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RT Besieged by DDoS Attacks Days After US Think Tank Called for Cyber Terrorism

Sputnik – August 14, 2016

Hackers bombarded RT with a well-planned series of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks one week after the Atlantic Council wrote an article suggesting preemptive cyber terrorism against RT and the Moscow Metro.

Last week the influential Atlantic Council led by President Obama’s former Ambassador to Singapore and failed 2012 Republican candidate Jon Huntsman released a paper contemplating preemptive cyber attacks against the Russian infrastructure and RT’s offices. This week, RT was the target of the exact type of cyber terrorism that was postulated in the article creating cause for concern.

RT’s systems have been bombarded throughout the week by a “particularly well-planned series of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks that continued into early Friday” the outlet said in an article. The attacks targeted the station’s data centers and internet provider in the US, Europe and Russia.

The attack, which if conducted by a government would amount to an instance of censorship, caused repeated disruptions for RT.com visitors forcing the station to undertake necessary actions to prevent further attacks. According to RT’s IT specialists, “the attackers were trying to overwhelm to provider’s capacity.”

The attacks, according to IT experts, all originate from the same source as is established by the tactics and code signature used by the attackers. The hackers were deemed to be sophisticated selecting precise targets in order to create maximum disruption.

“It looks like the attackers are continuously studying the company’s outer network infrastructure and its security mechanisms. The cyberattacks that we are seeing are not the most powerful, but they are different from hundreds of others in their cunning methods and analysis – they are looking at how we will react or how we switch the traffic,” explained RT’s Head of Interactive Projects Elvira Chudnovskaya.

The attacks on the RT system are the most substantial in years with comparable attacks striking RT.com in February 2012 and in August 2012. The hacker group AntiLeaks, which opposed Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks, took responsibility for those two prior attacks.

Whether the attacks were conducted by US government or NATO assets or were simply conducted by individuals who share a like-minded approach to the Atlantic Council remains unclear.

See also:

That’s Awkward: Why is Washington Cheering al-Qaeda Linked ‘Heroes’ in Aleppo?

Hillary’s Top Surrogate Accuses ‘Trump and His Friend Putin’ of ‘Founding ISIS’

August 14, 2016 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , | 1 Comment

Noam Chomsky, Kevin Barrett and Academic Freedom

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

NOAM CHOMSKY Kevin Barret ee847

By Prof. Tony Hall | American Herald Tribune | August 7, 2016

Noam Chomsky has been much worse than hypocritical in the role he has chosen for himself in the study of 9/11. Chomsky treats the subject of 9/11 as if he’s some sort of master of analysis on the subject of what happened. He presents his conclusions without showing the due diligence of going through the relevant primary and secondary sources in a balanced and scholarly fashion. The primary sources Chomsky chooses to disregard include passenger lists, video and photographic evidence in the public domain, eyewitness accounts, original news coverage on the day of 9/11 and the like.

It seems that Noam Chomsky was well aware of Kevin Barrett’s case. Without naming either Barrett or the University of Wisconsin, Chomsky alludes to the matter in a video of an interview posted in 2011 on the You Tube channel of RPShredow. The item is entitled “Noam Chomsky Discusses 9/11 Conspiracy Theories.” The interviewer is Michael Albert. Chomsky’s comments begin with his observation that somewhere between a third and a half of all Americans ascribe to some version of the interpretations brought forward by the 9/11 Truth Movement. Chomsky then tries to alter a perceptual trend that he clearly does not like.

This very revealing and important video captures a low point in Professor Chomsky’s career. The manager of the You Tube channel on which the item appears has removed the comments section reporting that the eliminated responses were mostly from “the dumbest, annoyingest fucktards ever.” The unspoken message of this exorcism of dissenting voices is that it is acceptable to obliterate the remarks of those that dare criticize Chomsky’s position on 9/11.

The evidence of the specific nature of the detractors’ disagreements with Chomsky is eliminated, presumably by someone close to Chomsky, possibly even the unnamed interviewer himself. Much like those that throw up the “conspiracy theorist” label to evade the give-and-take of constructive dialogue, the self-appointed thought police in this case replace a critical exchange of ideas with a smear job calculated to demean and create hatred towards an identifiable group.

In the body of the video Chomsky exudes a remarkably aggressive outpouring of slander and vituperation against the broad array of individuals that have genuinely investigated the lies and crimes of 9/11. As part of this diatribe Chomsky refers to “some guy, who instead of teaching his courses taught about this stuff [9/11] and therefore wasn’t rehired, which is normal.” Chomsky’s prior knowledge of the details of the case to which he refers is well evidenced in a published E-Mail exchange he conducted with Dr. Barrett in 2008.

After introducing the Barrett case, a matter of which Chomsky knows much more than he lets on, the MIT professor then flips backwards in more ways than one. He reminisces that he himself “once taught courses on this kind of stuff but in my spare time.” Chomsky gives no explanation of the obvious contradiction between his blanket condemnations of those that study 9/11 and his recollection that he used to teach classes on similar subjects.

What courses did Chomsky teach in his spare time? What subjects did he decide to relegate to spare time studies? What is Chomsky’s rationale for decreeing that skeptical perspectives on the official narrative of 9/11 do not belong in the curriculum of courses other than those he would assign to spare time studies? Chomsky concludes this important segment on 9/11 and the role of universities by indicating that he himself would have been fired too had he acted like the unnamed “guy” he’s accusing. “You have some duties at the University,” implying Kevin Barrett did not perform them.

Chomsky badly misrepresents the Barrett case by indicating the university instructor in question— “some guy”— abandoned his responsibilities to teach the full curriculum. He accuses Barrett of devoting all his pedagogical energy to the sole subject of 9/11. As demonstrated by the outcome U of W’s internal investigation of this controversy, nothing of the sort happened. Dr. Barrett was found to be conscientious in integrating various perspectives on 9/11 into a much larger multi-faceted survey of Islam, both historically and in contemporary times. The senior academic thus smears the more junior academic, disregarding altogether the best documentary evidence of what happened in the classroom during the teaching of the course in question, namely Dr. Barrett’s offering of Islam: Religion and Culture.

By commenting as he did on a significant precedent-setting case, Dr. Chomsky aligns himself with those that intervened politically to cut short Dr. Barrett’s promising academic career. By acting as an opponent of the principle that the events of 9/11 present a vital subject for legitimate academic research and debate in our universities, Dr. Chomsky demonstrated he is no friend of academic freedom. He does not support the underlying principles that provided him with his own position of academic security from which to develop his oft contested ideas and theories.

The video’s content helps to reaffirm the significance of Barrie Zwicker’s seminal assessment of “Noam Chomsky’s Shame” in Towers of Deception in 2006. Moreover, it helps substantiate many of the allegations made by Kevin Barrett in his Left Forum presentation, “Why Chomsky Is Wrong on 9/11.” Chomsky’s frontal attack on the 9/11 Truth Movement should bring to the surface longstanding questions about the underlying motivations of America’s most highly publicized university professor.

You will read “Truth and Public Policy in the Digital Age” in the next part. 

August 14, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Top 10 ‘acceptable’ Western Establishment conspiracy theories

By Neil Clark | RT | August 14, 2016

The label ‘conspiracy theorist’ is used by Western Establishment gatekeepers as a means of shutting down debate and smearing those who have the temerity to challenge elite-friendly narratives.

As I argued in an Op-Edge last year, there’s a great irony here. Over the last twenty years or so, the biggest pushers of conspiracy theories (CTs) have been Western Establishment gatekeepers themselves.

In fact, the most outlandish, fact-free and downright dangerous ‘CTs’ have been promoted by those who are the quickest to yell “conspiracy theorist!” at others.

So here are the top ten ‘acceptable’ Western establishment conspiracy theories. If you peddle them you won’t be labelled a ‘crank’ or nut-job’, but be hailed as an ‘expert’ who may even be deserving of a column in a ‘serious newspaper’ like the Washington Post, or the London Times. And who knows, you might even get a lucrative offer from a top publishing house to write a book about conspiracy theories.

1.Iraq has WMDs which threaten the world!

The most deadly conspiracy theory of them all – one which led to an illegal invasion and the destruction of a sovereign state and the deaths of up to 1m people. But the people who promoted it paid no professional penalty. Thirteen years on, the ‘punditocracy’ in the US and UK is still dominated by those who assured us Saddam had WMDs (and also that the secular, cigar-smoking Sound of Music lover had links to al-Qaeda). Remember that the next time you see a smug, self-regarding member of the neocon elite journos club loftily accuse someone they regard as their social and intellectual inferior of being a ‘conspiracy theorist’.

2.Iran’s developing nukes!

Since the early 90s we’ve been told the Islamic Republic is on the verge of developing nuclear weapons, or has already got them. The claims made repeatedly over the past 25 years by Israeli PM Netanyahu have been echoed by the same bunch of uber-hawks who pushed conspiracy theory 1. If you assert, without any evidence that say, Zambia is on the brink of developing nukes, you’ll be called a nutcase. But if you assert, without any evidence, that Iran is doing the same, then you’ll greatly increase your chances of being invited as an ‘expert’ into the studios of Fox News or Newsnight.

3. Jeremy Corbyn deliberately sabotaged the ‘Remain campaign’ in Britain’s EU referendum.

This has been a popular conspiracy theory peddled in elite Blairite circles in the UK this summer. The same anti-Corbyn crowd who tell us that the left-wing Labour Party leader is a massive turn-off with voters, blame said Labour Party leader for not doing more to persuade Britons to vote to stay in the EU!

In fact, Corbyn’s qualified support for the EU was much more in tune with public opinion than the Blairites’ EU fanaticism. Labour under Corbyn did deliver a majority vote for Remain among its supporters. Meanwhile, Islington, where Corbyn has his own seat, registered the sixth best result for Remain (75.2 percent) in the country. Some ‘sabotage’, eh, folks?

4. Assad is helping/working with ISIS and wants them to expand.

This one has been pushed by and large by the same people who pushed CTs 1 and 2 above. The theory says that the wicked Syrian tyrant wanted ISIS to gain territory in order for him to present himself as the ‘good guy’ in the conflict.

However, we’ve learned from declassified secret US intelligence documents from 2012 that the prospect of a ‘Salafist principality’ being established in eastern Syria was “exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want” as it would “isolate the Syrian regime”. But let’s not mention evidence that it was Assad’s opponents – and not Assad – who welcomed the rise and expansion of ISIS.

That will only be dismissed as a conspiracy theory’!

And let’s ignore the Syrian Army’s liberation of Palymra from ISIS as well, shall we? It just doesn’t fit the ‘Why Assad won’t fight ISIS narrative!

5. Russia is providing ISIS with an air force

In October 2015, after Russia had started air strikes on terrorist targets in Syria, a new variation of Conspiracy Theory 4 started to circulate. Russia, we were told, was also helping ISIS and giving the Islamic State an air force!

Yet when a Russian passenger airliner was taken down by an ISIS/ISIL bomb later that month, we were told that it was a ‘warning shot’ for Moscow. If Russia was helping Islamic State/Daesh and providing it with an air force in Syria, why on earth would the group target a Russian plane?
As I wrote at the time: “You can’t say on one day that Russia is helping ISIS and that ISIS is gaining ground because of Russian actions and the next day claim that ISIS is bombing a Russian airline because they are, er.. angry with Russia”.

Or rather you can, if you’re a neocon who peddles outlandish anti-Russian conspiracy theories.

6. Trotskyists are taking over the Labour Party!

Record numbers of people are joining the Labour party to support leader Jeremy Corbyn, an anti-war democratic socialist whose policies represent a clean break with Blairism. And guess what?- these new members are disciples of a Russian revolutionary who died over 75 years ago!

Labour’s membership surged by 100,000 this summer – whoever would have thought there were so many Trotskyists in Britain! It’s all the more surprising given that the main Trotskyist party, the SWP, only has around 6,000 members.

According to Labour’s Deputy Leader Tom Watson, who opposes Corbyn, Trotskyist entrists’ are “twisting the arms” of young members. Perhaps they’re also threatening these young members with a spell in the Red Army…?

‘Trots under the bed’ is the 2016 variation of ‘Reds under the Bed’ for McCarthyite conspiracy theorists in the Labour Party, who are desperate to restrict party democracy and return to elite-friendly Tory-lite, pro-war policies.

7. Russia was behind the DNC email leak

No evidence has yet been produced that the Kremlin was responsible for the leaked emails from the Democratic National Committee, so let’s just push this conspiracy theory 24-7 shall we? It concerns Russia, an ‘official enemy’, so no need to wait for little things like facts, right? As Glenn Greenwald noted: “Democrats not only treated this evidence free conspiracy theory as Truth, but following the Clinton campaign, proceeded to smear Wikileaks as a Kremlin operation”.

8. Putin orchestrated football hooliganism in the European Football Championships to get Britain out of the EU

This has to be a strong contender for the nuttiest CT of 2016. Russia is very keen for Western sanctions to be lifted. So what does the Russian Prez do? He gets Russian football hooligans to attack England supporters in Marseille. And this apparently will make it more likely that Britain will vote to leave the EU.

I’m sure there were millions of people in the UK who read about English and Russian fans fighting each other in France, who turned to their partners and said ‘That does it. I’m voting for Brexit on Thursday’!

What a load of (foot)balls.

9. Donald Trump is a Russian agent

The argument in the West against Donald Trump goes: Since the Republican presidential contender does not seem keen on starting WW3 with Russia over Ukraine or Syria, he must therefore be a Russian agent! Either a ‘witting’ one or an ‘unwitting’ one!

We’ve even had claims that The Donald is a ‘Manchurian Candidate’ who is secretly working either for Russia, or for Hillary Clinton.

Again, peddle these evidence-free CTs in the US or UK and you won’t lose your credibility as a ‘respected commentator’. Far from it. But if you argue that Tony Blair or David Cameron were agents of the US – either ‘witting’ or ‘unwitting’ on account of their ‘pro-US policies’ you’d face ridicule and career death. Proving once again, that some conspiracy theories are more equal than others.

10. Dr Jill Stein is a Kremlin shill!

The Green Party candidate in the US Presidential Election is attracting plenty of support from progressives who can’t see what’s progressive about Wall Street-funded and neocon supported Hillary Rodham Clinton. So guess what? As her popularity rises, Dr Stein’s been smeared as a Kremin shill and is accused having ties to Vladimir Putin.

The ‘evidence’? Well, like Trump (see CT No 9), she doesn’t seem keen to start WW3, and wait for it, she attended, along with a lot of other public figures, the RT 15th Anniversary conference in 2015.

Going to Moscow and not wanting war with Russia – or indeed with anyone else – is apparently unacceptable, and enough to get another ‘acceptable’ Establishment conspiracy theory going, folks!


Follow Neil Clark on Twitter @NeilClark66

August 14, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 1 Comment

UK police under fire for training Bahraini forces

Press TV – August 14, 2016

A British parliamentary committee has criticized UK police for training Bahraini forces who are accused of ruthlessly suppressing public protests and dissent.

Under a confidential agreement in 2015 obtained by the Observer, the UK’s College of Policing agreed to train forces of Bahrain’s Interior Ministry.

The deal, however, does not mention human rights issues.

The UK parliament’s home affairs select committee has slammed the college’s agreements with regimes that have poor human rights records. The committee also blasted UK’s Foreign Office for refusing to disclose such contracts.

The committee said “opaque” agreements with foreign governments, which have been criticized for human rights abuses, “threaten the integrity of the very brand of British policing that the college is trying to promote”.

A law firm representing a tortured Bahraini activist has written a letter to the Foreign Office, saying the agreement with Bahrain raises concerns about the UK’s commitment to protecting human rights.

“We know the college provides a wide range of training programmes domestically that are of potential concern, such as the use of communications data obtained by telecoms operators, the use of interception material, surveillance and undercover policing, and the scope of its courses to overseas customers is not limited in any accountable way,” said Daniel Carey, of DPG Law.

He also argued that the college must have acquired the parliament’s approval for its profit-making activities. “The College of Policing is doing something unusual for government in selling services overseas.”

Anti-regime protesters have staged numerous demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis since February 14, 2011, calling on the Al Khalifah regime to relinquish power.

Troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — themselves repressive Arab regimes — were deployed to the country in March that year to assist the Manama government in its crackdown on peaceful and pro-democracy rallies.

Scores of people have been killed and hundreds of others injured or arrested in Manama’s crackdown on the anti-regime activists.

August 14, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , , , | Leave a comment

Obama’s Phony No First Use Nuke Proposal

By Stephen Lendman | August 13, 2016

In December 2001, the Bush administration issued its Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), asserting the preemptive right to unilaterally declare and wage future wars using first strike nuclear weapons. It remains US policy.

Obama campaigned against militarism, promising all US combat troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq if elected. They’re still there and in lots more places deployed during his tenure.

His 2010 National Security Strategy reflected old wine in new bottles – dressed up language, no substantive change, same old dirty business as usual – including pledged first-strike use of nuclear weapons against any adversary, nuclear armed or not.

Obama’s 2015 National Security Strategy followed the same pattern, including what the late Gore Vidal called assuring “perpetual war for perpetual peace.”

Obama stressed it at the time, saying “(w)e will lead through strength… by example… with capable partners, (using) all instruments of US power.”

Adding he’d “(s)triv(e) for a world without nuclear weapons,” he approved a $1 trillion program to upgrade America’s arsenal over the next 30 years – likely meaning double or triple this amount before completed along with probably using these weapons to wage war preemptively against one or more adversaries.

Throughout his tenure, Obama has been the most belligerent US president in history, bombing seven countries posing no threat to America, replacing sovereign democratic states with despotic US client ones, engaging in ruthless practices to undermine others – notably challenging Russia and China confrontationally.

On August 12, the Wall Street Journal ran a story about an Obama “ ’No First Use’ protocol for nuclear weapons” running into flack from some cabinet officials and allies in Europe and Asia.

The report reads like an administration plant to burnish Obama’s deplorable image. After seven-and-a-half years of naked aggression against multiple nonthreatening states, along with a first-strike nuclear posture, can anyone believe he suddenly became less warrior-like.

His scheme seems like a thinly veiled attempt to soften his deplorable legacy. Opposition from John Kerry, War Secretary Ashton Carter and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz gives him a convenient out to leave policy unchanged.

According to the Journal, “opposition from critical cabinet members and US allies reduces the likelihood of (any) change. (It’s) unlikely in his remaining months, given the controversy it would stir in the midst of a presidential election…”

Maybe an asterisk in his legacy will say he tried even though throughout his tenure, he “t(ook) (no) concrete steps toward a world without nuclear weapons” as he pledged in an April 2009 Prague speech.

Along with Henry Kissinger and Israeli war criminal leaders, no one less deserved Nobel Peace Prize recognition than Obama – a leader committed to waging endless wars with all weapons in America’s arsenal as necessary, including nuclear, chemical and biological ones.


Stephen Lendman can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

His new book as editor and contributor is titled Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.

August 14, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | 1 Comment

Elizabeth May should resign as leader of the Green Party of Canada

By Monika Schaefer | American Herald Tribune | August 14, 2016

Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada, is showing consistency in her subservience to the Israel-First-hidden-hand of government. At a recent Green Party convention, Ms. May voted against the majority of delegates who approved a motion offering the party’s support for Boycotts, Sanctions and Divestment movement. The BDS campaign is being mounted worldwide in response to the anti-Palestinian apartheid policies of Israel.

I say congratulations to the Green Party membership! I share the position of the majority who voted for the Green Party to support BDS. This vote demonstrates that Elizabeth May does not speak for the majority of the Green Party membership and therefore she should resign.

With her vote against BDS, Elizabeth May has demonstrated where her loyalties lie. Ms. May also demonstrated those loyalties in her recent reaction to my “Sorry Mom, I was wrong about the holocaust” video. Ms. May did the federal state’s bidding in her media hit job on me. She issued a press release condemning me without any recognition of my years of dedicated work for the Green Party of Canada. My contributions included several runs for elected office as a Green Party candidate federally and provincially.

Ms. May misrepresented the facts about the 2015 election, saying they denied my candidacy when in fact I had already formally separated myself from the GPC. Ms. May also distorted reality by declaring that the GPC would terminate my membership at the earliest opportunity, when in fact I had rescinded my membership a year earlier. I had resigned on matters of principle, based in part on Ms. May’s untenable position on 9/11. An excerpt from my letter of resignation is published here.

Elizabeth May has shown her true colours. “The hastily adopted [BDS] policy could draw accusations of anti-Semitism” she said. Voltaire described this type of behaviour best: “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize”.

My understanding of the roots of the Green Party is that we stood for peace, and that we agreed we would not align our political organization with the genocidal war agenda of the biggest bullies on the planet. Elizabeth May has betrayed the vision of the Green Party founders by showing where she stands on Canada-Israeli relations.


Monika Schaefer is a violin teacher living in Jasper Alberta in Japer National Park. She has been very active as a political activist in the peace movement, the environmental movement, the 9/11 truth movement and now in the movement for Open Debate on the Holocaust.

August 14, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Payback Doesn’t Pay Back: U.S.-Cuba Compensation Claims and the Difficulties of Negotiation

By Zachary Cohen and Patrick Denenea | Council on Hemispheric Affairs | August 12, 2016

Before 1959, three-fourths of Cuba’s arable land was owned by U.S. corporations and citizens.[1] The two nations were so tightly bound that Cuba’s economic policies were practically guided by U.S. interests alone. However, after Dictator Fulgencio Batista was deposed in the 1959 Cuban Revolution, Cuba’s economic relationship with the United States was shattered. As part of a process of nationalization, the new Cuban government seized land and factories owned by foreign companies and Cubans who fled to the United States, and in retaliation, the United States issued a strict embargo that continues to constrain Cuba’s economic potential today. Although diplomatic relations have gradually been re-established over the past several years through environmental agreements and the reopening of both embassies, a number of contentious economic grievances remind both countries of their Cold War past.[2]

The first round of talks were held in Havana, Cuba, on December 8, 2015, and while the initial meeting can be considered a positive diplomatic move, it was less of a negotiation than a preliminary discussion to establish the facts and specific demands. The second round, held on July 28-29 of this year, allowed for more substantive debate. The process of negotiations remains ongoing, and both countries seek to “resolve the claims as quickly as possible,” according to a U.S. State Department Official.[3]

Although concessions are not the most pressing issue on the table, the settlement of claims is necessary before full normalization of relations, due to the Helms-Burton Act. This 1996 law stipulates that “the satisfactory resolution of property claims…remains an essential condition for the full resumption of economic and diplomatic relations” between Cuba and the United States.[4] According to a Brookings report on the concessions, Helms-Burton “formally wrote into law the linkage between compensation and normalization of relations,” meaning that the United States sought to create a permanent strong-armed policy toward Cuba and legislatively cement the claims.[5] The law is thus indicative of a larger issue at hand; the United States has consistently undermined its own relationship with Cuba through counter-productive policies, which have had vast and long-lasting consequences.

The historical and political disputes that surround the issue of claims are so numerous that it is unlikely that substantial progress will be achieved anytime soon. Through an exploration of the nature of the demands and their historical roots in anti-communist ideology, it becomes evident that the United States is primarily responsible for the hostility that remains today.

Demands

Over 50 years have passed since the Cuban government under Fidel Castro nationalized all foreign-owned assets; nonetheless, hundreds of U.S. companies and individuals have not forgotten about their appropriated possessions and demand that they be compensated for their losses. These assets include personal bank accounts, oil refineries, cattle ranches, and sugar factories.[6]

In total, the assets being claimed by the United States amount to approximately $1.9 billion USD at their original value.[7] With a U.S. government-determined six percent simple interest added onto the concessions, this amount has accrued to over $8 billion USD.[8] In addition, outstanding judicial claims against the Cuban government levied by the United States add an additional $2.2 billion USD.[9] Cuba’s 2013 GDP was only $77.15 billion USD, which means that the country’s payment would amount to over thirteen percent of its GDP.[10]

Cuba’s counterclaim toward the United States is much broader and focuses on long-term problems rather than a specific event. The Cuban government is asking for $121 billion USD for economic damages, and $181 billion USD for human damages. The total amount, over $300 billion USD, drastically eclipses the United States’ claims of $10.2 billion USD. Though massive, the claims are a telling reflection of the historical damages caused by devastating U.S. policies. Economically, they address the long-term stagnation, isolation, and developmental damages that the country suffered at the hands of the embargo.[11] Additionally, Cuba seeks to hold the United States accountable for “acts of terrorism” committed in Cuba, including the Bay of Pigs incident and various covert CIA missions that killed thousands of Cuban nationals over the past fifty years.[12] In essence, Cuba is making a bold statement to the United States through their claim: if you seek to hold us accountable, we will do the same to you.

Negotiations

There are several critical issues impeding progress in U.S.-Cuba negotiations. First, the total claims presented by both sides are too high for a mutual settlement. The relative size of the U.S. demands, at 13 percent of Cuba’s annual GDP, means that Cuba is unlikely to be able to pay the full price. Similarly, from a pragmatic standpoint, it is hard to imagine that the United States has any incentive to pay Cuba even a single cent of a $300 billion USD request. Moreover, if either country refuses to negotiate on its demand, then the other will do the same; and an unsettled dispute will remain for both.

In theory, the purpose of the negotiations is to revise each side’s demands so that both countries reach a settlement. However, one key hindrance is that the judicial branches of the United States and Cuba have declared their own respective decisions to be legally valid. With both countries’ demands legitimized by the domestic legality of their claims, the demands are unlikely to be modified in the immediate future. On both sides, to lessen the amount demanded would mean depriving someone of compensation that they are legally owed.

An additional critical question arises when considering these claims: at what point does the past become the past? Is there a statute of limitations on these events that would render them as part of history, with less specific relevance to the present day? Given the continued level of contention regarding the specific effects of events from fifty years ago, it is likely that the issue of claims will not be forgotten until they are settled. Even as more and more of the claimants pass away, and the companies who lost property cease to exist, the bargaining chip of expropriated land remains vital for justifying the U.S. treatment of Cuba. Yet, just as actors within the United States are unlikely to forget their claims, the Cuban government will undoubtedly continue to press for justice.

Finally, straightforward negotiations are made improbable by the implications of reparation. If the United States ultimately compensates Cuba for human and economic damages, then it must also answer to legitimate claims from others across the globe who have been harmed at the hand of U.S. policies. For example, if the United States were to compensate Cuba for human damages, why not also provide reparation toward those who lost their homes during the Iraq War, who have suffered directly from U.S. actions as well? Therefore, the country is extremely unlikely to pay Cuba directly, as to avoid dealing with consequences of other historical wrongs. Through this notion of accountability, a double standard is exposed–while the United States is eager to continue pressing claims when its citizens are the ones who are damaged, Washington is quick to dismiss or deny reparations for anything it may have done wrong.

A Problem Entrenched by Ideology

While each roadblock in the negotiation is salient on its own, they can all be traced back to a broader source: the historical and ideological conflict which has defined the present relationship between the United States and Cuba.

The overall position of the United States can be largely characterized by ideological stubbornness, and is explained through concurrent historical narratives. During the process of nationalization in Cuba, the United States was not the only country whose citizens and corporations lost property. In fact, Canada, France, Switzerland, and Spain faced similar losses. Yet, these countries established claims agreements with Cuba between 1967 and 1973, and were able to put the issue behind them.[13] Reconciliation was incentivized by the prospects of increased trade in the future, and through their quick settlements, these governments were able to restore relatively positive diplomatic relations and beneficial trade relationships with Cuba.[14] Cuba’s trade with Spain and France drastically increased throughout the 1960s and 70s, and these countries have continually supported Cuba over the United States in regards to the embargo.[15]

Although the losses in assets for these nations were less sizeable than for the United States, the lesson of these narratives is clear. Cuba was more than willing to negotiate with other countries for lost property, and the final product reflects an overall beneficial outcome for all parties involved. In fact, the government’s intention for land reform was to create a more equitable Cuba and retain international relationships. In Cuba’s 1959 Agrarian Reform, enacted before the government began nationalizing land, Castro promised that Cuba would compensate the expropriated assets through Cuban bonds, a clear sign that his government sought revolutionary changes but still wished to remain part of the international community.[16] Though the government’s priorities shifted over the next few years, it remains true that Cuba did in fact make an effort to pay back the United States. However, the Eisenhower administration was too uncomfortable to accept the bonds as a secure method of payment.[17]

On October 19, 1960, as land reform in Cuba quickly proceeded, the United States government imposed the embargo and in essence declared that it would not support the Castro regime in any manner. The United States was so quick to reject Cuba’s proposal and fully embargo the country that it essentially extinguished the chance for an immediate resolution of the claims. With economic and diplomatic relations pushed aside because of ideological differences, the United States removed any capacity for a timely settlement to occur, even when Cuba would clearly have been a ready partner in negotiation.

Through its embargo, the United States entrenched the claims in a Cold War stalemate, ensuring that if the issue would ever be resolvable, it would be completely intertwined with grievances of Cuban economic and human suffering. If the United States had not placed the embargo and subsequently engaged in numerous retaliatory actions, Cuba would have far less to counterclaim–it is solely U.S. retribution that brought about such difficult negotiations today.

Conclusion

If it was Cuba who took the first step, it was the United States who began sprinting. If it was Cuba who first broke ground, it was the United States who dug the hole too deep to get out. The escalation of the claims conflict by the United States in 1960 has defined the tense relations more than Cuba’s initial land reform ever could have, and thus the various roadblocks obstructing a speedy negotiation can be attributed to past and present U.S. government policy.

However, the current talks nonetheless present an opportunity to redefine this relationship. It is a sign that both sides are finally willing to reflect on their interwoven histories. And at the very least, they’re talking, which is more than can be said for the past fifty years.

Original research on Latin America by COHA.

[1] Office of Global Analysis, FAS, USDA. “Cuba’s Food and Agriculture Situation Report, March 2008.” United States Department of Agriculture. Accessed August 1, 2016. https://www.ilfb.org/media/546435/fas_report_on_cuba.pdf

[2] US and Cuba to sign agreement on marine conservation and research.” The Guardian. Accessed August 12, 2016. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/nov/18/us-cuba-thaw-environmental-accord-marine-conservation

[3] “Senior State Department Official on Cuba Claims Discussion.” U.S. Department of State. Accessed August 8, 2016. http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2016/07/260666.htm

[4] U.S. Treasury Resource Center. “Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (Libertad) Act of 1996.” Accessed August 12, 2016. https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Documents/libertad.pdf

[5] Richard E. Feinberg. “Reconciling U.S. Property Claims in Cuba: Transforming Trauma into Opportunity.” Brookings. Accessed August 8, 2016. https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Reconciling-US-Property-Claims-in-Cuba-Feinberg.pdf

[6] Leon Neyfakh. “Cuba, you owe us $7 billion.” The Boston Globe. Accessed July 29, 2016. https://www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2014/04/18/cuba-you-owe-billion/jHAufRfQJ9Bx24TuzQyBNO/story.html

[7] Senior State Department Official. “Senior State Department Official on Cuba Claims Discussion.” United States Department of State. Accessed August 3, 2016. http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2016/07/260666.htm

[8] “Cuba, you owe us $7 billion.”

[9] Arshad Mohammed. “U.S., Cuba hold ‘substantive’ second round talks on claims.” Reuters. Accessed August 3, 2016. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-cuba-idUSKCN1091ZV

[10] World Bank. Accessed August 8, 2016. http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.MKTP.CD?locations=CU

[11] The US Embargo Against Cuba: Its Impact on Economic and Social Rights.” Amnesty International. Accessed August 8, 2016. http://www.amnestyusa.org/pdfs/amr250072009eng.pdf.

[12] Rosa Miriam Elizalde and Ismael Francisco, “Aberlardo Moreno sobre compensaciones Cuba-EEUU: Solo estamos conversando,” Cuba Debate, Accessed August 6, 2016. http://www.cubadebate.cu/noticias/2016/08/01/abelardo-moreno-solo-estamos-conversando-sobre-las-compensaciones-mutuas-cuba-eeuu/#.V64sDJMrJp

[13] Michael W. Gordon. “The Settlement of Claims for Expropriated Foreign Private Property between Cuba and Foreign Nations Other than the United States.” Lawyer of the Americas 5, no. 3 (1973): 457-70. https://www.jstor.org/stable/40175493?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

[14] Ibid, pg 460.

[15]Ibid., Chritine L. Quickenden, “Helms-Burton and Canadian-American Relations at the Crossroads: The Need for an Effective, Bilateral Cuban Policy,” American University International Law Review, Vol. 12 no. 4, 1997, http://digitalcommons.wcl.american.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1398&context=auilr.

[16] “Cuba, you owe us $7 billion.”

[17] Ibid.

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August 14, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment