A LEMMING LEADING THE LEMMINGS: SLAVOJ ZIZEK AND THE TERMINAL COLLAPSE OF THE ANTI-WAR LEFT

JUNE 23RD, 2022

JONATHAN COOK

Have you noticed how every major foreign policy crisis since the U.S. and U.K.’s invasion of Iraq in 2003 has peeled off another layer of the left into joining the pro-NATO, pro-war camp?

It is now hard to remember that many millions marched in the U.S. and Europe against the attack on Iraq. It sometimes feels like there is no one left who is not cheerleading the next wave of profits for the West’s military-industrial complex (usually referred to as the “defense industry” by those very same profiteers).

Washington learned a hard lesson from the unpopularity of its 2003 attack on Iraq aimed at controlling more of the Middle East’s oil reserves. Ordinary people do not like seeing the public coffers ransacked or suffering years of austerity, simply to line the pockets of Blackwater, Halliburton, and Raytheon. And all the more so when such a war is sold to them on the basis of a huge deception.

So since then, the U.S. has been repackaging its neocolonialism via proxy wars that are a much easier sell. There have been a succession of them: Libya, Syria, Yemen, Iran, Venezuela and now Ukraine. Each time, a few more leftists are lured into the camp of the war hawks by the West’s selfless, humanitarian instincts – promoted, of course, through the barrel of a Western-supplied arsenal. That process has reached its nadir with Ukraine.

NUCLEAR FACE-OFF

recently wrote about the paranoid ravings of celebrity “left-wing” journalist Paul Mason, who now sees the Kremlin’s hand behind any dissension from a full-throttle charge towards a nuclear face-off with Russia.

Behind the scenes, he has been sounding out Western intelligence agencies in a bid to covertly deplatform and demonetize any independent journalists who still dare to wonder whether arming Ukraine to the hilt or recruiting it into NATO – even though it shares a border that Russia views as existentially important – might not be an entirely wise use of taxpayers’ money.

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It is not hard to imagine that Mason is representative of the wider thinking of establishment journalists, even those who claim to be on the left.

But I want to take on here a more serious proponent of this kind of ideology than the increasingly preposterous Mason. Because swelling kneejerk support for U.S. imperial wars – as long, of course, as Washington’s role is thinly disguised – is becoming ever more common among leftwing academics too.

The latest cheerleader for the military-industrial complex is Slavoj Zizek, the famed Slovenian philosopher and public intellectual whose work has gained him international prominence. His latest piece – published where else but The Guardian – is a morass of sloppy thinking, moral evasion and double speak. Which is why I think it is worth deconstructing. It encapsulates all the worst geostrategic misconceptions of Western intellectuals at the moment.

Zizek, who is supposedly an expert on ideology and propaganda, and has even written and starred in a couple of documentaries on the subject, seems now to be utterly blind to his own susceptibility to propaganda.

COD PSYCHOLOGY

He starts, naturally enough, with a straw man: that those opposed to the West’s focus on arming Ukraine rather than using its considerable muscle to force Kyiv and Moscow to the negotiating table are in the wrong. Opposition to dragging out the war for as long as possible, however many Ukrainians and Russians die, with the aim of “weakening Russia”, as US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin wants; and opposition to leaving millions of people in poorer parts of the world to be plunged deeper into poverty or to starve is equated by Zizek to “pacifism.”

“Those who cling to pacifism in the face of the Russian attack on Ukraine remain caught in their own version of [John Lennon’s song] ‘Imagine’,” writes Zizek. But the only one dwelling in the world of the imaginary is Zizek and those who think like him.

The left’s mantra of “Stop the war!” can’t be reduced to kneejerk pacifism. It derives from a political and moral worldview. It opposes the militarism of competitive, resource-hungry nation-states. It opposes the war industries that not only destroy whole countries but risk global nuclear annihilation in advancing their interests. It opposes the profit motive for a war that has incentivised a global elite to continue investing in planet-wide rape and pillage rather than addressing a looming ecological catastrophe. All of that context is ignored in Zizek’s lengthy essay.

Instead, he prefers to take a detour into cod psychology, telling us that Russian president Vladimir Putin sees himself as Peter the Great. Putin will not be satisfied simply with regaining the parts of Ukraine that historically belonged to Russia and have always provided its navy with its only access to the Black Sea. No, the Russian president is hell-bent on global conquest. And Europe is next – or so Zizek argues.

Even if we naively take the rhetoric of embattled leaders at face value (remember those weapons of mass destruction Iraq’s Saddam Hussein supposedly had?), it is still a major stretch for Zizek to cite one speech by Putin as proof that the Russian leader wants his own version of the Third Reich.

Not least, we must address the glaring cognitive dissonance at the heart of the Western, NATO-inspired discourse on Ukraine, something Zizek refuses to do. How can Russia be so weak it has managed only to subdue small parts of Ukraine at great military cost, while it is at the same time a military superpower poised to take over the whole of Europe?

Zizek is horrified by Putin’s conceptual division of the world into those states that are sovereign and those that are colonized. Or as he quotes Putin observing: “Any country, any people, any ethnic group should ensure their sovereignty. Because there is no in-between, no intermediate state: either a country is sovereign, or it is a colony, no matter what the colonies are called.”

SOVEREIGN OR COLONIZED?

The famed philosopher reads this as proof that Russia wants as its colonies: “Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Finland, the Baltic states … and ultimately Europe itself”. But if he weren’t so blinded by NATO ideology, he might read Putin’s words in a quite different way. Isn’t Putin simply restating Washington realpolitik? The U.S., through NATO, is the real sovereign in Europe and is pushing its sovereignty ever closer to Russia’s borders.

Putin’s concern about Ukraine being colonized by the U.S. military-industrial complex is essentially the same as U.S. concerns in the 1960s about the Soviet Union filling Cuba with its nuclear missiles. Washington’s concern justified a confrontation that moved the world possibly the closest it has ever come to nuclear annihilation.

Both Russia and the U.S. are wedded to the idea of their own “spheres of influence”. It is just that the U.S. sphere now encircles the globe through many hundreds of overseas military bases. By contrast, the West cries to the heavens when Russia secures a single military base in Crimea.

We may not like the sentiments Putin is espousing, but they are not especially his. They are the reality of the framework of modern military power the West was intimately involved in creating. It was our centuries of colonialism – our greed and theft – that divided the world into the sovereign and the colonized. Putin is simply stating that Russia needs to act in ways that ensure it remains sovereign, rather than joining the colonized.

We may disagree with Putin’s perception of the threat posed by NATO, and the need to annex eastern Ukraine, but to pretend his speech means that he aims for world domination is nothing more than the regurgitation of a CIA talking point.

Zizek, of course, intersperses this silliness with more valid observations, like this one: “To insist on full sovereignty in the face of global warming is sheer madness since our very survival hinges on tight global cooperation.” Of course, it is madness. But why is this relevant to Putin and his supposed “imperial ambition”? Is there any major state on the planet – those in Europe, the United States, China, Brazil, Australia – that has avoided this madness, that is seeking genuine “tight global cooperation” to end the threat of climate breakdown.

No, our world is in the grip of terminal delusion, propelled ever closer to the precipice by capitalism’s requirement of endless economic growth on a finite planet. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is causing great ecological damage, but so are lots of other things – including NATO’s rationalization of ever-expanding military budgets.


UKRAINIAN HEROISM

But Zizek has the bit between his teeth. He now singles out Russia because it is maneuvering to exploit the consequences of global warming, such as new trade routes opened up by a thawing Arctic.

“Russia’s strategic plan is to profit from global warming: control the world’s main transport route, plus develop Siberia and control Ukraine,” he writes. “In this way, Russia will dominate so much food production that it will be able to blackmail the whole world.”

But what does he imagine? As we transform the world’s climate and its trade routes, as new parts of the world turn into deserts, as whole populations are forced to make migrations to different regions, does he think only Putin and Russia are jostling to avoid sinking below the rising sea waters. Does he presume the policy hawks in Washington, or their satraps in Europe, have missed all this and are simply putting their feet up? In reality, maneuvering on the international stage – what I have called elsewhere a brutal nation-state version of the children’s party game musical chairs – has been going on for decades.

Ukraine is the latest front in a long-running war for resource control on a dying planet. It is another battleground in the renewed great power game that the U.S. revived by expanding NATO across Eastern Europe in one pincer movement and then bolstered it with its wars and proxy wars across the Middle East. Where was the urge for “tight global cooperation” then? To perceive Ukraine as simply the victim of Putin’s “imperialism” requires turning a blind eye to everything that has occurred since the fall of the Soviet Union three decades ago.

Zizek gets to the heart of what should matter in his next, throw-away line:

Those who advocate less support for Ukraine and more pressure on it to negotiate, inclusive of accepting painful territorial renunciations, like to repeat that Ukraine simply cannot win the war against Russia. True, but I see exactly in this the greatness of Ukrainian resistance.”

Zizek briefly recognises the reality of Ukraine’s situation – that it cannot win, that Russia has a bigger, better-equipped army – but then deflects to the “greatness” of Ukraine’s defiance. Yes, it is glorious that Ukrainians are ready to die to defend their country’s sovereignty. But that is not the issue we in the West need to consider when Kyiv demands we arm its resistance.

The question of whether Ukrainians can win, or whether they will be slaughtered, is highly pertinent to deciding whether we in the West should help drag out the war, using Ukrainians as cannon fodder, to no purpose other than our being able to marvel as spectators at their heroism. Whether Ukrainians can win is also pertinent to the matter of how urgent it is to draw the war to a close so that millions don’t starve in Africa because of the loss of crops, the fall in exports and rocketing fuel prices. And arming a futile, if valiant, Ukrainian struggle against Russia to weaken Moscow must be judged in the context that we risk backing Russia into a geostrategic corner – as we have been doing for more than two decades – from which, we may surmise, Moscow could ultimately decide to extricate itself by resorting to nuclear weapons.

INTELLECTUAL CUL DE SAC

Having propelled himself into an intellectual cul de sac, Zizek switches tack. He suddenly changes the terms of the debate entirely. Having completely ignored the U.S. role in bringing us to this point, he now observes:

Not just Ukraine, Europe itself is becoming the place of the proxy war between [the] U.S. and Russia, which may well end up by a compromise between the two at Europe’s expense. There are only two ways for Europe to step out of this place: to play the game of neutrality – a short-cut to catastrophe – or to become an autonomous agent.”

So, we are in a U.S. proxy war – one played out under the bogus auspices of NATO and its “defensive” expansion – but the solution to this problem for Europe is to gain its “autonomy” by …

Well, from everything Zizek has previously asserted in the piece, it seems such autonomy must be expressed by silently agreeing to the U.S. pumping Ukraine full of weapons to fight Russia in a proxy war that is really about weakening Russia rather than saving Ukraine. Only a world-renowned philosopher could bring us to such an intellectually and morally barren place.

The biggest problem for Zizek, it seems, isn’t the U.S. proxy war or Russian “imperialism”, it is the left’s disillusionment with the military industrial complex: “Their true message to Ukraine is: OK, you are victims of a brutal aggression, but do not rely on our arms because in this way you play into the hands of the industrial-military complex,” he writes.

But the concern here is not that Ukraine is playing into the arms of the war industries. It is that Western populations are being played by their leaders – and intellectuals like Zizek – so that they can be delivered, once again, into the arms of the military-industrial complex. The West’s war industries have precisely no interest in negotiations, which is why they are not taking place. It is also the reason why events over three decades have led us to a Russian invasion of Ukraine that most of Washington’s policy makers warned would happen if the U.S. continued to encroach on Russia’s “sphere of influence”.

The left’s message is that we are being conned yet again and that it is long past the time to start a debate. Those debates should have taken place when the U.S. broke its promise not to expand “one inch” beyond Germany. Or when NATO flirted with offering Ukraine membership 14 years ago. Or when the U.S. meddled in the ousting of the elected government of Ukraine in 2014. Or when Kyiv integrated neo-Nazi groups into the Ukrainian army and engaged in a civil war against the Russian parts of its own populace. Or when the U.S. and NATO allowed Kyiv – on the best interpretation – to ignore its obligations under the Minsk agreements with Russia.

None of those debates happened. Which is why a debate in the West is still needed now, at this terribly late stage. Only then might there be a hope that genuine negotiations can take place – before Ukraine is obliterated.

CANNON FODDER

Having exhausted all his hollow preliminary arguments, we get to Zizek’s main beef. With the world polarizing around a sole military superpower, the U.S., and a sole economic superpower, China, Europe and Russia may be forced into each other’s arms in a “Eurasian” block that would swamp European values. For Zizek, that would lead to “fascism”. He writes: “At that point, the European legacy will be lost, and Europe will be de facto divided between an American and a Russian sphere of influence. In short, Europe itself will become the place of a war that seems to have no end.”

Let us set aside whether Europe – all of it, parts of it? – is really a bulwark against fascism, as Zizek assumes. How exactly is Europe to find its power, its sovereignty, in this battle between superpowers? What vehicle is Zizek proposing to guarantee Europe’s autonomy, and how does it differ from the NATO one that is – even Zizek now seems to be conceding – actually just a vassal of the U.S., there to enforce Washington’s global-spanning “sphere of influence” against Russia and China.

Faced with this problem, Zizek quickly retreats into mindless sloganeering: “One cannot be a leftist if one does not unequivocally stand behind Ukraine.” This Bushism – “You are either with us or with the terrorists” – really is as foolish as it sounds.

What does “unequivocal” mean here? Must we “unequivocally stand behind” all of Ukraine’s actions – even should, say, neo-Nazi elements of the Ukrainian military like the Azov Brigade carry out pogroms against the ethnic Russian communities living in Ukraine?

But even more seriously, what does it mean for Europeans to stand “unequivocally” behind Ukraine? Must we approve the supply of U.S. weapons, even though, as Zizek also concedes, Ukraine cannot win the war and is serving primarily as a proxy battleground?

Would “unequivocal support” not require us to pretend that Europe, rather than the U.S., is in charge of NATO policy? Would it not require too that we pretend NATO’s actions are defensive rather intimately tied to advancing the U.S. “sphere of influence” designed to weaken Russia?

And how can our participation in the U.S. ambition to weaken Russia not provoke greater fear in Russia for its future, greater militarism in Moscow, and ensure Europe becomes more of a battleground rather than less of one?

What does “unequivocal” support for Ukraine mean given that Zizek has agreed that the U.S. and Russia are fighting a proxy war, and that Europe is caught in the middle of it? Zizek’s answer is no answer at all. It is nothing more than evasion. It is the rationalization of unprincipled European inaction, of acting as a spectator while the U.S. continues to use Ukrainians as cannon fodder.

MUDDYING THE WATERS

After thoroughly muddying the waters on Ukraine, Zizek briefly seeks safer territory as he winds down his argument. He points out, two decades on, that George W. Bush was similarly a war criminal in invading Iraq, and notes the irony that Julian Assange is being extradited to the U.S. because Wikileaks helped expose those war crimes. To even things up, he makes a counter-demand on “those who oppose Russian invasion” that they fight for Assange’s release – and in doing so implicitly accuses the anti-war movement of supporting Russia’s invasion.

He then plunges straight back into sloganeering in his concluding paragraph: “Ukraine fights for global freedom, inclusive of the freedom of Russians themselves. That’s why the heart of every true Russian patriot beats for Ukraine.” Maybe he should try telling that to the thousands of ethnic Russian families mourning their loved ones killed by the civil war that began raging in eastern Ukraine long before Putin launched his invasion and supposedly initiated his campaign for world domination. Those kinds of Ukrainians may beg to differ, as may Russians worried about the safety and future of their ethnic kin in Ukraine.

As with most things in life, there are no easy answers for Ukraine. But Zizek’s warmongering dressed up as European enlightenment and humanitarianism is a particularly wretched example of the current climate of intellectual and moral vacuity. What we need from public thinkers like Zizek is a clear-sighted roadmap for how we move back from the precipice we are rushing, lemming-like, towards. Instead he is urging us on. A lemming leading the lemmings.

Feature photo | Graphic by MintPress News

Jonathan Cook is a MintPress contributor. Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books). His website is www.jonathan-cook.net.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect MintPress News editorial policy.

The New York Times Inadvertently Revealed The Qualitative Scale Of Kiev’s Losses

26 JUNE 2022

By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

Source

Up until this point, it was smeared as so-called “Russian propaganda” to claim that the Ukrainian Conflict has culled Kiev’s best fighters but now it’s officially confirmed by the NYT.

The New York Times (NYT) meant to trumpet the coalition of 20 countries whose “stealthy network of commandos and spies [is] rushing to provide weapons, intelligence and training” to Kiev in their latest piece about this but inadvertently also ended up revealing the qualitative scale of that US proxy’s losses. It’s already been disclosed that Kiev’s experiencing up to 1,000 casualties a day, has already lost between 30-50% of its total military equipment according to its own officials, is out massively outgunned per the Associated Press’ latest admission, but only now has it been confirmed that it’s “losing a lot of experienced people” in the words of an unnamed former Trump Administration official.

Up until this point, it was smeared as so-called “Russian propaganda” to claim that the Ukrainian Conflict has culled Kiev’s best fighters but now it’s officially confirmed by the NYT. Furthermore, that same source compared the scale of Kiev’s losses to “the height of the Vietnam War for us”, bluntly concluding that “it is terrible.” Shortly thereafter, an unclear number of “former American officials” are alleged to have informed the NYT that “The Ukrainian military’s most acute training problem right now is that it is losing its most battle-hardened and well-trained forces”. This revelation follows the news just last week that one of Russia’s surgical strikes killed over 50 Ukrainian generals and officers.

As Kiev’s “most battle-hardened and well-trained forces” continue dwindling down, it’s becoming much more dependent on its Western overlords to provide training in order to soften the qualitative blow that these losses have inflicted upon it. The trend is that its military forces are increasingly being trained either abroad or by foreigners inside the country, not by its own veterans, and that the rank-and-file are quickly turning into little more than conscripted cannon fodder for the US-led NATO proxy war on Russia. The latest information warfare narrative against Russia is that it’s a modern-day “colonial power’, but this observation actually proves that it’s the US that fits this description instead.

To explain, the declining unipolar hegemon provoked Russia’s ongoing special military operation by refusing to respect the integrity of its national security red lines that were explained in Moscow’s security guarantee requests from last December. This was done knowing fully well that it would be their Ukrainian proxies that would be on the receiving end of this conflict, not their own. In the span of just one-third of a year, the NYT then confirmed that not only has Russia successfully culled the quality of Kiev’s fighters, but that those who remain are completely dependent on the US as explained in that outlet’s latest article.

Not only that, but the impossibility of naturally replacing these “most battle-hardened and well-trained forces” anytime soon means that Kiev will become more dependent on foreign trainers, which adds a visible dimension to its colonial relationship with the US wherein Americans and others openly prepare their Ukrainian proxies for battle with Russia. Kiev’s military forces have no semblance of sovereignty after its best fighters were already taken out by Russia and they were thus compelled to come under foreign control as a result. This outcome that even the NYT just acknowledged discredits the latest information warfare narrative against Russia by exposing the US as the real colonizer in this conflict.

Ukraine isn’t “fighting for its independence” since its leadership already voluntarily ceded control of its armed forces to the US and the other 19 countries participating in the “stealthy network of commandos and spies” that the NYT revealed in its latest piece. This bait-and-switch means that while the US-led Western Mainstream Media (MSM) was gaslighting about the supposed “threat” that Russia poses to Ukraine’s sovereignty, this same sovereignty was given to the US behind the scenes after Kiev made the decision to openly become that declining unipolar hegemon’s vassal state in exchange for continuing the conflict that it’s destined to lose.

Put another way, one of the reasons why the US provoked the Ukrainian Conflict was to create the pretext for openly taking control of its proxy’s military after Russia culled them of their “most battle-hardened and well-trained forces”. Furthermore, the existing damage that’s been inflicted by Russia throughout the course of its special operation made Zelensky so desperate for reconstruction aid that he literally offered his overlords “to take patronage over a particular region of Ukraine, city, community or industry” while speaking at this year’s Davos Summit. In other words, this US-provoked conflict directly led to the loss of both Ukraine’s military and economic independence.

Not only that, but it’s extremely likely that the US will continue provoking more such proxy wars across the world in the coming future in an attempt to replicate the neo-imperial success of its Ukrainian operation whereby it’ll exploit the same conflicts that it sparks in order to obtain control of its vassal’s military and economy under the false pretext of “supporting” it. After all, there’s no reason for it not and there are plenty of fault lines across the world for it to take advantage of for these ends. This is especially the case across the Global South that’s emerging as the primary zone of competition in the New Cold War, which means that some of the world’s poorest countries might also suffer Ukraine’s fate.

THE PARADOXICAL SEEDS OF THE HOLOCAUST: OPPRESSION AND DEATH LIVE ON IN THE APARTHEID STATE

JUNE 22ND, 2022

MIKO PELED

Source

LYD, OCCUPIED PALESTINE – It is becoming increasingly difficult for Israel and the agencies that promote Zionism around the world to portray Zionism in rosy colors. This is primarily because there is a history of close to 100 years of Zionism; and the actions of the Zionist State, Israel, have a history of seven and a half decades of violence and racism. To add to that, in February, Amnesty International came out with a damning report demonstrating in no uncertain terms that Israel is engaged in the crime of apartheid and has been since the day it was established.

The Amnesty report is fewer than 300 pages long and can, and indeed must, be read by everyone. It is detailed, well-written and can provide the tools and information needed when confronting Israel and its allies in the various spheres in which they operate: in the academic world when confronting representatives of Israeli academic institutions; in the world of international sports, when demanding that FIFA and the International Olympic committee expel Israel; and in the corporate world and in the political-diplomatic spheres. In short, the Amnesty report is an invaluable tool.

CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY

Article 1 of The International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid states:

The States Parties to the present Convention declare that apartheid is a crime against humanity and that inhuman acts resulting from the policies and practices of apartheid and similar policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination, as defined in article II of the Convention, are crimes violating the principles of international law.

According to Article II.a of the Convention, the crime of apartheid includes the following elements:

Denial to a member or members of a racial group or groups of the right to life and liberty of person:

(i) By murder of members of a racial group or groups;

(ii) By the infliction upon the members of a racial group or groups of serious bodily or mental harm, by the infringement of their freedom or dignity, or by subjecting them to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;

(iii) By arbitrary arrest and illegal imprisonment of the members of a racial group or groups;

(b) Deliberate imposition on a racial group or groups of living conditions calculated to cause its or their physical destruction in whole or in part…

The significance of this clause cannot be overstated, particularly when speaking about the State of Israel, a state that was established only three years after the end of World War II and the Holocaust. According to the Amnesty report, the crime of apartheid began in 1948 when the state of Israel was established.

OPERATION DANNY

piece titled “We Need to Discuss Lyd,” published on the Israeli alternative media platform, Haokets, relays the events of July 1948 when the Palestinian city of El-Lyd was taken by the Israeli military in what was known as “Operation Danny.”

El-Lyd was subjected to an aerial attack on the night between the 10th and 11th of July 1948. Then a battalion led by Moshe Dayan, the famous eyepatch-wearing Israeli general, drove through the city, spraying it with gunfire. Witnesses who were part of this attack said that Dayan ordered them to “wash the city with gunfire,” a command they took to mean shooting indiscriminately in every direction. The city was taken in 47 minutes during which, according to this piece, the Israeli military utilized nine armored personnel carriers, 20 jeeps, and 10 armored vehicles equipped with machine guns. The Palestinians had no forces apart from a few men with rifles.

Various witnesses mentioned hundreds of bullet-strewn bodies on the streets. The dead were eventually buried in unmarked mass graves. On July 12, clashes between some of the local fighters and the Israeli invading forces were reported. In these clashes an additional 250 Palestinians were killed, some of whom were prisoners held by the Israelis. Later that day, a soldier by the name of Yerahmiel Kahanovich shot a missile into the Dahmash Mosque where over 100 Palestinians had taken refuge. One anti-tank Fiat missile killed an estimated 120 civilians who posed no danger to anyone.

The exact number of those killed is unknown. This is because the impact of the blast was so severe that no bodies were left intact. “The bodies were all over the walls and ceiling,” one Israeli soldier said. So the Mosque was kept shut for two weeks. After two weeks, Palestinian prisoners were sent to clean up the mosque and bury the remains of those inside. Then, according to the testimony of Israelis themselves, many of those who carried out the burial were shot, killed and then buried as well.

Not only was no one ever prosecuted, not only did Moshe Dayan go on to command the Israeli army and then become minister of defense and of foreign affairs, but, in a move that is perhaps more cynical than any, the plaza outside the mosque was named “Palmach Plaza,” Palmach being the brigade that had committed the massacre in the city and particularly at the mosque.

Once the city was occupied, soldiers sent the Palestinian residents on their way to march eastward toward the newly established Kingdom of Jordan in the heat of summer without food or water. “Yalla to Abdullah,” the Israeli soldiers shouted as men, women, children and the elderly were forced into a death march that would result in the demise of countless Palestinians.

WHAT CONSTITUTES COURAGEOUS LEADERSHIP?

In a piece in the Israeli army publication Maarachot, Moshe Dayan’s command of the battalion that took El-Lyd is described as “courageous,” and possessing “an ability to withstand the pressures of battle.” Dayan is described as endowed with a “determination to complete the mission,” “professionalism,” and “leadership.”

In this piece, the massacre of El-Lyd is described as “a difficult battle,” in which the leadership skills of the battalion commander, Dayan saved the day and led to victory. The article was written by Brigadier General Shay Kelper while he was still a Lt. Colonel and a battalion commander himself. His article received an award from the IDF Chief of Staff.

The fight to end the apartheid regime in Palestine takes place in every arena, in every field and on every continent. Israel and its allies are determined to hold their ground because they know that for them this is a fight for their lives. People who care for justice and for the lives of Palestinians need to remember that every day that goes by while Israel is permitted to continue its crimes against humanity is another day of death to Palestinians.

Feature photo | The minaret of the Al-Omari mosque and St. George Greek Orthodox church are reflected in the broken windshield of a vehicle in Lyd.

WHAT CONSTITUTES COURAGEOUS LEADERSHIP?

In a piece in the Israeli army publication Maarachot, Moshe Dayan’s command of the battalion that took El-Lyd is described as “courageous,” and possessing “an ability to withstand the pressures of battle.” Dayan is described as endowed with a “determination to complete the mission,” “professionalism,” and “leadership.”

In this piece, the massacre of El-Lyd is described as “a difficult battle,” in which the leadership skills of the battalion commander, Dayan saved the day and led to victory. The article was written by Brigadier General Shay Kelper while he was still a Lt. Colonel and a battalion commander himself. His article received an award from the IDF Chief of Staff.

The fight to end the apartheid regime in Palestine takes place in every arena, in every field and on every continent. Israel and its allies are determined to hold their ground because they know that for them this is a fight for their lives. People who care for justice and for the lives of Palestinians need to remember that every day that goes by while Israel is permitted to continue its crimes against humanity is another day of death to Palestinians.

Let’s Not Obsess Over Julian Assange’s Job Title, but Consider What Is the Real Story About His Extradition

June 23, 2022

By Martin Jay

Source

Assange will battle on now with an appeal against the UK decision to extradite him to the U.S. It’s time now for his own team to play the same dirty game which they have fallen victim to and forget about the foibles of journalists and the media

Is Julian Assange a journalist or a publisher? It’s a divisive question which usually draws the wrath of an entire legion of on-line haters, mainly in Australia, who assume the author is attacking the founder of Wikileaks and so rationale is lost to nationalistic vitriol and score settling. The so-called supporters usually fail to see how if that energy was put into campaigning rather than just letting off steam on Twitter against total strangers, then Assange might have a chance of attaining something akin to justice.

A gripping interview recently between George Galloway and the former UK ambassador Craig Murray, who I seem to recall on Twitter once used to call himself a journalist based simply on writing blog posts, is worth a watch. Murray points out like an erudite hack he yearns to be, a number of pertinent issues which might have escaped the attention of media who are apparently incapable in the UK of reporting on the Assange affair diligently – namely that the U.S. spied on Assange while he was in the Ecuadorian embassy and then, amazingly, stole all of his evidence which he was keeping with him, the moment the UK police went in and arrested him. This alone he argues, would be enough for any court in the free world to throw the case out. He also argues that in the past decade or so the relationship between the British press and the establishment – read intelligence community – has never been so partisan which is another reason why Assange’s case is not being treated correctly. Yet Murray refers to Assange as a “publisher and a journalist” which is interesting as the case against Assange, if he is to be deemed a journalist, will have wide ranging implications to regular journalists if won by the U.S. – i. e that the Americans win their legal battle in the UK to extradite him on what they believe are essentially spying charges. If Assange is to be called a journalist by his supporters, then does it follow that the legal basis against him will be one of a journalist who has brought the profession into disrepute? Shouldn’t the journalists on the Guardian who published the polemic material that Assange and Wikileaks gave them, also be facing U.S. extradition for being partisan to publishing material, which in a third world country, would no doubt be deemed “likely to threaten the stability of the state”.

But the U.S., although a young country, is not a poor one and we are led to believe a great democracy. The case against Assange, no matter how vile it is, we should not forget is about his role in obtaining and disseminating state secrets. Journalists will no doubt follow the case with eagerness as many will wonder if they will face the same treatment if they handle a document which is protected by the UK’s official secrets act, which is why so many are part of the hue and cry about it being a dark day for journalism. They will reflect on how they will be arrested and extradited if they handle such ‘documents’ even if they are British subjects living in the UK.

Yet the case against Assange is surely about more than merely publishing the incendiary cables which exposed America’s dirty wars but in the role that he played in assisting Chelsea Manning in obtaining them. It is also about point scoring with Russia as the U.S. believes that Assange also leaked the Clinton emails, which played a decisive role in Trump winning the U.S. presidential race in 2016 against the odious former First Lady and Secretary of State.

The problem that Assange – or his supporters have – with the ‘journalist’ argument which points out the harm the case will do towards the fourth estate is flawed twofold. Firstly, the fear has already been installed by the UK and U.S. governments towards journalists who handle contentious documents which reveal state secrets about conflict, for example. And secondly, the respect and reverence that people placed on the profession of journalism is so little that it is hardly surprising the shameful role that the UK press has played recently in failing to rally behind Assange.

Assange’s people almost put the final boot in, when it comes to destroying the credibility of the press by calling him a journalist (out of respect) when even his own wife calls him a publisher. The distinct ubiquitous lack of respect towards bona fide journalists and their work, which is more often than not tedious, repetitive and pretty mundane, perhaps is linked to a more modern idea that anyone with a laptop who writes a blog can call themselves a journalist – and underlines the lack of credibility that media has in general, which we can see when its workers come under fire.

Of course the arrest of Assange in the first place is wrong on so many levels. As one of his many journalism awards he won by media institutions points out though he is not a journalist but more an enfant terrible of the media bubble who delivers the explosive brown envelope with the grainy photographed photocopies of documents which can easily bring down a government or even the neo-liberal new world order. It is more about the thief who breaks into the house and cracks the safe, rather than the actual items he has taken, in the U.S. mindset.

Institutions which dish out press awards often give them to non-journalists. It’s the fashion. But when you glance at the awards themselves, it’s not hard to see the political ardour behind them. Many of his awards are for “contribution towards journalism”, “activism”, “human rights” or even “defenders of the right to information” etc and only confirm his important role is supplying journalists with the material that they couldn’t lay their hands on themselves. Perhaps this makes him a subject of jealously and vitriol, which might explain how the Guardian stabbed him in the back when he wanted to share his work with the New York Times or when their editors clashed with him when he (Assange) wanted to scan documents to blank out names to protect those whose lives could be threatened once going to press, if we are to believe Murray’s claims (there are equally a great many who claim that Wikileaks compromised lives by not protecting identities with the rush to publish).

We should never forget though that the U.S. and UK government both have an impressive loathing of journalists and so if this narrative of being one and exercising free speech etc is sustained, many will argue that it is a dead end and will only end badly – perhaps this is why his wife referred to him in a BBC interview as a “publisher”. Assange may well be a genius, but he never sat down and wrote a regular article for publication with his own explosive material in front of him. Perhaps he never had the patience for journalism or the time. We should follow his wife Stella Moris’ lead and call him a “publisher” and leave the whole journalism and free speech debate alone as, in reality, hardly anybody these days gives a shit about such notions – except politicians who harp on about them but then turn their back on such lofty ideas the moment a journalist digs up some shit on them. One tends to think of labour leaders like Neil Kinnock in the past. These days however few politicians even jump on this bandwagon as they know that hardly anybody really cares about this subject, although it is interesting that the current Labour leader Keir Starmer has an odd obsession with Assange whose revelations tarnish Tony Blair and his labour party’s time in power.

Perhaps Assange’s team and his supporters should spend more time absorbing themselves with the notion of the politics of his case as surely therein lies the heart of his extradition being annulled. Every time I see an article in the UK press about the implications of the Assange against journalists, I want to cry as this is the conscious reckoning which journalists and politicians effect to kid themselves that they have done something to help Assange, when in reality they are merely helping the Americans with their dirty game to get Assange to a jail in the U.S. where almost certainly he will be assassinated just as Epstein was in his cell. The only way Assange can hope to get a really fair trial with his appeal is if politicians like Boris Johnson and others feel that they will lose their support and the history books will be unkind to them. Politics is a dirty game and no one knows that more than Assange. Such a shame that there aren’t enough supporters who are prepared to play the same dirty game. Or not even one journalist in Fleet Street who is prepared to lose his job and be singled out for putting his weight behind an online campaign from the media itself which would spook the political establishment.

COGNITIVE WARFARE: ISRAEL TARGETS JOURNALISTS WHO THREATEN ITS REALITY-CREATION TACTICS

JUNE 23RD, 2022

Source

TODD PIERCE

They were shooting directly at the journalists: New evidence suggests Shireen Abu Akleh was killed in targeted attack by Israeli forces”. Thus read a CNN headline on May 26, 2022, for an article describing what may have been a “targeted killing,” – that is, assassination – of Al Jazeera journalist Shirleen Abu Akleh, a 51-year-old highly esteemed Palestinian-American journalist who had covered Israeli repression of the Palestinian population for about 25 years before she was killed.

With this killing and its aftermath, one knows that it is all hands on deck for an Israeli government cognitive campaign in the perpetual cognitive war Israel wages against the world, as will be explained below.

According to the CNN article, Abu Akleh was killed by a bullet to the head at around 6:30 a.m. on May 11, while standing with a group of journalists near the entrance of Jenin refugee camp as they covered an Israeli raid. “We stood in front of the Israeli military vehicles for about five to ten minutes before we made moves to ensure they saw us. And this is a habit of ours as journalists; we move as a group and we stand in front of them so they know we are journalists, and then we start moving,” a Palestinian reporter, Shatha Hanaysha, told CNN, describing their cautious approach toward the Israeli army convoy before the gunfire began.

Video recordings of the surrounding area showed the killing shots could have come only from the Israeli soldiers in specially designed “sniper” vehicles that were in direct line-of-fire positions to Abu Akleh that morning. Eyewitnesses told CNN that they “believed Israeli forces on the same street fired deliberately on the reporters in a targeted attack. All of the journalists were wearing protective blue vests that identified them as members of the news media.”

“LAWFUL TARGETS” IN A “COGNITIVE WAR”

The “blue vests” might have been what ensured the journalists would be targeted by Israeli forces, if Israeli forces see journalists as “lawful targets” in the war they continue to wage against the Palestinians, in what is in fact a continuation of the 1967 War. That is, an unrelenting military occupation in violation of international law, which constitutes a continuation of the “war.” And the evidence shows Israeli military/intel forces do see journalists as “lawful targets,” as part of the “Cognitive War” they wage against the Palestinians, but more particularly against the global population in an attempt to legitimize their military oppression of the Palestinians in their ongoing effort of “population expulsion” of the Palestinians from Palestinian territory. As Benjamin Netanyahu’s father, Benzion, proclaimed shortly before he died, this is the objective of Israel Zionists like him.

In fact, while Abu Akleh was the only journalist killed that day by Israeli forces, she wasn’t the only Palestinian journalist shot. A group of four Palestinian reporters was fired upon as well, with one also injured in the gunfire. That was not because Israeli forces had an obstructed view; footage showed a direct line of sight between the reporters and the Israeli convoy. That only one of the four was hit, besides Abu Akleh, is probably taken by military superiors as a sign that their marksmanship must be improved.

A firearms expert told CNN: “The relatively tight grouping of the rounds indicate Shireen was intentionally targeted with aimed shots and not the victim of random or stray fire.”

But an indication of how the Israeli military sees journalists, other than “reliable” Israeli press, was revealed on the day of the shooting by an Israeli military spokesperson, Ran Kochav. Kochav told Army Radio that Abu Akleh had been “filming and working for a media outlet amidst armed Palestinians. They’re armed with cameras, if you’ll permit me to say so.” And if they are “armed,” they are “lawful targets” in “war.”

In fact, the killing of journalists has been openly called for in the “flagship publication” of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, The Journal of International Security Affairs, by retired U.S. Army Officer Ralph Peters. The odious 2009 article – potentially a war crime in itself – stated: “Although it seems unthinkable now, future wars may require censorship, news blackouts, and, ultimately, military attacks on the partisan media.”

THE POWER OF “COGNITIVE WARFARE”

The Israeli military said it was conducting an investigation into the killing of Abu Akleh, and added, “assertions regarding the source of the fire that killed Ms. Abu Akleh must be carefully made and backed by hard evidence. This is what the IDF is striving to achieve.” In fact, obfuscating that is what the IDF and its Cognitive Warfare component must be seen as “striving to achieve” – at least if Israeli Cognitive War theorists, one of whom is quoted at length below, are to be believed.

Leaving it to those few journalists who report honestly to provide more facts on this assassination – as Abu Akleh would have, giving motive to Israeli forces to particularly target her with lethal fire – “Cognitive Warfare” should be explained further.

The best source for understanding the concept is Israel’s own doctrinal statements about the “cognitive domain” of warfare. A clue to that was presented when an Israeli lawyer filed a lawsuit alleging that “Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs [is] carrying out a global propaganda campaign on behalf of the Israeli government that violates human rights and is acting without authority to do so… Attorney Schachar Ben Meir’s petition demands that the High Court of Justice order a halt to the activities carried out by the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, headed by Gilad Erdan.”

The substance of the claim was that the Israeli government had approved the payment of NIS 128 million ($38 million) to a private organization called Kela-Shlomo to carry out “mass consciousness activities” within the framework of what the Ministry of Strategic Affairs calls “extra-governmental discourse.” That is, publication of government propaganda on social networks and newspapers often carried out through private businesses and non-profit organizations operating in Israel and abroad.

But to determine the correct “messages” to promote or counter requires “surveilling citizens and conducting illegal operations intended to influence and manipulate public opinion.” That is what constitutes “mass consciousness activities” – a fascist type of governmental activity if there ever was one, but “updated” to utilize “private contractors” to conduct operations, in addition to governmental military/intel assets. This explains the proliferation of “private Israeli intelligence/influence” firms.

THE MUSINGS OF A COGNITIVE WARFARE THEORIST

The current Minister of Diaspora Affairs, Nachman Shai, who in the past was a spokesperson for the Israeli military, explained and promoted the higher level to which cognitive warfare has been taken from its origins as mere “propaganda” or “hasbara,” in his book “Hearts and Minds: Israel and the Battle for Public Opinion.”

He explained that, in the expected 21st-century wars of Israel and the United States, the “principal effort will be the battle for consciousness.” He explained further:

[There] are various terms to describe the battle for consciousness. In Britain, it is called the fight for hearts and minds. The U.S. military uses the expressions psychological warfare, perception management, influence management, and information operation. The idea speaks about consciousness: the strategy of limited conflict is to win a decision of consciousness in the society with the help of military means. The battle is for the society’s consciousness and for national resilience.”

Furthermore, according to Shai: “Consciousness is not a natural and inherent concept but rather a structured process, continually shaped by interested parties and by those who wield wealth and power.” How this is done in its current terminology is described in a publication of the Israeli “Institute for National Security Studies” entitled: “The Cognitive Campaign: Strategic and Intelligence Perspectives.” Its Preface states:

It is important to distinguish between cognition and the cognitive campaign. Cognition is the set of insights that an individual or individuals have regarding the surrounding reality and the way they want to shape it, derived from the set of the values and beliefs through which they examine and interpret their environment and work to confront its inherent challenges, and even to change it. In contrast, the cognitive campaign involves the actions and tools that entities that are part of a certain campaign framework use to influence the cognition of target audiences or to prevent influence on them. The purpose of  the cognitive campaign is to cause target audiences to adopt the perception of reality held by the side wielding the effort, so that it can more easily advance the strategic and/or operational objectives that it sees as critical. The cognitive campaign can be negative, that is, prevent the development of undesirable cognitive states, or positive, with an attempt to produce the desired cognition.

That the “cognitive campaign can be negative, that is, prevent the development of undesirable cognitive states,” is why Julian Assange has been imprisoned for years now, with no likelihood he will ever be freed by the U.S. government and why Edward Snowden was forced to take refuge in a foreign country to avoid the same fate. The U.S. must silence them and other dissidents, lest an “undesirable cognitive state” develops in the U.S. population – as one eventually developed over the Vietnam War, and eventually forced the U.S. out of Vietnam.

Thus it is reasonable to believe that is why Israel has targeted so many journalists over the last couple of decades – as has the U.S. It would be foolish and/or naïve not to believe that when retired military officers openly call for “targeted killings” of journalists, that they aren’t already being targeted!

MAKING OUR OWN REALITY

When Karl Rove was alleged to have said how the United States is now “an empire, we make our own reality,” he was not just making a hubristic statement. Rather, it can be seen as an indication that he was aware of how powerful a “cognitive campaign” is. In fact, such campaigns were always how the CIA conducted post-World War II coups, and it can be speculated that “cognitive campaigns” were introduced into U.S. political campaigns by Arthur Finkelstein and his “Six-Party Theory” in the 1972 Nixon campaign, down to the 2016 Trump campaign, based upon cognitive warfare principles drawn from CIA coups and the Israeli military occupation.

The authors of “The Cognitive Campaign: Strategic and Intelligence Perspectives” wrote:

The cognitive campaign is not new, and it is an inseparable aspect of every strategic and military conflict. In recent years, this struggle has played a much more important role than in past conflicts; at times it takes place without a direct military context and is not even led by military bodies. The cognitive campaign is a continuous campaign; thus, its prominence is greater in the period between wars (as a part of the “campaign between wars).”

In fact, as these authors know, there is no such thing as “between wars” in Israel or the United States, with both countries in “Perpetual War” regardless of the level of aggressive kinetic war they are waging at any given moment.

Carl von Clausewitz wrote in “On War” that two different motives make men fight one another: hostile feelings and hostile intentions. Inciting those “feelings” is done by both Israel and the U.S. continuously, by multifarious networks to “condition” their populations with “hostile feelings and hostile intentions.” As has been done in the U.S. to incite hatred of Russia, China, Iran, et al., so that a war with either one, or all, can explode at any moment. Israel does the same against Iran and the Palestinians. Mission Accomplished!

The High Cost of American Friendship

June 19, 2022

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By Eamon Mckinney

Democracy is easily defined by most, but to America it means any country that subverts its own national interests to those of the U.S.

Henry Kissinger once famously said, “To be an enemy to America can be dangerous, but to be a friend can be lethal.” The aged but far from venerable Kissinger’s words have never been truer than they are today. America has a habit of redefining words to suit its own purposes. What the word “friend” means to America is interpreted differently by other nations. Of course friend is not the only word that means something different to America than it does to everyone else. Democracy is easily defined by most, but to America it means any country that subverts its own national interests to those of the U.S. The recent Summit of the Americas held in Los Angeles hosted a number of notable Latin America statesmen. There were however many notable absentees, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, the latter two are undeniably democracies but by virtue of their independent government policies they were not welcome at the American-hosted summit. According to America’s twisted version of democracy, only right-wing, neo-liberal, America-friendly countries can qualify as legitimate democratic governments, and by extension “friends.”

The days when America can dictate and bully Latin American nations are over. Though not as intended by the hosts, there was much unity and friendship in evidence at the Summit. The head of Mexico’s socialist Government Manuel Lopez Obrador refused to attend in protest at the exclusion of the three absent nations, a lower-level official was sent in his stead. The heads of state of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador also declined the invitation citing the same reason. This principled and courageous stance came with the understanding that they would be positioning themselves as American enemies, but they did it anyway. After two hundred years under the imperialist Monroe doctrine they will no longer tolerate being considered America’s backyard. The message from Latin America was clear, “we don’t need your version of friendship, and we will take our chances as your enemy.”

Although unstated, one of the main U.S. objectives at the Summit was to dissuade further Latin American engagement with China. The problem for America is that “south of the border” they prefer the Chinese version of friendship. That entails actually listening to the needs of their “friends”, something America is lamentably bad at. All the Latin countries are struggling with burdensome IMF debt and many are seriously close to default. They need investment in their economies and their infrastructure. China offers both without the internal interference in the nations’ domestic affairs. Respect for sovereignty and self-determination is what Latin Americans having been fighting for since the Spanish conquest more than 400 years ago. For the first time in centuries countries can see how that can now be achieved, and China is a big part of that scenario. America only offers co-operation on security, Latin America has security concerns but most of that concern is directed at America. The tone deaf empire needs to understand that Latin America has a new, much better friend.

The message the U.S. got from the Summit was a clear continent-wide rejection of American policies and its attempts to create an anti-China block. We can assume that American officials are getting used to such rejection by now. Attempts to create an anti-China alliance in Asia have also failed miserably, for many of the same reasons. No Asian country sees China as a threat, they see it as a regional leader whose economic miracle has concurrently raised the economies of its neighbours. The U.S. attempts to create security concerns where they don’t exist has gained zero traction among Southeast Asian nations. With the exception of the occupied nations of South Korea and Japan, China’s relationships with its Asian neighbours are excellent. “Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Jaakob said that “When Americans come to Asia they only want to talk about security, we have no pressing security concerns, when Asian nations get together we talk about trade, any problems can be resolved through negotiation and diplomacy”. The main security concern among Asian nations is the talk of the need for an Asian NATO. The recent U.S. attempts to place missiles aimed at China in six Asian countries unsurprisingly found no takers. If America was listening (doubtful), they would have heard that it is neither needed nor wanted in a region that just wants to do business. American friendship in Asia means making any enemy of China, and none consider that worth the price.

Another of America’s enemies, Russia has defied all attempts to destroy its economy and has rebounded to have the world’s strongest currency. The transparent motivations behind the Ukraine conflict have many nations quietly cheering Russia on in their fight against the common enemy, the Empire. The sanctions designed to destroy Russia found little support outside the usual suspects in the NATO clique. With the world facing catastrophic shortages of food, energy and capital it is increasingly Russia and China that countries are turning to for help.

While America’s enemies continue to enjoy much goodwill, how are America’s friends doing? Not so good. By joining in the absurd Anti-China Covid rhetoric spurred by Trump, Australia, Canada and Britain have committed economic suicide by alienating a valuable trade partner, just to please America. American friends in Europe will suffer through horrific food and energy shortages together with rapidly increasing inflation, all largely a result of the Ukraine provocation. Not forgetting the instigation of an unnecessary and dangerous war in their neighbourhood, a war that no one but America (NATO) wanted. And of course the Ukraine itself, goaded into a disastrous war against a much stronger foe, now finds itself facing defeat and destruction. All attempts by the hapless Zelensky at a negotiated peace are blocked by the West. Not while there are some Ukrainians still alive apparently. Despite the encouraging words of his American masters, the disposable Zelensky finds himself very much alone. The once prosperous post-Soviet Ukraine has turned into a bankrupt, burned-out shell of its former self. Zelensky may well retreat to his $45mil in Miami when it is all over, but the unfortunate Ukrainian people will suffer the consequences of American friendship for generations to come.

If America has its way, its “friends” in Taiwan will soon suffer the same fate as the Ukraine. Despite all attempts to provoke China into an action that would draw International outrage, and presumably sanctions, China has demonstrated considerable restraint. It understands the game being played and absent a foolish Declaration of Independence from Taiwan, it is unlikely to be drawn in. South Korea and Japan have been occupied nations since 1944. The American presence is overwhelmingly objected to by the citizens, yet they owe fealty to America. In the event of a China conflict, their U.S. bases would likely be the first targets in any China response. Yet both nations declined American requests to host China facing missiles in their countries.

The loss of American influence has accelerated tremendously in recent months, and it came at a bad time. America needs friends more than ever now and it is finding them increasingly hard to come by. Even long time “friends” and supplicants like Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states are shunning America’s call to produce more oil. Biden couldn’t even get MBS to take his phone call. Shamelessly they also turned to Venezuela to ask for oil, unsurprisingly they found no friends or solutions there either.

Returning to Henry Kissinger, by his definition, being a friend or enemy of America can be equally dangerous. “America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests”

Those that consider themselves American “friends” should heed his words.

But credit where it is due, the U.S. is indeed inspiring a new spirit of friendship and co-operation among the nations of the world. Economic and security blocs of like-minded countries are expanding in Central Asia, Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America. All of these blocs are anti-imperialist in nature, and by definition anti-American. More than a century of American imperialism is coming to a rapid end.

Ukraine’s Dark Web Arms Arsenal

June 18, 2022

Source

Declan Hayes

Ukraine has been flooded with tens of billions of dollars of NATO weaponry, much of which is now for sale on the dark web and elsewhere.

Although NATO has already supplied Clown Prince Zelensky’s rogue regime with enough materiel, some $50 bn worth (not that anyone is counting), to arm a medium sized nation, there is overwhelming evidence that much of those weapons have found their way onto the dark web for terrorists and sundry other trouble makers to buy and use as they see fit. Although NATO are right to express alarm at this latest development, they should look at themselves in the mirror to see who is responsible for this latest threat.

Rand to the Rescue

Although The UN, the World Economic Forum, the Australian National University and the Cambridge Independent have all opined on how to source weapons on the dark web, their work revolve around this Rand Corp study to which we now also revert. This Rand report tells us that, though the U.S. accounts for almost 60 per cent of the firearms listings, Europe represents the largest market for arms trade on the dark web, generating revenues that are around five times higher than the U.S.

As the report tells us that pistols accounted for 84 per cent of all listed firearms, followed by rifles (10 per cent) and sub-machine guns (6 per cent), Interpol’s warning of sales of Javelin missiles on the dark web, which the CIA now predictably but alarmingly say is Russian disinformation, would be a major step up in such sales, something like children going from a lemonade stand to taking on Coca Cola for market share.

As the Rand report reckons the dark web’s overall monthly value in arms’ trading is only about $80,000, they correctly conclude that “the dark web is unlikely to be the method of choice to fuel conflicts because arms are not traded at a large enough scale and due to the potential limitations on infrastructure and services in a conflict zone”. Though its further conclusion that “the dark web has the potential to become the platform of choice for individuals (e.g. lone-wolves terrorists) or small groups (e.g. gangs)” as well as for sundry other crackpots to obtain weapons and ammunition is worth keeping in mind, such attacks are as nothing compared to a series of NATO inspired missile strikes on Serbian, Hungarian, Chinese or other passenger planes. The British and Americans both have form in that regard.

DW Shift, German Intelligence’s contribution to NATO’s disinformation wars, talks us through the 101 of buying a weapon on the Dark Web; this is of concern to Germans because one of their 2016 mass shooters sourced his weapon on the dark web. DW’s pretty reporter talks to an equally pretty young researcher who is au fait with such dark arts which seem, by the report, simple enough. One shops on the dark web, as one might shop on Amazon or ebay, clicks on one’s orders and checks out. GlockColtSig SauerBerettaEkol-VoltranRuger and Smith & Wesson are, in that order, the most popular purchases. DW Shift’s pretty fräuleins inform us that because the sellers of these items are rated, just as are their Amazon and ebay equivalents, we can shop in safety and have DHL deliver our purchase to a safe location of our choice.

Enter the IRA

Anybody who believes that NATO mis information deserves every minute of the jail sentence they get. The Irish Republican Army and its offshoots are proof that such purchases are not for DW Shift’s casual browser. If the IRA found sourcing medium grade weapons difficult, then you should perhaps think twice about shopping on these dark sites.

This New York Times article shows how the CIA were supplying the IRA with weapons to stop the IRA shopping elsewhere; that the CIA now control the mainstream IRA through their 1998 Good Friday Agreement shows how successful that strategy has been.

The CIA were not, of course, the IRA’s only American supplier. CIA agent and Boston Mafia boss, Whitey Bulger, also sent them boat loads of weapons, which were duly interdicted. Although Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi became a much more important source, the point is that acquiring weapons is not easily done as there are countless, well resourced parties determined to stop you.

This can be seen in the case of Liam Campbell, who was recently extradited from Ireland to Lithuania on charges of trying to acquire weapons for his rump IRA faction. As a cast of Irish MI5 agents, led by Dennis McFadden, walked Palestinian doctor Issam Bassalat and other gullible marks into an arms-related trap, and as CIA operative David Rupert previously got the rump IRA’a leader jailed for 20 years, caveat emptor, buyer beware applies on the dark web even more so than it does on amazon or ebay. Unless, that is, one is a member of an MI5 controlled death squad charged with killing Catholics, then one can import weapons from South Africa or Australia to do what MI5 has decided must be done.

The Irish lesson then is that, if one wishes to procure arms for a sectarian or other campaign, one needs to work with either governments or gangsters or both to secure the necessary weaponry, which are not cheap. Recent gangland murders and related trials in Dublin as well as the IRA and its rump offshoots confirm that trajectory.

Enter the Kiddy Fiddlers

The experiences of the international pedophile network show the risks that even those criminals most proficient in the dark web’s darkest corners run when these predators become the prey. Australia’s Task Force Argos has brought down many of these kiddy fiddling networks, not the least of which was the very sophisticated operation run by Shannon Grant McCoole, who ran one of the pedophiles’ most depraved websites from his South Australian base. But not, as the case of Peter Scully and Matthew Graham show, the most depraved site. Although Graham, his tech savvy buddies and their tens of thousands of customers are an unspeakable threat to all the world’s vulnerable children, Task Force Argos and their global partners are, thankfully, a threat to them and, by extension any group who wish to line the pockets of Ukraine’s purveyors of death through the dark web.

EncroChat

EncroChat was a sting operation Australia’s Task Force Argos would have been proud of. EncroChat allowed organized crime members to plan criminal activities through encrypted messages that Europe’s various police forces listened into. Over 1,000 arrests were made across Europe as a result of that sting. As the Australian and American police forces conducted similar stings, conducting these transactions are fraught with more risks than rewards for those unskilled in the dark arts.

Given the Encrochat experience, one should note that Twitter and the CIA both have sizable dark net presences. If you want to be enmeshed in their dark web, enjoy your jail time.

Dark Markets

Interpol has also highlighted the trade in illegal organ harvesting, which has previously crossed my desk as a result of the Muslim Brotherhood’s criminal activities in terrorist controlled Syria which works, like most other markets do, by a system of levers. There is a demand in countries like Israel and Switzerland where donors are in short supply and there is an obvious supply where poverty is king or, as in the case of rebel held Syria, where there is an over supply of captives. Rebel sanctioned brokers will, per Interpol’s report, ensure the markets work at a certain level of efficiency, at least until money changes hands. Because these gangsters are totally unscrupulous, medical complications, which will have to be fixed by Israeli, Swiss or other doctors, will most likely quickly follow from these cut price operations.

More for our purposes is that rebel held Syria provides a safe haven for such criminality.

The CIA: Market Maker

The only groups who can make the dark web in NATO supplied Ukrainian weaponry viable are the Western intelligence agencies and their proxies, who are not honest brokers in this or in anything else. One need only look at the Iran Contra Affair where the Reagan regime supplied Islamic Iran with weaponry to fund the Nicaraguan Contras. Allied to that is the Gary Webb affair, where the CIA flooded America’s ghettos with crack cocaine to fund the Contras’ fight for American sanctioned democracy.

The Ukrainian Bazaar

Ukraine, Europe’s most corrupt country, has been flooded with tens of billions of dollars of NATO weaponry, much of which is now for sale on the dark web and elsewhere. The only possible “hostile” markets for such materiel are criminals and terrorists; nations opposed to NATO can be ruled out because of the reputational damage such shenanigans would cause them. Although the Kinahan Organized Crime Group and their Latin American partners have formidable arsenals, FBI retaliation against them would be sure and swift if they started to use NATO weaponry to shoot down NATO friendly planes.

That just leaves terrorists or, to be more precise, NATO friendly terrorists, like those NATO has nurtured in the Fertile Crescent, the Southern Caucasus, the Indian-Pakistani-Afghan triangle and throughout Africa. As the experiences of the IRA and its various offshoots show that the expertise to obtain and deploy such weaponry has always been far beyond their capabilities, one can only conclude that a major government sponsor is needed to successfully obtain and deploy such firepower.

The experiences of ISIS, which was able to obtain fleets of brand new Toyota trucks, suggest that it is only NATO and its affiliates that can supply the necessary logistics to put such weaponry in the field, not only throughout the Arab and Asian worlds but in Western Europe as well.

This report that these advanced Ukrainian missiles are surfacing in NATO controlled Syria would confirm that hypothesis that NATO are using their Ukrainian involvement to funnel yet more advanced weaponry to their favored zealots elsewhere. NATO’s Ukrainian defeat makes Syrian military and civilian targets the obvious theater for payback, complete with NATO’s usual implausible denials of course.

Globalization

NATO’s dirty war in Ukraine is but one of the many hot wars it is currently engaged in in countries as diverse as Afghanistan, Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Colombia, DR Congo, Ethiopia , Iraq, Libya, Mali, Mexico, Mozambique , Myanmar, Niger, Nigeria, South Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Tunisia and Yemen. NATO’s generals move men and materiel around from one theater to another as the need arises.

The war in Ukraine was never about democracy or keeping the idiot Zelensky in power. It was about bleeding Russia, Iran, Venezuela and China dry and, though it seems Russia is not for turning in Ukraine, our earlier precedents show that does not mean NATO will cease and desist from its criminal ways.

Although the corrupt Zelensky junta is awash with advanced NATO weapon that is surplus to their requirements, they are not surplus to NATO’s requirements elsewhere. Therefore, depending on NATO’s needs where you live and according to this NATO report by 26 ethically challenged Ukrainian NGOs, expect Javelin and NLAW anti-tank systems, Stinger and Starstreak portable air defence systems, Switchblade loitering munitions. Harpoon missiles, MQ-9 Reaper and MQ-1 Predator UAVs to show up in a NATO sponsored war near you. And, though NATO’s media will act all surprised as to how that might have happened, remember that you read it here first.

Kiev’s Military Officials Shared Some Intriguing Details About NATO’s Proxy War On Russia

18 JUNE 2022

Source

By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

Kiev’s Military Officials Shared Some Intriguing Details About NATO’s Proxy War On Russia
Kiev finally acknowledged that it can’t sustain its staggeringly high attrition rate in the face of Russia’s ongoing special military operation. It’s also becoming concerned that it can no longer rely on its Western partners like before, some of which are losing interest in supplying it in light of recent on-the-ground developments in the Battle for Donbass.

Denys Sharapov and Volodymyr Karpenko, Kiev’s Deputy Minister of Defense in charge of procurement and its land forces command logistics commander respectively, gave a detailed interview to the National Defense magazine on the sidelines of last week’s Eurosatory conference in Paris. That outlet reaches 1,800 corporate members of the US’ military-industrial complex (MIC) by its own admission, thus making it one of the most influential information sources in that line of work. Their interview with those two officials is worth reading because it contains a lot of facts about NATO’s proxy war on Russia through Ukraine and the role of the MIC within it, which the present piece will summarize.

Here’s the most important information from the interview:

* The Russian-Ukrainian Frontline Is Jaw-Droppingly Long:

– “You have to understand that the frontline is 2,500 kilometers long. The frontline where there is active combat in more than 1,000 kilometers long. That’s like from Kyiv to Berlin.”

* Only A Fraction Of Kiev’s Military Needs Are Currently Being Met By The West:

– “We have received a large number of weapon systems, but unfortunately with such a massively expendable resource, it only covers 10 to 15 percent of our needs.”

* Kiev Already Lost A Staggeringly High Ratio Of Its Total Military Equipment:

– “As of today, we have approximately 30 to 40, sometimes up to 50 percent of losses of equipment as a result of active combat. So, we have lost approximately 50 percent. … Approximately 1,300 infantry fighting vehicles have been lost, 400 tanks, 700 artillery systems.”

* Drones & Rocket Launchers Are Regarded As Game-Changers By Kievt:

– “If we can use long-range items like the drones — like the MLRS — that will allow us to extend the effective range up to 60 kilometers, that will give us the upper hand and that will give us significant success.”

* Arms Sales Are Inherently Political:

– “You should understand that any weapon transfer is always a political decision. And very often, it’s not up to the government of one country. There are different alliances.”

* Some Countries Are Losing Interest In Arming Kiev:

– “And the other component is that, unfortunately, not all politicians understand the gravity of what is going on in Ukraine. Some people believe that this is not their war. This war is so far away it doesn’t concern them.

* Kiev’s Arms Consumption Rate Is So High That Only Global MIC Coordination Can Satisfy It:

– “I’ll have you know that there is not a single manufacturer or supplier that is able to keep up — only all together [can they keep up]. It has to be a joint effort because there’s not a single supplier that is able to do that single handedly.”

* Ukraine Is Now The World’s Top Arms Market:

– “Over these last three days we’ve been asking everybody to join this effort together to come together because once again, quite unfortunately for us, we have become the biggest consumer of weapons and ammunition in the world.”

* Russian Artillery Is Successfully Taking Out Ukraine’s Western Artillery:

– “The M777 artillery systems are really prone to being damaged by enemy artillery. For every battery of M777, there are six pieces. After every artillery contact, we have to take two artillery pieces and take them back to the rear to maintain them because some of the subsystems are damaged by shrapnel. This happens every day.”

* Kiev’s Worried That Some Western Governments Won’t Greenlight Its Arms Requests:

– “We have a very difficult task at hand for us. For those companies, we ask them to arrange weapons supplies for us as quickly and as efficiently as possible. We really expect that the governments we’re cooperating with will fully support their weapons factories in support of Ukraine.”

A few words will now be said about the details that were just shared above.

Kiev finally acknowledged that it can’t sustain its staggeringly high attrition rate in the face of Russia’s ongoing special military operation. It’s also becoming concerned that it can no longer rely on its Western partners like before, some of which are losing interest in supplying it in light of recent on-the-ground developments in the Battle for Donbass. None of these observations are so-called “Russian propaganda” but are openly admitted by Kiev’s own military officials, which confirms that the “official narrative” towards the conflict has decisively shifted in recent weeks. Seeing as how the global MIC coordination that Kiev requires to win is impossible, it should therefore be taken for granted that its loss is inevitable.

PALESTINIANS “ARE BOUND TO WIN”: WHY ISRAELIS ARE PROPHESYING THE END OF THEIR STATE

JUNE 16TH, 2022

RAMZY BAROUD

While it is true that Zionism is a modern political ideology that has exploited religion to achieve specific colonial objectives in Palestine, prophecies continue to be a critical component of Israel’s perception of itself, and of the state’s relationship to other groups, especially Christian messianic groups in the United States and worldwide.

The subject of religious prophecies and their centrality to Israel’s political thought was once more highlighted following remarks by former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, in a recent interview with the Hebrew-language newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth. Barak, perceived to be a ‘progressive’ politician, who was once the leader of Israel’s Labor Party, expressed fears that Israel will “disintegrate” before the 80th anniversary of its 1948 establishment.

“Throughout the Jewish history, the Jews did not rule for more than eighty years, except in the two kingdoms of David and the Hasmonean dynasty and, in both periods, their disintegration began in the eighth decade,” Barak said.

Based on pseudo-historical analysis, Barak’s prophecy seemed to conflate historical facts with typical messianic Israeli thinking, reminiscent of statements made by Israel’s former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2017.

Like Barak, Netanyahu’s comments were expressed in the form of fear over the future of Israel, and the looming ‘existential threat’, the cornerstone of Israeli hasbara throughout the years. At a Bible study session in his house in Jerusalem, Netanyahu had then warned that the Hasmonean kingdom – also known as the Maccabees – had merely survived for 80 years before it was conquered by the Romans in 63 B.C.E.

The “Hasmonean state lasted only 80 years, and we needed to exceed this,” Netanyahu was quoted by one of the attendees as saying, the Israeli Haaretz newspaper reported.

But, even according to Netanyahu’s purported determination to exceed that number, he had reportedly vowed to ensure Israel will surpass the Maccabees’ 80 years, and survive for 100 years. That is merely 20 years more.

The difference between Barak and Netanyahu’s statements is quite negligible: the former’s views are supposedly ‘historical’ and the latter’s are biblical. Worth noting, however, is that both leaders, though they subscribe to two different political schools, have converged on similar meeting points: Israel’s survival is at stake; the existential threat is real and the end of Israel is only a matter of time.

But the pessimism in Israel is hardly confined to political leaders, who are known to exaggerate and manipulate facts to instill fear and to rile up their political camps, especially Israel’s powerful messianic constituencies. Although this is true, predictions regarding Israel’s grim future are not confined to the country’s political elites.

In an interview with Haaretz in 2019, one of Israel’s most respected mainstream historians, Benny Morris, had much to say about the future of his country. Unlike Barak and Netanyahu, Morris was not sending warning signals but stating what, to him, seemed an unavoidable outcome of the country’s political and demographic evolution.

“I don’t see how we get out of it,” Morris said, adding: “Already, today there are more Arabs than Jews between the (Mediterranean) Sea and the Jordan (River). The whole territory is unavoidably becoming one state with an Arab majority. Israel still calls itself a Jewish state, but a situation in which we rule an occupied people that has no rights cannot persist in the 21st century.”

Morris’ predictions, while remaining committed to the racial fantasy of a Jewish majority, were far more articulate and also realistic if compared to those of Barak, Netanyahu and others. The man who once regretted that Israel’s founder, David Ben Gurion, did not expel all of Palestine’s native population in 1947-48, spoke with resignation that, in a matter of a generation, Israel will cease to exist in its current form.

Particularly notable about his comments is the accurate perception that “the Palestinians look at everything from a broad, long-term perspective,” and that the Palestinians will continue to “demand the return of the refugees.” But who were the “Palestinians” Morris was referring to? Certainly not the Palestinian Authority, whose leaders have already marginalized the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees, and most certainly have no “broad, long-term perspective”. Morris’ ‘Palestinians’ are, of course, the Palestinian people themselves, generations of whom have served, and continue to serve, as the vanguards of Palestinian rights despite all of the setbacks, defeats and political ‘compromises’.

Actually, prophecies regarding Palestine and Israel are not a new phenomenon. Palestine was colonized by Zionists with the help of Britain, also based on biblical frames of reference. It was populated by Zionist settlers based on biblical references dedicated to the restoration of ancient kingdoms and the ‘return’ of ancient peoples to their supposedly rightful ‘promised land’. Though Israel took on many different meanings throughout the years – perceived to be a ‘socialist’ utopia at times, a liberal, democratic haven at others – it was always preoccupied with religious meanings, spiritual visions and inundated with prophecies. The most sinister expression of this truth is the fact that the current support of Israel by millions of Christian fundamentalists in the West is largely driven by messianic, end-of-the-world prophecies.

The latest predictions about Israel’s uncertain future are based on a different logic. Since Israel has always defined itself as a Jewish State, its future is mostly linked to its ability to maintain a Jewish majority in historic Palestine. By the admission of Morris and others, this pipedream is now crumbling as the ‘demographic war’ is clearly and quickly being lost.

Of course, co-existence in a single democratic state will always be a possibility. Alas, for Israel’s Zionist ideologues, such a state will hardly meet the minimum expectations of the country’s founders, since it would no longer exist in the form of a Jewish, Zionist state. For co-existence to take place, the Zionist ideology would have to be scrapped altogether.

Barak, Netanyahu and Morris are all right: Israel will not exist as a ‘Jewish state’ for much longer. Speaking strictly in terms of demographics, Israel is no longer a Jewish-majority state. History has taught us that Muslims, Christians and Jews can peacefully coexist and collectively thrive, as they have done throughout the Middle East and the Iberian Peninsula for millennia. Indeed, this is a prediction, even a prophecy, that is worth striving for.

Feature photo | A Palestinian boy faces an Israeli tank on the outskirts of Gaza City, Oct. 29, 2000. Laurent Rebours | AP

Dr. Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is “Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak out”. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect MintPress News editorial policy.

‘If We Don’t End the War, War will End Us’*

June 13, 2022

Alastair Crooke

Europe now is stuck ‘up to the gills’ with wide-ranging economic sanctions on Russia, and unable to confront the consequences.

Emmanuel Macron irritated many people (just as Kissinger did at the WEF), when he said, ‘we should not humiliate Vladimir Putin’, because there must be a negotiated settlement. This has been French policy from early in this saga. More importantly, it is the Franco-German policy, and therefore it may end as the EU’s policy as well.

The qualification ‘may’ is important – as on Ukraine policy, the EU is more rancorously divided than during the Iraq War. And in a system (the EU system) that structurally insists on consensus (however much it is a confected one), when the wounds go deep, the consequence is that one issue can gridlock the whole system (as occurred in the lead-up to the Iraq war). If anything, the fractures in Europe today are wider and more acrimonious (i.e. acerbated by Rule of Law enforcements).

Whilst the tag ‘realist’ has acquired (in present circumstances) the connotation of ‘appeasement’, what Macron simply is saying is that the West cannot, and will not, maintain its current level of support for Ukraine indefinitely. Politics is intruding in all European states. In Germany, in France and in Italy too, there is a body of opinion against continued engagement in the conflict. Simply, the coming economic train crash is becoming all too apparent and threatening.

Boris Johnson’s rough ride in the recent confidence vote in the 1922 Committee may not have been explicitly linked to Ukraine, but the underlying indictments of Johnson’s Net Zero policies (viewed by Conservative voters as stealth-socialism), immigration and rising living costs, nonetheless certainly were.

Of course, ‘one swallow does not make a summer’. But Johnson’s dramatic collapse in popular standing, resulting from his economic belligerence towards Russia, is sending the European leadership in to a spin. “We are seeing panic in Europe due to Ukraine”, President Erdogan remarked.

What is notable is that for all Macron’s embrace of ‘European strategic autonomy’ in calling for a deal, he may be closer to Washington than are the London hawks. Yes, at the outset, the word ‘deal’ was vaguely present in American discourse, but then there followed a long hiatus in which, for about two and a half months, the narrative became solely: the need to bloody Putin’s nose.

The U.S. mood – the narrative – is turning, seemingly reconciled to more bad military news emanating out of Ukraine (with even quasi-neo-con Edward Luttwak throwing-in the towel, saying Russia will win, and that Donbass should have a say in its own fate).

Just as Johnson’s embrace of Ukraine is viewed as a desperate bid to summon the legacy of Margaret Thatcher’s Falklands War (Thatcher faced rising inflation and mounting domestic anger at her agenda, yet the victorious conflict over Argentina in 1982 helped power her to re-election), “Talk of the Ukraine crisis providing a ‘Falklands moment’ for Johnson – however – is simply fool’s gold for desperate Conservatives”, wrote Steven Fielding, a professor of political history at the University of Nottingham. It may prove ‘fool’s gold’ for Brussels too.

If there is something to be said about Macron’s call for a deal, it is that even a limited ceasefire deal – which probably is what Macron has in mind – would not be feasible in this toxic, polarised western atmosphere. In short, Macron is ‘out over his skis’. Ducks (to mix metaphors) first need lining-up:

America would need to walk back its vicious ‘hate Putin’ meme. They would need to pivot messaging to a ‘spin’ about the ‘win’ that might be inherent to talking with Putin, otherwise the very act of talking with ‘evil Putin’ will backfire in a flood of public acrimony. Macron has just had a taste of this.

A certain reset has already begun (either by design or reader boredom). Ukraine news hardly rates ‘above the fold’ treatment in U.S. media today. Google ‘war’ searches and links have fallen off a cliff. In any event, the Democratic Party clearly needs to focus on the domestic issues, inflation, firearms and abortion – the issues that will dominate the midterms.

Here’s the thing. The EU clearly is fractured, but so are the American security élites. Perhaps a drawn-out stalemate, a war of attrition, keeping both Russia and western Europe engaged with each other is preferred (not least by an emotionally engaged Biden) to a ‘deal’, but long war may no longer be available (if, as Luttwak suggests, Russia soon will win).

And would Biden, were he to opt to try for a Ukraine ‘deal’, be able to sustain – politically – anything less than a deal spun as a clear U.S. ‘win’? Is that even an option now? Almost certainly not. Moscow is not in the mood.

Would an offer of talks from Biden contain even a kernel of value to consider from a Russian perspective? Almost certainly not. If not, what’s there then to talk about.

Moscow says it is open to talks with Kiev. The Kremlin however, is not looking for a ‘way out’ (public opinion is dead-set against it). Call it ‘talks, if you will, but a better translation might be that Moscow is ready to accept Zelensky’s ‘surrender document’ under the rubric of ‘talks’ – no easy ‘win’ there for a Team Biden to tout to a sceptical American electorate!

Thus, in one sense, this ‘long war of attrition’ formula has certain ‘failure’ baked-in to it – for it was not military attrition, but the financial war that was configured as the West’s ‘first strike’ capacity. The “rouble would become rubble” almost immediately, as full-spectrum economic war collapsed Russia structurally (pulling down its will to fight in Ukraine). The warning to China (and others such as India), was expected to be stark.

At least that was the pre-war plan. Military action was never intended to be the ‘heavy lift’ for crushing Russia, but rather to act as the amplifier of domestic discontent as Russia’s economy crumbled under unprecedented sanctions. A Donbas insurgency, planned and prepared over eight years, was never supposed to get a ‘starring role’, precisely because the U.S. always imagined it likely that Russian forces ultimately would prevail. Nonetheless it became ‘the only game in town’.

But the financial war, on which hopes for a quick Russian collapse were founded, has not only failed, but paradoxically has rebounded to wound Europe very, very badly. That, and collapsing Ukrainian esprit de corps, have become an albatross hanging from the neck of the EU. There’s no walking away from sanctions, nor from the imminence of Ukrainian military implosion, without Russia emerging the clear ‘winner’.

It is a debacle (however much the ‘spin artists’ twist and turn). Unsurprisingly then, European leaders are looking for an off-ramp from the noxious effects of policies which they – the EU – so breathlessly adopted, without even bothering to do ‘due diligence’.

But the point here is a much graver one: Even if there were to be wider talks (say) next week, can the West even theoretically agree on what it might say to Mr Putin? Has it, at least, done due diligence on how Russia, in its turn, would define its vision for the Eurasian future? And if so, would the European negotiators have the political mandate to respond, or would the talks collapse because Europe cannot answer to any negotiation mandate, beyond one strictly limited to issues of Ukraine’s future make-up?

Russia, in fact, has set forth clearly its strategic aims. In December 2021, Russia issued two draft treaties to the U.S. and NATO which included demands for a security architecture in Europe that would guarantee indivisible security for all, and a withdrawal by NATO to its former 1997 eastern limits. These documents underline that Ukraine is but one small part to Russia’s wider strategic aims. The two drafts were ignored in Washington.

The Ukraine war, in principle, could be ended through a negotiated settlement that addresses Russia’s wider security concerns across the European expanse, whilst still maintaining Ukraine’s independence – albeit with the Ukrainian north-east, east and south linked in some configuration to Russia, or absorbed into it.

But then, there is the reality that the EU has offshored its political mandate in respect to Ukraine to an overarching NATO. And the latter’s clear objective is to exclude Russia from the world political ‘chess board’ as a player, and to implode the Russian economy – to return Russia to the Yeltsin era, in other words.

As such, NATO objectives imply no room for dialogue. Moscow’s ‘long war’ too has to be correctly understood – it is not just about security threats emanating from Ukraine, but the security threat emanating from a culture, self-defined as an excusatory western ‘civilisation’:

Christopher Dawson in Religion and the Rise of Western Culture, written nearly a century ago, writes: “Why is it that Europe alone among the civilisations of the world has been continually shaken and transformed by an energy of spiritual unrest that refuses to be content with the unchanging law of social tradition which rules the oriental cultures? It is because the religious ideal has not been the worship of timeless and changeless perfection, but a spirit that strives to incorporate itself in humanity, and to change the world”?

Do those European leaders contemplating a ‘deal’ understand that, whether they agree or not, the latter sums up the popular Russian perception? And that winning in Ukraine is seen as the necessary Cathartic trigger to re-launch Russian and other non-western civilisations?

The question then becomes: Does the European Union have a hand to play in such a scenario, separate to Washington’s? Actually no; it has no locus.

The EU has no locus – for – as Wolfgang Streeck has noted in his essay on “The EU after Ukraine”, west European states, apparently as a matter of course (i.e. without deeper reflection), agreed “to leave it to Biden to decide on its behalf – Europe’s fate will depend on Biden’s fate: That is, on the decisions, or non-decisions, of the U.S. government”. The EU thus effectively situates itself as an outlier province, within American domestic politics.

Some EU élites were triumphant: Ukraine had fixed the EU unambiguously as ‘North Atlanticist’, period. But why the glee?

It is true that the Ukraine war may (temporarily) have neutralized the various fault lines where the EU was crumbling. For some time, efforts have been made by the EU Commission to address the democracy void arising from the de factocentralization and depoliticization of the Union’s political economy, through filling the gap with a neoliberal ‘politics of values’ to be rigorously enforced by the EU – upon recalcitrant member states – through economic sanctions.

Identity rights, according to this interpretation, would serve as a substitute for the debates over political economy, with compliance on values to be enforced on member-states through economic sanctions (Rule of Law).

It is not hard to see how Ukraine might have gelled with Ursula von der Leyen’s determination to enforce EU values, not only on the likes of Orbán, but as a tool to uproot lingering pro-Russian sentiments in a factious EU, and firmly to plant North Atlanticism as the overriding EU value. Sanctioning Russia and its traditionalist notions was in perfect harmony with sanctioning East European states for their social traditionalism too.

This came at a cost however – the cost of catapulting the United States into a position of renewed hegemony over western Europe. It has forced Europe to continue wide-ranging, indeed crippling economic sanctions on Russia, which as a collateral effect, reinforces the position of U.S. dominance as a supplier of energy and raw materials to Europe.

It rules out completely Macron’s ideas that the EU needs a ‘European strategic sovereignty’ that can mitigate Russia’s legitimate security concerns. Europe now is stuck ‘up to the gills’ with wide-ranging economic sanctions on Russia, and unable to confront the consequences. There is literally ‘no way’ the ensuing structural inflation or the economic contraction can, or will be, contained. The EU has abdicated on the means to bring the war to its end. Only sharing a table whilst Zelensky signs the surrender document remains to it.

There will be no serious attempt in the U.S. before November even to try to curb inflation. The consequence of this EU surrender to U.S. Command is that in respect to inflation, too, the EU will be dependent on the vicarious shifts of U.S. electoral politics. It just is as possible that Biden will order a new issue of ‘stimmie checks’ to mitigate the effects of inflation on American pocketbooks (thus further accelerating inflation), as it is as likely for him to permit Quantitative Tightening (aimed at reducing inflation) in the run up to the midterms.

As the effects of the war set in, these will bring a serious backlash against Brussels.

*(H. G. Wells)

The So-Called ‘War of Attrition’ Is Stacked Up in Russia’s Favour. And Kissinger Knows It

June 5, 2022

Source

By Martin Jay

An impending wheat shortage may well drive MENA countries to revolt and direct a new level of anger and revolt towards Brussels from its own members.

Forget anti-tank weapons and bullets. An impending wheat shortage may well drive MENA countries to revolt and direct a new level of anger and revolt towards Brussels from its own members.

As the U.S. approaches critical midterm elections which might dampen Biden’s foreign policy endeavours, the EU too will soon be looking at its own strategy – in particular with regards to Ukraine – in the shorter term, due to a number of factors looking on the horizon which confused and ill-informed journalists aren’t tackling.

Chief among those factors which will be a real problem for the EU was hinted at recently at a World Economic Forum by the polemic former secretary of state Henry Kissinger. The elderly statesman vexed a Ukrainian delegation by suggesting that it might consider ceding parts of the country to Russia in order to secure a peace deal before the war there starts to have much more weighty implications around the world. He used the word “upheaval” which is a way of diplomatically hinting at political trouble in the MENA region, through populations in Middle East and North Africa countries revolting due to hunger. Many MENA countries imported wheat to produce bread – often at a subsidised price – aimed at assisting poor communities. It’s unclear how many of these countries will deal with Ukrainian and Russian wheat no longer arriving as already, in places like Morocco where the author lives, the price of grain has tripled in price making it harder for farmers in the first place to buy it. If the government isn’t going to triple the price of the wheat harvested (unlikely) then there is little point in farmers buying it.

In the case of Morocco, the deficit will have to be met by the government if it wants to keep bread kept at an artificially low price. This cost will have to be passed onto someone however. Most likely it will be the EU which will be asked to help. But Brussels helping Rabat with its housekeeping is one thing. The European Union though might well be facing a much bigger crisis when new flows of immigrants hit its shores as new levels of poverty fuel higher levels of those desperately seeking a better life in the EU.

What Kissinger is hinting at is that the so-called ‘war of attrition’ doesn’t work well for either the Ukraine or the West. The inevitable departure of Russia from the western sphere will not bode well for the West both in terms of security and trade and will be harder to reverse. Putting the genie back in the bottle will be near on impossible in fact if the war in Ukraine continues to drain western coffers and present the EU with new flows of immigrants from the MENA region. Many western media ‘experts’ like to fool readers by presenting facts in a paradigm which is consumer-friendly but is in fact irrelevant to the facts on the ground which they (the journalists) probably struggle to grasp themselves. The ‘war of attrition’ is in fact bandied about without context (normally such wars are where both parties are stagnant which is not the case at all in the Ukraine); secondly in recent weeks we have seen many references to the “20 percent” of the Ukraine occupied by Russia. This figure, no doubt offered by Zelensky, has been used over and over again by defence correspondents and editors in London as a reference point. Military experts, even British ones who support Ukraine, however dismiss it as irrelevant. So why the smoke screen?

A number of factors, but largely that the journalists of today who cover such hugely historical events such as conflict aren’t the same calibre of those twenty years ago. Different level of intelligence, education and a demonstrably different set of journalistic standards. In many cases, our so-called defence correspondents have become editorialists. They opine rather than report.

What is not being reported or offered as editorialist fodder is the idea that the West simply cannot afford for the war in Ukraine to go on much longer. If the EU can’t even get backing for its own directive to ban Russian oil – the only real sanction which will make a financial impact to Moscow – then how does anyone in the West imagine the EU playing any role whatsoever in the conflict and be taken seriously?

Brussels continues to goad Zelensky on with this “fight to the last man” gung-ho narrative while clearly not being able to support its own member states with the calamity which is heading its way if Kissinger is right. EU countries simply can’t handle, politically or financially, the strain from another influx of refugees from Arab countries like it did before with Syria. Post-COVID, the feel-good factor from its citizens is no longer there, replaced by anger and despair aimed at the political elites, it’s simply not an option. If such influxes were to happen, the knock-on effects would be immediate and colossal. The waning confidence which many member states still hold – albeit as a token of support for the EU – would quickly descend into finger-pointing and the EU as an international player would have to have its wings clipped.

Leaders of MENA countries now must also be getting skittish about the wheat ban and wondering whether a second Arab Spring is heading their way. If descent starts to pop up in one country – like Egypt for example which imported 60% of its entire wheat consumption from Ukraine – then it might have a knock-on effect to others, exactly in the same way that a revolt in Tunisia in 2010 sparked what was commonly called the ‘Arab Spring’. No doubt the European Commission’s multi-billion euro propaganda unit already has the press releases and grandiose speeches prepared to deflect blame and to point the finger at others.

PALESTINE’S NEW RESISTANCE MODEL: HOW THE PAST YEAR REDEFINED THE STRUGGLE FOR FREEDOM

JUNE 8TH, 2022

Source

By Ramzy Baroud

What took place between May 2021 and May 2022 is nothing less than a paradigm shift in Palestinian resistance. Thanks to the popular and inclusive nature of Palestinian mobilization against the Israeli occupation, resistance in Palestine is no longer an ideological, political or regional preference.

In the period between the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993 and only a few years ago, Palestinian muqawama – or resistance –  was constantly put in the dock, often criticized and condemned, as if an oppressed nation had a moral responsibility in selecting the type of resistance to suit the needs and interests of its oppressors.

As such, Palestinian resistance became a political and ideological litmus test. The Palestinian Authority of Yasser Arafat and, later, Mahmoud Abbas, called for ‘popular resistance’, but it seems that it neither understood what the strategy actually meant, and certainly was not prepared to act upon such a call.

Palestinian armed resistance was removed entirely from its own historical context; in fact, the context of all liberation movements throughout history, and was turned into a straw man, set up by Israel and its western allies to condemn Palestinian ‘terrorism’ and to present Israel as a victim facing an existential threat.

With the lack of a centralized Palestinian definition of resistance, even pro-Palestine civil society groups and organizations demarcated their relationship to the Palestinian struggle based on embracing certain forms of Palestinian resistance and condemning others.

The argument that only oppressed nations should have the right to choose the type of resistance that could speed up their salvation and freedom fell on deaf ears.

The truth is that Palestinian resistance preceded the official establishment of Israel in 1948. Palestinians and Arabs who resisted British and Zionist colonialism used many methods of resistance that they perceived to be strategic and sustainable. There was no relationship whatsoever between the type of resistance and the religious, political or ideological identity of those who resisted.

This paradigm prevailed for many years, starting with the Fidayeen Movement following the Nakba, the popular resistance to the brief Israeli occupation of Gaza in 1956, and the decades-long occupation and siege starting in 1967. The same reality was expressed in Palestinian resistance in historic Palestine throughout the decades; armed resistance ebbed and flowed, but popular resistance remained intact. The two phenomena were always intrinsically linked, as the former was also sustained by the latter.

The Fatah Movement, which dominates today’s Palestinian Authority, was formed in 1959 to model liberation movements in Vietnam and Algeria. Regarding its connection to the Algerian struggle, the Fatah manifesto read: “The guerrilla war in Algeria, launched five years before the creation of Fatah, has a profound influence on us. […] They symbolize the success we dreamed of.”

This sentiment was championed by most modern Palestinian movements as it proved to be a successful strategy for most southern liberation movements. In the case of Vietnam, the resistance to US occupation carried out even during political talks in Paris. The underground resistance in South Africa remained vigilant until it became clear that the country’s apartheid regime was in the process of being dismantled.

Palestinian disunity, however, which was a direct result of the Oslo Accords, made a unified Palestinian position on resistance untenable. The very idea of resistance itself became subject to the political whims and interests of factions. When, in July 2013, PA President Abbas condemned armed resistance, he was trying to score political points with his western supporters, and further sow the seeds of division among his people.

The truth is that Hamas neither invented nor has ownership of, armed resistance. In June 2021, a poll, conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR), revealed that 60% of Palestinians support “a return to armed confrontations and Intifada.” By stating so, Palestinians were not necessarily declaring allegiance to Hamas. Armed resistance, though in a different style and capacity also exists in the West Bank, and is largely championed by Fatah’s own Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. The recent Israeli attacks on the town of Jenin, in the northern West Bank, were not aimed at eliminating Hamas, Islamic Jihad or socialist fighters, but Fatah’s own.

Skewed media coverage and misrepresentation of the resistance, often by Palestinian factions themselves, turned the very idea of resistance into a political and factional scuffle, forcing everyone involved to take a position on the issue. The discourse on the resistance, however,  began changing in the last year.

The May 2021 rebellion and the Israeli war on Gaza – known among Palestinians as the Unity Intifada – served as a paradigm shift. The language became unified; self-serving political references quickly dissipated; collective frames of reference began replacing provisional, regional and factional ones; occupied Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque emerged as the unifying symbols of resistance; a new generation began to emerge and quickly began to develop new platforms.

On May 29, the Israeli government insisted on allowing the so-called ‘Flag March’ – a mass rally by Israeli Jewish extremists that celebrate the capture of the Palestinian city of al-Quds – to once more pass through Palestinian neighborhoods of occupied East Jerusalem. This was the very occasion that instigated the violence of the previous year. Aware of the impending violence which often results from such provocations, Israel wanted to impose the timing and determine the nature of the violence. It failed. Gaza didn’t fire rockets. Instead, tens of thousands of Palestinians mobilized throughout occupied Palestine, thus allowing popular mobilization and coordination between numerous communities to grow. Palestinians proved able to coordinate their responsibility, despite the numerous obstacles, hardships and logistical difficulties.

The events of the last year are a testament that Palestinians are finally freeing their resistance from factional interests. The most recent confrontations show that Palestinians are even harnessing resistance as a  strategic objective. Muqawama in Palestine is no longer ‘symbolic’ or supposedly ‘random’ violence that reflects ‘desperation’ and lack of political horizon. It is becoming more defined, mature and well-coordinated.

This phenomenon must be extremely worrying to Israel, as the coming months and years could prove critical in changing the nature of the confrontation between Palestinians and their occupiers. Considering that the new resistance is centered around homegrown, grassroots, community-oriented movements, it has far greater chances of success than previous attempts. It is much easier for Israel to assassinate a fighter than to uproot the values of resistance from the heart of a community.

FORGET LIBERATING UKRAINE – WE FIRST NEED TO LIBERATE OUR MINDS 

JUNE 10TH, 2022

By Jonathan Cook

Source

Nothing should better qualify me to write about world affairs at the moment – and Western meddling in Ukraine – than the fact that I have intimately followed the twists and turns of Israeli politics for two decades.

We will turn to the wider picture in a moment. But before that, let us consider developments in Israel, as its “historic,” year-old government – which included for the very first time a party representing a section of Israel’s minority of Palestinian citizens – teeters on the brink of collapse.

Crisis struck, as everyone knew it would sooner or later, because the Israeli parliament had to vote on a major issue relating to the occupation: renewing a temporary law that for decades has regularly extended Israel’s legal system outside its territory, applying it to Jewish settlers living on stolen Palestinian land in the West Bank.

That law lies at the heart of an Israeli political system that the world’s leading human rights groups, both in Israel and abroad, now belatedly admit has always constituted apartheid. The law ensures that Jewish settlers living in the West Bank in violation of international law receive rights different from, and far superior to, those of the Palestinians that are ruled over by Israel’s occupying military authorities.

The law enshrines the principle of Jim Crow-style inequality, creating two different systems of law in the West Bank: one for Jewish settlers and another for Palestinians. But it does more. Those superior rights, and their enforcement by Israel’s army, have for decades allowed Jewish settlers to rampage against Palestinian rural communities with absolute impunity and steal their land – to the point that Palestinians are now confined to tiny, choked slivers of their own homeland.

In international law, that process is called “forcible transfer,” or what we would think of as ethnic cleansing. It’s a major reason that the settlements are a war crime – a fact that the International Criminal Court in the Hague is finding it very hard to ignore. Israel’s leading politicians and generals would all be tried for war crimes if we lived in a fair, and sane, world.

So what happened when this law came before the parliament for a vote on its renewal? The “historic” government, supposedly a rainbow coalition of leftwing and rightwing Jewish parties joined by a religiously conservative Palestinian party, split on entirely predictable ethnic lines.

Members of the Palestinian party either voted against the law or absented themselves from the vote. All the Jewish parties in the government voted for it. The law failed – and the government is now in trouble – because the rightwing Likud Party of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joined the Palestinian parties in voting against the law, in the hope of bringing the government down, even though his legislators are completely committed to the apartheid system it upholds.

UPHOLDING APARTHEID

What is most significant about the vote is that it has revealed something far uglier about Israel’s Jewish tribalism than most Westerners appreciate. It shows that all of Israel’s Jewish parties – even the “nice ones” that are termed leftwing or liberal – are in essence racist.

Most Westerners understand Zionism to be split into two broad camps: the right, including the far-right, and the liberal-left camp.

Today this so-called liberal-left camp is tiny and represented by the Israeli Labour and Meretz parties. Israel’s Labour Party is considered so respectable that Britain’s Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, publicly celebrated the recent restoration of ties after the Israeli party severed connections during the term of Starmer’s predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn.

But note this. Not only have the Labour and Meretz parties been sitting for a year in a government led by Naftali Bennett, whose party represents the illegal settlements, they have just voted for the very apartheid law that ensures the settlers get superior rights over Palestinians, including the right to ethnically cleanse Palestinians from their land.

In the case of the Israeli Labour Party, that is hardly surprising. Labour founded the first settlements and, apart from a brief period in the late 1990s when it paid lip service to a peace process, always backed to the hilt the apartheid system that enabled the settlements to expand. None of that ever troubled Britain’s Labour Party, apart from when it was led by Corbyn, a genuinely dedicated anti-racist.

But by contrast to Labour, Meretz is an avowedly anti-occupation party. That was the very reason it was founded in the early 1990s. Opposition to the occupation and the settlements is supposedly hardwired into its DNA. So how did it vote for the very apartheid law underpinning the settlements?

UTTER HYPOCRISY

The naïve, or mischievous, will tell you Meretz had no choice because the alternative was Bennett’s government losing the vote – which in fact happened anyway – and reviving the chances of Netanyahu returning to power. Meretz’s hands were supposedly tied.

This argument – of pragmatic necessity – is one we often hear when groups professing to believe one thing act in ways that damage the very thing they say they hold dear.

But Israeli commentator Gideon Levy makes a very telling point that applies far beyond this particular Israeli case.

He notes that Meretz would never have been seen to vote for the apartheid law – whatever the consequences – if the issue had been about transgressing the rights of Israel’s LGBTQ community rather than transgressing Palestinian rights. Meretz, whose leader is gay, has LGBTQ rights at the top of its agenda.

Levy writes: “Two justice systems in the same territory, one for straight people and another for gay people? Is there any circumstance in which this would happen? A single political constellation that could bring it about?”

The same could be said of Labour, even if we believe, as Starmer apparently does, that it is a leftwing party. Its leader, Merav Michaeli, is an ardent feminist.

Would Labour, Levy writes, “ever raise its hand for apartheid laws against [Israeli] women in the West Bank? Two separate legal systems, one for men and another for women? Never. Absolutely not.”

Levy’s point is that even for the so-called Zionist left, Palestinians are inherently inferior by virtue of the fact that they are Palestinian. The Palestinian gay community and Palestinian women are just as affected by the Israel’s apartheid law favoring Jewish settlers as Palestinian men are. So in voting for it, Meretz and Labour showed that they do not care about the rights of Palestinian women or members of the Palestinian LGBTQ community. Their support for women and the gay community is dependent on the ethnicity of those belonging to these groups.

It should not need highlighting how close such a distinction on racial grounds is to the views espoused by the traditional supporters of Jim Crow in the U.S. or apartheid’s supporters in South Africa.

So what makes Meretz and Labour legislators capable of not just utter hypocrisy but such flagrant racism? The answer is Zionism.

Zionism is a form of ideological tribalism that prioritizes Jewish privilege in the legal, military and political realms. However leftwing you consider yourself, if you subscribe to Zionism you regard your ethnic tribalism as supremely important – and for that reason alone, you are racist.

You may not be conscious of your racism, you may not wish to be racist, but by default you are. Ultimately, when push comes to shove, when you perceive your own Jewish tribalism to be under threat from another tribalism, you will revert to type. Your racism will come to fore, just as surely as Meretz’s just did.

DECEPTIVE SOLIDARITY

But of course, there is nothing exceptional about most Israeli Jews or Israel’s Zionist supporters abroad, whether Jewish or not. Tribalism is endemic to the way most of us view the world, and rapidly comes to the surface whenever we perceive our tribe to be in danger.

Most of us can quickly become extreme tribalists. When tribalism relates to more trivial matters, such as supporting a sports team, it mostly manifests in less dangerous forms, such as boorish or aggressive behavior. But if it relates to an ethnic or national group, it encourages a host of more dangerous behaviors: jingoism, racism, discrimination, segregation and warmongering.

As sensitive as Meretz is to its own tribal identities, whether the Jewish one or a solidarity with the LGBTQ community, its sensitivity to the tribal concerns of others can quickly dissolve when that other identity is presented as threatening. Which is why Meretz, in prioritizing its Jewish identity, lacks any meaningful solidarity with Palestinians or even the Palestinian LGBTQ community.

Instead, Meretz’s opposition to the occupation and the settlements often appears more rooted in the sentiment that they are bad for Israel and its relations with the West than that they are a crime against Palestinians.

This inconsistency means we can easily be fooled about who our real allies are. Just because we share a commitment to one thing, such as ending the occupation, it doesn’t necessarily mean we do so for the same reasons – or we attach the same importance to our commitment.

It is easy, for example, for less experienced Palestinian solidarity activists to assume when they hear Meretz politicians that the party will help advance the Palestinian cause. But failing to understand Meretz’s tribal priorities is a recipe for constant disappointment – and futile activism on behalf of Palestinians.

The Oslo “peace” process remained credible in the West for so long only because Westerners misunderstood how it fitted with the tribal priorities of Israelis. Most were ready to back peace in the abstract so long as it did not entail any practical loss of their tribal privileges.

Yitzhak Rabin, the West’s Israeli partner in the Oslo process, showed what such tribalism entailed in the wake of a gun rampage by a settler, Baruch Goldstein, in 1994 that killed and wounded more than 100 Palestinians at worship in the Palestinian city of Hebron.

Rather than using the murder spree as the justification to implement his commitment to remove the small colonies of extreme settlers from Hebron, Rabin put Hebron’s Palestinians under curfew for many months. Those restrictions have never been fully lifted for many of Hebron’s Palestinians and have allowed Jewish settlers to expand their colonies ever since.

HIERARCHY OF TRIBALISMS

There is a further point that needs underscoring, and that the Israel-Palestine case illustrates well. Not all tribalisms are equal, or equally dangerous. Palestinians are quite capable of being tribal too. Just look at the self-righteous posturing of some Hamas leaders, for example.

But whatever delusions Zionists subscribe to, Palestinian tribalism is clearly far less dangerous to Israel than Jewish tribalism is to Palestinians.

Israel, the state representing Jewish tribalists, has the support of all Western governments and major media outlets, as well as most Arab governments, and at the very least the complicity of global institutions. Israel has an army, navy and air force, all of which can rely on the latest, most powerful weaponry, itself heavily subsidized by the U.S. Israel also enjoys special trading status with the West, which has made its economy one of the strongest on the planet.

The idea that Israeli Jews have a greater reason to fear the Palestinians (or in a further delusion, the Arab world) than Palestinians have to fear Israel is easily refuted. Simply consider how many Israeli Jews would wish to exchange places with a Palestinian – whether in Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem or from the minority living inside Israel.

The lesson is that there is a hierarchy of tribalisms, and that a tribalism is more dangerous if it enjoys more power. Empowered tribalisms have the ability to cause much greater harm than disempowered tribalisms. Not all tribalisms are equally destructive.

But there is a more significant point. An empowered tribalism necessarily provokes, accentuates and deepens a disempowered tribalism. Zionists often claim that Palestinians are a made-up or imaginary people because they did not identify as Palestinians until after the state of Israel was created. Former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir famously suggested the Palestinians were an invented people.

This was, of course, self-serving nonsense. But it has a kernel of truth that makes it sound plausible. Palestinian identity clarified and intensified as a result of the threat posed by Jewish immigrants arriving from Europe, claiming the Palestinian homeland as their own.

As the saying goes, you don’t always fully appreciate what you have until you face losing it. Palestinians had to sharpen their national identity, and their national ambitions, faced with the threat that someone else was claiming what they had always assumed belonged to them.

SUPERIOR VALUES

So how does all this help us understand our own tribalism in the West?

Not least, whatever the anxieties being encouraged in the West over the supposed threat posed by Russia and China, the reality is that the West’s tribalism – sometimes termed “Western civilization,” or “the rules-based order,” or “the democratic world,” or, even more ludicrously, “the international community” – is by far the most powerful of all tribalisms on the planet. And so also the most dangerous.

Israel’s tribal power, for example, derives almost exclusively from the West’s tribal power. It is an adjunct, an extension, of Western tribal power.

But we need to be a little more specific in our thinking. You and I subscribe to Western tribalism – either consciously or less so, depending on whether we see ourselves as on the right or the left of the political spectrum – because it has been cultivated in us over a lifetime through parenting, schools and the corporate media.

We think West is best. None of us would want to be Russian or Chinese, any more than Israeli Jews would choose to be Palestinian. We implicitly understand that we have privileges over other tribes. And because we are tribal, we assume those privileges are justified in some way. They either derive from our own inherent superiority (a view often associated with the far right) or from a superior culture or traditions (a view usually embracing the moderate right, liberals and parts of the left).

Again, this echoes Zionist views. Israeli Jews on the right tend to believe that they have inherently superior qualities to Palestinians and Arabs, who are seen as primitive, backward or barbarian-terrorists. Overlapping with these assumptions, religious-Zionist Jews tend to imagine that they are superior because they have the one true God on their side.

By contrast, most secular Jews on the left, like the liberals of Meretz, believe that their superiority derives from some vague conception of Western “culture” or civilization that has fostered in them a greater ability to show tolerance and compassion, and act rationally, than do most Palestinians.

Meretz would like to extend that culture to Palestinians to help them benefit from the same civilizing influences. But until that can happen, they, like the Zionist right, view Palestinians primarily as a threat.

Seen in simple terms, Meretz believes they cannot easily empower the Palestinian LGBTQ community, much as they would like to, without also empowering Hamas. And they do not wish to do that because an empowered Hamas, they fear, would not only threaten the Palestinian LGBTQ community but the Israeli one too.

So liberating Palestinians from decades of Israeli military occupation and ethnic cleansing will just have to wait for a more opportune moment – however long that may take, and however many Palestinians must suffer in the meantime.

NEW HITLERS

The parallels with our own, Western worldview should not be hard to perceive.

We understand that our tribalism, our prioritizing of our own privileges in the West, entails suffering for others. But either we assume we are more deserving than other tribes, or we assume others – to become deserving – must first be brought up to our level through education and other civilizing influences. They will just have to suffer in the meantime.

When we read about the “white man’s burden” worldview in history books, we understand – with the benefit of distance from those times – how ugly Western colonialism was. When it is suggested that we might still harbor this kind of tribalism, we get irritated or, more likely, indignant. “Racist – me? Ridiculous!”

Further, our blindness to our own super-empowered Western tribalism makes us oblivious too to the effect our tribalism has on less empowered tribalisms. We imagine ourselves under constant threat from any other tribal group that asserts its own tribalism in the face of our more empowered tribalism.

Some of those threats can be more ideological and amorphous, particularly in recent years: like the supposed “clash of civilisations” against the Islamist extremism of al-Qaeda and Islamic State.

But our preferred enemies have a face, and all too readily can be presented as an improbable stand-in for our template of the bogeyman: Adolf Hitler.

Those new Hitlers pop up one after another, like a whack-a-mole game we can never quite win.

Iraq’s Saddam Hussein – supposedly ready to fire the WMD he didn’t actually have in our direction in less than 45 minutes.

The mad ayatollahs of Iran and their politician-puppets – seeking to build a nuclear bomb to destroy our forward outpost of Israel before presumably turning their warheads on Europe and the U.S.

And then there is the biggest, baddest monster of them all: Vladimir Putin. The mastermind threatening our way of life, our values, or civilization with his mind games, disinformation and control of social media through an army of bots.

EXISTENTIAL THREATS

Because we are as blind to our own tribalism as Meretz is to its racism towards Palestinians, we cannot understand why anyone else might fear us more than we fear them. Our “superior” civilization has cultivated in us a solipsism, a narcissism, that refuses to acknowledge our threatening presence in the world.

The Russians could never be responding to a threat – real or imagined – that we might pose by expanding our military presence right up to Russia’s borders.

The Russians could never see our NATO military alliance as primarily aggressive rather than defensive, as we claim, even though somewhere in a small, dark mental recess where things that make us uncomfortable are shoved we know that Western armies have launched a series of direct wars of aggression against countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, and via proxies in Syria, Yemen, Iran and Venezuela.

The Russians could never genuinely fear neo-Nazi groups in Ukraine – groups that until recently Western media worried were growing in power – even after those neo-Nazis were integrated into the Ukrainian military and led what amounts to a civil war against ethnic Russian communities in the country’s east.

In our view, when Putin spoke of the need to de-Nazify Ukraine, he was not amplifying Russians’ justifiable fears of Nazism on their doorstep, given their history, or the threat those groups genuinely pose to ethnic Russian communities nearby. No, he was simply proving that he and the likely majority of Russians who think like he does are insane.

More than that, his hyperbole gave us permission to bring our covert arming of these neo-Nazis groups out into the light. Now we embrace these neo-Nazis, as we do the rest of Ukraine, and send them advanced weaponry – many billions of dollars worth of advanced weaponry.

And while we do this, we self-righteously berate Putin for being a madman and for his disinformation. He is demented or a liar for viewing us as a existential threat to Russia, while we are entirely justified in viewing him as an existential threat to Western civilization.

And so we keep feeding the chimerical devil we fear. And however often our fears are exposed as self-rationalizing, we never learn.

Saddam Hussein posed an earlier existential threat. His non-existent WMDs were going to be placed in his non-existent long-range missiles to destroy us. So we had every right to destroy Iraq first, preemptively. But when those WMDs turned out not to exist, whose fault was it? Not ours, of course. It was Saddam Hussein’s. He didn’t tell us he did not have WMDs. How could we have known? In our view, Iraq ended up being destroyed because Saddam was a strongman who believed his own propaganda, a primitive Arab hoisted by his own petard.

If we paused for a moment and stood outside our own tribalism, we might realize how dangerously narcissistic – quite how mad – we sound. Saddam Hussein did not tell us he had no WMDs, that he had secretly destroyed them many years earlier, because he feared us and our uncontrollable urge to dominate the globe. He feared that, if we knew he lacked those weapons, we might have more of an incentive to attack him and Iraq, either directly or through proxies. It was we who trapped him in his own lie.

And then there is Iran. Our endless fury with the mad ayatollahs – our economic sanctions, our and Israel’s executions of Iran’s scientists, our constant chatter of invasion – are intended to stop Tehran from ever acquiring a nuclear weapon that might finally level the Middle East’s playing field with Israel, whom we helped to develop a large nuclear arsenal decades ago.

Iran must be stopped so it cannot destroy Israel and then us. Our fears of the Iranian nuclear threat are paramount. We must strike, directly or through proxies, against its allies in Lebanon, Yemen, Syria and Gaza. Our entire Middle East policy must be fashioned around the effort to prevent Iran from ever gaining the bomb.

In our madness, we cannot imagine the fears of Iranians, their realistic sense that we pose a much graver threat to them than they could ever pose to us. In the circumstances, to Iranians, a nuclear weapon might surely look like a very wise insurance policy – a deterrence – against our boundless self-righteousness.

VICIOUS CYCLE

Because we are the strongest tribe on the planet, we are also the most deluded, the most propagandized, as well as the most dangerous. We create the reality we think we oppose. We spawn the devils we fear. We force our rivals into the role of bogeyman that makes us feel good about ourselves.

In Israel, Meretz imagines it opposes the occupation. And yet it keeps conspiring in actions – supposedly to aid Israel’s security, like the apartheid law – that justifiably make Palestinians fear for their existence and believe they have no Jewish allies in Israel. Backed into a corner, Palestinians resist, either in an organized fashion, as during their intifada uprisings, or through ineffectual “lone-wolf” attacks by individuals.

But the Zionist tribalism of Meretz – as liberal, humane and caring as they are – means they can perceive only their own existential anxieties; they cannot see themselves as a threat to others or grasp the fears that they and other Zionists provoke in Palestinians. So the Palestinians must be dismissed as religious maniacs, or primitive, or barbarian-terrorists.

This kind of tribalism produces a vicious cycle – for us, as for Israel. Our behaviors based on the assumption of superiority – our greed and aggression – mean we inevitably deepen the tribalisms of others and provoke their resistance. Which in turn rationalizes our assumption that we must act even more tribally, even more greedily, even more aggressively.

CHEERLEADING WAR

We each have more than one tribal identity, of course. We are not only British, French, American, Brazilian. We are Black, Asian, Hispanic, white. We are straight, gay, trans, or something even more complex. We are conservative, liberal, left. We may support a team, or have a faith.

These tribal identities can conflict and interact in complex ways. As Meretz shows, one identity may come to the fore, and recede into the background, depending on circumstances and the perception of threat.

But perhaps most important of all, some tribalisms can be harnessed and manipulated by other, narrower, more covert tribal identities. Remember, not all tribalisms are equal.

Western elites – our politicians, corporate leaders, billionaires – have their own narrow tribalism. They prioritize their own tribe and its interests: making money and retaining power on the world stage. But given how ugly, selfish and destructive this tribe would look were it to stand before us nakedly pursuing power for its own benefit, it promotes its tribal interests in the name of the wider tribe and its “cultural” values.

This elite tribe wages its endless wars for resource control, it oppresses others, it imposes austerity, it wrecks the planet, all in the name of Western civilization.

When we cheerlead the West’s wars; when we reluctantly concede that other societies must be smashed; when we accept that poverty and food banks are an unfortunate byproduct of supposed economic realities, as is the toxifying of the planet, we conspire in advancing not our own tribal interests but someone else’s.

When we send tens of billions of dollars of weapons to Ukraine, we imagine we are being selfless, helping those in trouble, stopping an evil madman, upholding international law, listening to Ukrainians. But our understanding of why events are unfolding as they are in Ukraine, more so than how they are unfolding, has been imposed on us, just as it has on ordinary Ukrainians and ordinary Russians.

We believe we can end the war through more muscle. We assume we can terrorize Russia into withdrawal. Or even more dangerously, we fantasize that we can defeat a nuclear-armed Russia and remove its “madman” president. We cannot imagine that we are only stoking the very fears that drove Russia to invade Ukraine in the first place, the very fears that brought a strongman like Putin to power and sustain him there. We make the situation worse in assuming we are making it better.

So why do we do it?

Because our thoughts are not our own. We are dancing to a tune composed by others whose motives and interests we barely comprehend.

An endless war is not in our interests, nor in those of Ukrainians or Russians. But it might just be in the interests of Western elites that need to “weaken the enemy” to expand their dominance; that need pretexts to hoover up our money for wars that profit them alone; that need to create enemies to shore up the tribalism of Western publics so that we do not start to see things from the point of view of others or wonder whether our own tribalism really serves our interests or those of an elite.

The truth is we are being constantly manipulated, duped, propagandized to advance “values” that are not inherent in our “superior” culture but manufactured for us by the elites’ public-relations arm, the corporate media. We are made into willing co-conspirators in behavior that actually harms us, others, and the planet.

In Ukraine, our very compassion to help is being weaponized in ways that will kill Ukrainians and destroy their communities, just as Meretz’s caring liberalism has spent decades rationalizing the oppression of Palestinians in the name of ending it.

We cannot liberate Ukraine or Russia. But what we can do may, in the long term, prove far more significant: We can start liberating our minds.

ISRAEL’S DANCE OF FLAGS IS A ZIONIST HATE PARADE AND, BY DEFINITION, AN ACT OF WAR

JUNE 7TH, 2022

Source

By Miko Peled

JERUSALEM – It is sometimes easier to see things from a distance, especially when talking about Palestine, where tragedies follow each other with unbelievable speed. There is no time to recover from one tragedy before two or three more occur, all initiated by Israel with its all-powerful military and then justified or buried by various branches of Zionist groups around the world.

The Dance of Flags, sometimes called the Flags March, takes place in Jerusalem each year around the beginning of June. In 2022 it was preceded by the targeted killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and the assault on her funeral procession, followed by the killing of several more young Palestinians. The decision to carry out the ethnic cleansing of Masafer Yatta in the South Hebron Hills took place around the same time, yet not a moment of thought is given to the fact that there is a war going on.

The March of Flags in Jerusalem was an act of war. Israeli assaults on Jenin are an act of war. The displacement of the residents of Masafer Yatta is an act of war. And this is counting only the events that took place in the last few weeks.

THE FLAGS MARCH

Anyone who has witnessed the Dance of Flags firsthand in Jerusalem can attest to the fact that this is, without a doubt, a parade of terror. The thousands of young Israelis get excited for the moment when they enter the Old City of Jerusalem through the Damascus Gate so that they can pound on the doors of Palestinian businesses and terrorize the Palestinians who reside in the Old City.

Each year the organizers of this racist hate parade go through the formality of negotiating with the Jerusalem police regarding the specific route of the march. Every year the police and other government agencies charged with security say that the request to enter the Old City via Damascus Gate is a dangerous idea. And every year the March proceeds as planned through Damascus Gate. Being the masters of the land and wielding a great deal of political power, the organizers of the Dance of Flags always get their way.

DAMASCUS GATE

In Arabic, the Damascus Gate is called Bab el-Amoud, or the Gate of the Pillar. Apparently, in early times there was a large pillar in front of the gate on the inside. Generally, one can tell a great deal about a city just by paying attention to its gates. For example, when entering the Old City via Jaffa Gate and going down into the souk, one sees shops catering to tourists; and, in fact, most tourists and Israelis enter through there. It is considered a more “friendly” part of the Old City. The shops carry all sorts of Judaica, yarmulkes, menorahs and even IDF t-shirts.

When entering from Damascus Gate, one sees fewer tourists. Mostly Palestinians walk through it and the shops sell things that people actually need for their daily lives. Vegetables, bread, sweets, clothes and shoes. The shops that do carry items for tourists carry mostly kaffiyas and items like t-shirts that emphasize Palestine and show the Palestinian colors. The non-Palestinians walking the street down from Damascus Gate are usually hardcore Israeli settlers, who have taken over some of the homes along the road, and soldiers.

Israel Flags March
Palestanians defend against Jewish youth partaking in the Flags March, May 29, 2022. Ariel Schalit | AP

TAKING OVER

It is a straight shot walking from Damascus Gate to the al-Aqsa Mosque, and to the Western Wall – or the Kotel – plaza. The plaza used to be the Mughrabi neighborhood of the Old City. Palestinians live and have businesses in that part of the city, but settlers are targeting and taking homes there at an alarming rate. The homes that have already been taken by settlers are clearly marked and easy to spot. First, a heavy door with a bolt is placed at the front of the home. You don’t see the Palestinian homes with doors like that. An intercom is put in place and very often an armed security guard stands regularly by the door.

A large Israeli flag is displayed on the building, usually hanging from the second story balcony. It is very often that these apartments are right above shops that are still owned and operated by Palestinian merchants who suffer greatly from the settlers’ presence. As one shopkeeper whose store I frequent often said to me once, “Ma fi awsakh minhum” – no one is worse than them.

AN ACT OF WAR

According to the “Law Insider” website, an act of war is defined as follows:

Act of war (whether declared or undeclared), invasion, armed conflict or act of foreign enemy, blockade, embargo, revolution, riot, insurrection, civil commotion, act of terrorism or sabotage.

Another example of a definition is:

Act of war means hostile or warlike action, whether declared or not, in a time of peace or war, whether initiated by a local governmentforeign government or foreign groupcivil unrestinsurrectionrebellion or civil war.

The Flags March held in Jerusalem each year falls under these definitions. It is an invasion of the Old City by a mob large enough to be a small army; it is a riot; it is civil commotion, and it is an act of terrorism that involves sabotage. Even though those who participate in this hate parade are civilians, there is always a heavy military presence that accompanies them. It was reported that in 2022 some three thousand officers were deployed in Jerusalem for the purpose of this march. That represents nearly the entire Jerusalem police force.

Israel Flags
Israeli police snatch a flag from an elderly woman amid the Flags Day march in the Old City, May 29, 2022. Mahmoud Illean | AP

Not to be mistaken with traffic police, or cops on a beat looking for criminals, the police force that is deployed in East Jerusalem is of a different kind. This is a militarized police force and the officers are referred to as “fighters,” not officers. They look like soldiers, the arms that they carry are like those of soldiers, but their mandate is to attack Palestinian civilians, something they do with cruelty and brutality.

Zionists always blame Palestinians who respond to Israeli acts of war with acts of armed resistance against civilians. They call it terrorism. There is no question that it is terrible when civilians are killed and injured. The problem is that throughout the entire war Israel has waged against Palestinians it has been targeting civilians. There is no Palestinian military – there never was such a thing – and Israel has consistently, and with planning, targeted and killed Palestinian civilians going as far back as one can remember.

Perhaps it is time to step back and instead of viewing each act of violence perpetrated by Israel separately, instead view them all together as individual acts of a larger war – a war waged against a nation that has never possessed an army.

Dollars for democracy: Corruption was the real winner in Lebanon’s election


June 02 2022

Bribing desperate voters during an economic crisis may have led to Lebanon’s parliamentary impasse. If candidates are bought, how can the country fix anything?

Source

By Radwan Mortada

Money was the main voter in Lebanon’s parliamentary elections on 15 May. In the financially devastated country where poverty now affects about 80 percent of the population, it has become all the more common for voters to ask their candidate: “How much will you pay for my vote?

“It’s like a slave auction,” an unsuccessful candidate in the eastern district of Zahle told The Cradle.

In the northernmost district of Akkar – one of Lebanon’s poorest regions – another candidate said he had expected to be peppered with questions about his manifesto, but the most frequent query during his election campaign, again, was: “How much will you pay for the vote?”

But those who paid for votes will rarely admit this on the record; Lebanon’s electoral law forbids bribery, and so although undeniably a common practice, the issue is kept under wraps, for the most part.

To arm or disarm?

Lebanon’s 2022 elections took place along the country’s traditional political divide: Hezbollah and its allies, on one side of the fence – versus those loyal to the United States and Saudi Arabia, on the other. This division has only intensified in recent years, given the regional wars in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, and the intense global polarization that has grown out of multilateralism.

Oddly, amid a national economic collapse, the issue of Hezbollah’s weapons remained a dominant topic in a number of electoral campaigns and their affiliated media.

Those who demand the disarmament of Hezbollah say an armed political party is a violation of national sovereignty, and are fiercely supported by the US and Saudi Arabia. This is despite Hezbollah’s lead role in ending 22 years of Israeli occupation in the south.

The Lebanese resistance group and its supporters continue to insist that these weapons are essential to defend Lebanon against attacks by Israel, a frequent, serial violator of the country’s territorial integrity.

After a five-month absence over a diplomatic row, Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Walid al-Bukhari returned to Beirut on 7 April, five weeks before the elections. At his lavish home, east of the capital, he hosted large numbers of Lebanese politicians, security chiefs, and clerics in advance of elections, and openly visited several districts in an attempt to influence voters to cast their ballots against Hezbollah and its allies.

With cameras flashing, the Saudi ambassador hosts Lebanon’s top political figures in the lead up to parliamentary elections

Money talks

There was a lot of talk about huge sums of money paid into these elections by Riyadh, whose objective was to overturn Hezbollah’s majority alliance in the Lebanese parliament, by supporting the Christian, right-wing Lebanese Forces (LF) candidates and other reliable allies.

But this Saudi/US-backed anti-Hezbollah front is not limited only to political parties. Today, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and civil society organizations are rife and active in Lebanon, receiving foreign funding and fielding large numbers of parliamentary candidates for the first time.

The NGOs – many of them liberal and foreign-funded – mostly oppose Hezbollah and are cozy with western capitals, especially Washington.

In an unprecedented turn of events, 13 NGO/civil society candidates won seats in the parliamentary election, 12 of whom were first time candidates. Only three independent candidates won, by comparison.

Amid the severe current economic crisis in Lebanon, cash really is king, and this is especially the case for those who can spend dollars liberally. The lira, Lebanon’s national currency, has plummeted since late 2019, losing around 90 percent of its value in less than three years.

While Hezbollah’s opponents also accuse the party of being aflood with fresh dollars from Iran, the party does not deny this, and considers those funds essential support for its resistance against Israel.

A very flawed democracy

It is therefore difficult to discuss ‘democratic elections’ in Lebanon, while flagrant violation of laws that prohibit electoral funding are ingrained in the process.

But corruption and bribery have for decades been ignored in this small Levantine state of five million people. Strategically-located little Lebanon, after all, lies on the fault line between east and west, caught between two opposing axes, and remains a sitting target for foreign power plays.

preliminary report released on 17 May by the European Union Election Observation Mission in Lebanon states that “the elections were overshadowed by widespread practices of vote buying and clientelism, which led to a distortion of the principle of equal opportunity and seriously affected the choices of voters.”

The report also maintains that “the legal framework for campaign finance suffers from serious shortcomings concerning transparency and accountability.”

One of the electoral candidates interviewed by The Cradle described how a family had demanded that he give them 39 million lira (US$1,300) in surgery costs for their child, in return for their votes.

He denies that he paid anyone, “except once, for “humanitarian reasons.”

In such an acute economic crises, vote buying can only be curbed by lifting secrecy on the bank accounts of all candidates. Lebanon’s electoral bribery shenanigans are an old habit, long preceding the country’s financial collapse, and only systemic, enforced, transparency laws can expect to upend the practice.

How does vote-buying happen?

In the run up to elections, candidates communicate with what they call ‘electoral keys,’ individuals known to have a wide social network that can be mobilized to benefit the candidate. In Zahle, for example, the competition between the electoral lists was over Sunni voters who constitute a weighty demographic in this district.

The candidates compete among themselves to secure the best ‘electoral keys,’ offering these individuals large sums of cash in the tens of thousands of dollars. The ‘keys’ will act as their intermediary-cum-cashier with voters after all, sometimes offering between $100 and $150 per vote.

It was rumored among voters that Michel Daher, a candidate for the Catholic seat in parliament – in accordance with Lebanon’s confessional system – was paying $150 per Sunni vote, while another candidate, who headed a rival list, was paying $100.

According to some reports, Daher sought to obtain enough votes to qualify his electoral list to win two seats for both himself and the Sunni candidate on his list, Omar Halablab. He is believed to have paid a large sum of money to “buy” 25,000 Sunni voters, at the rate of $150 per vote. In the final count, only six thousand Sunnis voted for his list.

Already a highly controversial figure, Daher was accused of violating Lebanese laws by engaging in commercial activity with Israelis, according to Lebanese media. Facing lawsuits before the Lebanese judiciary, Daher stands accused of polluting the vital Litani River with waste materials and chemicals dumped by some of his factories.

One of these – Master Chips – is reportedly being charged with contributing to an increase in cancer cases among populations living near the Litani riverbeds

Daher’s colleague, Halablab, who lost the election, has his own questionable record, standing accused of squandering public money during his stint as director general of the Ministry of Culture.

There were also rumors that the candidate for the Sunni seat in the same constituency, Muhammad Shafiq Hammoud, had paid $100 per Sunni vote. Elsewhere, in the more affluent Matn region east of Beirut, securing a vote came with a hefty $500 price tag.

First-time candidate Omar Harfouche, a wealthy celebrity businessman from France, reportedly paid up to $50 per vote in Tripoli, one of the poorest regions in Lebanon, which explains the lower price tag. This information came to light when voters turned up to a scheduled election event, became angry that they hadn’t been paid, and took the venue chairs as compensation.

During a 27 April pre-election TV interview that went viral, the disarmingly candid Harfouche, asked how he was spending his campaign funds, responded: “This is election money that I am spending on Lebanese networks. I paid you so I can be on your station.”

Harfouche then accuses powerful pro-Saudi candidates like “Ashraf Rifi and the Lebanese Forces” of spending far more money, and from foreign sources. “Their money is illegal, while mine is my own.”

“The source of the money is the main issue here. You are accusing me because I am a transparent person. But you don’t dare question the Lebanese Forces about where they get their money from. I know from where they get their money…From Israel…Israel has been funneling money for several months…I got my information from Riyadh,” Harfouche persists, while the interview interrupts him in horror, warning that he can be sued for making such claims.

Two can play that game

A top journalist with one of Lebanon’s largest TV outlets confirms some of Harfouche’s claims to The Cradle. Campaigns can pay as much as $100,000 to appear for one hour on prime-time (evenings) television, and as much as $35,000 for morning interviews. For an appearance on a news bulletin report that does not exceed two and a half minutes, the cost is about $20,000.

So the vote buying scheme was not only in the form of cash to constituents. Many candidates steer hefty sums to media outlets to help polish their images on air and have an advantage over their less-funded opponents.

To be sure, not all voters vote according to the cash received. Under the slogan ‘Take his money and vote against him,’ Lebanese voters are encouraged to take money from candidates and instead vote for their opponents.

Once convicted for dealing with Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, Ziad al-Homsi, reportedly received potential voters at his home in the town of Saadnayel in the Bekaa, and paid $60 for each of them to vote for the Sunni candidate – Bilal al-Hushaimi – on the Lebanese Forces (LF) list, despite knowing that many of these voters had also received payment by other candidates.

Purchasing votes by proxy

This is the calibre of candidates hoping to represent the Lebanese people in parliament, some of whom managed to get seats as a result of their financial overtures.

Compared to other countries, a very high percentage of the Lebanese live outside their hometowns. Electoral law requires the voter to vote in his birth place, not necessarily where he resides. In every Lebanese election, it is common for candidates to cover voters’ transportation costs to their hometowns, by providing them with means of transport or providing vehicle owners with the price of fuel to reach the polling stations.

No one is exempt from this, even those parties who are not known to buy votes. For instance, Hezbollah transported large groups of Lebanese voters residing in Syria to polling stations inside Lebanon, in addition to providing internal transportation between various regions.

Hezbollah and its allies may have lost their parliamentary majority in the latest election, but the newly elected members of parliament, whether independent or affiliated with NGOs and civil society organizations, also failed to secure that ‘golden’ majority.

Under Lebanese law, the absence of a parliamentary majority for any party requires the cooperation of all parties to form a new government. The alternative is a severe confrontation that an already weak Lebanon cannot possibly handle.

Elections in this country are akin to democratic folklore. Lebanon has never been governed according to the results of parliamentary elections, anyway. The state is run in backroom deals according to political balances based on sectarian quotas – where each sect has links with foreign countries that are also in conflict with one another.

The crisis of Lebanon is complex. As long as foreign countries compete for political influence in Lebanon, sectarian divisions in Lebanon will collide over domestic policies. In that schism, the doors will always be open to the self-serving interests of external intervention. And cash, bribes and corruption are the fastest ways to get the job done.

THE ETHNIC CLEANSING OF MASAFER YATTA: ISRAEL’S NEW ANNEXATION STRATEGY IN PALESTINE

JUNE 2ND, 2022

By Ramzy Baroud

Source

The Israeli Supreme Court has decided that the Palestinian region of Masafer Yatta, located in the southern hills of Hebron, is to be entirely appropriated by the Israeli military and that a population of over 1,000 Palestinians is to be expelled.

The Israeli Court decision, on May 4, was hardly shocking. Israel’s military occupation does not only consist of soldiers with guns but elaborate political, military, economic and legal structures, dedicated to the expansion of the illegal Jewish settlements and the slow – and sometimes not-so-slow – the expulsion of the Palestinians.

When Palestinians state that the Nakba, or Catastrophe – which led to the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948 and the establishment of the state of Israel on its ruins – is a continuous, unfinished project, they mean exactly that. The ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from East Jerusalem and the endless torment of Palestinian Bedouins in the Naqab and, now in Masafer Yatta, are all testaments to this reality.

However, Masafer Yatta is particularly unique. In the case of occupied East Jerusalem, for example, Israel has made a fallacious, ahistorical claim that Jerusalem is the eternal and undivided capital of the Jewish people. It combined its unsubstantiated narrative with military action on the ground, followed by a systematic process that aimed at increasing the Jewish population and ejecting the original native inhabitants of the city. Such notions as ‘Greater Jerusalem’ and legal and political structures, like that of the Jerusalem Master Plan 2000, have all contributed towards turning the once absolute Palestinian majority in Jerusalem into a shrinking minority.

With the Naqab, Israel’s similar objectives were put into motion as early as 1948, and again in 1951. This process of ethnically cleansing the natives remains in effect to this day.

Though Masafer Yatta is part of the same colonial designs, its uniqueness stems from the fact that it is situated in Area C of the occupied West Bank.

In July 2020, Israel purportedly decided to postpone its plans to annex nearly 40% of the West Bank, perhaps fearing a Palestinian rebellion and unwanted international condemnation. However, the plan continued in practice.

Moreover, a wholesome annexation of West Bank regions would mean that Israel would become responsible for the welfare of entire Palestinian communities. As a settler-colonial state, Israel wants the land, but not the people. In Tel Aviv’s calculation, annexation without the expulsion of the population could lead to a demographic nightmare; thus, Israel needs to reinvent its annexation plan.

Though Israel has supposedly delayed the de jure annexation, it continued with a de facto form of annexation, one that has generated little international media attention.

The Israeli Court’s decision regarding Masafer Yatta, which is already being carried out with the expulsion of the Najjar family on May 11, is an important step toward the annexation of Area C.  If Israel can evict the residents of twelve villages, with a population of over 1,000 Palestinians, unhindered, more such expulsions are anticipated, not only south of Hebron, but throughout the occupied Palestinian territories.

The Palestinian villagers of Masafer Yatta and their legal representation know very well that no real ‘justice’ can be obtained from the Israeli court system. They continue to fight the legal war, anyway, in the hope that a combination of factors, including solidarity in Palestine and pressure from the outside, can ultimately succeed in compelling Israel to delay its planned destruction and Judaization of the whole region.

However, it seems that Palestinian efforts, which have been underway since 1997, are failing. The Israeli Supreme Court decision is predicated on the erroneous and utterly bizarre notion that the Palestinians of that area could not demonstrate that they belonged there prior to 1980 when the Israeli government decided to turn the area into ‘Firing Zone 918’.

Sadly, the Palestinian defense was partly based on documents from the Jordanian era and official United Nations records that reported on Israeli attacks on several Masafer Yatta villages in 1966. The Jordanian government, which administered the West Bank until 1967, compensated some of the residents for the loss of their ‘stone houses’ – not tents – animals and other properties that were destroyed by the Israeli military. Palestinians tried to use this evidence to show that they have existed, not as nomadic people but as rooted communities. This was unconvincing to the Israeli court, which favored the military’s argument over the rights of the native population.

Israeli firing zones occupy nearly 18 percent of the total size of the West Bank. It is one of several ploys used by the Israeli government to lay a legal claim on Palestinian land and to, eventually, years later, claim legal ownership as well. Many of these firing zones exist in Area C, and are being used as one of the Israeli methods aimed at officially appropriating Palestinian land with the support of the Israeli courts.

Now that the Israeli military has managed to acquire Masafer Yatta – a region spanning 32 to 56 sq km – based on completely flimsy excuses, it will become much easier in ensuring the ethnic cleansing of many similar communities in various parts of occupied Palestine.

While discussions and media coverage of Israel’s annexation scheme in the West Bank and the Jordan Valley have largely subsided, Israel is now preparing for a gradual annexation scheme. Instead of annexing 40% of the West Bank all at once, Israel is now annexing smaller tracts of land and regions, like Masafer Yatta, separately. Tel Aviv will eventually connect all these annexed areas through Jewish-only bypass roads to larger Jewish settlement infrastructures in the West Bank.

Not only does this alternative strategy allow Israel to avoid international criticism, it will also permit Israel to eventually annex Palestinian land while incrementally expelling Palestinians, helping Tel Aviv prevent demographic imbalances before they occur.

What is happening in Masafer Yatta is not only the largest ethnic cleansing scheme to be carried out by Israel since 1967, but the move should be considered the first step in a much larger scheme of illegal land appropriation, ethnic cleansing and official mass annexation.

Israel must not succeed in Masafer Yatta, because if it does, its original, mass annexation scheme will become a reality in no time.

The Question Of Whether Or Not To “Humiliate Russia” Is Irrelevant

5 JUNE 2022

The debate over this issue is actually irrelevant, however, since it presupposes that Kiev will inevitably emerge victorious in the conflict. There’s no credible indication that anything of the sort will transpire, nor was there ever in fact, since such a scenario was never anything more than political fantasy.

Source

The Question Of Whether Or Not To “Humiliate Russia” Is Irrelevant

By Andrew Korybko

Kiev reacted very angrily to French President Macron’s suggestion not to “humiliate Russia” after the Ukrainian Conflict finally ends, which prompted a media firestorm over the most optimal way to resolve hostilities between these former Soviet Republics. His proposal was interpreted as implying some variation of Kissinger’s plan whereby the status quo would return to what it was like in February before the commencement of Moscow’s ongoing special military operation, which in turn was taken to hint that Crimea and Donbass would continue to remain separate from Ukraine. That was obviously unacceptable for Kiev, hence why its Foreign Minister lashed out at the French leader.

The debate over this issue is actually irrelevant, however, since it presupposes that Kiev will inevitably emerge victorious in the conflict. There’s no credible indication that anything of the sort will transpire, nor was there ever in fact, since such a scenario was never anything more than political fantasy. The “official narrative” upon which that wishful thinking was based has decisively shifted over the past two weeks as the second phase of Russia’s special operation began to gain ground in Donbass. It remains unclear whether that’ll lead to a game-changing military breakthrough or not, but it nevertheless debunks the speculation that Moscow will inevitably lose the conflict.

The real question is therefore whether or not Kiev should be humiliated after everything ends. Nobody can say with full confidence on what terms that country will surrender nor when that will happen, but it’s clear that this outcome has always been the most likely. The details will largely depend on the military situation at the time that hostilities finally cease, which can’t be know for sure at this moment, just that it’ll remain among the most decisive factors. As it presently stands, Kiev has lost control of Southern Ukraine’s Kherson Region and most of Zaporozhye, which appear poised to reunite with their historical Russian homeland within the next year.

It’ll therefore be forced to accept the loss of at least those two parts of the country along with Crimea and Donbass, which together constitute approximately one-fifth of its pre-“EuroMaidan” territory. There’s nothing “humiliating” about that though since it’s just the way that things are, especially considering that the locals there don’t even want to be part of Lenin’s unnatural mini-empire anymore anyhow. It would therefore actually be “humiliating” and even dangerous for those locals to be forced back under Kiev’s control, which Moscow would never do since it understands the real danger that this would pose for their people.

What might be interpreted as “humiliating” by Kiev is if its US-led Western allies agree to Russia’s demand that the country be demilitarized, with the details remaining unclear but nevertheless likely resulting in a drastic reduction of this rump state’s respective capabilities. Truth be told, however, that wouldn’t objectively be “humiliating” but pragmatic since it would most sustainably ensure the peace that would follow the end of hostilities between these former Soviet Republics. Nevertheless, it might still be a tough sell for President Zelensky considering his people’s rabid nationalism nowadays, though he could always try to find a scapegoat to blame it on in order to lesson the blow to his popularity.

Kiev is completely dependent on its US-led Western allies and therefore can’t realistically behave independently of them, at least not for long enough to make a tangible difference in whatever it might be. This is crucial to keep in mind considering CNN’s recent report that those countries are meeting with one another to hash out the details of their hoped-for ceasefire for ending this conflict, curiously without Kiev’s participation despite promising to always include it in such talks. That news very strongly suggests that they’re aware of how unpopular their proposed terms would be but that they also know that they can successfully coerce Kiev into accepting them.

Against this behind-the-scenes context, one can better understand why the question of whether or not to “humiliate Russia” is nothing but a distraction. It serves to conveniently refocus the public’s attention towards an unrealistic scenario while the most likely one is actively being advanced. Kiev appears uncomfortable with these secret diplomatic dynamics but can’t really do anything to shape them in the direction of its interests. The best that it can hope for is to manipulate public perceptions in such a way as to draw comparisons with the infamous Munich Agreement of 1938 by artificially manufacturing the narrative that it’s been sacrificed by its allies for so-called “appeasement” purposes.

Even that can only convince so many folks since many are already desensitized to the false comparisons between Nazi Germany and the Russian Federation on one hand and Adolf Hitler and Vladimir Putin on the other. Few in the US-led West are likely to take Kiev’s side over their own governments’, especially considering the fact that their authorities are the ones controlling the Mainstream Media narrative, not Zelensky and his clique who just play the role of puppets in this theater. World-class “perception managers” can just once again begin talking about Ukrainian corruption and fascism like they did prior to the latest conflict in order to discredit Kiev from the perspective of “Western values”.

Zelensky is quickly becoming trapped between the Russian Armed Forces’ increasingly successful offensive in Donbass, reported pressure from his own military officials who are very displeased with his decisions over the past 100 days, and his own US-led Western allies who are supposedly hashing out the details of a potential ceasefire behind his back. In such a situation, the best-case scenario would be for him to take the initiative by unilaterally declaring a ceasefire aimed at freezing the lines of control in order to not lose any more of his crumbling country than he already has, but instead he’d rather propagate the political fantasy of “humiliating Russia” so as to distract his people for as long as possible.

MBS-Kushner investments could complicate vital Saudi regional diplomacy

June 05 2022

Saudi Crown Prince MbS wants Israel onside but has yet to figure out how to move forward without rocking the Saudi boat.

Source

By Agha Hussein

The Saudis need to choose: Will it be regional stability with Tehran or regional confrontation with Tel Aviv? Riyadh cannot have both.

Saudi Arabia is slated for a complete socioeconomic overhaul under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s (MbS) ambitious Vision2030, which aims to steer the kingdom towards a post-oil economy. For this to be realized, peace and political stability with Saudi’s neighbors is essential.

In this context, Riyadh sees diplomatic engagement with rival Iran as crucial to addressing the security dilemmas the kingdom faces from neighboring Yemen, Iraq and the Persian Gulf, which have the potential to derail progress on Saudi’s reform program.

However, MbS’ recent signals toward Israel could hinder the kingdom’s efforts to formalize the Iran-Saudi diplomatic ‘framework‘ aimed at bringing stability to its borders.

MbS and Israel

On 7 May, The Wall Street Journal reported that Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF) – of which MbS is chairman – committed $2 billion to a private equity fund for Israeli tech startups. This represents the first known case of the PIF investing in Israeli businesses.

The fund belongs to Jared Kushner, former US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and informal advisor who worked with MbS to draw Saudi foreign policy closer to Israeli interests.

During the Trump administration, Kushner and MbS formed a close interpersonal relationship. Kushner bypassed the US State and Defense Departments and dealt directly with the crown prince, helping him to consolidate power in return for closer alignment with Israel on Iran.

However, MbS eventually decided that the kingdom needed de-escalation with Iran as a means of addressing its growing security dilemmas in Yemen and the Persian Gulf. Citing the tensions it was causing with Iran, MbS took a step back from his partnership with Kushner by declining to join the August 2020 Abraham Accords struck between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain, which Kushner played a lead role in facilitating.

This was followed by an Iraqi-mediated dialogue initiated between Tehran and Riyadh in October 2021, which has continued with a few intervals up to the present.

What about Iran?

Now, the investment in Kushner’s fund says two things about MbS’ current priorities. One, that the crown prince retains interest in finding niches of Israeli-Saudi cooperation, and two, that he intends to do so via the old, familiar approach with Kushner as a key broker and interlocutor.

But this challenges an important element of Iranian-Saudi diplomacy: namely, that both states’ compartmentalize their many differences across West Asia for the sake of detente and stability in their immediate, shared Persian Gulf region.

The Islamic Republic for its part has a very regionalized national security doctrine, which emphasizes keeping Israeli influence away from its own borders. Tehran may interpret MbS’ overtures to Israel as a sign that the Saudi talks are not promising outcomes consistent with its national security objectives.

If this is the case, Iran could decide to withdraw from the talks altogether. Indeed, Iran temporarily halted the Iraqi-brokered dialogue with Saudi Arabia in March when it launched missile strikes at purported Israeli Mossad sites in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan.

Additionally, since economic diversification is a key pillar of Vision2030, Iran may view the investment in Kushner’s fund as MbS integrating Israel into his own bigger-picture. From Tehran’s perspective, this is counterproductive to Iran’s desired scenario of an Israel-free Persian Gulf and therefore does not bode well for the continuity of Iranian-Saudi diplomacy.

Ties with Turkey

Saudi Arabia’s relations with Turkey, another West Asian powerhouse, have recently thawed under Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s efforts to mend fences with the kingdom.

While Turkey’s angle has more to do with building economic and security ties, for Riyadh this entente has special importance for its overall regional diplomacy. This is because the tension in Turkish-Saudi ties is associated heavily with the 2018 state-sanctioned murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, reportedly at the personal behest of MbS.

The fallout from the murder made MbS persona non grata for many in the international community, and he remained a pariah until only relatively recently amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing energy crisis.

This proved especially inconvenient when MbS began his urgent tilt to a more diplomatic foreign policy. Riyadh’s access to various diplomatic channels was suddenly very limited because of MbS’ personal, unilateral control over Saudi decision-making. Indeed, even Saudi Arabia’s (partial) rapprochement with Qatar, ending a three-and-a-half year blockade, required Kushner’s mediation.

Two weeks before Erdogan’s 28 April visit to Riyadh, a Turkish court transferred the trial of Khashoggi’s Saudi assassins to the kingdom. Thus, since Erdogan sees shoring up MbS’ international standing as necessary for their entente, the latter has reason to ensure that Ankara gets a degree of geopolitical value out of it too.

Critically, this is where the risk that MbS’ Israel outreach poses to Iranian-Saudi diplomacy, could spill over to the budding Turkish-Saudi normalization.

Turkey’s overtures to MbS have occurred in parallel with its rapprochement with Israel. If Turkish-Saudi dialogue covers regional agendas instead of just bilateral ones, Iran may well suspect the two of eyeing a bloc and drawing Israel toward it as a mutual ally.

Keeping Israel out

Iran would overplay its hand and damage its diplomatic credibility by raking up Turkey in dialogue with Saudi Arabia, as the latter could interpret this as Iranian heavy-handedness and drop the idea that Iran is able or willing to help it de-escalate matters in Yemen and the Persian Gulf.

Tehran does not want this to happen, as it has tactically benefited from playing the Yemen/Gulf de-escalation card: both to bring Riyadh to the negotiating table, and to show it that avoiding Israel is a worthy trade-off to cool tensions with Iran’s allies in Yemen and even Iraq.

Conversely, if Iran accepts that it cannot force the Turkish factor into its talks with Saudi Arabia, its diplomatic strategy toward Riyadh provides no recourse against the possibility of MbS asking Ankara to help connect him to Tel Aviv.

In this scenario, continuing the Saudi talks presents Iran with a credibility crisis – that of its ability to enforce its national security red-lines by pressuring or incentivizing its neighbors to avoid Israel. This could lead to Tehran abandoning the dialogue with Riyadh, or putting it on ice.

Vision or Mirage?

Saudi Arabia needs harmony, not contradictions and conflicts, between its various diplomatic processes and dialogues, both to properly restore MbS’ international reputation and to provide the stability the kingdom needs for Vision2030’s implementation.

The diplomatic cadre in Riyadh seems aware of this, going by the Saudi Foreign Minister’s statement on 24 May that the kingdom’s hands are ‘stretched out to Iran’.

Currently, Riyadh’s most obvious and potentially impactful option to de-escalate tensions across the region is to continue its dialogue with Tehran. Shelving ties with Israel is a small price to pay for the stability-dividends it offers Saudi Arabia.

Khomeini for All Campaign Organized In India to Commemorate Imam Khomeini’s Demise

 June 2, 2022

By Saim Hussain* | Kashmir

Imam Khomeini is the late leader of the Islamic Revolutionary movement which took place at the turn of the decade of 1970s. The revolution was marked by the mobilization of common people against the tyrant puppet regime of the Shah. The revolution sought to reinstall the Islamic values which were being targeted in the reign of the Shah. It was an era of brutal suppression of voices, attacks on religious institutions, the rigorous introduction of obscenity in the discourse, and a frantic rampant rise of capitalism in the country, which made life for the common people physically, spiritually, and economically painful.

Imam Khomeini rose against this oppression and became the voice of people against the Shah. He managed to hold on to his identity as an Imam, an Ayatollah, and a religious leader while leading the charge against the product and system installed in his country through international, especially American conspiracy. He spent a long time in Paris and engaged himself in writing and theorizing about the nature of the state and the rights of people in the political system of the country.

Imam Khomeini’s writings were circulated with great effort through religious institutions which remained constantly under scrutinizing gaze of the Shah. The ideas caused a tremor and a tumult in the conscience of the masses. As the situation in the country became charged, Imam Khomeini returned to the land with the promise of revolution. On 14th February 1979, through a referendum that got passed with a massive majority of above 90% votes in favor, the spirit of Islam was reinstated in Iran.

This revolution was celebrated not only the by Iranian people but also globally by Muslims and other leading intellectuals like Michel Foucault who called the revolution a ‘Spiritual Revolution.’ The revolution is a landmark in the history of mankind worth celebrating and worthy of consideration as a serious subject from which plans might take birth and insights on ongoing crises might be collected. The model of the Iranian revolution is organic and simple. It is similar to the French and Russian Revolution in the sense that it includes the last man in the crowd but also different as it doesn’t lose its cultural identity in the process. It is a double victory; cultural as well as political.

This global nature of the revolution was recalled and remembered by many throughout the world including India. People in India, under the banner head of the Hussaini movement took part in various activities like nationwide poster campaigns, social media trends, webinar, and global Twitter trends.

The idea of Imam Khomeini as a global leader was forwarded to the general audience. His values as a man of morals, virtue, dignity, and steadfastness of purpose were discussed and popularized. The trends and the webinar reached a large number of audiences and made many people acknowledge the work of Imam Khomeini in the field of revolutionary politics and ideology of resistance.

* Hussain Saim is a literature student in Aligarh Muslim University, India

Khomeini For All: Kashmir Marks Imam Khomeini’s 33rd Demise Anniversary [Photos]

Khomeini For All: Kashmir Marks Imam Khomeini’s 33rd Demise Anniversary [Photos]

Khomeini For All: Kashmir Marks Imam Khomeini’s 33rd Demise Anniversary [Photos]
Khomeini For All: Kashmir Marks Imam Khomeini’s 33rd Demise Anniversary [Photos]
Khomeini For All: Kashmir Marks Imam Khomeini’s 33rd Demise Anniversary [Photos]
Khomeini For All: Kashmir Marks Imam Khomeini’s 33rd Demise Anniversary [Photos]
Khomeini For All: Kashmir Marks Imam Khomeini’s 33rd Demise Anniversary [Photos]
Khomeini For All: Kashmir Marks Imam Khomeini’s 33rd Demise Anniversary [Photos]
Khomeini For All: Kashmir Marks Imam Khomeini’s 33rd Demise Anniversary [Photos]

Photo Credit: Ovain Ali | Kashmir

The global nature of the Islamic Revolution, with its late founder Imam Ruhollah Khomeini, is being recalled and remembered by many throughout the world including Kashmir.

People in Kashmir under the banner head of the Hussaini movement took part in various activities like nationwide poster campaigns, social media trends, webinar, and global Twitter trends.

The idea of Imam Khomeini as a global leader was forwarded to the general audience. His values as a man of morals, virtue, dignity, and steadfastness of purpose were discussed and popularized.

The trends and the webinars reached a large number of audiences and made many people acknowledge the work of Imam Khomeini in the field of revolutionary politics and ideology of resistance.

ELON MUSK IS NOT A RENEGADE OUTSIDER – HE’S A MASSIVE PENTAGON CONTRACTOR

MAY 31ST, 2022

By Alan Macleod

Source

AUSTIN, TEXAS – Elon Musk’s proposed takeover of Twitter has ruffled many feathers among professional commentators. “Musk is the wrong leader for Twitter’s vital mission,” read one Bloomberg headline. The network also insisted, “Nothing in the Tesla CEO’s track record suggests he will be a careful steward of an important media property.” “Elon Musk is the last person who should take over Twitter,” wrote Max Boot in The Washington Post, explaining that “[h]e seems to believe that on social media anything goes. For democracy to survive, we need more content moderation, not less.” The irony of outlets owned by Michael Bloomberg and Jeff Bezos warning of the dangers of permitting a billionaire oligarch to control our media was barely commented upon.

Added to this, a host of celebrities publicly left the social media platform in protest against the proposed $44 billion purchase. This only seemed to confirm to many free speech-minded individuals that the South African billionaire was a renegade outsider on a mission to save the internet from authoritarian elite control (despite the fact that he is borrowing money from the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia in order to do so).

Musk has deliberately cultivated this image of himself: a real life Tony Stark figure who thinks for himself and is not part of the established order. But behind this carefully constructed façade, Musk is intimately connected to the U.S. national security state, serving as one of its most important business partners. Elon, in short, is no threat to the powerful, entrenched elite: he is one of them.

TO UKRAINE, WITH LOVE

Musk, whose estimated $230 billion fortune is more than twice the gross domestic product of Ukraine, has garnered a great deal of positive publicity for donating thousands of Starlink terminals to the country, helping its people come back online after fighting downed the internet in much of the country. Starlink is an internet service allowing those with terminals to connect to one of over 2,400 small satellites in low Earth orbit. Many of these satellites were launched by Musk’s SpaceX technologies company.

However, it soon transpired that there is far more than meets the eye with Musk’s extraordinary “donation.” In fact, the U.S. government quietly paid SpaceX top dollar to send their inventory to the warzone. USAID – a government anti-insurgency agency that has regularly functioned as a regime-change organization – is known to have put up the cash to purchase and deliver at least 1,330 of the terminals.

Starlink is not a mass-market solution. Each terminal – which is, in effect, a tiny, portable satellite dish – has a markedly limited range, and is useful only in hyper-local situations. Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s Minister of Digital Transformation, estimated that the 10,000 Starlink terminals were allowing around 150,000 people to stay online.

Such a small number of people using the devices raises eyebrows. Who is important enough to be given such a device? Surely only high-value individuals such as spies or military operatives. That the Starlinks are serving a military purpose is now beyond clear. Indeed, in a matter of weeks, Starlink has become a cornerstone of the Ukrainian military, allowing it to continue to target Russian forces via drones and other high-tech machinery dependent on an internet connection. One official told The Times of London that he “must” use Starlink to target enemy forces via thermal imaging.

“Starlink is what changed the war in Ukraine’s favor. Russia went out of its way to blow up all our comms. Now they can’t. Starlink works under Katyusha fire, under artillery fire. It even works in Mariupol,” one Ukrainian soldier told journalist David Patrikarakos.

The reference to Mariupol alludes to the infamous Nazi group, the Azov Battalion, who have also reportedly been using Musk’s technology. Even in a subterranean cavern beneath Mariupol’s steelworks, Azov fighters were able to access the internet and communicate with the outside world, even doing video interviews from underground. In 2015, Congress attempted to add a provision to U.S. military aid to Ukraine stipulating that no support could go to Azov owing to their political ideology. That amendment was later removed at the behest of the Pentagon.

Dave Tremper, Director of Electronic Warfare at the Pentagon, sang SpaceX’s praises. “How they did that [keeping Ukrainian forces online] was eye-watering to me,” he said, adding that in the future the U.S. military “needs to be able to have that agility.”

ROCKETMAN

Such a statement is bound to get the attention of SpaceX chiefs, who have long profited from their lucrative relationship with the U.S. military. SpaceX relies largely on government contracts, there being almost no civilian demand for many of its products, especially its rocket launches.

Musk’s company has been awarded billions of dollars in contracts to launch spy satellites for espionage, drone warfare and other military uses. For example, in 2018, SpaceX was chosen to blast a $500 million Lockheed Martin GPS system into orbit. While Air Force spokesmen played up the civilian benefits of the launch, such as increased accuracy for GPS devices, it is clear that these devices play a key role in global surveillance and ongoing drone wars. SpaceX has also won contracts with the Air Force to deliver its command satellite into orbit, with the Space Development Agency to send tracking devices into space, and with the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) to launch its spy satellites. These satellites are used by all of the “big five” surveillance agencies, including the CIA and the NSA.

Thus, in today’s world, where so much intelligence gathering and target acquisition is done via satellite technology, SpaceX has become every bit as important to the U.S. war machine as more well-known companies like Lockheed Martin and Boeing. Without Musk’s company, the U.S. would not be able to carry out such an invasive program of spying and drone warfare around the world. Indeed, China is growing increasingly wary of this power, and is being advised to develop anti-satellite technologies to counter SpaceX’s all-seeing eye. Yet Musk himself continues to benefit from a general perception that he is not part of the system.

From its origins in 2002, SpaceX has always been extremely close to the national security state, particularly the CIA. Perhaps the most crucial link is Mike Griffin, who, at the time, was the president and COO of In-Q-Tel, a CIA-funded venture capital firm that seeks to nurture and sponsor new companies that will work with the CIA and other security services, equipping them with cutting edge technology. The “Q” in its name is a reference to “Q” from the James Bond series – a creative inventor who supplies the spy with the latest in futuristic tech.

Michael Griffin, left, meets with Musk, right, in 2005 at NASA Headquarters in DC. Renee Bouchard | NASA

Griffin was with Musk virtually from day one, accompanying him to Russia in February 2002, where they attempted to purchase cut-price intercontinental ballistic missiles to start Musk’s business. Musk felt that he could substantially undercut opponents by using second-hand material and off-the-shelf components for launches. The attempt failed, but the trip cemented a lasting partnership between the pair, with Griffin going to war for Musk, consistently backing him as a potential “Henry Ford” of the rocket industry. Three years later, Griffin would become head of NASA and later would hold a senior post at the Department of Defense.

While at NASA, Griffin brought Musk in for meetings and secured SpaceX’s big break. In 2006, NASA awarded the company a $396 million rocket development contract – a remarkable “gamble” in Griffin’s words, especially as it had never launched a rocket before. As National Geographic put it, SpaceX, “never would have gotten to where it is today without NASA.” And Griffin was essential to this development. Still, by 2008, SpaceX was again in dire straits, with Musk unable to make payroll. The company was saved by an unexpected $1.6 billion NASA contract for commercial cargo services. Thus, from its earliest days, SpaceX was nurtured by government agencies that saw the company as a potentially important source of technology.

NUKING MARS & BACKING COUPS

Like Henry Ford, Musk went into the automobile business, purchasing Tesla Motors in 2004. And also like Henry Ford, he has shared some rather controversial opinions. In 2019, for instance, he suggested that vaporizing Mars’ ice caps via a series of nuclear explosions could warm the planet sufficiently to support human life. If this was done, it would arguably not even be his worst crime against space. During a 2018 publicity stunt, he blasted a Tesla into outer space using a SpaceX rocket. However, he did not sterilize the vehicle before doing so, meaning it was covered in earthly bacteria – microorganisms that will likely be fatal to any alien life they encounter. In essence, the car is a biological weapon that could end life on any planet it encounters.

Musk also attracted attention when he appeared to admit that he worked with the U.S. government to overthrow Bolivian President Evo Morales in 2019. Bolivia is home to the world’s largest easy-to-extract lithium reserves, an element crucial in the production of electric-vehicle batteries. Morales had refused to open the country up to foreign corporations eager to exploit Bolivia for profit. Instead, he proposed developing sovereign technology to keep both the jobs and profits inside the country. He was overthrown by a U.S.-backed far-right coup in November 2019. The new government quickly invited Musk for talks. When asked on Twitter point blank whether he was involved in Morales’ ouster, Musk responded, “We will coup whoever we want! Deal with it.”

The South African has a long history of trolling and making inflammatory statements, so this “confession” might not be as cast-iron as it seems. Nevertheless, any hope of Musk profiting from Bolivia was shot after Morales’ party returned to power in a resounding victory one year later.

WORLD’S RICHEST MAN, FUNDED BY TAXPAYERS

In addition to the billions in government contracts Musk’s companies have secured, they also have received similar numbers in public subsidies and incentives. Chief among these is Tesla, which benefits greatly from complex international rules around electric vehicle production. In a push to reduce carbon emissions, governments around the world have introduced a system of credits for green vehicles, whereby a certain percentage of each manufacturer’s output must be zero-emission vehicles. Tesla only produces electric cars, so easily meets the mark.

However, the system also allows Tesla to sell their excess credits to manufacturers who cannot meet these quotas. In a competitive market where each manufacturer needs to hit certain targets, these credits are worth their weight in gold, and net Tesla billions in profit every year. For example, between 2019 and 2021 alone, Stellantis, which owns the Chrysler, Fiat, Citroen and Peugeot brands, forked out nearly $2.5 billion to acquire Tesla U.S. and European green credits.

This bizarre and self-defeating system goes some way to explaining why Tesla is worth more by market cap than Toyota, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, GM, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, and Volvo put together, despite not being even a top-15 car manufacturer in terms of units sold.

Musk’s company also received significant government backing in its early stages, receiving a $465 million low-interest loan from the Department of Energy in 2010, at a time when Tesla was on the rocks and its future was in doubt.

Like many giant companies, Tesla is able to play states off against each other, each job-hungry location bidding against the others to give the corporation as much free cash and tax incentives as possible. In 2020, for example, Austin gave Tesla more than $60 million in tax breaks to build a truck plant there.

This, however, was small fry in comparison to some of the deals Musk has signed. The State of New York handed Musk over $750 million, including $350 million in cash, in exchange for building a solar plant outside of Buffalo – a plant that Musk was bound to build somewhere in the United States. Meanwhile, Nevada signed an agreement with Tesla to build its Gigafactory near Reno. The included incentives mean that the car manufacturer could rake in nearly $1.3 billion in tax relief and tax credits. Between 2015 and 2018, Musk himself paid less than $70,000 in federal income taxes.

Therefore, while the 50-year-old businessman presents himself as a maverick science genius – an act that has garnered him legions of fans around the world – a closer inspection of his career shows he earned his fortune in a much more orthodox manner. First by being born rich, then by striking it big as a dot-com billionaire, and finally, like so many others, by feeding from the enormous government trough.

Perhaps more seriously though, SpaceX’s close proximity to both the military and the national security state marks it out as a key cog in the machine of U.S. empire, allowing Washington to spy, bomb or coup whoever it wants.

It is for this reason that so much of the hysteria, both positive and negative, over Musk’s ongoing purchase of Twitter is misplaced. Elon Musk is neither going to save nor destroy Twitter because he is not a crusading rebel challenging the establishment: he is an integral part of it.

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