Aletho News


Australian Defence Strategy Still Locked in A Past Era

By James O’Neill | American Herald Tribune | March 28, 2019

According to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald (25 March 2019) the coalition government, if re-elected, would spend $2.5 billion on an air defence system. The object of the expenditure is said to “bolster Australia’s capacity to intercept enemy aircraft”. The new system will also defend against helicopters, cruise missiles and unmanned aerial systems.

The cost is divided between an initial acquisition price of $1.5 billion and a further $1 billion to operate and maintain it over two decades. The Minister for Defence, Linda Reynolds, said that the project had great export potential.

Once again, one has to wonder exactly what planet our defence politicians and their advisors actually inhabit. While the cost of this touted new system is small change compared to the tens of billions of dollars being lavished on expensive boondoggles such as the F35 joint strike fighter and the French built submarines, it is another illustration of wasted expenditure on military equipment not fit for purpose.

The stated object is to be able to defend against four intruders: helicopters; unmanned aerial systems; enemy aircraft and cruise missiles. Why one would need a $1 billion system to defend against helicopters, with their low altitude, short range, slow moving and noisy character simply boggles the mind.

Exactly what is meant by ‘unmanned aerial systems’ is not defined, but presumably refers to drones. The same point applies here as to helicopters. The more serious question relates to enemy aircraft and cruise missiles, and the source of those hostile intruders.

There is no obvious reason for Australia to be attacked by Indonesia, Papua New Guinea or any other country for whom Australia would be within the range of its bombers. The unspoken “enemy” here is presumably China, although again that raises the obvious question as to why China would wish to attack Australia. The only obvious answer to this is as a defensive reaction to an attack upon China itself.

Australia would only do that as part of yet another United States led “Coalition”, but why Australia would wish to be involved in such a foolhardy exercise against its largest trading partner should not be seriously contemplated by our defence planners, and if it is they need to spell out their rationale in clear terms.

Let us assume for arguments sake that China did attack Australia. It would not be with helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles, cruise missiles or bombers. It would be done with one or more of its repertoire of supersonic missiles from the Dong Feng family of missiles, most probably the DF41. This missile system travels at hypersonic speed (Mach 20) and has 8 to 10 independently targetable nuclear warheads.

There is nothing in the current repertoire of United States or Australian missile defence systems that can defend against such an attack, and the heroic claims of former defence minister Christopher Pyne that it will be a “highly effective defence system” is simply nonsense.

If Australia did get into a shooting war with China, that war would likely involve China’s strategic partner Russia, whose missile systems (for example, Zircon, Burevestnik, Avangaard and Kinzhal) are decades ahead of US military technology, as even the United States itself admits ( 19 December 2018). For details of these Russian systems see Martyanov 5 March 2018; and Vineyard of the Saker 24 January 2019.

If Australia was serious about having a missile defence system then the world leader by a significant margin is the Russian S400 system, recently bought by China, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and India among others. Turkey, a NATO member, is proceeding with the purchase of the S400 despite overt threats by the Americans. The Saudis, huge purchasers of US military equipment in the past, also know where to go in order to purchase the best available system. Quite why a similar degree of realism is not allowed to intrude upon discussions of Australian defence strategy remains a puzzle. Has Australia become so “joined at the hip” with the Americans that it is willing to compromise on real military defence strategy? Instead of coherent debate we are fed the mindless pap exemplified in the SMH article referenced above.

March 28, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | | 1 Comment

US lacerates China’s Uighur wound

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | March 28, 2019

The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s meeting with Uighur Muslim activists in Washington DC, on March 27 is by no means a routine diplomatic event. Clearly, there is nothing personal about this meeting. Although Pompeo is a passionate Bible-reading Christian from the mid-west, his religiosity ends there and does not extend to the welfare of Muslims worldwide — be it Gaza or West Bank. Clearly, Washington has taken a considered step to make the ‘Uighur question’ a bilateral issue between Washington and Beijing.

According to the state department readout, Pompeo pledged “U.S. support to end China’s campaign of repression against Islam and other religions.” The readout referred to the so-called “internment camps since April 2017” in Xinjiang as well as China’s “repressive campaign”, which has made the million or more Uighurs “unable to speak for themselves, move freely, think for themselves, and undertake even the most basic practices of their religion.” The readout alleged that Chinese authorities subject Uighurs to “torture, repressive surveillance measures, homestays and forcible service of pork and alcohol.., confiscations of Qurans, and instances of sexual abuse and death.”

This is exceptionally harsh condemnation of China — and yet, no precipitate situation warranted it. And Xinjiang is a highly sensitive issue for China, too. No doubt, this is a deliberate act of provocation.

Ironically, the US-led orchestrated media campaign on the “internment camps” in Xinjiang is fizzling out. The US failed to make Xinjiang a Muslim issue complicating China’s relations with the Islamic world. The two most important beacon lights in the Muslim world — Saudi Arabia and Iran — dissociated from the western campaign on Uighur Muslims. The Saudi Crown Prince Salman bin Mohammed actually commended Beijing’s national policies toward Muslim populations in Xinjiang and other provinces.

Suffice to say, the US’ game plan to repeat the cold-war era strategy to pit socialism against Islam hasn’t gained traction in the present case involving Xinjiang. The US campaign on Xinjiang suffered a severe setback when the recent foreign-minister level meeting of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) in Abu Dhabi on March 1-2 decisively turned its back on Washington. The OIC resolution, inter alia, recalled the “outcomes of the visit” of the group’s delegation last month to China (including Xinjiang) and said that the OIC “commends the efforts of the People’s Republic of China in providing care to its Muslim citizens; and looks forward to further cooperation between the OIC and the People’s Republic of China.”

Yet, the OIC resolution was pretty harsh in its criticism of the present Hindu nationalist government in India:

“Expresses deep concern over the growing activity of the extremist Hindu groups against Muslims in India trying to build a Hindu temple on the ruins of the historic Babri Mosque; also expresses concern over the unnecessary delay in determining responsibility for the demolition of the Babri Mosque; and urges the Indian Government to see to it that the Babri Mosque is rebuilt on its original site”;

“Invites the (OIC) General Secretariat to continue to monitor the situation of Muslims in India and to collect further information on the challenges and difficulties they are facing, politically, socially and economically with a view to offering them the required assistance, and to report on the matter to the next ministerial conference”;

“Urges the Indian Government to take steps to improve the economic conditions of Muslims in India in line with the recommendations of the Sachar Committee Report”;

“Express deep concern over reports regarding ‘Forced Conversion’ of minorities in India by Hindu extremist elements through ‘Ghar Wapsi’ or ‘Home Coming’ campaign and education programmes aimed at obliterating practices and rituals related to other religions and distortion of historic facts”;

“Taking note with grave concern of a number of incidents in India where people have been killed, imprisoned and fined for slaughtering cows, especially on Eid- ul-Azha”.

Suffice to say, Beijing has been remarkably successful in persuading the Muslim countries that Xinjiang is not a Muslim issue. But, quite obviously, Washington won’t take ‘no’ for an answer from the Muslim world. What could be the motivations behind Pompeo bolstering the US’ sagging campaign on the Uighur issue?

There could be several calculations. US diplomacy is famous for resorting to pressure tactics to extract concessions. The US’ trade war with China is entering a climactic stage and it pays to wage a ‘psywar’ when Beijing seems to be outmanoeuvring Washington. Meanwhile, Washington watches with disquiet that China and Europe are getting along fine despite differences and are taking a lead role in ‘global governance’. Italy’s decision to join the Belt and Road and Airbus securing a $34 billion deal with China for aircraft cut into US interests. Again, China’s financial and commercial expansion in Venezuela and support for the Maduro government is complementing Russia’s role in blocking an incipient transition in that country.

However, the most crucial factor here is that Uighurs constitute a significant percentage of the ISIS cadres who fought in Syria and Iraq, lost the war and are now regrouping in other theatres. According to Syrian government estimates, anywhere up to 5,000 had fought in various militant groups in Syria. Earlier on, the US downplayed the appearance of the ISIS in Afghanistan and used to shrug off the Russian and Iranian warnings. But lately, US commanders sing a different tune. Gen. Joseph Votel, the commander of US Central Command, told reporters while on a visit to Afghanistan in February, “They represent a very sophisticated and dangerous threat that we have to stay focused on.”   

In the recent past, Moscow and Tehran have informed the UN details regarding the covert operation by the US to transfer the ISIS fighters from Syria and Iraq to Afghanistan. The US stonewalled at that time. But lately, the US has seized the ISIS presence in Afghanistan as an alibi for its open-ended military presence in the region even after a settlement with the Taliban.

Simply put, Pompeo’s meeting with Uighur separatist activists cannot but be seen in the backdrop of the endgame in Afghanistan and the rise of the ISIS in the Hindu Kush. Pompeo has made the Uighur question a political and diplomatic issue between the US and China at a time when militants from Xinjiang belonging to ISIS are relocating to Afghanistan from Syria and Iraq.

On the other hand, the US is also using the presence of ISIS in Afghanistan to justify its permanent military and intelligence bases in that country (which borders Xinjiang.) Ask former Afghan President Hamid Karzai to explain the paradox and he would only say that this was exactly the strategy that the US pursued with the Taliban, too — waging the war against the Taliban in a way that prolonged the war and justified continued US military presence in a highly strategic region that includes Russia, China, Pakistan and Iran.

It could be that by bringing the Uighur issue to the centre stage, the US aims to erode China’s ‘soft power’ in Pakistan and Afghanistan, which are of course deeply religious Muslim countries. Indeed, if the US turns Afghanistan into a frontline ISIS state against China, that will put Pakistan in a most awkward position, apart from undermining Beijing’s plans to integrate Afghanistan into the Belt and Road.

March 28, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

‘Russiagate’ hoax helped turn ordinary Russians against the US

By Bryan MacDonald | RT | March 28, 2019

‘Russiagate’ is over. But its toxic legacy will endure. And in Russia it has led to disenchantment with the United States.

Red Army Street is a 3km-long thoroughfare in Krasnodar, southern Russian, notable for its many bars and nightclubs, which number in the dozens. Indeed, it’s so raucous it makes snooty Moscow look rather pedestrian.

Last summer, I was in one hostelry, with a South African farmer who was visiting the region. Naturally, we spoke in English. This seemed to upset three drunken locals who (in Russian) were loudly exchanging anti-American slurs.

Eventually, the largest, and scariest, of the trio broke into English to shout “Yankee, go home.” To which I swiftly replied that I was Irish. Suddenly, he ran over, bear-hugged me, and shouted at the top of his voice: “Conor McGregor!”

It wasn’t always like this. When I moved to Russia, nine years ago, Americans were very popular here. And Russians knew little of my homeland, most wrongly seeing it as an extension of the United Kingdom.

If I’d had a dollar, in the early part of the decade, for every Russian who’d expressed a desire to visit the US, I’d easily have had enough to fund return tickets there myself, plus a few weeks in a decent hotel.

However, times have changed. And admiration and curiosity towards the US has been replaced with disappointment, hostility and often anger. We’re a long way from Mikhail Gorbachev advertising “Pizza Hut” now.

Wide Awake

And, it’s largely down to the Russiagate hoax which consumed American politics and its mainstream media for almost three years, before Robert Mueller kicked it into touch last weekend. Of course, there are other factors, among them US interference in Ukraine, anti-Russia sanctions and continued NATO expansion, but it’s the xenophobia Russiagate unleashed which has done the most damage.

Russians are not stupid. And their media is not behind a Chinese-style firewall. Instead, Russian news outlets are firmly positioned in the Western information ecosystem and carry unfiltered stories from various international sources, many of them American.

As a result, when a famous publication like the Washington Post reports how Netflix is Russian propaganda and alleges Russia hacked the Vermont power grid, people read all about it in the local press.

Furthermore, even if most can’t speak English well, a great many of them understand it. Thus, they know what’s been going on and can see online how prominent Americans have smeared them, and their country, during the mass hysteria of the past few years.

And, viewed from here, the delirium, panic and frenzy is greeted with dismay and incredulity. Because, for Russians, the notion of Putin somehow swaying the US election isn’t credible. But the fact so many prominent Americans deluded themselves into believing the trope serves to make the US, once seen as mighty, look very, very weak. Which confuses people who spent close on two decades lamenting how feeble Russia itself had become after the Soviet collapse ended Moscow’s superpower days.

Not Easy

Especially given the Kremlin can’t even control domestic Russian elections. For evidence, witness the failures of Putin’s preferred candidates in various Gubernatorial contests last year, including Khabarovsk, Khakassia and Vladimir. Now, given the latter region’s administrative centre is only 180km from Moscow, United Russia’s defeat there doesn’t say much for the efficiency of Kremlin election manipulation.

Despite this, high-profile fantasists in the US, such as Rachel Maddow, Michael McFaul and Joy-Ann Reid, have spent years whipping up delirium about a “Trump/Putin” conspiracy.  And Russians are fully aware. They know James Clapper, the former Intelligence chief, said “the Russians are not our friends”, before he added how Russians are “almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor.” Comments which were xenophobic and bigoted towards an entire ethnicity and far beyond criticism of Putin and his government.

They’ve also seen Morgan Freeman’s nutty video, where the veteran American actor tells viewers “we are at war with Russia”. As a result, the biggest legacy of “Russiagate” here is the transformation of attitudes to the US. And it’s hard to see how goodwill can be restored, in the immediate term.

In simpler times, at the tail end of the Cold War, a series of TV shows named “Space Bridge” tried to help Russians and Americans understand each other, as the hosts, Vladimir Pozner and Phil Donahue, encouraged dialogue between their audiences.

Both are still around. For his part, Pozner hosts a weekly show on Russia’s First Channel. However, Donahue was fired by MSNBC in 2002, due to his opposition to the illegal US-led invasion of Iraq. Perhaps this, in itself, explains a lot about how the two countries have diverged.

March 28, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment

On NATO’s 70th anniversary important to remember its anti-democratic roots

First in a four-part series on the 70th anniversary of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

By Yves Engler · March 28, 2019

The power of the communists, wherever that power flourishes, depends upon their ability to suppress and destroy the free institutions that stand against them. They pick them off one by one: the political parties, the trade unions, the churches, the schools, the universities, the trade associations, even the sporting clubs and the kindergartens. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is meant to be a declaration to the world that this kind of conquest from within will not in the future take place amongst us.” — March 28, 1949, Lester Pearson, External Affairs Minister, House of Commons

 With NATO turning 70 next week it’s a good occasion to revisit the creation of a military alliance operating under the stated principle that an “attack  against one ally is considered as an attack against all allies.” Now encompassing 29 member states, the north Atlantic alliance was instigated by US, British and Canadian officials.

Formally, NATO was the West’s response to an aggressive Soviet Union, but the notion that the US, or even Western Europe, was threatened by the Soviet Union after World War II is laughable. Twenty-five million people in the Soviet Union lost their lives in the war while the US came out of WWII much stronger than when they entered it. After the destruction of WWII, the Soviets were not interested in fighting the US and its allies, which Canadian and US officials admitted privately. In April 1945 Canada’s ambassador to Russia, Dana Wilgress, concluded that “the interests  of the Soviet privileged class are bound up with the maintenance of a long period of peace.” The Soviet elite, the ambassador continued in an internal memo, was “fearful of the possibility of attack from abroad” and “obsessed with problems of security.” Wilgress believed the Soviets wanted a post-war alliance with the UK to guarantee peace in Europe (with a Soviet sphere in the East and a UK-led West.) Internally, US officials came to similar conclusions.

Rather than a defence against possible Russian attack, NATO was partly conceived as a reaction to growing socialist sentiment in Western Europe. During WWII self-described communists opposed Mussolini in Italy, fought the fascists in Greece and resisted the Nazi occupation of France. As a result, they had a great deal of prestige after the war, unlike the wealth-holders and church officials who backed the fascists. If not for US/British interference, communists, without Moscow’s support, would probably have taken power in Greece and won the 1948 election in Italy. In France the Communist Party won 30 percent of the first post-war vote, filling a number of ministries in a coalition government.

At the time of Italy’s first post-war election, prominent Canadian diplomat Escott Reid, explained that “the whole  game of the Russians is obviously to conquer without armed attack.” For his part, Pearson decried an “attempt  at a complete Russian conquest of Italy by constitutional or extra-constitutional means” and described class struggle by workers as a “new and sinister kind of danger, indirect aggression.”

US officials were equally concerned. George Kennan, the top US government policy planner at the time of NATO’s formation, considered “the communist  danger in its most threatening form as an internal problem that is of western society.” For his part NATO commander Dwight D. Eisenhower explained: “One  of the great and immediate uses of the [NATO] military forces we are developing is to convey a feeling of confidence to exposed populations, a confidence which will make them sturdier, politically, in their opposition to Communist inroads.”

NATO planners feared a weakening of self-confidence among Western Europe’s elite and the widely held belief that communism was the wave of the future. Tens of thousands of North American troops were stationed in Western Europe to strengthen the Western European elite’s confidence to face growing left-wing parties and movements. Apparently, “Secret anti-Communist NATO protocols” committed alliance countries’ intelligence agencies to preventing communist parties from gaining power. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, information surfaced regarding groups the CIA and MI6 organized to “stay-behind” in case of a Soviet invasion of Western Europe. No invasion took place, of course. Instead, NATO’s Secret Armies notes: “The real and present danger in the eyes of the secret war strategists in Washington and London were the at-times numerically strong Communist parties in the democracies of Western Europe. Hence the network in the total absence of a Soviet invasion took up arms in numerous countries and fought a secret war against the political forces of the left. The secret armies… were involved in a whole series of terrorist operations and human rights violations that they wrongly blamed on the Communists in order to discredit the left at the polls.”

Informally known as “Operation Gladio”, these right- wing “stay behind” groups were overseen by NATO’s Office of Security. A Spanish paper reported, in November 1990, “The Supreme  Headquarters Allied Powers, Europe (SHAPE), directing organ of NATO’s military apparatus, coordinated the actions of Gladio, according to the revelations of Gladio Secretary General Manfred Wörner during a reunion with the NATO ambassadors of the 16 allied nations.” At the time the European Parliament condemned Operation Gladio and requested an investigation, which hasn’t been undertaken.

Canada was one of two NATO countries omitted from Daniele Ganser’s NATO’s Secret Armies (Iceland was the other). No researcher has tied the two together, but the year after NATO was established the RCMP began a highly secretive espionage operation and internment plan known as PROFUNC (PROminent FUNCtionaries of the Communist Party). In October 2010 CBC’s Fifth Estate and Radio-Canada’s Enquête aired shows on “this secret  contingency plan, called PROFUNC, [which] allowed police to round up and indefinitely detain Canadians believed to be Communist sympathizers.” In case of a “national security” threat up to 16,000 suspected communists and 50,000 sympathizers were to be apprehended and interned in one of eight camps across the country. Initiated by RCMP Commissioner Stuart Taylor Wood in 1950, the plan continued until 1983.

Blunting the European Left was an important part of the establishment of NATO. As odes to the organization ring across the dominant media during this week’s 70thcelebrations, it’s important to remember that NATO was birthed with an elitist, anti-democratic intent. Its reason for creation was to manage “democracy” so that existing elites maintained their status.

March 28, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

No Terror Camps Found in Pakistan at Locations Pointed by India – Islamabad

Sputnik – March 28, 2019

New Delhi – Categorically denying the presence of any terror camps, Pakistan’s Foreign Office on Thursday stated that it has thoroughly investigated the entire dossier related to the Pulwama terror attack and has neither found any evidence of terror camps at the locations mentioned by India, nor of any of the persons mentioned therein that could be linked to the said attack.

“During the course of investigations, all aspects of the information provided by India have been thoroughly examined including the ‘confessional’ video of Adil Dar, ‘claim’ of responsibility for the attack, WhatsApp and Telegram numbers used to share videos and messages in support of Pulwama attack, list of 90 individuals suspected of belonging to a proscribed organisation and 22 pin locations of alleged training camps”, Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Thursday in a statement.

On 27 February, India had shared a dossier related to the Pulwama militant attack in which at least 40 Indian soldiers were killed on 14 February. Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said that it had constituted an investigation team, detained a number of persons for investigations and initiated work on the technical aspects of social media content, on the basis of the Indian paper.”While 54 detained individuals are being investigated, no details linking them to Pulwama have been found so far. Similarly, the 22 pin locations shared by India have been examined. No such camps exist. Pakistan is willing to allow visits, on request, to these locations”, the Foreign Ministry added.

Pakistan also alleged that out of 91 pages and six parts shared as dossier by India, only part two and three pertain to Pulwama attack, other parts are generalised allegations.

Pakistan reiterated that additional information and documents from India would be essential to continue the process of investigations. Pakistan remains committed to taking this process to its logical conclusion, it added.

The two nuclear-armed South Asian neighbours India and Pakistan have been embroiled in an escalated border conflict after the Pulwama terror attack in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir that killed over 40 Indian soldiers. Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed claimed the responsibility for the attack.

March 28, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

Israel official reveals plan to change Golan Heights’ demographic balance

MEMO | March 28, 2019

An Israeli official revealed a plan to triple the number of Jewish settlers in the Golan Heights in the coming years in order to create a Jewish majority in the occupied Syrian territory.

The Mayor of Katzrin settlement in the occupied Golan, Dmitry Apartzev, said the plateau’s total population will increase to 150,000 people which means the number of Jews will reach 100,000 people while the number of Druze will be 50,000.

Apartzev expected the population of Katzrin settlement alone to increase from 8,500 to 50,000.

According to the Israeli official, the recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan will open new horizons for foreign investment in the area, hoping that the recognition would also contribute to counter the international boycott campaigns urging investors not to invest in the occupied territories.

Apartzev claimed that the Golan economy is growing despite the campaigns.

Today, some 40,000 people live in the occupied Golan, 50 per cent of them are Arab Druze who consider themselves Syrian citizens.

On Monday, US President Donald Trump signed an executive resolution recognising Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, internationally recognised as Syrian territory occupied in 1967.

March 28, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , | 2 Comments

Lebanon Decides to Confront Israel And The US in Shebaa, Kfarshouba And Syria

By Elijah J. Magnier | American Herald Tribune | March 28, 2019

Lebanese Judge Ahmad Mezher has given orders that a survey be conducted of Lebanese occupied territories in the Shebaa Farms, Kfarshouba, Huneen, Ideise and Bleeda. These villages are bordering Hasbaiya, Rashaya al-Fukhar and Kiyam and have been under Israeli occupation since 1981, as Syria’s Golan Heights have been since 1967. This step coincides with the illegal “gift” of the Syrian Golan Heights offered by US President Donald Trump to his closest ally Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu. Although Trump’s move was verbally condemned by the international community, no other state or international body seems likely to openly oppose Trump’s move at the moment.

However, Lebanon has decided to confront this move on the ground, showing its readiness to defend its territory if US “gifts” were ever seen to include Lebanese occupied territories. The Lebanese presidency, the Parliament and the government agreed that it is the right of Lebanon to regain its occupied territory and that the equation “the army, the people, the resistance” is united under one umbrella. Thus, the possibility of confrontation between the Resistance – i.e. Hezbollah in this case – and Israel is now on the table.

The level of tension and chances of confrontation increased during Lebanese President Michel Aoun’s visit to Moscow. During meetings with his homologue Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Christian President Aoun rejected US pressure on his country. The US establishment, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his envoys to Lebanon, wants to prevent the over one and a half million Syrian refugees in Lebanon from returning home. President Aoun also rejected Trump’s gift to Netanyahu, stating clearly that the Golan Heights is Syrian territory illegally occupied by Israel, and not the property of  the US to dispose of as it will.

It remains unclear whether the Shebaa Farms, Kfarshouba and neighbouring villages are part of Trump’s gift to Israel. This is why Lebanese authorities have requested the judiciary authority officially survey the southern Lebanese territories occupied by Israel. If, in response to the survey, any attempt is made to assert that these areas are part of Israel, then the Lebanese triad (the army, the people and the resistance) will be bound to recover its occupied territory. The timing of the decision is important because it shows the readiness of the Lebanese government to raise the subject and to confront Israel in the wake of the US decision on the Golan Heights, a territory closely linked to the Lebanese farms and villages. As recently as 2009 some of these lands were contested between Syria and Lebanon, but now that Lebanon is in a better position than Syria to vindicate its claims against Israel, the Syrian government will be happy for it to do so.

President Aoun raised these issues with President Putin in the context of Trump’s previous gift of Jerusalem, by virtue of his recognition of an undivided Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Lebanon fully supports the right of return of Palestinians to their land, particularly since there are over 800,000 Palestinians living in Lebanon. Just as the US would prefer these Palestinians to remain in Lebanon, the US now seems to want Lebanon to accept an ongoing presence of Syrian refugees on Lebanese soil. The US policy of keeping Syrian refugees in Lebanon has several goals.

The first is to shift the religious balance of power in Lebanon. Most Syrian refugees are Sunni (mainly hostile to Assad and to his allies) and the US would like to see a Sunni plurality in Lebanon to confront Shia Hezbollah and the society behind it. All Israeli wars have failed to curb Hezbollah and could not reduce its strength. On the contrary, Hezbollah military power is increased to an unprecedented level domestically and regionally. Moreover, in the last Lebanese Parliamentary polls, Hezbollah won more votes than any religious party, surprising everyone. Support for Hezbollah goes beyond any one religious confession; it has proved itself as a force defending Christians and Shia against Wahhabi takfiri extremists. Confronting Hezbollah face to face would lead to certain failure, hence the US need to strategically build another society to stand against it.

President Aoun insists on the return of Syrian refugees to Syria, notwithstanding the financial incentives being offered by the US and Europe to keep them in Lebanon. The presence of the refugees upsets the religious equilibrium in Lebanon, and accelerates the process by which Christians are becoming a minority on Lebanese soil. The religious terrorism that hit the Middle East over the last decade targeted regional minorities, notably the Christians. The same NATO leaders whose governments sponsored takfiri terrorism against Christians in the Levant proposed to Lebanese Christian leaders that they leave the land of their ancestors and settle in the west. Christians who were raped, murdered and terrorized by ISIS and al-Qaeda in Iraq and Syria would have suffered the same fate in Lebanon had Hezbollah decided to entrench themselves in the south of Lebanon, in the Beirut suburbs, or in selected villages of the Bekaa Valley.

Moreover, the Lebanese President considers the Syrian refugees a security and a financial burden that is placing a heavy burden on the fragile and chaotic Lebanese infrastructure. These refugees currently represent a third of the total Lebanese population.

Another objective of US refugee policy in Lebanon is to recover from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad what it failed to achieve by arming militants to overthrow his government over the last 8 years. The US establishment would like to keep over 5 million Syrian refugees outside Syria, mainly in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Europe. This, in US thinking, could impede forthcoming presidential elections in Syria, and prevent both the rebuilding of the Syrian Army and the reconstruction of the country. Syrians are skilful craftsmen; keeping them away from home impedes rebuilding. All these US objectives do not help Lebanon in any way. On the contrary, they weaken Lebanon, which needs a healthy relationship with neighbouring Syria for its security and commercial development.

Trump has made the Middle East less secure. He has offered Israel an illegal and unnecessary gift. Israel was already controlling the Syrian Golan Heights; Syria posed no threat to it. Syria had not fired a bullet against Israeli occupation of the Golan for 30 years and will be busy for the next ten years rebuilding its destroyed infrastructure. Moreover, the late President Hafez Assad had engaged with Israel, through US mediation, to negotiate a peace deal in exchange for the Golan Heights. It was Israel who rejected the deal at the last minute. Assad then said he would leave liberation of the territory to the generation to come.

The US establishment is undermining Lebanon’s security and peace by imposing one and a half million refugees on the country, destabilizing the local society, and threatening to impose sanctions if Lebanon does not submit to US bullying.

Trump gave Jerusalem to Israel and can no longer be considered a partner in any peace process. This realization has given new urgency to the Palestinian cause. He is not willing to give a state to the Palestinians, but he is disposing of their rights.

US forces are unwelcome in Syria, occupying a third of the country and a bordering passage, while ISIS no longer controls any Syrian territory in the north-east. At the same time the US is keeping tens of thousands of Syrian refugees at the al-Rukban camps from returning home.

In Iraq, the parliament is divided between those willing to see the last US soldier depart and those who want to maintain some training and intelligence collaboration. Iraqi politicians are afraid of asking the US to stay or to leave permanently for fear of seeing ISIS return with US support in either case (if US forces stay there is fear of seeing the US support for ISIS, an eventuality Iraqis also fear if the US were to leave).

Finally, the US is now seen as a superpower ruled by a thug sucking wealth from the oil-rich Arab countries, forcing them to buy US weapons so that Middle Easterners can continue killing each other at their own expense. Arab countries, once very rich, are imposing local taxes they have never imposed before on their own nationals and are going through a financial crisis unheard of for decades. Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Palestine and Lebanon are on the floor financially and even Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain are not in their best financial shape. Iran’s nuclear deal was revoked and since Trump took power the country is facing the harshest sanctions ever.

It is unclear when the next war may erupt to challenge US hegemony in this part of the world. It is clear that Russia and China are already present in the Middle East, ready to take the place of a US establishment which is no longer regarded as a friendly nation by any state but Israel.

Elijah J. Magnier is a veteran war correspondent Senior Political Risk Analyst with over 35 years’ experience covering Europe, Africa & the Middle East.

March 28, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

UK troops accused of training child soldiers in Yemen

Press TV – March 28, 2019

UK Foreign Office minister Mark Field has promised to get to the bottom of “very serious and well sourced” allegations that British special forces have been training child soldiers in the Saudi-led war against Yemen.

He was answering an urgent question asked in the Commons on Tuesday by the shadow foreign secretary, Emily Thornberry, who suggested the British troops may have been witnesses to war crimes.

She claimed as many as 40 percent of the soldiers in the Saudi coalition were children, a breach of international humanitarian law.

Field also said he would be making inquiries with the UK Ministry of Defence in light of a report that British Special Air Service (SAS) soldiers were injured in a firefight with the Houthi Ansarullah movement in Yemen.

The UK government has a general policy of not discussing the operations of its special forces but Field seemed determined to provide an explanation to members of Parliament.

There had been social media reports from Yemen in February suggesting that British soldiers had been injured in a firefight, and the Daily Express newspaper claimed two SAS members had been injured during a “humanitarian” operation.

However, it was claimed in The Mail on Sunday, a weekly newspaper, that UK special forces were not just involved in so-called humanitarian operations, but providing mentoring teams inside Yemen, including medics, translators and forward air controllers, whose job is to request air support from the Saudis. It claimed five special forces soldiers have been injured.

Conservative Party MP Andrew Mitchell said the allegations were so serious because they flew in the face of successive assurances given by ministers that the UK was not a participant in the Saudi war against Yemen, and was only providing general logistical support to Riyadh.

“These serious allegations that are authoritative and credible, and fly in the face of assurances that have been given from the despatch box on countless occasions,” Mitchell told the Commons.

The UK is known to be close to the Saudi military but denies it is involved in operations against the Houthis in Yemen.

A number of Western countries, the US and Britain in particular, are accused of being complicit in the ongoing aggression in Yemen as they supply the Riyadh regime with advanced weapons and military equipment as well as logistical and intelligence assistance.

The Saudi-led war has taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure, destroying hospitals, schools, and factories. The UN has already said that over 22 million Yemenis are in dire need of food, while 8.4 million are threatened by severe hunger.

According to the world body, Yemen is suffering from the most severe famine in more than 100 years.

Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched the devastating campaign on March 26, 2015, with the aim of bringing a former government to power and crushing the Houthi Ansarullah movement. Riyadh has failed to fulfill its objectives.

March 28, 2019 Posted by | War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

Syria’s Rukban Now Little More Than a US-Controlled Concentration Camp – and the Pentagon Won’t Let Refugees Leave

By Whitney Webb | MintPress News | March 28, 2019

DAMASCUS, SYRIA — The United States military has rejected offers to resolve the growing humanitarian crisis in the Rukban refugee camp in Syria, which sits inside a 55 km zone occupied by the U.S. along the Syria-Jordan border. The U.S. has also refused to let any of the estimated 40,000 refugees — the majority of which are women and children — leave the camp voluntarily, even though children are dying in droves from lack of food, adequate shelter and medical care. The U.S. has also not provided humanitarian aid to the camp even though a U.S. military base is located just 20 km (12.4 miles) away.

The growing desperation inside the Rukban camp has received sparse media coverage, likely because of the U.S.’ control over the area in which the camp is located. The U.S. has been accused of refusing to let civilians leave the area — even though nearly all have expressed a desire to either return to Syrian government-held territory or seek refuge in neighboring countries such as Turkey — because the camp’s presence helps to justify the U.S.’ illegal occupation of the area.

Though the U.S. has long justified its presence in al-Tanf as necessary to defeat Daesh (ISIS), the U.S. government has also acknowledged that al-Tanf’s true strategic importance lies in U.S. efforts to “contain” Iran by blocking a connection from Iran to Syria through Iraq. Al-Tanf lies near the area where the borders of Syria, Iraq and Jordan meet. Thus, in the U.S.’ game of brinkmanship with Iran, Rukban’s estimated 40,000 inhabitants have become pawns whose basic needs are ignored by their occupiers.

U.S. shows no interest in meeting

On Tuesday, delegations from Russia, Syria, the UN, and the Rukban refugee camp met to discuss the fate of the camp’s inhabitants after a UN survey found that 95 percent of the camp’s inhabitants wanted to leave the camp, while 83 percent wanted to return to their hometowns in areas of Syria now under Syrian government control.

However, the U.S. military and State Department officials in nearby Jordan rejected an invitation to Tuesday’s meeting. The U.S. military also prohibited a Syrian-Russian delegation from entering the Rukban camp on Tuesday. The delegation had sought to assess conditions in the camp, which have become increasingly desperate according to reports from a variety of outlets, including U.S. government-funded outlets like Voice of America.

The U.S.’ refusal to attend the meeting or allow the delegation passage comes less than a month after the U.S. military blocked the entry of evacuation buses overseen by Russian and Syrian forces that would have allowed refugees to leave the camp.

The buses would have entered through the “humanitarian corridors” that were recently opened on the Syrian-controlled side of the U.S.-occupied enclave. While camp inhabitants can, in theory, leave the camp through the corridors on foot, the barren area’s remoteness makes such evacuations unfeasible without vehicle transport. Although some families have left this way, the lack of record keeping within the camp has made it impossible to know how many have tried leaving this way since the corridors were opened last month.

An often overlooked problem that has prevented them from leaving is that U.S.-backed and U.S.-trained “moderate rebel” groups have been known to block camp inhabitants from leaving, demanding large payments in U.S. dollars to leave the area. The U.S. military took control of Al-Tanf alongside “moderate” rebel forces in 2014 after wresting the area from Daesh. Many of those opposition groups have since been revealed to have ties and sympathies to terrorist groups, including Daesh.

The U.S. has not given a reason for its rejection of Tuesday’s meeting and had previously said that its rejection of the evacuation buses was based on its view that the buses did not meet the U.S.’ “protection standards.”

Horrific conditions and a U.S. shrug

While the U.S. has blocked refugees from leaving on Russian-Syrian buses under U.S. “protection,” it has done little to abet the suffering of the tens of thousands of civilians in Rukban, even though the area is under complete U.S. military control and a U.S. military base is just a few miles away. Indeed, the extent of U.S. “aid” to the Rukban camp has been medical training of the handful of nurses in the camp, who work in conditions they describe as being like “the Stone Age” owing to the chronic lack of basic medications and doctors.

While medical care is decidedly lacking, the most pressing problem is the access to food, as starvation has become a real threat for those living in Rukban. Last October the opposition-aligned news service, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), reported that the Rukban camp had been without food or essential supplies for months. Only two aid deliveries, managed jointly by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) and the UN, were able to enter the camp.

One of those shipments, however, almost didn’t happen after the UN delayed the aid “for logistical and security reasons.” While the UN did not specify which “security reasons” had prompted the delay, it was apparently not the Syrian government, as the UN also said in the same statement that the convoy had received approval from Damascus. This suggests that the “security” concerns were related to U.S.-backed militants in the U.S.-controlled area surrounding al-Tanf. Notably, Russian and Syrian sources have claimed that these same militants often “plunder” the aid intended for the camp’s inhabitants for themselves.

Since then, the situation inside the camp has continued to deteriorate. Indeed, things have gotten so desperate that, in January, a mother attempted to set herself and her three children on fire after she couldn’t find food for three straight days and preferred to give her children a quick death rather than watch them starve. Others in the camp rescued the family, though the mother and her infant were seriously injured. Recently aid from the UN and SARC arrived in early February, the first aid shipment in over three months.

The lack of food combined with the lack of medical care has been responsible for scores of deaths in the camp — the majority of which are of children under the age of two, who often die from malnutrition and preventable diseases. Others have died from freezing weather owing to a lack of adequate shelter, with eight children dying in January for that very reason. Satellite images taken of the camp in early March showed the recent creation of a mass grave containing an estimated 300 bodies adjacent to the camp.

Despite the desperate conditions less than 13 miles from its military base, the U.S. has declined to send food, doctors, medical supplies or other forms of aid to Rukban’s inhabitants, while also preventing them from leaving. However, the U.S. has been providing militant groups in the same area with military and logistical support.

Rukban provides a pretext

In addition to presiding over the squalid and starvation conditions in the Rukban camp, the U.S. has also given militant groups present in the area it controls — including Daesh terrorists who have “embedded” themselves in the camp on the U.S.’ watch — free rein to terrorize the camp’s refugees. These militant groups not only control the flow of food and aid in the camp but terrorize its most vulnerable inhabitants, forcing women and children into sex slavery and engaging in human trafficking. All of this is taking place in a “deconfliction zone” controlled by the U.S. military.

These extremist groups, including Daesh, are well-armed, according to Jordanian Brigadier General Sami Kafawin, who told NBC News in 2017 that these groups “have whole weapons systems … small arms, RPGs, anti-aircraft.”

The official reason for the U.S. base in al-Tanf has long been counterterrorism operations that ostensibly target Daesh. However, very few attacks against the terror group have been launched from this base and a UN report released last August found that Daesh had been given “breathing space” in U.S.-occupied areas of Syria, including al-Tanf. The U.S. has stated that it uses the al-Tanf base to train Syrian opposition fighters who then control the area around the base, including Rukban.

Unidentified Syrian rebels surround a piece of US weaponry during training by an American special forces member in Tanf. Photo | Hammurabi’s Justice News

With the U.S. now having claimed that Daesh has been completely defeated in Syria, the official justification for its illegal occupation of Syrian territory is wearing thin. With that justification now on shaky ground, the U.S. is increasingly having to acknowledge its main motive for its presence in al-Tanf — containing Iran and keeping Syria divided.

Indeed, a recent Reuters article notes that the U.S.-controlled area around al-Tanf that includes the Rukban camp “is designed to shield U.S. troops at the Tanf garrison and maintain for Washington a strategic foothold in an area close to a crucial supply route for Iranian weapons entering Syria from Iraq.” This was confirmed by General Joseph Votel late last year when he told NBC News that the U.S. base in al-Tanf was key in countering “the sway of Iran” in Syria.

This followed statements made last July by National Security Advisor John Bolton that U.S. troops would remain in Syria “as long as the Iranian menace continues throughout the Middle East.” This policy of Iran containment has clearly guided U.S. policy in Syria of late, with at least 1,000 U.S. troops set to stay in Syria illegally despite Daesh’s defeat and President Donald Trump’s recent calls for a troop withdrawal.

The U.S. has been accused of using the civilians trapped in Rukban as a “shield” for its continued operations in Syria aimed at containing Iran’s regional influence. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier this month that “the fact that people are not allowed to leave [the camp] and are held hostage makes one suggest that the U.S. needs this camp to continue justifying its illegitimate presence there.” There appear to be few other explanations for the U.S.’ refusal to let camp inhabitants leave the area.

The hypocrisy of U.S. “humanitarian concerns”

The situation in the Rukban camp reveals the dark reality behind the U.S.’ occupation of Syrian territory in Al-Tanf and elsewhere. In order to pursue its policy of Iran “containment” and a divided and partitioned Syria, the U.S. is willing to imprison some 40,000 people — many of them children — in a concentration camp where international aid is blocked and where food is so scarce that mothers are setting themselves and their children on fire so they can avoid slowly starving to death.

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a concentration camp is defined as “a place where large numbers of people are kept as prisoners in extremely bad conditions, especially for political reasons.” It is undeniable that the Rukban camp fits this definition to the letter.

That the U.S. justifies its aggressive policies around the world — from Syria to Venezuela and elsewhere — as being motivated by “humanitarian concerns” — when a refugee camp under the U.S.’ complete control in Syria is facing starvation conditions and its inhabitants are being forcefully kept confined in the camp by the U.S. military despite their expressed desire to leave — is an obscene Orwellian twist. All this to “contain” Iranian influence in the Middle East.

Whitney Webb is a MintPress News journalist based in Chile. She has contributed to several independent media outlets including Global Research, EcoWatch, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has made several radio and television appearances and is the 2019 winner of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism.

March 28, 2019 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism, Illegal Occupation, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , | 1 Comment

Why There’ll Be No US-Russia Reset Post-Mueller

By Finian CUNNINGHAM | Strategic Culture Foundation | 28.03.2019

President Donald Trump and his White House team may have been cleared of collusion with the Kremlin in the 2016 presidential election. That startling conclusion by Special Counsel Robert Mueller after nearly two years of investigation, might be viewed by some as giving Trump freedom to now get on with normalizing relations with Moscow. Don’t bet on it.

Mueller’s report, and US attorney general William Barr’s appraisal of it, only partially vindicate Trump’s long-held claims that the whole so-called “Russiagate” story is a “hoax”.

Yes, Mueller and Barr conclude that neither Trump nor his campaign team “conspired” with Russia to win the presidential race. But Democrat opponents are now dredging up the possibility that Trump “unwittingly” facilitated Kremlin cyber operations to damage his 2016 rival for the White House, Hillary Clinton.

In his summary of Mueller’s report, Barr unquestioningly accepts as fact the otherwise contentious claim that Russia interfered in the US election. Democrats and the anti-Trump US news media have not been deterred from pursuing their fantasy that the Kremlin allegedly meddled in US democracy. Trump has been cleared, but Russia has certainly not. It very much continues to have the smear of interference slapped all over its image.

At the heart of this narrative – bolstered by Mueller and Barr – is the false claim that Russian cyber agents hacked into the Democrat party computer system during 2016 and released emails compromising Clinton to the whistleblower website Wikileaks. That whole claim has been reliably debunked by former NSA technical expert William Binney and other former US intelligence officials who have shown indisputably that the information was not hacked from outside, but rather was released by an insider in the Democrat party, presumably based on indignation over the party’s corruption concerning the stitch-up against Clinton’s rival nomination for the presidential ticket, Bernie Sanders.

That is real scandal crying out to be investigated, as well as the Obama administration’s decision to unleash FBI illegal wiretapping and dirty tricks against Trump as being a “Russian stooge”. The Russian collusion charade was always a distraction from the really big serious crimes carried out by the Obama White House, the FBI and the Democrat party.

In any case, the notion that Russia interfered in the US elections – even without Trump’s collusion – has become an article of faith among the American political and media establishment.

That lie will continue to poison US-Russia relations and be used to justify more economic sanctions being imposed against Moscow. Trump may be cleared of being a “Kremlin stooge”. But he will find no political freedom to pursue a normalization in bilateral relations because of the predictable mantra about Russia interfering in American democracy.

But there is a deeper reason why there will be no reset in US-Russia relations. And it has nothing to do with whether Trump is in the White House. The problem is a strategic one, meaning it relates to underlying geopolitical confrontation between America’s desired global hegemony and Russia’s rightful aspiration to be an independent foreign power not beholden to Washington’s dictate.

Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin has presented a somewhat shocking quandary for the US ruling class. It found that Russia was no longer in the servile business of rolling over to pander to Washington’s tyranny in international relations. Under Putin, Russia shook off the vassal status that it had unfortunately acquired under the feckless presidency of Boris Yeltsin (1991-99).

Putin’s landmark speech in Munich in 2007 was certainly a watershed moment in geopolitical relations whereby the Russian leader condemned US rampaging across the Middle East with criminal wars.

Then there was the failed attempt in 2008 by the US and NATO to over-run Georgia, failed because of a decisive military intervention by Russia in support of neighboring South Ossetia.

The return of the Cold War in US-Russia relations under former President GW Bush was due to the realization in Washington that Putin and Russia were no longer subordinates that could be pushed around for the gratification of American imperialism.

The Americans then tried another tack. Public relations and inveigling.

When Barack Obama took over the White House in 2009, there was the famous “reset policy” initiated by Washington towards Moscow. In March 2009, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton greeted Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Geneva with a jokey “reset button”, purportedly to demonstrate a willingness in Washington for a new beginning in bilateral relations.

Ominously, Clinton’s State Department mislabelled the button with the Russian word for “overload” not “reset”. Her inane cackling to ingratiate herself with the skeptical Lavrov was also a giveaway of a phony reset.

Look how hollow such ostensible claims for “reset” by Washington have since manifested.

Admittedly, there was a significant gain in Obama’s negotiation of substantial nuclear arms reductions with the New START treaty in 2010.

However, it didn’t take long until Washington was back to its usual business of subversions and covert wars for regime change against foreign states that didn’t kowtow to its dictates. We saw this with ample evidence in the overthrow of Libya’s government in 2011, the attempted ouster in Syria beginning the same year, and the even more daring American intervention in Ukraine in early 2014 when it installed a rabidly anti-Russian regime through an illegal coup d’état.

We are also presently seeing this criminal American imperialism being conducted brazenly towards Venezuela, where Washington wants to overthrow a socialist president in order to get its corporate hands on the South American country’s vast oil wealth.

All the while, Russia has become ever more resolute its defiance of Washington’s global gangsterism. Moscow’s military defense of Syria from US-led regime change was certainly a pivotal moment in defining the limits of Moscow’s tolerance, as was Russia’s defense of Crimea.

For these reasons, Washington in its chagrin has moved to abandon the other major arms control treaty, the INF, which could allow it to install short and medium-range nuclear missiles in Europe, thus aggravating threats and tensions with Russia. The future of the much-vaunted New START treaty is also in doubt because of American vacillation. So much for Obama’s “reset”.

These are the structural, strategic factors in why Washington is set on a course of hostility towards Moscow. It has got very little to do with President Trump being in the White House or whether he has been cleared of “collusion” with Moscow.

The fundamental issue for Washington is that Russia is not a vassal for American imperialism. That’s why there will be no reset. There will only be reset when American imperialism is replaced by a law-abiding, genuinely democratic US government. Until then, expect more US hostility, confrontation and even war towards Russia.

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

Now It’s Official: God, Not the Russians, Elected Trump

By Philip M. GIRALDI | Strategic Culture Foundation | 28.03.2019

Governments that pride themselves on being either democratic or republican in nature claim that they are empowered by the will of the people, but the sad reality is that most regimes come to power based on promises that they have no intention of honoring after the election is over. In the United States we have seen President Donald Trump quite plausibly enjoy a margin of victory that was due to his pledges to end America’s involvement in senseless Middle Eastern wars and to mend relations with Russia. Neither has occurred, quite the contrary, with a serious threat that war with Iran on behalf of Israel is imminent and a relationship with Moscow that is worse than it was in the latter phases of the Cold War. Whether all of that is due to Trump’s own character and intellectual failings or instead the fault of the advisors he has chosen to listen to remains somewhat unclear.

Even when something emerges that might provide clarity over specific issues, some leading government official inevitably steps in and says something that suggests that the politicians are incapable to dealing with anything outside the scripted responses that they are accustomed to rely on.

The recently released long-awaited Mueller report on the 2016 election did not find any evidence that senior members of the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government to change the outcome, a proposition that has largely been promoted by Hillary Clinton and her supporters. The full report, if it ever surfaces unedited, may or may not determine that there was some “influencing” activity by Moscow on the peripheries of the electoral process, but everyone agrees that the result was not materially influenced by any foreign government. Nevertheless, the wily but brain-dead Senate Major Leader Mitch McConnell acknowledged the report with “I welcome the announcement that the Special Counsel has finally completed his investigation into Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 elections. Many Republicans have long believed that Russia poses a significant threat to American interests. I hope the Special Counsel’s report will help inform and improve our efforts to protect our democracy.”

Mitch’s apparent belief that the Kremlin was the target may surprise some who thought that the purpose of the investigation was to uncover possible collusion by the Trumpsters, something that apparently was not demonstrated in the case of Russia but was revealed regarding Israel’s overtures to National Security Advisor designate Michael Flynn. However, while it is perfectly acceptable or even expected to say nasty things about Russia, doing the same about Israel is a no-no, so McConnell was being politically astute in failing to take the bait.

But the conclusion of the Mueller inquiry should be welcomed by everyone because it frees up resources that can now be used to determine whether God had a hand in electing Donald Trump. In a story reported by the BBC and elsewhere, dispensationalist Secretary of State Mike Pompeo responded oddly to a question regarding the Jewish Purim holiday, which commemorates the alleged rescue of the Jewish people by Queen Esther from the Persians. When Pompeo, at the time in Israel, was asked if “President Trump right now has been sort of raised for such a time as this, just like Queen Esther, to help save the Jewish people from an Iranian menace” he answered that “As a Christian, I certainly believe that’s possible. I am confident that the Lord is at work here.”

So, Pompeo is “confident” that God elected Trump to protect the Jews from Iran. It is an interesting observation, particularly as the biblical Purim-Esther story has the Jews killing 75,500 Persians and then feasting to celebrate the event.

One must consider that the theory that there was a possible divine intervention to bring about the result of the 2016 election to save the Jews is possibly the most frightening bit of commentary to come out of the entire feckless Trump national security team. Pompeo, by virtue of his office, has great power to do good or ill and he has clearly chosen to make decisions relating to the conduct of United States diplomacy based not on American interests but rather on his own personal religiosity as reflected in his interpretation of a religious text. Has Pompeo never heard of “separation of church and state?”

Further, Pompeo is promoting American interference in an election in Israel which might have led to a rejection of the extreme right-wing philosophy that guides its current government. The recent White House move to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights was clearly part and parcel of a plan to promote Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the candidate who would be best able to secure unlimited support from Washington. More might be coming in the form of some additional recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Palestinian West Bank prior to the April 9th election or even some military action against Iran. Pompeo clearly believes that this is all part of some divine plan.

Anyone who persists in thinking that nations should pursue policies that are proportionate, rational and based on genuine interests should be appalled by the Pompeo comments and fearful of what the consequences might be.

Given the awfulness of the Pompeo remarks, one might wonder where is the condemnation of them on the editorial pages of the New York Times or the Washington Post? Surely there should be a demand for his resignation as he is suggesting that the United States should be fighting a divinely mandated war against Iran to protect Israel which is, for what it’s worth, not actually threatened by the Iranians while even the Pentagon has declared Iran to be a “rational actor” in foreign policy. But one hears mostly silence. The Washington Establishment clearly believes that one can and should condemn Russia without any evidence, but one cannot investigate or even challenge a Secretary of State who believes that he is receiving his guidance directly from God.

March 28, 2019 Posted by | Russophobia, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , | Leave a comment

Can the EU Survive Its Own Censorship?

The EU has destroyed the Internet with Article11 and Article13

By Tom Luongo | March 27, 2019

The EU’s new, comprehensive new Copyright Directive passed the European Parliament ensuring the way we use the Internet will change in the future.

And not for the better.

The controversial parts are Articles 11 and 13, the “link tax” and the “upload filter” requirements. For a good run down of how terrible these new rules are look anywhere on the internet but this article at Gizmodo (who I hope doesn’t charge me a link tax for doing so!) will do.

I would also watch this video from Dave Cullen, a resident of Ireland, i.e. the EU, as to what he thinks this means.

Dave makes a number of fantastic points about the ramifications of Articles 11 and 13 which I will not dispute.

The arrogance and pig-headedness of EU MEPs to push this through without even listening to arguments for Amendments speaks volumes as to how much this legislation was bought and paid for.

And you know who was doing the buying. The same folks currently behind destroying Brexit — The Davos Crowd. I don’t want to put too fine a point on this now, since I’ve covered all this recently (here) and in the past (here ).

Controlling The Wire

But there are very valid reasons why this push for control of information flow from the EU is yet another example of their desperations to keep control of what I’ve in the past called The Wire:

In short, The Wire is the main conduit through which we communicate with each other. Even money is The Wire. What are prices if not information about what we are willing to part with our money in exchange for?
Without The Wire modern society fails. So, government can’t shut it down but neither can it allow unrestrained access to it.

Electricity, commerce, communications, everything, goes over The Wire.
This isn’t a radical concept but like all important ideas, once it is presented to you you can’t unsee it.

Control of The Wire is the only fight that matters or has ever mattered in society. The Internet is The Wire writ large. Therefore, it only makes sense that control of it is paramount to maintaining any control over society at large.

The corporate oligarchs are in fear for their projects. They want desperately to maintain control. They’ve worked for decades to evolve the nation-state into the new shiny transnational superstate the EU exemplifies.

The new Copyright Directive is designed to erect barriers-to-entry and shut down opposition speech by outsourcing the enforcement to the platforms hosting the material.

And those platforms are only too happy to do this because they get to crowd out any potential competition. So, while their costs increase slightly, they are now immune to the competition which would grind out their margins to zero over time, as any unfettered market would.

Remember, that in all human endeavors profit is an ever-elusive thing. With incentives properly aligned someone is always attracted to the profit someone else is achieving and will figure out a way to build a better mousetrap, as it were, grinding out that profit.

If you can short-circuit this process via control of The Wire then you can guarantee a profit for your past work for far longer than you would otherwise.

This is known as rent.

Fake Property, False Choices

This is why the music and film industry want their IP protected from ‘fair use’ policies. They see the plummeting margins and want to continue charging on a per use/listen/view basis things they retain the copyright to far beyond the public’s willingness to pay them.

It’s too expensive for these companies to go after us individually. That doesn’t work except in very limited ways. Yes, they can de-platform Alex Jones or Sargon of Akkad ad hoc but with predictable backlash against it.

Enshrining it in law takes this, however, to another level. And it is a yet another Hobson’s Choice put before people to either accept regulation of these companies as public utilities — ensuring their monopoly status — or render the internet unusable.

This Directive is pure protectionism of legacy media producers be it news, music, film, etc. whose business models haven’t just collapsed they’re literally now subsidized by other profitable industries, i.e. the Washington Post is, effectively, an Amazon company.

So, in effect, Article 11 and 13 are just typical corporatist honey pots, at least in theory.

But it is all bad? Is the future to be this and more laws and controls like this?

Likely not.

IP Deflation

Let’s look specifically at the link tax. To do this we have to look at a worst-case scenario where the EU disregards all cross-border treaty and tax-enforcement issues and our governments go along with this nonsense.

So, I want to link to an article in Der Speigel to make some point about Angela Merkel.

To do so now, under Article 13, I have to get a license to link from them and pay a fee. Let’s call that fee €100. Instead of paying that fee my natural reaction would be to not link to it and just make reference to it.

I’ll quote it and not put in a link.

If that doesn’t work and WordPress takes my post down, I’ll screencap the relevant section of the article (4chan-style) and then not link to it. This requires a more sophisticated sniffer to figure out what I did.

And in the worst case if they figure that out, I’ll simply not even quote them anymore. And I’ll write the article in such a way that I don’t need to. They don’t get the traffic anymore. They never got the license fee.

The result is they fall in the Google search rankings.

And I get to keep my traffic up and my audience happy.

Who wins here? Me or them?


Especially if I keep my link license fee set for my content at what it’s worth, zero.

To me a link is free advertising. I know that each one is a gift that pays huge dividends. I cherish people who contact me for permission to scrape my work.

The whole point of what I do is to reach as wide an audience as possible. Why would I put up barriers to that?

You have to put this in perspective. Ninety five percent of the news you read is a restatement of a government or corporate press release. If you think someone can’t reprint government or corporate press releases for less than €100 a head you are crazy.

Just like it is in retail sales. Amazon is killing local retailers because easily cross-shopped items are simply more efficiently delivered without a brick and mortar storefront. The costs of maintaining it and people going to the central location is a waste of scarce, precious capital.

It’s an old model without a future.

News organizations that don’t add anything but only disseminate the same stuff but with a slightly different spin on it won’t be able to charge a dime for links. Functionally, for 95% of news, is there any difference between Yahoo!, MSN, CNN or FOX?


If you produce something that is value-added people will figure out a way to justify to themselves paying for it. Advertising covers some of that cost. If they don’t it isn’t lost revenue, it was revenue you never had in the first place at that price.

In the Internet business eyeballs are everything. Losing eyeballs for link taxes is just bad business.

The Last War

So the EU just gave these sclerotic, dying industries everything they’ve ever wanted. But, in the long run, it will be their undoing as it will incentivize an entire generation of citizen journalists to fill in the niches and do primary research.

Moreover, it will be unenforceable at any practical level, as Dave Cullen points out. The EU will itself cause a cratering of traffic to and from its IP ranges.

As the cost of The Wire drops on a per megabyte basis, think 5G, so too does the cost to resist control of it. Lower bandwidth costs makes possible peer-to-peer networking and decentralized autonomous organizations that even the most hardened crypto-enthusiast haven’t conceived of yet.

And once there are no middle men to go after and turn into the copyright police, we’re back to them going after individuals again. At that point it’s game over.

That’s a long way off at this point and the present will be difficult, at best, to navigate. But we’re not flat-footed here. I do feel for guys like Dave Cullen who build great content and now are looking at real constraints.

I don’t envy them in the slightest.

But to me this feels like just another desperation move by old men fighting the last war to hold onto The Wire that’s slipping out of their fingers, writing laws out of date before they are even implemented.

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