Aletho News


But, Mr. Putin, You Just Don’t Understand

By David Swanson | Let’s Try Democracy | August 1, 2016

Once in a while one of the videos somebody emails me a link to turns out to be well worth watching. Such is this one. In it a former U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union tries to explain to Vladimir Putin why new U.S. missile bases near the border of Russia should not be understood as threatening. He explains that the motivation in Washington, D.C., is not to threaten Russia but to create jobs. Putin responds that, in that case, the United States could have created jobs in peaceful industries rather than in war.

Putin may or may not be familiar with U.S. economic studies finding that, in fact, the same investment in peaceful industries would create more jobs than does military spending. But he is almost certainly aware that, in U.S. politics, elected officials have, for the better part of a century, only been willing to invest heavily in military jobs and no others. Still, Putin, who may also be familiar with how routine it has become for Congress members to talk about the military as a jobs program, appears in the video a bit surprised that someone would offer that excuse to a foreign government fixed in U.S. sights.

Timothy Skeers who sent me the video link commented: “Maybe Khrushchev should have just told Kennedy he was just trying to create jobs for Soviet citizens when he put those missiles in Cuba.” Imagining how that would have played out may help people in the United States to grasp how their elected officials sound to the rest of the world.

That one main motivation for U.S. military expansion in Eastern Europe is “jobs,” or rather, profits, is almost openly admitted by the Pentagon. In May the Politico newspaper reported on Pentagon testimony in Congress to the effect that Russia had a superior and threatening military, but followed that with this: “‘This is the “Chicken-Little, sky-is-falling” set in the Army,’ the senior Pentagon officer said. ‘These guys want us to believe the Russians are 10 feet tall. There’s a simpler explanation: The Army is looking for a purpose, and a bigger chunk of the budget. And the best way to get that is to paint the Russians as being able to land in our rear and on both of our flanks at the same time. What a crock.”

Politico then cited a less-than-credible “study” of Russian military superiority and aggression and added:

“While the reporting about the Army study made headlines in the major media, a large number in the military’s influential retired community, including former senior Army officers, rolled their eyes. ‘That’s news to me,’ one of these highly respected officers told me. ‘Swarms of unmanned aerial vehicles? Surprisingly lethal tanks? How come this is the first we’ve heard of it?'”

It’s always the retired officials speaking truth to corruption, inlcuding retired Ambassador Jack Matlock in the video. Money and bureaucracy are euphemized as “jobs,” and their influence is real but still explains nothing. You can have money and bureaucracy promote peaceful industries. The choice to promote war is not a rational one. In fact, it is well described by a U.S. writer in the New York Times projecting U.S. attitudes onto Russia and Putin:

“The strategic purpose of his wars is war itself. This is true in Ukraine, where territory was a mere pretext, and this is true of Syria, where protecting Mr. Assad and fighting ISIS are pretexts too. Both conflicts are wars with no end in sight because, in Mr. Putin’s view, only at war can Russia feel at peace.”

This was, in fact, how the New York Times reported last October on the event from which the video linked above is taken. (More here.) I condemn the Russian bombing of Syria all the time, including on Russian media on almost a weekly basis, but if there is a nation that is always at war it is the United States, which backed a right-wing anti-Russia coup in Ukraine and now refers to the Russian response as irrational war-making.

The wisdom of the New York Times writer, like the wisdom of Nuremberg, is selectively applied in a hostile manner, but still wise. The purpose of war is indeed war itself. The justifications are always pretexts.

August 2, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment

Reminder: Puget Sound has a ton of nuclear weapons

A copy of the ad
A copy of the ad
By Martha Baskin | Crosscut | July 26, 2016

The ad pierces your consciousness and catches you by surprise. Plastered on the side of King County Metro buses, it hurls you momentarily back in time, to a time when nuclear weapons were an imminent threat to our survival. Or did the era never end?

The ad — sponsored by activists from the Poulsbo-based Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action — reads: “20 miles west of Seattle is the largest concentration of deployed nuclear weapons in the U.S.”

Behind this text is a map, depicting the proximity of Seattle to Naval Base Kitsap, located on the eastern shore of Hood Canal. The base is home port for eight of the U.S. Navy’s fourteen Trident ballistic missile submarines and an underground nuclear weapons storage complex. Together they’re believed to store more than 1,300 nuclear warheads, according to Hans Kristensen, Director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists.

This is arguably the biggest single concentration of nuclear warheads not only in the U.S., but in the world.

King County Metro was initially hesitant to run the ad, until Kristensen confirmed its accuracy. The combined explosive power contained in the base is equivalent to more than 14,000 Hiroshima bombs, he says.

But the most surprising thing to him about the underground nuclear weapons storage complex — known as the Strategic Weapons Facility Pacific (SWF-PAC), and completed in 2012 — is the extent to which a $294 million bunker has largely escaped public debate, except for a few industry-related articles.

The small non-profit behind the ad shares a land border with the naval base. It launched when Robert Aldridge, an engineer for Lockheed Martin — the arms manufacturer with a plant on the base — quit his job directing development of Trident ballistic missiles at the base, when he saw they could be used in a preemptive first strike against the Soviet Union.

According to Glen Milner, an active member of the Center, Aldridge then contacted two peace activists in the area — Catholic theologian Jim Douglas and his wife Shelley — and the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action was formed.

For a time, Ground Zero was successful in engaging the public. When the first Trident warship arrived in Hood Canal in 1982, several thousand protesters gathered on shore and a small flotilla of boats to meet it. The U.S. Coast Guard kept them at bay by severing outboard gas lines and threatening to use fire-hoses.

When nuclear warheads began to arrive at Naval Base Kitsap on rail cars from a Pantex assembly plant in north Texas, momentum in the anti-nuclear movement began to build. The rail cars were initially white, says Milner. As a result, the “white trains” became a focal point not only for anti-nuclear weapons protesters in Washington but around the country. The trains were met by protesters on their way to Bangor. After this, the Department of Energy stopped shipping warheads by train and began moving them via unmarked trucks and trailers.

The enormous amount of nuclear weaponry in Seattle’s backyard is no secret to industry analysts, military contractors, or public officials. But the general public is less informed, say those who initiated Ground Zero’s bus campaign. They describe the goals of the advertisements as two-fold: to lift the veil of secrecy surrounding the naval base, and to re-ignite public debate about nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenal.

“This is a wake up call,” says Ground Zero’s Leonard Eiger. “Why do these nuclear weapons exist 70 years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Why do we continue to not only deploy them but why are we maintaining them and planning for a new fleet that could run over $100 billion? What are the economic, political and social costs?”

The Washington Military Alliance — a group formally established in 2014 by Governor Jay Inslee, which advocates for military investment in the state — notes that Naval Base Kitsap is a driving economic force in the region. 56 percent of all military revenue coming into the state relies on the U.S. Navy, says Kristine Reeves, spokesperson for the Alliance.

“Our focus is how do we partner at the state level to ensure that this $13 billion dollar industry, representing over three percent of our GDP, is strategic about investments being made,” says Reeves. “We’re not necessarily interested in whether nuclear weapons are good or bad. What we are interested in is furthering the great partnership with the U.S. Navy from a public-private perspective, economic perspective and environmental.”

Naval Base Kitsap is the third-largest Navy base in the U.S., one of only two strategic nuclear weapons facilities, and is the Navy’s largest fuel depot.

Over 1900 companies do business on behalf of the Department of Defense, says Reeves. “And they’re not just building things that go boom,” she says. “These are some of the world’s best innovators building things for the generation of tomorrow.”

The economics of Naval Base Kitsap’s nuclear armory may be changing, as the U.S. Navy is currently proposing a new fleet of ballistic missile submarines. Currently the base houses over half of the submarines capable of carrying Trident ballistic missiles, which can deliver a nuclear payload.

The U.S. Navy has presented a plan to spend over a trillion dollars during the next 30 years upgrading and maintaining the entire triad of U.S. based nuclear weapons, according to Martin Fleck of Physicians for Social Responsibility, a group that advocates for nuclear disarmament. This includes over $100 billion to replace the base’s nuclear submarines.

The plan has yet to be approved by the Obama administration.

“We and our allies,” says Fleck, “are arguing for sanity with nuclear weapons given that we have enough already to end the world several times over. Why on earth would we invest another trillion dollars in them at this late date?”

Nuclear weapons contractors in the United States brought in $334 billion in government contracts between 2012 and 2014, according to research conducted by Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Representative Adam Smith, ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, has questioned the nuclear spending currently being proposed. Smith joined 159 other members of the House of Representatives to support an amendment to the House Defense Appropriations bill, which would have slashed funding for a nuclear cruise missile.

Both Lockheed Martin and Boeing Corporation weighed in to oppose the amendment, and it was defeated along partisan lines. But the vote, says PSR’s Fleck, proved that Congress is far from united over the government’s trillion dollar nuclear weapons plan. Smith’s later penned an op-ed for Foreign Policy magazine, titled “America Already Has More Than Enough Nuclear Missiles.”

Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists disputes whether a new nuclear arms race is underway, but admits there’s been a resurgence in the adversarial relationship between the United States and Russia. As a result, “nuclear weapons are gradually becoming more explicit. For now, this is fueling modernization of arsenals and adjustments of operations and strategies.”

Nine nations, including China and North Korea, are engaged in building or modernizing their nuclear arsenal. In the face of this, those behind Ground Zero’s bus ad say it’s time to “demilitarize diplomacy.”

“It’s time to step back from building another generation of nuclear weapons,” says Eiger. “The doctrine came out of the Cold War but it still exists. It’s a dangerous road to travel.”

August 2, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | | 1 Comment

Milosevic exonerated, as the NATO war machine moves on

By Neil Clark | RT | August 2, 2016

The ICTY’s exoneration of the late Slobodan Milosevic, the former President of Yugoslavia, for war crimes committed in the Bosnia war, proves again we should take NATO claims regarding its ‘official enemies’ not with a pinch of salt, but a huge lorry load.

For the past twenty odd years, neocon commentators and ‘liberal interventionist’ pundits have been telling us at every possible opportunity, that Milosevic (a democratically elected leader in a country where over 20 political parties freely operated)  was an evil genocidal dictator who was to blame for ALL the deaths in the Balkans in the 1990s. Repeat after me in a robotic voice (while making robotic arm movements): ‘Milosevic’s genocidal aggression’ ‘Milosevic’s genocidal aggression’.

But the official narrative, just like the one that told us that in 2003, Iraq had WMDs which could be launched within 45 minutes, was a deceitful one, designed to justify a regime change-op which the Western elites had long desired.

The ICTY’s conclusion, that one of the most demonized figures of the modern era was innocent of the most heinous crimes he was accused of, really should have made headlines across the world. But it hasn‘t. Even the ICTY buried it, deep in its 2,590 page verdict in the trial of Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic who was convicted in March of genocide (at Srebrenica), war crimes and crimes against humanity.

There was no official announcement or press conference regarding Milosevic‘s exoneration. We’ve got journalist and researcher Andy Wilcoxson to thank for flagging it up for us.

How very different it all was when the trial of the so-called ‘Butcher of the Balkans’, began in February 2002! Then, you‘d have to have been locked in a wardrobe not to be aware of what was going on.

CNN provided blanket coverage of what was described as “the most important trial since Nuremberg.” Of course, Milosevic’s guilt was taken as a given. “When the sentence comes and he disappears into that cell, no one is going to hear from him again,” declared US lawyer Judith Armatta from the Coalition for International Justice, an organization which had the former US Ambassador to Yugoslavia, Warren Zimmerman, as an advisory board member.

Anyone who dared to challenge the NATO line was labeled a “Milosevic apologist”, or worse still, a “genocide denier”, by ‘Imperial Truth Enforcers’.

But amid all the blather and the hype surrounding the ’trial of the century’ it soon became apparent the prosecution was in deep, deep trouble. The Sunday Times quoted a legal expert who claimed that “Eighty percent of the prosecution’s opening statements would have been dismissed by a British court as hearsay.” That, I believe, was a generous assessment.

The problem was that this was a show trial, one in which geopolitics came before hard evidence. It’s important to remember that the original indictment against Milosevic in relation to alleged Kosovo war crimes/genocide was issued in May 1999, at the height of the NATO bombing campaign against Yugoslavia and at a time when war was not going to plan for the US and its allies.

The indictment was clearly designed to exert pressure on Milosevic to cave into NATO’s demands.

The trouble for NATO was that by the time Milosevic’s trial was due to start, the Kosovo narrative had already unraveled. The lurid claims made by the US and its allies about genocide and hundreds of thousands being killed, catalogued by the great John Pilger here, had been shown to be false. In September 2001, a UN court officially held that there had been no genocide in Kosovo.

So in an attempt to beef up their weakening case against Milosevic the prosecutors at The Hague had to bring in new charges relating to the war in  Bosnia, accusing ‘Slobo’ of being part of a ‘joint criminal conspiracy’ to kill/ethnically cleanse Bosnian Croats and Bosnian Muslims in pursuance of a ’Greater Serbia’ project.

In normal criminal prosecutions evidence is collected and then, if it’s deemed sufficient, charges are brought. But the opposite happened in the case of Milosevic: he was charged for political reasons and the hunt for evidence then followed.

The irony is that the former Yugoslav President had already been praised by President Clinton for his role in brokering a peace deal in Bosnia in 1995, which was signed in Dayton, Ohio.

The truth is that Milosevic was no hardcore Serb nationalist but a lifelong socialist, whose commitment was always to a multi-racial, multi-ethnic Yugoslavia.

His aim throughout his time in power was not to build a ’Greater Serbia‘, but to try and keep Federal Yugoslavia together, as the ICTY now belatedly acknowledges.

Not only was Milosevic not responsible for ethnic cleansing which took place in Bosnia, he actually spoke out against it. The ICTY noted Milosevic’s “repeated criticism and disapproval of the policies made by the Accused (Karadzic) and the Bosnian Serb leadership.” Milosevic, a man for whom all forms of racism were anathema, insisted that all ethnicities must be protected.

But in order to punish Milosevic and to warn others of the consequences if they dared to oppose US power, history had to be re-written. The pro-Yugoslavia socialist who had opposed the policies of the Bosnian Serb leadership had to be turned, retrospectively, into the villain of the Bosnian War and indeed blamed for all the bloodshed which took place in the Balkans. Meanwhile, the aforementioned US Ambassador Warren Zimmerman, whose malign intervention to scupper a diplomatic solution helped trigger the Bosnian conflict got off scot-free.

The ‘Blame it All on Slobo’ campaign saw facts simply thrown out of the window. One article, written, I kid ye not, by an Oxford University Professor of European Studies even had Milosevic as leader of Yugoslavia in 1991 (the year that Slovenia broke away). In fact the Bosnian Croat, Ante Markovic, was the leader of the country at the time.

Inevitably, Milosevic was likened to Hitler. “It was just like watching the evil strutting Adolf Hitler in action,” wrote the News of the World’s political editor, when Milosevic had the temerity to defend himself in court. “There were chilling flashes of the World War Two Nazi monster as the deposed Serb tyrant harangued the court.”

To make sure readers did get the Milosevic=Hitler point, the News of the World illustrated their diatribe with a picture of Hitler ‘The Butcher of Berlin’, in front of a concentration camp, with a picture of Milosevic ‘The Butcher of Belgrade’ superimposed on a picture of a Bosnian concentration camp. Which in fact, he had nothing to do with.

Very conveniently for the prosecution, Milosevic died suddenly in his cell in March 2006.

Going by what we had seen at the trial up to that point, it’s inconceivable that a guilty sentence could have been passed. A whole succession of ’smoking gun’ witnesses had turned out to be dampest of damp squibs.

As I noted in an earlier piece:

Star witness Ratomir Tanic was exposed as being in the pay of Western security forces, whilst ex-Yugoslav secret police chief Rade Markovic, the man who was finally going to spill the beans on Milosevic and reveal how his former master had ordered the expulsion of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo, in fact did the opposite and testified that he had been tortured to tell lies and that his written statement had been falsified by the prosecution.

In addition, as I noted here, the former head of security in the Yugoslav army, General Geza Farkas (an ethnic Hungarian), testified that all Yugoslav soldiers in Kosovo had been handed a document explaining international humanitarian law, and that they were ordered to disobey any orders which violated it. Farkas also said that Milosevic ordered no paramilitary groups should be permitted to operate anywhere in Kosovo.

When Milosevic died, his accusers claimed he had “cheated justice”. But in fact, as the ICTY has now confirmed, the injustice was done to Milosevic.

While he had to defend himself against politically-motivated charges at The Hague, the US and its allies launched their brutal, illegal assault on Iraq, a war which has led to the death of up to one million people. Last year a report from Body Count revealed that at least 1.3 million people had lost their lives as a result of the US-led ‘war on terror’ in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Those sorts of figures help us get Kosovo into some kind of perspective. Even if we do hold Milosevic and the Yugoslav government responsible for some of the deaths there in 1999, (in a war which the West had clearly desired and provoked) far, far, greater death and destruction has been caused by the countries who were the keenest to see the President of Yugoslavia in the dock. As John Pilger noted in 2008, the bombing of Yugoslavia was the “perfect precursor to the bloodbaths in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

Since then we’ve also had the NATO destruction of Libya, the country which had the highest living standards in the whole of Africa and the backing of violent ‘rebels’ to try and achieve ‘regime change’ in Syria.

You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to see a pattern here.

Before a US-led war or ‘humanitarian intervention’ against a targeted state, a number of lurid claims are made about the country‘s leader and its government. These claims receive maximum media coverage and are repeated ad nauseam on the basis that people will bound to think they’re true.

Later it transpires that the claims were either entirely false (like the Iraq WMD ones), unproven, or greatly exaggerated. But the news cycle has moved on focusing not on the exposure of the fraudulent claims made earlier but on the next aggressive/genocidal ‘New Hitler’ who needs to be dealt with. In 1999 it was Milosevic; now it’s Assad and Putin.

And guess what, dear reader? It’s the same people who defend the Iraq war and other blood-stained Western military interventions based on lies, unproven claims or great exaggerations, who are the ones doing the accusing.

As that very wise old saying goes: When you point one finger, there are three fingers pointing back to you.

Follow Neil Clark on Twitter @NeilClark66

Read more:

Murder at The Hague? The strange case of sick & suicidal Serbs

Causing genocide to protect us from terror

August 2, 2016 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Europe’s “Bought Journalists”

By Thomas S. Harrington | CounterPunch | August 2, 2016

Not that long ago in Europe, one had to go to a church, a temple or a mosque to imbibe industrial quantities of religious doctrine.

Since the beginning of the 21st century, however, it has become possible to access it in a great and self-satisfied profusion on the editorial pages of the continent’s “serious” and nominally progressive dailies, papers like The Guardian, El País, La Repubblica, Le Monde, and Suddeutsche Zeitung.

The particular brand of theology being pushed?

Neo-Liberal Imperialism, something the faith’s leading clerics—people like Timothy Garton-Ash, Niall Ferguson. Moisés Naim, Mario Vargas Llosa, Hermann Tertsch, Antonio Caño, Joseph Joffe, and that erstwhile philosopher-clown, Bernard Henry-Levi—prefer to describe in terms of “promoting trans-Atlantic partnerships” and creating and maintaining “Open Societies”.

One day, historians will wonder how it was [US military occupation?] that the EU, a wealthy and ostensibly unified polity with a population of over 500 million people and an extremely deep and sophisticated history of indigenous intellectual production, came to have its public discourse dominated by the narrow and often quite parochial concerns of the elites of another country (right down to their absurd and largely unconditional devotion to a small and bellicose apartheid state in the Middle East) located halfway around the globe.

And if these historians are sharp, they will zero in on whatever it was that took place in newsrooms and other centers of media production (or perhaps more germanely, the boardrooms that set their policies) in Europe during the first decade of the 21st century.

The US desire to spread the Atlanticist creed, which essentially holds that life for Europeans is best when they sublimate their economic and strategic interests to those of the US security and financial establishments, is nothing new. Indeed, it has been one of the primary thrusts of US diplomatic and intelligence activity in Europe since the end of World War II.

The career of Joffe, marked by residencies at the Stanford’s Hoover Institution and appearances on the US establishment’s pre-eminent venue for self-promotion and the consolidation of US-Israeli official talking points, The Charlie Rose Show, provides eloquent testimony to the benefits that accrue those willing to promote the American view of reality to their European countrymen on a daily basis.

What is different today is the relative weight of this ideology, with its love of military force and fiscal bullying, on one hand, and crass indifference to the clear long-term interests of the great bulk of the European population (e.g. establishing vigorous cultural and commercial interchanges with Russia, the basic physical health of Greeks) on the other, within the continent’s opinion-making landscape. Whereas slavish pro-Americans like Joffe used to constitute one voice among many, they and their views on foreign policy are now predominant in most major European papers.

How did this happen?

For those with a need to believe—and there are, sadly, still many—in the essentially benevolent nature of the US foreign policy and the existence of a more or less free and unfettered “marketplace of ideas” within the US and Europe, the answer is simple. As they got older and more prosperous Europeans became more conservative and began to demand the presence in major outlets of people whose ideas reflected these changing views.

However, for those that understand the enormous importance that the post-war US establishment has always put on “perception management” and how information warfare was and is an enormously important element of the Rumsfeldian notion of “Full Spectrum Dominance”, such an explanation strains credibility.

For example, are we really supposed to believe that of all the intelligent, experienced and well-traveled people available in the traditionally pro-Palestinian country of Spain, the person best equipped to serve as El País’ weekend foreign policy guru was Moisés Naím, a Zionist former minister of the arch-corrupt Venezuelan government of Carlos Andrés Pérez, former executive director of the World Bank, and long-time editor of the in-house bible of mainstream US imperialism Foreign Policy? Do we really believe that the paper’s core socialist readership, which is traditionally pro-welfare state and very solidly anti-interventionist was pining for that?

Lest this all seem too speculative, I suggest you watch an interview conducted with Udo Ulfkotte, a veteran German reporter and former assistant editor at the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, conducted in 2014. In it, he speaks of how he and other European journalists were, and are, routinely bought off by American operatives of one sort or another, going so far as to describe his country, Germany, as a “banana republic” and also a “colony of the Americans” where journalists who serve the interests of “trans-Atlantic” organizations are rewarded handsomely and where those that do not play along suffer dire consequences.

The interview took place on the occasion of the release his book Gekaufte Journalisten which is to be translated, I am told, as “Bought Journalists”, in which he goes into great detail about these matters. It is interesting to note that despite having been published two years ago and quickly rising to the status of a best-seller in Germany, it is still not available in English or any other European language. There has been talk for a while now of a “forthcoming” English version of the text. But every time I check up on it, the release date seems to have been pushed back another few months.

Think there is any pressure being applied to the people in charge of bringing the English translation of the book to market?

August 2, 2016 Posted by | Book Review, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s only propaganda when they do it

Irrussianality | August 1, 2016

A couple of newspaper articles caught my attention this weekend. The first was in The Times, and claimed the following:

President Putin has launched a secret propaganda assault on Britain from within its own borders, The Times can reveal. The Kremlin is spreading disinformation through a newly opened British bureau for its Sputnik international news service, and is infiltrating elite universities by placing language and cultural centres on campuses. Analysts said that the push was part of Russia’s military doctrine, which specifies the use of ‘informational and other non-military measures’ in conflicts.

The Times is particularly alarmed by the fact that, ‘the University of Edinburgh accepted £221,000 from the Russkiy Mir (Russian World) Foundation to host Britain’s first Moscow-sponsored language and cultural centre. The foundation has also opened centres at Durham University, which accepted £85,000, and St Antony’s College, Oxford.’ According to The Times, ‘A NATO source accused Russia of “operationalising information” from within Britain. “The Russian information effort is to muddy the waters, to create uncertainty,” he said.’

The second article was published in Sunday’s New York Times. In this, the former US ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul claims that ‘Everywhere, autocrats are pushing back against democrats, and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia is the de facto leader of this global movement.’ America must resist this movement, McFaul says. Otherwise, ‘The threats will grow and eventually endanger our peace, as we saw in Europe and Japan in the 1930s, and Afghanistan in the 1990s.’

What exactly should America do? McFaul suggests:

Just as the Kremlin has become more sophisticated at exporting its ideas and supporting its friends, so must we. We should think of advancing democratic ideas abroad primarily as an educational project, almost never as a military campaign. Universities, books and websites are the best tools, not the 82nd Airborne.

But it’s best not to do this openly, McFaul admits. He says, ‘Direct financial assistance to democrats is problematic: A check from an American embassy can taint its recipients. America’s next president should privatize such aid and help seed new independent foundations.’

So, let me get this straight. Russkii Mir openly provides money to the University of Edinburgh for the study of Russian language and culture. That constitutes a ‘secret propaganda assault on Britain’. Ambassador McFaul proposes giving money to Russian universities through disguised channels and for decidedly political purposes, and that is ‘advancing democratic ideas’. ‘Nuff said!

August 2, 2016 Posted by | Deception | , | 1 Comment

9/11 and the Zionist Question: Is Noam Chomsky a Disinfo Agent for Israel? (Part 2)

Prof. Tony Hall | American Herald Tribune | July 14, 2016

The Kevin Barrett-Chomsky Dispute in Historical Perspective – Second part of the series titled “9/11 and the Zionist Question”. Read the first part here.


In his recent presentation at the “Left Forum” in New York, Kevin Barrett didn’t mince words. He rarely does. Barrett accused the 87-year old Noam Chomsky of contributing to the fast deterioration of the human condition by purposely diverting skeptical attention away from the true culprits responsible for the lies and crimes of September 11, 2001. In his essay, “Why Chomsky is Wrong on 9/11,” Barrett extended a growing trajectory of suspicion questioning the real agenda motivating America’s most highly publicized professor. What is behind Dr. Chomsky’s zeal to obstruct fair and balanced professional debate about contested interpretations of 9/11?

The contradictions are conspicuous between Chomsky’s oft’ proclaimed ideals as an academic investigator and the personalized vitriol of his attacks on those exposing the litany of lies permeating the most transformative event of the twenty-first century. The stakes in this matter are high indeed given the hagiographic extremes associated with Prof. Chomsky’s worldwide reputation. In the eyes of millions, Chomsky is the primary academic embodiment of anti-establishment dissidence within the US system of higher education.

Barrett’s critique of Chomsky adds to the observations of an already sizeable list of public intellectuals that have come to the conclusion that the celebrity Prof is not what he seems to be. The increasingly insistent accusation is that the crude diversionary tactics deployed by Prof. Chomsky in discouraging skeptical investigation of 9/11 reveals him to be a Trojan horse that has succeeded in subverting the Left from within. Among the commentators that have strongly criticized Chomsky’s work as a limited hangout are Ken Adachi, Barrie Zwicker, Daniel L. Abrahamson, James Corbett, Jeff Blankfort, Douglas Herman, Alfred Schaefer, and Benjamin Marhav.

Chomsky in discouraging skeptical investigation of 9/11 reveals him to be a Trojan horse that has succeeded in subverting the Left from within.

Internet broadcaster James Corbett has encapsulated the consternation concerning the obvious contradictions internal to Chomsky’s academic work. Depending on his subject, Chomsky develops themes that contrapuntally expose and promote the workings of empire. Corbett has argued, “Whatever Chomsky is doing, he is functioning as if he’s working hand in hand with the very elite he proclaims to be fighting against.”

“Intellectuals Are In a Position to Expose the Lies of Government”

Chomsky’s academic work began in the 1950s in the field of linguistics. Chomsky’s analysis of speech, the primary medium of communicative interaction among humans, highlights his theories about the universality of mental structures governing the convergence of perception, abstraction, and articulation. Chomsky famously imagined a “black box” of language formulation as part of a universal feature of human brains. Chomsky’s metaphors on human mental hardware naturally attracted the attention of deep state operatives in the CIA and related agencies with a professional interest in influencing human attitudes and behaviors.

The scholar’s original academic discipline, therefore, provided him with an excellent platform from which to launch his applied study of the connections linking propaganda to contemporary imperialism and warfare. Since the late 1960s Chomsky has entered the outer stratosphere of intellectual notoriety, both pro and con, based on his very public interventions into the big contemporary issues of life and death, war and peace. From his very secure base of academic tenure at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Prof. Chomsky would emerge in the final decades of the twentieth century to become probably the most recognized and oft quoted professor in the entire history of American higher education.

Beginning with his opposition to US military intervention in Indochina, Chomsky applied his expertise in linguistic manipulation to the study of the media’s role in manufacturing consent for many nefarious operations. In a 1967 article entitled “The Responsibility of Intellectuals,” Chomsky explained his intervention in what was then the most contentious issue in domestic and international politics. In hard-hitting prose that created markers against which Chomsky’s position on 9/11 would later be measured, the MIT professor wrote, “It is the responsibility of intellectuals to speak the truth and expose lies.”

While all citizens have the responsibility to oppose deceptions and crimes committed on our behalf, intellectuals have an added weight of responsibility to act in the public interest against state terror and injustice. “Intellectuals,” he wrote, “are in a position to expose the lies of governments, to analyze actions according to their causes and motives and often hidden intentions.”

A Jewish Sage and Lawgiver Preaching from

New England’s Most Prestigious Academic Pulpit

The contrasting treatment of Kevin Barrett and of Noam Chomsky by the custodians of US higher education forms a revealing backdrop against which to appreciate the deeper implications of the former’s assessment of the latter at the Left Forum. In recent decades Chomsky’s dramatic career has come to be invested with a kind of Hollywoodized aura. For his adept and incredibly prolific jabs directed at corporate giants, war hawks and the like, Chomsky was embraced as the Left’s most tireless warrior of the pen. He is a wordsmith of the first order who, in his spoken language, articulates frequently with such precise effect that transcripts of his speeches, interviews and panel discussions are often quickly transcribed to become popular publications.

Many have come to think of Chomsky as a kind of secular prophet seeking to inspire his followers to save America from its own worst attributes. The intensity of Chomsky’s mission to redeem America invokes Old Testament ideals of the City on the Hill, the New Jerusalem. The theocratic ideals associated with the creation of a New Jerusalem in the New World have churned through the dynamic matrix of US history ever since the Calvinist Puritans founded New England. New England’s founding Protestant patriarchs conceived of themselves as Israelites, as God’s Chosen People chartered by the Lord to realize a special evangelical mission.

The perception that there was a divine charter underlying the Puritans’ creation of Massachusetts extended to the sense of “Manifest Destiny” invoked to explain and justify the transcontinental expansion of the US republic in the nineteenth century. American exceptionalism is the term currently used to identify the secular outgrowth of the old religious justifications for imperial expansion. The psychology of God-given exceptionalism has animated US expansionism throughout its transition from transcontinental to hemispheric to trans-Pacific to global proportions.

In seeming to lead the Left’s quest for the Promised Land of liberation from corporatist tyranny, Chomsky has come to embody key elements of the American Dream. A strong statement is seemingly announced by the fact that Chomsky has been able to perform his dissenting role from a place of tenured academic security at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. With Harvard and about twenty other prestigious universities nearby, MIT is one of the most well established, stable, and safe platforms of intellectual power in the United States.

Chomsky’s academic home is well known for its old, deep and elaborate ties with the research arms of the military-industrial complex and its attending agencies of so-called national security. In spite of the military attachments and connotations of his academic home, however, Prof. Chomsky was permitted to thrive as a leading critic of the very interests that contributed significantly to his reputation and primary livelihood. One apparent implication of Chomsky’s career path is that a key institution at the very strategic core of the American superpower was made to appear accepting of radical criticism from within. This accommodation of Chomsky’s scholarly political activism conveyed the implicit message that the USA continues to be alive to constant adaptive change in response to a never-ending need for intellectual and logistical renewal.

Shakespearian chords resonate through the drama that has culminated in Professor Chomsky becoming the most high profile academic elder of Cambridge Massachusetts. The scholar grew into the role of a Jewish sage and lawgiver revered as a modern-day prophet preaching from the most prestigious secular pulpit in the American capital of higher education. From this important site of power in the Promised Land where New England’s Calvinist founders once found refuge from their persecutors in Europe, the Left’s favorite scholarly jurist handed down many judgments and dictums.

Chomsky’s decision to side with power and against skeptical analysis of the lies and crimes of 9/11 would prove to be the most consequential judgment of his entire career. In a book first published in November of 2001 and in many judgments delivered extemporaneously from his academic pulpit, Prof. Chomsky condemned as heretics those engaged in skeptical investigation of 9/11. The effect of Chomsky’s fatwa on systematic research into the deep state origins and character of the 9/11 crime was the professional equivalent to an intellectual burning of heretics on the cross of professional infamy.

Chomsky’s academic oversight of the professional assault on 9/11 skeptics amounts to a twenty-first century equivalent in a professional context to the Salem Witch Trials. Indeed, New England’s heritage of Puritan witch trial proceedings is made to weave through many features of the psychological operation attached to the aggressive warfare mounted by the real protagonists of the 9/11 crimes.

By misrepresenting the scholarly and pedagogical work of Muslim academic Kevin Barrett, Prof. Chomsky has led the academic facet of the twenty-first century’s most severe and unrelenting witch hunt. The University of Wisconsin’s professional martyrdom of Dr. Kevin Barrett, whom Dr. Chomsky smears with careless disregard for even the rudimentary niceties of academic protocol, well illustrates the nature of the post-9/11 assault on reason, due process, human rights, civil liberties, evidence-based reportage and decency itself. The episode constitutes a telling illustration of the elaborate psychological operation aimed at diverting Left-leaning activists from paying close attention to the true nature of the 9/11 crime.

At the Left Forum in New York, Dr. Barrett was outspoken in holding Noam Chomsky accountable for his directing role in the Left’s failure to deal cogently with the core realities of who did what to whom in the originating event of the ongoing 9/11 Wars.

You will read “Truth Telling, Whistle Blowing and the American Way” in the next part.

August 2, 2016 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

Trump Defends His Views On Russia

Russia – Insider | August 1, 2016

In an interview that is sure to infuriate Russophobic neocons backing Hillary Clinton, GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump once again broke from the establishment party line on Russia, doubling down on his statements the US needed a better relationship with the country.

After stringently denying any personal links to Vladimir Putin in the interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Trump was asked about his campaign removing a plank from the Republican party platform which called for arming the Ukrainian regime. Trump said he wasn’t involved, but denied Putin wanted to invade Ukraine anyway:

Trump: He’s not going into Ukraine – just so you understand – he’s not going to go into Ukraine. You can mark it down…you can take it any way you want.

Stephanopoulos: Well he’s aready there.

Trump: Well he’s there in a certain way, but I’m not there. You have Obama there. And frankly, that whole part of the world is a mess under Obama.

Stephanopoulos then challenged Trump on Crimea, asking if he would recognize Russia’s “annexation” of the peninsula. Mr. Trump replied that he might:

Stephanopoulos: But you said you might recognize [Crimea].

Trump: I’m going to take a look at it. But you know, the people of Crimea – from what I’ve heard – would rather be with Russia, than where they were. And you have to look at that also. […] As far as the Ukraine is concerned, it’s a mess, and that’s under Obama’s administration with his strong ties to NATO.

Trump then reiterated his stance that improving relations with Russia is paramount:

Trump: And we’ll do better [than Obama on Ukraine], and yet we’ll have a better relationship with Russia. Maybe. But having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing.

So it appears that Donald Trump is standing firm on his commitment to restoring mutually beneficial relations with Russia, China, and other countries. It also appears the barrage of smear directed at Trump and Putin by US mainstream media is seemingly having little effect on his popularity.

Those in the political establishment with vested interests in continued confrontation and “regime change” must be tearing their hair out.

August 2, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Video | , , | Leave a comment

47 Israeli violations against journalists in July

Palestinian Information Center – August 2, 2016

GAZA – The Journalist Support Committee (JSC) said that Israel’s military and security forces committed 47 violations against journalists and media workers during July 2016.

-1174832508In a recent report, the JSC said that the Israeli army and police arrested eight Palestinian journalists from Jerusalem, Qalqilya and Ramallah, and released most of them later during the month.

The Israeli authorities also extended the detention of journalist Adib al-Attrash and postponed the trial of another one called Samah Duweik.

According to the report, an administratively detained journalist named Malik al-Qadi was reportedly exposed to torture and maltreatment in an Israeli jail, which prompted him to go on hunger strike Other violations against journalists during the reporting month included raids on homes, confiscation of cars and cameras, assaults, harassment, banishment orders and removal of Facebook pages.

The report also highlighted several violations committed by the Palestinian Authority security apparatuses, including the arrest of journalists Mohamed Abu Juhaisha and Mohamed Khabisa, raids on homes, and banning journalists from holding a news conference.

August 2, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | Leave a comment

Struggling U.S. Gives Israel Largest Aid Package Ever

teleSUR – August 1, 2016

With more unemployed people than at any time in U.S. history, President Obama next week is scheduled to sign the most lavish foreign aid package in the country’s history – $3.1 billion in military assistance to Israel – raising an urgent question: can the U.S. afford it?

The United States already transfers $3.1 billion in taxpayer money to Israel every year, far more than any other country, but the deal that will be signed into law next week will guarantee foreign aid to the country until the year 2027, a decade after Obama has left office. In Monday’s edition of The Intercept, the journalist Glenn Greenwald notes that Israeli living standards already surpass those in the U.S. in some critical areas.

While Israeli citizens enjoy universal health care, 33 million citizens in the United States don’t have coverage, Greenwald notes. Israelis also have a higher life expectancy, 82.27 years, compared to 79.68 years in the U.S. And Israel’s infant mortality rate – one of the best indicators of human development – is one of the lowest in the world, at 3.55 deaths for every 1,000 live births. Conversely, in the United States, 5.87 babies die before their first birthday.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last year that the number of Americans 16 years and older who were not in the workforce eclipsed 93 million people, an all-time high and nearly a third of the total US population of 321 million.

A 2012 Congressional Resources Service report, as reported by The Intercept, found that “U.S. military aid [to Israel] has helped transform Israel’s armed forces into one of the most technologically sophisticated militaries in the world.” Despite that aid, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly demanded as much as US$5 billion in aid a year.

What’s more, he has also opposed U.S. requirements that some of that money is spent with U.S. military contractors rather than Israeli ones. With the U.S. presidential elections just three months away, both political parties are campaigning to restore the once-vaunted middle-class prosperity in the country, but Israeli aid is all-but-sacrosanct in the electoral discourse. Early in the campaign Trump had suggested that he might not oppose the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, or BDS, against Israeli-made products – but has since reversed his position.

August 2, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , | 3 Comments

Neocon-like Groupthink Dominates Both Conventions

Hardline foreign policy prevails

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • August 2, 2016

The mass migration of apparently hundreds of nominally GOP neocon apparatchiks to the Hillary Clinton camp has moved Democratic Party foreign policy farther to the right, not that the presidential nominee herself needed much persuading. The Democratic convention platform is a template of the hardline foreign policy positions espoused by Clinton and the convention itself concluded with a prolonged bout of Russian bashing that could have been orchestrated by Hillary protégé Victoria Nuland.

The inside the beltway crowd has realized that when in doubt it is always a safe bet to blame Vladimir Putin based on the assumption that Russia is and always will be an enemy of the United States. Wikileaks recently published some thousands of emails that painted the Democratic National Committee, then headed by Hillary loyalist Debbie Wasserman Schultz, in a very bad light. Needing a scapegoat, Russia was blamed for the original hack that obtained the information, even though there is no hard evidence that Moscow had anything to do with it.

Those in the media and around Hillary who were baying the loudest about how outraged they were over the hack curiously appear to have no knowledge of the existence of the National Security Agency, located at Fort Meade Maryland, which routinely breaks into the government computers of friends and foes alike worldwide. Apparently what is fair game for American codebreakers is no longer seen so positively when there is any suggestion that the tables might have been turned.

Republican nominee Donald Trump noted that if the Russians were in truth behind the hack he would like them to search for the 30,000 emails that Hillary Clinton reportedly deleted from her home server. The comment, which to my mind was sarcastically making a point about Clinton’s mendacity, brought down the wrath of the media, with the New York Times reporting that “foreign policy experts,” also sometimes known as “carefully selected ‘Trump haters,’” were shocked by The Donald. The paper quoted one William Inboden, allegedly a University of Texas professor who served on President George W. Bush’s National Security Council. Inboden complained that the comments were “an assault on the Constitution” and “tantamount to treason.” Now I have never heard of Inboden, which might be sheer ignorance on my part, but he really should refresh himself on what the Constitution actually says about treason, tantamount or otherwise. According to Article III of the Constitution of the United States one can only commit treason if there is a declared war going on and one is actively aiding an enemy, which as far as I know is not currently the case as applied to the U.S. relationship with Russia.

Another interesting aspect of the Russian scandal is the widespread assertion that Moscow is attempting to interfere in U.S. politics and is both clandestinely and openly supporting Donald Trump. This is presumably a bad thing, if true, because Putin would, according to the pundits, be able to steamroll “Manchurian Candidate” President Trump and subvert U.S. foreign policy in Russia’s favor. Alternatively, as the narrative continues, the stalwart Hillary would presumably defend American values and the right to intervene militarily anywhere in the world at any time against all comers including Putin and those rascals in China and North Korea. Professor Inboden might no doubt be able to provide a reference to the part of the Constitution that grants Washington that right as he and his former boss George W. Bush were also partial to that interpretation.

And the alleged Russian involvement leads inevitably to some thoughts about interference by other governments in our electoral system. Israel and its Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did so in a rather heavy handed fashion in 2012 on behalf of candidate Mitt Romney but I don’t recall even a squeak coming out of Hillary and her friends when that took place. That just might be due to the fact that Netanyahu owns Bill and Hillary, which leads inevitably to consideration of the other big winner now that the two conventions are concluded. The team that one sees doing the victory lap is the state of Israel, which dodged a bigtime bullet when it managed to exploit its bought and paid for friends to eliminate any criticism of its military occupation and settlements policies. Indeed, Israel emerged from the two party platforms as America’s best friend and number one ally, a position it has occupied since its Lobby took control of the Congress, White House and the mainstream media around thirty years ago.

Donald Trump, who has perversely promised to be an honest broker in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, has also described himself as the best friend in the White House that Tel Aviv is ever likely to have. In addition to Trump speaking for himself, Israel was mentioned fourteen times in GOP convention speeches, always being described as the greatest ally and friend to the U.S., never as the pain in the ass and drain on the treasury that it actually represents.

No other foreign country was mentioned as often as Israel apart from Iran, which was regularly cited as an enemy of both the U.S. and – you guessed it – Israel. Indeed, the constant thumping of Iran is a reflection of the overweening affection for Netanyahu and his right wing government. Regarding Iran, the GOP foreign policy platform states “We consider the Administration’s deal with Iran, to lift international sanctions and make hundreds of billions of dollars available to the Mullahs, a personal agreement between the President and his negotiat­ing partners and non-binding on the next president. Without a two-thirds endorsement by the Senate, it does not have treaty status. Because of it, the de­fiant and emboldened regime in Tehran continues to sponsor terrorism across the region, develop a nuclear weapon, test-fire ballistic missiles inscribed with ‘Death to Israel,’ and abuse the basic human rights of its citizens.”

The final written Republican platform for 2016 as relating to the Middle East, drawn up with the input of two Trump advisors Jason Greenblatt and David Friedman, rather supports the suggestion that Trump would be pro-Israel rather than the claim of impartiality. The plank entitled “Our Unequivocal Support of Israel and Jerusalem,” promises to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, praises Israel in five different sections, eulogizing it as a “beacon of democracy and humanity” brimming over with freedom of speech and religion while concluding that “support for Israel is an expression of Americanism.” It pledges “no daylight” between the two countries, denies that Israel is an “occupier,” and slams the peaceful Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS), which it describes as anti-Semitic and seeking to destroy Israel. It calls for legal action to “thwart” BDS. There is no mention of a Palestinian state or of any Palestinian rights to anything at all.

The Democratic plank on the Middle East gives lip service to a two state solution for Israel-Palestine but is mostly notable for what it chose to address. Two Bernie Sanders supporters on the platform drafting committee James Zogby and Cornel West wanted to remove any illegal under international law affirmation that Jerusalem is the undivided capital of Israel and also sought to eliminated any condemnation of BDS. They failed on both issues and then tried to have included mild language criticizing Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and its settlement building. They were outvoted by Hillary supporters on all the issues they considered important. Indeed, there is no language at all critical in any way of Israel, instead asserting that “a strong and secure Israel is vital to the United States because we share overarching strategic interests and the common values of democracy, equality, tolerance, and pluralism.” That none of that was or is true apparently bothered no one in the Hillary camp.

The Democratic platform document explicitly condemns any support for BDS. Hillary Clinton, who has promised to take the relationship with Israel to a whole new level, has reportedly agreed to an anti-BDS pledge to appease her principal financial supporter Haim Saban, an Israeli-American film producer. Clinton also directly and personally intervened through her surrogate on the committee Wendy Sherman to make sure that the party platform would remain pro-Israel.

But many Democrats on the floor of the convention hall have, to their credit, promoted a somewhat different perspective, displaying signs and stickers while calling for support of Palestinian rights. One demonstrator outside the convention center burned an Israeli flag, producing a sharp response from Hillary’s spokeswoman for Jewish outreach Sarah Bard, “Hillary Clinton has always stood against efforts to marginalize Israel and incitement, and she strongly condemns this kind of hatred. Burning the Israeli flag is a reckless act that undermines peace and our values.” Bill meanwhile was seen in the hall wearing a Hillary button written in Hebrew. It was a full court press pander and one has to wonder how Hillary would have felt about someone burning a Russian flag or seeing Bill sport a button in Cyrillic.

Team Hillary also ignored chants from the convention floor demanding “No More War” and there are separate reports suggesting that one of her first priorities as president will be to initiate a “full review” of the “murderous” al-Assad regime in Syria with the intention of taking care of him once and for all. “No More War” coming from the Democratic base somehow became “More War Please” for the elites that run the party.

The Democratic platform also beats down on Iran, declaring only tepid support for the nuclear deal while focusing more on draconian enforcement, asserting that they would “not hesitate to take military action if Iran violates the agreement.” It also cited Iran as “the leading state sponsor of terrorism” and claimed that Tehran “has its fingerprints on almost every conflict in the Middle East.” For what it’s worth, neither assertion about Iran’s regional role is true and Tehran reportedly has complied completely with the multilateral nuclear agreement. It is the U.S. government that is failing to live up to its commitments by refusing to allow Iranian access to financial markets while the Congress has even blocked an Iranian bid to buy Made-in-the-U.S.A. civilian jetliners.

So those of us who had hoped for at least a partial abandonment of the hitherto dominant foreign policy consensus have to be disappointed as they in the pro-war crowd in their various guises as liberal interventionists or global supremacy warriors continue to control much of the discourse from left to right. Russia continues to be a popular target to vent Administration frustration over its inept posturing overseas, though there is some hope that Donald Trump might actually reverse that tendency. Iran serves as a useful punchline whenever a politician on the make runs out of other things to vilify. And then there is always Israel, ever the victim, perpetually the greatest ally and friend. And invariably needing some extra cash, a warplane or two or a little political protection in venues like the United Nations.

If you read through the two party platforms on foreign policy, admittedly a brutal and thankless task, you will rarely find any explanation of actual American interests at play in terms of the involvement of the U.S. in what are essentially other people’s quarrels. That is as it should be as our political class has almost nothing to do with reality but instead is consumed with delusions linked solely to acquisition of power and money. That realization on the part of the public has driven both the Trump and Sanders movements and, even if they predictably flame out, there is always the hope that the dissidents will grow stronger with rejection and something might actually happen in 2020.

August 2, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is Hillary Double-Talking on Trade Deals?

By JP Sottile | Consortium News | August 1, 2016

Did perennial Clinton rainmaker and current Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe let the cat out of the bag? The “cat” is the widely-held suspicion that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton isn’t really opposed to the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). The “bag” is the campaign narrative that frames her election year reversal on the controversial trade accord as the outcome of an honest re-examination of a deal that she once hailed as “the gold standard in trade agreements.”

Just to add to the confusion, Hillary Clinton failed to declare her opposition to the TPP in her historic acceptance speech. Instead, she asked assembled Democrats to join her if they “believe that we should say ‘no’ to unfair trade deals” and “stand up to China.”

It was an understandable omission given the grievances of Bernie loyalists poised to pounce on her every misstep. By avoiding the minefield completely she disappointed union leaders and deferred the issue until she debates Donald Trump.

Until then, she — and notable surrogates like economist Joseph Stiglitz — will try to convince a trade-weary public that she’s truly committed to renegotiating the increasingly unpopular deal. She’ll also be beating-back the ghost of trade deals past.

United Auto Workers President Dennis Williams claims Hillary assured him during the primary that she’s also committed to reopening the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Like the TPP, she was for it before she was against it. And like Hillary’s campaign promise to tweak NAFTA, McAuliffe suggested in an interview with Politico that – if she wins the White House – Clinton would make a few tweaks in the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal and then support it.

These caveats fit into a long pattern of trade policy triangulation that raises the question: Is this policy reversal truly a switch or just another bait and switch? There is good reason for the buyer to beware.

“Once the election’s over, and we sit down on trade, people understand a couple things we want to fix on it but going forward we got to build a global economy,” McAuliffe said.

Trading Places

NAFTA is America’s most notorious trade deal. Although It was negotiated by the first Bush Administration, it was Bill Clinton who closed the deal. At the end of his first year in office he guided NAFTA through the House and Senate by offsetting Democratic resistance with significant Republican majorities. Its ratification fit perfectly with the “centrist” mission of the Clinton-led “New Democrat” movement incubated by the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) during the preceding decade.

From its inception in 1985, the DLC triangulated against the Democratic Party’s “liberal” moniker that the GOP so effectively turned into an epithet after Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980. The historic loss of “liberal” former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis in 1988 set the table for the DLC’s corporately-minded “New” Democrats. The election of DLC star Bill Clinton in 1992 was the turning point.

With the DLC’s best salesman and former chairman in the Oval Office, the Democratic Party was open for business. His wheeling-dealing economic team opened a whole new avenue for Wall Street to influence U.S. government policies. The Democrats were no longer a political roadblock.

Even if these New Democrats weren’t completely trading places with the GOP, Team Clinton was certainly willing to triangulate against Democrats’ traditional constituencies … particularly on trade.

The biggest signal of Clinton’s brand new deal was Al Gore’s smug dismissal of Ross Perot’s NAFTA warning on Larry King’s CNN show about the trade deal causing a “giant sucking sound” of American jobs going to Mexico. In dismissing Perot’s worries, Gore fired the starting gun for the go-go globalization of the 1990s.

The Morning NAFTA

For the first decade of NAFTA, Perot’s “sucking sound” seemed to go in reverse. As Sonali Kolhatkar detailed on TruthDig, big U.S. agribusinesses flooded Mexico with cheap, subsidized corn and seven other market-crushing products. That tidal wave put small Mexican farmers out of work. Ironically, they flooded back across the border to work in — surprise! — Big Ag’s burgeoning factory farming operations in states like Iowa, North Carolina, Alabama and Arkansas. Go figure.

According to a 2014 assessment by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Mexico is still waiting for the promise of NAFTA’s economic leveling effect to be fulfilled. It’s actually lost ground on economic growth and GDP per person. And the poverty rate remains essentially unchanged.

But NAFTA did offer another low wage alternative to manufacturing in the United States. That helps keep retail prices low enough to match the eroding purchasing power of American consumers, which suffers because their wages are, like Mexican workers, flat or declining. The one thing that hasn’t suffered? Corporate profits and the executive compensation it is predicated upon. Again, go figure.

Where Credit Is Due

Although NAFTA is the usual target of anti-trade fervor, it simply doesn’t compare with the transformative impact of Bill Clinton’s biggest “trade deal” — securing Most Favored Nation (MFN) trade status for China. Repeated approval of Chinese access to U.S. markets set off a wave of job losses in America’s industrial heartland. It stoked corporate profits and consumer debt. And it ushered in the often-lamented era of the big box store.

Rising retail titans like Arkansas-based Walmart rushed into China’s incredibly favorable labor market. The cheap products they made turned the 1990s into a decade of plenty. Big box stores were stocked with cheap plastic stuff and consumers gobbled up the bargains with one or more of the credit cards they’d been given during an unprecedented era of ubiquitous consumer credit.

A study by Demos published in 2003 found that during Bill Clinton’s tenure the “average American family experienced a 53 percent increase in credit card debt, from $2,697 to $4,126.” Low-income families experienced a “184 percent rise in their debt.” And, despite the rise in income inequality during his presidency, even “high-income families had 28 percent more credit card debt in 2001 than they did in 1989.”

Demos also found a sharp rise in credit card direct mail solicitations from 1.52 billion in 1993 to a staggering 5 billion in 2001. Monthly minimums where lowered from 5 percent to 2 percent, thus making it easier to carry debt. And the consumer credit industry “tripled the amount of credit it offered customers from $777 billion to almost $3 trillion” by the time Clinton left office. It was a bill of sale first written by Bill Clinton on the campaign trail in 1992.

Promises, Promises

When Bill Clinton ran for president, the Cold War was over; the Savings and Loan scandal had exploded; the economy was mired in a sharp recession; and incumbent President George H.W. Bush couldn’t do a damn thing right. He seemed bored by people’s “pain.” He looked woefully out of touch in a grocery check-out line. And he’d broken the infamous “no new taxes” pledge that helped him defeat “Taxachusetts” Governor Michael Dukakis in 1988.

With Reaganomics on the ropes, Team Clinton scored repeatedly with their “It’s the Economy, Stupid” campaign. But Clinton also exploited another weakness — the Bush Administration’s quick embrace of the Chinese Government after the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. That embrace was sealed with a discomfiting handshake by Bush’s national security advisor Brent Scowcroft.

Shortly thereafter, President Bush renewed China’s “Most Favored Nation” trade status, which, among other things, lowered tariffs on Chinese imports into the U.S. He was widely criticized, often from within his own party, for cutting a deal with a regime some called “The Butchers of Beijing.”

In the 1992 campaign, Bill Clinton exploited Poppy’s “kowtowing” to great effect. Clinton accused Bush of “indifference toward democracy” in China. And Clinton famously said Bush was willing to “coddle dictators.” On March 9, 1992, Clinton proclaimed, “I do not believe we should extend ‘Most Favored Nation’ status to China unless they make significant progress in human rights, arms proliferation and fair trade.”

Of course, that all changed after he took office. On March 28, 1993, the cagey President announced he’d cut a deal with a Congress to extend a waiver that effectively approved MFN while deferring human rights-related conditions to the following year. Clinton even outlined other concerns, including China’s “$18 billion trade surplus” with the U.S.

But all those concerns, along with his campaign pledge, where jettisoned on March 27, 1994 when Clinton made the economy-changing decision to “de-link” China’s MFN status from human rights. That decision buried Tiananmen Square in the crowded graveyard of America’s often-trumpeted “advocacy” for human rights around the globe.

It also unleashed American corporations to dive headlong into China’s vast, cheap pool of low-wage labor. By the time Clinton made his state visit to China in the summer of 1998, MFN was becoming a footnote to the amazing story of China’s skyrocketing industrial output. Facing charges of hypocrisy on human rights, Clinton countered, “I’m going because I think it’s the right thing to do for our country.”

That may be a debatable point. What’s not in doubt is that it, like MFN, was the right thing to do for the bottom line of American business. And it was specifically beneficial for an emerging retail behemoth that had a long, close relationship with the Clintons.

The Power Greeter

Alice Walton likes Hillary Clinton. That’s a fairly safe assumption given the $353,400 check she cut for the Hillary Victory Fund during a mad dash of pre-election year fundraising at the end of 2015. And she also kicked in another $25,000 into the “Ready for Hillary” SuperPAC. Those big donations are, like the estimated $130 billion net worth of Walton family, a legacy handed-down from Walmart founder Sam Walton.

That legacy dates back to Bill’s time as Governor — when the Walton family began a long history of financial support of the Clintons, according to Bloomberg. It made sense given Walmart’s supersized role in Arkansas.

It also made good political sense that, as Michael Barbaro of the New York Times reported back in 2007, Hillary was brought onto Walmart’s Board of Directors back in 1986 at the behest of Walton’s wife Helen. That effort to add a woman to the boardroom turned into a six-year stint that cemented the long relationship between Arkansas’ most famous corporation and its most famous political family.

As Brian Ross of ABC News reported in the lead-up to her 2008 run, Hillary notably left that glass ceiling-shattering appointment out of her biography. She basically “de-linked” herself from a stridently anti-union company that was also a notoriously thrifty spender on employee wages and benefits. The ABC report also referenced a 1992 report showing her trumpeting Walmart’s “Buy America” campaign in spite of Walmart’s reliance on children working in sweatshops in places like Bangladesh. That’s a practice Walmart continued into the 1990s.

It came to a head in 1996 when All-American “sweetheart” Kathie Lee Gifford got embroiled in a child labor scandal in Honduras. Coincidentally, that scandal broke the same year Walmart entered China “through a joint-venture agreement.” And that was just two years after Bill Clinton “de-linked” human rights from MFN.

It was also the same year that he successfully renewed MFN with an overwhelming vote of support by the House of Representatives. The timing couldn’t have been better for Walmart. They’d auspiciously formed their international division in 1993 and were poised to profit off Bill’s broken promise to “not coddle dictators.”

But, as with all things Clinton, there really isn’t a “smoking gun” linking Bill’s MFN reversal with Walmart’s amazing good fortune in China. There is just the lingering miasma of happy coincidences. Bill Clinton’s crowning coincidence before exiting the Oval Office was Congressional approval of his proposal to give China permanent Most Favored Nation trading status in 2000.

The New Normal

On Oct. 10, 2000, he signed the U.S.–China Relations Act of 2000 into law. Most Favored Nation status officially became Normal Trade Relations. Also in that year, the $18 billion trade deficit he decried in 1993 ballooned to $83 billion. Meanwhile, Walmart rode low-cost Chinese manufacturing to the top of the retail heap. Walmart’s massive workforce is now the third largest in the world behind the U.S. Defense Department and, ironically, China’s People’s Liberation Army.

Amazingly, the U.S. trade deficit with China more than tripled to $263 billion in the eight years after Clinton secured “Normal” trade relations in 2000. Meanwhile, Walmart’s infamous low-wage practices at home were subsidized annually to the tune of “an estimated $6.2 billion in public assistance including food stamps, Medicaid and subsidized housing,” according to 2015 report in Forbes.

Also amazingly, the Clintons’ wealth skyrocketed to $111 million in the years after Bill left office. Hillary spent those years in and out of “public service” and the former President turned the Clinton Foundation into a $439 million powerhouse by 2014.

While the Foundation’s philanthropy is demonstrable, criticisms of it as a de facto slush fund remain. But the link between political promises and trade policy persisted. This time it was Hillary running for president. The trade deal was with war-torn Colombia. And the campaign trail leads back to the Clinton Foundation.

Rinse, Repeat

There is a strange symmetry between China’s MFN status, the TPP imbroglio and a notable “flip-flop” on the Colombia Free Trade Agreement by first-time presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in 2008. Then like now, she was competing against a movement candidate in newcomer Barack Obama. And then like now, she struggled to protect her “left” flank on economic issues.

At issue in 2008 was a sweeping deal negotiated by the second Bush Administration with the U.S.-supported, civil war-wracked narco-state of Colombia. Obama “vowed” to oppose the deal. To keep pace with her high-octane opponent, Hillary repeatedly reassured labor leaders of her opposition to the deal.

The rub was two-fold. Not only did she have a decidedly pro-free trade voting record as a senator. But both her free-trading husband and her chief campaign strategist were on record supporting the deal. She ditched her Colombia-linked strategist and matched Obama’s anti-deal stance. But, just like China’s MFN before it, the trade agreement with Colombia eventually became a “big win” for a Democratic President who was for it before he was against it.

This time it was a flip-flopping President Obama. With the help of his flip-flopping former foe and then-current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, he scored a trade deal trifecta on Oct. 12, 2011. That’s when Congress approved the United States-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement (CTPA) and separate deals with both South Korea and Panama. Obama called the trio of trade deals “a major win for American workers and businesses.” Alas, it turned out that there was a lot more change on trade than reason to hope Obama or Hillary would keep their promises.

Mining The Depths

Meet billionaire mining magnate Frank Giustra. According to the New York Times, the financial power-player’s global interests have included philanthropy and a $45 million stake in a deal to sell strategic uranium mines in Central Asia and the United States to the Russian atomic energy agency Rosatom. Strangely enough, those two interests — charity and strategic resources — fit together nicely. That’s because the uranium deal required U.S. agencies — including the State Department — to sign-off before it was approved.

The eight-year process for the uranium deal required approval by the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment of which the State Department is a member. That approval finally came in 2010 when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State and while the Clinton Foundation was continuing to collect millions of dollars from related investors.

Throughout, Giustra’s wheeling and dealing continued with his close friend and private jet-setting partner Bill Clinton, who gave a $500,000 speech to a Russian investment bank that gave the stock a buy rating.

Since 2005, Giustra has lavished the Clinton Foundation with repeated donations, adding up to in excess of $100 million. Yet, putting Bill Clinton’s oddly remunerative, but not uncommon $500,000 speech in Moscow aside, there still is no smoking gun linking then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the actual approval of the deal. Once again we just have that miasma of happy coincidences.

More troubling, though, is the coincidence that her husband’s friend Frank Giustra did benefit from the Colombia Free Trade Agreement deal’s “extreme” protections for foreign investors and special rights for corporations engaged in “resource extraction,” according to an eye-opening exposé by David Sirota, Matthew Cunningham-Cook and Andrew Perez of the International Business Times.

At issue is a company formerly known as Pacific Rubiales, an oil company founded by (you guessed it) Frank Giustra. The State Department repeatedly fielded accusations of workers’ rights and human rights abuses, particularly related to a strike targeting Pacific Rubiales in 2011. Strangely, the State Department not only ignored these accusations, but actually praised the Colombian government’s stellar progress on human rights. Was this Hillary Clinton’s “de-linking” MFN moment?

Maybe it’s worse. It looks like there’s a little smoke coming out of this gun. As Sirota, Cunningham-Cook and Perez reported:

“At the same time that Clinton’s State Department was lauding Colombia’s human rights record, her family was forging a financial relationship with Pacific Rubiales, the sprawling Canadian petroleum company at the center of Colombia’s labor strife. The Clintons were also developing commercial ties with the oil giant’s founder, Canadian financier Frank Giustra, who now occupies a seat on the board of the Clinton Foundation, the family’s global philanthropic empire.”

Those “commercial ties” include the “Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership” which its snazzy website calls a “pioneering an innovative approach to poverty alleviation” that “generates both social impact and financial returns by addressing existing market gaps in developing countries’ supply or distribution chains.”

Really, doesn’t that “pioneering approach” sound a lot like the long-term project of the Democratic Leadership Committee?

The “pioneering” privatization of “poverty alleviation” was a big part of then-President Bill Clinton’s famous “welfare reform bill” of 1996. Profitable privatized prisons grew to match the skyrocketing demand created by infamous “crime bill” of 1994. The “financial returns” flowed as the prison “market gap” was closed. And like neoliberal trade policy, deregulation of Wall Street and the media, it’s all symptomatic of the Clinton-led move of the party toward the corporate-friendly “center.”

As Frank Giustra said in a 2006 profile of Bill Clinton for The New Yorker, “All of my chips, almost, are on Bill Clinton. He’s a brand, a worldwide brand, and he can do things and ask for things that no one else can.” Based on a Giustra’s latest venture in Colombia — a big financial play in the Gran Colombia Gold Corporation — he’s still reaping the “free trade” rewards of his bank-shot bet on Hillary Clinton.

In fact, he’s not just going for the gold … but some silver, too.

Big Box Democrats

Back in 1992, the phenomenal Clinton political machine successfully sold the “new,” improved Democratic Party to Reaganomics-starved political consumers. He felt their pain. He also changed his party and opened the door to the big-box consumerism. Now that same sharp messaging machine is repackaging Hillary’s free-trading past, pulling Bill’s mixed political record from the shelves, and hard-selling her latter-day transformation on trade and economic policies.

The question is: Will suspicious voters buy her “Come to Bernie” moment as a wholesale conversion on the road to the White House? Disgruntled and disaffected voters have to buy into the idea that she’s truly changed on trade and is not, as Terry McAuliffe implied, simply repeating a well-worn pattern of bait and switch.

Simply put, she’s got a long, demonstrable history of supporting trade agreements. And by one account she specifically “pushed” the Trans-Pacific Partnership 45 times. But that was then and this now. And now she’s got a disillusioned cadre of #BernieOrBusters to her left and a new army of anti-trade Trumpsters to her right. That’s left her stuck in the “centrist” middle with the corporate donors, financiers and loyalists who’ve been shopping in the supermarket of political influence ever since the Clintons transformed the Democrats into the party of Big Box-style democracy.

August 2, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment