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John Bolton – Traitor to Common Decency

By Tom Luongo | Strategic Culture Foundation | June 29, 2020

There are few men in modern American history more venal than Former National Security Adviser John Bolton. Calling Bolton a relic of the Cold War in his outlook on foreign policy is a kindness.

Bolton is a dangerous and pathetic creature whose entire life is an example of how incomplete men with a talent for violence can rise in a late-stage cesspit of political corruption.

He is simply someone who has never been in a fight in his life who lusts for the power to kill, maim and destroy anyone who dares challenge him. A pathology he’s had the dubious distinction of being able to act out in the real world on more than one occasion.

This will, hopefully, be the last article I write about this cretin because once his last fifteen minutes of fame are used up attacking President Trump in slavish interview after interview supporting his book, Bolton will be finished in Washington D.C.

This book is his gold watch for being a lifelong soldier in the service of the American empire and the neoconservative/neoliberal dream of global conquest. $2 million, a handful of residuals and a final victory lap for a life spent in pursuit of the subjugation of those he considers sub-human.

President Trump’s recent tweet about Bolton is a masterful bit of brevity being the soul of wit:

“I gave John Bolton, who was incapable of being Senate confirmed because he was considered a wacko, and was not liked, a chance. I always like hearing differing points of view. He turned out to be grossly incompetent, and a liar.”

And while Bolton spent the balance of his career in D.C. working nominally for Republicans, his lust for war served both parties equally well. That war lust was in service of the empire itself when Bolton was fired, and he turned against President Trump.

He was welcomed as a Hero of the Resistance by Democrats intent on impeaching the President after he was fired last year, one of the few good moments in Trump’s nearly four years at the helm of U.S. foreign policy. Given his involvement with Fiona Hill and Eric Chiaramella, the whistleblower whose testimony created the impeachment charges, Bolton really could be thought of as the architect of that process.

So, it’s no surprise that his book is welcomed as the gossip event of the summer by the media. But remember, this is a guy who refused to testify against Trump for Jerry Nadler and Adam Schiff and that’s because he would have never stood up to cross-examination.

This is because, ultimately, John Bolton is a coward. And he’s the worst kind of coward. He’s the kind of man who deals underhandedly while hiding behind rhetoric in controlled environments to pursue his fever dreams of suppressing the Untermensch.

What we know now, thanks to Bolton’s unwillingness to keep his trap shut, is that things were as we suspected while he was in the White House. Every event that occurred was an excuse for Bolton to tell Trump to go to war. And every time Trump was led up to that trough to drink, he backed away causing Bolton’s mustache the worst case of sexual frustration.

Worse than that, Bolton sabotaged any hope of détente with Russia, North Korea and improving the situation in the Middle East. While he was right to hate Jared Kushner’s Deal of the Century for Israel/Palestine, he was instrumental in getting Trump to stay in Syria rather than turn over what’s left of its suppression to the people who actually want it to continue – Israel and Saudi Arabia.

In the end Bolton is really the best example I can come up with for the monolithic thinking that permeates D.C. Despite his best instincts, Trump took Bolton on because the potential talent pool is so thin.

Anyone with original ideas, such as Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, are more valuable in their current position rather than coming into an administration that is hamstrung by a permanent bureaucracy unwilling to change, or in open revolt.

There’s no profit for them to make the jump even if they wanted to.

This point has been in effect since before Trump took office when he wouldn’t stand behind his first National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, who is still embroiled in the worst The Swamp can throw at a person.

Progressives, liberals and anti-imperalists I implore you to stop allying with this creature of The Swamp in his quest to do damage to a president you hate. Because by doing so you are strengthening the very people who are the architects of the empire you believe you are fighting against.

Because that’s who John Bolton wrote this book for.

He didn’t write it for you.

Bolton will ultimately be a foot note in the history books. A man whose only claim to fame was failing to allow a president to make some peace with North Korea and set the U.S. on a path to complete alienation with the rest of the world.

Because of the neoconservatives’ intense war lust, as embodied by Bolton, it pushed Trump, already an arch-mercantilist, even farther along the path of using economic pressure to force change on the world stage.

But, as I’ve been saying for years now, that is a strategy just as ruinous in the long run for the U.S. as Bolton’s cowardice urging use of a military — which he refused to serve in — to do his dirty work for him.

These are both expressions of an empire which refuses to accept that it is in decline. And it has invited the chaos now evident in cities all across the U.S. as our wealth has been squandered on endless wars for regime change overseas while building a regulatory police state at home.

That helped pushed the militarization of our local police, further putting them in conflict with a domestic population growing more desperate and reactionary on both sides of the political aisle.

Bolton’s projection of all the U.S.’s ills onto countries with no real ability to harm us physically ultimately was not only his undoing with Trump but the U.S.’s undoing as a leader of the post-WWII order.

June 29, 2020 Posted by | Book Review, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | | 1 Comment

Bolton’s Memoir Undercuts Hype as Impeachment’s Would-Be Star Witness

By Aaron Maté | Real Clear Investigations | June 23, 2020

In late January, John Bolton became the latest – and unlikeliest – official to enjoy a moment of Resistance glory. A New York Times report about Bolton’s forthcoming memoir fueled round-the-clock expectations that the former national security adviser would substantiate the core allegation at the heart of President Trump’s then-ongoing Senate impeachment trial – that the president tried to coerce Ukraine into opening an investigation of Joe and Hunter Biden in a quid pro quo for military aid. Compelling his testimony was cast as a matter of national urgency. Bolton was never given the chance as Senate Republicans voted to block witnesses and acquit Trump on both impeachment counts.

In the publicity blitz for his new memoir, “The Room Where It Happened,” Bolton has tried to keep the initial narrative alive. Speaking to ABC News, he claimed that Trump, at a meeting in August 2019, said he “wanted a probe of Joe Biden in exchange for delivering the security assistance.” That conversation, Bolton added, “was the crispest indication of the linkage. … The specificity of the linkage, I think, was unmistakable.”

His memoir, however, fails to substantiate that allegation.

In fact, Bolton offers new evidence that undermines it.

What he told Martha Raddatz is not what he writes in his book. Instead of a sharp demand of a quid pro quo, Bolton writes, Trump “said he wasn’t in favor of sending [Ukraine] anything until all the Russia-investigation materials related to [Hillary] Clinton and Biden had been turned over.”

Bolton does not explain what he means by “materials” – and no interviewer has asked him to so far. RealClearInvestigations’ request to Bolton for comment, sent through a representative, was not immediately answered.

No Word on Burisma

Regardless, those were not at the heart of Trump’s impeachment. Trump was not impeached for trying to coerce Ukraine into handing over “Russia-investigation materials” to the U.S., but for allegedly trying to force Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to open a wholly separate investigation of the Bidens and Burisma, the gas company where Hunter was given a lucrative board seat while his father was running U.S. policy in Ukraine.

Yet Burisma is not even mentioned in Bolton’s book – and Hunter only in passing. This includes an acknowledgement that Bolton does not even remember if the younger Biden was actually discussed. At a May 8 meeting where Trump and his legal adviser Rudy Giuliani discuss the latter’s “desire to meet with President-Elect Zelensky,” Bolton cannot recall if the purpose is “to discuss [Ukraine’s] investigation of either Hillary Clinton’s efforts to influence the 2016 campaign or something having to do with Hunter Biden and the 2020 election, or maybe both.”

Son gets job on energy company board after father backs violent coup

Bolton says his recollections are not precise because the Ukraine-related theories floating around the Trump administration “always seemed intermingled and confused, one reason I did not pay them much heed. Even after they became public, I could barely separate the strands of the multiple conspiracy theories at work.”

Bolton’s words are also ambiguous. The fact that Trump allegedly “said he wasn’t in favor of sending [Ukraine] anything” is not an explicit linkage to military aid. And as for the “Russian-investigation materials,” Bolton does not specify what Trump was referring to. It seems likely Trump may have been referencing his reported theory that the Democratic National Committee server was somehow hacked with Ukrainian involvement.

Trump may also have been seeking information on the Ukrainians who openly admitted to interfering in the 2016 campaign with the aim of thwarting his candidacy, most notably by leaking allegations of illegal payments to Paul Manafort. It is highly plausible that these were Trump’s priorities. In his July 25 phone call with Zelensky, which sparked the whistleblower complaint behind Ukrainegate, Trump’s top issue – and the object of the “favor” he requested – was not the Bidens, but securing Zelensky’s assistance with the Justice Department’s ongoing review of how the Russia investigation began in 2016.

Whatever the case, for Bolton to write that Trump drew a link between these issues and the security aid – and not a link to a demand that Ukraine open an investigation of the Bidens and Burisma – contradicts the impeachment case that many expected him to validate.

Bolton, perhaps inadvertently, also lends credence to the Trump administration’s public defense of its freeze on security assistance to Ukraine, which Democrats cast as the linchpin of a politically motivated quid pro quo. In his July 25 call with Zelensky and subsequent public statements, Trump has said that he wanted NATO allies to spend more on Ukrainian military funding. Bolton recounts that on Aug. 30 – just days after an article in Politico made the aid freeze public, including to the Ukrainian government – Trump repeated his complaints about the U.S. burden, and proposed that NATO provide Ukraine with the security assistance instead of Washington:

Trump said, “I don’t give a shit about NATO. I am ready to say, ‘If you don’t pay, we won’t defend them.’ I want the three hundred million dollars [he meant two hundred fifty million dollars, one piece of the assistance earmarked for Ukraine] to be paid through NATO.” … He then said to Pence, “Call [NATO Secretary General Jens] Stoltenberg and have him have NATO pay. Say ‘The President is for you, but the money should come from NATO,’” which still didn’t make any sense.

If Trump is freezing the military aid for the sole purpose of coercing a Ukrainian investigation, it would be incongruous for him to propose an outcome that delivers the money without the investigation he is supposedly trying to compel.

As a part of their impeachment case, Democrats argued that Trump released the aid to Ukraine only after getting caught through publicity surrounding the whistleblower complaint. Yet Bolton writes that after Ukraine conducted a successful prisoner swap with Russia on Sept. 7, “Trump had seemingly indicated” that the swap “might be enough to get him to release the security assistance.” The money was released four days later, on Sept. 11.

Says He Wanted Nothing to do With Ukraine

Bolton confirms national security aide Fiona Hill’s testimony that he told her he did not want to be “part of whatever drug deal Sondland and [White House Chief of Staff Mick] Mulvaney are cooking up.” But he offers context that makes that line far less explosive than it was initially received. Bolton was not referring to leveraging any military aid, but to Sondland’s attempt to push for a hasty meeting between Trump and Zelensky at the White House, where the “Giuliani issues” could be discussed before Ukraine’s parliamentary elections in July.

Bolton says he nixed the idea of a meeting because Trump had recently told him that “he didn’t want to have anything to do with Ukrainians of any stripe,” due to Ukrainian meddling against him in the 2016 campaign. Sondland, in Bolton’s view, was “freelancing.” According to Bolton, Trump had also “resolved the visit issue just before leaving for the United Kingdom in June,” by saying he would meet with Zelensky “not until the fall, the right outcome in my view.”

It is easy to forget why Bolton was initially cast as a savior figure in January by those hoping to remove Trump by impeachment. When news of his memoir emerged, 10 days after the Senate trial began, Democrats had failed to prove their case. Not a single witness in the House impeachment hearings had provided direct evidence of a quid pro quo. The only witness who even spoke to Trump about the Ukraine aid was the then-European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland. He  reiterated multiple times that “nobody told me directly that the aid was tied to anything,” and that such a linkage was only his “presumption” and “personal, you know, guess.”

Sondland’s testimony was even more damaging to the impeachment case because, according to the impeachment narrative, he was the Trump official who purportedly relayed the alleged quid pro quo to the Ukrainian side. But Sondland revealed that he had only told Zelensky aide Andriy Yermak, in “a very, very brief pull-aside conversation,” that “I didn’t know exactly why” the aid has been frozen, but that a demand to open investigations “could be a reason.”

For his part, Yermak has said he does not even remember discussing the frozen aid with Sondland. That highlighted another problem with the Democrats’ quid pro quo allegation: Not a single Ukrainian official substantiates it. In addition to Yermak, President Zelensky and Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko also said that they saw no tie between the frozen military funding and pressure to open investigations. Even Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy, a staunch impeachment advocate, corroborates them: When they met in early September, Murphy recalled, Zelensky “did not make any connection between the aid that had been cut off and the requests that he was getting from Giuliani.”

The Ukrainians’ claims make sense in light of the fact that they only learned of the aid freeze, along with the rest of the world, with the Politico article published August 28. That would have meant that the supposed quid pro quo demand was made to them only after the issue became a matter of public controversy. That scenario was always implausible on its face. And now Bolton’s memoir has failed to change the picture. Bolton seems to grasp this fact. “I think the House Democrats built a cliff, they threw themselves off of it,” he told Raddatz of ABC News. “And halfway down, they looked up and saw me, and said, ‘Hey, why don’t you come along?”

June 24, 2020 Posted by | Book Review, Corruption, Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

International community rejects Canada’s bid for a seat on Security Council

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By Yves Engler | June 17, 2020

The international community’s rejection of Canada’s bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council isn’t a surprise. In the below introduction to my recently published House of Mirrors: Justin Trudeau’s Foreign Policy I detail how Liberal foreign policy has largely mimicked Stephen Harper’s who lost a bid for the Security Council in 2010.

***

Justin Trudeau presents himself as “progressive” on foreign affairs. The Liberals claim to have brought Canada “back” after the disastrous Stephen Harper government. But, this book will demonstrate the opposite.

While promising to “make a real and valuable contribution to a more peaceful and prosperous world”, Trudeau has largely continued the Conservatives pro-corporate/empire international policies. The Liberals have followed the previous government’s posture on a wide range of issues from Russia to Palestine, Venezuela to the military.

In 2017 the Liberals released a defence policy that called for 605 more special forces, which have carried out numerous violent covert missions abroad. During the 2015 election campaign defence minister Jason Kenney said if re-elected the Conservatives would add 665 members to the Canadian Armed Forces Special Operations Command. The government’s defence policy also included a plan to acquire armed drones, for which the Conservatives had expressed support. Additionally, the Liberals re-stated the previous government’s commitment to spend over one hundred billion dollars on new fighter jets and naval ships.

The Harper regime repeatedly attacked Venezuela’s elected government and the Liberals ramped up that campaign. The Trudeau government launched an unprecedented, multipronged, effort to overthrow Nicolás Maduro’s government. As part of this campaign, they aligned with the most reactionary political forces in the region, targeting Cuba and recognizing a Honduran president who stole an election he shouldn’t have participated in. Juan Orlando Hernández’ presidency was the outgrowth of a military coup the Conservatives tacitly endorsed in 2009.

In Haiti the Liberals propped up the chosen successor of neo-Duvalerist President Michel Martelly who Harper helped install. Despite a sustained popular uprising against Jovenel Moïse, the Liberals backed the repressive, corrupt and illegitimate president.

The Trudeau government continues to justify Israeli violence against Palestinians and supports Israel’s illegal occupation. Isolating Canada from world opinion, they voted against dozens of UN resolutions upholding Palestinian rights backed by most of the world.

Initiated by the Conservatives, the Liberals signed off on a $14 billion Light Armoured Vehicle sale to Saudi Arabia. The Liberals followed Harper’s path of cozying up to other repressive Middle East monarchies, which waged war in Yemen. They also contributed to extending the brutal war in Syria and broke their promise to restart diplomatic relations with Iran, which the Conservatives severed.

The Liberals renewed Canada’s military “training” mission in the Ukraine, which emboldened far-right militarists responsible for hundreds of deaths in the east of that country. In fact, Trudeau significantly bolstered Canada’s military presence on Russia’s doorstep. Simultaneously, the Trudeau government expanded Harper’s sanctions against Russia.

On China the Liberals were torn between corporate Canada and militarist/pro-US forces. They steadily moved away from the corporate sphere and towards the militarist/US Empire standpoint. (During their time in office the Conservatives moved in the opposite direction.) Ottawa seemed to fear that peace might break out on the Korean Peninsula.

Trudeau backed Africa’s most bloodstained politician Paul Kagame.

Unlike his predecessor, Trudeau didn’t sabotage international climate negotiations. But the Liberals flouted their climate commitments and subsidized infrastructure to expand heavy emitting fossil fuels.

Ignoring global inequities, the Liberals promoted the interests of corporations and wealth holders in various international forums. They backed corporate interests through trade accords, Export Development Canada and the Trade Commissioner Service. Their support for SNC Lavalin also reflected corporate influence over foreign policy.

In a stark betrayal of their progressive rhetoric, the Trudeau regime failed to follow through on their promise to rein in Canada’s controversial international mining sector. Instead they mimicked the Conservatives’ strategy of establishing a largely toothless ombudsperson while openly backing brutal mining companies.

To sell their pro-corporate/empire policies the Liberals embraced a series of progressive slogans. As they violated international law and spurned efforts to overcome pressing global issues, the Liberals crowed about the “international rules-based order”. Their “feminist foreign policy” rhetoric rested uneasily with their militarism, support for mining companies and ties to misogynistic monarchies.

Notwithstanding the rhetoric, the sober reality is that Trudeau has largely continued Harper’s foreign policy. The “Ugly Canadian” continued to march across the planet, but with a prettier face at the helm.

My 2012 book The Ugly Canadian: Stephen Harper’s Foreign Policy detailed the first six and a half years of Harper’s rule. This book looks at the first four years of Trudeau’s reign. I will discuss the many ways Canadian foreign policy under Conservative and Liberal governments remained the same. Support for empire and a pro-corporate neoliberal economic order is the common theme that links the actions of conservative and self-described “progressive” prime ministers.

 

Please sign this petition calling for a fundamental reassessment of Canadian foreign policy.

June 17, 2020 Posted by | Book Review | , | Leave a comment

Foiling Predictions, Russians Did Not Go Hungry After 2014

Natylie Baldwin, in this excerpt from her new book, describes what happened after the U.S. and EU sought to punish Moscow with agricultural sanctions.

2019 view of Moscow International Business Center. (Dzasohovich, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)
By Natylie Baldwin | Consortium News | June 3, 2020

A common response in the Anglo-American media to Russia’s counter-sanctions against agricultural imports from the United States and EU in 2014 was that Russians would go hungry and were, therefore, shooting themselves in the foot. Within a matter of days of the announcement, however, numerous Latin American countries, namely Argentina and Brazil, got in line to fill the gap, as well as China, which started selling produce directly to Russia.

More importantly, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, Russia ranked as one of the top three producers in the world for a range of agricultural products at the time, from various fruits and vegetables to grains, potatoes and poultry. As of 2018, it was the world’s top exporter of wheat. The government has also had plans in place since 2013 to significantly boost the country’s already respectable production of organic produce from small farms and gardens.  

Natural Society reported in May 2014 that 35 million Russian families are growing an impressive percentage of Russia’s fruits and vegetables on 20 million acres:

According to some statistics, they grow 92% of the entire countries’ potatoes, 77% of its vegetables, 87% of its fruit, and feed 71% of the entire population from privately owned organic farms or house gardens all across the country. These aren’t huge Agro-farms run by pharmaceutical companies; these are small family farms and less-than-an-acre gardens.

By autumn 2017, Vladimir Putin had publicly set a goal for Russia to become the world’s top producer and exporter of organic agriculture. In the summer of 2018, the Russian president signed legislation creating official standards, labeling and certification procedures for organic products produced for commercial sale in Russia that went into effect in 2020. Government support will be available to organic farmers, and a public registry will be created listing certified producers.

The agricultural sanctions created some immediate problems, mainly temporary shortages of some meat products and price increases due to the need to work out infrastructure issues to accommodate imports from countries at greater distances.

But Russians did not go hungry, as I witnessed plenty of food in markets, from street vendors, and in restaurants in all cities I visited during my trips in 2015 and 2017. There was, however, concern over price increases.

Author Sharon Tennison, who has traveled throughout Russia extensively since 1983, reported the general attitude of most Russians toward Western sanctions during her trip to Moscow and St. Petersburg in September 2014:

The general outlook of Russians I spoke with is one of quiet confidence, saying that sanctions will turn out good for Russia in the long run––that Russia must become self-sufficient––remarking that Russia became infatuated with foreign products in the 1990s. At that time they felt Russia didn’t need to manufacture high-end products that they could purchase them from other countries. However, the situation has changed. Today production has become the “in” discussion wherever one goes. The sanctions have helped bring this about. Several Russians remarked that they hoped the sanctions lasted for three years or more, since that would give Russians sufficient time to learn to manufacture formerly imported items themselves. The Russian government is offering financial support to entrepreneurs who are ready to move into consumer production.

Sanctions Imposed

In March of 2014, the U.S. and the European Union (EU) began imposing sanctions on Russia in retaliation for its “annexation” of Crimea. These initial sanctions were largely comprised of asset freezes and visa restrictions on certain Russian officials. As the situation in Eastern Ukraine escalated, with rebels taking over local government buildings and demanding autonomy from what they perceived as a coup government in Kiev, the list of individuals targeted for sanctions grew.

After the downing of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH-17 in July 2014, the west imposed more wide-ranging sanctions, which included several Russian banks as well as the defense and energy sectors. In March of 2018, there were diplomatic “sanctions” (expulsions) for the alleged Skirpal poisoning, which Russia responded to with its own expulsions. That same month, there were business/personal sanctions against a number of Russians for their alleged interference in the 2016 elections.

In order to provide the most accurate and comprehensive assessment of the effect of Western sanctions on Russia over the past five years, University of Birmingham professor Richard Connolly, in his 2018 book, “Russia’s Response to Sanctions: How Western Economic Statecraft is Reshaping Political Economy in Russia,” describes how Russia’s economy actually works in order to provide a contextual framework for understanding the success or failure of the West’s policy. He concluded that the ultimate effect of the sanctions is likely not what was intended by Washington policymakers.

Economy with Four Sectors

Connolly explains that the Russian economy can be divided up into roughly four sectors.

Sector A generates revenue, or “rents,” in the form of taxes, fees and other benefits that support Sector B. Sector A is comprised largely of fossil fuel and mineral extraction industries but also includes large “agricultural conglomerates,” manufacturers of nuclear power generation equipment, and some defense industry manufacturers. Economic actors in Sector A are highly profitable and competitive in the global market, into which they are successfully integrated. The state also plays a strong role in Sector A industries either through significant ownership stakes, as is the case with Gazprom, Rosneft, and Rosatom, or through strong personal ties among private owners and the political class, as is the case with Lukoil and Novatek.

Sector B is comprised of economic actors that are dependent upon the rents generated by Sector A. This includes companies that are generally not competitive globally and provide goods and services to the domestic market rather than for export. Despite state assistance, they do not always generate consistent profits. Examples include automotive manufacturing, shipbuilding, fossil fuel equipment and some defense manufacturing. Other beneficiaries of Sector A include state bureaucracy workers and pensioners. It is estimated that Sectors A and B together comprise around 70 percent of the Russian economy.

Sector C is independent of Sectors A and B and includes large construction companies, retail and business services, and various small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in retail, transportation, business support and communications technology. Because these businesses are outside of the Sector A and B relationship, they’re dependent upon successful profit-making and tend to encourage more competition, innovation and productivity, though they are vulnerable to various forms of outside corruption and unfair takeovers. One successful example of a Sector C industry that enjoys significant and growing export rates is computer software.

The last sector is the financial sector, which, as Connolly points out, developed virtually out of nothing over the past three decades into a system of numerous, largely state-owned or state-influenced banks that provide a wide range of services. However, Russia’s overall financial sector is small in comparison with other middle-income countries, with Sector A and B entities getting preferential treatment in receipt of the limited credit that is available. There are few small banks or other financial institutions that can provide SMEs with credit, as is reflected in the fact that, as of 2016, two-thirds of assets and liabilities were owned by large state-controlled banks.

As Connolly notes, the obvious disadvantages of this system of political economy are hobbled competition, innovation and productivity. It also limits the development of SMEs.

The advantages, however, include support of domestic employment and the funding of social programs. Perhaps most importantly, this system has also enabled the Russian state to cushion the country from the worst potential effects of Western sanctions and even encourage the stimulation of alternative economic investment, which has strengthened agriculture and some industry and finance.

In terms of how Russia responded to Western sanctions, Connolly provides the following summary:

The Russian response was multifaceted and included the securitization of strategic areas of economic policy, a concerted effort to support import substitution in strategic sectors of the economy, and vigorous efforts to cultivate economic relations with non-Western countries, especially in Asia.

Policy of Diversification  

Securitization officially justified certain policies using national security and subordinating certain other objectives in the economic realm that might be prioritized under “normal” circumstances. In order to increase Russia’s economic independence or sovereignty, policies of import substitution and “diversifying” its range of foreign economic partners and the extent of those relations were implemented.

Import substitution involved increasing the proportion of goods and services in Russia that were produced domestically. As an official policy, it was begun in earnest after the imposition of Western sanctions. By 2015, the government was providing federal budget funding, facilitation of loans and access to state procurement funds as well as institutional support to specific sectors of the economy, which included the provision of legal and regulatory frameworks for such policies. In 2016, a plan was presented by Russia’s minister for industry and trade that encompassed “2,000 projects across nineteen branches of the economy. These projects were to be carried out between 2016 and 2020.”

By early 2018, there were 2,500 projects worth $38 billion that were to be completed by 2020. The areas of priority for industrial manufacturing included power equipment, oil and gas equipment, machine tool and civil aviation manufacturing, and agricultural machinery, all of which had import levels between 50 percent and 90 percent.

Gains in domestic food production were seen quickly as Russia became the world’s No. 1 supplier of wheat in early 2018, subsequently capturing over half of the world’s market. Wheat exports continue to increase; sales to other nations increased by 80 percent during the first half of 2018 over the same period in 2017.

Diversifying foreign economic relations is pretty self-explanatory, and in this case it focused heavily on countries in Asia such as China, India, Vietnam and South Korea, as well as Turkey and Latin America. Connolly points out that Russia did not present this as a “zero-sum” action and still conducts most of its trade with various European countries (46 percent of exports and 38 percent of imports). This fact should be considered when assessing the credibility of accusations against Putin that he wants to destroy the EU.

President Vladimir Putin meeting with German business executives, Nov. 1, 2018. (The Kremlin)

China, however, has now become Russia’s single largest trading partner, accounting for 10 percent of Russia’s exports and 22 percent of its imports. But this figure alone does not begin to provide the full picture of Russia’s increasing partnership with Eurasia in general and China in particular.

According to Asia Times correspondent Pepe Escobar, who has been closely following the trend of Eurasian economic integration for several years, what’s known in Russia as the “Greater Eurasia” project was recently presented to the Council of Ministers in Moscow and is now largely accepted as an entrenched foreign policy guide for Russia’s future.

After interviewing three top Russian academics and policymakers who have been championing the Greater Eurasia project for years, Escobar explained that the policy would not preclude continuing a relationship with Europe, recognizing that the Russian elite has been intimately influenced by European culture and trade and technology since the time of Peter the Great, but is meant to be a rebalancing toward the inevitable economic center that will soon be led by Asia and to serve as a “civilizational bridge” between east and west.

The New Silk Road

Situated as it is geographically, Russia is in a perfect position to play this role, serving as a cultural connector between the Enlightenment and the Mongols and as a physical connector between Europe and Asia. In terms of the latter, Russia will play a pivotal role in connecting China’s New Silk Road (aka Belt and Road Initiative, or BRI) through Russia and Central Asia and into Europe.

Escobar writes:

Greater Eurasia and the Belt and Road Initiative are bound to merge. Eurasia is crisscrossed by mighty mountain ranges such as the Pamirs and deserts like the Taklamakan and the Karakum. The best land route runs via Russia or via Kazakhstan to Russia. In crucial soft power terms, Russia remains the lingua franca of Mongolia, Central Asia and the Caucasus.

And that leads us to the utmost importance of an upgraded Trans-Siberian railway—Eurasia’s current connectivity core. In parallel, the transportation systems of the Central Asia “stans” are closely integrated with the Russian network of roads; all that is bound to be enhanced in the near future by Chinese-built high-speed rail.

. . . And all across the spectrum, Moscow aims at maximizing return[s] on the crown jewels of the Russian Far East: agriculture, water resources, minerals, lumber, oil and gas. Construction of liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants in Yamal vastly benefits China, Japan and South Korea.

Iran, Turkey, and India are all pivoting toward Eurasia as well, with a free trade agreement between Iran and the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union having been recently approved. Iran is also playing a role in the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) to facilitate closer economic cooperation between Russia and India, who have enjoyed cordial relations and strong trade in defense for decades.

But Russia and China’s “comprehensive strategic partnership” — as it is referred to officially by both countries — is much more than economic. In an unprecedented move, China sent 3,000 troops to join Russia in a 2018 military exercise to practice countering NATO in Eastern Europe. In July of 2019, “Russian and Chinese bombers conducted their first long-range joint air patrol in the Asia-Pacific.” To reinforce the strategic importance of Russian-Chinese relations, the day after these maneuvers, the Chinese government published a “white paper” in which it promised to further increase military cooperation between the two countries, partly as a result of the United States’s “undermining” of regional stability.

A former senior national security official in Russia described the relationship to National Interest correspondent Graham Allison as a “functional military alliance.” Allison elaborated that “Russian and Chinese generals’ staffs now have candid, detailed discussions about the threat US nuclear modernization and missile defense pose to each of their strategic deterrents.”

S-400 surface-to-air missile systems during the Victory parade 2010. (Wikimedia)

Allison also reiterated that Russia has lifted its decades-long withholding of advanced military technologies to its eastern neighbor, selling China the S-400 air defense system and partnering in research and development on rocket engines and drones. Furthermore, Russia and China vote the same on the UN Security Council 98 percent of the time, and Russia has supported all Chinese vetoes since 2007.

As evidence that the Russian public will likely support the Greater Eurasia project and Russia’s diversifying of economic partnerships in an eastern direction, recent polling reveals that 69 percent of Russians hold a positive view of China — the exact same percentage that hold a negative view of the United States. Two-thirds of Russians identify the United States as their nemesis, while only 2 percent identify China that way.

Now that we’ve explored how Russia has actually responded to Western sanctions, we can turn to the question of how effective those sanctions have been in terms of what their presumed intent was. As Connolly enumerates, in addition to sending a symbolic message of disapproval of Russia’s actions and to show a united front among Western allies, the intent among some policymakers was to cause significant economic harm to Russia—not just as a deterrent to further “bad behavior,” but with the idea that this would encourage political revolt among targeted Russian elites that would endanger Putin’s government and result in regime change with the installment of a new Russian leader that would be more amenable to Washington’s desires.

The answer is that Washington has once again — in its hubris and ignorance — been hoist with its own petard. As British scholar on Russia Paul Robinson sums up in his review of Connolly’s book:

First, it [sanctions] has created a system that “is less vulnerable to external pressure” than that which existed before, in that it is more independent from the West. Second, it has accelerated a shift in Russia’s place in the global economy towards the East. This obviously has political ramifications which Connolly does not explore. Somewhat perversely, Western sanctions have reduced, not increased, Western leverage over Russia. This is probably permanent.

Moreover, since Russia has weathered the sanctions reasonably well, even using them to strengthen certain sectors of its economy in the long term, the sanctions have likely failed as a tool of deterrence. As Connolly states:

How can policymakers expect sanctions to act as a credible deterrent to third countries when the target country in any given instance might appear to be coping or even flourishing under sanctions? In short, a significant and negative impact on the target economy is a necessary, although not sufficient, condition of sanctions to be effective.

For the policymakers implementing sanctions, it might have been worthwhile to have been briefed by real experts on what Russia’s economy is actually like. If they’d done so, they might have realized that sanctions were likely to have a limited effect on a country that, as analyst Patrick Armstrong has pointed out, has a “full-service economy.” In other words, Russia has demonstrated that it has both the natural and human resources to build sophisticated infrastructure, weapons and defense capabilities, a space station, military and commercial aircraft, heavy trucks and passenger cars, to provide energy and the attendant infrastructure, and to feed its people.

Instead, beliefs that Russia is a “gas station posing as a country,” or that it was still somehow frozen in the 1990s, underpinned policy decisions that ultimately failed.

Natylie Baldwin is author of “The View from Moscow: Understanding Russia and U.S.-Russia Relations,” from which this article is excerpted. “The View from Moscow” is available in e-book and print. She is co-author of “Ukraine: Zbig’s Grand Chessboard & How the West Was Checkmated.” She has traveled throughout western Russia since 2015 and has written several articles based on her conversations and interviews with a cross-section of Russians.  She blogs at Natyliesbaldwin.com .

June 3, 2020 Posted by | Book Review, Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

America Is Drowning in Problems

By Paul Craig Roberts | Institute for Political Economy | May 22, 2020

Washington is picking yet another fight with China. On top of the trade war we now have the coronavirus war. China is accused of being responsible for the virus by withholding information about it. Some in Washington want to make China pay for the cost of the virus by reneging on US debt held by China in the form of US Treasuries.

What information about coronavirus is China supposed to have withheld?

That China was doing coronavirus research? How could this information have been withheld when the US State Department knew about it, the N.I.H. was funding it, and US scientists were complaining about the danger?

That coronavirus was ravaging Wuhan? How was this information withheld when it was in the media every day?

The United States and its vassals knew about the virus outbreak in China two months prior to its outbreak in the West and did nothing. Through either inaction or intent, the US, Canada, and Europe imported the virus. The governments refused to stop flights in and out of China and to prevent cruise ships from welcoming passengers from infected areas. Governments did not want to interfere with profits, which came before public health. Absolutely nothing was done. No efforts were made to stockpile protective masks and gear, or to protect nursing homes, or to segregate hospital facilities, or to think outside the box about treatments. The Swedish government was so unprepared that it did not even try to do anything and just let the virus run its course with devastating effects on the elderly. [Note: There is much disinformation about Sweden from those who believe the virus is a plot to impose police state controls, such as claims that Sweden has kept the economy open without paying for it in a higher death rate and is gaining “herd immunity” against Covid-19. These claims are contradicted by news reports. For example: here  and here.]

In an attempt, more or less successful, to reduce the infection rate so that health facilities were not over-burdened, every other country imposed social distancing rules, bans against crowd events, and workplace closures. As little was known about the disease and the Chinese mortality rate was believed to be vastly understated, there was no responsible alternative to the so-called “lockdowns.” It remains to be seen whether the concern for profits has produced a premature reopening that will result in a second wave of rapid infection rates. Many suspect that Big Pharma and Bill Gates want to keep the infection spreading in order to panic us into being vaccinated with an inadequately tested vaccine.

The blame China game is really an effort to cover-up the failure of Western governments to deal with a crisis.

The failure of governments to deal with crisis is ubiquitous. Just think Katrina, the hurricane that devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. If you don’t remember or are too young to have experienced the 2005 hurricane via TV, read Douglas Brinkley’s The Great Deluge.

Everyone knew that the levies protecting New Orleans and surrounding areas were unable to withstand a storm of Katrina’s intensity. The city was a bowl waiting to fill up with the water that wiped out 80% of New Orleans and 150 miles of Gulf Coast communities. Evacuation orders came too late. There were no steps taken to evacuate those without cars and resources. The sick and elderly were left in place. The few steps that were taken to assemble buses, boats, and first responders located the scanty resources in areas that flooded. The New Orleans Police Department went AWOL. Some joined in the looting. FEMA was a total failure. President George W. Bush and Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff were not focused on the unfolding tragedy but on their creation of a terrortist hoax that was used to justify 20 years of US bombing and invasions of Middle Eastern and North African countries. As Bush had deployed Louisiana’s National Guard to Iraq, the Louisiana governor had to borrow guardsmen from other states.

The US Coast Guard, Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries personnel, and private individuals formed the force of first responders. People from Louisiana and from other states showed up on their own time, their own money, and with their own boats and began organizing rescues. There were many heroic and generous people involved in the rescue. As most of the rescuers were white southerners and most of the rescued were black, it put the lie to the propagandistic picture of the white southern racist. For example, Sara Roberts and her husband Buisson, a descendant of Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard, organized the Cajun Navy. Sara enlisted clients of her accounting firm who came up with 35 boats and crews to man them. One of her clients, Ronny Lovett, paid his construction crews triple wages for their rescue time and spent $200,000 of his money equipping the boats with food, water, medical supplies, chain saws, life jackets, spotlights, ropes and whatever else could contribute to successful rescues. It was individual citizens, not the governments in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Washington that rescued many thousands of people who otherwise would have perished.

From its founding day, New Orleans was a man-made disaster waiting to happen. Dredging, canals, watercourse alterations, pipelines and a variety of other environmental damaging mistakes had over the years destroyed the wetlands that protected the city and Gulf Coast. In order to serve private profit, failure was built into the system. The Great Deluge is an external cost of a political and economic system that puts private profits first.

We are undergoing it again at this moment as areas of Michigan are inundated from floods caused by dam failures. One of the dams, the Edenville Dam was a long known public safety hazard . Boyce Hydro, the owner of the dam, repeatedly failed despite the intervention of regulators to address the known risk. Not only was Boyce Hydro negligent, but also were the government authorities that permitted the known risk to persist unaddressed. The loss of life and property from the flooding is an external cost imposed on third parties by Boyce Hydro whose agenda was limited to its profits.

It is as difficult to understand the liberal and progressive belief in government as it is to understand the libertarian belief in the efficacy of the invisible hand that allegedly causes private greed to serve the public’s interest. Humans are a built-in failure machine. Their time perspective is short term. They are always surprised by the unintended consequences of their own thoughtless actions and inaction.

Throughout America, state, local, and federal government epitomize failure. Trillions of dollars have been poured into weapons systems that cannot be used without destroying the United States along with the rest of the world, while dams fail, bridges collapse, communities deteriorate, and homelessness grows. The government in Washington spends time, effort, and money manufacturing enemies to justify the budget of the military/security complex, while jobs and the US economy are offshored, the environment is degraded, and health care needs go unaddressed. The US rivals third world countries in terms of the percentage of its population that has no savings, no access to health care, and no prospects for advancement in life.

But we can blow up the world several times over and make mindless interventions in the natural environment that multiply the destructive power of storms, heavy rains, and other natural phenomena.

Another election approaches and yet again there is no acknowledgement of the real problems our country faces or any interest in discussing what to do about them. America and the Western World in general are simply going to drown in their unaddressed problems just as New Orleans drowned in Hurricane Katrina.

May 25, 2020 Posted by | Book Review, Timeless or most popular | | 2 Comments

Washington’s tall tale of Iranian-Al Qaeda alliance based on questionably sourced book ‘The Exile’

A disinformation campaign aimed to justify the assassination of Qassem Soleimani by painting him and Iran as willing enablers of al-Qaeda. The propaganda operation relied heavily on a shoddily sourced book, “The Exile.”

By Gareth Porter | The Grayzone | May 19, 2020

The U.S. assassination of Qassem Soleimani in January touched off a new wave of disinformation about the top Iranian major general, with Trump administration allies branding him a global terrorist while painting Iran as the world’s worst state sponsor of terrorism. Much of the propaganda about Soleimani related to his alleged responsibility for the killing of American troops in Iraq, along with Iran’s role in Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen.

But a second theme in the disinformation campaign, which has been picked up by mainstream outlets like the Wall Street Journal and National Public Radio, was the claim that Soleimani deliberately unleashed al-Qaeda terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s campaign to kill Shiites in Iraq. That element of the propaganda offensive was the result of the 2017 publication of “The Exile,” a book by British journalists Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark, which spun a new version of the familiar U.S. propaganda line of a supposed Iranian terror alliance with al-Qaeda.

Levy and Scott-Clark introduced the theme of secret collusion between the two open adversaries with an article in the The Sunday Times in early 2018, dramatically entitled “Tehran in devil’s pact to rebuild al‑Qaeda.” Soleimani, they claimed, “first offered sanctuary to bin Laden’s family and al-Qaeda military leaders,” then proceeded to “build them a residential compound at the heart of a military training center in Tehran.”

But those two sentences represented a grotesque distortion of Iran’s policy toward the al-Qaeda personnel fleeing from Afghanistan into Iran. Virtually every piece of concrete evidence, including an internal al-Qaeda document written in 2007, showed that Iran agreed to take in a group of al-Qaeda refugees with legal passports that included members of bin Laden’s family and some fighters and middle- and lower-ranking military cadres – but not Zarqawi and other al-Qaeda military leaders — and only temporarily and under strict rules forbidding political activity.

The crucial fact that Levy and Scott-Clark conveniently failed to mention, moreover, was that Iranian officials were well aware that al-Qaeda’s leadership figures, including military commanders and with their troops, were also slipping into Iran from Afghanistan, but Iranian security forces had not yet located them.

Keeping the legal arrivals under closer surveillance and watching for any contacts with those illegally in the country, therefore, was a prudent policy for Iranian security under the circumstances.

In addition, having bin Laden’s family and other al-Qaeda cadres under their surveillance gave Iran potential bargaining chips it could use to counter hostile actions by both al-Qaeda and the United States.

Al-Qaeda documents undermine narrative of cooperation with Iran

Careful study of the enormous cache of internal al-Qaeda documents released by the U.S. government in 2017 further discredited the tall tale of Iranian facilitation of al-Qaeda terrorism.

Nelly Lahoud, a senior fellow at the New American Foundation and former senior research associate at the West Point Combating Terrorism Center, translated and analyzed 303 of the newly available documents and found nothing indicating Iranian cooperation with, or even knowledge about the whereabouts of Zarqawi or other al-Qaeda military leaders prior to their detentions of April 2003.

Lahoud explained in a September 2018 lecture that all actions by al-Qaeda operatives in Iran had been “conducted in a clandestine manner.” She even discovered from one of the documents that al-Qaeda had considered the clandestine presence of those officials and fighters so dangerous that they had been instructed on how to commit suicide if they were caught by the Iranians.

Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark were well aware that those al-Qaeda operatives living in Tehran’s military training center were under severe constraints, akin to a prison.  Meanwhile, senior figures like Zarqawi and Saif al-Adel, the head of the al-Qaeda shura council, were far away from Tehran, planning new operations in the region amid friendly Sunni contacts. These plans included Zarqawi’s campaign Iraq, which he began organizing in early 2002.

Nevertheless the authors declared, “From [the Iranian training center], al-Qaeda organized, trained and established funding networks with the help of Iran, co-ordinated multiple terrorist atrocities and supported the bloodbath against Shi’ites by al-Qaeda in Iraq….”

Anti-Iran think tanker Sadjadpour jumps on the conspiracy bandwagon

Karim Sadjadpour of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a reliable fount of anti-Iran spin, responded within days of the Soleimani assassination with an article in the Wall Street Journal’s right-wing editorial section that reinforced the budding disinformation campaign.

Entitled “The Sinister Genius of Qassem Soleimani,” Sadjadpour’s op-ed argued that in March 2003, before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, “Soleimani’s Quds Force freed many Sunni jihadists that Iran had been holding captive, unleashing them against the U.S.” He cited “The Exile” as his source.

Levy and Scott-Clark did indeed spin a tale in the book of Zarqawi’s troops — and Zarqawi himself — being rounded up and locked to the same prison as those al-Qaeda members who entered with passports in March 2003. The authors claimed they were released within days. But the only sources they cite to support their claims were two people they interviewed in Amman, Jordan in 2016.

So who were these insider sources? The only identifying characteristics Levy and Scott-Clark offer is that they were “in Zarqawi’s group at the time.” Furthermore, neither of these sources is quoted to substantiate the claim that Zarqawi was arrested and then released from prison, and they are mentioned only in a footnote on the number of Zarqawi’s troops that had been sent to the prison.

Sadjadpour offered his own explanation — without the slightest suggestion of any evidence to support it — of why Soleimani would support an anti-Shiite jihadist to kill his own Iraqi Shiite allies. “By targeting Shiite shrines and civilians, killing thousands of Iran’s fellow Shiites,” he wrote, “Zarqawi helped to radicalize Iraq’s Shiite majority and pushed them closer to Iran—and to Soleimani, who could offer them protection.”

In late January, on National Public Radio’s weekly program “Throughline,” Sadjadpour pushed his dubiously sourced argument, opining that Soleimani had figured out how to “use the al Qaeda jihadists of Zarqawi … to simply unleash them into Iraq with the understanding that you guys do what you do.”

The BBC promotes “The Exile” as the book’s narrative crumbles

In a BBC radio documentary broadcasted in late April, titled “Iran’s Long Game” (an allusion to Iran’s alleged long-term plan for domination of the entire Middle East), Cathy Scott-Clark told a story intended to clinch the case that Iran had helped Zarqawi: Other prisoners “heard conversations in the corridors” in which Iranian authorities allegedly assured Zarqawi, “You can do whatever you want to do … in Iraq.”

That story does not appear in her book, however. Instead, Adrian Levy and Scott-Clark related a comment by Abu Hafs al-Mauritani, a spiritual adviser to bin Laden, on hearing about the arrest and subsequent release of Zarqawi from another prisoner who eavesdropped by tapping the pipes leading into his room.

That narrative had already been definitively contradicted long before, however, in an account provided by Saif al-Adl, the most senior member of the al-Qaeda top leadership in Iran. Al-Adl had fled with Zarqawi from Afghanistan across the border into Iran illegally in late 2001 or early 2002 and was apprehended in April 2003 — weeks after the alleged events portrayed in al-Mauritani’s story.

In a memoir smuggled out of Iran to Jordanian journalist Fouad Hussein, which Husayn published in 2005 in an Arabic-language book (but available online in an English-language translation), Saif al-Adl described an Iranian crackdown in March 2003 that captured 80 percent of Zarqawi’s fighters and “confused us and aborted 75 percent of our plan”.

Because of that round-up, al-Adl wrote, “[T]here was a need for the departure of Abu-Mus’ab and the brothers who remained free.” Al-Adl described his final meeting with Zarqawi before his departure, confirming that Zarqawi had not been caught prior to his own apprehension on April 23, 2003.

Levy and Scott-Clark cited Saif al-Adl’s memoir on other matters in “The Exile,” but when this writer queried Scott-Clark about al-Adl’s testimony – which contradicted the narrative that underpinned her book – Scott-Clark responded, “I know Fuad Hussein well. Most of his information is third hand and not well sourced.”

She did not address the substance of al-Adl’s recollections about Zarqawi, however. When asked in a follow-up email whether she challenged the authenticity of Saif al-Adl’s testimony, Scott-Clark did not respond.

Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist who has covered national security policy since 2005 and was the recipient of Gellhorn Prize for Journalism in 2012.  His most recent book is The CIA Insider’s Guide to the Iran Crisis co-authored with John Kiriakou, just published in February.

May 20, 2020 Posted by | Book Review, Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 1 Comment

Pro-Israel group fails to have BDS supporting professor removed

MEMO | May 18, 2020

A pro-Israel American campus group has failed in its bid to have a professor removed from the position of interim dean of a department at the George Washington University because of her support for the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.

Professor Ilana Feldman was targeted by GW for Israel following her appointment as the interim dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs, a prestigious private Washington, DC university’s training school for diplomats and other foreign policy specialists.

GW for Israel launched a petition demanding the removal of Feldman from the post citing her support for BDS. “Dr. Feldman is a fervent supporter of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement and has a record of minimizing terrorism, delegitimizing the State of Israel, and advocating to suspend academic ties with Israeli institutions,” said the petition.

Feldman is a member of the American Anthropological Association. In 2015 she led a campaign in which professors of anthropology voted overwhelmingly in favour of a resolution calling on the group to boycott Israeli academic institutions by a 1,040 to 136 margin at the association’s annual business meeting.

Last year, she published a book on Palestinian refugees titled: “Life Lived in Relief — Humanitarian Predicaments and Palestinian Refugee Politics”. It was shortlisted for the 2019 Palestine Book Awards.

Despite the protest from GW for Israel, George Washington University stood by its decision.

“Dr. Ilana Feldman has been an active faculty member at the Elliott School of International Affairs since 2007,” the University’s provost, Brian Blake, said last week in an email to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “As vice dean, Dr. Feldman has demonstrated her leadership ability and her respect for and commitment to all students, faculty and staff of the Elliott School community.

Dr. Feldman’s appointment as interim dean was made based on strong support within the Elliott School, including from the current dean, the Dean’s Council, as well as a number of faculty.”

Feldman is the most recent academic to face the wrath of the pro-Israeli groups. In January JB Brager, a teacher at an elite New York City prep school, was fired for expressing remarks critical of Israel.

May 18, 2020 Posted by | Book Review, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Solidarity and Activism | , , , | 1 Comment

Apartheid is a Crime: Portraits of the Israeli Occupation of Palestine – Book Review

Apartheid is a Crime: Portraits of the Israeli Occupation of Palestine, by Mats Svensson. (Photo: Book Cover)
By Jim Miles | Palestine Chronicle | May 16, 2020

In Apartheid is a Crime, Mats Svensson has created a very accessible clear expression of Israel’s occupation of Palestine.

It is composed primarily of photos of the Palestinian situation. Not photos of the wars, the fighting, and the blood, but of the people and their dispossession under martial law. The faces do not show rage and hatred, but range from resigned acceptance, through steadfastness, passive resistance, and on to – somehow – a seeming ironic happiness – ironic in that it is difficult to imagine anyone smiling or laughing under these conditions. When Israeli shoulders are viewed, their faces are impassive, uncaring.

The landscape is presented in three themes. The first shows the abandoned landscapes from the nakba – houses untended and decaying, the native plants, and significantly the native cactus claiming their own space in the ruins. The demolition of homes highlights the daily ongoing military actions, piece by piece, of the slow demolition of the remaining cultural and civil landscape. Finally, the wall looms above all, combined with wide swaths of cleared ‘buffer’ zones, separating families, farms, businesses, and civic interaction.

Preceded with a foreword by Ramzy Baroud, the photos are accompanied by short text excerpts from many well-known names: Tom Segev, Richard Falk, Nelson Mandela, Edward Said, Moshe Dayan, and Presidents Obama, Carter and Bush. Among them are lesser-known names of Palestinian and Jewish voices, speaking equally as eloquently as the readily recognized names. The general theme of the comments is of apartheid and colonialism, the unfortunate silence of the diplomats, and the daily humiliations and struggles of the people suffering under the apartheid system, a system that always and ever has denied a two-state solution.

The juxtaposition of comments and photos provides a strong message concerning the plight of the Palestinian people. It is concise, not needing a historical background, hitting the reader on an emotional level more than an intellectual level. For those just becoming familiar with the Palestinian problems Apartheid is a Crime is a good starting position; for those already cognizant of the situation and many of its political/legal backgrounds, Apartheid is a Crime presents a visually emotive reminder with concise quotes and references reinforcing longer discourses.

Mats Svensson, a former Swedish diplomat working on the staff of SIDA, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, has been following the ongoing occupation of Palestine since 2003. He is the author of “Crimes, Victims and Witnesses – Apartheid in Palestine.” (Real African Publishers) and his latest “Apartheid is a Crime – Portraits of Israeli Occupation,” (Cunepress, 2020).

May 16, 2020 Posted by | Book Review, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Churchill’s War: the Real History of World War II

By Paul Craig Roberts • Institute for Political Economy • April 19, 2020

All truth-tellers are denounced, and most end up destroyed. Truth seldom serves the agendas of powerful interests.

The one historian from whom you can get the unvarnished truth of World War II is David Irving.

On the bookjackets of Irving’s books, the question is asked: What is real history?

The answer is that real history is history that travels straight from history-maker to the history-maker’s documents and from the document archives to the historian’s book without political input and free of academic and patriotic prejudice. It is history that cannot be bought.

Irving’s Hitler’s War was published in 1977. Irving was an archaeologist digging in history who located and dug up previously unknown documents and archives. He lets the factual record tell the history. He is exact and scrupulous and does not curry favor. The Board of Deputies of British Jews wrote: “The book was thoroughly researched . . . It confirmed Irving’s reputation as one of the world’s most thorough researchers and an exciting and readable historian.”

The first volume of Irving’s Churchill’s War was published in 1987. The second volume in 2001. The third and final volume is awaited.

These works far surpass all previous histories of the war and all accounts of the agendas and events that produced the war. Irving is not motivated to curry favor with the ruling establishment, to make us feel self-righteous in our victory by demonizing the opponent or to grind any personal, ideological, or political axe. He lets the history-makers speak for themselves in their own words, and it is seldom a pretty picture.

Irving’s books sold millions of copies, and he was well-to-do. But he fell foul of Zionists, oddly enough because he documented actual atrocities against Jews. The problem was the attrocities he found differed from the official holocaust story. He documented a holocaust of a sort, but it is a different one than the Zionists prefer. If I understand correctly, infuriated Zionists with plentiful funds used unethical tactics and brought lawsuits, the defense against which eventually bankrupted him. Little wonder most historians choose to suck up to powerful interests by validating their claims and explanations. The fake history they write is a self-protective device like a bullet-proof vest.

I previously reported on Hitler’s War and the first volume of Churchill’s War in my most widely read article — The Lies About World War II. As I quoted Irving’s account that Jews were killed, but in a more ad hoc than organized way, Zionists rushed to my already defective Wikipedia biography to attribute Irving’s words to me, thereby labeling me a “holocaust denier.” When I complained of the misrepresentation, I was fobbed off with the reply that I would not have quoted Irving if I had not agreed with him. In other words, if you report in a book review what a writer says, it means you agree with him. I am not qualified to agree or to disagree with Irving. Indeed, few people are.

People in the Western world have been indoctrinated for 75 years into a white hat/black hat story of World War II that exonerates the “allies” and demonizes Hitler and Germany. To tell people, especially elderly ones whose memory of the war was formed by war propaganda, that the “allies” were as bad or worse war criminals than the Germans brings fire and brimstone down on one’s head. It nevertheless needs to be done, because our view of ourselves reflects the make-believe story of the war with which we are inculcated. In the false history comes strength for the opinion that we Americans and our country are exceptional and indispensable and that these traits justify Washington’s hegemony over the world. Our destruction in whole or part of seven countries in the 21st century, our withdrawal from arms limitation agreements, our dangerous demonization of militarily powerful countries such as Russia and China all rest in our self-righteous view of ourselves. Of course, not all Americans share these self-righteous views, but the views are the basis for both Republican and Democrat foreign policy. Even the left-wing, or whatever remains of it, believes in war in order to overthrow dictators and “bring democracy and human rights.”

In what follows I am not going to attempt a review of Irving’s second volume on Churchill. Instead, I will report some of the findings that documents reveal, findings that will be new information for most readers. But first a preface.

Hitler did not start World War II. England and France launched World War II with a declaration of war against Germany. Hitler did not want a war with Britain and France and tried to avoid it and then end it with a peace agreement very favorable to Britain and France. Hitler regarded the British Empire as essential to the survival of European dominance. He promised Churchill in exchange for an end of hostilities that Germany would defend the British Empire with the German military anywhere in the world that it was in jeopardy. Hitler left a large part of France and French North Africa unoccupied. He left the French fleet in French hands.

Hitler’s aim was to restore the integrity of the German nation which had been torn apart and distributed to Czechoslovakia, Poland, Denmark, and France by the Versailles Treaty which had been forced on Germany after World War I by a policy of starvation. Germans in the territories turned over to Czechoslovakia and Poland were being persecuted and murdered. Hitler had no choice but to do something about it. He recovered German territory from France, Czechoslovakia, and Denmark without war.

The same outcome was likely in Poland except the British interfered. The British gave the Polish military dictatorship a “guarantee” to come to Poland’s aid if Poland refused Hitler’s demands. Consequently, the Polish dictatorship broke off negotiations with Germany. Germany and the Soviet Union then split Poland between them.

The guarantee compelled “British honor” to declare war on Germany—but not on the Soviet Union—and the hapless French were pulled along.

The British relied on the “powerful French military” and sent an expeditionary force which was promptly trapped at Dunkirk where Hitler let them go, thinking that an act of magnanimity and his refusal to humiliate the British would bring an end to the conflict. However, Churchill kept Hitler’s overly generous peace terms from the British people and from Parliament. Churchill had wanted war and had worked hard for one and now that he had power and a chance to repeat the military leadership of his great ancestor, the Duke of Marlborough, he was determined to keep his war.

With Hitler in control of Europe, Churchill began working harder to get the US into the war. All along the way President Roosevelt had given Churchill war encouragement but without promising any definite course of action from America. Roosevelt wanted Britain at war. He knew it would bankrupt the British and place them economically in Washington’s hands, which would permit the US to break up the British system of trade preferences that allowed Britain to control world trade, destroy the British Empire, dethrone the British pound and replace it with the dollar. Roosevelt was an enemy of empire except America’s own. From FDR’s standpoint, World War II was an attack by the US on British trade preferences that were the backbone of the British Empire.

So Churchill got his war which cost Britain her empire, and Roosevelt replaced the British Empire with an American one. FDR paid a cheap price—about 300,000 US combat deaths. In her defeat of Germany, Russia lost about 9,000,000 soldiers in combat deaths and 26 million people altogether,

After the Russians stopped the German offensive, the war could have ended, but FDR and Churchill had established a policy of unconditional surrender, which shackled allied wartime foreign policy to two more years of death and destruction.

As Pat Buchanan said, it was The Unnecessary War. The war served Churchill’s path to power and Washington’s empire.

Volume 2 begins in 1941. Irving has tracked down and unearthed many documents that permit a better understanding of the war. Many official papers are still under lock and key and many have been destroyed. The effort to suppress truth from coming out continues 75 years after the war.

Secrecy is used to hide crimes. It is reputations that are protected, not national security.

Churchill used secrecy to protect his war crime of ordering the bombing of civilian residential areas of German cities with his emphasis on bombing the homes of the working class as they were closer together which helped the conflagation to spread. Churchill would first have the civilian areas firebombed, and then when firemen and rescue workers were engaged the British would drop high explosives. Churchill ignored military targets, preferring instead to break the morale of the German population by bombing civilian areas. He tried to get the British Air Force to include poison gas when dropping incendiary and high explosive bombs on civilian residential areas.

As the British people did not know Churchill was bombing civilians, Churchill hoped Hitler would be provoked into replying in kind. Hitler refused for three months to take the bait, but finally his military insisted that unless he bombed the British they would keep on bombing German civilian areas. Hitler gave in but initially insisted that only British industrial targets be bombed. Once a few bombs went astray, Churchill had his rallying cry that the Nazi barbarians were bombing civilians. He got away with this, but officials in the know worried that the British Air Force, especially “Butcher” Harris, would face war crimes trials when the war was over. British generals and admirals disagreed with Churchill’s bombing policy. They regarded it as unprofessional and unprincipled. They complained that it harmed the war effort by denying the army and navy needed air support.

In November 1942 British Air Chief Portal compared the German bombing of Britain with the British bombing of Germany. The Germans had dropped 55,000 tons of bombs, killing 41,000 British and destroying 350,000 homes. The British had dropped 1,250,000 tons of bombs, killing 900,000 German civilians, maiming one million more, and destroying 6,000,000 German homes. The UK/US firebombing of Dresden at the end of the war stands as one of the worst war crimes in history. It killed as many or more civilians as the atomic bombs Washington dropped on the two Japanese cities, also at war end.

Churchill was determined to bomb Rome, but was resisted by the British Air Force. In contrast, Hitler ordered the German military not to risk the destruction of Rome by defending it.

Churchill ordered the bombing of the French fleet, which Hitler had left in the hands of Vichy France, killing around 3,000 French sailors. Churchill together with FDR and Eisenhower invaded French Northwest Africa which was in the hands of Vichy France. Vichy France Admiral Darlan used his influence to persuade the French not to resist the invasion, thus minimizing British and American casualties. Darlan cooperated in every way. His reward was to be assassinated in a plot organized by Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden, later one of Britain’s disastrous prime ministers. The assassin protested that he was promised immunity by the British, but was quickly executed to silence him. Eden, whose ambition was larger than his intelligence, was in DeGaulle’s pocket, and DeGaulle wanted Darlan out of his way to power.

The military schemes that Churchill imposed on the British military, such as his invasion of neutral Norway, always came to a bad end, but he rescued himself with masterful speeches in Parliament.

The British had a poor opinion of Eisenhower, and FDR had a poor opinion of Eden. There was so much conflict between the British and the Americans that it is amazing they were able to agree to any plan of action. The American people disliked the British for drawing them into “their war.” The British disliked the Americans for the Negro troops sent to England where they were believed to be responsible for rapes and a crime wave. A lot of propaganda was necessary to focus the hate on the Germans.

The British did not want to sacrifice Arab interests to Zionists but usually did because Zionists had the money. Churchill himself was indebted to a multimillionaire Jew who bailed him out when he faced bankruptcy. Zionists attempted to use their leverage over Churchill to force his approval of both more Jewish immigration to Palestine and for the formation of a “Jewish fighting force,” allegedly to fight the Germans but in reality to drive Palestinians out of Palestine. Zionists promised Churchill that if he would agree to their demands, they would bring the US into the war against Germany. Such was their power.

The British saw Zionists’ interests as detrimental to their hold on their Arab colonies. When deportations of Jews and their mistreatment began leaking out, the British Foreign Office saw the reports as the work of the international Zionist campaign to create sympathy and to use the sympathy in behalf of their Palestinian purpose. When 700 Jews found incapable of work were shot in a work camp, the Foreign Office responded, “Information from Jewish refugees is generally coloured and frequently unreliable.” Eisenhower was pleased with Darlan and was unaware of Eden’s plot against him. An American newsman told Eisenhower’s staff that the agitation against Admiral Darlan came from “Jews of press and radio who wish to make certain we were fighting a war to make the world safe for Jews.” The Jews cried wolf so often that when he actually showed up they were not believed.

Much information emerges in the second volume about Churchill’s character, personal habits, excessive drinking—he was dependent on alcohol—and autocratic ways. He could turn people against him and then with a speech or by taking special notice of them put them back in his pocket. Churchill had flaws and the ability to survive them. Irving does not excoriate Churchill. He merely shows us what he was like. There are things to admire and things to disapprove.

Moreover, it is not only Churchill who was ambitious. All were. It is a mystery that organization survived ambition. Somehow officers were able to devote time to war against the Germans from the time they spent warring against one another for commands and promotions. The same with cabinet ministers. The same for the military services fighting one another for resources. And the same for the Germans. The Italian and German generals were so jealous of Rommel’s initial successes in North Africa that they worked to undermine him.

And German efficiency also bites the dust. German intelligence never caught on that the British were reading their codes and knew precisely every shipment to resupply Rommel which the British seldom failed to send to the bottom of the Mediterranean. One would think that after nothing gets through time and again that a light would come on.

Volume 2 has 200 pages of footnote references. It has a 35 page index. It is the kind of history that only gets written once in a century. Irving is clearly the master of historical documentation. When you disagree with Irving, most likely you are disagreeing with the documented historical record.

April 19, 2020 Posted by | Book Review, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | 13 Comments

Virginia Goes Zionist

Jewish power manifest in the Old Dominion

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • March 31, 2020

Politicians, bureaucrats and media talking heads have long turned a blind eye to legislation and policies that benefit the state of Israel to the detriment of United States’ interests. The U.S. Treasury is plausibly describable as a gift that never stops giving to the people and governments of Jewish state. Since the foundation of Israel in 1948, the federal government in Washington has provided some $142.3 billion in direct aid of various kinds. Currently, Israel receives $3.8 billion per annum guaranteed for ten years, a sum that is supplemented by various giveaways, tax concessions and co-production arrangements from the government. Private “charitable” donations from individuals, businesses and foundations, some of which are fraudulent, considerably augment those numbers, making the total that Israel receives annually from the United States well in excess of $10 billion. A considerable proportion of that money is technically illegal, as it goes in support of the Israeli settlements on Arab land. No other country has received anything even approaching what Israel gets from the American taxpayer in one form or another and the one-way flow of money is also remarkable in that it has been guaranteed well into the future.

Other benefits obtained by Israel from the United States are less easy to quantify, to include the theft of U.S. military technology, which is then copied and sold by the Israeli arms industry, directly eliminating American jobs in one of the few manufacturing sectors that is relatively speaking thriving. There is also the observable transfer of high-tech jobs from the U.S. to Israel, engineered by Jewish billionaires like Paul Singer who are able to influence such decisions in the corporate world.

Israel also benefits enormously from the United States-Israel Free Trade Agreement of 1985, which is, by design, intended to give the Jewish state free access to the huge U.S. market without any real reciprocity for U.S. companies to enter the tiny Israeli market. Israel also is able to bid on U.S. government contracts, including classified defense contracts, a practice that has led to several lawsuits when the Israeli company gets a contract by lowballing the bid but then fails to perform. In some cases, Israeli companies have submitted low bids to obtain contracts at state and federal levels even when they had no relevant experience and no facilities that can actually perform the work. They pocket the subsidies and advance payments they receive from local governments and states and then effectively disappear.

The desire of some American Jews who occupy powerful positions to aid Israel at the expense of the United States is despicable, sustained by the lie that Israel is an ally and that both countries ultimately benefit from the process. Israel’s ability to impose its own priorities at the levels of Congress and the White House has long been observed, but its political manipulation and ability to corrupt U.S. democracy of behalf of a foreign power have lately been extended to the state and local levels. This shift is due in part to the desire on the part of Israel’s promoters to shut down the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. It has proven difficult to pass an unconstitutional national level ban on non-violent criticism of Israel going through Congress, so the Israel firsters have instead concentrated on the states. Twenty-eight states now have some form of legislation that denies state services or jobs to anyone who does not sign an agreement to not boycott Israel. A particularly draconian bill being considered in Florida equates any criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, enabling any critic to be sued in courts for hate speech.

A particularly egregious and also unique example of a state’s economic policies being manipulated by a dedicated Israeli fifth column in government is the Virginia Israel Advisory Board. Grant Smith, long a critic of the VIAB, heads the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (IRMEP). He has written a new book entitled The Israel Lobby Enters State Government: Rise of the Virginia Israel Advisory Board, which documents in considerable detail how the conspiracy by powerful Jews in Virginia to benefit Israel has actually operated, much of it secretly through special arrangements and deals. He has also had a long interview with Scott Horton of Antiwar.com regarding the book which is well worth listening to.

The VIAB is unique because it is actually part of the Virginia state government. It is funded by the Commonwealth of Virginia and is able to access funds from other government agencies to support Israeli businesses. It is staffed by Israelis and American Jews drawn from what has been described as the “Israel advocacy ecosystem” and is self-administered, appointing its own members and officers. While there are many Israel business promotion entities active in the United States, only Virginia has such a group actually sitting within the government itself, ready to make secret preferential agreements, to arrange special concessions on taxes and to establish start-up subsidies for Israeli businesses. Israeli business projects have been, as a result, regularly funded using Virginia state resources with little accountability. Bear in mind that this agency exists not to promote Virginia businesses but rather to give an advantage to Israeli businesses, some of which might even be competing with existing Virginia companies and putting local people out of work.

Virginia already runs an estimated $500 million trade deficit with Israel due to the federal Free Trade Agreement and the promotion of Israeli businesses in the state, which repatriate their profits to Israel, adds considerably to that sum. Smith reports how VIAB is not just an economic mechanism. Its charter states that it was “created to foster closer economic integration between the United States and Israel while supporting the Israeli government’s policy agenda.” Smith also has observed that “VIAB is a pilot for how Israel can quietly obtain taxpayer funding and official status for networked entities that advance Israel from within key state governments.”

Jewish federations and groups active on behalf of Israel were present in Virginia before VIAB was founded in 1996. Its Godfather was Eric Cantor, a state legislator who later entered Congress as the only Jewish Republican, where he was a powerful advocate for Israel. The board grew significantly under governor Terry McAuliffe’s administration (2014-2018). McAuliffe, regarded by many as the Clintons’ “bag man,” received what were regarded as generous out-of-state campaign contributors from actively pro-Israeli billionaires Haim Saban and J.B. Pritzker, who were both affiliated with the Democratic Party. McAuliffe met regularly in off-the-record “no press allowed” sessions with Israel advocacy groups and spoke about “the Virginia Advisory Board and its successes.” That was, of course, a self-serving lie by one of the slimiest of the Clinton unindicted criminals.

And wherever Israel goes there is inevitably going to be the usual hanky-panky. Many of the Israeli companies chowing down on the Virginia feed bag are located on land stolen from Arabs on the West Bank. They are illegal under international law, even if President Donald Trump and company have declared otherwise. And then there are the conflicts of interest. VIAB board member Aviva Frye, whose family mostly resides in Israel and who worked to obtain the government approvals for an Israeli solar and wind energy company called Energix, located on the West Bank, was subsequently rewarded with a company directorship. And one hand inevitably washes the other. Board member Eileen Filler-Corn, a leading advocate for Israel, recently became the first woman to become speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates. Grant Smith reports how she benefited greatly in her campaign by virtue of large donations from other board members as well as from Jewish groups and Israeli companies.

The VIAB is little more than a mechanism set up to carry out licensed robbery of Virginia state resources being run by a cabal of local American Jews and Israelis to benefit their co-religionists in Israel. Grant Smith observes how some pushback is finally in evidence, due to fraud in accounting procedures that have been exposed as well as environmental devastation for various projects that were never completed. Some human rights groups have also begun to challenge the illegality of the Israeli West Bank settlement-based companies involved. But it is not enough and it is probably too late as Israel is never held accountable for anything by the American Establishment. For my part, as a Virginia resident I have written and called the governor’s office and the offices of my state Senator and Delegate. No one has returned my calls or responded to my letters. Whose America is it? one might well ask.

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.

March 30, 2020 Posted by | Book Review, Corruption, Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 5 Comments

On COVID-19 and Curtis LeMay

By Robert S. Griffin • Unz Review • March 26, 2020

As I write this in late March of 2020, the world is under attack from a deadly strain of coronavirus called COVID-19. Thus far, there have been around 18,000 deaths world-wide, including 550 deaths in the United States where I live. My country has come to a halt: schools and businesses are shut down and people have been warned to stay in their houses or apartments hunkered down in the face of this menacing enemy. We’re in a war, that’s how it is being described in the media. The president has said he is like a war-time president.

Speaking of war, tonight, hunkered down as I usually am in this very late stage of life—I didn’t need to be directed to hide out on this leather couch I’m sitting on at the moment—I read a biography of an American World War II-era air force general by the name of Curtis LeMay (LeMay: The Life and Times of General Curtis LeMay by Warren Kozak, Regnery, 2009). As I was reading along, it hit me that COVID-19 has a long way to go before it’s in a league with General LeMay as a killing machine. Back in 1945, in less than three hours, LeMay got way, way more killing done than COVID-19 has been able to accomplish in three months.

And it’s more than just in the sheer number of deaths that LeMay comes out on top in the comparison.

COVID-19 has been bad at snuffing out the lives of children and people who aren’t already sick with something. With LeMay, young and old, sick and well, he put them all in their graves.

And LeMay wasn’t limited to primly killing people lying quietly in hospital beds with rubber tubes running into them as COVID-19 has been. He set them on fire, deprived them of air to breathe, and heated them up like pot roasts. Imagine that action!

More, COVID-19 seems only to be proficient at x-ing out human life in cold weather; no good in the summer. LeMay demonstrated in both Europe and Asia that he was a man for all seasons, as it were—he was as effective cancelling someone’s existence in July as January.

Plus, Curtis LeMay didn’t just kill people; he also totally leveled the areas they lived in. COVID-19 has accomplished nothing in this regard.

In addition, Curtis LeMay had style and pizzazz—he had a snappy uniform and chewed on a big cigar. COVID-19, tiny and round with little spikes, no snappy uniform, no big cigar, nothing, lacks presence entirely.

Even more, Curtis LeMay was miles ahead of COVID-19 in public relations. He did his killing and came off looking good and got fawned over and invited to dinner parties, while COVID-19 does its killing and comes off looking bad and is shunned and people are brewing up poison to slip into its margarita. No contest there either.

The one area where COVID-19 comes out ahead of LeMay is in the ability to make the stock market plunge. LeMay was lacking in that area, though in fairness to him, he wasn’t dedicated to getting that accomplished—total destruction and super high death counts were his only priorities.

Assuming you don’t know about him, General Curtis LeMay conceived and ordered an incendiary bombing raid—fire bombs, they set everything aflame—on the civilian population of Tokyo, Japan, March 9th, 1945. Here’s a description of how it went down drawn from the LeMay biography I just read:

Across Tokyo, residents looked up in amazement. They had never seen the “B-sans” [B29 bomber airplanes] so low, nor had they ever seen so many at once. German Catholic priest, Father Gustav Bitter, who was there, later wrote, “The fire falling from the sky reminded me of tinsel hung on a Christmas tree. The red and yellow flames reflected from below onto the silvery undersides of the planes in the upper darkness gave them the appearance of giant dragon flies with jeweled wings. I watched as if I were in a trance.”

With sudden fury, tranquility became horror as the incendiaries hit home. They created tornadoes of fire. They sucked away oxygen; people couldn’t breathe and suffocated. Masuko Harino, a factory worker, reported, “Intense heat came from the firestorm. My eyes seemed about to pop out. People’s clothes were on fire. They were writhing in torment.” A young woman described a school that had become a three-story oven: every human being inside it was cooked to death. Strewn everywhere, some in batches, the incinerated bodies were black; they looked like logs from a distance. There was a dreadful sameness about the dead, no telling men from women or adults from children. If they could walk, survivors wandered about like ghosts, silent. Those still alive were left to die in agony; there was no medicine, food, or drinking water for them.

The raid lasted two hours and forty minutes. Sixteen square miles of Tokyo, one of the most densely populated areas in the world, was transformed into a moonscape of twisted reddish-black iron, roasted sheet metal, and rubble. Not a single man-made structure still stood. An estimated 100,000 people died in Tokyo that night. More than a million were left homeless. The grisly retrieval of bodies took weeks. At least 70,000 people were buried in mass pits. A U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey concluded, “More persons lost their lives in Tokyo that night than in any equivalent period of time in the history of mankind.”

How did what Curtis LeMay pulled off that March night in 1945 go over? It went over really big. And LeMay himself went over really big. I read The New York Times every morning, and it’s been non-stop trashing COVID-19 for weeks, not one positive word, and there’s been all kinds of commiserating with the dead and dying. With LeMay, the Times jumped up and down like cheerleaders. Hurray for our hero! The paper pointed out that those people in Tokyo LeMay set on fire, asphyxiated, and baked had it coming—women, children, and infants, every last one of them–because “the people, factories, and small establishments all contributed to Japan’s war effort.” The Times celebrated LeMay’s admirable deed as the start of really good things: to wit, Japanese cities becoming “no more than holes in the ground.” Though the newspaper cautioned readers that the Japanese “have done their deadliest fighting from holes in the ground,” so we need to be diligent and thorough with the killing.

Following the bombing raid, New Yorker magazine had a glowing profile of LeMay. And he was on the cover of Time magazine and given an effusive write-up in its pages. Nothing like that for COVID-19. But then again, COVID-19 hasn’t done the bang-up job of extinguishing human life that LeMay did, and it’s not anihilating the people who most richly deserve to die like LeMay was so good at doing.

LeMay got a promotion to Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force, and in 1968, ran for vice-president on a third-party ticket, garnering a hefty 13% of the vote. COVID-19 couldn’t come by a janitor’s job or get on the ballot for dogcatcher.

LeMay got an elementary school named after him, and . . . oh, you get my point. LeMay had it all going, and my best guess is that no matter how good COVID-19 does in the future—including getting up to speed with killing little children—it’s never going to measure up to him.

March 27, 2020 Posted by | Book Review, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | 1 Comment

House of Mirrors: Justin Trudeau’s Foreign Policy – Book Review

House of Mirrors, by Yves Engler. (Photo: Book Cover)
By Jim Miles | Palestine Chronicle | March 23, 2020

(House of Mirrors – Justin Trudeau’s Foreign Policy. Yves Engler. RED Publishing, Saskatoon/Black Rose Books, Montreal. 2020)

Some book covers are better than others, and that of Yves Engler’s House of Mirrors is beautifully expressive of the contents of his latest work. It shows a very friendly face and happy smiling Justin Trudeau in an iconic pose that says it all: America first.

This is Engler’s eleventh book exposing the downside of Canadian politics. It covers two main themes, the obvious first one is that of Canada’s involvement in the U.S. imperial-hegemonic demands around the world.

The second, more domestic, is that the Liberal’s and Conservatives, Canada’s two main parties, are essentially the same thing when it comes to foreign policy. Whereas the Conservatives are much more aggressive with their terminology while the Trudeau Liberals couch their words in a fancier more humanistic sounding language, the end results are the same: following the U.S. corporate-industrial-military complex and in certain cases being ahead of that curve.

With that as its underlying theme, Engler covers many topics concerning the Trudeau Liberals. The first long section deals with “The Canadian Monroe Policy” discussing how Canada fits into U.S. initiatives throughout Latin America with the overthrow, attempted overthrows, and manipulations of various organizations (OAS) in order to control the western hemisphere.

While paralleling U.S. interests, in terms of Venezuela, Canada, under Chrystia Freeland’ tutelage, has taken a leading interest with its support of the Lima Group (all sycophantic governments to U.S. corporate interests) against Venezuela.

A long essay on the Middle East, “Loving Monarchies, Hating Palestinians” discusses how Canada relates to the Arab countries, Israel, and the Palestinians. An earlier chapter, “The Sun Never Sets on the Canadian Military”, ties in with this chapter in exploring the numerous military sales and security contacts with Middle Eastern countries.

Large orders of military materials are sent to the likes of Saudi Arabia in support of its war on Yemen. Much information and technological information for security is exchanged between Canada and Israel (fun fact: Canada developed apartheid long before South Africa and Israel). The official position for Palestine is the stillborn two-state peace process while the actual position is more one of asking why the Palestinians do not acquiesce to Israeli demands.

Many other important topics are presented: around the world from China and North Korea through to Freeland’s favorite bogeyman, Russia, and on into Africa (military and mining interests); around the world from its domestic carbon dioxide/environmental policies; another hit on Canada’s mining interests in particular with South America; and the language of “Judge What I Say, Not What I Do”.

It is interesting how often Chrystia Freeland’s name rises in connection with Trudeau’s foreign policy. She is foremost in using the platitude about “international order based on rules” and the “rule of laws”. Whatever the foreign policy, as Foreign Affairs Minister and now as Deputy Prime Minister (a conveniently invented position), she carries considerable sway concerning Russia, Ukraine, Venezuela, Syria and other global hotspots (coronavirus notwithstanding). She inverts the colonial role, making Canada a victim rather than a colonizer and exploiter, “Canada has never been an imperialist power…we’ve been the colony.”

In his conclusion, Engler reprises comments about Canadian banks, the mining industry, Russia, Israel, Iran, the military, and business in general. He summarizes, “corporate Canada is highly international” with “segments… tied to extreme capitalism.” Extreme capitalism being capitalism dominated by and supported by the military-industrial complex with assistance from the financial community and the mainstream media.

As with all of Yves Engler’s books, House of Mirrors is tightly written, with little philosophizing, allowing the information to speak for itself, information that is highly notated and well referenced. The smiling man on the cover, Justin Trudeau, is essentially another true believer in an oligarchic world order (along with Ms. Freeland) supported by an international array of corporate and military liaisons.

– Jim Miles is a Canadian educator and a regular contributor/columnist of opinion pieces and book reviews to Palestine Chronicles.  His interest in this topic stems originally from an environmental perspective, which encompasses the militarization and economic subjugation of the global community and its commodification by corporate governance and by the American government.

March 23, 2020 Posted by | Book Review | , , , | Leave a comment