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Which Door Has Opened? Kim Jong-un, Donald Trump, and the Singapore Summit

By Maximilian C. Forte | Zero Anthropology | June 17, 2018

Both leaders arrived in Singapore, with significant excitement greeting them. Trump, arriving from a bitter G7 meeting, after which he attacked Justin Trudeau personally, flew into Singapore on Sunday, June 10, as did Kim Jong-un, who took serious precautions in his travel arrangements. By this point Trump had already significantly lowered expectations, saying that it would just be a meeting where the two leaders got to start a dialogue: “at least we’ll have met each other, we’ll have seen each other; hopefully, we’ll have liked each other. We’ll start that process….But I think it will take a little bit of time”. The lowered expectations might have been well advised. The usual appeal to authority that is the now customary wail of panic-striken, discredited elites, was evidenced by the scorn heaped on the work of Dennis Rodman, for not being a “professional”—when his work was fundamental to laying the groundwork for the peace talks. Others, with a longer and more considered view of history, pointed out that, “The history of U.S. foreign policy is littered with unsuccessful presidential summits, even when they have been preceded by months of careful preparation and infused by a coherent strategy and clear objectives set by a well-informed and experienced president”.

An Historic Encounter

Just the fact of meeting and talking was significant enough: already there was evidence that the campaign of “maximum pressure” was over and not likely to come back. Sanctions on North Korea were already being loosened, tested, and plans made for a future after the talks. In the meantime, clearly in a deep, quiet panic over the summit, Fox News saturated its coverage with talking heads offering Trump advice from a distance, hoping to pressure him—including advising flatly undiplomatic and plainly rude tactics such as not shaking Kim Jong-un’s hand, or preventing photographs of the two leaders together.

The Summit, televised live around the planet, wrapped up in the the afternoon on Tuesday, June 12 (Singapore time), with the final event being an extended press conference by Donald Trump, and the release of the text of the agreement jointly signed by Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump. Also released was the video, “A Story of Opportunity,” prepared by the US side and shown in person to Kim Jong-un, which offered the progressivist American vision of the future.

(See Trump’s 12 tweets on the summit here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12.)

Reactions to the Summit

Initial lists of outcomes did not seem to be particularly compelling in terms of the Summit offering either side any real change. Yet North Korean state media reported that the Summit had been a great success. Trump went quickly from lauding the move toward eventual denuclearization, into a full blown cheer for what he said had now been achieved: “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea” and “The World has taken a big step back from potential Nuclear catastrophe!”. Trump seemed ready to conclude a process that, at best, would take years and many more significant concessions. Trump also vowed to stop US war games on the Korean peninsula, admitting that they are “very provocative” (a small concession to reality). Not among the naysayers was the UN Secretary General, who immediately issued a statement of support on behalf of the UN. Regional experts called the Summit a “beginning,” and thus noted an absence of details on denuclearization. But there was also confusion, thanks to vice-president Mike Pence, about whether the US was stopping war games, or not.

Early reactions, including one from a former CIA expert, was that “denuclearization,” the way the US envisaged, is not what the Summit agreement affirmed. Others held that at the very least the Summit was a real turning point, that averted war and began a peace process; also set to rest was the trope that Kim and Trump are “madmen”.

One interesting assessment was that the summit had been a significant success for North Korea:

“The joint declaration specifies no timeline for denuclearization nor it does have steps to verify disarmament. It also refers to denuclearization on the entire Korean Peninsula—Pyongyang’s preferred phrasing—and does not include the words ‘verifiable’ and ‘irreversible’ despite months of U.S. statements. Trump also agreed to something North Korea has sought for years: the suspension of joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises”.

In some key respects, Trump’s concessions matched what had long been the position of Russia and China (both of which were keen to formally rejoin negotiations on Korea): that the US freeze war games in return for North Korea suspending testing nuclear weapons. The double-freeze approach finally won. In addition, one outcome of the Summit was that China was now pressing for sanctions to be eased, almost immediately, with Trump acknowledging—without criticism on his part—that China had already eroded sanctions enforcement over the last few months. Kim and Trump also promised to personally visit each other’s capitals in the near future.

Another assessment saw the Summit as a victory for all of Korea, and the signed document as simply an aspirational declaration and not an agreement on denuclearization as such:

“The North Korean side played its cards exceptionally well. It built its capabilities under enormous pressure and used it to elevate the country to a real player on the international stage. The ‘maximum pressure’ sanction campaign against it is now defused. China, Russia and South Korea will again trade with North Korea. In pressing for an early summit Trump defused a conflict that otherwise might have ruined his presidency. The losers, for now, are the hawks in Japan, South Korea and Washington who tried their best to prevent this to happen. The winners are the people of Korea, Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump. Special prizes go to President Moon Jae-in of South Korea and to Dennis Rodman who did their best to make this happen”.

Others offered well-informed analysis by individuals who were intimately involved in negotiations with North Korea and who argue that North Korea is not intending to “get away” with keeping its nuclear weapons, but that the North instead has real reasons for wanting to denuclearize. The argument here is that North Korea developed nuclear weapons to entice the US to the negotiating table, in order to end the Korean War, remove all sanctions, offer diplomatic recognition, and ending the US military threat to North Korea. In addition, a rapprochement with the US would allow North Korea to diversify its foreign relations, not remaining exclusively dependent on China, when North Korea has traditionally preferred independence. Another view is that the Summit simply resulted in a momentary stabilization. Yet, as Pepe Escobar noted, “by reaffirming the Panmunjom Declaration, the US President has committed to bringing its military back from South Korea and thus a complete denuclearization of the South as well as the North”. The accusation by liberal media was that, somehow, Trump managed to get nothing at all from the summit with Kim Jong-un—though even within this line of attack, there were some thoughtful pieces that at least addressed the facts of the summit in detail, with some showing how one could still take a Democratic, anti-Trump line and yet concede the significant value of the Summit.

US Domestic Politics and Trump’s Foreign Policy

In terms of domestic politics, it became evident that for any country to deal with the US—whether friend or foe—it would enter into a dangerously unreliable relationship: the pattern has now been set where one party’s international agreements are automatically decried, and then rescinded, by the opposing party. While many Republicans praised Trump on North Korea, they viscerally rejected Obama’s similar advances with Cuba and Iran. Likewise, while all for peace with Iran and good relations with Cuba, Democrats reacted as belligerently imperialist war hawks on North Korea, with liberals validating neconservatives and war-mongers. For both parties then, imperialism remains a tool to be used in domestic competition, and it is thus continually reproduced and validated.

Within just 12 hours of the close of the Summit, mainstream media in the US began to move the event off the front pages of their sites (most notably Reuters, where one had to dig to find any report on the event). This fact alone suggested that the anti-Trump opposition itself saw the event as a success, or there would be little to begrudge Trump. However, the opposition was much more serious than that. While only four months earlier much of the media celebrated the role played by Kim Jong-un’s sister at the Winter Olympics in South Korea, and how she diplomatically bested Mike Pence—now the media gave vent to denunciations of North Korea’s “brutality” and “human rights atrocities”. This was an opportunistic use of “human rights,” instrumentalizing allegations of human suffering to score political points at home. This was also domestically-driven virtue signalling at the expense of North Korea—when historically the number one killer of North Koreans has been the US itself, having destroyed every city in the North during the Korean War, while killing at least one out of every nine persons. Current sanctions have also exacted a toll on ordinary North Koreans—so much for the “human rights” lobby. The position was also bizarre for excluding the danger of nuclear war from the scope of “human rights”. If “human rights” do not include the right not to suffer a catastrophic nuclear apocalypse, then surely the concept is of little weight and even less merit, and should probably not be a significant concern. Opposition to Trump was also expressed in terms of resentment of parity shown to North Korea at the Summit, as if anything short of the public humiliation of North Korea on the world stage was somehow a sign of American “weakness,” of “unilateral concessions,” and of course, of Trump’s personal failure. Anything that might show North Korea in a more dignified light than the usual barbarian, torture state, was depicted as mere propaganda.

Similar reasoning could be found in articles such as one in The New Yorker, which reacted with alarm at rumours of Trump wanting a summit with Vladmir Putin. First, why the resort to rumours? Trump has always been very public and very explicit about his desire to meet Putin for a full one-on-one dialogue. There is no mystery about it, and any attempt to make it sound mysterious is an attempt to make it appear sinister. Second, the underlying tone of the article is that Trump is “unbound,” manifesting the continued disregard for the legitimate election of Donald Trump to office, such that he should not be allowed to command—like a president would do. Third, The New Yorker’s Susan B. Glasser is clearly projecting her faction’s anti-Russian hysteria onto Europe—forgetting that it was the US which pressured Europe into anti-Russian sanctions that hurt European economies, and which few European nations want to continue.

One charitable way to look at this situation would follow these lines: “Washington is a liberal town and the media rush to defend the status quo when it’s threatened by an interloper. When outsiders intervene, their influence declines”. Another approach would be a critique of how accusations that Trump is in “bonding sessions” with “brutal dictators,” are the liberal-left’s way of extending, translating, and reinforcing its inherent racism, by maximizing such racist attitudes on the world stage while pretending to challenge racism in discrete social pockets at home.

Rubbing Their Faces In It

On the other hand, Trump really succeeded in taking neoconservatives, professionals in the corporate-funded and government-backed human rights industry, the liberal imperialist media, and vigorously rubbing their faces with his foreign policy. Though many in the corporate media had—just in February—produced articles laced with praise for Kim Yo-jong (the sister of North Korea’s Kim Jong-un) because she had diplomatically upended Mike Pence—now that Trump’s relations with North Korea turned in a positive direction, the media reversed polarity and switched to denunciations of the “brutality” of the North Korean “dictator,” in terms as shrill as they were opportunistic. To add more context to this, Trump declared that it was not North Korea that was the enemy of the US, instead: “Our Country’s biggest enemy is the Fake News”. Remember that within the media some wanted Trump to avoid even shaking hands with Kim Jong-un, at the Summit itself of all places and times—when he did, some called it “disconcerting”. In their faces, Trump rubbed the following admiration for Kim Jong-un: “he is the strong head….He speaks, and his people sit up at attention”. Trump praised Kim Jong-un in no uncertain terms: “He’s smart, loves his people, he loves his country” and that, “really, he’s got a great personality”. On his own relationship with Kim Jong-un, Trump affirmed: “I think we have a very good relationship. We understand each other” and “I think he trusts me and I trust him”. From the start of the Summit, Trump said he and Kim, “got along very well”. In response to charges that Kim Jong-un is a “human rights violator,” Trump’s responses included: “Look, he’s doing what he’s seen done….He’s a tough guy,” adding in another interview, “he has to be a rough guy or he has to be a rough person,” and in another, “he’s a strong guy”. Kim Jong-un, charged by an interviewer with doing some “really bad things,” got this response from Trump: “Yeah, but so have a lot of other people have done some really bad things”. On Kim’s stance regarding his fellow citizens, Trump stated: “I think you have somebody that has a great feeling for them”. Trump added: “He’s a funny guy, he’s very smart, he’s a great negotiator. He loves his people, not that I’m surprised by that, but he loves his people”. In return, the North Korean people love Kim: “His country does love him—his people, you see…the fervor, they have a great fervor”. About saluting a North Korean general at the summit, Trump stated simply: “I met a general. He saluted me. I saluted him back. I guess they’re using that as another sound bite. I think I’m being respectful to the general”. To top it all off, Trump added to his statement about ceasing war games with South Korea, saying he would like to also withdraw all US troops from South Korea: “I would love to get the military out as soon as we can because it costs a lot of money and a lot of money for us. I would like to get them home. I would like to”. Then Trump cheerfully assessed the outcome of his own efforts: “I did a great job this weekend”.

June 18, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

US Media, Democrats, Bolton Form Unholy Alliance to Fight Trump-Kim Nuclear Deal

Sputnik -June 18, 2018

WASHINGTON – Donald Trump’s own National Security Adviser John Bolton, the Democratic Party and the US mainstream media were all trying to derail the US president’s new agreement with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, analysts told Sputnik.

On June 12, Trump and Kim met on the Singaporean island of Sentosa and signed a document showing their commitment to establish new bilateral relations and build a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula. Trump also agreed to halt US-South Korea military exercises near the Korean peninsula, while Kim reiterated his country’s commitment to denuclearization.

The Democratic Party in the United States and the media establishment that supported them were cooperating closely to try and discredit Trump’s peace initiative in Korea, University of Illinois Professor of International Law Francis Boyle said.

“As the ancient Chinese proverb says, a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step, a very positive and encouraging step,” Boyle said. “Regretfully, it [the Singapore agreement] has pretty much been trashed by the Democrats and the mainstream US media who are in cahoots with them.”

The Democrats’ hostility to the new dialogue with Pyongyang flowed directly from their strategy in trying to discredit Trump over the past two years, Boyle pointed out.

“The Democratic strategy has been to bash Trump from the right. That goes back two years now to the conventions that nominated Trump and Hillary Clinton as their parties’ candidates,” he said.

The spectacle of the US media ganging up against the president when he was trying to resolve a potentially dangerous conflict was a depressing one, Boyle commented.

“All these newspapers condemning President Trump, it’s just unimaginably sad,” he said.

The media and the Democrats were misrepresenting Trump’s talks with Kim by falsely alleging that the US president had caved in by agreeing to talk to him when in fact Trump was just fulfilling the obligations placed upon him by the United Nations Charter which the US has signed, Boyle explained.

“Trump did not give Kim Jong-un an unnecessary concession. All he did was fulfill the commitment required of him or any US leader to hold such negotiations that is in the United Nations Charter,” he said.

Under Article 23 of the UN Charter there is a requirement for President Trump to have negotiations with North Korea which he did, Boyle recalled.

“Article 33 clearly requires ‘negotiations’ to maintain international peace and security,” he added.

Far from failing to make any progress, Trump had succeeded in getting Kim’s assent to giving the new negotiating process a promising beginning, Boyle observed.

“Trump did get a commitment on complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula so that’s a good start. It incorporates the Panmunjom Declaration between Chairman Kim and President Moon. It’s a good start. I’m moderately encouraged,” he said.

Trump Rejected Bolton’s Parallel Between Libya, North Korea Talks

Boyle warned that the talks faced another major threat because National Security Adviser John Bolton was likely to try and undermine them.

“Bolton is a hard-line neoconservative (neocon) who publicly bragged about having sabotaged the process [of negotiations] with North Korea. He tried to sabotage these negotiations by going public and saying we are going to go the Libya route,” he said.

Last month, Bolton commented that the US denuclearization talks with North Korea would follow the pattern of previous talks to eliminate weapons of mass destruction in Libya. However, several years after Libya agreed to scrap such programs, its ruler Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown in a West-backed rebellion and murdered.

Trump contradicted Bolton and said that model of negotiations with Libya would not apply to North Korea.

Boyle said Bolton was highly intelligent and knew what he was doing when he made such remarks or and when he had encouraged Vice President Mike Pence to make similar ones.

“Bolton is a smart guy. He is a very cunning operator in the bureaucracy. I’m afraid Bolton will try to sabotage the negotiations. He has brought his own hardline people on to the National Security Council. I’m afraid that he will do what he can behind the scenes to sabotage this thing,” he said.

Boyle said he believed Trump needed to fire Bolton and select a new national security adviser who was committed to trying to make the negotiations with North Korea succeed.

“If Trump were smart I think he would fire Bolton and bring in a realpolitik-er,” he said.

Even if the talks with North Korea went well, they would take many months and several years, Boyle cautioned.

“This is going to be a long process. The administration people have conceded to the New York Times that it will take at least two years… However, following the summit, there is momentum,” Boyle concluded.

Military Establishment Tries to Hold on to US Bases in Asia-Pacific

Retired US Army Colonel and historian Doug Macgregor agreed that the Washington establishment opposed Trump’s efforts to achieve a lasting peace agreement with North Korea.

“The swamp [the establishment] will now fight the inevitable withdrawal of US ground troops from Korea because it will lead to the removal of the Marines from Okinawa as well,” Macgregor said.

Trump had made the mistake of surrounding himself with super-hawk figures like Bolton when he needed other kinds of officials who would support his peace plans, Macgregor cautioned.

“President Trump’s current defense [national security] team won’t help him! To achieve his aims the President will need to make new appointments,” he said.

However, the US public felt no commitment to running risks of full-scale war on the Korean peninsula and would support an agreement that could end the US military presence there, Macgregor advised.

“The mood and attitude of the political class in Washington is reminiscent of London’s attitude toward leaving India after World War II,” Macgregor said.

Like the British people then, the American people support the departure, Macgregor added.

June 18, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

This is America: Outrage at Trump is phony, US leaders have praised dictators for decades

By Danielle Ryan | RT | June 15, 2018

Donald Trump’s praise this week of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has been presented by much of the Washington political class and US corporate media as an anomaly in history and a stark deviation from political norms.

It is not normal or right, they tell us, for US presidents to meet with and applaud dictators of brutal regimes. This kind of phony virtue-signaling was all over the airwaves and the Twittersphere on Tuesday. It was like a competition with the winner being the person who could publicly register their disgust and dismay in the most dramatic fashion possible.

One former Republican lawmaker tweeted that “never before” in history had a US president “spoken this way of a dictator accused of crimes against his own people” — an outright lie, as pointed out by journalist Glenn Greenwald, who detailed a number of occasions when American presidents and top ranking officials had indeed heaped praise on dictators — from Barack Obama’s praise of the late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia as a man who had “the courage of his convictions” and who was “dedicated” to his people, to Ronald Reagan’s praise of former Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt as “a man of great integrity” — to Hillary Clinton’s description of Hosni Mubarak as a “friend of my family.”

In the real world, even the most mildly politically-aware person knows that meeting with and praising dictators is par for the course in US foreign policy. The United States has a long history of befriending, praising and propping up brutal dictators all over the world — and flattering Kim with a few meaningless comments designed to foster goodwill is absolutely mild in comparison with the tangible support the US lends to other dictatorships.

Curiously though, many of those shouting loudly in protest at Trump’s praise of Kim are unbothered when American presidents — Trump included — lavish praise on those friendly dictators that Washington relies on to help serve its geopolitical interests. While they breathlessly condemn Trump for cozying up to Kim for a few hours in Singapore, they are nonchalant about US support for brutal regimes like Saudi Arabia.

Last year, peace activist and former Green Party candidate for Illinois governor Rich Whitney, compiled research in an effort to dispel the myth that the US opposes dictatorships and champions democracy around the world. What he found would not come as a surprise to any rational observer of global affairs, but would surely shock heavily propagandized Americans who have been led to believe that their country promotes freedom and democracy since they were waddling around in diapers.

Analyzing publicly available data, Whitney found that the US provides military assistance to 36 out of 49 nations that democracy watchdog Freedom House classifies as dictatorships. In other words, the US provides military support to a whopping 73 percent the world’s dictatorships while simultaneously claiming to be the most virtuous and well-intentioned nation on earth.

There is one determining factor when it comes to the decision to lend US support to a foreign government or regime — and it is a simple one: If that government or regime is sufficiently subservient to Washington and serves US global interests in any meaningful way, it will be protected and propped up at almost any cost. Its crimes will be swept under the rug and human rights concerns, along with freedom and democracy, will go straight out the window. Every now and then, some US official may pay lip service to its supposed moral values by expressing “deep concern” over some heinous incident or other before swiftly moving on.

This is the reality, yet we are still told to believe Trump is some kind of historical anomaly and subjected to endless think-pieces and on-air pearl-clutching over his “problematic” affinity for some questionable characters. The narrative goes, that before Trump, US leaders were all going around crushing dictatorships and delivering peace and prosperity to oppressed peoples everywhere. This kind of revisionist commentary is completely disingenuous and utterly at odds with reality and history — yet it is spewed unquestioningly from the mouths of journalists, analysts, various “experts” and regular Americans without so much as a pause to consider whether it has any basis in fact. It would take far too long to list every instance of the US supporting — and indeed installing — brutal dictatorships around the world, but there are some that stand out as particularly shameful moments in American history.

In 1973, the CIA engineered and financed a bloody coup in Chile which installed Augusto Pinochet for a 17-year reign of terror. Declassified documents show that while the Pinochet regime was torturing and murdering its opponents, the US actively sought to downplay and whitewash Chile’s human rights violations — and even put the head of the Chilean secret police, Manuel Contreras, on the CIA payroll.

In the 1960s, the US actively supported the extermination of up to one million suspected communist sympathizers in Indonesia under the leadership of General Suharto. Washington supplied Suharto with financial support, military equipment and lists of communists. Suharto then ruled as a dictator for 35 years until 1998 — with Washington’s support.

Propping up and providing material support for dictatorships has been a central theme of US foreign policy. Trump’s kind words for Kim are not a worrying departure from the norm. In fact, they barely even register in the history of American support for brutality and corruption.

Unfortunately, the notion that the White House supports democracy and crushes dictatorships is a belief system so ingrained in the American psyche that when confronted with reality, rather than admit they’ve been lied to, its adherents instead begin to look for ways to rationalize the inexcusable. At that point, we’re told that even if America does bad things sometimes, it’s all with good intention — or as Hillary Clinton would say, “America is great because America is good”.

The level of delusion required to believe something so demonstrably false and easily debunked is astounding. Then again, it must be difficult to come to terms with the fact that something which made you feel righteous and good for so long was only ever a nonsense fairytale.

Danielle Ryan is an Irish freelance journalist. Having lived and worked in the US, Germany and Russia, she is currently based in Budapest, Hungary. Her work has been featured by Salon, The Nation, Rethinking Russia, Russia Direct, teleSUR, The BRICS Post and others. Follow her on Twitter @DanielleRyanJ, check out her Facebook page, or visit her website: danielle-ryan.com

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Biggest obstacle to Trump dealing with North Korea is his political foes at home

June 15, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , | 2 Comments

NDP MPs must stop being ‘friends’ with Israel

By Yves Engler · May 19, 2018

Is it appropriate for NDP Members of Parliament to be working for “greater friendship” with a country that is killing and maiming thousands of non-violent protestors?

Would it have been appropriate for any elected member of the party to be a “friend” with South Africa’s government during the apartheid era?

Victoria area MPs Randall Garrison (left) and Murray Rankin are members of the Canada Israel Interparliamentary Group (previously named Canada-Israel Friendship Group).

Garrison is vice-chair of a group designed to promote “greater friendship” and “cooperation” between the two countries’ parliaments.

The chair of the group is York Centre MP Michael Levitt, a former board member of the explicitly racist Jewish National Fund, who issued a statement blaming “Hamas incitement” for Israeli forces shooting thousands of peaceful protesters, including Canadian doctor Tarek Loubani.

The Interparliamentary Group is one of many pro-Israel lobbying organizations in Canada. In conjunction with the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) and Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee, the Interparliamentary Group has hosted wine and cheese lobbying events on Parliament Hill. Three hundred parliamentarians and parliamentary staff attended their 2014 “Israeli Wine Meets Canadian Cheese” gathering in the East Block courtyard.

The group regularly meets the Israeli Ambassador and that country’s other diplomats. Representatives of the Group also regularly visit Israel on sponsored trips. For their part, Garrison and Rankin both participated in CIJA-organized trips to Israel in 2016.

The Interparliamentary Group works with its Israeli counterpart the Israel-Canada Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group. In 2016 the Group sent a delegation to the Israeli Knesset and last year they organized a joint teleconference with Israel-Canada Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group co-chairs Yoel Hasson and Anat Berko.

Last month Hasson responded to Meretz party Chairwoman Tamar Zandberg’s call for an investigation into the Israel Defense Forces’ killing of non-violent Palestinian protesters by tweeting, “there was nothing to investigate, the IDF is doing what’s necessary to defend the Gaza border.”

Chairman of the Zionist Union Knesset faction, Hasson opposed the UN resolution on a Palestinian state. When the Knesset voted to strip Arab MK Hanin Zoabi of parliamentary privileges for participating in the 2010 Gaza flotilla Hasson and MK Carmel Shama “nearly came to blows” with Zoabi and her fellow Balad party MK Jamal Zahalka. Hasson later called Zoabi a “terrorist”.

Berko is even more openly racist and anti-Palestinian. A Lieutenant-Colonel in the IDF reserves prior to her election with Likud, Berko openly disparaged African refugees. In February Israel National News reported, “Berko said that the MKs should see the suffering that African migrants have caused South Tel Aviv residents before jetting off to Rwanda” to oppose an effort to deport mostly Eritrean and Sudanese refugees to the small East African nation.

In January Berko co-sponsored a bill to bypass a High Court ruling that Israeli forces cannot use the bodies of dead Palestinian protesters as bargaining chips. The aim of the bill was to make it harder for the bodies to be given over for burial, which should happen as soon as possible under Muslim ritual, in the hopes of preventing high profile funerals. In a 2016 Knesset debate Berko make the ridiculous claim that the absence of the letter “P” in the Arabic alphabet meant Palestine did not exist since “no people would give itself a name it couldn’t pronounce.”

In response Richard Silverstein noted, “Apparently, the fact that the word is spelled and pronounced with an ‘F’ (Falastin) in Arabic seems to have escaped her. It’s worth noting, too, that according to her logic, Israeli Jews do not exist either, since there is no letter ‘J’ in Hebrew.”

Garrison and Rankin must immediately withdraw from the Canada–Israel Interparliamentary Group. If the NDP MPs refuse to disassociate themselves from the pro-Israel lobby organization, party leader Jagmeet Singh should replace them as (respectively) NDP defence and justice critics.

Israel’s slaughter in Gaza should lead to an end of the NDP’s anti-Palestinian past.

Please join me in asking Garrison (Randall.Garrison@parl.gc.ca) and Rankin (Murray.Rankin@parl.gc.ca) to withdraw from the Canada–Israel Interparliamentary Group. Make sure to cc Jagmeet Singh (jagmeet@ndp.ca)

May 20, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Progressive Hypocrite, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Canada’s Shameful Hypocrisy on Display!

By Marion Kawas | Canada Palestine Association | May 18, 2018

Six weeks after Israeli snipers started killing and maiming Palestinians, including children, journalists, and medical workers, Canada’s PM Justin Trudeau finally released a carefully worded statement regarding the situation. The statement came only after the wounding of a Canadian doctor on the ground in Gaza, Tarek Loubani.

Activists familiar with the long history of complicity and duplicity of successive Canadian governments cautioned that the statement missed the mark on two main points.

Firstly, it studiously avoided any mention of the culpability of the Israeli government by name, anywhere in the statement.

Secondly, although there was a call for an independent investigation, it was worded this way:

“Canada calls for an immediate independent investigation to thoroughly examine the facts on the ground – including any incitement, violence, and the excessive use of force…We will work closely with our international partners and through international institutions to address this serious situation.”

Calling for investigations is usually diplomatic code for stalling and not taking action. But note also the wording and the ordering of possible facts on the ground, “including any incitement, violence and the excessive use of force”.

However, no-one had to wait long to have the hypocrisy of the Canadian government revealed. Two days after the statement, on May 18, Canada stated it would not support the resolution that was then passed by an overwhelming majority at the UN Human Rights Council. This is what Canada had to say:

“Canada was gravely concerned about the numerous deaths and countless injuries in the Gaza Strip over the past several weeks.  However, it could not support the draft resolution because it prejudged the outcome of an international investigation.  The resolution was one-sided and did not advance the prospects for a peaceful, negotiated settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The resolution singled out Israel, without making reference to other actors.”

So, there we have it. Either the UNHRC is not an “international institution” that the Trudeau government wants to work closely with or the resolution made the serious error of actually naming who was firing the shots and dropping the tear gas on unarmed protestors.

Or the Trudeau government was just playing politics from the beginning, and after realizing that the issue of Israel slaughtering Palestinians was becoming very unpopular and the Liberal Party was losing support for its deafening silence, decided to issue a statement that said little and achieved less.

This way, they (and their supporters) could claim they have indeed responded and stood up to the pro-Israel lobby. Actually, it is a sad tradition in Canada that most of the major political parties play “political football” with the lives and struggles of Palestinians. One eye always on the win/loss column to decide when and how to speak out.

We say enough, over 100 Palestinians have not died in the last 6 weeks just so the Canadian government can shed crocodile tears while still defending Israel. We need to focus less of our resources and time on what politicians have to say and more on developing concrete and grassroots work, like BDS campaigns, that have a long-term benefit to the Palestinian people.

– Marion Kawas is a member of the Canada Palestine Association and co-host of Voice of Palestine.

May 19, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Progressive Hypocrite, War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hillary Clinton Panics Over China’s Alleged Meddling in Australia

Sputnik – 08.05.2018

As tensions in relations between the United States and China continue to rise, former US presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton publicly speaks against what she describes as Beijing’s political interference in Australia and New Zealand.

During her tour of Australia and New Zealand, former US Secretary of State and ex-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton claimed that China seeks to interfere with political processes in the region, according to Business Insider.

“In Australia and here in New Zealand experts are sounding the alarm about Chinese efforts to gain political power and influence policy decisions,” Clinton declared.

She also praised the efforts of Anne-Marie Brady, a New Zealand scholar who studies the workings of the United Front Work Department – an agency of the Communist Party of China primarily tasked with managing relations with the non-Communist Party elite, and which reportedly “tries to promote the party’s policies overseas”, according to the newspaper.

“Anne-Marie Brady of the University of Canterbury has rightly called this a new global battle, and it’s just getting started. We need to take it seriously,” the former secretary of state said.

Earlier the White House criticized China for what the former described as “Orwellian nonsense” after Beijing told US airlines to remove any references from their websites or other material that may suggest that Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau are part of entities independent from China, The Guardian reports, citing US government and airline officials.

According to a statement delivered by White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, US President Donald Trump would “stand up for Americans resisting efforts by the Chinese Communist Party to impose Chinese political correctness on American companies and citizens.”

However, last week the famous American investor Warren Buffett predicted that despite the current tensions in relations between the United States and China, the probability of an all-out trade war between the two countries is very low.

May 8, 2018 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite | | 6 Comments

ThinkProgress Smears Investigative Journalist for Questioning Douma Gas Attack

Sputnik – May 7, 2018

Reporter Pearson Sharp, who visited Douma, Syria, about 10 days after a chemical attack allegedly took place there, spoke with Sputnik Radio’s Fault Lines with Garland Nixon and Lee Stranahan on Monday after he was smeared by ThinkProgress.

Pearson said that after the Khan Shaykhun chemical attack that spurred US President Donald Trump to fire almost five dozen Tomahawk missiles at the Shayrat Air Base in Syria in April 2017, he was motivated to find out if it was really true that there was evidence that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had used chemical weapons to kill Syrian civilian targets in Douma, as London, Washington and France have alleged.

When visiting Douma, Pearson explained that instead of describing what he personally saw, he wanted to put the camera on people in the town instead and let them tell the story. After interviewing dozens of Douma residents, Sharp found that “consistently, not one person in the town said they heard anything about an attack.”

ThinkProgress tried to diminish the journalist’s integrity by impugning his employer, One America News Network (OANN), as a “far-right, pro-Trump media outlet.” However, that accusation has little traction, since if Sharp had wanted to parrot the Republican US president, he wouldn’t have reported that there was no evidence of a chemical attack in Douma — the opposite of what the White House continuously claims.

ThinkProgress accused OANN on April 18 of “defending the Syrian government against claims that it had used chemical weapons on its citizens,” which is clearly a made-up claim with no evidence, Sharp told Fault Lines. Sharp noted that he would not have hesitated to report that Assad did use chemical weapons if that’s where the evidence pointed.

“That was the whole point. In a way, it wasn’t me reporting; it was the people reporting and I was just giving them the camera. Whatever they said would have gone on camera, regardless” of whether the accounts he heard aligned with a political stance, the journalist told Sputnik.

ThinkProgress tried to make a crime out of Sharp’s decision not to manipulate the accounts he was receiving, writing, “at no point does OANN try to mask the pro-Assad language peppering the report.” They complain that Sharp offers no evidence for their “wild claims” — though of course, the US, UK and France have also failed to demonstrate the truth of their allegations that a chemical attack did take place, let alone what agents were used and by whom.

Before the Western coalition carried out their retaliatory attack on Syria, the head of the Pentagon literally told Congress the US had no evidence of an attack other than social media reports — truly bulletproof reporting worthy of a response by the full force and might of NATO forces.

“OANN and Sharp’s reporting falls short in many respects, but perhaps most glaring is its apparent inability to provide concrete evidence to support any of its wild claims,” ThinkProgress said in its April 16 report, “Far-right website claims it found no evidence of a chemical attack in Syria: The latest instance of far-right media pushing a ‘false flag’ conspiracy theory.”

The outlet, on the other hand, confidently claims that “The April 7 attack left at least 70 people dead and around 500 others exposed to deadly nerve agents. The Syrian Army is suspected to be behind the attack, which targeted rebel forces who had recently agreed to hand over the territory to the government,” without citing any evidence of its own.

Former British Ambassador to Syria Peter Ford told Sputnik that the “rebel” militants from Jaysh al-Islam had pre-arranged buses to take them out of Douma to the northern city of Idlib; there was absolutely zero military reason for Assad to use chemical weapons and a whole list of reasons why Assad would be leery of using chemical weapons, not the least of which being that it would provoke the militaries of the US, UK and France to launch airstrikes on the country.

“The idea that Assad would — having virtually reconquered Eastern Ghouta — wait until the end of this very successful recovery operation to launch a completely unnecessary attack on a bunch of civilians… really, you have to be totally naïve to believe Assad would see any advantage in this,” Ford told Sputnik in April.

ThinkProgress took issue with the fact that Sharp reported from Syria with the permission of the country’s government. Pearson contends this didn’t impact his reporting in the least in terms of who he was able to interview.

“We were brought in, the government just sort of dropped us off in these neighborhoods and hung back and let us go where we wanted to go. A lot of the reporters stayed around the cars, talking to people in that area. I tried to wander as far as I could, talk to as many people as I could, and get away from that area. I literally walked blocks away — out of sight of the government cars we were with — and talked to random people on the street with an interpreter,” Sharp said.

“Not one person had seen or heard anything” about a chemical attack, Sharp emphasized.

“The point to make here, to emphasize is, I’m not a weapons expert, I’m not a chemical munitions expert. I don’t know for a fact that there was or wasn’t [a chemical attack]. But I did go there and I did talk to everybody who was there when it was supposed to happen and none of them saw anything,” he added.

And while ThinkProgress contends that the “ultra-right” OANN is a Trump propaganda outlet, in fact, OANN reported that it’s not at all clear or obvious that the pretext for Trump’s “smart” missile attack on Syrian targets is on the level. It seems strange to degrade the reporting of another journalist for allegedly being pro-Trump when that journalist is reporting information that stands in stark contrast with the official White House narrative — particularly as you yourself actually repeat the Trump administration’s version of events. But that’s what ThinkProgress has done.

ThinkProgress is apparently convinced by the White House’s secretive “evidence” that a chemical attack took place in Douma. It’s a remarkable about-face for ThinkProgress, which reported, “No, there are still no WMDS in Iraq” in 2014, to now become a lapdog of the powerful and disseminate the US government’s bold speculative claims as the ubiquitous background story on Douma and smear reporters who don’t obediently echo the same perspective.

See Also:

US Reporter in Douma: Nobody Heard or Saw Anything Like a ‘Chemical Attack’

May 7, 2018 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite | , | 1 Comment

De-Briefing Academics: Unpaid Intelligence Informants

By James Petras • Unz Review • May 1, 2018

Introduction

Over the past half-century, I have been engaged in research, lectured and worked with social movements and leftist governments in Latin America. I interviewed US officials and think tanks in Washington and New York. I have written scores of books, hundreds of professional articles and presented numerous papers at professional meetings.

In the course, of my activity I have discovered that many academics frequently engage in what government officials dub ‘de-briefing’! Academics meet and discuss their field-work, data collection, research finding, observations and personal contacts over lunch at the Embassy with US government officials or in Washington with State Department officials.

US government officials look forward to these ‘debriefings’; the academic provided useful access to information which they otherwise could not obtain from paid, intelligence agents or local collaborators.

Not all academic informants are very well placed or competent investigators. However, many provide useful insights and information especially on leftist movements, parties and leaders who are real or potential anti-imperialist adversaries.

US empire builders whether engaged in political or military activities depend on information especially regarding who to back and who to subvert; who should receive diplomatic support and who to receive financial and to military resources.

De-briefed academics identify ‘moderate’ and ‘radical’ adversaries, as well as personal and political vulnerabilities. Officials frequently exploit health problems or family needs to ‘turn’ leftists into imperial stool pigeons.

US officials are especially interested in academic gate-keepers who exclude ‘anti-imperialist’ critics, activists , politicians and government officials.

At times, US State Department officials claim to be sympathetic ‘progressives’ who oppose ‘Neanderthals’ in their institution, in order to elicit inside information from leftist academic informants.

Debriefing is a widespread practice and involves numerous academics from major universities and research centers, as well as non-governmental ‘activists’ and editors of academic journals and publications.

Academic participates in debriefing frequently do not publicize their reporting to the government. Most likely they share their reports with other academic informers. All claim they are merely sharing research and diffusing information for ‘science’ and to further ‘humane values’.

Academic informers always justify their collaboration as providing a clear and more balanced picture to ‘our’ policymakers, ignoring the predictable destructive outcomes likely to ensue.

Academics in the Service of Empire

Academic informants never study, collect research and publicize reports on US covert, overt and clandestine policies in defense of multi-nationals and Latin American elite which collaborate with empire builders.

US officials have no interest in ‘debriefing’ academics conducting anti-imperialist research.

US officials are keen to know any and all reports on ‘movements from below’: who they are, how much influence they have, their susceptibility to bribes, blackmail and invitations to the State Department, Disneyland, or the Wilson Center in D.C.

US officials fund academic research on militant trade unions, agrarian social movements, feminist and ethnic minorities engaged in class struggle, and anti-imperialist activists and leaders, as they all serve as targets for imperial repression.

The officials are also keen on academic reports on so-called ‘moderate’ collaborators who can be funded, advised and recruited to defend the empire, undermine the class struggle and split movements.

Academic informants are especially useful in providing personal and political information on Latin American leftwing intellectuals, academics, journalists, writers and critics which allows US officials to isolate, slander and boycott anti-imperialists, as well as those intellectuals who can be recruited and seduced with foundation grants and invitations to the Kennedy Center at Harvard.

When US officials have a difficult time understanding the intricacies and consequences of ideological debates and factional divisions within leftist parties or regimes, ex-leftist academic informers, who collect documents and interviews, provide detailed explanations and provide officials with a political roadmap to exploit and exacerbate divisions and to guide repressive policies, which undermine adversaries engaged in anti-imperialist and class struggle.

The State Department works hand and glove with research centers and foundations in promoting journals which eschew all mention of imperialism and ruling class exploitation; they promote ‘special issues’ on ‘class-less’ identity politics, post-modern theorizing and ethnic-racial conflicts and conciliation.

In a study of the two leading political science and sociological journals over a period of fifty years they published less than .01% on class struggle and US imperialism

Academic informants have never reported on US government links to narco-political rulers.

Academic informants do not research widespread long term Israeli collaboration with death squads in Colombia, Guatemala, Argentina and El Salvador, in cases because of their loyalties to Tel Aviv and in most cases because the State Department is not interested in debriefings which expose their allies and their joint complicity.

Academic Informants: What do they want and what do they get?

Academic informers engage in debriefing for various reasons. A few do so simply because they share the politics and ideology of the empire builders and feel it is their ‘duty’ to serve.

The great majority are established academics with ties to research centers who inform because it fattens their CV– which helps secure grants, prestigious appointments and awards.

Progressive academics who collaborate have a Janus face approach; they speak at Leftist public conferences, especially to students and in private they report to the State Department.

Many academics believe they can influence and change government policy. They seek to impress self-identified ‘progressive’ officials with their inside knowledge on how to ‘turn’ Latin critics into moderate collaborators. They invent innocuous academic categories and concepts to attract graduate students to further collaboration with imperial colleagues.

The Consequence of Academic Debriefing

Former leftist academic informers are frequently cited by the mass media as reliable and knowledgeable ‘experts’ in order to slander anti-imperialist governments, academics and critics.

Ex-leftist academics pressure rising scholars with a critical perspective to adopt ‘moderate’ reasonable critiques, to denounce and avoid anti-imperialist ‘extremists’ and to disparage them as ‘polemical ideologues’!

Academic informants in Chile helped the US Embassy identify neighborhood militants who were handed over to the secret police (DINA) during the Pinochet dictatorship.

US academic informants in Peru and Brazil provided the Embassy with research projects which identified nationalist military officials and leftist students who were subsequently purged, arrested and tortured.

In Colombia, US academic informers were active in providing reports on rural insurgent movements which led to massive repression. Academic collaborators provided detailed reports to the [US] embassy in Venezuela on the grass roots movements and political divisions among Chavista government and military officials with command of troops.

The State Department financed academics working with NGOs who identified and recruited middle class youth as street fighters, drug gangsters and the destitute to engage in violent struggles to overthrow the elected government by paralyzing the economy.

Academic reports on regime ‘violence’ and ‘authoritarianism’ served as propaganda fodder for the State Department to impose economic sanctions, impoverishing people, to foment a coup. US academic collaboraters enlisted their Latin colleagues to sign petitions urging rightwing regimes in the region to boycott Venezuela.

When academic informers are confronted with the destructive consequences of imperial advances they argue that it was not their ‘intention’; that it was not their State Department contacts who carried out the regressive policies. The more cynical claim that the government was going to do their dirty work regardless of the debriefing.

Conclusion

What is clear in virtually all known experiences is that academic informers’ de-briefings strengthened the empire-builders and complemented the deadly work of the paid professional operatives of the CIA, DEA and the National Security Agency.

May 5, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

Chomsky Among “Progressives” Calling for US Military Involvement in Syria

By Whitney Webb | Mint Press News | April 26, 2018

On Monday, the New York Review of Books published an open letter and petition aimed at securing Western support for putting pressure on Turkey to end its occupation of Afrin, opposing further Turkish incursions into Syria, and backing autonomy for Rojava — the region of Northern Syria that has functioned autonomously since 2012 after its administration was taken over by U.S-allied Kurdish factions. Authored by the Emergency Committee for Rojava, it has since been signed by well-known progressive figures such as Noam Chomsky and Judith Butler in its bid to organize efforts for the fulfillment of the group’s demands.

Those demands are entirely focused on U.S. government policy. The petition asks the government to “impose economic and political sanctions on Turkey’s leadership, . . . embargo sales and delivery of weapons from NATO countries to Turkey, . . . insist upon Rojava’s representation in Syrian peace negotiations,” and – most paradoxically of all — “continue military support for the SDF [Syrian Democratic Forces],” the Kurdish-majority group that has acted as a U.S. proxy and has been accused of ethnic cleansing in its bid to construct a Kurdish ethnostate in Northern Syria.

The group’s first three demands are reasonable, in the sense of seeking to punish Turkey for its illegal invasion of Syrian territory. However, they are also rather fanciful, in the sense that the U.S. government is highly unlikely to stop weapons sales or to sanction Turkey, which it needs to court in order to prevent Ankara from pivoting towards Russia. Indeed, the U.S. — by refusing to support the Kurds during the battle for Afrin – made it clear that its “alliance” with Syrian Kurds is opportunistic and very much secondary to the U.S.’ relationship with Turkey.

The third demand is equally unlikely to come about, as Turkey has previously called the involvement of Syrian Kurds in peace talks unacceptable and has essentially issued an “it’s either us or them” ultimatum. In addition, past attempts to invite the Kurds to participate in the peace talks have been rejected by Western nations, including the United States, in order to please Turkey.

More recently, Kurds themselves refused to attend peace talks earlier this year over the Turkish occupation of Afrin in light of the lack of international response to that event. However, even prior to the occupation of Afrin, Syrian Kurds had declared they were “not bound” by any decisions made during Syrian peace talks, thereby weakening the peace process.

Yet, beyond the impractical nature of the petition’s first three demands, the final demand – that the U.S. continue military support for the Syrian Democratic Forces – is by far the most unusual, in the sense that well-known progressive figures, in signing this petition, are asking for the continued U.S. occupation of Syria and for increased military and financial support for the U.S. proxy forces, the SDF.

While most progressive figures, likely including those who signed the petition, would never publicly call for extending a U.S.-led military occupation, this petition shows that the war propaganda in Syria – particularly as it relates to the Kurds – has been highly effective in subverting the progressive anti-war left as it relates to the Syrian conflict.

Indeed, the Kurds in Syria have long been romanticized by Western media for having built “the world’s most progressive democracy” and for being trailblazers for gender equality and gay rights. While the Kurds have incorporated some progressive policies, the realities on the ground are more nuanced. Furthermore, the U.S.’ “support” for Rojava, which the petition seeks to extend, is hardly helping progressive or even Kurdish causes.

Distinguishing the Kurds and the SDF

Since the rise of Daesh (ISIS) in the Syrian conflict, Western media has placed the Kurds on a pedestal and has long treated them as the only “effective” fighters against the terrorist group. However, praising the local Kurdish militias for their fighting prowess has since given way to praising the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), even though the two could not be more different.

While the SDF does boast a significant portion of Kurds among its ranks, it is not expressly Kurdish and is an umbrella group of several militias. Though this itself is not concerning, the identities of many of its Arab fighters do give cause for concern. For instance, one of the groups operating under the SDF’s banner is the Deir Ezzor Military Council (DMC) — a group whose fighters were former members of Daesh and al-Nusra (Syria’s Al-Qaeda affiliate), who were “retrained” by U.S. forces in Northern Syria after surrendering to the SDF and U.S.-backed forces in Raqqa. In addition, tribes that were formerly allied with Daesh have joined forces with the SDF over the past year.

The loosely-knit coalition of Syrian rebel groups, including Kurdish factions, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), are armed, trained and backed by the U.S. (SDF Photo)

In addition to hosting former members of Daesh and other terror organizations among its ranks, the SDF also regularly collaborates with Daesh in Northeastern Syria in targeting Syrian and Russian forces. Though the Kurds and Daesh are ostensible “enemies,” they have been shown to move amongst each other like allies, and Kurds have even worked alongside Daesh in coordination with U.S. special forces. Perhaps, then, it is little surprise that the SDF allowed Daesh terrorists to leave Raqqa peacefully last June as they took the city.

This collaboration with groups like Daesh, which the SDF has been praised in the West for fighting, has led to major defections of Kurds from the SDF — including SDF’s former spokesman Talal Silo, who accused the group of making secret deals with terrorists.

Along with their troubling ties and collaboration with Daesh, the SDF have participated in war crimes in Syria, in tandem with U.S. forces, and have been accused of ethnic cleansing in order to justify the establishment of a Kurdish ethnostate in Arab-majority areas of Northern Syria.

For instance, in the battle for Raqqa, the SDF — along with the U.S.-led coalition — committed war crimes, such as using chemical weapons and cutting off water supplies to Raqqa, which is still without water nearly a year after its “liberation.” The SDF also played a key role in the operation that left, by some estimates, as many as 8,000 dead and 160,000 more driven from their homes. The operation also left 80 percent of the city completely uninhabitable, and as many as 6,000 bodies are still believed to be buried in the rubble six months after the joint U.S-led coalition/SDF operation concluded.

Some journalists, such as Andrew Korybko, asserted that Raqqa’s civilian population was directly targeted because it was highly unlikely that any Arab, or non-Kurd for that matter, living in Arab-majority Raqqa would freely choose to live in a “Kurdish-dominated statelet” as a second-class citizen instead of choosing to have equal standing within the Syrian Arab Republic. In other words, the operation was, in part, targeting civilians who could resist Raqqa’s annexation by the U.S.-backed Kurds instead of Daesh forces, who were allowed to escape and were later re-assimilated into the SDF. The UN, however, has claimed that the SDF’s removal of Arab populations from Raqqa was done out of “military necessity” and thus did not constitute “ethnic cleansing.”

Have progressives thought through what they’re asking for?

Aside from the SDF, asking the U.S. to maintain its support of the group also means asking the U.S. to continue its illegal occupation of Syria. As MintPress has previously reported, the U.S.’ occupation of Syria is aimed at partitioning the country and preventing Syria’s Northeast from again coming under the control of the Syrian government.

Though partition has also been a goal of some U.S.-allied Kurdish nationalists, who have sought to use the division of Syria as a launching pad for an independent “Kurdistan,” the U.S. in recent months has made it clear that the partition of Northeastern Syria will not benefit the Kurds as much as Wahhabi Sunnis whose ideology is virtually indistinguishable from that of Daesh.

Early last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Trump’s new National Security Advisor John Bolton was working with U.S.-allied Middle Eastern nations to form an “Islamic coalition” that would replace the U.S. troops currently present in Northeastern Syria with an army composed of soldiers from nations like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Egypt. This coalition would be a permanent military “stabilizing force” in the region.

In addition to pushing for foreign Arab soldiers to police Rojava, the Trump administration has also sought Saudi commitment to funding the reconstruction of the region. Saudi Arabia — known for its deplorable treatment of religious and ethnic minorities, and funding terror groups like Daesh — and its Gulf allies are highly unlikely to support the Kurds’ nationalist aims as well as their “progressive” direct democracy and promotion of gender equality and gay rights. Indeed, Saudi Arabia is the complete opposite of the Western progressive view of the Kurds, as it is a dictatorial monarchy well known for its repression of women and minorities and execution of members of the LGBT community. However, it is also the country that the U.S. is seeking to give the leading role in governing the area of Syria it currently occupies.

In effect, by asking for the continuation of U.S. military presence in Syria in order to aid the SDF, the Emergency Committee for Rojava is actually undermining the “progressive” Kurds they seek to support — and aiding yet another U.S. government attempt at nation-building, which is likely to result in a Wahhabist enclave that would differ little from a Daesh-led “caliphate.”

The Emergency Committee for Rojava’s efforts come amid major attempts aimed at defending and extending the U.S.’ illegal involvement in Syria. However, this petition is aimed at Western progressives, the group that has historically opposed illegal U.S. military occupations and wars in the past. Given how it has enticed well-known members of the progressive community, the petition shows that the push for Western “humanitarian” intervention in Syria is stronger than ever.

April 29, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 8 Comments

Two tweets to break democracy? Incredible claim in House report on ‘Russian meddling’

By Nebojsa Malic | RT | April 28, 2018

Though the House Intelligence Committee report exonerated President Donald Trump of ‘collusion’ with Russia, it still accused Moscow, and RT specifically, of meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.

The report released on Friday says the committee “found no evidence that the Trump campaign colluded, coordinated, or conspired with the Russian government,” but it accepted the US intelligence community’s claims from the January 2017 report that said Russia used ‘active measures’ to meddle in the elections.

How did that happen? That’s classified. Much of Chapter two, suggestively titled ‘Russia attacks the United States,’ was entirely redacted at the request of the US intelligence community, according to Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas). The few tidbits that the public was allowed to see defined spear phishing and credential harvesting and admitted that “attribution is a bear.”

The report then goes full tinfoil hat, claiming that WikiLeaks is a Russian intelligence outlet and accusing RT of serving some dark agenda of the Kremlin. According to the US spy community, RT produces content which appeals to “skeptics of both the mainstream media and the establishment.” Points for honesty on that, Langley, that is literally what “Question More” means.

During the election campaign, the report says (see page 32), RT engaged in “wide-ranging” attacks on Hillary Clinton, “including the insinuation that the Clinton family were criminals,” and “used advertising to promote material leaked by Russian intelligence.” To illustrate this point, the committee offered screenshots of two promoted RT tweets.

You read right. Two tweets. Which, if the screenshots can be trusted, got but a handful of retweets and even fewer replies.

“We spent $30 for two tweets, and those two tweets destroyed their democracy,”  RT’s editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan quipped on Twitter, summarizing the report. “And we criticized both Hillary and Trump, but Hillary more often. And that’s offensive.”

Understandable bewilderment aside, let’s look at the two stories in question. The first one was a five-point listicle about affairs, such as Whitewater, Travelgate, Benghazi and Hillary’s emails – all of which have been reported on by the mainstream US media. In each instance, the Clintons were not charged. Did the headline read a bit like Fox News? Sure. Was it also true? Yes.

The second promoted tweet was on a Sunday before the election, reporting about the 33rd batch of emails from Clinton campaign chair John Podesta’s personal account, which were being released by WikiLeaks. And no, RT did not get advance warning on any of the drops, despite some serious tinfoil-ruffling by various US media and Clinton campaign officials. We just watched out for them very hard, because that’s journalism.

That particular batch of emails contained no bombshells, though. One message accused Chelsea Clinton of using her parents’ foundation funds for her wedding. Another included Hillary’s aide Philippe Reines urging staff not to joke about the private server emails, “because email retention = Benghazi.”

Then there was a 2008 message addressed to Podesta, David Brock of Media Matters and Tom Matzzie of MoveOn.org, saying that Arianna Huffington was “enthusiastic” about Progressive Media USA, but that it would be more useful if HuffPo would “echo our message without any perceived conflicts.”

Yet Congress would have you believe that RT promoting these two stories to the tune of $30 (and getting very little for the money) somehow broke American democracy.

To get away from that sort of heat, ahead of facing the committee in October 2017, Twitter announced that it would “off-board” all RT advertising. The company neglected to mention it was Twitter that pitched an election-related advertising campaign to RT, or that RT declined the offer.

Oops.

April 28, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Media suspiciously quiet on US & UK-backed Saudi atrocities in Yemen

By Danielle Ryan | RT | April 24, 2018

On Sunday night, the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen hit a wedding party in Hajja province, killing up to 50 people. Strangely, no one in the Western media is calling for sanctions or regime change in Riyadh.

In fact, it seems they’re not that concerned at all. This is despite the fact that Saudi Arabia has been repeatedly accused of indiscriminate bombing in Yemen during a military campaign which has brought 8 million civilians to the brink of famine.

By early evening on Monday, BBC News was displaying not one, not two, but five stories about the birth of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s new baby boy. At the time of checking, there was no story at all about Yemen featured on the BBC’s front page.

Cynical minds might suspect this is because the British government is party to the slaughter in Yemen through its selling of massive amounts of weapons to the Saudi government. In the BBC’s piece on the attack, hidden seven stories down on the World News page, there was no mention at all of this relationship between London and Riyadh.

The Guardian and the Independent gave more prominence to the Yemen story than the BBC, both displaying reports on the front pages of their websites – but the levels of outrage were seriously muted in comparison with the reaction to alleged attacks on civilians by the Syrian government.

Journalists in the United States seem to be suffering from the same kind of selective outrage. A CNN story on the deaths in Yemen initially did not mention the words ‘Saudi Arabia’ until the seventh paragraph. The story was later updated to include news of the death of top Houthi leader Saleh al-Sammad, while the news about the deaths of up to 50 people at the wedding was knocked down to the fourth paragraph. This strange reluctance to be harsh on Riyadh or to give the Yemen war the prominence it deserves in the media, is clearly an effort to downplay atrocities which won’t play as well in front of a Western audience. It’s harder to play the role of the outraged anchor when you have to explain that the US signed an arms deal worth $110 billion with Saudi Arabia last year – a deal which included $7 billion worth of “precision weapons” from Raytheon and Boeing.

Perhaps if the White Helmets had shown up with a video camera and accusations of chemical weapons use, the story would have gotten more traction. Alas, it appears a gentler kind of bomb was used to kill the civilian victims. Reading the Western reports on Yemen, you get the sense that it is being reported out of duty, only to be buried somewhere and forgotten about the next day.

In a joint communiqué issued following a visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Britain, the UK government wrote that it welcomed Riyadh’s “continuing commitment” to ensuring that its military campaign in Yemen “is conducted in accordance with international humanitarian law.”

It remains to be seen whether UK Prime Minister Theresa May and the British press corps will issue a tough rebuke to Saudi Arabia following the most recent atrocity. Op-ed pieces about how the Saudi regime ‘must go’ are surely in the works as we speak.

April 24, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

MSNBC, where journalism goes to die

By Danielle Ryan | RT | April 23, 2018

It looks like we can add yet another name to the list of journalists that MSNBC has pushed out or fired for refusing to toe the establishment line: Ed Schultz.

Schultz, whose new home is at RT, recently gave an interview to the National Review’s Jamie Weinstein. During the interview, Schultz, who had been mostly quiet about his firing from MSNBC, let loose on the channel.

“There was more oversight and more direction given to me on content at MSNBC than there ever has been here at RT — and I think it’s very sad that that story is not getting out,” Schultz said. “Many times I was told what to lead with on MSNBC — many times I was told what I was not going to do.”

Schultz called MSNBC president Phil Griffin a “watchdog” unlike anything he has experienced since leaving the channel. Asked if Griffin personally told him what to say or what angle to take on a story, Schultz said that had “often” been the case.

Schultz went on to tell Weinstein a particularly disturbing story about MSNBC’s refusal to cover former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders seriously. According to Schultz, five minutes before he was due to cover Sanders’ announcement that he would run for president, Griffin called him up and told him not to report on it.

Why? Because the network was so thoroughly determined to promote Hillary Clinton as the Democratic candidate that giving primetime exposure to a progressive voice like Sanders would be dangerous.

“I think the Clintons were connected to [MSNBC chairman] Andy Lack, connected at the hip. I think that they didn’t want anybody in their primetime or anywhere in their lineup supporting Bernie Sanders — I think that they were in the tank for Hillary Clinton and I think it was managed — and 45 days later I was out at MSNBC.”

But Schultz is not the only former MSNBC host with such stories. Cenk Uygur, host of ‘The Young Turks’ on YouTube, has always been vocal about how he parted ways with the channel.

According to Uygur, shortly before his departure from MSNBC, Griffin called him in for a talk. The problem was not Uygur’s ratings, which were good, but it was his “tone” and the fact that “people in Washington” were not happy about it. In other words, Uygur was coming across as too anti-establishment. He was ruffling too many feathers.

“Outsiders are cool, but we’re not outsiders, we’re insiders,” Griffin told Uygur. “We are the establishment.”

Uygur ignored Griffin’s advice and his ratings shot up — surprise, surprise; people enjoy watching news anchors who actually challenge their guests and engage in real journalism. But the top dogs at MSNBC are apparently willing to forgo high ratings to please “people in Washington.”

Last week, responding to Schultz’s recent comments, Uygur confirmed the accusation that MSNBC was essentially operating as the PR arm of the Clinton campaign.

“I had another on-air talent at MSNBC tell me, off the record, that if they ever criticized Hillary Clinton, they would immediately get a call from management,” Uygur said.

This was confirmed on air by current MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski, who admitted that the Clinton campaign angrily called the network after Brzezinski levelled some mild criticism at Clinton during a previous broadcast.

“NBC got a call from the campaign like I had done something that was journalistically inappropriate or something and needed to be pulled off the air,” Brzezinski said.

There can be no question that MSNBC was firmly pro-Clinton and that the Clinton campaign did everything possible to make sure it stayed that way, but the levels of irony here are outstanding.

Clinton and her media cronies have spent much of the past two years bellowing about “the Russians” and so-called “pro-Trump” Russian media, while at the same time they were calling up American channels — channels which no doubt play a far bigger role in influencing American voters —  to chastise anchors whenever their candidate was the subject of some moderate criticism.

Depressing as it is, none of this should be surprising from MSNBC.

In 2003, Phil Donahue, one of America’s best-known TV hosts, was fired from his primetime MSNBC show in the run-up to the Iraq war. Like Uygur, the problem was not Donahue’s ratings — his was the highest-rated show on the network at the time — but the tone of his show. Donahue’s crime? He had been giving airtime to anti-war guests — and questioning the rush to war was seen to be unpatriotic.

A leaked internal memo revealed that Donahue’s bosses felt he was a “difficult public face for NBC in a time of war” because he was providing “a home for the liberal anti-war agenda at the same time that our competitors are waving the flag at every opportunity.”

“They were terrified of the anti-war voice. And that is not an overstatement,” Donahue said in an interview in 2013. This was particularly a problem for MSNBC because it was owned by General Electric at the time — and the war was going to be a boon for GE business. The company stood to gain billions from Iraq war contracts and to have a voice like Donahue’s on air was unacceptable.

But Donahue was not the only anti-war voice MSNBC was determined to silence. Just weeks after the invasion of Iraq, up-and-coming network star Ashleigh Banfield gave a speech in which she criticized the American media’s “sanitized” coverage of the war.

“It wasn’t journalism,” she said. “Because I’m not so sure that we in America are hesitant to do this again, to fight another war, because it looked like a glorious and courageous and so successful terrific endeavor.” American reporters, she said, had “wrapped themselves in the American flag” instead of doing real journalism that showed the true horror of war.

Following Banfield’s speech, NBC News released a statement slamming their colleague: “Ms. Banfield does not speak for NBC News. We are deeply disappointed and troubled by her remarks, and will review her comments with her.”

After that incident, MSNBC “banished” and sidelined Banfield as punishment. They took away her office, her phone, her computer.

“For 10 months I had to report to work every day and ask where I could sit. If somebody was away I could use their desk,” she explained. They eventually gave her an office in a “tape closet.” Banfield repeatedly asked to be let free of her contract, but NBC news president Neal Shapiro would not allow it. Instead they kept her on but gave her nothing to do.

“I will never forgive him for his cruelty and the manner in which he decided to dispose of me,” Banfield said. Just a gentle reminder at this point that MSNBC bills itself as a ‘progressive’ channel.

If anything, things have only gotten worse since Banfield’s thoughtful comments on the failures of American war journalism. When President Donald Trump fired 59 Tomahawk missiles into Syria last April, MSNBC anchor Brian Williams was visibly awestruck, called the footage “beautiful” and quoted song lyrics on air to mark the occasion.

People scoff at state-funded channels like RT, while singing the praises of channels like MSNBC and CNN. Those networks benefit hugely from the myth that because they are not state-funded, they are somehow independent.

These are networks owned by giant parent corporations with plenty of skin in the political game — yet, it is rarely acknowledged that these corporations have a detrimental influence on the quality of journalism produced by their employees. The truth is rarely uttered, that network stars like Rachel Maddow are completely beholden to those corporate and political interests — and that this basic fact massively influences their reporting.

Maddow’s ratings at MSNBC have been climbing of late, no doubt due to her obsession with the ‘Russiagate’ story — a surefire crowd-pleaser among Democratic Party loyalists. But surely Maddow knows, deep down, if she ever went off script, if she ever upset her bosses by becoming truly controversial, she’d be out. Just like Uygur, Schultz, Donahue and Banfield.

For now, Maddow is safe, because she’s exactly the kind of journalist they love: She pretends to rage against the machine while earning $30,000 a day peddling all the right conspiracy theories and picking on all the right people.

A new promo for MSNBC features the cable network’s top anchors in a series of black and white old-school journalism photos. The voiceover is the late Chet Huntley, a former MSNBC newsman: “American journalism — all of it,” he says with certitude, “is the best anywhere in the world.”

It’s hard to believe that by “best” journalism, Huntley could have meant running non-stop corporate-influenced war propaganda, firing anti-establishment voices, banishing conscientious reporters to tape closets and instructing on-air talent not to ruffle any feathers in Washington.

“This is who we are,” the tagline at the end of the ad reads. But remember, thanks to Griffin and his conversation with Uygur, we know what MSNBC really is.

“We are the establishment.”

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April 23, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 3 Comments