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Venezuela: Amnesty International in Service of Empire

By Roger D. Harris | Dissident Voice | May 18, 2019

Uncle Sam has a problem in his South American “backyard” with those uppity Venezuelans who insisted on democratically electing Nicolás Maduro as their president instead of by-passing the electoral process and installing the unelected US asset Juan Guaidó. No matter, Amnesty International has come to the rescue with a full-throated defense of US imperialism:

Faced with grave human rights violations, shortages of medicines and food and generalized violence in Venezuela, there is an urgent hunger for justice. The crimes against humanity probably committed by the authorities must not go unpunished.

— Erika Guevara-Rosas, America’s director at Amnesty International

Amnesty International fails in its broadside to put its claims against the Maduro government in the context of a concerted regime-change campaign, which amounts to war, by the bully from the north. The US is waging an illegal war against Venezuela and Amnesty International’s broadside leaves out this inconvenient fact, egregiously even omitting any mention of sanctions.

As human rights activist Chuck Kaufman of the Alliance for Global Justice noted about Amnesty International (AI): “They don’t seem to even care about their credibility anymore.” A more credible and honest account of what is unfolding in Venezuela, than the hatchet job presented in AI’s May 14th Venezuela: Crimes against humanity require a vigorous response from the international justice system, would have also noted along with the alleged transgressions of the Maduro government:

  • Grave human rights violations. Economists Mark Weisbrot of the Center for Economic and Policy Research and Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University recently reported that US sanctions on Venezuela are responsible for tens of thousands of deaths. This is the price being exacted on Venezuela, with a prediction for worse to come, for the regime change that AI is implicitly promoting.
  • Shortages of medicines and food. Since 2015, when US President Obama first instituted them, the US has been imposing ever more crippling illegal sanctions on Venezuela expressly to create misery for the population in the hope that it would then turn against their own democratically elected government. The sanctions are specifically designed to suffocate the economy so that Venezuela cannot address its problems. The US government boasts about the impacts of sanctions. Playing the good cop to the US role as bad cop, AI laments the very conditions they are tacitly promoting in asking for ever increasing “punishments.” New US sanctions on Venezuela were imposed on May 10th.
  • Generalized violence. The US government has repeatedly and unapologetically threatened military intervention in Venezuela if the elected government doesn’t abdicate. Short of attacking militarily, the US has waged war against Venezuela by economic and diplomatic means, not to mention low-intensity warfare such as cyber attacks. The extreme right wing opposition has called for the extra-legal overthrow of the government and has eschewed electoral means for effecting political change. AI is correct in noting that since 2017 new violence has been inflicted on the Venezuelan people but fails to note the role of the opposition in provoking that violence with their guarimbas and other actions. Meanwhile Guaidó, whose popular support in Venezuela is bottoming out, is reported sending his envoy to meet with the US Southern Command to “coordinate.”

How is it possible that an organization purporting to stand for human rights and global justice can so blithely ignore facts that do not fit into their narrative and so obsequiously parrot the Trump-Pompeo-Bolton-Abrams talking points? Why would AI go so far as to meet with the self-appointed Guaidó and then within days issue a report condemning the Maduro government, without also investigating the other side in the conflict?

Unfortunately, this is not the first time AI has shown an imperial bias as it has regarding US-backed regime-change projects in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Nicaragua.

Objectively deconstructing the many allegations (e.g., “more than 8,000 extrajudicial executions by the security forces”) made against Venezuela in the AI broadside and its accompanying report remains to be done. Unfortunately, the Empire has a surfeit of resources to churn out propaganda compared to the ability to counter it by genuine humanitarian groups. AI alone has an annual budget of over $300 million. According to sources cited by Wikipedia, AI receives grants from the US State Department, the European Commission, and other governments along with the Rockefeller Foundation.

To conclude, AI’s broadside calls for justice about as often as it calls for punishment with the subtext that punishment of the Empire’s victims is justice. Were AI truly concerned about justice, rather than justifying another US regime-change operation, they would champion the following:

  • Ending the unilateral sanctions by the US on Venezuela, which are illegal under the charters of the United Nations and the Organization of American States.
  • Supporting dialogue between the elected government and the opposition as has been promoted by Mexico, Uruguay, Pope Francis, and most recently by Norway.
  • Condemning regime-change activities and interference in Venezuela’s internal affairs and actively rejecting the US government’s aggressive stance as articulated by US VP Pence: “This is no time for dialogue. This is time for action.”
  • Respecting the sovereignty of Venezuela and restoring normal diplomatic relations between the US and Venezuela.

Roger D. Harris is active in the 33-year-old human rights organization Task Force on the Americas and is active with the Campaign to End US-Canadian Sanctions Against Venezuela 

May 20, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 1 Comment

Year of selective blindness: Russian journalist still in Ukrainian jail under bogus treason charges

A rally in support of Kirill Vyshynsky in Moscow. ©Sputnik / Aleksey Kudenko
By Alexandre Antonov | RT | May 15, 2019

Exactly a year ago the head of a Russian-Ukrainian news agency was snatched in Kiev and put in jail under a charge of high treason. Western champions of media rights have shown spectacular will to ignore the scandalous case.

Being a journalist in a nation where the government can put you in jail for unfavorable reporting is understandably risky, but at least one can hope to find international support after getting into trouble. Foreign governments and international organizations would cry foul and try to pressure the persecutors.

Well, Kirill Vyshinsky didn’t get this response. On March 15, 2018 he was arrested by agents of the SBU, Ukraine’s powerful national security agency, and charged with treason. His alleged crime was that as head of a Russian-Ukrainian news agency he waged “information warfare” against Ukraine, or at least that’s what the SBU said at the time. The accusation may result in a 15 year jail term.

Vyshinsky has been kept in pre-trial detention since, denied bail or hospital treatment and restricted in visitation rights. The prosecution managed to formulate an 80-page indictment by March, listing 72 stories and opinion pieces published by the news agency since 2014, which the prosecution claims to be manipulative or false.

The journalist insists the accusations are absurd. How can a factually accurate news report about Crimea changing its time zone to that of Moscow or an opinion piece giving a historic overview of referenda held in Ukraine since gaining independence in 1991 be anti-Ukrainian, he argued. The prosecutors said even factually accurate stories can be “anti-Ukrainian in nature.”

Regardless of one’s attitude to what happened between Ukraine and Russia during and after the Maidan mass protests, accurate reporting of facts should not be criminalized. Just imagine what would happen, for example, if in 1999 Russia arrested and put on trial the head of the BBC Russian service, saying the British broadcaster’s coverage of the freshly reignited hostilities in Chechnya was “anti-Russian.” All hell would break loose, and rightfully so.

On Wednesday, there was a protest in front of the Ukrainian embassy in Moscow, calling on Kiev to free Vyshinsky. And a deafening silence from the usual Western defenders of media freedom. Amnesty International, for example, doesn’t mention Vyshinsky’s name on its website at all – not even on the Russian-language and Ukrainian-language versions.

Officials from the Organization for Security Cooperation in Europe and International Federation of Journalists voiced concern about Vyshinsky’s continued incarceration when asked for comments by the Russian media. But the organizations didn’t release any official statements on the occasion of the anniversary. Neither did the Committee to Protect Journalists, although it did report the start of Vyshynsky’s trial in early April.

As for mainstream media in the West, they don’t seem to be particularly interested in their Russian-Ukrainian colleague. Unless, of course, there is a chance to brand him a Russian propagandist who may threaten America’s democracy. A story that the Daily Beast ran in March says Vyshinsky’s wife hired US political consultant Ezra Friedlander to lobby for the journalist’s release in Ukraine, and implied that this may have compromised Friedlander’s other clients, including House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler. In other words, red-baiting at its best.

Apparently, not all reporters are made equal in the eyes of the West. There are those that deserve protection. And there are people like Vyshinsky, or WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange, who are not really reporters – just some guys telling true but unwelcomed facts about the US and its allies. They deserve to rot in jail, right?

May 15, 2019 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment

How Amnesty International is reinforcing Trump’s regime-change propaganda against Venezuela

By Joe Emersberger | The Canary | February 26, 2019

Amnesty International‘s reports, by their nature, require readers to trust their honesty and impartiality. But there is ample reason not to trust them. Because Amnesty has ignored grave human rights abuses in plain sight in Venezuela while demonizing supporters of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

Shortly after meeting with Juan Guaidó (whom Donald Trump and a new Iraq-style Coalition of the Willing have anointed as Venezuela’s interim president), Amnesty put out a report that reads like a barely disguised attempt to reinforce, from a ‘human rights’ angle, the military threats against Venezuela from Trump and his henchmen.

Team Trump as Venezuela’s “Only hope”?

Erika Guevara-Rosas, Amnesty’s Americas director, said:

International justice is the only hope for victims of human rights violations in Venezuela. It is time to activate all available mechanisms to prevent further atrocities.

And the report stated that:

[C]ountries genuinely concerned about the human rights situation in Venezuela should explore the application of universal jurisdiction.

Amnesty’s allegations about Venezuela are serious and, if true, deserve condemnation. But there are numerous reasons to question the group’s honesty, impartiality, and public statements.

Somebody should ask Amnesty, for example, to list the countries which are “genuinely concerned”. How many Saudiarming countries like the US, UK, Canada, and France are on that list?

As Amnesty released this report, the threat of a US military attack on Venezuela disguised a “humanitarian aid delivery” could not be more obvious. Never mind that Venezuela is, in fact, receiving foreign aid with authorization from the Maduro government. US National Security Advisor John Bolton and Senator Marco Rubio have repeatedly made Mafioso-like threats against Venezuela’s military and Maduro. Trump himself has been repeatedly threatening a military “option” since 2017 (the year he reportedly asked “Why are we not at war with Venezuela?”).

Amnesty ignorning Trump’s attack on right to health and food

At the same time, Amnesty has refused to denounce Trump’s financial sanctions which have been in place since August 2017 and whose impact on the entire economy has been crippling. By now, the sanctions have cost Venezuela’s government well over $6bn in revenues in an economy that imported $11.7bn in goods in 2018. Before the deep and sustained collapse in oil prices (and oil production, which nose-dived as the sanctions began), Venezuela’s economy had been importing about $2bn a year in medicines.

It is important to remember that, in Venezuela’s case, Amnesty has been very explicit in pointing to economic problems as human rights abuses. Last year, when they wrote to me refusing to denounce Trump’s sanctions, Amnesty said:

Amnesty International does not take a position on the current application of these sanctions but rather emphasizes the urgent need to address the serious crisis of the right to health and food which Venezuela is facing. In terms of human rights, it is the Venezuelan state’s responsibility to resolve this.

As I’ve noted at The Canary, Amnesty has now updated its position on Trump’s sanctions. It absurdly asks Trump to please be careful and “monitor” the impact of new sanctions that he imposed in January. The new sanctions directly cut off revenues that the Venezuelan government obtained from sales to the US. Amnesty’s continued refusal to acknowledge that a devastating attack on the Venezuelan “right to health and food” has been ongoing since August 2017 is appalling. And that alone is an excellent reason to doubt the honesty and impartiality of their work on Venezuela. Because any credible human rights group would demand an immediate end to all the economic sanctions Trump has imposed.

Violent crime in Venezuela

Amnesty also stated in its latest report that:

The more impoverished areas of Caracas and other parts of the country were particularly affected and stigmatized, registering the highest numbers of victims, who were later presented as ‘criminals’ killed in clashes with the authorities.

There’s no doubt that Venezuela’s security forces have committed crimes. The Maduro government has conceded as much. And Venezuelan police officers were arrested for crimes perpetrated during the violent protests of 2017. In June 2017, Defense Minster Vladimir Padrino López publicly warned security forces in remarks broadcast on state TV that he didn’t “want to see one more national guard perpetrate an atrocity”. Those protests were the fifth US-backed effort to oust the government by force since 2002. Trump is now leading the sixth.

It’s also important to remember that Venezuelan security forces have confronted a very high homicide rate (since long before the current government came to power) and police officer death rate. At the same time, the country has been plagued by violent US-backed protesters for years, who have done things like burn Afro-Venezuelans alive in the streets and murder police officers. And today, it faces the very grave threat of US invasion that would install the most violent opposition groups into power.

We can only imagine how security forces in a country like the UK would behave under the above conditions. Young men have been sent to prison in Britain, for example, simply for writing Facebook posts that advocate riots. I made some of these points last year in response to a similar UN report that was hyped by Reuters.

Venezuela’s very real homicide problem (and violent US-backed opposition problem) could indeed allow security forces to pass off extrajudicial executions as “fighting crime” or as self-defense. But it can also allow apparently partisan groups like Amnesty to distort the situation in support of Trump’s regime-change agenda.

Propaganda groundwork for dirty war on Maduro supporters?

Amnesty said in its report that:

There is a strong presence of pro-Nicolás Maduro armed groups (commonly known as “colectivos”) in these areas, where residents depend to a large extent on the currently limited state programs to distribute staple foods.

Again, the “limited state programs” would be the ones Trump has been viciously attacking through sanctions since 2017. Also notice how Amnesty casts as thugs the organized poor people distributing food to millions of people – up to 60% of households according to an opposition-aligned pollster (Datanálisis).

As George Ciccariello-Maher explained in We Created Chavez, the history of poor people organizing and arming themselves (quite understandably) for self-defense in Venezuela’s poorest neighborhoods goes back decades. It’s not new.

It is Maduro’s supporters in poor neighborhoods and in the countryside, however, who – armed or not – will be violently targeted if the US-backed opposition takes power; especially if they do so in a coup or through a US invasion. Amnesty appears to have little concern about “stigmatizing” them, though, and negligible concern about Trump’s attack on their “right to health and food”.

All of the reasons above make a powerful case for questioning the integrity and objectivity of Amnesty when it comes to Venezuela. And for the sake of peace and justice, we should hold Amnesty to much higher standards.

March 1, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , | 1 Comment

Amnesty International’s Troubling Collaboration with UK & US Intelligence

Propaganda image from the cover of AI’s report entitled, ‘Squeezing the Life Out of Yarmouk: War Crimes Against Besieged Civilians’,
one of many designed to fit hand-in-glove with the joint US and UK covert regime change operation deployed against Syria since 2011.
By Alexander Rubinstein | Mint Press News | January 17, 2019

Amnesty International, the eminent human-rights non-governmental organization, is widely known for its advocacy in that realm. It produces reports critical of the Israeli occupation in Palestine and the Saudi-led war on Yemen. But it also publishes a steady flow of indictments against countries that don’t play ball with Washington — countries like Iran, China, Venezuela, Nicaragua, North Korea and more. Those reports amplify the drumbeat for a “humanitarian” intervention in those nations.

Amnesty’s stellar image as a global defender of human rights runs counter to its early days when the British Foreign Office was believed to be censoring reports critical of the British empire. Peter Benenson, the co-founder of Amnesty, had deep ties to the British Foreign Office and Colonial Office while another co-founder, Luis Kutner, informed the FBI of a gun cache at Black Panther leader Fred Hampton’s home weeks before he was killed by the Bureau in a gun raid.

These troubling connections contradict Amnesty’s image as a benevolent defender of human rights and reveal key figures at the organization during its early years to be less concerned with human dignity and more concerned with the dignity of the United States and United Kingdom’s image in the world.

A conflicted beginning

Amnesty’s Benenson, an avowed anti-communist, hailed from a military intelligence background. He pledged that Amnesty would be independent of government influence and would represent prisoners in the East, West, and global South alike.

But during the 1960s the U.K. was withdrawing from its colonies and the Foreign Office and Colonial Office were hungry for information from human-rights activists about the situations on the ground. In 1963, the Foreign Office instructed its operatives abroad to provide “discreet support” for Amnesty’s campaigns.

Also that year, Benenson wrote to Colonial Office Minister Lord Lansdowne a proposal to prop up a “refugee counsellor” on the border of present-day Botswana and apartheid South Africa. That counsel was to assist refugees only, and explicitly avoid aiding anti-apartheid activists. “Communist influence should not be allowed to spread in this part of Africa, and in the present delicate situation, Amnesty International would wish to support Her Majesty’s Government in any such policy,” Benenson wrote. The next year, Amnesty ceased its support for anti-apartheid icon and the first president of a free South Africa, Nelson Mandela.

The following year, in 1964, Benenson enlisted the Foreign Office’s assistance in obtaining a visa to Haiti. The Foreign Office secured the visa and wrote to its Haiti representative Alan Elgar saying it “support[ed] the aims of Amnesty International.” There, Benenson went undercover as a painter, as Minister of State Walter Padley told him prior to his departure that “We shall have to be a little careful not to give the Haitians the impression that your visit is actually sponsored by Her Majesty’s Government.”

The New York Times exposed the ruse, leading some officials to claim ignorance; Elgar, for example, said he was “shocked by Benenson’s antics.” Benenson apologized to Minister Padley, saying “I really do not know why the New York Times, which is generally a responsible newspaper, should be doing this sort of thing over Haiti.”

Letting politics creep into mission

In 1966, an Amnesty report on the British colony of Aden, a port city in present-day Yemen, detailed the British government’s torture of detainees at the Ras Morbut interrogation center. Prisoners there were stripped naked during interrogations, were forced to sit on poles that entered their anus, had their genitals twisted, cigarettes burned on their face, and were kept in cells where feces and urine covered the floor.

The report was never released, however. Benenson said that Amnesty general secretary Robert Swann had censored it to please the Foreign Office, but Amnesty co-founder Eric Baker said Benenson and Swann had met with the Foreign Office and agreed to keep the report under wraps in exchange for reforms. At the time, Lord Chancellor Gerald Gardiner wrote to Prime Minister Harold Wilson that “Amnesty held the [report] as long as they could simply because Peter Benenson did not want to do anything to hurt a Labour government.”

Then something changed. Benenson went to Aden and was horrified by what he found, writing “I never came upon an uglier picture than that which met my eyes in Aden,” despite his “many years spent in the personal investigation of repression.”

A tangled web

As all of this was unfolding, a similar funding scandal was developing that would rock Amnesty to its core. Polly Toynbee, a 20-year-old Amnesty volunteer, was in Nigeria and Southern Rhodesia, the British colony in Zimbabwe, which was at the time ruled by the white settler minority. There, Toynbee delivered funds to prisoner families with a seemingly endless supply of cash. Toynbee said that Benenson met with her there and admitted that the money was coming from the British government.

Toynbee and others were forced to leave Rhodesia in March 1966. On her way out, she grabbed documents from an abandoned safe including letters from Benenson to senior Amnesty officials working in the country that detailed Benenson’s request to Prime Minister Wilson for money, which had been received months prior.

In 1967 it was revealed that the CIA had established and was covertly funding another human rights organization founded in the early 1960s, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) through an American affiliate, the American Fund for Free Jurists Inc.

Benenson had founded, alongside Amnesty, the U.K. branch of the ICJ, called Justice. Amnesty international secretariat, Sean MacBride, was also the secretary-general of ICJ.

Then, the “Harry letters” hit the press. Officially, Amnesty denied knowledge of the payments from Wilson’s government. But Benenson admitted that their work in Rhodesia had been funded by the government, and returned the funds out of his own pocket. He wrote to Lord Chancellor Gardiner that he did it so as not to “jeopardize the political reputation” of those involved. Benenson then returned unspent funds from his two other human-rights organizations, Justice (the U.K. branch of the CIA-founded ICJ) and the Human Rights Advisory Service.

Benenson’s behavior in the wake of the revelations about the “Harry letters” infuriated his Amnesty colleagues. Some of them would go on to claim that he suffered from mental illness. One staffer wrote:

Peter Benenson has been levelling accusations, which can only have the result of discrediting the organisation which he has founded and to which he dedicated himself. … All this began after soon after he came back from Aden, and it seems likely that the nervous shock which he felt at the brutality shown by some elements of the British army there had some unbalancing effect on his judgment.

Later that year, Benenson stepped down as president of Amnesty in protest of its London office being surveilled and infiltrated by British intelligence — at least according to him. Later that month, Sean MacBride, the Amnesty official and ICJ operative, submitted a report to an Amnesty conference that denounced Benenson’s “erratic actions.” Benenson boycotted the conference, opting to submit a resolution demanding MacBride’s resignation over the CIA funding of ICJ.

Amnesty and the British government then suspended ties. The rights group then promised to “not only be independent and impartial but must not be put into a position where anything else could even be alleged” about its collusion with governments in 1967.

Amnesty’s role in the death of Black Panther Fred Hampton

But two years later, senior Amnesty officials engaged in far more troubling coordination with Western intelligence agencies.

FBI documents, released by the Bureau in the spring of 2018 as a part of a series of disclosures of documents pertaining to the assassination of President John Kennedy, detail Amnesty International’s role in the killing of Black Panther Party (BPP) Deputy Chairman Fred Hampton, the 21-year-old up-and-coming black liberation icon — a killing that was widely believed to be an assassination but was ruled officially as a justifiable homicide.

Amnesty International co-founder Luis Kutner attended a November 23, 1969 speech of Hampton’s delivered at the University of Illinois.

During the speech, Hampton described the BPP “as a revolutionary party” and “indicated that the party has guns to be used for peace and self-defense, and these guns are at the Hampton residence as well as BPP headquarters,” according to the FBI document.

“Kutner has reached the point where he would like to take legal action to silence the BPP,” the FBI wrote. “Kutner concluded by stating that he believed speakers like Hampton were psychotic, and it is only when they are faced with a court action that they stop their “rantings and ravings.”

The FBI internal report on Kutner’s testimony cited above was issued on December 1, 1969. Two days later, the FBI, alongside the Chicago Police Department, conducted a firearms raid on Hampton’s residence. When Hampton came home for the day, FBI informant William O’Neal slipped a barbiturate sleeping pill into his drink before leaving.

At 4:00 a.m. on December 4, police and FBI stormed into the apartment, instantly shooting a BPP guard. Due to reflexive convulsions related to death, the guard convulsed and pulled the trigger on a shotgun he was carrying – the only time a Black Panther member fired a gun during the raid. Authorities then opened fire on Hampton, who was in bed sleeping with his nine-month pregnant fiancee. Hampton is believed to have survived until two shots were fired at point-blank range towards his head.

Kutner formed the “Friends of the FBI” group, an organization “formed to combat criticism of the Federal Bureau of Investigations,” according to the New York Times, after its covert campaign to disrupt leftists movements — COINTELPRO — was revealed. He also went on to operate in a number of theaters that saw heavy involvement from the CIA — including work Kutner did to undermine Congolese Prime Minister and staunch anti-imperialist Patrice Lumumba — and represented the Dalai Lama, who was provided $1.7 million a year by the CIA in the 1960s.

While Amnesty International’s shady operations in the 1960s might seem like ancient history at this point, they serve as an important reminder of the role that non-governmental organizations often play in furthering the objectives of governments of the nations where they are based.

Alexander Rubinstein is a staff writer for MintPress News based in Washington, DC. He reports on police, prisons and protests in the United States and the United States’ policing of the world. He previously reported for RT and Sputnik News.

January 19, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

DPRK Is Still Being Persecuted For “Violating Human Rights”

By Konstantin Asmolov – New Eastern Outlook – 20.12.2018

The ties between South and North Koreas are becoming closer and there are fewer tensions in the relationship between DPRK and the USA. That often makes us forget that, though it was rather the Democrats’ strategy to pick on North Korea for violating human rights, the pressure on Pyongyang for this reason has merely become less blatant.

For example, on 23 October 2018, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in DPRK, Tomás Ojea Quintana, announced that over the past year many changes had taken place on the Korean Peninsula, but the situation with human rights in DPRK remained the same. He referred to testimonies, made by defectors from North Korea, when he said that ordinary North Korean inhabitants were starving and had no access to medical services due to lack of money. During his speech he even showed a padlock, which had been given to him as a gift by a teenage defector from North Korea, and said that specifically the United Nations had the key to improving the human rights situation in DPRK.

On 15 November, the UN General Assembly Third Committee on human rights, humanitarian affairs and social matters unanimously (without a vote) approved yet another resolution, put forward by Japan and the European Union, condemning DPRK for violating human rights. The UN has been adopting such resolutions since 2005, and the latest resolution happens to be the 14th one. And just as the resolutions approved earlier, it condemns DPRK for constant, systematic, widespread and grave violations of human rights in the north of the Korean Peninsula. It demands, among other things, that all labor camps be immediately closed, all prisoners freed, and all parties, responsible for violating human rights, be held responsible. The authors of the document urge for the situation in DPRK to be resolved in the International Criminal Court; for the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to be brought to justice, and for concrete measures to be taken on this issue, with due consideration to be given to the conclusions reached by the UN Commission of Inquiry (COI) to investigate violations of human rights in DPRK (as it turns out the notorious 2014 report was, for the most part, based on false testimonies).

In reality, no serious changes were made to the document, which, according to South Korean media sources, lends evidence to the idea that no progress has been made to resolve human rights issues in North Korea, and does not illustrate the fact that such resolutions are produced regardless of the reality on the ground in North Korea. Still, the UN Committee on humanitarian affairs “has welcomed” Pyongyang’s attempts to normalize diplomatic relations with the international community and to abide by the inter-Korean agreements on families split up by the conflict.

In response, North Korea’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Kim Song, stated that discussions about human rights violations in DPRK were out of the question, and that the international community was meddling in internal affairs of a sovereign nation. China, Russia, Syria, Myanmar and other countries also did not support the resolution, but they did not demand for its approval to be put to a vote. They did not do so because the international community cannot demand that Pyongyang abide by its conditions, and the pressure applied by the resolution on North Korea is not great enough to start a confrontation over it. DPRK media outlets also called the resolution a thinly veiled campaign to tarnish North Korea’s reputation, and stated that the step taken by the UN was aimed at halting the current trend towards better dialogue and peace.

In November 2018, Moon Jong In, a special advisor to the South Korean President on issues connected with diplomacy and unification, advised the DPRK leader to start focusing on human rights issues, and to better still close labor camps. In his opinion, any rhetoric voiced by Kim Jong-un on human rights issues can substantially help Pyongyang gain more trust from the international community. Quoting the statement made by Moon Jong In, Amnesty International estimated (it would be interesting to know how) that there are more than 130,000 political prisoners in North Korea. And on 31 October 2018, experts from the international organization Human Rights Watch published an 86-page report, entitled “You Cry at Night but Don’t Know Why: Sexual Violence against Women in North Korea”, which stated that North Korean officials used the lawless rape of women as a mechanism of repression. We will dedicate a separate article to the analysis of this report, as it is a good example of how broad interpretations of the meaning of the word “rape”, and inaccurate information selection help transform DPRK into an analogue of those African nations where mass rape is actually part of repression means, used by authorities.

On 26 November, the main DPRK newspaper commented on the Human Rights Watch report and the repeated allusions to this issue, by noting that the USA had been using these mind games in order to gain concessions from DPRK in negotiations and to destabilize the North Korean regime. The paper also reported that, currently in the US, it is being asserted that the stumbling block in the relationship between the USA and DPRK is the nuclear issue. But once this issue is resolved to the benefit of Washington, the US will use the human rights violation issue or another reason to apply pressure on DPRK to change its regime.

On 27 November, the international news agency France-Presse announced that Washington approached the UN Security Council with a request to hold a meeting on the human rights issues in North Korea on 10 December. Such meetings have taken place since 2014, and despite objections from Beijing, the request has already received support from 9 nation-participants, which is essential for its approval.

DPRK’s Ambassador to the United Nations once again expressed regret at the fact that the UN Security Council followed orders from Washington blindly, and highlighted that the decision would not have a favorable effect on the outcomes of diplomatic negotiations between the international community and Pyongyang.

Along with international sanctions, imposed in response to the violations, unilateral ones are also being used. Hence, on 29 November, in order to reinforce the fight against human trafficking, Donald Trump signed an executive order to ban provision of non-humanitarian and non-trade financial assistance to a number of countries in year 2019. Eighteen countries were placed in this banned list, which includes DPRK, China, Iran, South Sudan, Eritrea, Venezuela and even the Russian Federation. They were included, because their local authorities failed to make enough effort to combat human trafficking, and these restrictions will remain in place until the nations take decisive action. Trump appealed to the International Monetary Fund and development banks to not offer credit lines to the previously mentioned nations.

Every year, the USA publishes a report on human trafficking, and every time DPRK, for 16 years in a row now, is listed as a nation which actively engages in human trafficking. Since 2003, the country has received the lowest rating, which means that it is actively involved in human trafficking within its borders, and that local authorities take no measures to resolve this issue. In the case of DPRK, “slave trade” usually refers to the fate of North Korean defectors to China, who end up in inhumane conditions on account of the efforts made by the so-called “brokers” that are often protected by South Korean NGOs.

As the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in DPRK, Tomás Ojea Quintana, stated, the United Nations would embrace closer ties between the two Koreas, but human rights violations were impossible to ignore. The author urges the readers to remember this statement and also recall it when answering the question “Will DPRK be left alone after it (let us say this is possible) fulfills the denuclearization requirements?” After all, in one possible scenario any mistake on North Korea’s part is presented as deplorable, but in another, as an unfortunate incident, which is easily forgotten. It is probably not worth explaining what the reaction of the international community would have been if the diplomatic mission where a dissident was dismembered had been a North Korean and not a Saudi one.

Konstantin Asmolov, PhD in History, Leading Research Fellow at the Center for Korean Studies of the Institute of Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

December 20, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Nobel Peace Prize in Support of War

By Terje Maloy | OffGuardian | December 6, 2018

On December 10, the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony will be held in Oslo, the capital of Norway. This analysis will try to look at how the prize fits in the bigger picture, but first, some general background is appropriate:

Norway is a member of NATO and has close ties to the United States and Great Britain. The political, economic and bureaucratic elites are firmly integrated in transatlantic networks, a nexus of economic connections, think tanks, international institutions, media and a thousand other ties that bind. They tend to identify with the liberal wing of the empire, (i.e. the Democrats, not the Republicans), but will work with any US administration. The members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee are selected by the Norwegian parliament, and the Committee is nominally independent.

Despite being considered – and where the population considers itself – a ‘peace nation’, there are few countries that have eagerly joined more wars than Norway, from the attack on Yugoslavia in 1999, Afghanistan 2001, the occupation of Iraq, Mali, Libya 2011 and the ongoing occupation of Syria. Norway spends large sums of money supporting the joint Western effort to control the rest of the world through comprador intermediaries in non-governmental organizations.

This analysis will discuss some (overlapping) points about the Nobel Peace Prize:

  1. The prize reinforces certain grand narratives, the most important one being We are the good, and thus have the right to decide the fate of the rest of the world.
  2. It creates symbols for regime change operations. It beatifies modern day ‘good natives’ complaining about cruel treatment and pleading for the West to do something to liberate them (but are often remarkably unable to see Western abuses).
  3. It reinforces general reasons to start wars, by making specific themes very important at the same time they are being used to justify military action.
  4. It reinforces the narrative that enemy fights with illegal and cruel weapons. The focus on chemical weapons, as opposed to napalm or sanctions, is one example.
  5. It sanctifies peace treaties that are more like unilateral surrenders, advantageous to Western imperialism and capitalist interests.
  6. For a bunch of peaceful people, the prize winners are remarkably eager for war and bloody interventions.
  7. Some other points + Conclusion.

1. WE ARE THE GOOD, AND THUS HAVE THE RIGHT TO DECIDE THE FATE OF THE REST OF THE WORLD

(Photo: / White House, Samantha Appleton /Public Domain)

The Nobel Peace Prize gets its prestige and press coverage because it reinforces several big narratives. If it should deviate too much from what the powerful want, it would be ignored. Of prime importance is the notion that we are the good, and we have a monopoly on interpreting reality and to decide what is important. (‘We’ in this context being people in the West, and by extension their governments and leaders). During the Cold War, the prize had a similar function. It would be interesting to take a closer look at it, but for practical purposes this analysis will mostly be limited the last 30 years. Once you start to notice certain basic themes, they are rather obvious. To put it pointedly, the Nobel Peace Prize tries to aid regime changes to achieve the Empire’s aims where it is possible to avoid direct war, but it will aid in confirming the narrative that our troops are good guys.

This explains why Western leaders so often get the prize. The point is creating an impression that there exists a more humane possibility within our current unjust world system. When they receive it, what they have actually done is not an issue. Hence the award to people like Jimmy Carter (winner 2002); as president he instigated several bloody covert interventions in Central-America, Africa and of course the Islamist fighters in Afghanistan, but has since then opposed direct US wars; or Al Gore (winner 2007), who when he was vice president didn’t shy away from using the military as a foreign policy tool (see part 7). The prize to Barack Obama (winner 2009) can be placed here.

But the main use of the prize is to create support in Western liberal opinion for interventions that would otherwise be naked imperialistic aggression.

2. A FOCUS FOR REGIME CHANGE OPERATIONS

Where a Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to a dissident of a non-western country, the CIA or the Pentagon (see point 3) often has a task force working on cracking the exact same country.

The winners have varying degrees of internal appeal in the targeted country, but the main purpose in choosing these people is not to boost their standing internally, but to justify attempts at regime change to Western liberal public opinion. Without the focus on these martyrs, these operations would look suspiciously like old style colonial domination.

Hence the beatification of Aung San Suu Kyi (winner 1991) coincided with a concerted campaign to get control over a recalcitrant, but very strategic country. Suu Kyi is in many ways typical of the people the Committee prefers. She is a known entity, having conspicuously strong personal connections to the former colonial power – Oxford educated, married to a British citizen, her children are British citizens, etc. Signaling in which direction her political compass was oriented, she asked the world to use the old colonial name Burma instead of Myanmar. She asked for harsh measures against her own country (for its own good) fitting hand in glove with the US strategy actually used. In fact, all means would be permissible to use against this regime imprisoning a modern day saint.

The Nobel Prize to Suu Kyi played an invaluable role in creating huge support, especially on the liberal left, for the draconian economic sanctions against an otherwise fairly obscure country. And maybe many of her Western supporters actually did believe that the US and UK could fund her with large sums of money and create entire NGO-networks for her with the expressed goal of subverting a sovereign nation’s government, and her intentions to still be pure and progressive.

Myanmar is immensely rich in natural resources and is positioned between China and the Indian Ocean, and China and India. Any significant land connection between these two 21st century great powers would have to go through Myanmar to avoid the Himalayas. It is also of great Chinese interest as a transit country to the Indian Ocean. Therefore, the country was targeted with a multi-approach regime change operation.

A massive press campaign was arranged over several decades, a plethora of NGOs financed, whilst “former” CIA-agents now turned missionaries were working with the ethnic guerilla forces to create military pressure. In the usual attempt to concentrate all opposition into a joint force, extreme right wing religious fanatics became the spearhead in this campaign. The sanctions imposed on Myanmar, precluded any economic development and doomed the population to a life of crushing poverty.

One could interpret the recent calls to take the prize back from Suu Kuy as disappointed buyers not getting what they paid for.

We can go forward to 2010, when a Chinese citizen, Liu Xiaobo, won the prize. There were no surprises for what future was envisaged for China:

It took Hong Kong 100 years to become what it is. Given the size of China, certainly it would need 300 years of colonisation for it to become like what Hong Kong is today. I even doubt whether 300 years would be enough.”

The lines between creating justification for a covert regime change operation and next step, a direct war, is blurry. But when required, the Prize Committee can step in to keep the focus of world opinion on the right narrative.

3. CREATING REASONS FOR WAR: WOMEN’S RIGHTS

Malala Yoysafzai receives the Sakharov prize © Claude Truong-Ngoc / Wikimedia Commons

In 2003, just after the blitzkrieg on Iraq and at the very height of the George Bush’s talk of continuing the offensive to a few more countries, the committee chose to give the prize to Shirin Ebadi. By beatifying an Iranian at that time, the committee very well knew that they increased the danger of war.

Ebadi is a champion of women’s rights, a recurrent theme in NATO’s efforts to justify their wars. We know that targeting women in the West with this type of messaging has been a major effort for the organization for a long time. By giving the prize to her, they in effect created support in Western (female) public opinion for a war/regime change that would kill an untold number of Iranian women and destroy the lives of the rest, a repeat on a larger scale of what happened in Iraq.

The 2018 prize went to the fight against sexual violence in war. This happens to coincide with the very image NATO wants to promote of itself – who can forget Angelina Jolie and NATO’s General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg writing a joint article in 2017 titled “Why NATO Must Defend Women’s Rights,” where they point out that “NATO has the responsibility and opportunity to be a leading protector of women’s rights” and “can become the global military leader in how to prevent and respond to sexual violence in conflict”. How convenient that the Nobel Committee shares the same view.

A more analytic approach would point out such facts that US/NATO-interventions have made the situation for women infinitely worse in places such as Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan. An intervention to topple the legal government in Syria would certainly have created the same result.

In addition, a bit broader view would point out how allegedly stopping sexual violence against women has justified many wars of aggression. The stereotypes of cruel foreigners have not advanced noticeably from depictions of swarthy Spaniards groping blonde women in the Spanish-American war, to the claim that Gaddafi was handing out Viagra to mercenaries to rape women, as Susan Rice, the US Permanent Representative at UN told the Security Council. Amnesty International, later reported it had “not found any evidence or a single victim of rape or a doctor who knew about somebody being raped.”

Other notorious examples of how this has been used in war propaganda include Serbian rape camps during the Yugoslav wars. Allegations of mass rape were a key element of NATO’s propaganda campaign during the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia. Clare Short, Britain’s international development secretary, claimed that the rapes were “deliberately performed in front of children, fathers and brothers.” After the war was over, there were some retractions, including from the Washington Post, which reported that “Western accusations that there were Serb-run rape camps […] all proved to be false.”

Malala Yousafzai (winner 2014), the young Pakistani girl who became a symbol of the war against the Taliban, is another figure that fits this pattern. The indefinite occupation of Afghanistan is, among plenty of other vicarious reasons, justified by improving women’s rights. This overlooks the fact that no improvement can be made under a government installed with the help of foreign bayonets. The situation for Afghan women has not improved since the occupation, but then again, the claim was only meant to create support for the war in public opinion.

The importance of creating the perception of fighting for women’s rights has long been realized in military circles.

An internal CIA-document from 2010 (a few years before Malala received the prize from the Nobel Institute for her struggle against the Taliban), published by WikiLeaks, discusses how to best market the war in Afghanistan, To show how similar the Nobel Committee and the military/intelligence apparatus think, it is worth quoting the following passage:

Afghan women could serve as ideal messengers in humanizing the ISAF role in combating the Taliban because of women’s ability to speak personally and credibly about their experiences under the Taliban, their aspirations for the future, and their fears of a Taliban victory. Outreach initiatives that create media opportunities for Afghan women to share their stories with French, German, and other European women could help to overcome pervasive skepticism among women in Western Europe toward the ISAF mission.


4. THE ENEMY FIGHTS WITH ILLEGAL AND INHUMANE WEAPONS, AND IT IS IMPERATIVE TO STOP THEM

By highlighting certain themes, in this case ‘illegal weapons’, they reinforce the narrative in Western public opinion that certain things are very urgent and real problems, when in fact they are of relatively minor significance.

Poison gas is a clear example. The OPCW won the prize in 2013. Given the general situation in the Middle East, several million dead in Iraq after the US invasion and at least 400.000 dead in the covert invasion of Syria, gas is a minor factor, and even if we take the frequent claims of ‘gas massacres’ at face value (which of course we shouldn’t), is only responsible for an infinitesimal fraction of these dead.

But to reinforce a false narrative, this focus has been invaluable. The prize creates acceptance for the narrative that gas is a uniquely important and evil weapon, where it is fully justified to do anything necessary, including attacking countries, to stop the possible use of it. At the moment of writing this, Nov 24, 2018, the US just accused Iran of hiding a chemical weapons program.

Some weapons that are killing far more people in far more gruesome ways than poison gas, like napalm, would never be put on this list. And we could compare gas to sanctions, the West’s favorite and most effective weapon of mass destruction, killing the weakest, the sick, children and old people slowly, while destroying entire peoples’ right to a decent life. No other or weapon of mass destruction has killed as many people since WW2.

5. SANCTIFYING PEACE TREATIES THAT ARE NEGOTIATED SURRENDERS TO WESTERN INTERESTS

Yasser Arafat receives the prize in 1994, together with Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin CC BY-SA 3.0 File:Flickr – (GPO)

The most noticeable feature when the prize goes to creators of peace treaties, is that the treaties are more like a negotiated surrender than a just peace.

Colombia’s president Juan Manuel Santos (winner 2016) received the prize for victoriously having put the finishing touches to a long US-led counter-insurgency campaign against leftist guerilla forces. Now the reactionary oligarchy has a safe grip on the country, and can continue their neoliberal agenda, which isn’t that different from the old reactionary order. The death squads murdering leftist and human rights activist continue their activities with impunity.

The country had an extremely tarnished image in human rights issues and needed a quick touch-up to make it palatable. The most conspicuous thing the 2016-award is that the president got the prize just before Colombia became a global partner of NATO. The planning of the PR-requirements for this to happen smoothly must have been already well under way when the prize winner was decided. Remember the prize is directed at Western public opinion, and has little to do with an actual just peace in Colombia.

Yasser Arafat (co-winner 1993) got the prize so he would be tied to a peace plan with a chimerical two-state solution the Israeli side had no intention of honoring. The peace offer didn’t even include a stop in construction of Israeli settlements. No clearer signal of Israeli intentions could have been given. This is a continuation of the joint prize to Sadat and Begin in 1978, for the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, where Israel succeeded in making a separate peace with the biggest Arab country, and could thereafter concentrate on consolidating its grip on the West Bank.

While Nelson Mandela (co-winner 1994) undoubtedly was a worthy winner, the transition deal the ANC negotiated for South Africa only transferred formal political power, and left unjust economic power structures intact. The assets of multinational companies were guaranteed, and the neoliberal policies implied in the deal doomed the large majority of the population to continued poverty.

Michail Gorbachev (winner 1990) got the prize for a unilateral and wholesale surrender of every Soviet position, both economic and political; he didn’t even keep them as bargaining cards. Trusting Western oral promises, this naiveté is unprecedented in a leader of a great power. His bad decisions made a managed transition to a mixed system impossible and abandoned the former socialist states to Western looting and a social collapse they still haven’t recovered from. No wonder he still is so popular in the West that gave him the medal as a sign of appreciation.

Finnish Martti Ahtisaari got the prize in 2008, «for his efforts on several continents and over more than three decades, to resolve international conflicts». This is very true. Left out is what should be added to the sentence, to resolve international conflicts – as a total Western victory.

Ahtisaari is directly linked to the creation of the NATO-protectorate of Kosovo. By 1999, NATO had decided to splinter Yugoslavia one more time. A 78 day aerial bombing campaign had little effect, so they sent in the diplomats. It was suggested that an envoy from a ‘neutral’ country would be more efficient. Here is how Ahtisaari handled the situation, telling the Serbs what ‘we’ would do (my emphasis):

Ahtisaari opened the meeting by declaring, “We are not here to discuss or negotiate,” […]. Ahtisaari says that Milosevic asked about the possibility of modifying the plan, to which he replied, “No. This is the best that Viktor and I have managed to do. You have to agree to it in every part.” [..] As Milosevic listened to the reading of the text, he realized that the “Russians and the Europeans had put us in the hands of the British and the Americans.”

Milosevic took the papers and asked, “What will happen if I do not sign?” In answer, “Ahtisaari made a gesture on the table,” and then moved aside the flower centerpiece. Then Ahtisaari said, “Belgrade will be like this table. We will immediately begin carpet-bombing Belgrade.” Repeating the gesture of sweeping the table, Ahtisaari threatened, “This is what we will do to Belgrade.” A moment of silence passed, and then he added, “There will be half a million dead within a week.”

The Serbians signed the treaty.

6. NOT A PEACEFUL VERY BUNCH OF PEOPLE

US Marine Corps tank in Baghdad, 2003 (Photo: USMC/ Public Domain)

For recipients of a peace prize, a remarkable number of them support wars.

The invasion of Iraq in 2003 was a war of aggression under the trumped up pretext of disarming Iraq of Weapons of mass destruction. It was a blatant breach of both international law and the United Nations Charter. What did the Nobel Prize Winners think of it?

Here we have Elie Wiesel (winner 1986): “I now know I was wrong, but better that than to have stood idly by”.

Jose Ramos-Horta (winner 1996) claimed approvingly that the only truly effective means of pressure on the Iraqi dictator [is] the threat of the use of force.

Liu Xiaobo (winner 2010) was clear, the “decision by President Bush is right!. But then again, Liu had the remarkable opinion that “the major wars that the US became involved in are all ethically defensible,” including the wars in Afghanistan and Vietnam.

Former vice president Al Gore (winner 2009) had argued aggressively in favor of war in Iraq in 1991 and 1998, Bosnia in 1995 and Kosovo in 1998, and believed the 2003 Iraq war was legal based on earlier UN resolutions.

The Cold War winner Lech Walesa (1983) was an opponent of the invasion, but at least he knew where to put the blame: “It’s not the United States that is to blame for the war, but rather the EU, and in particular Germany and France. They knew the war was coming and they failed to prevent it.”

The Dalai Lama (winner 1989) was wily enough to hedge his bets, but decidedly did not condemn the war: “it’s too early to say, right or wrong”, He also supported the US/NATO military intervention in Afghanistan and the attack on Yugoslavia.

There is a similar level of support among prize winners for a direct intervention in the ‘civil’ war in Syria, a US/NATO regime change plan on the drawing board for at least 10 years before it started. The push for a no-fly zone in Syria on a Libyan model, which could then be used as a fig leaf for a full-scale assault, was immense for several years. What did the Nobel Prize winners think of this possibility?

(Keep in mind that the ‘action’ they call for, can only be either an aerial bombing or ground troops.)

Kailash Satyarthi (winner 2014) did not say anything about the fact that it was the 3 Western powers on the Security Council which started this war by spending billions of dollars arming and financing armed Islamist gangs. Stopping this support would seem to be the obvious way to stop the war, but instead we get: “The UN Security Council (UNSC) has the military power to bring this unceasing genocide to a halt.”

His co-winner Malala Yousafzai who seems to have envisaged a similar future for Syria as for Afghanistan, a Western intervention: “When I look at Syria, I see the Rwandan genocide. When I read the desperate words of Bana Alabed in Aleppo, I see Anne Frank in Amsterdam… We must act. The international community must do everything they can to end to this inhumane war”

This was echoed by former UN-leader Kofi Annan (winner 2001). Defining Aleppo as only the small part of the city occupied by Islamist gangs, he called for ‘action’. How this ‘action’ would differ from what he describes, is not clear: “The assault on Aleppo is an assault on the whole world. When hospitals, schools and homes are bombed indiscriminately, killing and maiming hundreds of innocent children, these are acts that constitute an attack on our shared, fundamental human values. Our collective cry for action must be heard, and acted upon, by all those engaged in this dreadful war.”

This wish was supported by Medecins sans Frontiers, recipient of the 1999 Nobel Peace Prize. It was the first to report the alleged gas attack in Ghouta on 21. August 2013, which the Obama-administration wanted to use as a pretext for a military assault. As it admitted, the MSF’s decision to issue a press release on the incident—which had not taken place in an MSF hospital, but in its “silent partner” facilities in rebel-controlled areas—was highly political.

MSF was well aware that their announcement of chemical weapons use would be immediately seized upon by the US to claim that Syrian President Assad had crossed a red line, and to start a bombing campaign.

The organization was here true to its roots, as the civilian part in the French military/intelligence effort to support an independent state in the oil producing parts of Nigeria, in the Biafran war of independence in 1967-1970.

Amnesty International, (winner 1977) was not much better, with its call for unspecified ‘action’: “The international community’s catastrophic failure to take concrete action to protect the people of Syria has allowed parties to the conflict, most notably the Syrian government, to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity with complete impunity, often with assistance of outside powers, particularly Russia… the international community had said ‘never again’ after the government devastated Eastern Aleppo with similar unlawful tactics. But here we are again.”

Anyway, Amnesty has a soft spot for endless NATO-interventions. In 2012, after 11 years of dismal occupation, the organization paid for advertising posters in the US applauding NATO’s actions in Afghanistan — “Keep the progress going”, purportedly doing something for women’s rights.

Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman is a Yemeni journalist and human rights activist that won the prize in 2009 wanted ‘protection’, writing: “Instead of protecting residents in Aleppo from brutalities of Russia, Iran and Bashar Al Assad’s regime, the world tended to mediate to provide safe corridors for the displacement of civilians,” adding, “these also are partners in crime.”

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos (2016) voiced support for the missile attacks on Syria in March 2018.

Such bellicosity (or just as often, coy bellicosity) is nothing new in the type of people selected as winners. Henry Kissinger (winner 1973) was the most infamous war hawk to win the prize during the Cold War, but as long as it was the right side doing the fighting, plenty of others identified with this one sided world view. We can recognize all the themes mentioned above in Michael Parenti’s description of the 1975 Peace Prize winner:

Andrei Sakharov was a darling of the U.S. press, a Soviet dissident who regularly sang praises to corporate capitalism. Sakharov lambasted the U.S. peace movement for its opposition to the Vietnam War. He accused the Soviets of being the sole culprits behind the arms race and he supported every U.S. armed intervention abroad as a defense of democracy. Hailed in the west as a «human rights advocate,» Sakharov never had an unkind word for the horrific human rights violations perpetrated by the fascist regimes of faithful U.S. client states, including Pinochet’s Chile and Suharto’s Indonesia, and he aimed snide remarks at the «peaceniks» who did. He regularly attacked those in the West who opposed U.S. repressive military interventions abroad.

7. Some other points + Conclusion

You don’t have to be an prop for US/NATO power projection to win the prize, but it helps.

The prize was originally intended to be given to the person who has done most to foster peace between nations. In a subtle twist, in many cases it has changed to banning aspects of warfare, barely ever addressing war itself. Broaching such a subject honestly would be impossible without addressing the elephant in the room, US/Western imperialism. The award has had many winners who are variants of this year’s theme, sexual violence in war (which also touches on point 3, the NATO-narrative of defense of women). The focus here is on a more civilized form of war, not abolishing war as such as a means of settling disputes.

No one (apart from some military brass) is actually pro-landmines, but the Peace prize to the Campaign Against Land Mines in 1997 coincided with the increased Western interventions in places where these weapons would be a hindrance to the success of the occupation It was not in the interest of NATO forces to have their opponents using these ‘poor man’s weapons’, creating the casualties so feared by the military in modern wars, which again might increase opposition at home to war. The coalition suffered most of their casualties from IEDs, a sort of land mine, in Iraq, while having limited use of mines themselves.

There is a certain unpredictability as to who the prize will be awarded to, making it not as obviously beholden to the immediate needs of the powerful, even though the long term trend is clear. For example, there has been no Russian winner for quite a while now, and the White Helmets have not yet got the award, maybe as they are too obviously only a PR-front.

When Jean-Paul Sartre declined the Nobel Prize in Literature, he said that the prize ‘is for Western writers or Eastern rebels’. On a similar note, we might say that the Nobel Peace Prize is for Western elites or Eastern rebels.

That the selection of winners conforms to US views does not mean that there is a direct influence, although some recommendations to the Committee probably weigh heavier than others. Rather this pattern is a sign of how well socialized the Norwegian Nobel Committee members are in the transatlantic world view, where ‘our’ requirements override any genuine wish for peace.

December 6, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

Israel’s diamond exports crash as BDS and war crimes impact

By Sean Clinton | MEMO | November 7, 2018

Fig.1 – Graph of diamond exports and trends from main exporting hubs

Israel’s gross diamond exports have crashed by a staggering 45 per cent since the 2014 massacre in Gaza that resulted in the death of over 2,200 people, mainly civilians including over 550 children.

The net value of Israel’s diamond exports has fallen even further, by 60 per cent from $11.25 billion to $4.4 billion over the period. This is about the same as the value of Israel’s total arms exports.

The Israeli diamond exchange initially blamed the decline on weak global demand and more recently on globalisation but the sudden steep decline shows that’s plainly not the case.

De Beers annual insight reports on the state of the global diamond market show demand increased slightly over the past five years.

No other diamond exporting country has suffered such a steep fall.

The Belgian diamond industry, which is a major hub for both the rough and polished diamond trade to and from Israel, has also been impacted by the steep decline in Israel’s exports.

Meanwhile India has gained market share and in 2016, for the first time ever, exported more diamonds to the USA than Israel which has traditionally supplied up to 50 per cent of the US market in value terms.

There can be no doubt that one of the most important and the most vulnerable sector of the Israeli economy is feeling the impact of Israel’s blood-drenched brand image.

Fig. 2 – Israeli manufacturing exports declined sharply after 2014 led by a 45% fall in diamond exports. The 2012 fall in diamond exports was due to the discovery of major fraud in the Diamond Exchange.

The global campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) has highlighted jewellery industry links to Israeli human rights violations which are funded to a significant degree by revenue from the diamond industry. Both appear to be impacting the Israeli diamond industry particularly hard with exports down a further 6 percent in H1 2018.

The situation has become so serious that Israel is now offering to pay air fares as well as provide free hotel accommodation to attract buyers to Tel Aviv. Although the jewellery industry and NGOs have remained silent about Israel’s leading role in the diamond supply chain human rights activists have campaigned to expose it.

In 2012 activists first revealed the linkage between the Steinmetz Diamond Group (SDG) and the Givati Brigade of the Israeli military which was responsible for the 2009 massacre of the Samouni family in Gaza, a suspected war crime documented by the UN Human Rights Council and others including Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.

This set in motion a series of actions that continue to reverberate through the upper echelons of the diamond industry. When the Anglo American owned De Beers Group put a Forevermark Steinmetz diamond on display in the Tower of London in honour of the Queen of England’s Diamond Jubilee the Inminds human rights group staged regular protests outside the Tower.

A member of the Samouni family in Gaza recorded a video appealing for the blood diamond to be removed. The diamond was removed a few months later without any of the fanfare and publicity that accompanied it’s unveiling. It hasn’t been seen or heard of in public since.

Sotheby’s Diamonds is a 50:50 partnership between Sotheby’s, the famous auction house, and Diacore, the now rebranded Steinmetz Diamond Group.

Since 2012, Inminds has staged a number of protests outside Sotheby’s premises in Bond Street, London, highlighting the link to Israeli war crimes.

In January 2013, Sotheby’s CEO and board were sent a registered letter alerting them to the damage to their reputation and the risks to their brand posed by their partnership with the Steinmetz Group. Months later in Geneva, in a blaze of global publicity, Sotheby’s auctioned the Steinmetz Pink, a specimen diamond. It was bought by a syndicate of investors lead by Isaac Wolf for a world record US$83 million. The pre-auction publicity and spin gave no indication that the diamond was tarnished by association with Israeli war crimes in Gaza and was, therefore, a blood diamond. Four months after the auction it was revealed that the investors defaulted and Sotheby’s were forced to take the diamond into inventory costing them millions.

In April 2017, in a much quieter event, the blood diamond was auctioned in Hong Kong and bought by Chow Tai Fook for $71 million.

The Isaac Wolf syndicate wasn’t sued.

Diamond buyers and sellers attend the International Diamond Week (IDW) in the Israeli city of Ramat Gan, east of Tel Aviv on February 14, 2017. (JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Sotheby’s continues to partner with Diacore despite the fact that the Steinmetz Foundation “adopted” the Givati Brigade which stands accused of war crimes.

As news of the default became public it was also disclosed that Beny Steinmetz sold his interest in SDG to his brother Daniel and the company was rebranded as Diacore. Some observers believe this was an exercise designed to distance leading diamond brands including Tiffany’s, De Beers, Sotheby’s and Forevermark from the tarnished Steinmetz brand which is indelibly linked to the Samouni massacre. Evidence supporting this was leaked in the Panama Papers which showed that in 2015, Beny Steinmetz was still involved and asked Mossack Fonseca to backdate the transfer of his power of attorney to his brother to 2013.

Further indications that jewellers are shunning diamonds linked to Israeli human rights violations emerged earlier this year when it came to light, via a Tiffany & Co Form 10-K submission to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, that the iconic diamond brand had terminated a supply agreement with a Steinmetz owned mine in Sierra Leone. Tiffany’s loaned Steinmetz $50 million to develop the mine and was one of their leading buyers.

Tiffany’s divestment came following pressure from human rights activists who exposed the fact that Tiffany’s sourced diamonds from a miner that donated to and supported suspected Israeli war criminals.

Although Tiffany & Co divested from a Steinmetz mine they continue to conceal the identity of the companies they buy 25-35 per cent of their polished diamonds from. Tiffany’s customers cannot, therefore, know where their jewellery comes from as alluded to by their new CEO Alessandro Bogliono in Tiffany’s Sustainability Report 2017.

“Our customers place great value on sustainability. They want to know where their jewellery comes from, how it is made and how the jewellery-making process impacts the planet as well as its people and communities. Tiffany & Co. holds this kind of transparency dear and, through this creation of shared value, we have a unique opportunity to build meaningful, lasting relationships with our customers. We are committed to sharing more with them — and all of our stakeholders — about what, exactly, Tiffany is doing to achieve sustainability for our business and for the planet as we very broadly define that goal: enriching the people and places we reach through our business; minimising our environmental impact; improving industry-wide practices; and channelling the power of the Tiffany brand as a force for positive change in the world.”

Given Israel’s leading role in the industry and the absence of a statement from Tiffany’s stating, as they have done with Zimbabwe and Angola, they do not buy diamonds from the apartheid state, it is likely Tiffany’s are sourcing diamonds from companies in Israel.

Fig. 3 – On June 1st, Rajan al-Najjar, a 21 year old paramedic, was shot dead by an Israeli sniper as she treated wounded civilians in Gaza.

Diamond companies in Israel employ people who have served in and are members of the Israeli army, have openly funded and supported attacks on the defenceless residents of Gaza, have been widely implicated in serious fraud and who discriminate against non-Jews who make up 20 per cent of the population.

Furthermore, Tiffany’s haven’t paid reparations to the Samouni family or any of the victims of the Steinmetz supported Givati Brigade. Mitigation for damage caused is a key component of “responsible sourcing” as outlined in the OECD Due Diligence Guidelines to which Tiffany and Co, a member of the UN Global Compact, claims it is committed.

Although revenue from the diamond industry is a significant source of funding for an apartheid regime that has killed over 210 Palestinians including women, children, medics and journalists and injured and maimed thousands more with live ammunition in besieged Gaza in the past six months alone, jewellers fraudulently claim diamonds processed in Israel are responsibly sourced and conflict-free.

This blood diamond cover-up and fraud is perpetuated by public companies and governments who collaborate to shield rogue regimes in Israel, Zimbabwe and Angola that they depend on to keep their coffers full, bolster dividends for shareholders and provide fat pension pots for c-suite executives.

The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KP), the blueprint of which was drafted by the World Diamond Council, is the primary vehicle facilitating the ongoing blood diamond trade.

Although the remit of the KP is deliberately restricted to banning rough diamonds that fund rebel violence, jewellers use it to claim other blood diamonds are conflict free even when they fund war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Shamefully, Amnesty International, Global Witness, Human Rights Watch and Impact (Partnership Africa Canada), that the public rely on to expose the blood diamond trade and speak up for the victims, have said and done nothing to hold the diamond jewellery industry to account for funding Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Fig.4 –The diamond industry has created a matrix of bogus schemes, warranties, standards and codes of practices to con consumers and facilitate the trade in blood diamonds that fund rogue regimes

The silence of NGO’s on Israel’s blood diamond trade means the Kimberley Process charade continues to con most people and can keep mainstream media focused on the mining sector in Africa. Meanwhile, high street jewellers launder cut and polished blood diamonds labelled responsibly sourced and conflict free to unsuspecting customers.

Hilde Hardeman is the EU chair of the Kimberley Process in 2018. Indications to date suggest that she, like others before her in South Africa and Australia, will ignore the latest call from human rights activists for Israel to be suspended from the KP until those responsible for massacres in Gaza are brought to justice and held to account.

Some voices in the jewellery industry are speaking out. The most recent example being the Ethical Jewelry Exposé: Lies, Damn Lies, and Conflict Free Diamonds, from Marc Choyt and his team at Reflective Jewellery. The exposé peels back the layers of bogus schemes “through the metaphor of Russian nesting dolls, with eight layers of babble obscuring the nefarious truth hidden at the core”.

The exposé leaves readers in no doubt as to the magnitude of the fraud being perpetrated by the key stakeholders in the diamond industry, particularly the Responsible Jewellery Council which is now chaired by Signet Jewellers Vice President of corporate affairs, David Bouffard. Signet Jewellers source many of their diamonds from companies in Israel.

The successive withdrawal of human rights organisations from the KP, including Global Witness, Impact Transform, International Alert, Fatal Transactions and Ian Smillie – a key architect of the Kimberly Process scheme – has removed the fig leaf and left its exponents exposed with their bloody diamonds in full view.

Scrambling to conceal the blood diamond trade, the industry’s most recent and emerging addition to the matrix of deception, is the use of blockchain technology to digitally log all transactions a diamond undertakes from mine to market. While the technology has the potential to give consumers the information needed to make an informed decision about the ethical provenance of a diamond, the detailed information will only be available to “authorised users” as “privacy controls” will prevent consumers from accessing “sensitive data”.

Diacore, of the Steinmetz Group, was one of the first companies in a trial conducted by De Beers Group of their blockchain system, Tracr, earlier this year. It is clear, therefore, that blockchain will provide another layer of cover for the blood diamond trade while consumers are kept in the dark.

As the EU chairs a Kimberley Process plenary meeting in Brussels from November 12-16 it will be interesting to observe the corseted language emanating from the spin doctors. No doubt they will inform the public that the major reforms aimed at strengthening the KP and giving added assurance to consumers have been agreed. But one thing is for sure, any reforms that are agreed will not extend to banning blood diamonds that fund rogue regimes guilty of gross human rights violations in Israel, Zimbabwe or Angola.

Read:

Why Israel sees BDS as a ‘strategic threat’

EU urged to end trade in Israel diamonds

Israel’s $72m war chest to fight BDS comes to Brussels

November 7, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Amnesty International: Trumpeting for War… Again

By Paul de Rooij | CounterPunch | March 23, 2018

One must marvel at the first few paragraphs of Amnesty International’s recent press release:

“The international community’s catastrophic failure to take concrete action to protect the people of Syria has allowed parties to the conflict, most notably the Syrian government, to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity with complete impunity, often with assistance of outside powers, particularly Russia. Every year we think it is just not possible for parties to the conflict to inflict more suffering on civilians, and yet, every year, they prove us wrong…

Right now, in Eastern Ghouta 400,000 men, women and children, who have been living under an unlawful government siege for six years, are being starved and indiscriminately bombed by the Syrian government with the backing of Russia. […] The international community had said ‘never again’ after the government devastated Eastern Aleppo with similar unlawful tactics. But here we are again. Armed opposition groups have retaliated by indiscriminately shelling two villages in Idleb, which they have also besieged since 2014.” [1]

This is an unambiguous call and a justification for war; it seems that AI is calling for a NATO bombing campaign similar to the one staged in Libya in 2011. There is also no ambiguity as to who AI deems to be culpable and ought to be at the receiving end of a “humanitarian bombing” campaign.  Before cheering yet another US/NATO war, it is useful to analyse Amnesty International’s record in assisting propaganda campaigns on the eve of wars. It is also worthwhile reviewing AI’s reporting on Syria, and how it compares with that on other countries in the area.

A sorry record

It is not the first time that Amnesty International has played a role in a propaganda campaign in the lead up to a war. A few examples:

Before the US invasion to ouster the Iraqis from Kuwait, president George Bush Sr. appeared on TV holding an Amnesty International report claiming that Iraqi soldiers had dumped babies out of incubators. That was Amnesty International’s willing participation in spreading a hoax — a hoax fabricated by a major American PR company.

In the months prior to the US-NATO attack on Serbia, Amnesty-USA put two Croatian women on a ten city-speaking-tour to project their account of their “rape-camp” ordeal — in reality one of them was a top Croatian propaganda official, a close advisor to president Tudjman, who was also known for her acting abilities.[2] Again, this hoax was pushed by a major American PR company.

AI’s coverage/non-coverage of Israeli mass crimes also deserves to be analysed.[3] In this case, Amnesty plays a role in adulterating and reducing criticism after wars or the misery caused by its continuous occupation and abuse of the Palestinians (discussed below).  Amnesty International-Israel served as a propaganda front busy manipulating “human rights” reports to suit Israel’s interests.[4]  AI-London has not commented on the manipulation by its Israeli siblings.

In 2012, Amnesty erected advertising posters in the US applauding NATO’s actions in Afghanistan — “Keep the progress going”, purportedly doing something for women’s rights. This was merely crass pro-NATO pro-interventionist propaganda. [5]

Amnesty-France was instrumental in propagating anti-Libyan propaganda prior to the NATO bombing of the country in 2011.[6]

Alas, Amnesty’s sorry record is much longer than these few examples indicate.

Not anti-war

One would expect a human rights organisation to be intrinsically opposed to war, but AI is a cheerleader of so-called humanitarian intervention, and even “humanitarian bombing”.[7] In the past, when queried about its equivocal and lame statements about wars, an AI official stated that “Amnesty International is not anti-war”. Even with this predisposition AI was honoured with the Nobel Peace Prize – yet another undeserving recipient for a prize meant to be given only to those actively opposed to wars. In Syria’s case, AI has given up this phoney “not anti-war” stance for one that is actively advocating war. Notice that it uses a rather dubious argument about “never again” about standing by in the face of mass crimes; in reality this is an appeal to holocaust memes meant to favour this war.

Syria today…

The Syrian government is presently rolling back the jihadis who had managed to establish themselves in an area next to Damascus. No government would tolerate to have a section of their capital city under jihadi control, an area from which the rest of the city is mortared, and an area vital to control the water supply of the city. What would happen if jihadis took over Arlington, VA, and used it to bomb the center of Washington DC? The response would be self-evident. For some reason AI doesn’t bestow this right of self-defence to the Syrian government, but instead refers to an “unlawful government siege [of Ghouta] for six years”. This is laughable.

It is remarkable to find that in none of the latest press releases or reports does AI discuss the nature of the armed groups fighting in Syria. Even those referred to as “moderates” by Washington are a rather unsavoury bunch. Most of them are foreign jihadis; a good portion of them are Saudis. (NB: Saudis offered political and criminal prisoners a way out of jail on condition of going to fight in Syria.) And they are armed/trained/financed by the US/UK/Saudi/Emirates/Turkey/Qatar… to the tune of at least $12 billion. The former US ambassador to Syria stated that the US contribution was at least $12bn [8]; this figure excludes the funds provided by the Saudis and other regimes in the area.  Gareth Porter reports that the quantities of weapons supplied to the jihadis were enough to equip an army. [9] Yet, this armed gang of jihadis is barely mentioned in Amnesty’s assessment of the situation in Syria. In Ghouta, the jihadis belong to the Nusra front (or one of its rebranded versions), that is, a group with an extreme ideology; they are an Al-Qaeda offshoot. AI’s press release doesn’t mention this salient fact.

Amnesty portrays the Syrian government as at war against its own people — and Aleppo, Ghouta, etc., under siege; and not allowing the population to escape. Although AI similarly condemned the liberation of Aleppo, it didn’t interview these victims after the fact. If it interviews someone — invariably anonymous — it intones sinister fears of the government. For all its faults, the government has popular backing, and it stands in the way of a jihadi project to carve up Syria and ethnically cleanse it.

And there is a double standard

When it comes to Israeli mass crimes AI is rather cautious in the language used and in its recommendations. It is rather coy in mentioning “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity”, and reference to the latter is virtually non-existent or couched in exculpatory language (favourite cushioning words: “alleged”, “could be construed as”).  While it sparingly uses these accusations against Israel, it levels the same accusations against Palestinians — it applies a notion that there are crimes “on both sides”.  AI’s harshest admonishment is that Israeli actions are not “proportionate”. There are no appeals to the “international community” which should not stand by, “never again…” One wonders what Amnesty has to say about the Israeli siege of Gaza, where the population has been put “on a diet” causing a dire situation for about 1.8 million people today. In this case, there are no reports, no calls to the “international community” to do anything, no accusations of “crimes against humanity”… AI uses another script altogether.

In the current press release, AI unambiguously states that both Syria and Russia are committing war crimes and crimes against humanity. And if this is the case, there is an obligation for other states to act, to intervene.  AI is not requesting an investigation, it is urging intervention.

While in the Israeli case AI states that crimes are committed on both sides, when it comes to Syria it is only the Syrian government that is deemed culpable. It is difficult to remove entrenched well armed jihadis who use residents as human shields. Jihadis dig themselves in and around hospitals and schools [10], and when action is taken against them there, the likes of Amnesty utter their clucking sounds.

In its latest statement AI states: “It must also send a strong message that those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity will be held accountable, by referring the situation to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.” Fair enough. In 2002, Donatella Rovera, an AI researcher on the Middle East, was queried about why AI didn’t make a similar demand to hold Israel accountable at the ICC or ICJ, and she stated that AI didn’t make such demands.[11]  Another standard applies.

An issue about sources…

Amnesty reports several statements made by residents of Ghouta, all giving harrowing accounts of the conditions on the ground. But all the statements blame the government for their predicament. “Like many Syrians, the humanitarian worker expressed deep distrust of the government.” Or “We hear rumours of reconciliation but that can never happen. The government hates us…” And other such unverifiable statements. And who exactly is reporting this? Does AI have a direct line to the “White Helmets”? All Amnesty has to do is compare the statements made before the liberation of Aleppo and the opinion of the residents now. If the residents are pleased with their condition without the jihadis around, then this should be sufficient to question the dubious statements originating from anonymous sources in Ghouta today.

Other examples

Amnesty International doesn’t want you to respect the Syrian government. Reviewing its press releases about Syria, it is all one-sided; the jihadis hardly merit a meaningful rebuke. But no report was as distorted as its multimedia presentation of the purported abuses in the Saydnaya Prison. Here Amnesty’s methodology was on show: accept hearsay, magnify it melodramatically, extrapolate and exaggerate [12]. This is not human rights reportage, it is crass propaganda. The timing of all these so-called reports is also dubious.  On the eve of major reconciliation talks or negotiations, Amnesty publishes a report portraying the Syrian government as beyond the pale. Would anyone want to negotiate with such a party? The timing of several other AI reports coincide with attempts to resolve the conflict via negotiations. The timing of its latest press release coincides with a major Syrian government offensive into Ghouta — and portraying it as criminal in nature.

Human rights are not neutral

Harvey Weinstein, the sexual predator, made Amnesty International USA possible — he provided the funds necessary to establish the organisation. [13] Weinstein didn’t put up the funds because he fancied AI’s lovely researchers.  People put up funds for such organisations to shape the way abuses and crimes are reported. In Weinstein’s case, his ardent devotion to Israel might explain his financial contribution to Amnesty USA. Amnesty is also a conduit to push propaganda desired by those who foster such organisations. The very nature of “human rights”, its very flexible nature, lends itself to prime manipulation.

A Syrian furniture salesman based in Coventry, a small city in the UK, runs the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). Sitting in his living room, he produces reports about the latest atrocities, chemical attacks, and every other sordid detail to tarnish the Syrian government’s image.  He reaches his mysterious sources by phone, invariably someone hostile to the Syrian government. The output of this one-man-band is then used by the BBC, CNN, The Independent, The Wall Street Journal,… and major media outlets to report on the situation in Syria. It is expensive for news organisations to have correspondents on the ground, it is dangerous; so what is better than “human rights” reports obtained for free!  And does Amnesty International rely on SOHR? At least they should footnote their reports.

The main playbook

The US and some of its sidekicks have for decades been engaged in regime change in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Latin America… The usual formula for this is to create civic organisations, e.g., Journalists’ union, Lawyer and Jurist guilds, select Labour unions… and human rights organisations. These people are then trained to exercise political power effectively by staging mass demonstrations, manipulating the media, spreading rumours, disrupting the government — all the way to the take over of parliaments. These are the so-called “colour revolutions”. They tried this in Syria, but opted primarily to arm and organise jihadis. The jihadis are backed by a propaganda machinery, and the US is conducting the largest disinformation/propaganda campaign in Syria today [14]. The essence of the campaign is to tarnish the image of the Syrian government, robbing it of its international legitimacy and support. Human rights reportage is essential to this campaign. By analysing Amnesty International reportage, it is evident that it is part of this campaign; it has weaponised human rights.

Currently there is a major buildup of US warships in the Mediterranean; and the Russian general staff fear that Syria will be the target of a major cruise missile attack.[15]  Possibly, Russian forces will also be targeted. Couple this with the unprecedented black propaganda campaign against Russia in the US and the UK, and it seems very likely that a major shooting war is in the offing. Given that AI has lent itself in previous propaganda campaigns on the eve of wars, one finds that the latest Amnesty International report is merely a leading indicator for such a war. Amnesty International is embedded in a propaganda campaign — it will be cheerleading with blue and white pompons when the humanitarian bombs fall.

Endnotes

[1] AI, “Syria: Seven years of catastrophic failure by the international community”, 15 March 2018.

[2] Diana Johnstone, Fools Crusade, 20 Sep 2002. Johnstone documents the curious case of Jadranka Cijel. NB: AI was alerted to the fact that the accounts by the two women were questionable; it proceeded with the tour anyway.

[3] I have written quite a few articles about Amnesty for Counterpunch. The latest: Amnesty International: Whitewashing Another Massacre, CounterPunch, 8 May 2015.

[4]  Uri Blau, Documents reveal how Israel made Amnesty’s local branch a front for the Foreign Ministry in the 70s, Haaretz, 18 March 2017. Neve Gordon, Nicola Perugini, Israel’s human rights spies: Manipulating the discourse, Al-Jazeera Online, 22 March 2017.

[5] Ann Wright and Coleen Rowley, Amnesty’s Shilling for US Wars, Consortium News, 18 June 2012.

[6] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RnxJ6TvFZ0&feature=youtu.be Also: Tim Anderson, The Dirty War on Syria, Global Research, 2016.

[7] Alexander Cockburn reports that Amnesty was present during a US State Department briefing seeking to justify “humanitarian bombing”. How the US State Dept. Recruited Human Rights Groups to Cheer On the Bombing Raids: Those Incubator Babies, Once More? CounterPunch, April 1999.

[8] Ben Norton , US Ambassador Confirms Billions Spent On Regime Change in Syria, Debunking ‘Obama Did Nothing’ Myth, RealNews.com, 9 February 2018.

[9] Gareth Porter, How America Armed Terrorists in Syria, The American Conservative, 22 June 2017.

[10] Robert Fisk has reported on this fact in several of his articles.  In “the Syrian hospital siege that turned into a massacre”, The Independent, 5 June 2015 there is a reference to tunnels under a hospital. In another article, the same, but at a school.

[11] Israel hasn’t joined the ICC, and thus ICC cannot bring any action against Israel.  ICC is only meant to harass African tinpot dictators.

[12]  John Wight, The Problems With the Amnesty International Report, Sputnik News, 15 February 2017. Important discussion with Peter Ford, the former British ambassador to Syria. Also, Tony Cartalucci, Amnesty International admits Syria’s ‘torture prison’ report fabricated entirely in UK, Sign of the Times, 9 February 2017. And, Rick Sterling, Amnesty International Stokes Syrian War, Consortium News, 11 February 2017.

[13]  Thomas Frank, Hypocrite at the good cause parties, Le Monde Diplomatique, February 2018

[14] Tim Anderson, The Dirty War on Syria, Global Research, 2016.

[15] TASS, US preparing strikes on Syria, carrier strike groups set up in Mediterranean, 17 March 2018

Paul de Rooij is a writer living in London. He can be reached at proox@hotmail.com

March 23, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | Leave a comment

From the End of History to the End of Truth

teleSUR | March 11, 2108

Making nonsense of Fukuyama’s premature triumphalist screed, it is commonplace now to note that the United States corporate elites and their European and Pacific country counterparts are increasingly losing power and influence around the world. Equally common is the observation that these Western elites and the politicians who front for them have acted over the last twenty years to reassert their control in their respective areas of neocolonial influence. The European Union powers have done so in Eastern Europe and Africa, most obviously but not only, in Ukraine, Libya, Ivory Coast, Mali and the Central African Republic. Likewise, the United States has acted to reassert its influence in Latin America and the Caribbean, effectively declaring war on Venezuela, maintaining its economic and psychological warfare against Cuba and intervening elsewhere with varying degrees of openness.

Before they died, among the main Western media bogeymen were Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez and Muammar al Gaddhafi. Now Vladimir Putin and Bashar al Assad have been joined by Xi Jinping and Nicolas Maduro. Along with these and other world leaders, Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega has also constantly been the object of endlessly repetitive Western media hate campaigns. This longstanding, plain-as-day media strategy, regularly and blatantly prepares mass opinion to facilitate Western government aggression against the latest target government. No one following these processes with any attention will have failed to notice the leading role played by non governmental organizations in the Western elites’ offensive against resistance to them by political leaders and movements around the world.

In almost every case of recent Western provoked interventions, from Venezuela in 2002, through Haiti in 2004, Bolivia in 2008, Honduras in 2009, Ecuador in 2010, Ivory Coast, Libya and Syria in 2011, Ukraine in 2014, Western media have used deliberately misleading and downright deceitful reports from Western NGOs to support their own false misreporting of events. In Nicaragua’s case, the usual untrustworthy NGO suspects like Amnesty International, Transparency International and Global Witness constantly publish misleading reports and statements attacking or undermining President Daniel Ortega and his government. In general, their reporting is grossly biased and disproportionate given the regional context of incomparably horrific events and deplorable conditions elsewhere in Latin America, but, as often as not, it is also downright untrue.

In a recent example, Global Witness stated that Nicaragua’s proposed interoceanic canal “wasn’t preceded by any environmental impact reports, nor any consultation with local people”. Both those assertions are completely untrue. But this Big Lie repetition is the modus operandi of the Western elites who fund outfits like Global Witness, Amnesty International, and other influential NGOs like International Crisis Group and Transparency Intenational. For example, Amnesty International claims “We are independent of any government, political ideology, economic interest or religion”. But it bears constant repetition that many of Amnesty International’s board and most of its senior staff responsible for the organization’s reports are deeply ideologically committed with links to corporate dominated NGO’s like PurposeOpen Society InstituteHuman Rights Watch, and many others.

Also worth repeating is that Global Witness in 2016 received millions of dollars from the George Soros Open Society Foundation, Pierre Omidyar’s Omidyar Network, the Ford Foundation and NATO governments. The boards and advisory boards of these NGOs are all made up overwhelmingly of people from the Western elite neocolonial non governmental sector. Many have a strong corporate business background as well. All move easily from one highly paid Western NGO job to the next, serving NATO country foreign policy goals. Cory Morningstar has exposed the pro-NATO global political agenda of organizations like US based Avaaz and Purpose, noting “the key purpose of the non-profit industrial complex is and has always been to protect this very system it purports to oppose”.

Back in 2017 it was already a truism to note that Western NGOS “operate as the soft, extramural arm of NATO country governments’ foreign policy psychological warfare offensives, targeting liberal and progressive audiences to ensure their acquiescence in overseas aggression and intimidation against governments and movements targeted by NATO. To that end, they deceitfully exploit liberal and progressive susceptibilities in relation to environmental, humanitarian and human rights issues.” What is now becoming even more clear in the current context is that these Western NGOs and their media accomplices are confident enough to publish downright lies because reporting the facts no longer matters. Western public discourse has become so debased, incoherent and fragmentary that the truth is almost completely irrelevant. All that matters is the power to impose a version of events no matter how false and untruthful it may be.

This sinister media reality is intimately related to the politicization of legal and administrative processes in the national life of countries across Latin America. The spurious legal processes against Dilma Rousseff and Lula da Silva in Brazil, against Milagro Sala and Cristina Fernandez in Argentina, against Jorge Glas and, no doubt very soon, Rafael Correa in Ecuador are all based on the same faithless virtual association and complete disregard for factual evidence as Western media and NGO propaganda reports attacking Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba and Nicaragua. It is imperative to overcome the ridiculous liberal presupposition that the region’s elites, with the advantage of designing and controlling their countries’ legal systems and communications media for over 200 years, are somehow going to respect high falutin’ avowals about “separation of powers”.

Note: this article borrows from previous articles here and here.

March 12, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Environmentalism, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The ‘Human Rights’ War on Syria

By Jeremy Salt | American Herald Tribune | March 4, 2018

The perfidious role of ‘human rights’ organizations in the war on Syria has been exposed again with the Amnesty International report on Syria for 2017/18, followed by an equally tendentious article in the Melbourne Age newspaper by Claire Mallinson, Amnesty’s national director for Australia.

In the name of human rights these organizations have actually worsened the crisis in Syria. They have never dealt honestly with its primary cause, the determination of the US and its allies seven years ago to destroy the government in Damascus, as part of a bigger plan to destroy the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah strategic axis across the Middle East. Democracy, human rights and the best interests of the Syrian people were never on the agenda of these governments. They were cold-blooded and remorseless in what they wanted and the means by which they sought to get it.

By calling violent armed groups ‘rebels’ and ‘the opposition’, these ‘human rights’ organizations conceal their true nature. By calling the Syrian government a ‘regime’, instead of the legitimate government of Syria, representing Syria at the UN and representing the interests of the Syrian people, they seek to demean it. By accusing it of carrying out indiscriminate attacks on its own civilian population, on the basis of what they are being told by their tainted sources, they seek to demonize it. By accusing it of carrying out chemical weapons attacks, without having any proof, they perpetuate the lies and fabrications of the armed groups and the governments that support them.

Behind the mask of ‘human rights’ these organizations are promoting the war agenda of western and regional governments. Some are worse than others. Human Rights Watch might as well be a formal annex of the US State Department, but they all play the same duplicitous game.

East Aleppo is the template for what we are seeing now in the outrage over East Ghouta, the district on the outskirts of Damascus in which hundreds of thousands of people are being held hostage by takfiri armed groups. Aleppo was infiltrated by these groups in 2012 and the eastern sector of the city gradually taken over, as the army was already too hard-pressed on other fronts to stop this happening. Until then Aleppo, a commercial, multi-religious and multi-ethnic city, had managed to stay out of the war but now it was sucked right in. There was nil support in Aleppo for the takfiris but they had the guns and they were ready to kill to get their way. Advancing on government held positions, they devastated the old centre of the city with their attacks. Digging tunnels, they blew up some of its most famous buildings. Art, architecture, history, meant nothing to them. They destroyed the square minaret of the Umayyad mosque and their attacks led to the destruction of the ancient library in the mosque and the massive destruction of the Aleppo souk, one of the oldest and most colourful markets in the world.

In the districts they controlled they ruled by terror, massacre and murder and the institution of the most repressive sharia laws. Under the secular Syrian government, women and men have the same rights before the law, under the takfiris women have no rights that are not granted to them by men. They sought the extirpation of all those they did not regard as true Muslims (Shia and Alawi amongst others): one of their earliest acts was the kidnapping of two orthodox Christian prelates, never seen alive again. It was these armed groups and the foreign governments behind them that were responsible for the dire situation in #East Aleppo, yet it was the Syrian government, the ‘regime’ as they chose to call it, that was blamed by the media and ‘human rights’ organizations. The White Helmets, embedded with these groups, and funded by the same governments which had armed and financed them, were used as the main propaganda prop. Their staged rescues filled the pages of the corporate media. They were effectively canonised by George Clooney, the documentary on their bogus bravery and sham rescues winning an Oscar award, unfortunately not for bad acting, which should have been the prize.

As the Syrian military, with Russian air support, began to squeeze these groups in East Aleppo, the propaganda was turned up accordingly. The ‘siege’ of East Aleppo was no more a siege than the ‘siege’ of East Ghouta. The people trapped in East Aleppo were being held hostage, as are the people in East Ghouta, by some of the most violent groups on the face of the earth. These trapped civilians were their trump card. Those who tried to leave, they killed, just as the takfiris are killing civilians trying to get out of East Ghouta. Having negotiated the peaceful removal of the takfiris from East Aleppo, along with their families and camp followers, the fall-back position of the media and the ‘human rights’ organizations was to accuse the Syrian government of their forcible displacement. They made no mention of the captive Syrian soldiers whom the takfiris paused to massacre before they left. They made no mention of the civilians killed by the takfiris as they were trying to escape and no mention of the dancing in the streets, literally, by the people of Aleppo, and the honking of car horns in jubilation, as these killers were sent on their way. This just didn’t fit in with the narrative the media and these organizations had been spinning.

The takfiris fight among themselves over territory, power and money but their ideology is the same, based on the destruction of the secular state and society and the imposition of a harsh pseudo-Islamic regime in which women would be reduced to the status of cattle and all Shia and Alawi extirpated. It is they who target civilians deliberately. In Adra, at the Northern end of Ghouta, they slaughtered dozens of men, women and children in 2013, beheading some and pushing others into a bread oven. In 2015, in Douma, they put men and women into cages as hostages, to deter possible advances by the Syrian army. They are shelling the centre of Damascus every day, killing civilians, including many children, including some recently mortared in their classroom.

In its report on Syria for 2017/18 Amnesty International (AI) continues its misleading narrative on the fate of East Aleppo and east Ghouta. Those who support it financially should perhaps be considering where they could put their money and their good intentions to better use. AI refers to districts in east Ghouta controlled or ‘contested’ by unspecified ‘armed opposition groups’ and repeats the canard that the Syrian government carried out the chemical weapons attack on Khan Shaikhun in April last year. (Bear in mind the recent statement of US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis that the US had no evidence of the Syrian government using sarin, the agent allegedly fired into Khan Shaikhun.) AI has no proof of this, so why would it state this as fact, except to do more propaganda damage to the Syrian government?

AI refers to 400,000 people ‘besieged’ in East Ghouta by the Syrian military, when the true state of affairs is that their districts have been infiltrated and that they are being held hostage by extremely violent armed groups. They are besieged from within by these groups, penned in and unable to leave except at the risk of being killed by their captors. The Syrian army is not imposing a siege, it is trying to break it. The Syrian government is accused of depriving these people of access to medical care and basic necessities, when it is one or another of these armed groups, over the years, that has caused the breakdown of efforts to set up humanitarian corridors. Even now the Syrian government is waiting with medical care, buses and accommodation but those civilians who try to leave are being shot at and killed, as they were in East Aleppo.

AI’s references to ‘forced displacement’ from East Aleppo, and the way the ‘armed groups’ there were ‘compelled’ to surrender and negotiate a deal that ended the ‘unlawful siege’ are a grotesque distortion of reality. What was unlawful about the situation in East Aleppo was the presence of the armed groups, what was unlawful was the money and weapons being provided to them by outside governments, in breach of international law, what was unlawful was their killing of civilians and the restriction of their free movement (out of East Aleppo), what was lawful was the finally successful attempt of the government of Syria to break the hold of these groups.

Following the release of the AI report on Syria, Claire Mallinson, the national director of AI for Australia, charged into print under the heading of ‘Australians Need to Act on Syrian Monstrosities’ (the Melbourne Age, March 1, 2018). Her reading audience would already have been won over as the Australian media has not reported the war in Syria at all but simply pumped out the same propaganda appearing in the US or British press. Others watching Syria closely over the years know what these ‘monstrosities’ are, and they are not the same as Ms Mallinson’s.

These monstrosities begin with the conspiracy, of the US, Britain, France and their regional Middle Eastern allies, to destroy the Syrian government, and thus strike a deadly blow at the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah strategic alliance, whatever the cost to the Syrian people and whatever their aspirations. They move on to the use by these governments of takfiri proxies to do their dirty work in Syria, following the refusal of Russia and China to allow the UN Security Council to be used as the fig leaf for an air war. These governments armed and financed these groups. They did not care who they were, where they came from and what they believed as long as they were prepared to pick up a gun and bring Syria to its knees. These are the master criminals in Syria.

The monstrosities include a media picking up where it had left off in Iraq. It had peddled the lies there, it had peddled them in Libya, it peddled them again in Syria and it is still peddling them. They include the illegal presence of the US in Syria, its killing of Syrian civilians and its attacks on the legitimate armed forces of the Syrian government and people, attacks in which Australian aircraft have shamefully taken part and which have taken scores of lives of Syrian soldiers.

All of this has led to the grand monstrosity, the large-scale destruction of Syria, involving the loss of life of perhaps 400,000 people and the flight of millions of others beyond Syria’s borders. But now the same governments and the same media that brought you this war, and the same ‘human rights’ organizations that have supported it with their one-sided moralising and unbalanced reports, are expressing their outrage at the suffering in East Ghouta, as if this had nothing to do with them.

The monstrosities in the eyes of the Syrian people, if not in the eyes of Ms Mallinson, are on a par with, if not worse than, the genocidal decade of sanctions which preceded the attack on Iraq in 2003 and the crimes which followed this attack, committed by the same governments that are responsible for the onslaught on Syria. The suffering in East Ghouta is terrible and outrage is justified, but it is the causes that need to be identified and they do not include the efforts of the Syrian government and army to defend the country against attack fomented from without.

Ms Mallinson’s monstrosities are of a different order. They include the chemical weapons ‘reportedly’ being used ‘again’ by the Syrian government against its own people. This smear has been played out time and time again by ‘activists’ knowing that the media and ‘human rights’ organizations will snap it up. There is no proof of any chemical weapon attack ever being carried out by the Syrian military, as against abundant evidence of such attacks planned and carried out by the takfiris over the years, including the attack around Damascus in August, 2013.

Ms Mallinson refers to a UN report that Syria is developing chemical weapons ‘with the help of North Korea’, neatly tying in the two demonized targets of the US government. This is another canard, originating in Washington and designed again to smear the Syrian government and to set it up for whatever might come next.

What she does not say is that this ‘report’ remains unpublished, that the authors are unknown, that what we know of it comes from an account in the New York Times, which sold the lies on Iraq and has promoted the war on Syria from the beginning. The detail it gives of the material allegedly coming from North Korea indicates that it could have no possible connection with chemical weapons, which Syria does not have anyway, having given them all up under international supervision. Given the completely tendentious nature of this account, why would Ms Mallinson want to raise it except to further blacken the name of the Syrian government?

She refers to the ‘warring sides’ in East Ghouta as if both are legitimate when only one is, the government of Syria. The other is a collective of extremely violent armed groups sponsored by outside governments, in breach of international law. The presence of US and ‘coalition’ forces in Syria is a standing violation of international law and their killing of Syrian soldiers and civilians a gross aggravated violation of that law. The only legitimate armed forces in Syria are the Syrian army, which has lost tens of thousands of young men defending the country, and those forces the government has invited in, from Russian air power to Iranian and Hezbollah ground forces.

Ms Mallinson’s monstrosities include the hundreds of thousands of ‘ordinary men, women and children’ she says are at risk of annihilation by the Syrian army’s ‘siege’ of East Ghouta. In fact, the central source of the risk to the people of East Ghouta is not the Syrian government but the armed groups holding them hostage. The ‘siege’ is not of the people but of these groups. The Syrian military is trying to break their grip, as any army would in any comparable situation. Ms Mallinson accuses ‘the Russian-backed Syrian regime’ of breaking the ceasefire, ignoring the evidence that the takfiris are breaking it and killing civilians attempting to escape their grip. Only in the past few days they shot at a family trying to leave, killing the parents and shooting at the children even after they reached a Syrian army checkpoint. They are pouring shells into the centre of Damascus every day. There are no references in her account to the ‘American-backed’ or ‘Saudi-backed’ armed groups that have created this hell on earth, as she refers to it.

Finally, she appeals to the Australian government, as it assumes its seat on the UN Human Rights Council, to ‘show leadership’ in bringing these ‘abominations’ to an end. The problem here is that the Australian government is part of the problem. It fully supports US policy in Syria and has taken part in armed action in Syria, in violation of international law. In September, 2016, its aircraft joined a US-led air attack near Deir al Zor which killed perhaps 100 Syrian soldiers and allowed the Islamic State to regain lost positions. Australia did not apologise for its participation in this outrage, only repeating the US line that the attack was a mistake, which clearly it was not. When the Australian delegate did take his seat on the UN Human Rights Council, he merely echoed US policy, by attacking the Syrian ‘regime’ and its Russian backer.

If Australia does have a role in Syria, a moral role, a legal role, an independent role, it should not be as a sounding chamber for the US. It should distance itself from the illegal actions of the US and the violence of the takfiris against the Syrian people, their government and their army. It should be supporting the attempts of the government in Damascus to restore its authority over the whole of Syria and not supporting the attempts of the US and behind it, Israel, to break it up. It should support the Syrian people, not the actions of governments which have devastated their country.

It should define policy on the basis of the causes of the situation in Syria, not how they are being misrepresented in the media, by ‘activists’ embedded with the takfiri groups, by the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights, by the White Helmets and by deluded or willfully dishonest ‘human rights’ organizations playing politics, not serving truth, justice and the interests of humanity. This would be a credible role for Australia, an independent role, but it is not one the government is going to adopt.

Everyone should be concerned at the loss of life in East Ghouta. Ms Mallinson does not have a mortgage on morality and empathy with human suffering. How does anyone think Syrians feel about this, Syrians shelled in the heart of Damascus every day, Syrians who have lost fathers, brothers and sons in this conflict, Syrians whose relatives are trapped in East Ghouta or have been killed by the armed gangs holding the whole region with a knife to its throat? Does anyone outside seriously think Syrians want to live under their rule? Syrians know what they want, without equivocation, the purging of these gangs from their midst, whatever it takes. They fully support their army and their government. It is their interests Australians, or anyone else of good faith, should be supporting, not the highly politicized interests of Amnesty International.

Outrage is going to solve nothing: it only serves as the pretext for taking the war to a new level of destruction. The roots of this violence are clear: the decision of outside powers to destroy the Syrian government, their support for violent armed groups committed to an ideology destructive of every value these governments are supposed to represent and their refusal to allow the war to end. For the violence to end these are the roots that need to be acknowledged and torn out.


Jeremy Salt has taught at the University of Melbourne, Bosporus University (Istanbul) and Bilkent University (Ankara), specialising in the modern history of the Middle East.  His most recent book is “The Unmaking of the Middle East. A History of Western Disorder in Arab Lands” (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008.)

March 4, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Amnesty International Winks at Trump’s Economic Attack on Venezuelans

By Joe Emersberger | CounterPunch | March 2, 2018

Amnesty International told me that it “does not take a position on the current application” of U.S. economic sanctions that Trump’s administration imposed on Venezuela in August “but rather emphasizes the urgent need to address the serious crisis of the right to health and food which Venezuela is facing. In terms of human rights, it is the Venezuelan state’s responsibility to resolve this.”  Amnesty’s full reply to three questions I asked them by email can be read here.

The expression that “silence gives consent” applies perfectly to Amnesty’s stance which tacitly endorses Trump’s aggression against the Venezuelan people. To make this even more obvious, Amnesty also refused to condemn remarks by Rex Tillerson and Marco Rubio that encourage a military coup in Venezuela. Asked to comment on those remarks Amnesty replied that it ”believes that a responsible discussion on the current state of human rights in Venezuela should not be focused on statements made by parties outside the country and context”.

In the middle of an already grave economic crisis, the sanctions will cost Venezuela’s government billions of dollars this year. Its $64 billion USD in outstanding foreign currency bonds are all governed by New York Law, but the sanctions have outlawed Venezuela from borrowing or selling assets in the U.S. financial system. Debt restructuring is therefore made impossible and it blocks the government from rolling over its bonds (offsetting principal costs by issuing new debt). The sanctions also block CITGO, a U.S. based company owned the by the Venezuelan government, from sending its profits or dividends (which have totaled about $2.5 billion USD since 2015) back to Venezuela.

U.S. sanctions, which are illegal under of chapter 4 article 19 of the OAS Charter, are a direct assault on the Venezuelan peoples’ “right to health and food”.  There is no avoiding this conclusion even if you believe the worst that has been said about Venezuela’s government. You’ll find it extremely hard to learn from the international media, but sanctions are not supported by most Venezuelans according to the same opposition-aligned pollster (Datanalisis) that the media has cited ad nauseam about Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s approval rating.

According to Datanalisis, about 45% of the population received cash bonuses the government paid out over the past three months. Another opposition source – a group of Venezuelan academics who produce the annual ENCOVI surveys – claim that 87% of households have received direct food handouts from the government.  The ENCOVI study is especially dubious as Jacob Wilson has explained, and its 87% figure is probably a wild exaggeration, but even if an accurate estimate is closer to 50%, the depravity of Trump’s sanctions and Amnesty’s refusal to denounce them should be clear from statistics produced by opposition sources.

Decent people were outraged by the sanctions that the U.S. and its allies imposed on Iraq during the 1990s – a country that really was ruled by a dictator.  They should be even more outraged that the same gang of states that devastated Iraq has been able to target a democracy thanks to a propaganda system in which big NGOs like Amnesty play an important part.

Incidentally, the impact of the U.S. sanctions dwarfs any offers of humanitarian aid that have been made. That hasn’t stopped headlines like “Why won’t the country accept aid?”, and articles that invariably fail to explore what has been offered and how it compares to billions of dollars lost due to illegally imposed U.S. sanctions. The annual program expenditures of groups like Caritas ($4 million) and the Pan American Development Foundation ($81 million) are a drop in the ocean compared to the impact of the sanctions.

I was disgusted but not surprised by Amnesty’s tacit support for Trump’s aggression against Venezuela for several reasons.

In 2010, Amnesty put out a statement claiming that there was only one TV broadcaster in Venezuela that had not been shut down by the government – an absolutely preposterous claim. Could the world renowned organization not afford to pay somebody to watch some Venezuelan TV or do any basic research?

Amnesty refused to recognize Chelsea Manning as a Prisoner of Conscience on ridiculous grounds, but has given that designation to Leopoldo Lopez – a man involved with four different attempts to violently overthrow Venezuela’s democratically elected government. One of them, in April of 2002, was briefly successful.

When the US government (helped by its trusty allies Canada and France) overthrew Haiti’s democratically elected president in 2004 and installed a dictatorship that ruled with tremendous brutality for two years, Amnesty’s response was seriously marred by political cowardice and double standards. About the kindest thing you could say about Amnesty’s work in Haiti, and in general, is that Human Rights Watch (HRW) has been even worse. For example, it took HRW years longer than Amnesty to make any serious contribution to the fight to hold the UN mission in Haiti accountable for killing 10,000 Haitians by bringing cholera in to the country in 2010. The key facts were well known by at least 2011 (as you can see from this petition) years before Amnesty took any significant action in 2015.

Norman Finkelstein’s latest book “Gaza: An Inquest into its Martyrdom” has a chapter devoted to thoroughly dissecting Amnesty’s reports on Israel’s savage “Protective Edge” assault on Gaza in 2014. Finkelstein wrote “By supplying Israel with pretexts for atrocities that were among the most heinous it committed during Protective Edge, Amnesty conveniently eased the burden of Israeli hasbara [propagandists]”.

In an email exchange I had with Amnesty regarding Syria in 2012, Amnesty defended a position which told Saudi Arabia, perhaps the most brutal and backward government on earth, to merely be careful about which rebels it armed in Syria. At the same time, Amnesty called for an arms embargo on almost entirely defenseless Palestinians.

Amnesty has repeatedly showed that it is not willing or able to denounce the brutality of the U.S. government or its allies to anywhere near the extent that it should. One can have a long discussion about why that’s the case, but an appalling track record has been well established.  People who live in United States, or in countries like Canada which regularly provide political cover for U.S. crimes abroad, will have to work around and even against NGOs like Amnesty International to prevent their governments from continuing to destroy one country after another.

March 4, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Economics | , , , , | Leave a comment

Amnesty International Is Barking Up The Wrong Tree

By Paul Craig Roberts | Institute for Political Economy | January 15, 2108

I have received a letter from Margaret Huang, Amnesty International’s executive director. She is fundraising on the basis of President Trump’s “chilling disregard for our cherished human rights” and his exploitation of “hatred, misogyny, racism and xenophobia,” by which he has “emboldened and empowered the most violent segments of our society.”

Considering the hostility of Identity Politics toward Trump, one can understand why Ms. Huang frames her fundraiser in this way, but are the Trump deplorables the most empowered and violent segments of our society or is it the security agencies, the police, the neoconservatives, the presstitute media, and the Republican and Democratic parties?

John Kiriakou, Ray McGovern, Philip Giraldi, Edward Snowden, and others inform us that it is their former employers, the security agencies, that are empowered by unaccountability and violent by intent. Certainly the security agencies are emboldened by everything they have gotten away with, including their conspiracy to destroy President Trump with their orchestration known as Russiagate.

The violence that the US government has committed against humanity since the Clinton regime attacked Serbia was not committed by Trump deplorables. The violence that has destroyed in whole or part eight countries, murdering, maiming, and displacing millions of peoples, was committed by the Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama regimes, their secretaries of state such as Hillary Clinton, their national security advisers, their military and security establishments, both parties in Congress. The murder of entire countries was endorsed by the presstitute media and the heads of state of Washington’s European, Canadian, Australian, and Japanese vassals. Trump and his deplorables have a long way to go to match this record of violence.

Whether she understands it or not, Ms. Huang with her letter is shifting the violence from where it belongs to where it does not. The consequence will be to increase violence and human rights violations.

The most dangerous source of violence that we face is nuclear Armageddon resulting from the neoconservative quest for US hegemony. Since the Clinton regime every US government has broken tension-easing agreements that previous administrations had achieved with Moscow. During the Obama regime the gratuitous aggressions and false accusations against Russia became extreme.

Why doesn’t Amnesty International address the reckless and irresponsible acts of the US government that are violating the rights of people in numerous countries and pushing the world into nuclear war? Instead, there have been times when Amnesty International aligns with Washington’s propaganda against Washington’s victims.

By jumping on the military/security complex’s get Trump movement, human rights and environmental organizations have increased the likelihood that rights and environment will be lost to war.

There can be no doubt that Trump is undoing past environmental protections and opening the environment and wildlife to more destruction. However, the worst destruction comes from war, especially nuclear war.

Would things be different if the liberal/progressive/left had rallied to Trump’s support in reducing tensions with Russia, in normalizing the hostile relations that Obama had established with Moscow? Would the support of the liberal/progressive/left have helped Trump resist the pressures from the neoconservative warmongers? In exchange for support for his principal goal, would Trump have mitigated industry’s attacks on the environment and vetoed the renewal of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that violates human rights?

We will never know, because the liberal/progressive/left could not see beyond the end ot its nose to comprehend what it means for the environment and for human rights for nuclear powers to be locked into mutual suspicion.

Thanks to the failure of the liberal/progressive/left and to the presstitute media to understand the stakes, the military/security complex has been successful in pushing Trump off his agenda. The damage that a mining company and offshore drilling can do to the environment is large, but it pales in comparison to the damage from nuclear weapons.

January 16, 2018 Posted by | Environmentalism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment