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The International Zionist Conspiracy

It poisons everything it touches

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • December 3, 2019

A recent article by Philip Weiss on the Mondoweiss website lays out an argument that most liberal Jews, like Weiss, are hesitant to support, namely that Jewish power, and more to the point its money, as exercised through the so-called Israel Lobby in the United States and elsewhere, has been the principal enabling force behind the international pariah that the state of Israel has become.

Weiss notes how “most observers accept the antisemitism redlines echoed lately by Bernie Sanders: you are not to speak of an outsize Jewish role in politics. So few write about the Israel lobby, though they know it to be a significant force…” In other words, Sanders, liberal to the core and ostensibly supportive of Palestinian rights, draws a line that forbids any real discussion of Jewish power in the United States even though everyone who has not been asleep is more than aware of just how powerful American Jews, and by extension Israel, are.

Weiss details how the vast sums of money raised by both Democratic and Republican Jews has distorted American politics since the time of President Harry S. Truman. He describes how president after president has backed down versus Israel when confronted by Jewish power and observes that “This is not just a domestic political question, it’s a foreign policy problem. The Israel lobby is the root cause of the Israel Palestine conflict. Consider the two… main causes of the conflict. 1, Israeli settlement/colonialism (or in Zionist terms, the effort to liberate European Jewry from persecution by establishing a Jewish homeland in historical Palestine). 2, Palestinian resistance to 1. Neither of these historical forces would still be a source of serious conflict 71 years after Israel’s establishment were it not for the lobby. Without the blind support of the United States, Israel would have made a deal a long time ago. The country would have followed through on the historic Palestinian concession of 1988 followed by the Arab Peace Initiative of 2001, and accepted partition of the land on highly favorable terms (Israel gets 78 percent). Without U.S. support, Israel would have been internationally isolated and would have grabbed the deal. The Israelis have been able to continue to devour the land only because the United States supports the occupation in international fora, and gives Israeli a diplomatic umbrella against any storm, due to blind bipartisan political backing here.”

Jewish power in America and elsewhere must never be discussed unless it is a discussion involving only Jews, who openly recognize and appreciate the phenomenon. Weiss notes how “Israel lobbyists themselves extol Jewish political power in the U.S. as Israel’s lifeline for money and arms and diplomatic protection” and quotes Michael Koplow of the Israel Policy Forum, who boasts how “I have no qualms about pointing out that the American Jewish community is almost certainly the most influential minority community in the history of the U.S., and possibly in the history of the world. American Jews have worked hard to make it so, and have built a network of outward-facing institutions that protect this privileged position.”

Beyond Weiss’s observations, one might note how Zionist Jews are essentially able to shut down any discussion of Palestine or of Palestinian rights. Given the extreme over-representation of Jews in both the news generation process and in various choke points in the political process, an honest discussion of Israel-Palestine and the actual U.S. interests in the region is extremely difficult to find anywhere in the mainstream media.

In both the 2012 and 2016 Democratic Party conventions, for example, there was considerable pressure from the members of the party base to include language reflective of the need to recognize Palestinian suffering and condemn the Israeli “occupation.” Long-time liberal activist James Zogby pushed for an amendment to the party platform in 2016 calling for “an end to occupation and illegal settlements” in Israel-Palestine. In both conventions, Hillary Clinton interests pushed back and rejected any changes, arguing that they would constitute “terrible mistake[s],” too “one-sided” toward the Palestinians. In both instances there was loud and sustained booing from the floor when the reflexively pro-Israel platform was announced, but the speaker rejected calls for any floor vote.

To cite another example, two weeks ago, California’s Democratic party concluded its fall convention by finalizing what would be included in the state party platform. An amendment promoted by Palestinian supporters was defeated in a floor vote. It was offered by delegate David Mandel, himself a Jew, and called on the party to support “a solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict negotiated by the parties that guarantees equality, security and democracy for all, no matter what the final settlement regarding states and borders” and called on party members to “oppose any unilateral annexation of territory, and support the right of all those who were forced from their homes to return to their homelands and receive compensation for their losses.” Mandel’s proposal attracted the ire of Zionist apologists including State Senator Scott Wiener and Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, who asserted that “This amendment cuts to the core of Israel’s ability to be its own state.”

One might observe that the Mandel amendment was pretty mild stuff relatively speaking, even excluding the word “occupation,” and that the Wiener-Friedman riposte is nonsense, but the result was more of the same. Reliably liberal California Democrats delivered the usual pander to Israeli-Jewish interests. They surrendered to the persistent Jews-in-politics demand never to give even one inch when it comes to permitting Israel absolute license to behave badly while at the same time extracting from the United States billions of dollars in subsidies every year.

And the Israel conspiracy might well be regarded as international. In France, which has the largest diaspora Jewish population after the United States, hate legislation which de facto protects only Jews has been employed to shut down any and all criticism. It has become common all across Europe to regard any criticism of Israel as anti-Semitism and therefore as a hate crime, with criminal penalties attached. French comedian Dieudonné, who admittedly is rather pointed in his satire, has been convicted eight times.

And then there is the sad case of Jeremy Corbyn, British Labour Party leader who will be contesting a national election on December 12th. Corbyn has been accused of being an anti-Semite based on his fairly mild defense of Palestinians, which one might have thought to be a good, sound socialist human rights position. And so it would be if Israel were not involved. With the election looming, British Jews have increased pressure on Corbyn and by default are endorsing his conservative opponent Boris Johnson, who has spoken repeatedly about his love of Israel. Britain’s Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis recently produced an article for the influential Times of London declaring Corbyn “unfit for office” because “the way in which the [Labour] leadership has dealt with anti-Jewish racism is incompatible with the British values of which we are so proud — of dignity and respect for all people.”

The good rabbi is not, of course including Palestinians as worthy of “dignity and respect.” He is really only concerned about his own tribe and the “racism” he refers to is largely concentrated among those Britons who are opposed to Israeli government policies. Britain is already in some senses Zionist controlled territory, even more so than the United States. Jews are prominent at many choke points in the media and entertainment industries while 80% of Conservative Party politicians are members of “Conservative Friends of Israel.” The Labour Party is also active engaged with their own version of the same, Labour Friends of Israel, which includes 80 out of the party’s 262 members of parliament.

Finally, International Zionism is very well represented in recent announcements coming from the world of professional sports, where billionaire Jewish team owners take their orders from Israel to combat critics and the scourge of anti-Semitism.

In January 2019 New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft received the Genesis prize, a million-dollar award given annually to Jews “who have attained excellence and international renown in their chosen professional fields.” Kraft’s friend Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu personally presented the plaque and Kraft told the audience that he would use the money to combat anti-Semitism and the BDS (the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement. He also pledged to add $20 million of his own money to set up a foundation to do more of the same. Kraft enthused “Israel is so special to me and my family… I have sponsored dozens of missions and countless other trips for people to experience Israel for the first time. Spiritually, there is no place like it on earth.”

Perhaps Kraft should move to Israel so he won’t be troubled by allegations of dual loyalty made by people like me. He has now been joined by Britain’s Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich, a billionaire investor who has pledged £3.9m ($5 billion) of his own money to support the foundation “to tackle anti-Semitism.” Abramovich was born in the Soviet Union but is an Israeli citizen and lives most of the year in that country. He has been linked to a number of financial scandals.

Kraft, of course, has his own baggage. On February 22nd, 2019, he was charged in Jupiter Florida for “soliciting another to commit prostitution.” Kraft was reportedly video recorded by a hidden camera while engaged in sexual activity within the confines of a seedy enterprise called the Orchids of Asia Day Spa that sold the services of Asian sex trafficked women. The case is still being resolved but Kraft denies the charges and he has plenty of high- priced lawyers to make sure that he walks.

Beyond all that, if one doubts the power of the Jewish/Israel lobby internationally, note one of the first actions undertaken by the new coup government in Bolivia. It has moved to reestablish diplomatic relations with Israel as a top priority. Brazil also sought a closer relationship with Israel after conservative Jair Bolsonaro was elected president and pledged to visit the Jewish state, a promise which he carried out in March. Everyone in the world understands that the way to gain favor with Washington is to go through Israel.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation (Federal ID Number #52-1739023) that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org.

December 2, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 3 Comments

Global Giants: American Empire and Transnational Capital

Maximilian C. Forte review of Giants: The Global Power Elite by Peter Phillips (Introduction by William I. Robinson). New York: Seven Stories Press, 2018. LCCN 2018017493; ISBN 9781609808716 (pbk.); ISBN 9781609808723 (ebook); 353 pps.

Giants: The Global Power Elite, by Peter M. Phillips, Professor of Political Sociology at Sonoma State University, opens with a stated intention of following in the tradition C. Wright Mills’ The Power Elite. This book is clearly meant to be a contemporary update and expansion of Mills’ work, such that the “power elite” now becomes the global power elite (GPE) in Phillips’ volume—and central to the idea of a global power elite is the transnational capitalist class that was at the core of the theorization of Leslie Sklair. One of the most important features of this book, in my view, is that it overcomes the unproductive dichotomy that continues to silently inform many academic and political debates on this question: is the contemporary world order one dominated by US imperialism or transnational capital? Phillips’ answer is productive (even if I do not entirely agree): transnational capital has acquired US power and uses the power of the US state to further its aims, protect its interests, and enforce its agenda. Where I differ, the difference is a relatively slight matter of emphasis: Phillips’ model is largely correct, but it is also important to remember that the wealthiest, most numerous, and most powerful membership of the “transnational” capitalist class is in fact American.

Aside from this, Phillips reveals how even now mere mention of the “transnational capitalist class” is obscured in mainstream corporate media coverage. As he points out: “the concept of a global transnational capitalist class is essentially completely absent from corporate news coverage in the United States and Europe” (p. 62).

The centrepiece of this work is its detailed exposition of the 389 individuals who constitute the core of “the policy planning nongovernmental networks that manage, facilitate, and protect the continued concentration of global capital” (p. 10).

I am thankful to the author for providing me with a free copy of this text, so that this review could be written. I have also assigned one of the chapters as required reading in one of my recent courses (DeGlobalization & the Nation), and thus I also have the benefit of feedback from students on some of the book’s key contents.

Chapters—Contents

The Preface to the volume effectively summarizes the key contents of the book and outlines its principal arguments. It was not prepared as a mere formality, and is worth reading on its own.

The Introduction, “Who Rules the World?” was written by William I. Robinson, one of the leading scholars today on the topic of the transnational capitalist class.

Chapter 1, “Transnational Capitalist Class Power Elite: A Seventy-Year History,” aims at explaining the “transition from the nation state power elites described by Mills to a transnational power elite centralized on the control of global capital around the world”. In this chapter Phillips traces the development of the concept of global power elites from the work of C. Wright Mills, through to Leslie Sklair, William Robinson, William Carroll and even David Rothkopf. While the author also invokes “shadow elites,” he does not mention the work of Janine Wedel in this regard. Phillips also provides a detailed outline of the nature of global wealth inequality, ranging from the control of wealth by a few, to over-accumulation, and starvation. In addition to the preface, this is the chapter that makes the central arguments of the book.

Chapter 2, “The Global Financial Giants: The Central Core of Global Capitalism,” identifies the 17 global financial giants—money management firms that control more than one trillion dollars in capital. As these firms invest in each other, and many smaller firms, the interlocked capital that they manage surpasses $41 trillion (which amounts to about 16% of the world’s total wealth). The 17 global financial giants are led by 199 directors. This chapter details how these financial giants have pushed for global privatization of virtually everything, in order to stimulate growth to absorb excess capital. The financial giants are supported by a wide array of institutions: “governments, intelligence services, policymakers, universities, police forces, militaries, and corporate media all work in support of their vital interests” (p. 60).

Chapter 3, “Managers: The Global Power Elite of the Financial Giants,” largely consists of the detailed profiles of the 199 financial managers just mentioned.

Chapter 4, “Facilitators: The Power Elite Policy Planning Center of the Transnational Capitalist Class,” examines the membership of two non-governmental Global Elite policy-planning organizations: the Group of Thirty and the Trilateral Commission. The chapter also goes into some depth in related organizations, such as the Bilderberg Group and the Council on Foreign Relations. Detailed profiles of the directors of the G30 are included in this chapter, as well as profiles of the members of the Trilateral Commission Executive Group.

Chapter 5, “Protectors: The Power Elite and the US Military NATO Empire, Intelligence Agencies, and Private Military Companies,” focuses on the power of “the US/NATO military empire”. As Phillips explains, the US/NATO functions as a “transnational military police state” that operates in nearly every country in the world, and, “threatens nations that do not fully cooperate with global capital with covert activities, regime change, and heavy negative propaganda” (p. 12). Phillips also examines how the global Giants, “invest in war making as a method of using surplus capital for a guaranteed return, with an increasing use of private military/security companies for protection of Global Power Elites and their wealth” (p. 12). Detailed profiles of the 35 members of the Atlantic Council Executive Committee form part of this chapter. This chapter also examines “Private Military Contractors,” focusing on Blackwater and G4S.

Chapter 6, “Ideologists: Corporate Media and Public Relations Propaganda Firms,” concentrates on the extensive investment by the Giants in corporate media and their expanding “use of public relations propaganda companies in the news systems of the world” (p. 13). The six major global media organizations The chapter this focuses on the six leading global media organizations, and how they offer ideological justification for corporate capitalism while censoring contrary perspectives. As Phillips explains early in his book:

“We have a media system that seeks to control all aspects of human thinking and promotes continued consumption and compliance. The dominant ideological message from corporate media today is that the continued growth of the economy will offer trickle-down benefits to all humans and save the planet”. (p.13)

One outstanding fact that is presented at the start of this chapter is that, “corporate media receive anywhere from two thirds to 80 percent of their broadcast and print news content from public relations and propaganda (PRP) firms” (p. 263). Since only a handful of media companies monopolize the world market of information distribution, this fact reveals a monumental bullhorn in the hands of the transnational capitalist class (p. 265). This chapter also informs us that, in the US, the number of media companies has declined from 50 in the early 1980s to just six today, and that 98% of all US cities are served by only one daily newspaper (p. 264).

This chapter also provides detailed profiles of the major media and public relations firms in the US, along with discussion of some of their noteworthy international interventions. In addition, the chapter discusses propaganda and the “engineering of consent”.

Chapter 7, “Facing the Juggernaut: Democracy Movements and Resistance,” offers “a summary and what-needs-to-be-done statement” (p. 13), that emphasizes what needs to be done to reform the system, in very broad terms, with a return to the principles outlined in the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The books ends with a postscript which amounts to a letter to the Global Power Elites “asking them to consider future generations when making decisions regarding global capital, and urging them to take corrective action before more serious and inevitable unrest and environmental devastation take effect” (p. 13).

“Global Power Elites”: the Transnational Capitalist Class

Phillips describes the Global Power Elite as follows:

“The Global Power Elite function as a nongovernmental network of similarly educated wealthy people with common interests of managing, facilitating, and protecting concentrated global wealth and insuring the continued growth of capital. Global Power Elites influence and use international institutions controlled by governmental authorities—namely, the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), NATO, World Trade Organization (WTO), G7, G20, and many others”. (p. 9)

Therefore what Phillips indirectly points to here is the growing recognition of the fact that, far from the promised obsolescence of the state, globalization has not only been enacted by states, the power of certain states has in fact increased. On the other hand, he apparently endorses Robinson’s claim that nation-states have become, “little more than population containment zones,” while “the real power lies with the decision makers who control global capital” (p. 26). Both propositions are unconvincing: first, populations are clearly not being contained; second, if states matter so little, and the real decision-makers are global capitalists, then why do the latter need states?

Indeed, Phillips appears to be of two minds on this question. He does note, for example: “The World Bank, IMF, G7, G20, WTO, Financial Stability Board, and Bank for International Settlements are institutions controlled by nation-state representatives and central bankers with proportional power/control exercised by dominant financial supporters, primarily the United States and European Union countries” (p. 161). Critical institutions of the global capitalist system are themselves state institutions. Clearly then, states are a lot more than just population containers. The shaky narrative of this book is a product of an underlying theoretical lack of clarity.

Global Power Elites, as Phillips explains, “are the activist core of the Transnational Capitalist Class—1 percent of the world’s wealthy people—who serve the uniting function of providing ideological justifications for their shared interests and establishing the parameters of needed actions for implementation by transnational governmental organizations” (p. 10). They should therefore not be confused with all elites, nor apparently with elite technocrats who serve in government but who are not among the world’s wealthiest people. The GPEs also apparently exclude the lobbyists, academics, media and think tank members who constitute a large part of what Janine R. Wedel describes as flexible “influence elites,” in her own updating of Mills’ work on elites (see “From Power Elites to Influence Elites: Resetting Elite Studies for the 21st Century” in the special issue of Theory, Culture & Society on Elites and Power after Financialization).

What unites the members of the GPEs are common interests and backgrounds. They tend to interact with each other regularly, and a wide range of mutually reinforcing organizations. It can come down to sharing the same university affiliations and membership in social clubs—“It is certainly safe to conclude they all know each other personally or know of each other in the shared context of their positions of power” (p. 11). Elsewhere in the book, these transnational elites are described as effectively forming a club: “interacting families of high social standing with similar lifestyles, corporate affiliations, and memberships in elite social clubs and private schools” (p. 22). “The power elite policy groups inside the Transnational Capitalist Class,” Phillips observes, “are made up of persons with shared educational experiences, similar lifestyles, and common ideologies” (p. 214). The degree of commonality among the elites studied in this book is striking:

“One hundred thirty-six of the 199 power elite managers (70 percent) are male. Eighty-four percent are whites of European descent. The 199 power elite managers hold 147 graduate degrees, including 59 MBAs, 22 JDs, 23 PhDs, and 35 MA/MS degrees. Almost all have attended elite private colleges, with 28 attending Harvard or Stanford”. (p. 62)

Of those same 199 individuals, 59% are from the US; many of the 199 are dual citizens; and, “they live in or interact regularly in a number of the world’s great cities: New York City, Chicago, London, Paris, Munich, Tokyo, and Singapore” (p. 63). Of the same 199 global financial directors, 69 have attended the World Economic Forum (p. 147).

Less convincing was William Robinson’s assertion, in the Introduction to the book, that suggests that national capitalists have effectively vanished. Presumably they metamorphosed into a transnational capitalist class, and for that reason Mills’ work needs to be updated (p. 17). What was missing here then was a golden opportunity to reflect on the fractious breakup of the dominant elites into a diminished and angered national capitalist faction in opposition to the transnationalist faction. That alone could have done more to explain the rise of Trump, as a champion of national capital, than resorting to facile ideological truisms about “populism”. Unfortunately, Robinson is destined to continue missing this, as elsewhere he quickly rushed to assert that Trump himself was a leading representative of the transnational capitalist class—and it was as unconvincing as it was misleading. Even worse, Robinson risks reducing “transnational capitalist class” to something like “fascist”: a term of abuse, with limited explanatory power. Unlike Robinson’s comments in this book, Phillips seems much more attuned to the reality of factions that exist even among the global power elites (p. 23).

Phillips describes the world’s top billionaires as “similar to colonial plantation owners” (p. 21), which can be a useful way for conceptualizing Western power structures as they have developed over the past five centuries. Phillips thus points to the UK’s Barclays Bank as an example of the colonial heritage at work today: “Barclays Bank [is] the number-one most connected firm. Barclays is a 300-year-old banking company founded in 1690 in London. Barclays grew with the expansion of the British Empire and now offers services in more than 50 countries and territories, serving some 49 million clients” (p. 79)

Transnational capitalists work through an array of institutions such as, “the World Bank, World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund, the G20, G7, World Economic Forum, Trilateral Commission, Bilderberg Group, Bank for International Settlements,” among others (p. 25). This book also cites the The Handbook of Transnational Governance (2011) which “lists 52 trans-governmental networks, arbitration bodies, multi-stakeholder initiatives (with internet cooperation), and voluntary regulation groups (fair labor/trade associations)” as key bodies of the transnational capitalist class. It’s not clear why, if their interests and agendas are shared in common, they would need so many multilateral international organizations—at the very least it would seem to be an inefficient diffusion of effort.

The other question is, if the global power elites discussed in this book control/manage a total of about $41 trillion, and the world’s total wealth is estimated at $255 trillion, then that would mean the global power elites in fact control a minority share of global wealth (roughly 16%). Then who owns or controls the other 84%? Elsewhere in the book it is revealed that “147 companies controlled some 40 percent of the world’s wealth” (p. 36). Then the question becomes: who controls the remaining 60%? Also, is control the same thing as ownership? Later the book informs us that, “in excess of $74 trillion of inter-invested centralized capital” is controlled by 69 cross-invested firms (p. 49). This would mean that they control just over 29% of the world’s wealth. One wishes that some overall profile of global wealth ownership and distribution had been provided in this book, so as to better contextualize what the “giants” really own.

American Power Elites (APEs)?

One of the ironies in this text is what Phillips reveals in Chapter 1:

“The top six billionaires in 2017, with their country of citizenship and estimated net worth, were Bill Gates (US, $88.8 billion), Amancio Ortega (Spain, $84.6 billion), Jeff Bezos (US, $82.2 billion), Warren Buffett (US, $76.2 billion), Mark Zuckerberg (US, $56 billion), and Carlos Slim Helú (Mexico, $54.5 billion). Forbes’s billionaire list contained 2,047 names in 2017”. (p. 21)

Thus of the top six billionaires, four are American. As for the Forbes list, in 2019, seven of the top 10 billionaires listed are American. In fact, the list has become increasingly American since circa 2012, according to this compilation of annual rankings, returning to the situation that was observed from before 2005. In total, 14 of the world’s richest 20 persons are American. Overall, 607 of the world’s 2,153 billionaires in 2019 are American—or just over 28%, which still reflects a disproportionately large American presence. As mentioned above, the American proportion has been steadily increasing:

So what does one conclude from this picture? Is it in fact transnational capital of a global power elite that has dominated globalization, that we are seeing here? Or would it be more accurately reflective of reality to speak of an American Power Elite that dominates the world’s circuits of wealth creation and concentration? The answer has enormous import for how we think about globalization vs. American imperialism as the best mode of describing contemporary reality.

As we saw in the last section, the inability to explain why transnational capitalists need states is one of the most serious flaws in explanations that claim states have been diminished while transnational capitalists have real power. If they had real power, they would not need states. Thus one of the problems of this book is that it under-theorizes critical areas that really needed attention, if we were really to update Mills’ work.

US Imperialism and Transnational Capitalism

One of the key strengths of this book is that it goes against fashionable theorizing on the political left, prevalent among academics and activists, that minimizes or even refuses to name US imperialism. As Phillips shows in this book, the US is the foundation of transnational policing that works to enforce the interests of global capital. In particular, the global financial giants invest heavily in war-making as a means of profitably deploying excess capital.

Thus Phillips notes that, “the policy elites in the United States have been mostly united in support of an American empire of military power that maintains a repressive war against resisting groups…around the world” (p. 23). He also points out: “uncooperative regimes are undermined and overthrown in support of the free flow of global capital for investments anywhere that returns are possible” (p. 64).

“Humanitarian intervention” is also critically addressed by Phillips. He argues that the transnational capitalist class promotes “military interventions [that] are ideologically justified as peacekeeping or humanitarian missions,” primarily in cases where governments are “viewed as unfavorable to the TCC’s capital interests”—in such cases then, “resistance forces will be supported and encouraged toward regime change, as in…Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Ukraine, Venezuela, and Yugoslavia” (p. 30). It is refreshing to read a North American academic who recognizes this reality. As indicated in the list of contents, Phillips dedicated an entire chapter to the subject of US empire (chapter 5).

The protection of transnational capital, Phillips argues, is what lies behind the production of “failed states, manufactured civil wars, regime changes, and direct invasions/occupations”. Each of these is a manifestation of “the new world order requirements for protecting transnational capital” (p. 215).

NATO is a key part of Phillips’ discussion, and he notes that NATO members collectively account for 85% of the world’s military spending (p. 223). Phillips’ argument is that NATO is the leading military defender of the interests of global capital: “NATO is quickly becoming a US military empire supplemental police force for the Global Power Elite and the Transnational Capitalist Class” (p. 224). In conjunction with this, he discusses the role of the Atlantic Council as the chief purveyor of NATO propaganda.

Yet, despite Phillips’ own arguments about manufactured civil wars, “resistance” groups funded if not created by Western powers, and regime change war—he still manages to produce an unquestioning endorsement of “Arab Spring protests” in North Africa as examples of resistance against neoliberal austerity politics (p. 304).

Global Inequality

Global inequality has become extreme under the dominance of the Global Power Elites. As William Robinson writes in the Introduction,

“the richest 1 percent of humanity in 2017 controlled more than half of the world’s wealth; the top 30 percent of the population controlled more than 95 percent of global wealth, while the remaining 70 percent of the population had to make do with less than 5 percent of the world’s resources”. (p. 15)

Phillips recounts a recent finding that only eight individuals now own half the world’s wealth (p. 21).

While not always clear about whether “the richest 1 percent” are the top 1% in the US or the top 1% of the world as a whole, the book informs us that the top fraction “increased their total wealth by 42.5 percent in 2008, and 50.1 percent in 2017,” and in the latter year, “2.3 million new millionaires were created, bringing the total number of millionaires around the globe to more than 36 million”; these millionaires represent “0.7 percent of the world’s population controlling more than 47 percent of global wealth’; the world’s bottom 70% only control 2.7% of total wealth (pp. 301–302).

This book also relays the following overview of global wealth inequality:

“The world’s total wealth is estimated to be close to $255 trillion, with the United States and Europe holding approximately two thirds of that total; meanwhile, 80 percent of the world’s people live on less than $10 per day, the poorest half of the global population lives on less than $2.50 per day, and more than 1.3 billion people live on only $1.25 per day”. (p. 30)

Robinson offers a partial/partisan view of the political results of increasing inequality, asserting that it has fueled “populist insurgencies” (thus unfortunately reinforcing elitist terminology), and that these are dominated by racist, xenophobic, and nativist concerns. What Robinson does not do is offer an explanation as to why those on the losing end of globalization in North America and Europe have turned to the right, and not the left.

What Robinson predicts is that the global concentration of wealth is, in effect, suicidal: it will lead to a global contraction of demand, and thus the global market will be unable to absorb the output of the global economy, and at that point the system will seize up. Is this something to be celebrated or criticized?

Phillips makes a similar point about the over-accumulation of capital: “there are only three mechanisms of investing excess capital: risky financial speculation, wars and war preparation, and the privatization of public institutions” (p. 30). What needs to be explained to readers is why, if capital over-accumulation is really a problem, would the holders of such capital invest in areas that generate even more capital.

Land and hunger also stand out as one of the strong points of this book’s explanations. First, some important statistics are provided, such as: the UN’s World Food Program estimates that 1 in 9 people go to bed hungry each night, which amounts to 795 million people suffering from chronic hunger; nine million die each year from starvation; one-third of the planet suffers from malnutrition; two billion more people will be lacking food by 2050, according to UN forecasts; and yet, “chronic hunger is mostly a problem of distribution, as one third of all food produced in the world is wasted and lost” (p. 31). Phillips clearly pins the blame of this mal-distribution on global speculation invested in agricultural lands, and global speculation in food, which have both raised the costs of land and food, and displaced populations (pp. 31, 63). As Phillips explains:

“In the last ten years, more than $90 billion has been invested in 78 countries for buying up more than 74 million acres of farmland. The result is mass corporate farming, usually for export, and the removal of these lands as a local food source”. (p. 32)

While the book tends to endorse much of the emergency talk around “climate change,” it’s important to note that Phillips is aware of some of the glaring opportunism that motivates some of the crisis-making:

“Amazingly, TCC/Global Power Elite money managers study the transforming environment for new investment opportunities. Climate change investing can be profitable, according to Forbes, and getting in on low-carbon investments, and sectors that will benefit should climate stress increase—such as defense, health care, and property insurances—can prove lucrative. Increasing interest in new mining opportunities available due to global warming is an important issue in Greenland. Private investment in the control of water sources is seen as an increasingly attractive opportunity for power elite speculation”. (p. 32)

Criticisms of the Book

Unfortunately, much of the book is written for an audience that is already prepared to believe and accept its main arguments and their assumptions. The question then is why such an audience would need this book. The echo-chambering of public discourse is itself echoed louder than ever in academic production. This book is not written for, say, skeptical students who are unconvinced and like to raise questions. On the other hand, it can be useful precisely for generating questions.

What in my view is one of the least attractive features of the book is the tendency to reduce discussion to moral principles. In that respect it is a very American book, which follows the very American tradition of displacing politics into morality. The result is a moralistic appeal for reform. Thus the book is directed at precisely those elites who are least likely to read or care about this book. However, matters become even murkier when the book’s idea of reform means that activists should volunteer to work with billionaires: “An honest, open look at real human options is vitally needed, and social movement activists seeking to end the crisis of humanity may find allies at the top willing to make radical readjustments needed to prevent wars, mass poverty, and environmental degradation” (p. 159). In an open letter to the Global Power Elite at the end of the book, we read this: “We absolutely believe that continued capital concentration and neoliberal austerity policies only bring greater human misery to the vast majority of people on earth” (p. 320, emphasis added). Why reduce what the book shows to be factually true, a matter of objective knowledge, to a matter of belief? Why should anyone care what the author and his colleagues “believe”? Sometimes the book has an unfortunate tendency of diminishing itself.

Theory remains relatively under-developed in this book, which tends to leave major questions unspoken (some of which were discussed in the sections above). The result is that books like C. Wright Mills’ The Power Elite remain as outstanding contributions, and the updating of his work is something that still needs to be done. Neither this book, nor other attempts at updating Mills, are yet ready to be read as “Mills Part 2”.

Related to the latter point, we seem to be generating an ever expanding vocabulary for describing essentially the same phenomenon. Thus, added to the base that is the transnational capitalist class (which is sufficient), we have shadow elites, influence elites, flexible networks, and now global power elites. Pretty soon, rather than having work that takes our understanding further, we will instead have works that lose time and energy in just clearing up the mystifying mass of new labels.

Though I intensely dislike facile comments like, “some of the book’s strengths are also its weakness,” I find myself here needing to make the same comment about the immense catalogue of empirical detail that appears in the profiles of the 389 individuals and the dozens of organizations named in this book. In that respect, the book begins to resemble more of a database, that makes for tedious reading. Seen from another angle, the book serves as a reference resource. However, what really stands out is the limited theorization of the material, that really does not expand on or elaborate on either the works of Mills, Sklair, or William Robinson.

Restrictions on access to the power elites means that the profiles that are provided in the book are based almost exclusively on open source documentation. The profiles thus result as flat, and almost lifeless—useful perhaps for statistical analysis, but almost devoid of oral history and cultural content.

Sometimes this book mirrors a website more than a printed volume, meaning that there can be excessive interleaving with contents that are already widely available. Thus the book unnecessarily reproduces, in full, the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The tendency to copy and insert so much that is open source tends to produce excessive length.

Diagrams in the book are often useless spaghetti illustrations of many dozens of crisscrossing lines linking inter-locked firms. The point is to show that each one is connected to every other—and it is far more economical to express that fact with words.

The Introduction by William Robinson was, surprisingly, one of the disappointing elements of this book. Robinson exploited the opportunity to sound off on a range of issues that personally anger and frustrate him—everything from Trump to climate change. I gather that this a popular Californian academic narrative. The chapter on the whole has a certain apocalyptic, doomsday quality to it, which is arguably more of a reflection of how culturally unprepared Americans are when it comes to absorbing the reality of their imperial decline: “If we do not annihilate ourselves in a nuclear holocaust or descend into the barbarism of a global police state, we will have to confront the threat of a human-induced sixth mass extinction that scientists say has already begun” (pp. 15–16).

At times, the book appears to pander to the fixations of the liberal-left, especially where climate emergency alarmism and identity politics are concerned. We are thus told at various points that this or that board of directors is exclusively male, or exclusively white, or white and male—as if the aesthetic veneer of dominance is what should occupy our attention.

Sometimes the book paints an excessively bleak and hopeless picture of inevitable collapse and war. The power of elites is sometimes overstated. Assumptions that poverty leads to rebellion (p. 303) are part of the book’s baggage of truisms, even if there is painfully little evidence to validate such assumptions. The point is that if it is all so bleak, then that defeats the chances of reform, the same reform that the book advocates. Phillips argues that unless something is done soon, movements like Occupy Wall Street will continue to emerge (p. 305)—to which the answer has to be a big “so what?

Lastly, the index contains some notable errors and omissions, and is actually not very useful for using this book.

Conclusion

Reminding me of the some of the great books written by Susan George in the 1980s on debt crises and hunger, this is one of the more original and important contributions to early 21st-century debates about the decline of the 20th-century phenomenon known as “globalization”. It will serve as a valuable reference to many students of globalization, both within and outside of academia. Thus, despite my criticisms above, I would still recommend this book as required reading for any students in the fields of Political Science and International Relations, Global Sociology, and International Political Economy, as well as perhaps students in Economic Anthropology. What is especially valuable about this book is more than just its detail, but its reconciling of transnational capitalism with US empire. Even where the book falls short, it does so in a manner that provokes many productive and constructive questions.

For me personally, what emerged from studying this text is recognition of the degree to which states still matter immensely in the so-called globalized world (produced by states themselves), and the extent to which the US stands on top of globalization. It is no surprise then that we see the decline of US empire at the same time as the rise of de-globalization. Not discussed in this volume—and hardly mentioned on this site either—is the rise of an embryonic new order dominated by China, as evidenced by its extremely ambitious and widely spread Belt and Road Initiative.

Source: https://zeroanthropology.net/2019/11/27/global-giants-american-empire-and-transnational-capital/

December 2, 2019 Posted by | Book Review, Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

UN: Israeli occupation costs Palestinians $48 billion

MEMO | December 2, 2019

A UN report found that the fiscal cost of Israeli occupation for the Palestinian people in 2000-2017 period is estimated at $47.7 billion, or three times the size of the Palestinian economy in 2017, reports Anadolu Agency.

Mutasim Elagraa, an economist with the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), discussed the report Monday at a news conference in Geneva.

“In the last decade, several UNCTAD studies and reports have addressed the Palestinian fiscal leakage to Israel,” said Elagraa.

The report – entitled Economic cost of the Israeli occupation for the Palestinian people: Fiscal aspects – will be presented to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday.

“This fiscal leakage prompted other international organizations to bring this issue into question, which helped in retroactively retrieving part of the fiscal resources of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) from Israel,” he said.

The economist said the estimate comprises lost public revenues and interest payments.

According to the report, it includes $28.2 billion in estimated accrued interest and $6.6 billion of leaked Palestinian fiscal revenues to Israel, and the amount continues to rise.

“This estimated cumulative fiscal cost of occupation by Israel would not only have eliminated the Palestinian budget deficit estimated at 17.7 billion US dollars during the same period. It would have also generated a surplus nearly twice the size of the deficit,” Elagraa said.

Alternatively, it would have increased more than tenfold the Palestinian government’s development spending, pegged at $4.5 billion during the period under review, according to the report.

December 2, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 3 Comments

NATO’s four crises

By Jan Oberg – The Transnational – December 2, 2019

Political

NATO’s London Summit on December 3 and 4, 2019 displays the deep political crisis of the 70-year-old alliance: Only a dinner and a short meeting, no statement to be issued, quarrels among the leading military members, accusations, substantial differences on Syria and many other issues, the deepest-ever Transatlantic conflict and the usual issues of burden-sharing.

Legal

But the political dimension of NATO’s crisis is only one. There is also a legal crisis. You’ll recognize it if you care to read the NATO Treaty text – something academic and media people don’t generally seem to have done. They would then have noticed that the Alliance of 2019 consistently operates outside – indeed in violation of – its own goals, purposes and values. For instance, the UN Charter which should be NATO’s guideline has been violated on a permanent basis for decades – such as in its out-of-area bombings of Yugoslavia with no UN mandate.

The contempt shown for international law in general and the UN Charter in particular is an integral part of NATO’s existential crisis.

Moral

And, third, there is a moral dimension to NATO’s crisis. Of course, no one talks about it.

It’s the simple fact that no war that individual NATO members states or NATO as NATO have engaged in can be termed anything but predictable fiascos when judged by the alliance’s own stated goals and criteria – just think of Vietnam, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria… all crystal clear moral catastrophes causing unspeakable suffering, death and destruction to millions upon millions while achieving none of the stated goals that were set to explain and legitimize these wars such as creating democracy, respecting human rights, liberating women or stopping alleged genocides.

By now, the world should have been told enough lies about NATO’s benevolent motives, policies and actions for taxpaying citizens to mobilize resistance to it.

These three crises can all be related to the response of the Western world to the demise of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact 30 years ago – i.e. to the choice to expand NATO and exploiting the weakness of Russia.

Intellectual

The last and perhaps most-hidden-of-all crisis is NATO’s intellectual crisis.

It’s now an alliance that operates in a kind of echo chamber with little, or no, sense of the realities of the world. It’s there for its own sake. When you listen to its Secretary-General – not only Stoltenberg but Fogh Rasmussen and earlier ones – you sense a level of creativity and intellectualism that reminds you of leaders who also happened to be Secretaries-General such as, say, Leonid Breznev.

Irrespective of some little objective analysis of the situation, NATO sings only one tune: There are new threats all the time, we must arm more, we need new and better weapons and we must, therefore, increase military expenditures.

And how is it legitimized?

By uttering mantras. No matter what NATO and its members choose to do, it is simply stated without a trace of argument or documentation that more money will increase four things: Defence, security, stability and peace. And be good for basic Western values such as freedom, democracy and peace.

How come – the small boy watching the Emperor would ask – that no matter what NATO has done the last 70 years, it is still maintaining that it needs more to create that defence, security, stability and peace?

What’s wrong with a system that keeps applying the same medicine decade after decade and gets further and further from achieving the stipulated goal?

Military expenditures in general – no balance and no reality check

NATO’s main enemy is supposed to be Russia. It doesn’t matter that Russia’s military expenditures are about 6-7% of NATO’s total expenditures (29 countries). It doesn’t matter that NATO’s technical quality is superior. It doesn’t matter that Russia’s military expenditures are falling year-by-year – decreased to US $ 64 billion in 2018 from US $ 66 billion in 2017. It doesn’t matter that Russia’s military expenditures averaged only US $ 45 billion from 1992 until 2018.

Only? Yes, NATO’s total budget is US $ 1036 billion of which the US stands for 649.

And it doesn’t matter that the old Warsaw Pact budget were some 65-75% of NATO’s during the first Cold War and we were told back then that some kind of balance was good for stability and peace. Today we are told that the more superiority NATO has, the better it is for world peace.

In short, reality doesn’t matter anymore to NATO.

The 2 per cent goal

And this is where the 2 per cent of BNP comes into play and reveals just how deep NATO’s crisis is. But have you seen anybody questioning this 2 per cent goal as the philosophical nonsense – or forgery – it is?

It resembles the Theatre of the Absurd to tie military expenditures to the economic performance of a country. Imagine a person sets off 10 % of her/his income to buy food. Sudden he or she wins in a lottery or is catapulted into a job that yields a 5 times higher income. Should that person then also begin to eat 5 times more?

The 2 per cent goal is an absurdity, an indicator of defence illiteracy. People who take it serious – in politics, media and academia – obviously have never read a basic book about theories and concepts in the field of defence and security. Or about how one makes a professional analysis of what threatens a country.

If military expenditures are meant to secure a country’s future, do the threats that this country faces also vary according to its own GNP? Of course not! It is a bizarre assumption.

Decent knowledge-based defence policies should be decided on the basis of a comprehensive analysis of threats and contain dimensions such as:

What threatens our nation, our society now and along various time horizons? Which threats that we can imagine are so big that we can do nothing to meet them? Which are such that it is meaningful to set off this or that sum to feel reasonably safe? What threats seem so small or unlikely that we can ignore them?

What threats are most likely to go from latent to manifest? How do we prioritize among scarce resources when we have other needs and goals than feeling secure such as developing our economy, education, health, culture, etc.?

And, most importantly, two more consideration: What threats can be met with predominantly military means and which require basically civilian means? And how do we act today to prevent the perceived threats from becoming a reality that we have to face – how do we, within our means, prevent violence and reduce risks as much as possible.

All these questions should be possible to answer with the new mantra: Just always give the military 2 per cent of the GNP and everything will be fine?

The MIMAC

MIMAC is the Military-Industrial-Media-Academic Complex – the vested interests of small elites in symbiosis with governments which run on and benefit from bizarre standards like the 2 per cent goal.

One purpose of that goal is to make serious, empirical and relevant threat analysis irrelevant. It’s a perpetuum mobile – a way of securing that MIMAC always gets what it needs, no matter what the consequences are for thosee who pay it all, the citizens and their tax money.

Imagine that Russia disappeared from the earth tomorrow. And NATO would quickly find some other “enemy” by which to legitimate that it anyhow needs also 2 per cent of your BNP in the future. At least!

NATO Titanic

It’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg two days ago announced this mind-boggling news, swallowed by media as the most natural thing of the world in need of no questions – read it on NATO’s homepage:

Ahead of the meeting of NATO Leaders in London to mark the Alliance’s 70th anniversary, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Friday (29 November 2019) gave details of large increases in Allied defence spending. Mr. Stoltenberg announced that in 2019 defence spending across European Allies and Canada increased in real terms by 4.6 %, making this the fifth consecutive year of growth. He also revealed that by the end of 2020, those Allies will have invested $130 billion more since 2016. Based on the latest estimates, the accumulated increase in defence spending by the end of 2024 will be $400 billion. Mr. Stoltenberg said: ‘This is unprecedented progress and it is making NATO stronger.’

Read it carefully: NATO’s military expenditure increase 2016-2020 is US $130 billion – that is twice as much as Russia’s total annual budget!

There is only two words for it: Madness and irrationality. Madness in and of itself and madness when seen in the perspective of all the other problems humanity must urgently find funds to solve.

The total regular UN budget for the year 2016-17 was US $5.6 billion. That is, NATO countries spend 185 times more on the military than all the world does on the UN.

Do you find that sane and in accordance with the problems humanity need to solve? This author does not. I stand by the word madness. There exists no rational academic, empirical analysis and no theory that can explain NATO’s military expenditures as rational or in service of the common good of humankind.

*****

The world’s strongest, nuclear alliance is a castle built on intellectual sinking sand. It’s a political, moral, legal and intellectual Titanic.

The only armament NATO needs is legal, moral and intellectual. And unless it now moves in this direction, it deserves to be dissolved.

The inverse proportion between its destructive power and its moral-intellectual power is – beyond any doubt – the largest single threat to humanity’s future.

This challenge is at least as serious and as urgent as is climate change.

Perhaps it is time to stop keeping NATO alive by taxpayers’ money and start a tax boycott in all NATO countries until it is dissolved or at least comes down to – say – one-tenth of its present wasteful military level? Not to speak of its bootprint destruction of the environment…

December 2, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | | Leave a comment

Narrative Managers Faceplant In Hilarious OPCW Scandal Spin Job

By Caitlin Johnstone | Medium | November 26, 2019

Imperialist propaganda firm Bellingcat has published a response to the ever-expanding OPCW scandal, and it’s got to be seen to be believed.

Before we begin I should highlight that Bellingcat is funded by the National Endowment for Democracy, which according to its own cofounder was set up to do overtly what the CIA had previously been doing covertly, namely orchestrating narrative management geared toward the elimination of governments which refuse to comply with US interests. NED is funded directly by the US government, which means that Bellingcat is funded by the US government via an organization set up to promote imperialist regime change agendas. Bellingcat is also funded by Open Society Foundations, another imperialist narrative management operation.

Syria has been the target of what may be the most sophisticated propaganda campaign in history, and Bellingcat has been consistently rallying behind even the most transparently ridiculous tools of this campaign. This includes the notorious Bana Alabed psyop which at its height saw CNN staging a fake, scripted interview featuring a seven year-old girl assigning blame to Bashar al-Assad for an alleged sarin gas attack in Khan Shaykhun. Bellingcat’s stellar investigative work (which has been praised in fawning puff pieces by mainstream outlets like The Guardian and The New Yorker) concluded that this obvious propaganda construct was in fact nothing other than a little girl and her mother independently composing viral tweets, giving interviews and authoring books about how the Syrian government must be toppled via western interventionism.

Bellingcat’s latest phenomenal report on how you’re supposed to think about important geopolitical disputes, titled “Emails And Reading Comprehension: OPCW Douma Coverage Misses Crucial Facts”, addresses the leaked OPCW email which was recently published by WikiLeaks and various other outlets revealing that the OPCW omitted crucial information from its Douma report which indicated that a chemical weapons attack was unlikely to have occurred. I encourage you to go and check out Bellingcat’s new masterpiece for yourself. Don’t worry about giving them clicks; that’s not where they get their money.

The first thing you’ll notice about Bellingcat’s article is that at no point does it even attempt to address the actual inflammatory comments within it, such as the OPCW whistleblower’s assertion that the samples tested where a chlorine gas attack is alleged to have occurred in April 2018 contained levels of chlorinated organic compounds which were so low that it would be unreasonable to claim with any confidence that a chlorine gas attack had occurred at all. The whistleblower writes in the leaked email to the OPCW cabinet chief that the levels “were, in most cases, present only in parts per billion range, as low as 1–2 ppb, which is essentially trace quantities.”

As we discussed previously, early skeptics of the establishment Douma narrative highlighted the bizarre fact that when the OPCW published its Interim Report in July of last year its report contained no information about the levels at which the chlorinated organic chemicals occurred. Chlorinated organic chemicals occur at trace levels in any industrialized area, so they are only indicative of a chlorine gas attack when samples test at high levels. The email said they didn’t. The OPCW omitted this in both its Interim and Final Reports.

The whistleblower told journalist Jonathan Steele that the levels found “were comparable to and even lower than those given in the World Health Organisation’s guidelines on recommended permitted levels of trichlorophenol and other COCs in drinking water.”

“Had they been included, the public would have seen that the levels of COCs found were no higher than you would expect in any household environment”, the whistleblower said.

In a new Fox News interview with Tucker Carlson, Steele explained the significance of this revelation.

“The main point is that Chlorine gas degrades rapidly in the air,” Steele said. “So coming in two weeks later, you wouldn’t find anything. What you would find is that the gas contaminates or affects other chemicals in the natural environment. So-called ‘chlorinated organic chemicals.’ The difficulty is they exist anyway in the natural environment and water. So the crucial thing is the levels, were there higher levels of chlorinated organic chemicals found after the alleged gas attack than there would have been in the normal environment?”

“When they got back to the Netherlands, to The Hague where the OPCW has its headquarters, samples were sent off to designated laboratories, then there was a weird silence developed,” Steele continued. “Nobody told the inspectors what the results of the analysis was. It was only by chance that the inspector found out through accident earlier the results would come in and there were no differences at all. There were no higher levels of Chlorinated organic chemicals in the areas where the alleged attack had happened where there is some suspicious cylinders had been found by opposition activists. So it didn’t seem possible that there could have been a gas attack because the levels were just the same as in the natural environment.”

Bellingcat simply ignores this absolutely central aspect of the email, as well as the whistleblower’s point about the symptoms of victims not matching chlorine gas poisoning.

“In this case the confidence in the identity of chlorine or any choking agent is drawn into question precisely because of the inconsistency with the reported and observed symptoms,” the whistleblower writes in the email. “The inconsistency was not only noted by the FFM team but strongly noted by three toxicologists with expertise in exposure to CW [Chemical Weapons] agents.”

Bellingcat says nothing about these revelations in the email, and says nothing about the fact that the OPCW excluded them from both its Interim Report in July 2018 and its Final Report in March 2019, the latter of which actually asserted the exact opposite saying there was “reasonable grounds that the use of a toxic chemical as a weapon took place. This toxic chemical contained reactive chlorine. The toxic chemical was likely molecular chlorine.”

Bellingcat completely ignores all of these points, which are literally the only reason any of this is in the news at all, instead opting to make silly, pedantic arguments that the text of the email and the Interim and Final Reports indicate that some of the whistleblower’s concerns appear to have been partially addressed by OPCW leadership in its publications. To make this argument, Bellingcat highlights how some of the wording in the reports was changed to appear a bit less conclusive, such as changing “likely” to “possible” and changing “reactive chlorine containing chemical” to “chemical containing reactive chlorine”.

By highlighting these barely-significant changes Bellingcat attempts to spin the narrative that there was no internal OPCW coverup of its investigators’ findings at all, which is of course invalidated by the fact that its Final Report concluded that a chlorine gas attack had taken place despite the whistleblower clearly stating that there is no basis upon which to conclude this. It’s also obviously invalidated by the fact that not one but two whistleblowers have come forward, meaning they plainly do not feel as though their concerns were met.

“Ian and I wanted to have this issue investigated and hopefully resolved internally, rather than exposing the failings of the Organisation in public, so we exhausted every internal avenue possible including submission of all the evidence of irregular behaviour to the Office of Internal Oversight,” the whistleblower told Steele. “The request for an internal investigation was refused and every other attempt to raise our concerns was stone walled. Our failed efforts to get management to listen went on over a period of nearly nine months. It was only after we realised the internal route was impossible that we decided to go public”.

“Ian” is Ian Henderson, the OPCW ballistics expert whose Engineering Assessment was leaked this past May. Henderson concluded that, contrary to what the OPCW’s Final Report strongly implies, the cylinders found at the scene in Douma were more likely to have been manually placed there, i.e. staged. The anonymous whistleblower informed Steele that all but one of the OPCW’s investigative team agreed with Henderson’s assessment. This too was left out of all OPCW reports, and Bellingcat’s piece completely ignores it, instead writing only that “Three independent analyses by experts in three different countries were carried out, and all reached complimentary conclusions: the damage at the impact sites is consistent with the cylinders having fallen from height.”

With the temerity only an NED paycheck can get you, Bellingcat argues that this vapid pedantry which has no bearing on the actual story whatsoever completely invalidates all reporting on the OPCW scandal.

“Although this letter appears to be at least superficially damaging to the OPCW, after reading the actual reports published by the OPCW it is clear that this letter is outdated and inapplicable to the final Douma report,” Bellingcat concludes. “If the people covering this story had actually taken the time to read the letter and the FFM reports, they may well have chosen to publicize it in a very different manner.”

Google has helpfully made sure to place Bellincat’s assertive-sounding gibberish at the very top of news results which come up if you do a search for “OPCW” today:

Empire apologists have taken this ridiculous, nonsensical line of argumentation as gospel and run with it on social media, sharing Bellingcat’s embarrassing faceplant with triumphant, chest-thumping captions.

“Just so all my followers are clear, Tucker Carlson and the merry band of alt left grifter idiots trying to convince you that 1 of the 257 chemical attacks in Syria was a false flag are wrong, again, and never even bothered to read the report they say is wrong,” tweeted Newshour’s Danny Gold.

“So the letter written by the dissenting OPCW employee on Douma investigation was sent two weeks before the interim report was released and nine months before the final one. In the final one, the employee’s concerns were addressed. Where’s the cover up?” tweeted Telegraph’s Josie Ensor.

“WikiLeaks et al are lying to you in defence of the Assad regime,” tweeted odious Syria narrative manager Oz Katerji.

Media Matters For America, another narrative management firm founded by troll army commander David Brock, has also picked up Bellingcat’s ridiculous arguments and run with them in an even dumber article titled “Tucker Carlson spreads disinformation about a deadly chemical attack in Syria”.

“Despite the seemingly scandalous accusation in the leak, Carlson is misrepresenting the nature of the WikiLeaks documents and their significance,” MMFA claims. “Investigative journalists at Bellingcat found that the leaked letter was in fact referring to an ‘interim report’ issued in July of 2018, before the OPCW released its final conclusions. A side-by-side comparison shows that the concerns addressed in the letter ‘are present, or else are in modified form, in the final report.’”

Which is of course false, as explained above.

MMFA’s other claims are nothing other than simple regurgitation of the very reports that are now being invalidated by the leaks that Tucker Carlson highlighted on his show. Their entire argument boils down to “This old information is in contradiction to that new information,” which is of course the entire bloody point.

“These claims contradict and misrepresent the available evidence regarding the attack, the conclusions of multiple governments, and they are based on a Syrian and Russian misinformation campaign seeking to discredit investigators and absolve Assad of responsibility for the atrocity,” MMFA argues, linking to a 2018 BBC article saying Assad was responsible for the Douma incident, a 2018 Guardian article about the US government’s unsubstantiated claim to have secret proof of Assad’s guilt, and a 2018 Guardian article claiming that Russia is wrong about its skepticism of the western Douma narrative, respectfully.

Which is the same as saying “You’re wrong because we disagree with you. Here is evidence of our disagreeing with you last year.”

This is the best the spin masters can do, and the OPCW scandal is only going to unfold more. Should be fun.

December 2, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | Leave a comment

Defence Ministry Dismisses NYT Report on Russia ‘Bombing’ Syrian Refugee Camp in August

Sputnik – December 2, 2019

The NYT wrote 1 December that “eyewitness photos and videos, flight logs and cockpit tapes obtained by The Times enabled reporters to trace an airstrike on a Syrian camp for displaced families to a Russian pilot.”

The Russian Defence Ministry dismissed a report by The New York Times (NYT) about Russia’s Aerospace Forces’ alleged bombing of a Syrian refugee camp in August.

“Like a month and a half ago, the ridiculous accusations by the authors of the fake are based on a video of unknown origin with swindlers from the White Helmets against the backdrop of buildings of the ‘refugee camp’; pictures of the blue sky in which a Russian plane was supposed to be and fragments of Russian phrases, allegedly belonging to the Russian Aerospace Forces pilots”, ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said.

Konashenkov added that to the disappointment of those who ordered the fake, the ministry is forced to recall again that the transfer of the coordinates of targets to the pilots of Russian bombers or reports on the fulfilment of their tasks are not carried out by voice on the air openly.

The comment comes as the NYT ran an article claiming that a Russian pilot conducted an airstrike on a refugee Syrian camp.

Russia’s Role in Syria

Since 2017, Russia has been one of the three guarantors of the ceasefire in Syria, which has been engulfed in a civil war for years. The Russian armed forces have been providing military assistance to Damascus throughout the conflict, while also carrying out regular humanitarian operations across the country.

Russia is now assisting Syria in the post-war reconstruction and the return of refugees.

The Russian military police are currently engaged in patrolling Syria’s provinces of Aleppo and Raqqa along the border with Turkey as part of the Russia-Turkey deal over the buffer zone in northern Syria.

Following talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a Russian-Turkish memorandum was signed on 22 October in Russia’s Sochi, which stipulates conditions for the peaceful withdrawal of Kurdish militants in Syria to a distance of 30 kilometres (18.6 miles) from the border with Turkey.

The 10-point document envisions a variety of patrol missions carried out by the Russian military contingent in Syria, Syrian border guards, and Turkish troops in order to ensure the implementation of the deal.

December 2, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment

Bilateral trade relations between Iran and EU suffer under harsh US sanctions

By Sarah Abed – December 2, 2019

Trade between the European Union (EU) and the Islamic Republic of Iran has dropped roughly 74.92% percent this year from January to September compared to last year during the same timeframe, due to US-imposed sanctions, according to the European statistical office. The top three trading partners in the European bloc were Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands. Analysts at the European Council on Foreign Relations have described the US’s secondary sanctions as abuse of its global financial dominance.

Iran’s commodities exports have fallen 94% and imports have declined 51.15%. Before the sanctions, the EU was Iran’s main trading partner, but now China and the United Arab Emirates have risen to the first and second slots respectively.

While most discussions regarding Iran and EU trade relations center on oil, a crucial indicator of Europe-Iran trade relations lies in European technology and the billions of dollars’ worth of European parts, machinery, and transport equipment exports, which play an important role in Iran’s industrial sector and economy.

In May 2018, the United States unilaterally withdrew from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) complaining that the deal didn’t curb Iran’s nuclear capabilities but Europeans and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have repeatedly confirmed that the nuclear deal was working and that Iran was in compliance.  Since then the remaining five world powers who signed the nuclear deal with Iran, namely the UK, France, Russia, China, and Germany have tried to keep the nuclear deal alive by urging the United States to return to the deal and lift the harsh sanctions.

Immediately after leaving the nuclear deal, the United States reinstated crippling sanctions under its “maximum pressure campaign” with the goal of bringing about “regime change” while reducing Iran’s oil exports to zero.

Iran patiently waited for over a year for the United States to either return to the deal or for European nations to ease their suffering. France advocated for a $15 billion dollar line of credit and an EU Instrument for Supporting Trade Exchanges commonly referred to as INSTEX, became “operational” in June of this year, but hasn’t offered Iran any relief yet.

INSTEX was created to circumvent Washington’s sanctions as a payment channel with the UK, France, and Germany to help Iran continue to trade. The exchange of goods is allowed without requiring direct transfers of money, serving as a diplomatic shield. Good intentions aside, it’s been useless.

Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Finland, Denmark and Belgium announced on November 29th that they are in the process of becoming shareholders in INSTEX, in order to support the JCPOA and the economic parts of it and facilitate legitimate trade between Europe and Iran. A joint statement of support for the preservation and full implementation of the JCPOA was made. They reiterated that the nuclear agreement was unanimously endorsed by the UN Security Council and is an instrumental tool for global non-proliferation and stability in the region.

Unfortunately, neither the line of credit nor INSTEX have been properly implemented yet. With no relief in sight and economic conditions worsening, Iran started to scale back on its commitments under the JCPOA, thus far it has taken four such steps and has vowed to continue to scale back its obligations every sixty days, until there’s a solution.

For almost three decades the United States was Iran’s main military and economic partner and played an important role in its infrastructure and industry modernization, from 1950 until 1978. All of that ended when the US-backed Shah of Iran Mohammed Reza Pahlevi was forced to step down during the Iranian Revolution in 1979. And that’s when the United States cut economic and diplomatic ties, froze billions of dollars of assets, and banned Iranian imports.

Iran is the world’s third largest consumerer of natural gas after the United States and Russia, and a major oil exporter since 1913.

Iran’s economy is dominated by oil and gas production, ownership of 10% of the world’s proven oil reserves and 15% of its gas reserves have earned Iran recognition as an energy superpower. This of course puts a huge target on its back for US imperialism and intervention.

Since mid-2018 US sanctions have been placed on Iran’s oil sales, banking transactions, metals trading, petrochemicals, shipping etc. and as a result, Tehran was forced to raise oil prices on November 15th by fifty percent and impose a strict rationing system. Soon after, protests erupted and at least eight people linked to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) were arrested by Iranian security agents.

Although trade has significantly decreased Washington’s attempts to destroy Iran’s economy, bilateral attempts to improve and normalize Iran-EU trade relations have fallen short. If successful, Washington would benefit from increasing its own oil and commodities trade, while hurting economic ties between Iran and EU.

December 2, 2019 Posted by | Economics | , , | Leave a comment