Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

Ten Reasons Canada Should Get Out of NAFTA

By David Orchard | Global Research | June 19, 2018

For months Canadians have been inundated with claims from the government, various and sundry industries, and the national punditry, that NAFTA is good for our country, even necessary, and that “renegotiated” it will be even better. In the aftermath of US president Trump’s recent visit to Canada, virtually the entire Canadian political class has completely abandoned the vision of an independent, sovereign Canada. From the prime minister on down they rush to Brian Mulroney, the architect of the integration of Canada into the US, for direction and advice on how to “save NAFTA.” The door is now wide open for our country to take a different route, to reject NAFTA and build a nation which controls its own economy and destiny. Here are ten reasons why Canada should free itself from NAFTA, not enter more deeply into it.

One: Under NAFTA US corporations have the right to sue Canada for any law or regulation which they do not like and which they feel contravenes the spirit of NAFTA. US corporations have sued Canada 42 times under NAFTA, overturned Canadian laws and received over $200 million in NAFTA fines, plus approx. $100 million in legal fees, from Canada — and have filed claims for some five billion more. Why would any nation give foreign corporations the right to sue it and dictate its laws? (Canadian corporations can also sue the US. They have tried several times and failed each time.)

Two: Under the FTA, which is part of NAFTA, Canada agreed to never charge the Americans more for any good that we export to them than it charges Canadians. Why would Canada ever agree to such a provision and what in the world does it have to do with free trade?

Three: Canada agreed that it would never cut back on the amount of any good, including all forms of energy, that it sells to the US unless it cut back on Canadians proportionally at the same time. Why would Canada agree to deny its own citizens preferential access to their own resources?

Four: Except for a few exceptions, Canada agreed to allow US citizens and corporations to buy up Canadian companies and industries without restriction. They have taken over thousands of Canadian companies, from both our national railways to our retail industry to our grain companies. In 1867 the US purchased Alaska for $7 million. It is now purchasing Canada just as surely.

Five: Under NAFTA Canada’s standard of living has not risen, it has fallen. The real wages of Canadians are dropping steadily, and the divide between haves and have nots has soared.

Six: NAFTA is not free trade. It is the integration of North America into a continental economy. Integration means assimilation and that for Canada means the end of our country.

Seven: Locked into NAFTA Canada loses its ability to be an independent country. We see our country following the US on the world stage, even attacking and bombing small nations that have done no harm to Canada because, some of our leaders suggest, we must follow the US because our economies are so intertwined. (Then we watch some of the same leaders wringing their hands over the agony of the fleeing refugees our bombs have helped to create!)

Eight: Farsighted Canadian leaders have repeatedly warned their fellow citizens against free trade with the United States. John A. Macdonald called the very idea “veiled treason” because it meant giving control of our nation to a foreign power. George-Etienne Cartier said the end result would be union with United States, “that is to say, our annihilation as a country.” Robert Borden called free trade “the most momentous question” ever submitted to Canadians “not a mere question of markets but the future destiny of Canada.” John Diefenbaker called on Canadians “to take a clear stand in opposition to economic continentalism” and the “baneful effects of foreign ownership.” Pierre Elliott Trudeau called the FTA “a monstrous swindle, under which the Canadian government has ceded to the United States of America a large slice of the country’s sovereignty over its economy and natural resources.” John Turner called it “the Sale of Canada Act.”

Nine: In its early days Canada had no income tax. It used the revenue from tariffs on imported goods to finance the operation of the country and it had little or no debt throughout much of its history. Today after three decades of “free trade” with the US, Canada is carrying a record $1.2 trillion in federal and provincial debt and the tax burden on ordinary Canadians increases year after year. The rate of homelessness and use of food banks has escalated, public institutions and programmes on which citizens rely have been cut, while record amounts of raw resources are being poured across the border at fire sale prices.

Ten: Canada’s economy is roughly one tenth the size of that of the US. If we do not protect our industries, our sovereignty, and our economy, our country will be absorbed into the United States. This means the end of the dream of an independent Canada standing among the world’s nations with pride and dignity. It need not be so. Both the FTA and NAFTA have cancellation clauses. With a simple 6 month’s notice Canada can withdraw without penalty. All three NAFTA countries are members of the World Trade Organization and our trade with them would simply revert back to WTO rules, under which we did much better than we have under NAFTA, and without any US corporate right to sue us or buy up our country.

***

David Orchard was twice a contender for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada. He is the author of The Fight For Canada: Four Centuries of Resistance to American Expansionism. He can be reached at davidorchard@sasktel.net

Read more:

Canada: “A Northern Power” Once Again? NAFTA, “A Monstrous Swindle”

July 5, 2018 Posted by | Economics | , , , | 1 Comment

The Trade War is Here: Some of the New “Facts of Life”

By Maximilian C. Forte | Zero Anthropology | July 2, 2018

In Madeleine Albright’s new book, dramatically titled Fascism: A Warning, she slams the anti-globalization crowd, claiming yet again that globalization is here to stay—it’s a “fact of life”. It must be another of those facts of life that we are seeing today, like “Donald Trump will never be elected president” or “UK voters will ultimately reject Brexit” or perhaps that there will never be a trade war?

If we believe Albright, humans have finally invented something permanent, nature-like, eternal–not coincidentally, eternity is the classic time of myth. Albright is not alone in being unable to recognize reality, even when staring straight at it: this morning Fox News kept speaking of a “potential” trade war being underway. When actual is pushed away into the zone of the potential, we have a serious reality-recognition problem at work. It means that neoliberal free traders—which unites both Fox News and Madeleine Albright, trivial “resistance” motifs regardless—lack the basic terms for speaking about what they are seeing, even as stock markets resume their plunge. But when is a trade war a trade war for Fox News ? What extreme, draconian conditions of spectacular conflict and destruction need to sweep over cities like a dark toxic fog for them to finally agree that there is a trade war? Were they expecting “shock and awe”?

Yes, the trade war is now on. We are officially in Day #2 of an international trade war that involves the biggest players in the world economy—the US, China, Japan, the European Union—along with Canada, Mexico, Brazil and others.

∗∗∗∗∗
Set everything else aside, this is a time not to be missed:
this is the biggest event since the last “can never happen” event,
that being the election of Donald Trump.
∗∗∗∗∗

In addition to a trade war between the US, Canada, and Mexico, that formally started yesterday (July 1, 2018), another big turn happened: Mexicans elected a populist and left-wing nationalist, Andrés Manuel López Obrador. North America now has two nationalists occupying the highest political office in two of the three nation-states of the continent. NAFTA is almost certain to die at this point.

It’s Canada’s turn next, and all signs are that Justin Trudeau is in very deep trouble. The next national election, which happens next year, will go to the party that sounds the most nationalistic. That almost inevitably strikes out the now ruling Liberal Party of Canada, and almost certainly takes down their ambiguously slightly more “left” twin, the New Democratic Party. It will be up to the Conservatives, who are Canada’s ideological equivalent of John McCain, to change their stripes, reach back decades into the history of Canada’s conservative politics, and rediscover ways of posing as nationalists. If the effort all proves futile, then the provinces are going to be left wondering what the real, material, practical benefits are of remaining within the confederation—and it’s not like there is a strong nationalist cultural and ideological content that holds the country together, so the material side of things matters an awful lot. (Ironically, Canada lacks a system of free trade domestically, between provinces, and if it had one what would be added to the Canadian economy would dwarf the value of agreements like the TPP by a dozen times). Material politics matter most now, because Canada lacks a national identity politics to fall back on. Right now the only identity politics that prevail in Canada are the identity politics of small fractions of minority groups, of niches within niches set in motion against other niches in the competition for rewards, recognition, and special rights. But by all means, keep “marching for women” if you think that is in any way relevant and a meaningful response at this time.

Canada as such is deeply unprepared for what is happening today. Already the ruling Liberals have signaled just how ill-equipped they are to meet this historical moment head on: they have announced a series of palliative, band-aid measures to compensate companies and workers for losses. That is what you do when you expect all of this to blow over soon. However, President Trump already made it clear that if counter-tariffs were slapped on the US, the US would then escalate further. Canada and Mexico have essentially called Trump’s bluff, a dangerous thing to do since they are playing Trump’s game, and you can therefore expect the US to follow through with more measures, and on and on this will go.

Thus the band-aid measures, being conceived by a short-term mentality, will simply not suffice as deglobalization becomes the new “fact of life”. The next party in Canada to win an election would not only need to sound like it is nationalist, if it is really smart it will do what Trudeau failed to do: establish an infrastructure, with incentives and subsidies, for new national industries that are fully protected, operating within a protected domestic market. Canada builds jets, trains, and ships: there is no credible reason it cannot have its own line of automobiles—Canadians need to rush to neutralize Trump’s planned auto tariffs. The Canadian government may need to launch new state-owned enterprises, and would need to decouple the pricing of petroleum from the world market. Canada is self-sufficient in oil, and could go for at least two centuries without imports—it is time to make oil as cheap as possible for Canadian consumers and producers, and it ought to be close to free.

(In my small corner of the world, I already started to work toward reestablishing a Canadian national anthropology, in spite of many criticisms, which would make a true decolonization more practical, because it begins where it needs to begin: by being anti-imperial. If you do not get that point, then you really ought to stop using words like decolonization. Likewise, just as Canadians are only now toying with ideas of boycotting US products and not traveling to the US, I have already been doing so for a decade, regardless of the definite professional costs and consequences.)

What is also quite amazing is how Trump is compelling everyone else to act like Trump. The international response to Trump’s economic nationalism, is the replication of economic nationalism. Tariffs are met by tariffs, protection met by protectionism. Nationalism is coming back, in full force. The defeated elites are right to cry over the loss of a “rules based international order,” what others have called a liberal international order, or what George H.W. Bush heralded as the “New World Order”. While the resurgence of mercantilism does not mean the end of imperialism, because the two are fully compatible (study the history of the British, French, German, Japanese, and American empires to see why), what this new phase in world history signals is the death knell for neoliberal globalism, and for the notion of a US-led global order serving an unmoored transnational capitalist class. Deglobalization will thus be matched by multipolarity. Sure the world can still prove to be a “dangerous” place—it’s not like the world was in any way a safe place under the dominance of neoliberal elites (or do I really need to mention Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, Colombia, DR Congo, plus all the debt crises, structural adjustment catastrophes, refugee surges, financial collapses, and 9/11 to make the point?)

Suddenly, I am left with the task of possibly dumping my reassessment of Trump on US empire, and going back to my original assessment, especially as Trump the nationalist of 2016 seems to have come back. Still, deciphering Trump’s position is not without its challenges, especially given the notorious chaos and factionalism in the White House on trade issues. Trump’s assistant on trade and manufacturing, Prof. Peter Navarro, in a fairly reasonable piece, articulated a position of maximum free trade—that is not economic nationalism, as much as it would appear to be unvarnished neoliberalism. However, this might just be a rhetorical tactic: to call out the hypocrisy of free traders given the lack of actually free trade, in order to permanently shut down any more talk of free trade. The fact of the matter is that for the last several years, protectionist measures have been on the rise worldwide, and most of the world had already receded from putting into practice the ideals of free trade. Trump seems to have decided to end with all the pretense, and to accelerate the process towards its logical final conclusion.

Canada is projected to be the number one country to be hit hardest by US tariffs. In the meantime, Canadians are routinely lied to by the Liberal government, the “defence” industry, think tanks and associated academics, which would have citizens believe—as an article of faith—that Russia is the biggest threat. Good call, “Russia,” nice one, real smart.

So welcome to the time of deglobalization. Anyone who is telling you that this time is otherwise, is just not worth your attention. Have a great day.

July 2, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Timeless or most popular | , | 4 Comments

Bill on restricting Iran ties to hurt Canada’s interests: Tehran

Press TV – June 14, 2018

Iran has condemned the Canadian House of Commons’ vote in favor of a draft law restricting ties with Tehran, rejecting the claims in the bill, which it says will be to Ottawa’s detriment.

In a hostile move on Tuesday, the Commons approved the bill, introduced by Conservative MP Garnett Genuis, which called on the Canadian government to “immediately cease any and all negotiations or discussions with the Islamic Republic of Iran to restore diplomatic relations.”

The measure also accused Tehran of “sponsorship of terrorism around the world” and designated Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) as a “listed terrorist entity” under the Canadian Criminal Code.

Under Canadian law, a bill is required to through a voting process in the Senate after passing the House of Commons. Once the bill gets the approval of both chambers, it is given Royal Assent and becomes law.

Responding to the move on Wednesday, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who was returning from a visit to South Africa, denounced Canada’s “misconceptions and illusions” about the Islamic Republic.

“These polices will be to Canada’s detriment and will not serve international peace and security,” he said, calling on Western countries to adopt independent policies towards Iran.

“Iran has always been on the front line of the fight against terrorism and without our country’s efforts and support, the situation in the region would have been different,” Zarif added.

Additionally, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi expressed dismay at the Canadian legislative body’s pursuit of the anti-Iran motion.

The measure, he said, is still in its initial stages, adding, however, that its “final approval will undoubtedly be a strategic and major mistake entailing destructive consequences.”

The bill shows that Canadian lawmakers lack precise information about Iran’s clear and logical positions on fighting terrorism, Qassemi noted.

He also stressed that the world’s public opinion would never accept “delusional and wrong allegations” against the country.

The spokesman further warned against the repercussions of passing the “injudicious and baseless” measure and expressed hope that the Canadian government would prevent it.

In 2012, the administration of former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper severed diplomatic ties with Iran, citing, among other pretexts, what it described as continued threats from Tehran to its ally, Israel.

The House of Commons’ move came while the government of current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had been voicing willingness to resume ties with Iran almost since it took office in late 2015.

Ottawa had said in late 2016 that it would act “in a speedy fashion” to normalize ties, and diplomats of the two countries have been in talks over the resumption of ties.

June 14, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , | 2 Comments

A hat trick for Trump’s presidential legacy

By M.K. Bhadrakumar | Asia Times | June 10, 2018

It is clear by now that US President Donald Trump’s remark on Thursday as he was setting out for the Group of 7 (G7) summit in Canada on the readmission of Russia into the grouping was not an off-the-cuff remark.

On Saturday, the American leader revisited the idea, insisting that it would do a world of good for G7 countries and the world – and for the United States, in particular. (The G7 is comprised of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and United States.)

That Trump launched the trial balloon after a discussion at the G7 gathering is important. Trump suggested certain progress in that direction had been made behind closed doors:

“It has been discussed. We didn’t do votes or anything, but it has been discussed. Some people like the idea of bringing Russia back in. This used to be the G8, not the G7…. I think it would be an asset to have Russia back in. I think it would be good for the world. I think it would be good for Russia. I think it would be good for the United States. I think it would be good for all of the countries of the current G7.”

Trump also said: I think the G8 would be better. I think having Russia back in would be a positive thing. We’re looking for peace in the world. We’re not looking to play games…. I would rather see Russia in the G8 as opposed to the G7.

The American leader also implied that Crimea, the peninsula Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014 prompting its expulsion from the G7 and imposition of economic sanctions against Moscow, doesn’t have to be an obstacle. He pinned much of the blame for the Crimea standoff on his predecessor, Barack Obama. Trump said:

“Well, you know, you have to ask [US] President [Barack] Obama, because he was the one that let Crimea get away. That was during his administration. And he was the one that let Russia go and spend a lot of money on Crimea, because they’ve spent a lot of money on rebuilding it. I guess they have their submarine port there and such. But Crimea was let go during the Obama administration.

“And, you know, Obama can say all he wants, but he allowed Russia to take Crimea. I may have had a much different attitude. So you’d really have to ask that question to President Obama — you know, why did he do that; why did he do that. But with that being said, it’s been done a long time… I would say that the G8 is a more meaningful group than the G7, absolutely.”

So what was Trump getting at? To be sure, the context is important. Trump used the G7 meeting to pile pressure on his major Western allies, threatening to cut off US’ trade ties with them unless they acceded to his demands on “fair and reciprocal” trade and a no-tariffs, no-subsidies global trade order.

His unilateral call for Russia’s reintegration into the G7 was a reminder that Trump has options. This is one thing. Second, Trump spoke following Austria’s confirmation that it has transmitted a proposal from Russian President Vladimir Putin for an early summit with him. (Putin has since said that “the ball is in the US’ court.”)

Trump has opened a Pandora’s box with his pro-Russia call. And he couldn’t be unaware that the sanctions issue is key to Russia’s readmission into the G7.

In fact, German Chancellor Angela Merkel promptly retorted: “We have discussed Russia’s participation (in G7). In my view, there is a need for significant progress in the implementation of the Minsk Agreements [concerning a resolution to the conflict in Ukraine], so for now I don’t see any possibility of Russia’s participation.”

The G7 final communiqué also took a tough line on sanctions, warning to “take further restrictive measures in order to increase costs on Russia.” It also demanded that Moscow should “cease its destabilizing behavior to undermine democratic systems and its support of the Syrian regime.”

On balance, Trump is creating the raison d’etre of a summit meeting with Putin, which in normal times would have caused an uproar in the US. But why shouldn’t Trump alone have no high-level meeting with Russia because of sanctions?

America’s major Western allies, including Germany, France, Italy and Japan – show no such compunctions. By raising the bar to a new high threshold – Russia’s readmission into the G7 – Trump has won greater acceptability for a possible summit with Putin.

Unwittingly, perhaps, he’s also brought to the fore another big question: Are the sanctions against Russia relevant anymore now that it’s effectively “business as usual” between Russia and other Western powers?

On Thursday, the chiefs of the general staff of the US and Russia – General Joseph Dunford and General Valery Gerasimov – met in Helsinki to discuss US-Russian relations, Syria and international security issues.

The paradox here is that the Europeans expect the US to stand up to Russia, but have no qualms about doing business with Russia themselves. And while there is an apparent growing body of EU members that stand for lifting sanctions against Russia, no one wants to bell the cat apart from Trump.

Trump has repeatedly made the point that if Western allies want the US to lead on security matters, they must reciprocate by shoring up his vision of “America First.” At the final G7 press conference before leaving Canada for Singapore for his historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Trump sounded confident that he is getting his way on trade issues.

Trump is thus building his case to be among the most underrated American presidents in modern history. In a momentous week, he has decisively pushed forward his agenda of “fair and reciprocal” trade, prepared the ground to re-engage Russia and is now headed for what appears to be a successful opening with North Korea.

Any one of these achievements, if capped, would make for a brilliant presidential legacy.

June 11, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 2 Comments

Manufacturing Dissent: US NGO’s Build Opposition in Thailand

By Joseph Thomas | New Eastern Outlook | June 9, 2018

Should decidedly anti-British government organisations be found across the United Kingdom to be funded and directed by Russians, we could only imagine the reaction. Even whispers of hints of Russian influence have resulted in legislation, sanctions and quite literally years of punditry warning of the Kremlin’s insidious reach.

When the tables are turned, it is clear London, Washington and Brussels understand the inappropriateness of one nation interfering in the internal affairs of another.

Yet this acute awareness has not informed US or European foreign policy, including components of what could be called “soft power,” or influence operations. While soft power implies non-coercion, in practice it is always used in conjunction with coercive means toward exacting concessions from targeted nations.

Hiding US Funding 

In the Southeast Asian Kingdom of Thailand, a growing army of such influence operations has formed the foundation of an opposition to the current government. It is an opposition that without its current funding and support from abroad otherwise would not exist.

Just as was done for years against nations like Syria, Libya, Ukraine and Egypt (nations to have recently suffered or nearly suffered the impact of Western-sponsored regime change), Thailand faces long-term interference in its internal affairs as a direct result of these influence operations.

The opposition in Thailand itself is minute and unpopular. However the organisations supporting them enjoy a veneer of credibility owed primarily to their efforts to obfuscate from audiences their foreign funding and their actual role in organising and leading the opposition.

One example can be seen in the local English-language newspaper, the Bangkok Post. Its article, “The fight for basic rights,” interviews the American founders of a supposed nongovernmental organisation called, “Fortify Rights.” Fortify Rights has consistently used its platform to support anti-government protests under the pretext of defending human rights.

Nowhere in the interview are Matthew and Amy Smith asked where their money comes from and how, as Americans, it is their moral imperative to involve themselves in critical issues faced by Asia.

Throughout the interview, the Smiths repeatedly admit to reporting back to the United States government, including testifying before US Congress and lobbying in Washington for issues related to Myanmar’s ongoing refugee crisis. The interference in Asia by a nation residing on the other side of the planet seems almost taken for granted by both the Smiths and the interviewer, as if the United States is imbued with the authority to arbitrate universally.

On social media, when the topic of US government funding was raised, Matthew Smith categorically denied receiving US government funding. He would refer to additional questions regarding his organisation’s funding as “trollish.”

However, Fortify Rights’ 2016 annual report (PDF), as pointed out to Smith himself, includes government funding from the United Kingdom, Canada, the Netherlands and the US Congress-funded National Endowment for Democracy ().

Other controversial sponsors of Fortify Rights include convicted financial criminal George Soros’ Open Society Foundations.

Matthew Smith not only knows that NED is funded by and serves as an intermediary for the US government, (thus making Fortify Rights a recipient of US government funding), he is undoubtedly aware of how controversial such funding is across Asia, a region sensitive to outside interference after centuries of European and more recently, American colonisation.

Implications of NED Funding 

NED’s own website admits on its frequently asked questions page that:

NED is a private, non-profit, grant-making organization that receives an annual appropriation from the U.S. Congress through the Department of State. Although NED’s continued funding is dependent on the continued support of the White House and Congress, it is NED’s independent BOARD OF DIRECTORS that controls how the appropriation is spent.

NED itself admits that it is funded through the US State Department. It claims that its board of directors, not the US government itself, then determine how those US tax dollars are spent.

A look at NED’s board of directors only further implicates organisations like Matthew Smith’s Fortify Rights in deep impropriety merely hiding behind “rights” advocacy.

It includes people representing political and business interests involved in some of the greatest injustices purveyed by the United States during this generation, including Elliott AbramsFrancis FukuyamaZalmay Khalilzad (who served as US ambassador to Iraq during the US occupation) and Vin Weber described by some (including themselves) as Neo-Conservatives who promoted the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 and have promoted other wars of aggression around the globe both before and since.

Victoria Nuland, who played a central role in ousting the elected government of Ukraine in 2014 through a violent coup spearheaded by Neo-Nazi political parties and their militant wings, also serves on NED’s board of directors, along with Anne Applebaum of the Washington Post who clearly finds herself in a conflict of interest between reporting the truth and promoting organisations and agendas underwritten by the NED she chairs.

Another commonality is shared among NED’s board of directors; their use of “human rights” and “democracy” as pretexts for the wars of aggression and regime change they have promoted and helped execute, which reveals the true purpose, whether Matthew Smith of Fortify Rights knows or admits it or not, of both NED’s existence and the desired outcome of the work it funds around the globe.

NED in Thailand 

Fortify Rights is by far not the only front operating in Thailand under the sponsorship of US government-funded NED.

It coordinates with other fronts as well, including media outlets like Prachatai based in Bangkok (whose director also serves as an NED Fellow), Isaan Record based in Thailand’s northeast, and BenarNews covering Thailand’s deep south. All three disingenuously portray themselves as independent local media. They have intentionally taken steps to obfuscate their US government funding from their Thai readers. Prachatai has only disclosed its foreign funding once in 2011, and only on its English-language website.

Each media front specialises in seizing upon and exploiting social and economic tensions to bolster opposition to the current government. Before the 2014 coup ousted the previous, US-backed government of Yingluck Shinawatra, these same media organisations used their platforms to smooth over injustices and emerging tensions threatening that government’s stability.

NED-funded Fortify Rights also works closely with fellow US funding recipient Thai Lawyers for Human Rights who not only provide free legal services for anti-government protesters, but provide resources and leadership to the protests themselves. The protesters portraying themselves as “pro-democracy” activists, fail to disclose their foreign funding to potential followers. They also avoid questions regarding how their foreign funding violates democracy’s prerequisite of self-determination independent of foreign interference.

Other NED-funded organisations operating in Thailand include iLaw, Cafe Democracy, Media Inside Out Group, Book Re:public, Thai Netizens Network, the ENLAWTHAI Foundation and the Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF).

Many of these US government-funded organisations play a direct role in demanding policy changes. Currently in Thailand, protests demanding regime change are also led by US government-funded organisations.

The implications of foreign funded organisations attempting to influence Thailand’s policy or its political future are troubling. Many of the individuals working for these US government-funded organisations on their social media accounts frequently comment on their opposition to “Russian influence” in their US sponsors’ internal affairs, apparently failing to appreciate the irony of what their own work represents.

They also fail to appreciate the irony of portraying themselves as “independent” and working for “nongovernmental organisations,” despite being both dependent on wealthy and influential foreign sponsors as well as working on behalf of foreign governments.

Through their connections with equally compromised organisations and individuals in Thailand’s media, they have written promotional pieces about their supposed work, like in the Bangkok Post, without disclosing their foreign funding to readers.

At other times, complicit individuals within the Thai media have attempted to write pieces defending or dismissing US government-funding when public outcry begins to rise.

Rewriting Thailand’s NGO Laws 

Despite the amount of funding and deception involved in this extensive and growing network, the US government-funded opposition is still widely unpopular. It would not be necessary for the Thai government to restrict their activities, let alone uproot and expel them as neighbouring Cambodia has (understandably) done.

Should Thailand simply rewrite its NGO laws to demand the same degree of scrutiny and transparency of these organisations as they themselves demand of targets of US government pressure, their already unpopular message would lose even more credibility and support across Thai society.

Prachatai, for example, being forced to disclose its US government funding at the header or footer (or both) of every article it writes would mean Prachatai finally practising the integrity and transparency it demands of targets of its daily propaganda. Likewise, those like writers at the Bangkok Post writing promotional pieces about Fortify Rights, should be obligated to disclose the organisation’s foreign funding somewhere within the body of the article.

Were these organisations as dedicated to the principles of transparency, freedom, democracy and human rights as they claimed, all of this information would already be freely and repeatedly provided to readers. If these organisations truly believed US, UK and Canadian government funding was benign or beneficial, they would not have gone through such extensive efforts to obfuscate and spin it to begin with. If anything, they would use such funding as a selling point.

Matthew Smith of Fortify Rights would not deceive people on social media by playing off of a technicality in which his US government money is essentially laundered through the NED before reaching him.

As the US continues accusing Russia of interfering in its internal political affairs, measures and consequences it attempts to level against Moscow could easily be cited and adopted by other nations across the globe to deal with the very real interference the US is engaged in within their respective borders.

The double game the US is playing regarding its own interference around the globe and accusations of interference it has levelled against Moscow, prove there is nothing benign at all about its agenda and activities. In turn, this calls into question all those organisations whose existence depends on annual contributions from this malignant political order.

Those truly dedicated to helping people will seek to independently fund their work by finding support from the local communities they claim to represent. If people are unwilling to fund Matthew Smith and Fortify Rights at the local level, it is likely Smith and his organisation are not truly working in the benefit of these communities, and instead, for interests diametrically opposed to them.

June 9, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Pro-Israeli Groups Weaponize Jewish Cultural Initiatives to Amplify Their Anti-Palestinianism

By Yves Engler | Dissident Voice | June 3, 2018

Should “Jewish Heritage Month” be used as a cover for Israeli nationalism and to suppress Palestinian protest?

A recent incident at a Toronto high school demonstrates the depravity of the pro-Israel lobby. It also illustrates their use of Canadian cultural and “diversity” initiatives to promote a country that declares itself to be the exact opposite of diverse.

Amidst the recent slaughter of nonviolent protesters in Gaza, a half-century illegal occupation of the West Bank and weekly bombings in Syria, an Israeli flag marked with “Jewish Heritage Month” was hoisted in the main foyer of Forest Hill Collegiate Institute. After a couple days the flag created by Israeli nationalist students was moved – possibly due to complaints from other students – to a less prominent location where Jewish Heritage Month events were taking place. In response B’nai Brith, Hasbara Fellowships, Simon Wiesenthal Centre for Holocaust Studies and Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) all claimed persecution. “Discrimination has absolutely no place in our schools”, noted a CIJA spokesperson with regards to moving the Israeli flag to a less prominent location in the school. For their part, the Wiesenthal Center said our “objective is to ensure that TDSB [Toronto District School Board] adheres to its own values of equity and inclusivity for all students” while B’nai Brith’s press release decried the “Jewish students who have had their heritage denigrated.” That group then published a story titled “Forest Hill Collegiate Has History of Alienating Jewish Students, Former Pupil Says.”

After the uproar the flag was returned to the Forest Hill Collegiate Institute’s main foyer and the TDSB apologized. At an assembly to discuss the matter, in which the principal and TDSB representative spoke standing behind a podium adorned with an Israeli flag, a student apparently yelled “Free Palestine”. B’nai Brith immediately denounced the brave, internationalist-minded high schooler, tweeting: “This morning, before an assembly about the removal of a #JewishHeritageMonth banner at Forest Hill Collegiate, a student yelled ‘Free Palestine’ during the morning announcements. We have been assured that this was not approved by the school and that an investigation is underway.”

In another Twitter post B’nai Brith claimed the Israeli flag flap made a “mockery of Canada’s first Jewish Heritage Month.” Their statement highlights a mindset that views gaining official sanction of cultural initiatives as a way to strengthen their campaign to support a violent, European colonial outpost in the Middle East.

Earlier this year the House of Commons unanimously adopted May as “Jewish Heritage Month”. The motion was sponsored by York Centre MP Michael Levitt who is chair of the Canada Israel Interparliamentary Group and a former board member of the explicitly racist Jewish National Fund. Two weeks ago the Liberal MP issued a statement, partly rebutting the prime minister, that blamed “Hamas incitement” for Israeli forces shooting thousands of peaceful protesters, including Canadian doctor Tarek Loubani.

The bill’s other sponsor was Linda Frum. Last year the Conservative Party senator called Iran “one of the most malign nations in the world” and labeled a Palestinian-Canadian’s 2014 art exhibit at Ottawa’s city hall “a taxpayer-funded tribute to a Palestinian terrorist” and “the murder of innocent civilians.”

Leaving aside the background of those driving the initiative, the likely political effect of creating Jewish Heritage Month should have been obvious. The Canadian Jewish News report on the House of Commons resolution noted that May was chosen to celebrate Jewish Heritage Month because of the “various events on the Jewish calendar, including the UJA Walk for Israel, the Toronto Jewish Film Festival, Jewish Music Week and Israel’s Independence Day.” Similarly, when Ontario adopted May as Jewish Heritage Month in 2012 United Jewish Appeal Federation of Greater Toronto president Ted Sokolsky linked it to the group’s Israel campaigning. He said, “this announcement will call for an extra celebration at this year’s UJA Walk with Israel, which for 45 years has taken place in May.”

Despite the initiative being steeped in colonialist politics, the NDP voted in favour of the bill creating Jewish Heritage Month. During discussion of the motion NDP MPs Jenny Kwan and Randall Garrisson claimed it would enhance cultural/religious understanding. Garrisson said, “Jewish heritage month will help contribute to better understanding of just how diverse we Canadians are, and in doing so contribute to building a Canada free from hatred and division.”

Of course, this would be a laudable goal, but putting up an Israeli flag in a public high school while that country is murdering unarmed Palestinian demonstrators can only cause hatred and division. And it is an affront to thousands of Jewish-Canadians who do not support Israel.

The flag flap at Forest Hill Collegiate illustrates how pro-Israel groups have weaponized Jewish cultural initiatives to amplify their anti-Palestinianism. Those who seek justice for Palestinians need to recognize this fact and figure a way out.


Yves Engler is the author of A Propaganda System: How Canada’s Government, Corporations, Media and Academia Sell War and Canada in Africa: 300 Years of Aid and Exploitation .

June 3, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 1 Comment

On the Liberation of The Yarmouk Refugee Camp from ISIS. Syrian and Palestinian Struggles Indivisible

By Ken Stone | Global Research | May 30, 2018

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA), allied Palestinian militias, and the government of Syria deserve high praise for the recent liberation of Yarmouk refugee camp from ISIS.

Anti-war activists took a lot of flak from some people in North America and Europe, describing themselves as Palestine solidarity activists and “leftists”, when, in 2012, Yarmouk was invaded and occupied by proxy armies of western powers and Arab monarchs. Because we condemned the US-led attack on Syria and defended the Syrian government’s resistance to the terrorist occupation of Yarmouk, we were among the activists denounced by the misguided persons above as being “Assad apologists.”

This would be a good time to set the record straight and reaffirm our position that Palestinians and Syrians have strong common national aspirations. The aspiration of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in Palestine is recognized as part of the common struggle of all Syrians. And both nations seek to reclaim from the State of Israel all the territories in Syria and Palestine which it currently occupies.

Background

Yarmouk was originally a refugee camp for Palestinians who had been displaced by the “Nakba”, the catastrophe of the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous people of historic Palestine which accompanied the founding of the State of Israel in 1948. It was a .81 hectare of land which, in 1957, was outside the boundaries of Damascus but which, by 2011, had turned into a lively suburb of the city housing about one million people of whom about 160,000 people were Palestinians. It was the largest and most prosperous settlement of Palestinians anywhere in Syria.

It is important to note that the government of Syria treated its hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees better than most Arab countries and as equals to Syrian citizens themselves. Palestinians in Syria received the same levels of free health care and education as Syrians and were allowed to rise in all areas of employment as high as their abilities carried them. There was only one formal legal distinction between Syrians and Palestinians. Palestinians were not given Syrian citizenship – in order to maintain their internationally-recognized right of return to their homes in Palestine – and therefore were not allowed to participate in Syrian elections.

Finally, the Syrian government, along with Iran and Hezbollah, was part of the Coalition of Resistance against Israel for many years. It was no accident therefore that, before the US-led aggression against Syria in 2011, the Palestinian factions chose to locate their headquarters in Damascus.

In short, the Assad government was a staunch supporter of the Palestinian cause.

The proxy war on Syria

In 2011, a group of western countries and Arab monarchies, led by the USA, unleashed scores of proxy armies of terrorist mercenaries on Syria with the purpose of achieving regime change, a scheme clearly illegal under international law. Importantly, the State of Israel participated heavily in this regime change operation, supporting terrorist mercenaries using the illegally-occupied Golan Heights as their base to fight against the Syrian government inside of Syria. Israel also used its air force to bomb Syria more than one hundred times during the course of the seven-year long war and supplied aid and weapons to separatist Kurdish elements in eastern Syria with a view to aid the USA in trying to partition that country.

In this context, negotiations took place for the Palestinians in Syria to remain neutral in the war. The Syrian government supported this view but the terrorists didn’t.

In 2012, the so-called “Free Syrian Army” (FSA) invaded and occupied Yarmouk. Some Palestinian factions facilitated their entry. The FSA was soon joined by al Qaeda and other militant factions. In 2015, ISIS entered the camp and, after some internecine warfare, drove out the other terrorist factions.

As they did in many other pockets of Syria, the terrorists evicted many Palestinians from their homes, looted and plundered everything of value, arrested anyone with known sympathies for the government and/or religious beliefs different from theirs and proceeded to torture and execute them, sexually assaulted and/or kidnapped women and girls, turned Yarmouk into a fortified camp, and hoarded all the foodstuffs for themselves. As in every other terrorist enclave, the vast majority of the inhabitants promptly fled to government-held areas.

The Syrian government did not directly attack Yarmouk until just a few weeks ago. Instead, it patiently armed and supported the courageous fighters of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command (PFLP-GC) who, for many years, led the unremitting struggle against the terrorists inside the camp. In other words, the Syrian government respected the neutrality requested by the Palestinian organizations.

The Syria Solidarity Movement notes,

“the patience of the Syrian hosts in allowing the Palestinian refugee population to try to reconcile its differences and take the lead in expelling ISIS and al-Qaeda and their affiliates from Yarmouk since early in the conflict is especially remarkable. In the end, the SAA took over responsibility for eliminating these terrorist groups from neighbouring Hajar al-Aswad, which allowed the Palestinian militias and their Syrian allies to remove the remainder from Yarmouk, the last remaining source of terror attacks on the civilian population in Damascus. We send our sincerest congratulations to all the people of Damascus and the surrounding metropolitan area for their liberation from fear of such attacks, which they endured for seven long years.” 1

Lies and distortions about Yarmouk

In 2012, certain self-styled Palestine solidarity activists and western “leftists” sought to twist the facts about the second displacement of the Palestinians – this time from their homes in Yarmouk. They sought specifically to lay the blame for this second victimization of the Palestinians in Yarmouk on the Syrian government and effectively gave left cover and support to the western regime-change operation. According to the nay-sayers, the Syrian government was simply to cave in to the armed militants and ignore its duty to protect its citizens and the Palestinian refugees, who lived under its protection, from foreign aggression.

From personal experience in Canada, we can attest to the fact that the Left cover provided by these misguided people for the attempted US regime-change operation in Syria was poisonous to the Canadian anti-war movement. It made it hard to organize people against the illegal war. In fact, it became difficult, thanks to threats by anarchists and other intervenors, even to find a venue to hold a public meeting in Canada for outspoken and courageous opponents of the war on Syria, such as Mother Agnes Mariam and Eva Karene Bartlett. In a few short years, because some of these misguided people, specifically members of the International Socialists (IS), were in positions of authority within the pan-Canadian anti-war movement, the movement dried up and died.

We note that many people got it wrong at the time. It’s heartening that some of them, such as journalists, Max Blumenthal, Rania Khalek, and Ben Norton have publicly acknowledged that their earlier analysis and criticisms were wrong.2 Others, such as UK professor Gilbert Achcar, who travelled to the World Social Forum in Montreal in 2016 to villify the Syrian government, will probably dance to empire’s tune until they die. It has taken seven years but the recent string of victories of the Syrian government over the terrorists have forced many honest people on the left to open their eyes wide and realize that what has transpired in Syria is not a popular uprising and or a “revolution”, but a deadly plan by the US, its western allies, and regional clients criminally to interfere in the domestic affairs of Syria and to target Iran and the Coalition of Resistance.

Thankfully, with the help of its international allies – Russia, Iran, Hezbollah, and several Palestinian popular militias – the Syrian Arab Army and government, after much sacrifice, has finally gained the upper hand and has driven the terrorists out of many of the enclaves they seized and occupied, including Yarmouk, thus defeating the US regime change plan.

In response to the failure of that plan, the USA moved to its Plan B: direct attacks on, and the occupation of, a large swath of Syria with a view to partition the country. On April 13, 2018, in response to a fraudulent “chemical attack” staged by the White Helmets3, the USA, UK, and France launched 100+ missiles against Syria. Interestingly, the Palestinian peak organizations immediately condemned the missile attack, and came out strongly in support of the government in Damascus, thereby abandoning any pretence at neutrality.

Fatah (the majority faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization [PLO]) declared that it

“stood unreservedly with the unity of Syrian territory and rejected efforts at destroying it or harming its unity and sovereignty.”

Palestinian Islamic Jihad “condemned the Western aggression against Syria” and “expressed solidarity (to) stand by Syria and its people and with all Arab and Islamic peoples in the face of all threats and challenges to their security, stability and unity.” The Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) “considered the aggression of America and its allies on the Syrian territory as a blatant aggression against the nation, aimed at confiscating its lands and destroying its capabilities in order to preserve the existence of the Israeli entity and (to advance) its schemes.” The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) “strongly condemned the American-British-French aggression, which targeted Syria with their missiles.” The Front added that

“the aggression and its objectives will be destroyed on the rock of the steadfastness of the Syrian people and the Syrian state” for whom it expressed its support and solidarity.4

Syrian and Palestinian struggles indivisible

The liberation of Yarmouk and the angry Palestinian reactions to the April 13 missile attacks put a satisfying end to a chapter of disunity in Palestinian and Syrian history. They show that the Palestinian and Syrian struggles are one and the same. There can be no ultimate victory for Palestine if Syria is destroyed. There can be no ultimate victory for the Syrian people without also freeing the Palestinians from the tyranny of occupation in Palestine.

The moral of the Yarmouk story can be summed up thus: if you are for Palestine, you must also be for Syria!

Those self-styled Palestinian solidarity activists and “leftists” in Europe and North America who slammed the Syrian government for resisting the terrorist proxy armies of the West need to reflect on the consequences of their de facto support of the US empire’s meddling in Syria: half a million deaths, millions of injured people (both physically and emotionally), enormous destruction of civilian infrastructure (including housing, schools, and hospitals), the transformation of 12 million Syrians into displaced persons and into a wave of refugees that swept over Europe, the descent of thousands of Syrian women and girls into the international human trafficking trade, and much much more… Will there ever be a day of reckoning for these apologists of empire?

Conclusion

The liberation of Yarmouk refugee camp is a significant milestone in Syria’s struggle to regain its national sovereignty and territorial integrity. Eventually, all of Syria will be liberated from the terrorists and from the direct occupations of the USA (east of the Euphrates), of Turkey (in the north), and Israel (in the south). In the meantime, the Palestinian residents of Yarmouk will soon be able to return to their homes in southern Damascus. And, when Syria is completely liberated, they will be able to organize once again – with the help of the Syrian government – for the Day of Return to Palestine.

*

Ken Stone is a veteran antiwar activist, a former Steering Committee Member of the Canadian Peace Alliance, an executive member of the SyriaSolidarityMovement.org, and treasurer of the Hamilton Coalition To Stop The War [hcsw.ca]. Ken is author of “Defiant Syria”, an e-booklet available at Amazon, iTunes, and Kobo. He lives in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Notes

1 “Statement… on the liberation of Yarmouk”, Syria Solidarity Movement, May 27, 2018, syriasolidritymovement.org;

2 Blumenthal and Khalek recant their previously held views on Syria:

https://soundcloud.com/moderaterebelsradio/syria-rania-khalek-episode-17

https://soundcloud.com/moderaterebelsradio/syria-palestine-salafism-wahhabism-islamophobia-rania-khalek-episode-18

Ben Norton recants: http://bennorton.com/syria-war-views/

3 Vanessa Beeley on the Douma incident: http://21stcenturywire.com/2018/05/11/syria-vanessa-beeley-speaks-to-uk-column-about-eastern-ghouta/

4 Palestinian News & Info Agency (WAFA), April 16, 2018

June 1, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trade War and the Nationalist Exchange: Trudeau Trails Trump

By Maximilian C. Forte | Zero Anthropology | June 1, 2018

“These tariffs are totally unacceptable. For 150 years, Canada has been America’s most steadfast ally. Canadians have served alongside Americans in two world wars and in Korea. From the beaches of Normandy to the mountains of Afghanistan, we have fought and died together. Canadian personnel are serving alongside Americans at this very moment. We are partners in NORAD, NATO, and around the world. We came to America’s aid after 9/11—as Americans have come to our aid in the past. We are fighting together against Daesh in Northern Iraq…. That Canada could be considered a national security threat to the United States is inconceivable…. these tariffs are an affront to the long-standing security partnership between Canada and the United States, and in particular, to the thousands of Canadians who have fought and died alongside American comrades-in-arms”—Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, May 31, 2018

So we now see the launch of a trade war between the US versus Canada, Mexico, and the EU. Focusing on the place of residence of the writer, Canada, one can argue that this trade war is very good news, if one knows how to read this development properly. Justin Trudeau’s visible anger is a testament to the good news: his anger is that he is now required to perform in the role of an economic nationalist, something for which he was not trained. All of his apprenticeship under globalist mentors—such as the Center for American Progress, the Aga Khan and George Soros—only prepared him to play a supporting role as part of a now wounded and cornered neoliberal elite. Trudeau was only meant to be a builder of “team spirit” in service of the technocrats who facilitated neoliberal globalization. He was there to cheer “Canadians” (whatever that word means now) that they were becoming like everyone from everywhere: they were a bit of everything, and nothing in particular. Trudeau thus pranced at the front of gay pride parades, pushed legislation on transgender pronouns, introduced a gender quota for his cabinet, a gender budget, sorted out cabinet ministers according to skin colour and headwear, welcomed everyone to an open Canada, and chided citizens for saying “mankind” instead of “peoplekind,” because the latter is “more inclusive”. And what does he have to show for his efforts? He is now the one to speak of illegal border crossers who should stay away, and imposes counter-tariffs.

Trudeau opened his remarks on the national security front—a big mistake. It was a big mistake for two reasons. One reason, of lesser importance than the next, is that it shows the literalism that is at the heart of moral narcissism and virtue signalling—that you take your opponent’s statements to be literally true, at face value, and no contextualization is necessary. Trudeau thus took great offense at the suggestion that Canada somehow undermined US national security—as if our purpose as a sovereign nation-state was to always serve the Americans better. President Trump, however, is merely using the available tools—he does not think that Canada literally threatens US national security, but he has to invoke that notion because it permits him to use a particular instrument—and that’s all. Back in March, if one was paying attention, one of the arguments Trump used to defend US steel and aluminum industries is that they were vital to US national security and its weapons industries. The Trump administration cited Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. I predicted this would be the justification in 2016, when the media floated arguments dismissing the prospect of Trump’s protectionism, insisting he would need Congressional approval. Others instead advanced the murky argument that the “deep state” would prevent him. Some tried to cover their lack of insight by saying Trump invoked “a rarely used law”. The constant refrain—inexplicably maintained despite its obvious contradiction—was that Trump was a threat and yet Trump would also have no real power. Almost all instantly forgot the meaning of executive power, and how it has increased under the imperial presidency. President Trump proved he could take such action, especially when the action is declared an “emergency” and a “threat to national security”. The only “mystery” here was why Trump suddenly decided to return to a nationalist posture, after a full year of reversals that favoured the continuation of neoliberal globalization. Gary Cohn, Trump’s chief economic adviser and former president of Goldman Sachs, promptly resigned from the administration after Trump announced the tariffs. Some thus saw economic nationalists regaining the upper hand in the Trump administration. It could be that Trump is now reconciled to the realization that his family’s business empire will never become properly transnational, and is even having to pull back from simply experimenting with being international. Trump family fortunes have returned home to roost—that is one possible explanation, and it’s a side issue for now. What we do know, even so soon, is that there is in fact some evidence that jobs are returning to the US steel industry, thanks primarily to Trump’s protective tariffs.

The second reason it was a mistake for Trudeau to use national security as an entry point is that it now opens a valid question for Canadians: what good is our alliance with the US? Why are we in all those wars? Why are we always tagging along with the Yanks? What were we doing in Afghanistan? It’s not like Toronto was attacked on 9/11. Why should we be members of NATO and NORAD? All of it really does not count for anything in the end. Trump has played Trudeau, repeatedly, and is now forcing Trudeau to substantively and effectively call into question Canada’s subservient role as an upholder of American empire. This is an example of the indirectly, quietly subversive outcomes of Trump’s “America First” program, as I argued in “What Happened to the American Empire?

As for virtue signalling, Trump can do that too. With an absolutely phony earnestness, which neither Trudeau nor anyone else correctly read, Trump would pretend to be enchanted with his Canadian guest, lavishing warmth and praise on him… and look, here’s my daughter, she’s so charmed by you too! All smiles, handshakes, and exuberant lyrics, and it was all deliberately calculated bullsh*t, like you would expect of an expert dealer. Meanwhile, Trump does not forget who his adversaries are, and quietly and indirectly at first—and now loudly and directly—he set about destabilizing Trudeau’s Canada. First there was the mysterious push of illegal border crossers toward Canada, with the US amply admitting Nigerians on visas when their only intention is to enter the US to cross into Canada illegally. Trudeau said Canada would remain open and welcoming, in a direct rebuke aimed at Trump, and now Trump would make him pay for his words—and he has, in spades. More on that in a future article. Then Trump imposed tariffs on Canadian dairy products, softwood lumber, newsprint, massively crushing tariffs on Bombardier passenger planes, and then the renegotiation of NAFTA itself, with the threat of simply tearing up the deal.

Where has Trudeau’s leadership been in all of this? With less people than California, the US market matters a lot more to Canada than vice versa. How has Trudeau prepared Canadians for possible job losses, perhaps in the tens of thousands, as a result of an abrupt trade shock? How will social services suffer in provinces most affected by a diminished export market? Today the Canadian media like to boast that Canada will hit Florida orange juice, so—hint, hint—good luck winning Florida in the next elections. They should be thinking about Canadian elections instead, rather than taking the attitude that only the US will suffer, or that it will suffer more than Canada. But that is what we get: instead of a plan, a program, just amateur cockiness.

How has Trudeau’s government coordinated with local and national industries to realign production to domestic suppliers and domestic consumption in the event of a trade war? Where are the “innovative” and “smart” plans now? Canadian ruling elites have been funding the training of a generation of students to think in globalist terms, and shun nationalism—when what they should have been teaching students is not just to start loving nationalism, but to love their nation. What nation is that, you ask? Writing from Quebec, but as someone raised in Ontario, my very strong impression is that it is Anglo-Canada in particular that has the real identity crisis—that is, not having an identity. We can forget about Aboriginal peoples planting the seeds of a new Canadian creolization, as I argued elsewhere; instead, Aboriginals are being effectively put back in their cultural ghettos, shielded by a paranoia over phony “cultural appropriation,” thus sequestered, contained, and removed from the Canadian conversation. Instead the model we have in Canada sounds like it was imported from Amazon.com: everyone in their appropriate box, and every box on its appropriate shelf.

“We’ll see what happens”. “Maybe this will be big, maybe it won’t. Who knows?” However, it is still worth raising the possibility that if the trade war continues, and lasts, it’s Canada that might not last. The Trump transfer of costs will have achieved its maximum effect. Part of that Trump transfer is that Canadians are being taught—forced—to become nationalist Trumps in their own right, or lose. Let’s see what happens.

A final thought: having lived for a few years in Cape Breton, one of Canada’s long-standing and primary centres in the production of steel, I saw first hand the degree of economic destruction and social devastation wrought on Canadian production by foreign competition, among many other factors. Real leadership would seek to maximize the benefits of protection that (counter)tariffs now offer us, a chance to make sure not all of Canada experiences the kind of econocide witnessed by Cape Breton.

June 1, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

Canada Sanctions 14 People in Venezuela After ‘Illegitimate’ Elections

Sputnik – 30.05.2018

Canada has imposed new sanctions against key figures in the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Global Affairs Canada said in a press release on Wednesday.

“In response to the illegitimate and anti-democratic presidential elections held in Venezuela on May 20, Canada today announces further sanctions on key figures in the Maduro regime,” the release said.

The sanctions target 14 individuals responsible “for the deterioration of democracy in Venezuela,” the foreign ministry added.

Canada is not the first country to introduce restrictions against Venezuela following the re-election of Nicolas Maduro. Previously, Washington, citing “fraudulent vote,” banned US citizens from all transactions tied to Venezuelan government debt. The order he signed also prevented Venezuelan officials from selling equity in any entity majority-owned by the government. The EU, in its turn, froze some assets belonging to a number of Venezuelan individuals, companies and organizations

On May 20, Venezuela held its presidential election, with four candidates in the running. According to the National Electoral Council (NEC), incumbent leader Nicolas Maduro was re-elected as Venezuelan president for his second term, having secured 68 percent of votes, with slightly over 46 percent voter turnout. A number of states, including the EU members, have slammed the vote as either unfair or illegitimate.

May 30, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Leave a comment

8 things I learned about Palestine while touring 8 Western nations

By Ramzy Baroud ‏| MEMO | May 29, 2018

On 20 February, I embarked on a global book tour that has, thus far, taken me to eight nations. The main theme of all my talks in various cultural, academic and media platforms was the pressing need to refocus the discussion on Palestine on the struggle, aspirations and history of the Palestinian people.

But, interacting with hundreds of people and being exposed to multiple media environments in both mainstream and alternative media, I also learned much about the changing political mood on Palestine in the western world.

While the nations I have visited – the US, Canada, the UK (England and Scotland), the Netherlands, Austria, Australia and New Zealand – do not in any way represent all western countries, the diverse platforms that were available to me allowed me to gain a reasonably good perspective on the ideas, perceptions and attitudes of people in government, media, academia and civil society:

First, the civil society support base for Palestine is growing exponentially, not only in the number of people who are concerned with – or interested in – learning about Palestine, but also in the nature of that engagement as well. The detachment or sense of despair of the past, has all but completely vanished, being replaced with a proactive approach – as in people wanted to be agents of change at local and national levels.

Second, the consensus regarding the support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is constantly increasing among unions, churches, university campuses, etc. The old view that BDS was divisive and counter-productive hardly has much traction these days, and most of the remaining debates concerning BDS are not concerned with the ethics of the boycott strategy, but the nature and extent of the boycott.

Third, the degree of decisiveness in supporting Palestinians has also been heightened. The wishy-washy stances that wagered on the Israeli “peace movement’ or Labour Party “doves”, while condemning “extremists on both sides”, has diminishing appeal.

Indeed, the successive Israeli wars on Gaza and the continued siege on the Strip have all gradually, but irreversibly, pushed the narrative on Palestine towards a whole new direction, one that has little room to wait for an Israeli awakening. The recent lethal Israeli response to Gaza’s peaceful Great March of Return protests has further galvanised support for Palestinians, even among relatively apolitical audiences.

Fourth, unable to push back against growing pro-Palestine movements, Israeli and pro-Israel supporters are pushing, like never before, the accusation of anti-Semitism against those who question the Israeli occupation, use the term “Israeli Apartheid” or support BDS.

While the tactic is no longer silencing the discussion on Palestine, it is creating the necessary distraction to divert attention, energy and resources to less urgent issues. A case in point is the British media’s obsession with the, supposedly, rampant anti-Semitism within the Labour Party at a time when thousands of Gazans were injured and scores killed while peacefully protesting in Gaza.

Fifth, young people are less likely to be intimidated by long-standing Israeli tactics. While the older generation of civil society leaders and activists are unwittingly beholden to the many smearing tactics used by Israel and its supporters, the younger generation is not as easily intimidated. Part of the reason is that digital media – social media, in particular – has helped younger people achieve a degree of global connectivity that has heightened their sense of unity and resolve.

The new generation of Palestinian university students and young intellectuals are also reclaiming their role in this trajectory. Their ability to connect with western societies as insiders and outsiders has helped bridge cultural and political gaps.

Sixth, while “One Democratic State Solution” ideas are yet to achieve the critical mass that could, and will, eventually push for a change in policies amongst various governments, the so-called “Two-State Solution” no longer commands a dedicated following. It is almost a complete reversal from the views that permeated during my earlier world tours, nearly 20 years ago.

Seventh, some intellectual, and even civil society circles, are still obstructed by the erroneous thinking that the best way to convey the Palestinian viewpoint is through non-Palestinians. This belief is even championed by some Palestinians themselves (especially members of previous generations who suffered political and cultural marginalisation and discrimination).

Although many anti-Zionist Jewish and Western intellectuals have been placed at the centre stage to articulate a Palestinian message, the alienation of the Palestinians from their own discourse has proven costly. Despite strong and growing support for Palestine, there is still a serious deficiency in an authentic understanding of Palestine and the aspirations of the Palestinian people – their history, culture, everyday realities and viewpoints.

Needless to say, what is needed is an urgent and complete reclamation of the narrative over Palestine and the decolonisation of the Palestinian discourse.

Eighth, the connection between the Palestinian struggle for freedom and that of other indigenous groups is often highlighted, but much more can be done. Israeli supporters are actively pushing the misleading notion that Israelis are the “natives” of the land and are, thus, reaching out to indigenous communities around the world in search for common ground. While the reality is to the contrary, pro-Palestine groups can do much more to link the struggle of the indigenous native Palestinians with that of other indigenous and other oppressed and historically marginalised groups around the world.

A general, but equally important realisation I have experienced throughout my three-month journey has been the numerous personal and group initiatives carried out by thousands of people all over the world in solidarity with the Palestinian people: from 11-year-old Salma, who convinced all of her classmates in Perth, Australia, to write Palestine on the map in her geography class, despite knowing that they would all have been marked down for their action, to the elderly couple in Auckland, New Zealand, who, well into their 80s and walking with much difficulty, continue to hand Palestine flyers to passers-by at a busy street corner, every week, for the last 20 years.

It is these people, and millions like them, who represent the real constituency for Palestine. They are fighters in the trenches of human solidarity that neither Israel, nor anyone else, can possibly defeat.

May 29, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Austria’s New Coalition Betrays on CETA Trade Agreement

By F. William Engdahl – New Eastern Outlook – 28.05.2018

US President Trump told the world his government rejects negotiations on the highly controversial TTIP (Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership). Citizen groups and EU opponents of the Obama comprehensive trade agreement breathed a sigh of relief. Too little attention has been given to the agreement reached between Canada and CETA, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (German: Umfassendes Wirtschafts- und Handelsabkommen), sometimes called the Canada-EU Trade Agreement. Secretly and behind any public open discussion, the largest global multinational corporations are moving the world closer to a top-down corporate dictatorship, a 21st Century version of Mussolini’s Corporativism. A major potential roadblock to CETA approval has now fallen in Austria under a new populist coalition government of Sebastian Kurz.

Legally the CETA must be approved by the national parliaments in a majority of the 28 EU member states before becoming operative. Now it comes out that Sebastian Kurz’s populist Austrian coalition, after campaigning on a platform of NO to CETA and TTIP, secretly agreed late in 2017 to renege on their election campaign promises opposing CETA as a precondition for the refugee-critical conservative Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) of Sebastian Kurz as Chancellor, to be able to form a coalition government with the right populist FPÖ. It represents a major betrayal of Austrian voters as well as of the future of EU sovereign national laws on environment, health and safety. But it gets worse.

In terms of the legitimacy of the Austrian elections in October 2017, the coalition FPÖ party campaigned hard against any acceptance of the multinational CETA trade deal. It promised a Swiss-style “direct democracy” referendum process of citizen vote on issues where a substantial number of citizen petitions warranted such. In their election campaign the FPÖ promised repeatedly such slogans as ”with us no CETA” and “… CETA only with a peoples’ referendum.”

Pre-election polls showed that 72% of Austrians opposed both the TTIP and the closely-related CETA on grounds it would damage Austrian small and mid-size businesses to the advantage of global multinationals. Citizen groups gathered an impressive 562,000 signatures opposing both CETA and TTIP before the election.

Only days following the election, on November 21, 2017, the FPÖ showed signs of retracting that opposition when they surprised voters and voted in Parliament in favor of the CETA’s most controversial proviso, the so-called the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism (German: Investitionsschiedsgerichten). That ISDS proviso allows Canadian corporations sue any EU government over any new law or policy that might reduce their profits in future such as a new German minimum wage law or stricter laws prohibiting toxic chemicals such as glyphosate or neonicotinoids. However, the Canadian company or investor in say, Germany, does not sue in a German court. They rather go to a special secret arbitration tribunal over which the EU state has no control. Opposition to the ISDS was a central platform of the Austrian FPÖ campaign before October 15. Most USA large corporations have subsidiary companies in Canada meaning CETA is a backdoor for the now-frozen TTIP with the USA.

Forcing EU states to dilute laws

Among its provisions, under CETA as under TTIP if there is a difference in rigor for example in the environmental or safety and health standards for EU states and the Canadian rules, the lowest standard (North American) applies. The Canadian government has largely followed US loose corporate regulations in recent years and this under CETA now would threaten a diminishing of EU strict regulations. According to an Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

and Greenpeace-Holland study, “Canada has weaker food safety and labelling standards than the EU, and industrial agriculture more heavily dependent on pesticides and GMO crops. CETA gives Canadian and US multinationals the tools to undermine rules concerning cloning, GMO crops, growth hormones and country of origin labelling, among others.”

According to the September, 2017 joint study, CETA will “promote the harmonization of food safety standards to the lowest common denominator, and the weakening of the EU’s risk assessment standards for food products.” A horrifying example is the decision in March 2016, by the Canadian authorities to approve AquAdvantage Salmon, the first genetically modified animal to be approved for human consumption in the country. Canada did not require labelling. Under CETA now, unlabeled GMO salmon will be sold across the EU. That holds for other unlabeled Canadian GMO foods as well as industrial agribusiness products such as beef.

Giant Agribusiness Threatens EU Family Farm

With CETA, for example, current EU laws requiring Country of Origin Labeling for meat and fish could be challenged by Canadian agribusiness whose meat exports will now come almost tariff-free to compete with carefully-controlled EU meat products.

Another proviso of CETA relates to reducing business costs and limiting regulation. In reality it will mean stronger EU food and agricultural policies will be weakened under pressure from large Canadian-US agribusiness companies such as IBP or Cargill Foods. To date the EU agriculture associations have largely contained the economic cost-reduction pressure that has destroyed family farming smaller units in North America since the 1980’s and replaced it with cartel formations of giant food industry.

Driven by US agribusiness lobbying at the USDA and Canadian Department of Agriculture, economies of scale in meat processing as an example have created documented horrendous sanitary conditions in giant processing operations that slaughter up to 1,000,000 cattle a year at a plant. Now with CETA, EU small farmers will simply be driven into bankruptcy as was done since the 1980s in North America. There the giant meat processing firms had 25-30% lower costs than smaller meat packing firms that were driven out of business.

The creation of North American agribusiness, a major focus of the TTIP as of the CETA, involves the dramatic reduction of labor costs and speedup of the meat processing portions that are not automated. Work is not protected by trade union agreements, labor is mostly immigrant and largely illegal meaning they are vulnerable to threat from employers demanding longer hours and lessened safety conditions.

North American slaughterhouse workers face conditions of speedup on the meat chains that they must cut and process that they have abnormally high rate of work-related injuries or nerve damage but the Government regulators turn a blind eye and the workers are mostly sub-minimum wage illegal workers from Mexico or Central America who have little recourse to change it.

As I account in my book, Seeds of Destruction, the cartelization and vertical integration of agriculture in North America after World War II was a brainchild of the Rockefeller Standard Oil family, notably Nelson Rockefeller and a project they financed at Harvard Business School that created the term “agribusiness.” The countries of the European Union until today have largely defended more small-scale meat and food production by way of safety, health, environment and labor laws. With the flood of far cheaper Canadian (North American in reality) beef and other foods into the EU under CETA, European small scale, high quality agriculture producers will be literally slaughtered to the gain of mass agribusiness cartels that can now globalize in the all-important EU market as well.

Austria is a Warning Bell

Now on May 16 the Austrian coalition parties, FPÖ and the ÖVP of Sebastian Kurz, turned on the voters and voted in the Council of Ministers in favor of approving CETA including with the controversial investor-state dispute settlement mechanism. It will now come to the full Parliament before Summer for a final vote where passage looks certain.

The European Commission proposed the signature of the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and despite need for national parliaments to ratify, CETA entered into force provisionally on 21 September 2017. National parliaments in EU countries have still to approve it before it can take full effect.

With an Austrian coalition government, one that owes its existence to vigorous opposition to CETA and defense of the right of citizens to hold a referendum on it and other issues, now betraying that voter pledge and backing CETA, implications for not just Austrian citizens—farmers and all consumers—but as well for the quality of world food exports, the health of world eaters (meaning us all) is to undergo a dramatic decline at a time we can ill afford it.

Under CETA now the world food chain will face over the coming decade or so an overwhelming concentration of corporate agribusiness control that will combine the two great agriculture production regions—North America and the EU. That, if it is allowed, will be devastating.

May 28, 2018 Posted by | Economics | , , , | Leave a comment

Canada, the Korean Dispute and Foreign Policy Mythology

By Yves Engler | Dissident Voice | May 26, 2018

Repeat after me: Canada is seldom a force for good in the world, Canada is seldom a force for good in the world.

Thomas Walkom’s “Canada should board Korean peace train” is yet another example of how the progressive end of the dominant media has been seduced by Canadian foreign policy mythology.

The leftist Toronto Star columnist offers an astute analysis of what’s driving rapprochement on the Korean Peninsula. He points out that the two Koreas are moving the process forward and that Pyongyang believes “complete denuclearization” of the Peninsula includes the US forces in the region aiming nuclear weapons at it.

But, Walkom’s column is cloaked in naivety about Canada’s role in the geopolitical hotspot. He ignores the international summit Ottawa and Washington organized in January to promote sanctions on North Korea. In a highly belligerent move, the countries invited to the conference in Vancouver were those that fought against North Korea in the early 1950s conflict. “We went over there and fought the war and eventually burned down every town in North Korea,” General Curtis LeMay, head of US air command during the fighting, explained three decades later. “Over a period of three years or so, we killed off … twenty percent of the population of Korea as direct casualties of war, or from starvation and exposure.”

(During another dreadful chapter in Korean history Canada supplied war materials to the Japanese army that occupied Korea before World War II.)

Continuing its aggressive diplomatic posture, Chrystia Freeland brought up North Korea at the Munich Security Conference in Germany in February and the next month Canada’s foreign minister agreed with her Japanese counterpart to send a “strong message” to Pyongyang at the upcoming Group of Seven meetings. In a subsequent get together, Freeland and Japanese officials pledged to maintain “maximum pressure” on North Korea. After “welcoming South Korea’s critical role in maintaining diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea” in March, Freeland responded gingerly to Seoul and Pyongyang’s joint announcement last month to seek a formal end to the Korean War and rid the Peninsula of nuclear weapons. “We all need to be careful and not assume anything,” said Freeland.

Walkom also ignores the Canadian Forces currently seeking to blockade North Korea. Three weeks ago Ottawa announced it was a sending a CP-140 Aurora surveillance aircraft and 40 military personnel to a US base in Japan to join British, Australian and US forces monitoring efforts to evade UN sanctions. Earlier in the year a Vancouver Island based submarine was sent across the pond partly to bolster the campaign to isolate North Korea.

Canadians are also part of the UN military mission in Korea. The first non-US general to hold the post since the command was created in 1950, Canadian Lieutenant General Wayne Eyre was recently appointed deputy commander of the UN force stationed there.

(To be fair, Walkom hints at Ottawa’s belligerence, noting that Canada is “still technically at war with North Korea” and is among countries that “traditionally take their cue from the U.S.”)

In my forthcoming book Left, Right — Marching to the Beat of Imperial Canada I discuss how leftist intellectuals concede a great deal to the foreign policy establishment’s outlook. Laziness is a simple, though not unimportant, reason why these writers mythologize Canadian foreign policy. Buried amidst a mass of state and corporate generated apologetics, critical information about Canada’s role in the world takes more effort to uncover. And the extra work is often bad for one’s career.

A thorough investigation uncovers information tough to square with the narrow spectrum of opinion permitted in the dominant media. It’s nearly impossible to survive if you say Canadian foreign policy has always been self-serving/elite-driven or that no government has come close to reflecting their self-professed ideals on the international stage. Almost everyone with a substantial platform to comment sees little problem with Canadian power, finding it expedient to assume/imply Canada’s international aims are noble.

Rather than a story titled “Canada should board Korean peace train”, Walkom should have written about how “Canada must step off the belligerence bus”. His conscious or unconscious naivety regarding Canada’s role in Korea is part of a mainstream left trend that partly explains why Canadians overwhelmingly believe this country is a benevolent international actor despite a long history of supporting empire and advancing Canadian corporate interests abroad.

Yves Engler is the author of A Propaganda System: How Canada’s Government, Corporations, Media and Academia Sell War and Canada in Africa: 300 Years of Aid and Exploitation .

May 26, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment