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As voice after voice gets purged from social media, still think there’s no censorship?

By Nebojsa Malic | RT | February 28, 2019

For a civilization that considers freedom of speech one of its fundamental principles and universal human rights, the West sure does a lot of censorship – and no, farming it out to ‘private companies’ does not change what it is.

It happened again on Tuesday: British activist Tommy Robinson was erased from Facebook and Instagram. The social media behemoth said it has to act “when ideas and opinions cross the line and amount to hate speech that may create an environment of intimidation and exclusion for certain groups in society.”

As online polemicists are fond of saying, “citation needed!” Yet Facebook offers none: no evidence of specific violations, not even a definition of “hate speech,” just an arbitrary standard – and a threat of further bans for people who “support… hate figures.” Whatever that means.

How did journalists – those paladins of free speech, the fabled Fourth Estate, the valiant protectors of values that would die in darkness without their intrepid efforts – greet this news? Did they object to a British citizen being muzzled and wax about the dangers to digital democracy? Oh no, they rejoiced: Finally, what took so long?!

The same process repeated itself later in the day, when Twitter banned Jacob Wohl. The self-described supporter of US President Donald Trump had reportedly boasted about setting up fake accounts to influence the 2020 election. That is regarded as the sin-above-all-sins by social media executives, terrified of Congress blaming them for Hillary Clinton losing the White House to Trump in 2016, even though 99 percent of US media considered it rightfully hers.

Here’s the thing, though: Twitter still hasn’t banned Jonathon Morgan, CEO of New Knowledge, a company that was proven to have set up thousands of fake accounts to swing the Senate race in Alabama to the Democrats, and later paid by the Senate to blame Russia for its tactics.

Let’s also remember the suspension of several Facebook pages belonging to Maffick Media, an outfit that partners with Ruptly, a RT subsidiary. After the “Twitter police” at the German Marshall Fund and CNN raised a fuss about these pages having “Kremlin ties,” Facebook blocked them until they agreed to put up a notice about being “funded by Russia.”So they did, even though there is no such rule that would be universally applied.

Surely it is entirely a coincidence that a CNN reporter went around actively badgering social media outlets to ban Alex Jones, way back in August 2018, and would not stop until they all did?

But wait, there is more! It was confirmed on Tuesday that retired Navy SEAL Don Shipley, known as a crusader against “stolen valor,” got his YouTube channel deleted earlier this month. There were no details as to why, but this was right after Shipley had exposed Nathan Phillips – the Native American activist who claimed he was victimized by Kentucky high school students, in what turned out to be fake news – as falsely claiming he served in Vietnam.

Columbia University researcher Richard Hanania offered an interesting analysis a couple of weeks ago, showing that of the 22 prominent figures suspended by Twitter in recent years, 21 were supporters of President Donald Trump, and only one – Rose McGowan – was a Democrat. McGowan had clearly violated the platform’s rule against doxxing, and was reinstated after she deleted the post. Many of those 21 Trump supporters were not so lucky, getting permanent bans from the platform. So he asked:

Are we to believe that while prominent figures on the left encourage uncivil and even violent tactics… their online behaviour is, with the solitary exception of Rose McGowan, universally exemplary?

What are the odds? Astronomical, actually – Hanania showed that conservatives would have to be four times as likely to violate Twitter rules for even a 5 percent chance of producing the 21-1 ratio. Yet those who routinely cite statistical “disparate impact” to cry racism are perfectly fine claiming there is no bias here? Really?

But [insert social media giant here] is a private company! They can do what they want! So cry the sudden champions of capitalism and deregulation, who in their previous breath claimed Trump abolishing Net Neutrality rules would break the internet. Make up your mind, folks!

In the McCarthyite atmosphere whipped up after the 2016 US presidential election, the social media that once promised unprecedented freedom of expression have turned into the tools of censorship – and not on behalf of a governing party, either, but the bipartisan political establishment united in opposition to an outsider president and anyone who dares support him, or criticize their conduct.

By the way, the “terrible dictator” Trump hasn’t lifted a finger to stop this persecution, let alone sic the IRS or the FBI on his critics.

The idea behind free speech is not that all opinions are valid, but that they ought to be debated rather than imposed by force. Another fundamental principle of western civilization is that the law ought to apply equally to everyone.

One does not have to agree with Robinson, Wohl, Shipley, Maffick, Jones – or Trump, for that matter – to realize that a world in which there is one set of rules for “us” and another for “them,” in which it doesn’t matter what is done but Who is doing it to Whom, is not a land of liberty but something quite different.

February 28, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Leave a comment

Four Young Palestinian Lives Snuffed Out Every Month for The Past Year at The Hands of Israeli Soldiers

By CJ Werleman | American Herald Tribune | February 28, 2019

Last Friday, Yousef a-Dava, a 15-year old Palestinian boy was shot and killed by Israeli snipers, becoming the 48th child slain in Gaza by Israeli security forces since the Great Return March began nearly 12 months ago.

“He was peacefully protesting for a better future, raising the Palestinian flag, is the Palestinian flag a weapon?” asked his grief-stricken sister, Nariman al-Daya, in an interview with Middle East Eye.

His death was every bit as gruesome as it was unjustifiably atrocious, with eyewitnesses explaining how he “tried to stand up, walk a couple more steps” before falling to the ground again, after the bullet fired by an Israeli sniper “entered Yousef’s body, exploded hear his heart, exited from his back” and injured another man who was standing behind him.

Less than one hour later he was pronounced dead at al-Shifa Hospital after an emergency operation failed to revive him.

What other democratic ally do we allow 48 unarmed children to be shot and killed for flying a flag or kite in an open field, one that is ring-fenced by high-voltage electric currents, spot-and-strike machine gun posts, armored tanks and dozens of the world’s most lethal military marksmen?

If this were happening in Poland, Spain, or Portugal, both the United States and United Nations would’ve moved quickly to impose economic sanctions, while calls to invade and bomb would be heard far louder than a mere whisper, but this is Israel, the “Middle East’s only democracy,” so the entirely erroneous propaganda tagline goes.

48 murdered children equates to four young lives snuffed out every month for the past year at the hands of Israeli soldiers, who in no way felt threatened by these now slain youngsters. Unless, of course, you think children throwing rocks from inside a cage at armored vehicles positioned hundreds of meters away on the other side fortified fences and barricades is a threat to anyone or anything, which it clearly it isn’t!

Thus these deaths are to be identified for what they truly are: the cold-blooded murder of innocent and non-threatening children.

Of course, nowhere in the Western media is this reality framed in this accurate way. Instead we are fed headlines, or rather footnotes from the likes of The New York Times that read, “15-year-old boy killed in Gaza today,” without identifying the benign circumstances that led to his death, with newspaper editors doing their very best to falsely portray flag waving and rock-throwing protesters to be on equal footing to the most sophisticated military force in the Middle East.

It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, that if a population of 2 million predominately Jews or Christians were held in an open-air prison, which is precisely what Gaza is, and then bombed, strafed, droned, and shelled periodically, with children shot dead by snipers wearing the flag of a Muslim majority country, then there’d be no other issue the Western media would be talking about.

On Thursday, the United Nations published a report concluding, “Israeli soldiers committed violations of international human rights and humanitarian law,” adding that “some of those violations may constitute war crimes of crimes against humanity.”

“Many young person’s lives have been altered forever,” contends the United Nations Human Rights Council. “122 people have had a limb amputated since March 30 last year. Twenty of these amputees are children.”

Moreover, these deaths scratch only the surface of Israel’s savage war on Palestinian children. When Israel invaded Gaza in the summer of 2014, Palestinian children represented 25% of all civilians killed, with human rights groups documenting the deaths of 504 are under the age of 18.

Then there are the 500-700 Palestinian children who are detained each year in the Israeli military court system, some indefinitely, with most held and prosecuted on the charge of stone throwing.

It is in these Israeli military detention centers where some of the most egregious crimes against Palestinian children take place, with two-thirds reporting Israeli soldiers subjected them to violence and physical abuse.

Several years ago, UNICEF published a report that documented Israel’s systematic and systemic abuse of detained Palestinian children, concluding that “the ill-treatment of children who come in contact with the military detention system appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized throughout the process, from the moment of arrest to indictment of the child, the conviction and issuing of the verdict.”

The authors of the report also observed how child detainees were often arrested in the middle of the night, denied access to a lawyer or parents prior or during interrogation, denied right to remain silent, alongside credible claims Palestinian children were raped or threatened with rape or execution.

Ultimately Israel gets away with these atrocities because its violence and crimes against the Palestinian people takes place inside a media vacuum, with mainstream networks and publications giving a head glance towards the occupation and conflict only in moments where Palestinians, who are denied the right to resist Israel’s violence and illegalities peacefully, respond with violence of their own.

Until such time the world’s media and international community holds Israel accountable for its violations of international law and denial of human rights to the Palestinian people, it’ll continue to murder children as young as 2 years of age with total and complete impunity.

February 28, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

Hassan Nasrallah Warns Israel: All Options Are on the Table

Interview of Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah Secretary General, with Ghassan Ben Jeddou, founder of the pan-Arab and anti-imperialist Al-Mayadeen channel, January 26, 2019.

This live interview, much expected in Israel and the Arab world, lasted for more than 3 hours.

Transcript:

Journalist: […] Eminent Sayed, you often promised the Israeli enemy that if he invades or attacks (Lebanon), your retaliation will be overwhelming. And during your last speech, on November 10, you confirmed this, but you used a specific formula: “We will retaliate and you will regret it.” What did you mean by that?

Hassan Nasrallah: When this happens, everyone will clearly see the cause of these regrets. It is better (not to be precise) and let the Israelis think about it.

Journalist: Once again, Eminent Sayed, I do not ask you to reveal your military plans, but what do you mean when you say that Israel will regret it if he attacks, and that he will be struck as by lightning with an overwhelming retaliation?

Hassan Nasrallah: He will know that he must not repeat such aggression, because the price he will pay for this attack will be much larger than what he expected.

One of my remarks tonight will be precisely to call on Netanyahu and the new Chief of staff, and also on those around them within the enemy entity, not to make mistakes in their assessment as to what is happening in the region, especially on the issue of Syria.

But let us first finish with the issue of tunnels, and then we will discuss this point.

Journalist: Please, about the fact that Israel will regret it: will it be a global regret, a regret limited to some cities, to their companies, their institutions, their infrastructure… ? Or do you mean that Israel will regret their attack (in all respects) from Galilee to their southernmost border with Gaza?

Hassan Nasrallah: On this matter, you can let your imagination go as far as it can.

Journalist: Yes, but I’m not a military expert, so I can’t know how far your response can go.

Hassan Nasrallah: Ultimately, all options are open to us. The United States and Israel, in their arrogance and hubris, often use the formula “All options are on the table.” Today, the Resistance Axis, on all fronts, is in a position where it clearly says that “All options are on the table.” All options remain open for us.

Everything that is necessary, with reason, wisdom and also courage, because sometimes some try to hide their cowardice behind (so-called) wisdom. With reason, wisdom and also courage, all that is required for us to be steadfast, victorious and strengthen our deterrence capacity in this battle, we will do it without hesitation.

Journalist: With your permission, when you talk of steadfastness and victory, does steadfastness mean to deter the enemy from achieving his objectives, at least to evict you (from Syria) and to dissuade you definitively (from returning there)? And does victory mean that Israel stops all attacks (against the Resistance Axis)?

Hassan Nasrallah: We get lost in details. You speak sometimes of total aggression, of war, and you ask us what would be our goals faced with such a war (waged against us); and other times you do not speak of total war, but (Israeli) attempts to modify the rules of engagement, specific and limited strikes to amend the rules of engagement.

We will not allow… The first point (war) is a major issue that deserves to be treated apart at length, but as regards the second point, we will not allow the enemy to change the rules of engagement, nor impose on us (new) rules of engagement. The successive achievements of the Resistance have allowed us to establish a certain level of deterrence that we must at least maintain or even strengthen in our favor, whenever the enemy is trying to change the rules of engagement.

Journalist: How is it possible…

Hassan Nasrallah: I speak here about the Lebanese front. As for Gaza, it concerns our brothers in the Resistance, and as regards Syria, we will talk about it in detail when we get to this point. […]

Translation: unz.com/sayedhasan

February 28, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

N. Korea offered to halt nuclear, long-range rocket testing for partial relief of sanctions – FM

RT | February 28, 2019

North Korea offered a “realistic proposal” to halt nuclear and missile tests in exchange for partial sanctions relief, Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho told reporters in Hanoi after the failed Trump-Kim summit.

North Korea demanded the partial lifting of sanctions that “that hamper the civilian economy and the livelihood of our people.”

In exchange for partial lifting of sanctions by the US, North Korea would permanently remove plutonium and uranium processing facilities and Yongbyon, in the presence of US experts, Ri said, adding that the “US was not ready to accept our proposal.”

The North Korean official said Washington demanded “one more” measure beyond dismantling Yongbyon, which went too far for Pyongyang.

“Our proposal will never change although US proposes negotiations again in the future,” said Ri, who then left without taking questions from the press.

Wednesday’s summit in Hanoi began on a high note but ended early and without a deal.

“It was about the sanctions basically,” US President Donald Trump told reporters after parting ways with Kim Jong-un. “They wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety and we couldn’t do that. Sometimes you have to walk, and this was just one of those times.”

February 28, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , | Leave a comment

Don’t ‘feel the Bern’ if you don’t want to get burnt

By Neil Clark | RT | February 27, 2019

The news that Bernie Sanders is going to stand for president again was met with cries of joy by those who should really know better. It’ll all end in tears, as the US system doesn’t allow a genuinely transformative president.

When will they ever learn? Even after the latest reality check, with Donald Trump, the president who was going to ‘drain the swamp‘ and sideline the neocons, appointing a whole host of swamp dwellers to his team – and hardline pro-Iraq War hawk John Bolton to be his National Security Advisor – there are still, quite incredibly, a lot of people who are getting very excited about the 2020 presidential race.

This time, Bernie will do it, we’re told. And what a difference this true ‘Man of the People’ will make! Then there’s Tulsi, who’s pledged to oppose ‘regime change’ wars. She’ll stick it to the neocons, all right.

But going by past history, it ain’t going to happen. Neither Sanders or Gabbard are likely to make it to the White House. Even if they did, the odds are they’d follow much the same policies as their predecessors – as Obama did after Bush, and Trump after Obama.

One loses count of the number of presidential candidates who were billed as ’game changers’. People who were going to shake the system up. Take on Wall Street and the special interest groups. Give ‘the little people’ a voice in the White House. Stop the Wars. But it never happened.

The system was simply too strong.

Anyone remember when Howard Dean threw his hat into the ring? The governor of Vermont was one of the front-runners for the Democratic nomination in 2004. He opposed the Iraq War. Yipee! He built a grassroots campaign based on small donations. Yipee! But it all ended in tears. We can blame that ‘scream’ if we like, but there were powerful forces in the Democratic establishment against him and his campaign fizzled out like Bernie’s did twelve years later. But would President Dean have made much of a difference? Seeing how he morphed into a foreign policy hawk afterwards, the answer is not very likely. In 2016, Dean, the ‘insurgent‘ of 2003 backed Hillary Clinton over Bernie.

The system has various mechanisms for (a) preventing  candidates who want to change the status quo from becoming president and (b) making them toe the line if they are elected.

First and foremost there’s money. As Danielle Ryan detailed in a previous OpEd, it’s not Russia that’s damaging American ‘democracy’– it’s  the billions of dollars that have to be raised.

It sounds so thrilling to build a presidential campaign on small donations, but the sad truth is that the big donors will always hold a sizeable advantage. America really is the best ‘democracy’ money can buy.

Linked to this there are the very powerful lobby groups, the most powerful of which in foreign policy, is the pro-Israel lobby which expects – and indeed demands – loyalty towards Israel and hostility towards foreign actors Israel doesn’t like.

Then there’s the role of the corporate media, ownership of which is highly concentrated in enforcing pro-Establishment narratives.

Consider the way the ‘anti-war’ candidate Tulsi Gabbard went on the back-foot when being aggressively questioned on Syria on ABC’s the View by the daughter of the late neocon Senator John McCain.

“You have said that the Syrian president, Assad, is not the enemy of the United States yet he’s used chemical weapons against his own people 300 times,” McCain said.

Instead of responding to this by asking for McCain’s sources for the ‘300 times claim’ and reiterating that Assad was not an enemy of the US, which he clearly isn’t, Gabbard said there was “no disputing the fact that Bashar Assad and Syria is a brutal dictator” who has “used chemical weapons and other weapons against his people.”

In other words she caved in. The system 1 Tulsi Gabbard 0.

On foreign policy, Bernie surrendered a long time ago. He’s the classic example of a ‘licensed radical’, namely he’s allowed some leeway to slam the gross iniquities of American turbo-capitalism, but knows the score when there’s an external ’official enemy‘ to be demonised.

The system needs someone like him to give it a  ‘democratic’ veneer, but again appearances can be very deceptive. As ever, Venezuela is a good litmus test.

The self-declared ’democratic socialist’ Bernie, the man so many leftists in America and worldwide are pinning their hopes on, in 2015 referred to democratic socialist Hugo Chavez, probably the most elected man in the world, “a dead communist dictator”– having praised Venezuela and its greater income equality, years earlier.

While he hasn’t called Nicolas Maduro a ‘dictator’ yet, he did parrot a ruling class trope by saying that the last Venezuelan election “was not free or fair.”

He also called on the Venezuelan government not to use violence against protesters. That sounds reasonable enough, but what if protesters themselves use violence against government supporters, as when a black man was burnt alive in Caracas? Is the government still not allowed to respond forcefully to protect people?

On foreign policy Bernie is the ’good cop’, to John Bolton’s ‘bad cop’. He won‘t support direct military action against the target state, but he’ll undermine its legitimacy all the same. Look at how since 2016 he’s indulged in evidence-free Russophobia like the most rabid neocon.

Only last July Bernie introduced a ‘Resolution to protect American Democracy from Russian Meddling’.

“If President Trump won’t confront Putin about interference in our elections and his destabilizing policies, Congress must act. Tweets and speeches are fine, but we need more from Republican senators now,” Sanders said.

Senator Joe McCarthy would have been proud of him.

Bernie supporters will argue that toeing the line on foreign policy means their man can prioritise on domestic reforms, but how can he really change things at home if military budgets are not significantly cut and the wars continue?

The idea that any meaningful change comes through the present system in America is at best over-optimistic and at worst, hopefully naive. Only when we accept that the US is not a ’democracy’ but a regime, when everyone who stands for high office – however well-intentioned – is pulled towards promoting pro-imperialist, pro-neoliberal, elite-friendly policies, then we can make some real progress. Continuing to participate in the ’elections are so very important’ charade only prolongs the agony. And in case anyone thinks this is just an American problem, it most certainly isn’t.

Look at Britain and how Jeremy Corbyn, who did promise something really different when first elected as Labour leader in 2015, has been brought into line. Corbyn’s main problem was that he was taking over as leader of a party whose parliamentary representatives were overwhelmingly opposed to any real change. But rather than move against them Corbyn chose to compromise and his party is down to 30 percent in the polls. The one-time anti-war radical, who was going to transform Britain ’for the many not the few’ now looks a shadow of his former self.

If voting changed anything they’d abolish it. That might sound glib, but as we look at how the system operates, we can see that there’s so much truth in it.

February 28, 2019 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , | 1 Comment

US Plan to Break Through Venezuelan Border Failed – Russian Foreign Ministry

Sputnik – 28.02.2019

MOSCOW – The US plan to break through the Venezuelan border under the pretext of delivering humanitarian aid failed, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Thursday.

“The illegal attempt on February 23 by US-inspired radical part of the Venezuelan opposition, supported by extremist groups with Molotov cocktails in hands, to break through the border under the pretext of carrying so-called humanitarian aid was doomed to failure from the very beginning. Its organizers were well aware that any violation of the state border always should and would be stopped, because this is a direct attempt on the country’s sovereignty,” Zakharova said.

“Fortunately, the criminal plan of pseudo-humanitarian officials failed,” she said at a briefing.

Russia will not support the draft resolution proposed by the United States in the UN Security Council, Maria Zakharova stressed.

“Of course, Russia can not support such a project,” Zakharova said, adding that there was nothing new in the draft resolution.

The spokeswoman added that the situation in Venezuela remained alarming with Washington willing to remove the legitimate authorities in Caracas from power.

In the draft resolution, the United States is seeking a new presidential election in Venezuela. The council is expected to vote on the document Thursday night New York time.

On 23 February, the Venezuelan opposition tried to forcefully bring the US-sponsored aid into Venezuela from Brazil and Colombia. The failed attempt resulted in clashes between the Venezuelan National Guard officers, who prevented trucks with aid from crossing the country’s border without permission, and pro-aid protesters, who tried to help force the aid into Venezuela.

February 28, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , | 1 Comment

How The Western Anti-War Movement Became Poisoned Against Pakistan

By Adam Garrie – EurasiaFuture – 2019-02-27

As has been the case many times in the past, the events of the last two days have demonstrated India’s willingness to risk the consequences of committing acts of aggression against Pakistan, mainly because India remains convinced that Pakistan’s side of the story will never get a fair hearing internationally. As such, whilst Pakistan has produced photos of a downed Indian jet, complete with video confirming the lawful capture of the pilot, in addition to further footage of the pilot drinking tea with a well mannered Pakistani interrogator – there are still some who believe the totally un-evidenced and downright bizarre claims made by India in relation to the events of the past two days.

Clearly, much of the world is starting to see the truth about India’s deceptive military and even more deceptive hybrid military-political campaigns that many in Pakistan have cautioned the world against believing for decades. And yet there is one segment of western political activism that continues to turn a blind eye to the injustices facing Pakistan, whilst automatically sympathising with India. This is the self-proclaimed anti-war movement, whose name is betrayed by the fact that many otherwise consistently anti-war Europeans and North Americans, become unhinged when faced with the prospect of having to condemn India in the context of its hostility against Pakistan.

The root of this problem has comparatively little to do with India and Pakistan’s role in the Cold War rivalries between China and the Soviet Union, but instead has much to do with the events which transpired in Afghanistan between 1978 and 2001.

In 1978, the pro-Soviet People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan overthrow the Republic of Afghanistan ruled by Mohammed Daoud Khan during the Saur Revolution. This triggered an internal backlash against the new communist Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. The indigenous backlash then triggered Kabul calling for the USSR to aid the central government against the uprising, whilst the United States firmly backed the Mujahideen rebels by supplying them with weapons, other material goods and high level combat training.

Ironically, many members of the anti-war movement in the west during the 1980s actually remained neutral or opposed the USSR’s entry into Afghanistan. This is due to the fact that while technically, the USSR was acting on the request of a UN recognised government, the American war in Vietnam was likewise technically at the “request” of the government of South Vietnam – a nation that had strong associations with the UN, without ever attaining full membership (incidentally, no Vietnamese state held a UN seat until 1977, by which time the country was unified).

In spite of these legal nuances, the American war in Vietnam was an unmitigated disaster and the Soviet war in Afghanistan likewise proved to be disastrous. It has only been in the 21st century that the next generation of western anti-war activists have gradually come to wrap themselves in the flag of The Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. This is the case for several crucial reasons.

After the 9/11 attacks in the US, the anti-war movement was struggling to have its voice heard in an America that became hellbent for military revenge against anyone thought to be behind the attacks. Americans wanted revenge as was understandable, but worryingly, they were willing to get their revenge even against those who had nothing to do with 9/11 (if this sounds like India in 2019, it is because the same logic applies).

Desperate to stay relevant in a country that was overwhelmingly pro-war after 9/11, members of the US anti-war movement began to rehabilitate the People’s Republic of Afghanistan because on paper (key term), it stood for everything those accused of committing the 9/11 atrocity opposed. The People’s Republic of Afghanistan had a secular government that was far-left, anti-religious and opposed to the US backed Mujaheddin. As Osama bin Laden was once a leading figure in the Mujahideen, the US anti-war movement finally had an argument that in theory they could use in order to revive the general relevance of the anti-war movement in a pro-war age.  Their argument went as follows: “America helped the Mujahideen in which Osama bin Laden was a leading figure. By contrast, the USSR and the People’s Republic of Afghanistan opposed the Mujahideen and stood for an ideology hated by the Mujahideen. Ergo: America’s support of the Mujahideen led to 9/11 and if the USSR and their communist Afghan allies won the war, there would be no 9/11”.

Although the “logic” employed by such members of the western anti-war movement is simplistic to the point of being a straw man argument, this is actually what many anti-war westerners, as well as many knee-jerk pro-Russian international commentators have said and continue to say when trying to find an ideological/pseudo-strategic link between the events of the 1980s and the post-9/11 anti-war movement. Ironically, modern Russia has welcomed peace talks with the Taliban, whilst perhaps not surprisingly, few in Russia now think that their war in Afghanistan was a good idea and almost no one in modern Russia thinks that the war was properly executed. In this sense, the western anti-war movement sounds a lot more like the old USSR than many scholars and even many policy makers in modern Russia.

Be that as it may, due to the fact that Pakistan was an opponent of People’s Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, many of these same anti-war westerners continue to blame Pakistan for the failure of the supposedly “good” communist Afghan government to beat the Mujahideen. What such people fail to realise is that Pakistan’s support for those opposing the communist regime in Afghanistan had nothing to do with ideology and everything to do with Pakistan’s national survival.

Between 1947 and the present day, literally every Afghan government whether monarchical, republican, communist or theocratic, has refused to recognise Pakistan’s otherwise internationally recognised western border along the Durand Line. As such, Pakistan feared that the revolutionary communist regime next door would act even more vociferously in pursuing Afghanistan’s notorious expansionist tendencies than even previous Afghan regimes. There were several logical reasons which led Pakistan’s leadership to this deduction. First of all, as a country with good relations with the USSR’s main rivals of the time (China and the United States), Pakistan feared that a Soviet victory in Afghanistan would lead an exuberant, emboldened and war hardened Kabul regime to expand its territory at the expense of legally defined Pakistani territory. Secondly, the communist ideology of the Afghanistan after 1978 sought to disguise traditional anti-Pakistan Pashtun ultra-nationalism (aka separatism) in order to create an old fashioned “Greater Pashtunistan” under the guise of “proletarian expansionism”. In this sense, from Pakistan’s perspective, it was better to ally with rebels who supported an Islamic political ideology which in theory would minimise notorious Afghan expansionism aimed at Pakistan, than it would have been to go soft on a secular Kabul regime that was willing to use ethno-nationalism as a means of spreading communism to a Pakistan which had no appetite for becoming a communist state against its will.

As such, Pakistan opposed the communist regime in Afghanistan not only for these practical rather than ideological reasons, but also because domestic terrorists seeking to destroy the Pakistani state were sheltered by communist Kabul, therefore making it clear that Afghanistan was prepared to harbour individuals and groups whose stated goal was the overthrow of state institutions in Pakistan. In this sense, Pakistan was not “in love” with the Mujahideen, but was instead looking to strategically protect itself against a clear threat on what was then, a widely exposed north-western border.

As a Cold War ally of the USSR, India had multiple vested interests in supporting the People’s Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. First of all, India’s relations with Afghanistan have always been centred on New Delhi’s desire to gain leverage against Pakistan through the use of hybrid threats originating from or being sheltered on Afghan soil. Secondly, as in the 1980s Afghanistan shared a border with the USSR, a grand Soviet, India, Afghanistan alliance could have helped to economically isolate Pakistan in an age before Pakistan’s all-weather friend China became the economic superpower that it is today. As such, the idea of a northern CPEC lifeline for Pakistan in the 1980s, would have been virtually unimaginable.

And yet, these deeply important details seem to be lost on a western anti-war movement that especially since 9/11, has partly internalised the western far-right and Israel’s Islamophobia. In doing so, many in the western anti-war movement have reached the simplistic conclusion that “secular terrorists and murderous secular regimes are automatically good, whilst anything Islamic is automatically a reactionary and pro-terrorism”.

Whilst this shift in the western anti-war movement towards secular supremacy aimed at Islamic movements or governments with Islamic (particularly Sunni Islamic) characteristics was a phenomenon based on the west’s own post-9/11 mass hysteria, it had the effect of helping India to revive its own seemingly dead Cold War narrative which claims that “secular leftists of the world and Hindus of the world must unite against CIA backed Sunni Muslim extremists”. Forgetting the fact that as the 21st century moved on, India grew closer to the US, further from Russia and continues to maintain hostility against China – this narrative continues to poison many otherwise dutiful anti-war westerners against Pakistan.

This is the case because based on their total misreading of events in Afghanistan in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, far too many western anti-war activists think that there is in fact an unbroken alliance of Mujahideen style groups, modern Pakistan and the CIA and that this alliance can only be counterbalanced by a mythical alliance that includes “sometimes Hindu/sometimes secular India”, a Russia that the western left imagines to still be the old USSR and any country in western Eurasia (Syria and Iran in particular) that has any dispute with actual Sunni extremists (mainly Daesh) who happen to have nothing to do with Pakistan.

The fact of the matter is that a mixture of the USSR’s rehabilitation among the western far-left, a gross misunderstanding of Pakistan’s position in the 1980s and Indian propaganda that is aimed at both the western far-right and simultaneously at the ultra-secular western far-left, has poisoned the anti-war movement against Pakistan. This is all the more reason why Pakistan needs a 24/7 news channel to help dispel these canards.

February 28, 2019 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

No deal, but Kim Jong-un promised no missile tests – Trump

RT | February 28, 2019

Despite no formal deal being reached, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said that he wouldn’t test weapons or anything nuclear-related, US President Donald Trump told reporters after the aborted Hanoi summit.

Pressed by reporters about potential fallout over the failure to reach a denuclearization agreement with the North Korean leader, Trump stated that he had received assurances that Pyongyang will continue to halt weapons development.

“He said the testing will not start,” Trump said of Kim. “He said he’s not going to do testing of rockets or missiles or anything having to do with nuclear. And all I can tell is that’s what he said, and we’ll see.”

Trump and Kim’s Hanoi, Vietnam summit came to an abrupt end on Thursday after the two sides failed to reach a consensus on appropriate steps Pyongyang must take in order for US sanctions to be lifted. Kim reportedly promised to dismantle a nuclear facility at Yongbyon in exchange for the lifting of all sanctions – but Washington wanted more concessions, including the destruction of a purported uranium enrichment plant.

The US president said that while the talks were constructive, “Sometimes you have to walk and this was one of those times.”

February 28, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , | Leave a comment

‘Exercising is fun but very expensive’: Trump explains freeze on US military drills in Korea

RT | February 28, 2019

Donald Trump cited exorbitant costs as the reason for halting “fun and nice” US military drills on the Korean Peninsula – exercises which Pyongyang viewed as a serious provocation.

Speaking at a press conference after his Hanoi summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, the US president told journalists that US military drills in the region would not resume for now.

“I gave that up quite a while ago because it costs us $100 million every time we do it. We fly these massive bombers in from Guam,” Trump said.

“Exercising is fun and it’s nice they play their war games – and I’m not saying it’s not necessary, because on some levels it is – but on other levels it’s not. But it’s a very, very expensive thing.”

The US president added that he “hated to see” how “hundreds of millions of dollars” were spent on the drills.

“I thought it was unfair, and frankly I was of the opinion that South Korea should help us with that. We’re protecting South Korea.”

Trump then claimed that Seoul was just one of many nations which were taking advantage of Washington’s generosity.

“We’re spending a tremendous amount of money on many countries, protecting countries that are very rich – that can certainly afford to pay us and then some. And those countries know it’s not right but nobody’s ever asked them before, but I’ve asked them, and we’re gaining a lot of money.”

The Pentagon announced that a number of joint drills with South Korea were put on hold after landmark talks between Trump and Kim in Singapore last June. However, the Pentagon said that routine joint exercises would continue, but not on such a large scale.

The drills have been seen as a major barrier to brokering a denuclearized, peaceful Korean Peninsula. Moscow and Beijing have suggested that Pyongyang suspend its nuclear weapon and missile tests in exchange for Washington giving up joint exercises with South Korea. However, Washington flatly rejected the proposal.

Trump said on Thursday that Kim told him North Korea will continue to halt missile testing, even though no formal deal was signed after their Vietnam summit.

February 28, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , | Leave a comment

Why the ‘Left’ is Dead in the Water

By Gilad Atzmon | February 28, 2019

It seems that there is not much left of the Left and what remains has nothing to do with ‘Left.’

Contemporary ‘Left’ politics is detached from its natural constituency, working people. The so called ‘Left’ is basically a symbolic identifier for ‘Guardian readers’ a critical expression attributed to middle class people who, for some reason, claim to know what is good for the working class. How did this happen to the Left? Why was it derailed and by whom?

Hierarchy is one answer. The capitalist and the corporate worlds operate on an intensely hierarchical basis. The path to leadership within a bank, management of a globally trading company or even high command in the military is of an evolutionary nature. Such power is acquired by a challenging climb within an increasingly demanding system. It is all about the survival of the fittest. Every step entails new challenges. Failure at any step could easily result in a setback or even a career end. In the old good days, the Left also operated on a hierarchical system. There was a long challenging path from the local workers’ union to the national party. But the Left is hierarchical no more.

Left ideology, like working class politics, was initially the byproduct of the industrial revolution. It was born to address the needs and demands of a new emerging class; those who were working day and night to make other people richer. In the old days, when Left was a meaningful adventure, Left politicians grew out of workers’ unions. Those who were distinguished in representing and improving the conditions of their fellow workers made it to the trade unions and eventually into the national parties. None of that exists anymore.

In a world without manufacturing, the working class have been removed from the consumption chain and demoted into an ‘under class.’ The contemporary Left politician has nothing to do with the workless people let alone the workless class. The unions are largely defunct. You won’t find many Labour politicians who have actually worked in factories and mixed with working people for real. No contemporary Left politician including Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders is the product of a struggle through a highly demanding hierarchical system as such a system hasn’t really existed within the Left for at least four decades.

In most cases, the contemporary Left politician is a middle class university activist groomed through party politics activity. Instead of fighting for manufacturing and jobs, the Left has embraced the highly divisive identitarian battle. While the old Left tended to unite us by leading the fight against the horrid capitalists rather than worrying about whether you were a man or a woman, black or white, Jew or Muslim, gay or hetero, our present-day ‘Left’ actually promotes racial differences and divisions as it pushes people to identify with their biology (skin colour, gender, sexual orientation, Jewish maternal gene etc.) If the old Left united us against the capitalists, the contemporary ‘Left’ divides us and uses the funds it collects from capitalist foundations such as George Soros’ Open Society Institute.

The British Labour party is a prime example of this. It is deaf to the cry of the lower classes. It claims to care ‘for the many’ but in practice is only attentive to a few voices within the intrusive Israeli Lobby. As Britain is struggling with the crucial debate over Brexit, British Labour has been focused instead on spurious allegations of ‘antisemitsm.’ It is hard to see how any Left political body in the West even plans to bring more work to the people. The Left offers nothing in the way of a vision of a better society for all. It is impossible to find the Left within the contemporary ‘Left.’

Why has this happened to the Left, why has it become irrelevant? Because by now the Left is a non-hierarchical system. It is an amalgam of uniquely ungifted people who made politics into their ‘career.’ Most Left politicians have never worked at a proper job where money is exchanged for merit, achievements or results. The vast majority of Left politicians have never faced the economic challenges associated with the experience of being adults. Tragically such people can’t lead a country, a city, a borough or even a village.

The Left had a mostly positive run for about 150 years. But its role has come to an end as the condition of being in the world has been radically transformed. The Left failed to adapt. It removed itself from the universal ethos.

The shift in our human landscape has created a desperate need for a new ethos: a fresh stand point that will reinstate the Western Athenian ethical and universal roots and produce a new canon that aspires for truth and truthfulness as opposed to the current cancerous tyranny of correctness.

February 28, 2019 Posted by | Economics | | 1 Comment

Did the KGB Try to Infiltrate the Reagan Campaign?

By Philip M. GIRALDI | Strategic Culture Foundation | 28.02.2019

There appeared last week an interesting article about Soviet and American intelligence operations centered on San Francisco during the 1970s and 1980s, where Moscow had a very active KGB station that was focused on obtaining Silicon Valley generated high tech information. The piece is entitled “The Soviets wanted to infiltrate the Reagan camp. So, the CIA recruited a businessman to bait them.” The author of the article is Zach Dorfman, who describes himself as a senior fellow at the New York City based Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs. The Council is a little known but mainstream organization that seeks to “…enlarge the audience for the simple but powerful message that ethics matter, regardless of place, origin, or belief. Since our founding by Andrew Carnegie a century ago, we have been one of the world’s top creators of nonpartisan educational resources on international ethics…”

Countering technology transfer, as it was referred to back in the 1970s, was a big deal for western intelligence agencies, driven by concern that the Soviet Union would be able to steal western technology and use it to upgrade its weapon systems as well as its military related infrastructures. A number of European CIA stations, including Germany, actually had tech transfer as the highest priority in their operating directives, meaning that it was considered to be more important than recruiting Soviet officials to learn what the Kremlin was planning to do about recurrent areas of friction like the controversial stationing of intermediate range ballistic missiles in Europe.

Given the still ongoing dissection of the events surrounding the 2016 election, the title of the Dorfman article was intriguing, suggesting that the Soviets and now the Russians have been attempting to infiltrate America’s political parties for over forty years. But, like the endless Robert Mueller investigation, is it actually true or is it a contrivance that is useful for those who want to continue to depict the Kremlin’s activities in the most negative possible light?

The intelligence war between the Soviets and the United States at the midpoint in the Cold War was certainly multifaceted and fraught with real danger as “mutual assured destruction” by the two great nuclear powers was by no means a notion empty of meaning. Looking back on the GOP nomination battle in 1976, one might reasonably recall that Ronald Reagan was a bit of an anomaly, a potentially dangerous hardliner with sometimes quixotic opinions, not unlike Donald Trump. His views on the Soviet Union were largely unknown apart from the usual bromides and the KGB would have had as a high priority the collection of information that would illuminate the somewhat outside the norm Hollywood actor turned politician.

All of that given, it would appear that the headline to the Dorfman article is not supported by evidence presented in the text. The narrative describes how an American businessman was used as an access agent to two Soviet intelligence officers beginning in 1975. One of the Russians, Yuri Pavlov, was under diplomatic cover at the Soviet San Francisco Consulate. The American businessman, John Greenagel ran a public relations firm in the city and had a relationship with the Reagan campaign that predated Reagan’s first run for the Republican nomination in 1975-6. He was also reporting to the CIA about the contact with the Russian, clearly with the objective of developing personal insights into Pavlov’s personality and character to permit an eventual recruitment pitch by an Agency officer.

In the article, a former FBI counter-terrorism officer concedes that Pavlov “wanted to learn about the American political system, and what people were thinking at the time,” and he did so openly by asking questions at diplomatic receptions and cocktail parties he was invited to. For example, over lunch with the American Greenagel, Pavlov asked questions about the former California governor: “He asked, ‘Is Reagan a warmonger? Why does he want military superiority? Why doesn’t he support détente?’”

It was all something that diplomats as well as spies and journalists normally do and it did not include any attempt by Pavlov to recruit Greenagel or anyone else to collect specific information from individuals working on the Reagan campaign. On the contrary, to set the hook for a recruitment pitch of Pavlov by CIA, it was Greenagel who provided the Russian with expensive gifts, including a designer suit and handfuls of $100 bills “for expenses.”

The article concludes “In the cat and mouse game of recruiting Cold War spies, it’s hard to say who came out ahead. What is perhaps most striking about Pavlov’s efforts to develop contacts in the Reagan camp was, in fact, how fruitless they seemed in the end. Some of the academics Pavlov targeted did indeed end up working in presidential administrations, recalls Kinane, though Pavlov failed to recruit any of them.” Nor was Pavlov ever recruited, or even pitched, by CIA. So did the KGB want to “infiltrate the Reagan camp” suggesting that 2016 was no anomaly? The answer would have to be “no,” or at least that if they wanted to do so they didn’t try very hard and any comparison to the current state of Russian-American relations as seen through allegations of mutual electoral interference is more than a bit of a stretch.

So, the Dorfman article’s headlined political message about Moscow’s alleged interference in US politics is not supported by the story. But Dorfman or his editor gets in the last word coming from the former FBI counter-intelligence officer, even though the evidence does not support the claim: “People think this is new. This isn’t new. The Russians have been doing this stuff for 40 or 50 years. It’s news now because they’ve been so successful. You’ve got to hand it to the Russians: they know what they’re doing. They’re more and more sophisticated; they’ve learned an awful lot. Now they get somebody like Donald Trump Jr. meeting with them — they’re killing them — because Americans like Trump Jr. don’t know what they’re doing.” Nor does the FBI, apparently.

February 28, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment