoughts.

The Washington Post went to the extreme of rationalizing Swastikas and other Nazi symbols by quoting one militia commander as calling them “romantic” gestures by impressionable young men. [See’sUkraine’s ‘Romantic’ Neo-Nazi Storm Troopers.”]

Yet, despite the best efforts of the Times, the Post and other mainstream outlets to conceal this ugly reality from the American people, alternative news sources – presenting a more realistic account of what was happening in Ukraine – began to chip away at the preferred narrative.

Instead of buying the big media’s storyline, many Americans were coming to realize that the reality was much more complicated and that they were again being sold a bill of propaganda goods.

Denying a Coup

To the rescue rode the New York Times on Sunday, presenting what was portrayed as a detailed, granular “investigation” of how there was no coup in Ukraine and reaffirming the insistence that only Moscow stooges would think such a thing.

“Russia has attributed Mr. Yanukovych’s ouster to what it portrays as a violent, ‘neo-fascist’ coup supported and even choreographed by the West and dressed up as a popular uprising,” wrote Andrew Higgins and Andrew E. Kramer. “Few outside the Russian propaganda bubble ever seriously entertained the Kremlin’s line. But almost a year after the fall of Mr. Yanukovych’s government, questions remain about how and why it collapsed so quickly and completely.”

The Times’ article concluded that Yanukovych “was not so much overthrown as cast adrift by his own allies, and that Western officials were just as surprised by the meltdown as anyone else. The allies’ desertion, fueled in large part by fear, was accelerated by the seizing by protesters of a large stock of weapons in the west of the country. But just as important, the review of the final hours shows, was the panic in government ranks created by Mr. Yanukovych’s own efforts to make peace.”

Yet, what is particularly curious about this article is that it ignores the substantial body of evidence that the U.S. officials were instrumental in priming the crisis and fueling the ultimate ouster of Yanukovych. For instance, the Times makes no reference to the multitude of U.S.-financed political projects in Ukraine including scores by Gershman’s NED, nor the extraordinary intervention by Assistant Secretary of State Nuland.

Nuland’s encouragement to those challenging the elected government of Ukraine would surely merit mentioning, one would think. But it disappears from the Times’ version of history. Perhaps even more amazing there is no reference to the Nuland-Pyatt phone call, though Pyatt was interviewed for the article.

Even if the Times wanted to make excuses for the Nuland-Pyatt scheming – claiming perhaps it didn’t prove that they were coup-plotting – you would think the infamous phone call would deserve at least a mention. But Nuland isn’t referenced anywhere. Nor is Gershman. Nor is McCain.

The most useful part of the Times’ article is its description of the impact from a raid by anti-Yanukovych militias in the western city of Lviv on a military arsenal and the belief that the guns were headed to Kiev to give the uprising greater firepower.

The Times reports that “European envoys met at the German Embassy with Andriy Parubiy, the chief of the protesters’ security forces, and told him to keep the Lviv guns away from Kiev. ‘We told him: “Don’t let these guns come to Kiev. If they come, that will change the whole situation,”’ Mr. Pyatt recalled telling Mr. Parubiy, who turned up for the meeting wearing a black balaclava.

“In a recent interview in Kiev, Mr. Parubiy denied that the guns taken in Lviv ever got to Kiev, but added that the prospect that they might have provided a powerful lever to pressure both Mr. Yanukovych’s camp and Western governments. ‘I warned them that if Western governments did not take firmer action against Yanukovych, the whole process could gain a very threatening dimension,’ he said.

“Andriy Tereschenko, a Berkut [police] commander from Donetsk who was holed up with his men in the Cabinet Ministry, the government headquarters in Kiev, said that 16 of his men had already been shot on Feb. 18 and that he was terrified by the rumors of an armory of automatic weapons on its way from Lviv. ‘It was already an armed uprising, and it was going to get worse,’ he said. ‘We understood why the weapons were taken, to bring them to Kiev.’”

The Times leaves out a fuller identification of Parubiy. Beyond serving as the chief of the Maidan “self-defense forces,” Parubiy was a notorious neo-Nazi, the founder of the Social-National Party of Ukraine (and the national security chief for the post-coup regime). But “seeing no neo-Nazis” in Ukraine had become a pattern for the New York Times.

Still, the journalistic question remains: what does the New York Times think a coup looks like? You have foreign money, including from the U.S. government, pouring into Ukraine to finance political and propaganda operations. You have open encouragement to the coup-makers from senior American officials.

You have hundreds of trained and armed paramilitary fighters dispatched to Kiev from Lviv and other western cities. You have the seizure of an arsenal amid rumors that these more powerful weapons are being distributed to these paramilitaries. You have international pressure on the elected president to pull back his security forces, even as Western propaganda portrays him as a mass murderer.

Anyone who knows about the 1954 Guatemala coup would remember that a major element of that CIA operation was a disinformation campaign, broadcast over CIA-financed radio stations, about a sizeable anti-government force marching on Guatemala City, thus spooking the Arbenz government to collapse and Arbenz to flee.

But the Times article is not a serious attempt to study the Ukraine coup. If it had been, it would have looked seriously at the substantial evidence of Western interference and into other key facts, such as the identity of the Feb. 20 snipers. Instead, the article was just the latest attempt to pretend that the coup really wasn’t a coup.


Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and

January 9, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 3 Comments