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US Coalition Strikes Syrian Town Using Banned White Phosphorus – Reports

Sputnik – October 13, 2018

The reported strikes are not the first time that the US-led coalition has been accused of using the banned munitions in recent weeks. Last month, the Russian military reported that US strikes using white phosphorus had resulted in major fires and civilian casualties in the eastern Syrian province of Deir Ez-Zor.

The strikes, taking place Saturday across multiple districts in the town of Hajin, Deir Ez-Zor province, included the use of white phosphorus, the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) has reported, citing local sources.

The agency did not provide any immediate information about possible civilian casualties.

Syrian television station Ikhbariya later reported that several people had been killed and several others injured following separate coalition strikes in al-Soussa, Deir Ez-Zor in an attack which hit a local bakery.

SANA said the strikes involving the use of white phosphorus appeared to have been carried out “under the pretext of fighting Daesh (ISIS).”

The coalition has not yet made any official commentary regarding the alleged incident.

This week, the United Nations’ humanitarian watchdog expressed concern regarding the safety of an estimated 10,000 civilians believed to be trapped in the Hajin area amid reports of civilian deaths during ongoing SDF and coalition operations in the area against Daesh.

Saturday’s incident was not the first suspected use of white phosphorus by the US-led coalition. Last month, the coalition denied using the substance in Syria after the Russian Center for Syrian Reconciliation issued a report of airstrikes carried out using the internationally-prohibited weapons by US F-15 fighter jets on September 8. Damascus has repeatedly accused the coalition of using white phosphorus in its attacks, charging Western forces of using the agent in strikes which have led to the deaths of multiple civilians, including children, last year.

Under Geneva Conventions, white phosphorus munitions are prohibited for use against civilians or in civilian areas.

US-led coalition operations in Syria are not sanctioned by Syrian government, nor the UN.

October 13, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , | 1 Comment

Israel Rattled By UNESCO’s Palestinian Protection Pledges

Al-Aqsa compound in East Jerusalem. (Photo: via Twitter)
Palestine Chronicle | October 12, 2018

The executive council of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has left Israel disquieted, after vowing to effect protections for Palestinian heritage.

A statement, issued by Israel’s United Nations ambassador Danny Danon, said:

“This is an additional proof for those who did not understand why the United States and Israel withdrew from UNESCO. This proves once again that UNESCO is a body based on lies, biases and deliberate action against us. Israel will not be a member of an organization that is trying to rewrite history and accept to be exploited by our enemies.”

The protections cover educational and cultural institutions, the need to protect and preserve the monuments, culture and education in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and to show Israeli violations against Palestinian heritage, cultural and natural sites, particularly the Old City of Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa Compound, the Church of the Nativity, the mosque of Bilal ibn Rabah in Bethlehem, the Old City and the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron (Al-Khalil) and the Gaza Strip.

Israel sternly rejected the mandate which the council unanimously espoused Wednesday during a Palestine resolutions session at the body’s 205th plenary meeting in Paris.

The disputed resolutions detail, according to Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency, that,

“The Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls, a site inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List and on the List of World Heritage in Danger, is the sacred city of the three monotheistic religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam,” reaffirming that “all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, which have altered or purport to alter the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, and in particular the ‘basic law’ on Jerusalem, are null and void and must be rescinded forthwith.”

The Program and External Relations Commission (PX) of the UNESCO executive also adopted a second resolution to include crimes committed by Israel, such as the destruction of schools and other crimes committed in Khan Al-Ahmar.

The UNESCO declaration stated:

“The two Palestinian sites of Al-Haram Al-Ibrahimi/Tomb of the Patriarchs in al-Khalil/Hebron and the Bilal Ibn Rabah Mosque/Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem” are “an integral part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and shares the conviction affirmed by the international community that the two sites are of religious significance for Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.”

It also added:

“The ongoing Israeli excavations, works, construction of private roads for settlers and of a Wall inside the Old City of Al-Khalil/Hebron which are illegal under international law and harmfully affect the authenticity and integrity of the site, and the subsequent denial of freedom of movement and freedom of access to places of worship.”

Both resolutions are supported by Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, and Sudan.

“Tthe spirit of dialogue and the sense of responsibility that led to this result. A trend towards consensus is now emerging,” UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay added.

October 12, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Netanyahu wants to redraw map in the Golan, Russia says – go to the UNSC

RT | October 10, 2018

Recognizing the illegally-annexed Golan Heights as part of Israel would be a violation of UN Security Council resolutions, Russia’s foreign minister has said, in an apparent rebuke to an appeal made by Israel’s prime minister.

Changing the status of the Golan Heights would be a “direct violation” of United Nations Security Council resolutions which dictate the international community’s stance on the disputed territory, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov noted.

On Monday, Benjamin Netanyahu called on the international community to recognize Israel’s annexation of the Golan, Syrian territory seized by Israel fifty-one years ago.

“Israel on the Golan Heights is a fact that the international community must recognize and as long as it depends on me, the Golan Heights will always remain under Israeli sovereignty,” Netanyahu said during an inauguration of a synagogue in the Golan Heights.

In August, Netanyahu expressed hope that Washington would recognize Israel’s claim to the territory, but US National Security Advisor John Bolton insisted that “there’s no discussion of it, no decision within the US government.”

Israel seized part of the Golan Heights during the Six Day War of 1967. In 1981, Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, unilaterally proclaimed the occupied land to be part of the Jewish state. The declaration was swiftly declared illegal by the UN Security Council.

October 10, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , | 10 Comments

“Good” Bombing: NATO Op Against Yugoslavia Was a War Crime – Lawyer

By Ekaterina Blinova – Sputnik – 10.10.2018

Jens Stoltenberg’s claim that NATO “protected” Yugoslavia from the government of Slobodan Milosevic is nothing but propaganda, Christopher C. Black, a Toronto-based international criminal lawyer told Sputnik, stressing that NATO had no legal reason to attack Yugoslavia and de facto committed a war crime against the sovereign nation.

“The NATO attack on Yugoslavia has nothing whatsoever to do with protecting anyone since the claims made by NATO against the government of Yugoslavia were false and were just a pretext for their aggression,” says Christopher C. Black, a Toronto-based international criminal lawyer with 20 years of experience in war crimes and international relations.

Black’s comment comes in response to a statement made by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg who told Serbia’s RTS: “We are aware in NATO that many people in Serbia still have bad memories about the bombing, the airstrikes in 1999. I stress that we did this to protect civilians and stop the Milosevic regime,” the NATO chief said.

“NATO countries had no legal right to bomb anyone for any reason as that is a violation of international law, the UN Charter, Nuremberg Principles etc.,” the scholar underscored. “Their attack was aggression and therefore a war crime and they committed war crimes during the attack.”

The NATO military campaign against sovereign Yugoslavia codenamed Operation Allied Force kicked off amid the Kosovo war (February, 1998 — June, 1999) between the country’s government forces and Albanian separatists. The alliance’s 78-day air raids resulted in 5,700 civilian deaths, infrastructural damages and contamination of the part of the region with depleted uranium.

Rambouillet Diktat: The Trigger for War

“The real reason NATO attacked is set out in the Rambouillet diktat presented by [then Secretary of State] Madeleine Albright to [then President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Slobodan] Milosevic in early 1999 that Yugoslavia must surrender its sovereignty and allow its total occupation by NATO forces and give up its socialist system for a free enterprise one,” Black said. “If Yugoslavia refused NATO promised to attack. The Yugoslav government had to refuse such a diktat and so NATO attacked.”

Rambouillet Accords envisaged the creation of a de facto independent entity in Kosovo which violated Yugoslavia’s independence and sovereignty.While the refusal to accept the unacceptable accord was used by the alliance as a trigger for the attack, there were several reasons behind NATO’s invasion, the lawyer explained.

“NATO wanted to establish a base in the Balkans against Russia, to take over mineral resources at the Trepca Mine complex in Kosovo and to destroy the last socialist state in Europe,” the legal practitioner said. “To justify their aggression they concocted the same types of lies against the government as they are now doing against Russia.”

Almost two decades after the NATO bombing, the Trepca mining and metallurgical complex in Kosovo still remains a bone of contention between Pristina and Belgrade. The complex is split between ethnic lines, however, in October 2016 the parliament of the self-proclaimed state of Kosovo voted to take control over the complex despite Serbia’s protests.

When commemorating the enterprise’s 90th anniversary in December 2017 — Europe’s largest lead-zinc and silver ore mine — Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic stressed that Belgrade would continue to fight for it, dubbing the complex “a part of family and national heritage, a part of tradition,” as quoted by Serbian news outlet RTV B92.

NATO’s Expansion in the Balkans

Besides claiming that NATO bombed Yugoslavia to “protect it,” Stoltenberg drew attention to the “close partnership” between NATO and Serbia. Although he noted that the alliance respected Belgrade’s neutrality, the question arises whether that the North Atlantic military bloc is seeking to absorb Serbia in the long run, after admitting Montenegro and signaling readiness to let Macedonia join.

Commenting on the issue, the lawyer recalled that “the Yugoslav and Serbian government was overthrown in 2000 in a putsch organized by NATO forces and their fascist agents in the group called OTPOR and the DOS organizations which were NATO assets.”

He said that “the president [was] arrested on false charges and the government [was] taken over by the Quislings of the DOS group.” According to Black, these groups are still powerful in Serbia. They do not represent aspirations of the Serbian people, he stressed.

Manipulating the Judgments

Black, who has long criticized the imprisonment of Slobodan Milosevic at the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague, stressed that the tribunal “manipulated the judgments to put out different stories as it suits them.”

“As I said above the NATO claims were pure propaganda. It was NATO that used force and massive force to destroy a nation that resisted its diktats,” the lawyer highlighted, calling the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) “a NATO tribunal under UN guise.”

“The point is that the charges against Milosevic were bogus, he proved it in his trial,” Black said.

The former Yugoslav president died in his prison cell on March 11, 2006 while on trial for war crimes at the ICTY. Although it was officially stated that Milosevic died from a heart attack the lawyer does not rule out that the ex-Yugoslav leader could have been killed, since “they did not want to release him and could not convict him.”

October 10, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

The politicisation of the Palestinian right of return is imperative

Nakba journey - Palestinians fleeing during the Nakba in 1948

By Ramona Wadi | MEMO | October 4, 2018

In its annual report to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People recommended that Israel acknowledges the Palestinian Nakba. The backdrop for such an acknowledgement remains the two-state compromise, which defeats the purpose of the recommendation.

Such recognition, according to the report, is “a necessary requirement for a viable and lasting peace.” The Committee also recommended that “Palestine refugees should be treated as dispossessed nationals of a country – Palestine – rather than stateless refugees.” It refuted the framing of colonisation as “conflict”, stating, “It is not a conflict between two parties over disputed territory. It is one of one State occupying, colonising and annexing the territory of another state.”

The terminology is a far cry from the usual platitudes used by UN institutions. However, there is still the possibility of manipulating Palestinian rights due to the Committee’s adherence to the two-state paradigm. Taking a stance against the Israeli and US efforts to alter, to the point of non-recognition, the Palestinian refugees and their legitimate right of return is not enough if the Committee does not articulate an alternative that is derived completely from Palestinian narratives.

The two-state scenario has been exposed as a scam to facilitate Israel’s colonisation of Palestinian territory and create a perpetually displaced population, to the point that the Palestinian right of return needs to be read and interpreted in relation to the ongoing displacement. In Palestinian memory, the Nakba is not restricted to 1948, because Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine has never stopped. As the international community fails to challenge Israel’s colonialism and demographic obsession, it is consenting to Israel’s displacement of Palestinians from their territory. Far from promoting the importance of recognising the Nakba, the international community is endorsing it by allowing Israel to exist on its own terms, while Palestinians are constantly forced to modify their existence to accommodate a colonial power on their territory.

Nakba denial by Israel is steeped in its fabricated narratives, imposed upon the international community and disseminated in such a way that Palestinian narratives, despite their legitimate roots, are forced to fight for space in order to gain international recognition, let alone endorsement. The international community’s obsession with dissociated commemoration runs contrary to its purported human rights obligations. It is also an insult to Palestinians’ memory that their history is condensed into remembrance on specific days while Israel has been allowed every day of the year since 1948 to advance its colonisation of Palestinian territory, to say nothing of the earlier settler-colonialism that facilitated the establishment of the state.

International recognition of the Palestinian Nakba as an ongoing trauma in Palestine’s collective memory would isolate Israel’s attempts to force it into oblivion. Yet, this step cannot be implemented within the two-state framework as the latter still endorses Israel’s colonial existence as legitimate, while presenting a hypothetical Palestinian state as dependent, even malfunctioning, in terms of self-determination and its exclusion of Palestinian liberation.

The politicisation of the Palestinian right of return is thus imperative. As things stand, the international community continues to feed the illusion that the two-state compromise constitutes the only political solution, while the right of return is misrepresented as compensation in its entirety. This is why Palestinians must determine their own right of return even if it challenges the international community’s impositions.

October 9, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

Lieberman scolds EU diplomats for condemning Khan Ahmar demolition

Palestine Information Center – October 7, 2018

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM – Israel’s war minister Avigdor Lieberman sent a letter to eight European ambassadors in Israel slamming them for a joint statement signed by their countries in which they criticized the Israeli government’s plan to demolish a Palestinian Bedouin village.

The ambassadors from Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Poland and Britain reportedly received a letter from Lieberman last week calling their joint statement on the demolition of the Bedouin village Khan al-Ahmar “absurd”.

“The statement invokes the absurd claim that relocating the residents to proper homes nearby will somehow preclude an eventual political resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” the letter said.

Lieberman responded to a joint statement by the eight countries last week in which they called “upon the Israeli authorities to reconsider their decision to demolish Khan al-Ahmar,” arguing it would be “very serious and would severely threaten the viability of the two-state solution and undermine prospects for peace.”

“The idea that moving a group of some 100 people within a five kilometer radius will prevent a resolution to such a complex historical conflict is hysterical nonsense,” Lieberman claimed.

“Israel expects to be treated with the same measure of dignity and respect for its judicial institutions and internal affairs as each of your governments rightly expects for its own. We regard anything less as an expression of injustice and discrimination, unworthy of our friendly bilateral relations and of accepted norms governing the conduct of ties between sovereign nations,” Lieberman’s letter concluded.

In May, after nearly nine years of legal battles, Israel’s High Court approved the government’s plan to raze Khan al-Ahmar. This ruling was frozen in July. The court said last month that the village would ultimately have to be demolished.

Residents rejected offers from the Israeli occupation to be forcibly deported elsewhere. Following the decision to demolish the village, the European Union stated that it expects Israeli authorities to reconsider the decision in light of international law and a future solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel’s settlement policy, which the EU and international law consider illegal has long been the subject of global criticism, as Palestinians have seen the prospects of a contiguous future Palestinian state diminish with the gradual expansion of Jewish-only settlement in the last several decades.

UN envoy Nickolay Mladenov echoed the EU’s statement, saying: “Demolitions undermine prospect for two state solution and are against international law.”

The demolition of the village is due to happen any day now since the deadline for the residents to evacuate has passed.

October 7, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , | 2 Comments

Syria: The New Terra Nullius

By Max Forte | Zero Anthropology | October 6, 2018

SYRIA, seat of an Islamic Caliphate. Syria, site of the Middle East’s newest liberal democracy. Syria, socialist paradise. Syria, a corrupt and murderous dictatorship that practices genocide. Syria, a failed state. Syria a state that is too strong. Syria, soon to be partitioned into ethnic enclaves. Syria, a pawn of Iran. Syria, a tool of Russia. Syria, a haven for terrorists that threaten our friends and way of life. Syria, where Saddam sent his fabled WMDs. In other words: Syria is whatever you want it to be. Syria, if it exists, apparently only exists to satisfy your desires, where you get to freely confuse where you think the world ought to go, with where it is going.

Syria, if you take at face-value any of the many authoritative North American and European pronouncements about “what needs to be done,” has seemingly joined the list of “disappeared” nation-states. It was a country made to vanish into thin air, like Libya, Iraq, and Yugoslavia before it. Anything goes when it comes to Syria: it can be whatever we imagine it to be. It was as if “Syria” was just a name for a template. We speak and behave as if it were first a tabula rasa—a clean slate—or more accurately, terra nullius—a land belonging to no one. It is land that belongs to no one, that is, until we arrive on the scene and forge our models for a new Syria. Syrians are not allowed to have their Syria until we first get a say on what Syria will be.

Syria Not For Syrians

Over the past seven years we have seen in virtually every side to the foreign debate about Syria’s present and future(s) an immense amount of apparently self-gratifying wishful thinking. We have witnessed the very real danger involved in the ideological mode of thinking, especially when the ideologies are backed by real material power and conveyed as action on the ground. Whenever we have the rare chance to hear any Syrians, they are instantly dismissed and disqualified by one side or another. We are happier dealing with a “Syria” that is a figment of our political imaginations, a projection of the discontent we have with our own domestic politics, a method for beating up all “enemies, foreign and domestic”. “Syria” is the plaything of those who are equal to any of our hedge fund managers: we pick a side, and bet on it. More than that even, “Syria” is a meeting ground for fantasy and political economy, and it’s a sign of just how ugly is the recolonization effort wrought by neoliberal globalization.

And it most definitely is the case that what we are dealing with here is globalization’s destruction of sovereignty, of national self-determination. How do we know that? Watch this: while there was no real debate about the US sending troops to Syria (where they can cancel out Syria’s sovereignty), there was instead massive, urgent, melodramatic panic about the US sending troops to its own border, where they could affirm US sovereignty. If a nation can send its troops to another continent, but not to its own border (i.e., stay at home), something is really wrong. Some must have wondered what US troops were doing on the US border, as if they naturally belonged in Syria instead. The jarring juxtaposition of the two contrasting stances came out in a single question by a reporter at a White House press briefing—a reporter who nevertheless failed to note the contrast:

“there seems to be a perception that, at times, the President makes announcements and then the White House has to come up with policy to match what the President said. Like with the talk about the military at the border, there weren’t really a lot of details about that at first. And with the issue with Syria, and him saying he wanted to, kind of, pull all the troops back”.

In another White House press briefing, reporters once again failed to notice the absurd contradiction between their thinly veiled criticisms of Trump’s desire to pull US troops back from Syria, while apparently complaining about the decision to send troops to the US border. The only way one can reconcile these two apparently contradictory positions is to recognize that they both reduce to a common denominator: the destruction of nations as viable entities. Any and all nations, everywhere, have been the target. Some were surprised to learn that this included the US itself.

Syria, likewise, is denied the right to defend itself. It has no right to its own territory. Israel is free to bomb at will, as are a range of NATO members, and the US can freely decide to make a presence for itself, to create “interests” on Syrian soil (which in principle, does not exist). When other nations send forces at the request of the Syrian government, then those nations suddenly have no right to be there. Why not? Because they are there precisely as a result of decisions made by the Syrian government, and Syria can have no government because it also has no soil. Who decided on this arrangement?

For globalization to work, it required a policeman. After all, neoliberals believe that states are still useful as law enforcers. This introduced a fatal flaw into the globalist agenda, which was pushed and enforced by states: not all states are equal in power, and thus the only reliable global policeman was the US. The US, some would argue, has no right to determine who crosses its borders, yet retains the right to decide on who is allowed across Syrian borders. That such arrangements are subject to a backlash in the US itself, the power core of globalization, is the main reason that globalization is in such extreme jeopardy.

For the globalists, Syria and the US are nonetheless alike in one key respect: they both belong to the rest of the world. What they are not allowed to belong to is themselves. The world the globalists tried to invent out of thin air was one of forced associations, unwanted encounters, and false dependencies. No wonder that the reactions have in some cases been so scathing, so filled with spite. If such reactions are deemed a problem, and if one wanted to avoid such reactions, then logically you would cease creating the causes of the problem. But the world imagined by globalists is never inhabited by real people; it’s a world where everyone is subject to “learned helplessness” and like a repeatedly abused dog learns to “just take it”—a world that is unreal, inhumane, and was therefore never sustainable.

Terra Nullius

This is how Sven Lindqvist explains the idea of “terra nullius” in his book, published in English in 2007:

Terra nullius. From the Latin terra, earth, ground, land, and nullius, no one’s.

“Thus: no one’s land, land not belonging to anybody. Or at any rate, not to anybody that counts.

“Originally: land not belonging to the Roman Empire.

“In the Middle Ages: land not belonging to any Christian ruler.

“Later: land to which no European state as yet lays claim. Land that justly falls to the first European state to invade the territory.

“Empty land. Uninhabited land. Land that will soon be uninhabited because it is populated by inferior races, condemned by the laws of nature to die out. Land where the original inhabitants are, or can soon be rendered, so few in number as to be negligible.

“The legal fictions summed up as terra nullius were used to justify the European occupation of large parts of the global land surface”. (Lindqvist, 2007, pp. 3–4)

Syria was land not belonging to the Roman Empire, until it was. It is also land not belonging to the American Empire, and powerful interests in the US would obviously like to change that. Outside of the high echelons of the military-industrial-complex, other US interests have also vested themselves in Syria. A loose coalition has formed, ranging across from generals in the Pentagon right across to establishment media, freelance “journalists,” self-appointed humanitarian activists, and university-based anarchists and some Marxist academics. They all agree on one fundamental point: Syria can no longer belong to Syria alone; Syrian decision-making, and the right to make decisions about citizens on Syrian territory, is to be subject to some sort of veto wielded by foreigners, backed by US firepower.

For this mission of foreign ideological occupation to work, Syria first has to be symbolically and politically emptied. Only an empty zone can be so liberally filled with fantasy and spectral assaults: fabricated gas attacks, mysterious missile strikes in the dead of night, cities in ruins suggesting they were once occupied by a settled, peaceful civilization that has long disappeared, even mystery adversaries jamming US communications. The Onion, interestingly, had it right when in playing to the propaganda that has become the norm, it portrayed Syria as a land being trampled on by legendary monsters and super-human beasts, ruled by fears that “bombed-out buildings and blast craters could be harboring bands of angry scorpions, komodo dragons, mace-wielding cavaliers in full chain mail, or, as children recently swimming off the country’s coast discovered, giant piranhas”. Chemical weapons, the weapons of the new barbarians, are an essential feature of the kinds of made-up tales that are made to prevail in a frontier zone of projected fantasies of monsters. In the land of make-believe “evil,” Sadistic Arab “dictators” unleash troops powered by Viagra to engage in systematic rape, rip babies from incubators, threaten to massacre entire cities, and then wipe out communities with poison gas. Accusations we would never tolerate against our own, let alone treat credibly, are instead freely plastered on others. It’s amazing that in the new, fastidious and prickly racism-consciousness that prevails in North American media and academia, such routine colonial racism is instead still perpetuated, as much as the incessant myth-making.

Fantasy is useful in other ways: by dismissing the value of evidence, and replacing facts with belief, any accusations can be given the weight of “credibility”—but only if enough people have been successfully trained to mistake credibility for truth. What the US has developed, for example, is a fact-free, faith-based approach in its foreign policy rhetoric, one that is used to justify permanent US intervention. Why? Because there is no objective argument one can make for one country to occupy another. It’s not a matter of logic and rationality; it’s a matter of ideology and a thirst for power.

Having projected onto Syria an absence of “civilization,” this creates wide open space for demonization. Demonization is a valued part of Western myth-making structures, especially in justifying imperial domination. Demonization turns very human opponents into monsters (and they are referred to as such, as monsters, animals, and of course “evil”). Adversaries of the West are played up as villains in a morality tale, that always allocates to us—by default—the role of saviours and victors, if we will have our victory (as the late Charles Krauthammer put it, “The choice is ours. To impiously paraphrase Benjamin Franklin: History has given you an empire, if you will keep it”). We thus have these endless moral crusades on our part, where morality is used to mask politics.

Moral crusaders love it when in the distance they make out the outline of a new terra nullius on the horizon. Places like Syria offer the opportunity for adventure, to go out and exercise yourself, to use Syria as part of your own personal self-fulfillment, an object of your ambition and desire. Eurocentric missionary aspirations flourish in such contexts, robed as “humanitarian interventionism,” “internationalism,” “solidarity,” “civil society activism,” “democracy-building,” “conflict resolution,” “peace-building,” or just plain regime-change.

The paradox of foreign intervention is that it empties everyone, not just Syria. Britain and France earlier this year saw their foreign policy being taken over by the US, restricting any domestic parliamentary debate about the decision to militarily strike Syria, until well after the fact. The US was no exception: the decision to attack Syria in April of this year was done without Congressional approval. The process had been emptied of political representation by those elected and legally appointed to (dis)approve war-making, as dictated by the respective constitutions, which for a moment vanished. War, in violation of both international and domestic laws, damaged democracy in the US, UK, and France. This is what imperialism in the globalist age looks like, even when one of they key actors sometimes likes to sound like an angry anti-globalist.

The key themes of this renewed terra nullius are thus:

  • land without a legitimate state to own it;
  • civilization vs. barbarism (along with civilized vs. barbaric forms of violence, for example, Tomahawk missiles vs. nerve gas);
  • demonization and dehumanization;
  • a nation-state reduced to a “regime” which is reduced to one person who is reduced to a monster/animal; and,
  • a fertile site for imposed models.

One question readers might ask is: why? Why should “terra nullius” or anything resembling the idea be in use here? One simple theory is that any society works with a finite set of cultural materials. These cultural materials can be reproduced, amended, extended, or reworded. We end up with multiple translations of a small set of original sources. Imagine that centuries after European colonialism began, we are still speaking of “civilization” vs. “barbarism,” in the very same terms. A second theory, that goes with the first, is that except in cataclysmic situations (which are extremely rare—the exception), real cultural change occurs only very slowly, at an almost glacial pace. Changes to our basic cultural materials do take place in our lifetimes, but often more in form and application than a change in the original “code”.

Moral Imperialist Economy

Whenever members of a society imagine the rest of the world as a mass of “problems,” and imagine themselves as possessing the “solutions” to those problems, what we have then is the structure for a relationship that involves a transfer of capital. The producers of problems owe a permanent debt to the exporters of solutions—ideally. Reality is different of course: this structural relationship of extraction needs to be maintained, and sometimes the maintenance costs exceed the profits. First, let’s look at some of the basic elements of the moral imperialist economy. Ideologically transforming Syria into a new terra nullius is a form of creative destruction (paralleled by real, military destruction), and as we should know, crisis always creates opportunity, and opportunity attracts opportunists.

Syria is a free for all for various patrons and clients. These new Wild Wests are a great place for freelancers of all kinds to upgrade their status, for example. Syria has thus been transformed into a Wild West of misinformation, of selective information, of forms of activism and a way to invest political interests in the creation of custom-made propaganda. Inevitably there are patrons for this or that stream of propaganda, whether it’s a news agency, the CIA, a NGO of some sort, or elements of “the crowd” funding one’s work through something like “gofundme”. The result is a kind of wild stock market for values of all kinds.

New commodities are produced by the new information warfare, designed to conduct war on the minds of all media consumers, whether of the established or social media kind (it makes little difference). One of the key new commodities is, of all things, the baby photo. Not just any babies though—no, these always have to be dead babies, sometimes mangled, sometimes partly decomposed, sometimes about to die, or those that have barely escaped death but are nonetheless permanently disfigured, burnt, or without limbs. These commodities are avidly traded by all sides. The open borders/refugee advocates have their photo of a dead Syrian child on a beach; the regime changers have pictures of child gas victims; and even the anti-imperialists have their photo of a little Palestinian boy, seized from a hospital bed, looking helpless moments before being beheaded by beefy bearded jihadists. Printing dead baby photos is like printing money. Such photos call the attention of powerful patrons, supposedly “provoked” to act when the photos are sufficiently publicized. When such patrons intervene, it further raises the value of such photos, virtually creating a demand for more. Now the most conclusive way to make one’s case “credible” is by flashing the appropriate dead baby photo. This commerce is part of the humanitarian trafficking that liberal imperial globalism encourages.

Wildly inflated numbers, numbers that go up, come down, that get divided, are indicative of the existence of this kind of stock market. Thus the debates over the number of civilians “killed by the regime,” and how often the number is inflated to include all the soldiers and civilians killed by those opposed to “the regime”. So everyone who has been killed in Syria was supposedly killed by the Syrian state—that’s convenient, because after all we have the moralistic demon tales that instruct us that “Assad is a monster,” and just like a monster, he “kills his own people”. (Funny, isn’t it, how easily we always manage to imagine these low-down Third World leaders as sub-humans.)

Status upgrades come easily: take the appropriate moralistic, virtuous stance in front of the right audience—by just saying that you believe in X or Y—and lo and behold you have achieved a status upgrade. You are one of the good people, a trusted source, a credible figure, because you said the right things to the right people in the right place at the right time. This internationalized form of virtue signalling is almost as good as printing money, and nearly identical to it in its most basic sense.

Like in the Wild West, betting in the saloon is also common when it comes to Syria. The US State Department under Obama placed all its bets on some entity they invented, which they liked to call “moderate rebels” (why not “respectable terrorists” or “polite criminals”?). They lost. Numerous left-wing academics signed on to regime change years ago, and because they only pretend to be seasoned analysts for their day jobs, they did not foresee the collapse of the anti-government forces in Syria. That list included noted “post-colonial” scholars and anthropologists, united in their belief in “democracy promotion” and remaking Syria into something palatable to them, with the right leaders in place. Five years later and a smaller group—including feminists like Gloria Steinem and Judith Butler, anarchists like Noam Chomsky and the anthropologist David Graeber, the Marxist David Harvey, and advocates of recolonization like Michael Walzer—placed their bets on socialist Kurdish militias, presumably increasing the value of their bet by the important sign value of their brand name authority. Ironically, in the process of re-imagining legendary Rojava as the site of a second Spanish Civil War, they were openly collaborating with Donald Trump (not naming him directly, since “the US government” was more convenient). These signatories were thus complicit with the very same commander-in-chief of the armed forces they were calling on for support of Syrian Kurds. They wanted “the US government,” whose President is Donald Trump, to impose sanctions on Turkey, and to develop a foreign policy that put Kurdish interests at the forefront. You can be sure that, elsewhere, in front of different crowds, they return to “the Resistance” by puffing up their little chests and sounding all “anti-Trump”—but when it came to cheering their favourite band of ethnic anarchists, they could dispel with appearances. Less “prestigious” characters, publishing in a less “prestigious” outlet, countered the call to “defend Rojava”, a call which appropriated “progressive” politics for the cause of imperialism (reigniting an old marriage). (David Harvey, by the way, having cashed in on abundant sales of his volume, The New Imperialism, has recently changed his mind: he has decided that imperialism is merely a metaphor, “rather than anything real”. Out of curiosity, we have to wonder if “capitalism” is also a metaphor, rather than anything real, seeing how Marxists have linked capitalism with imperialism. Perhaps even socialism is a metaphor, rather than anything real.)

(Recommended here is “The Fake Left at the Left Forum” by Danny Haiphong, Black Agenda Report, June 13, 2018, and “Antifa or Antiwar: Leftist Exclusionism Against the Quest for Peace,” by Diana Johnstone, Consortium News, May 21, 2018.)

Of course activists, academics, and the freelancers that make all the Twitter noise, are just bit players in the drama of their dreams. Some of the really big heavy hitters are the various weapons manufacturers, politely termed “defense contractors,” and their army of lobbyists in Washington, DC. For them, any sniff of a chance for permanent occupation smells like permanent war, and thus permanent profit, paid for by debt in the present to be paid by future tax-payers. Advocates of permanent occupation concede only one alternative to occupation: regime change, thus recolonization, which has the same effect as permanent occupation. Advocates include beneficiaries of status upgrades like Senator Lindsey Graham, converted into the de facto US Secretary of State by his friends at Fox News and CNN.

For powerful patron states like the US, “chaos” offers valuable opportunities—in the technocrats’ language, this is duplicitously referred to as “preventing chaos”. The official assumption, intended for popular consumption, is that “chaos” predates foreign intervention. Remember: other peoples are producers of problems, chaos is thus a permanent and normal state for them. Add to the assumption that chaos predates US intervention the assumption that there is no Syrian government (the officially existing one is not acceptable to the US, so it vanishes), then Syria becomes the name for a wide-open wilderness. That means the US gets to train and reinforce “local forces”—like the separatists cheered on by a select group of leftist academics. But this all costs money, what to do? Here comes Trump’s transfer of costs for extracting capital: emphasis is placed on Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States to pay for the costs of US occupation and proxy-training in Syria. This model is essentially one that places the US in the role of an international mercenary. Where such support payments are not forthcoming, then there is the fallback of debt-financed US military spending. The loans are provided by a range of creditors, domestic and foreign, including foreign central banks. Many states thus own US debt, and what we see here is essentially the rest of the planet financing its own domination by a US debt-fuelled warhorse. (This is one of the “secrets” that ought to inform revised and reworked theories of imperialism: empires function best and last longest when the ostensible objects of imperial domination actively collaborate in supporting empire. Theories uninformed by this observation can become trite conspiracy theories of imperialism.)

To maintain the value of US “investment” in Syria, the US needs to create a need for protection, while reducing the value of alternatives (competitors). One way to create a need for protection is to create that crisis that would seem to beg for it: phony gas attacks, like those happening at the end of a week of public debate that erupted after Trump announced he wished to withdraw US forces from Syria soon. Another means for bolstering US intervention in Syria is by invoking the threat of Iran.

As mentioned at the start of this section, the structural relationship of extraction needs to be maintained, and sometimes the maintenance costs exceed the profits. For example, “humanitarian activists” who plead for greater accessibility to refugees, disconnecting the fact of their homelessness from our own military interventions which uprooted those people in the first place, is one way that costs can exceed profits. Humanitarians need to prove that they are needed, and refugees prove the need. However, the backlash from citizens in receiving countries who realize that refugee entrants, in large enough numbers, will usher in a new wave of de facto austerity measures as health, education, and public housing come under pressure, represents a threat to humanitarians and their careers. With humanitarian profit-seeking threatened, one way to respond is to caricature critics as xenophobic haters, which further inflames opposition to their project—few people accept having their pockets picked and being insulted. The result is a generalized closing of doors and the rise of parties that demand an end to foreign occupations.

Finally, I do not mean to imply that all imperialism reduces to economic factors alone. There are several different types and methods of imperialism, and sometimes military imperialism is decidedly uneconomical, just as economic imperialism can appear totally pacific. Again, trite conspiracy theories about the presence of oil pipelines, or plans for building them—in other words, that there must always be some wonderfully profitable economic opportunity for imperialism to make sense—are sometimes wrong. What I am suggesting is that all types of imperialism must involve loss for the dominated, there is a transfer of values and costs, and a system of extraction, such that every type of imperialism could be analyzed as if it were economic in nature.

Dreaming of Power, Projecting Our Fantasies

No doubt most citizens in places like the US and Canada do not spend much time, or any time, worrying about Syria—and that is probably a good thing. If only their example could be followed by those with much greater power, or those with much louder voices.

One of the striking features of the Syrian war are those individuals outside of Syria who have decided to make Syria their business. This goes well beyond personal curiosity and a desire to learn about a different place—it’s instead something which is invested with a thick desire to turn Syria into something which they want and currently lack. Syria is experienced vicariously and voyeuristically. Some are learning what they can because they wish to stop our intervention in Syria, and in the process they are learning a great deal about their own society. Others, however, engage in no such reflection.

For those outsiders who would presume to have a say in Syria’s future, Syria is required to put on a pleasing performance. Syria has to perform like a “democracy” before it can be left alone; some on the left instead argue it is already democratic, and see in Syria the salvation of a true liberalism. What unites both is the assumption that Syria is culturally empty: it can create nothing of its own. At best, Syria and other places like it (target nations) are pictured as mere fertile ground ready to be planted with foreign seeds. The only job locals have is to be receivers of imports. Why would a country with a civilization that long predates either Karl Marx or Adam Smith not have a right to develop its own approaches?

As I wrote about elsewhere earlier this year, there is an internal debate among North American leftists as to whether Syria’s Ba’athists are “true socialists”. As I wrote then,

“does Syria exist to satisfy dogmatic demands in exchange for certification from those US Marxists who have never held power and thus know nothing about actual responsibility?… US Marxists in particular have an overweening sense of their centrality to the world, when they are beyond marginal at home. Perhaps their role as peripheral spectators in domestic politics is what has them casting about overseas for a mission to fulfill their frustrated ambitions”.

One would think Syria had submitted an application for a job, and “history” put us in place to acts as its judges. If Syria is not a “democracy,” or is not “socialist,” what then? Does it get destroyed as a result? I would hate to be on the receiving end of such “solidarity” and I would pray that “internationalists” learn the virtues of minding their own business.

“We’re not particularly keen to be friends with you. We’re not begging you for friendship. We want normal, civilized relations—which you arrogantly refuse, disregarding basic courtesy. You are misguided to think you have friends. Your so-called friends are just those who can’t say no to you. This is your only criteria for friendship”.—Vassily Nebenzia, ambassador of Russia to the UN Security Council, responding to US ambassador Nikki Haley on April 9, 2018.

October 6, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, False Flag Terrorism, Illegal Occupation, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 11 Comments

Druze Gather in Israeli-Occupied Golan Heights to Mark Support for Assad

© REUTERS / Ammar Awad
Sputnik – 06.10.2018

Gathering along a fence separating them from the Syrian-controlled side of the Golan Heights, Druze commemorated the anniversary of the start of the 1973 Arab Israeli War while celebrating Syria’s successes in its recent war against the terrorists.

Carrying Syrian flags, portraits of President Bashar Assad, binoculars and megaphones, the Druze community in the village of Massade chanted loyalty to the Syrian government, with troops and civilians on the other side of the border shouting and waving back.

Local resident Emil Masoud told Reuters that the rally was meant to “celebrate the final stages of the war… and to celebrate with our people in Syria the final stage of victory.”

The village of Massade, part of Syria’s Quneitra District, has been under Israeli occupation since the Arab-Israeli War of 1967.

Israel occupied 1,200 square kilometers of the 1,800 square-kilometer Golan Heights during the Six-Day War, and formally annexed it in 1981. The UN Security Council condemned the decision and called the move to impose Israeli “laws, jurisdiction and administration” over the territory “null and void and without international legal effect.”

During the conflict in Syria, much of southern Syria, including the Syrian-controlled portion of the Golan Heights, was occupied by Islamist militants, including Daesh (ISIS), a terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other countries. This summer, Syrian forces won back control of their southern border areas from the terrorists.

Last week, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem called on the international community to compel Israel to abide by UN Security Council resolutions, including the one on the Golan Heights, and stressed Damascus’ determination to fully liberate the Golan Heights, “just as we liberated southern Syria from terrorists.”

October 6, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , | Leave a comment

Jerusalem: Israel settlers occupy buildings near Al-Aqsa Mosque

MEMO | October 4, 2018

Israeli settlers have occupied two Palestinian buildings near Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem.

In the early hours of this morning, Israeli settlers stormed a building in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City. According to Wafa, the “settlers moved into the building owned by the Joudeh family, which was used as a clinic” in the Aqbat Darwish area, near Al-Aqsa Mosque.

This was the second building in Jerusalem to be taken over in the past two days. Yesterday settlers occupied a building in the Wadi Hilweh area of Silwan, situated just outside the walls of the Old City and below Al-Aqsa Mosque.

This is not the first time these areas have been targeted by illegal Israeli settlers, with Silwan in particular repeatedly facing attempts to drive Palestinian inhabitants from their homes. The “City of David” national park – a tourist site and archaeological dig run by right-wing settler group City of David Foundation (also known as Elad) – is situated in Batan Al-Hawa in Silwan and is frequently used as justification for such illegal activity.

In July, the Israeli Knesset advanced a new law that would allow residential construction in the “City of David” national park. According to a report by Haaretz, “the minutes of the [Elad] committee’s previous meeting in January made it clear that Elad and its leader, David Beeri, are behind the bill, which is designed to promote construction at the site.”

In August a “heritage centre” was opened in the park, with the inauguration attended by senior Israeli and US figures. A Palestinian resident of Silwan, Yakoub Al-Rajabi, explained that: “We know that this was a well-orchestrated plan to force us to leave […] And if we stay, it will paralyse us and isolate us in our homes”.

Since 2002, 700 Palestinians have been facing eviction from their land in Batan Al-Hawa. Their land was transferred to the Benvenisti Trust when Israel’s Justice Ministry issued title deeds to the organisation for the land in question. The trust is controlled by Ateret Cohanim, a right-wing organisation that encourages Jewish Israelis to settle illegally in Palestinian neighbourhoods of Jerusalem.

In June, Israel admitted that its decision to evict the Palestinians of Batan Al-Hawa was “flawed” and that it had not properly investigated the nature of the trust, or the Ottoman-era law that applies to the case. Despite the admission, a number of families have already been evicted from Batan Al-Hawa or are embroiled in court battles to save their homes.

Other areas of Jerusalem are also targeted for illegal Israeli settlement. According to statistics from the Jerusalem Institute, as of 2015 there were some 211,000 Jewish Israelis living in occupied East Jerusalem, amounting to 40 per cent of all inhabitants in these neighbourhoods. The statistics also demonstrate that the number of Israelis living in illegal Jerusalem settlements has grown consistently since the city was occupied in 1967.

READ ALSO: Israel settlers flood Khan Al-Ahmar with waste water

October 4, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Showdown at Tanf

Sic Semper Tyrannus | October 3, 2018

The reconciliation process initiated by the Russians in Syria has saved countless lives of soldiers, civilians and even jihadists. It also preserved SAA fighting strength, brought a lot of Syrian territory back under the control of Damascus. It brought former jihadists back into the fight on the side of the SAA. This process may appear to be tedious and without the glorious satisfaction of annihilating jihadis in a costly series of rapid offensives, but I firmly believe the reconciliation process is the right way for Syria. This strategy is now being brought to bear at Tanf.

The first evidence of this was the mid-September agreement for the removal of the US trained and backed al-Qaryatayn Martyrs Brigade and 5,000 civilians from the Rukban refugee camp to the Euphrates Shield-held area in northern Aleppo. This was the work of the Russian Reconciliation Center. More recently, tribal leaders from Damascus have met tribal leaders at the refugee camp to discuss their situation. A list of refugees wanting to engage in the reconciliation process is being prepared. Many of those not reconciling with Damascus will be shipped north to join the al-Qaryatayn Martyrs Brigade and their families. The camp evacuations are already underway. Next week the Russians will escort a UN aid convoy into the Rukban Refugee Camp.

Although the US has apparently acquiesced to the Russian plan to depopulate the Rukban Refugee Camp, I believe Russia has cleverly outmaneuvered the US. The SAA is steadily destroying the remaining jihadis on the al-Safa plateau. I believe the US forces at Tanf will soon be left alone without jihadis to control, or even any remaining jihadis to fight. The “fighting ISIS” rationale will disappear and the real reason for remaining at Tanf will become clear. At Israel’s behest, we are blocking the Teheran-Baghdad-Damascus highway.

TTG

https://southfront.org/us-backed-militant-group-in-al-tanaf-accepts-evacuation-agreement-report/

https://southfront.org/russian-us-negotiations-to-evacuate-civilians-from-al-rukban-camp-near-al-tanaf/

https://southfront.org/damascus-government-and-local-leaders-reach-initial-agreement-on-al-rukban-camp/

https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/syrian-army-scores-big-advance-in-southern-syria-amid-heavy-resistance-from-isis-video/

October 3, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment

How the tentacles of the US military are strangling the planet

By Vijay Prashad | Asia Times | October 3, 2018

In June this year in Itoman, a city in Okinawa prefecture, Japan, a 14-year-old girl named Rinko Sagara read out of a poem based on her great-grandmother’s experience of World War II. Rinko’s great-grandmother reminded her of the cruelty of war. She had seen her friends shot in front of her. It was ugly.

Okinawa, a small island on the edge of southern Japan, saw its share of war from April to June 1945. “The blue skies were obscured by the iron rain,” wrote Rinko Sagara, channeling the memories of her great-grandmother. The roar of the bombs overpowered the haunting melody from the sanshin, Okinawa’s snakeskin-covered three-string guitar. “Cherish each day,” the poem goes, “for our future is just an extension of this moment. Now is our future.”

This week, the people of Okinawa elected Denny Tamaki of the Liberal Party as the governor of the prefecture. Tamaki’s mother is an Okinawan, while his father – whom he does not know – was a US soldier. Tamaki, like former governor Takeshi Onaga, opposes the US military bases on Okinawa. Onaga wanted the presence of the US military removed from the island, a position that Tamaki seems to endorse.

The United States has more than 50,000 troops in Japan as well as a very large contingent of ships and aircraft. Seventy percent of the US bases in Japan are on Okinawa island. Almost everyone in Okinawa wants the US military to go. Rape by American soldiers – including of young children – has long angered the Okinawans. Terrible environmental pollution – including the harsh noise from US military aircraft – rankles people. It was not difficult for Tamaki to run on an anti-US-base platform. It is the most basic demand of his constituents.

But the Japanese government does not accept the democratic views of the Okinawan people. Discrimination against the Okinawans plays a role here, but more fundamentally there is a lack of regard for the wishes of ordinary people when it comes to a US military base.

In 2009, Yukio Hatoyama led the Democratic Party to victory in national elections on a wide-ranging platform that included shifting Japanese foreign policy from its US orientation to a more balanced approach with the rest of Asia. As prime minister, Hatoyama called for the United States and Japan to have a “close and equal” relationship, which meant that Japan would no longer be ordered around by Washington.

The test case for Hatoyama was the relocation of the Futenma Marine Corps Air Base to a less populated section of Okinawa. His party wanted all the US bases to be removed from the island.

Pressure on the Japanese state from Washington was intense. Hatoyama could not deliver on his promise. He resigned his post. It was impossible to go against US military policy and to rebalance Japan’s relationship with the rest of Asia. Japan, but more properly Okinawa, is in effect a US aircraft carrier.

Japan’s prostituted daughter

Hatoyama could not move an agenda at the national level; likewise, local politicians and activists have struggled to move an agenda in Okinawa. Tamaki’s predecessor Takeshi Onaga – who died in August – could not get rid of the US bases in Okinawa.

Yamashiro Hiroji, head of the Okinawa Peace Action Center, and his comrades regularly protest against the bases and in particular the transfer of the Futenma base. In October 2016, Hiroji was arrested when he cut a barbed-wire fence at the base. He was held in prison for five months and not allowed to see his family. In June 2017, Hiroji went before the United Nations Human Rights Council to say, “The government of Japan dispatched a large police force in Okinawa to oppress and violently remove civilians.” Protest is illegal. The Japanese forces are acting here on behalf of the US government.

Suzuyo Takazato, head of the organization Okinawa Women Act Against Military Violence, has called Okinawa “Japan’s prostituted daughter.” This is a stark characterization. Takazato’s group was formed in 1995 as part of the protest against the rape of a 12-year-old girl by three US servicemen based in Okinawa.

For decades now, Okinawans have complained about the creation of enclaves of their island that operate as places for the recreation of American soldiers. Photographer Mao Ishikawa has portrayed these places, the segregated bars where only US soldiers are allowed to go and meet Okinawan women (her book Red Flower: The Women of Okinawa collects many of these pictures from the 1970s).

There have been at least 120 reported rapes since 1972, the “tip of the iceberg,” says Takazato. Every year there is at least one incident that captures the imagination of the people – a terrible act of violence, a rape or a murder.

What the people want is for the bases to close, since they see the bases as the reason for these acts of violence. It is not enough to call for justice after the incidents; it is necessary, they say, to remove the cause of the incidents.

The Futenma base is to be relocated to Henoko in Nago City, Okinawa. A referendum in 1997 allowed the residents of Nago to vote against a base. A massive demonstration in 2004 reiterated their view, and it was this demonstration that halted construction of the new base in 2005.

Susumu Inamine, former mayor of Nago, is opposed to the construction of any base in his city; he lost a re-election bid this year to Taketoyo Toguchi, who did not raise the base issue, by a slim margin. Everyone knows that if there were a new referendum in Nago over a base, it would be roundly defeated. But democracy is meaningless when it comes to the US military base.

Fort Trump

The US military has a staggering 883 military bases in 183 countries. In contrast, Russia has 10 such bases – eight of them in the former USSR. China has one overseas military base. There is no country with a military footprint that replicates that of the United States. The bases in Japan are only a small part of the massive infrastructure that allows the US military to be hours away from armed action against any part of the planet.

There is no proposal to downsize the US military footprint. In fact, there are only plans to increase it. The United States has long sought to build a base in Poland, whose government now courts the White House with the proposal that it be named “Fort Trump.”

Currently, there are US-NATO military bases in Germany, Hungary and Bulgaria, with US-NATO troops deployments in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The United States has increased its military presence in the Black Sea and in the Baltic Sea.

Attempts to deny Russia access to its only two warm-water ports in Sevastopol, Crimea, and Latakia, Syria, pushed Moscow to defend them with military interventions. A US base in Poland, on the doorstep of Belarus, would rattle the Russians as much as they were rattled by Ukraine’s pledge to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and by the war in Syria.

These US-NATO bases provide instability and insecurity rather than peace. Tensions abound around them. Threats emanate from their presence.

A world without bases

In mid-November in Dublin, a coalition of organizations from around the world will hold the First International Conference Against US/NATO Military Bases. This conference is part of the newly formed Global Campaign Against US/NATO Military Bases.

The view of the organizers is that “none of us can stop this madness alone.” By “madness,” they refer to the belligerence of the bases and the wars that come as a result of them.

A decade ago, a US Central Intelligence Agency operative offered me the old chestnut, “If you have a hammer, then everything looks like a nail.” What this means is that the expansion of the US military – and its covert infrastructure – provides the incentive for the US political leadership to treat every conflict as a potential war. Diplomacy goes out of the window. Regional structures to manage conflict – such as the African Union and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization – are disregarded. The US hammer comes down hard on nails from one end of Asia to the other end of the Americas.

The poem by Rinko Sagara ends with an evocative line: “Now is our future.” But it is, sadly, not so. The future will need to be produced – a future that disentangles the massive global infrastructure of war erected by the United States and NATO.

It is to be hoped that the future will be made in Dublin and not in Warsaw; in Okinawa and not in Washington.

This article was produced by Globetrotter, a project of the Independent Media Institute, which provided it to Asia Times.

October 3, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

UK to keep forces in Germany after Brexit, plans to expand presence outside borders

Press TV – October 1, 2018

British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson says UK forces stationed in Germany will continue to stay in the country after Britain’s pending exit from the European Union (EU).

“We are increasing our British points of presence across the world,” Williamson told the Telegraph on Sunday as he announced the UK’s new military strategy in the Arctic. “We will not be closing our facilities in Germany, and instead use them to forward base the Army.”

There are 185 British Army personnel and 60 Ministry of Defense (MoD) staff currently based in the 45-square mile Sennelager Training Area in near the western city of Paderborn.

The UK and the US-led NATO military alliance have been using Sennelager as an expansive live firing training area over the past years.

The personnel would continue to occupy the adjacent Athlone Barracks for housing and schooling, the MoD said in a statement.

The British army would also keep control over the Ayrshire Barracks in Mönchengladbach, which can house around 2,000 military vehicles. They will also maintain a presence at the German Wulfen Defence Munitions Storage Facility, which holds operational ammunition.

According to the MoD statement, British military personnel will also stay in Germany to support NATO’s other critical infrastructure and assets such as the combined river crossing unit based in Minden.

Williamson also announced that that London was planning to send around 800 troops to Norway as a warning shot to Russia.

The decision was part of the UK’s plan to step up its military presence in the Arctic region in order to address concerns about growing Russian aggression “in our back yard,” he said.

The UK Royal Navy and its Norwegian counterpart have already purchased a large fleet of US-made P-8 Poseidon surveillance aircraft to stop what they call Russia’s growing submarine activity near their territorial waters.

“We see Russian submarine activity very close to the level that it was at the Cold War, and it’s right that we start responding to that,” Williamson said.

October 1, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , , | 1 Comment