Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

Chief Rabbi’s Pious Bid to Sabotage Corbyn

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis speaking in London, 24 March 2015. Credit: Foreign and Commonwealth Office/ Flickr)
By Stewart Littlewood | American Herald Tribune | December 5, 2019

The mainstream media failed to make the connection between Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis’s brazen intervention to damage Jeremy Corbyn’s election chances and the Shai Masot affair three years ago. And, indeed, all the other orchestrated media smears against the Labour Party leader since then.

So who is this interfering rabbi? Mirvis came to the UK via South Africa, Israel and Ireland and succeeded Jonathan Sacks (bizarrely elevated to the Lords) as Chief Rabbi in 2013. Now Mirvis puts the boot in – right in the middle of the general election campaign – with a stinging outburst in The Times.

As I don’t subscribe to The Times I’ll quote from the Jewish Chronicle report:

… the Chief Rabbi said: “The claims by leadership figures in the Labour Party that it is ‘doing everything’ it reasonably can to tackle the scourge of anti-Jewish racism and that it has ‘investigated every single case’ are a mendacious fiction.”

Without referring to Mr Corbyn by name, Rabbi Mirvis asks: “How complicit in prejudice would a leader of Her Majesty’s opposition have to be in order to be considered unfit for high office?”

He then adds: “Would associations with those who have openly incited hatred against Jews be enough?

Rabbi Mirvis insists he decided to speak out on behalf of the Jewish community.

He says: “The Jewish community has endured the deep discomfort of being at the centre of national political attention for nearly four years.

“We have been treated by many as an irritant, as opposed to a minority community with genuine concerns.”

In a sustained attack on Mr Corbyn’s party, he writes: “The party leadership have never understood that their failure is not just one of procedure, which can be remedied with additional staff or new processes.

“It is a failure to see this as a human problem rather than a political one. It is a failure of culture.

“It is a failure of leadership. A new poison – sanctioned from the very top – has taken root in the Labour Party.”

“A failure of culture” (er, whose culture)?

“A new poison”?

“Openly inciting hatred”?

Mirvis is reported to have accompanied Sacks on the annual Jerusalem Day March of the Flags in 2017. Haaretz correspondent Bradley Burston describes it as “an annual, gender-segregated, extreme-right, pro-occupation religious carnival of hatred, marking the anniversary of Israel’s capture of Jerusalem by humiliating the city’s Palestinian Muslims. We knew what was coming from previous years, in which marchers have vandalized shops in Jerusalem’s Muslim Quarter, chanted: ‘Death to Arabs’ and ‘The (Jewish) temple will be built, the (Al Aqsa) Mosque will be burned down,’ shattered windows and door locks and poured glue into the locks of shops forced to close for fear of further damage.”

And in 2015 Burston wrote: “The Flag Parade, and with it, Jerusalem Day, has come to symbolize the worst in us. Arrogance, xenophobia, brute dominance, racist hatred. A march of, by, and for, the worst of our worst.”

So we don’t need lectures on culture, poison or racial hatred from people who hobnob with the worst of Israel’s worst.

People in stained-glass houses shouldn’t throw stones

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, tweeted: “That the chief rabbi should be compelled to make such an unprecedented statement at this time ought to alert us to the deep sense of insecurity and fear felt by many British Jews.” As a result of which a leading campaigner against racism immediately resigned from a Church of England advisory body in protest. Gus John, a respected author and academic, said: “As a matter of principle, I cannot continue to work with the Anglican church… after the archbishop of Canterbury’s disgraceful endorsement of the chief rabbi’s unjust condemnation of Jeremy Corbyn and the entire Labour party.” He wrote to the CofE’s national adviser on minority ethnic issues: “Those who occupy houses clad with stained glass should perhaps be a trifle more careful when they join others in throwing stones”.

Ever since Corbyn was elected leader of the Labour Party, the pro-Israel lobby has been terrified by the possibility that, if he becomes prime minister, Britain’s supine tolerance of Israel’s crimes against Palestinians and other Arab neighbors will end, and so will trade and arms deals.

Over two years ago Israeli insider Miko Peled, a former Israeli soldier and the son of an Israeli general, warned that Israel was going to “pull all the stops, they are going to smear, they are going to try anything they can to stop Corbyn” and the reason anti-Semitism is used is because they have no other argument.

And his prediction was spot-on.

IHRA definition of anti-Semitism ‘is not fit for purpose’, ‘is open to manipulation’, ‘has no legal effect’, ‘should not be adopted’

Since then we’ve had a queue of high profile Labourites and others sticking the knife into Corbyn, including Zionist extremist Sacks and ex-prime minister Gordon Brown, a dedicated pimp for Israel and dyed-in-the-wool Zionist. Brown insisted that the IHRA definition “is something we should support unanimously, unequivocally and immediately.” He urged Corbyn to remove the “stain” of prejudice from Labour by writing the definition and all of its examples into the party’s new Code of Conduct.

He obviously wasn’t paying attention to the Home Office Select Committee which had recommended two caveats or to eminent legal minds Hugh Tomlinson QC and Sir Stephen Sedley who explained how the IHRA’s diktat is trumped by our right to free expression, which is part of UK domestic law by virtue of the Human Rights Act (something every Labour member ought to know and uphold) and other conventions. Added to which Geoffrey Robertson QC warned that the IHRA definition is “not fit for any purpose that seeks to use it as an adjudicative standard. It is imprecise, confusing and open to misinterpretation and even manipulation.”

Robertson added: “The Government’s ‘adoption’ of the definition has no legal effect and does not oblige public bodies to take notice of it. The definition should not be adopted, and certainly should not be applied, by public bodies unless they are clear about Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights which is binding upon them, namely that they cannot ban speech or writing about Israel unless there is a real likelihood it will lead to violence or disorder or race hatred.”

Had everyone forgotten that the state of Israel was founded by terror groups like the one that murdered 91 in an attack on the British mandate government in the King David Hotel and carried out the Deir Yassin massacre? Israel is the expert in terror. As Norman Finkelstein remarked, “It is more than a rogue state. It is a lunatic state… The whole world is yearning for peace, and Israel is constantly yearning for war.”

And the Israeli government was described by one of Brown’s own (Jewish) MPs, the late and much respected Sir Gerald Kaufman, as a ‘gang of amoral thugs’.

Corbyn a loose cannon who had to be ‘spiked’

Mirvis and others of his ilk fail to understand that the mounting dislike of pro-Israel Jews is due to the failure of people like him to condemn the Israeli regime’s decades-long brutal oppression and foul crimes against our Palestinian friends – Muslim and Christian. Has anyone ever heard Mirvis or Sacks or any of the so-called leaders of the Jewish community here call out Netanyahu and these thugs for their hateful behavior and inhumane policies?

Corbyn isn’t the problem, Zionists are. Corbyn has a long record of support for the Palestinians and other justice causes. He has spent a lifetime campaigning against racism. He has met and spoken with Israel’s enemies, and so what? They are no our enemies. But it doesn’t sit well with the eminence grise pulling the strings. As a loose cannon in a carefully controlled political battlefield, he has to be ‘spiked’. The chosen way to do that is to pick off his allies one by one and, with the help of a compliant media, derail his party’s election prospects by weaponizing so-called anti-Semitism against Labour’s naive and easily scared troops.

But why would anyone take allegations of anti-Semitism seriously from bully-boys who themselves practice or support racism? It is long past time Labour’s Friends of Israel were questioned about their shameless support for the criminal state and its land-grabbing Zionist Project. From the start – before Balfour even – this was unashamedly racist in purpose, as illustrated only last year when Israel enacted Nation-State laws that discriminate against its non-Jewish citizens making them distinctly second-class. There is no place in a socialist organization, or in British public life at all, for people who cannot bring themselves to condemn a regime that behaves in such an obscene manner towards its neighbors, defies international law, thinks it’s exempt from the norms of decent conduct and shows no remorse. What does aligning with apartheid Israel really say about them?

And, by the way, who said it’s OK to use any British political party as a platform to promote the interests of a foreign military power? If people holding public office put themselves in a position where they are influenced by a foreign power, they flagrantly breach the Principles of Public Life. There are far too many Labour and Conservative MPs and MEPs who fall into that category and get away with it.

Pattern of subversion

The upsurge in carefully orchestrated allegations of anti-Semitism coincided with the arrival of Mark Regev as Israel’s new ambassador in London. Regev is big trouble – an ace propagandist, the mastermind of Israel’s hasbara Lie Machine and former spokesman for Israel’s extremist prime minister.  Shortly after he took up his post came revelations that a senior political officer at the embassy, Shai Masot, had been plotting with stooges among British MPs and other maggots in the political woodwork to “take down” senior government figures including Boris Johnson’s deputy at the Foreign Office, Sir Alan Duncan.

The Foreign Office and Johnson promptly dismissed the Shai Masot affair, saying: “The UK has a strong relationship with Israel and we consider the matter closed.” The Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow, who is Jewish, also declined to investigate.

But Masot was an employee of the Israeli embassy and probably a Mossad agent. His hostile scheming was captured and exposed by an Al Jazeera undercover investigation and not, as one would have hoped, by Britain’s own security services and press. And this is when the escalation to de-stabilize really began. Funny how the mainstream failed to connect Corbyn’s election as Labour leader in September 2015, Regev’s arrival in April 2016 and Masot’s activities later that year. Subversion peaked again at general election time in 2017 and raises its ugly head yet again at election time right now with Mirvis and the Jewish Labour Movement’s submission of 70 sworn statements by serving and ex-Labour officials to the Equality & Human Rights Commission’s inquiry. The JLM is urging the Commission to make Labour acknowledge that it is “institutionally anti-Semitic”.

OK, so Corbyn isn’t the leader he should be. But who is, in the never-ending parade of élite political screwballs?  I have sympathy with Mirvis’s concerns that the Party is too lackadaisical over its handling of anti-Semitism complaints, having looked into a couple of them myself. They take an absurdly long time to investigate and lack ‘due process’.  And I wonder why the Party, in a situation like this, is so stupid that it cannot provide a running total of cases outstanding, upheld and rejected.

I’d also like to know what happens to the troublemakers who hurl malicious and baseless accusations. Are they exposed and thrown out of the Party too? I don’t suppose so – there’d be even more screams of “anti-Semitism!”

December 5, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , | Leave a comment

NATO Summit: UK Police Block Access and Detain Ruptly Producer Under ‘Terrorism Act’

21st Century Wire – December 5, 2019

A dangerous precedent may have been set yesterday when an accredited journalist and producer for RT’s affiliate news agency Ruptly, was denied entry to yesterday’s NATO Leaders Meeting in north London – before being detained by British police under the Terrorism Act.

After being told his event press accreditation had been suddenly revoked, the video producer was then taken away and temporarily detained by UK police, where his person, belongings and equipment were then searched.

It is still unknown why the journalist was singled out by British authorities, but it seems increasingly likely that this was a case of intimidation and harassment by the British state against what it perceives to be a ‘hostile’ Russian media.

In recent years, Ruptly has developed into a leading international news wire agency, and managing to pull off a number of world exclusives including the illegal extraordinary rendition of journalist Julian Assange by British police from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London last April.

Ironically, this new incident follows on the heels of the launch of UK government’s international campaign for “Media Freedom“. In September, campaign spokesman Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, UK Minister for Human Rights, even warned his UN audience about how “the current crackdown on journalists’ across the world is a deep-rooted problem, and a rebuke to the rule of law.” Presumably, this doesn’t apply to matters at home, only abroad.

December 5, 2019 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , | Leave a comment

A Second Whistle Blown on the OPCW’s Doctored Report

By Jeremy Salt | American Herald Tribune | December 3, 2019

Another whistleblower leak has exposed the fraudulent nature of the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) report on the alleged chemical weapons attack in the Syrian city of Douma, close to Damascus, on April 7 last year.

The first leak came from the Fact-Finding Mission’s engineering sub-group. After investigating the two sites where industrial gas cylinders were found in Douma and taking into account the possibility that the cylinders had been dropped from the air it concluded that there was a “higher probability” that both cylinders were placed at both sites by hand. This finding was entirely suppressed in the final report.

The engineering sub-group prepared its draft report “for internal review” between February 1-27, 2018. By March 1 the OPCW final report had been approved, published and released, indicating that the engineers’ findings had not been properly evaluated, if evaluated at all. In its final report the OPCW, referring to the findings of independent experts in mechanical engineering, ballistics and metallurgy, claimed that the structural damage had been caused at one location by an “impacting object” (i.e. the cylinder) and that at the second location the cylinder had passed through the ceiling, fallen to the floor and somehow bounced back up on to the bed where it was found.

None of this was even suggested by the engineers. Instead, the OPCW issued a falsified report intended to keep alive the accusation that the cylinders had been dropped by the Syrian Air Force.

Now there is a second leak, this time an internal email sent by a member of the Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) on June 22, 2018, to Robert Fairweather, the British career diplomat who was at the time Chief of Cabinet at the OPCW, and copied to his deputy, Aamir Shouket. The writer claims to have been the only FFM member to have read the redacted report before its release. He says it misrepresents the facts: “Some crucial facts that have remained in the redacted version have morphed into something quite different from what was originally drafted.”

The email says the final version statement that the team “has sufficent evidence to determine that chlorine or another reactive chlorine-containing chemical was likely released from the cylinders is highly misleading and not supported by the facts.” The writer states that the only evidence is that some samples collected at locations 2 and 4 (where the gas cylinders were found) had been in contact with one or more chemicals that contain a reactive chlorine atom.

“Such chemicals,” he continues, “could include molecular chlorine, phosgene, cyanogen chloride, hydrochloric acid, hydrogen chloride or sodium hypochlorite (the major element in household chlorine-based bleach.”  Purposely singling out chlorine as one of the possibilities was disingenuous and demonstrated “partiality” that negatively affected the final report’s credibility.

The writer says the final report’s reference to “high levels of various chlorinated organic derivatives detected in environmental samples” overstates the draft report’s findings. “In most cases” these derivatives were present only in part per billion range, as low as 1-2 ppb, which is essentially trace qualitiea.” In such microscopic quantities, detected inside apartment buildings, it would seem, although the writer only hints at the likelihood, that the chlorine trace elements could have come from household bleach stored in the kitchen or bathroom.

The writer notes that the original draft discussed in detail the inconsistency between the victims’ symptoms after the alleged attack as reported by witnesses and seen on video recordings.  This section of the draft, including the epidemiology, was removed from the final version in its entirety. As it was inextricably linked to the chemical agent as identified, the impact on the final report was “seriously negative.” The writer says the draft report was “modified” at the behest of the office of Director-General, a post held at the time by a Turkish diplomat, Ahmet Uzumcu.

The OPCW has made no attempt to deny the substance of these claims. After the engineers’ report made its way to Wikileaks its priority was to hunt down the leaker. Following the leaking of the recent email, the Director-General, Fernando Arias, simply defended the final report as it stood.

These two exposures are triply devastating for the OPCW.  Its Douma report is completely discredited but all its findings on the use of chemical weapons in Syria must now be regarded as suspect even by those who did not regard them as suspect in the first place. The same shadow hangs over all UN agencies that have relied on the OPCW for evidence, especially the UN’s Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, an arm of the OHCHR (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights).

This body is closely linked to the OPCW and while both mostly hide the sources of their information it is evident that where chemical weapons allegations have been made, the commission of inquiry has drawn on the OPCW.

As of January 2018, the commission reported on 34 “documented incidents” of chemical weapons use by various parties in Syria. It held the Syrian government responsible for 23 of them and, remarkably, did not hold the armed groups responsible even for one, despite the weight of evidence showing their preparation and use of such weapons over a long period of time.

The commission has made repeated accusations of chlorine barrel bombs being dropped by government forces. On the worst of the alleged chemical weapons attacks, on August 21, 2013, in the eastern Ghouta district just outside Damascus, it refers to sarin being used in a “well-planned indiscriminate attack targetting residential areas [and] causing mass casualties. The perpetrators likely had access to the Syrian military chemical weapons stockpile and expertise and equipment to manipulate large amounts of chemical weapons.”

This is such a travesty of the best evidence that no report by this body can be regarded as impartial, objective and neutral.   No chemical weapons or nerve agents were moved from Syrian stocks, according to the findings of renowned journalist Seymour Hersh. The best evidence, including a report by Hersh (‘The Red Line and the Rat Line,’ London Review of Books, April 17, 2014), suggests a staged attack by terrorist groups, including Jaysh al Islam and Ahrar al Sham, who at the time were being routed in a government offensive. The military would have had no reason to use chemical weapons: furthermore, the ‘attack’ was launched just as UN chemical weapons inspectors were arriving in the Syrian capital and it is not even remotely credible that the Syrian government would have authorized a chemical weapons attack at such a time.

Even the CIA warned Barack Obama that the Syrian government may not have been/probably was not responsible for the attack and that he was being lured into launching an air attack in Syria now that his self-declared ‘red line’ had been crossed. At the last moment, Obama backed off.

It remains possible that the victims of this ‘attack’ were killed for propaganda purposes. Certainly, no cruelty involving the takfiri groups, the most brutal people on the face of the planet, can be ruled out. Having used the occasion to blame the Syrian government, the media quickly moved on. The identities of the dead, many of them children, who they were, where they might have been buried – if in fact they had been killed and not just used as props – were immediately tossed into the memory hole. Eastern Ghouta remains one of the darkest unexplained episodes in the war on Syria.

The UN’s Syria commission of inquiry’s modus operandi is much the same as the OPCW’s. Witnesses are not identified; there is no indication of how their claims were substantiated; the countries outside Syria where many have been interviewed are not identified, although Turkey is clearly one; and where samples have had to be tested, the chain of custody is not transparent.

It is worth stepping back a little bit to consider early responses to the OPCW report on Douma. The Syrian government raised a number of questions, all of them fobbed off by the OPCW.  Russia entered the picture by arranging a press conference for alleged victims of the ‘attack’ at the OPCW headquarters in the Hague.  They included an 11-year-old boy, Hassan Diab, who said he did not know why he was suddenly hosed down in the hospital clinic, as shown in the White Helmets propaganda video.

All the witnesses dismissed claims of a chemical weapons attack. Seventeen countries (Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, the United Kingdom and the US) then put out a joint statement (April 26, 2018) expressing their full support for the OPCW report and dismissing the “so-called” information session at the Hague as a Russian propaganda exercise. Their statement claimed the authenticity of the information in the OPCW report was “unassailable.”

Russia followed up with a series of questions directed at the OPCW’s technical secretariat. It noted that the OPCW report did not mention that samples taken from Douma were “split” in the OPCW’s central laboratory in the Netherlands and not in the Syrian Arab republic. Fractions of samples were handed to Syria only after six months of insistent pressure (OPCW response: its terms of reference provided for Syria to be provided with samples “to the extent possible” but do not specify when or where samples should be ‘split’).

Russia also referred to the collection of 129 samples and their transfer to OPCW-designated laboratories. 31 were selected for the first round of analysis and an additional batch of 13 sent later. Of the 129 samples 39 were obtained from individuals living outside territory controlled by the Syrian army. Of 44 samples analyzed 33 were environmental and 11 biomedical: of the 44, 11 (four environmental and seven biomedical) were obtained from alleged witnesses.

As remarked by the Russian Federation, the OPCW report does not explain the circumstances in which these samples were obtained. Neither is there any information on the individuals from whom they were taken; neither is there any evidence demonstrating compliance with the chain of custody (OPCW response: there was respect for the chain of custody, without this being explained; the “standard methodology” in collecting samples was applied, without details being given.  It stressed the need for privacy and the protection of witness identities).

Russia observed that the samples were analyzed in two unnamed OPCW laboratories and on the evidence of techniques and results, it raised the question of whether the same laboratories had been used to investigate earlier ‘incidents’ involving the alleged use of chlorine. Of the 13 laboratories that had technical agreements with the OPCW, why were samples analyzed at only two, apparently the same two as used before?  Russia also observed that of the 33 environmental samples tested for chlorinated products, there was a match (bornyl chloride) in only one case.

Samples taken from location 4, where a gas cylinder was allegedly dropped from the air, showed the presence of the explosive trinitrotoluene, leading to the conclusion that the hole in the roof was made by an explosion and not by a cylinder falling through it (OPCW response: the Fact-Finding Mission did not select the labs and information about them is confidential. As there had been intense warfare for weeks around location four, the presence of explosive material in a broad range of samples was to be expected but this did not – in the OPCW view –  lead to the conclusion that an explosion caused the hole in the roof).

Russia pointed out that the FFM interviewed 39 people but did not interview the actual witnesses of the ‘incident’ inside the Douma hospital who appeared and were easily identifiable in the staged videos (OPCW response: the secretariat neither confirms nor denies whether it interviewed any of the witnesses presented by Russia at the OPCW headquarters “as any statement to that effect would be contrary to the witness protection principles applied by the secretariat”).

Russia also pointed out the contradictions in the report on the number of alleged dead. In one paragraph the FFM says it could not establish a precise figure for casualties which “some sources” said ranged between 70 and 500. Yet elsewhere “witnesses” give the number of dead as 43 (OPCW response: the specific figure of 43 was based on the evidence of “witnesses” who claimed to have seen bodies at different locations).

Russia also pointed out that no victims were found at locations 2 and 4, where the ventilation was good because of the holes in the roof/ceiling. Referring to location 2, it asked how could chlorine released in a small hole from a cylinder in a well-ventilated room on the fourth floor have had such a strong effect on people living on the first or second floors? (OPCW response: the FFM did not establish a correlation between the number of dead and the quantity of the toxic chemical. In order to establish such a correlation, factors unknown to the FFM – condition of the building, air circulation and so on – would have had to be taken into account.  It does not explain why this was not attempted and how it could reach its conclusions without taking these “unknown factors” into account).

Finally, Russia raised the question of the height from which the cylinders could have been dropped. It referred to the lack of specific calculations in the OPCW report. The ‘experts’ who did the simulation did not indicate the drop height. The charts and diagrams indicated a drop height of 45-180 meters. However, Syrian Air Force helicopters do not fly at altitudes of less than 2000 meters when cruising over towns because they would come under small arms fire “at least” and would inevitably be shot down.

Furthermore, if the cylinders had been dropped from 2000 meters,  both the roof and the cylinders would have been more seriously damaged (OPCW response: there were no statements or assumptions in the FFM report on the use of helicopters or the use of other aircraft “or the height of the flight. The FFM did not base its modeling on the height from which the cylinders could have been dropped. “In accordance with its mandate,” the FFM did not comment on the possible altitude of aircraft.  The OPCW did not explain why these crucial factors were not taken into account).

In its conclusion, Russia said there was a “high probability” that the cylinders were placed manually at locations 2 and 4 and that the factual material in the OPCW report did not allow it to draw the conclusion that a toxic chemical had been used as a weapon. These conclusions have now been confirmed in the release of information deliberately suppressed by the OPCW secretariat.

As the leaked material proves, its report was doctored: by suppressing, ignoring or distorting the findings of its own investigators to make it appear that the Syrian government was responsible for the Douma ‘attack’ the OPCW can be justly accused of giving aid and comfort to terrorists and their White Helmet auxiliaries whom – the evidence overwhelmingly shows – set this staged ‘attack ’up.

Critical evidence ignored by the OPCW included the videoed discovery of an underground facility set up by Jaysh al Islam for the production of chemical weapons.   All the OPCW said was that the FFM inspectors paid on-site visits to the warehouse and “facility” suspected of producing chemical weapons and found no evidence of their manufacture.  There is no reference to the makeshift facility found underground and shown in several minutes of video evidence.

Since the release of the report, the three senior figures in the OPCW secretariat have moved/been moved on. The Director-General at the time, Hasan Uzumlu, a Turkish career diplomat, stepped out of the office in July 2018: Sir Robert Fairweather, a British career diplomat and Chief of Cabinet at the OPCW, was appointed the UK’s special representative to Sudan and South Sudan on March 11, 2019: his deputy, Aamir Shouket,  left the OPCW in August 2018, to return to Pakistan as Director-General of the Foreign Ministry’s Europe division. The governments which signed the statement that the evidence in the OPCW report was “unassailable” remain in place.

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.)

December 4, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Is Criticism of Israel Already an Official Hate Crime in America?

 By Philip Giraldi – American Free Press – December 2, 2019

One subject that congressmen and the mainstream media tend to avoid is the erosion of fundamental liberties in the United States as a consequence of the war on terror and American involvement in the Middle East. Some of America’s legislators apparently do not even understand that freedom of speech actually means that one can say things that others might find distasteful. The assault on freedom of speech has been accelerated through the invention of so-called “hate speech,” which has in turn morphed into “hate crimes” where punishments are increased if there is any suggestion that hatred of groups or individuals is involved. Some have rightly questioned the whole concept, pointing out that if you murder someone the result is the same whether you hate your victim or not.

Freedom of speech is particularly threatened in any situations having to do with Israel, a reflection of the power of that country’s lobby in the United States. At a recent town hall gathering, Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) demonstrated how he and his colleagues run and hide whenever the issue of Israel is raised when he would not respond directly to a question over whether any criticism of Israel should or should not be protected under the First Amendment. Crenshaw is a Republican and generally reliably conservative, though he recently spoke out against the “For the People Act of 2019,” which he claimed “would limit free speech dramatically.”

A constituent specifically asked Crenshaw’s opinion about federal laws that require citizens in some states to sign a pledge that they will not boycott Israel if they wish to get government contracts or obtain a government job. The audience member also mentioned a law passed in Florida that bans anti-Semitism in public schools and universities, defining “anti-Semitism” as criticism of Israel. The constituent observed, “These laws are obviously flagrant and troubling violations of the First Amendment to free speech.”

“Will you honor your oath and denounce these laws here, now and forever?” Crenshaw was then asked. Crenshaw quickly fired back that the critic was “cloaking yourself in the First Amendment” to enable engaging in “vehement anti-Semitism.” Crenshaw then asserted that the questioner was “advocating the BDS movement,” a recent target of much of the legislation that the critic was addressing.

BDS refers to the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, which calls on people to protest Israel by pulling investments from and boycotting the country.

Israel is engaged in what might be described as a war with the objective of driving any and all criticism of the Jewish state out of polite discourse, making it illegal wherever and whenever possible. The Knesset has passed legislation criminalizing anyone who supports BDS and has set up a semi-clandestine group called Kella Shlomo to counteract its message. The country’s education minister has called BDS supporters “enemy soldiers” and has compared them to Nazis. Netanyahu has also backed up the new law with a restriction on foreigners who support the BDS movement entering the country, including American Jewish dissidents, several of whom have been turned around at the airport and sent home.

Israel has been particularly successful at promoting its own preferred narrative, together with sanctions for those who do not concur, in the English language speaking world and also in France, which has the largest Jewish population in Europe. The U.S. government under Donald Trump is completely under the thumb of the Israeli prime minister’s office, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently saying “our major focus is stamping out anti-Semitism.”

Sanctions already in place in Europe consist of fines and even jail time. The legal penalties come into play for those criticizing Israel or questioning the accuracy of the accepted holocaust narrative, i.e., disputing that “6 million died.” Even attacking specific Israeli government policies, like its slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza every Friday, can be found guilty of anti-Semitism, which is now considered a hate crime in Britain, France, Germany, and, most recently, the Czech Republic. In Britain, where the Jewish lobby is extremely strong, a law passed in December 2016 made the UK one of the first countries to use the definition of anti-Semitism agreed upon earlier in the year at a conference of the Berlin-based International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).

A statement from the British prime minister’s office at that time explained that the intention of the new definition was to “ensure that culprits will not be able to get away with being anti-Semitic because the term is ill-defined, or because different organizations or bodies have different interpretations of it.”

The British government’s own definition relies on guidance provided by the IHRA, which asserts that it is considered anti-Semitic to accuse Jews of being “more loyal to Israel or their religion than to their own nations, or to say the existence of Israel is intrinsically racist.” In other words, even if many Jews are more loyal to Israel than to the countries they live in and even though Israel is in fact intrinsically racist, it is now illegal to say so in Great Britain.

One should not be surprised, as the British government’s subservience to Jewish and Israeli interests is nearly as enthusiastic as is government in the United States, though it is driven by the same sorts of things—Jewish money and Jewish power, particularly in the media. A majority of Conservative Party members of parliament have joined Conservative Friends of Israel, and the Labour counterpart is also a major force to be reckoned with on the political left.

Here in the United States, the friends of Israel appear to believe that anyone who is unwilling to do business with Israel or even with the territories that it has illegally occupied should not be allowed to obtain any benefit from federal, state or even local governments. Constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech and association for every American are apparently not valid if one particular highly favored foreign country is involved, as the discussion with Crenshaw reveals.

Twenty-seven states now have laws sanctioning those who criticize or boycott Israel. And one particular pending piece of federal legislation that is regularly re-introduced into the Senate would far exceed what is happening at the state level and would set a new standard for deference to Israeli interests on the part of the national government. It would criminalize any U.S. citizen “engaged in interstate or foreign commerce” who supports a boycott of Israel or who even goes about “requesting the furnishing of information” regarding it, with penalties enforced through amendments of two existing laws, the Export Administration Act of 1979 and the Export-Import Act of 1945, that include potential fines of between $250,000 and $1 million and up to 20 years in prison.

Israel, and its friends like Crenshaw, are particularly fearful of the BDS movement because its non-violence is attractive to college students, including many young Jews, who would not otherwise get involved on the issue. The Israeli government clearly understands, correctly, that BDS can do more damage than any number of terrorist attacks, as it represents a serious critique of the behavior of the Jewish state while also challenging the actual legitimacy of the Israeli government and its colonizing activity in Palestine. Much of the current hate crime legislation in places like Germany and the Czech Republic directly targets BDS, stating specifically that it is “inherently” anti-Semitic. In late July, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed its own resolution condemning BDS explicitly in a 398-to-17 vote.

Going hand-in-hand with the condemnation of BDS is a drive to maintain the exclusivity of Jewish suffering. In June, when Rep. Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez (D-N.Y.) called border detention centers holding asylum seekers “concentration camps,” she was inundated with protests from Jewish groups that claimed she was denigrating the holocaust and “insulting victims of genocide.” The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum even published a statement objecting to comparisons between “the holocaust and other events.”

It is important for Americans to realize that Israel not only spies on the U.S., digs its paws deep into our Treasury, and perverts Washington’s Middle East policy, it is also attempting to dictate what we the people can and cannot say. And Congress and much of the media are fully on board, which is the real tragedy.

December 4, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Israeli Minister of Defense to Impose Sanctions on Palestinian ‘Militants’ Abroad

IMEMC & Agencies – December 3, 2019

Israeli Minister of Defense, Naftali Bennett, on Tuesday, issued a written order imposing international economic sanctions on Palestinian militants abroad, The Palestinian News and Info Agency reported.

Hebrew media outlets broadcast Bennett’s decision, pointing out that this move has never been attempted before.

Bennett issued his first order against Jamil Hersh, a member of the Arab Society for Human Rights in London, members of Lebanon’s Hezbollah party will also be sanctioned.

December 3, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | 4 Comments

Regenerating Islamic Terrorism

Usman Khan – Credit: Khabarhub
By David Macilwain – American Herald Tribune – December 2, 2019

On almost every occasion when the Western powers make claims of a terrorist attack or other event whose outcome seems to further their interests, there are inconsistencies or coincidences that suggest malign state interference. The identity documents found in the attacker’s vehicle, or the later revelation the person was already known to police. But for any single incident, it is rarely the case that such “give-aways” prove malign influence or covert action by the state, even though cumulatively the “conspiracy” by these organizations appears beyond dispute, and unsurprising to those of us on this side of the divide.

As has been observed before however, the agencies who appear to be responsible for staging and coordinating such “provocations” or “false flags” have discovered that they can now get away with almost anything – presented appropriately in the mainstream media. The public has been trained to respond to diversionary and emotive material much as Pavlov’s dog, bypassing any intellectual curiosity that would see them ask even basic questions – such as “why would he do that?”

But as they say – you can’t fool all of the people all of the time – and sooner or later there will be enough people who are not fooled to stand up and derail this juggernaut of lies and fabrications that has become the modus operandi of the Imperial Establishment. On the basis of what we have already seen and heard about the latest London Bridge “terrorist attack”, that time should be now, based on a couple of critical pointers; the unnecessary assassination of the knife-wielder, and the timing and location of the attack.

While we might ask of the – now deceased – Usman Khan “why would he do that?”, it seems to be a question many are already asking, as the story of his alleged rehabilitation from would-be terrorist emerges. They might also be asking “how was he able to do that?” – given his electronic monitoring and known attendance at a conference on Prisoner Rehabilitation before his unexpected knife rampage. But such questions are asked every time an attack happens, without satisfactory answers being provided.

The answers – from the chosen experts and from the authorities – are provided, but are never satisfactory; the terrorist was “radicalized”, influenced by an extremist Imam, pledged allegiance to Islamic State, went to fight in Syria. In this bizarre case those questions were asked nine years ago, when Khan was jailed for planning a London terrorist attack; now the question being asked is how he became “re-radicalized”, though without showing any indication of it since his early release a year ago.

But it’s the wrong question, again. Instead it should be asked who gave Usman the idea that running amok with a couple of kitchen knives in a London tourist spot would help the cause of Islamist fundamentalism in the Middle East? Would this not be the very thing that the UK government is looking for to justify its continued illegitimate intervention and occupation of Iraq, just at a critical time when the other dodgy pretexts are falling apart?

Consider for instance how the whole narrative of the “fight against Islamic State” could have been maintained had the series of terrorist attacks in the UK not happened – the Manchester bombing and the Borough Market attacks most recently. It hardly needs pointing out that the perpetrators of those attacks were also well-known to counter-terrorism authorities, and even cooperated with them.

We might even ask, if we were more cynical about the motives and actions of the UK state in its “War on Terror”, why a supporter of “the Islamic State” would be biting the hand that feeds it – with weapons and supportive propaganda – and which has benefited from the use of ISIS as a pretext for invasion and occupation of Syria’s oil and gas fields. As the basis for the whole illegitimate NATO coalition campaign in the Middle East – justified as preventing terrorist attacks in the West – this question is unlikely to be answered! But ask a Syrian soldier this question as he and his comrades face multiple missile attacks and foreign-backed Al Qaeda extremists with real suicide vests and car bombs and you might be told the truth. Just don’t expect much sympathy for your loss from “blowback”.

But back to the two critical points mentioned earlier and our question, now posed to the policeman who shot Usman Khan dead – “why would he do that?” Why, when Khan was already overpowered and disarmed on the ground, was it necessary to shoot him dead? Why was it so necessary that one of the men holding him down had to be pulled off him and out of the way so Khan could be shot? This video, which shows the minutes before Khan was apparently shot dead, is particularly revealing. Once Khan was pinned down by his civilian pursuers there is no drama, but all hell breaks out as soon as police arrive.

This question has been asked, including by those brave men who chased the attacker following his knife attacks in the conference hall. It was answered with the claim that Khan was wearing a – fake – suicide vest, which is worse than unconvincing; if the police thought it was fake – like the ones worn by the Borough Market attackers – then their answer is disingenuous, but they could hardly have thought otherwise; the idea that attendees at a conference on Prisoner Rehabilitation which included convicted murderers and terrorists could bring along suicide vests is preposterous! And we only have the word of one alleged witness and police that Khan actually was wearing such a vest, fake or otherwise, without any visual evidence – such as Khan shouting that he would detonate his vest if police shot at him.

Instead we are forced to conclude that police were determined to shoot Khan and to shoot him dead, not because he was a danger to the public – who had already overcome him – but because he was a danger to them. Dead men tell no tales, and this man clearly had one to tell. Considered on its own and in isolation from the circumstances prevailing in the UK at this time, which to say the least are “extenuating”, this could be thought a case of “rough justice”. It wouldn’t be the first time that police have sought to avoid a lengthy trial where a murderer might escape justice on some technicality.

So if “the police” – who surely knew exactly who they were dealing with long before he ran out onto the bridge – didn’t want the public to hear what Khan had to say, what exactly might that have been? That he had links to Islamic State, despite being closely monitored since his early release from Belmarsh prison a year ago? That he had fooled them into thinking he was reformed? None of this is likely, given that within 48 hours we have already Usman Khan’s whole life story and history of his previous trial and conviction.

What else can we conclude but that Khan was the means to an end which suited the UK establishment and its agencies, and that he was somehow manipulated and set up to perform in this provocation? It’s not as though this hasn’t happened before, and involved the very same organizations and individuals who are now prognosticating about the resurrection of the terrorism threat, along with their obedient media. In another Daily Mail article on the event it says:

“It has been speculated that the attack may have been revenge for the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi”

Speculation presumably by someone who believed the false story about the US bombing of a house in Syria, and didn’t realize Baghdadi was long past his use-by date; like Dr Who, he needed to regenerate, so he needed to die first, and soon!

Once again one has the feeling that events are being “orchestrated” by the Imperial powers to suit the agenda of NATO and the Five Eyes, as well as the political agendas of their governments. It’s a paranoid idea, but the paranoia is no fantasy; what more might we fear from leaders and governments who we now know have conspired through the OPCW to fabricate evidence that has facilitated terrorist attacks in Syria and lethal disinformation around the globe?

December 3, 2019 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism | | 1 Comment

Global Giants: American Empire and Transnational Capital

Maximilian C. Forte review of Giants: The Global Power Elite by Peter Phillips (Introduction by William I. Robinson). New York: Seven Stories Press, 2018. LCCN 2018017493; ISBN 9781609808716 (pbk.); ISBN 9781609808723 (ebook); 353 pps.

Giants: The Global Power Elite, by Peter M. Phillips, Professor of Political Sociology at Sonoma State University, opens with a stated intention of following in the tradition C. Wright Mills’ The Power Elite. This book is clearly meant to be a contemporary update and expansion of Mills’ work, such that the “power elite” now becomes the global power elite (GPE) in Phillips’ volume—and central to the idea of a global power elite is the transnational capitalist class that was at the core of the theorization of Leslie Sklair. One of the most important features of this book, in my view, is that it overcomes the unproductive dichotomy that continues to silently inform many academic and political debates on this question: is the contemporary world order one dominated by US imperialism or transnational capital? Phillips’ answer is productive (even if I do not entirely agree): transnational capital has acquired US power and uses the power of the US state to further its aims, protect its interests, and enforce its agenda. Where I differ, the difference is a relatively slight matter of emphasis: Phillips’ model is largely correct, but it is also important to remember that the wealthiest, most numerous, and most powerful membership of the “transnational” capitalist class is in fact American.

Aside from this, Phillips reveals how even now mere mention of the “transnational capitalist class” is obscured in mainstream corporate media coverage. As he points out: “the concept of a global transnational capitalist class is essentially completely absent from corporate news coverage in the United States and Europe” (p. 62).

The centrepiece of this work is its detailed exposition of the 389 individuals who constitute the core of “the policy planning nongovernmental networks that manage, facilitate, and protect the continued concentration of global capital” (p. 10).

I am thankful to the author for providing me with a free copy of this text, so that this review could be written. I have also assigned one of the chapters as required reading in one of my recent courses (DeGlobalization & the Nation), and thus I also have the benefit of feedback from students on some of the book’s key contents.

Chapters—Contents

The Preface to the volume effectively summarizes the key contents of the book and outlines its principal arguments. It was not prepared as a mere formality, and is worth reading on its own.

The Introduction, “Who Rules the World?” was written by William I. Robinson, one of the leading scholars today on the topic of the transnational capitalist class.

Chapter 1, “Transnational Capitalist Class Power Elite: A Seventy-Year History,” aims at explaining the “transition from the nation state power elites described by Mills to a transnational power elite centralized on the control of global capital around the world”. In this chapter Phillips traces the development of the concept of global power elites from the work of C. Wright Mills, through to Leslie Sklair, William Robinson, William Carroll and even David Rothkopf. While the author also invokes “shadow elites,” he does not mention the work of Janine Wedel in this regard. Phillips also provides a detailed outline of the nature of global wealth inequality, ranging from the control of wealth by a few, to over-accumulation, and starvation. In addition to the preface, this is the chapter that makes the central arguments of the book.

Chapter 2, “The Global Financial Giants: The Central Core of Global Capitalism,” identifies the 17 global financial giants—money management firms that control more than one trillion dollars in capital. As these firms invest in each other, and many smaller firms, the interlocked capital that they manage surpasses $41 trillion (which amounts to about 16% of the world’s total wealth). The 17 global financial giants are led by 199 directors. This chapter details how these financial giants have pushed for global privatization of virtually everything, in order to stimulate growth to absorb excess capital. The financial giants are supported by a wide array of institutions: “governments, intelligence services, policymakers, universities, police forces, militaries, and corporate media all work in support of their vital interests” (p. 60).

Chapter 3, “Managers: The Global Power Elite of the Financial Giants,” largely consists of the detailed profiles of the 199 financial managers just mentioned.

Chapter 4, “Facilitators: The Power Elite Policy Planning Center of the Transnational Capitalist Class,” examines the membership of two non-governmental Global Elite policy-planning organizations: the Group of Thirty and the Trilateral Commission. The chapter also goes into some depth in related organizations, such as the Bilderberg Group and the Council on Foreign Relations. Detailed profiles of the directors of the G30 are included in this chapter, as well as profiles of the members of the Trilateral Commission Executive Group.

Chapter 5, “Protectors: The Power Elite and the US Military NATO Empire, Intelligence Agencies, and Private Military Companies,” focuses on the power of “the US/NATO military empire”. As Phillips explains, the US/NATO functions as a “transnational military police state” that operates in nearly every country in the world, and, “threatens nations that do not fully cooperate with global capital with covert activities, regime change, and heavy negative propaganda” (p. 12). Phillips also examines how the global Giants, “invest in war making as a method of using surplus capital for a guaranteed return, with an increasing use of private military/security companies for protection of Global Power Elites and their wealth” (p. 12). Detailed profiles of the 35 members of the Atlantic Council Executive Committee form part of this chapter. This chapter also examines “Private Military Contractors,” focusing on Blackwater and G4S.

Chapter 6, “Ideologists: Corporate Media and Public Relations Propaganda Firms,” concentrates on the extensive investment by the Giants in corporate media and their expanding “use of public relations propaganda companies in the news systems of the world” (p. 13). The six major global media organizations The chapter this focuses on the six leading global media organizations, and how they offer ideological justification for corporate capitalism while censoring contrary perspectives. As Phillips explains early in his book:

“We have a media system that seeks to control all aspects of human thinking and promotes continued consumption and compliance. The dominant ideological message from corporate media today is that the continued growth of the economy will offer trickle-down benefits to all humans and save the planet”. (p.13)

One outstanding fact that is presented at the start of this chapter is that, “corporate media receive anywhere from two thirds to 80 percent of their broadcast and print news content from public relations and propaganda (PRP) firms” (p. 263). Since only a handful of media companies monopolize the world market of information distribution, this fact reveals a monumental bullhorn in the hands of the transnational capitalist class (p. 265). This chapter also informs us that, in the US, the number of media companies has declined from 50 in the early 1980s to just six today, and that 98% of all US cities are served by only one daily newspaper (p. 264).

This chapter also provides detailed profiles of the major media and public relations firms in the US, along with discussion of some of their noteworthy international interventions. In addition, the chapter discusses propaganda and the “engineering of consent”.

Chapter 7, “Facing the Juggernaut: Democracy Movements and Resistance,” offers “a summary and what-needs-to-be-done statement” (p. 13), that emphasizes what needs to be done to reform the system, in very broad terms, with a return to the principles outlined in the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The books ends with a postscript which amounts to a letter to the Global Power Elites “asking them to consider future generations when making decisions regarding global capital, and urging them to take corrective action before more serious and inevitable unrest and environmental devastation take effect” (p. 13).

“Global Power Elites”: the Transnational Capitalist Class

Phillips describes the Global Power Elite as follows:

“The Global Power Elite function as a nongovernmental network of similarly educated wealthy people with common interests of managing, facilitating, and protecting concentrated global wealth and insuring the continued growth of capital. Global Power Elites influence and use international institutions controlled by governmental authorities—namely, the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), NATO, World Trade Organization (WTO), G7, G20, and many others”. (p. 9)

Therefore what Phillips indirectly points to here is the growing recognition of the fact that, far from the promised obsolescence of the state, globalization has not only been enacted by states, the power of certain states has in fact increased. On the other hand, he apparently endorses Robinson’s claim that nation-states have become, “little more than population containment zones,” while “the real power lies with the decision makers who control global capital” (p. 26). Both propositions are unconvincing: first, populations are clearly not being contained; second, if states matter so little, and the real decision-makers are global capitalists, then why do the latter need states?

Indeed, Phillips appears to be of two minds on this question. He does note, for example: “The World Bank, IMF, G7, G20, WTO, Financial Stability Board, and Bank for International Settlements are institutions controlled by nation-state representatives and central bankers with proportional power/control exercised by dominant financial supporters, primarily the United States and European Union countries” (p. 161). Critical institutions of the global capitalist system are themselves state institutions. Clearly then, states are a lot more than just population containers. The shaky narrative of this book is a product of an underlying theoretical lack of clarity.

Global Power Elites, as Phillips explains, “are the activist core of the Transnational Capitalist Class—1 percent of the world’s wealthy people—who serve the uniting function of providing ideological justifications for their shared interests and establishing the parameters of needed actions for implementation by transnational governmental organizations” (p. 10). They should therefore not be confused with all elites, nor apparently with elite technocrats who serve in government but who are not among the world’s wealthiest people. The GPEs also apparently exclude the lobbyists, academics, media and think tank members who constitute a large part of what Janine R. Wedel describes as flexible “influence elites,” in her own updating of Mills’ work on elites (see “From Power Elites to Influence Elites: Resetting Elite Studies for the 21st Century” in the special issue of Theory, Culture & Society on Elites and Power after Financialization).

What unites the members of the GPEs are common interests and backgrounds. They tend to interact with each other regularly, and a wide range of mutually reinforcing organizations. It can come down to sharing the same university affiliations and membership in social clubs—“It is certainly safe to conclude they all know each other personally or know of each other in the shared context of their positions of power” (p. 11). Elsewhere in the book, these transnational elites are described as effectively forming a club: “interacting families of high social standing with similar lifestyles, corporate affiliations, and memberships in elite social clubs and private schools” (p. 22). “The power elite policy groups inside the Transnational Capitalist Class,” Phillips observes, “are made up of persons with shared educational experiences, similar lifestyles, and common ideologies” (p. 214). The degree of commonality among the elites studied in this book is striking:

“One hundred thirty-six of the 199 power elite managers (70 percent) are male. Eighty-four percent are whites of European descent. The 199 power elite managers hold 147 graduate degrees, including 59 MBAs, 22 JDs, 23 PhDs, and 35 MA/MS degrees. Almost all have attended elite private colleges, with 28 attending Harvard or Stanford”. (p. 62)

Of those same 199 individuals, 59% are from the US; many of the 199 are dual citizens; and, “they live in or interact regularly in a number of the world’s great cities: New York City, Chicago, London, Paris, Munich, Tokyo, and Singapore” (p. 63). Of the same 199 global financial directors, 69 have attended the World Economic Forum (p. 147).

Less convincing was William Robinson’s assertion, in the Introduction to the book, that suggests that national capitalists have effectively vanished. Presumably they metamorphosed into a transnational capitalist class, and for that reason Mills’ work needs to be updated (p. 17). What was missing here then was a golden opportunity to reflect on the fractious breakup of the dominant elites into a diminished and angered national capitalist faction in opposition to the transnationalist faction. That alone could have done more to explain the rise of Trump, as a champion of national capital, than resorting to facile ideological truisms about “populism”. Unfortunately, Robinson is destined to continue missing this, as elsewhere he quickly rushed to assert that Trump himself was a leading representative of the transnational capitalist class—and it was as unconvincing as it was misleading. Even worse, Robinson risks reducing “transnational capitalist class” to something like “fascist”: a term of abuse, with limited explanatory power. Unlike Robinson’s comments in this book, Phillips seems much more attuned to the reality of factions that exist even among the global power elites (p. 23).

Phillips describes the world’s top billionaires as “similar to colonial plantation owners” (p. 21), which can be a useful way for conceptualizing Western power structures as they have developed over the past five centuries. Phillips thus points to the UK’s Barclays Bank as an example of the colonial heritage at work today: “Barclays Bank [is] the number-one most connected firm. Barclays is a 300-year-old banking company founded in 1690 in London. Barclays grew with the expansion of the British Empire and now offers services in more than 50 countries and territories, serving some 49 million clients” (p. 79)

Transnational capitalists work through an array of institutions such as, “the World Bank, World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund, the G20, G7, World Economic Forum, Trilateral Commission, Bilderberg Group, Bank for International Settlements,” among others (p. 25). This book also cites the The Handbook of Transnational Governance (2011) which “lists 52 trans-governmental networks, arbitration bodies, multi-stakeholder initiatives (with internet cooperation), and voluntary regulation groups (fair labor/trade associations)” as key bodies of the transnational capitalist class. It’s not clear why, if their interests and agendas are shared in common, they would need so many multilateral international organizations—at the very least it would seem to be an inefficient diffusion of effort.

The other question is, if the global power elites discussed in this book control/manage a total of about $41 trillion, and the world’s total wealth is estimated at $255 trillion, then that would mean the global power elites in fact control a minority share of global wealth (roughly 16%). Then who owns or controls the other 84%? Elsewhere in the book it is revealed that “147 companies controlled some 40 percent of the world’s wealth” (p. 36). Then the question becomes: who controls the remaining 60%? Also, is control the same thing as ownership? Later the book informs us that, “in excess of $74 trillion of inter-invested centralized capital” is controlled by 69 cross-invested firms (p. 49). This would mean that they control just over 29% of the world’s wealth. One wishes that some overall profile of global wealth ownership and distribution had been provided in this book, so as to better contextualize what the “giants” really own.

American Power Elites (APEs)?

One of the ironies in this text is what Phillips reveals in Chapter 1:

“The top six billionaires in 2017, with their country of citizenship and estimated net worth, were Bill Gates (US, $88.8 billion), Amancio Ortega (Spain, $84.6 billion), Jeff Bezos (US, $82.2 billion), Warren Buffett (US, $76.2 billion), Mark Zuckerberg (US, $56 billion), and Carlos Slim Helú (Mexico, $54.5 billion). Forbes’s billionaire list contained 2,047 names in 2017”. (p. 21)

Thus of the top six billionaires, four are American. As for the Forbes list, in 2019, seven of the top 10 billionaires listed are American. In fact, the list has become increasingly American since circa 2012, according to this compilation of annual rankings, returning to the situation that was observed from before 2005. In total, 14 of the world’s richest 20 persons are American. Overall, 607 of the world’s 2,153 billionaires in 2019 are American—or just over 28%, which still reflects a disproportionately large American presence. As mentioned above, the American proportion has been steadily increasing:

So what does one conclude from this picture? Is it in fact transnational capital of a global power elite that has dominated globalization, that we are seeing here? Or would it be more accurately reflective of reality to speak of an American Power Elite that dominates the world’s circuits of wealth creation and concentration? The answer has enormous import for how we think about globalization vs. American imperialism as the best mode of describing contemporary reality.

As we saw in the last section, the inability to explain why transnational capitalists need states is one of the most serious flaws in explanations that claim states have been diminished while transnational capitalists have real power. If they had real power, they would not need states. Thus one of the problems of this book is that it under-theorizes critical areas that really needed attention, if we were really to update Mills’ work.

US Imperialism and Transnational Capitalism

One of the key strengths of this book is that it goes against fashionable theorizing on the political left, prevalent among academics and activists, that minimizes or even refuses to name US imperialism. As Phillips shows in this book, the US is the foundation of transnational policing that works to enforce the interests of global capital. In particular, the global financial giants invest heavily in war-making as a means of profitably deploying excess capital.

Thus Phillips notes that, “the policy elites in the United States have been mostly united in support of an American empire of military power that maintains a repressive war against resisting groups…around the world” (p. 23). He also points out: “uncooperative regimes are undermined and overthrown in support of the free flow of global capital for investments anywhere that returns are possible” (p. 64).

“Humanitarian intervention” is also critically addressed by Phillips. He argues that the transnational capitalist class promotes “military interventions [that] are ideologically justified as peacekeeping or humanitarian missions,” primarily in cases where governments are “viewed as unfavorable to the TCC’s capital interests”—in such cases then, “resistance forces will be supported and encouraged toward regime change, as in…Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Ukraine, Venezuela, and Yugoslavia” (p. 30). It is refreshing to read a North American academic who recognizes this reality. As indicated in the list of contents, Phillips dedicated an entire chapter to the subject of US empire (chapter 5).

The protection of transnational capital, Phillips argues, is what lies behind the production of “failed states, manufactured civil wars, regime changes, and direct invasions/occupations”. Each of these is a manifestation of “the new world order requirements for protecting transnational capital” (p. 215).

NATO is a key part of Phillips’ discussion, and he notes that NATO members collectively account for 85% of the world’s military spending (p. 223). Phillips’ argument is that NATO is the leading military defender of the interests of global capital: “NATO is quickly becoming a US military empire supplemental police force for the Global Power Elite and the Transnational Capitalist Class” (p. 224). In conjunction with this, he discusses the role of the Atlantic Council as the chief purveyor of NATO propaganda.

Yet, despite Phillips’ own arguments about manufactured civil wars, “resistance” groups funded if not created by Western powers, and regime change war—he still manages to produce an unquestioning endorsement of “Arab Spring protests” in North Africa as examples of resistance against neoliberal austerity politics (p. 304).

Global Inequality

Global inequality has become extreme under the dominance of the Global Power Elites. As William Robinson writes in the Introduction,

“the richest 1 percent of humanity in 2017 controlled more than half of the world’s wealth; the top 30 percent of the population controlled more than 95 percent of global wealth, while the remaining 70 percent of the population had to make do with less than 5 percent of the world’s resources”. (p. 15)

Phillips recounts a recent finding that only eight individuals now own half the world’s wealth (p. 21).

While not always clear about whether “the richest 1 percent” are the top 1% in the US or the top 1% of the world as a whole, the book informs us that the top fraction “increased their total wealth by 42.5 percent in 2008, and 50.1 percent in 2017,” and in the latter year, “2.3 million new millionaires were created, bringing the total number of millionaires around the globe to more than 36 million”; these millionaires represent “0.7 percent of the world’s population controlling more than 47 percent of global wealth’; the world’s bottom 70% only control 2.7% of total wealth (pp. 301–302).

This book also relays the following overview of global wealth inequality:

“The world’s total wealth is estimated to be close to $255 trillion, with the United States and Europe holding approximately two thirds of that total; meanwhile, 80 percent of the world’s people live on less than $10 per day, the poorest half of the global population lives on less than $2.50 per day, and more than 1.3 billion people live on only $1.25 per day”. (p. 30)

Robinson offers a partial/partisan view of the political results of increasing inequality, asserting that it has fueled “populist insurgencies” (thus unfortunately reinforcing elitist terminology), and that these are dominated by racist, xenophobic, and nativist concerns. What Robinson does not do is offer an explanation as to why those on the losing end of globalization in North America and Europe have turned to the right, and not the left.

What Robinson predicts is that the global concentration of wealth is, in effect, suicidal: it will lead to a global contraction of demand, and thus the global market will be unable to absorb the output of the global economy, and at that point the system will seize up. Is this something to be celebrated or criticized?

Phillips makes a similar point about the over-accumulation of capital: “there are only three mechanisms of investing excess capital: risky financial speculation, wars and war preparation, and the privatization of public institutions” (p. 30). What needs to be explained to readers is why, if capital over-accumulation is really a problem, would the holders of such capital invest in areas that generate even more capital.

Land and hunger also stand out as one of the strong points of this book’s explanations. First, some important statistics are provided, such as: the UN’s World Food Program estimates that 1 in 9 people go to bed hungry each night, which amounts to 795 million people suffering from chronic hunger; nine million die each year from starvation; one-third of the planet suffers from malnutrition; two billion more people will be lacking food by 2050, according to UN forecasts; and yet, “chronic hunger is mostly a problem of distribution, as one third of all food produced in the world is wasted and lost” (p. 31). Phillips clearly pins the blame of this mal-distribution on global speculation invested in agricultural lands, and global speculation in food, which have both raised the costs of land and food, and displaced populations (pp. 31, 63). As Phillips explains:

“In the last ten years, more than $90 billion has been invested in 78 countries for buying up more than 74 million acres of farmland. The result is mass corporate farming, usually for export, and the removal of these lands as a local food source”. (p. 32)

While the book tends to endorse much of the emergency talk around “climate change,” it’s important to note that Phillips is aware of some of the glaring opportunism that motivates some of the crisis-making:

“Amazingly, TCC/Global Power Elite money managers study the transforming environment for new investment opportunities. Climate change investing can be profitable, according to Forbes, and getting in on low-carbon investments, and sectors that will benefit should climate stress increase—such as defense, health care, and property insurances—can prove lucrative. Increasing interest in new mining opportunities available due to global warming is an important issue in Greenland. Private investment in the control of water sources is seen as an increasingly attractive opportunity for power elite speculation”. (p. 32)

Criticisms of the Book

Unfortunately, much of the book is written for an audience that is already prepared to believe and accept its main arguments and their assumptions. The question then is why such an audience would need this book. The echo-chambering of public discourse is itself echoed louder than ever in academic production. This book is not written for, say, skeptical students who are unconvinced and like to raise questions. On the other hand, it can be useful precisely for generating questions.

What in my view is one of the least attractive features of the book is the tendency to reduce discussion to moral principles. In that respect it is a very American book, which follows the very American tradition of displacing politics into morality. The result is a moralistic appeal for reform. Thus the book is directed at precisely those elites who are least likely to read or care about this book. However, matters become even murkier when the book’s idea of reform means that activists should volunteer to work with billionaires: “An honest, open look at real human options is vitally needed, and social movement activists seeking to end the crisis of humanity may find allies at the top willing to make radical readjustments needed to prevent wars, mass poverty, and environmental degradation” (p. 159). In an open letter to the Global Power Elite at the end of the book, we read this: “We absolutely believe that continued capital concentration and neoliberal austerity policies only bring greater human misery to the vast majority of people on earth” (p. 320, emphasis added). Why reduce what the book shows to be factually true, a matter of objective knowledge, to a matter of belief? Why should anyone care what the author and his colleagues “believe”? Sometimes the book has an unfortunate tendency of diminishing itself.

Theory remains relatively under-developed in this book, which tends to leave major questions unspoken (some of which were discussed in the sections above). The result is that books like C. Wright Mills’ The Power Elite remain as outstanding contributions, and the updating of his work is something that still needs to be done. Neither this book, nor other attempts at updating Mills, are yet ready to be read as “Mills Part 2”.

Related to the latter point, we seem to be generating an ever expanding vocabulary for describing essentially the same phenomenon. Thus, added to the base that is the transnational capitalist class (which is sufficient), we have shadow elites, influence elites, flexible networks, and now global power elites. Pretty soon, rather than having work that takes our understanding further, we will instead have works that lose time and energy in just clearing up the mystifying mass of new labels.

Though I intensely dislike facile comments like, “some of the book’s strengths are also its weakness,” I find myself here needing to make the same comment about the immense catalogue of empirical detail that appears in the profiles of the 389 individuals and the dozens of organizations named in this book. In that respect, the book begins to resemble more of a database, that makes for tedious reading. Seen from another angle, the book serves as a reference resource. However, what really stands out is the limited theorization of the material, that really does not expand on or elaborate on either the works of Mills, Sklair, or William Robinson.

Restrictions on access to the power elites means that the profiles that are provided in the book are based almost exclusively on open source documentation. The profiles thus result as flat, and almost lifeless—useful perhaps for statistical analysis, but almost devoid of oral history and cultural content.

Sometimes this book mirrors a website more than a printed volume, meaning that there can be excessive interleaving with contents that are already widely available. Thus the book unnecessarily reproduces, in full, the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The tendency to copy and insert so much that is open source tends to produce excessive length.

Diagrams in the book are often useless spaghetti illustrations of many dozens of crisscrossing lines linking inter-locked firms. The point is to show that each one is connected to every other—and it is far more economical to express that fact with words.

The Introduction by William Robinson was, surprisingly, one of the disappointing elements of this book. Robinson exploited the opportunity to sound off on a range of issues that personally anger and frustrate him—everything from Trump to climate change. I gather that this a popular Californian academic narrative. The chapter on the whole has a certain apocalyptic, doomsday quality to it, which is arguably more of a reflection of how culturally unprepared Americans are when it comes to absorbing the reality of their imperial decline: “If we do not annihilate ourselves in a nuclear holocaust or descend into the barbarism of a global police state, we will have to confront the threat of a human-induced sixth mass extinction that scientists say has already begun” (pp. 15–16).

At times, the book appears to pander to the fixations of the liberal-left, especially where climate emergency alarmism and identity politics are concerned. We are thus told at various points that this or that board of directors is exclusively male, or exclusively white, or white and male—as if the aesthetic veneer of dominance is what should occupy our attention.

Sometimes the book paints an excessively bleak and hopeless picture of inevitable collapse and war. The power of elites is sometimes overstated. Assumptions that poverty leads to rebellion (p. 303) are part of the book’s baggage of truisms, even if there is painfully little evidence to validate such assumptions. The point is that if it is all so bleak, then that defeats the chances of reform, the same reform that the book advocates. Phillips argues that unless something is done soon, movements like Occupy Wall Street will continue to emerge (p. 305)—to which the answer has to be a big “so what?

Lastly, the index contains some notable errors and omissions, and is actually not very useful for using this book.

Conclusion

Reminding me of the some of the great books written by Susan George in the 1980s on debt crises and hunger, this is one of the more original and important contributions to early 21st-century debates about the decline of the 20th-century phenomenon known as “globalization”. It will serve as a valuable reference to many students of globalization, both within and outside of academia. Thus, despite my criticisms above, I would still recommend this book as required reading for any students in the fields of Political Science and International Relations, Global Sociology, and International Political Economy, as well as perhaps students in Economic Anthropology. What is especially valuable about this book is more than just its detail, but its reconciling of transnational capitalism with US empire. Even where the book falls short, it does so in a manner that provokes many productive and constructive questions.

For me personally, what emerged from studying this text is recognition of the degree to which states still matter immensely in the so-called globalized world (produced by states themselves), and the extent to which the US stands on top of globalization. It is no surprise then that we see the decline of US empire at the same time as the rise of de-globalization. Not discussed in this volume—and hardly mentioned on this site either—is the rise of an embryonic new order dominated by China, as evidenced by its extremely ambitious and widely spread Belt and Road Initiative.

Source: https://zeroanthropology.net/2019/11/27/global-giants-american-empire-and-transnational-capital/

December 2, 2019 Posted by | Book Review, Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

Will the ICC Prosecute Perpetrators of the ‘War on Terror’?

By Ramona Wadi | MEMO | November 30, 2019

On May 13 2014, the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) Chief Prosecutor announced it would reopen the investigations into alleged war crimes committed by British soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, following additional submitted information pertaining to the investigation which had been concluded in 2006.

A recent BBC Panorama investigation, in collaboration with the Sunday Times, ascertained a cover-up by the UK government of British soldiers torturing and murdering Iraqi and Afghan civilians, including children since 2003, when the UK participated alongside the US in invading Iraq under the pretext of the so-called “war on terror”.

In 2010, the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) was tasked with investigating allegations of abuse in Iraq, with the possibility of prosecuting the perpetrators. However, mismanagement and corruption within the body, including claims that solicitor Phil Shiner had paid people to find clients for IHAT, failed to open a single case from its investigations. For the UK’s Ministry of Defence, the allegations against IHAT were an opportune moment to discredit the claims of human rights violations committed by British troops. Rather than prioritise the allegations of human rights violations, IHAT was deemed harmful and “making soldiers on the battlefield anxious about later legal repercussions.”

In a 2018 report issued by the ICC, UK soldiers are alleged to have committed war crimes against 61 Iraqis in custody, including killings, torture, rape and sexual violence. Seven deaths occurred in custody and 54 victims died of “mistreatment”. The ICC report specifies: “At this stance, these incidents should not be considered as either complete or exhaustive, but rather illustrative of the alleged criminal conduct.”

In July 2019, the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) submitted a follow-up to the ICC Prosecutor, informing the office about the UK’s failure to investigate or prosecute those responsible for war crimes, “despite significant and growing evidence indicating that liability extends up the chain of command to senior military and civilian officials.” The ECCHR also described the closing down of IHAT as a politically motivated decision to avoid ICC prosecution.

The UK’s intention was clearly to preserve its impunity. During the course of the BBC investigation, it was revealed that “The Ministry of Defence (MoD) had no intention of prosecuting any soldier of whatever rank he was unless it was absolutely necessary, and they couldn’t wriggle their way out of it.” Among the concealed crimes, a soldier from an SAS unit shot 4 Afghan civilians, three of them children, in the head, while they were in their own home, drinking tea. “When I entered the room, the bones, teeth, blood and brain were all over the place,” a witness to the aftermath stated. The UK government dismissed the war crime allegation by stating the four Afghans were Taliban suspects and commanders.

Other war crimes were concealed through fabricated evidence in order to evade such classification. Evidence of sexual abuse was also revealed to have occurred at Camp Stephen in Basra, Iraq, which was under the command of the Black Watch.

If the ICC does investigate the UK government for these violations of the Geneva Convention, it would have set a precedent, given that the Court has, so far, focused on investigating the leaders of African nations as opposed to the crimes of Western governments and foreign intervention. The “war on terror” is characterised by two main factors – perpetual aggression and extended impunity for the perpetrators. Justice for the Iraqi and Afghan people, by now, is worse than a macabre farce. Yet the ICC must fulfil its duty to lay bare the dynamics that have so far shielded the UK military and governmental collaboration from judicial scrutiny.

December 1, 2019 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Prince Andrew – The Right Royal Lizard Tale

The furore around a disposable parasite’s conduct distracts from a REAL investigation into the Epstein case

UK’s Prince Andrew [Youtube]

By Kit Knightly | OffGuardian | December 1, 2019

The Queen is cancelling Prince Andrews birthday party. It’s big news. Oh, and some charities are declining to work with him.

This is all off the back of his (allegedly) voluntary, stilted and frankly bizarre Newsnight interview with Emily Maitlis. The collection of jarring statements, fairly obvious evasions and upper-class waffle has been autopsied to death. We don’t need to go over it again.

In fact, mocking Prince Andrew has become the pastime du jour. Everyone’s doing it. Isn’t it fun to partake? Make a little dig, really throw something back in the face of the establishment?

Really though, shouldn’t we know better?

The voice of the mainstream can NOT be trusted. It is never more important to remember this than when it is telling you what you want to hear.

Everybody should have learned by now, the media – and most especially the BBC – don’t have ANY duty to the truth. They can’t be forced to report something just because it’s true. They actively and willfully ignore true things all the time.

A few years ago 50,000 people marched past television centre, and the BBC simply ignored them all.

When the powers who control mainstream media don’t want to talk about something, it. Doesn’t. Get. Talked. About.

The corollary of this is that when the mainstream media is talking about something it’s for one reason and one reason only – they want to talk about it, because somewhere, somehow an agenda is being served.

What’s the agenda being served here? It’s impossible to know for sure at this stage, but it’s certainly true that while we’re talking about Prince Andrew having sex with a 17-year-old, we’re not talking about REAL paedolphilia.

We’re not talking about orphanages on Jersey or trafficking in Belgium, or Jimmy Savile. And we’re not talking about any of the names in Epstein’s “little black book”.

I’m not minimising or apologising for Prince Andrew’s alleged conduct, but let us recall the age of consent in the UK (and many American States) is 16. Significantly, he’s not being accused of doing anything actually illegal.

Do we really think that this is all the Epstein case boils down to? Is this as dark as the underbelly of the political elite gets?

It is sleazy, it is unseemly, and it is highly unpleasant. But it’s NOT a crime, and it’s certainly not a source of powerful political leverage. Nobody is being blackmailed into line based on this.

You don’t need to fly people to private Islands in the Caribbean to have sex with 17-year-olds. You don’t need to “traffic” legal teenagers in order to find girls willing to have sex with billionaires or royalty.

Clearly there must be something more to Epstein, his goals and his agenda, but none of that is being talked about.

While Andrew is being pilloried, and the BBC is getting plaudits for “hard-hitting” journalism, there are proven cases of institutional paedophilia that are far deeper and darker than anything being discussed by the BBC.

While we’re all laughing at Andrew, we’re forgetting that Prince Charles never gave, and was never asked to give, an interview explaining his “friendship” with Jimmy Savile.

While we’re huffing and puffing over “Royal conduct” and sex with girls of legal age, we’re not talking about the fact there are sitting MPs who were once “affiliated” with groups that campaigned to have the age of consent lowered to 10. We’re forgetting that accusations of REAL paedophilia circulate around many high-profile MPs (usually only after they die).

And, of course, lost in all the fuss about Andrew is the fact Jeffrey Epstein is dead.

It may have been memed into a meaningless catchphrase, but it’s still true – Epstein didn’t kill himself. Not alone, anyway.

Broadly speaking one of only three things can have happened:

He called in some favours and faked his death.
He was allowed/encouraged to commit suicide.
He was outright murdered.

Which of these took place we may never know, but it doesn’t really matter. He’s gone. And wherever or however he’s gone, he didn’t do it alone.

Someone – or a collection of someone’s – helped him on his way, either literally or euphemistically.

Why?

Why is always the most important question, you can tell that because it’s always the one media ignore. We’re never encouraged to wonder why anything happens, to think through motive, risk-reward calculations or basic strategy.

These are the big questions, going unanswered while we all partake of Prince Andrew free-for-all.

The fool of the family used to go into the Army or the Church, but now he’s dressed in motley and thrust in front of the TV cameras to gamble and pratfall to the laughs and jeers of the common man. The individual is sacrificed, but the institution is preserved.

I’ve used the autotomy of lizard tails as a metaphor before, and while it may display a lack of imagination to revisit that particular well, there’s no denying it fits well enough.

Of course there’s a temptation to go after Prince Andrew, he likely deserves it, but if we throw everything behind that, we’re in danger of losing the bigger picture. Like a dog being distracted with a string of sausages.

There’s something much bigger than Prince Andrew at the heart of all this, but we won’t find it if we content ourselves with feasting on the morsels the press are happy to feed us.

December 1, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | | 2 Comments

BBC under increasing criticism for biased reporting

By Johanna Ross | November 27, 2019

It’s almost as British as fish and chips and a pint, but what used to be embraced by the masses as a reliable source of information, the BBC, is now under increasing scrutiny for its overt political bias. With the growing popularity of social and alternative media, Brits are no longer taking as gospel what is pumped out by, this publicly funded service which is increasingly coming under fire for being nothing more than a propaganda machine for the sitting government.  The hashtag #BBCbias has been trending for some time now on Twitter, and with more and more commentators questioning the integrity of this public service, it’s clear that the organisation needs to take a long hard look at itself.

Let’s take the issue of Scottish Independence for example. Coverage of this, and of the Scottish National Party has been demonstrated to be biased for years. A 2014 report by Dr John Robertson concluded that BBC reports in the run up to the Yes campaign consisted of “typically a Westminster scare story, on the Yes campaign, mostly left unanswered and unchallenged” and that coverage had “not been fair or balanced”. More worrying however, the research had illustrated that this biased reporting could well have had a negative impact on the independence movement: “we have evidence of coverage which seems likely to have damaged the Yes campaign”.  The revelations earlier this year by a senior BBC journalist, Allan Little, that his colleagues viewed it as their responsibility to demonstrate how ‘foolish’ independence was, only adds to the case that coverage was far from impartial.

But despite the public outcry, it’s clear that few lessons have been learned. Much of the current criticism of the BBC is to do with its stance towards the Labour party led by Jeremy Corbyn. It couldn’t be more obvious from interviews by some of its top journalists – Andrew Marr for one – that there is an anti-Corbyn position, and in fact Corbyn has himself accused Marr in the past of ‘establishment bias’. A report from 2016 only looked into coverage of the Labour leader by the mainstream media in general and concluded that there was a “marked and persistent imbalance” in favour of sources critical to him. Furthermore, it singled out the BBC for using more ‘pejorative language’ when referring to Corbyn and his party colleagues and it gave almost double the unchallenged airtime to people criticising the Labour leader than to his supporters.

In recent months however, since Prime Minister Boris Johnson took office, the preferential treatment given to the government has been more stark than ever, mainly down to the nature of his ‘style’. For more than any other Prime Minister before him, Johnson has been accused of being economical with the truth. Therefore the BBC is under increased pressure to either promote the government position, as it has traditionally done, however extraordinary it may be, or rethink its approach altogether. One of the first to bring this issue to the public eye was acclaimed journalist Peter Oborne. Writing in Open Democracy, he stated that ‘British journalists have become part of Johnson’s fake news machine’. He accuses the Prime Minister of having “debauched Downing Street by using the power of his office to spread propaganda and fake news” and mentions the BBC Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg, saying she was ‘manipulated by Downing Street’ when she reported ‘insider information’ without questioning it.  But with the lies of Boris Johnson being exposed more and more, how long can the BBC protect him?

Peter Oborne does go some way to explaining the problem: “I have talked to senior BBC executives, and they tell me they personally think it’s wrong to expose lies told by a British prime minister because it undermines trust in British politics.” But in actual fact this does not convey fully what is happening. For the reality is, despite its mission statement boasting of its aim “to act in the public interest, serving all audiences through the provision of impartial, high-quality and distinctive output and services which inform, educate and entertain”, the BBC is, and always has been, a mouthpiece for the British government of the day. Its journalists, up until the 1990s were vetted by the British security services. It’s always had an agenda to promote the establishment narrative and to oppose any individuals or movements which threaten that. Scottish independence is a threat. Jeremy Corbyn is another. The former will break up the Union; the latter is deemed a security risk because of his pacifist tendencies and non-interventionist stance when it comes to foreign policy.

But with both these movements gaining ground, and British politics and society in a state of flux, we are now in uncertain territory. The period of post-war stability is now coming to an end, and so is it the reign of the mainstream media. For the BBC to survive in this new media landscape it will have to inject a heavy dose of honesty and transparency into its broadcasting, or face being obsolete.  As populism gathers strength, and people access a wider range of media sources than ever before, they will no longer be accepting things at face value.

Johanna Ross is a journalist based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

November 27, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 2 Comments

WikiLeaks Proved the OPCW Cannot Be Trusted In Syria

By Paul Antonopoulos | November 26, 2019

The “Syrian regime” and chemical weapons has become a constant mantra in the Western World and has become synonymous with the Syrian War since it began in 2011. One of the most famous cases was the April 2018 chemical weapon attack in the Damascene satellite city of Douma that led to the U.S., UK and France conducting airstrikes against Syrian Army positions, despite the lack of evidence that the Syrian government was responsible for the incident.

The April 7, 2018 chemical incident killed between 40 and 50 people and was followed up by the Western Powers attack against Syria exactly a week later. Strangely though, the attack took place just mere hours before the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) inspectors arrived in Syria to investigate the attack. The U.S., UK and France knew that the eventual OPCW report would not match their claims and allegations against the Syrian government, and were quick to act in wasting their people’s tax dollars by dropping bombs on the Arab country.

The final OPCW report would not match the first report made by the Fact-Finding mission that were actually on the ground in Syria. An email released by whistleblowing Wikileaks on the weekend found that the final OPCW report on the Douma incident had been manipulated and changed by the Office of the Director-General of the OPCW, then held by Turkish diplomat Ahmet Üzümcü. This is an extremely disturbing discovery as the OPCW claims to have a “neutral role” by not assigning blame for chemical weapon use, but to find out the details of how the attack was conducted. This however was reversed last year with the OPCW being given permission to investigate perpetrators – but they still kept the mythology that they are “neutral.”

Although the report did not assign blame, the e-mail claims that the report “morphed into something quite different to what was originally drafted” and that “a bias has been introduced into the report, undermining its credibility” and that it “is disingenuous.” This was of course to bring the illusion that Syria was responsible for the attack, despite no tangible evidence.

In March, the OPCW report claimed that chlorine was the likely agent used in last year’s attack, but the newly released email explains that this claim “is highly misleading and not supported by the facts.”

“Omitting this section of the report has a serious negative impact on the report as this section is inextricably linked to the chemical agent identified… In this case, the confidence in the identity of chlorine or any other choking agent is drawn into question precisely because of the inconsistency with the reported and observed symptoms. The inconsistency was not only noted by the fact-finding mission team, but strongly supported by three toxicologists with expertise in exposure to chemical warfare agents”, the e-mail revealed.

The email then makes a final request that the original report be released in “its entirety” as the author fears that the manipulated report does not “reflect the work of the team” and “would negatively impact on the perceived credibility of the report, and by extension that of the Organisation.”

It must be remembered that when the OPCW report was released in March 2019, nearly a whole year after the incident. The released report ignored evidence provided by the Russian Foreign Ministry that the Al-Qaeda affiliated White Helmets were responsible for the attack, and that rather the report was attempting to justify the U.S.-led attack against Syria.

However, the release by WikiLeaks was only the final nail in the coffin confirming that the OPCW is not “neutral” and rather highly politicized. It was revealed only last week by the Grayzone that a second whistleblower from the OPCW came forward to accuse the top leadership of the organisation of suppressing critical evidence because of pressure from the U.S.

This demonstrates that there is a major rift between the actual inspectors on the ground and the higher-level officials of the organization who are willingly submitting to U.S. pressures despite trying to maintain their credibility of being neutral. The very appointment of Üzümcü, a former Turkish ambassador to Israel and a former Permanent Representative of Turkey to NATO, demonstrates that his very appointment had political motivations knowing Ankara’s aggressive foreign policy towards Syria since the beginning of the war.

There can be little doubt now that the claim of neutrality is far from reality and rather the top leadership of the OPCW are willing to omit, manipulate and change facts that were on the ground and discovered by their own Mission at the behest of the U.S. so it could pressure Syria and legitimize the illegal U.S.-led attack. This can only bring into question now the legitimacy of all the other chemical weapon attacks blamed on the Syrian government over the course of many years.

In addition, the OPCW should be the center of wide condemnation from the international community and the United Nations, who once shared a Joint Mission with the OPCW to remove Syria’s chemical weapons from October 2013 to September 2014. The OPCW has now lost all credibility and should be replaced by a new organization that does not appoint controversial Director-Generals or submit to pressure from external forces, like the U.S., and perhaps even Turkey.

However, the most telling of the politicization of the OPCW occurred at yesterday’s annual OPCW forum in the Hague, where the organization vehemently defended themselves against the well-timed Wikileaks expose. Fernando Arias, the current OPCW Director-General, defended the manipulated report, saying: “the nature of any thorough inquiry for individuals in a team is to express subjective views. While some of these diverse views continue to circulate in some public discussion forums, I would like to reiterate that I stand by the independent, professional conclusion [of the investigation].”

Simply put, WikiLeaks has helped prove that the OPCW can no longer be trusted and certainly is not neutral. Britain and France unsurprisingly at yesterday’s OPCW forum also defended the initial report and rejected the allegations of doctoring. But this of course was always to be expected.

Paul Antonopoulos is a Research Fellow at the Center for Syncretic Studies.

November 26, 2019 Posted by | Deception | , , , , , | 1 Comment