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Trump’s Democratic Opposition Endorses His Coup Attempt in Venezuela

Illustrating that the exception only proves the rule, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard stood virtually alone, tweeting: “The United States needs to stay out of Venezuela. Let the Venezuelan people determine their future. We don’t want other countries to choose our leaders — so we have to stop trying to choose theirs.”

By Alexander Rubinstein | MintPress News | February 26, 2019

Nothing unites the D.C. blob like a good old coup d’état. The only other times, it seems, that Donald Trump is given a break by “the resistance” is when he acts “presidential” — i.e., orders military aggression, as we saw with Syria.

As veteran journalist Dan Rather put it at the time:

The number of members of the press who have lauded the actions last night as ‘presidential’ is concerning. War must never be considered a public relations operation. It is not a way for an Administration to gain a narrative. It is a step into a dangerous unknown and its full impact is impossible to predict, especially in the immediate wake of the first strike.”

Now, it has been more than a month since the Trump administration worked with Juan Guaido to orchestrate a declaration of his presidency in Venezuela, and the coup attempt has received the endorsement of a likely backer: former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. While Clinton’s warmongering surprises no one, it is worth examining the statements of others in her political orbit.

MintPress News previously covered the remarks of the “socialists” in Congress — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) — about Venezuela, in which the former called on Venezuela to accept alleged humanitarian aid from the United States and the latter called out the “failure of democracy” in the country.

On Saturday, Clinton tweeted “I urge Nicolás Maduro to allow humanitarian aid inside Venezuela’s borders peacefully.” Hours later, Sen. Sanders tweeted that the “Maduro government must … allow humanitarian aid into the country, and refrain from violence against protesters.”

As Lawrence Korb put it: “We all think the dictator must go; the question is what’s the best way to do it.” Korb is a senior fellow at the pro-Clinton, UAE-funded comms shop Center for American Progress (CAP). Kelly Magsamen, CAP’s Vice President, National Security and International Policy, recently deleted a tweet in which she defended Elliott Abrams as a civil servant who is a “fierce advocate for human rights and democracy.”

Abrams, as MintPress News continues to note, was recently appointed as United States Special Representative for Venezuela and was previously involved in a $27 million plot to arm right-wing South American contras.

Magsamen claimed Abrams made “professional mistakes.” She added that “we all have a lot of work to do together in Venezuela. We share goals.”

While Clinton’s camp is firmly Never-Trump-Except-in-Cases-of-Regime-Change, she — God help us — is not running for president, currently. The Democrats who have declared their candidacies, however, do not differ much in their rhetoric on Venezuela, with rare exception.

Since there is only one Democratic candidate who has made a forceful statement against the coup, let’s start with Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), who was among the first to respond, tweeting “The United States needs to stay out of Venezuela. Let the Venezuelan people determine their future. We don’t want other countries to choose our leaders — so we have to stop trying to choose theirs.”

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who has thrown her hat in the ring for 2020, condemned Maduro’s “corrupt reign” and repeated the bald-faced lie that Juan Guaido “was legitimately elected,” via a statement through her spokeswoman, Meredith Kelly, to the Huffington Post.

Former Rep. John Delaney (D-MD), who is running for president in 2020, condemned Venezuela’s “corrupt and failed authoritarian regimes.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said, “The Venezuelan people deserve free and fair elections, an economy that works, and the ability to live without fear of violence from their own government.”

Pete Buttigieg — a little-known contender who is the mayor of South Bend, Indiana — also called for “free and fair elections.”

Bernie Sanders has done the same and, as MintPress News recently reported, thrown his weight behind demands that Maduro bend to U.S. demands that he accept “humanitarian aid,” which the government of Venezuela believes to be a trojan horse.

In response to a request for comment from the Huffington Post, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), who is yet another 2020 Democrat contender, merely said: “Maduro is alarming to me on many levels.”

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) told the outlet “I support the people of Venezuela standing up against Maduro, installing a new leader, and restoring democracy in Venezuela.”

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and former Obama official and San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro, both of whom are running, did not respond to the Huffington Post’s request for comment, though clues exist as to their positions.

Harris condemned “Maduro’s dictatorial regime” in a tweet on Saturday. While Castro has remained seemingly silent on the U.S.-backed coup attempt in Venezuela, his brother, Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) last year said “We’ve seen Nicolás Maduro undermine Venezuelan democracy and create a regional economic and humanitarian catastrophe.”

“President Maduro consistently violates the basic human rights of the people he governs and must be held accountable,” he added.

Alexander Rubinstein is a staff writer for MintPress News based in Washington, DC. He reports on police, prisons and protests in the United States and the United States’ policing of the world. He previously reported for RT and Sputnik News.

February 26, 2019 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite | , | 2 Comments

The Russian Mirror

By Jacob G. Hornberger | FFF | February 26, 2019

A recent article in the New York Times about Russia’s “intelligence state,” authored by John Sipher, a former chief of station for the CIA, provides a valuable mirror for the American people. The problem is that American statists cannot see it as a mirror. While Sipher’s article clearly demonstrates that American statists, especially conservative ones, can see the wrongdoing of foreign totalitarian or authoritarian regimes with great clarity, they have a moral blindness when it comes to recognizing wrongdoing by their own government. Even worse, they defend wrongdoing by their own regime (which they can’t see as wrongdoing) as a way to combat foreign wrongdoing. In fact, they come to view their own wrongdoing as something good when it is being used to oppose wrongdoing by a foreign regime.

Sipher labels Russia’s (and, before that, the Soviet) governmental system an “intelligence state.” He’s critical of it, and rightly so. It is a type of governmental system that engages in such things as secret surveillance of the citizenry, assassination, torture, and interference in the affairs of other nations.

Referring to Russia’s system under Vladimir Putin, who Sipher reminds us is a former KGB officer, Sipher writes:

“The history of the brutal Soviet security services lays bare the roots of Russia’s current use of political arrests, subversion, disinformation, assassination, espionage and the weaponization of lies. None of those tactics is new to the Kremlin.

“In fact, those tactics made Soviet Russia the world’s first “intelligence state,” and they also distinguished it from authoritarian states run by militaries…. The result is a regime with the policies and philosophy of a supercharged secret police service, a regime that relies on intelligence operations to deal with foreign policy challenges and maintain control at home….

“Over the decades, the Soviet and Russian secret services developed tools and habits based on their Chekist experience that set them apart from their counterparts in the West. Rather than focusing on collecting and analyzing intelligence, they developed expertise in propaganda, agitation, subversion, repression, deception and murder.”

Sipher uses the label “intelligence state” to describe the Russian and Soviet system. There is another label that Sipher could have used, a much more common one: a “national security state.”

Why would Sipher avoid using the term “national-security state”? My hunch is that he instinctively knows that that would be holding the mirror to himself and the rest of the American people. That’s because the United States is a “national-security state” or an “intelligence state,” just like Russia is.

In fact, a supreme irony in Sipher’s article is that he worked for the CIA for 27 years. At the risk of belaboring the obvious, the CIA is an “intelligence agency,” one that not only engages in intelligence gathering but also has long wielded and exercised the powers of assassination, torture, indefinite detention, involuntary drug experimentation, and secret surveillance — that is, the same types of powers that Sipher decries in the Russia/Soviet “intelligence state.”

Sipher points out that one of the main features of an “intelligence state” is lying. He ought to know. Since its very beginning, the CIA has been an agency based on lies and lying. Deception has always been justified under the rubric of “national security.” Coming immediately to mind is CIA Director Richard Helms, who was convicted of lying to Congress regarding the CIA’s secret regime-change operation against Chile, to the praise and acclaim of his subordinate officers in the CIA. Let’s also not forget the lies that former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper Jr. told Congress under oath regarding the NSA’s secret surveillance of Americans.

Consider all the nefarious things the CIA has done and continues to do in foreign countries, including assassination, coups, installation of foreign dictators, invasions, wars of aggression, torture, rendition, partnerships with dictatorial regimes, sanctions and embargoes targeting innocent people with death, impoverishment, and suffering.

Or consider MKULTRA, the CIA’s top-secret operation to subject innocent, unsuspecting people to drug experimentation, along with the subsequent intentional destruction of official records to prevent Americans from discovering the full extent of the operation.

Or the U.S. national-security state’s secret surveillance of American citizens, along with secret illegal operations to spy on and infiltrate peaceful and law-abiding organization with the intent to smear and destroy them and their members.

Of course, it wasn’t always that way. The United States was founded as a limited-government republic, which is the opposite of a national-security state. For more than 150 years, our nation prospered without a Pentagon, a military-industrial complex, a national-security state, a CIA, and a NSA. Governmental procedures were transparent. There was no obsession over the nebulous and meaningless term “national security.”

Then came the aftermath of World War II, when U.S. officials told Americans that they were now facing a new official enemy, one that had been an official enemy of Nazi Germany and a friend and partner of the United States. That new official enemy was the Soviet Union and its system of communism. The communists were coming to get us, U.S. official maintained, as part of a worldwide communist conspiracy based in Moscow, Russia.

U.S. officials said that there was only one way to prevent a communist takeover of the United States. In order to prevail against the Soviet Union, the U.S. government would have to be converted into the same type of governmental system, U.S. officials said.

That meant moving to the dark side — toward torture, assassination, coups, regime-change operations, sanctions and embargoes, secret surveillance — i.e., the types of things the communists were doing. That’s how we got the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA, three principal components of the U.S. national-security state or intelligence state.

What about our limited-government republic? U.S. officials said that as soon as the Cold War was over, we could have it back. But when the Cold War suddenly and unexpectedly ended, we didn’t get our republic back. Instead, we got the continued existence of the national-security state, along with its forever wars and forever interventions all around the world, along with its never-ending plunge into the dark side.

Worst of all, we got a moral blindness, one in which all too many Americans are unable to recognize what all this has done to us.

February 26, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , | Leave a comment

WTC 1993 was an FBI job

corbettreport | April 23, 2008

For more details on this startling case, read the New York Times article on the subject:

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage…

For the recording of Salem and Anticev, click here:

http://nwo.media.xs2.net/tape/SalemWB…

For more information about state-sponsored false flag terrorism and why the government perpetrates it, visit our homepage at:

http://www.corbettreport.com

February 26, 2019 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , | 2 Comments

War on Al-Aqsa: What price for Netanyahu’s victory

By Ramzy Baroud | MEMO | February 26, 2019

On 18 February, members of extremist Jewish groups raided the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Occupied Al-Quds (Jerusalem). They clashed with Palestinian worshippers, as the settlers attempted to shut down the gate of Al-Aqsa itself.

The clashes involved the Israeli army and police as well, who opened fire and brutally assaulted Palestinians, leading to scores of injuries.

On February 19, the Israeli army carried out the unusual step of shutting down Al-Rahma Gate, which leads to a section of the Al-Aqsa compound that has, itself, been shut down by the Israeli army since 2003.

The provocative decision to seal the gate was made in advance, and the lock and key have the fingerprints of Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

It is quite typical for Israeli politicians to carry out confrontational measures against Palestinians shortly before general elections are due. The nature of these measures is determined by the kind of political constituency that Israeli leaders aim to appease.

However, a war on Gaza, at least for now, is too risky an option for Netanyahu as it would take place too close to the April 9 elections date. Moreover, a botched Israeli attack on the Strip on November 11 caused Netanyahu a major embarrassment, forcing him to shelve the Gaza option for now.

That said, if the Israeli Prime Minister’s political standing grows too desperate in the coming weeks, a Gaza war may, once again, be placed on the table.

Indeed, the political union between Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid, which was declared on February 21, has certainly upped the ante for Netanyahu who has assumed that his election victory is a foretold conclusion.

Gantz and Lapid merged their two parties into one election list called Kahol Lavan (“Blue and White”), the single most serious electoral challenge for Netanyahu in years.

For the time being, Netanyahu has decided to appeal to the most messianic religious segments of Israeli society to keep his challengers at bay. This should come as no surprise as the religious, ultra-national far right has been the backbone of the Israeli leader’s coalitions for a decade.

Weeks before the Gantz and Lapid union, Netanyahu had taken several measures to show signs of goodwill towards his religious constituency.

One such overture was made on January 28, when Netanyahu ordered the UN unarmed international observers to leave the Occupied Palestinian city of Al-Khalil, where a few hundred armed Jewish settlers have been a constant source of violence. The Jewish settlers of Qiryat Arba’a live under the protection of a massive Israeli army contingent. Both groups have worked together to terrorise the Palestinian inhabitants of the city for many years.

Israeli soldiers clash with Palestinian protesters during a protest after Israeli soldiers shot Palestinian who allegedly attempted knife attack in Hebron, West Bank on September 19, 2016.

Israeli soldier fires at Palestinian protesters in Hebron, Sept. 2016 [Anadolu]

A joint statement issued by several humanitarian organisations, including Oxfam, Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and Save the Children warned of the terrible fate awaiting the Palestinian community as a result of Netanyahu’s decision in Al-Khalil.

“Hundreds of civilians, including children, will see their safety put at risk by the withdrawal of international observers deployed in the city of Hebron,” the statement read.

True to form, attacks by Jewish settlers followed, as media and rights group reports point to a surge of violence against Palestinian civilians in the city.

By unleashing the wrath of Jewish settlers in Al-Khalil, Netanyahu wanted to communicate to his supporters that he remains committed to their settlement project, an unworthy cause that violates international law and comes at the price of protracted human suffering.

Similarly, the Israeli decision to shut down Al-Rahma Gate on February 19 was a pre-calculated move, aimed at uniting the entirety of the Israeli right, including the most extremist of all religious and settler groups behind Netanyahu’s leadership in the coming elections.

A trend began a few weeks earlier. On January 9, the Palestinian Ministry of Endowment documented a sharp increase of Israeli violations, involving the Israeli army and Jewish settlers at holy Palestinian sites throughout December. According to the Organization, over 100 such violations were reported, including 30 different incursions into Al-Aqsa itself.

raid on Al-Aqsa on January 7 involved more than the usual suspects but was led by Israeli Agriculture Minister and a strong ally of Netanyahu, Uri Ariel.

This type of politically-motivated and highly militarised ‘visits’ to Al-Aqsa are reminiscent of the infamous ‘visit’ by late Israeli right-wing leader, Ariel Sharon in September 2000. At the time, Sharon wanted to increase his chances of becoming Israel’s next prime minister, and to ensure that his arch-rival (then, interestingly enough, the very Benjamin Netanyahu) did not win the Likud Party nomination. The gambit worked. Sharon sparked the Second Palestinian Uprising (2000-05), leading to the deaths of thousands and, of course, securing his seat at the helm of Israeli politics for years.

Netanyahu, ever studious and resourceful, has, indeed, mastered the art of political manipulation as his mentor and, once again, Al-Aqsa is the platform for this sinister Israeli politicking.

Netanyahu’s decision to strike an alliance with Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) – the rebranded party of the extremist late Meir Kahane – further demonstrates how the current surge of violence around the holy Palestinian sites is a pre-calculated political move by Netanyahu and his government.

The fact that Netanyahu would bring into his future coalition groups that are the ideological mutation of the Jewish Defense League – which is classified as ‘terrorist organisation’’ by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) speaks volumes about the changing relationship between the US and Israel. Thanks to Washington’s blind support of Israel, Netanyahu feels politically triumphant and invincible, even above US’ laws.

However, to achieve his pathetic dream of being Israel’s longest serving Prime Minister, Netanyahu should be wary of the bloody consequences that his reckless action is sure to yield. Indeed, Netanyahu may be provoking the kind of violence that is much bigger than his ability to contain.

Al-Aqsa Mosque has served not only as a religious symbol for Palestinians but a national symbol as well, representing their coveted freedom and serving as a source of hope and unity throughout generations.

While the blood of Palestinians is irrelevant in Netanyahu’s quest for political dominance, the international community should take immediate measures to prevent what could become an Israeli-induced bloodbath in the coming weeks.

February 26, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

Facebook’s Purge Of Maffick Media’s Pages Is A Message To Everyone

By Andrew KORYBKO – Oriental Review – 26/02/2019

Facebook imposed double standards to censor popular Russia-connected pages.

The US-based social media platform removed several pages managed by Maffick Media, a company partly owned by RT-subsidiary Ruptly, on the alleged basis that they were misleading their audience about their connections to Russia. The company’s CEO Anissa Naouai suggested that CNN was tipped off about this beforehand by a US government-funded think tank that helped coordinate this infowar operation, decrying what she described as a loophole that allows for state censorship. Facebook, for its part, claims that it’s trying to improve so-called “transparency” on its site by rolling out new standards behind the scenes that have yet to go live or be implemented in full.

In principle and provided that Facebook is telling the truth, the idea is sound enough, though only if it’s universally applied and done so without discriminating against anyone in particular like Maffick Media, which regrettably wasn’t the case in this instance. The US government seems to have been working indirectly through one of its many partially funded think tanks in order to coordinate this infowar operation while retaining so-called “plausible deniability” in the face of Anissa’s censorship claims. The selective enforcement of transparency standards speaks to the fact that the US wants to send an intimidating message to all Alternative Media outlets that they could be next.

That in and of itself is a dystopian thought to countenance, but the larger issue at play is the topic of “cyber sovereignty” and whether non-US-based users – including companies – have any universal rights on American platforms, which they seemingly do not. As disturbing as it may be, there’s practically nothing that anyone can do to ensure the fair and equal application of Facebook’s ever-changing rules (including secret ones that have yet to be publicly announced like the excuse that was used to censor Maffick’s pages), nor any recourse to rely upon whenever this doesn’t happen. Simply put, victims of injustice are literally out of luck.

Thankfully, however, Maffick isn’t just any random company but has created content that generated over 2,5 billion views and had tens of millions of subscribers. Furthermore, Anissa was able to utilize her professional contacts with RT to draw global attention to what happened, thereby putting pressure on Facebook to address the situation unlike how they might have otherwise ignored it had she not been able to successfully do this. No matter what ultimately happens and whether or not Facebook ever impartially imposes new so-called “transparency” standards all across the board including with regards to US government-linked entities, it nevertheless established a dark precedent by censoring Maffick Media.

The post presented is the partial transcript of the CONTEXT COUNTDOWN radio program on Sputnik News, aired on Friday Feb 22, 2019.

February 26, 2019 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , | Leave a comment

The Military Industrial State Confronts Russia and China

By Brian CLOUGHLEY | Strategic Culture Foundation | 26.02.2019

The swaggering arrogance of Washington’s Military-Industrial Complex never ceases to intrigue the rest of the world, much of which shrugs collective shoulders but has to acknowledge that the swaggering reflects the US National Defence Strategy which informs us that the military is going to concentrate on confronting Russia and China.

One of the loudest voices in the confrontation chorus is that of the Commander of US Naval Forces in Europe, Admiral James Foggo III, who knows that the noisier he is, the more money will be allocated by government to acquire more and more ships. And he is very good at being noisy. In 2016 he wrote a particularly bellicose piece for the US Naval Institute, titled ‘The Fourth Battle of the Atlantic’ in which he castigated Russia for not acknowledging that the United States is supreme. He declared that “the new Russian national security-strategy depicts the United States and NATO as threats to Russian security and accuses us of applying ‘political, economic, military, and information-related pressure’ on Russia.”

He is absolutely right about the US-NATO threat, because it has been growing for almost twenty years. As I’ve written before, after the Warsaw Pact disbanded in March 1991, NATO, although deprived of any reason to continue in existence, managed to keep going, and in 1999 added Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary to its 16 members. As the BBC noted, these countries became “the first former Soviet bloc states to join Nato, taking the alliance’s borders some 400 miles towards Russia.”

With good reason Moscow wondered what on earth the US-NATO military cabal might be planning.

The New York Times recorded that the 1999 expansion was “opening a new path for the military alliance” and expressed delight that the ceremony took place in the town of Independence, Missouri, where “the emotional Secretary of State Madeleine K Albright watched the three foreign ministers sign the documents of accession, signed them herself, then held them aloft like victory trophies.” Ms Albright was born Marie Korbelová in Prague and “made no secret today of her joy as her homeland and the two other nations joined the alliance.” But neither she nor anyone else is on record as explaining what “new path” would be taken by NATO.

NATO continued to expand around Russia’s borders, inviting Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia to join in 2002, which they did two years later.

There is little wonder that Russia is apprehensive about NATO’s intentions, as the muscle-flexing coalition lurches ever more eagerly towards conflict.

Further, the US itself has hundreds of military bases, spread all round the world. As noted by Nick Turse “Officially, the Department of Defense maintains 4,775 “sites,” spread across all 50 states, eight US territories, and 45 foreign countries. A total of 514 of these outposts are located overseas, according to the Pentagon’s worldwide property portfolio… But the most recent version of that portfolio, issued in early 2018 and known as the Base Structure Report, doesn’t include any mention of al-Tanf [the US Special Forces base in Syria] or for that matter, any other base in Syria. Or Iraq. Or Afghanistan. Or Niger. Or Tunisia. Or Cameroon. Or Somalia. Or any number of locales where such military outposts are known to exist and even, unlike in Syria, to be expanding.”

Yet Admiral Foggo insists that “an enduring objective of Russian foreign policy today is to challenge NATO and elevate Russia on the European stage once again.” Well, certainly Russia wants to be on the European stage, and it must be pointed out that it’s closer to that stage than is the US. It wants to trade with Europe — as is appreciated by the main European powers, Germany and France — and would be crazy to take action that would work against this mutually beneficial cooperation.

Unfortunately, Poland and the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are verging on the paranoid about Russia’s supposed “threat” to them — but there has been no indication of any sort by Moscow that Russia has any intention of moving against them in any way. Trade with these countries is important, too, but this hasn’t stopped the paranoid quartet from indulging in a vastly expensive operation to “decouple power grids from Russia” in spite of the fact that “Russia, on which the Baltic states currently rely to balance their power flows, has never cut power or threatened to do so.”

This is all part and pattern of the anti-Russia obsession that is mounting in much of the West, and plays into the hands of such as Admiral Foggo who now, some three months after an incident in the Kerch Strait last November, announced it “irritates me to no end” that Russia detained and charged 24 Ukrainian sailors who were involved in the illegal passage of some Ukrainian vessels. Foggo’s fury lies in his belief that “They are uniformed Ukrainian sailors and officers and chiefs. They’re not criminals, and they are being charged under a criminal code.”

None of his pronouncements make sense, but on February 19 Foggo despatched the guided-missile destroyer Donald Cook to the Black Sea where it is to conduct “maritime security operations and enhance regional maritime stability, combined readiness and naval capability with our NATO allies and partners in the region.” The provocative sortie by the Donald Cook will achieve absolutely nothing other than the heightening of tension between the US and Russia, which, unfortunately, is the object of the exercise.

Which brings us to the other region where the US Navy fandangos for freedom, the South China Sea.

On that side of the world the US is represented militarily by Admiral Philip S Davidson, the Commander US Indo-Pacific Command, who doesn’t like China. On February 12 he warned the US Senate Armed Services Committee that China’s “first aircraft carrier group, centered around its refurbished Soviet-built carrier, reached initial operational capability in mid-2018” and its “first domestically-built aircraft carrier has completed four sets of sea trials since May 2018 and will likely join the PLA Navy fleet in 2019.” This is very interesting, but what he doesn’t say is that the United States has eleven fully operational carrier strike groups, one of which, headed by the carrier John C Stennis, as recorded by Stratfor, “is underway in the US 7th Fleet area of operations in support of naval operations to ensure maritime stability and security in the Central Region.” It is, as noted by the US Naval Institute “in the South China Sea” where it will contribute to tension by sailing through waters averred by China to be its own. Admiral Davidson announced that China was not abiding by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and naturally failed to note any amusing irony in the fact that the United States has not ratified the Convention. But in any event, in the eyes of Washington’s Military Industrial State, UN rules are valuable only when they coincide with US policy.

On January 7 the US Pacific Fleet announced that the USS McCampbell, a guided missile destroyer, had carried out a “freedom of navigation” operation, sailing within 12 nautical miles of China’s Paracel Islands “to challenge excessive maritime claims.” Then on February 11 they were at it again, with CNN reporting a 7th Fleet announcement that the guided-missile destroyers USS Spruance and USS Preble had sailed within 12 nautical miles of the Spratly Islands “to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by international law.”

Washington has woven a pattern of military confrontation, from the Baltic and the Kerch Strait to the South China Sea, that is intended to antagonise Russia and China. It may be claimed that provocational manoeuvres in the air, at sea and on land are undertaken with the aim of altering Chinese and Russian policies, but the only consequence of these juvenile jamborees is to heighten tension, increase distrust, and pave the way to war. That’s the path envisaged by the New York Times in 1999, and it’s being followed faithfully.

One can only hope that Trump might see the beckoning light of cooperation and prosperity rather than following the path of confrontation, but he seems to be at the mercy of the Military Industrial State. If so, there can only be grave trouble ahead.

February 26, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

Attacking Iran

Fake news about a terrorist connection could serve as a pretext for war

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • February 26, 2019

Observers of developments in the Middle East have long taken it as a given that the United States and Israel are seeking for an excuse to attack Iran. The recently terminated conference in Warsaw had that objective, which was clearly expressed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but it failed to rally European and Middle Eastern states to support the cause. On the contrary, there was strong sentiment coming from Europe in particular that normalizing relations with Iran within the context of the 2015 multi party nuclear agreement is the preferred way to go both to avoid a major war and to prevent nuclear weapons proliferation.

There are foundations in Washington, all closely linked to Israel and its lobby in the U.S., that are wholly dedicated to making the case for war against Iran. They seek pretexts in various dark corners, including claims that Iran is cheating on its nuclear program, that it is developing ballistic missiles that will enable it to deliver its secret nuclear warheads onto targets in Europe and even the United States, that it is an oppressive, dictatorial government that must be subjected to regime change to liberate the Iranian people and give them democracy, and, most stridently, that it is provoking and supporting wars and threats against U.S. allies all throughout the Middle East.

Dissecting the claims about Iran, one might reasonably counter that rigorous inspections by the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirm that Tehran has no nuclear weapons program, a view that is supported by the U.S. intelligence community in its recent Worldwide Threat Assessment. Beyond that, Iran’s limited missile program can be regarded as largely defensive given the constant threats from Israel and the U.S. and one might well accept that the removal of the Iranian government is a task best suited for the Iranian people, not delivered through military intervention by a foreign power that has been starving the country through economic warfare. And as for provoking wars in the Middle East, look to the United States and Israel, not Iran.

So the hawks in Washington, by which one means National Security Adviser John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and, apparently President Donald Trump himself when the subject is Iran, have been somewhat frustrated by the lack of a clear casus belli to hang their war on. No doubt prodded by Netanyahu, they have apparently revived an old story to give them what they want, even going so far as to develop an argument that would justify an attack on Iran without a declaration of war while also lacking any imminent threat from Tehran to justify a preemptive strike.

What may be the new Iran policy was recently outlined in a Washington Times article, which unfortunately has received relatively little attention from either the media, the punditry or from the few policymakers themselves who have intermittently been mildly critical of Washington’s propensity to strike first and think about it afterwards.

The article is entitled “Exclusive: Iran-al Qaeda alliance May Provide Legal Rationale for U.S. military strikes.” The article’s main points should be taken seriously by anyone concerned over what is about to unfold in the Persian Gulf because it is not just the usual fluff emanating from the hubris-induced meanderings of some think tank, though it does include some of that. It also cites government officials by name and others who are not named but are clearly in the administration.

As an ex-CIA case officer who worked on the Iran target for a number of years, I was shocked when I read the Times’ article, primarily because it sounded like a repeat of the fabricated intelligence that was used against both Iraq and Iran in 2001 through 2003. It is based on the premise that war with Iran is desirable for the United States and, acting behind the scenes, Israel, so it is therefore necessary to come up with an excuse to start it. As the threat of terrorism is always a good tactic to convince the American public that something must be done, that is what the article tries to do and it is particularly discouraging to read as it appears to reflect opinion in the White House.

As I have been writing quite critically about the CIA and the Middle East for a number of years, I am accustomed to considerable push-back from former colleagues. But in this case, the calls and emails I received from former intelligence officers who shared my experience of the Middle East and had read the article went strongly the other way, condemning the use of both fake and contrived intelligence to start another unnecessary war.

The article states that Iran is supporting al Qaeda by providing money, weapons and sanctuary across the Middle East to enable it to undertake new terrorist attacks. It is doing so in spite of ideological differences because of a common enemy: the United States. Per the article and its sources, this connivance has now “evolved into an unacceptable global security threat” with the White House intent on “establishing a potential legal justification for military strikes against Iran or its proxies.”

One might reasonably ask why the United States cares if Iran is helping al Qaeda as both are already enemies who are lying on the Made in U.S.A. chopping block waiting for the ax to fall. The reason lies in the Authorization to Use Military Force, originally drafted post 9/11 to provide a legal fig leaf to pursue al Qaeda worldwide, but since modified to permit also going after “associated groups.” If Iran is plausibly an associated group then President Trump and his band of self-righteous maniacs egged on by Netanyahu can declare “bombs away Mr. Ayatollah.” And if Israel is involved, there will be a full benediction coming from Congress and the media. So is this administration both capable and willing to start a major war based on bullshit? You betcha!

The Times suggests how it all works as follows: “Congressional and legal sources say the law may now provide a legal rationale for striking Iranian territory or proxies should President Trump decide that Tehran poses a looming threat to the U.S. or Israel and that economic sanctions are not strong enough to neutralize the threat.” The paper does not bother to explain what might constitute a “looming threat” to the United States from puny Iran but it is enough to note that Israel, as usual, is right in the middle of everything and, exercising its option of perpetual victim-hood, it is apparently threatened in spite of its nuclear arsenal and overwhelming regional military superiority guaranteed by act of the U.S. Congress.

Curiously, though several cited administration officials wedded to the hard-line against Iran because it is alleged to be the “world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism” were willing to provide their opinions on the Iran-al Qaeda axis, the authors of the recent Worldwide Threat Assessment issued by the intelligence community apparently have never heard of it. The State Department meanwhile sees an Iranian pipeline moving al Qaeda’s men and money to targets in central and south Asia, though that assessment hardly jives with the fact that the only recent major attack attributed to al Qaeda was carried out on February 13th in southeastern Iran against the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, a bombing that killed 27 guardsmen.

The State annual threat assessment also particularly condemns Iran for funding groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, both of which are, not coincidentally, enemies of Israel who would care less about “threatening” the United States but for the fact that it is constantly meddling in the Middle East on behalf of the Jewish state.

And when in doubt, the authors of the article went to “old reliable,” the leading neocon think tank the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, which, by the way, works closely with the Israeli government and never, ever has criticized the state of democracy in Israel. One of its spokesmen was quick off the mark: “The Trump administration is right to focus on Tehran’s full range of malign activities, and that should include a focus on Tehran’s long-standing support for al Qaeda.”

Indeed, the one expert cited in the Times story who actually is an expert and examined original documents rather than reeling off approved government and think tank talking points contradicted the Iran-al Qaeda narrative. “Nelly Lahoud, a former terrorism analyst at the U.S. Military Academy and now a New America Foundation fellow, was one of the first to review documents seized from bin Laden’s hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan. She wrote in an analysis for the Atlantic Council this fall that the bin Laden files revealed a deep strain of skepticism and hostility toward the Iranian regime, mixed with a recognition by al Qaeda leaders of the need to avoid a complete break with Tehran. In none of the documents, which date from 2004 to just days before bin Laden’s death, ‘did I find references pointing to collaboration between al Qaeda and Iran to carry out terrorism,’ she concluded.”

So going after Iran is the name of the game even if the al Qaeda story is basically untrue. The stakes are high and whatever has to be produced, deduced or fabricated to justify a war is fair game. Iran and terrorism? Perfect. Let’s try that one out because, after all, invading Iran will be a cakewalk and the people will be in the streets cheering our tanks as they roll by. What could possibly go wrong?

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 26, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment

UK Rejects International Court of Justice Opinion on the Chagos Islands

By Craig Murray | February 26, 2019

In parliament, Alan Duncan for the government has just rejected yesterday’s stunning result at the International Court of Justice, where British occupation of the Chagos Islands was found unlawful by a majority of 13 to 1, with all the judges from EU countries amongst those finding against the UK.

This represents a serious escalation in the UK’s rejection of multilateralism and international law and a move towards joining the US model of exceptionalism, standing outside the rule of international law. As such, it is arguably the most significant foreign policy development for generations. In the Iraq war, while Britain launched war without UN Security Council authority, it did so on a tenuous argument that it had Security Council authority from earlier resolutions. The UK was therefore not outright rejecting the international system. On Chagos it is now simply denying the authority of the International Court of Justice; this is utterly unprecedented.

Duncan put forward two arguments. Firstly that the ICJ opinion was “only” advisory to the General Assembly. Secondly, he argued that the ICJ had no jurisdiction as the case was a bilateral dispute with Mauritius (and thus could only go before the ICJ with UK consent, which is not given).

But here Duncan is – against all British precedent and past policy – defying a ruling of the ICJ. The British government argued strenuously in the present case against ICJ jurisdiction, on just the grounds Duncan cited. The ICJ considered the UK’s arguments, together with arguments from 32 other states and from the African Union. The ICJ ruled that it did have jurisdiction, because this was not a bilateral dispute but part of the UN ordained process of decolonisation.

The International Court of Justice’s ruling on this point is given at length in paras 83 to 91 of its Opinion. This is perhaps the key section:

88. The Court therefore concludes that the opinion has been requested on the matter of decolonization which is of particular concern to the United Nations. The issues raised by the request are located in the broader frame of reference of decolonization, including the General Assembly’s role therein, from which those issues are inseparable (Western Sahara, Advisory Opinion, I.C.J. Reports 1975, p. 26, para. 38; Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Advisory Opinion, I.C.J. Reports 2004 (I), p. 159, para. 50).
89. Moreover, the Court observes that there may be differences of views on legal questions in advisory proceedings (Legal Consequences for States of the Continued Presence of South Africa in Namibia (South West Africa) notwithstanding Security Council Resolution 276 (1970), Advisory Opinion, I.C.J. Reports 1971, p. 24, para. 34). However, the fact that the Court may have to pronounce on legal issues on which divergent views have been expressed by Mauritius and the United Kingdom does not mean that, by replying to the request, the Court is dealing with a bilateral dispute.
90. In these circumstances, the Court does not consider that to give the opinion requested would have the effect of circumventing the principle of consent by a State to the judicial settlement of its dispute with another State. The Court therefore cannot, in the exercise of its discretion, decline to give the opinion on that ground.
91. In light of the foregoing, the Court concludes that there are no compelling reasons for it to decline to give the opinion requested by the General Assembly.

As stated at para 183, that the court did have jurisdiction was agreed unanimously, with even the US judge (the sole dissenter on the main question) in accord. For the British government to reject the ICJ’s unanimous ruling on jurisdiction, and quote that in parliament as the reason for not following the ICJ Opinion, is an astonishing abrogation of international law by the UK. It really is unprecedented. The repudiation of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention over Julian Assange pointed the direction the UK is drifting, but that body does not have the prestige of the International Court of Justice.

The International Court of Justice represents the absolute pinnacle of, and embodies the principle of, international law. In 176 decisions, such as Nigeria vs Cameroon or Malaysia vs Indonesia, potentially disastrous conflicts have been averted by the states’ agreement to abide by the rule of law. The UK’s current attack on the ICJ is a truly disastrous new development.

I have taken it for granted that you know that the reason the UK refuses to decolonise the Chagos Islands is to provide an airbase for the US military on Diego Garcia. If Brexit goes ahead, the Chagos Islands will also lead to a major foreign policy disagreement between the UK and US on one side, and the EU on the other. The EU will be truly shocked by British repudiation of the ICJ.

I have studied the entire and lengthy ICJ Opinion on the Chagos Islands, together with its associated papers, and I will write further on this shortly.

February 26, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

Mr Bolton’s Long Game Against Iran – Pakistan Becomes Saudi Arabia’s New Client State

By Alastair CROOKE | Strategic Culture Foundation | 25.02.2019

The Wall Street Journal has an article whose very title – Ambitions for an ‘Arab NATO’ Fade, Amid Discord – more or less, says it all. No surprise there at all. Even Antony Zinni, the retired Marine General who was to spearhead the project (but who has now resigned), said it was clear from early on that the idea of creating an “Arab NATO” was too ambitious. “There was no way that anybody was ready to jump into a NATO-type alliance,” he said. “One of the things I tried to do was kill that idea of a Gulf NATO or a Middle East NATO.” Instead, the planning has focused on ‘more realistic expectations’, the WSJ article concludes.

Apparently, “not all Middle Eastern nations working on the proposal, want to make Iran a central focus – a concern that has forced the US to frame the alliance as a broader coalition”, the WSJ recounts. No surprise there either: Gulf preoccupations have turned to a more direct anxiety – which is that Turkey intends to unloose (in association with Qatar) the Muslim Brotherhood – whose leadership is already gathering in Istanbul – against Turkey’s nemesis: Mohammad bin Zaid and the UAE (whom Turkish leadership believes, together with MbS, inspired the recent moves to surround the southern borders of Turkey with a cordon of hostile Kurdish statelets).

Even the Gulf leaders understand that if they want to ‘roll-back’ Turkish influence in the Levant, they cannot be explicitly anti-Iranian. It just not viable in the Levant.

So, Iran then is off the hook? Well, no. Absolutely not. MESA (Middle East Security Alliance) maybe the new bland vehicle for a seemingly gentler Arab NATO, but its covert sub-layer is, under Mr Bolton’s guidance, as fixated on Iran, as was ‘Arab NATO’ at the outset. How would it be otherwise (given Team Trump’s obsession with Iran)?

So, what do we see? Until just recently, Pakistan was ‘on the ropes’ economically. It seemed that it would have to resort to the IMF (yet again), and that it was clear that the proximate IMF experience – if approved – would be extremely painful (Secretary Pompeo, in mid-last year, was saying that the US probably would not support an IMF programme, as some of the IMF grant might be used to repay earlier Chinese loans to Pakistan). The US too had punished Pakistan by severely cutting US financial assistance to the Pakistani military for combatting terrorism. Pakistan, in short, was sliding inevitably towards debt default – with only the Chinese as a possible saviour.

And then, unexpectedly, up pops ‘goldilocks’ in the shape of a visiting MbS, promising a $20 billion investment plan as “first phase” of a profound programme to resuscitate the Pakistani economy. And that is on top of a $3 billion cash bailout, and another $3 billion deferred payment facility for supply of Saudi oil. Fairy godmothers don’t come much better than that. And this benevolence comes in the wake of the $6.2 billion, promised last month, by UAE, to address Pakistan’s balance of payments difficulties.

The US wants something badly – It wants Pakistan urgently to deliver a Taliban ‘peace agreement’ in Afghanistan with the US which allows for US troops to be permanently based there (something that the Taliban not only has consistently refused, but rather, has always put the withdrawal of foreign forces as its top priority).

But two telling events have occurred: The first was on 13 February when a suicide attacker drove an explosives-laden vehicle into a bus that was transporting IRGC troops in the Sistan-Baluchistan province of Iran. Iran’s parliamentary Speaker has said that the attack that killed 27 members of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) was “planned and carried out, from inside Pakistan”. Of course, such a provocative disruption into Iran’s most ethnically sensitive province may mean ‘nothing’, but perhaps the renewed inflow of Gulf money, fertilizing a new crop of Wahhabi madrasa in Pakistan’s Baluch province, may be connected – as IRCG Commander, General Sulemani’s stark warning to Pakistan suggests.

In any event, reports suggest that Pakistan, indeed, is placing now intense pressure on the Afghan Taliban leaders to accede to Washington’s demand for permanent military bases in Afghanistan.

The US, it seems, after earlier chastising Pakistan (for not doing enough to curb the Taliban) has done a major U-turn: Washington is now embracing Pakistan (with Saudi Arabia and UAE writing the cheques). And Washington looks to Pakistan rather, not so much to contain and disrupt the Taliban, but to co-opt it through a ‘peace accord’ into accepting to be another US military ‘hub’ to match America’s revamped military ‘hub’ in Erbil (the Kurdish part of Iraq, which borders the Kurdish provinces of Iran). As a former Indian Ambassador, MK Bhadrakumar explains:

“What the Saudis and Emiratis are expecting as follow-up in the near future is a certain “rebooting” of the traditional Afghan-Islamist ideology of the Taliban and its quintessentially nationalistic “Afghan-centric” outlook with a significant dosage of Wahhabi indoctrination … [so as to] make it possible [to] integrate the Taliban into the global jihadi network and co-habitate it with extremist organisations such as the variants of Islamic State or al-Qaeda … so that geopolitical projects can be undertaken in regions such as Central Asia and the Caucasus or Iran from the Afghan soil, under a comprador Taliban leadership”.

General Votel, the head of Centcom told the US Senate Armed forces Committee on 11 February, “If Pakistan plays a positive role in achieving a settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan, the US will have opportunity and motive to help Pakistan fulfill that role, as peace in the region is the most important mutual priority for the US and Pakistan.” MESA is quietly proceeding, but under the table.

And what of that second, telling occurrence? It is that there are credible reports that ISIS fighters in the Deir a-Zoor area of Syria are being ‘facilitated’ to leave East Syria (reports suggest with significant qualities of gold and gemstones) in a move to Afghanistan.

Iran has long been vulnerable in its Sistan-Baluchistan province to ostensibly, secessionist factions (supported over the years by external states), but Iran is vulnerable, too, from neighbouring Afghanistan. Iran has relations with the Taliban, but it was Islamabad that firstly ‘invented’ (i.e. created) the Deobandi (an orientation of Wahhabism) Taliban, and which traditionally has exercised the primordial influence over this mainly Pashtoon grouping (whilst Iran’s influence rested more with the Tajiks of northern Afghanistan). Saudi Arabia of course, has had a decades long connection with the Pashtoon mujahidin of Afghanistan.

During the Afghan war of the 1980s and later, Afghanistan always was the path for Islamic fundamentalism to reach up into Central Asia. In other words, America’s anxiety to achieve a permanent presence in Afghanistan – plus the arrival of militants from Syria – may somehow link to suggest a second motive to US thinking: the potential to curb Russia and China’s evolution of a Central Asian trading sphere and supply corridor.

Putting this all together, what does this mean? Well, firstly, Mr Bolton was arguing for a US military ‘hub’ in Iraq – to put pressure on Iran – as early as 2003. Now, he has it. US Special Forces, (mostly) withdrawn from Syria, are deploying into this new Iraq military ‘hub’ in order, Trump said, to “watch Iran”. (Trump rather inadvertently ‘let the cat out of the bag’ with that comment).

The detail of the US ‘hub encirclement’ of Iran, however, rather gives the rest of Mr Bolton’s plan away: The ‘hubs’ are positioned precisely adjacent to Sunni, Kurdish, Baluch or other Iranian ethnic minorities (some with a history of insurgency). And why is it that US special forces are being assembled in the Iraqi hub? Well, these are the specialists of ‘train and assist’ programmes. These forces are attached to insurgent groups to ‘train and assist’ them to confront a sitting government. Eventually, such programmes end with safe-zone enclaves that protect American ‘companion forces’ (Bengahazi in Libya was one such example, al-Tanaf in Syria another).

The covert element to the MESA programme, targeting Iran, is ambitious, but it will be supplemented in the next months with new rounds of economic squeeze intended to sever Iran’s oil sales (as waivers expire), and with diplomatic action, aimed at disrupting Iran’s links in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq.

Will it succeed? It may not. The Taliban pointedly cancelled their last scheduled meeting with Pakistani officials at which renewed pressure was expected to be exerted on them to come to an agreement with Washington; the Taliban have a proud history of repulsing foreign occupiers; Iraq has no wish to become ‘pig-in-the middle’ of a new US-Iran struggle; the Iraqi government may withdraw ‘the invitation’ for American forces to remain in Iraq; and Russia (which has its own peace process with the Taliban), would not want to be forced into choosing sides in any escalating conflict between the US, Israel and Iran. Russia and China do not want to see this region disrupted.

More particularly, India will be disconcerted by the sight of the MESA ‘tipping’ toward Pakistan as its preferred ally – the more so as India, likely will view (rightly or wrongly), the 14 February, vehicle-borne, suicide attack in Jammu-Kashmir that resulted in the deaths of 40 Indian police, as signaling the Pakistan military recovering sufficient confidence to pursue their historic territorial dispute with India over Jammu-Kashmir (perhaps the world’s most militarised zone, and the locus of three earlier wars between India and Pakistan). It would make sense now, for India to join with Iran, to avoid its isolation.

But these real political constraints notwithstanding, this patterning of events does suggest a US ‘mood for confrontation’ with Iran is crystalizing in Washington.

February 26, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Militants Continue to Prevent Refugees From Leaving Rukban Camp – Russian MoD

Sputnik – 26.02.2019

Militants are still preventing refugees and their families from leaving Syria’s Rukban camp, head of the Russian Defense Ministry’s Center for Syrian Reconciliation Lt. Gen. Sergei Solomatin said on Monday.

“Illegal armed groups operating in the area [spanning] 55 kilometers [34 miles] are preventing the civilians from leaving the Rukban camp”, Solomatin told a briefing.

According to earlier statements, two checkpoints were opened last Tuesday to facilitate the refugees’ withdrawal from the Rukban camp, which lies in the area controlled by the United States. Soldiers from the Russian Reconciliation Center in Syria and crews of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent are working at the checkpoints, and are prepared to provide assistance for those who want to leave the camp.

The Russian Defense Ministry’s Center for Syrian Reconciliation has called on the United States to put pressure on the leadership of opposition groups and prevent them from disrupting the evacuation of civilians from the camp.

Last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said refugees from the Rukban camp should have long been evacuated, but the United States and the militants under its control forbade them to leave. The US Department of State spokesman Robert Palladino has replied that the United States had not prevented people who live in the camp from leaving the facility and called on Russia to help facilitate deliveries of humanitarian aid.

The situation in the Rukban camp, which is situated within the US-controlled zone surrounding its military base in At-Tanf, has become increasingly dire as refugees residing there have not been regularly receiving sufficient amounts of humanitarian aid.

Meanwhile, the Russian Defense Ministry’s Center for Syrian Reconciliation also reported Monday that a number of ceasefire violations had been registered within the Idlib de-escalation zone in past 24 hours. According to Solomatin, more than 55,200 Syrians who evaded from military service were granted amnesty by Damascus. He added that as of Sunday, 224,424 Syrian refugees had returned home.

Syria has been in a state of civil war since 2011, with the government forces fighting against numerous opposition groups and militant and terrorist organizations. Russia, along with Turkey and Iran, is a guarantor of the ceasefire regime in Syria. Moscow has also been providing humanitarian aid to residents of the crisis-torn country.

February 26, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | | Leave a comment

People’s Vote: Corbyn Signs His Own Death Warrant

By Kit Knightly | OffGuardian | February 26, 2019

Throughout his leadership of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn has disappointed some of his most ardent admirers by his refusal to hang tough. Yes, he has played many situations with canniness and subtlety, but too often he has been soft, appeased and conciliated where it is either unnecessary, or worse, entirely counter productive.

Too often he vows to “listen” to the problems of dissenting New Labour MPs, instead of asserting his authority. Too many times he has promised to “tackle antisemitism”, instead of bluntly telling everyone – “Labour is NOT antisemitic, this is a smear campaign”.

Corbyn should know by now that he can’t win by playing their game by their rules. You can’t appease people who do not want to be appeased. You can’t clean up a smear campaign, and trying just spreads the smears further.

However, none of his previous mistakes compare to the kamikaze of backing a people’s vote on Brexit, a huge mistake that undermines the Labour movement from multiple angles.

Firstly, there is “The Independent Group” to consider – this is, essentially, a cave to their demands. Corbyn has now shown he will bow to threats of defection and the loss of eight entirely forgettable MPs. More than bowing to the pressure, he has handed them legitimacy. Before today The Independent Group was a joke – their launch fell flat, they are all variously personally compromised, they have no policies, no ideology, no leader and they are even registered as business, NOT a political party.

They should have been ignored, mocked even, but not taken seriously. This decision hands them power. A dreadful mistake, that breathes life into a New Labour movement that has been husking out its last moments ever since Corbyn was elected leader.

Yes, it’s true this is technically no change from the Labour Conference position – but this announcement has meaning. Whatever the truth of the situation – the media can now present TIG as a small group who stood for their principles, and in doing so bent “Corbyn’s Personality Cult” back to the path of reason. Paying off a blackmailer is never the solution. They always want more.

Secondly, there is the Lexit vote. Brexit is not a purely left-vs-right issue. The media have tried to present Brexit as a battle between lovely cuddly progressives who want to remain and awful mean racists who want to leave. Obviously it was never that simple. There is a very real portion of the left who believe the EU is anti-democratic. It’s important to remember that being anti-EU was always a traditionally socialist position. A second referendum is a betrayal of those people, and weakening of Corbyn’s socialist base. There are marginal seats, especially in the poorer areas of the country, who will swing against Labour if it is perceived they are campaigning to stop Brexit.

Third, a teetering and hilariously incompetent Tory government has been shown a crack of hope here. They can now pitch themselves as “The British Party”, standing up for the nation against the “European” Labour party who want to “sell us out to Brussels”. You can be sure that’s how the Mail, Times and Sun will sell it. May can leverage this into a “khaki election” and win on a landslide of national pride.

Finally, and most importantly, there is the question of undermining democracy itself. It has never, ever, before been suggested we simply re-do a vote because we don’t like the outcome. Brexit has been sold as a vote “built on misinformation”, we have been told that “the realities have changed”, and that new voters have come of age, whilst old voters died. We have even been told Brexit needs to be undone because it is a threat to our “national security”.

A second referendum lends credence to these arguments – it sets the precedent. Demographic changes, dishonesty, national security. These lines of argument are vague and unquantifiable enough that they could then be cited as reason to delegitimize literally ANY vote. Up to, and including, a general election…. that Jeremy Corbyn won.

“Labour lied about privatising water”…. re-do the vote.
“Millions of old lefties have died since the last election”…. re-do the vote.
Corbyn’s campaign manager is a security threat…. re-do the vote.

The EU has form when it comes to replaying referenda until they get the result they want, but it is new in the British experience.

The actual form the vote is still undecided. Will it be a choice between two deals? Will there be a “remain option”? But this is largely immaterial. If the option is “this deal or no deal” and “no deal” has been ruled out, then a no vote on the deal is a vote to remain. The threat of no deal has been hammered home to us in a thousand different ways. A vote which “forces” no deal will be seen as a threat to the nation and discarded. Moving the deadline back is already being mooted, they can do this as many times as they want until people forget we were ever meant to leave, or will accept a deal which is just remain renamed.

The problem is not Brexit. The establishment has a million different tools for deconstructing, preventing, obfuscating and totally halting Brexit. The problem, from the establishment POV, is Jeremy Corbyn. They can’t stop Brexit until Corbyn has been removed… and Corbyn has now handed them the power to do this.

It’s important to hold all these issues in their proper perspective – this is about Corbyn, not Brexit. Corbyn is the threat, not Brexit.

In or out of the EU, a Tory or New Labour government would still push austerity for the poor and tax breaks for the rich.
In or out of the EU, a Tory or New Labour government will pour money into the arms industry whilst neglecting public services.
In or out of the EU, a Tory or New Labour government will still support American interventions in Syria, Venezuela and around the globe.

And, in or out of the EU, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party would have reversed all of those policies.

That’s why MPs from every party have been actively trying to weaken his leadership, remove him from office and destroy public faith in his ideas. More than that, Corbyn is the only party leader who might actually deliver a proper departure from the EU (he would need to do so, in some ways, to enact his manifesto). Corbyn, and his fellow socialists, undermine the idea of Brexit as the cause of the racist rich.

If anyone but Jeremy Corbyn was leader of the Labour party one of two things would have already happened:

  1. The 2D Blairite elected in Corbyn’s place would have “united for common purpose” with the Tories to deliver Brexit in name only, and we’d have left the EU under a deal that was essentially the exact status quo under a rebranded status quo. Austerity – check. Free movement – check. Preparing to contribute to the EU army. Some small concessions, perhaps. Even less democratic representation.
  2. Brexit would have been called off entirely and we’d all have been “saved from an act of national self-harm”.

Brexit is NOT the biggest political crisis in Britain’s history. It isn’t even the most important political question facing us this decade, year or month. Austerity is. Growing poverty. Defunded public services. Privatisation of our transport, water and eventually our NHS. These are real crises.

The most important question we need to ask is – what is better for ordinary people, a Conservative government or a Labour government?

Do we want to be a neo-liberal state slowly crushing the poorest and most vulnerable beneath austerity’s boot heel? Or do we want to change, and try take care of each other?

For all the criticism of Jeremy Corbyn from the left, he has been steadfast in trying to secure a socialist government for this country, and undo the evil of the austerity. In backing the “people’s vote”, I fear he has dashed any chance of that happening.

Kit Knightly is co-editor of OffGuardian. The Guardian banned him from commenting. Twice. He used to write for fun, but now he’s forced to out of a near-permanent sense of outrage.

February 26, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics | , , , | 1 Comment