Aletho News


The Republic of Science

By Judith Curry | Climate Etc. | May 31, 2016

The professional standards of science must impose a framework of discipline and at the same time encourage rebellion against it. – Michael Polanyi (1962)

A recent tweet by Andrea Saltelli reminded me of Michael Polanyi’s 1962 essay “The Republic of Science: Its Political and Economic Theory.”

Polanyi provides an interesting perspective from the mid 20th century, as the U.S. and Europe were contemplating massive public investments in science. Polanyi’s perspective was colored by his early years in Hungary, which led him to oppose central planning in the sciences.

I encourage you to read Polanyi’s entire essay, it contains many interesting reflections on history and political philosophy of science. Below are some some excerpts with highlights that provide the springboard for my own reflections on the state of science (particularly climate science) in the early 21st century.


MY title is intended to suggest that the community of scientists is organised in a way which resembles certain features of a body politic and works accor­ding to economic principles similar to those by which the production of material goods is regulated.

The first thing to make clear is that scientists, freely making their own choice of problems and pursuing them in the light of their own personal judgment are in fact cooperating as members of a closely knit organisation. [T]he principle of their coordination consists in the adjust­ment of the efforts of each to the hitherto achieved results of the others. We may call this a coordination by mutual adjustment of independent initiatives–of initiatives which are coordinated because each takes into account all the other initiatives operating within the same system.

Such self-coordination of independent initiatives leads to a joint result which is unpremeditated by any of those who bring it about. Their coordination is guided as by ‘an invisible band’ towards the joint discovery of a hidden system of things. Since its end-result is unknown, this kind of cooperation can only advance stepwise, and the total performance will be the best possible if each consecutive step is decided upon by the person most competent to do so. We may imagine this condition to be fulfilled for the fitting together of a jig-saw puzzle if each helper watches out for any new opportunities arising along a particular section of the hitherto completed patch of the puzzle, and also keeps an eye on a particular lot of pieces, so as to fit them in wherever a chance presents itself. The effectiveness of a group of helpers will then exceed that of any isolated member to the extent to which some member of the group will always discover a new chance for adding a piece to the puzzle more quickly than any one isolated person could have done by himself.

WHAT I have said here about the highest possible coordination of individual scientific efforts by a process of self-coordination may recall the self­ coordination achieved by producers and consumers operating in a market. It was, indeed, with this in mind that I spoke of ‘the invisible hand ‘ guiding the coordination of independent initiatives to a maximum advancement of science, just as Adam Smith invoked ‘ the invisible hand ‘ to describe the achievement of greatest joint material satisfaction when independent producers and consumers are guided by the prices of goods in a market.

In the case of science, adjustment takes place by taking note of the published results of other scientists; while in the case of the market, mutual adjustment is mediated by a system of prices broadcasting current exchange relations, which make supply meet demand.

[T]he decisions of a scientist choosing a problem and pursuing it to the exclusion of other possible avenues of inquiry may be said to have an economic character. For his decisions are designed to produce the highest possible result by the use of a limited stock of intellectual and material resources. The scientist fulfils this purpose by choosing a problem that is neither too hard nor too easy for him. The line the scientist must choose turns out, therefore, to be that of greatest ego­ involvement; it is the line of greatest excitement, sustaining the most intense attention and effort of thought. He should not hesitate to incur such a loss, if it leads him to deeper and more important problems.

BOTH the criteria of plausibility and of scientific value tend to enforce conformity, while the value attached to originality encourages dissent. This internal tension is essential in guiding and motivating scientific work. The professional standards of science must impose a framework of discipline and at the same time encourage rebellion against it. They must demand that, in order to be taken seriously, an investigation should largely conform to the currently predominant beliefs about the nature of things, while allowing that in order to be original it may to some extent go against these.

The authority of scientific standards is thus exercised for the very purpose of providing those guided by it with independent grounds for opposing it. The capacity to renew itself by evoking and assimilating opposition to itself appears to be logjcally inherent in the sources of the authority wielded by scientific orthodoxy.

But who is it, exactly, who exercises the authority of this orthodoxy? No single scientist has a sound understanding of more than a tiny fraction of the total domain of science. [W]hile scientists can admittedly exercise competent judgment only over a small part of science, they can usually judge an area adjoining their own special studies that is broad enough to include some fields on which other scientists have specialised. And, of course, each scientist who is a member of a group of overlapping competences will also be a member of other groups of the same kind, so that the whole of science will be covered by chains and net­works of overlapping neighbourhoods.

ADMITTEDLY, scientific authority is not distributed evenly throughout the body of scientists; some distinguished members of the profession dominate over others of a more junior standing. But the authority of scientific opinion remains essentially mutual; it is established between scientists, not above them.

Let me make it clear, even without going into detail, how great and varied are the powers exercised by this authority. Appointments to positions in universities and elsewhere, which offer opportunity for independent research, are filled in accordance with the appreciation of candidates by scientific opinion. Referees reporting on papers submitted to journals are charged with keeping out contributions which current scientific opinion condemns as unsound. Representatives of scientific opinion will pounce upon newspaper articles or other popular literature which would venture to spread views contrary to scientific opinion. The teaching of science in schools is controlled likewise. And, indeed, the whole outlook of man on the universe is conditioned by an implicit recognition· of the authority of scientific opinion.

Only by securing popular respect for its own authority can scientific opinion safeguard the complete inde­pendence of mature scientists and the unhindered publicity of their results, which jointly assure the spontaneous coordination of scientific efforts throughout the world.

DURING the last 20 to 30 years, there have been many suggestions and pressures towards guiding the progress of scientific inquiry in the direction of public welfare. I appreciate the generous sentiments which actuate the aspiration of guiding the progress of science into socially beneficent channels, but I hold its aim to be impossible and nonsensical.

I argued that the present  practice of filling vacant chairs by the most eminent candidate that the university can attract was the best safeguard for rational distribution of efforts over rival lines of scientific research. For the principal criterion for offering increased opportunities to a new subject was the rise of a growing number of distinguished scientists in that subject and the falling off of creative initiative in other subjects, indicating that resources should be withdrawn from them.

[L]ittle more can, or need, be done towards the advancement of science, than to assist spontaneous move­ments towards new fields of distinguished discovery, at the expense of fields that have become exhausted. Though special considerations may deviate from it, this procedure must be acknowledged as the major principle for maintaining a balanced development of scientific research.

Those who think that the public is interested in science only as a source of wealth and power are gravely misjudging the situation. Universities should have the courage to appeal to the electorate, and to the public in general, on their own genuine grounds. For the only justification for the pursuit of scientific research in universities lies in the fact that the universities provide an intimate communion for the for­mation of scientific opinion, free from corrupting intrusions and distractions. For though scientific discoveries eventually diffuse into all people’s thinking the general public cannot  participate in the intellectual milieu in which discoveries are made. Discovery comes only to a mind immersed in its pursuit. For such work the scientist needs a secluded place among like­ minded colleagues who keenly share his aims and sharply control his per­formances.

The more widely the republic of science extends over the globe, the more numerous become its members in each country and the greater the material resources at its command, the more clearly emerges the need for a strong and effective scientific authority to reign over this republic. When we reject today the interference of political religious authorities with the pursuit of science, we must do this in the name of the established scientific authority which safeguards the pursuit of science.

Consider, also, the fact that these scientific evaluations are exercised by a multitude of scientists, each of whom is competent to assess only a tiny fragment of current scientific work, so that no single person is responsible at first hand for the announcements made by science at any time. And remember that each scientist originally established himself as such by joining at some point a network of mutual appreciation extending far beyond his own horizon. Each such acceptance appears then as a submission to a vast range of value-judgments exercised over all the domains of science, which the newly accepted citizen of science henceforth endorses, although he knows hardly anything about their subject-matter. Thus, the standards of scientific merit are seen to be transmitted from generation to generation by the affiliation of individuals at a great variety of widely disparate points, in the same way as artistic, moral or legal traditions are transmitted. This conclusion gains important support from the fact that the methods of scientific inquiry cannot be explicitly formulated and hence can be transmitted only in the same way as an art, by the affiliation of apprentices to a master. The authority of science is essentially traditional.

But this tradition upholds an authority which cultivates originality. Scien­tific opinion imposes an immense range of authoritative pronouncements on the student of science, but at the same time it grants the highest encourage­ment to dissent from them in some particular. Scientific tradition enforces its teachings in general, for the very purpose of cultivating their subversion in the particular.

The Republic of Science shows us an association of independent initiatives, combined towards an indeterminate achievement. It is disciplined and motivated by serving a traditional authority, but this authority is dynamic; its continued existence depends on its constant self-renewal through the originality of its followers.

The Republic of Science is a Society of Explorers. Such a society strives towards an unknown future, which it believes to be accessible and worth achieving. In the case of scientists, the explorers strive towards a hidden reality, for the sake of intellectual satisfaction. And as they satisfy them­selves, they enlighten all men and are thus helping society to fulfil its obligation towards intellectual self-improvement.

Since a dynamic orthodoxy claims to be a guide in search of truth, it implicitly grants the right to opposition in the name of truth–truth being taken to comprise here, for brevity, all manner of excellence that we recognise as the ideal of self-improvement. Th[is] freedom assures them the right to speak the truth as they know it.

JC reflections

Polanyi’s essay provides some interesting insights, as well as some striking contrasts with the Republic of Science in the early 21st century.

Polanyi’s analogy of the scientific process with markets  captures the pure incentives that drive scientists – search of truth, intellectual satisfaction and individual ego. What happens when the externalities of the Republic of Science produce perverse incentives, and careerism becomes a dominant incentive that requires publishing a lot of papers rapidly and producing headline-worthy results (who even cares if these papers don’t survive scrutiny beyond their press release)? (see What is the measure of scientific success?) What happens is that you get increasing incidence of scientific fraud (see Science: in the doghouse?), cherry picking and meaningless papers on headline grabbing topics that don’t stand up to the test of time (see Trust and don’t bother to verify).

And what happens when the ‘hand’ guiding science isn’t ‘invisible’, i.e. science is driven by politics, such as a political imperative to move away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy? Federal funding can bias science, particularly in terms of selecting which scientific problems receive attention (link).

And what of Polanyi’s statement: “Such self-coordination of independent initiatives leads to a joint result which is unpremeditated by any of those who bring it about.”  The ‘result’ of dangerous anthropogenic climate change and the harms of dietary fat were hardly unpremeditated.

When science is politically relevant and has been politicized, how objective are the authorities that are keepers of the orthodoxy — journal editors, officers of professional societies, university administrators — and how open are they to dissenting perspectives? The experiences of Lennart Bengtsson (link), my being called a ‘climate heretic’ (see my essay Heresy and the creation of monsters), Christopher Essex’s essay (link), Roger Pielke Jr’s experiences, and MANY more examples among climate scientists speak to the fact that the keepers of the climate science orthodoxy are failing in this regard [link to Are climate scientists being forced to toe the line?]. Without the internet and the blogosphere, these dissenting voices would be rendered silent by the keepers of the orthodoxy.

Climate and environmental sciences are far from the only scientific fields suffering in this way – the problem is also rampant in medicine, nutrition, and psychology [link to Partisanship and silencing science.]

Where lies the solution to this? Well, one possibility is reflected in Polanyi’s statement: “[L]ittle more can, or need, be done towards the advancement of science, than to assist spontaneous move­ments towards new fields of distinguished discovery, at the expense of fields that have become exhausted.” Now that climate science is ‘settled’, i.e. at least it is perceived to be sufficiently settled to provide the basis for a very expensive international climate ‘agreement’ (not treaty), perhaps future investments should be directed towards other fields that are deemed important or where greater progress can be made. This is exactly what has been happening in Australia, as the Turnbull administration has been axing climate jobs at CSIRO (link).

Is climate science ‘exhausted’ in terms of diminishing returns on future research? I would argue that climate science is an immature field with many unknowns; however the current paradigm of using inadequate climate models to focus on human caused climate change has reached the point of diminishing returns. Further, the intense politicization of the subject has adversely influenced the community of scientists — in terms of biasing the scientists and also in discouraging young scientists from entering and staying in the field. So in a sense, climate science has become ‘exhausted’ by the politicization.

Governments who fund science and universities who hire scientists need to make the hard decisions regarding which fields and subfields are most worthy of investment, in terms of new breakthrough science. While I was Chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, it was my privilege and opportunity to hire 27 faculty members (24 as primary appointments, 3 as joint hires) over the course of 13 years. This is a rare opportunity for a department in the geosciences. When I became Chair in 2002, the School had 4 divisions – geochemistry, geophysics, atmospheric chemistry, and atmospheric dynamics. I made it a priority to bring ‘water’ into the School, and to hire faculty members that could interact with other scientists and engineers, beyond the geosciences, to stimulate new research areas. Apart from these broad objectives, I hired the best people that we could attract, with little preference for specific research areas. This approach resulted in a reconfiguration of the school to include oceanography, planetary and space sciences, biogeochemistry, and new subfields of geophysics.

I did not hire much in the areas of atmospheric dynamics or climate science (outside of oceanography and biogeochemistry), simply because the quality of the applicants was not as strong as in the other fields. While I have inferred that my provost was not pleased that I did not hire more in ‘climate science’, the outstanding young scientists that I did hire are garnering substantial external recognition and are being heavily recruited by other universities (good luck to the new Chair in retaining these outstanding faculty members). Why didn’t I hire more in atmospheric dynamics and climate science? The atmospheric dynamics faculty candidates generally were in the areas of data assimilation and mesoscale modeling — areas that are important, but arguably engineering rather than science that is going to lead to a breakthrough in understanding. In climate science, most of the applicants were using climate models, by running scenarios and inferring dire consequences — not the climate dynamics theorists that I was hoping for, that could help understand and untangle the complex physical, chemical and even biological processes influencing the climate system.

In a broader sense, which scientific subfields and topics are deemed to be important and why? There is no easy answer to this, but it is the job of university Deans and federal funding agencies to prioritize. There is an interesting example currently in the news, that comes from Georgia Tech’s David Hu, Associate Professor in Mechanical Engineering. He has written an essay Confessions of a Wasteful Scientist. Subtitle: Three of my projects appeared last week on a senator’s list of questionable research. Allow me to explain…

I would also like to respond to Polanyi’s statement: “universities provide an intimate communion for the for­mation of scientific opinion, free from corrupting intrusions and distractions.” I am very sad to report that this simply isn’t true of universities in the early 21st century. is responding to the lack of intellectual diversity at universities. Universities are becoming very uncomfortable places for faculty members with minority perspectives on controversial topics.

As a result, many scientists with minority perspectives are leaving universities. Further, the internet has enabled many individuals outside of academia to make important contributions to climate science (published in refereed journals, in books, and in other reports). Polanyi wrote: “[T]he general public cannot participate in the intellectual milieu in which discoveries are made. For such work the scientist needs a secluded place among like­ minded colleagues who keenly share his aims and sharply control his per­formances.”  This is a perspective on scientists that is peculiar to the 20th century [see Scientist: the evolving story of a word]. Particularly in climate science, we are seeing the emergence of a substantial and influential cohort of non-academic scientists, contributing both to the published literature and the public scientific debate. This broadening of the notions of expertise away from university elites is leading some to question whether our traditional notions of expertise are dead [link].

So, what should the Republic of Science look like in the 21st century? The overwhelming issue for the health of science is to reassert the importance of intellectual and political diversity in science, and to respect and even nurture scientific mavericks. The tension between pure (curiosity driven) science and use-inspired and applied science [see Pasteur’s quadrant] needs to be resolved in a way that supports all three, with appropriate roles for universities, government and the private sector. And finally, the reward structure for university scientists need to change to reward more meaningful science that stands the test of time, versus counting papers and press releases, which may not survive even superficial scrutiny even after being published in prestigious journals that are more interested in impact than in rigorous methods and appropriate conclusions.

Failure to give serious thought to these issues risks losing the public trust and support for elite university science (at least in certain fields). Scientists are becoming their own worst enemy when they play into the hands of politicians and others seeking to politicize their science.

May 31, 2016 Posted by | Corruption, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | | Leave a comment

Gitmo Judge Allowed Destruction of Evidence in 9/11 Case: Report

By Nadia Prupis | Common Dreams | May 31, 2016

The judge in charge of military tribunals at Guantánamo Bay allegedly colluded with prosecutors to hide evidence that supported the defense of suspected 9/11 architect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, “irreparably” harming his case, according to a court document obtained by the Guardian on Tuesday.

The accusation could be the impetus to reform the highly controversial tribunals at the U.S. military prison in Cuba altogether, according to Karen Greenberg, the director of Fordham University Law School’s Center on National Security.

“This may well be the straw that breaks the camel’s back in underscoring the unviability of the military commissions,” Greenberg told the Guardian.

According to the recently unsealed defense filing, Army Colonel James Pohl “in concert with the prosecution, manipulated secret proceedings and the use of secret orders.”

Pohl’s actions prevented Mohammed’s attorneys from learning that evidence in his defense had been destroyed, the document alleges.

“First they tell us they will not show us the evidence, but they will show our lawyers. Now, they don’t even show the lawyers,” Mohammed is quoted in the filing as saying. “Why don’t they just kill us?”

It is unclear what evidence Pohl and the prosecutors hid. However, as the Guardian reports:

[O]n 19 December 2013, Pohl ordered the US to “ensure the preservation of any overseas detention facilities still within the control of the United States” – a reference to the secret “black site” prisons where the CIA and its allies tortured Mohammed and his co-defendants.

According to the defense filing, six months after Pohl issued an evidence-preservation order at the defense’s behest and over the prosecution’s objections, the judge “authorized the government to destroy the evidence in question”. Pohl’s reversal of course was “the result of secret communications between the government and Judge Pohl, which he conducted without the knowledge of defense counsel”, the motion asserts.

Mohammed’s attorneys say the prosecution “belatedly” gave them a version of Pohl’s destruction order “by attaching it to another secret order,” and said that “without benefit of ever having examined the actual evidence, that the government’s proffer or a summary of a substitute for the original (now destroyed) evidence provided the defense with an adequate alternative to access to the evidence in question.”

The destruction of the evidence “irreparably harmed” Mohammed’s defense and “call[s] into question Judge Pohl’s impartiality,” his attorneys said.

The Guardian continues:

The current military commission is the second Mohammed and his co-defendants face. They were initially charged in 2008, but that commission was voided after Barack Obama launched an ultimately doomed 2010 effort to move the trial to civilian court. In the interim, Obama and Congress passed an overhaul of the military commissions in an effort to bolster their credibility against the charge of ad-hoc justice.

Greenberg added, “Remember, a main reason they couldn’t have this [trial] in federal court was that it would have been such a circus. And now you have a full-blown circus, with judicial and every other kind of misstepping.”

May 31, 2016 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Palestinian Fishers Under Attack – End the Siege on Gaza


Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network | May 31, 2016

Palestinian Fishers Under Attack

Five Palestinian fishers in Gaza – Rajab Abu Riyala, Khaled Abu Riyala, Hassan Miqdad, Mahmoud Miqdad, and Bashar Abu Riyala – were arrested this morning, 31 May, by Israeli occupation forces and two fishing boats confiscated by the Israeli navy. According to the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, these arrests bring the number of Palestinian fishers in Gaza arrested by Israeli occupation forces in 2016 to 70, including eight children, and the number of boats confiscated to 20. In 2015, 71 fishermen were detained and 22 boats confiscated throughout the year.

Zakaria Baker of the UAWC, which organizes fishers and farmers for land defense and mutual support and solidarity, said that these violations against fishers in Gaza have only increased since the proclaimed decision of the Israeli occupation to “extend” the fishing area to 9 nautical miles – a decision retracted on Monday – saying that fishers could not make use of this distance because they were prevented by force of arms. The fishers were attacked this morning 5 nautical miles out to sea, Baker said. Further, Israeli occupation forces fired on fishing boats northwest of Gaza city, damaging a fishing boat and forcing the fishermen to flee for safety, and in the sea off Deir al-Balah, firing live bullets pushing the fishers back to the beach.

On Monday, Israeli occupation naval forces said that the extended fishing zone had been “temporary,” for the fishing season, and that the fishing zone was again six nautical miles.  The limit has frequently been used as a means of pressure and of maintaining the naval siege on Gaza; while the Oslo Accords set Gaza fishers’ zone as 20 nautical miles, the Israeli occupation has unilaterally lowered it to an area as small as three nautical miles, extended to six in 2014.

The fishing economy in Gaza – which supports 70,000 Palestinians – has been nearly destroyed by the naval siege on Gaza and the attacks on Palestinian boats, causing expensive boat damage to small fishing families who cannot afford repairs and preventing Palestinian fishers from entering deep waters where mature fish are available. Fishers in Gaza have lost 85% of their income since 2006 and the tightening of the siege.

On 30 May – 4 June 2016, activists are engaged in campaigns against the siege on Gaza – the denial of reconstruction, the smothering of the Palestinian economy, the closing of the crossings and denial of freedom of movement, the prevention of trade, the aerial attacks on Gaza, the firing on Palestinian farmers and destruction of Palestinian agriculture in the “no-go zone” near the border, and the strangling of the Palestinian fishery of Gaza – demanding an end to 10 years of Israeli siege with international support and complicity, and the involvement of the Egyptian state.

The actions mark ten years of siege and six years since Israel naval commandos attacked the international Freedom Flotilla to Gaza, killing ten Turkish activists seeking to break the naval siege. The occupation’s draconian restrictions on the movement of people and goods, along with its repeated military onslaughts and their destruction of Palestinian industry, resources, infrastructure, and life, have pushed the local unemployemt rate to 41.2%, the highest in the world. 75,000 remain displaced following Israel’s destruction of their homes, which have yet to be rebuilt, during its 2014 bombardment. Family members, patients, students, and workers are trapped, with over 25,000 having applied for rare permits to leave through the one crossing with Egypt.

UAWC video on Palestinian fishers in Gaza:

End the Siege on Gaza

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network urges protests and actions to support the besieged fishers in Gaza, and raising the voice of Palestinian fishers to end the attacks and break the siege on Gaza. Samidoun in New York City will rally on Friday, 3 June at 4:00 pm outside the offices of G4S at 19 W. 44th Street in New York City. G4S, the world’s largest security company and second-biggest private employer, equips Israeli prisons and detention centers where Palestinian prisoners, including many fishermen detained off the coast of Gaza, are held and tortured, as well as the occupation forces and infrastructure – like checkpoints surrounding the Gaza Strip – routinely used to massacre Palestinians while holding millions under military rule.

Take Action!

1. Organize or join a protest against the attacks and arrests of Palestinian fishers and the siege on Gaza, outside your national government buildings, local Israeli embassy, G4S office, or corporation involved in the occupation. If you are in New York, join Samidoun’s protest – elsewhere, send us your local protests against the attacks on Palestinian fishers in Gaza. Email us at

2. Contact political officials in your country – members of Parliament or Congress, or the Ministry/Department of Foreign Affairs or State – and demand that they cut aid and relations with Israel on the basis of its apartheid practices, its practice of colonialism, and its numerous violations of Palestinian rights including the siege on Gaza and the attacks on fishers. Demand they pressure Israel to stop attacking Palestinian fishers and strangling Palestinians in Gaza. In the United States, call the Israel/Palestine Bureau at the State Department at 202-647-3930 and the White House – 202-456-1111. Demand action on Barghouthi’s case and an end to aid to Israel. In the UK, call UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Philip Hammond, MP, +44 20 7008 1500. In Canada, call Foreign Minister Stephane Dion: 613-996-5789.

3. Boycott, Divest and Sanction. Hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law. Don’t buy Israeli goods, and campaign to end investments in corporations that profit from the occupation. G4S, a global security corporation, is heavily involved in providing services to Israeli prisons that jail Palestinian political prisoners – there is a global call to boycott itPalestinian political prisoners have issued a specific call urging action on G4S. Learn more about BDS at

May 31, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Video | , , , , | 1 Comment

MH17: The Continuing Charade

By James ONeill – New Eastern Outlook – 31.05.2016

The Sun Herald (Sydney) of 22 May 2016 reported that the Australian families of the MH17 disaster had “served” the European court of Human Rights (ECHR) with a claim seeking compensation of $10 million for each victim.

The report referred to the “proposed respondents” to the claim being the Russian Federation and its President Vladimir Putin. The solicitor acting for the plaintiffs was quoted in a separate report claiming, “we have facts, photographs, memorandums (sic), tonnes of stuff.” He also claimed that the claim document ran to “over 3500 pages in length.”

These reports closely followed the publication of the New South Wales Coroner’s Court report into the deaths of six of the victims who were resident in New South Wales. The Coroner’s findings closely followed those of the Report of the Dutch Safety Board of 13 October 2015, attributing the deaths of those aboard MH17 to a BUK missile detonating close to the aircraft, causing the plane to disintegrate and a consequent immediate loss of life to all aboard.

It was not part of the Coroner’s jurisdiction to attribute blame, that being the subject of a separate criminal investigation (JIT). The results of that investigation are expected to be announced later this year.

The Dutch head of the JIT investigation, Mr Fred Westerbeke wrote to all the Dutch victim’s families in February 2016 giving them an update on the investigation. A query to the Australian Federal Police as to whether the Australian families might receive a similar briefing was effectively ignored.

Something Mr Westerbeke did say that was of particular interest was that the United States had released their satellite data to the Dutch Security Services. Whether that data could be used and if so in what format, was for security reasons an unresolved issue.

Those data are of considerable significance. It is known that there were three US satellites overhead the Donbass region at the material time. They had the undoubted capability of determining exactly what was fired at MH17, from precisely where, and by whom. US Secretary of State John Kerry claimed as much in an interview with NBC shortly after the tragedy.

The American refusal to publically release the data leads to the very strong inference that it is being concealed for the reason that it does not support the “blame Russia” meme so favoured by the western media.

The incuriosity of the Australian media was again on display when they gave extensive coverage to the report of the alleged claim being filed in the ECHR.

There are a number of problems with this purported claim, accepted so uncritically be the Australian media. There was a clue in the use of the phrase “proposed respondents”. If proceedings had been filed in any court, then the respondents are not “proposed”. They either are or they are not.

A check with the ECHR website on 26 May 2016 showed that there was no record of any such claim having been filed. John Helmer, on his website reports a similarly negative result when a query was made with the ECHR’s Registrar.

The problems with the alleged claim do not stop there. As noted above, the plaintiff’s solicitor said that the claim ran to more than 3500 pages. Rule 47 of the ECHR’s Rules state that the application must contain:

(e) a concise and legible statement of the facts;

(f) a concise and legible statement of the alleged violation(s) of the Convention; and

(g) a concise and legible statement confirming the applicant’s compliance with the admissibility criteria laid down in Article 35(1) of the Convention.

Whatever else they may be, a 3500-page claim does not remotely comply with any definition of “concise.”

The ECHR Rules further provide that any additional submissions do not exceed 20 pages (Rule 47 (2) (b)) in length.

The plaintiffs have failed to provide any relevant details from their 3500 page claim (or at all) that would enable an independent observer to assess what “facts, photographs and memoranda” they have that were not available to the Dutch Safety Board Inquiry. Given the combined resources available to the Dutch led inquiry, it would be remarkable that a firm of solicitors would be able to state their claims so categorically when a major government report was not able to do so.

The plaintiff’s difficulties do not end with their lack of credibility.

The ECHR Rules further provide that any application made under Article 34 of the Convention is required to be made (Article 35(1)) within six months of the event giving rise to the application.

As the relevant event occurred on 17 July 2014, the six months expired on 17 January 2015. No explanation has been forthcoming nor any inquiry made by the incurious mainstream media as to how this potentially fatal flaw in the proceedings could be overcome.

That is not the end of the plaintiff’s woes. Rule 10(b) governs Article 34 applications to the Court. That rule requires the plaintiff to demonstrate that “the applicant has complied with the exhaustion of available domestic remedies.”

One of the plaintiffs named in the purported ECHR proceedings is Mr Tim Lauschet, a relative of one of the victims. Mr Lauschet is also the plaintiff in proceeding 2015/210056 filed in the New South Wales Supreme Court. Malaysian Airlines System Berhad is the respondent in those proceedings.

The original pleadings sought various declarations that would facilitate a claim for damages under the relevant provisions of the Civil Aviation (Carriers Liability) Act 1959. That limits liability to a maximum of special drawing rights equivalent to approximately A$215,000. There is a two year time limit for the making of such claims, so that right expires on 17 July 2016, only a few weeks away.

The purported proceedings in the ECHR makes no attempt to reconcile their $10 million claim with the liability of international air carriers which is considerably less by an order of magnitude. Neither did the media bother to ask.

The Judge politely pointed out a number of deficiencies in Mr Lauschet’s pleadings (2015) NSWSC 1365) and adjourned the matter with various timetable orders to enable the plaintiff to remedy the many deficiencies in the pleadings.

The matter has been back before the Court a further four times since that hearing, with the only apparent progress being that the plaintiff has now filed a statement of claim. It is now scheduled for a further Directions Hearing on 30 May 2016.

The conclusion for present purposes must be that Mr Lauschet has not achieved “the exhaustion of available domestic remedies.” Whether any of the other Australian plaintiffs in the purported ECHR proceeding have even started, let alone exhausted, their domestic legal remedies is unknown. But in Mr Lauschet’s case (and possibly all of the others) he therefore faces another fatal flaw.

There is one other element in this case that the mainstream media is either unaware of or has chosen to ignore. In 2012 the then Gillard government made amendments to the Social Security Act 1991 to enable payments of up to $75,000 to victims of terrorism.

Eligibility for those payments (the acronym for which is AVTOP) were backdated to 11 September 2001. A necessary pre-condition for the payment is a declaration by the Prime Minister of the day that the event concerned was a “terrorist act.”

To date there have been nine such declarations, the latest being the 13 November 2015 attacks in Paris, France. The shooting down of MH17 should qualify under most definitions as a “terrorist act.”

The relevant Prime Ministers since 17 July 2014, Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull, have not made such a declaration, which would then entitle victim’s families to claim compensation under the Act.

Requests to the Prime Minister’s office for information as to whether such a declaration was going to be made, and if not, why not, were ignored. A Freedom of Information Act request has therefore been made and is currently pending.

There may be a number of reasons why such a declaration has not been made. The overwhelming weight of evidence is that only the military units of the Ukrainian armed forces had the means, motive and opportunity to shoot down MH17.

As a recently joined member of Ukrainian President Poroshenko’s “advisory council” former Prime Minister Tony Abbott would be in a difficult position if the shoot down was declared to be a terrorist act and the JIT investigation put the blame where it rightly belongs, on the Ukrainian government. It is not surprising that the announcement at the recent ASEAN-Russia meeting that Malaysia and Russia were cooperating in an investigation of the MH17 tragedy caused concern in US and Ukrainian circles.

Although the current Australian Prime Minister Turnbull has been more circumspect than his predecessor in making ill-conceived allegations against Russia and its President, he will not wish to expose himself to a finding by the JIT that does not fit the propaganda meme so assiduously pursued by the western media.

There are a number of losers in this charade, not least the victims of the atrocity and their families who deserve better than to be exploited by both politicians and dubious claims in the ECHR. The public, who might reasonably expect to be better served by their media, are also the losers.

James O’Neill is an Australian-based Barrister at Law.

May 31, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Leave a comment

Obama and the Myth of Hiroshima

By Peter Van Buren | We Meant Well | May 31, 2016

On May 27, Barack Obama  became the first sitting American president to visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, the site of the world’s first atomic bombing. Though highly photogenic, the visit was otherwise one that avoided acknowledging the true history of the place.

Like his official predecessors (Secretary of State John Kerry visited the Peace Memorial in early April, as did two American ambassadors before him), Obama did not address the key issues surrounding the attack. “He [Obama] will not revisit the decision to use the atomic bomb,” Benjamin Rhodes, deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, stated.

With rare exception, the question of whether the atomic bombs were necessary to end World War Two is debated only deep within the safety of academic circles: could a land invasion have been otherwise avoided? Would more diplomacy have achieved the same ends without the destruction of two cities? Could an atomic test on a deserted island have convinced the Japanese? Was the surrender instead driven primarily by the entry of the Soviets into the Pacific War, which, by historical accident, took place two days after Hiroshima—and the day before Nagasaki was immolated?

But it is not only the history of the decision itself that is side stepped. Beyond the acts of destruction lies the myth of the atomic bombings, the post-war creation of a mass memory of things that did not happen.

The short version of the atomic myth, the one kneaded into public consciousness, is that the bombs were not dropped out of revenge or malice, immoral acts, but of grudging military necessity. As a result of this, the attacks have not provoked or generated deep introspection and national reflection.

The use of the term “myth” is appropriate. Harry Truman, in his 1945 announcement of the bomb, focused on vengeance, and on the new, extraordinary power the United States alone possessed. The military necessity argument was largely created later, in a 1947 article defending the use of the atomic bomb, written by former Secretary of War Henry Stimson, though actually drafted by McGeorge Bundy (later an architect of the Vietnam War) and James Conant (a scientist who helped build the original bomb). Conant described the article’s purpose at the beginning of the Cold War as “You have to get the past straight before you do much to prepare people for the future.”

The Stimson article was a response to journalist John Hersey’s account of the human suffering in Hiroshima, first published in 1946 in the New Yorker and later as a book. Due to wartime censorship, Americans knew little of the ground truth of atomic war, and Hersey’s piece was shocking enough to the public that it required that formal White House response. Americans’ general sense of themselves as a decent people needed to be reconciled with what was done in their name. The Stimson article was quite literally the moment of creation of the Hiroshima myth.

The national belief that no moral wrong was committed with the atomic bombs, and thus there was no need for reflection and introspection, echoes forward through today (the blithe way Nagasaki is treated as a historical after thought – “and Nagasaki, too” – only drives home the point.) It was 9/11, the new Pearl Harbor, that started a series of immoral acts allegedly servicing, albeit destructively and imperfectly, the moral imperative of saving lives by killing. America’s decisions on war, torture, rendition and indefinite detention are seen by most as the distasteful but necessary actions of fundamentally good people against fundamentally evil ones. Hiroshima set in motion a sweeping, national generalization that if we do it, it is right.

And with that, the steps away from the violence of Hiroshima and the shock-and-awe horrors inside the Iraqi prison of Abu Ghraib are merely a matter of degree. The myth allows the world’s most powerful nation to go to war as a victim after the tragic beheadings of only a small number of civilians. Meanwhile, the drone deaths of children at a wedding party are seen as unfortunate but only collateral damage in service to the goal of defeating global terrorism itself. It is a grim calculus that parses acts of violence to conclude some are morally justified simply based on who held the knife.

We may, in fact, think we are practically doing the people of Afghanistan a favor by killing some of them, as we believe we did for tens of thousands of Japanese that might have been lost in a land invasion of their home islands to otherwise end World War Two. There is little debate in the “war on terror” because debate is largely unnecessary; the myth of Hiroshima says an illusion of expediency wipes away any concerns over morality. And with that neatly tucked away in our conscience, all that is left is pondering where to strike next.

Japan, too, is guilty of failing to look deep into itself over its own wartime atrocities. Yet compared to the stunning array of atrocities during and since World War Two, the world’s only use of nuclear weapons still holds a significant place in infamy. To try and force the Japanese government to surrender (and no one in 1945 knew if the plan would work) by making it watch mass casualties of innocents, and then to hold the nation hostage to future attacks with the promise of more bombs to come, speaks to a cruelty previously unseen.

For President Obama to visit Hiroshima without reflecting on the why of that unfortunate loss of lives, acting as if they occurred via some natural disaster, is tragically consistent with the fact that for 71 years no American president felt it particularly important to visit the victimized city. America’s lack of introspection over one of the 20th century’s most significant events continues, with 21st century consequences.

May 31, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Libya: How to Bring Down a Nation

By Patrick Howlett-Martin | CounterPunch | May 31, 2016

More than 30,000 Libyans died during seven months of bombing by an essentially tripartite force – France, Great Britain, United States – which clearly favored the rebels. “The most successful mission in NATO’s history”, in the imprudent words of NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, a Dane, in Tripoli in October 2011[1].

French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s eagerness to support a military intervention with the purported aim of protecting the civilian population contrasts with the reception offered to the Libyan president, Muammar Gaddafi, when he visited Paris in December 2007 and signed major military agreements worth some 4.5 billion euros along with cooperation agreements for the development of nuclear energy for peacetime uses. The contracts that Libya seemed no longer willing to pursue focused on 14 Dassault Rafale multirole fighter jets and their armament (the same model that France sold or is trying to sold to Egypt´s General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the self-proclaimed marshal), 35 Eurocopter helicopters, six patrol boats, a hundred armored vehicles, and the overhaul of 17 Mirage F1 fighters sold by Dassault Aviation in the 1970s[2].

The major oil companies (Occidental Petroleum, State Oil, Petro-Canada…) working in Libya helped Libya pay the 1.5 billion dollars in compensation that the Libyan regime had agreed to pay to the families of the victims of Pan Am flight 103[3]. At the time, the compensation was intended to be one of the conditions for Libya to be reaccepted into the community of international relations.

The principal Libyan investment funds (LAFICO-Libyan Arab Foreign Investment Company; LIA-Libyan Investment Authority) were shareholders in many Italian and British corporations (Fiat, UniCredit, Juventus, the Pearson Group, owner of the Financial Times, and the London School of Economics, where Gaddafi was addressed as “Brother Leader” during a video conference in December 2010 and his son Saif was awarded a PhD in 2008). The New York investment bank Goldman Sachs was sued in 2014 by a Libyan fund (Libyan Investment Authority) which had lost more than 1.2 billion dollars between January and April 2008 after the American firm took a commission of 350 million dollars for investing their money in highly speculative derivatives[4].

Muammar Gaddafi had been received with full honors by the major powers some months earlier: in addition to the reception in grand style in Paris, where he was a guest for five days in 2007, he was received in Spain in December 2007, in Moscow in October 2008, and in Rome in August 2010, two years after accepting the Italian gift of 5 billion dollars as compensation for the Italian occupation of Libya from 1913 to 1943. And also of note are the five trips to Tripoli in three years by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, a paid senior advisor to the investment bank JPMorgan Chase[5]. Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy was received in Tripoli in July 2007, where he announced the beginning of a partnership for the installation of a nuclear power plant in Libya. The European Union was ready to facilitate access to the European market for Libyan agricultural exports[6]. Libya was invited by the NATO Chiefs of Defense to the Maritime Commanders’ Meeting (MARCOMET) in Toulon on May 25-28, 2008.

A policy that recalls the one towards the Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein. The Iraqi leader was invited to Paris in June 1972 and September 1975; an agreement was signed in June 1977 for the sale to Baghdad of 32 Mirage F1 combat aircraft. A coincidence that didn’t do either of them any good in the long run.

Arab military leaders (veterans of Afghanistan and members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, with ties to Al-Qaeda) helped overthrow Gaddafi. One of the principal military leaders of the rebellion, Abdel Hakim Belhadj (a.k.a. Abu Abdullah al-Sadik), then Tripoli Security Chief and today the main leader of the conservative Islamist al-Watan Party had been arrested in Bangkok in 2004, tortured by CIA agents, and delivered to Gaddafi’s Abu Salim prison. He is now the main ISIL leader in Lybia. Jaballah Matar was kidnapped from his home in Cairo by the CIA in 1990 and then handed over to Libyan officials[7] Documents seized after the death of Gaddafi reveal close cooperation between Libyan, American (CIA), and British (MI6) intelligence services[8].

Under Gaddafi, Islamic terrorism was virtually non-existent. Prior to the U.S. led bombing campaign in 2011, Libya had the highest Human Development Index, the lowest infant mortality and the highest life expectancy in all Africa. Today Lybia is a wrecked state.

In January 2012, three months after the end of hostilities, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, reported the widespread use of torture, summary executions, and rape in Libyan prisons. At the same time, the organization Doctors Without Borders decided to withdraw from the prisons in Misrata because of the ongoing torture of detainees[9].

The NATO intervention in Libya, involving most member countries under a humanitarian pretext, set an unfortunate precedent for efforts to resolve the Syrian crisis: the attack by French and British warplanes on the Warfallah tribe, who remained faithful to Muammar Gaddafi, and on the convoy carrying the Libyan leader and one of his sons, leading directly to Gaddafi’s death under deplorable circumstances. The images by videographer Ali Algadi and journalist Tracey Sheldon provide a graphic account of the Libyan leader being dragged from a drain pipe on October 20, 2011 and killed shortly thereafter. These circumstances belie the pseudo-humanitarian nature of the military intervention and tarnish the image of the “Libyan Spring”[10].

The death of U.S. Ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens and one of his aides in a fire set in the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi in September 2012, revealing the breadth of CIA activities, in which the Consulate served as a façade. The recruitment by the CIA on its Benghazi base[11] of combatants from the city of Derna for the conflict in Syria, fief of the Islamists (Al-Bittar brigade), against President Bashar al-Assad, has inescapable parallels with the recruitment in 1979, again by the CIA, of the mujahedeen against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, with all the consequences that we are well familiar with, and particularly the birth of Sunni jihadism.

The car bomb attack on the French Embassy in Tripoli in April 2013; the escape of 1,200 detainees from the Benghazi prison; the murder of the human rights lawyer Abdel Salam al-Mismari in July; and the attack on the Swedish Consulate in Benghazi in October 2013 all highlighted the inability of the authorities to gain control over the security situation in Libya as it was overrun by heavily armed militias. In July 2013, Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan threatened to bomb Libyan ports in the Benghazi region that were in the hands of militias who were profiting by exporting the oil now under their control. In October, the Prime Minister was kidnapped by 150 armed men in the center of Tripoli and held for six hours to protest the abduction on Libyan soil of Abu Anas al-Libi in a secret American airport operation. Al-Libi was accused of being one of the leaders of Al-Qaeda and later died while in custody in the United States.

The year 2015 began with Libya bereft of all institutions. It is ruled by a motley group of coalitions vying for power, based in Tripoli (Farj Libya, which controls the central bank), Benghazi (Shura Council, consisting of Ansar al-Sharia, facing off against the Libyan National Army of the renegade general Khalifa Hiftar), and in Tobruk-Bayda (offshoot of the National Transition Council, enjoying international diplomatic recognition after the June 2013 elections).

The security and health situation for the civil population is near disastrous. When I visited the country in 1994 it was a model for public health and education, and boasted the highest per capita income in Africa. It was clearly the most advanced of all Arab countries in terms of the legal status of women and families in Libyan society (half of the students at the university of Tripoli were women). The aggression against the presenter Sarah Al-Massalati in 2012, the poet Aicha Almagrabi in February 2013, and the women’s rights activist Magdalene Ubaida, now in exile in London, bear grim testimony to their legal status in post-Gaddafi Libya. The city of Benghazi is now semi-destroyed; schools and universities are mostly closed[12].

It is the theatre of fratricidal clashes between rival factions financed and armed by a series of sorcerer’s apprentices A general who has been stationed in the United States for 27 years commands a motley coalition with military backing from Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia while Islamist groups claiming allegiance to ISIL and well entrenched in Sirte and Derna are able to spread their influence thanks to the institutional crisis. and, Qatar, Turkey, and Sudan supporting Farj Libya on the other.

Gaddafi, leader of the Libyan revolution, the Jamahiriya, in power from 1969 to 2011, gave a warning to Europe in an interview with French journalist Laurent Valdiguié of the Journal du Dimanche on the eve of the NATO intervention, in words that now seem prophetic:

“If one seeks to destabilize [Libya], there will be chaos, Bin Laden, armed factions. That is what will happen. You will have immigration, thousands of people will invade Europe from Libya. And there will no longer be anyone to stop them. Bin Laden will base himself in North Africa […]. You will have Bin Laden at your doorstep. This catastrophe will extend out of Pakistan and Afghanistan and reach all the way to North Africa”[13].

Libya has become a hub for illegal trafficking, particularly of African emigrants under conditions reminiscent of the slave trade. According to Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, the refugee smuggling market in Libya was worth 323 million dollars in 2014. In the first five months of 2015, more than 50,000 undocumented immigrants have reached Italy from sub-Saharan Africa via Libya; 1,791 of them lost their lives at sea[14]. Prior to the initiation of hostilities, 1.5 million sub-Saharan Africans worked in Libya in generally menial jobs (oil industry, agriculture, services, public sector). Darker days at sea are still to come.


[1] “NATO chief Rasmussen ‘proud’ as Libya mission ends”, BBC News, October 31, 2011.

[2]. Agence France Presse, December 11, 2007.

[3]. International Herald Tribune, March 24, 2011.

[4] Jeremy Anderson, “Goldman to reveal income linked to Libyan lawsuit”, International New York Times, November 25, 2014.

[5]. The Telegraph, March 23, 2012.

[6]. O´Globo, July 26, 2007.

[7] Souad Mekhennet, Eric Schmitt, “Libyan rebels seek to shed El Qaeda past”, International Herald Tribune, July 19, 2011.

[8]. Rod Nordland, “Files note close CIA ties with Qaddafi spy unit”, International Herald Tribune, September 5, 2011.

[9]. International Herald Tribune, January 28-29, 2012.

[10]. Borzou Daragahi, “Call for probe into Libyan Civilian Deaths”, Financial Times, May 14, 2012.

[11] Seymour Hersh, “U.S. Effort to Arm Jihadis in Syria. The Scandal Behind the Benghazi Undercover CIA Facility”, Global Research, Washington’s Blog, April 15, 2014.

[12] Abdel Sharif Kouddous, “Report from the Front: Libya’s Descent Into Chaos”, The Nation, February 25, 2015.

[13] Journal du Dimanche, March 5, 2011 (

[14] Source: International Organization for Migration and the European Commission.

Patrick Howlett-Martin is a career diplomat living in Paris.

May 31, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

Unclear if EU will renew sanctions against Russia: German FM

The BRICS Post | May 31, 2016

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Tuesday hinted that the renewal of European Union sanctions against Moscow was not yet certain as many countries in the 28-member bloc have raised questions about its efficacy.

“The sanctions are there to ensure a political solution. I don’t know what the European Council will decide on Russia sanctions,” Steinmeier said.

Steinmeier’s comments came weeks ahead of the EU meet that is expected to renew the sanctions against Russia. For sanctions to be extended beyond July, all 28 EU members would have to be in agreement.

The sanctions were imposed following Crimea, an erstwhile part of Ukraine, voting to join Russia in 2014.

Earlier on May 27, Germany’s Federal Foreign Office spokesperson, speaking on behalf of Foreign Minister Frank? Walter Steinmeier, issued a statement saying that “sanctions are not an end in themselves but need to serve to provide an incentive for the political behaviour we would like to see”.

“In the current situation this means that a demand for all or nothing will not bring us any closer to our goal. If substantial progress is made, the gradual reduction of sanctions must also be an option. This is one point on the agenda of the European debate that is just beginning,” said the statement.

The German Foreign Minister had held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin on 23 March this year during which the two sides discussed “bilateral relations, Russia’s relations with the European Union”.

On Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Russia has no plans of recognising the self-proclaimed republics of Ukraine.

Moscow’s move to recognize the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics would be counterproductive as this would give the West a pretext to stop pressure on Kiev on implementing the Minsk peace deal, Lavrov said in an interview with Komsomolskaya Pravda website.

“I’m convinced that this will be counterproductive,” Lavrov said, stressing that it is very important that the documents signed in Minsk are implemented.

During a state visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has criticised the West’s “vicious circle of militarization, of Cold War rhetoric and of sanctions”.

“We have repeatedly said that the vicious circle of militarisation, of Cold War rhetoric and of sanctions is not productive. The solution is dialogue,” Tsipras said in a press conference following talks with Putin on Saturday.

“Everyone recognises that there cannot exist a future for the European continent with the European Union and Russia at loggerheads,” he added.

Earlier in January this year, French Finance Minister Emmanuel Macron also said that France is not keen on the EU extending sanctions against Russia beyond July.

“The objective we all share is to be able to lift sanctions next summer because the process has been respected,” he told Le Figaro.

May 31, 2016 Posted by | Economics | , , | Leave a comment

Fake “Humanitarians” and Fake “Leftists” taking Canada down the wrong path

Angelina Jolie Pitt 498bd

Special Envoy of the UNHCR addresses the Security Council meeting on the continuing conflict in Syria. Credit: UN Photo/ Mark Garten/ flickr
By Mark Taliano | American Herald Tribune | May 30, 2016

There’s really no excuse for supporting the NATO/terror position. We’ve seen the destruction of Iraq, Libya, Ukraine, now Syria, all built on lies, all beneath the guise of “humanitarian interventions”. Since people with any sense of historical memory can not legitimately plead ignorance, supporters of the terrorist invasion of Syria fall into the category of “fake humanitarians”. They aren’t “progressive” or “left” when they support the criminal violation of Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Canadian peace activist Ken Stone, recently returned from Syria, expresses similar sentiments in his newly released book, Defiant Syria|dispatches from the Second Tour of Peace to Syria.  He explains,

“The point for me is to ask why otherwise intelligent people can fall for such shit (referring to a 2015 New Internationalist magazine article: “The forgotten revolution of Syria”), and not once but repeatedly.  It’s not as if Syria is the very first government targeted for regime change by the USA. It’s not that people are unaware of the fact that the first casualty of war is the truth … there is never a shortage of “leftists” in the West who can be either bought or convinced through incredible naivété, warped political outlook, or Eurocentric arrogance, that the motives of Empire are good.”

People such as Ken, who have visited Syria and have seen with their own eyes the devastation wrought by Western-supported terrorists against civilization, have less tolerance for the lies, the propaganda and the “fake humanitarians” who enable it all.

Stone doesn’t mince words when he describes some of his on-the-ground observations of Homs, Syria; observations fortified by his historical memory of NATO’s imperial destruction elsewhere:

 “Judging from the many corpses found buried around the city, some of which were missing eyes and various internal organs, many have speculated that the mercenaries ran a lucrative trade in human organs, besides their human trafficking in Syrian women, boys, and children, and their other rackets such as rapine and pillage … The terrorist organizations were working in accordance with a well-rehearsed imperial script here in Homs. The KLA, NATO’s foot soldiers in Kosovo (formerly part of Yugoslavia) also ran an organ smuggling operation out of a house in Pristina in 1999.”

To their detriment, the fake “humanitarians” and pseudo “leftists” are shielded from such on-the-ground realities.

In a later chapter, “Palmyra: Bride Of The Desert”, Stone also bemoans the self-proclaimed “leftists” who cast the Russians as “imperialists” and as guilty as the West in the war against Syria – conveniently forgetting that Russia is legally in Syria, while NATO is not:

“It’s true,” he writes, “that Russia is unfortunately no longer a socialist country. However, it doesn’t act like an imperialist country either. Mr. Putin consistently respects the sovereignty of other countries, such as Syria, and speaks up at the United Nations for the observance of international law, which the USA, priding itself as “the exceptional country” and the “sole indispensable country”, tramples on almost every day.”

This resonates with the author’s earlier piece, “Western Hegemony vs Russian Sanity”, and the “Saker’s” observations of the differences between the “Anglo-Zionist Unipolar Imperial Model” and the “Russian Multi-polar Model”.

Sustainable evidence demonstrates, for example, that the current Russian multi-polar model respects the rule of international law, ideological and cultural pluralism, and the use of military force as a last resort.

The illegal Western war of aggression against Syria, on the other hand, is consistent with the “Anglo-Zionist Unipolar Imperial Model” which defies the rule of international law, negates ideological and cultural pluralism, and uses military violence as a first resort.

The West’s invasion contradicts the rule of international law: Russia is in Syria legally, whereas the West is not; it negates Syria’s ideological and cultural pluralism and seeks to replace it with a Wahhabist stooge government or an assortment of stooge governments in balkanized states; and it demonstrates the West’s propensity to use military violence as a first resort – the invasion, after all, was planned well in advance.

Given the fact of the West’s criminality, consistent with the “Anglo-Zionist Unipolar Imperialist Model”, and the concurrent failures of the “fake humanitarians” and the fake “left” to reconcile themselves to evidence-based findings and historical memory, Stone reiterates some concrete steps that should be taken by those of us who support foreign policy trajectories consistent with peace and the rule of international law, rather than the current reality of war and barbarism.

Important steps would include normalizing diplomatic relations with Syria, ending illegal sanctions, withdrawing from all criminal military interventions against Syria, and withdrawing from NATO.

Canada needs to assert an independent foreign policy, and it needs to reject the current barbarity implicit in its status as a vassal appendage of the Anglo-Zionist Unipolar Imperial Model.  This is what Real Change would look like.

Mark is a retired high school teacher.

May 31, 2016 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Turkey is Preparing an Offensive Military Operation in Northern Syria

By Said Al-Khalaki – Global Research  – May 30, 2016

It’s been quite a while since the treaty on cease-fire in Syria was signed. We can say February 27 became the new anchor for the people of Syria who are tired of war and havoc. However, the situation doesn’t suit the main sponsors of the “Syrian revolution”, i.e. Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar which had already planned how the country would be divided between them.

Turkey is interested in Syria’s division most of all. The most attractive “piece” for Turkey is Northern Syria and its destroyed economic capital Aleppo.

Obviously, the seized Northern territories would be a step forward in Erdogan’s plan to resurrect the Ottoman Empire he is dreaming about. That is why the seizure of Aleppo is a strategic goal for Erdogan and his partners.

The Turkish government has been supporting Syrian terrorists from the very outset of the war in March 2011.

As the Egyptian news site El-Badil reports, in late 2015 the Turkish government was supplying the Syrian opposition with money and food. Also, it allowed them to cross the border between Turkey and Syria. The fact that militants from terrorist groups fighting in Syria can freely cross the border is also reported by the Kurdish news agency ANHA. According to it, militants go through Bab Al-Salama border crossing point to the North of Aleppo from the Turkish city Kilis towards the Syrian town Azaz. As a rule, militants visit Turkey for two reasons: to undergo a qualified medical treatment to heal their wounds or to attend a military training in a special camp where Turks and Saudis work.

Despite all the efforts of Turkish officials to conceal their support in favor of the terrorists, the (Turkish and Western) media has nonetheless acknowledged Ankara’s insidious role. Even the Syrian opposition’s leaders have never hidden such facts. For example, in last September, one of its leaders, Ahmed Tuma, told the British newspaper Al-Arabi that Turkey was supplying Syrian militants with fuel and food. Tuma is proud of his relations with Turkish leaders and highly appreciates the role of Turkey in forming the so-called “new Syrian state.” And it’s no wonder as the oppositional leader lives on money received from Turkey.

According to the activists of the media center Syria from Inside in Ankara, all the operations of sponsoring the Syrian opposition leaders and field commanders of armed groups are conducted through a number of accounts in a Turkish based bank. Moreover, through this bank, Turkey finances NGOs whose main purpose is to support the Syrian revolution.

Besides that, Turkey’s support for Syrian militants, i.e. financing and training, is included in the US secret program Timber Sycamore, according to a New York Times report in January, 2016. The NYT acknowledges that Turkey has been sponsoring Syrian terrorists since 2013.

It’s obvious that the cease-fire in Syria is not to the advantage of Ankara, whose political leaders seek to overthrow the government of Bashar al Assad.

Now, the most important point of the face-off is Aleppo province. As locals say, more than 1000 terrorists arrived there between April to mid-May. The fighters were accompanied by trucks with arms and ammunition and off-road vehicles with large-caliber machine guns. Notably, the vehicles’ deployment is covered by Turkish artillery, regularly shelling Syrian border regions from the Turkish side. It’s clear that all these actions are evidence of the fact that terrorists are preparing a large-scale offensive in Aleppo.

No doubt, the attack on Aleppo is a part of the “hybrid” war implemented by Turkey in Syria. The artillery shelling of Syrian territories and the support for Syrian terrorists – Turkish news agency Anadolu calls these “a fight against ISIS.” And the Turkish government justify Erdogan’s desire to seize Northern Syria by claiming that it is just an attempt to create the so-called “safety zone” for refugees.

While the world is trying to reach a peace treaty in Syria, Turkish leaders are planning large-scale operations involving “opposition” terrorists and radical groups.

However, we want to believe that their plans won’t be crowned with success as everyone in Syria understands who is behind the “opposition” and what the “revolutionists” want to achieve.

Copyright © Said Al-Khalaki, Global Research, 2016

May 31, 2016 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The US and the EU Support a Savage Dictator

By Brian CLOUGHLEY | Strategic Culture Foundation | 31.05.2016

On May 6 a court in Istanbul, acting on the orders of Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan, sentenced the editor of the Cumhuriyet newspaper to five years and ten months in prison for publishing a report about illegal provision of weapons to Islamist terrorists in Syria by Turkey’s secret service. His bureau chief got five years.

Two weeks later Istanbul was host to the World Humanitarian Summit, which was held «to stand up for our common humanity and take action to prevent and reduce human suffering». Attendance included 65 heads of state. It was the usual total waste of time (Oxfam called it «an expensive talking shop» and those who refused to be there included President Putin and the global medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières), but the point is that a humanitarian conference should never have been held in Turkey, which is being transformed into a dictatorship by a president who is well-described by Professor Alan Sked of the London School of Economics as «a volatile, unstable, highly authoritarian personality».

The professor went on to observe that Erdogan «has pursued a civil war in his own country and has clamped down on the opposition and social media at will. Thousands have been imprisoned for merely criticising him. He has ordered the shooting down of a Russian warplane, and his country has been accused by Russia of trafficking secretly in oil with Isis. He cannot be trusted…»

Erdogan is a bigoted thug, yet the international community rushed to his country to hold a humanitarian conference and foreign heads of state flock to press his hand in friendship. He is treated with deference around the world and there can be no public criticism of him in the many countries that have laws prohibiting disparagement of heads of state and holding defamation and insult of their leaders to be a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment.

In January over 1,100 Turkish academics signed a letter asking Erdogan to cease his merciless blitz on Kurdish centres in the south east of the country. Thousands of Kurds had been (and continue to be) killed and crippled by ground and air assaults of merciless savagery. Erdogan’s response to the petition was to declare that these compassionate scholars «spit out hatred of our nation’s values and history on every occasion. The petition has made this clearer… In a state of law like Turkey, so-called academics who target the unity of our nation have no right to commit crimes. They don’t have immunity for this».

Some thirty of the humanitarian signatories were arrested and fifteen were dismissed from their university posts. They live under constant threat, as do all who attempt to disagree with the imperial president.

Yet Erdogan’s Turkey is strongly supported by the United States and by the European Union, albeit for very different reasons.

The US backs him because he supports Washington’s efforts to destroy President Assad of Syria and is a strident and aggressive opponent of Russia, while the EU is behind him because if he chose he could control the influx of Syrian refugees to Europe. So Erdogan can persecute and jail as many journalists and academics as he likes, while continuing to slaughter Kurds in Turkey, Syria and Iraq, and although there may be a few murmurs of disapproval in Brussels and Washington there will be no action whatever taken by either the US or the EU to stop the President of Turkey wielding absolute power over his people.

In March, while Erdogan was attending the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit in Washington (yet another total waste of time and money, except for the travel industry) he met separately with the US president and vice-president, neither of whom had the moral courage to take him to task for his blatant oppression of those of his citizens who dare to have ideas and opinions contrary to his own.

As the Voice of America reported on March 31, «President Barack Obama assured his Turkish counterpart of American commitment to the security of Turkey, a critical ally in the fight against the Islamic State group», while the White House “readout” of the Erdogan-Biden meeting recorded that «the Vice President reiterated the United States’ unwavering commitment to Turkey’s national security as a NATO Ally». They discussed «ways to further deepen our military cooperation» which was no doubt heartening to a bellicose thug whose aim is to persecute and preferably kill Kurds wherever they may be.

In spite of all the evidence, the United States refuses to acknowledge that Erdogan’s Turkey has sent massive quantities of weaponry to Islamic terrorist groups who are prepared to kill Kurds. It does not appear to matter to Washington that «Not only has Erdoğan done almost everything he can to cripple the forces actually fighting ISIS; there is considerable evidence that his government has been at least tacitly aiding ISIS itself».

The countries of the European Union, in similar blinkered mode, ignore Erdogan’s transformation of Turkey from democracy to dictatorship because they are prepared to make almost any sacrifice to reduce the flood of refugees now threatening their countries. Their leaders are terrified that behaving in a humanitarian manner will damage their domestic electoral chances and have set up an extraordinary deal with Erdogan who has agreed to «do more to prevent refugees from traveling to Europe via its territory and take back all migrants and refugees who manage to cross into Europe from Turkey … In return, the European Union has doubled the financial aid it promised Turkey from 3 billion to 6 billion euros, has agreed to take in more Syrian refugees from Turkey, and will move to provide visa-free travel to Turks and reopen EU accession talks».

Little wonder that Erdogan is on the crest of a wave and can persecute dissenters and slaughter Kurds with hardly a word of international criticism. In March, when he took over Turkey’s largest newspaper, the independent Zaman, and replaced the entire staff with his supporters, US State Department spokesman John Kirby called the seizure «troubling». And it was reported on 25 May that, «the EU wants Ankara to narrow its definition of terror to stop prosecuting academics and journalists for publishing ‘terror propaganda’, but Turkey has refused to do so».

Unless the US and the EU bring pressure to bear on Erdogan to restore democracy in his country, he will continue to suppress and persecute his critics and continue his killing spree. But he is too valuable to them for that to happen. All they will do is hold more humanitarian conferences.

May 31, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , , , , | Leave a comment