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UNRWA Accusations: (Im)Perfect Timing

Photograph Source: diario fotográfico ‘desde Palestina – CC BY-SA 3.0
By Daniel Warner | CounterPunch | August 8, 2019

A damaging internal report has cast a dark shadow over the ethical behavior of top officials of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). As disclosed by Al Jazeera and AFP, the report cites “credible and corroborated reports” that members of an “inner circle” at the top of UNRWA, including Swiss Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl, have engaged in “sexual misconduct, nepotism, retaliation, discrimination and other abuses of authority for personal gain, to suppress legitimate dissent, and to otherwise achieve their personal objectives.” The report was sent to UN Secretary-General António Guterres in December.

As one would expect, reactions have been immediate. The Swiss Foreign Ministry has announced that it has “decided to temporarily stop payments to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).” Already in 2018, Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis publicly criticized the role of UNRWA, saying it would be impossible to make peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority because “For as long as Palestinians live in refugee camps, they want to return to their homeland,” he said. “For a long time the UNRWA was the solution to this problem, but today it has become part of the problem. It supplies the ammunition to continue the conflict. By supporting the UNRWA, we keep the conflict alive. It’s a perverse logic,” Cassis stated.

The Jewish News Syndicate trumpeted over the scandal: “Revelations of rampant wrongdoing in the corridors of the United Nations Relief Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) couldn’t have shamed a more worthy organization. Though normally it’s not nice to gloat over the misfortunes of others, the schadenfreude elicited by the news of inappropriate behavior going on behind the walls of this particularly vile organization was warranted.” An Israeli journalist, Ruthie Blum, tried to put another nail in the agency’s coffin: “Nothing short of shutting down UNRWA will be satisfactory since its very existence is a criminal scam…. In the meantime, let us take some comfort in the agency’s well-earned public humiliation.”

“UNRWA is currently running on fumes,” charged U.S. special envoy Jason Greenblatt at the UN Security Council in late May. “It is time to face the reality that the UNRWA model has failed,” he said. “Palestinians in refugee camps were not given the opportunity to build any future; they were misled and used as political pawns,” he added. The United States ended all funding for UNRWA in 2018. “The United States will no longer commit further funding to this irredeemably flawed operation,” the State Department said at the time.

The schism between humanitarianism and politics is not as wide as most believe. Organizations like UNRWA walk a very thin line between assisting all in need and taking sides in conflicts. In response to the current story, UNRWA responded that it “is probably among the most scrutinized U.N. agencies in view of the nature of the conflict and complex and politicized environment it is working in.”

UNRWA was created in 1949 to deal with Palestinians who were displaced during the 1948 war at the creation of the state of Israel. It was established by General Assembly resolution 302 (IV), with the initial mandate to provide “direct relief and works programmes” to Palestine refugees, in order to “prevent conditions of starvation and distress… and to further conditions of peace and stability”. Today, it provides education, health care and social services to more than 5 million Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Since 2018, with the U.S. withdrawal, it has been in a financial crisis.

While the ethics report deals only with the internal workings of the organization, there is no question that one cannot separate the political from the ethical here. Why are questions being raised now about ethical issues within UNRWA? With continuing tensions between Palestinian authorities and Israel and the Trump administration peace plan still incubating, the report is a cold shower for any hopes of ameliorating the lives of millions of displaced Palestinians. Generations of Palestinians have been stuck in camps, with UNRWA doing all that’s been possible to alleviate their suffering.

Is the report part of a larger strategy? By publicly criticizing UNRWA now, is it hoped that Palestinians will be forced to sign an agreement that will have no promise for the right to return? When the U.S. stopped funding UNRWA, a spokesman for the Palestinian Authority suggested it was “using humanitarian aid to blackmail and pressure the Palestinian leadership to submit to the empty plan known as ‘the deal of the century.” Are the latest revelations part of that strategy?

Any serious abuses within UNRWA should be scrutinized and punished. That should go without saying. And organizations like UNRWA, given the sensitivity of their activities, should be especially careful about their actions. That also should go without saying. But the timing of the current revelations certainly come at an opportune moment for those who want to pressure the Palestinians into a peace deal. And what about all the refugees who depend on UNRWA for basic services? Are they once again being forgotten as they have been for 70 years?

August 8, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | Leave a comment

The War on White Supremacist Terror

By CJ Hopkins | Consent Factory | August 8, 2019

If you enjoyed the global corporatocracy’s original War on Islamicist Terror, you’re going to love their latest spinoff, The War on White Supremacist Terror. It’s basically just like the old War on Terror, except that this time the bad guys are all white supremacists, and Donald Trump is Osama bin Laden … unless Putin is Osama bin Laden. OK, I’m not quite sure who’s Osama bin Laden. Whatever. The point is, the Terrorists are coming!

Yes, that’s right, some racist psycho murdered a bunch of people in Texas, so it’s time to “take the gloves off” again, pass some new kind of Patriot Act, further curtail our civil liberties, and generally whip the public up into a mass hysteria over “white supremacist terrorism.”

The New York Times Editorial Board is already hard at work on that front. In a lengthy op-ed that ran last Sunday, “We Have a White Nationalist Terrorist Problem,” the Board proposes that we would all be safer if the government — but presumably not the current government — could arbitrarily deem people “terrorists,” or “potential terrorists,” or “terrorist sympathizers,” regardless of whether they have any connection to any actual terrorist groups, and … well, here’s what the Editorial Board has in mind.

“The resources of the American government and its international allies would mobilize without delay. The awesome power of the state would work tirelessly to deny future terrorists access to weaponry, money and forums to spread their ideology. The movement would be infiltrated by spies and informants. Its financiers would face sanctions. Places of congregation would be surveilled. Those who gave aid or comfort to terrorists would be prosecuted.”

The Board didn’t mention the offshore gulags, wars of aggression, assassinations, torture, mass surveillance of virtually everyone, and other such features of the original War on Terror, but presumably all that kind of stuff would be included in “the awesome power of the state” that the Board would like the U.S. government to “mobilize without delay.”

And the mandarins of The New York Times were just getting started with the terrorism hysteria. The Tuesday edition was brimming with references to “white supremacy” and “domestic terrorism.” Here are some of the front page headlines … “Trump is a White Supremacist Who Inspires Terrorism.” “White Terrorism Shows Parallels to Islamic State.” “The Nihilist in Chief: how our president and our mass shooters are connected to the same dark psychic forces.” “I Spent 25 Years Fighting Jihadis. White Supremacists Aren’t So Different.” “Trump, Tax Cuts, and Terrorism.“ And so on.

The Times was hardly alone, of course. In the wake of the El Paso and Dayton shootings, the corporate media went into overdrive, pumping out “white supremacist terrorism” mass hysteria around the clock. The Guardian took a break from smearing Jeremy Corbyn as an anti-Semite to proclaim that El Paso was “Trump-inspired Terrorism.” The Sydney Morning Herald declared that the U.S. is now officially in the throes of a “white nationalist terrorism crisis.The Atlantic likened Trump to Anwar al-Awlaki, and assured us that “the worst is yet to come!“ Liberal journalists and politicians rushed onto Twitter to inform their followers that a global conspiracy of white supremacist terrorists “emboldened” or “inspired” by Donald Trump (who, remember, is a Russian secret agent) is threatening the very fabric of democracy, so it’s time to take some extraordinary measures!

Never mind that it turns out that two of the three “white supremacist terrorist” mass murderers in question (i.e., the Gilroy, El Paso, and Dayton shooters) do not appear to have been white supremacists, and that none of them were linked to any terrorist groups. We’re living in the Age of Non-Terrorist Terrorism, in which anyone can be deemed a “terrorist,” or a “suddenly self-radicalized terrorist,” regardless of whether they have any actual connection to organized terrorism.

Terrorism isn’t what used to be. Back in the day (i.e, the 1970s), there were terrorist groups like the PFLP, ANO, BSO, IRA, RAF, FARC, the Weather Underground, and so on … in other words, actual terrorist groups, committing acts of actual terrorism. More recently, there was al Qaeda and ISIS. Nowadays, however, more or less any attention-seeking sociopath with a death wish and a knock-off AR-15 (or moron with a bunch of non-exploding pipe bombs) can be deemed a bona fide “domestic terrorist,” as long as it serves the global capitalist ruling classes’ official narrative.

The official narrative of the moment is Democracy versus The Putin-Nazis (also known as The War on Populism), which I’ve been covering in these columns, satirically and more seriously, for the better part of the last three years. According to this official narrative, “democracy is under attack” by a conspiracy of Russians and neo-Nazis that magically materialized out of thin air during the Summer of 2016, right around the time Trump won the nomination. OK, the Russia part kind of sputtered out recently, so the global capitalist ruling classes and their mouthpieces in the corporate media are now going full-bore on the fascism hysteria. They’ve been doing this relentlessly since Trump won the election, alternating between the Russia hysteria and the fascism hysteria from week to week, day to day, sometimes hour to hour, depending on which one is “hot” at the moment.

These recent mass shootings have provided them with a golden opportunity, not just to flog the fascism hysteria once again, but to fold it into the terrorism hysteria which Americans have been indoctrinated with since September 11, 2001 (the objective of which indoctrination being to establish in the American psyche “the Terrorist” as the new official enemy, replacing the “Communist” official enemy that had filled this role throughout the Cold War). If you think the original War on Terror was just about oil or geopolitical hegemony, check out “leftist” political Twitter’s response to the El Paso and Dayton shootings. You’ll find, not just hysterical liberals, but “leftists” and even so-called “anarchists,” shrieking about “white supremacist terrorism.” It was the number one U.S. hashtag on Monday.

No, the original War on Terror (whatever else it was) was probably the most effective fascist psy-op in the history of fascist psy-ops. Fifteen years of relentless exposure to manufactured “terrorism” hysteria has conditioned most Americans (and most Westerners, generally), upon hearing emotional trigger words like “terrorist” and “terrorism” emanating from the mouths of politicians (or the front page of The New York Times) to immediately switch off their critical thinking, and start demanding that the authorities censor the Internet, suspend the U.S. Constitution, and fill the streets with militarized vehicles and special “anti-terror” forces with assault rifles in the “sling-ready” position. This tweet by Geraldo Rivera captures the authoritarian mindset perfectly:

“In the meantime, there must be active-shooter trained, heavily armed security personnel every place innocents are gathered.”

I’m not quite sure what “in the meantime” means. Perhaps it means until the USA, Western Europe, and the rest of the empire, can be transformed into a happy, hate-free, supranational corporate police state where there is no racism, no fascism, no terrorism, and no one ever says bad things on the Internet.

What a glorious, transhuman world that will be, like a living, breathing Benetton ad, once all the racists, terrorists, and extremists have been eliminated, or heavily medicated, or quarantined and reeducated!

Until then, the War on White Supremacist Terrorism, Domestic Terrorism, Islamicist Terrorism, Russian Terrorism, Iranian Terrorism, anti-Semitic Labour Party Terrorism, and any other type of terrorism, extremism, hate, conspiratorial thinking … oh, and Populism (I almost forgot that one), and every other type of non-conformity to global capitalist ideology, will continue until we achieve final victory! It’s coming … sooner than you probably think.

Damn, here I am, at the end of my essay, and I almost forget to call Trump a racist. He is, of course. He’s a big fat racist. I should have put that right at the top. I’m already in hot water with my fellow leftists for not doing that enough. Oh, and for the record, in case there are any other kinds of Inquisitors reading this, I also renounce Satan and all his works.

August 8, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 1 Comment

US Leaves INF Because “Russia,” But Points Missiles at China

By Ulson Gunnar – New Eastern Outlook – 08.08.2019

We’re told that the US withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty singed in 1987 between the US and Soviet Union was based on claims that Russia had violated it.

While we continue waiting for Washington to provide evidence to prove these claims, the US itself admitted it had already long begun developing missiles that violated the treaty.

A February 2018 Defense One article titled, “Pentagon Confirms It’s Developing Nuclear Cruise Missile to Counter a Similar Russian One,” admitted that:

The U.S. military is developing a ground-launched, intermediate-range cruise missile to counter a similar Russian weapon whose deployment violates an arms-control treaty between Moscow and Washington, U.S. officials said Friday.

The officials acknowledged that the still-under-development American missile would, if deployed, also violate the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

Just as the US did when it unilaterally walked away from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002, the goal is to blame Russia for otherwise indefensible and incremental provocations aimed at Moscow. For example, after the US walked away from the ABM Treaty in 2002, the US began deploying anti-missile systems across Europe.

But if Russia is the problem, why did the US also begin deploying similar missiles in Asia?

It is Washington’s goal of hemming in its competitors anywhere and everywhere that is at the heart of these serial treaty terminations, not any particular “violation” on Moscow’s part.

China Too   

That the US already had missiles under development that would undoubtedly violate the INF Treaty before it accused Russia of such violations, is one indicator of Washington’s true intentions. Another is the fact Washington is rushing to encircle China with both defensive and offensive missile systems as well.

China is not a signatory of either the ABM Treaty or the INF Treaty. Its missiles are deployed strictly within its mainland territory with no plans by Beijing to deploy them anywhere else in the future.

The only threat they pose is to any nation that decides to wage war on China, in or around Chinese territory.

Washington’s behavior post-INF Treaty indicates that it was its intent to violate the treaty all along, creating the same precarious security crisis in Asia the treaty sought to prevent in Europe.

The New York Times in its article, “U.S. Ends Cold War Missile Treaty, With Aim of Countering China,” would explain:

The United States on Friday terminated a major treaty of the Cold War, the Intermediate Nuclear Forces agreement, and it is already planning to start testing a new class of missiles later this summer.

But the new missiles are unlikely to be deployed to counter the treaty’s other nuclear power, Russia, which the United States has said for years was in violation of the accord. Instead, the first deployments are likely to be intended to counter China, which has amassed an imposing missile arsenal and is now seen as a much more formidable long-term strategic rival than Russia.

The moves by Washington have elicited concern that the United States may be on the precipice of a new arms race, especially because the one major remaining arms control treaty with Russia, a far larger one called New START, appears on life support, unlikely to be renewed when it expires in less than two years.

Here, the NYT admits that despite Washington claiming its termination of the INF Treaty was prompted by Moscow, its own actions since indicate Washington was already well underway of violating it itself. It did so not only to threaten Russia, but also to threaten China.

After months of accusing Russia of undermining the INF Treaty, the NYT itself reveals it was Washington who solely benefited from it, and specifically in terms of targeting China:

… the administration has argued that China is one reason Mr. Trump decided to exit the I.N.F. treaty. Most experts now assess that China has the most advanced conventional missile arsenal in the world, based throughout the mainland. When the treaty went into effect in 1987, China’s missile fleet was judged so rudimentary that it was not even a consideration.

The prospects of the US signing a new treaty with either Russia or China (or both) are nonexistent. The NYT article also reported that:

Chinese officials have also balked at any attempt to limit their missiles with a new treaty, arguing that the nuclear arsenals of the United States and Russia are much larger and deadlier.

The NYT fails to mention the other, and perhaps most important factor preventing Beijing from signing any treaty with Washington; Washington has already demonstrated categorically that it cannot be trusted. It just walked away from the INF Treaty based on deliberate lies implicating Russia while Washington all along was developing missiles it planned to deploy around the globe to hem in both Russia and China.

Dangerous Desperation 

While the Cold War is remembered as a precarious time, it was a time when agreements like the ABM and INF treaties were not only possible, they were signed and for the most part adhered to by two global powers who could agree an uneasy balance of global power was preferable to large scale war (nuclear or not) between the two.

During the Cold War, Washington was confident that it could not only maintain that balance of power, but eventually tip it in its favor, resulting in global hegemony. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the US invasion of Iraq certainly seemed to prove those behind this mindset right. But the window was already closing on the establishment of an uncontested US-led international order.

Today, Russia, China and a number of other emerging regional and global powers have all but assured US hegemony is no longer a viable geopolitical objective. The confidence that allowed the US to sign previous treaties and uphold them along with their Soviet counterparts no longer exists.

We live in a world today where the US has become a tremendous danger to global peace and security. The inability of treaties to exist that were even possible during the tense days of the Cold War takes us into unprecedented and dangerous territory.

Only time will tell if both Moscow and Beijing can find other mechanisms to avoid a dangerous and wasteful arms race in their backyards as a stubborn United States not only refuses to leave, but insists on bringing in incredibly dangerous weapons that will wreak havoc not on the territorial United States, but on the nations of Europe and East Asia should Washington’s desperation progress even further amid its waning global power.

August 8, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

London Spreads Misinformation, Hides Skripal Case Details, Russian Embassy Says

Sputnik – 08.08.2019

UK authorities continue to disseminate misinformation about the Salisbury incident through the media, hiding details of what happened, the Russian Embassy in the UK stated after the Guardian published an article speculating on the involvement of Russian authorities.

“Nearly a year and a half after the events in Salisbury with the former Russian military intelligence officer and his daughter, the Russian side never received any intelligible information about the investigation into the incident despite the more than 80 requests we sent through diplomatic channels. Trying to fill this vacuum, the British stubbornly continue to invent various stories and myths, passing them off as confirmed facts,” the embassy stated.

“All the arguments on the basis of which the so-called evidence of Russia’s involvement in this mysterious incident was built and which the former British Prime Minister Theresa May loudly stated, failed miserably. Obviously, the reason for this behaviour lies in the fact that the disclosure of all the details of this dark history is not in the interests of official London,” the statement reads.

Russian diplomats suggested that British authorities manipulated the opinion of the UK and international public through the media to keep the Salisbury theme “afloat” and “engaged in outright disinformation, spreading fake news.”

“The fact that the United States, without any incontrovertible evidence, recently introduced a second package of sanctions against Russia in connection with the events in Salisbury, eloquently speaks about who orders music in this full-scale anti-Russian campaign,” the statement from the embassy reads.

The Russian embassy was supported by the Head of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs Leonid Slutsky, who suggested that the “unprecedented scandal involving the expulsion of diplomats, sanctions against Russia, including those announced in the United States just a few days ago […] doesn’t have any basis.”

In March 2018, Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious on a bench near a shopping centre in Salisbury. London claimed they were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent and accused Moscow of staging the attack. Moscow has repeatedly refuted all accusations. On Wednesday the Guardian reported that British police are investigating whether Russian President Vladimir Putin could have been involved in the assassination attempt on Skripal by approving a plan to eliminate him. However, according to the deputy head of Scotland Yard, Neil Basu, British law enforcement authorities have examined many hypotheses, but do not have evidence to make such allegations.

August 8, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

For Cliff May, War Pays

By Daniel McAdams | Ron Paul Institute | August 8, 2019

To say that Clifford May, founder of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies,  loves war would be an understatement. He loves almost everything about war and he thinks the US should be in a lot more of them. He thinks that the US should never go home, should never withdraw troops, should forever be searching for “bad guys” to fight, lest they come find us and fight us here. Because the rest of the world is exclusively focused on how to invade and destroy the United States.

He likes to invoke Sun Tzu and Clausewitz and Plato to make his case for endless wars. Neocons love to do that because it makes them sound erudite and grounded in history – when in fact they are neither.

About the only thing Clifford May does not love about war is fighting it himself.

While others of May’s generation were being blown to bits in that lost cause called “Vietnam,” May was drinking brewskis at Sarah Lawrence College and then Columbia University. His experience of war consists of covering it as a pampered correspondent of the shining lights of the mainstream US media like Newsweek and the New York Times.

Not only does May disdain the idea of soiling his dainty hands with the real blood and guts of war, he actually disdains those unlucky young Americans who find themselves churned up in the endless killing machine called “US empire.”

In a recent Washington Times editorial, tellingly titled, “Why endless wars can’t be ended,” May argues that members of the US military should be constantly in battle. Not a moment’s rest from the killing and being killed. After all…

… the men and women volunteering to serve in America’s armed forces are not doing so in order to hang around the house drinking brewskies.

May’s is a rare look into the utter contempt the neoconservatives feel for members of the United States military. Veteran suicides are an epidemic in the United States and are in fact the second leading cause of death in the US military. Veterans make up 18 percent of all US suicides while representing only 8.5 percent of the population.

Why are veterans killing themselves at a rate of 20 per day? A recent study found that the risk of military suicide rises with rapidly repeating deployments – just the kind of constant warfare that Cliff May calls for in his Washington Times article this week.

After all, what the hell else would these kids be doing if they weren’t driving themselves to suicide from endless wars… hanging around the house drinking brewskis?” Right, Cliff?

In the Washington Times piece this week, May argues passionately against President Trump’s stated goal of removing US troops from their positions occupying parts of Syria. US troops in Syria are, in his telling, “both preventing a revival of the Islamic State, and helping contain the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

This above sentence is key to understanding May’s constant push for more US involvement in the Middle East. Hint: It’s not really about America.

May’s Foundation for the Defense of Democracies is lavishly funded by single-issue billionaires who believe they are helping Israel by sending US troops to the Middle East to constantly provoke and kill those they believe are Israel’s enemies. Thus far it has not brought peace any closer to either Israel or its rivals in the region. In fact the opposite. But the money keeps flowing so May keeps blowing. And American troops (along with millions of innocents in the target countries) keep on dying.

Just as the neocons like it.

August 8, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Wars for Israel | , , , | 1 Comment

Quincy Who? Another New Think Tank Tests the Waters

By Philip Giraldi | Strategic Culture Foundation | August 8, 2019

Think tanks sprout like weeds in Washington. The latest is the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, which is engaged in a pre-launch launch and is attracting some media coverage all across the political spectrum. The Institute is named after the sixth US President John Quincy Adams, who famously made a speech while Secretary of State in which he cautioned that while the United States of America would always be sympathetic to the attempts of other countries to fight against dominance by the imperial European powers, “she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy.”

The Quincy Institute self-defines as a foundation dedicated to a responsible and restrained foreign policy with the stated intention of “mov[ing] US foreign policy away from endless war and toward vigorous diplomacy in the pursuit of international peace.” It is seeking to fund an annual budget of $5-6 million, enough to employ twenty or more staffers.

The Quincy Institute claims correctly that many of the other organizations dealing with national security and international affairs inside the Beltway are either agenda driven or neoconservative dominated, often meaning that they in practice support serial interventionism, sometimes including broad tolerance or even encouragement of war as a first option when dealing with adversaries. These are policies that are currently playing out unsuccessfully vis-à-vis Venezuela, Iran, Syria and North Korea.

The Quincies promise to be different in an attempt to change the Washington foreign policy consensus, which some have referred to as the Blob, and they have indeed collected a very respectable group of genuine “realist” experts and thoughtful pundits, including Professor Andrew Bacevich, National Iranian American Council founder Trita Parsi and investigative journalist Jim Lobe. But the truly interesting aspect of their organization is its funding. Its most prominent contributors are left of center George Soros and right of center and libertarian leaning Charles Koch. That is what is attracting the attention coming from media outlets like The Nation on the progressive side and Foreign Policy from the conservatives. That donors will demand their pound of flesh is precisely the problem with the Quincy vision as money drives the political process in the United States while also fueling the Establishment’s military-industrial-congressional complex that dominates the national security/foreign policy discussion.

There will be inevitably considerable ideological space between people who are progressive-antiwar and those who call themselves “realists” that will have to be carefully bridged lest the group begin to break down in squabbling over “principles.” Some progressives of the Barack Obama variety will almost certainly push for the inclusion of Samantha Power R2P types who will use abuses in foreign countries to argue for the US continuing to play a “policeman for the world” role on humanitarian grounds. And there will inevitably be major issues that Quincy will be afraid to confront, including the significant role played by Israel and its friends in driving America’s interventionist foreign policy.

Nevertheless, the Quincy Institute is certainly correct in its assessment that there is significant war-weariness among the American public, particularly among returning veterans, and there is considerable sentiment supporting a White House change of course in its national security policy. But it errs in thinking that America’s corrupted legislators will respond at any point prior to their beginning to fail in reelection bids based on that issue, which has to be considered unlikely. Witness the current Democratic Party debates in which Tulsi Gabbard is the only candidate who is even daring to talk about America’s disastrous and endless wars, suggesting that the Blob assessment that the issue is relatively unimportant may be correct.

Money talks. Where else in the developed world but the United States can a multi-billionaire like Sheldon Adelson legally and in the open spend a few tens of millions of dollars, which is for him pocket change, to effectively buy an entire political party on behalf of a foreign nation? What will the Quincies do when George Soros, notorious for his sometimes disastrous support of so-called humanitarian “regime change” intervention to expand “democracy movements” as part his vision of a liberal world order, calls up the Executive Director and suggests that he would like to see a little more pushing of whatever is needed to build democracy in Belarus? Soros, who has doubled his spending for political action in this election cycle, is not doing so for altruistic reasons. And he might reasonably argue that one of the four major projects planned by the Quincy Institute, headed by investigative journalist Eli Clifton, is called “Democratizing Foreign Policy.”

Why are US militarism and interventionism important issues? They are beyond important – and would be better described as potentially life or death both for the United States and for the many nations with which it interacts. And there is also the price to pay by every American domestically, with the terrible and unnecessary waste of national resources as well human capital driving America ever deeper into a hole that it might never be able to emerge from.

As Quincy is the newcomer on K Street, it is important to recognize what the plethora of foundations and institutes in Washington actually do in any given week. To be sure, they produce a steady stream of white papers, press releases, and op-eds that normally only their partisan supporters bother to read or consider. They buttonhole and talk to congressmen or staffers whenever they can, most often the staffers. And the only ones really listening among legislators are the ones who are finding what they hear congenial and useful for establishing a credible framework for policy decisions that have nothing to do with the strengths of the arguments being made or “realism.” The only realism for a congress-critter in the heartland is having a defense plant providing jobs in his district.

And, to be sure, the institutes and foundations also have a more visible public presence. Every day somewhere in Washington there are numerous panel discussions and meetings debating the issues deemed to be of critical importance. The gatherings are attended primarily by the already converted, are rarely reported in any of the mainstream media, and they exist not to explain or resolve issues but rather to make sure their constituents continue to regard the participants as respectable, responsible and effective so as not to interrupt the flow of donor money.

US foreign policy largely operates within narrow limits that are essentially defined by powerful and very well-funded interest groups like the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), American Enterprise Institute (AEI), the Hudson Institute, the Brookings Institute, the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), but the real lobbying of Congress and the White House on those issues takes place out of sight, not in public gatherings, and it is backed up by money. AIPAC, for example, alone spends more than $80 million dollars per year and has 200 employees.

So, the Quincy Institute intention to broaden the discussion of the current foreign policy to include opponents and critics of interventionism should be welcomed with some caveats. It is a wonderful idea already explored by others but nevertheless pretty much yet another shot in the dark that will accomplish little or nothing beyond providing jobs for some college kids and feel good moments for the anointed inner circle. And the shot itself is aimed in the wrong direction. The real issue is not foreign policy per se at all. It is getting the corrupting force of enormous quantities of PAC money completely removed from American politics. America has the best Congress and White House that anyone’s money can buy. The Quincy Institute’s call for restraint in foreign policy, for all its earnestness, will not change that bit of “realism” one bit.

August 8, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | | 1 Comment

Tehran slams Bahrain for hosting ‘provocative’ conference on Gulf maritime security

RT | August 8, 2019

Tehran has hit out at Bahrain for hosting a “provocative” conference on Gulf maritime security and for its rhetoric accusing Iran of attacking tankers. Manama said the July 31 meeting was held to discuss the “current regional situation,” Lebanon’s Daily Star reported.

It was not announced who’d attended the event in Bahrain, but the Guardian reported the UK had called for the meeting with other European countries and Washington. The tiny Gulf monarchy hosts the US Fifth Fleet.

“Bahrain’s government should not become the facilitator of common enemies’ wishes and schemes in the region,” Iran’s foreign ministry spokesperson Abbas Mousavi said on Thursday, in a statement published on his Telegram channel.

“The security of regional countries is inseparable and it is not possible for some to be secure at the cost of others’ insecurity.” he said. “It is expected that regional countries prevent foreigners’ escalatory interventions by exercising prudence and foresight.”

August 8, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment

Damascus Firmly Rejects Turkey-US Buffer Zone Plan: ‘Blatant Aggression’ on Syria’s Sovereignty

Al-Manar | August 8, 2019

Syria on Thursday lashed out at US and Turkey over a deal to establish so-called ‘safe zone’ in northern Syria, stressing that such agreement constitutes ‘blatant aggression’ against the country’s sovereignty.

In a statement issued on Thursday, Syrian foreign ministry said Damascus “expresses absolute rejection of the agreement announced by the US and Turkish occupiers on establishing the so-called ‘safe zone’ which constitutes a blatant aggression against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic and a flagrant violation of the principles of the international law and the UN Charter.”

“This agreement has very clearly exposed the US-Turkish partnership in the aggression against Syria which serves the interest of the Israeli occupation and the Turkish expansionist ambitions,” SANA news agency quoted a source at the Syrian ministry as saying.

Turkish and US officials agreed on Wednesday to establish a joint operations center to coordinate efforts to carve out a buffer zone in northern Syria, in order to manage tensions between Ankara and US-backed Kurdish forces in Syria, according to statements from both governments.

Syria, meanwhile, slammed some Kurdish, saying they “have been misled and accepted to become a tool in this aggressive US-Turkish project” and “bear a historical responsibility” in this regard.

“It is time to reconsider their calculations and to stand by the side of all the Syrians and the Syrian Arab Army in defending the sovereignty of the Syrian Arab Republic and its territorial integrity,” the source added.

In recent weeks, Turkish media have repeatedly shown images of military convoys heading for the border area, carrying equipment and fighting units.

Turkey has already carried out two cross-border offensives into Syria, including one in 2018 that saw it and allied militias overrun the majority Kurdish Afrin enclave in the northwest.

August 8, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , , | Leave a comment

War on Iran will expose Israel to full-scale threat: IRGC chief

Press TV – August 8, 2019

The chief commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) says the United States is not interested in waging war on Iran since it knows that any such confrontation would expose the Israeli regime to “full-scale threat.”

Major General Hossein Salami said on Thursday that Iran’s enemies could not keep any war with Iran confined to the country and would face “an eruption of war and fire and danger everywhere.”

Salami highlighted the growing power of the anti-Israel resistance front in the region, including Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine, saying, “The enemy is well aware that any new war may expose the Zionist regime to full-scale threat and irreversible collapse.”

“A number of US allies in the region would once encourage the US to wage war [on Iran] but later realized that a war with Iran would threaten their political systems, so they kept silent,” the commander added.

“I am certain that the Zionists and [the US’s] regional allies have no interest in war because they know the geographical scale of that war would be expansive and they know the result [of such a war],” he said.

Under the administration of President Donald Trump, the US has taken an increasingly hostile approach toward Iran. It has unilaterally pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, imposed rounds of sanctions against Tehran, and ordered the accelerated dispatch of an aircraft carrier to the region to counter an alleged threat from Iran.

Iran says it poses no threat to any country but will defend itself if attacked.

August 8, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | 2 Comments

An Open Invitation to Tyranny

By Paul Craig Roberts • Unz Review • August 7, 2019

The FBI has published a document that concludes that “conspiracy theories” can motivate believers to commit crimes.

Considering the growing acceptance of pre-emptive arrest, that is, arresting someone before they can commit a crime that they are suspected of planning to commit, challenging official explanations, such as those offered for the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King or the official explanation for 9/11, can now result in monitoring by authorities with a view to finding a reason for pre-emptive arrest. Presidents George W. Bush and Obama created the police state precedents of suspension of habeas corpus and assassination of citizens on suspicion alone without due process. If Americans can be preemptively detained indefinitely and preemptively assassinated, Americans can expect to be preemptively imprisoned for crimes that they did not commit.

As Lawrence Stratton and I explained in our book, The Tyranny of Good Intentions, the historic achievement of forging law into a shield of the people is being reversed in our time as law is being reforged into a weapon in the hands of the government.

The FBI document says that conspiracy theories “are usually at odds with official or prevailing explanations of events.” Note the use of “official” and “prevailing.” Official explanations are explanations provided by governments. Prevailing explanations are the explanations that the media repeats. Examples of official and prevailing explanations are: Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, Assad’s use of chemical weapons, Iranian nukes, Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the official explanation by the US government for the destruction of Libya. If a person doubts official explanations such as these, that person is a “conspiracy theorist.”

Official and prevailing explanations do not have to be consistent with facts. It is enough that they are official and prevailing. Whether or not they are true is irrelevant. Therefore, a person who stands up for the truth can be labeled a conspiracy theorist, monitored, and perhaps pre-emptively arrested.

Consider 9/11. No forensic investigation of 9/11 was ever officially conducted. Instead the destruction of the buildings was blamed on Osama bin Laden, and scenarios and simulations were created to support the allegation, not to find the truth. Architects, engineers, scientists, pilots, and first responders on site cannot reconcile the official prevailing explanation with the facts. The scientific and testimonial evidence that they have produced is dismissed as “conspiracy theory.” It is those experts who stand on the evidence who are defined as conspiracy theorists, not those who created the story of Osama bin Laden’s 9/11 conspiracy.

Consider Russiagate. Here we have an alleged conspiracy between Trump and Russia that was the official prevailing explanation. Yet, to believe in the Russiagate conspiracy did not make one a conspiracy theorist as this conspiracy was the official prevailing explanation. But to doubt the Russiagate conspiracy did make one a conspiracy theorist.

What the FBI report does, intentionally or unintentionally, is to define a conspiracist as a person who doubts official explanations. In other words, it is a way of preventing any accountability of government. Whatever the government says, no matter how obvious a lie, will have to be accepted as fact or we will be put on a list to be monitored for preemptive arrest.

In effect, the FBI’s document reduces the First Amendment, that is, free speech, to the right to repeat official and prevailing explanations. Any other speech is a conspiratorial belief that can lead to the commission of a crime.

Every American should be greatly concerned that the government in Washington does not see this FBI document as an open invitation to tyranny, repudiate it, and demand its recall.

August 8, 2019 Posted by | Book Review, Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | 2 Comments