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Graham, Menendez team up for bipartisan anti-Russia bill

RT | July 24, 2018

Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey) are working on a draft law that would impose sanctions on Russian sovereign debt and demand Senate approval for US quitting NATO, among other things.

The two senators announced on Tuesday they will be introducing the new sanctions law “to ensure the maximum impact on the Kremlin’s campaign against our democracy and the rules-based international order.”

The US must make it clear it will “not waver in our rejection of [Russian President Vladimir Putin’s] effort to erode western democracy as a strategic imperative for Russia’s future,” Graham and Menendez said.

Although the bill is still being drafted, Graham and Menendez said it would include increased sanctions on Russian energy and financial sectors, “oligarchs and parastatal entities” and on sovereign debt as well as sanctions against “cyber actors in Russia.”

It will also establish a National Center to Respond to Russian Threats and a sanctions coordinator office at the State Department, demand reports on implementing the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), and authorize financial aid to “bolster democratic institutions across Europe to defend against Russian interference.”

Last, but not least, the bill would impose a Senate approval requirement for US withdrawal from NATO.

Graham is an outspoken foreign policy hawk and long-time wingman of the Russia-obsessed Senator John McCain (R-Arizona). Last week, he called for the World Cup soccer ball, presented as a gift to President Donald Trump by his Russian counterpart at the summit in Helsinki, Finland to be examined for surveillance devices.

As the ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Menendez is a powerful voice among the Democrats, who continue blaming Russia for the outcome of the 2016 US presidential election.

It is unclear how much support the Graham-Menendez bill will get in the Senate. However, CAATSA was approved 98-2 last year.

Just last week, the Senate voted 98-0 on a nonbinding resolution expressing the sense that the “United States should refuse to make available any current or former diplomat, civil servant, political appointee, law enforcement official or member of the Armed Forces of the United States for questioning by the government or Vladimir Putin,” in response to false reports that former US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul would be “handed over” to Moscow.

July 24, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Towards Ending the 65 Years of Armistice: Understanding the process for peace in Korea

ZoominKorea interview with Gregory Elich | July 24, 2018

July 27, 2018 marks the 65th anniversary of the Armistice Agreement which brought about a ceasefire to the Korean War. The agreement was signed by North Korean General Nam Il representing both the Korean People’s Army (KPA) as well as the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army (PVA) and U.S. Army Lieutenant General Harrison, Jr. representing the United Nations Command (UNC).

While the purpose of the agreement was to “ensure a complete cessation of hostilities and of all acts of armed force in Korea until a final peaceful settlement is achieved,” the effect was an unending Korean War with decades of escalating military tension on the Korean Peninsula. And a number of arrangements made on July 27, 1953 have yet to be implemented. Most notably, the U.S. has failed to contribute a plan for withdrawing its troops within the timeframe that was discussed in Article IV of the agreement:

In order to ensure the peaceful settlement of the Korean question, the military Commanders of both sides hereby recommend to the governments of the countries concerned on both sides that, within three (3) months after the Armistice Agreement is signed and becomes effective, a political conference of a higher level of both sides be held by representatives appointed respectively to settle through negotiation the questions of the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Korea, the peaceful settlement of the Korean question, etc.

While all other foreign forces eventually withdrew, the U.S. military never left Korean soil. To this day, the U.S. has more than 28,500 of its troops stationed all over South Korea.

With the anniversary of the Armistice Agreement just around the corner, ZoominKorea spoke with Gregory Elich — member of the Solidarity Committee for Democracy and Peace in Korea and frequent contributor for ZoominKorea — about the significance of the armistice and the conditions necessary to establish permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula.

ZoominKorea: July 27 marks the 65th anniversary of North Korea (with China) and the U.S. (representing UN forces) signing the armistice to agree on a temporary ceasefire to the Korean War. Can you tell us more about the agreement — what was it supposed to do and what actually transpired following the signing?

Elich: The armistice was meant to be an interim measure to implement a ceasefire until a peace treaty would be signed. Technically speaking, then, the parties to the conflict remain at war. The armistice agreement stipulated that within three months the three sides would meet to negotiate the terms of a peaceful settlement of the war. That deadline was missed, but once the meeting did take place, the U.S. representatives were unwilling to discuss the subject of a peace treaty. Decades later, that remains the position of the United States.

On the rare occasions that U.S. media address the topic of a peace treaty, the general attitude is that the matter does not involve the United States, and dark motives are likely behind North Korea’s wish to sign a peace treaty that would formally end the Korean War.

However, the United States, along with China and North Korea, committed to negotiating a peace treaty when they signed the armistice agreement. That responsibility remains with the three parties, including the U.S. No one else can formally end the Korean War, nor can any single nation do so without the agreement of the others.

ZoominKorea: Although it is critical for the American public to understand that cooperation by the U.S. is necessary to ensure permanent peace in Korea, the cooperation between North and South Korea is also immensely important in establishing meaningful and lasting peace.

How do you see the April 27 Panmunjom Declaration playing a role in ending the Korean War?

Elich: The third section of the Panmunjom Declaration explicitly states that ending the “unnatural state of armistice” and establishing a peace regime should not be delayed. The declaration identifies this as a matter of urgent concern. So in a real way, the subject of a peace treaty is now on the South Korean agenda. That will make it more difficult for the United States to dismiss the issue.

Beyond that, the Panmunjom Declaration has enormous potential for the future of the Korean Peninsula, going far beyond the signing of a peace treaty. It is interesting to note that the first article specifies that the two Koreas will determine their destiny on their own accord. The unmistakable message is that only Koreans can choose their future, not the United States. In Kim Jong-Un’s eyes, that is the path the two Koreas should be following now. I am not sure the ever-cautious South Korean President Moon Jae-in is entirely on board with that perception, though, and he may feel that for the foreseeable future nothing can be done without the permission of the United States.

The declaration lays out specific measures to be taken to reduce tensions between the two Koreas and to build mutual trust. That comes as a welcome development after the damage done to relations by the two previous South Korean presidents. Of particular importance is the provision to implement the October 4, 2007 economic agreements between the two Koreas that former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak killed off. Those agreements hold great potential for the economic development of the entire peninsula. Unfortunately, no progress on those can be expected before the lifting of sanctions on North Korea.

ZoominKorea: North Korea has emphasized the importance of ending the Korean War, not only in its recent negotiations with South Korea and the U.S. but also for decades, since the Armistice Agreement. Progressive Koreans in the South and Overseas have also called for the end to the military conflict and signing of a peace treaty. To them, that is the priority.

To the majority of the Washington establishment and the U.S. media, however, denuclearization is the priority.

Indeed, there are many agreements to be made between signing the peace treaty and denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula — but what do you think is the most logical process for establishing peace in Korea?

Elich: In general, it makes logical sense for a peace treaty to be among the initial steps adopted in repairing relations. I see this mainly as cleaning up unfinished business from decades ago. There are complications, though.

As you point out, North Koreans and progressive Koreans in the South and abroad attach tremendous importance to the signing of a peace treaty. There is a good deal of hope that other benefits are inherent, such as an end to enmity and the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the peninsula. I don’t believe we can expect anything more from a peace treaty, in and of itself, beyond its symbolic value and the encouragement it gives to ongoing talks. After a peace treaty is signed, every other step to improve relations is a matter for further negotiation and determined struggle.

On its own, a peace treaty will not trigger a withdrawal of U.S. forces. After all, World War II ended 73 years ago, yet the U.S. military remains firmly ensconced in Germany, Japan, and Okinawa. There is no sign that the United States has any intention of ever departing.

Aside from North Korea, in the years since the Second World War the United States has officially been at peace with all of the nations it has sanctioned, threatened, subverted, bombed, and invaded. North Korea will need more solid security guarantees than a peace treaty if it is going to denuclearize.

U.S. policymakers envision expanding the role of U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) beyond the Korean Peninsula, and that will make it extremely difficult to dislodge troops from the Korean Peninsula.

Washington think tanks argue that USFK should shift from the so-called North Korea deterrence role to a regional contingency force. That is, the objective is for U.S. forces based in South Korea to be poised to intervene anywhere in Asia. This concept is in line with the Defense Department’s National Defense Strategy document, which calls for “increased strategic flexibility and freedom of action.” In the context of that policy, an improvement in U.S.-North Korean relations is irrelevant to regional plans for USFK.

There is the additional factor that USFK is a critical component in the overarching policy of encircling China and Russia, one which U.S. military planners are not going to relinquish willingly.

That does not mean the two Koreas should not pursue the withdrawal of USFK in talks with the United States. My point is that immediate removal of U.S. forces is improbable and the challenges should not be underestimated. At the very least, it will take a determined struggle to effect change. One of the main barriers that Korean progressives will have to overcome is that the U.S. military doesn’t care what citizens in any host country think about its forces. U.S. bases have been established abroad to serve imperial interests, not those of the host countries.

For the U.S. side, signing a peace treaty would make sense as a low-cost means of demonstrating goodwill and reciprocity to its interlocutors on the North Korean side. A peace treaty obligates the United States to nothing while giving North Korea something it fervently desires. That would only improve the atmosphere in talks and hasten progress toward a final agreement.

In the months ahead, if the Trump administration proves resistant to the idea of a peace treaty, then that would probably be an indication that think tank advisors are negatively influencing the U.S. negotiating strategy.

No matter what the Trump administration decides, a peace treaty may not be in the cards in the near term. A peace treaty would require approval by a two-thirds majority in the U.S. Senate before Trump could ratify it. In the current U.S. political environment, that seems like an insurmountable hurdle. Consequently, the reality is that while a peace treaty is a logical first step, it is far more likely to take place among the final stages. The completion of denuclearization may reduce the ferocity of Senate resistance to a level that would allow approval. The Trump administration may decide to postpone the signing until late in the process so as to avoid the awkwardness of Senate disapproval during negotiations with North Korea.

I see Korean reunification as a long-term goal that can only come about after U.S.-North Korean relations have substantially improved and South Korea is better able to act in its own best interests without seeking permission from the United States. Otherwise, American interference would present too high an obstacle.

ZoominKorea: What do you make of the U.S. media and its coverage of the negotiations in progress between the Trump administration and North Korea? Pundits as well as members of Congress (including members of the Democratic Party) have been vocal about criticizing Trump and his cabinet for the way they have been handling the negotiations with the North Korean leadership. Many have called out Trump for appeasing the North Koreans “too much.” What do you assess to be the motivation behind this? What kind of an impact could this have on the talks moving forward?

Elich: The Washington establishment is uneasy over President Trump’s erratic behavior. Indeed, one could even say there is open panic. There is concern over whether Trump can be consistently counted on to pay the expected fealty to the Washington consensus on foreign policy and prioritize the needs of large corporations and military contractors. The fear is that at some point Trump, through sheer misunderstanding and carelessness, may put at risk the entrenched “values” of aggressive militarism and global economic and political domination.

The hysterical cries of treason over Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin are another manifestation of that panic.

There are two immediate concerns. One is that normalizing relations with North Korea would lead to a growing demand among South Koreans for U.S. forces to leave the peninsula. The other is that without North Korea as an official enemy, the pretext for stationing troops in South Korea would vanish.

One does not have to search very long among Washington think tank documents to encounter warnings that signing a peace treaty would be a trap which would remove U.S. forces from the region so that North Korea could be free to attack the South. One wonders if these analysts genuinely believe this nonsense or if that is their way of dissuading the Trump administration from agreeing to a peace treaty.

In addition to these generalized concerns, military contractors, whose lobbyists are quite active on Capitol Hill, have specific worries. Over the last five-year period, South Korea ranks second behind Saudi Arabia in the value of arms purchased from the United States. For arms manufacturers, a peaceful resolution of tensions on the Korean Peninsula would be a disastrous development that would eventually cut into future profits. Investor jitteriness was displayed when the five largest U.S. military contractors lost $10 billion in stock market value on the day of the signing of the Panmunjom Declaration.

Vociferous complaints by Western media and politicians about the Singapore Summit and ongoing talks are intended to undermine the process and block any possibility of a diplomatic settlement.

ZoominKorea: While the U.S. media have been critical of the results of the Singapore Summit, many progressive Korean American and U.S.-based activists have welcomed this first major step to the peace process. Since more than a month has passed, how do you now assess the results of the summit?

Earlier this month, as a follow-up to the Singapore Summit, State Secretary Pompeo visited Pyongyang to further discuss the denuclearization deal. From North Korea’s perspective, the latest visit was somewhat of a setback because of the United States’ recapitulation of hardline demands for a denuclearization process similar to that of the Complete Verifiable Irreversible Denuclearization (CVID) approach that undermines the spirit of the Singapore Summit. Pompeo, on the other hand, claimed that the meeting was conducted in good faith and he had “made progress on almost all central matters.”

With the U.S. still unable to acknowledge that it is not doing enough to build trust with North Korea, how do you foresee the negotiations to move forward?

Elich: The first point I would like to make is the fact that talks are happening at all should be regarded as a victory. Eight years of the Obama administration refusing to negotiate, followed by Trump’s bluster and threats during the first year of his administration, have done nothing positive for the region or the international situation. During that time, Washington’s attitude was that pressure and threats “haven’t worked,” therefore more pressure and threats are needed. The rational conclusion that no progress can be made without dialogue was dismissed out of hand.

Chairman Kim Jong Un made a bold move to change the narrative this year, announcing a unilateral freeze on nuclear development and missile testing, while explicitly expressing his intention to denuclearize in the context of an agreement with the U.S. Then came the demolition of North Korea’s nuclear test site. North Korea’s peace drive prompted Washington to re-engage with North Korea. In a positive response, the U.S. implemented a temporary pause in military exercises on the Korean Peninsula as long as talks continue.

Contrary to what Western critics assert, the Singapore Summit was never intended to produce a detailed agreement. The meeting was a declaration of intent to negotiate a mutually beneficial deal. Given the hostile rhetoric that dominated relations and which continues to characterize U.S. media, the summit was an essential initial step in the direction of positive change.

The various shifts in the U.S. position seem to indicate that there is a dichotomy of views within the Trump administration concerning what avenue to follow in negotiations, and each side appears to be struggling to gain the upper hand.

The default position is the unworkable notion that diplomacy should consist of making endless demands on the other party while offering little or nothing in return. However, North Korea is not negotiating from a position of weakness. In its nearly complete nuclear weapons program it has something substantial to trade. It would be a mistake to imagine that North Korea would consider giving that up without receiving anything meaningful in return.

It is the job of the U.S. media to discipline U.S. negotiators and pressure them into rejecting normal diplomatic give-and-take and stick to the pattern of making demands for unilateral concessions. This pressure may explain Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s recent assertions that sanctions will remain in place until after denuclearization is complete. Presumably, Pompeo’s recent statements are meant to reassure critics, who in any case will not be mollified by anything less than the total abandonment of diplomacy and a return to saber rattling.

It is true that the U.S. and North Korea have divergent concepts on how talks should proceed, with the U.S. expecting something along the lines of the Libyan model, where the other party must meet all U.S. demands in exchange for vague promises of future compensating measures. North Korea, quite reasonably, wants a measured, step-by-step approach, where both parties give each other something as they advance towards their ultimate goals.

It should also be pointed out that from the North Korean perspective denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is not entirely a one-way road. It would also entail a commitment by the United States to no longer send nuclear-capable B-2 and B-52 bombers flying over the Korean Peninsula.

The main component in an agreement is a security guarantee to North Korea. Its nuclear deterrent, after all, was developed in response to the hostile policy of the U.S., as well as the vivid object lessons provided by the bombing of Yugoslavia and Libya, and the invasion of Iraq. It is difficult to imagine, though, what kind of security guarantee the United States can offer that could be trusted. A piece of paper is not going to do it. It may be that the Trump administration would be sincere in signing such a document. But the next U.S. administration may have no compunction in abandoning it. I assume that a reliable security guarantee will have to involve not only the U.S. but also Russia and China in some manner.

Despite all of the hindrances, once negotiations are seriously underway I see a real prospect of favorable results. I feel that at some point as U.S. negotiators meet with their North Korean counterparts it will become apparent that they have an opportunity to achieve their goals, but only by adopting a more even-handed approach. That realization should provide the impetus to adopt a more flexible manner. Whether or not that path is followed remains to be seen, as a more even-handed approach is sure to engender a determined backlash from the Washington establishment and U.S. media. My feeling is that the desire to achieve denuclearization will override the impact of political opposition, and there is a more than even chance of a diplomatic settlement.

 


 

Gregory Elich is on the Board of Directors of the Jasenovac Research Institute and a Korea Policy Institute associate. He is a member of the Solidarity Committee for Democracy and Peace in Korea, and a columnist for Voice of the People. He is the author of Strange Liberators: Militarism, Mayhem, and the Pursuit of Profit, and has two chapters in the anthology Killing Democracy: CIA and Pentagon Operations in the Post-Soviet Period, published in the Russian language. In 1999, he was a member of a team that visited Yugoslavia to investigate NATO war crimes.

July 24, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

Trudeau’s broken promise part of build-up to war against Iran

Another Liberal broken promise. Before becoming prime minister, Justin Trudeau promised to re-engage with Iran. His government has failed to do so and is beginning to echo the warmongers in Washington and Tel Aviv.

I would hope that Canada would be able to reopen its mission [in Tehran],” Trudeau told the CBC in June 2015. “I’m fairly certain that there are ways to re-engage [Iran],” he said.

Nearly three years into their mandate the Liberals haven’t restarted diplomatic relations with Iran. Nor has Trudeau removed that country from Canada’s state sponsor of terrorism list (Syria is the only other country on the list).

Numerous Canadian sanctions targeting Iran remain and Ottawa continues to present a yearly UN resolution critical of the human rights situation in Iran. Similarly, Liberal MPs participate in the annual “Iran Accountability Week” on Parliament Hill, which showcases individuals such as Mark Dubowitz, CEO of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, which helped kill the nuclear deal and is pushing harsh sanctions against any country doing business with Iran.

Dubowitz is a senior research fellow at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs. In 2015 Global Affairs Canada gave the Munk School’s Digital Public Square $9 million to expand an anti-Iranian initiative, which the Trudeau government appears to have maintained.

Trudeau has continued important components of the Stephen Harper government’s “low-level war against Iran”. One major exception had been on the rhetorical front, but that’s changing. In January foreign minister Chrystia Freeland put out a statement saying, “Canada is deeply troubled by the recent deaths and detentions of protesters in Iran” and two months ago tweeted, “Our government is committed to holding Iran to account for its violations of human and democratic rights.” Last month Liberal parliamentarians supported a Conservative MP’s private member’s motion that “strongly condemns the current regime in Iran for its ongoing sponsorship of terrorism around the world, including instigating violent attacks on the Gaza border.” In effect, the resolution makes Iran responsible for Israel killing Palestinians peacefully protesting the US Jerusalem embassy move, siege of Gaza and historic theft of their land. The motion also called on Canada to “immediately cease any and all negotiations or discussions with the Islamic Republic of Iran to restore diplomatic relations” and to make the highly provocative move of listing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist entity.

The Liberals hardline on Iran coincides with Trump withdrawing from the “p5+1 nuclear deal” with Iran and re-imposing tough new sanctions. Now, Washington is threatening to sanction any country that buys Iranian oil. (If the US succeeds Tehran says it will seek to block oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz.)

The US and Israel recently created a “working group” to foment internal protests in Iran. (Demonstrating once again the hypocrisy of US complaints about other countries interfering in its elections.) According to Axios, “Israel and the United States formed a joint working group a few months ago that is focused on internal efforts to encourage protests within Iran and pressure the country’s government.” In May the Washington Free Beacon reported on a three-page paper discussed by the US National Security Council to spark regime change in Iran.

Three weeks ago Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, called for regime change at a National Council of Resistance of Iran conference in Paris. (Harper also spoke at an event led by the Mujahedin-e Khalq, a cultish group that was previously deemed to be a terrorist organization.) Previously Giuliani said, “we got a president who is tough, who does not listen to the people who are naysayers, and a president who is committed to regime change [in Iran].” (In “Follow The Money: Three Billionaires Paved Way For Trump’s Iran Deal Withdrawal” Eli Clifton describes the role of arch Zionist donors, notably casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, in shaping US Iran policy.)

In April Trump appointed John Bolton as his national security advisor. An important proponent of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Bolton has called for bombing Iran, penning an op-ed in the New York Times headlined “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran”.

By breaking his promise to restart diplomatic relations with Iran Trudeau has enabled US-Israeli hawks. In taking up their rhetoric the Liberal Party is further empowering those hurtling towards a major conflict. Shame.

July 24, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , | Leave a comment

Violent Coup Fail in Nicaragua

By Kevin Zeese | CounterPunch | July 24, 2018

On Clearing The FOG radio and podcast, Margaret Flowers and I interviewed Stephen Sefton, who lives in Nicaragua and is a founder of Tortilla con Sal. He names the names behind the violence and describes what is happening in Nicaragua.

Lessons Learned From The Failed Violent Coup In Nicaragua And Next Steps

The violent coup in Nicaragua has failed. This does not mean the United States and oligarchs are giving up, but this phase of their effort to remove the government did not succeed.  The coup exposed the alliances who are working with the United States to put in place a neoliberal government that is controlled by the United States and serves the interests of the wealthy. People celebrated the failure of the coup but realize work needs to be done to protect the gains of the Sandinista revolution.

People Celebrate Revolution, Call For Peace, Show Support for Government

The people of Nicaragua showed their support for the democratically-elected government of Daniel Ortega with a massive outpouring in Managua in a celebration of the 39th anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution. In addition to the mass protest in Managua, various cities had their own, in some cases very sizeable ones.

People have wanted peace to return to Nicaragua. They have also wanted the roadblocks removed, which have resulted in closed businesses, job loss and loss of mobility. Roadblocks have been removed, even in the opposition stronghold of Masaya. There were two opposition deaths and one police officer killed in the removal. There was also an earlier death of a policeman in Masaya, captured when he was off-duty, tortured and burnt to death. This brings the total of police killed since April up to at least 21 with hundreds injured. With the opening of the main road on the east side of Masaya, all Nicaragua’s main routes are open to traffic and buses etc are operating normally.

At the rally, President Ortega called on the people of Nicaragua to defend peace and reinstate the unity that existed in the nation before the violent opposition protests. He described how the violent coup attempted to destabilize the country and ended the peace that has existed through the eleven years of his time in office. He said, “Peace must be defended every day to avoid situations like these being repeated.”

He also criticized the Catholic Bishops for their role in the failed violent coup. Ortega described the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua as “coup leaders” for collaborating with the opposition during the protests. Not only did the Catholic leadership side with the opposition during the national dialogue, but priests were involved in kidnapping and torture. Pope Francis has a lot of work to do to rein in the Catholic Church in Nicaragua. If their role in these violent protests and opposition to an economy for the people is not stopped, this will become a scandal for the Catholic Church.

Other Latin American leaders spoke out against involvement in the coup. Bolivian President Evo Morales condemned US “interference” in Nicaragua, denouncing the “criminal strategies” used against the government of Daniel Ortega. Morales accused the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) of “openly supporting violence” in Nicaragua. Also at the celebration were the foreign ministers of Cuba and Venezuela, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, and Jorge Arreza, all supporting Nicaragua over the violent coup of the United States and oligarchs.

The United States is Escalating Economic War and Support for Opposition

The United States is not giving up. Also on the anniversary of the revolution, the NICA Act, designed to escalate the economic war against Nicaragua, was introduced in the Senate. It has already been passed by the US House of Representatives. The Senate bill, called the Nicaragua Human Rights and Anti-corruption Act of 2018, imposes sanctions, calls for early elections and escalates US intelligence involvement in Nicaragua. It is a law that ensures continued US efforts to remove the democratically-elected government.

At the same time, USAID announced an additional $1.5 million for Nicaragua to build opposition to the government. This will fund the NGOs that participated in the protests, human rights groups that falsely reported the situation, media to produce the regime change narrative and other support for the opposition.

The coordination between Nicaraguan opposition and the United States was shown by Max Blumenthal’s attempted visit to an organization that funnels USAID and NED money to the opposition. He visited the Managua offices of the Institute of Strategic Studies and Public Policies (IEEPP in Spanish), but it was closed because its director, Felix Maradiaga, who was at the heart of the violent unrest, was in Washington, DC seeking more funding from USAID.

On July 18, the US-dominated OAS passed a resolution concerning “The Situation in Nicaragua.” An earlier effort to endorse a report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) was so biased that it failed. The report ignored the opposition’s widespread violence or inaccurately attributed it to the government.  It also failed to recognize government actions in self-defense. The resolution approving the IACHR report was supported by only ten out of 34 countries.

The resolution, which was finally passed by the OAS, condemned violence on all sides and urged Nicaragua to pursue all options including the national dialogue to seek peace begun by Ortega. On the issue of elections, the resolution urged Nicaragua “to support an electoral calendar jointly agreed to in the context of the National Dialogue process.” Only this mainly symbolic resolution could pass muster in the OAS, despite US domination.

What Happened and What Was Learned

In our article “Correcting the Record: What Is Really Happening In Nicaragua,” Nils McCune and I describe what was behind the violent coup attempt. We reported that there was a lot of misinformation on what was occurring in Nicaragua, indeed the false narrative of regime change was part of the tactics of the failed coup. Perhaps most importantly we described the alignment of forces behind the coup.

The coup was a class war turned upside down. The Ortega government includes none of the oligarchic families, a first in the history of Nicaragua. He has put in place a bottom-up economy that has lifted people out of poverty, provided access to health care and education, given micro-loans to entrepreneurs and small businesses and created an economy energized by public spending. Ortega expanded coverage of the social security system; as a result, a new formula was required to ensure fiscal stability.

Ortega made a counter-proposal to the IMF/business proposal, which would cut social security and raise the retirement age. He proposed no cuts to social security and increasing employer contributions by 3.5% to pension and health funds, while only slightly increasing worker contributions by 0.75% and shifting 5% of pensioners’ cash transfer into their healthcare fund.  These reforms were the trigger as it was the business lobby who called for the protests.

The forces aligned with the violent coup included the oligarchs, big business interests, foreign investors (e.g. Colombian financiers), the US-funded NGO’s and the Catholic Church, a long-term ally of the wealthy. Also involved was the Movement for Renovation of Sandinismo (MRS), a tiny Sandinista offshoot party, of former Sandanistas who left the party when Ortega lost an election in 1990 who are aligned with the US State Department.

Regarding students, there were already student protests around university elections, and these were redirected by the violent coup effort and supported by a small minority of students from private universities, the April 19th Movement. Some of these students had been brought to the US by the Freedom House, which has long ties to the CIA and met with far-right interventionist members of the US Congress, including Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Sen. Marco Rubio, and Sen. Ted Cruz.

These groups acted in opposition to the bulk of Nicaraguan society and showed their true colors. This includes:

No doubt more will come out about this in the future as the coup is researched and analyzed. As the facts become clear, the opposition will lose more political power and be even less likely to win elections. The blockades of roads with violence undermined the economy and had a negative impact on the poor and working class. If it becomes evident that this was a strategy of the opposition, they will lose power. NGO’s that are funded by the US and run by members of the MRS will be noted for their dishonest narrative and will be seen as an arm of the United States and not trusted by the people of Nicaragua. Media outside of Nicaragua will come to understand that human rights groups and NGOs are not reliable sources of information but need to be questioned. They need to be pushed to break their ties with the United States.

This does not mean all is well on the Sandinista side of the alliance of forces. The coup is an opportunity for self-reflection and self-criticism that is already happening, as seen in this list of 20 results from the coup, which begins with “A more consolidated and United FSLN.” In addition, the Action Group of the Solidarity with Nicaragua Campaign put forward seven propositions to unify around. The protest took advantage of challenges the Nicaraguan government faces in continuing to lift up the poor and economically insecure. It shows their need to build their capacity to quickly let the public know their side of the story. And, it shows the need for planning for a post-Ortega Sandinista government, as the president is in his third term.

The anniversary of the revolution was a good beginning at strengthening the unity of the Sandinista movement and celebration of the defeat of the coup, but there will be challenges ahead. Nicaragua is a poor country that needs foreign investment. If the United States escalates the economic war, which seems to be the intent, it will make it challenging to continue the social and economic programs that are lifting up the poor. Nicaragua had relied on investment from Venezuela, but it is also in the midst of an economic war, which along with the low oil prices has created economic challenges for them. Nicaragua has begun to build economic relationships with China, Russia, Iran and other countries; these will likely need to expand.

The misinformation was deep and widespread. Inside Nicaragua, there were stories of students being killed that never happened but that escalated the protests. The opposition claimed to be nonviolent when their strategy was to use violence to force regime change while the government quartered the National Police. False news and videos of attacks on neighborhoods and universities never stopped being manufactured.  One example, students calling for help and claiming they were under attack, was later exposed in a video showing the students practicing the false social media narrative.

Peace and justice activists in the United States and western nations have learned they need to be much more careful believing reports on what is occurring in Nicaragua. The US-funding of NGOs involved in women’s issues, environmental protection and human rights in Nicaragua make them questionable sources of information for justice advocates. In addition, US-funded regime change efforts are getting more sophisticated at social media; and thus, care must be taken as social media is abused by regime change advocates. We must look to other sources that have shown the ability to report accurately e.g., Tortilla con SalTelesurRedvolucion.  Peace and justice advocates must be grounded in anti-imperialism and nonintervention by the United States.

July 24, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , | Leave a comment

Bringing Justice to the Holy Land is a Basic Test of Humanity

The UK Foreign Office still fails it

By Stuart Littlewood | Dissident Voice | July 23, 2018

Evenhandedness, like justice, isn’t in some people’s vocabulary. It certainly plays no part in the Israel-Palestine peace process. Despite the occupying military’s continuing atrocities UK policy remains: ‘be nice to the Israelis, kick the Palestinians in the balls’.

The Zionist stooges at the top of UK Government are well known and currently fighting like cats in a sack over Brexit while the never-ending misery of the Palestinians goes almost unnoticed. So I’d hoped for something better from the likes of Lord Ahmad, a Muslim (of Pakistani origin) in the House of Lords who serves as Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

They say a leopard cannot change its spots. But politicians can and some do, often for the worse. Even Muslims do, some becoming that oddest of oddballs, a Muslim-Zionist. So what are we to make of Tariq Ahmad, now a Conservative peer with the title Baron Ahmad of Wimbledon? Since his elevation to the Lords he seems to have joined the ranks of those anxious to downplay Israel’s crimes and guarantee the rogue state’s impunity.

For example, in a debate on the Israel-Palestine conflict in March he said:

Any party that believes in the destruction of Israel of course cannot be party to a peace process. The UK Government have made it clear that, before taking part in any peaceful negotiations on the two-state solution, any party at the negotiating table needs to agree the right of Israel to exist.

But what about the Palestinians’ right to exist? Lord Ahmad must know that he’s talking about the fate of his Muslim brothers and sisters there, not to mention the Christian communities. The UK Government stubbornly refuses to recognise their Palestinian state.

Doesn’t our Government’s blatant favoritism bar us from the peace process?

And once again we’re tossed that hoary old chestnut, a ‘two state solution’. Given the many irreversible facts on the ground the Israelis have been allowed to create with impunity, what would that look like? Yeah, too messy and ridiculous to even begin to describe. So why keep pushing it as a ‘solution’, Lord Ahmad?  Netanyahu has said repeatedly that there will be no Palestinian state during his tenure as Israel’s prime minister.

Furthermore there’s no prospect of Israel willingly giving up Palestinian territory it illegally occupied and effectively annexed in 1967 and which must be returned if Palestinians are ever to enjoy freedom and independence. Netanyahu has declared:

We will not withdraw from one inch…. There will be no more uprooting of settlements in the land of Israel…. This is the inheritance of our ancestors. This is our land…. We are here to stay forever.”

And that from somebody who, I suspect, has no ancestral links whatever to the ancient land of Israel…. like most of his vile comrades.

So the Israeli government too is disqualified from any peace process.

As for the US administration, it is so stuffed with Zionist pimps, has fouled up so many peace moves, is so discredited by its past and present performances and so contemptuous of international law that it too has no place in the peace process.

‘It is for the International Court of Justice to decide’

Indeed, none of Israel’s allies should be involved. The fate of Israel/Palestine is not a matter for meddlesome nations with vested interests seeking to override UN resolutions and re-shape the Middle East to suit themselves. Trump especially, with his warped mentality, deeply unpleasant connections and half-witted ‘ultimate deal’ or ‘deal of the century’, should remove himself for everyone’s good. It is for the International Court of Justice to decide on the basis of international law. But we never hear about law and justice from the UK Government, or the US administration in relation to the Holy Land. Why is that, Lord Ahmad? Don’t we believe in it any more? Or are we too yellow to uphold it, too morally bankrupt to pursue it?

When it comes to “agreeing Israel’s right to exist”, I presume Lord Ahmad knows that Israel refuses to declare its borders. So which Israel would he like us all to agree to? Israel behind the borders allocated by the UN Partition Plan? Israel behind the 1967 armistice borders? Israel with its boot on every Palestinian’s neck and illegally occupying all Palestinian territory? Or Israel seen by many as a brazen ‘racist endeavour’ that has just passed laws declaring itself “the historic homeland of the Jewish people and they have an exclusive right to national self-determination in it”?

Let’s not forget that the new state of Israel’s admission to the UN in 1949 was conditional upon honouring the UN Charter and implementing UN General Assembly Resolutions 181 and 194. It has failed to meet these obligations and to this day repeatedly violates provisions and principles of the Charter.

Israel does not even comply with the rules of the EU-Israel Association Agreement of 1995 which require adherence to the principles of the UN Charter and “respect for human rights and democratic principle (which) constitute an essential element of this agreement” in return for trading privileges. Here too Israel snatches the privileges without delivering on the obligations.

So why would anybody feel obliged to agree the entity’s right to exist?

Bringing justice to the Holy Land is a basic Test of Humanity. We British have failed that test for 100 years, starting with Balfour’s infamous document in 1917 which created what Lord Sydenham called “a running sore in the East” by promising not the Jewish people but Zionist extremists a homeland for Jews in Palestine without consulting the indigenous Muslim and Christian Arabs. Britain repeated the betrayal in 1948 by abandoning our Mandate responsibilities and leaving Jewish terror militia to plunder, steal and murder their way through Palestine, grabbing all the territory they could lay hands on and putting the Arab population to flight.

Ever since, we have rewarded Israel’s non-stop crimes with ‘favoured nation’ status instead of punishing its appalling cruelty, naked aggression and utter disregard of international law, while it continues to impose a crushing blockade on the Palestinian Territories (not just Gaza). We still refuse to apply the sanctions we wouldn’t hesitate slapping on other delinquent countries.

Most other governments in Western Christendom fail the H-test even though their inaction means there may soon be no Christians left in the place where Christianity began.

Betrayal:  boycott Hamas but welcome Israel’s thugs

Earlier this month Baroness Jenny Tongue put down a written question (HL9144):

To ask Her Majesty’s Government… when they last discussed with the leaders of Hamas the position of that organisation on Israel.

Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon:

The UK retains a policy of no contact with Hamas in its entirety.

Why is that? Hamas’s political wing is NOT proscribed by the UK as a terrorist organisation. Hamas was elected to govern in full and fair elections last held in 2006 so is not a usurper of power. It has simply enforced its democratic right to rule, much to the annoyance of Israel, the US and the UK. The US-UK-Israel axis prefer working with the quisling Abbas, leader of the defeated Fatah, who has long overstayed his official term as president and should have been consigned to Palestine’s political wastepaper basket years ago.

Hamas has offered the occupying Israelis peace if they get back behind their 1967 border in compliance with UN resolutions and international law. Why does the UK Government have a problem with that, unless the axis plan is to keep trouble brewing to buy time for Israel to cement its ill-gotten gains, grab even more Palestinian land and resources and make its occupation permanent? Does Lord Ahmad seriously think that mumbling the same old “peace process” mantra still provides cover?

Hamas is a legitimate player and apparently enjoys more cred among Palestinians than Abbas’s Fatah who still controls the failed Palestinian Authority and PLO. If Britain talks to one it should talk to the other.

Ask yourself, my dear Lord Ahmad: who in the Holy Land has the most blood on their hands?

July 24, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

In letter to UN, Iran urges end to ‘illegal’ US support for MKO terrorists

Maryam Rajavi, chief of the MKO terror group (L), and President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani
Press TV – July 24, 2018

The Iranian ambassador to the United Nations has called for an end to the US unlawful support for terrorists Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO), saying Washington is responsible for the crimes perpetrated by the notorious anti-Iran group.

In a letter addressed to the UN Security Council, Gholamali Khoshroo denounced the participation of some American political figures and government officials, including President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, in an MKO gathering in Paris, France, on June 30.

He enumerated the terror outfit’s many atrocities ranging from the massacre of thousands of Iranians to collaboration with the enemies’ spy agencies in the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists in 2010-2015 and assistance to the former Iraqi regime in its war on Iran and carnage of its own citizens in 1980s.

The notorious anti-Iran group, he wrote, had bribed American political lobbies in 2012 to facilitate its removal from the US State Department’s list of designated terrorist organizations, adding that this shows Washington’s “dual and selective” approach to fighting terrorism.

The letter added that Washington bears the responsibility for the international crimes committed by the MKO.

Iran strongly condemns the US government’s illegal measures against the Iranian people such as supporting and funding the MKO as a terrorist group, the letter read. This illegal move violates international law, the principles of the UN Charter and international rules on fighting terror, it added

The US government should abandon these policies and end such illegal measures, the letter emphasized.

Israel’s spy agency Mossad has openly acknowledged colluding with MKO terrorists to implicate Iran in a would-be bombing in Paris.

The MKO is listed as a terrorist organization by much of the international community. Its members fled Iran in 1986 for Iraq, where it enjoyed the support of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

The MKO has carried out numerous attacks against Iranian civilians and government officials over the past three decades.

Out of the nearly 17,000 Iranians killed in terrorist assaults since the victory of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, about 12,000 have fallen victim to MKO’s acts of terror.

July 24, 2018 Posted by | War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

Western States Salvage Terror Assets in Syria

By Finian CUNNINGHAM | Strategic Culture Foundation | 24.07.2018

Western states made a dramatic intervention in the Syrian war earlier this week to extricate hundreds of terrorist militants. The militants are to be fast-tracked for resettlement in Europe and Canada.

But in saving their terror assets, Western governments are risking future public safety as well as sowing seeds for increasing multicultural strife.

In a stunning revelation of the foreign links to the extremists in Syria, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered his military forces to evacuate up to 800 militants belonging to the so-called White Helmets. They are the propaganda merchants for Nusra Front and other al-Qaeda-linked terror organizations.

Netanyahu announced that the blatant intervention to rescue the jihadists in southwest Syria was made at the personal request of US President Donald Trump and the Canadian premier Justin Trudeau, “among others”.

Separately, there were reports of four senior jihadist commanders being given safe passage by Israeli forces out of Syria as the Syrian army closed in on the last-remaining militant strongholds around the southwest city of Daraa and Quneitra province.

Nor was it coincidental that the evacuation operations were accompanied by Israeli air strikes on Syrian government facilities in Hama province.

Damascus condemned the extraction of hundreds of jihadists by Israel and its Western allies as a “criminal operation” and further proof of the foreign sponsoring that has fomented the nearly eight-year war.

Of course, Netanyahu, Western governments and news media sought to portray the evacuation of the “White Helmets” as a “humanitarian gesture”. This was at the same time that Israeli warplanes and snipers were stepping up the killing of medics and civilians in Gaza.

Britain’s newly appointed foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt described the Israeli “rescue” of “White Helmets” as “fantastic news”, saying that the militants were the “bravest of the brave”.

We won’t delay too much here on this fraud. The so-called first responders of the “White Helmets” are a CIA, MI6-backed propaganda outfit working hand-in-hand with the terrorist militia. Their fake videos of chemical weapons attacks and air strikes have been a key propaganda device aided and abetted by the Western news media to demonize the Syrian armed forces and its Russian ally.

The fictitious propaganda stunt alleging a chemical weapon attack in Douma on April 7 this year resulted in a barrage of air strikes by the US, Britain and France.

Created in 2013 by a British MI6 agent and former British army officer James Le Mesurier, the so-called White Helmets have been funded with hundreds of millions of dollars by the governments of the US, Britain and other NATO states.

There is abundant video evidence showing members of this fake rescue group participating in gruesome executions by the al Qaeda-aligned militants with whom they associate. One such video shows an execution of a Syrian army soldier in Daraa, the city from where the latest evacuation of jihadists by Israel took place. Daraa is also, by the way, mendaciously referred to in the Western media as the “cradle of the revolution” or the “birthplace of the uprising” against President Assad’s government back in March 2011. The only thing that Daraa was a birthplace of was the US-led foreign covert war for regime change in Syria.

Now here’s a curious thing about the latest salvaging of terror assets in Syria. The United States and Israel are not taking any of the 800 militants for resettlement. Independent investigative journalist Vanessa Beeley, who has done much to expose the real macabre nature of the White Helmets and their terror links, says that both the US and Israeli no doubt realize that by taking in such “war refugees” they are inviting terrorists into their own societies.

Which makes you wonder why Britain, Germany and Canada are stepping up to the plate to offer the 800 White Helmets a home?

The case of Germany is particularly odd. Interior minister Horst Seehofer has personally authorized the resettlement of White Helmets spirited out of Syria by Israel. This is the same Seehofer who has mounted such a strong challenge to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s “open door” policy towards immigrants.

What we are witnessing is a suicidal ignorance by Western governments to take in these cadres of White Helmets. Perhaps Seehofer and other government ministers like Britain’s Jeremy Hunt are simply woefully misinformed. But surely the state security agencies of their respective countries know all too well the criminal, psychotic nature of the people whom they are allowing into their societies.

Such a callous disregard for public safety is not unprecedented. In his well-researched book, My Fight For Syrian Freedom, Irish peace activist Dr Declan Hayes details numerous cases of how jihadist assets were knowingly cultivated by British and French state security services for the purpose of waging the covert war for regime change in Syria and Libya. These assets have been allowed to return to Britain and France under the cover of being “refugees”, with the security services turning a blind eye to their true identity.

The nefarious relationship has resulted in these terror assets committing atrocities in Europe. For example, as Hayes points out, the Manchester concert bomb attack that killed 22 people in May last year was carried out by operatives belonging to a Libyan jihad cell that MI5 and MI6 had previously overseen for their objective of prosecuting the regime-change war in Libya against Muammar Gaddafi.

Similar murky connections between jihadists “blooded in Syria” and state secret services have been uncovered in terror attacks in France and Belgium. It is not clear if these terror assets go rogue or whether they are being used by British, French and other military intelligence as a deliberate provocation in order to promote tighter national security laws and greater surveillance powers over their citizens.

Declan Hayes reckons that the problem of Western-sponsored terrorists returning to Britain and other European countries under the cover of claiming to be “war refugees” is much greater than Western governments or their media are admitting.

Hayes says that in his experience of visiting Syria many times during the war, most families loyal to the government were adamantly defiant about staying in the country and defending their communities. He reckons that there is a legitimate concern that many of the refugees fleeing from formerly militant-held cities like Aleppo and Daraa are jihadists and their families.

This view supports the right of some European governments to be wary about taking in large numbers of refugees from Syria and other war-torn countries. There is a case for rigorous vetting, but such a case is often emotionally blackmailed by naive media commentary as being “heartless” or “racist”.

There is no doubt that Western government agencies have fomented terrorist groups in Syria and elsewhere to do their dirty work for destabilizing target governments.

Now that the war in Syria is all but over with the Syrian army, backed by Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, rooting out the last jihadist remnants, we are seeing Western states taking in their terror assets. Maybe as a desperate intervention to stop them from revealing the dirty secrets of Western government collusion.

The repatriation of the White Helmets terrorist propagandists to the UK, Germany and Canada is a classic illustration.

Western authorities are playing with fire. Not only are they running the risk of public safety from future terrorist incidents. They are also stoking the flames of xenophobia, racism and culture wars against many innocent refugees who have been given shelter in Western countries.

July 24, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, False Flag Terrorism | , , , | 1 Comment

Is Bill Browder the Most Dangerous Man in the World?

The darling of the war party needs to answer some questions

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • July 24, 2018

At the press conference following their summit meeting in Helsinki, Russian President Vladimir Putin and American President Donald Trump discussed the possibility of resolving potential criminal cases involving citizens of the two countries by permitting interrogators from Washington and Moscow to participate in joint questioning of the individuals named in indictments prepared by the respective judiciaries. The predictable response by the American nomenklatura was that it was a horrible idea as it would potentially require U.S. officials to answer questions from Russians about their activities.

Putin argued, not unreasonably, that if Washington wants to extradite and talk to any of the twelve recently indicted GRU officers the Justice Department has named then reciprocity is in order for Americans and other identified individuals who are wanted by the Russian authorities for illegal activity while in Russia. And if Russian officials are fair game, so are American officials.

A prime target for such an interrogation would be President Barack Obama’s Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, who was widely criticized while in Moscow for being on an apparent mission to cultivate ties with the Russian political opposition and other “pro-democracy” groups. But McFaul was not specifically identified in the press conference, though Russian prosecutors have asked him to answer questions related to the ongoing investigation of another leading critic, Bill Browder, who was named by Putin during the question and answer session. Browder is a major hedge fund figure who, inter alia, is an American by birth. He renounced his U.S. citizenship in 1997 in exchange for British citizenship to avoid paying federal taxes on his worldwide income.

Bill Browder is what used to be referred to as an oligarch, having set up shop in 1999 as Hermitage Capital Management Fund, a hedge fund registered in tax havens Guernsey and the Cayman Islands. It focused on “investing” in Russia, taking advantage initially of the loans-for-shares scheme under Russia’s drunkard President Boris Yeltsin, and then continuing to profit greatly during the early years of Vladimir Putin. By 2005 Hermitage was the largest foreign investor in Russia.

Yeltsin had won a fraudulent election in 1996 supported by the oligarch-controlled media and by President Bill Clinton, who secured a $20.2 billion IMF loan that enabled him to buy support. Today we would refer to Clinton’s action as “interference in the 1996 election,” but at that time a helpless and bankrupt Russia was not well placed to object to what was being done to it. Yeltsin proved keen to follow oligarchical advice regarding how to strip the former Soviet Union of its vast state-owned assets. Browder’s Hermitage Investments profited hugely from the commodities deals that were struck at that time.

Browder and his apologists portray him as an honest and honorable Western businessman attempting to operate in a corrupt Russian business world. Nevertheless, the loans-for-shares scheme that made him his initial fortune has been correctly characterized as the epitome of corruption by all parties involved, an arrangement whereby foreign investors worked with local oligarchs to strip the former Soviet economy of its assets paying pennies on each dollar of value. Along the way, Browder was reportedly involved in money laundering, making false representations on official documents and bribery.

Browder was eventually charged by the Russian authorities for fraud and tax evasion. He was banned from re-entering Russia in 2005 and began to withdraw his assets from the country, but three companies controlled by Hermitage were eventually seized by the authorities. Browder himself was convicted of tax evasion in absentia in 2013 and sentenced to nine years in prison.

Browder, who refers to himself as Putin’s “public enemy #1,” has notably been able to sell his tale of innocence to leading American politicians like Senators John McCain, Lindsay Graham, Ben Cardin and ex-Senator Joe Lieberman, all of whom are always receptive when criticizing Russia, as well as to a number of European parliamentarians and media outlets. In the wake of the Helsinki press conference he has, for example, claimed that Putin named him personally because he is a threat to continue to expose the crimes of the mafia that he claims is currently running Russia, but there is, inevitably, another less discussed alternative view of his self-serving narrative.

Central to the tale of what Browder really represents is the Magnitsky Act, which the U.S. Congress passed into law to sanction individual Kremlin officials for their treatment of alleged whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky, arrested and imprisoned in Russia. Browder has sold a narrative which basically says that he and his “lawyer” Sergei Magnitsky uncovered massive tax fraud and, when they attempted to report it, were punished by a corrupt police force and magistracy, which had actually stolen the money. Magnitsky was arrested and died in prison, allegedly murdered by the police to silence him.

The Magnitsky case is of particular importance because both the European Union and the United States have initiated sanctions against the identified Russian officials who were allegedly involved. In the Magnitsky Act, sponsored by Russia-phobic Senator Ben Cardin and signed by President Barack Obama in 2012, the U.S. asserted its willingness to punish foreign governments for human rights abuses. The Act, initially limited to Russia, has now been expanded by virtue of 2016’s Global Magnitsky Act, which enabled U.S. sanctions worldwide.

Russia reacted angrily to the first iteration of the Act, noting that the actions taken by its government internally, notably the operation of its judiciary, were being subjected to outside interference, while other judicial authorities also questioned Washington’s claimed right to respond to criminal acts committed outside the United States. Moscow reciprocated with sanctions against U.S. officials as well as by increasing pressure on foreign non-governmental pro-democracy groups operating in Russia. Some have referred to the Magnitsky Act as the start of the new Cold War.

The contrary narrative to that provided by Browder concedes that there was indeed a huge fraud related to as much as $230 million in unpaid Russian taxes on an estimated $1.5 billion of income, but that it was not carried out by corrupt officials. Instead, it was deliberately ordered and engineered by Browder with Magnitsky, who was actually an accountant, personally developing and implementing the scheme, using multiple companies and tax avoidance schemes to carry out the deception. Magnitsky, who was on cardiac medication, was indeed arrested and convicted, but he, according to his own family, reportedly died due to his heart condition, possibly exacerbated by negligent authorities who failed to medicate him adequately when he became ill.

The two competing Browder narratives have been explored in some detail by a Russian documentary film maker Andrei Nekrasov, an outspoken anti-Putin activist, who was actually initially engaged by Browder to do the film. An affable Browder appears extensively in the beginning describing his career and the events surrounding Magnitsky.

As Nekrasov worked on the documentary, he discovered that the Browder supported narrative was full of contradictions, omissions and fabrication of evidence. By the time he finished, he realized that the more accurate account of what had occurred with Browder and Magnitsky had been that provided by the Russian authorities.

When Nekrasov prepared to air his work “The Magnitsky Act: Behind the Scenes,” he inevitably found himself confronted by billionaire Browder and a battery of lawyers, who together blocked the showing of the film in Europe and the United States. Anyone subsequently attempting to promote the documentary has been immediately confronted with 300 plus pages of supporting documents accompanying a letter threatening a lawsuit if the film were to be shown to the public.

A single viewing of “The Magnitsky Act” in Washington in June 2016 turned into a riot when Browder supporters used tickets given to Congressional staffers to disrupt the proceedings. At a subsequent hearing before Congress, where he was featured as an expert witness on Russian corruption before a fawning Senate Judiciary Committee, Bill Browder suggested that those who had challenged his narrative and arranged the film’s viewing in Washington should be prosecuted under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 (FARA), which includes penalties of up to five years in prison.

Because of the pressure from Browder, there has never been a second public showing of “The Magnitsky Act” but it is currently possible to see it online:

https://www.bitchute.com/embed/lQ3qEwX66pIL/

Bill Browder, who benefited enormously from Russian corruption, has expertly repackaged himself as a paragon among businessmen, endearing himself to the Russia-haters in Washington and the media. Curiously, however, he has proven reluctant to testify in cases regarding his own business dealings. He has, for example, repeatedly run away, literally, from attempts to subpoena him so he would have to testify under oath.

When one gets past all of his bluster and posturing, by one significant metric Bill Browder might well be accounted the most dangerous man in the world. Driven by extreme hatred of Putin and of Russia, he personally and his Magnitsky Myth have together done more to launch and sustain a dangerous new Cold War between a nuclear armed United States and a nuclear armed Russia. Blind to what he has accomplished, he continues to pontificate about how Putin is out to get him when instead he is the crook who quite likely stole $230 million dollars and should be facing the consequences. That the U.S. media and Congress appear to be entranced by Browder and dismissive of Moscow’s charges against him is symptomatic of just how far the Russia-phobia in the West has robbed people of their ability to see what is right in front of them. To suggest that what is taking place driven by Browder and his friends in high places could well lead to tragedy for all of us would be an understatement.

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 www.councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org.

July 24, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Film Review, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | , | 3 Comments