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University Professor Sacked for Telling-the-Truth

Peter Ridd as a first year undergraduate science student at James Cook University back in 1978 – forty years ago.
By Jennifer Marohasy | May 19, 2018

BACK in 2016, when I asked Peter Ridd if he would write a chapter for the book I was editing I could not possibly have envisaged it could contribute to the end of his thirty-year career as a university professor.

Considering that Peter enrolled at James Cook University as an undergraduate back in 1978, he has been associated with that one university for forty years.

Since Peter was fired on 2 May 2018, the university has attempted to remove all trace of this association: scrubbing him completely from their website.

But facts don’t cease to exist because they are removed from a website. The university has never challenged the veracity of Peter’s legitimate claims about the quality of much of the reef science: science on which billions of dollars of taxpayer-funded research is being squandered. These issues are not going away.

Just yesterday (Friday 18 May), Peter lodged papers in the Federal Court. He is going to fight for his job back! […]

Peter deliberately choose to frame the book chapter about the replication crisis that is sweeping through science.

In this chapter – The Extraordinary Resilience of Great Barrier Reef Coral and Problems with Policy Science – Peter details the major problems with quality assurance when it comes to claims of the imminent demise of the reef.

Policy science concerning the Great Barrier Reef is almost never checked. Over the next few years, Australian governments will spend more than a billion dollars on the Great Barrier Reef; the costs to industry could far exceed this. Yet the keystone research papers have not been subject to proper scrutiny. Instead, there is a total reliance on the demonstrably inadequate peer-review process.

Ex-professor Peter Ridd has also published extensively in the scientific literature on the Great Barrier Reef, including issues with the methodology used to measure calcification rates. In the book he explains:

Like trees, which produce rings as they grow, corals set down a clearly identifiable layer of calcium carbonate skeleton each year, as they grow. The thicknesses and density of the layers can be used to infer calcification rates and are, effectively, a measure of the growth rate. Dr Glenn De’ath and colleagues from the Australian Institute of Marine Science used cores from more than 300 corals, some of which were hundreds of years old, to measure the changes in calcification during the last few hundred years. They claimed there was a precipitous decline in calcification since 1990, as shown in Figure 1.2.

The LHS chart suggests a problem with coral growth rates – but the real problem is with the methodology. When corals of equivalent age are sampled, there has been no decline in growth rates at the Great Barrier Reef – as shown in the RHS chart.

However, I have two issues with their analysis. I published my concerns, and an alternative analysis, in the journal Marine Geology (Ridd et al. 2013). First, there were instrumental errors with the measurements of the coral layers. This was especially the case for the last layer at the surface of the coral, which was often measured as being much smaller than the reality. This forced an apparent drop in the average calcification for the corals that were collected in the early 2000s – falsely implying a recent calcification drop. Second, an ‘age effect’ was not acknowledged. When these two errors are accounted for, the drop in calcification rates disappear, as shown in Figure 1.2.

The problem with the ‘age effect’, mentioned above, arose because in the study De’ath and colleagues included data from corals sampled during two distinct periods and with a different focus; I will refer to these as two campaigns. The first campaign occurred mostly in the 1980s and focused on very large coral specimens, sometimes many metres across. The second campaign occurred in the early 2000s due to the increased interest in the effects of CO2. However, presumably due to cost cutting measures, instead of focusing on the original huge coral colonies, the second campaign measured smaller colonies, many just a few tens of centimetres in diameter.

In summary, the first campaign focused on large old corals, while, in contrast, the second campaign focused on small young corals. The two datasets were then spliced together, and wholly unjustifiable assumptions were implicitly made, but not stated – in particular that there is no age effect on coral growth…

Dr Juan D’Olivo Cordero from the University of Western Australia collected an entirely different dataset of coral cores from the Great Barrier Reef to determine calcification rates. This study determined that there has been a 10% increase in calcification rates since the 1940s for offshore and mid-shelf reefs, which is the location of about 99% of all the coral on the Great Barrier Reef. However, these researchers also measured a 5% decline in calcification rates of inshore corals – the approximately 1% of corals that live very close to the coast. Overall, there was an increase for most of the Great Barrier Reef, and a decrease for a small fraction of the Great Barrier Reef.

While it would seem reasonable to conclude that the results of the study by D’Olivo et al. would be reported as good news for the Great Barrier Reef, their article in the journal Coral Reefs concluded:

Our new findings nevertheless continue to raise concerns, with the inner-shelf reefs continuing to show long-term declines in calcification consistent with increased disturbance from land-based effects. In contrast, the more ‘pristine’ mid- and outer-shelf reefs appear to be undergoing a transition from increasing to decreasing rates of calcification, possibly reflecting the effects of CO2-driven climate change.

Imaginatively, this shift from ‘increasing’ to ‘decreasing’ seems to be based on an insignificant fall in the calcification rate in some of the mid-shelf reefs in the last two years of the 65-year dataset.

Why did the authors concentrate on this when their data shows that the reef is growing about 10% faster than it did in the 1940s?

James Cook university could have used the chapter as an opportunity to start a much-needed discussion about policy, funding and the critical importance of the scientific method. Instead, Peter was first censored by the University – and now he has been fired.

When I first blogged on this back in February, Peter needed to raise A$95,000 to fight the censure.

This was achieved through an extraordinary effort, backed by Anthony Watts, Joanne Nova, John Roskam and so many others.

To be clear, the university is not questioning the veracity of what ex-professor Ridd has written, but rather his right to say this publicly. In particular, the university is claiming that he has not been collegial and continues to speak-out even after he was told to desist.

New allegations have been built on the original misconduct charges that I detailed back in February. The core issue continues to be Peter’s right to keep talking – including so that he can defend himself.

In particular, the university objects to the original GoFundMe campaign (that Peter has just reopened) because it breaches claimed confidentiality provisions in Peter’s employment agreement. The university claims that Peter Ridd was not allowed to talk about their action against him. Peter disputes this.

Of course, if Peter had gone along with all of this, he would have been unable to raise funds to get legal advice – to defend himself! All of the documentation is now being made public – all of this information, and more can be found at Peter’s new website.

May 18, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Full Spectrum Dominance, Science and Pseudo-Science | , | 8 Comments

Forget Facebook, Five Eyes is bigger threat to our privacy, security

By Yves Engler | May 8, 2018

While the media has been full of news about information-gathering by Facebook and other Internet giants, other secretive organizations that are a major threat to our personal privacy and public security are seldom mentioned. And when they are, it has most often been because politicians are praising them and offering up more money for them to spy.

For example, Justin Trudeau recently promoted the “Anglosphere’s” intelligence sharing arrangement. Two weeks ago, in a rare move, the PM revealed a meeting with his “Five Eyes” counterparts. After the meeting in London Trudeau labelled the 2,000 employee Communications Security Establishment, Canada’s main contributor to the “Five Eyes” arrangement, “an extraordinary institution”. Last year Trudeau said that “collaboration and co-operation between allies, friends and partners has saved lives and keeps all of our citizens safe.”

The praise comes as the government is seeking to substantially expand CSE’s powers and two months ago put up $500 million to create a federal “cybersecurity” centre. This money is on top of CSE’s $600 million annual budget and a massive new $1.2 billion complex.

Since its creation CSE has been part of the “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing framework. The main contributors to the accord are the US National Security Agency (NSA), Australian Defence Signals Directorate (DFS), New Zealand’s Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) and CSE. A series of post-World War II accords, beginning with the 1946 UK USA intelligence agreement, created the “AUS/CAN/NZ/UK/US EYES ONLY” arrangement.

Writing prior to the Internet, author of Target Nation: Canada and the Western Intelligence Network James Littleton notes, “almost the entire globe is monitored by the SIGINT [signals intelligence] agencies of the UKUSA countries.” With major technological advancements in recent decades, the Five Eyes now monitor billions of private communications worldwide.

The Five Eyes accords are ultra-secretive and operate with little oversight. NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden labeled it a “supra-national intelligence organisation that doesn’t answer to the known laws of its own countries.”

In addition to sharing information they’ve intercepted, collected, analysed and decrypted, the five SIGINT agencies exchange technologies and tactics. They also cooperate on targeting and “standardize their terminology, code words, intercept–handling procedures, and indoctrination oaths, for efficiency as well as security.”

CSE Special Liaison Officers are embedded with Five Eyes counterparts while colleagues from the US, Britain, Australia and New Zealand are inserted in CSE. NSA has had many long-term guest detachments at CSE facilities. An NSA document Snowden released described how the US and Canadian agencies’ “co-operative efforts include the exchange of liaison officers and integrees.”

NSA has trained CSE cryptanalysts and in the 1960s the US agency paid part of the cost of modernizing Canadian communications interception facilities. With CSE lacking capacity, intelligence collected at interception posts set up in Canadian embassies in Cuba, Jamaica, Russia, etc. was often remitted to NSA for deciphering and analysis. In his 1986 book Littleton writes, “much of the SIGINT material collected by Canada is transmitted directly to the U.S. National Security Agency, where it is interpreted, stored, and retained. Much of it is not first processed and analyzed in Canada.”

Five Eyes agencies have helped each other skirt restrictions on spying on their own citizenry. Former Solicitor-General Wayne Easter told the Toronto Star that it was “common” for NSA “to pass on information about Canadians” to CSE. Conversely, former CSE officer Michael Frost says NSA asked the agency to spy on US citizens. In Spyworld: Inside the Canadian and American Intelligence Establishments Frost reveals that on the eve of the 1983 British election Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher asked GCHQ to spy on two cabinet ministers “to find out not what they were saying, but what they were thinking.” Reflecting the two agencies close ties, GCHQ requested CSE’s help on this highly sensitive matter. Frost notes that CSE wasn’t particularly worried about being caught because GCHQ was the agency tasked with protecting Britain from foreign spying.

In the lead-up to the US-British invasion of Iraq NSA asked Canada and the rest of the Five Eyes to spy on UN Security Council members. On January 31, 2003, NSA SIGINT Department Deputy Chief of Staff for regional targets wrote alliance counterparts: “As you’ve likely heard by now, the agency is mounting a surge particularly directed at the UN Security Council (UNSC) members (minus US and GBR [Great Britain] of course) for insights as to how membership is reacting to the ongoing debate RE: Iraq, plans to vote on any related resolutions, what related policies/negotiating positions they may be considering, alliances/dependencies, etc. – the whole gamut of information that could give US policymakers an edge in obtaining results favorable to US goals or to head off surprises.”

While CSE reportedly rejected this NSA request, a number of commentators suggest CSE has shown greater allegiance to its Five Eyes partners than most Canadians would like. Littleton writes, “the agreements may not explicitly say that the United States, through its SIGINT organization, the National Security Agency (NSA) dominates and controls the SIGINT organizations of the other member nations, but that is clearly what the agreements mean.”

An NSA history of the US–Canada SIGINT relationship released by Snowden labelled Canada a “highly valued second party partner”, which offers “resources for advanced collection, processing and analysis, and has opened covert sites at the request of NSA. CSE shares with NSA their unique geographic access to areas unavailable to the US.”

The Five Eyes arrangement has made Canada complicit in belligerent US foreign policy. It’s time for a debate about Canadian participation in the “Anglosphere’s” intelligence sharing agreement.

May 8, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘I’ve seen the censorship’: Syrian blogger tells RT how she was labeled a ‘Russian bot’

How to get a ‘Russian Bot’ label, 101: Just cast doubt on mainstream line on Skripal and Syria!

“They could have stopped and realised the fact if they attacked all the anti-war voices at once it looked suspicious. But no, they’re still going.”

RT | April 23, 2018

Maram Susli, also known as Partisangirl, is a Syrian living in Perth, Australia. If you ask the British government, though, she’s a ‘Russian bot.’ London bases these claims on dodgy numbers from shady sources, Susli tells RT. … transcript/article

April 23, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , | Leave a comment

Russian diplomat says Britain deserves title of world’s worst genocide perpetrator

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova
TASS | April 19, 2018

MOSCOW – Britain may well be described as the holder of the world’s genocide record, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told a news briefing on Thursday in response to claims by UK ambassador in Moscow Laurie Bristow to the effect Russia was allegedly behind a number of contract killings.

“Britain is the world’s worst genocider,” she said. “The thought of how many millions of innocent people were put to death in the British colonies is terrifying.”

Zakharova recalled that according to various estimates, British colonists exterminated up to 90%-95% of the aborigines in the process of colonizing Australia.

In the 1870s, Britain conducted genocide against the Zulus in Cape Colony, and in 1954-1961, against the Kikuyu people in Kenya, she recalled.

“In retaliation for the killing of 32 white colonists the British authorities exterminated 300,000 members of the Kikuyu people and drove another 1.5 million into concentration camps,” she said.

In all, Zakharova made public 17 pages of archive information describing Britain’s unseemly actions in the world scene over many years.

April 20, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

How Fake News Becomes Fake History: British Propaganda and World War 1

By Corey Schink | Sott.net | April 2, 2018

While it took a while to pick up steam, the Skripal Salisbury poisoning incident has lately dominated Western media headlines. Daily we are treated to the smug and self-righteous faces who, in one breath, compare Putin to Hitler, Stalin, and Czar Nicholas II, before proceeding to compare Russia to Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and the Russian Empire simultaneously. This would surely be the height of all evil, assuming it were true!

And of course we are supposed to assume it is true because this latest fake news is built on an edifice of an entire history of fake news. Simon Tisdall recently wrote in one of the largest purveyors of fake news, The Guardian:

It has taken a long time for western politicians to recognise the extent and depth of the threat represented by Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Some in the Labour party still don’t. It is also plain, as Theresa May embarks on an open-ended confrontation with Moscow, that the dispute provoked by the Salisbury outrage could take years to resolve.

Cold or hot, overt or covert, this is going to be a long war – and Britain will need all its friends and allies if it is to prevail against a ruthless opponent. Whether sincere, sufficient and timely support will be forthcoming is in serious doubt.

The ‘war’ has been declared – and to dissent is to be a traitor, not so much to one’s country but to amorphous ‘Western values’. Tisdall continues:

Justified perceptions of Western weakness, ambivalence and division have since encouraged Putin in a pattern of escalating, aggressive behaviour. Its main features include wars in Georgia and Ukraine, cyber-attacks against Nato countries, election meddling and destabilisation operations, and the bloody Syrian intervention.

Putin was further emboldened by his domestic dominance, achieved through manipulation of elections, the rustication of the Duma into a rubber-stamp parliament, and the elimination, by various means, of leading opponents, critics and free media. Boris Nemtsov, a liberal reformer killed in 2015, and Anna Politkovskaya, an investigative journalist murdered in 2006, are but two names on a long list that could ultimately include Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

Unsubstantiated claims apparently add up to substantial threats which warrant immediate action. To paraphrase Franz Kafka, “It is not necessary to accept everything as true, one must only accept it as necessary – thus lying turns into a universal principle.” I would only add that believing in lies turns people’s brains to mush, rendering them easily exploited by the liars.

So we watch again as many Western governments expel large numbers of Russian diplomats with absolute disregard for international law and norms. Donald Trump, the man who promised to mend relations with Russia has succumbed to the ‘swamp’ that he set out to drain. We can hope that he has now, at least, discovered how naive he was to believe he could actually do it.

While uniquely shrill and apparently novel, the anti-Russia hysteria in recent years – culminating recently with the Skripal incident and ‘Russiagate’ – has a long historical precedent and, over the course of at least the last couple of centuries, has been used primarily for one thing: war. War distracts the people from apparently insoluble social and political issues, and it presents major opportunities for enrichment to those positioned for it. But it takes two to tango, and ‘the East’ has learned that there will be no war if they don’t show up. While ‘the West’ continues to play a game of deception, the East has moved on, and we Westerners are – for now at least – left only to war with ourselves.

The central role played by the UK in recent ‘Russian incidents’ echoes the central role that country played in historical incidents which led us to this moment today. For over a century now, the role of the British elite in starting World War 1 has been almost completely overlooked. A proper appraisal of that world-changing event, which shaped the rest of the 20th century and our world today, has only recently been undertaken by historians and researchers. Far from being exclusively Germany’s fault, the ‘war to end all wars’ was deliberately brought about by a network of corporate, financial and imperial interests that met in and operated through the seat of the British Empire.

List of Suspects

Alfred Milner

Lord Alfred Milner, British Colonial Secretary, and architect of the Union of South Africa

Britain in the early 1900s underwent a gradual though sustained period of anti-German hystericization which culminated in the outbreak of WW1. Despite relentless media propaganda demonizing Germans and increasing signs that war could break out in Europe, the British public in 1906 voted overwhelmingly for a new Prime Minister, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, a staunch critic of the recent Boer wars and an advocate for a policy of ‘Peace and Retrenchment’ in the increasingly fragile British Empire.

Referred to as “Britain’s first, and only, radical Prime Minister,” in foreign affairs Campbell-Bannerman was neutered by a warmongering elite before he even began his term, and he died in office just two years later. Instead of peace, the British public received a war that produced in a single day the combined military and civilian casualties in all of Europe’s conflicts from the previous 100 years.1 So much for democracy and highfalutin ‘Western values’.

While the British voted resoundingly for a policy of Peace and Retrenchment, powerful forces would stop at nothing to get the war they desired, and the control over the world it afforded them.

Lord Alfred Milner: Despite being born in Germany to mixed British-German parents, Milner’s ethos was formed entirely by an ardent belief in the “superiority of the British race.” An Oxford-educated imperialist, Milner began as a journalist at the Pall Mall Gazette before joining, together with fellow journalist William Stead, a secret society set up by the influential oligarch and colonialist Cecil Rhodes. By the time WW1 broke out, this sinister organization was entirely Milner’s, and went by the name ‘Round Table Group’, or ‘Milner’s Kindergarten’, influencing British, and thus global, foreign policy from the shadows. It was, in essence, the precursor to today’s ‘Deep State’.

Milner served as Rhodes’ ‘clean-up man’ following the disastrous attempt to provoke an uprising among British expatriates in the Transvaal colony of southern Africa. Soon after Milner was rewarded with the office of High Commissioner for Southern Africa in 1897. From that post Milner would wage a campaign of deception to initiate the second Boer war, overseeing the highly controversial use of concentration camps to humiliate and punish the citizenry. These camps and other brutal methods used in the Boer wars would shock both the British public and the armed forces. Under Milner’s rule, 28,000 of the 115,000 people put into camps died, nearly 22,000 of them children. On this Milner wrote,

“The theory that, all the weakly children being dead, the rate would fall off is not so far borne out by the facts. The strong ones must be dying now and they will all be dead by the spring of 1903.”

Perhaps no one exemplified the British Elite’s attitude better than Milner. But for all his barbarism, he was very successful. Having secured British territories in the ‘Scramble for Africa’, Milner carefully manipulated the cabinet of the newly elected Henry Campbell-Bannerman, ensuring that his pro-imperialist forces were well-represented within. Succeeding in the dark arts of imperialism, Milner turned down lucrative offers to work for JP Morgan and instead returned to London in 1905 to pursue a much larger project: conquering the globe.2

Sir Edward Grey was appointed Foreign Minister in Henry Campbell-Bannerman’s cabinet on the insistence of King Edward. One of Milner’s inside men, he ensured that British foreign policy was pointed towards war preparations, and was party to a secret military alliance with France in 1904. This secret agreement between five ministers – Asquith, Haldane, Grey, Churchill and Lloyd George – promised military ‘reciprocities’ to the French in the event of war.

Grey stated categorically that there had been no ‘secret agreement’ to come to France’s aid in case of attack:

“First of all let me try to put an end to some of the suspicions with regard to secrecy — suspicions with which it seems to me some people are torturing themselves, and certainly worrying others. We have laid before the House the Secret Articles of the Agreement with France of 1904. There are no other secret engagements. The late Government made that agreement in 1904. They kept those articles secret and I think to everybody the reason will be obvious why they did so. It would have been invidious to make those articles public. In my opinion they were entirely justified in keeping those articles secret because they were not articles which commit this House to serious obligations.3

But, as Sir Bertrand Russell noted at the time, “I had noticed during previous years how carefully Sir Edward Grey lied in order to prevent the public from knowing the methods by which he was committing us to the support of France in the event of war.”4

King Edward VII: Prince of Wales, Albert Edward, became King Edward VII upon taking the throne in 1901. In the following years he busied himself with diplomatic meetings to arrange secret agreements that effectively encircled Germany and made the German military paranoid.

raymond poincare

He drove a wedge between Germany and the Italian monarch, and conducted diplomacy with nearly all of Germany’s neighbors. When Germany mobilized her forces, she was unwittingly springing the trap set for her by Edward and the secret elite.

Raymond Poincaré: A French statesman, three-time Prime Minister and President in 1913, Poincare exemplified the hysterical anti-German hatred of the French elite. France, which lost the territory of Alsace-Lorraine to Prussia after Napoleon III foolishly went to war with an insufficient army to win it, was prepared to do whatever it took to win it back and check Germany’s rise. As Poincare would announce in an address to university students,

“In my years at school, my thought, bowed before the spectre of defeat, dwelt ceaselessly upon the frontier which the Treaty of Frankfurt had imposed upon us, and when I descended from my metaphysical clouds, I could discover no other reason why my generation should go on living except for the hope of recovering our lost provinces.”

Richard Burdon Haldane: Haldane was one of Milner’s closest confidants, and would become the Secretary of State for War in 1905, instituting a massive military revolution in the organisation of the British Army. He set up the Territorial Army, the Office Training Corps, and the Special Reserve, and spearhead a pro-French military policy in opposition to many who had served under a pro-Belgian policy for decades.

Théophile Delcassé: A French foreign minister with a rabid hatred of Germany, Théophile was bent on establishing a military alliance between Britain, France and Russia that would support France’s desire to regain her lost territories. He was forced to resign after he nearly brought his country to the brink of war with Germany in the First Moroccan Crisis of 1905-1906. However, he wormed his way back into power to replace the more cool-headed foreign minister, Gabriel Hanotaux, and then became President of France in 1913.

Horatio Herbert Kitchener

Horatio Herbert Kitchener

Horatio Herbert Kitchener: A general during the Boer wars, Kitchener oversaw the implementation of concentration camp policy in South Africa. He then ran British foreign affairs out of Cairo and designed plans for the division of the Middle East, fanning the flames of rebellion and separatism in the Ottoman Empire. The end result (though not according to his plan) was the rise of the House of Saud and its peculiar brand of Islam that served Anglo-American dominance of the region via the ‘War on Terror’ a century later. David Fromkin noted in A Peace to End All Peace that:

Restoring the caliphate to Arabia, where it and Mohammed were born thirteen centuries before, was Kitchener’s strategy for preparing for the rivalry with Russia which was bound to follow the conclusion of the war against Germany.5

If that was indeed Kitchener’s strategy a century ago, then it is remarkably consistent with current Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia’s recent statement that Wahhabism was encouraged throughout the 20th century by the anglo-Americans as a means of keeping Russia out of the Middle East.

Kitchener, like all the upper-class aristocrats and oligarchs who engineered WW1, had stunning disdain for ordinary people, his own troops included. At one point early in World War 1, it looked like the Russians were going to pull out and make peace with Germany. This would have been disastrous for the Anglo-French forces because Germany could then concentrate its forces on the Western Front.

The secret elite promised Russia that, in exchange for joining Britain’s ‘Triple Entente’, Constantinople – a kind of Orthodox Mecca – would become Russian property in a post-war world. Kitchener conspired with Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, to arrange a suicidal assault on the Dardanelles, which links the Mediterranean and Black Seas. They did this in order to trick Russia into believing that Britain was upholding its end of the bargain, and thus continuing its military engagement with Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire in eastern Europe. This worked, but at the cost of tens of thousands of British, French and Australian lives in a landing invasion the elite knew would not work against formidable Ottoman defences. Furthermore, they never had any intention of ceding Constantinople to Russia.

Lord Horatio Kitchener

The iconic, much-imitated 1914 Lord Kitchener Wants You poster

Kitchener’s death-dealing career hit its highest point when he was appointed Secretary of State for War, but was abruptly ended when his ship was hit by a German u-boat, although there are various other theories about the cause of his death.

This list covers just a few of the conspirators, but enough to paint a rough picture of the individuals who worked tirelessly to engineer a war that would end peace for much of the century – a war that would result in the rise of Hitler, the Soviet Union, an apartheid Israeli state, and the spread of Radical Islamic Terrorism. The following is the general strategy they followed.

Seeking the War Trigger

Scottish researchers Gerry Docherty and Jim Macgregor conducted an exhaustive study of the ways in which British officials paved the road to war in their book Hidden History: The Secret Origins of the First World War. I think it’s a must-read for any student of Western history, but my one criticism of their work is that they tend to portray Germany as a victim and thereby cast a shadow over the generalized hysteria – which affected everyone, Russia included – and poor thinking that the German military and Kaiser succumbed to – and indeed the war crimes committed by the Germans. Nevertheless, their argument that the British were the primary instigators of the war rests in part on the following cases:

Cracks in the British Empire: At the onset of the war it seemed that every nation except Germany had reason to engage in a global Holocaust. The English had dominated European and world affairs to that point, but the sheer cost of occupying and managing many far-flung colonies was hitting its national coffers hard. Germany’s unification under Bismarck and rapid industrialization, meanwhile, was leading it to overtake the British empire in some key sectors. As F. William Engdahl notes “fear of the emerging German economic challenge towards the end of the 1890s was so extreme among the leading circles of the British establishment, that Britain made a drastic change in its decades-long Continental alliance strategy, in a bold effort to tilt European events back to England’s advantage.”6

This change in strategy saw Britain make geopolitical concessions to both Russia and France while manipulating them into adopting antagonistic positions towards Germany. Having been engaged in ‘the Great Game’ with Russia throughout the 19th century to check Russian expansion and influence in India and Afghanistan, Britain’s sudden alliance with Russia only came about after Japan, armed with British battleships and financed by British and American banks, defeated Russia in its Far East region in 1904-1905. Contained in the east by the rising Japanese, Russia’s gaze inevitably swung westwards to the Balkans and to the Mediterranean Sea access she coveted, and which the British pretended to agree she could have.

French Hysteria: Napoleon III, the nephew of Napoleon, was as ambitious as his uncle. In a brash attempt to destroy the growing Prussian state, Napoleon III ordered the mobilization of a far inferior French force that was immediately crushed by the Prussian military machine. As a result, France lost Alsace-Lorraine and was humiliated due to the ridiculous actions of a reckless leader.

As a British newspaper, the Sheffield and Rotterdam Independent, noted on October 11, 1870, “France has ever coveted the boundary of 1810. She has wanted power to cross the Rhine at her pleasure, to set up a Rhenish Confederation under her control, and to occupy at her convenience, as the first Napoleon did, the German capitals.”

Dreyfuss Affair

The Dreyfuss Affair: Gabriel Hanotaux, French minister of foreign affairs from 1894 to 1896, was a notable exception in the general trend of increasing hysteria. His efforts, however, could not arrest the slide to war. When Hanotaux sought to develop peaceful relations with Germany, General Albert Dreyfuss was charged with treason for allegedly communicating secrets to German spies. He was later exhonerated and the case remained a symbol of trial-by-propaganda. As Engdahl writes:

Hanotaux intervened into the initial process in 1894, correctly warning that the Dreyfus affair would lead to “a diplomatic rupture with Germany, even war.” Dreyfus was exonerated years later, and it was revealed that Count Ferdinand Walsin-Esterhazy, in the pay of the Rothschild banking family, had manufactured the evidence against Dreyfus. By 1898, Hanotaux was out of office, and succeeded by the malleable anglophile, Theophile Delcassé.7

Fashoda Incident: In 1898 a military incident between Kitchener’s British forces and French forces in Egypt, dubbed the Fashoda Incident, forced the French out of that country and caused an international crisis. The British then exploited the situation to secure a future alliance with France lest she be cornered by Germany and Russia and lose control of her other territories. By 1904 the British had secretly arranged to take complete control of Egypt while giving France control of Morocco, which was in violation of Franco-German treaties.

Fake News

Wilhelm II

Emperor Wilhelm II and an Italian poster from 1915 showing the Kaiser biting into the world

Fake news becomes fake history. Today British war-mongers expect us to believe, without any reasonable proof, that Putin will kill ‘thousands and thousands and thousands’ of Britons without provocation. Similarly, the propaganda mill before and during World War 1 was hard at work convincing the world that Germany was the devil incarnate – and that the coming bloodbath was justified.

Germany was consistently portrayed in the press as an ‘aggressor nation’. This despite the fact that the UK, France, and Russia “spent £657,884,476 on warships in that same decade, while Germany and Austria-Hungary spent £235,897,978. The peacetime strength of the German army was 761,000, while France stood at 794,000 and Russia 1,845,000, yet the claim that militarism had ‘run amok’ in Germany was presented as the given truth.”9

While accusing Germany of war-mongering, British preparations for war were so intense that it led senior military officers to claim that war with Germany was inevitable.10 Milner would go on a ‘world tour’ organizing imperial conferences designed to rally support for Britain in the event of war and to “foster imperial cooperation in both defence and communications.”11

In 1896 Lord Nortchliffe created the Daily Mail newspaper which, within years, had reached millions of mostly lower and middle-class readers.12 In 1897 he commissioned the publication of a series titled Under the Iron Heel, which predicted the German Army would soon invade Britain. Northcliffe also commissioned the writing of a fictional account of a German invasion called The Invasion of 1910. The Daily Mail even printed special maps showing where these ‘Huns’ (slang for Germans) would invade. Northcliffe was also a financier of The Poison Bullet, a spy scare novel designed to indulge base anti-German sentiment among the British public.13 He also penned pamphlets predicting inevitable war with Germany.

As J. Lee Thompson writes, “by 1914 Northcliffe controlled roughly 40 percent of the morning, 45 percent of the evening, and 15 percent of the Sunday total newspaper circulations.”14 Thus, by the time of war, British society had been effectively whipped into war-readiness by decades of anti-German propaganda, with pamphlets and literature convincing the public that German spies were around every corner. Today the evening news and the internet have replaced “pamphlets and literature” and Russia has replaced Germany.

In 1909 a bill was rammed through parliament establishing the British secret service – today’s MI5 and MI6 – while another imposed unprecedented police state powers on the country.15

Pulling the Trigger

trench warfare

With Germany diplomatically isolated and secret military preparations and agreements signed by France, Britain, and Russia, the only thing missing was a “catastrophic and catalyzing event” to justify a declaration of war. Just such an event occurred in the Balkans, a region that had been in utter turmoil for some years.

In the build-up to World War 1, Serbia, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Bosnia were at war with each other, divided internally, and in conflict with both the Ottoman Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Bitter ethnic and nationalist sentiment was whipped into a frenzy by successive crises. Anglophile Russian diplomat Alexander Isvolsky agreed (without the Czar’s or the Russian government’s approval) that Russia would support Austria-Hungary’s ‘right’ to annex Bosnia-Herzegovina at a time of its choosing in exhange for Austro-Hungarian support for Russian control over the Dardanelles. As a result, and in violation of international law, on October 6, 1908, Austria-Hungary announced its annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina immediately provoking outrage from Serbia that saw Bosnia as theirs. This entanglement was the fuse that ignited the first World War when the Austrian Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated by a Bosnian Serb. As Alan Cassels wrote in his Ideology and International Relations in the Modern World, this event “fanned pan-Slavism in the Balkans to a frenzy.”17

When World War I broke out, Isvolsky is reputed to have remarked, “C’est ma guerre!” (“This is my war!”)

On June 28th, 1914 Archduke Ferdinand was shot and killed in Sarajevo. Austria-Hungary blamed the Serbs. Determined to hold Serbia accountable, European diplomats indicated to Austria-Hungary that she had every right to do so. Austria-Hungary therefore sent Belgrade a note in which it demanded the following items:

  1. The end to anti-Austrian propaganda in Serbian media and education
  2. The right for Austrian police to investigate the assassination on Serbian soil
  3. Public apologies from the King and the government
  4. The immediate surrender of those responsible

They told Serbia it had 48 hours to comply. Once the note was delivered, and well aware that Serbia could not possibly comply, the previously supportive Russian, British, and French governments now expressed outrage at Austria-Hungary.

Serbia, emboldened by Entente’s display of indignation, refused to comply.18 In return, Austria-Hungary turned to Germany for support in military action, and Germany agreed. Until the 11th hour however, Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm tried in vain to convince his cousin Nicholas II of Russia not to mobilize Russia’s forces. Germany thus gave Austria-Hungary the historical ‘blank check’ that has been cited ever since as proof of German war guilt.

French President Poincare visited St. Petersburg and guaranteed Russia that “France would not only give Russia strong diplomatic support, but would, if necessary, fulfill all the obligations imposed on her by the alliance.”20 A summary of his visit was sent to Edward Grey at the Foreign Office and, from July 25th onward, Grey made overtures about solving the crisis while Russia and France began mobilizing their armies. Four days later, Britain began mobilizing her own fleet.

On July 29th Czar Nicholas II officially ordered Russian mobilization. But then he received a telegram from the Kaiser:

My ambassador is instructed to draw the attention of your government to the dangers and serious consequences of a mobilisation. If, as appears from your communication and that of your Government, Russia is mobilising against Austria-Hungary … The whole burden of decision now rests upon your shoulders, the responsibility for peace or war.

Nicholas backed down.

But then, on July 30th, Russian foreign minister (and anglophile) Sergei Sazanov spent hours convincing Nicholas II of German treachery, urging him to reorder the mobilization of the armed forces. The Czar was deeply troubled with the weight of the decision, but in the end he capitulated to pressure and the Russian war machine lurched forward:

Nicholas II was still understandably hesitant; according to the French ambassador, “The Czar was deadly pale and replied in a choking voice: ‘Just think of the responsibility you are advising me to assume! Remember, it is a question of sending thousands and thousands of men to their death.'”

Germany was the last country to announce militarization. The key to Britain’s war plan was that Germany would follow its Schlieffen Plan, where German forces would quickly march through Belgium in order to avoid the mountainous Ardennes region, put the french army in its place, then turn around to face east and join Austria-Hungary in squaring off with Russia’s giant army. Unbeknownst to Germany, however, Belgium was not as neutral as it had led everyone to believe, and had started mobilizing its military – which had been secretly prepared and trained by the British – at the same time as France and Russia. But Germany’s invasion of hapless, ‘neutral’ Belgium gave Britain its ‘just cause’ for declaring war on Germany.

As the war began Britain cut Germany’s underseas communication lines, thus ensuring that all information to and from the outside world would be under its control. A year or two later, a poem written from the horrors of the trenches gave evidence of an awareness of the deception that came too late.

Waves of strong men
That will surge not again,
Scattered and riven
You lie, and you rot;
What have you not given?
And what – have you got?

What did we get? We got the imposition of an Israeli apartheid state and an Islamic State (Saudi Arabia) in the Middle East. The world also received the ‘gift’ of a Russian Revolution that gave way to the Soviet Union and the pathocracy which it spread across a large swathe of Eurasia. As German General Ludendorff would lament, foreshadowing the horrors that would come following Germany’s collapse, the Versailles Treaty ‘sent the German people into bondage, into an absolutely crushing one. All delusions have vanished’, he wrote. ‘We look into nothingness. Something else is needed’. Hitlerism would blot out the sun of Europe for decades. And the British Elite? They still refer to themselves as ‘Sir’ and ‘Honorable’ while pointing the finger at Russia as the ‘source of all evil’.

In short, history is proof that no one should ever trust a word the British establishment says.

Back to Today

Throughout modern history, we see the same ‘elite’ pushing, prodding, gaslighting, promising one thing to one country and something entirely different to another. In their pure malevolent instinct, we see the ‘essential psychopath’ at work spinning his web effortlessly across entire nations and generations. The biggest vulnerability? The average person’s tendency to engage in emotional thinking and the chaos it engenders when entire nations are infected by it.

But, as Russian ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov has stated, “The truth will come out. We will not let ourselves to be provoked into an emotional breakdown.” Modern Russia is not Germany under the naive leadership of Kaiser Wilhelm II, who believed his relations with the Russian Tsar and the King of England would safeguard his country from war.

Modern Russia also isn’t Iraq – a small country easily overwhelmed by the superior military strength of NATO with an isolated leader easily smeared due to his past aggression. Modern Russia is a nuclear armed superpower that is organized by some of the most brilliant statesmen this planet has seen – they won’t be deceived, they won’t be out-gunned, and any attack on them will be an act of suicide.

So, for those pushing for war against Russia, their only viable outlet for their destructive anti-Russian impulse is more false flags, more black propaganda and all manner of dirty tricks. In other words they will attempt to poison, sanction, scream, rig, and otherwise sabotage us all into oblivion, and then blame it all on Russia.

References

1. David Fromkin’s A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East p. 232
2. Gerry Docherty & Jim Macgregor’s Hidden History: The Secret Origins of the First World War p. 214
3. P. Hof’s The Two Edwards: How King Edward VII and Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey Started The First World War p. 4
4. David Fromkin’s A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East p. 125
5 Ibid p. 104
6. F. William Engdahl’s A Century of War Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order p. 39
7. Ibid. p. 31
8. Gerry Docherty & Jim Macgregor’s Hidden History: The Secret Origins of the First World War p. 135
9. Ibid. p. 133
10. Ibid. p. 155
11. J. Lee Thompson’s Politicians, the Press, and Propaganda: Lord Northcliffe and the Great War, 1914-1919 Kindle Edition Location 175
12. Gerry Docherty & Jim Macgregor’s Hidden History: The Secret Origins of the First World War p. 148- 149
13. J. Lee Thompson’s Politicians, the Press, and Propaganda: Lord Northcliffe and the Great War, 1914-1919 Kindle Edition Location 175
14. Gerry Docherty & Jim Macgregor’s Hidden History: The Secret Origins of the First World War p. 151
15. Andrew Feinstein’s The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade p. 5
16. Alan Corssal’s Ideology and International Relations in the Modern World p. 121
17. Gerry Docherty & Jim Macgregor’s Hidden History: The Secret Origins of the First World War p. 257
18. Ibid p. 267
19. Ibid p. 293

Corey Schink was born and raised in the Midwestern United States, where he worked on farms and as a welder, musician, and social worker. His interests in government, philosophy and history led to his writing for SOTT in 2012 and to becoming a SOTT editor and Truth Perspective co-host in 2014.

April 8, 2018 Posted by | Book Review, Deception, Fake News, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | 2 Comments

Australia Confirms its Colonial Status With Expulsion of Russian Diplomats

By James ONeill – New Eastern Outlook – 05.04.2018

Both the prime minister and the Foreign Minister are trained lawyers. As part of the training they would have been imbued with some of the most profound and enduring concepts of the common law. These include such fundamental points as the presumption of innocence; the onus of proof being upon the accuser; the standard of proof in serious cases being very high; that the evidence should be considered by an impartial arbiter; that the conclusion should be based upon admissible evidence; and that one should refrain from prejudicial pre-trial statements at the risk of being held in contempt of Court.

Both politicians frequently express their belief in the “rules based international order” and the “rule of law”, both phrases acknowledging a support of a legal based process in the conduct of national and international affairs.

That their professed support for basic notions of justice and legal process is no more than a rhetorical device was made abundantly clear in the joint media release of 27 March 2018 and the subsequent joint press conference in which they unleashed a barrage of criticism at Russia over that countries alleged involvement in the alleged nerve gas attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English provincial town of Salisbury.

One of the notable omissions from Turnbull and Bishop’s media release and press conference was any reference to the word “alleged.” It was simply assumed by the pair that Russia was guilty and deserving of punishment.

Their professed outrage did not even have the benefit of originality. The United Kingdom government had sent out a six-slide PowerPoint presentation to 80 foreign embassy officials in Moscow. That document was leaked and its contents published in the Kommersant business daily.

In that document, the section headed “A New Phase of Russian Aggression” the following points were made:

1. A military grade Novichok nerve agent was positively identified by experts at Porton Down, an 0PCW accredited laboratory.

2. Novichok is a group of agents developed only by Russia and not declared under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).

3. Its use is a violation of the prohibition on the use of chemical weapons under article 1 of the CWC.

4. It was the first use of a nerve agent in Europe since the Second World War.

5. We are without doubt that Russia is responsible. No country bar Russia has the combined capability, intent and motive. There is no plausible alternative explanation.

In a separate slide headed “A Long Pattern of Russian Malign Activity” the United Kingdom government listed a series of “malign” incidents, which they attributed to Russia. These included the assassination of Alexander Litvinenko in 2006; the 2008 invasion of Georgia; the 2014 occupation of Crimea and destabilization of Ukraine; the 2014 shooting down of MH 17; the 2016 interference in the United States presidential election; and now the attempted assassination of the Skripals.

All of these points were faithfully echoed by Turnbull and Bishop in the media release and the joint press conference. Let us look briefly at each of the five bullet points listed above and repeated by Turnbull and Bishop.

A military grade Novichok nerve agent positively identified by Porton Down

Novichok is not properly described as a nerve agent. The term is a translation from the Russian meaning “new type”. In the United Kingdom High Court decision of Justice Williams on 22nd of March 2018 His Honour referred to the evidence (given in secret) of the Porton Down “experts.” The blood samples taken from the Skripals he said, indicated exposure to a “nerve agent or related compound…… a Novichok class nerve agent or closely related agent.”

It is precisely because of this lack of certainty that the United Kingdom belatedly (and contrary to the CWC) finally referred the matter to the OPCW for technical analysis. This followed repeated requests to do so from the Russian government, which were ignored, as were requests from the Russian government for blood samples that they were entitled to pursuant to the CWC. The results of that technical analysis will not be known for some weeks. One might have thought that withholding judgement until that analysis was available would at the very least be a prudent course to follow.

Novichok developed only by Russia and not declared under the CWC

This is also demonstrably false. Research into the Novichok type agents were experimented with in the 1980s in a Soviet controlled laboratory in Uzbekistan. Their developer Dr Vil Mirzayanov defected to the United States in the 1980s and published a book detailing his experiments. This book, which was published in 1992, included the “recipe” for producing Novichok type nerve agents.

Notwithstanding the convenient availability of the “recipe” there was no successful production of a Novichok type agent until very recently, by Iran, under the supervision of the OPCW. The veracity of Dr Mirzayanov’s work was doubted by the OPCW itself, which did not list Novichok class agents on its schedule of banned substances.

The Chemical Weapons Convention was not opened for signature until 13 January 1993 and did not come into force until 1997. It was therefore impossible for Russia to declare anything to the OPCW when that body did not exist.

The relevant history of this matter is detailed for example in an interview given by a former senior OPCW official to the Insurge website and published under the heading “Former OPCW official: No, conclusive proof of Russian complicity in Salisbury attack.”

The Uzbekistan Laboratory was demolished by the United States pursuant to an OPCW program. The United States, along with a number of countries including the United Kingdom were perfectly capable of replicating and improving upon Mirzayanov’s published research.

The OPCW has also certified that Russia’s chemical weapons stock has been destroyed. If the United Kingdom and Australia have evidence that this is not the case then they ought to provide that evidence instead of making wild and baseless allegations.

Article 1 certainly does prohibit the use of chemical weapons. Notwithstanding this ban they have been used for example, by terrorists in Syria, armed, financed and supported by the United States, United Kingdom, Israel and Saudi Arabia. The use of those weapons was yet another example of an attempt to blame Syria and its allies Russia and Iran for actions by groups fighting for the regime change objectives of the United States and United Kingdom.

The first use of a nerve agent in Europe since World War II

This is another falsehood. Porton Down is and has been since its founding in 1916 a major chemical and biological weapon’s research centre, conducting experiments on both animals and humans.

Even the United Kingdom newspaper the Guardian, in the days when it was more willing to challenge the official mythology, published an article by Rob Evans as far back as 2004. The article was entitled “The Past Porton Down Can’t Hide” and demonstrated that human beings were experimented upon in the post-World War II period, in Europe and elsewhere, resulting in multiple deaths.

Russia is the only country with the combined capability, content and motive. There is no plausible alternative.

This claim is simply risible. A number of countries had and have the capability. As to intent and motive, no one, least of all the British, have been able to ascribe a plausible motive to Russia. On the contrary, there are powerful arguments why Russia would not be so inclined to so publicly and clumsily attempt to murder a former spy whom it had pardoned and released in an exchange many years earlier.

That is more than can be said of the United Kingdom and United States, both of whom have multiple reasons for demonizing Russia in advancing their own geopolitical objectives. As to “plausible alternatives”, these have been set out by Richard Sakwa, a respected British analyst. Logic and common sense are not the least of the components missing from the British argument.

In respect of the second set of allegations relied upon by the British and faithfully echoed by Turnbull and Bishop, analysis similarly exposes the claims for the disinformation and propaganda that they are.

With Litvinenko’s death for example, it has never been established who was responsible. A British judicial inquiry (ironically at the time when Theresa May was Home Secretary) was unable to confirm who was responsible, despite a valiant attempt to smear Russia. As to who was responsible, there were a number of plausible alternatives, as William Dunkerley (The Phony Litvinenko Murder 2017) and the present author among others have made clear.

The British and their Australian acolytes similarly play fast and loose with the history of the Russian-Georgian mini-war in 2008 where Georgia manifestly was the aggressor. A history of this conflict was analysed in a 702-page report by the European Union. One sentence from page 11 of the report makes my point: “The shelling of Tskhinvali by the Georgian armed forces marked the beginning of the large scale conflict in Georgia.”

Russia reclaimed Crimea which had been part of Russia for centuries until “gifted” by Khrushchev to Ukraine in 1954. The absorption of Crimea back into Russia followed an overwhelming vote in favour by the Crimeans (more than 90% of whom supported Putin in the recent Russian presidential election). If one wishes to talk about the destabilization of Ukraine, then the American financed and organized coup in February 2014 would be a good starting point.

One would then go on to examine the nature and conduct of the frankly fascist regime in Kiev, and their constant violation of the Minsk accords. Neither aspect gets much coverage in the United Kingdom or Australian media. That would after all disrupt the “blame Russia” narrative with some uncomfortable truths.

The United Kingdom and Australia repeat the claim that Russia was responsible for the shooting down of MH 17. That’s a tragedy that is actually the subject of an ongoing enquiry headed by the Dutch. It has gone very quiet lately and the likely reason is that the US satellite data which recorded the whole incident has been handed over to the Dutch authorities on condition that it was not published. The only plausible reason for such an embargo is that the satellite data do not support the “Russia did it” narrative.

The British and the Australian governments also repeat the tired and long since discredited narrative alleging Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election. Special prosecutor Mueller has striven mightily for 18 months and has come up with exactly zero in evidence to support the narrative of Russian interference.

There is on the other hand ample evidence of interference both before and after the election by forces within the United States closely associated with the Clinton campaign, the Democratic National Committee, and former President Obama. Even the joint House intelligence committee has given up on chasing that phantom. Not that one would know that from reading the Australian media or listening to its politicians so addicted to fake narratives such as demonstrated by the media release and press conference of Turnbull and Bishop.

In short, it may readily be seen that Turnbull and Bishop violate each and every one of the common law principles they purport to uphold. Instead, they act as no more then lackeys of US and UK imperialism. It would almost be laughable were it not for the fact that their hubris, ignorance and stupidity may well involve Australia in yet another war. The consequences of that are too terrible to contemplate.

April 7, 2018 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , | 3 Comments

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

Australia sees opportunity in China’s rise

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | February 27, 2018

From an Indian perspective, the visit to the United States by the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his meeting with President Donald Trump on February 23 turns out to be a reality check on the power dynamic in the Asia-Pacific. Australia is torn between two vital partners – the US in the security sphere and China in the economic sphere. The dilemma is acute insofar as Turnbull has voiced opinions on threat perceptions regarding China, which are contrary to the Trump administration’s assessment and, yet, the US and Australia are key allies.

A month ago, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop pointedly distanced her country from the US’ assessment of China (and Russia) being a strategic threat. The US National Security Strategy issued in January said, “China is a strategic competitor using predatory economics to intimidate its neighbors while militarizing features in the South China Sea… It is increasingly clear that China and Russia want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model — gaining veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic, and security decisions.”

Bishop refused to share that assessment, saying, “We have a different perspective on Russia and China clearly — we do not see Russia or China posing a military threat to Australia, we continue to work closely with China in fact we undertake military exercises with China as well as with other countries in the region and we will continue to do so.”

Turnbull openly endorsed Bishop’s remarks. In his words, “Apart from North Korea, there is no country in the region that shows any hostile intent towards Australia,” Mr Turnbull said, “We don’t see threats from our neighbours in the region, but, nonetheless, every country must always plan ahead and you need to build the capabilities to defend yourself, not just today, but in 10 years or 20 years, hence.”Turnbull reverted to the topic as he was embarking on the visit to the US last week. In remarks to Sky News, Turnbull said:

  • A threat, technically, is a combination of capability and intent. China has enormous capability of course, it’s growing as the country becomes more prosperous and economically stronger. But we do not see any hostile intent from China.
  • We don’t see the region through what is frankly an out-of-date Cold War prism. Neither, by the way, does Donald Trump. President Trump has a long experience in this part of the world as a businessman. He understands the significance, the economic significance of China’s rise and its opportunity.

Indeed, the joint statement issued after Turnbull’s meeting with Trump in the White House contains no reference to China or the disputes in the South China Sea. (Nor on ‘Quad’!) It doesn’t mention ‘freedom of navigation’, either. At the joint press conference with Turnbull, Trump said he’d “love” to have Australia back the US effort to assert the right to maritime freedom in South China Sea – “We’d love to have Australia involved and I think Australia wants us to stay involved.”

But Turnbull was unmoved. He made no commitments about Australia joining the US naval display. On the other hand, he emphasized the economic opportunities from China’s rise. Turnbull had hopes of persuading Trump to take a fresh look at the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, but Trump repeated his distaste of the trade pact. Trump said, “The TPP was a very bad deal for the United States, it would have cost us a tremendous amount of jobs, it would have been bad.”

Equally, in the run-up to Turnbull’s visit, there was speculation that a possible economic front comprising the US, Japan, India and Australia could be in the making to “answer Chinese and Russian infrastructure-building efforts” in the Asia-Pacific. But it turned out to be mere drum-beating. (Reuters / Bloomberg) The Trump administration is focused single-mindedly on America First and has no interest in doing the diplomatic heavy lifting to push back at China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Clearly, one substantive outcome of Turnbull’s visit has been in the launch of an Australia-US Strategic Partnership on Energy in the Indo-Pacific. This must be seen against the backdrop of the US gearing up to export LNG to the Asian market, especially China. While on the one hand runaway gas demand in China is transforming the outlook for LNG in Asia and could see a return to the seller’s market in 2018, on the other hand, Australia’s rapidly growing LNG exports are already finding a ready market. A joint press release in Washington spelt out the “core principles” and outlined a “work plan” for the proposed US-Australia energy partnership. (here)

China would be quietly pleased with the outcome of the Trump-Turnbull meeting in Washington. An editorial in the government newspaper China Daily noted, “if Turnbull is now choosing to look at China through a more objective prism that would obviously help build more trust between the two countries, which will only usher in a more cordial atmosphere for relations to deepen and grow. Yet the Australian government still needs to match words with deeds… In its most recent foreign policy white paper, Australia proposes that it can act as an honest broker between China and the US.”

The Global Times in an editorial, also commended that Turnbull’s remarks “show positive signs for the Sino-Australian relationship.”

February 27, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , , | 5 Comments

Remembering Fallujah: The War Crimes Committed under Command of Jim Molan and Jim Mattis

Defending Australian Values in Iraq

By David Macilwain | American Herald tribune | February 8, 2018

Ross Caputi, a former Marine who was “witness and accomplice to the atrocities” committed in Fallujah in November 2004 during “Operation Phantom Fury”, wrote this about his unit’s entry into the city:

Perhaps it was just too painful of a realization for many of us to make, because we saw ourselves as the liberators, the good guys, and to admit that we were hurting innocent people would have contradicted everything that we claimed to stand for. I can only speculate about what the motives were for the people who dreamed up that mission and decided to make the people of Fallujah flee into the desert. Was it also too painful for the decision makers to admit to themselves that we were hurting innocent people? Or were they so evil that they just did not care who we were hurting? Whatever their reasons for doing it were, the fact of the matter is that our entire command was aware that we had forced the majority of the city’s population, about 200,000 people, into refugee status, but nobody took responsibility for their wellbeing, as international law required of us.

Central to that command was Major General Andrew “Jim” Molan, an Australian who was seconded to the US military in 2004 and took overall command of US coalition forces in Iraq, alongside the current US defence secretary Jim Mattis.

What happened in the so-called “second battle of Falluja” however, went far beyond a failure to attend to the needs of the civilian population who were able to flee the city before the US assault. Those who remained found themselves imprisoned in a “free-fire zone” for 10,500 US troops and 850 UK special forces, along with 2000 Iraqis loyal to the Occupation government in Baghdad.

While the “Battle for Falluja” has been glorified and celebrated as the most destructive and significant US battle since Vietnam, intended to be a final stand against insurgents who had become concentrated there, it has also been recognised as one of the worst war crimes committed by US coalition forces during the whole occupation of Iraq.

Although the insurgents included the progenitors of those now fighting in Syria, – AQI and Ansar al Sunna, there was significant popular backing for them amongst the local Sunni population, who saw US forces as oppressors rather than liberators. In the “first battle of Falluja” eight months earlier, when legitimate public protests against oppressive actions by US forces drew a lethal response and the deaths of 17 innocent civilians, this popular resistance solidified. As Ross Caputi describes it:

After the resistance movement in Fallujah successfully repelled the first U.S. led siege of their city in April of 2004, Fallujah became a symbol of heroism and resistance to Iraqis. In the United States Fallujah was made into a symbol of terrorism. The U.S. mainstream media described Fallujah as a “hotbed of anti-Americanism” and an “insurgent stronghold”, and gave little mention of the 300,000 civilians that lived there. In November of 2004, the U.S. launched a massive siege on Fallujah that killed anywhere between 800 and 6,000 civilians, forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes, and left much of the city in ruins. From that point on Fallujah became a symbol to much of the world of cruelty, devastation, and occupation.

The suffering inflicted on Fallujah did not end in 2004. Life for the people who chose to return to their city never improved. The U.S. imposed security measures and curfews that made living a normal life in Fallujah impossible. Residents already had to struggle to make ends meet in their dilapidated city, but the constant security check-points, ID card scans, and arrests only made life harder. Food and Medicine were scarce, and they remain scarce to this day.

It is impossible to read these accounts, both of what happened to Fallujah in 2004 and of the way it was portrayed by US leaders and US media, without comparing it with the current “battles” in both Iraq and Syria – Mosul, Raqqa, Aleppo and Idlib. Looking at the gaping chasm between the current reality perceived by Syrians and their allies, and that presented in Western media one can only lament for the lessons unlearned, and be incensed at the depth of deception that marks today’s battles.

But one question remains as hard to answer. As Caputi asked:

Was it also too painful for the decision makers to admit to themselves that we were hurting innocent people? Or were they so evil that they just did not care who we were hurting? Whatever their reasons for doing it were, the fact of the matter is that our entire command was aware… (of the refugees’ plight)

A similar question was asked in the Australian Parliament this week of the now former General Jim Molan, who has just entered the parliament as a Liberal party senator. Greens leader Richard Di Natale was reacting to Molan’s apparent sympathy for anti-Muslim and anti-immigration groups, but chose to draw attention to Molan’s questionable record in Iraq, and in the battle of Falluja.

Di Natale said the attack on Fallujah was a disaster for civilians, and Senator Molan had to bear responsibility:

“At the time of the assault on Fallujah under the command of now-Senator Molan, a UN special rapporteur said coalition forces used hunger and deprivation as a weapon of war against the civilian population — a flagrant violation of international law,” Senator Di Natale said.

“Minister, given Senator Molan’s extreme views, do you have a concern these views influenced the decisions he made while executing the military campaign in Fallujah?”

The defence minister Maurice Payne, who also has a military background avoided addressing Di Natale’s legitimate demands altogether – hardly surprising given her own defence of the indefensible over Australian actions in Syria. Di Natale doesn’t know “what it takes to lead your nation in a uniform”, she said, while PM Turnbull echoed with his own paean to the defence of “Australian values”:

I want to remind the honourable member that in this parliament, on both sides, there are men and women who have served Australia in our uniform, putting their lives on the line, to defend those values. They haven’t just defended them, they’ve fought for them.

Should we assume that those Australian values are represented by Molan’s actions in Fallujah, which appear to have not merely condoned atrocities but to have contributed to them? Molan himself went on the front foot in his maiden speech to the Senate this week, including this claim:

I spent one year in Iraq when I ran the war in Iraq. I fought for Muslims in Iraq, and many Iraqis were alive when I left because of the actions that I took—not racist, not anti-Islam. Linking me to Britain First is absolutely absurd.

No doubt many similar statements could be found in Molan’s book about his year in Iraq, published in 2008 – “Running the War in Iraq”. The truth of what happened however, and Molan’s apparent shared responsibility for the crimes, is revealed in an article from the time by an Australian academic, Chris Doran. (An abbreviated version was posted more recently here)

Doran details the many parts of the US coalition’s brutal and vindictive assault on Fallujah, which led to the deaths of up to 6000 trapped civilians, as well as the most devastating ongoing health problems from the use of chemical weapons including White Phosphorus and Depleted or undepleted Uranium. The terrible effects of the latter have been investigated at length by Dr Chris Busby, but fourteen years later remain unacknowledged and unanswered crimes of the Empire.

While providing as much evidence as might be necessary for an accusation of criminal complicity in these crimes, Chris Doran also finishes with a generous statement:

Under the international legal doctrine of command responsibility, a commander can be held liable if they knew, or should have known, that anyone under their command was committing war crimes and they failed to prevent them. The consistency and similarity of the attacks at Najaf, Samarra, and Fallujah display a deliberate disregard for civilian casualties in the planning and implementation of those military assaults. By Molan’s own admission, he was responsible for not only planning, but also directing, these attacks. It is not conceivable that Molan was unaware of the serious and well documented accusations of atrocities being committed under his command.

While admirable that General Molan is so quick to admit responsibility for Fallujah, it is disconcerting that he does not seem to feel that he has done anything wrong, or should in any way be held accountable, for his actions. It is this utter hubris that most accurately characterises his writing. Sanitised as it is though, Molan has written an excellent brief regarding why it is crucial we start holding our political and military leaders accountable for their actions in Iraq. He would be an excellent place to start.

Sadly we can now say that not only have our political and military leaders still not been held to account for their actions in Iraq, but in the ten years since this was written, they have gone on to commit crimes in both Iraq and Syria which are not even recognised, yet in total threaten to exceed all those of the previous decade.

February 8, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment

New US National Defense Strategy Is Again Offensive

By David Macilwain | American Herald Tribune | January 23, 2018

Last week “Mad Dog” Mattis announced a new US Defence Strategy, the first for a decade and with a radical change of focus, from fighting terrorism to fighting Russia and China. The US DoD put it like this:

“The National Defense Strategy seeks to implement the pillars of the National Security Strategy: peace through strength, the affirmation of America’s international role, the U.S. alliance and partnership structure and the necessity to build military advantage to maintain key regional balances of power.”

According to Deputy Defense Secretary Elbridge A. Colby this strategy is necessitated because of:

“the erosion of U.S. military advantage vis-a-vis China and Russia, which, if unaddressed, could ultimately undermine our ability to deter aggression and coercion and imperil the free and open order that we seek to underwrite with our alliance constellation.”

“The strategy aims at thwarting Chinese and Russian aggression and use of coercion and intimidation to advance their goals and harm U.S. interests, and specifically focuses on three key theaters: Europe, the Indo-Pacific and the Middle East, Colby said.”

Whether this is a new strategy or just a new declaration of the existing one depends on your point of view. In announcing it at the press conference Jim Mattis stressed the supposed shift from fighting terrorism to countering Russia and China, as well as their effective allies North Korea and Iran. Following hot on the heels of Tillerson’s confrontational outburst, and refusal to get out of Syria following the defeat of Islamic State, the sudden shift looks rather convenient – the US can now claim it must stay in Syria to counter Russia’s growing influence in the region.

What’s new!  Wasn’t this always the US plan, as laid out a decade earlier in “Which path to Persia?” – a plan that seems to be relentlessly moving forward despite all obstacles, including particularly international law?

While there have been a few setbacks in the US project to advance its goals around the globe against the interests of Russia and China and their allies, the escalation in aggressive US confrontations in those “key theatres” since Trump came to power makes nonsense of Colby’s claim that the new policy is “not a strategy of confrontation, but it is strategy that recognizes the reality of competition.”

Even if that were true, it only emphasizes the fundamental difference in approach between the great powers. Neither Russia nor China see competition or confrontation as their goals, leave alone the insulting and ludicrous “aggression, coercion and intimidation” which the US attributes to them. Faced with a rational and responsible partner rather than the expansionist and exceptionalist US, it is a desire for collaboration and co-existence that evidently motivate China and Russia, and also lie at the center of their own developing cooperation.

Symbolizing this difference – or rather conflict – between world views, is the ongoing dispute over the South China Sea. Just before Mattis announcement, the US sent a ship into the disputed waters as part of its “freedom of navigation” exercises, and received an immediate demand to leave from China, which has long lost patience with this serial provocation. In this area one of America’s “constellation” allies Australia is forced to take sides, and reveals itself as an accomplice to the ongoing Imperial crimes.

Despite Australia’s crucial economic dependence on China, its current government seems to be going out of its way in provoking and insulting Chinese leaders and representatives. As Mattis made his announcement, PM Malcolm Turnbull was in Japan visiting a missile defense base and talking about joint exercises and military cooperation. Australia also took part in the provocative exercises against North Korea with the US and South Korea at a time of high tension last year, despite Russian and Chinese warnings against them.

And when it comes to the South China Sea issue, it must be pointed out that China’s legitimate concerns are to maintain the freedom of navigation through its main transport artery to the West and Australia. Given the US coalition’s participation in exercises simulating a blockade of these channels it’s not hard to see and support China’s defensive stand on this issue.

Part of the “new strategy” in the Indo-Pacific is also likely to be an expansion of the US presence and bases in Australia. “In the new security environment” – whatever that is – the stationing of US strategic bombers in Northern Australia is now being proposed. Along with the massive regional US surveillance base in Pine Gap, nuclear-armed bombers will make us a prime target for one of China’s ICBMs, so no doubt we’ll also be getting THAAD missile defense systems.

On reflection it appears that the “new” US “National Defense” Strategy is little more than the one pursued fifty years ago against the Soviets and the Chinese Communists. Fifteen years of the “Global war on Terror”, culminating with the scourge of “Islamic State” was just means to the same end, and can now be discarded.

The tragedy is that with Vladimir Putin and Xi Jing Ping we really had a chance for diplomacy, law and peace to prevail.

*(Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis announces the National Defense Strategy at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, Jan. 19. Image credit: DoD photo/ Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Kathryn E. Holm/ flickr)

January 24, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

Analyst Dismisses White House Claims Pyongyang Behind WannaCry

Sputnik – 20.12.2017

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed Monday, White House Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert announced that North Korea is responsible for the May 2017 “WannaCry” global cyberattack that targeted Windows computers and was allegedly aided by leaked National Security Agency technology.

In the article titled, “It’s Official: North Korea Is Behind WannaCry,” Bossert points the finger at North Korea for being behind the cybercrime in which millions of users’ computer data was encrypted and then ransomed for bitcoins. The attack slowed down after a mistake in WannaCry’s code revealed a kill switch that prevented infected computers from spreading the virus.

“Cybersecurity isn’t easy, but simple principles still apply. Accountability is one, cooperation another,” Bossert wrote in his article. “They are the cornerstones of security and resilience in any society. In furtherance of both, and after careful investigation, the US today publicly attributes the massive ‘WannaCry’ cyber attack to North Korea.”

In a White House press briefing Tuesday morning, Bossert claimed that the US came to this conclusion after a “careful investigation.”

“We don’t do this lightly,” Bossert said during the briefing. “We do so with evidence and with partners,” adding that Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Australia and the United Kingdom all agree that North Korea is responsible.

“While victims received ransom demands, paying did not unlock their computers,” the homeland security adviser wrote. “It was cowardly, costly and careless. The attack was widespread and cost billions, and North Korea is directly responsible.”

On Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear, financial policy analyst Daniel Sankey asserted his belief that North Korea is not behind the cyberattack.

“I’m a little suspicious myself. The drums of war have been beaten against [North Korea] for some time now and it’s very convenient that now this severe cyberattack is being laid against the doors of North Korea,” Sankey told hosts John Kiriakou and Brian Becker.

“And of course, as usual, we can take the intelligence community’s word for it because they know better than us and they published it in the Wall Street Journal — so it must be North Korea,” he added sarcastically.

“I am a little skeptical because a big part of the virus was extorting various users to send bitcoin in exchange for access to their files again. In the end, they stole about $55,000 in bitcoin and that’s not enough money for North Korea to trouble itself with,” Sankey said.

“Also, what is North Korea going to do with bitcoin? They need commodities, they need cash, they need access to different markets. They don’t need bitcoin. How are they going to turn that into oil or coal or various other things they need? How are they going to convert that into a convertible currency? It’s really not feasible.”

Although Bossert said that the US did “not make the allegation lightly,” he didn’t provide any solid evidence and simply alluded to National Security Agency and Microsoft research. He also referred to the UK’s determination in October that North Korea was responsible for the attack.

In May, security firms discovered a link between the ransomware and southern China during an investigation of the code’s notes, which revealed that WannaCry’s creators were fluent in a form of Chinese very common in that region.

According to security firm Flashpoint, which conducted the analysis, “A typo in the note, “帮组” (bang zu) instead of “帮助” (bang zhu) meaning “help,” strongly indicates the note was written using a Chinese-language input system rather than being translated from a different version. More generally, the note makes use of proper grammar, punctuation, syntax, and character choice, indicating the writer was likely native or at least fluent.”

Although the linguistic analysis of the code did not reveal any Korean, the US has still confidently asserted that North Korea is responsible, and Sankey believes it’s because the underlying problem behind the attacks actually has nothing to do with the hackers but with intelligence communities, who may be actually be responsible for the crimes.

“I think that the real problem is that intelligence communities are becoming aware of vulnerabilities in these systems, and rather than working with the private sector to protect consumers and peoples’ data, they are just sitting on those vulnerabilities so that they can use them later to hack systems.”

In his editorial, Bossert concludes, “Mr. Trump has already pulled many levers of pressure to address North Korea’s unacceptable nuclear and missile developments, and we will continue to use out maximum pressure strategy to curb Pyongyang’s ability to mount attacks, cyber or otherwise.”

With the Trump administration’s increased use of aggressive language against North Korea’s continued nuclear weapon tests and with this new allegation that the country is responsible for WannaCry, it doesn’t appear that the relationship between the two is going to be getting better anytime soon.

December 20, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

SYRIA: US War Crime in Jabal Al Tharda, Deir Ezzor and the Implausible Denials

By Prof. Tim Anderson | 21st Century Wire | December 17, 2017

On 17 September 2016 a carefully planned US-led air raid on Jabal al Tharda (Mount Tharda), overlooking Deir Ezzor airport, slaughtered over 100 Syrian soldiers and delivered control of the mountain to DAESH / ISIS. After that surprise attack, the terrorist group held the mountain for almost a year, but did not manage to take the airport or the entire city. US-led forces admitted the attack but claimed it was all a ‘mistake’. However uncontested facts, eye witness accounts and critical circumstances show that was a lie. This article sets out the evidence of this crime, in context of Washington’s historical use of mercenaries for covert actions, linked to the doctrine of ‘plausible deniability’.

Syrian eyewitness accounts from Deir Ezzor deepen and confirm this simple fact: the US-led air raid on Syrian forces at Jabal al Tharda on 17 September 2016 was no ‘mistake’ but a well-planned and effective intervention on behalf of the terrorist group ISIS (DAESH in Arabic). After days of careful surveillance a devastating missile attack followed by machine gunning of the remaining Syrian soldiers helped ISIS take control of the strategic mountain, that same day.


Colonel Kanaan on the mountain. October 2017. (Photo: Tim Anderson)

Mercenary forces – like ISIS and the other jihadist groups in Iraq and Syria – were a staple of US intervention during the early decades of the cold war, deployed in more than 25 conflicts, such as those of the Congo, Angola and Nicaragua. Whatever their claimed aims and ideologies, they allowed for the ‘multiplication’ of US power and were associated with the doctrine of ‘plausible deniability’, where the ‘formal’ denial of the mastermind role in covert operations minimised damage to domestic public opinion and international relations (Voss 2016: 37-40).

That doctrine was discussed during the 1976 Church Committee hearings into CIA covert operations (especially assassinations and coups) and resurfaced during the Iran-Contra scandal of the 1980s (Hart 2005; Dorn 2010). The key idea behind the doctrine is to be able “to use violence without directly incriminating the [contracting out] regime” (Ron 2002). The use of terrorist proxy armies in Iraq and Syria, both overtly and covertly supported by US forces, is thoroughly consistent with this history.

By September 2016 a US-led coalition had been active in both Iraq and Syria for more than two years, supposedly to help Iraq fight ISIS, but without permission to enter Syria. The foreign powers tried to side-step that legal problem by claiming the invitation from Iraq allowed them to conduct cross border raids against ISIS (Payne 2017). By this time the Russian air force had been assisting Syria for almost a year against multiple terrorist groups, all of them, as senior US officials would admit (Biden in RT 2014 and Usher 2014; Dempsey in Rothman 2014), armed and financed by the US and its allies.


Syrian solider at the front line against ISIS, on the Euphrates. (Photo: Tim Anderson)

Contrary to the stated aims, there is little evidence the US-led group did anything to fight ISIS in Syria. Washington’s group sat back and watched ISIS twice take over Palmyra (in 2015 and 2016), then did nothing to help the Syrian Army take back Palmyra and Deir Ezzor. Most US activity focused on bombing Syrian infrastructure and helping a Kurdish-led separatist force (the SDF) replace ISIS in the city of Raqqa. On the other hand, the 17 September air raid positively helped ISIS in attempts to wrest the remaining parts of Deir Ezzor from the Syrian Army.

US, Australian, British and Danish forces quickly admitted their role in that attack, but claimed the slaughter of over 100 Syrian soldiers was a ‘mistake’. Now mistakes in war do happen. However they are usually associated with a single, unprepared incident. This attack was well-planned, sustained and achieved a key objective in the attempt to drive ‘the Syrian regime’ from Deir Ezzor. Assisting extremists create an ‘Islamic State’ in eastern Syria, US intelligence wrote back in August 2012, was “exactly” what Washington wanted so as “to weaken the regime in Damascus” (DIA 2012).

One year later, as Syrian forces re-took the whole of Deir Ezzor city from ISIS, I spoke with the commanding officer at Jabal al Tharda on that day, Colonel Nihad Kanaan, one of 35 survivors of the US-led attack. He confirmed US admissions that surveillance aircraft had overflown the mountain days before. He also said that the Syrian Army had held the mountain for many months and that their position was clearly marked with Syrian flags. One year later he still showed shock at recalling attack aircraft return to finish off his wounded comrades, with line-of-sight machine-gunning (Kanaan 2017).

That Washington could block most western media from serious study of this treacherous attack, simply by saying ‘sorry, mistake’, is testament to the near absence of critical media voices, at a time of war. The surprise attack was treacherous, not only to the Syrians whom the US had promised to not attack, but to the western populations who mostly believed what their governments said: that they were in Iraq and Syria ‘to fight ISIS’.

It was not that the denials over the crime at Jabal al Tharda were particularly ‘plausible’, just that they had been made. Formal denial was enough, it seems, to stop the western corporate and state media in its tracks. The practice of ‘plausible deniability’ was never so much intended to fool those familiar with the facts, as it was to set up a shield of formal denial which might be used to deflect or discredit ‘potentially hostile’ investigations (Voss 2016: 40; Bogan and Lynch 1989: 205). In past and present propaganda wars, less importance is given to independent evidence than to insistent repetition, denunciation and distraction.

This paper is a prosecuted case, not reportage where one side says this and the other side says that. I have announced my conclusion at the outset and intend to demonstrate that case with evidence. I also support the idea that readers are entitled to see all evidence, including the cover story of the criminals. However in this case the crime and its authors, I suggest, can be convincingly established by uncontested facts. Review of the Syrian perspective simply helps deepen our understanding of the conflict.

1. Uncontested facts

There are eight elements of this massacre where the facts are virtually uncontested:

1: First, the attack was on the forces of a strategic opponent, whom the US wished to overthrow, weaken or ‘isolate’;

2:  Second, there was no semblance of provocation;

3: Third, this was a well-planned operation, with days of advance surveillance;

4: Fourth, the attack was sustained and effective, meeting conventional military objectives;

5: Fifth, there was both immediate and longer term benefit to ISIS;

6: Sixth, the US gave false locality information to the Russians before the attack, and their ‘hotline’ to Russia was defective during the attack;

7: Seventh, the US made false claims about being unable to identify Syrian troops;

8: Eighth, the US ‘investigation’ was hopelessly partisan, self-serving and forensically useless; there was no attempt to even contact the Syrian side.

Let’s look at each element in a little more depth

ONE: the attack was on a strategic opponent

Syrian forces were seen as adversaries. This was no ‘friendly fire accident’. The political leadership of the US-led operation had called for the dismissal or overthrow of the Syrian Government and had provided material support to armed opponents of the Government since mid-2011. The terrorist group ISIS had a campaign to create an Islamic State in the region and that objective was shared by Washington. US intelligence, in August 2012, had expressed satisfaction at extremist plans for a “salafist principality” (i.e. an Islamic State) in eastern Syria, “in order to isolate the Syrian regime” (DIA 2012).

The US had not admitted providing finance and arms to ISIS / DAESH, but several senior US officials acknowledged in 2014 that their ‘Arab allies’ had done so (Anderson 2016: Ch.12). After the attack US and Australian officials referred to their victims as forces aligned with the ‘Syrian regime’ (Johnston 2016; Payne 2017), reinforcing the fact that the assailants did not recognise Syrian soldiers as part of a legitimate national army.

TWO: no suggestion of provocation

There was no suggestion of any provocation, as had happened in previous ‘mistakes’; for example where a pilot had mistaken gunfire or fireworks for a hostile attack. This attack was premeditated.

THREE: a well-planned operation, with substantial surveillance

All sides agree this was a carefully planned operation, with surveillance days in advance. Colonel Nihad Kanaan, the Syrian Arab Army commanding officer on ‘Post Tharda 2’ (a military post on the second of three peaks of Tharda mountain range) that day, told this writer that US-coalition surveillance aircraft were seen “repeatedly circling” the area on 12 September, 5 days before the attack (Kanaan 2017). US reports confirm this. On the day of the attack the New York Times cited US Central Command saying that “coalition forces believed they were striking a DAESH fighting position that they had been tracking for a significant amount of time before the strike” (Barnard and Mazzetti 2016). A US military report, some weeks after the attack, said a “remotely piloted aircraft” (RPA) was sent to “investigate” the area the day before and two RPAs revisited the same area on the 17th, identifying two target areas with tanks and personnel (Coe 2016: 1).


General Aktham at the bridge to Raqqa, one of many destroyed by US planes. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

Australian Defence Minister Marise Payne wrote that “target identification was based on intelligence from a number of sources”, and that the US-led group had “informed Russian officials prior to approving air strikes on the DAESH position” (Payne 2017). Australian Chief of Joint Operations Vice-Admiral David Johnston pointed out that his country’s contribution to the attack had included “an Australian E7 Wedgetail airborne early warning and control and 2 FA-18 hornet strike fighters” (Johnston 2016).  The Wedgetail E-7 is based on a Boeing 737 and came into operation in 2015. It is an intelligence and control aircraft said to have “tonnes of electronic wizardry” (Military Shop 2014) and to be “the most advanced air battlespace management capabilities in the world” (RAAF 2017). All this speaks of a well-planned and technologically capable operation.

Further, surveillance of the area over two years meant the US group were well aware of the strategic troop placements. Kuwait based Journalist Elijah Magnier, who had followed the battles around Deir Ezzor, said that defence of the airport depended on ‘four interconnected Syrian army positions on the Thardah mountain range. Largely because of these elevated fire power positions the “daily attacks’ by ISIS on the airport had failed (Porter 2016: 6). Fabrice Balanche, a leading French expert on Syria, adds that the Syrian Army had held positions along the Tharda range “from March 2016 until the US air strikes”, when ISIS took control (in Porter 2016: 6).

FOUR: the attack was sustained and effective, meeting conventional military objectives

The attack was carried out for an extended period and destroyed the Syrian Arab Army post, killing more than 100 soldiers and destroying tanks and all heavy equipment (O’Neill 2016; Kanaan 2017). The Syrian commander says the attack “continued for 1.5 hours, from 5.30 to 7pm”, as night fell (Kanaan 2017). There is some disagreement over exact times. Syrian Army Command said the attack began at about 5pm while US CentCom said the attack began earlier but “was halted immediately when coalition officials were informed by Russian officials that it was possible the personnel and vehicles targeted were part of the Syrian military” (Barnard and Mazzetti 2016). However the US military confirms that this sunset attack was extended, lasting for just over an hour (Coe 2016: 1).

The Syrian command said at first that 62 soldiers had been killed and 100 injured (RT 2016). Within a short time the numbers killed had been raised to “at least 80” (Killalea 2016). In addition, three T-72 tanks, 3 infantry vehicles and anti-aircraft gun and 4 mortars were destroyed (MOA 2016). A surviving solider said he saw planes “finishing with machine guns our soldiers who tried to take refuge … I saw with my own eyes the death of about 100 soldiers” (SFP 2016).

Colonel Kanaan puts the final number of dead at 123, with 35 survivors (Kanaan 2017). The US side did not bother reporting numbers killed, with General Richard Coe at first mentioning “15 dead regime loyalists” (Watkinson 2016) then late simply saying “Syrian regime/aligned forces were struck” (Coe 2016: 2). There is no report of ISIS forces on the mountain being struck by the coalition aircraft that day; nor any day over the next year.

FIVE: the attack created immediate and longer term benefit to ISIS

The Syrian side made it clear that the massacre had allowed an almost simultaneous ISIS attack on and takeover of the hill. After planes had pounded the Army position on the mountain, ISIS quickly moved in and took full control of the mountain range (FNA 2016a). Within hours they had posted video of themselves standing on the bodies of the Syrian soldiers, killed by the air strikes (Charkatli 2016). The US side failed to comment on the immediate consequence of their attack, but they did not contradict the Syrian and Russian reports. Colonel Nihad Kanaan confirms that, as the US strikes were being carried out, ISIS attacked the Syrian Army post at Thardah 2. Survivors had to flee, as they did not have time to repel the DAESH attack (Kanaan 2017). Syrian Army defences meant that ISIS did not manage to take the airport, but Syrian forces did not retake the mountain until early September 2017, when the Syrian Army broke the siege and began to liberate the entire city (Brown 2017).


Victory! Father and son at Deir Ezzor markets. October 2017. (Photo: Tim Anderson)

SIX: false information to and delayed communications with Russia

The US military report admits that “incorrect information [was] passed to the Russians” about the locale of the attack. They said:

“the strikes would occur 9 kilometres south of DAZ ‘airfield’. However this information was incorrect, as the strikes were planned approximately 3 to 6 kilometres south of the airfield and 9 kilometres south of Dayr az Zawr city. This may have affected the Russian response to the notification and caused considerable confusion in the DT process” (Coe 2016: 3).

Brigadier General Richard Coe agreed with reporters that this misleading information prevented a Russian intervention: “had we told them accurately, they would have warned us”, he admitted (Porter 2016: 4). Providing false information to Russia was quite consistent with a plan to protect the attack from any unwanted interference.

After that, there was yet another ‘mistake’. The US military admits there was a half hour delay in responding to a Russian alarm (that the US was striking Syrian forces) on their specially constructed ‘hotline’. The US military tried to shift blame for this delay to the Russian caller:

“when the Russians initially called at 1425Z, they elected to wait to speak to their usual point of contact (POC) rather than pass the information immediately to the Battle Director. This led to a delay of 27 minutes, during which 15 of the 37 strikes were conducted” (Coe 2016: 3).

The less benign view of this event was that the ‘hotline’ was left unattended during the attack. Haddad (2017) reported that: “During the attack, a hotline between Russia and US forces was reportedly left unattended for 27 minutes” (Haddad 2017). Certainly Russia had to ring twice to pass on the urgent message (McLeary 2016) and, by that time, the attack was virtually complete.

SEVEN: the US made false claims about non-identification of Syrian forces

The US military apologia relies heavily on claims that, despite their several days of surveillance, they identified “irregular forces” on the mountain. US General Coe claims that “in many ways, the group looked and acted like the (Islamic State) forces we have been targeting for the last two years” (Dickstein 2016). Echoing this story, Australian Vice-Admiral David Johnston, Chief of Joint Operations said

“in many ways these forces looked and acted like DAESH fighters the coalition has been targeting for the last 2 years. They were not wearing recognisable military uniforms or displaying identifying flags or markings” (Johnston 2016).

Colonel Kanaan said they had flags flying. The US military confirms this, admitting that they received a report about sighting a “possible [Syrian] flag … 30 minutes prior to the strike”, but did nothing about it (Coe 2016: 2). Could ‘doing nothing’ have been just another ‘mistake’, in such a well-planned operation? It tends to corroborate the case for a deliberate strike, with some attempt at cover up, for “plausible deniability”.

EIGHT: the US ‘investigation’ was hopelessly partisan

A brief report issued in November exonerated US forces of any wrong doing. It did admit some critical facts, as noted above. But this was the US military investigating itself. US General Richard Coe said:

We made an unintentional, regrettable error, based on several factors in the targeting process” (Watkinson 2016).

The ‘errors’ relied upon were a series of random or ‘human’ mistakes and misidentification of the Syrian troops, supposedly because they were dressed in an irregular way. No attempt was made to contact the Syrian side (Coe 2016; Dickstein 2016). By reference to principles of criminal law some admissions made in this report are important and would be admissible evidence in a criminal trial. But the conclusions of the US report are entirely ‘self-serving’ and ‘recent inventions’ after the event. For that reason they are forensically worthless.

Summing up, the US-led air attack was a pre-meditated, brutal and effective massacre of the armed forces of a declared opponent. It gave an immediate and longer term advantage to one of the terrorist groups the US and its allies (as Biden and Dempsey admitted) were covertly supporting.

Even before we consider the Syrian perspective, uncontested facts destroy the feeble claim that this well planned and treacherous crime was a ‘mistake’. The US military admits that it gave false information to its Russian counterparts, then admits that its ‘hotline’ did not function properly during the attack. Despite all their sophisticated technology and days of surveillance, they pretend they could not distinguish between entrenched Syrian troops and terrorist ISIS gangs. They admit they had a report of a Syrian flag, but claim they just neglected it.

Having carried out a devastating attack on Syrian forces that day, allegedly by ‘mistake’, they did not return even once over the following year to attack the ISIS encampment on the mountain. This is as flimsy a cover story as any criminal has ever presented in court. If the commanders of this appalling massacre ever faced criminal charges, no independent tribunal could fail to convict.


Syrian soldiers at the Eurphrates, October 2017. (Photo: Tim Anderson)

2. The cover story

The ‘defence’ case centres around three matters.

First, they say that the 2014 request for assistance against ISIS from the Government of Iraq gave authority to the US coalition to venture into Syria.

Second, they insist that there was no intent to kill Syrian soldiers.

Third, they argue that their slaughter of soldiers was due to poor intelligence and mistaken identification.

Other aggravating factors were random ‘errors’. Then, by way of general excuse, and alluding to the supposed bases of human error, there was reliance on the ‘complexity’ of the situation. US CentCom, in its apologia, said ‘Syria is a complex situation’ (RT 2016); a phrase echoed by Australian Prime Minister Turnbull who said “it is a very complex environment” (Killalea 2016). None of this is compelling but, as was mentioned at the outset, the history of ‘plausible deniability’ rests not so much on its actual plausibility as on formal denials; that is thought sufficient to distract, intimidate and raise doubts.

The US apologia was repeated by its collaborators. Australian involvement in Syria had already been criticised at home (Billingsley 2015). After the attack on Jabal al Tharda, this writer wrote to ask Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull about the massacre and the legal basis for Australian air force presence in Syria. Defence Minister Marise Payne responded on 4 May 2017, addressing the legal question in the following way. Australia’s presence in Syria, the Minister claimed, came from a request made by the Government of Iraq for international assistance against DAESH/ISIS:

The legal basis for ADF operations against DAESH in Syria is the collective defence of Iraq … The Government of Syria has, by its failure to constrain attacks upon Iraqi territory originating from DAESH bases within Syria, demonstrated that it is unable to prevent DAESH attacks” (Payne 2017).

Indeed, two Iraqi ministers of foreign affairs had made requests to the UN Security Council in June 2014 (Zebari 2014) and again in September 2014 (al Ja’fari 2014). Those requests referred to “thousands of foreign terrorists of various nationalities” coming across the border from eastern Syria (Zebari 2014). Both requests also stressed the need to respect national sovereignty. So the US-led forces might have relied on this argument, had they helped Syria reclaim its eastern cities and regions from ISIS. However, as discussed above, they did not.

On the general legal authority question there is one relevant matter. The Australian side was not so confident about its own law, before the strike. Two weeks before the attack it was said that the chief of the Australian Defence Forces Mark Binskin had “fears that Australian Defence Force members could be prosecuted in Australian courts for military actions that are legal internationally [sic]” (Wroe 2016). It is not clear why they were considering this matter at that time, two years after they had committed forces to Iraq and Syria.

The general apologia for the massacre relied on a supposed lack of intent. “We had no intent to target Syrian forces,” said Air Force Brigadier General Richard Coe. He blames, in part, the soldiers’ form of clothing. “The group looked and acted like the (Islamic State) forces we have been targeting for the last two years” (Dickstein 2016). In addition, Coe claimed, the soldiers displayed “friendly” interactions with other groups in an Islamic State “area of influence.” He blamed the massacre on “human factors,” including miscommunications and an optimistic view of the intelligence (Dickstein 2016).

Taking the ‘mistake’ cover story at face value (i.e. assuming that the attack was aimed at ISIS, and defending Syrian forces), some western commentators quickly suggested the massacre of Syrian soldiers represented an alarming turn to US coalition air support for the ‘Syrian regime’. Time magazine said “the location of the strike in Deir al-Zour suggested the raid could have been a rare, even unprecedented attempt to assist regime forces battling ISIS”. Similarly, Faysal Itani, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council tweeted: “U.S. airstrikes on ISIS in such close proximity to regime positions are unusual. Arguably constitute close air support for regime” (Malsin 2016). Following the same logic, but in open disbelief, Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin asked:

“Why would, all of a sudden, the United States chose to help the Syrian Armed forces, defending Deir Ezzor? After all they did nothing when ISIL was advancing on Palmyra … All of a sudden the United States decides to come to the assistance of Syrian armed forces defending Deir Ezzor?” (Hamza 2016).

Of course, they did not decide to do that, nor did they ‘assist’ Syrian forces. Nor did Russia believe the attack was a mistake. Damascus was also under no such illusions. President Bashar al Assad, invoking the wider antagonistic role of the US, said the surprise attack “was a premeditated attack by the American forces … the raid continued more than one hour, and they came many times” (Haddad 2017).

The US report of November 2016 became the core of explanations from US collaborators in the attack. Australian Vice-Admiral David Johnston gave more detail on Australian involvement in the Jabal al Tharda attack before he presented the official US version of events (Johnston 2016). The coalition air contingent, which included Australian aircraft, had “conducted multiple air strikes against what was believed to be DAESH fighters near Deir Ezzor”, he said. The Australian contingent had included “an Australian E7 Wedgetail airborne early warning and control and 2 FA-18 hornet strike fighters”, along with aircraft from the US, UK and Denmark.  These planes carried out the attack “under the coordination and control of the US combined air operations centre” (Johnston 2016). The Australians were thus deeply involved in intelligence and coordination.

Johnston repeated the self-exonerating conclusions of the US report: “The air strikes were conducted in full compliance with the rules of engagement and the laws of armed conflict”. The investigation found that the decisions that identified the targets as DAESH fighters were supported by the information available at the time … [there was] no evidence of deliberate disregard of targeting procedures or rules of engagement” (Johnston 2016). He repeated the line that situation on the ground in Syria was “complex and dynamic. In many ways these forces looked and acted like DAESH fighters … They were not wearing recognisable military uniforms or displaying identifying flags or markings” (Johnston 2016).

A typical shallow Australian media review of the incident would admit that “something went badly wrong”; but then asserted, based more on loyalty than anything else: “no credible person suggest the RAAF pilots committed war crimes; everyone knows things go wrong in war” (Toohey 2016). Yet some independent, more detailed western commentaries expressed stark disbelief at the cover story. David MacIlwain complained about the failure of media scrutiny of Australia’s role in Iraq and Syria, asking why US coalition forces had not returned immediately to the mountain to correct their “mistake” (Macilwain 2016). Lawyer James O’Neill said, far from a mistake, “what happened at Deir Ezzor is entirely consistent with the long-standing American aim of regime change in Syria” (O’Neill 2016).

This “error” which killed over 100 soldiers who were defending Deir Ezzor from ISIS, was the only serious attack on what US coalition forces “believed to be DAESH fighters” near Deir Ezzor city. US-led forces would do nothing to help liberate Deir Ezzor. The ‘innocent massacre’ story just does not accord with known facts

3. The Syrian Perspective

For those not bound by wartime propaganda attempts to demonise or prohibit the ‘enemy’ media (a demand which results in reliance on US, British and French media), a Syrian perspective on the crime at Jabal al Tharda helps deepen our understanding. Sources in this section are Syrian, Lebanese, Iraqi, Iranian and Russian. We can speak of a Syrian perspective from the wider view, concerning the particulars of the attack and of events after that attack.

In the wider view the Syrian side has seen the US as the mastermind of all terrorist groups in Syria, making use of regional allies in particular Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Israel and Turkey. The Syrian armed forces make little distinction between ISIS and the western jihadist groups, which collaborate from time to time and whose members pass from one to the other, depending mainly on pay rates (Lucente and Al Shimale 2015). When Aleppo was liberated ISIS flags were seen alongside those of the al Nusra led coalition (RT 2016). Both international terrorist groups fought together for many years with the other jihadist groups which western governments had tried to brand as ‘moderate rebels’ (e.g. Paraszczuk 2013; Mowaffaq 2015).

The Syrian Government has regularly expressed ‘strong condemnation’ of US attacks on civilians and infrastructure, calling the group a “rogue coalition” which had  added “new bloody massacres” to its record of “war crimes and crimes against humanity” (RT 2017).

US forces mounted several direct attacks on Syrian forces, over 2015-2017. An online investigative group has compiled information of four such attacks, between mid-2015 and mid 2017: on Saeqa airbase in Deir Ezzor (December 2015); on Jabal al Tharda (September 2016); on Shayrat Airbase (April 2017) and an attack on an SU-22 aircraft near Tabqa (June 2017) (MMM 2017). In June 2017 the US group also attacked Syrian forces near the southern al Tanf border crossing (Islam Times 2017). All attacks had different pretexts.

US bombing in Deir Ezzor at the time of the Jabal al Tharda attack (in the name of anti-ISIS operations) was notable for its destruction of infrastructure, in particular the destruction of seven bridges across the Euphrates in September and October 2016 (Syria Direct 2016; SANA 2016). Syrian Army sources told Iranian media that the US aimed to extend its influence in the region and stop the Syrian Army’s advance, as also to cut supply routes between the provinces and separate Deir Ezzor’s countryside from the city’ (FNA 2016a). Syrian General Aktham told me that the US bombing of bridges was to isolate Deir Ezzor, when the city was under siege from ISIS (Aktham 2017).

Direct US support for ISIS had been reported many times in Iraq, over 2014-2015. This was mainly to do with arms drops and helicopter evacuation assistance, as Iraqi forces struggled to contain a strong ISIS offensive. Iraqi MP Nahlah al Hababi said in December 2014 that the US coalition was “not serious” about air strikes on ISIS; she added that “terrorists are still receiving aid from unidentified fighter jets in Iraq and Syria” (FNA 2015a).

In February 2015 there were multiple and more specific reports. The Salahuddin Security Commission said that “unknown planes threw arms … to the ISIL” in Tikrit city (FNA 2015c). Majif al Gharawi, an Iraqi MP on the country’s Security and Defence Commission said that the US was “not serious” in its anti-ISIS fight, and that it wanted to prolong the war to get its own military bases in Mosul and Anbar (FNA 2015b). Jome Divan, member of the Sadr bloc in the Iraqi parliament, said the US coalition was “only an excuse for protecting the ISIL and helping the terrorist group with equipment and weapons” (FNA 2015b). Khalef Tarmouz, head of the al Anbar Provincial Council, told Iranian media that his Council had discovered weapons that were made in the USA, Europe and Israel, in areas liberated from ISIS in the al Baghdadi region (FNA 2015b). Hakem al Zameli, head of the National Security and Defence Committee, reported that Iraqi forces had shot down two British planes carrying weapons for ISIS, and that US planes had dropped weapons and food for ISIS in Salahuddin, al Anbar and Diyala provinces (FNA 2015b).

In other words, within a few months of the US military re-entering Iraq in late 2014, on a ‘fight ISIS’ pretext, there were several reports of exactly the reverse, from senior Iraqi figures. Although these reports were in English, none of them reached the western media. Apparently those channels had no interest in listening to those actually affected by ISIS, or perhaps they just saw it as unthinkable that their own governments were lying to cover up their support for terrorism.

On the Jabal al Tharda massacre, the Syrian Government immediately said that the strike was no mistake but “a very serious and flagrant aggression” which had aided DAESH (Barnard and Mazzetti 2016). President Assad said the troops were deliberately targeted, pointing out that there had been an hour of bombing (Watkinson 2016). “It was a premeditated attack by the American forces, because ISIS was shrinking”, said the Syrian President (Haddad 2016). Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested the attack must have been deliberate:

“Our American colleagues told us that this airstrike was made in error. This ‘error’ cost the lives of 80 people and, also just ‘coincidence’, perhaps, ISIS took the offensive immediately afterwards … [But] how could they make an error if they were several days in preparation?” (Putin in RT 2016).

Russian spokesperson Maria Zakharova said the attack showed the world that “The White House is defending ISIS” (FNA 2016a). More detail was hinted at. President of the Syrian Parliament, Hadiya Khalaf Abbas, said that Syrian intelligence had intercepted an audio recording between the US and ISIS before the airstrike on Deir Ezzor (Christoforou 2016). Syrian UN Ambassador Bashar al Jaafari denounced the attack as a movement from proxy aggression to “personal aggression”, lamenting the US renunciation of the Russian-US agreement of 9 September to combat al Nusra and ISIS (Mazen 2016).


Col Kanaan at the attack site, at Jabal al Tharda. (Photo: Tim Anderson)

The detail of eye-witness evidence gives a fuller picture. In October 2017, as the Syrian Army was liberating Deir Ezzor city, Syrian film-maker Sinan Saed and I interviewed Colonel Nihad Kanaan at Jabal al Tharda, where the attack took place.  He told us they had seen US coalition surveillance aircraft on 12 September. On the day of the attack:

“Five Coalition aircraft began attacking the site. The fifth aircraft had a synchronized [line of sight] machine gun … I had 2 T-72 tanks, 2 BMP tanks, a 57mm gun on its base, and a 60mm mortar on a base. The aircraft first began attacking the arsenal. They did this by circling the site at very close distance. Once they were done targeting the arsenal, they began targeting the soldiers with perfect precision” (Kanaan 2017).


Col Kanaan at the attack site, at Jabal al Tharda. (Photo: Tim Anderson)

He says the raid continued for 1.5 hours, using missiles, bombs and machine guns. As the attack took place, ISIS launched “a very heavy attack” from the north-west shoulder of the mountain, using:

“all types of weapons- 14.5 mm, mortars, BKC machine guns and every other weapon they had. This was happening at the same time. They [ISIS] were attacking the post while the aircraft were bombing from above” (Kanaan 2017).

ISIS was using the US-coalition air strikes as cover as they advanced on the army posts, showing “connection and coordination between the US Coalition and ISIS”. The post fell and the airport was then cut off from the Maqaber road. “Then 2 aircraft bombed the actual airport from the Tharda 2 post” (Kanaan 2017).


Col Kanaan at the attack site, at Jabal al Tharda. (Photo: Tim Anderson)

Colonel Kannan’s group was flying Syrian flags, as the US military would later admit:

“When the Coalition aircraft attacked the post, the post had 3 Syrian flags up – one at the entrance, one in the middle and one at the forefront, and the soldiers were wearing the official military uniforms of the Syrian Arab Army … It is not true what the media reported, that the attack was a mistake. It was very clear that their target was the Syrian army and the Syrian soldiers. The Syrian flags were there, and the Syrian army uniforms were showing, and the site was so obviously belonging to the Syrian army. At the same time, ISIS were attacking us under their cover; the Coalition aircraft didn’t even shoot one bullet at them” (Kanaan 2017).


Eyewitness to the attack, Dr al Abeid in surgery at Deir Ezzor hospital. October 2017. (Photo: Tim Anderson)

There were other eye witnesses. A wounded solider saw dozens of his comrades being finished off with aircraft machine gunning (SFP 2016). Two days before speaking with Colonel Kanaan I had met Doctor Abd al Najem al Abeid, surgeon and head of Deir Ezzor health. As he rushed to the surgery from a group meeting I asked him a question about which I was embarrassed:

‘have you seen any sign of the US coalition helping remove DAESH [ISIS] from Deir Ezzor?’

I asked it this way because I wanted the answer to an open question for a western audience. But as I asked I also apologised, because I knew that the question, to an educated Syrian, would be rather insulting. He immediately said that the US forces had only helped ISIS and that he had seen the attack on Jabal al Tharda. He watched in shock for more than half an hour, as the aircraft attacked the strategic mountain base he knew was guarding the city (Abeid 2017). After that he rushed off to surgery to dig ISIS drone shrapnel from the abdomen of a young boy.


Children in Deir Ezzor, after liberation by the Syrian Arab Army. October 2017. (Photo: Tim Anderson)

After the massacre, reports of US forces providing logistic and intel support to ISIS, aiding regroupings and evacuations came from all along the Euphrates in late 2017, as Syrian forces took back Deir Ezzor. In September Press TV reported that the US had evacuated 22 DAESH commanders from Deir Ezzor.

This writer was in the city for 4 days in late October, as it was being liberated. On 26 August a US air force helicopter was reported as taking two DAESH commanders “of European origin” with family members. On 28 August another 20 DAESH field commanders were also taken by US helicopters from areas close to the city (Press TV 2017a). Then in November Muhammad Awad Hussein told Russian media he had seen US helicopters evacuate more DAESH fighters, after an airstrike outside al Mayadin, a city south of Deir Ezzor (Press TV 2017b). The anti-Syrian Government and British-based ‘Syrian Observatory for Human Rights’ confirmed that US helicopters were transferring DAESH fighters out of eastern Syria. Four DAESH members, including three Egyptians, and a civilian were taken from a house in Beqres, a suburb of Deir Ezzor which had been used as an arms depot (UFilter 2017).

Lebanese and Iranian media corroborated these reports. US forces were backing up ISIS with intelligence during the Syrian Army troops’ operation to liberate the town of Albu Kamal in Southeastern Deir Ezzur, according to the Secretary-General of Iraq’s al-Nujaba Resistance Movement Sheikh Akram al-Ka’abi. The al-Mayadeen news network quoted Sheikh al-Ka’abi saying that the US forces tried hard to push the Syrian army’s operation in Albu Kamal towards failure, and that US forces were targeting pro-government resistance forces before the AbuKamal battle, in ultimately unsuccessful attempts to block their advances (FNA 2017).

In late 2017 the Russian Defence Ministry announced it had evidence that “the US-led coalition provides support for the terrorist group Islamic State”. The US military had twice rejected Russian proposals to bomb identified ISIS convoys retreating from al Bukamal, saying that they enjoyed the protection of international law. That shielding of the terrorist group and its heavy weapons allowed them to regroup and carry out new attacks (TNA 2017). At the same time the US backed deals by the Kurdish-led SDF militia to allow ISIS fighters and their families to leave Raqqa for other parts of the region (Paterson 2017).

A senior Syrian General in Deir Ezzor confirmed to me helicopter evacuations from three points on the east bank of the Euphrates: south Deir Ezzor, east al Mayadeen and al Muhassan. He also spoke of US satellite intelligence being passed to ISIS. From this catalogue of US coordination and collaboration I asked him: ‘you must feel that you are fighting a US command?’ “100%” he responded (General SR 2017).

4. Assessment

As the Syrian Army liberated eastern Syria, over 2016-2017, the US military tried to slow its advance by a series of covert and overt actions. The massacre of more than 100 soldiers at Jabal al Tharda was one of five direct US attacks on Syrian forces, since 2015. Mistakes do happen in war, but this was no isolated mistake. The US-led attack on this strategic anti-ISIS base, protecting Deir Ezzor city, was a pre-meditated slaughter of Syrian forces which allowed ISIS to advance its plan to take the city. As it happened, Syrian Army defences meant that they did not do that. A series of uncontested facts make it clear this was a well-planned and deliberate strike, in support of ISIS. The US military gave false information to its Russian counterparts about the attack, left their ‘hotline’ unattended and hid evidence that showed they knew Syrian forces held the mountain. Having destroyed Syrian forces on that base, they did not return to attack ISIS on the mountain. Their cover story was weak and, while it served to block investigation by the western media, does not hold up to any serious scrutiny.

No independent tribunal would fail to convict US coalition commanders of this bloody massacre. 

US and Australian denials over their responsibility for the 17 September 2016 massacre at Jabal al Tharda are not credible, on any close examination. However they did serve their immediate purpose. Most of the western corporate and state media was stopped in its tracks. Yet the crime was “entirely consistent with the long standing American aim of regime change in Syria … [and] the Australian Government provided a willing chorus to the regime change demands of the Americans” (O’Neill 2016).

North American, British and Australian arms sales to the chief ISIS sponsors, the Saudis, could proceed without interruption or scrutiny (Begley 2017; Brull 2017). The cold war doctrine of ‘plausible deniability’, as on many previous occasions, helped deflect ‘potentially hostile’ investigations. Nevertheless, I urge closer examination of this crime, using conventional principles of criminal law, considering the uncontested evidence and ignoring the intimidation of war propaganda. Particularly adventurous western observers might even read the Syrian perspective, drawing on Syrian, Lebanese, Iraqi, Iranian and Russian sources. That would help deepen their understandings of the conflict.

Watch video with Prof Tim Anderson in Deir Ezzor,  made by Sinan Saed and Nisreen Al Khadour:

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December 17, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, Video, War Crimes | , , , , , , | 1 Comment