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Was climate change alarmism always about fears of overpopulation?

By Pierre Desrochers and Joanna Szurmak | Watts Up With That? | February 11, 2019

[Note: The following text is adapted from the authors’ recently published book Population Bombed! Exploding the Link Between Overpopulation and Climate Change in which the validity of the belief in the inherent unsustainability of economic growth is challenged more thoroughly.]

Numerous population control advocates have linked anthropogenic climate change to population growth, or tried to revive interest in invoking anthropogenic climate change as the key negative outcome of continued economic growth linked to, foremost among causes, an increasing population. One pioneer of establishing and cultivating population growth – anthropogenic climate change linkage was the “Population Bomber” himself, Paul Ehrlich, who during a conference in 1968 identified anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions as a “serious limiting factor” to economic growth.[1] By the 1970s, Ehrlich, his wife Anne and his collaborator John Holdren raised fears that carbon dioxide “produced by combustion of fossil fuels in quantities too large to contain” may “already be influencing climate” and, as such, constituted one of the “gravest threats to human well-being. . . [i.e.] the loss of natural services now provided by biogeochemical processes.”

What motivated the Ehrlichs and Holdren to worry about a looming disaster threatening humanity just twenty years after the end of the Second World War (1939-1945)? After all, the war had brought with it wholesale destruction of infrastructure and loss of life throughout the world on a previously unparalleled scale. Was it the tension of the Cold War? Was it a specific epidemic or a natural event? We argue that no specific trigger events were necessary to spark the anxieties of these activists as they already espoused a neo-Malthusian eco-catastrophist mindset that is part of a wider pessimist perspective.

Among others, the ecological economics theorist John S. Dryzek recognized at least two distinctive perspectives on the understanding of the nature, role, and future of humanity – the pessimist, and the Promethean or optimist – each possessing a distinct set of assumptions, narratives, values and ultimate goals.[2] The pessimists, like the Ehrlichs and Holdren, apply a limit-driven narrative to define the place and goals of humanity on earth. According to the pessimist view, the earth’s resources are severely limited while the balance between planetary health and disrepair is exceedingly tenuous. The pessimists model people as bacteria that, in their Malthusian exponential growth, tend to quickly outstrip the resources of their “test-tube earth,” swiftly destroying both themselves and their environment. Only – perhaps – the timely intervention of top-down expert planning may avert this preordained debacle. The optimists see resources as limited primarily by human ingenuity and ability to utilize them, and humanity itself as a gathering of creative individuals, each capable of being much more than a mouth to feed. Optimist individuals may be driven by seemingly local needs, such as the replacement of a scarce resource or the improvement of the efficiency of a process, but the outcomes of their individual efforts benefit others in a spontaneous diffusion process.

Thus, the Ehrlichs’ and Holdren’s preoccupation with human population numbers and their impact on global development or resource use did not need a specific cause or trigger. Population and resource use anxiety were part of their pessimist perspective that had them always on the lookout for humanity’s confrontation with the inflexible natural limits of the finite earth. The late 1960s and early 1970s belonged to an era when other pessimist scientists like the climatologist Stephen Schneider, a Stanford colleague of Ehrlich, were theorizing about impending glaciation caused by anthropogenic atmospheric pollution reflecting sunlight. The Ehrlichs – who, truth be told, were also worried about every possible (and always negative) impact of increasing human population numbers, including, for a time, the effects of population growth on global cooling – were casting about for a development-related scourge of humanity that would be, perhaps, less easy to redress with fundamentally optimist fixes than global cooling was thanks to technologies such as smokestack scrubbers. For this reason, anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions were the ideal villain – or, pun intended, windmill to tilt at – as their neutralization does require a fundamental reworking and re-thinking of humanity’s key stable technologies – including its electrical power grid – on a scale that, thanks to the quickly mounting “scientific consensus” and political pressure, poses a significant challenge to human innovation.

While admitting he was not a climate specialist – thus just as “qualified” as Ehrlich, a biologist specializing in entomology, to theorize about climate – the economist Julian Simon suspected over two decades ago that global warming was a dubious pessimist scare mostly rooted in older neo-Malthusian concerns about population growth. He observed then that the “latest environmental justification for slowing or halting population growth is supposed global warming.” Simon cited a World Bank paper on the new “global negative externality” represented by greenhouse gas emissions, which he summarized as follows: “[The] old rationales for World Bank population control programs – economic growth, resource conservation, and the like – having been discredited, a new ‘rationale’ has been developed on the basis of speculative assumptions about global warming’s economic effects derived from controversial climatological science.”

Simon then summarized the position of most environmentalists as follows: “But isn’t obvious. . . that additional people and additional economic growth will cause us to use more energy and hence emit more greenhouse gases? Therefore, even if we can’t be sure of the greenhouse effect, wouldn’t it be prudent to cut back on growth?” The economist Jacqueline Kasun similarly believed at the time that “by the 1990s the doomsayers had shifted their attack” as they could no longer invoke resource depletion as the key growth-limiting issue. As she wrote, “the alarmists didn’t miss a step. The problem, they now said, was that people were using too much energy and were causing Global Warming.”[3] Both Kasun and Simon thus identified pessimist limits-based thinking as the chief impetus behind the elevation of anthropogenic CO2-caused climate change to the status of a global catastrophe.

Closer in time to us, retired Canadian academic Michael Hart has commented that “for alarmists, climate mitigation policy is as much a means of achieving their larger goals as it is a matter of addressing a possibly serious issue.”[4] As another retired Canadian academic, historical climatologist Tim Ball, has long argued, the climate change policy agenda is based on certain assumptions ultimately related to a fear of reaching another terrestrial set of limits through overpopulation. Indeed, Dr. Ball goes so far as to argue that while global warming is a “contrived problem,” most of those “who know it is contrived still believe overpopulation is a problem.” It is indeed remarkably easy to find influential climate bureaucrats and scientists who will either admit this much or else acknowledge their neo-Malthusian pessimist stance rooted in enforcing limits to human (population) growth.

Maurice Strong (1929–2015), who was described by business journalist Peter Foster as “[m]ore than any other individual. . . responsible for promoting the [UN] climate agenda,” is the most obvious case in point. Strong first achieved some degree of notoriety in Canada as young deputy minister – a high-ranking civil servant – when he ended up on the record by stating that “with a growing global population, we will have to recognise that having children is not just a personal issue but a societal issue and at a certain point we may be faced with a need to have a permit to have a child.” He also referred to the need for “national population policies” in his opening speech at the 1972 Stockholm Conference. Strong reportedly stated the following Malthusian prediction at the 1992 Earth Summit: “Either we reduce the world’s population voluntarily or nature will do this for us, but brutally.”

Having started with the idea of limits to population growth, Strong eventually connected it to the limits of economic growth problem as defined by climate change. At the 2009 Copenhagen Summit, Strong declared: “The climate change issue and the economic issue come from the same roots. And that is the gross inequity and the inadequacy of our economic model. We now know that we have to change that model. We cannot do all of this in one stroke. But we have to design a process that would produce agreement at a much more radical level.” In one of his last extended interviews, Strong said that “growth in the world population has increased the pressures on the Earth’s resources and life-support systems.” He added that “China’s one-child policy is not a perfect policy by any means, but, on the other hand, how do you control growth in your population?” Strong viewed widespread aspirations for a better life as problematic, for if everyone “enjoyed the same patterns of consumption that we in the West do, then we would have an unsustainable situation, and we’re actually on the way to that now. We are in a situation that is unsustainable.” Thus, for Strong, the issue of population growth was clearly part of the pessimist narrative and a clear issue of limits to growth.

The first chairman of the IPCC (1988-1997), Bert Bolin, was not only an early convert to the alleged catastrophic impact of CO2 emissions,[5] but also a pessimist on population and resources issues, as evidenced in his stance on the controversy surrounding the 2001 publication of The Skeptical Environmentalist by the Danish political scientist Bjorn Lomborg. Bolin later wrote he “largely share[d] the gist of the . . . analyses” of Lomborg’s critics John Holdren and John Bongaarts.[6] Bongaarts, a demographer long associated with the Population Council and a former chair of the Panel on Population Projections of the National Academy of Sciences, had then opined: “Population is not the main cause of the world’s social, economic and environmental problems, but it contributes substantially to many of them. If population had grown less rapidly in the past, we would be better off now. And if future growth can be slowed, future generations will be better off.”[7] For his part, John Holdren contradicted many of his earlier warnings of imminent resource depletion by arguing that while the world was not “running out of energy,” it was “running out of environment,” by which he meant “running out of the capacity of air, water, soil and biota to absorb, without intolerable consequences for human well-being, the effects of energy extraction, transport, transformation and use.”[8]

The second chairman of the IPCC (1997–2002), Robert Watson, would later go on the record with the following line of reasoning: “The more people we have on the Earth and the richer they are, the more they can demand resources. There’s more demand for food, more demand for water, more demand for energy. . . So, there’s no question the threats on the Earth today are far more than, say, 50 years ago and in 50 years’ time, there will even be more threats.”

The third chairman of the IPCC (2002-2015), Rajendra K. Pachauri, was even more explicit when he stated in 2007 that humanity has “been so drunk with this desire to produce and consume more and more whatever the cost to the environment that we’re on a totally unsustainable path.” He was “not going to rest easy until [he has] articulated in every possible forum the need to bring about major structural changes in economic growth and development. That’s the real issue. Climate change is just a part of it” (our italics). When asked why Indians shouldn’t aspire to the same standard of living as westerners, Pachauri answered: “Gandhi was asked if he wanted India to reach the same level of prosperity as the United Kingdom. He replied: “It took Britain half the resources of the planet to reach its level of prosperity. How many planets would India require?” In his IPCC resignation letter (apparently no longer available on the IPCC website) Pachauri admitted that, for him, “the protection of Planet Earth, the survival of all species and sustainability of our ecosystems is more than a mission. It is my religion and my dharma.”

In Pachauri’s statements, and in others we have quoted so far, there is ample evidence of a passionate commitment towards the protection of the planet,but there is no sign of recognition that humanity can do, and has done, more than simply consume resources. At no point do neo-Malthusians like Pachauri admit the possibility that technological innovations and human creativity have a place among the things that deserve a place on Earth. What pessimist activists desire is a consensus on the classification of humanity as out of control and inherently driven by destructive greed, thus in need of top-down regulation by the few remaining clear-thinking and benign autocrats – that is, functionaries – of the global government.

Another important figure in the anthropogenic climate change institutional apparatus is former American senator Timothy E. Wirth, one of the main organizers of the 1988 James Hansen hearing on climate change, and from 1998 to 2013 president of the (hardcore Malthusian) Ted Turner-funded United Nations Foundation. While no longer in the news or on the frontlines of the US government, Wirth is still actively promoting a population control agenda. He is on the record as stating in 1993: “We’ve got to ride this global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing in terms of economic and environmental policy.”[9]

Needless to say, many other influential politicians and bureaucrats share a similar outlook. In 1998 Christine Stewart, then Canadian Minister of the Environment, when speaking before editors and reporters of the Calgary Herald said: “No matter if the science is all phony, there are collateral environmental benefits… Climate change [provides] the greatest chance to bring about justice and equality in the world.”[10] More recently, Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action (2010–2014), argued that the European Union policy on climate change was right even if the science was not. As she put it:

Say that 30 years from now, science came back and said, “wow, we were mistaken then; now we have some new information so we think it is something else”. In a world with nine billion people, even 10 billion at the middle of this century, where literally billions of global citizens will still have to get out of poverty and enter the consuming middle classes, don’t you think that anyway it makes a lot of sense to get more energy and resource efficient… Let’s say that science, some decades from now, said “we were wrong, it was not about climate,” would it not in any case have been good to do many of things you have to do in order to combat climate change? I believe that in a world with still more people, wanting still more growth for good reasons, the demand for energy, raw materials and resources will increase and so, over time, will the prices… I think we have to realise that in the world of the 21st century for us to have the cheapest possible energy is not the answer.

Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana Figueres, said “We should make every effort to change the numbers… obviously less [sic] people would exert less pressure on the natural resources,” and humanity is “already exceeding the planet’s planetary carrying capacity, today.” She also added that population control was not enough and that fundamental changes need to be made to our current economic system. Figueres, like Strong, Wirth, Bongaarts, Stewart and Hedegaard, was speaking from the depths of the neo-Malthusian pessimist limit-based perspective.

Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, the director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and an adviser to the encyclical Laudato Si, has long been on the record as estimating the carrying capacity of the planet at “below 1 billion people.” More recently, researchers associated with the Population Reference Bureau and the Worldwatch Institute stated: “Human population influences and is influenced by climate change and deserves consideration in climate compatible development strategies. Achieving universal access to family planning throughout the world would result in fewer unintended pregnancies, improve the health and well-being of women and their families, and slow population growth – all benefits to climate compatible development.”

Since leaving his academic appointment, prominent Canadian climate scientist Andrew Weaver has become the leader of the British Columbia Green Party. As could be expected from a pessimist activist, Weaver is on the record as stating: “Technology itself will not solve global warming. Individual behavior and consumption patterns will need to change as well. For too long we have lived by the axiom that growth is great. We strive for economic growth year after year. We drive it by increasing population. But infinite growth cannot occur in a finite system. Collapse is inevitable.”[11]

The late climatologist Stephen Schneider was a leading advocate for major reductions of greenhouse gas emissions. Schneider was sometimes derided by his critics for having switched, almost overnight, from being a major proponent of global cooling, as we mentioned earlier, to becoming one of the most prominent supporters of global warming. Less well known about him, however, is the fact that he never changed his Ehrlich-inspired belief in the existence of a “wide consensus that exponential growth, for both economies and human populations, cannot continue indefinitely,” and that “population growth must ultimately be controlled.”

Thus, Schneider was a classic neo-Malthusian pessimist thinker. As he wrote in a 1977 popular book mainly devoted to describing the perils of global cooling, the “obvious point about population growth [that] must be stated and restated” is that “population increases will only dilute the effectiveness” of achieving “rapid improvements in per capita living standards for the present 4 billion people on earth.”[12] Twenty years later, having become a major proponent of global warming, he still believed that “control of population growth has the potential to make a major contribution to raising living standards and to easing environmental problems like greenhouse warming.” Not surprisingly, he urged the United States government to “resume full participation in international programs to slow population growth” and to “contribute its share to their financial and other support.”[13]

Whether its goal was curbing anthropogenic global cooling or global warming, the pessimist narrative’s endgame was always to institute top-down expert controls over population and centrally limit the human impetus to grow, create and aspire to change. In effect, the pessimist goal was to combat and control the optimist narrative through fear and discrediting its foundational impulses.

 


[1] Shelesnyak MC (ed.) (1969). Growth of Population: Consequences and Control. Gordon and Breach, p. 141.

[2] Dryzek, J (2005). The Politics of the Earth: Environmental Discourses. Oxford University Press, 2nd edn.

[3] Kasun J (1999/1988). The War Against Population: The Economics and Ideology of Population Control. Ignatius, rev. edn., p. 49

[4] Hart M (2015). Hubris: The Troubling Science, Economics, and Politics of Climate Change. Compleat Desktops Publishing, p. 289.

[5] Bolin is also on the record as stating in 1959 that the increase in carbon dioxide atmospheric concentrations “caused by the burning of fuels by industry and transport” could have an “effect on climate” that “might be radical.” Original quote in Anonymous. “Experts discuss monsters of sea.” New York Times, 28 April 1959.

[6] See Bolin B (2007). A History of the Science and Politics of Climate Change: The Role of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, pp. 183-185, quote on p. 183.

[7] Bongaarts J (2002). “Population: Ignoring its impact.” Scientific American, 286(1), 67–69, quote on p. 69.

[8] Holdren JP (2002). “Energy: Asking the wrong question.” Scientific American, 286(1), 65–67, quote on p. 65.

[9] Fumento M (1993). Science Under Siege. William Morrow & Co., p. 362.

[10] Original quote in the Calgary Herald, December 14, 1998. See also SEPP December 14-20, 1998.

[11] Weaver, A (2011). Generation Us: The Challenge of Global Warming. Orca Books, p. 108

[12] All quotes from Schneider SH, Mesirow LE (1977). The Genesis Strategy. Climate and Global Survival.

Plenum Books. By order of appearance in the main text, pp. 318, 25 and 318.

[13] Schneider, SH (1997). Laboratory Earth: The Planetary Gamble We Can’t Afford to Lose, HarperCollins, p. 150.

February 12, 2019 Posted by | Book Review, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | | 1 Comment

Mass Protests in Haiti, Like France’s Yellow Vests, Threaten Modern Oligarchic Structure

By Whitney Webb | MintPress News | February 12, 2019

PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI – Throughout recent Latin American history, it is hard to find a country that has been as thoroughly manipulated and plundered by the United States as Haiti has. After over a century of U.S. intervention — from the 19-year-long U.S. military occupation that began in 1915 to the 2010 election rigged by the Hillary Clinton-run State Department — Haiti has become the ultimate neoliberal experiment that has forced its people to live in conditions so horrible that rivers of sewage often run through the city streets.

Even Haiti’s own president, Jovenel Moise — who has presided over the most recent phase of U.S.-backed plunder — recently called the entire country a “latrine.”

Yet — much as in 1791, when Haiti was the site of the first successful slave revolt in the Americas — today the people of Haiti seem to have finally had enough of being slaves in all but name and are taking to the streets en masse in an effort to end the rule of the Haitian Bald-Headed Party (PHTK), the U.S.-backed political party with close ties to the Clintons.

For six days, thousands of Haitians have marched through the country’s capital of Port-au-Prince and other major cities, calling for Moise’s ouster for corruption and gross economic mismanagement in recent years, much of which can be traced directly back to the 2010 earthquake and the subsequent U.S.-UN “relief” effort that let to rigged elections, caused a deadly cholera outbreak and sought to turn the entire country into one massive sweatshop for American clothing companies.

More specifically, Moise has ignited popular ire after being implicated in the embezzlement of a $4 billion loan given to the Haitian government to develop the country via Venezuela’s PetroCaribe program and for his failure to combat the double-digit inflation that has further impoverished the Caribbean nation.

President Moise has thus far responded to the protests much like the president of Haiti’s former colonial ruler, France, where President Emmanuel Macron has sought to disperse the Yellow Vest popular protest movement with police violence. Similarly, Moise has ordered police to shoot tear gas and live ammunition into crowds of unarmed protesters, killing at least four people, including a 14-year-old boy who was not even a part of the protests, and injuring scores more.

Despite the violent response from the Moise-led government, protesters have continued to come out in force, even stoning Moise’s personal home on Saturday. That same day, Moise declared that he would “clean the streets” of every protester by Monday.

Yet the mass protests continued through Monday, when police were seen standing down in Carrefour (a suburb of Port-au-Prince), no longer willing to fire on protesters. In a video of the incident shared on social media, one female protester yells that “the police are afraid.” Late Monday afternoon, local reports asserted that PHTK ruling elite were evacuated via helicopter from the wealthy enclave of Petionville to the Toussaint L’Ouverture International Airport, apparently planning to flee the country — at least temporarily. Other reports stated that at least one police officer had been shot during Monday demonstrations that turned violent and saw several businesses looted.

Local media on Tuesday reported high turnout for protests in several cities.

The international response to the protests in Haiti has been limited, with the UN warning Haitian protesters on Sunday that “in a democracy change must come through the ballot box, and not through violence.” This unintentionally ironic statement ignores the documented meddling of the United States in massaging vote totals and other manipulative tactics in the last two presidential elections. This, combined with the fact that the U.S. has kidnapped and overthrown Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a left-leaning populist politician, each time he won an election — first in 1991 and then in 2004 — has greatly reduced Haitians’ faith in their “democracy.”

The U.S. knows something about election meddling

Since he came to power in February 2017, Moise’s policies have resulted in several mass protests — including last July, when protesters forced Moise’s government to abandon a planned hike in fuel prices; and last November, when protesters demanded Moise’s ouster for the embezzlement of PetroCaribe funds. With so many protests in such a short span of time, the anger among the Haitian population at this unpopular president is pungent and will likely prove difficult to placate this time.

A large part of Moise’s unpopularity is likely related to the fact that he was never popularly elected to begin with. The 2016 election that Moise allegedly won was disorganized and had turn-out so dismal that Moise, the “winner,” received only around 600,000 votes out of a national population of over 11 million. Prominent Haitian politicians called the election an “electoral coup.”

In addition, that election was overseen by Ken Merten, former Obama administration ambassador to Haiti and then Obama’s Haiti Special Coordinator, and was wracked by accusations of vote-buying and -stealing and other fraudulent activities. Merten’s involvement is particularly nefarious given that he oversaw the previous Haiti election (2010) where the U.S. State Department had altered the vote count.

If that were not enough, in addition to the election fraud, Moise was widely believed to have been ineligible for office soon after having been “elected,” after it was revealed that he had laundered money through his personal bank account and was tied to a drug-trafficking operation.

Ultimately, Moise’s unpopular rule is the continuation of that of his predecessor, Michel Martelly, who chose Moise — then a political neophyte — as his successor. Martelly’s rise to power was similar to Moise’s but even more fraudulent. In the 2010 election that saw Martelly “win,” the Hillary Clinton-run State Department changed the vote totals in order to place Martelly in a runoff election for which he hadn’t in fact qualified. When the previous Haitian government resisted, Clinton herself traveled to Haiti and threatened to withdraw all U.S. aid from Haiti if Martelly did not replace the second runoff candidate, Jude Celestin.

After coming to power, it took little time for observers to realize why the U.S., particularly the Clinton-led State Department, had chosen Martelly. Not only was Martelly an avid supporter of neoliberal policies that impoverished his people, he also supported the outright theft of Haitian land by wealthy foreign corporations to create so-called “Free Trade Zones,” and brokered a deal with the Clintons to release Americans who had been arrested for child trafficking.

Furthermore, Martelly also helped squander much of the foreign aid that did make it into Haiti, cementing his reputation as notoriously corrupt, although most of that aid never even made it to Haiti and instead remained in the hands of corrupt foreign contractors.

In addition, Martelly was also a supporter of the Duvalier family — which ruled Haiti with an iron fist during the dictatorships of “Papa Doc” Duvalier and his son “Baby Doc” Duvalier. Indeed, when “Baby Doc” Duvalier returned from exile in France to attend a Haitian government ceremony, Martelly — along with Bill Clinton, who was also in attendance – rose to greet him.

Martelly’s government included several officials who were connected to the Duvalier dictatorship, including his prime minister, Garry Conille, whose father held a cabinet position in the Duvalier dictatorship. In addition, Conille served with Bill Clinton on the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission and had previously worked as a development manager for the United Nations before receiving his prominent position in the government installed by both the U.S. and the UN.

Thus, Haiti under Martelly and Moise has been little different in practice from the Duvalier era. Indeed, as Amy Wilentz noted in a 2014 article in The Nation, “[The Duvalier] political toolbox — authoritarianism, trumped up elections, distrust of free speech, corruption of the forces of order, and no justice — are the methods by which Haiti’s ruler [Martelly] still controls the country.” With Moise serving as the new face of PHTK and Martelly’s chosen successor, this neo-Duvalier era in Haiti that has largely been orchestrated by the U.S. is now in danger of falling apart.

Haiti puts the neo-colonial oligarchy on edge

If the movement to oust the U.S.-backed and illegally installed rulers of Haiti is successful, it could easily send shockwaves through the power structures of the United States and its client states, much as the Haitian revolution did to the colonial powers two centuries ago. Indeed, the Haitian revolution instilled fear in European colonial masters throughout the Americas and the world and inspired countless slave revolts in the United States alone. Today, it still serves as a reminder that the most repressed class of a society can rise up to declare their equality and independence — and win. Perhaps that is why the current oligarchical system has invested so much in robbing Haitians of their economic and political power.

Though today is unlike the late 18th century in the sense that those at the bottom of the rung are no longer called “slaves” and those at the top are no longer called “masters” and “kings,” the record inequality that now exists throughout the world, the U.S. included, has recreated in today’s power structures an ethos eerily similar to that of the feudal-colonial systems of centuries past.

As both Haiti and France have become the new epicenters of popular unrest against predatory elites, much as they were two centuries ago, it is time to see both of these current movements as part of the same struggle for basic human dignity in an era of neocolonialism, imperialism and global oligarchy.

Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and has contributed to several other independent, alternative outlets. Her work has appeared on sites such as Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire among others. She also makes guest appearances to discuss politics on radio and television. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.

February 12, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

German Campaigners Defame Russian Media as Opinions Differ – Envoy to Berlin

Sputnik – 12.02.2019

MOSCOW – Russian media in Germany are being “persecuted” because their opponents do not have arguments to challenge their positions, Russian Ambassador to Berlin Sergei Nechayev told Sputnik, adding that proponents of such an approach were revealing who they really were.

“All those involved in this, to put it mildly, ugly media campaign against Russian and Russian-language media, are exposing themselves. After all, the course for defamation is adopted when arguments finish. One can only regret that opinions that differ from those expressed by local mainstream media do not give rise to a professional debate, but become a target for dishonest attacks. It is much easier to accuse your opponent of propaganda and deny him the opportunity to freely deliver his opinion to the local public rather than to hold a professional, fact-based discussion on controversial issues,” Nechayev said.

The ambassador added that Russian authorities did not target German media working in Russia, despite the fact that Moscow did not always like their content, which, he said, was often far from being objective.

“All we are striving for is providing our journalists with the opportunity to freely fulfill their professional duty in Germany, exactly the same way as many more numerous media representatives of Germany do in our country,” Nechayev stressed.

The comments come after on January 11, the German Federation of Journalists issued a statement calling on German regulators supervising media activities to not issue a broadcasting license for RT Deutsch, claiming that it was a “tool for Kremlin propaganda.” The Russian Foreign Ministry has said that Russia is not ruling out the possibility of taking retaliatory measures against countries where Russian media have their rights violated.

The situation with Russian media in the West has become increasingly difficult in recent years. A number of Western politicians, including those in the United Kingdom, the United States and France, have accused RT and Sputnik of interfering in elections and spreading propaganda, albeit without providing any evidence.

Russian officials have repeatedly stressed that Moscow does not meddle in other countries’ affairs. They, in particular, emphasize that the Western states’ policy toward Russian media reflected the fear of alternative coverage of global events and deterioration of the freedom of speech there.

February 12, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , | Leave a comment

US-led coalition bombs ‘ex-mosque’ as casualties in Baghuz offensive surge to 70

RT | February 12, 2019

At least 70 civilians were killed or injured over two days as Kurdish militias advance on an ISIS-held town in eastern Syria. The US-led coalition supports the operation with deadly airstrikes.

The offensive was launched on Monday and is touted as an attempt to capture the last remaining territory held by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorist group on Syria’s border with Iraq. Al-Baghuz Fawqani is a small town on the Euphrates River that had a population of some 10,000 before the war in the country started in 2011.

The forces of the Kurd-dominated SDF are being supported by the US-led coalition, which provides air support to the militias on the ground. According to SANA, the Syrian government news agency, at least 70 civilians were killed or injured on the outskirts of the town by the airstrikes.

One of the targets for the warplanes was a local mosque, which, the coalition says, has been repurposed by the terrorists as a command and control facility, from which car-bomb attacks against the Kurdish forces were directed. In a statement UK Maj. Gen. Christopher Ghika said this made the mosque a legitimate target not protected by international law.

Decisions to conduct attacks near or against public facilities are risky for military commanders, as the coalition itself found out in March 2017, when one of its airstrikes killed dozens of civilians hiding in a mosque. The US military initially denied hitting the building despite mounting evidence to the contrary, but later acknowledged that they failed to take necessary precaution when targeting a meeting of Al Qaeda members nearby.

Last year the coalition reported targeting mosques in IS-held part in eastern Syria with a similar justification. In October, an airstrike hit the prayer house in Al-Susah village, reportedly killing dozens of relatives of militants controlling the city. The coalition insisted it was targeting combatants. In December, a mosque in the town of Hajin was attacked as part of the SDF advancement along the Euphrates.

February 12, 2019 Posted by | War Crimes | , | 1 Comment

Integrity Initiative: New leaks show UK-funded project sought £5.5m for Balkans influence campaign

RT | February 12, 2019

Hackers have released a sixth batch of Integrity Initiative leaks, this time focusing on how the project sought £5.5 million in funding from the British government to establish an influence campaign in the Western Balkans.

According to the leaks, Chris Donnelly, who heads the Institute for Statecraft (IfS) — the Integrity Initiative’s parent organization — used his NATO contacts and extensive background in military intelligence to try to secure the money for the program.

The Integrity Initiative (II) had been positioning itself as an “independent” anti-disinformation charity until hackers began dumping batches of internal documents last November which revealed its government funding and the fact that it was running Europe-wide anti-Russia influence campaigns using “clusters” of cooperative journalists, academics and politicians. In response to the leaks, the II wiped all content from its website and claimed that while some of the documents were “genuine,” others were “falsified” — but did not provide any proof that this was the case.

The latest leaks show that the Balkan program would be run in conjunction with global marketing and communications firm Edelman, which Donnelly said could help produce “advertising campaigns on TV promoting change,” English-language training promoting the “right messages” and even “a TV soap opera looking at the problem of corruption.”

To aid ‘Her Majesty’s Government’

In a letter to former MI6 employee Guy Spindler and good governance expert Keith Sargent — who would be a key figure in the Balkan effort — Donnelly explains how the project would need “local partners” in the WB6 countries. The partners will help find journalists “who can be allies” in their efforts and who could be brought “on trips to London, HQ NATO etc.”

Donnelly’s letter is dated October 15, but no year is given. It appears, however, that it is from 2018, based on the fact that the proposal documents for the Balkan project make reference to the year 2018 and January 2019 as the potential start date.

The letter focuses on the efforts to set up the “anti-corruption” and “good governance” influence campaign across the Western Balkans, which a separate document says would “contribute to the aims and strategy of HMG” (Her Majesty’s Government) and would shield the region from corruption “being used as a method of external influence.”

Stumbling blocks and help from the BBC

Perceptively, the document — which lays out the projected three-year costs of £5.5 million ($7.87mn) — also recognizes that the program itself could be “identified as external interference” in the domestic affairs of the Balkan countries. Another leaked document notes “Russian hostility” and “traditional Soviet ties” as potential stumbling blocks to the Western influence campaign.

One serious concern is that many Serbian organizations “promote friendly ties with Russia” and it is suggested that BBC broadcasts could help to “counter Russian fake news” in the region. The fact that Serbia, Russia and a number of other countries do not recognize Kosovo’s independence is also cited as a “major problem” for the project.

‘A Bellingcat for counter-corruption’

To achieve success Donnelly said they would need to “identify a national goal” that could be used as a “lever”— citing Macedonia’s efforts to join NATO as an example. Donnelly boasts about his efforts in Slovakia in the 1990s using MPs to teach businesses how they could lobby government “legitimately in a democracy” rather than using “their then model of cash in brown envelopes.”

Part of the so-called anti-corruption program would entail building “training courses for journalists, students and wider public activists” to help them obtain the relevant investigative tools. Such a program could be “a Bellingcat for counter corruption,” the proposal document states. Bellingcat shot to prominence as a controversial one-man investigative website, which later expanded, received money from the notorious US government-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and was also linked to the II.

Anti-Russia entertainment

The latest leaks also reveal contacts between IfS fellow Euan Grant and a number of journalists, academics and think tank lobbyists. Grant sent a “memorandum of cooperation” to US writer Martha Bayles after a “detailed Skype call” in July 2018. He was looking for her “input into media documentaries and fictional entertainment” to counter Russian narratives.

Governments seeking help from writers and the entertainment industry to counter Russian narratives is nothing new. The 2014 hack of Sony Pictures revealed that the US State Department enlisted Hollywood’s help with “anti-Russia messaging” for movies and TV shows. It appears from these leaks that the British government is also trying to use thinly-disguised entertainment propaganda to promote divisive anti-Russia messaging onto TV screens in politically volatile regions of Europe.

The leaks say that the II should “alert” the press, radio and TV journalists to the “relevance” of already-made entertainment like the BBC series ‘McMafia’ which focuses on a London-based corrupt Russian family.

‘Sympathy for Russia’ in Scotland

There was also contact between the IfS and Neal Stewart, an adviser to the Scottish National Party’s Westminster front bench about “considerable sympathy for Russia” in Scotland in general, but particularly within academia. The “significant Russian speaking presence in private schools and in the Universities could fuel such attitudes,” the document warns. Another leaked document also cites “academic sympathies with Russia” as an indicator of “malign influence and disinformation.”

Targeting academics and students for their ‘Russian sympathies’ brings up rather negative historical parallels, particularly with the McCarthy era in the US, during which entertainers, academics and left-leaning activists were aggressively accused of being Communist sympathizers or agents and were placed on industry blacklists.

More recently, in Britain, a group of academics were smeared on the front page of the Times for similar sympathies, based on the fact that they publicly expressed doubts over certain anti-Russia media narratives. One of the academics involved called it a“coordinated smear campaign” against anti-war journalists and activists. The authors of the Times report were later named in Integrity Initiative documents, proving the existence of collusion between the British government and pro-establishment journalists to target those who do not stick to certain narratives.

High profile names & media ties

In an II“weekly report,” Grant names University of Exeter Professor Jeremy Black and Sunday Times journalist Roland White as two people who expressed interest in collaborating with the II. Roderick Parkes of the Paris-based ISS think tank and Nigel Gould-Davies, an associate fellow at Chatham House, were also named.

The leaks also say that Deborah Haynes of Sky News (a co-author of the aforementioned Times report) and Jonathan Beale of the BBC attended a speech by Air Marshal Sir Philip Osborn on the future of intelligence and information warfare in May 2018. The speech was described in the document as “manna from heaven for the Integrity Initiative.”

Grant writes that the government-funded IfS has “particular links with the Times, Telegraph, Guardian and BBC TV and radio” but says that it needs to “strengthen” its relationship with the Mail.

Times writer and CEPA lobbyist Edward Lucas also crops up in the latest leaks and due to his “considerable interest” is named as the II’s way into getting “articles and references” in the Times. Lucas recently defended the II in an op-ed for the newspaper and argued that criticism of the project would “play into the Kremlin’s hands.”

NGOs and the ‘Australian cluster’

The documents also reveal that the II wanted to provide NGOs with manuals on Russian corruption. Among the named organizations are Transparency International, Global Witness and the World Wildlife Fund.

One of the newly leaked documents also shows just how far the II has extended its reach, referencing an”Australian cluster.” Given the issue of Russian and Chinese influence in that region, Grant writes that there is “scope for a lot of crossover with media in Europe” and Australia relating to “Russian issues.”

Presenting the new leaks, the Anonymous-linked hackers claim that the Integrity Initiative has been trying to “divert people’s attention from the organisation’s wrongful activity” since the documents were made public. The leakers bash the II’s “pathetic attempt” to cover its tracks and say all its efforts have been “shattered to pieces by irrefutable evidence” of wrongdoing that has been shared with the public.

RT sent requests for comment to the people named in the story who were linked to the Integrity Initiative in the latest leaks.

February 12, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lavrov Says Alleged Russian Links to GPS Glitches During NATO Drills Fantasy

Sputnik – 12.02.2019

MOSCOW – Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Monday called claims of Russia’s alleged involvement in GPS disruptions during last year’s NATO drills a fantasy, a day after Norway renewed similar allegations concerning signal interference near its border.

“I must say that a matter was not looked into because it is impossible to explore fantasies that are not confirmed by any facts. It’s all along the lines of ‘highly likely,'” Lavrov said at a press conference after meeting with Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini.

In turn, Soini said that Finland had requested information from Russia on what could be causing the GPS disruptions.

“The situation [with GPS failure] last fall caused concern in Finland. And this situation does not in any way contribute to increasing the level of stability in the region. Naturally, the safety of air traffic and security in the broad sense should not be compromised in any circumstances. We expect and believe that there will be no such events in the future. We discussed this issue and asked for information on what these obstacles may be related to,” Soini told reporters after the meeting.

On Monday, the Norwegian Intelligence Service said in its annual report that in repeated incidents since 2017, Russia had blocked GPS signals in Norwegian regions near the border with Russia, adding that these incidents coincided with military drills in Norway.

Between late October and early November, NATO’s Trident Juncture military drills, held in several northern European countries, including Norway and Finland, were overshadowed by several incidents in which pilots reported losing GPS signals.

On November 13, the Norwegian Defense Ministry issued a statement blaming Russia for the disruption of GPS navigation signals. Finland also alleged that Russia could be responsible for jamming the signal. Moscow has denied the allegations, and Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov has noted the existing trend of accusing Russia of “various deadly sins,” saying that such accusations were, as a rule, unfounded.

February 12, 2019 Posted by | Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment

U.S. Is Setting Ground For Military Intervention In Venezuela

South Front | February 12, 2019

The Venezuelan government seems to be openly preparing to face a US military invasion.

On February 10, the country’s military kicked off large-scale military drills, which will run until February 15. According to President Nicolas Maduro, the drills are set to become the biggest ones the country has held in its 200-year history.

On the same day, multiple air defense systems, including Pechora-2M launchers, were spotted maneuvering in the area of San Cristobal, near the border with Columbia, an expected member of the US-led coalition in the event of invasion in Venezuela.

On February 7, Israel’s satellite company ImageSat International released a satellite image, allegedly showing that the Venezuelan military was releasing its S-300VN air defense system from mothballs in Captain Manuel Rios Airbase on February 4.

Separately, President Maduro announced the setting up of 50,000 “popular defence units” and promised that the US will get a South American “Vietnam War” if it decides to invade.

The military preparations came amid several important security developments. In January, authorities detained fugitive Colonel Oswaldo Garcia Palomo after he had crossed back into the country from Colombia. On February 7, he appeared on a video confessing to his ties with the CIA and Colombian officials to overthrow the Maduro government. According to Venezuelan Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez, Palomo was involved in an effort to rally soldiers to mutiny, close off the capital and overtake the presidential palace.

On February 5, authorities seized a shipment of US-made weapons, which was discovered at a storage yard of Arturo Michelena International Airport in the city of Valencia. The stash included at least 19 rifles and 118 magazines, high-caliber ammunition, as well as 90 radios and six mobile phones – and was likely sent from Miami, Florida on February 3.

At the same time, Washington is reportedly engaged in so-called direct contacts with representatives of the Venezuelan military and government to convince them to support the coup and help to bring US-proclaimed Interim President Juan Guaido into power. These efforts achieved at least a partial success.

On February 2, Air Force General Yanez, reportedly defected to the opposition’s side. He called for others to follow him in supporting “the right side.” On February 9, Colonel Ruben Paz Jimenez declared his support to the opposition. Separately, two more service members, Captain Hector Luis Guevara Figueroa and Army pilot Carlos Vásquez defected and called for others to do so.

Another, but also important front is the media sphere. US President Donald Trump openly states that he does not rule out a military option for Venezuela. Nonetheless, Washington still needs some formal pretext. Therefore, State Secretary Mike Pompeo declared in an interview with FOX Business that there is a growing Hezbollah and Iranian influence in Venezuela.

“People don’t recognize that Hezbollah has active cells — the Iranians are impacting the people of Venezuela and throughout South America. We have an obligation to take down that risk for America and how we do that in South America and all across the globe,” Pompeo said.

Washington says that Hezbollah, which it is considers to be a terrorist group, has been using Latin America as a base of fund-gathering for years. If it accidentally appears that the Maduro government has “deep ties” with Hezbollah, this could become a sufficient and necessary condition to propel a military intervention.

One more point of pressure is the delivery of the US humanitarian aid, which the Venezuelan government rejects.

President Maduro called this effort a “fake humanitarian assistance” designed to “humiliate” the country and “justify a military aggression”. On February 9, Guaido stressed that he would not rule out authorizing a US military intervention, whenever the term “authorizing” means in the case of the nation leader appointed from Washington.

With all these public statements and accusations, the White House cannot afford to tolerate the Maduro victory in the ongoing standoff. So, the US will continue to ramp up the pressure in political, economic and clandestine spheres. However, if these measures appear to be not enough to overthrow the government, a more direct action, including a military invasion, may be implemented.

https://southfront.org/wp-content/plugins/fwduvp/content/video.php?path=https%3A%2F%2Fsouthfront.org%2Fu-s-is-setting-ground-for-military-intervention-in-venezuela%2F&pid=1566

February 12, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 10 Comments

Arms purchases by Middle Eastern countries have doubled: Annual security report

Press TV – February 12, 2019

An annual international security report shows that arms sales to the Middle East doubled during the period between 2013 and 2017 compared to the previous five years.

The Munich Security Report 2019, released on Monday, also said the outsize concentration of weapons in the Middle East increased the risk of confrontation in the region.

“Between 2013 and 2017, the value of Middle Eastern countries’ arms purchases doubled compared to the previous five years, thus bearing the risk of an arms race and military confrontation,” it said.

The report did not name the top purchasers of arms, but they are believed to be the Arab countries in the Persian Gulf region, which traditionally allege that they face a “threat” from Iran and use that pretense to buy advanced weapons from eager suppliers mainly in the West.

The report did reveal the exporters, though. It said 53 percent of the total volume of the arms exports to the Middle East originated in the United States. The US was followed by France (11 percent), the United Kingdom (10 percent), and Canada (seven percent).

Italy, Germany, and Turkey were also among the leading exporters, with their share in the total volume of arms sales to the region equaling six percent, three percent, and two percent, respectively.

‘Countries reevaluating relations with Saudi Arabia following Khashoggi murder’

The report also said that “numerous US politicians and governments of other countries are reevaluating their partnership with Saudi Arabia,” following the state murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last October and Riyadh’s deadly military campaign in Yemen.

While the US administration has backed the Riyadh regime in both of those cases, other US politicians, including some of the administration’s allies in Congress, have been concerned by Saudi Arabia’s destabilizing role.

“The US Senate even passed a resolution urging the cessation of any military support to countries involved in the [Yemen] war, thus contradicting White House positions,” the report said.

The US administration on Monday threatened to veto any resolution passed in Congress against Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia and a number of its allies launched a devastating military campaign against Yemen in March 2015, claiming that a popular uprising there was backed by Iran, an allegation denied both by the revolutionaries and Tehran.

According to a new report by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, a nonprofit conflict-research organization, the Saudi-led war has so far claimed the lives of around 56,000 Yemenis.

The United Nations has said that a record 22.2 million Yemenis are in dire need of food, including 8.4 million threatened by severe hunger. According to the world body, Yemen is suffering from the most severe famine in more than 100 years.

The Munich Security Report 2019 also warned of a possible “risk of an accidental clash” between Saudi Arabia, the US, Israel, and Iran in the region, stressing that the confrontation “cannot be discounted.”

The report comes days ahead of the 55th edition of the Munich Security Conference, which is scheduled to take place in the German city of Munich on February 15-17. Heads of state and defense ministers of more than 80 countries from across the globe attend the event every year.

February 12, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

UK’s Anti-War Group Slams Defence Secretary for Ramping Up War Rhetoric

Sputnik – 11.02.2019

Lindsey German, the convener of London-based Stop the War Coalition, a group campaigning against what it believes are unjust wars, criticized UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson on Monday for deliberately increasing warmongering rhetoric that could further escalate tensions internationally.

“Gavin Williamson’s latest Churchill tribute act would be laughable were it not so dangerous. His speech today is a deliberate ramping up of warmongering rhetoric which belies the reality of Britain’s military record and which can only increase tensions in an already dangerous world,” Lindsey German said in a statement, which described Williamson as “divorced from reality.”

She criticized the minister’s argument that the West should be ready to “use hard power” to support its interests and that the United Kingdom should increase the “mass and lethality” of its armed forces.

“It is quite incredible that he fails to address the consequences of past ‘mass and lethality’ of British hard power. The last decade has seen catastrophic and unpopular invasions and occupation in Afghanistan and Iraq, a bombing campaign in Libya which only exacerbated the conditions there, the continued bombing of Syria and Iraq,” German pointed out.

Describing the United Kingdom’s military role as “a hangover from its imperial past,” German stressed that the country needed a foreign policy that would promote peace and that “tells the truth about Britain’s recent interventions.”

The statement comes after Williamson made a speech at a defence think tank earlier in the day, in which he said that the United Kingdom should redefine itself after Brexit as a global power ready to intervene against “adversaries” that undermine the rules-based international order.

Williamson said in his address that the United Kingdom would soon have nine new Poseidon P-8 maritime patrol aircraft that would enable it to “patrol thousands of miles of ocean and greatly enhancing our anti-submarine and maritime capability.”

February 12, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | | Leave a comment

Being Marco Rubio

The boyish senator from Florida is owned by the Israel Lobby

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • February 12, 2019

Americans consistently indicate in opinion polls that they approve of congress less than any other part of the federal government. The approval rating is sometimes in the single digits. As the congress was intended, per the Founders, to serve as the direct link to the American people, there is a certain irony in its being the most despised branch of government.

One can blame the two major parties for much of the negativity, as the process whereby candidates for office rise through the system that seems designed to weed out anyone who has ever expressed any viewpoint that is not approved by the bipartisan establishment. Indeed, many Americans complain that Democratic and Republican congress critters differ only superficially, both being corrupt from top to bottom and largely driven to stay on top so they can continue to benefit personally from the spoils of office.

One of the emptiest of all the empty suits in the Senate is Marco Rubio of Florida. The boyish looking Rubio is, to be sure, ambitious, but his thought processes, if they exist at all, are hard to discern. He is, more than most congressmen, both totally ignorant and completely programed in what he says and how he says it. Anyone who doubts that judgement should watch the February 2016 debate with former New Jersey governor Chris Christie in which Christie totally destroyed Rubio, effectively ending his bid to become the GOP candidate for president. Christie criticized Rubio for memorizing a “25-second speech that is exactly what his advisers gave him.” The two argued, but Rubio seemed stuck with his stump speech, which Christie called him out on every time he launched into it. Christie eventually turned and told the audience “There it is. The 25-second memorized speech.”

Rubio is pretty much straight-line neocon in his pronouncements, his most recent policy statement being that the Venezuelan people have two choices – change their government or starve. He tweeted it with his usual eloquence: “Hunger & desperation is growing inside #Venezuela & people know the only thing standing in the way of $50 million of food & medicine is #Maduro. Military leaders should make a choice, before a choice is made for them. The window for a negotiated exit is closing fast.” Columnist Whitney Webb responded with “Marco Rubio is openly saying that if Venezuela’s military doesn’t turn on Maduro soon, ‘a choice will made for them’ by the United States. Scariest threat for an imminent invasion of Venezuela I have yet to see.”

Rubio, who is Cuban-American, is inevitably hard-line against taking any steps to improve relations with his ancestral homeland, is hostile to “enemies” Russia and China, and wants American soldiers to stay in Afghanistan and Syria forever. It is a formula for continuous conflict worldwide, with the United States paying the tab both in dollars and in casualties.

But Senator Marco Rubio’s greatest affection is reserved for the Jewish state Israel. Why? Because that’s where his money and political support come from, and, for its part, the Israel Lobby sees Rubio as a perfect simple-minded patsy to advance its agenda. Israel’s promoter with the deepest pockets, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, was pursued by Rubio who “… consistently championed Israel in speeches on the Senate floor while also pushing legislation aimed at supporting the cause” during the GOP nomination process. Rubio eventually received Adelson’s endorsement in February 2016.

Before acquiring Adelson’s support, Rubio had “already gained support from Miami billionaire Norman Braman and New York billionaire investor Paul Singer, among others.” Both Braman and Singer are known to be major supporters of Israel. Marco’s affection for both Israel and Florida Jews derives largely from his connection to Braman, a former Philadelphia Eagle’s owner and currently a billionaire Miami resident who owns Florida’s largest network of car dealerships. Braman, an active supporter and funder of the illegal Jewish settlements in the Middle East, has been Rubio’s major financial backer since his early days in Florida state politics and as a quid pro quo whenever Marco expresses his love for both Jews and Israel, he is speaking to and for Braman.

Rubio has recently written, or had written for him, an op-ed in The New York Times entitled “The Truth About BDS and the Lies About My Bill” that seeks to explain why recent legislation to protect Israel that the senator sponsored does not violate the First Amendment guarantee of free speech.

Senate bill S.1 for 2019 finally passed out of the Senate last week on a 77 to 23 vote with Rand Paul as the only Republican Senator to vote against it. The full title of S.1 is the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act of 2019, which might be considered a bit of a fraud as it has nothing to do with the United States and is really all about giving Israel money and anything else it might desire, to include destroying the nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement that has targeted Israel’s apartheid. In his speech defending the bill, Rubio openly admitted that he was seeking to help Israel. He also registered his opposition to the impending pullout of U.S. troops from Syria because it would, according to him, “endanger” the Jewish state.

Rubio’s op-ed was written before the final vote on February 5th, but it predicted correctly that the bill would receive “a bipartisan supermajority” in the Senate. Anything having to do with Israel normally receives such “supermajorities” from congressmen who are intimidated, or expecting to be raptured shortly or on the Israel Lobby payroll.

The op-ed’s author comes out swinging, declaring that critics have “echoed false claims made by anti-Israel activists and others that the bill violates Americans’ First Amendment rights. That line of argument is not only wrong but also provides cover for supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, who embrace an international campaign of discriminatory economic warfare against Israel, a fellow democracy and America’s strongest ally in the Middle East.”

One supposes that “anti-Israel activists” consist of that increasing number of Americans who want to see Israel held accountable for its war crimes and crimes against humanity. Yes indeed, a boycott is “discriminatory economic warfare” using peaceful and non-threatening means to bring about change. And no, Israel is neither a democracy nor an ally of the United States. Has the Senate approved a treaty of alliance with Israel, Marco? You’re in the Senate and should know the answer to that one.

Rubio goes on to claim that “the goal of the movement is to eliminate any Jewish state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.” Wrong again Marco. Even if some BDS supporters might like to see that, it is not a “goal of the movement.” The movement is non-violent and Israel has a large army that would make such an objective a fantasy.

The author then describes how “While the First Amendment protects the right of individuals to free speech, it does not protect the right of entities to engage in discriminatory conduct. Moreover, state governments have the right to set contracting and investment policies, including policies that exclude companies engaged in discriminatory commercial -or investment- related conduct targeting Israel… That’s why, since 2015, more than 25 states, including Florida, have adopted laws or issued executive orders to divest from or prohibit contracts with companies that wage discriminatory economic warfare against Israel.” Wrong again Marco. Free speech includes supporting discriminatory conduct. The American Civil Liberties Union has addressed the issue succinctly, arguing correctly that “Public officials cannot use the power of public office to punish views they don’t agree with. That’s the kind of authoritarian power our Constitution is meant to protect against.” And several state laws protecting Israel from the First Amendment have already been ruled unconstitutional.

Marco then expands on his argument, “The Combating BDS Act does not infringe on Americans’ First Amendment rights or prohibit their right to engage in boycotts. By design, it focuses on business entities — not individuals — … it focuses on conduct, not speech. Indeed, it does not restrict citizens or associations of citizens from engaging in political speech, including against Israel.” Indeed Marco, but how do you explain the fact that several of the well-publicized cases involving BDS legislation have involved individuals not “business entities” who refused to sign pledges regarding Israel, which, when last I checked, was not even part of the United States and has nothing to do with contracting in this country? Those individuals have been denied government benefits and have been fired from jobs they had held for years.

And then there is the hypocrisy issue for Marco Rubio. If openly and vocally opposing trade with or travel to Cuba should similarly be suppressed, would he and his Cubanos associates consider that to be constitutional or perfectly legal? I think not. And Cuba, as far as I know, does not line up snipers to shoot children and medical workers while also stealing land from its rightful owners. Israel is a racist apartheid state. Cuba, for all its faults, is not.

It would be difficult to find more insipid justifications for S.1 than those provided by Marco Rubio. He does not understand that the “state” at all levels is supposed to be politically neutral in terms of providing government services. It is not supposed to retaliate against someone for views they hold, particularly, as in this case, when those views are part of a nonviolent opposition to the policies of a foreign government that many consider to be guilty of crimes against humanity. Rubio clearly believes that you can exercise free speech but government can then punish you by taking away your livelihood or denying you services that you are entitled to if you do not agree with it on an issue that ultimately has nothing to do with the United States. How such a lightweight came to be a Senator of the United States of America eludes me.

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.

February 12, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 3 Comments