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Into The Metaverse (The Media Matrix — Part 3)

Corbett • 08/02/2022

We stand at a precipice. On one side is “reality”: the original, authentic, lived human experience. And on the other side is the metaverse: the world of constantly mediated experience. In the middle is hyperreality, that blurry space between the real world and the mediated world. And, living as we do on this side of the electronic media revolution, it is the only place we have ever known.

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VOICEOVER: Media. It surrounds us. We live our lives in it and through it. We structure our lives around it. But it wasn’t always this way. So how did we get here? And where is the media technology that increasingly governs our lives taking us? This is the story of The Media Matrix.


At the dawn of the twenty-first century, if you saw anything, read anything, listened to anything, it was, more likely than not, placed in front of you by one of the handful of corporations that controlled the major television and radio networks, newspaper syndicates, film studios and music companies. These companies didn’t control what people thought; it was more subtle than that. These companies controlled what people thought about.

We all knew the daily news from the newspapers. We all heard the latest Billboard chart topper. We all saw the latest episode of Must See TV and we all knew about the latest Hollywood blockbuster. Even if we managed to avoid these media ourselves, we knew them anyway from cultural osmosis.

Yes, by the year 2000 we had arrived at the pinnacle of mediated reality. The media oligopoly’s control of society was complete, and nothing could ever come along to change it.

And then something did.

SINGER: You’re riding on the internet! Cyberspace, set us free! Hello, virtual reality! Interactive appetite, searching for a website, a window to the world that to get online. Take the spin now you’re in with the techno set, you’re going surfing on the internet!

SOURCE: Kids Guide to the Internet (1995)

Given that the only thing most people can agree on these days is that the internet is ruining society, it’s difficult to remember that the general public’s introduction to the World Wide Web was accompanied by a torrent of hyperbole and over-the-top enthusiasm that would make a pimply-faced teenager blush.

The internet was going to solve all of our problems! It was going to democratize information. It was going to give a voice to the voiceless. It was going to bring the world together. And most importantly, it was going to help us order pizza without having to pick up our phone!

[Sandra Bullock orders pizza on the internet.]

SOURCE: The Net (1995)

It’s easy to laugh at the gee-whizery and pie-in-the-sky promises of the Information Superhighway hype. But make no mistake: the advent of the web was a revolution. It did upend the economic model that had given rise to the media oligopoly in the first place. And it did give a voice to countless millions around the globe who would never have been heard at all if it weren’t for the advent of new media platforms.

JAMES CORBETT: This is James Corbett of, and I’d like to welcome you to a new episode of a completely new news update series that I’m doing with my good friend, and the host and webmaster of, James Evan Pilato. James, it’s great to have you on the program today.

JAMES EVAN PILATO: Thanks a lot, man. I’ve looked forward to doing this.

CORBETT: Yeah, me too. . . .

SOURCE: New World Next Week Pilot Episode — Oct. 11, 2009

As the general public started to get online in the 1990s, not even the wildest flights of cyber-utopian fancy could have imagined the sea change in news and information that was about to sweep over the public. As the printing press had given birth to our very concept of “the news” and as radio and then television again transformed our understanding of what it meant to hear or see the news, so, too, did this new medium change our perceptions of world events and our relationship to them.

Suddenly, “the news” was not something you heard a well-coiffed elderly man in a three-piece suit in a million dollar studio reading to you from a teleprompter. In the online age, the news was as likely to be a story written from home by a guy in his pajamas or a video of a protest uploaded from someone’s smartphone or a tweet by an anonymous account. Blogs and websites, and, later, Facebook feeds and Reddit posts, became places people went for news and analysis on breaking events. Information was condensed into memes, and meme literacy became necessary to even understand what was happening online.

And all the while, the media whose hold over the public mind had seemed so unassailable mere decades ago was now old hat, reduced to just another stream of information accessible on the always on, infinite scrolling online content feeds.

But if we have learned anything from this study of mass media history by now, it’s that a predictable pattern is at play: a new technology transforms the way people communicate and promises a flowering of knowledge and understanding. The existing power structure then spends all of its considerable resources censoring or co-opting that technology and, ultimately, using the new media as an even more effective tool for spreading propaganda.

As we saw in Part 1 of this series, the Gutenberg press sparked a true revolution, overturning the social, political and economic order and empowering individuals to share ideas on a scale never before imaginable. But we also saw the censors swooping in to repress those ideas before the corporatization of the press finally tamed the mighty juggernaut that Gutenberg had unleashed.

And, as we saw in Part 2 of this series, the commercial radio revolution prompted the Rockefellers and other entrenched financial interests to begin studying how best to use the electronic media to shape the public consciousness. And television, with its ability to put its viewers into an alpha brainwave state of susceptibility, proved to be an even more effective tool for the corporate interests that soon monopolized the public airwaves.

The story of the World Wide Web follows a depressingly similar trajectory. Whatever promise the internet held to kick off a new Gutenberg revolution—putting the power of the press back in the hands of the average person—that promise has been consistently betrayed by the the centralization of online discovery and identity into corporations, as even Twitter founder Jack Dorsey now admits.

Perhaps the fact that the web has been so quickly co-opted into a medium of control isn’t surprising. After all, the internet is no movable type printing press. However much work went into the design of the printing press, it was still possible for a skilled fifteenth century craftsman to create and operate one with nothing more than the knowledge of the latest technologies and the capital of a few business partners. But the internet arose not from a medieval tinkerer’s workshop, but from the bowels of the Pentagon.

The long history of collusion between Big Tech, the Pentagon and the US intelligence community is by now a well-documented one. The story leads from Silicon Valley—home of Big Tech and the site of much of the research that helped birth the personal computer revolution and the internet—through Pentagon research grants and In-Q-Tel investments to the development of the ARPANet, the birth of the internet, and, eventually, the rise of Google and Facebook and the World Wide Web as we know it today.

The result of that history is apparent to all by now. A medium that should be the most participatory medium ever invented has become a web to trap its audience in an infinite scroll of social media distraction, one designed specifically to keep its users seeking the scientifically scheduled hit of their next dopamine reward.

SEAN PARKER: If the thought process that went into building these applications—Facebook being the first of them to really understand it—that thought process was all about “How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?” And that means that we need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever, and that’s gonna get you to contribute more content, and that’s gonna get you more likes and comments. So it’s a social validation feedback loop. I mean, it’s exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology. And I think that we—the inventors/creators, you know, it’s me, it’s Mark, it’s Kevin Systrom at Instagram, it’s all of these people—understood this consciously and we did it anyway.

SOURCE: Sean Parker – Facebook Exploits Human Vulnerability 

The results of Big Tech’s experiment are now in: the would-be social engineers were successful beyond their wildest expectation. The zombie apocalypse has already happened; in its wake lay the increasingly mechanistic automatons of the social media revolution, eschewing the dull world of human interaction for the cyber world of likes, shares and dopamine rewards. The smartphone has become the digital god of the zombie hordes, demanding we bow down in prayer at every free moment.

Perhaps most frightening of all is the astonishing speed with which this revolution is taking place. As transformative as Gutenberg’s press was, it took decades for the technology to propagate out across Europe, and it took centuries for the effects of that technological upheaval to play itself out in the body politic. The electronic media revolution took the better part of a century of development from its earliest iteration, the telegraph, to its introduction to the average person’s living room in the form of radio sets, and, later, televisions.

But the online media revolution has happened with astonishing speed. In the span of one decade, smartphones went from curious novelties to ubiquitous items, and they are now on the cusp of being made mandatory for participation in everyday life. This incredible change is already manifesting in a world of profound and rapid dislocations in every facet of our lives: political, economic and social.

So where is this revolution taking us? Can we learn to navigate this new world of nearly constant mediated experience? Should we?

To answer that, we need to look at the nature of media itself.

Media, from the earliest smoke signals and scratches in clay tablets to the printed page to the recorded images and sounds of the modern era, has always existed as a means for extending our bodies in space and time. The written word is an extension of our mind out into the world, allowing people in far-distant places and far-off times to read our innermost thoughts. The phonograph was an extension of our voice, the filmed image an extension of our bodies themselves, permitting them a type of 2D immortality.

But somewhere along the way, the balance between the media and the real world that it represents began to shift. We went from this world to this world, where most of what we see, most of what we hear, most of what we think we know about the world comes not from the people and places that populate our direct, lived experience, but from mere representations.

We have our friends, of course, but we also have Friends. We have neighbours, but we also have Neighbours. We have something better than real life. We have reality TV!

We have entered the world of the simulacrum.

JEAN BAUDRILLARD: Mais dans la définition que j’ai du réel, au sens où je l’ai dit : c’est-à-dire faire advenir un monde réel, c’est déjà le produire, c’est déjà quelque-chose comme un simulacre.

Pour moi, le réel n’a jamais été qu’une forme de simulation. Le principe de réalité, c’est la première phase, si on veut, du principe de simulation, quoi . . . Mon postulat ce serait : il n’y a pas de réel, le réel n’existe pas. On peut objectivement le cadrer, faire qu’il existe un effet de réel, un effet de vérité, un effet d’objectivité, et cetera . . . mais moi je n’y crois pas au réel.

SOURCE: Jean Baudrillard — Mots de passe (documentaire 1999)

At a certain point, the boundaries between the real world and the world of media begin to blur. Is television reflecting the types of people we are, or are we emulating the characters we see on TV? Are the sad songs we listen to the product of broken-hearted people or the cause?

But if nothing is less real than reality TV, what is the reality that that TV is attempting to portray? Does it even exist anymore?

This is no idle question. As pervasive as the online media has become, as important as our participation in that mediated world has become for our daily lives, a new medium has already appeared. The metaverse. Introduced to the public consciousness by the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, the metaverse represents the apotheosis of the media revolution. Soon, the internet will not exist as a cyperspace that we access through our clunky smartphone gadget. Instead, it will be a fully realized, immersive, 3D virtual world that we can literally step into.

No matter our reluctance to enter this virtual world, we will soon, all of us, have the opportunity to enter the metaverse for ourselves, whether by putting on the glasses and adding an augmented reality layer to the world as we know it, or by strapping on the goggles and entering the cyber domain completely. And, after we do so, we may find the idea of living our lives in bare, unmediated reality will be as quaint, as unthinkable, as living in a world of smoke signals and clay tablets.

[Scenes from HYPER-REALITY]

We stand at a precipice. On one side is “reality”: the original, authentic, lived human experience.

And on the other side is the metaverse: the world of constantly mediated experience.

In the middle is hyperreality, that blurry space between the real world and the mediated world. And, living as we do on this side of the electronic media revolution, it is the only place we have ever known.

It has been suggested that the metaverse is not a space—not a virtual world that we can jack ourselves into and live a virtual life, like in The Matrix—but a time. Specifically, the metaverse is that time when our digital lives become more meaningful to us than our “real” lives. If that is the case, then who can deny that, for an increasing number of people around the world, that time has already arrived?

In this series we have examined the history of the mass media, from the Gutenberg Revolution to today. But if we don’t understand that history, then we will be like the ignorant masses identified by George Santayana, condemned to repeat a past that we cannot remember.

From one perspective, the history of media is merely the story of the development of the machinery of communciation. The movement from the printing press to the telegraph to the radio to the television to the internet to the metaverse is a story of technological progress, and each new technology brings us closer to the ideal of total communication.

But there is a more fundamental perspective, one that sees media not as a technology, but as the expression of our need as human beings to connect with others, to fight off our original state as beings cast alone and naked into the world through communion with others. But as our technology of communication begins to create its own world and as we increasingly place ourselves inside that media world, we would do well to ask ourselves, “At what point do we lose our essential nature as human beings? Once we’re jacked into the metaverse, are we still homo sapiens, or will we have become homo medias? Have we considered what that means? Do we care?”

Perhaps it’s inevitable that the curved mirror of the Gutenberg conspiracy has finally brought us here, to the black mirror at the doorway to the metaverse. Perhaps we were destined to end up here. Perhaps this is an expression of a fundamental urge that is part of human nature.

Perhaps. But it’s also good to know that this has an “off” button. That the real world still exists. That you are watching an image on a screen. And that the power to turn it all off is still in our hands.

The Media Matrix

Written, Directed and Presented by James Corbett

Video Editing and Graphic Design by Broc West

Recording Assistance: Murray Carr

Special Guest Appearance by James Evan Pilato

Series Title Theme “What Hath God Wrought” by KODOMOSAN

Transcript and links:

August 2, 2022 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Video | Leave a comment

NATO-backed network of Syria dirty war propagandists identified

Defaming journalism on the OPCW’s Syria cover-up scandal, The Guardian and its NATO-funded sources out themselves as the real “network of conspiracy theorists.”
By Aaron Maté | August 1, 2022

On June 10th, The Guardian’s Mark Townsend published an article headlined “Russia-backed network of Syria conspiracy theorists identified.” (“Russia-backed” has since been removed).

The article is based on what Townsend calls a “new analysis” that “reveals” a “network more than two dozen conspiracy theorists, frequently backed by a coordinated Russian campaign.” This network, Townsend claims, is “focused on the denial or distortion of facts about the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons and on attacking the findings of the world’s foremost chemical weapons watchdog,” the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). According to Townsend, I am named “as the most prolific spreader of disinformation” among the nefarious bunch.

In hawking this purported exposé of “disinformation”, Townsend violated every basic standard of journalism. He did not contact me before publishing his allegations; fails to offer a shred of evidence for them; and does not cite a single example of my alleged “prolific” disinformation. Instead, Townsend bases his claims entirely on a think-tank report  that also provides no evidence, nor even assert that I have said anything false. In the process, Townsend failed to disclose that the report’s authors — the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) and the Syria Campaign — are groups funded by the US government and other belligerents in the Syria proxy war. To top it off, Townsend fabricates additional allegations that his state-funded sources do not even make.

As a result, Townsend and the Guardian have engaged in the exact sort of conduct that they falsely impute to me and others: spreading Syria-related disinformation with coordinated support from state-funded actors. The aim of this propaganda network is transparent: defaming journalism that exposes the OPCW’s ongoing Syria cover-up scandal and the dirty war waged by Western powers on Syria.

The OPCW cover-up is arguably the most copiously documented pro-war deception since the US-led drive to invade Iraq. In Western media, as The Guardian’s behavior newly demonstrates, it is also without question the most suppressed.

At the center of the story are two veteran OPCW scientists, Dr. Brendan Whelan and Ian Henderson. The pair were among a team that deployed to Syria in April 2018 to investigate an alleged chemical attack in the town of Douma. They have since accused senior OPCW officials of manipulating the Douma probe to reach a conclusion that baselessly implicated the Syrian government in a chlorine gas attack. Their claims are backed up by a trove of leaked documents and emails that show extensive doctoring and censoring of the Douma team’s findings.

The Douma cover-up extends far beyond the OPCW’s executive suite. It also implicates NATO governments led by the US, which bombed Syria over the Douma chemical weapons allegation, and then, weeks later, privately pressured the OPCW to validate it. Since the OPCW scandal became public, the US and its allies have thwarted efforts to address it.

At the most criminal level, the scandal implicates sectarian death squads armed and funded by the US and allies during their decade-long campaign for regime change in Syria.

At the time of the incident, Douma was occupied by the Saudi-backed jihadi militia Jaysh-al-Islam and under bombardment from Syrian army forces attempting to retake control. Shortly before their surrender, local allies of Jaysh-al-Islam accused Syrian forces of using chemical weapons. They released gruesome footage of an apartment building filled with slain civilians. A gas cylinder was filmed positioned above a crater on the roof. Concurrently, the White Helmets, a NATO and Gulf state-funded, insurgent-adjacent organization, released footage of what it claimed were gas attack victims in a Douma field hospital. Several journalists, including Riam Dalati of the BBCRobert Fisk of the Independent, and James Harkin of the Intercept, found evidence that the hospital scene was staged. (In February 2019, Dalati claimed that he can “prove without a doubt that the Douma Hospital scene was staged.” Oddly, more than three years later, he has not released his findings).

The White Helmets’ alleged fakery of a chemical attack aftermath, coupled with the censored OPCW findings showing no evidence that a chemical attack occurred, suggest the inescapable conclusion that insurgents in Douma carried out a deception to frame the Syrian government. And given the unexplained deaths of the more than 40 victims filmed in the Douma apartment building, that deception may have entailed a murderous war crime.

Unlike the Iraq WMD hoax, the very existence of the OPCW’s Douma scandal is unknown to much of the Western world. With few exceptions, establishment media outlets have refused to acknowledge the OPCW whistleblowers and the leaks that brought their story to light.

After largely ignoring the OPCW cover-up since it first surfaced in May 2019, the Guardian has now published defamatory claims about journalists, myself included, who have dared to report on the censored facts.

When I wrote The Guardian about the Townsend article’s journalistic lapses, I did not get a response. One week later, I phoned Townsend, who was now back in the office but had yet to reply. In our conservation, which I recorded and recently published, I repeatedly asked Townsend to substantiate his claims about me and identify even a single example of my alleged disinformation.

Townsend did not attempt to defend his article’s assertions, beyond claiming that they were based on what was “in a report.” When I pressed further, he claimed that he had to “dash for a meeting” and promised that I would soon hear from the paper’s reader’s editor. (Before I published our phone call, and this article, I emailed Townsend a detailed list of questions and invited him to offer any additional comment. He did not respond).

“Deadly Disinformation”

Townsend could not provide any evidence for his assertions because the report that he parroted offers none as well.

The report, titled “Deadly Disinformation” and authored by The Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) and the Syria Campaign, contains bare references to my reporting and makes no effort to refute it. Nowhere does the report even claim that I have said anything false. It simply claims to have “identified 28 individuals, outlets and organisations who have spread disinformation about the Syrian conflict,” and that I am “the most prolific spreader of disinformation” among them.

When the report bothers to mention of anything that I have actually said, it engages in distortion. In its first mention, the report states that I wrote an article that “attacks Bellingcat for its contributions to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).” Here, they not only fail to assert that I said anything false, but offer a false portrayal of what happened.

As for “attacking” Bellingcat — a website that, like the report’s authors, is funded by NATO states that were belligerents in the Syria dirty war – what I really did was expose its disinformation.

In this case, Bellingcat fraudulently attacked Whelan (the key OPCW whistleblower), along with several journalists (myself included) by falsely accusing us of concealing an OPCW letter that, I quickly revealed, did not in fact exist. Bellingcat was forced to add a correction, delete embarrassing tweets, and apologize to one of the article’s targets, the journalist Peter Hitchens (who resides in the UK, home to strict libel laws). I later exposed that Bellingcat copied a hidden, external author for some of their false material.

In short, the ISD/Syria Campaign’s first purported example of my alleged “disinformation” is an easily verifiable case where I’ve exposed state-backed lies.

The report’s only other substantive example comes when it notes that I have argued that the OPCW probe’s Douma probe “was flawed.” This far understates my case: the OPCW’s Douma investigation wasn’t “flawed”; it’s a scandalous cover-up worthy of global attention. Regardless, yet again, the report does not even assert that my argument is false, let alone try to explain why.

In a July 13th email, I asked the ISD to substantiate their claim that I have spread disinformation, and provide even one example of it. On its website, the ISD claims to “take complaints seriously,” and promises a response “within ten working days.” As of this writing, after 13 working days, I have not heard back.

At The Guardian, OPCW leaks are “problematic”

When I emailed a complaint about Townsend’s reporting, The Guardian admitted fault only on failing to contact me before publishing his evidence-free allegations. This was the result, they claimed, of a “breakdown of communication internally.” I was then offered the chance to respond to the article in 200 words.

A key point in my reply (which can be read here) was that The Guardian and its state-funded source is unable to identify any falsehoods in anything I’ve written “because my reporting on the OPCW’s Douma cover-up scandal is based on damning OPCW leaks.” These leaks, I added, “reveal that veteran inspectors found no evidence of a chemical attack in Douma, and that expert toxicologists ruled out chlorine gas as the victims’ cause of death. But these findings were doctored and censored by senior OPCW officials.”

At The Guardian, this passage set off an apparent alarm. After disparaging my reporting on the OPCW leaks, The Guardian informed me that they would now prevent me from even mentioning them. In a July 8 email, a Guardian editor wrote that the “the part about the OPCW” in my reply “continues to be problematic.” My reference to the OPCW leaks, the editor claimed, “makes an assertion that has been rebutted by an independent inquiry.”

I responded by asking the editor to specify exactly which “assertion” of mine has been rebutted. I also proposed that, if they believe that I have said anything “problematic,” they publish their own rebuttal.

In multiple follow-up emails, the editor failed to identify any “rebutted” assertion of mine. Despite that, the Guardian proceeded to publish my reply without its reference to the OPCW leaks. But this raised a new problem: in censoring my statement, they misquoted me. When I pointed out that error, they updated my reply to finally allow a (minimal) mention of the OPCW leaks.

The Guardian also took me up on my proposal that they publish their own rebuttal:

Editor’s note: Both the ISD and the Syria Campaign list a diverse range of funders and describe themselves as “fiercely independent”. In 2020 the OPCW rebutted claims about its investigation into the Douma incident (Inquiry strikes blow to Russian denials of Syria chemical attack).

As for the “inquiry” that The Guardian claims “rebutted claims about its investigation into the Douma incident,” the inquiry was not independent, and did not rebut anything.

The “inquiry” was appointed by the OPCW’s Director General’s office, the very body that presided over the cover-up. It was also staffed by two “investigators” from the US and UK. These happen to be the two states that bombed Syria based on the Douma allegations that the OPCW fraudulently validated, and that have since tried to bury the scandal at every stage.

Accordingly, the OPCW “inquiry” avoided the allegations of censorship in the Douma probe and instead disingenuously minimized the whistleblowers’ role. The whistleblowers themselves have rebutted the inquiry’s claims about them, as have I in subsequent reporting.

A network of NATO disinformation

As for what the Guardian calls the ISD and Syria Campaign’s “diverse range of funders,” both groups indeed enjoy a diverse range of funders: everyone from NATO governments to NATO government-funded organizations. They also receive support from billionaire-funded foundations that often work in concert with these same NATO governments’ foreign policy objectives.

The Institute for Strategic Dialogue’s “diverse range of funders,” according to The Guardian.

The ISD’s “diverse” funders include the US State Department, the US Department of Homeland Security, three other US state-funded organizations, and more than two dozen other NATO government agencies. On the private side, the ISD’s funders include the foundations of three of the world’s richest oligarchs: Pierre Omidyar’s Omidyar Group, George Soros’ Open Society Foundations, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

In using the ISD as a source, The Guardian has a conflict of interest that its article did not disclose. The latter two ISD donors have also given sizeable grants to The Guardianat least $625,000 from Open Society Foundations since 2019, and at least $12.9 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation since 2011.

Omidyar’s foundation has a direct role in the ISD/Syria Campaign report. The Omidyar Group’s Luminate Strategic Initiatives is listed alongside the German government-funded Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung foundation as the report’s fiscal sponsor.

Omidyar’s sponsorship of an attack on journalism about the OPCW scandal is highly fitting. The Intercept, the self-described “fearless and adversarial” outlet that Omidyar also funds with his vast fortune, has never once acknowledged the OPCW leaks or whistleblowers’ existence. While ignoring the OPCW scandal for more than three years, The Intercept has published multiple articles promoting the allegation that Syria committed a chemical attack in Douma.

Like the ISD, the Syria Campaign is also funded by governments and other belligerents in the Syria dirty war. As The Grayzone’s Max Blumenthal reported in 2017, the Syria Campaign was founded by Ayman Asfari, a Syrian-British billionaire oil tycoon and leading financial supporter of the Syrian National Coalition, the largest government-in-exile group established after the Syria conflict erupted in 2011. The Syria Campaign has also done extensive P.R. and fundraising for the White Helmets, the insurgent-adjacent, NATO state-funded organization implicated in the Douma incident.

That these two state-funded groups “describe themselves as ‘fiercely independent'” is apparently enough for The Guardian. I trust that the Guardian would feel differently if they were dealing with self-described “fiercely independent” groups funded by the Russian and Syrian governments.

Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of sources quoted in the ISD/Syria Campaign report are funded or employed by the same NATO state and private sponsors. This includes the White Helmets; the Global Public Policy Institute; Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS); self-described journalist Chloe Hadjimatheou of the BBC, who produced a podcast series that disparaged the OPCW whistleblowers and whitewashed the Douma cover-up; and James Jeffrey, the former US Special Envoy for Syria.

For a report that claims to be concerned with protecting Syrians from “real-world harm,” Jeffrey is a particularly interesting interview subject. Few US officials have been as candid about their willingness to immiserate Syrian civilians in pursuit of hegemonic US goals in their country.

Jeffrey has declared that al-Qaeda is a US “asset” in Syria, and has admitted to misleading the Trump White House to undermine an effort to withdraw the US military, whose illegal occupation deliberately deprives Syria of its own wheat and fuel. Jeffrey has openly bragged about his “effective strategy” to ensure “no reconstruction assistance” in Syria — even though the war-ravaged country is “desperate for it.” And he has also taken credit for helping to impose crippling US sanctions on Syria that have “crushed the country’s economy.”

Jeffrey’s proudly self-acknowledged real-world harms on millions of Syrians don’t seem to bother the study’s authors, presumably because their Western state sponsors implement them.

The report is so invested in its state funders’ aims in Syria that it approvingly airs frustration that other governments are failing to toe the NATO line. A “former Western diplomat” complains that “disinformation” on Syria is helping states “avoid making the decisions that we want them to make, say in the Security Council or elsewhere.” (emphasis added). From the point of view of Western officials, the anonymous diplomat is employing an accurate operative definition of what constitutes “disinformation”: any information that causes those deemed subordinate to “avoid making the decisions that we want them to make.”

Fittingly, another anonymous “senior diplomat” laments that supposed Syria disinformation is intended “ultimately to cast doubt upon the legitimacy and integrity of the people doing this kind of [policy] work.” Daring to question the “legitimacy and integrity” of Western policymakers who oversaw a multi-billion dollar CIA-led dirty war on Syria that knowingly empowered al-Qaeda and other sectarian death squads while leaving hundreds of thousands dead — another intolerable act that can only result from “disinformation.”

A member of the US-funded, insurgent-adjacent White Helmets is also given space to lament that alleged “disinformation” is hurting its donations. “We hear about billions of dollars for aid at conferences on Syria but most of that funding goes to the UN,” a White Helmets manager complains. Unmentioned is that European governments have cut funding to the group after their late founder, the lavishly paid UK military veteran James le Mesurier, admitted to pocketing donor funds and financial fraud right before he took his own life.

Having promoted the hegemonic agenda of its state sponsors, the report closes with a thinly veiled call to censor the dissenting voices it targets.

The ISD and Syria Campaign urge policymakers to “adopt a whole-of-government approach in tackling disinformation” and “ensure that loopholes or special privileges are not created for ‘media’ which would only exacerbate the spread of disinformation.” These “privileges” presumably refer to free speech. The report also notes favorably that platforms have addressed “thematic harms such as public health disinformation or foreign interference in elections.” As a result, the report calls on these platforms to “commit to applying similar levels of resourcing… in the context of the ongoing Syrian conflict.” Perhaps they have in mind the censorship of journalism about Hunter Biden’s laptop before the 2020 election, on the fake grounds that the story was “Russian disinformation.”

The fact that this network of state-funded actors is devoting energy to disparaging journalism about the OPCW’s Syria cover-up — and even advocating that it be censored – reflects their powerful sponsors’ desperation to bury a damning scandal.

In public, OPCW Director General Fernando Arias has provided misleading and outright false answers about the Douma probe, including why he refuses to meet with the dissenting inspectors and the rest of the original investigative team.

On top of the two known whistleblowers, Arias has ignored calls for accountability from his original predecessor, founding OPCW chief Jose Bustani, as well as four other former senior OPCW officials. Along with Bustani, former senior UN official Hans von Sponeck has spearheaded the Berlin Group 21, a global initiative to address the OPCW scandal. The US has responded to Bustani by blocking his testimony at the United Nations. Arias meanwhile refused to open a letter that he received from Sponeck’s group, returning it back to sender.

The response of Western media outlets like the Guardian to the stonewalling of these veteran diplomats and senior OPCW officials has simply been to ignore it.

In whitewashing the OPCW cover-up, the preponderance of state sources parroted by The Guardian reveals the ultimate irony in its allegations. While claiming to “identify” a fictional network of Russia-backed disinformation actors about Syria, The Guardian’s Townsend is himself spreading the disinformation of a NATO-funded network that defames voices who expose the dirty war on Syria.

In fact, one of Townsend’s central allegations goes well beyond his state-funded sources. Although Townsend’s article is premised on identifying a “network of conspiracy theorists,” Townsend’s sole source – the ISD/Syria Campaign report – never alleges that such a “network” exists. Nowhere in the report does the word “network” even appear.

Thus, Townsend has not only parroted state-funded sources, but concocted an additional allegation in the service of their narrative. This is not just an ordinary fabrication: in creating the fantasy of a “coordinated”, “Russia-backed”, “network of conspiracy theorists,” Townsend also reveals himself to be the very thing that he accuses his targets of being: a conspiracy theorist.

And given that Townsend not only parrots his state-backed sources but works for an outlet funded by some of the same sponsors, it is fair to say that The Guardian and these state-funded think tanks are a part of the same network.

Consequently, reading the article’s headline — “Network of Syria conspiracy theorists identified”—as a description of The Guardian and the NATO-funded sources that it relied on, the claim is no longer inaccurate.

August 2, 2022 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, False Flag Terrorism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , , | 2 Comments

West behind Kosovo escalation – Russian envoy

Samizdat | August 2, 2022

The smoldering conflict between Serbia and the breakaway republic of Kosovo is beneficial for the West, Russia’s envoy in Belgrade Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko proclaimed on Tuesday.

Appearing on Russian TV, the ambassador suggested that Pristina was behind the recent escalation between Serbia and Kosovo but insisted that the incident was ultimately orchestrated by the US and the EU, who aim to stage a provocation in Kosovo that would put Serbia “on its knees” and pressure it into supporting anti-Russia sanctions.

“In this case, the EU, just like it was in the case of Ukraine and in the case of anti-Russian sanctions, is following instructions from Washington, contrary to its own interests. Washington benefits from a smoldering conflict. It benefits from keeping the situation on the brink of collapse,” said Botsan-Kharchenko.

The Russian ambassador’s comments come after tensions flared over the weekend on the border between Serbia and its breakaway province, officially called the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija in the Serbian constitution, which received recognition by several Western powers in 2008.

The government in Kosovo planned to ban the use of Serbian-issued license plates and ID papers starting from August 1, and was to use its police force to enforce the measure. On Sunday, Serbs in the north of the breakaway province set up roadblocks and rang alarm bells as heavily armed special police took control over two administrative crossings with Serbia, preparing to implement the order by Pristina.

The situation received a temporary resolution after Washington called on Kosovo officials to postpone the implementation of the controversial law until September 1. Pristina agreed, on condition that Serbia remove barricades from the de facto border.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has said that he hopes for tensions to ease and promised that Belgrade would do everything within its power to preserve the peace through compromise.

NATO occupied Kosovo in 1999, after a 78-day air war against what was then Yugoslavia. The province declared independence in 2008, with Western support. While the US and most of its allies have recognized it, Serbia, Russia, China and the UN states in general have not.

August 2, 2022 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

US responsible for Ukrainian ‘war crimes’ – Russian MoD

Samizdat | August 2, 2022

Washington bears “political, criminal, and moral responsibility” for “war crimes” committed by the Ukrainian military, Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Tuesday. The statement came in response to an interview by a top Ukrainian spy, who revealed that Kiev consults with Washington before using US-made HIMARS multiple launch rocket systems and that Washington actually has veto power over decision-making.

“All this irrefutably proves that Washington, contrary to the statements of the White House and the Pentagon, is directly involved in the conflict in Ukraine. It is the Biden administration that is directly responsible for all the Kiev-approved missile attacks on residential areas and civilian infrastructure in the settlements across Donbass and other regions that caused mass civilian casualties,” Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov has said.

According to Moscow, US-supplied HIMARS systems have repeatedly been used by Kiev forces to target facilities that were not legitimate military targets. Arguably the most dire recent example of this strategy was an attack on a penal colony in Elenovka in the Donetsk People’s Republic, which was housing Ukrainian POWs, including fighters with the notorios neo-Nazi Azov regiment. The attack left at least 50 prisoners dead and another 73 injured.

“The Biden administration, together with Zelensky, bears political, criminal, and moral responsibility for the massacre in Elenovka and other war crimes in Ukraine,” Konashenkov said.

The explosive interview with a Ukrainian senior intelligence official, Major General Vadim Skibitsky, was published by The Telegraph newspaper on Monday. The spy revealed Kiev’s troops were getting feedback from Washington and London before launching HIMARS rockets. This allows “Washington to stop any potential attacks if they were unhappy with the intended target,” The Telegraph noted.

Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian president Pyotr Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”

In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked.

August 2, 2022 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | 1 Comment

The Old Dogs Need Some New Tricks

By Eamon McKinney | Strategic Culture Foundation | August 1, 2022

The Globalists’ agenda has progressed steadily over the years, it’s evil intent has brought us to the lamentable condition that the world finds itself in today. It is no exaggeration to say that the Cabal are attempting to implement a mass extinction event upon humanity. Bill gates and the rest of the NWO Davos crowd have been enthusiastically talking up the need for “De-population” for years. There are according to them, too many “useless eaters”. The genocidal Covid atrocity that was imposed on the world more than two years ago served that agenda, to a point. The full extent of the fatalities from what was a criminal live human trial are as yet unknown, it may be years before the long term effects are fully understood. Yet, the obvious fact that the wave of deaths and injuries apparently confounding the Mainstream media are concentrated exclusively among those that trusted their Governments and took, reluctantly or not, the experimental jab. Athletes and the young are dropping dead at alarming rates yet the MSM can find no correlation between that and the jab, is climate change the cause they wonder? The onslaught of propaganda that enabled the Covid lie was possible only with the complicity of the MSM. Using every tool of disinformation at their disposal they silenced any contrary opinion, even those coming from some of the World’s leading experts in the field. Dr. Robert Malone the inventor of the MRNA technology, Cary Mullis the creator of the PCR test, and many other esteemed scientists were silenced. And of course, the dissenters, the “anti-vaxxers” were ridiculed as “conspiracy theorists.” A term created by the CIA to discredit and marginalise those who questioned the assassination of J.F.K. nearly 60 years ago. Without gloating over the tragedy there is now some vindication, the group at the lowest risk from Covid? the “conspiracy theorists” who knew enough not the trust the pharmaceutical industry, their governments or the MSM.

The same MSM are equally complicit in all of the Western atrocities of recent years. 9/11, the Iraq war, Afghanistan, Syria and most recently the Ukraine crisis. The MSM, be they supposed liberal or conservative, have all served as enthusiastic cheerleaders for every conflict America and NATO have perpetrated. Without them enabling and promoting the agenda, implementing it would not have been possible. When the time for reckoning arrives, and it will, they will have much to answer for. If there is a “silver lining” among the horror of current events it is that this particular tool of population control is rapidly losing its ability to influence the people. So absurd and egregious has it become that few believe in it anymore. In America recent polls show that trust in TV news is in single figure percentage points, print media figures are marginally higher but still pitifully low. Similar statistics are to be found around the world. Throughout Covid most media channels were supported by government funding to adhere strictly to the Covid narrative, without government money most would already be rightfully out of business. With less and less people watching it and even less believing, this is no longer an effective means of control. This is understood, a major topic at the recent WEF meeting was the lack of trust shown in the globalists and the MSM, and they wonder why? Censoring the alternative, non corporate media seems to be the only thing they have left, “if they don’t believe the lie, we can at least block the truth”. Aided and abetted by Big Tech this has only partially worked, some truths are just too obvious to ignore and there has been a mass exodus away from the MSM as people are shunning it in record numbers.

The World changed forever after the events of 9/11. It was the casus belli to justify the fabricated war on terror and the invasion and destruction of ancient civilisations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Libya. None of which had anything to do with terror threats, just more corporate wars to enrich a greedy minority of powerful men. And when the Western Governments spoke of ’weapons of mass destruction“, it was again the MSM who unquestioningly repeated the lies. But like the failing MSM, “false flags”, a long favoured tool to justify whatever atrocity is planned next are now well recognised. The Gulf of Tonkin was fabricated to justify the Vietnam war, the 7/7 bombings in London was Britain’s 9/11 to bring it line with the war on terror. But these false flags are also no longer effective. Attempts to frame Syria for a chemical weapons attack on its own people was quickly exposed as such. Many anticipate that another such event will be used in the Ukraine to reinvigorate the rapidly failing narrative there. Few will be fooled next time, but the MSM will doubtless unquestionably promote the narrative anyway.

“Colour revolutions” have been used to remove and replace non-compliant Governments for years. Usually backed by George Soros through his funding of NGOs such as the National Endowment of Democracy. It worked in the Ukraine in 2014 with the “Maidan” overthrow of the democratically elected Government. Which was then replaced with a Nazi-supported oligarchy. This is when the Ukraine conflict actually started, not 5 months ago as the MSM would have us believe. It worked in Libya to remove Gaddafi and block his plans for the gold-backed dinar for the African nations. Yet, they failed in China in 1989 with Tiananmen Square, and Hong Kong in 2020. They have failed in Syria to overthrow the Assad government, and most recently failed spectacularly in Kazakhstan due to swift and decisive action by the CSTO States led by Russia. We can hope that the reviled Soros lives long enough to witness the failure of his life’s work. If he has more tricks up his sleeve, now would be the time, because his old playbook is obsolete.

While the world slides towards a chaotic future the MSM remains wilfully oblivious to the suffering it has enabled. There has been little to no honest coverage of the global uprising of protesters demonstrating against the starvation agenda, the Great Reset, Covid, vaccine passports and rapidly increasing totalitarianism. Yet much enthusiasm for the prospect of a diet of bugs to save the environment. Britain’s BBC is a leading offender, no room for dissenting voices but always time for some disgruntled member of the LBGTB (whatever) community complaining about being mis-gendered or some other “woke” absurdity. Without any sense of shame the MSM are always keen to display their sickening “virtue signalling” so that may preserve their presumed monopoly on piety. Yet they appear to remain largely oblivious to the fact that for most distrust has turned to disgust and journalists are among the least admired professions. Rightfully so.

The tools of oppression have run their course, false flags, colour revolutions and the unprincipled charlatans that pretend to be journalists no longer further the Globalist cause effectively. If the latter think that somehow their complicity has bought them a place in whatever Utopian future the Globalist have planned for themselves, they are sadly mistaken. They were just pawns in the game and when they have outlived their usefulness, they will find themselves just “useless eaters” like the rest of us.

Force and violence are the only tools left to the Globalists to control an increasingly angry populace. It has been witnessed to widespread disgust in once assumed free countries like Australia and Canada, among others. Unnecessarily heavy-handed police tactics have been used to suppress otherwise peaceful protests. The use of provocateurs among the protestors to incite violence and discredit them have been recognised and called out by the demonstrators. George Orwell famously said, “if you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face, forever” We have almost arrived at that future, a future where that is all they have to control the people, fear and violence. Yet this future is not set. All governments grant themselves a monopoly on force and violence, and they have the police and when required the military to enforce it. The hope is that the same police and military will realise that they and their families have also been poisoned by the enforced jabs, and that yes, they are just useless eaters too. We can hope that enough of them will decide that they are defending the indefensible and side with the people.

August 2, 2022 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 1 Comment

Policing the World Is a Full-Time Job


Every leader and top official now in power in the so-called Western World seems to have forgotten that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was founded in 1949 as an alliance that was ostensibly defensive in nature, intended to counter the expansion of Soviet style communism in Europe. That role continued to be the raison d’etre of the organization until communist governments themselves collapsed in both Russia and in the Eastern European states that collectively made up the Warsaw Pact during the 1990s. After that point, NATO no longer had any reason to exist at all as the alleged military threat posed by the Kremlin and its allies vanished virtually overnight.

But clever politicians were quick to put the alliance on life support instead of simply dismantling it. Lacking the threat posed by the Warsaw Pact, NATO was forced to come up with other reasons to maintain military forces at levels that could quickly be enhanced and placed on a wartime footing. Washington and London took the lead in this, citing the now shopworn defense of a “rules based international order” as well as of “democracy” and “freedom.” And fortunately for the national defense industries and the generals, it soon proved possible to find new enemies that provided justification for additional military spending. The first major engagement outside the obligations defined by the original treaty took place in Europe to be sure, but it was in the Balkans where of NATO during the 1995 Operation Deliberate Force. The war ended after the signing of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina in Paris on December 14th 1995. Peace negotiations were finalized a week later but fighting resumed between Kosovo and Serbia in the following year, which led to another NATO intervention that eventually ended with the restoration of Kosovo’s autonomy and the deployment of NATO forces, which bombed the Serbs to compel their compliance with a draft cease fire agreement.

NATO also played a role improbably enough in the US invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, which was justified by claiming that an Afghanistan free to set its own course would become a hotbed of terrorism which would inevitably impact on the United States and Europe. It was a paper-thin argument, but it was the best they could come up with at the time and it also eventually involved soldiers from additional friendly countries like Australia. As we have subsequently seen, however, it was all an argument without merit as Afghanistan became a money pit and a graveyard for thousands of locals and foreign soldiers. It is now again in the hands of the Taliban after a bungled withdrawal of US forces and the collapse of the puppet government in Kabul that Washington had installed.

Turn the clock forward to the present. As everyone but President Joe Biden has recognized, the United States and NATO are currently engaged in a proxy war against Russia in Ukraine, which many observers already believe has some of the attributes of World War III. As Russia neither threatened nor attacked any NATO member state, the argument that the response in arming and training Ukraine was defensive was rendered irrelevant. Nor can it be credibly claimed that Russia is a haven for terrorists, quite the contrary. Nevertheless, Biden has stated that the US will be in the fight on behalf of Ukraine for “as long as it takes.” Does he mean years, and all done without a declaration of war by Congress as required by the US Constitution?

And more appears to be coming. Joe Biden, during last week’s trip to Israel, made clear that the United States is “prepared to use all elements of its national power” to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and has signed a pledge with the Israeli government to commit itself to do so. If Biden presses the argument that Iran is an international threat due to its impending development of nuclear weapons, will he appeal to NATO to support a joint military option to disarm it? I believe he just might do that. And he might just want to consider how the entire set-up and framing of the issue by Israel is somewhat of a trap. Israel considers Iran’s current nuclear program to be intended to create a weapon, which “they continue to develop,” and there are plenty in the US Congress who would agree with that.

So, if Iran is clearly creating a thermonuclear device, the time to strike is now, isn’t it? And bear in mind how the US/Israeli campaign to condemn is multifaceted. Shortly before the meetings held by Biden and his crew with the Israelis, US government sources set the stage for what was to come by going on the offensive regarding reports that Iran may be selling highly capable offensive drones to Russia for use in Ukraine as well as subsequent claims coming out of Washington that the Iranians are seeking to assassinate senior US officials in revenge for the killing of Revolutionary Guards General Qassem Soleimani in January 2020. One wonders why they waited so long and why the White House has chosen to publicize these stories at this point.

And the US and NATO are also getting involved with China’s geopolitical policies, on a path that Beijing is warning is extremely hypocritical and which might lead to armed conflict. The signs that the Chinese might be targeted by NATO, possibly over the Taiwan independence issue, came following a stark warning by US Secretary of State Tony Blinken delivered at the NATO summit in Madrid at the end of June. Blinken accused China of “seeking to undermine the rules-based international order,” the same type of critique recently leveled against Russia and Iran. Blinken’s comment was elaborated on by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who observed how “China is substantially building up its military forces, including nuclear weapons, bullying its neighbors, threatening Taiwan … monitoring and controlling its own citizens through advanced technology, and spreading Russian lies and disinformation.”

Stoltenberg’s indictment of China was followed by a NATO issued “strategic concept” document last that declared for the first time that China poses a “systemic challenge” to the alliance, alongside a primary “threat” coming from Russia. The document copied Blinken’s language, citing “The deepening strategic partnership between the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation and their mutually reinforcing attempts to undercut the rules-based international order run counter to our values and interests.”

Finally, the US and British governments collaborated to condemn China as the “biggest long-term threat to our economic and national security.” The declaration came in a July 6th joint news conference in London, where Christopher Wray, director of the FBI, and Ken McCallum, director general of Britain’s MI5, accused China, like Russia, of interfering in US and UK elections. Wray also warned the business leaders in the audience that the Chinese government has been “set on stealing your technology, whatever it is that makes your industry tick, and using it to undercut your business and dominate your market.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian initially responded a few days after the NATO summit, observing that the “so-called rules-based international order is actually a family rule made by a handful of countries to serve the US self-interest,” adding that “[Washington]observes international rules only as it sees fit.” Addressing the issue of the role of NATO specifically, Zhao accused Blinken of using NATO to “hype up competition with China and stoke group confrontation.” He added that “The history of NATO is one about creating conflicts and waging wars… arbitrarily launching wars and killing innocent civilians, even to this day. Facts have proven that it isn’t China that poses a systemic challenge to NATO, and instead it is NATO that brings a looming systemic challenge to world peace and security. Thirty years after the end of the Cold War, [NATO] has not yet abandoned its thinking and practice of creating ‘enemies’ … It is NATO that is creating problems around the world.”

China has a point. What NATO is threatening is war, as it is a military alliance. The Chinese appear to understand that NATO is the world’s largest military bureaucracy which has developed since 1991 an overriding institutional commitment to ensuring its permanent existence, if not expansion, even after it has clearly outlived its own usefulness. So Beijing might justifiably wonder, how does China – on the other side of the globe – fit into NATO’s historic “defensive” mission? How are Chinese troops or missiles now threatening Europe or the US in ways they weren’t before? How are the Americans and Europeans suddenly under military threat coming from China?

The Chinese appear to understand that if there is no threat to “defend” against, then a threat must be manufactured, and that is precisely what we are seeing vis-à-vis Russia, China, Iran and even Venezuela. Washington has become addicted to war and NATO is the chosen tool to give those wars the patina of legitimacy. To launch those conflicts requires either inventing an imaginary threat, or, as in the case of Russia, provoking the very threat the “defensive” bureaucracy was designed to deter or thwart. All indications are that NATO – now embracing 30 countries – is doing both and the results could easily be disastrous for all parties involved. Former congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard particularly abhors the cynical recklessness of the Biden Administration driving the process, explaining how “The reality is, President Biden, members of Congress, leaders in our country, the wealthy, they will have a safe place to be in the event of a nuclear war that they are behind causing while the rest of us in America and Russia, people around the world, will be decimated from this event.”

Prize winning journalist Chris Hedges has also defined the unthinkable that is at stake, and it is past time for Americans and Europeans to take note and stop the madness. Hedges opines that “The massive expansion of NATO, not only in Eastern and Central Europe but the Middle East, Latin America, Africa and Asia, presages endless war and a potential nuclear holocaust.” One might also note that New Yorkers are now being informed about what to do if there is a nuclear attack. Yes, that is precisely the problem – we have an administration in Washington that should be protecting the people living in this country, not setting up scenarios that might lead to their slaughter. Will someone please point that out to Joe Biden?

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, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is

August 2, 2022 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 3 Comments

China to speed up Taiwan reunification process with comprehensive action

By Yang Sheng | Global Times | August 2, 2022

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to arrive on the island of Taiwan on Tuesday night according to foreign media reports, with rising concerns and opposition over her trip within the island and increasing military activities by the Chinese mainland, the Taiwan authorities and the US military in the region. Analysts from both sides of the Taiwan Straits said this risky move will totally change the situation in the region, while the mainland will more actively dominate and speed up the reunification process with comprehensive measures including military and political actions, and these actions will let the US and the secessionist Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authorities feel the pain.

There are many options on the table for China to speed up the reunification process. These could include striking Taiwan military targets, just as the PLA did in the previous Taiwan Straits crisis, pushing new legislation for  national reunification, sending military aircraft and vessels to enter the island’s “airspace” and “water areas” controlled by the Taiwan authorities and ending the tacit cease-fire with the Taiwan military.

Whether Pelosi can make her trip to Taiwan happen or not, there is no reason for China to be nervous, because such a political show will not change the overwhelming advantages, especially the military one, held by the mainland against the Taiwan authorities and the US in the region. Nor will the trip provide any possibility of “Taiwan independence,” and it cannot change the unshakable hard fact that Taiwan is part of China, said experts, noting that what China needs to do is to use this incident to maximize its advantage and keep pushing the reunification process.

Hua Chunying, a spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said at a routine press conference on Tuesday that “it was the US who takes the provocative action first and has caused the escalation of Taiwan Straits tension. The US should and must take full responsibility for this.”

Military preparations

Both aircraft carriers of the PLA Navy have reportedly moved out from their homeports respectively amid Pelosi’s possible visit to the island of Taiwan, which media reported could happen on Tuesday evening.

The aircraft carrier Liaoning on Sunday embarked on a voyage from its homeport in Qingdao, East China’s Shandong Province, and the aircraft carrier Shandong on Monday set out from its homeport in Sanya, South China’s Hainan Province, accompanied by a Type 075 amphibious assault ship, media on the island of Taiwan reported on Tuesday.

Foreign commercial satellite imageries obtained by the Global Times on Tuesday also show that the aircraft carrier Liaoning was not in its homeport on Sunday, a Type 075 amphibious assault ship was sailing in the South China Sea on Sunday, and the aircraft carrier Shandong was sailing in the South China Sea on Monday.

Some analysts said that as Pelosi’s aircraft may enter Taiwan’s self-claimed “air defense identification zone” along the east coast of Taiwan after departing Malaysia, the Chinese mainland vessels appeared earlier to get into position and are closely monitoring Pelosi’s route.

A military expert who asked for anonymity told the Global Times that with the participation of the aircraft carriers, the PLA could conduct more effective intercept operations, because it will take longer for fighter jets to be launched from airports in the mainland to arrive in the areas to the east or south of Taiwan island, while the shipboard aircraft will be more flexible as long as the fleets have arrived in the relevant region.

Citing an anonymous source, Reuters reported on Tuesday that several PLA aircraft flew close to the “median line” of the Taiwan Straits on Tuesday morning, and Taiwan-based outlets said two Chinese mainland guided-missile frigates and a survey ship sailed from north to south through Yonaguni Island waters, heading east of Taiwan island.

As of Tuesday noon, flights at airports in several cities in Fujian Province, including Xiamen, Fuzhou and Quanzhou, have been partially canceled, according to Xiamen Airlines, citing air traffic control.

US military forces are also taking actions. Four US warships, including an aircraft carrier, were positioned in waters east of the island on “routine” deployments, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

Aircraft carrier the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) and big deck amphibious ship USS Tripoli (LHA-7), with Marine F-35B Lighting II Joint Strike Fighters embarked, are operating in the vicinity of Taiwan, on the edge of the South China Sea, according to the August 1 edition of the USNI News Fleet and Marine Tracker.

A Pentagon spokesperson told USNI News on Monday that the ships were operating normally in the region and would not detail force protection measures for the visit of the third-highest ranking US official to the region.

Concerns within the island

But there is still a possibility that Pelosi could eventually land on the island due to complicated reasons, as Taiwan media also reported that due to security concerns, the DPP authorities once withdrew the “invitation” to Pelosi, but due to Pelosi’s pressure, the authorities eventually compromised and make arrangement for her trip.

Many Taiwan web users complained how Pelosi could be so arrogant and bossy, to force Taiwan to play in a show with her. “After the show you will go back to the US, but what about the mess you leave here in Taiwan?” said a web user.

Hung Hsiu-chu, former chairwoman of the KMT, the major opposition party within the island, said there are two different views on Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan – one group do not want Pelosi to come and do not know why she would come as this could only add conflicts for the Chinese mainland, the US and Taiwan. Another group think that if Pelosi wants to support Taiwan secessionism, she could let the House pass an act to recognize “Taiwan independence,” so why would she come to the island to create such a big mess?

Some also consider that the US is tolerating Pelosi’s risky move to test the bottom-line set by the Chinese mainland, Hung said, noting that “God bless, hopefully nothing bad will happen.”

Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport received a threatening letter on Tuesday morning which claimed that “three explosive devices have been placed at the airport to stop the US House Speaker’s visit to Taiwan,” media reported. The New Party, a pro-reunification political party in the island, and some civil society groups plan to protest at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Taipei where it is believed Pelosi will stay if she visits the island, according to media reports.

The DPP authorities and the many senior politicians are keeping silent without any high-profile preparation for welcoming Pelosi, as analysts said this reflects the high concerns within the island. Pelosi’s visit is creating great troubles but due to the weak position of the DPP authorities in front of the US, the island must cooperate and has no room to make independent decisions.

What the mainland can do

Chinese analysts said the struggle between China and the US at this point is about dignity and concrete strategic interests, but the latter is much more important, so China will not merely focus on playing a game of chicken and hawk with Pelosi, as changing the whole situation of the region is much more significant and valuable.

The Chinese mainland really knows the importance of “strategic patience,” just like when many people expected that China would crack down on the Hong Kong turmoil in 2019 with force when rioters attacked the central government’s liaison office, but the facts prove that China did not act in that way but eventually realized a land-slide victory to reinforce its governance in Hong Kong. “So this time, China will teach the US a lesson again, as it will use US mistakes to comprehensively change the Taiwan Straits situation, just as it did in Hong Kong in recent years,” said a Beijing-based senior expert on international relations who asked for anonymity.

Wang Jiangyu, a professor of law at the City University in Hong Kong, said China will use this incident to strengthen its sovereignty claim over Taiwan. “For instance, sending squadrons of military aircraft to enter the ‘airspace’ of Taiwan, or sending military vessels to enter the ‘water areas’ controlled by the Taiwan military,” he said.

These are unprecedented acts of declaring sovereignty over Taiwan, and if China can send its signal of determination to effectively contain the provocations made by the US and other Western countries, the situation will be in favor of the Chinese side in the future, Wang said.

Lü Xiang, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Tuesday that China’s reaction will not be just a momentary action but will consider the whole security mechanism of Taiwan.

“The Chinese mainland could exercise its sovereignty and rights of control over the airspace on the island and adjacent sea areas around the island, to make sure there will not be another case like ‘Pelosi’s visit’ that could happen again, and to better safeguard national sovereignty,” he said.

Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, said based on the experience of the previous Taiwan Straits crisis, the PLA will strike Taiwan military targets but will not directly fire at US targets, so it is possible that the PLA will strike some Taiwan military targets this time as well, and the mainland could also consider speeding up legislation for a national reunification law and even publish a timetable for reunification which will impose real pressure on the US and Taiwan authorities.

August 2, 2022 Posted by | Aletho News | , | 2 Comments

Western experts urge US to start talks with Russia before “it’s too late”

By Ahmed Adel | August 2, 2022

With the war in Ukraine waging since February 24 and no immediate end in sight, Western commentators and experts have begun urging the US and its allies to start talks with Russia over the situation in Ukraine before its “too late.”

Samuel Charap, senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation, and Jeremy Shapiro, research director at the European Council on Foreign Relations, urged in an opinion piece published in the New York Times for the West to continue providing material support for the Ukrainian military, but in close consultation with Kiev to “begin opening channels of communication with Russia” as “an eventual cease-fire should be the goal, even as the path to it remains uncertain.”

With the US having pledged about $24 billion in military aid to Ukraine, more than four times Ukraine’s 2021 defence budget, in addition to other countries pledging another $12 billion, the authors claim that although the West are committed to helping Ukraine, they do not want to escalate the conflict into a major power war.

“For as long as both Russia and the West are determined to prevail over the other in Ukraine and prepared to devote their deep reserves of weapons to achieve that goal, further escalation seems almost preordained,” the experts wrote.

They stress that discussions are absolutely necessary, despite being politically risky, as the war in Ukraine has the potential to bring Russia and NATO into direct conflict. An argument can be made that Russia and NATO are already in direct conflict as the Atlantic bloc already provides weapons and training to the Ukrainian military and encourages former soldiers and volunteers to fight against Russian forces. This is in addition to espionage and surveillance assistance, diplomatic and political support, and medical aid.

According to the authors, Russia has red lines, which although are not exactly known in their entirety, they can be assumed. The experts give the example that if the Ukrainians are given particular systems or capabilities that could directly target Russian territory, it is likely that Moscow will consider that as a red line being crossed. It is for this reason that when US President Joe Biden recently announced that Ukraine would be supplied with multiple-launch rocket systems, the longest-range munitions that could strike Russia were withheld.

“The premise of the decision was that Moscow will escalate — i.e. launch an attack against NATO — only if certain types of weapons are provided or if they are used to target Russian territory,” they claimed. “The goal is to be careful to stop short of that line while giving the Ukrainians what they need to ‘defend their territory from Russian advances,’ as Mr. Biden said in a statement in June.”

To the experts, this creates a conundrum as for now the West is unwilling to send their military forces directly to Ukraine, but a Russian victory is unacceptable. At the same time, if Ukraine somehow succeeded in halting Russia’s advance thanks to the help of Western weapons, that would constitute an unacceptable defeat for Moscow, which could compel the Russian military to “double down” in its operation.

Charap and Shapiro stress that “The determination of both the West and Russia to do whatever it takes to prevail in Ukraine is the main driver of escalation” and that only through talks can a de-escalation begin. As they say, “The best way to prevent that dynamic from getting out of control is to start talking before it’s too late.”

Although the pair are undoubtedly correct in their analysis that talks are the best way to resolve the conflict, what they do omit is the complete unwillingness from the Ukrainian side since 2014 to discuss issues, as well as the encouragement Kiev receives from Washington and London to not engage in negotiations with Moscow. The very crisis in Ukraine today is because of Kiev’s refusal to negotiate and discuss, whilst committing towards a path of ultra-nationalism, militarisation and even nuclearization.

The two analysts in this way do not necessarily say anything profound as discussions were always the way to resolve the issues between Moscow and Kiev, even before the events of 2014. The problem is that they do not highlight that Kiev, with encouragement from Washington, is completely unwilling to engage in discussions despite Moscow’s willingness.

There may be some gaps in their analysis, but more importantly, having experts from RAND and the European Council on Foreign Relations urging in the New York Times for discussions to begin to end the war in Ukraine is a major narrative shift from the encouragement for prolonged fighting usually found in influential Western think tanks and media outlets, including by these three aforementioned institutions.

With the special military operation continuing for half a year and with no end in sight, Western analysts grossly underestimated Russia’s determination, overestimated Ukraine’s capabilities and miscalculated the effectiveness of sanctions. Now there is a growing acceptance in the academic and media sphere that Russia is in full control of the situation in Ukraine and it alone decides when its military operation will conclude. Because of this reality, it may be in the best interest of the West to open serious negotiations as it could be the only way to have any influence over the outcome of the conflict. The political classes of the West are yet to accept this reality though.

Ahmed Adel is a Cairo-based geopolitics and political economy researcher.

August 2, 2022 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | 1 Comment

Almost no Americans see Russia as problem – poll

Samizdat | August 2, 2022

Americans view soaring inflation, poor governance and the state of the economy as their country’s biggest problems, with just 1% mentioning Russia, according to a poll released by Gallup on Monday.

Despite the Ukraine conflict remaining a major news story in the US, the share of respondents concerned by Russia’s actions has fallen sharply after hitting 9% in March, the month that followed Moscow’s offensive, the polling agency said. The latest data was compiled on July 5-26.

Abortion has become a prominent issue for Americans, with 8% mentioning it as the most serious problem in the country. The level was the highest since 1984, when the agency started tracking it.

The spike in concern over abortion rights follows the US Supreme Court ruling in June that overturned Roe v Wade— the 1973 landmark decision that guaranteed the constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy.

Democrats and blue-leaning independents drove the metric up, with 13% of such respondents mentioning it, as opposed to 4% of Republicans and red-leaning independents.

Abortion issues trailed behind three problems that the US public perceives as more pressing. Inflation and dysfunction in the US government each accounted for 17%, while the general state of the economy concerned 12% of those polled. Overall, the state of the economy was named as the biggest problem for the US, with 35% flagging the issue, modestly down from June, Gallup said.

Russia is not the only story being closely covered by the American media that the public is turning away from, according to the poll. Others included the Covid-19 pandemic, extreme weather, climate change, and the House Select Committee hearings on the January 6 2021 Capitol riots.

August 2, 2022 Posted by | Russophobia | | 1 Comment