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China Builds Military Base in Afghanistan

By Peter KORZUN | Strategic Culture Foundation | 30.01.2018

The Afghan province of Badakhshan borders China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. It used to be part of an artery between the East and West known as the ancient Silk Road. Today, that road is being revived as an element of China’s “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR) initiative, which has prompted major infrastructure construction in Afghanistan and Central Asia, designed to fuel Beijing’s interest in the province.

Afghanistan is home to significant deposits of raw materials that China could import. Beijing is investing $55 billion in neighboring Pakistan and plans to construct an economic corridor stretching to the Arabian Sea. OBOR will energize the global economy and benefit Afghanistan as well. China is Afghanistan’s largest trading partner and investor. Stability in Afghanistan is in China’s interest, but there is little hope the United States can provide it. After all, Washington has not achieved any substantial gains since 2001. There have been surges and drawdowns, changes of tactics and strategy, and many treatises on how to turn the tide of the war, but the Taliban is strong and the Afghan economy is in shambles – drug trafficking is the only type of business to thrive there. So far the Trump administration has not presented its long-awaited strategy outlining its Afghanistan policy, despite the fact that there are at least 8,400 American troops in the country. And their number will soon be growing. Relationships between the US and other relevant actors, such as Pakistan, are a mess. Washington recently suspended military aid to that country.

The instability in Afghanistan threatens the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor – an important element of OBOR. China is acting as a mediator, trying to reconcile the differences between the regional actors. Afghan-Pakistani relations deteriorated in 2017 when they each accused the other of rendering support to the jihadists operating in the border areas. Beijing is working hard to improve those bilateral ties. It set up three-way meeting between all the foreign ministers in 2017. One result of the talks was the creation of working panels to promote cooperation in various spheres of activity. Another meeting is expected to take place this year in Kabul.

The East Turkistan Islamic Movement, an Uighur nationalist and Islamic movement from China’s Xinjiang region, is active in Afghanistan. The militants gain combat experience fighting side-by-side with the Taliban and other militant groups. Beijing does not want those seasoned warriors to come back and engage in terrorist activities on its home soil.

Russia and China have stepped up their military aid to the Central Asian states. They believe that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) can substantially contribute to achieving a peaceful settlement. Both are trying to build a network of regional states. Moscow and Beijing are motivated by their national interests. Mindful of their responsibilities as major powers, they are working together to promote security in Afghanistan and Central Asia.

All told, China might feel that its interests in the area are strong enough to justify a military engagement outside its borders. Afghan government officials have reported that China is planning to build a military base in Badakhshan. Discussions over the technicalities are to start soon. The weapons and equipment will be Chinese, but the facility will be manned by Afghan personnel. Vehicles and hardware will be brought in through Tajikistan. No doubt Chinese military instructors and other personnel will also come to conduct training and assist missions. The vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission, Xu Qiliangclaims that the construction is expected to be complete in 2018.

After some powerful offensives in 2017, the Taliban temporarily captured the Ishkashim and Zebak districts of Badakhshan. The Afghan government failed to provide a military presence that was substantial enough to ensure security. An agreement with the local field commanders had been in place, giving them a share of the lapis lazuli production there, in exchange for a cessation of hostilities. But internal bickering undermined the fragile peace between the local groups, and the Taliban seized the opportunity to intervene. The Islamic State’s presence in the province is a matter of particular concern. It makes border security an issue of paramount importance for Beijing.

The question is: how far is China prepared to go? Until now, it has limited its military activities to special-operations teams patrolling the Wakhan Corridor. A military base in Badakhshan would be an important move demonstrating that Beijing is ready to expand its presence in the country and provide an alternative to the United States. China has a trump card the US lacks – its good relations with Russia and Pakistan. Beijing represents the SCO, a large international organization that includes actors such as Turkey, Iran, India, Pakistan, and the countries of Central Asia. Last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin took the initiative to restart the work of the SCO Afghanistan Contact Group. Those activities had been suspended in 2009. Russia advocates opening up direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban as soon as possible. Beijing also supports the idea. The two nations are in the same boat. Moscow has said it is ready to host a conference on Afghanistan.

The SCO can make the peace process a real, multilateral effort. It will weaken US clout in the region, but strengthen the chances for finding a settlement to the conflict. Cooperation and diplomacy might open a new chapter in the history of Afghanistan.

January 30, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Illegal Occupation | , | 1 Comment

Agreed: Nuclear War is not Such a Bad Thing

James Porteous looks at the deluded and amoral paradigm evinced in Foreign Policy magazine’s ‘analysis’ of the ongoing confrontation with North Korea.

OffGuardian | January 30, 2018

You don’t really have to read either of these Foreign Policy articles mentioned below.

Whether the authors are arguing It’s Time to Bomb North Korea or It is Not Time to Bomb North Korea, the basic narrative is the same: There are pros and cons in using nuclear bombs to ‘stop’ the threat of North Korea.

Both ‘arguments’ are framed in such a way so as to give the ‘impression’ that Serious Debate is taking place.

Indeed, the subtitle for each might be: Be prepared for intelligent discussions on the moral and legal and ethical consequences of using nuclear or other bombs to annihilate a sovereign country. And its people.

But no. Most of the pros and cons are the same. Most are based on the general assumption that this bombing will take place and it will be justified on every level known to man and that it would be silly to waste everyone’s time talking about things that are already completely and totally known and agreed upon.

So let us further agree not to bore each other with threats of moral and ethical and legal discussions. We are done and done. Had enough. We are moving on. Time for action. Are you a man? Are you a bag of sand?

Agreed: Nuclear action will take place.

So now the authors are free to cut right to the core issue and discuss in the most sanitized words possible the fact that people will die. Perhaps many people. Perhaps even millions. Which is a shame. To be sure.

But, fear not. Most of the dead will be ‘over there.’ As in not here. As in ‘my, isn’t that horrible. Too bad they forced us to do that to them.’ As in, ‘if these poor people did not want to die, why didn’t they do something about it!

The bottom line is that hundreds of thousands of people will die within days of a U.S. attack on North Korea and millions more could perish in the war that will inevitably follow. President Trump owes it to our allies in the region and our troops on the ground to adopt a smarter, more cautious approach.

Which is not to say the US should not make a ‘preemptive’ strike. It is to say the leader should be vigilant as to the effect such a move might have on US business partners throughout the world. He does not owe anything to the millions who could actually do all the perishing. We have agreed: Such deaths are inevitable.

Wikipedia: In nuclear strategy, a first strike is a preemptive surprise attack employing overwhelming force. … The preferred methodology is to attack the opponent’s strategic nuclear weapon facilities (missile silos, submarine bases, bomber airfields), command and control sites, and storage depots first.

FP again:

Even now, casualties could still be drastically reduced by a crash resilience program. This should involve clearing out and hardening with jacks, props, and steel beams the basements of buildings of all sizes; promptly stocking necessities in the 3,257 official shelters and sign-posting them more visibly; and, of course, evacuating as many as possible beforehand (most of the 20 million or so at risk would be quite safe even just 20 miles further to the south). The United States, for its part, should consider adding vigorous counterbattery attacks to any airstrike on North Korea.

And again, the argument is presented as though actually discussing whether the US has any moral responsibility to assist the millions of people in their quest to stay alive should the US take these actions.

Agreed: The US should sell more military equipment to South Korea so that they might better protect themselves in the aftermath of the inevitable attack of North Korea by the US.

Moving forward, we should support and empower the savvy U.S. foreign service officers and civil servants who are working to strangle the Kim regime’s lifelines of money, oil, and contraband.

Well, yes, but could it not be argued that many of those so strangled might be, you know, actual people?

Interesting thought. So in the end we have been presented with not one but two choices, really. To bomb innocent people or to starve them to death.

That is the democratic way! Two choices are always better than one!

But wait! We are human beings! We are not animals. In truth, we have no choice but to pick the more ‘humane’ alternative. Even the UN has agreed. The entire world has agreed. We have to do something and we could simply not bear witness to something as utterly inhumane as forced starvation of an innocent people.

Agreed: Bombing is most certainly preferable to death by starvation.

But, then again, what do ‘ordinary people’ know about mass, premeditated starvation. What do ‘ordinary people’ know about mass, premeditated starvation perpetrated by one regime, in one country after another, for decades and decades?

We can certainly be preemptively sorry for the death and destruction -whether by bombing or starvation- that has been and will be rained down upon millions of innocent people in the world, but Billy’s math marks are in the toilet and we need a certain level of calm if the stock market is to maintain its current levels and gosh if those darn drugs don’t work nearly as well as the used to.’

But clearly we have shown that our hands are not tied. We are making real choices. Indeed we are making humane choices. Indeed we have devoted an enormous amount of time thinking about what is best for the innocent people of Korea. And elsewhere.

Agreed: Nuclear war is not so bad after all.

Or, “Hail, Emperor, those who are about to die salute you.”

Agreed: What about those Oprah for President tweets! Wow. Now that is a story with legs!

James Porteous

January 30, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | | Leave a comment

In First, Judge Blocks Kansas Law Aimed at Boycotts of Israel

ACLU | January 30, 2018

TOPEKA, Kan. — The American Civil Liberties Union won an early victory today in its federal lawsuit arguing that a Kansas law requiring a public school educator to certify that she won’t boycott Israel violates her First Amendment rights.

A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of the law while the case filed in October proceeds. It is the first ruling addressing a recent wave of laws nationwide aiming to punish people who boycott Israel.

The law, which took effect on July 1, requires that any person or company that contracts with the state submit a written certification that they are “not currently engaged in a boycott of Israel.” The ACLU is also currently fighting a case filed in December against a similar law in Arizona.

“The court has rightly recognized the serious First Amendment harms being inflicted by this misguided law, which imposes an unconstitutional ideological litmus test,” said ACLU attorney Brian Hauss, who argued the issue in court. “This ruling should serve as a warning to government officials around the country that the First Amendment prohibits the government from suppressing participation in political boycotts.”

In his opinion, U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree wrote, “[T]he Supreme Court has held that the First Amendment protects the right to participate in a boycott like the one punished by the Kansas law.”

Other Supreme Court decisions have established that the government may not require individuals to sign a certification regarding their political expression in order to obtain employment, contracts, or other benefits.

The ACLU represents Esther Koontz, who belongs to the Mennonite Church USA. In accordance with calls for boycott made by members of her congregation and her church, Koontz decided not to buy consumer products made by Israeli companies and international companies operating in Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. Koontz participates in this boycott in order to protest the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians and to pressure the country to change its policies.

Having served as a public school math teacher for nine years, Koontz now develops her school’s math curriculum and trains teachers on how to implement it. She is also qualified to train teachers statewide as a contractor with the Kansas Department of Education’s Math and Science Partnerships program. When Koontz was asked to certify that she does not participate in a boycott of Israel, she said that she could not sign the form in good conscience. As a result, the state refuses to contract with her, and she is unable to participate as a trainer in the state’s program.

Judge Crabtree wrote in his opinion, “She and others participating in this boycott of Israel seek to amplify their voices to influence change.”

The lawsuit argues that the Kansas law violates the First Amendment for several reasons: it compels speech regarding protected political beliefs, associations, and expression; restricts the political expression and association of government contractors; and discriminates against protected expression based on its content and viewpoint. The lawsuit asks the court to strike down the law and bar the Kansas Department of Education from requiring contractors to certify that they are not participating in boycotts of Israel.

The Kansas law is similar to legislation that has been passed in other states. The ACLU does not take a position on boycotts of foreign countries, but the organization has long supported the right to participate in political boycotts and has voiced opposition to bills that infringe on this important First Amendment right. In the lawsuit challenging the Arizona law, the ACLU represents an attorney and his one-person law office, which contracts with the government to provide legal services to incarcerated individuals.

In July, the ACLU sent a letter to members of Congress opposing a bill that would make it a felony to support certain boycotts of companies doing business in Israel and its settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. As a result, Senate sponsors of the bill are considering changes.

Today’s ruling is here:

https://www.aclu.org/legal-document/koontz-v-watson-opinion

Also documents filed in the case are here:

https://www.aclu.org/cases/koontz-v-watson-challenge-kansas-law-targeting-boycotts-israel

January 30, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Battle of Khaled Al Hamedi, a Libyan Citizen, Against the Impunity of NATO

Internationalist 360° | January 27, 2108

In 2011, an Alliance bomber exterminated his family in Sorman, Libya.

Speaking at the Rimini meeting in the summer of 2017, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg repeated several times that NATO works for peace and stability, with a shamelessness equal to the impunity enjoyed by the organization and its members.

To which NATO country did the bomber that exterminated the family of Khaled Al Hamedi on June 20, 2011 in Sorman, Libya belong?

“Only the NATO Alliance knows the country in question, and will not reveal it,” replies the Belgian lawyer Jan Fermon who represents Al Hamedi. The lifeless bodies of Khaled Al Hamedi’s pregnant wife, his children and other relatives and friends were removed from the rubble. Seven months – from March to September 2011 – the operation called “Unified Protector,” lasted in Libya, initiated thanks to the strategic use of false news and in the name of a new and instrumental international theory, the “responsibility to protect.”

The joint actions of NATO from the sky and the “rebels”, its allies on the ground, certainly resulted in thousands of dead and wounded among civilians. Think of the siege against Sirte and Bani Walid, the destruction of Tawergha (a city of Libyans of African origin, killed or deported by the armies of Misrata), the sub-Saharan workers who vanished while others were found among the bodies of the dead caught in the vortex of racist violence.

In July 2011, Tripoli presented a list with over a thousand names of victims. The process of assessment and verification of civilian casualties was interrupted by the “rebels” taking power, who then sabotaged all body count efforts.

Material and moral damages suffered by almost all victims would not have recognition or compensation even if international justice actually worked, rather than exempt the powerful as it does. But at least for certain events, legal avenues can be utilized and Khaled Al Hamedi embarked on this path of legal struggle in 2012 – so far without success.

He also created the NATO Victims Association (www.anvwl.com). The latest development was on November 23, 2017 when the Court of Appeal of Brussels (NATO is based in Belgium) responded negatively to the appeal of lawyer Jan Fermon: “The immunity of NATO has been confirmed.

A lost opportunity for a great step forward in the application of international law on human rights and international humanitarian law. But we will go on.” To a Martian, the immunity of an organization that bombards and therefore has the power of life and death throughout the world might seem strange. But so its founders decided with the Ottawa Treaty of 1951.

Immunity is combined with silence, and Fermon can not therefore act against the unknown country responsible for the bombing operation on Sorman. Khaled Al Hamedi called for Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which provides for every citizen the right to access a court. A right, however, that may be subject to limitations, and the Court of Appeal reiterated it.

But would it not be able to raise the illegality of the NATO intervention in Libya, which went far beyond the dubious 1973 resolution of the Security Council that restricted the mandate to protect civilians?

“Yes,” the lawyer answers. “Launching such lawsuit on the political side makes things more difficult than if you stay on the ground of individual right. And then, even if the war were legal, the deliberate bombing of Sorman is still a war crime.”

So why not appeal to the International Criminal Court (ICC-CPI), however notoriously partial?

“The Security Council Resolution 1970, in effect, formally entrusted the ICC with all crimes committed in Libya; but it is very clear that it was aimed only at Gaddafi. And then, the prosecutor often does not even initiate the investigation. There are very strong pressures.”

Therefore Khaled will perhaps adhere to the European Court of Human Rights, or try again with Belgian justice. So far, all attempts made to try the winners of the wars of aggression (the “supreme international crime” according to the definition given at Nuremberg) when they are conducted by the NATO-Gulf Axis, have been useless.

At most, and not in many cases, there have been provisions for small compensation for the suffering of the “collateral damage” of war, the surviving victims – in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan.

This is why, according to Jan Fermon, “the fight against impunity is above all a struggle by the peoples. It is political, even if it has to be translated into juridical principles.”


Note: This article first appeared in Italian in Il Manifesto

Read the Complete Interview: The Association of Victims of NATO in Libya Fights Against Impunity of the Powerful

January 30, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Tillerson’s Promise of More War in Syria Gets Warm Reception From Corporate Media

By Gregory Shupak | FAIR | January 29, 2018

In a speech at Stanford this month, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declared that America intends to keep military troops in Syria indefinitely, in pursuit of the US’s “key end states for Syria,” including “post-Assad leadership,” the marginalization of Iran and the elimination of “weapons of mass destruction” that the US claims Syria has.

Occupying a country without the permission of the host government, as America is doing in Syria, contravenes international law. Nor does the US have a legal right to pursue regime change in Syria. Yet multiple media outlets have praised Tillerson’s remarks.

Newsweek (1/19/18) ran an article from the Atlantic Council’s Frederic Hof that called Tillerson’s speech “a major improvement in the American approach to the crisis in Syria.” The piece concluded that “what Mr. Tillerson has articulated is more than good enough as a starting point for a policy reflecting American values and upholding American interests.”

The Washington Post editorial board (1/22/18) also endorsed American violation of international law, writing that

Tillerson bluntly recognized a truth that both President Trump and President Barack Obama attempted to dodge: that “it is crucial to our national defense to maintain a military and diplomatic presence in Syria, to help bring an end to that conflict, and assist the Syrian people . . . to achieve a new political future.”

The same paper’s Jennifer Rubin (1/23/18) wrote:

Belatedly, Tillerson has recognized (as critics of both Trump and President Barack Obama have long argued) that we do have a national interest in Syria, cannot tolerate the indefinite presence of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and need to recognize that if we mean to check Iranian aggression, we will need to maintain a presence in Syria.

In Rubin’s conception, Iran’s presence in Syria—at the request of the recognized government—is “aggression,” whereas America’s is apparently legitimate.

The Atlantic (1/18/18) published a piece by Kori Schake, a self-identified supporter of “regime change [and] long-term military commitments.” Schake called Tillerson’s speech

both sensible and fanciful. It was sensible in that it gave a history of Syria’s grisly war, stated clearly America’s interest in continued involvement even as ISIS is defeated, and outlined policies consistent with those interests. It was fanciful in that the policies outlined would require a much greater measure of American involvement than has been in evidence by this administration—or were committed in yesterday’s speech—to succeed.

For Schake, the problem isn’t that the goal of America’s Syria policy is to illegally occupy a country and overthrow its government, while ratcheting up already dangerously high levels of hostility towards Iran and Russia. It’s that that the Trump administration isn’t doing enough to achieve this.

Meanwhile, accounts of Tillerson’s speech on CNN (1/18/18) and Buzzfeed (1/18/18) opt not to make any reference to the absence of a legal basis for what he describes. One of the few allusions of any kind to international law was a throwaway line in an AP report (1/24/18): “The Islamic State’s retreat also has forced the US to stretch thinner its legal rationale for operating in Syria.” What that rationale might consist of was not explained.

The Best Way to End War Is More War

Tillerson is proposing a prolongation and escalation of the war in Syria. The Syrian government will not passively allow itself to be removed by the US military, and neither will Syria’s allies from Russia, Iran and Hezbollah. So in practice, Tillerson’s policy means a wider, more dangerous conflict.

Yet the Newsweek piece (1/19/18) accepts that the plan is aimed at creating “conditions suitable for the return of refugees and internally displaced persons to their homes”—the opposite of what war produces.

Not only are media outlets failing to address the violence implicit in Tillerson’s policy, they are claiming the opposite and treating it as a plan for peace in Syria. These articles do not explain how a US-led regime change war will achieve that, instead of the years of war and slave markets such policies brought to Libya, or the half million to a million civilians killed in Iraq.

These publications take for granted that the US has a right to decide who governs Syria. For example, an Atlantic article by Paul McLeary (1/18/18) characterizes the US plan to maintain an occupying force in Syria and compel the ouster of its government as “nation-building,” though “nation-destroying” is probably more apt.

The Washington Post (1/22/18), similarly, echoes Tillerson’s claim that if the US were to “abandon” Syria, it would be “repeat[ing] the mistake the United States made in Iraq,” when “a premature departure . . . allowed Al Qaeda in Iraq to survive and eventually morph into ISIS.” The Post missed the possibility that the US’s “mistake” in Iraq was invading in the first place, one consequence of which was the birth of both Al Qaeda in Iraq and ISIS.

The paper also claims:

Critics predictably charge that Mr. Trump is launching another “endless war” in Syria. In fact, the administration has simply recognized reality: The United States cannot prevent a resurgence of Al Qaeda and the Islamic State, prevent Iran from building bases across Syria, or end a civil war that has sent millions of refugees toward Europe without maintaining control over forces and territory inside the country.

The editors go on to write that the Trump administration “has rightly absorbed the lesson that [America’s] way out [of Syria] starts with a serious and sustainable US commitment.”

In other words, the best way for the US to get out of Syria is to stay in Syria, and the best way to end the war in Syria is more war in Syria.

January 30, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 2 Comments

‘Construction terror’ is Israel’s latest metaphor for Palestinian displacement

By Ramona Wadi | MEMO | January 30, 2018

Israel’s construction of its politics on contrasting levels which echo its colonial agenda knows no limits. Now that the international community is largely reluctant to do more than refer to previous statements of colonial expansion as illegal, Israel is more explicit in promoting its state and settler narratives in its appropriation of land ownership.

A news report published on Monday in Haaretz quotes Jewish Home Party MK Moti Yogev: “Our goal is to protect state lands, consistent with decisions by the state not letting their status be determined by construction terror guided by the Palestinian Authority with the intervention of international elements such as the European Union.” He also suggested legal recourse against Palestinians opposing demolition orders.

This is not the first time that such rhetoric has been used. In April 2016 a press release titled “Re-evaluate state’s handling of EU-funded construction in Area C” described Palestinian dwellings in similar terms, accusing the EU of financing “construction and infrastructure terror”.

There is much to be gleaned from Yogev’s comment. First, Israel has achieved a level of comfort in appropriating land and narratives – so much so that it confidently projects its own “construction terror” label upon the indigenous, colonised population. The statement also alleges a comprehensive approach by the Palestinian Authority which is endorsed by the EU, despite the fact that both entities do not exhibit humanitarian concern other than perfunctory requirement. By attempting to discuss the EU-funded dwellings from a legal perspective, Israel is also asserting its violation of Palestinian rights above international law.

Yogev has omitted the strategy which allowed for such a travesty to take place – namely the international consensus, departing from Israel’s narrative, that Palestinians should only be granted a sliver of prominence if it serves colonial interests. The EU-funded dwellings are a case in point. Israel’s persistent demolition of such dwellings has incurred financial losses for the EU, yet it is also the means through which it can sustain its peace-building façade without substantive damage given that its cooperation with Israel remains lucrative.

One of the EU-funded buildings in Area C which is threatened with demolition and ostensibly an example of Yogev’s “construction terror” is a primary school attended by 33 students from the Bedouin community of Al-Muntar. If the demolition order is carried out, these students’ education will be permanently disrupted due to the lack of educational facilities in the vicinity.

Under the pretext of terror – a blatant lie on behalf of Israel – Yogev is preparing the foundations for another phase in the colonial expansion agenda. It is easy to see that the only perpetrators of “construction terror” are Israel and its settler population. The recent funding deficit to UNRWA has created a favourable context for Israel to normalise deprivation and forced displacement of Palestinians.

While Israel benefits from studying sequences and exploiting opportunity, the international community has made a mockery of humanitarian concerns by wilfully neglecting the real needs of the Palestinian population. This has been achieved to the extent that Israel can coin a term such as “construction terror” and rest assured that its absurdity will not be disputed. Neither will there be any permanent embarrassment regarding the fact that the international community could have applied such a label to Israel since 1948. The outcome, however, is predictable. Israel will distinguish between settlement expansion and the purported construction terror and lobby the international community for support in this endeavour. Not to gain explicit recognition of its duplicity, but to gain an extension of silence over the aim of creating more internally displaced Palestinians at a rate which increases the discrepancy between needs and the finance allocated to alleviate symptoms generated by deprivation.

January 30, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , | Leave a comment

Let’s Keep Donald Trump

True believer Mike Pence could be a whole lot worse

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • January 30, 2018

When President Donald Trump traveled to Davos last week, the second foreign head of government he met with was Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu. When the expected groveling before Bibi was concluded the rest of the world learned that Trump is right on board the Netanyahu bandwagon when it comes to making sure that the Palestinians somehow disappear. Trump flat-out lied in asserting that “I can tell you that Israel does want to make peace,” a line that comes straight out of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs playbook, but drew a frown from Bibi when he suggested there might actually have to be some concessions from both sides to reach an agreement. Netanyahu does not do concessions.

President Trump, who has no coherent Middle Eastern policy apart from abject deference to Israel, was particularly miffed because the Palestinians had “disrespected” Mike Pence on his visit to the region earlier in the week. They had refused to meet with the U.S. Vice President over the issue of Israel’s claimed sovereignty in all of Jerusalem, which the Administration endorsed and claims to have “taken off the [negotiating] table.”

In response to the Palestinian affront, Trump threatened to cut any aid going to Ramallah unless its leaders get their pathetic asses back to participate in U.S. brokered negotiations where everyone can sit around and talk while the Israelis systematically devour what is left of the West Bank. “That money is on the table and that money’s not going to them unless they sit down and negotiate peace,” he said. Someone should have told The Donald that U.S. assistance goes largely to pay and train a Palestinian police force that works hand-in-hand with the Israeli occupiers to prevent attacks on Israelis. But hey, being president means you never have to say you’re sorry when you screw things up.

Trump has already cut in half the money going to United Nations relief efforts helping Palestinian refugees, many of whom still live in camps seventy years after the Jews stole their homes. Donald Trump is right of course. Why throw money at ragheads when you can instead suck up to the infinitely more powerful and wealthy world Jewry that the sly and slimy Netanyahu claims to represent?

Meanwhile back at home multiple moves are underway to get rid of Trump, ranging from declaring him mentally incompetent to impeachment for perjury or for lack of good manners. I would like to see him go due to his sheer fecklessness, particularly if he can take Mattis, McMaster, Pompeo, Tillerson and Haley with him. But there is a serious fly in the ointment, namely what would come next? The answer is President Mike Pence.

Mike Pence caught some heat during the campaign because of some of his idiosyncrasies like “never eat[ing] alone with a woman other than his wife.” Whether that was true because of the apparently overwhelming sexual urges that seem to afflict nearly all congressmen and Hollywood producers, or because of something in the Bible, or even to avoid possible allegations of misbehavior, was not at all clear.

And speaking of the Bible, Pence is both a Christian fundamentalist and a dispensationalist, which means that he thinks every word in the Good Book is literally true and that Christianity is going through phases or dispensations that will lead to the rapture of true believers into heaven followed by the wrath of God descending on those who refuse to see the light.

The odd thing about people like Pence is that they stick like glue to their Scofield Reference Bibles but apparently rarely venture into the New Testament part with its talk of compassion and forgiveness. They much prefer the fire and brimstone in the Jewish part with Joshua smiting and Philistines (Palestines?) falling left and right. Pence and his co-believers, who are sometimes labeled Christian Zionists, consider Jews to be the Chosen People of God and Israel’s creation and survival are all part of the master plan that will lead to the end of the world as we know it. The re-creation of a Jewish state and the gathering in of as many of the world’s Jews as possible is seen as a critical step to achieve the Second Coming of Christ, which Pence and his associates fervently hope will occur soon. At that point, it is assumed that the Jews will realize that Christ is truly their Messiah and will mass-convert. If they do not they will be consumed in fire like all the other unbelievers.

Well, Pence is undeniably a true believer in the worst way, but he can choose to believe whatever he likes. The problem with him is that, given his senior role in the government, his firmly held religious beliefs are no longer a personal issue. They inevitably have political, economic and national security consequences for all Americans, not just for those who see things as he does. Only 20% of Americans actually go to church and of those only a portion are aligned with Pence on what Christianity means, suggesting that his is a minority viewpoint within a minority viewpoint.

Pence’s views on the Middle East as influenced by his particular religiosity were on full display during his recent trip to Israel, a country that he has visited eight times. The Vice President’s speech before the Knesset first required the removal of all Arab members of that body, who had loudly expressed their disapproval of what they knew was coming.

Pence was applauded frequently by those who remained, particularly when he praised Israel effusively or damned Iran. Ironically perhaps, no one in the audience seemed to be too disturbed by the ultimate meaning of his evangelical fervor in that the End of Days and battle of Armageddon that he looks forward to will also be the end for Jews who do not convert, a point that was commented on drily by the Haaretz newspaper. But the gathering was really all about Pence expressing his personal commitment to unlimited and uncritical support by Washington for Israel, so theological niceties were politely ignored.

The speech itself explains what a Pence presidency would look like in regards to the Middle East. He began with the usual sucking-up to one’s hosts that politicians are so good at, “… I am here to convey a simple message from the heart of the American people: America stands with Israel. We stand with Israel because your cause is our cause, your values are our values, and your fight is our fight. We stand with Israel because we believe in right over wrong, in good over evil, and in liberty over tyranny. We stand with Israel because that’s what Americans have always done…”

The scary thing is that Pence likely believes his own rhetoric. It would be hard to compress so much nonsense into a few sentences without looking completely ridiculous, but Pence in his zealotry seeks to convey a measure of rectitude relating to a whole basket of untruths without even breathing hard. First of all, the American people have never endorsed the relationship with Israel in any way and do not “stand with Israel” out of any conviction. Recent opinion polls suggest that most Americans are quite ambivalent about Israel and what it represents in spite of having been on the receiving end of more than fifty years of incessant propaganda extolling falsely “the only democracy in the Middle East.”

In truth, the Israeli special relationship is something that has been created and fostered by a corrupted-by-cash political class and a Jewish dominated media supported by a powerful and unscrupulous domestic Lobby backed up by an oligarchy of Jewish-Zionist billionaires. This line-up has created a national myth about Israel that could have been scripted by Leon Uris of Exodus fame.

As for values and causes, Americans would be appalled if they were to witness the misery inflicted on the Palestinians by the Israelis. Right over wrong? Good over evil? Where is the justice for the Palestinians in that Israel’s government is itself evil, an apartheid state that denies benefits to its own citizens if they adhere to the wrong religion. Tyranny? That’s what occurs in the West Bank and in the strangling of Gaza every single day, to include the beating and shooting of children and legless protesters.

And Pence even had a crumb to throw to the audience back at home regarding the impending move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, saying “Our president made his decision, in his words, ‘In the best interests of the American people.’” Sure Mike, shifting the U.S. Embassy was an astute move made by a completely ignorant chief executive at the urging of an Israeli citizen billionaire contributor named Sheldon Adelson, who owns lots of casinos, backed up by the president’s son-in-law and a bunch of Orthodox Jewish advisers. Lots of real American interest there. It was a move that brings absolutely no benefit to the United States, quite the contrary, and which has, pari passu, made American travelers and businessmen even more hated overseas, turning them into targets for terrorism.

And then there is Iran… “the leading state sponsor of terror… a brutal dictatorship… seeking to dominate the Arab world… devoted more than $4 billion to malign activities in Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere… supported terrorist groups that even now sit on Israel’s doorstep… and, worst of all, the Iranian regime has pursued a clandestine nuclear program.” It is all another bowl of porridge. Iran has voluntarily given up its nuclear weapons program [related activities] and was fighting ISIS in Syria. It is seen as a threat by neighbors like the Israelis and Saudis who have their own hegemonic ambitions. And if the poor Israelis have terrorist groups on their doorstep it is because they invited them there through their completely cynical support of al-Qaeda and ISIS in neighboring Syria.

Regarding Iran, Pence concluded to rapturous applause that “President Trump has said that the United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal immediately.” So, terminating a diplomatic success story and virtually guaranteeing that Iran will go nuclear, no doubt followed by Egypt and the Saudis, is seen by Pence and the Knesset as a good outcome because it is what Israel wants. Of course, the real intention on Netanyahu’s part is to go to war with the Iranians with the United States doing the fighting, so no wonder he’s smiling. Nice one Mike.

Pence concluded with “The miracle of Israel is an inspiration to the world. And the United States of America is proud to stand with Israel and her people, as allies and cherished friends.” Excuse me, but an openly racist Israel is hardly inspiring with its persistent playing of the victim card while it cynically exploits Washington to provide it with money, arms and political cover. And it is also no actual ally of the U.S., has never sent its soldiers to fight alongside Americans, and is hardly even a friend as evidenced by its record of interfering in U.S. domestic politics to receive billions of dollars annually from the American taxpayer. And nor would its recurrent theft of U.S.-developed high tech and defense secrets stand much scrutiny. But Mike was most likely not briefed on all that stuff, besides which, he probably received instructions on cherishing Israel directly from God.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is http://www.councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org.

January 30, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 7 Comments

Will Congress Face Down the Deep State?

By Ray McGovern | Consortium News | January 30, 2018

With the House Intelligence Committee vote yesterday to release its four-page memorandum reportedly based on documentary evidence of possible crimes by top Justice Department and FBI leaders, the die is cast. Russia-gate and FBI-gate are now joined at the hip.

The coming weeks will show whether the U.S. intelligence establishment (the FBI/CIA/NSA, AKA the “Deep State”) will be able to prevent its leaders from being held to account. Past precedent suggests that the cabal that conjured up Russia-gate will not have to pick up a “go-to-jail” card. This, despite the widespread guilt suggested by the abrupt way that several senior-echelon DOJ and FBI rats have already jumped ship. Not to mention the manner in which FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, was unceremoniously pushed overboard yesterday, after Director Christopher Wray was given a look at the extra-legal capers described in the House Intelligence Committee memorandum.

Granted, at first glance Deep State’s efforts to undercut candidate Donald Trump seem so risky and audacious as to be unbelievable. By now, though, Americans should be able to wrap their heads around, one, the dire threat that outsider Trump was seen to be posing to the Deep State and to the ease with which it held sway under President Barack Obama; and, two, expected immunity from prosecution if Deep State crimes were eventually discovered after the election, since “everybody knew” Hillary Clinton was going to win. Oops.

Accountability This Time?

There seems to be an outside chance, this time, that the culprits who did actually interfere in the 2016 presidential election in an effort to make sure Trump could not win, and then did all in their power to sabotage him after his electoral victory, will be held to account by unusually feisty members of the House. It is abundantly clear that members of the House Intelligence and House Judiciary Committees are now in possession of the kind of unambiguous, first-hand documentary evidence needed to get a grand jury convened and, eventually, indictments obtained.

It is no exaggeration to suggest that the Republic and the Constitution are at stake. A friend put it the way:

“When GW Bush said of the Constitution, ‘It’s just a goddam piece of paper,’ I thought it was just another toss-off bit of hyperbole as he so often would utter. Not so. He, and many in his administration (and out) sincerely believe it and set out to make it so. They may actually have succeeded.”

The Media’s Role

I almost feel sorry for what is called “mainstream media” and – even more so – for the majority of Americans deceived by the prevailing narrative on Russia-gate. Even though that narrative now lies in shreds, there is no sign so far that the pundits will fess up and admit to spreading a far-fetched, evidence-impoverished story that was full of holes from the get-go.

Even vestigially honest journalists of the old school, who may themselves have been taken in, will have a Herculean challenge if they attempt to right the ship of journalism. As for brainwashed Americans, pity them. It is far easier to deceive folks than to convince them they have been deceived, as Mark Twain once wrote.

From today’s online version of the New York Times, for example, the lede headline read, “Taunted by Trump and Pressured From Above, McCabe Steps Down as F.B.I. Deputy.”

The Times quotes Representative Adam B. Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, giving hypocrisy a bad name. Schiff said yesterday that it had been a “sad day” for the committee and that Republicans had voted “to politicize the intelligence process.”

And this just in: an op-ed from NYT pundit David Leonhardt, titled – you guessed it – “The Nunes Conspiracy.”

“Instead of evidence, the memo engages in the same dark and misleading conspiracy theories that have characterized other efforts by President Trump’s allies to discredit the Russia investigation,” Leonhardt wrote. “But the substance of the claims isn’t really the point. Distraction is the point, and the distraction campaign is having an impact.”

And so it goes.

Ray McGovern works with the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Savior in inner-city Washington. He was a CIA analyst for 27 years and co-founded Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

January 30, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | 1 Comment

CIA Boss Claims Russia Poised to Meddle in Yet Another US Election

Sputnik – January 30, 2108

Despite the fact that the ongoing US investigation into the alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign has failed to produce any tangible results, a top American intelligence official now says that Moscow “will continue” to try and influence elections in the United States.

Mike Pompeo, Director of the US Central Intelligence Agency, has claimed that there has not been a “significant decrease” in Russian activity in the US, and that Moscow may now attempt to interfere with the upcoming congressional midterm elections in November.

“I have every expectation that they [the Russians] will continue to try and do that but I’m confident that America will be able to have a free and fair election [and] that we will push back in a way that is sufficiently robust that the impact they have on our election won’t be great,” Pompeo told the BBC.

The CIA head also claimed that Russia is an adversary rather than an ally, despite the ongoing cooperation between Moscow and Washington in the fight against terrorism.

Earlier in January Pompeo made a similar claim on Face the Nation Sunday, expressing his concerns about the “many foes who want to undermine Western democracy” and insisting that Russia has been allegedly interfering in the American elections “for decades.”

At the same time, retired CIA officer turned political activist Ray McGovern has unveiled proof of attempts by members of the US intelligence community to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

In 2017 the US Congress launched four separate probes into the alleged Russian meddling during the election, including the investigations run by the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary committees and the House’s Intelligence and Oversight panels.

Moscow has repeatedly denied the allegations of collusion, while US President Donald Trump described the probe as the “single greatest witch hunt” in US history.

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates were indicted in October for charges unrelated to Trump’s campaign and the election, while former White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was charged by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for lying to the FBI about a meeting he had with a Russian ambassador.

Former policy adviser to the Trump campaign George Papadopoulos was also charged with providing false statements to the FBI regarding his interactions with foreign nationals.

The US intelligence community has also released an assessment alleging they had “high confidence” Russia meddled in last year’s US presidential election. The community’s report claimed that Moscow conspired to get Trump elected as president and to undermine faith in the US democratic process.

READ MORE:

US House Intel Committee Will Release Memo on FBI’s Trump Campaign Surveillance

January 30, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | 1 Comment