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Talkin’ Jim Acosta Hard Pass Blues: Is White House Press Access a Constitutional Right?

By Thomas L. Knapp | The Garrison Center | November 13, 2018

On the evening of November 7, administration officials suspended CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta’s “hard pass.” A hard pass allows its holder “access to areas designated for journalists in the West Wing, on Air Force One, and in other secured areas during presidential trips, which are routinely covered by the White House press corps.”

The suspension followed a combative press conference during which US president Donald Trump repeatedly slammed reporters, referring to Acosta as “an enemy of the people,” and during which Acosta  refused to hand a White House mic back to the intern who came to collect it when his haranguing — er, questioning — time ran out and either (depending on who you ask) accidentally brushed, or intentionally struck, the intern.

On November 13, CNN sued Trump and several other White House officials, accusing them of violating Acosta’s First Amendment (freedom of the press) and Fifth Amendment (due process) rights.

Insofar as the White House has specific and supposedly objective standards for granting hard passes to reporters, Acosta might indeed have a due process claim if yanking his pass didn’t conform to those standards. The First Amendment claim, on the other hand, seems pretty sketchy.

The First Amendment protects not only a free press but freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of peaceable assembly to petition the government for redress of grievances.

Does this mean that anyone who wants to report, speak, pray or just have a non-violent political get-together must be allowed to do so at the White House, on demand?

Well, maybe so. In Thomas Jefferson’s time, Americans could stroll the White House grounds at will and even visit with the president and first lady at lunchtime or after each day. Of course, things have changed since then, but I have no problem with the principle of the thing. The White House supposedly belongs to “the public.” Why shouldn’t we drop in any time we please?

That, however, is not what CNN contends.  They’re not upset that you and I can’t plop ourselves down in White House press room chairs and start firing off questions at the president any time the spirit moves. Their lawsuit argues, rather, that because CNN is a popular cable channel and its White House correspondent is very special and important, Jim Acosta is entitled to a chair, a desk, and face time with Donald Trump.

I suspect a lawsuit on similar supposed First Amendment claims from, say,  Caitlin Johnstone, Alex Jones, Chris Hedges, or the “White House Correspondent” of a small-town Kentucky newspaper  would get laughed right out of court (and out of the “mainstream press”), even if they all agreed to hand the microphones back over when their time ran out.

November 13, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite | , , | Leave a comment

Of the Triggered, by the Triggered, and for the Triggered

The Trump “Resistance”

By Michael K. Smith | Legalienate | November 5, 2018

With election day looming (November 6) Trump “resistance” hysteria is at its shrieking worst. Yet again we face “the most important election of our lifetimes,” or as some prefer to put it, “the second most important,” the first being the election of 2016, when “deplorables” put Donald Trump in the White House. Now, say the Trump haters, these scarcely human degenerates will have a chance to redeem themselves by voting “responsibly,” i.e., according to how their self-appointed betters tell them to vote. The persistence of this incredibly arrogant attitude is a good way to deliver a permanent Trump majority. Just ask Steve Bannon.

Even the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting has been made Trump’s fault, though the shooter was clearly anti-Trump. (Thank God there were no mass shootings in the Obama era!) The toxic brew of Trump “xenophobia,” “racism,” “misogyny” and “Islamophobia” somehow made the shooter a raving anti-Semite. It couldn’t be that decades of Identarian Politics rendering “white male” a dirty word paved the way for Trump’s nationalism, could it? Of course not. It’s that Trump is stained with original sin and must be removed to make way for … utopia?

In short, we are to understand that Trump-the-Monster (Trumpenstein?) single-handedly bred a political climate that produces everything bad directly out of his evil mind while exonerating establishment politicians of both parties whose political wreckage Trump only coincidentally rose out of. But it should be obvious that this makes history entirely irrelevant, since the Devil himself has triumphed. What’s the point of engaging in political action at all?

Liberals and fake radicals are so triggered by Trump that they don’t even notice their descent into madness, much to the delight of a vast swath of middle America that is willing to re-elect Trump on that basis alone. The incredibly misguided “resistance” has somehow convinced itself that boundless indignation over Trump will lead them to victory. They do not see, apparently cannot see, that their indignation is Trump’s rocket fuel: the more they hate him, the higher and farther he flies. Until they can stop being triggered by him, they have no chance of making him go away.

Investigative journalist Allan Nairn, a longstanding critic of the Democratic party, voices the thoughts of many progressives on this election eve:

Democrats are arguably war criminals – not as big as the war criminals on the Republican side, but still war criminals. And they belong in prison. But we are facing such a crisis in this country at this moment that you have to use your head. You have to be tactical. You have to, at this moment, vote in the warmongers who will preserve democracy to block the warmongers would abolish it – and then, the day after the election, go back to the deeper work of creating real, better, more constructive political alternatives and also helping the base of the Democratic Party take back the party from the consultants, from the rich donors. But that’s for the day after the election is completed … Right now, the task is to stop the incipient fascism that Trump and the rightist revolution represents. And you can’t really say that you were working toward an anti-fascist goal if you’re not mobilizing for the Democrats right now. That’s the urgent reality that we’re living.

It is sad to see Nairn falling for the one-sided “fascist” caricature, which we hear practically every five minutes is taking over the country. Nairn’s view of fascism does not include Antifa thugs beating people senseless, “social justice” crusaders rioting to shut down speaking events for views they consider heretical, “always believe the woman” rage brigades jettisoning the presumption of innocence and rules of evidence painfully acquired over centuries of struggle etc. etc. In a gesture to broad-mindedness Nairn concedes that Democrats are warmongers, but wants us to believe that fascist evil is a Republican monopoly. But it’s just not so: the totalitarian impulse runs along the entire political spectrum.

Maybe Juliet Hoffman, presiding judge at the 1969 Chicago conspiracy trial, summed up this totalitarian attitude best: “The substance of the crime is a state of mind,” he said. That’s it. Trump’s mind is criminal. Therefore, our own unethical and criminal conduct just doesn’t matter, since we are acting in heroic “resistance” to evil incarnate. Nor does it matter whether Robert Mueller turns up anything impeachable, since Trump’s very existence is a crime. Tens of millions of Americans are in lockstep with this view, which the late Harry Elmer Barnes would call “totalitarian liberalism.”

Totalitarian liberals seem to have forgotten that we already fell prey to “fascism” under GW Bush. We heard the claim repeatedly in relation to the draconian Patriot Act, the illegal invasion of Iraq, the suspension of habeas corpus, the revival and expansion of administrative torture, and on and on. We even heard talk of American fascism when Arnold Scharzenegger won the recall election for governor in California. (It must have been the Austrian accent.) In any event, Nairn says nothing about the threat to democracy emanating from “resistance” mobs, screeching anti-Trump media (whose removal of Steve Bannon was achieved via pure hysteria), or Robert Mueller’s show-trial-in-the-making, if he can keep people awake long enough to make intermission.

It is ironic that Nairn urges us to be tactical and “use [our] head,” since he himself fails to do so. If we continue to let Trump trigger us into thinking he is an unprecedented evil, we give power to his blue collar base, which loves to stick it to us for having forsaken their interests for so long while sneering at their “unsophisticated” ways. Using our head means recognizing that tens millions of working class Americans hate our guts, and have every reason to do so.

What’s not to loathe in the political messaging on what passes for an American left? If you don’t “always believe the woman,” you’re a MISOGYNIST. If you have a belief in traditional marriage, you’re a HOMOPHOBE. If you think a fetus is alive and abortion is the taking of a human life, you’re waging a WAR ON WOMEN. If you question whether an asthma inhaler can alter the world’s climate, you’re a GLOBAL WARMING DENIER. If you think gender apartheid is as bad as racial apartheid you’re an ISLAMOPHOBE. If you think resources are finite and inviting tens of millions of economic and political refugees from the Third World to live here is harmful, you’re a RACIST XENOPHOBE. Contrast this with Trump’s changed rhetoric towards Kim Jon Un: He now says he’s “in love” with the man he originally denounced as “little Rocket Man.” Such an abrupt transformation is evidence not of a hate-monger, but of a salesman: his rhetoric shifts to fit an opportunistic agenda. Meanwhile, the contemptuous political commentary coming from the supposedly tolerant “left” never changes.

Nairn urges us to vote against our interests today then “go back” to creating better, constructive political alternatives tomorrow. But that’s not how things work. Voting for our castration today so we can have great sex tomorrow cannot possibly produce healthy political offspring. We have done this election after election for decades and have only mushrooming cynicism and self-contempt to show for it. And cynical people don’t act.

We’re in the political dead-end we’re in because of decades of voting for a Democratic Party that eagerly collaborates with the likes of Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and now Donald Trump to make any renewal and expansion of still immensely popular New Deal programs impossible. In short, we have surrendered our initiative to ideological traitors, and no longer determine our politics. Why shouldn’t Trump take advantage?

By all means, go out and vote, just not for Trump’s enablers in the Democratic Party. Vote instead for candidates calling for meeting the most pressing needs of working families: Medicare for all, tuition free college, higher wages, and lower housing costs.

November 6, 2018 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite | | Leave a comment

Guardian Watch – Freedland Remembers Yemen is a Thing

By Kit Knightly | OffGuardian | October 20, 2018

Jonathan Freedland has weighed in on the Khashoggi case. He’s outraged, of course. Because they all are. Every single voice in the mainstream world has suddenly realised just how appalled they are that Saudi Arabia does bad things.

They weren’t appalled a few weeks ago, when the Saudis blew up a bus full of school children.

But they are appalled now, because Mike Pompeo was told by the Turkish government, who were told by the Turkish secret service, that a reporter who may or may not be dead, might have been killed by a super-secret Saudi Arabian hit squad (who then died in a car accident). There are video and audio recordings to prove all of this but we’re not allowed to see them yet.

Freedland recounts these alleged gory details with po-faced prurience. Apparently, they might have used a chainsaw. But that’s not really what his article is about – his article is about attempting to claw back some credibility in the face of (perfectly justified) accusations of massive hypocrisy, and deeper questions about the motivations of the media and the agenda of the Deep State.

You see, Yemen is a thing.

It’s the poorest country in the Middle-East and it’s being systematically destroyed by its vastly richer neighbours, with the full backing and cooperation of NATO. In fact, we’re making a fortune out of it. Bombs are expensive, the Saudis need a lot of them, and you can only use them once. Ker-ching.

Domestically, Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy with a laughable track-record when it comes to human rights. This has been known for decades, it is talked about a lot. Barely a week goes by without some author, somewhere in the alternate media, writing up a story about the crimes of the House of Saud – either international or domestic. So why are we just now hearing about them in the mainstream?

When he was selling wars in Libya and Syria, did Freedland ever once suggest the “humanitarian bombing” of Riyadh?

Did he object to his paper selling ad space to promote the Muhammed bin Salman, “the great reformer”?

Did he boycott events or protest arms deals or in any way speak out?

Did he devote even a single one his columns to the war in Yemen?

People all over the world are asking: “Why are the Saudis suddenly the bad guys? Why can’t Jamal Khashoggi be brushed under the carpet as if he’s nothing but a burning bus full of children or a napalm-strewn wedding reception?”

It’s a question no one in the media has an answer for. They are aware of the contradiction though, and they are busily trying to get around it.

This is Freedland’s attempt:

I can understand the frustration of campaigners for Yemen that the death of one man has captured a global attention that has so rarely focused on the tens of thousands killed…But sometimes it takes the story of a single individual to break through. So it has proved with Khashoggi.

That’s it. A simple brush-off.

That’s the new narrative – nobody really realised just how bad the Saudis were until now. This is the big reveal. The “oh shit” moment. None of them had been on twitter, or read the alternate news or even looked at the comments BTL on their own articles. Yes, Yemen was there in the background but – through forces beyond everyone’s control – it just never broke through to the public consciousness. Oops.

He’s trying to imply that the news just sort of happens, like it’s an organic process beyond the control of the mere mortals writing the stories or filming the segments or thinking up the headlines.

That is patently absurd. We know how the media works, and it’s not some Jungian expression of the collective will. To suggest as much is insulting and ridiculous.

The news is a system by which a handful of mega-corporations distribute propaganda and manipulate public opinion. It is rigidly controlled. They push some issues to the front page and shovel others down the memory hole. When they need to, they make stuff up. Every headline is picked for a purpose, every omission deliberately made. Cogs turn and push the constantly-evolving agenda forward. There are no accidents, and the process is anything but organic.

It’s mechanical. And like all machines, it lacks a soul. There has been no grand awakening of the media conscience. There is no such thing.

There was a reason Yemen was banished to the far reaches of the press for four years. There was a reason the mainstream media were happy to white-wash the Saudi Arabians as they pummelled school buses and weddings with bombs British and American arms companies probably over-charged them for.

There’s a reason every big newspaper on both sides of the Atlantic was happy to serve as Muhammad bin Salman’s PR agency…. and there’s a reason they stopped. A real reason, that has nothing to do with Jamal Khashoggi.

We just don’t know what it is yet.


Kit Knightly is co-editor of OffGuardian. The Guardian banned him from commenting. Twice. He used to write for fun, but now he’s forced to out of a near-permanent sense of outrage.

October 19, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite | , , | Leave a comment

Why Liberal Jews in Israel and the US have made Lara Alqasem a Cause Celebre

By Jonathan Cook | The National | October 15, 2018

An American student of Palestinian descent detained in Israel’s airport for nearly a fortnight has become an unexpected cause celebre. Lara Alqasem was refused entry under legislation passed last year against boycott activists, and Israeli courts are now deciding whether allowing her to study human rights at an Israeli university threatens public order.

Usually those held at the border are swiftly deported, but Ms Alqasem appealed against the decision, becoming in the process an improbable “prisoner of conscience” for the boycott cause.

The Israeli government, led by strategic affairs minister Gilad Erdan, claims that the 22-year-old is a leader of the growing international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. Activists like Ms Alqasem, he argues, demonise Israel.

Two lower courts have already ruled against the student. Israel’s supreme court has postponed her deportation until Wednesday while it reconsiders the evidence. But refusing to go quietly, Ms Alqasem is attracting increasing international attention to her plight.

So far Israeli officials have shown only that Ms Alqasem once belonged to a small Palestinian solidarity group at a Florida university that backed boycotting a hummus company over its donations to the Israeli army.

Under pressure, Ms Alqasem has disavowed a boycott of Israel, citing as proof her decision to enroll in a masters programme in Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Given the blanket hostility in Israel to the boycott movement, Ms Alqasem has found a surprisingly wide array of allies in her legal struggle.

Members of the small Zionist-left Meretz party visited her and demanded she be allowed to attend the course, which began on Sunday.

Ami Ayalon, a retired head of the Shin Bet, the secret police that oversees security checks at Israel’s borders, warned that the agency was now “a problem for democracy” in repeatedly denying foreigners entry.

Vice-chancellors of eight Israeli universities sent a letter of protest to the government and 500 academics at Hebrew University submitted a petition decrying Ms Alqasem’s incarceration.

The solidarity has been unprecedented – and perplexing.

Israeli officials control entry not only to Israel but also to the occupied Palestinian territories. For decades, foreigners with Arab-sounding names – like Ms Alqasem – have been routinely harassed or turned back at the borders, with barely a peep from most on the Israeli left.

And over the same period, Israel has stripped many thousands of Palestinians from the occupied territories of the right to return to their homeland after living abroad. These abuses, too, have rarely troubled consciences in Israel.

So what makes Ms Alqasem’s case different? The answer confers little credit on liberal Israelis.

Israel’s universities are worried that the academic boycott has highlighted their long-term complicity in Israel’s occupation and is gradually eroding their international standing. Joint research projects with foreign universities are in jeopardy, as is their lucrative income from programmes they wish to expand for overseas students.

The universities want to co-opt Ms Alqasem as a poster girl for academic freedom in Israel.

They hope she will provide cover for their guilty secret: that they have stood by, or actively assisted, as Israel made a mockery of academic freedom for Palestinians under occupation. Research shows that Israel’s universities have strong ties to the nation’s military, which regularly attacks Palestinian places of learning and limits Palestinians’ freedom to study by enforcing strict movement restrictions.

Jewish liberals in Israel and the US, meanwhile, are concerned at the entrenchment of the Israeli far-right’s rule. In recent weeks, a wave of Israeli and American Jewish activists have been detained and questioned at the border over their politics.

Those liberals desperately need to draw a red line, halting the expansion of racial profiling into political forms of profiling that undermine their own status. If the courts uphold the fundamental rights of Ms Alqasem, their own rights will be more secure too.

That was why progressive Jewish leaders in the US added their own voices last week, signing a petition calling for Ms Alqasem to be allowed to study in Israel.

But the case has shone a light not only on the self-interested opportunism of Israeli liberals but also on the hypocrisy of leaders of progressive American Jewish communities.

Ms Alqasem was identified as a boycott activist via a McCarthyite website called Canary Mission, which has murky ties to the Israeli government.

Since it launched in 2014 under the slogan “If you’re racist, the world should know”, the site has built an online database profiling thousands of US academics and students, including Jewish ones, critical of Israel.

Its aim is to terrify US academia into silence on Israel. The site explicitly threatens to send letters to prospective employers accusing its targets – those who show solidarity with Palestinians – of being antisemitic.

Until recently, this blacklist had passed largely unremarked outside pro-Palestinian circles. But since its role in helping Israeli officials bar Jewish and non-Jewish activists became clear, interest in its provenance has grown.

This month the Forward, an American Jewish publication, unmasked several of Canary Mission’s major donors. They include the communal funds of Jewish federations representing liberal communities in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The trail leads back to a shadowy registered charity in Israel called Megamot Shalom, which aims to “protect the image of the state of Israel”.

Simone Zimmerman, an American Jewish peace activist who was detained at the border by Israeli officials in August, lamented that the American Jewish establishment’s secret support for Canary Mission “reeks of hypocrisy and betrayal”.

Supposedly liberal Jewish institutions in Israel and the US wish to be seen battling racism and aiding good causes, including the rights of a Palestinian-American student after she repudiated a boycott of Israel.

But covertly they support and finance projects intended to silence criticism of Israel and enforce the oppression of Palestinians they say they want to help.

Ms Alqasem has been turned into a pawn in the struggle between Jewish liberals and Israeli ultra-nationalists. Israel’s continuing violations of the wider rights of Palestinians – to enter and freely move around their homeland, and to receive an education – are simply not part of the discussion.

October 16, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , | Leave a comment

Hypersensitivity and hypocrisy reduce leftist critics of Israel to collaborators

By Greg Felton | October 8, 2018

The most disturbing aspect of the U.S.’s subservience to Israel is that it has gone on for so long. Ever since Harry Truman accepted that $2 million bribe to support the “creation” of Israel in 1948, Israel and its multi-tentacled lobbies have extorted hundreds of billions of dollars in military and other forms of tribute, which it uses to terrorize and murder civilian populations; meanwhile, tens of millions of Americans go without medical care, livable housing, honest banking or decent education.

Thanks to the coercive power of the Lobby, the U.S. is no longer even recognizable as a republic. “Congress,” as Pat Buchanan famously observed, “is Israeli occupied territory.” This occupation is so blatant and unapologetic that one might have expected popular uprisings and demands for treason trials long before now, but Zionist subversion has become so normalized and pervasive that it is invisible, even accepted, by the mass public.

It is true that some brave Americans denounce the Zionization of America and condemn Israel’s genocide of Palestine, but their efforts are largely ineffectual. Much of the reason has to do with language. The shibboleth “anti-Semite”––a meaningless, artificial term––is reflexively hurled to smear anyone who stands up for Israel’s victims or condemns Israel’s atrocities. This intimidation has metastasized throughout all aspects of American (and Canadian) society, which makes the Lobby’s influence by definition totalitarian.

A less obvious, but equally serious, reason has to do with language within the anti-Zionist community, especially the abuse of the terms “Jew” and “Jewish”. People on either side of the political spectrum understand these terms emotionally, not intellectually, and apply them in a manner that ends up reinforcing the cult of Jewish victimhood, the most powerful Zionist propaganda weapon and the source of the “anti-Semite” slur.

First, the failings of the anti-Zionist left are generally common to most so-called leftist agitators. (I say “so-called” because the terms “left” and “right” no longer have any useful meaning in an age of pro-imperial conformity; these terms will be used only for the sake of convenience.) Leftists present themselves as progressives, voices of reason and defenders of free speech, but their commitment to these principles is rather selective. When their dogma or terminology are challenged, even within the leftist community, they respond with cognitive dissonance and hostility and even call for censorship of “offensive” opinions. This hypocrisy is especially prevalent regarding Israel, and I experienced this earlier this year.

In April, I noticed that a bookstore hosted presentations by local authors. I mentioned to one of the owners, Tamara Gorin, that I lived in the area asked if I could give a reading. She said I could, and we settled on the afternoon of June 23. Before leaving the bookstore, however, I made a point of letting her know that my book attracts hostility from pro-Israel zealots in case she wanted to reconsider. Gorin replied that she believed in free expression and that she had previously championed unpopular points of view. As part of our arrangement, she agreed to carry three copies of the third edition of my book, The Host & The Parasite––How Israel’s Fifth Column Consumed America.

My presentation focused mainly on my latest chapter, which deals with the place of the Obama and Trump administrations on the spectrum of the Zionization of America. I use the term “Zionization” deliberately because in my book and elsewhere I am scrupulously careful not to conflate “Zionist” with “Jew”: The former is a political term; the latter is religious. Not all Jews support Israel and many of Israel’s most effective critics are Jewish. In fact, anti-Zionist Jewish professors and students have been targeted by the Lobby for their outspokenness.

After the presentation, though, the subject of Jews did come up, but only once and in a tangential sense. In response to a question about why so many Americans favour Israel, I mentioned the phenomenon of Judeophilia­­, also known as philosemitism­­: an affinity among certain Christians for Jews and all things Jewish, including religion. I cited as an example Josiah Wedgwood and James Arthur Balfour, both of whom were British MPs who supported the Jewish banker Lord Rothschild in his ambition to carve out a Jewish “national home” in Palestine. From this analogy, I said many American politicians seek the company and favour of rich and powerful people, many of whom control campaign funding and the corporate media. It just so happens that many of them happen to be Jewish. I should have added at the time that the vast majority, to borrow Thomas Friedman’s expression, are “warm Jews”: Jews who put Israel’s needs first.

The day after the event, I received an e-mail from Gorin asking me to pick up my books. She decided not to carry them because of my mention of Jews, which she said was an attack on people because of their faith. The next day when I went to collect my books I remonstrated rather vigorously that she had misrepresented what I said and by extension accused me of being anti-Jewish even though in no way did I attack anyone’s faith. In any event, her refusal to carry my book made no sense since, as I told her, the subject of Jews is not in it.

During the next 20 minutes, I demanded she demonstrate how I attacked Jews on religious grounds. At length, she admitted that I had not. I then insisted that she honour her commitment to free expression by carrying my book. She still refused.

At issue was not my presentation or my book but Gorin’s hypersensitivity to the mention of Jews. Like a lot of liberal critics of Israel––especially Jews of East European extraction like Gorin––claims of support for free expression are not to be taken at face value. By effectively censoring me, she exhibited the kind of selective moralism that sabotages debate and reduces the so-called liberal left to collaborators with the Zionist entity.

For example, J Street, a non-profit, liberal advocacy group in Washington, D.C., claims to advocate for a peaceful, diplomatic end to conflicts between the Arab World and Israel, yet it calls itself “pro-peace” and “pro-Israel.” The concept of irony and self-contradiction is lost on its Jewish founders, one of whom is George Soros, the éminence grise of the Democratic Party, the natural governing party of Israel in the U.S. Advocating for peace while drawing a false equivalency between Zionist terrorists and their victims is monstrous and serves only to justify the on-going atrocity.

This hypocrisy was also on display yet again in Canada’s Parliament when an opposition MP asked Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau why his government did not have any reaction to Israel’s demolition of the Palestinian village of Khan al Ahmar, which included the destruction of a school. The question was good and the MP deserves credit for bringing it up, but she also couched her question in the false equivalency of “peace” and “the two-state solution,” which has never been a viable option. Trudeau, like an obedient Israeli satrap, began his answer with, “Canada is a steady ally of Israel” and proceeded to say that his government expressed its “concerns” to the Israeli government, especially regarding the school. He ended with the boilerplate excuse that “unilateral action” would not help “a two-state solution,” as if Israel’s actions were not unilateral.

Pro-peace, leftist, liberal critics of Israel have to do more than call attention to Israel’s atrocities, offer sympathy for its victims and recite delusional boilerplate; they must use language honestly to defend all manner of Palestinian self-defence and categorically denounce Israeli atrocities. If this entails drawing attention to the influence of warm Jews, so be it. The same goes for attacking the cult of Jewish victimhood, which is a matter of politics, not religion.

Before I left, I again challenged her on her hypocritical support for free speech. She conceded there were some topics that were off-limits, one of which is the Holocaust®. This was the first mention of religion in this absurd episode. As long as this founding act of sacred Jewish violence is off limits, leftist criticism of Israel will never amount to anything more than a sanctimonious hypocrisy.

Next: Right-wing bigotry masquerades as patriotism
Previous: Political reformers will wallow in futility until they take aim at the real enemy

October 14, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 10 Comments

Moscow Offers Washington to Sign Written Pledges on Mutual Non-Interference

Sputnik – 12.10.2018

MOSCOW – Russia has offered the United States to make written commitments about non-interference in each other’s affairs as Moscow is ready to give such guarantees “at any time,” but Washington has shown no such desire, Georgy Borisenko, the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department of North America, told Sputnik.

“Now we are proposing to exchange letters of more or less the same content, for example, between the foreign ministers of Russia and the United States. Unfortunately, Washington is stubbornly ignoring it, they are just categorically rejecting it,” Georgy Borisenko noted.

The Russian diplomat said that Moscow had “repeatedly offered to make written commitments on non-interference in each other’s internal affairs with the US.”

“At the same time, we have pointed out that it is possible to use the experience of restoring diplomatic relations between our countries in 1933. Then the USSR People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs Maxim Litvinov and US President Franklin Roosevelt exchanged personal notes, which contained a commitment not to infringe upon each other’s internal affairs. What is interesting is that it was the US authorities who insisted on it, because they were very afraid of Soviet influence during the Great Depression,” Borisenko explained.

According to the official, Moscow made a similar proposal to Washington in June, even before the summit in Helsinki.

“We sent a draft of such a letter to our US colleagues so that they could consider it. The United States rejected it… We are ready to give them written guarantees at any time, but the US shows no such desire,” Borisenko said.

The United States has repeatedly accused Russia of interference in the 2016 presidential election and is investigating Trump’s team members’ alleged links to the Kremlin.

Russia, for its part, has refuted all the accusations, calling such claims groundless.

Russia Never Planned to Interfere in US Midterms

Russia has never tampered in US elections and is not going to, Georgy Borisenko, the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department of North America, told Sputnik.

“Our side has repeatedly said that Russia has never meddled, is not meddling and has no plans to meddle in US elections. We regard the electoral process [in the US] as something that only the US people should have a say in. Interfering in other countries’ affairs is what the US does,” he said.

The United States will go to the polls on November 6.

Second Putin-Trump Meeting

Moscow is ready to discuss the possibility of arranging another summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Donald Trump if the White House is interested in continuing top-level dialogue, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department of North America head Georgy Borisenko told Sputnik in an interview.

“We are surely open to discussions on the whole spectrum of bilateral relations with Washington. If the US is interested in continuing dialogue, and President Trump seems to have demonstrated such interest, we will see when and how it can be done,” the official said.

Answering a question on whether the two leaders will meet on November 11 in Paris during events marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, the official said that contact was possible, but no requests for a meeting had been received from the US so far.

Putin and Trump held their first full-fledged summit in the Finnish capital of Helsinki on July 16.

October 12, 2018 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

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

A Wake-Up Call to the Canadian Left

By Michael Welton | CounterPunch | September 26, 2018

Yves Engler is Canada’s foremost feisty contrarian. Contrarians oppose what most people think about people and events. They don’t like to bask in the sunlight. They would rather look in the shadows or dimly lit back alleys. If they walk on a summer beach, they pay little attention to the sun glinting off the shells. They want to see what lies under the rocks.

Alas! There aren’t many contrarians left. We live in the age of the vanquished reporter and group think. The mass media (BBC, CNN, CBC) toe the prevalent hegemonic political line. They ask no questions. They speak confidently on the latest demonic act of Russia or Syria or Iran. Israel always gets off the hook, no matter how many Gazans are gunned down. The US-Saudi Arabia can massacre hundreds of thousands of Yemenis. Not on the news tonight! And won’t be on next week, either. All “unapproved evidence is brushed aside or disparaged regardless of its quality” (Robert Parry).

Engler’s new book, Left, Right: Marching to the Beat of Imperial Canada’s Foreign Policy (Black Rose Publishers, 2018) follows in the train of previous muckraking and debunking books. Basically, Engler thinks the Canadian intelligentsia sees foreign policy through a glass darkly. They think that Canada is basically a benevolent nation. We (I am a Canadian) think we are not like our neighbour to the south. They are the land of conquest.

They are the democratic sheep in wolves clothing. They are the ones who bring “democracy and freedom” to nations on their gunboats. No, Canadians are a nation of peacekeepers and nice folks. Our myth-making agencies (Engler includes the Department of National Defense and Veteran Affairs as well the mass media) celebrate our heroic engagement in various wars and benevolent corporate and banking actions in the Caribbean and South America.

Engler believes adamantly that the left has “played a part in justifying Canada’s role within an unfair and unsustainable world economic system.” He focuses our attention on the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation Party (CCF) and the New Democratic Party (NDP) because this social democratic party has a voice in parliament. They can speak out on foreign policy. He also examines labour union spokespersons and well-known left commentators’ views on foreign policy issues. But Engler points out that the early CCF, fired with a vision of justice for Canada, was silent on the Canadian banks substantial influence over Caribbean finance. Even the lauded Regina Manifesto (1933) ignored Canadian complicity in European colonialism and was weak on Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia in 1936. Although in the years between 1933 and 1943, the CCF opposed imperialism and nationalism associated with Zionism. However, since then, the party has “often backed the dispossession of Palestinians.” Engler provides many more dispiriting examples.

He discovers that the left promotes imperial policies and recycles nationalist myths. In the post-WW II era, the CCF backed NATO and supported the Korean War. More recently, the NDP “endorsed bombing Syria and Libya.” Labour unions supported the Marshall Plan, NATO, Korean War, the assassination of Patrice Lumumba and the Bay of Pigs invasion. They were swept up in the anti-communist mania of the lamentable Cold War. On the economic front, Engler observes that Quebec sovereignists are progressive at home and, in the case of Haiti (Engler’s favourite example of Canadian political malfeasance), supported the overthrow of Jean-Baptiste Aristide in 2004.

Engler argues that liberal and left intellectuals are pressured to be patriotic. They mostly ignore international affairs. Social democracy has great difficulty criticizing their own government’s imperialism. We don’t realize, it seems, that Canada is not a mere caboose hinged to the imperialist train. We actively participate in imperial projects. We choose to send troops to the Ukraine, even though the US engineered the coup overthrowing Viktor Yanukovych and Ukrainian armies display fascist insignia at will. We heartily support the movement of NATO troops close to the Russian border. We seem averse to realizing how our present Canadian foreign policy does not foster world peace and unity at this moment of civilizational crisis.

PM Harper sent troops to fight for western hegemony in Afghanistan. We chirp along with the choir accusing Russia and Iran of just about everything nasty. It’s all their fault. We are stupefied on the drug of propaganda. Engler states: “But instead of criticizing the geo-strategic and corporate interests driving foreign policy, the NDP/CCF has often supported them and contributed to Canadians’ confusion about their country’s international relations.” Dissident CCF or NDP voices are usually repressed or preventing from running for office.

Engler’s text is packed with facts and details. That’s his style. A short review must entice the reader to dig into the text. But let me guide readers’ attention to several courageous investigations and commentaries that raised my eyebrows. It takes guts to demythologize Canada’s popular critics and causes. Many of Canada’s intellectuals are associated with think tanks. Engler argues that the influential Rideau Institute of International Affairs “spurns demilitarization and anti-imperialist voices.” He thinks that Peggy Mason, president of the Institute since 2014, has significant experience in Canadian foreign policy circles. But it is unlikely she will “forthrightly challenge the foreign policy status quo or the corporate interests that back it.”

Engler cuts to the quick regarding cheerleading Canada’s role as peacekeepers. He thinks this is mainly a way to “align with Canadian mythology and evade confronting military power.” For Engler, Canada’s peacekeeping in Egypt in 1956 and Cyprus in 1964 were aimed at reducing tensions within NATO. In the Congo and Korea, Engler states that “Ottawa contributed to US imperialist crimes.” These are harsh accusations that bump into our sense of being benevolent actors. Engler offers this nugget insight: the left nationalist mythologies separate us from US imperialism while obscuring our compliant service to western hegemony. Engler thinks that Linda McQuaig’s idealization of Lester Pearson is shameful.

Engler takes on Canada’s folk hero and distinguished public figure, Stephen Lewis. From 2001-2006, Lewis was the UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa. In his celebrated Massey lectures, Race Against Time (2005), Lewis “failed to critique any Canadian policy measure in Africa except for Ottawa’s insufficient aid.” In fact, Engler points out that Canada’s early assistance to Africa trained militaries to prevent the pursuit of “wholly independent paths.” Ottawa backed the overthrow of Nkrumah in 1966. Engler moves inside the murky and confused world of the Rwanda massacres in the mid-1990s. There are different narratives framing the meaning of these massacres.

Romeo Dallaire’s narrative is but one, now tattered, story. The gutsy Engler informs us that Dallaire justified the NATO invasion of Libya, and called for interventions in Darfur, Iran and Syria. Some scholars now shift the spotlight on the malevolent role of Paul Kagame, the leader of the Rwanda Patriotic Front, both in the Rwanda killings and invasion into the east Congo. Basically, Engler thinks that Lewis praises Kagame, an authoritarian dictator who brooks no opposition, far too much.

In his book, Lewis criticizes China for backing Khartoum but remains silent on Kagame’s invasion of the Congo. And Lewis has also been silent on “official Ottawa’s multi-faceted support for European colonial rule or Canada’s role in overthrowing progressive leaders Patrice Lumumba, Milton Obote and Kwame Nkrumah.” It seems, Engler suggests, that media coverage of Africa in the Canadian media (2003-2012) is still infected with a “moralizing gaze” and “white man’s burden” imagery.

It is not surprising that Engler wonders why the left “accept or promote policies that do harm to ordinary people across the planet.” In fact, one of Engler’s maxims for foreign policy is that we do no harm to others and act to sustain our common homeland, the earth. If many liberal or left critics raise tough questions on domestic issues, why do they see foreign policy through the glass darkly? Engler even shocks us by demonstrating that many indigenous people, victims of Canadian colonialism, joined in the wars of Empire.

For one thing, Engler argues insistently that the left has accommodated itself to a Canadian form of nationalism. Enveloped in the myth of benevolent peacekeepers and crusaders for world peace, we create dubious icons like Lester Pearson and Romeo Dallaire. Left-leaning Canadian nationalists—such as those who supported the Waffle movement within the NDP in the late 1960s and 1970s—embraced the idea that Canada was a colony of the US. In fact, say the Waffle intellectuals, we began as a British colony, became a nation and returned to colony status through subservience to the US Empire. Did we really?

But the deterministic “staples theory”, made famous by legendary Canadian economic historian Harold Innes, renders us passive as a sovereign nation. This theory obscures our foreign policy choices about the kind of world we as Canadians desire and our corporate commitments to exploit other nation’s financial and natural and human resources. We black-out the nasty stuff in the Caribbean, Africa, Guatemala and elsewhere. We can’t (or won’t see it) because we, too, are “exceptional.”

And, as Engler reminds us, think again about Canada as the poor hewers of wood and drawers of water. Toronto ranks seventh in the world as a financial centre. Boldly, he states: “Canadian companies are global players in various fields:” Garda World is the world’s largest privately held security companies (with 50,000 employees). SNC Lavalier is one of the world’s largest engineering companies. Bombadier and CAE are the world’s largest aerospace and flight stimulators.

And the “starkest example” of Canadian corporate power is the mining sector where ½ of the world’s mining companies are based in Canada. If one is weeping over Canadian subservience—poor us! –to US corporate power, “left nationalists generally ignore Canadian power and abuse abroad.” Engler has written about our not too exceptionally just mining companies in other books. Banging the drum, he says, “Wake up Canadian left intellectuals!”

Dr. Michael Welton is a professor at the University of Athabasca. He is the author of Designing the Just Learning Society: a Critical Inquiry.

September 26, 2018 Posted by | Book Review, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

Down with the Working Classes!

By CJ Hopkins | Consent Factory | September 21, 2018

If the Left is ever going to come together to save the world from Donald Trump and his legions of fascistic Putin-Nazis, we’re going to need to confront our primary enemy … the international working classes. Yes, my comrades, I’m afraid it’s time to face the facts, depressing as they are. The working classes are not our friends. Just look at how they’ve been betraying us … and after all we’ve done for them all these years! This cannot be allowed to continue, not if we are going to rescue democracy from Trump, Putin, Assad, the Iranians, and Palestinian kids with terrorist kites, and eventually stem the blood-dimmed tide of neo-fascist anti-Globalism!

Now, OK, I know you’re probably asking, “how can the international working classes possibly be the enemy of the Left?” and “wouldn’t that render the whole concept of the Left completely absurd and essentially meaningless?” and other pertinent questions like that. And that’s totally fine, you’re allowed to ask that. Questioning aspects of the official narrative the ruling classes are forcing everyone to conform to like members of a worldwide cult doesn’t make you a Nazi or anything. It’s perfectly OK to ask such questions, as long as you don’t continue to ask them, over and over, and over again, after the facts have been explained to you. Here are those facts, one more time.

The international working classes are racists. They are misogynists. Xenophobic transphobes. They do not think the way we want them to. Some of them actually still believe in God. They are white supremacists. Anti-Semites. Gun-toting, Confederate-flag-flying rednecks. Most of them have never even heard of terms like “intersectionality,” “TERF,” and so on. They do not respect the corporate media. They think that news sources like the Washington Post, The New York Times, The Guardian, CNN, MSNBC, BBC, and so on, are basically propaganda outlets for the global corporations and oligarchs who own them, and thus are essentially no different from FOX, whose pundits they believe every word of. Their minds are so twisted by racism and xenophobia that they can’t understand how global capitalism, the graduated phase-out of national sovereignty, the privatization of virtually everything, the debt-enslavement of nearly everyone, and the replacement of their so-called “cultures” with an ubiquitous, smiley-faced, gender-neutral, non-oppressive, corporate-friendly, Disney simulation of culture are actually wonderfully progressive steps forward on the road to a more peaceful, less offensive world.

Now this has been proved in numerous studies with all kinds of charts and graphs and so on. And not only by the corporate statisticians, and the corporate media, and liberal think tanks. Why, just this week, Mehdi Hasan, in an exasperated jeremiad in the pages of The Intercept, that bastion of fearless, adversarial journalism owned by billionaire Pierre Omidyar, proved, once again, that Donald Trump was elected because PEOPLE ARE GODDAMN RACISTS!

Apparently, Hasan has just about had it with these Putin-loving Trump-apologists proposing that general dissatisfaction with global capitalism, neoliberalism, and identity politics could have had anything to do with Americans electing a bombastic ass clown with absolutely no political experience to the highest office in the land. Hasan cites a number of expert studies, among them one by the Democracy Fund, which just happens to be another Omidyar outfit. But let’s not get all paranoid or anything. There are literally hundreds of such studies at this point, each and every one of which has been cited by the mainstream media, the alternative media, the far-alternative media, and virtually every Trump-obsessed loon with a blog or a Facebook or Twitter account.

Look, I realize the truth is painful, but the science of statistics leaves no room for doubt. As much as some of us may want to deny it, the fact is, the country that elected Barack Obama (who is Black) president, twice, has been transformed by Putin’s brainwashing agents into a cesspool of xenophobia and racism, and it is up to us lefties to set things right!

Now, to do this, we need to unite the Left, and get everyone marching in lockstep, and so on. Which means that we need to identify and weed out all the fake leftists among us. Then, and only then (i.e., after we’ve tracked down, sanctimoniously denounced, and exiled any and all neo-Stasserist “alt-Right” infiltrators, Sputnik leftists, and Assad-apologists), can we turn our attention to meeting face-to-face with the international working classes and sanctimoniously denouncing them as a bunch of filthy racists.

OK, that sounds a little harsh, and possibly totally idiotic, but what other choice do we really have? If we’re going to defeat these Putin-Nazis, a few eggs are going to have to get broken. This is not the time to abandon our commitment to imposing our identity-based ideology on every last person on the planet Earth, or to indulge in that ugly kind of old-fashioned leftism that is based on what the working classes want. Who gives a damn what the working classes want? What’s important is what we want them to want. This isn’t the 1990s, after all. All that nonsense about globalization, and supranational entities like the WTO, and the World Bank, not to mention “American jobs” … only fascists talk like that these days!

But, seriously … if you’ve made it this far in my essay, and you consider yourself a leftist of some sort, you’re probably extremely frustrated with what passes for the Left these days, and with how the working classes are flocking to the Right, both in the United States and all over the world. If I’ve got that right, you might want to read this essay by Diana Johnstone (which we lefties are technically not allowed to read, because it’s posted in The Unz Review, where a lot of “alt-Right” pieces are also posted … and you don’t want to get any of that stuff on you!)

What she is writing about is the ongoing “populist” insurgency against globalized capitalism, which is what I’ve also been writing about for the better part of the last two years. This is the historical moment we are experiencing, a clumsy, sloppy, partly fascistic, partly non-fascistic democratic uprising against the continuing spread of global capitalism, the erosion of what is left of national sovereignty, and … yes, people’s cultures and values.

The international working classes understand this. The neo-nationalist Right understands this. The majority of the Left does not understand this, and is refusing to admit that it’s happening, and so is standing around on the sidelines calling everybody “racists” and “fascists” while the global capitalist ruling classes and the neo-nationalists sort things out.

Which is exactly what the ruling classes want, and what the official Putin-Nazi narrative was designed to achieve from the very beginning. The “Overton Window” (i.e., the range of ideas tolerated in public discourse) works best when divided into two clean halves. During the so-called “War on Terror,” it was Democracy versus the Islamic Terrorists. Now, it’s Democracy versus the Putin-Nazis. Both of which narratives are fairy tales, of course, the reality, as ever, being rather more messy.

If what is left of the Left expects to play any meaningful part in our historical moment (other than sanctimoniously cheerleading for the global capitalist ruling classes), it is going need to get its hand a littler dirtier, mingle a bit more with all those working class “populists,” talk to them, and, I don’t know, maybe even listen to them.

Or maybe I’m completely out of my mind … I mean, actually listening to the working classes? Some of them are sure to say racist things, and anti-Semitic and transphobic things, which we cannot ignore for even one second, or rationally discuss and disagree with, because that would mean giving their racism a platform. Yeah, screw it, I don’t know what I was thinking … forget all that stuff I just made you read. Down with the fascist working classes!

September 21, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

The Anne Frank Test

More power to the wicked

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • September 18, 2018

The week leading up to the funeral of Senator John McCain produced some of the most bizarre media effusions seen in this country since the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963. McCain, who never saw a war or regime change that he didn’t like, was apparently in reality a friend of democracy and freedom worldwide, a judgment that somehow ignores the hundreds of thousands of presumed foreign devils who have died as a consequence of the policies he enthusiastically promoted in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Libya.

McCain, who supported assassination of US citizens abroad and detention of them by military commissions back at home, was hardly the upright warrior for justice eulogized in much of the mainstream media. He was in fact for most of his life a corrupt cheerleader for the Establishment and Military Industrial Complex. McCain was one of five Senators who, in return for campaign contributions, improperly intervened in 1987 on behalf of Charles Keating, Chairman of the Lincoln Savings and Loan Association, a target of a regulatory investigation by the Federal Home Loan Bank Board (FHLBB). The FHLBB subsequently did not follow through with proposed action against Lincoln.

Lincoln Savings and Loan finally did collapse in 1989, at a cost of $3.4 billion to the federal government, which had insured the accounts, while an estimated 23,000 Lincoln bondholders were defrauded, many losing their life savings. When the Keating story broke in 1989, the Phoenix New Times newspaper called McCain the worst senator from any state in American history.

There was plenty of pushback on the McCain legacy coming from the alternative media, though nothing in the mainstream where politicians and pundits from both the left and the right of the political spectrum united in their songs of praise. Amidst all the eulogies one article did, however, strike me as particularly bizarre. It was written by Jeffrey Goldberg, Editor in Chief of The Atlantic, and is entitled “McCain would have passed the Anne Frank test” with the sub-heading “The senator spent decades demonstrating his willingness to fight powerful men who abused powerless people.”

Goldberg, a leading neoconservative, casually reveals that he has had multiple discussions with McCain, including some in “war zones” like Iraq. He quotes the Senator as saying “I hated Saddam. He ruled through murder. Didn’t we learn from Hitler that we can’t let that happen?” Goldberg notes that McCain’s hatred “for all dictators burned hot” before hitting on a number of other themes, including that, per the senator, it was Donald Rumsfeld’s “arrogance and incompetence… that helped discredit the American invasion” of Iraq. Goldberg quotes McCain as saying “He [Rumsfeld] was the worst.”

Jeffrey Goldberg also claims a conversation with McCain in which he asserted that, even though an Iraq war supporter, he had become frustrated with the effort to “renovate a despotic Middle Eastern country.” As he put it, “theory of the American case was no match for the heartbreaking Middle East reality,” which is yet another defense of U.S. interventionism with the caveat that the Arabs might not be ready to make good use of the largesse. Elsewhere Goldberg, echoing McCain, has attributed the disaster in Iraq to the “incompetence of the Bush Administration,” not to the policy of regime change itself, presumably because the Pentagon was unsuccessful at killing enough Arabs quickly enough to suit the neoconservatives. McCain’s reported response to Goldberg’s equivocation about Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was “But genocide! Genocide!”

Given the title of the article, Goldberg inevitably turns to the holocaust with McCain: “He said that, in the post holocaust world, all civilized people, and the governments of all civilized nations, should be intolerant of leaders who commit verified acts of genocide… I told him then that he would most definitely pass the Anne Frank test… [which] is actually a single question: ‘Which non-Jewish friends would risk their lives to hide us should the Nazis ever return?’”

After some additional blather Goldberg enthuses that he was “… pretty sure [McCain would] kill Nazis to defend Anne Frank.” McCain smiled and responded “It would be an honor and a privilege.”

It would be tough to figure out where to go from there, but Goldberg was steering a steady course. He saw two “sterling qualities’ in McCain. Number one was his “visceral antipathy for powerful men who abuse powerless people.” The second quality was “self-doubt,” how “in moments of great testing, it is possible for any human, including the bravest human, to fail.”

The second quality is a bit hard to discern in McCain, whose dogged pursuit of whole nations full of alleged enemies has left a trail of bodies spanning the globe, but it is the first virtue that is hardest to reconcile with the reality of a man who epitomized America’s reckless brutality in its overseas military ventures since 9/11. The tally runs Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya with ongoing adventures in Somalia and Syria. Iran, Russia, and China are pending, all of which were on McCain’s enemies list.

As many as three million Muslims have died as a direct result of the series of wars, endorsed by McCain and Goldberg, that began in late 2001 and have continued to this day. Remarkably, not a single one of the wars initiated over that time period has actually ended with either victory or some return to normalcy. Whole countries lie in ruins and millions of people have been driven from their homes, creating an unsustainable refugee crisis, while the United States wallows in unsustainable debt.

American born but Israeli by choice Goldberg, a leading Zionist voice who was once in the Israel Defense Force where he served as a prison guard, celebrates McCain in full knowledge that his tribe is not the one that is dying, hence the seal of approval granted to the senator by virtue of his successful completion of the Anne Frank Test. Goldberg’s body of work as a journalist frequently includes discussions of Israel, anti-Semitism and the threats posed by Israel’s numerous enemies. Glenn Greenwald has called Goldberg “one of the leading media cheerleaders for the attack on Iraq,” having “compiled a record of humiliating falsehood-dissemination in the run-up to the war that rivaled Judy Miller’s both in terms of recklessness and destructive impact.”

One might well object to Goldberg’s formulation of what constitutes decent human behavior, wrapped as it is around a perpetual victimhood holocaust metaphor that inevitably is used in extenso to justify every atrocity committed by the Jewish State. Goldberg should perhaps try examining his “test” in a number of different versions that would move him outside of his tribal comfort zone. He might ask if, in a hypothetical state run by those who believe the Talmud and Torah to be the true word of God, he would hide Christians fleeing from a government that considered it acceptable to kill non-Jews and that gentiles are little more than beasts, fit to serve as slaves for true believers. To reprise for Goldberg the question he posed to McCain, would he approve that the Jewish persecutors should be killed to protect the innocent?

Or maybe a better example, as it would fit in with Goldberg’s experience as a prison guard, might be the case of a teenage Palestinian fleeing, seeking refuge from a rampaging group of armed settlers inspired by mass murderer Baruch Goldstein or by members of a unit in the Israeli Army. Knowing that many Israelis regard someone throwing a stone or shouting at police as a terrorist and that the Jewish State’s government has an abominable record for killing, beating and imprisoning children, would he open his door? And what would McCain do if he were still around given that the ethnic cleansing being engaged in by Israel on the Palestinians may not be full scale genocide, but it is very close in principle, reflecting the Israeli government desire to make the Palestinians a non-people?

In short, Goldberg should ask himself whether his Anne Frank Test has universal applicability or is it something that is only for Jews. I rather suspect that the test is little more than a word game that empowered Jews like Goldberg use to underline their special status with the ambitious and gullible like Senator John McCain. That McCain enthusiastically became Goldberg’s patsy is at least one good reason that we should all be grateful that he never was elected president.

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

September 19, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , | 4 Comments