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North Korea to ‘normalize relations with hostile states,’ won’t launch nuke strike first – Kim

RT | May 7, 2016

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has announced that Pyongyang will seek to normalize relations with states “hostile” towards it. Kim also claimed the North will adhere to the principles of nuclear non-proliferation and would never attack first.

While addressing the Congress of the ruling Workers’ Party (WPK), Kim stated that North Korea would not resort to the use of nuclear weapons unless the country’s sovereignty was challenged.

Pyongyang “will improve and normalize the relations with those countries which respect the sovereignty of the DPRK and are friendly towards it, though they had been hostile toward it in the past,” official North Korean KCNA news agency quoted Kim as saying.

“As a responsible nuclear weapons state, our Republic will not use a nuclear weapon unless its sovereignty is encroached upon by any aggressive hostile forces with nukes,” the statement said, as quoted by Reuters.

North Korea’s leader, who has been the target of UN criticism for its relentless development of nuclear weapons over the past years, indicated that the country may abandon its war-mongering rhetoric, while promising that it “will faithfully fulfill its obligation for non-proliferation and strive for global denuclearization.”

Earlier this week, satellite images unveiled by the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University revealed that the North may be preparing for a new nuclear test.
The images were captured on May 5 and show what it is said to be the command center close to the Punggye-ri detonation site in the north of the country.

“While the historical record is incomplete, it appears that vehicles are not often seen there except during preparations for a test,” the institute said in a statement.

The movements at the site may indicate that “Pyongyang may be preparing for a nuclear test in the near future,” it adds.


May 7, 2016 Posted by | Militarism | , | Leave a comment

US Ambassador to Hungary: Overthrow Assad, Let in Refugees, and Fight Russia… or Else!


US Ambassador to Hungary, Coleen Bell
By Daniel McAdams | Ron Paul Institute | May 6, 2016

If anyone wants a short course on what’s wrong with US diplomacy look no further than US Ambassador to Hungary Coleen Bell’s speech Friday to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Hungarian Parliament. In typical diplo-speak there was plenty of flowery language about shared values, fish swimming together in the same water (?), sappy poetics like “together, out of that winter, we would force the spring,” and talk of together being “part of the world’s greatest military and political alliance.”

But make no mistake: Inside Ambassador Bell’s velvet glove is an iron fist, poised to strike should Washington’s annoyingly independent-minded Fidesz-led government step out of line on the big issues. And by “big” issues it should be understood that the US means the issues it considers in the interests of its own foreign policy, not those in Hungary’s interest.

Message to Hungary: do as we say or you will be sorry.

Ambassador Bell’s previous job was as a television soap opera producer, but raising more than two million dollars for the election of Barack Obama “earned” her the position of top US diplomat in Hungary.

The former television producer does know how to deliver her lines, though. She lectured the Hungarians about Syria, explaining to them that ISIS and Assad are both equally evil and both equally to blame for the disaster that is Syria.

ISIS has flourished in Syria, she told the Hungarians, because it “exploits the chaos of civil war in Syria, a conflict that has now claimed more than 250,000 lives.” But she does not mention that it was US backing for “regime change” in Syria — beginning at least in 2006, as we learn from a critical Wikileaks-released US Embassy Damascus memo — that created that very chaos she blames for the rise of ISIS.

In fact it is propaganda to call what is happening in Syria a “civil war,” as the forces battling the Syrian government are all sponsored by foreign powers like Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the US. It is a proxy war against the Syrian government, not a civil war.

She then tells the Hungarians ISIS will never be defeated in Syria until Assad is overthrown:

[W]e know we won’t be able to defeat Daesh in Syria unless we also deal with the civil war and particularly with Assad. Because as long as Assad is there, he remains the most powerful magnet for foreign fighters and recruits to Daesh.

Does she assume Hungarians are so stupid that they believe that by attacking and beating ISIS back nearly to Raqqa (with Russian assistance), the Syrian government of Assad is actually benefitting ISIS? Attacking ISIS means Assad is on the side of ISIS?

“Since February, the cessation of hostilities reduced the violence in Syria, allowing millions of Syrian civilians to take the first steps toward reclaiming a normal life,” says the Ambassador, without even mentioning what brought the ceasefire about in the first place: Russian participation along with the Syrian army in the decimation of al-Qaeda and ISIS positions in northwest and central Syria. In fact it is absolutely bizarre that in the world of Ambassador Bell (and the State Department hacks who drafted her speech), the Russian intervention against al-Qaeda and ISIS simply never took place or was too inconsequential to mention.

Is any Hungarian so ill-informed that he would believe such nonsense?

Bell used the tragedy in Syria to pressure Hungary on the (largely American-made) refugee crisis. Hungary’s firebrand prime minister, Viktor Orban, has, along with several of his central European counterparts, stood up to Brussels’ (and Washington’s) demands that Hungary take in tens of thousands of migrants who heeded German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s call to come to Europe and enjoy lots of free stuff.

Last month Orban told Hungarian Radio that if he accepts the EU migrant resettlement plan, “it would be determined not in Hungary but in Brussels who we have to live together with, and how the ethnic composition of the country will look in future.” He has rejected such a notion.

“Every sovereign nation has the right and an obligation to protect its borders,” Bell told the Hungarian Parliament, “But every nation, as a part of the international community, also has a fundamental obligation to help refugee populations seeking safety.”

Translation: your sovereignty is not determined by you, but rather by us. It is a practice articulated by Orwell in 1984 whereby a person can think two completely contradictory thoughts at the same time seemingly without any mental conflict.

But here is where the iron fist inside Bell’s velvet glove glints in the sun. She pointedly condemned the Hungarian government position by praising those in Hungary who hold the opposite view, i.e. the Hungarian opposition:

We commend the humanitarian spirit of Hungarian leaders, law enforcement and military personnel, and ordinary citizens who are responding to this crisis with generosity and compassion.

Then she gives Hungary Washington’s marching orders:

We continue to stress that any solution to these migration challenges should focus on saving and protecting lives, ensuring the human rights of all migrants are respected, and promoting orderly and humane migration policies.  That includes the support of all Member State governments for the refugee agreement forged between the EU and Turkey.

Translation: Hungary must support the EU agreement with Turkey which would see tens of thousands of migrants settled in EU member countries, including Hungary itself. The problem is that the Hungarian parliament explicitly rejected Brussels’ forced migrant settlement plans for Hungary and plans to hold a nationwide referendum on the subject. Bell is saying here that Hungary’s elected representatives and even the Hungarian voter must be ignored and Brussels’ dictate obeyed.

When it comes to Russia, Ambassador Bell also has some instructions for Budapest: Moscow is your enemy and don’t you forget it.

She told Hungarian parliamentarians:

As many Hungarians have reminded me, you need no introduction to the nature of Russian aggression. Your response has always been to show resolve. Our best weapons, in fact, are resolve and solidarity.

Weapons? Quite a loaded word.

Orban has been seen in Washington as insufficiently enthused about sanctions on Russia, which hurt Hungarian trade and business interests. Ambassador Bell makes it clear that Hungary must adhere to US demands of Russia, even if they are completely incoherent:

As the United States and Hungary have both stated many times, Russia has a simple choice: fully implement Minsk or continue to face sanctions.  Russia must withdraw weapons and troops from the Donbas; Russia must ensure that all Ukrainian hostages are returned; Russia must allow full humanitarian access to occupied territories; Russia must support free, fair, and internationally-monitored elections in the Donbas under Ukrainian law; and most important, Russia must restore Ukraine’s sovereignty.

That last point should be taken to mean that Russia must ignore the will of the people of Crimea who voted in overwhelming numbers to re-join Russia after just 25 years as part of independent Ukraine.

Not to worry, Ambassador Bell is confident that Budapest will do everything Washington tells it to do:

More than this, Hungary is equal to the great challenges of our times, and the United States is counting on you.

To stiffen their spine, US Ambassador Bell reminds the Hungarians that they are part of “our global order” and touts the great examples set by the US, including:

Our system of international economic, political, and social norms and institutions have kept the peace and fostered prosperity for decades.  Whether it is international law, environmental protection, trade regulations, anticorruption laws, child labor laws, human rights safeguards, the nonproliferation regime, public health systems, international financial institutions, UN peacekeeping, or a robust civil society – these norms and institutions give life and stability to our global order.

In the era of NSA spying on innocent Americans, Guantanamo, CIA torture, weapons sales to the world’s worst dictators (Saudi Arabia for one), destruction of the environment by the US war machine, “regime change” operations that violate the sovereignty of other states, and outright aggression in opposition to US and international law (Libya, etc.), Bell’s suggestion that “our global order” is the pinnacle of civilization should get a laugh out of most Hungarians. In fact, from Libya to Syria to Ukriane to Pakistan and Afghanistan, the US interventionist attempt to forge a global order with blood and bullets will go down in history along with the authoritarianisms of the 20th century as one of humanity’s darkest chapters.

Here is the short version of Ambassador Bell to Budapest: “to be our partner means you do what we say whether or not it is in your interest.”

Funny, that was Moscow’s message to Budapest from 1948 to 1989.

May 7, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

America’s “Down Home” News: Carrying a Message from the Elite

By Phil Butler | New Eastern Outlook | May 7, 2016

I can think of no better way to reveal the brainwashing of my fellow Americans, than to reveal it through my hometown newspaper. The Post Courier is a Pulitzer Prize winning publication in Charleston, SC. The newspaper has for generations carried local and world news to the people of the “low-country”, where I grew up. But South Carolina’s most powerful print media is also the policy arm of the American elite. Here is my view on what’s wrong with America’s press.

I am forced to write this, you know? The war on truth has come to this. As fair people, and as caring Americans, sooner or later a choice has to be made in between desperately held tradition and belief, and the hard, cold facts of life. For my part, I grew up agnostic to elitism, or maybe I should say “naïve” as to its ravaging teeth. But then, Charleston has a melancholy effect, its mix of charm and wealth being so striking, and yet so brutal. Oh, but I speak metaphorically. I am sorry, the subject here is power, and how the powerful wield it. I am here to tell you about one city newspaper, one that I believe bends the opinion of its readership. The Post and Courier is one of America’s oldest daily newspapers, with origins dating back the founder, Aaron Smith Willington, who is said to have rowed out into Charleston harbor to meet ships from New York and abroad, in order to get “the news” before his competitors.

Reading and Adjunct Newspaper Uses

My grandfather used to sit on the porch and read every scrap of the Post and Courier. Then at night, on cool nights in autumn, he used the newspaper as kindling, for a coal burning stove in his humble home near the railroad tracks. Reading a book review at the Post and Courier online this morning, I find myself wondering if the paper would even catch fire these days. The need for, or necessity of, reviewing THE NEW TSAR: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin by Steven Lee Myers, at this late date, it’s questionable, comical, and a bit deceitful, when it comes right down to it. May 1, 2016, and a College of Charleston (my Alma mater) instructor gets space in the Post and Courier for reviewing a book published almost two and one half years ago? To be fair here, I’ll give Oksana Ingle, adjunct instructor of Russian language and literature at the College of Charleston credit for her writing style, and for seeming somewhat impartial too. But the gist of the “Putin” piece is:

“Despite Myers’ tendency to bog the reader down in too much detail sometimes, this book is a thorough, truthful story of Putin’s “Rise and Reign”, the professor notes.

Dr. Ingle seems like a nice lady, smart, professional, like all the professors I recall from the college. If not for the departure outside literature and language in this review, I’d surmise the publishers of the Post and Courier might have lured her to do this piece. The professor departs though, from journalistic review into State Department-ish regurgitation, of the “Dr. Evil Vladimir Putin” technique for propagandizing. But the “lure” of the Post and Courier, as the only print media game in town, it’s always there for professors, and for plumbers. I’ll avoid being contrite here, and move on to the Post and Courier’s political sway toward war mongers and international investors.

Agenda. If you are looking for the “cause” for anything, finding out “why” is usually not so hard. The agenda of the Post and Courier (past and present) is found in the power of policy, as formulated by the press. This is not news; it has been going on at this newspaper since way before I was a kid roaming King Street to find a toy, a movie, or a snow cone. In Vietnam, for instance, the Post and Courier leaned to the “hawkish” side of the war, toward the low-country industries that profited from the war, and benefited the city and the elite investors of the south as a whole. I recall the conversations at the tables of the Charleston Yacht Club, and being chastised for interrupting grownups talking about General Westmoreland, in the dining room of the Charleston Country Club. From Market Street’s classy restaurants, to kids playing on the Civil War cannons at White Point Gardens, we were all little hawks back then, in 1965 at least. But I can take the reader back far past Vietnam, deep down into deep south society, and even into the immense power leveraging US policy these days. The Post and Courier ownership coincides a bit, with my own family history, and ideas and tales of southern legends. In this story you are reading we have the Post and Courier newspaper, the College of Charleston, US policy, Vladimir Putin, and allegations of propaganda. “My, oh my”, my mother Delilah would shake her head and say. Well, let’s see why Vladimir Putin the evil genius is so negatively revealed in this newspaper.

Will the South “Rise Again”?

Arthur Middleton Manigault was a French man who was a French Huguenot born in La Rochelle, France and settled in Charleston. His mother was the [ ] South Carolina’s Lt. Governor, Charles Drayton, and the granddaughter of the second president of the First Continental Congress. His great uncle, Arthur Middleton, signed the Declaration of Independence. Manigault was a hero of the Confederate States of America, a Civil War and Palmetto Guards, and later Brigadier General after the famous “Atlanta Campiagn” that saw the south burning down (figuratively and literally). Arthur’s grandfather, Peter Manigault, was the richest man in the colonies before the revolution. To preserve your time, the context here is that the Post and Courier is owned by the Manigault family now. Bought back in 1896, the newspaper and its other enterprises have been in this family for generations. Today, Pierre Manigault runs the family operations.

Like his father, and his father’s father, the new Manigault is a member of everything in Charleston society that matters. He is Chairman of the Santee River Focus Area Task Force and a board member of the Historic Charleston Foundation, the Middleton Place Foundation, Magnolia Cemetery, and the National Steeplechase Foundation. He is also a past board member of the Lowcountry Open Land Trust, the Gibbes Museum, the Preservation Society of Charleston, the Historic Rice Fields Association, the Palmetto Conservation Foundation, and the International Crane Foundation, and he is on the College of Charleston’s Library Steering Committee, just to name a few. “Old money”, this is the term used to identify who really runs things in America, and the Manigault family has always been in “the thick” of controlling. To find quick and easy evidence of anyone’s ties to policy, all one has to do it look at what I call, the “mutual admiration society” or organizations in place for one purpose – to laud one another over mutually interesting greatness. I assure you, there are plenty of these in Charleston. The “Free Enterprise Foundation’s Annual Ethics and Civic Responsibility Awards Luncheon”, it is a prime example.

When Post and Courier boss Pierre Manigualt received his ethical tea party award in 2010, the key speaker was Ayn Rand Institute Executive Director Yaron Brook. For anyone who’s studied Ayn Rand disciples in the past, this alone brands Manigault as a henchman of the New World Order (NWO). If rampant, radical capitalism were the goal of, let’s say the Rockefellers or Rothschilds, then Ayn Rand institute would be the kneeling chapel for praying to the god of money. The institute not only awards excellence in money grubbing and mind control over college students, Arline Mann, Managing Director and Associate General Counsel of the Board of Goldman, Sachs & Company is the Co-Chair of the Ayn Rand Institute. I would go through and profile all the attendees and speakers at this luncheon, but the list of sponsors suffices, they include: BB&T, Piggly Wiggly Carolina Company, The Bank of South Carolina, LS3P, College of Charleston Foundation, College of Charleston School of Business, MUSC, Trident Technical College, The InterTech Group, SCRA, and Wachovia Bank. The Free Enterprise Foundation was established in 2002 at the Citadel, the south’s and one of the nation’s oldest military academies. Its mission is stated on the now idle Facebook page, the websites of the foundation are gone now.

“The Free Enterprise Foundation is dedicated to fostering a greater understanding of free enterprise, American Exceptionalism and personal finance in schools, academia, and the community.”

Now I could dig a lot deeper into just how “exceptional” Charleston’s old money is, but when I found familiar names mentioned alongside Manigualt and others, “my chickens came home to roost”, as Mom always used to say. The names of Manigault, Ted Turner’s son, Robert Edward Turner (Teddy), and Maybank Industries’ business development boss Braton Riley, son of longtime Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr., conjoined over unpaid bills of a society called; the “South Carolina Maritime Foundation”. Ironically, this non-profit had to sell a wonderful wooden tall ship known as the Spirit of South Carolina. Indeed, the spirit of South Carolina I was enthralled with is bankrupt, for overreaching America’s charter in foreign waters too. This piece about Maybank people in the Republic of Georgia provides context at the Citadel, in the Charleston aristocracy, and to war mongers in the halls of power in Columbia, SC, as well as Washington DC. Some old redneck chums of mine, hunting buddies, used to holler at the top of their lungs; “The South’s gonna rise agin”. Accompanied by a customary Rebel Yell, most of us southerners were proud of our revolutionary heritage, and a bit sad the South got “whupped” back in 1865. As I type this though, it’s apparent only the poor people in the South lost anything, for the aristocrats never sunk. This is a cumbersome segue though, into another personal story. The point is, Charleston’s elite have a lot to answer for in my book.

Waking Up With the Fleas

Associations. My Mom always used to say; “Bird of a feather, flock together”. In another bit of cruel irony here, I mentioned my own ties to this Charleston “exceptionalism” from the start of this story. Mom was married to John Drayton Ford, a relative of the Middletons and Manigaults etc. So my childhood access into Charleston society provides clarity here. Also interesting perhaps, Pierce Butler was another Constitutional signer, from South Carolina. But be not misled, our family usually swept floors and carried on domestic chores for the likes of the Manigaults. I am proud of the “balance” in my upbringing, you see. Dad’s people helped found the United States, and Grandpa ran a steam engine for Atlantic Coastline Railroad too. Mom’s associations reach from Seabrook Island to the top of the People’s Building in Charleston, and she picked cotton in the deep, deep south as a child too. She taught us all about the “unfair game” powerful people often make. So fear of them is not really in our DNA.

I am admonished by my partner to reconcile that the Post and Courier’s owners could be guilty of absolutely nothing. My opinion is, they are among the most guilty of all though. My Dad would have called “jading” a newspaper something like “the bastardization of the US Constitution”, and maybe he would have said the Manigualts have accomplished this so far. Going from being a family that helped found a nation based on freedom, the rule of law, and country supposedly against all forms of oppression, to propagandizing academia and the public!!! Well, in the Charleston I grew up in one might as well be accused of Satan worship and the dark crafts. But then manipulation was used back then too. After all, we did go to war in Korea, Vietnam, and other places willingly. I just wonder how willing we would have been if we had known the truth? And there it is….

Believe What You Want: Just Not in Charleston

A sampling of Post and Courier headlines includes;

Putin’s 2015 risks pay off — for now, Putin’s aggression unchecked
Throngs protest Putin
Stand together against Putin
Putin overplays his hand
Putin is set to bring back serfdom
Putin to sign bill barring Americans from adopting Russian children
Putin proves that conquest is not obsolete, Putin’s chance to push peace
A step-by-step guide on how to stop Putin, Putin’s poisonous record, U.S.
Western Europe set the table for Putin’s aggression
Warn Putin: Hands off Baltic States
Putin needs serious scrutiny

What’s my rub against the Post and Courier ? People in the low-country, they cannot believe a damn thing the paper prints, that’s what. It there is no dissenting view, if a two year old book can be reviewed with a “truth assessment” instead of a literary view, then a view of truth is impossible. If 1000 articles naming a world leader as the anti-Christ prevail, and all agents of an entity align with one “message”, then the community is “convinced” more than it is informed.

Phil Butler, is a policy investigator and analyst, a political scientist and expert on Eastern Europe.

May 7, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

The Myth of Bitter Lake: Did the British Empire foist Saudi Arabia on the United States?

Founding political myths provide reassuring points of reference but they do not provide the full, or even, real reason on why major historical moments occurred. As is popularly known the American Revolution was triggered specifically by the Boston Tea Party in defiance of the British Parliament’s Tea Act of 1773. Yet in a recent article in the New York Review of Books, historian Professor Steve Pincus argues it was a series of economic policies, enforced by the British parliament from the 1760’s onward that made no small contribution to the colonialist’s rebellion against King George’s tyranny.

Recently in the United Kingdom a commemoration was held to mark hundred years since the Gallipoli expedition during World War One. The British Empire had intended to defeat the Ottoman Empire’s forces by sailing through the straits of Dardanelles and then move on to occupy Istanbul for the latter then to be parceled out to its ally, Imperial Russia.

The ‘Asia Minor Agreement’ between the Entente Powers of the British Empire, France and Imperial Russia divided the Ottoman Empire among themselves but after the Russian revolution (and the subsequent withdrawal of Russia from the war) this agreement became popularly known as Sykes-Picot. The British Empire’s failure to breach the Ottoman Empire’s positions at Dardanelles compelled it to fish around amongst the latter’s suzerainty in search of disgruntled groups who would be tricked into executing Great Britain’s dirty work of defeating the Ottomans and breaking up their Empire. Hence we today have the legend of the “Arab Revolt” as championed and jointly led by the British agent T.E.Lawrence aka “Lawrence of Arabia”.

Similarly when one attempts to ascertain the origins of the United States and the Saudi Arabian decades old alliance, the meeting held between President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Kingdom’s founder, Abd al-Aziz Ibn Saud on board the USS Quincy on 14th February 1945 at Bitter Lake in the Suez Canal is widely regarded as the symbolic starting point. Hitherto, Ibn Saud had been the British Empire’s most reliable and favoured ally or desert stooge.

Since capturing Riyadh, what is now Saudi Arabia’s capital, with British weapons in 1902 Ibn Saud had dutifully and faithfully done the Empire’s bidding. Whether it was attacking the Ottoman’s Empire’s representatives in the Arabian desert or dispatching the recalcitrant Hussain Ibn Ali from the Hijaz, (the western part of today’s Saudi Arabia) in the mid-1920’s after he had refused to accept the Britain’s Zionist colonial project in Palestine; the Empire knew it had a loyal servant in Ibn Saud.

But with the Empire’s resources stretched during World War II, some British diplomats as early as 1941 were attempting to encourage American involvement in Saudi Arabia. The Empire believed it could no longer afford to subsidise Ibn Saud as well as soundly account for its own domestic and other imperial undertakings. According to two British biographers of the Saudi clan, David Holden and Richard Johns, British diplomats “had attempted in the dark days of 1941 to interest the United States Government in taking on some of their financial burden in Saudi Arabia” to no avail.[1]

Two academic studies by Dr. Barry Rubin also confirm it was the British who made the initial approaches to the United States. In the summer of 1941 the Minister-Counsellor in the British embassy in the United States, Neville Butler was attempting to encourage the State Department’s head of Near East Affairs, Wallace Murray to purchase more oil from Saudi Arabia. In a meeting in late July 1941, Butler suggested to Murray that it was “most important” that Ibn Saud knew he had friends in the United States to which he can rely on for assistance.[2]

Several weeks later on August 21st the Americans rebuffed British approaches to subsidise Ibn Saud. Yet this did not stop the British from trying to work out a way of enticing the Americans to take some responsibility in the Middle East. The British remained adamant that the Americans should and must be involved in the Arab World, as the “Foreign Office was trying to work out some division of economic opportunity and political responsibility to avoid being overwhelmed by the United States.”[3]

In other words, for the British, the issue was how to financially cut the Americans into the Middle East. As such, if the Americans were to be appropriately cut in, they would, it was thought, inevitably burden more imperial responsibility for policing the Middle East without threatening other British interests.

But why choose Ibn Saud? Why didn’t the British stealthily offer Iran, Iraq or any other oil wells which the British had carved countries out from i.e. Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, etc?

It appears that Saudi Arabia was the nation chosen by British imperialists to ingratiate the Americans with largely because the British clearly felt that they had enough oil in Iran and Iraq to satisfy their needs and therefore could afford to portion out Saudi Arabia to the Americans. More so, with the Empire’s oil needs met in Iran and Iraq there was no need to develop Saudi Arabian oil fields. This was noted by American officials who reported that the British “blessed with ample oil supplies from Iran and Iraq” had no interest in developing Saudi reserves.[4]

Furthermore, In Rubin’s book on American-British rivalry in the early 1940’s in the Middle East he observed that:

“The British, far from seeking to exclude American interests from the region, were attempting to work out a method for providing America with some responsibilities in the Middle East in order to make it a reliable partner in helping to shore up existing British interests.”[5] This responsibility ultimately culminated in transmuting Ibn Saud from a British puppet into an American puppet.

In other words if existing British interests were to be given a second American guard in the region then the Americans too needed something real or “ample” to defend. As Butler argued “Americans are not likely to accept responsibilities in the Middle East unless they first have increasing material interests there.”[6] The historian John Keay states that the “the British were to be seen simply as inviting US collaboration in the face of a new global peril.”[7] The peril was later identified as communism.

After the Americans acquiesced in accepting British invitations to embrace and subsidise Ibn Saud with a lend-lease package other narratives began to be concocted to explain the new geo-political alliance between the USA and Saudi Arabia. One narrative recently advocated by the BBC’s legendry Adam Curtis in his documentary on the meeting at Bitter Lake, is that a quid pro quo was agreed between Roosevelt and Ibn Saud, whereby the former would provide military security in exchange for ‘controlling’ the latter’s oil. But the U.S. oil needs have always largely been met by trade with western hemisphere nations.

Another narrative peddled mainly by British historians bestowed Ibn Saud with the vision, foresight and indeed the ability of reading the desert runes in that he “sensed a coming change in the regional balance of power”[8] or Ibn Saud possessed the “familiar bedouin eye to the main chance which dictated a prompt accommodation to the new facts of life”[9] and this therefore was why he struck a deal with the United States rather than the British Empire. Obviously, Ibn Saud’s sublime intuitions dovetailed neatly with British strategies.

When Roosevelt finally met Ibn Saud in 1945 at Great Bitter Lake it was on the back of almost four years of diplomatic shenanigans between British and American diplomats. When a British diplomat did complain in 1945 of the United States usurping the UK’s long established alliance with Ibn Saud he was rebuffed by central government because “London ‘was glad to see the Americans with a substantial stake in the Middle East.’”[10]

The meeting at Bitter Lake has now come to symbolise the founding of the American and Saudi Arabian geo-political relationship when it most likely represented the ceremonial handover and makeover of a pliable British stooge into an ever more pliable American stooge. In many respects the meeting can also be seen as a belated, decades-old, addendum to the Sykes-Picot carve up: American power was allowed to wiggle into the Middle East alongside the British with its own piece of Saudi booty.

[1] David Holden and Richard Johns, “The House of Saud” (London : Pan Books, 1982), pg.127

[2] Barry Rubin, “Anglo American Relations in Saudi Arabia, 1941-1945”, Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 14 (1979), pg.254

[3] ibid., pg.255-6

[4] ibid., pg.262

[5] Barry Rubin, “The Great Powers in the Middle East 1941-1947” (London: Frank Cass, 1980), pg. 38-39.

[6] ibid., pg. 39

[7] John Keay, “Sowing the Wind: The mismanagement of the Middle East 1900-1960” (London: John Murray, 2003) pg. 334

[8] Lawrence James, “Churchill and Empire: Portrait of an Imperialist” (London: Pheonix, 2013) pg.326

[9] Holden & Johns, op., cit. Pg. 135

[10] Rubin, “The Great Powers in the Middle East 1941-1947”, op., cit., pg. 64

May 7, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Why China’s Hypersonic Missiles Pose No Threat to US Security

Sputnik – May 6, 2016

While China is pushing ahead with its impressive hypersonic weapons program, in its current forms the Chinese sophisticated weaponry cannot threaten the security of the United States and its allies, according to US scholars Erika Solem and Karen Montague.

While the Pentagon officials call China “provocative and expansionist,” it turns out that Beijing is much more concerned about its own defense than alleged “expansionist” plans.

Following in US Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s footsteps, Adm. Harry Harris Jr., the American commander in charge of military operations in the Asia-Pacific region, named China one of the US’ major challenges, dubbing Beijing “provocative and expansionist” at the April Putrajaya Forum in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

But does China pose a real threat to the US and its regional allies?

According to Erika Solem and Karen Montague of the Potomac Foundation, China’s People’s Liberation Army is “reorganizing itself to be a more modern, effective force.”

“As China streamlines its military and works to improve the quality of its personnel, several cutting edge projects are in the works to provide the People’s Liberation Army with advanced weapons. One of these is the PRC’s hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV), called the DF-ZF in China and designated by US defense officials as the Wu-14,” the US scholars write in their analysis for China Brief Volume supported by the Jamestown Foundation and republished by The National Interest.

The scholars draw attention to the fact that development and testing of this new class of hypersonic weaponry is shrouded in secrecy.

“Its eventual operational deployment will represent a significant improvement in the PLARF’s [the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force] conventional and nuclear arsenals, as it has the potential to penetrate even the strongest layered anti-missile defenses of the United States and its allies,” Solem and Montague underscore.

However, upon closer examination, it seems that the threat is exaggerated.

Solem and Montague refer to the fact most of Beijing’s HGV tests have attempted to fly distances of up to 1,750 kilometers (1,087 miles).

“The intended distance of these tests is a strong indicator that China is either less advanced in its HGV development than the United States or is focused on addressing regional threats,” the scholars suggest.

Interestingly enough, the so-called “defensive realism” has long been the cornerstone of China’s foreign policy, Stratfor’s February analytical report read. China has never projected its power far beyond its borders, in contrast to major Western realms. There are no signs that the country is seeking global hegemony. Instead it is seemingly far more concerned about its defense and regional leadership.

“Given China’s strategic focus on regional security issues… shorter-range HGV addresses China’s more immediate needs,” Solem and Montague continue, adding however, that the country has the potential to acquire long-range HVGs by using scramjet engine like Boeing’s X-51A.

As of yet, Beijing’s HVGs are still unable to pose a serious challenge to the security of the US and its allies, the scholars conclude.

“There are clear symbolic and military benefits for the nation that successfully develops a hypersonic weapon. The DF-ZF, though impressive, still has a long way to go before it can truly threaten the security of the United States and its allies… Although in its current form the applications of the DF-ZF are constrained to East Asia, it is likely that China will continue to expand the range and capabilities of this weapon,” they note.

Why is China developing HGVs? The answer is to meet the needs of its regional security.

Apparently, the problem is that the US and NATO are spreading their anti-missile defense system in the Asian Pacific, encircling China. Despite China’s opposition, the US is going to deploy its Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system in the Korean Peninsula and implementing the elements of its missile defense in Japan.

The question then arises: who is acting “provocative” in the region?

Read more:

Credibility Gap: US Worried That Military Advantage Over Russia, China Getting Ever Smaller

May 7, 2016 Posted by | Militarism | , | 1 Comment

“It is the determined will of people that counts” …

Review of Dr Abu Sitta’s Mapping My Return: A Palestinian Memoir

By Vacy Vlazna | Dissident Voice | May 5, 2016

I spent the rest of my life on a long, winding journey of return, a journey that has taken me to dozens of counties over decades of travel, and turned my black hair to silver. But like a boomerang, I knew the end destination, and that the only way to it was the road of return I had decided to take.

— Salman Abu Sitta

The spirit of Dr Abu Sitta’s Mapping My Return: A Palestinian Memoir mirrors precisely the dynamic quintessence and will of its creator – in a word – sumoud – a compelling steadfastness to his homeland Palestine and to the right of return of every Palestinian.

It is the determined will of people that counts. It must of course be accompanied by vigorous planning and action. An iron will does not bend in the face of obstacles or challenges, failures or disappointments. These challenges only sharpen it.  Its  ultimate reward is to enforce justice, to return home.

Abu Sitta’s personal experiences, great intellect, moral substance and totality of purpose  confer authoritative soundness to his part in Palestine’s modern history. The Palestinian narrative is rare and future readings, such as Ilan Pappe’s definitive history outlining Israel’s systematic strategies and crimes of the Nakba, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, now, thanks to Abu Sitta, will be imbued with the flesh and breath of Palestinian truth and rights.

51hmBpJcw0L._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Opening the door of the memoir, we step into and see, through the eyes of the 10 year old Salman, his birth place, the village of Ma’in in the Beersheba district as yet pristine and undefiled by the Zionist scourge and anguished loss. We witness the prosperity of the land abundant in maize, barley, date palms, figs, grapes, almonds, apricots, melons, cactus fruit and wheat harvested, gleaned, and threshed by families and poor itinerant workers. It is a generous land that feeds well its people and their livestock of camels, horses, cows, oxen, sheep, and goats.

We join in the robust vitality of Palestinian village life: the flirting, courting, marriage customs, the rituals, like the blessing of wells, defined by religion, superstitions and omens, children’s games and school lessons, and listen to the men gathered in the shigg sharing ‘anecdotes, news, future plans, hopes and fears’ and listen to the poetic recitation of family histories by storytellers ‘who are the real source of our history’.

Abu Sitta’s memoir is rich in this tradition. It chronicles his family’s illustrious lineage of the Tarabin, ‘the largest, wealthiest, strongest tribe in southern Palestine’ that extends into Egypt as far as Cairo. The Tarabin is the tribal tree from which  the Abu Sitta sheiks branched since the 16th century from Darshan I to Abu Sitta’s father, Hussein. The Abu Sitta bloodline of belonging to and defending their precious land begat landowners and warriors with a history of Arab resistance to invaders.

Resistance to foreign invaders is oxygen to Abu Sitta’s father Sheik Hussein, a self-educated man who was ‘chief judge at the tribal court in Beersheba’. He became a key player in the Palestinian national movement ensuring no land was sold to Jews and spurned collaboration with the British.

Cousin Abdullah was leader of the southern front of Palestinian 1936-39 revolt blowing up railways, cutting telephone wires and ambushing British convoys. In 1938, he, allied with  Abd al-Halim al-Joulani of al-Khalil, liberated Beersheba, ‘an area equal to half of Palestine’ from British control for a year. He also resisted the zionists from 1947-56.

Abu Sitta details the fateful impact of the arrival of European colonialism. Its imperial machinations to control Palestine, he clarifies, were predetermined by decades of covert British, German  and Zionist intelligence gathering culminating in the Sykes-Picot betrayal and the ‘legally void, morally wicked and politically mischievous’ Balfour Declaration that opened the  immigration floodgates of Jews bent on Palestine’s annihilation.

Abu Sitta documents the post WWII departure of the British that shamefully abandoned the meagrely armed Palestinians to the well armed terrorist Haganah, Irgun and Stern militias. With cousins, Abdullah, Hamed and brother Ibrahim at the front line of defense, Abu Sitta details the tragi-heroic resistance of villagers in the Beersheba district doomed to join the surviving hoards of terrified Palestinians fleeing massacres such as Burayr, Tantura, Deir Yassin, and death from 670 ethnically cleansed villages.

At 11 years of age, young Salman, like his contemporary Naji Al-Ali and hundreds of thousands of children, becomes Handala* incarnate destined to wander the paths most travelled to the wretched camps of the dispossessed. The Abu Sittas set up tents in Gaza alongside fellow ‘uprooted people, robbed of their land, but not of their identity and least of all family cohesion. Groups maintained their social structures, complete with the village mukhtars and sub-mukhtars’. Here, Sheikh Hussein, despite losing everything, was determined to maintain university costs for his four sons.

After 1948, the refugee template, with its trials and triumphs, of itinerant study, employment and residence was cast. Abu Sitta himself studied in Egypt, UK and Canada as well as set up business in Kuwait, Iraq, Yemen, Canada , and the UK.

Page upon page is packed with firsthand personal and historic facts, figures, key players, letters, and Palestinian endeavours ‘to fight the occupier’; the formation of the General Union of Palestinian Students, the Palestinian National Council and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, Palestinian Lawyers Syndicate,  Hajj Amin al-Husseini, General  Ahmed Fouad Sadek, Gamal And al-Nasser, Kamel al-Sharif, Ismail Shammour, Jawaharlal Nehru, Che Guevara, Edward Said, Khalil al-Wazir and Arafat with his ‘calamitous concessions’ peaking with the infamous Oslo Accords.

In the 60s the Royal Geographical  Society library was the starting point of Abu Sitta’s journey of sleuthing maps and literature on Palestine before the Zionists savagely rent it to pieces ‘to wipe Palestine from memory.’ Then came the challenge, over decades, of meticulously making Palestine whole again.

Dr Abu Sitta is no dreamer. He is a pragmatic visionary whose unwavering yearning for home has morphed into the Palestinian Land Society, his literal pièce de résistance, that has created the phenomenal Atlas of Palestine, 1917-1966 and meticulous plans for the inevitable return.

We plan for the reconstruction of destroyed Palestinian villages. Our plans are derived from a massive database…. We are creating a file for every village, its house plans before 1948, its features and characteristics, its economies and its status of education… Young architects are now working on the reconstruction of these destroyed villages to be built in the same locations with the same beautiful old features, but with modern amenities.

Fahrenheit 451 is the burning point of paper, and at the end of (Ray) Bradbury’s book of the same name, hope, for a society that was culturally reduced to ashes by the systematic burning of books, lies in a group of intellectual renegade exiles who are individually responsible for memorising and preserving one book each and become its living version.

Dr Abu Sitta’s life is an Opus Magnus preserving the integrity of the land of Palestine, past, present and future in preparation for the certain return of all its stranded children. The outstanding feature of the memoir is its invitation to ‘meet’ a distinguished  colossus of Palestinian sumoud.

* Handala is the eternal child; the eternal 10-year-old refugee child conceived in the Nakba fragmented childhood of the late Palestinian cartoonist Naji Al-Ali. In Palestine, Handala is loved and cherished as a symbol of righteous steadfast resistance.

The book will be launched in London on May 20th.

Dr. Vacy Vlazna is Coordinator of Justice for Palestine Matters. She was Human Rights Advisor to the GAM team in the second round of the Aceh peace talks, Helsinki, February 2005 and then withdrew on principle. Vacy was coordinator of the East Timor Justice Lobby as well as serving in East Timor with UNAMET and UNTAET from 1999-2001.

May 7, 2016 Posted by | Book Review, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment