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Irish Lawmakers Call for Arms Embargo on Israel

IMEMC | November 2, 2018

In a letter published in the Irish Times newspaper, Minister of State Finian McGrath and fifty other Irish TDs and Senators have called for an arms embargo to be placed on Israel, and for “an end to the bi-lateral arms trade between Ireland and the apartheid state”.

In addition to independent Minister McGrath, the signatories include members of Sinn Féin, Solidarity-People Before Profit, Labour, the Green Party, Independents 4 Change and other independent members of the Oireachtas, who condemn “the shooting dead of some 205 [Palestinian] protestors, including 40 children, and wounding of more than 5,000 people by live fire [on the Great March of Return] in Gaza since April”.

The letter ends by calling for “the international community, and the Irish government in particular, to take a stand to help end Israel’s decades of colonial occupation, apartheid and war crimes against the Palestinian people.”

Welcoming the statement, Ms. Fatin Al Tamimi, Chairperson of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) and a Palestinian-Irish citizen said she “thanks the members of the Oireachtas for this important and principled statement of solidarity, showing once again the strong bonds between the Irish people and the Palestinian people, both of whom have struggled heroically against colonialism and oppression in their homelands.”

لإamimi noted, according to the PNN, that “the IPSC strongly echoes this call for an arms embargo on Israel, a measure that we Palestinians have long been asking for. Weapons sent to Israel are used to kill, maim and oppress my people, while weapons exported from Israel are marketed as being ‘battle tested’ on Palestinians. It is time to end this horrendous trade in death and destruction, which is a bloody stain upon the Irish state.”

November 2, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , , , | 7 Comments

Who’s really ‘undermining’ US democracy?

‘We have met the enemy and he is us’

The Nation | November 2, 2018

Allegations that Russia is still “attacking” US elections, now again in November, could delegitimize our democratic institutions.

Summarizing one of the themes in his new book, ‘War with Russia? From Putin and Ukraine To Trump and Russiagate,’ Stephen F. Cohen argues that Russiagate allegations of Kremlin attempts to “undermine American democracy” may themselves erode confidence in those institutions.

Ever since Russiagate allegations began to appear more than two years ago, their core narrative has revolved around purported Kremlin attempts to “interfere” in the 2016 US presidential election on behalf of then-candidate Donald Trump. In recent months, a number of leading American media outlets have taken that argument even further, suggesting that Putin’s Kremlin actually put Trump in the White House and now is similarly trying to affect the November 6 midterm elections, particularly House contests, on behalf of Trump and the Republican Party. According to a page-one New York Times “report,” for example, Putin’s agents “are engaging in an elaborate campaign of ‘information warfare’ to interfere with the American midterm elections.”

Despite well-documented articles by Gareth Porter and Aaron Mate effectively dismantling these allegations about 2016 and 2018, the mainstream media continues to promote them. The occasionally acknowledged lack of “public evidence” is sometimes cited as itself evidence of a deep Russian conspiracy, of the Kremlin’s “arsenal of disruption capabilities… to sow havoc on election day.” (See the examples cited by Alan MacLeod.)

Lost in these reckless allegations is the long-term damage they may themselves do to American democracy. Consider the following possibilities:

Even though still unproven, charges that the Kremlin put Trump in the White House have cast a large shadow of illegitimacy over his presidency and thus over the institution of the presidency itself. This is unlikely to end entirely with Trump. If the Kremlin had the power to affect the outcome of one presidential election, why not another one, whether won by a Republican or a Democrat? The 2016 presidential election was the first time such an allegation became widespread in American political history, but it may not be the last.

Now the same shadow looms over the November 6 elections and thus over the next Congress. If so, in barely two years, the legitimacy of two fundamental institutions of American representative democracy will have been challenged, also for the first time in history.

And if US elections are really so vulnerable to Russian “meddling,” what does this say about faith in American elections more generally? How many losing candidates on November 6 will resist blaming the Kremlin? Two years after the last presidential election, Hillary Clinton and her adamant supporters still have not been able to do so.

We know from critical reporting and from recent opinion surveys that the origins and continuing fixation on the Russiagate scandal since 2016 have been primarily a product of US political-intelligence-media elites. It did not spring from the American people – from voters themselves. Thus a Gallup poll recently showed that 58 percent of those surveyed wanted improved relations with Russia. And other surveys have shown that Russiagate is scarcely an issue at all for likely voters on November 6. Nonetheless, it remains a front-page issue for US elites.

Indeed, Russiagate has revealed the low esteem that many US political-media elites have for American voters – for their ability to make discerning, rational electoral decisions, which is the bedrock assumption of representative democracy. It is worth noting that this disdain for rank-and-file citizens echoes a longstanding attitude of the Russian political intelligentsia, as recently expressed in the argument by a prominent Moscow policy intellectual that Russian authoritarianism springs not from the nation’s elites but from the “genetic code” of its people.

US elites seem to have a similar skepticism about – or contempt for – American voters’ capacity to make discerning electoral choices. Presumably this is a factor behind the current proliferation of programs – official, corporate, and private – to introduce elements of censorship in the nation’s “media space” in order to filter out “Kremlin propaganda.” Here, it also seems, elites will decide what constitutes such “propaganda.”

The Washington Post recently gave such an example: “portraying Russian and Syrian government forces favorably as they battled ‘terrorists’ in what US officials for years have portrayed as a legitimate uprising against the authoritarian government of President Bashar al-Assad.” That is, thinking that the forces of Putin and Assad were fighting terrorists, even if closer to the truth, is “Kremlin propaganda” because it is at variance with “what US officials for years have” been saying. This was the guiding principle of Soviet censorship as well.

If the American electoral process, presidency, legislature, and voter cannot be fully trusted, what is left of American democracy? Admittedly, this is still only a trend, a foreboding, but one with no end in sight. If it portends the “undermining of American democracy,” our elites will blame the Kremlin. But they best recall the discovery of Walt Kelly’s legendary cartoon figure Pogo: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Stephen F. Cohen is a professor emeritus of Russian studies and politics at New York University and Princeton University and a contributing editor of The Nation.

November 2, 2018 Posted by | Book Review, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | 2 Comments

Human Rights Watch Report on North Korea ‘Extraordinarily Condescending’

Sputnik – November 2, 2018

Human Rights Watch’s recent report alleging rampant abuse against women in North Korea is a underhanded attempt to undermine progress on inter-Korean talks, Christine Hong, a member of the Korea Policy Institute, told Sputnik.

The 98-page report by the US-based watchdog details widespread sexual abuse allegedly carried out by North Korean government officials against women with near total impunity. The report is based off of dozens of interviews with sexual abuse victims who have defected.

“I was a victim many times… On the days they felt like it, market guards or police officials could ask me to follow them to an empty room outside the market, or some other place they’d pick. What can we do? They consider us [sex] toys,” Oh Jung Hee, a former trader, was quoted in the report as saying.

“We [women] are at the mercy of men. Now, women cannot survive without having men with power near them.”

The report goes on to note that “unwanted sexual contact and violence is so common that it has come to be accepted as part of ordinary life [in North Korea].”

​Hong, who is also an associate professor at University of California Santa Cruz, told Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear on Thursday that the work published by Human Rights Watch is “extraordinarily condescending.”

“On the one hand you can see that this is a kind of rearing of the ugly head of the interventionist human rights industry, and it’s also a recourse on the level of methodology to extraordinarily flawed ways of looking at North Korea,” she said, before explaining that basing a report solely on defector testimonials was questionable.

“Defectors are notoriously unreliable source of information, and information that is gleaned from defectors, in the case of North Korea… this has been instrumentally used to actually make the case for war.”

“What we’re looking at right now is a kind of lens that is aimed at war… we’re hearing the beating of the war drum,” she stressed.

Of the 106 individuals interviewers spoke with, 57 defected after 2011, when North Korean leader Kim Jong Un came to power. The Human Rights Watch report was released as the South Korean government declared its support for a human rights resolution submitted to the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee, Yonhap reported. Should the resolution be adopted, it will become the 14th year that the UN has condemned human rights abuses taking place in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

November 2, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 4 Comments

Better late than never

By John Andrews | Dissident Voice | November 1, 2018

Although white poppies have been around for almost as long as the red ones as a symbol of remembrance a surprisingly large number of people know nothing about what they stand for. To put it in a nutshell, white poppies promote peace, red poppies help promote Permanent War.

Arguably the most cynical lie that was told to the horribly betrayed young men who were butchered in the killing fields of Europe just over a hundred years ago, in order to persuade them to become lambs for slaughter, was that they would be fighting the “war to end all war”. If it was true, it would indeed have been worth dying for, but it wasn’t. It was a lie. Britain and the US, the last global empire and the current one, never made any effort to stop wars. The so-called peace treaty that concluded WW1 guaranteed WW2 would happen. Further evidence is obvious: apart from being the two biggest arms-makers on the planet, Britain and the US never stopped sending their armed forces to distant countries to kill people who, certainly after WW2, have been mostly rag-tag freedom fighters, defeated conscripts and defenceless civilians.

The best way anyone can commemorate those terribly wasted young lives from WW1 is to remember what they believed they were fighting for, and to demand that our great trusted leaders respect them by doing what they said they would do – stop fighting wars. Many people think this is impossible. It isn’t. Switzerland, for example, stopped fighting wars almost two hundred years ago; Costa Rica totally scrapped its own army seventy years ago; and there are other neutral countries who refuse to indulge in war, such as Sweden, Ireland and Austria. A properly constituted United Nations, self-funded with a new global reserve currency rather than being dependent on the US dollar, could finally do what most of its creators wanted: enforce world peace.

Added to the sheer inexcusable immorality of war, which has always been the case, we now have the fact that it’s also illegal – a relatively new concept. Therefore almost every military action that Britain and the US have engaged in over the last three or four decades, at least, have not only been immoral, they’ve also been illegal.

At the risk of stating the obvious, if there were no armies, or weapons of war, war would be impossible. Therefore Britain should initiate a global movement to scrap all armies, and start by scrapping its own, like Costa Rica did in 1948, and stop trading in weapons of war. At the very least Britain should declare itself permanently neutral, and copy the Swiss model and have only a part-time militia trained only for the defence of Britain, and to serve the UN on peace-keeping or humanitarian operations that have been sanctioned by the full General Assembly – not the so-called Security Council, a deeply cynical institution which should be scrapped. Britain should also close down all US army bases and spy stations on all British territory – including its overseas outposts, such as Diego Garcia (which obviously should be returned to the Chagos Islanders).

Whilst some sort of moral justification for war is always manufactured, to sell it to the 99%, morality is never the main reason for war. The main reason wars are fought is for loot, and to feed the parasites of war – the bankers, arms dealers, generals and “intelligence” agencies. This is as true today as it’s always been. When the phoney compassion of corrupt politicians and lying news providers is stripped away, we always discover that the real reason some war was fought was to make the super-rich and powerful even richer and more powerful.

Interestingly, far from being pie-in-the-sky, much of all this is already existing Green Party policy.

The real cynicism of Remembrance Day is the brainwashing that accompanies it. We’re conditioned to see dead and wounded soldiers as heroes, instead of tragic victims treacherously betrayed by their own trusted leaders. WW1 was supposed to be the war to end all war. It’s about time we started demanding the realisation of that cause. Better late than never.

November 2, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | | 1 Comment