Iran: Socialism’s ignored success story

May 23, 2017

by Ramin MazaheriIran: Socialism’s ignored success story

Iran just completed their presidential election, but this article will not discuss the candidates, the result or the political consequences.

I work for Iran’s Press TV, which essentially makes me a civil servant, and I think it is correct for me to not reveal who I voted for in order to preserve my independence within the government. I’m quite happy to work for “the people” instead of “a person” – as in private media – and I will support which ever candidate the people choose.

Why will I support Iran’s government, whoever is in charge? Truly, it is not for my paycheck.

I support Iran because I support socialism where ever I can find it, and Iran has socialism in abundance.

Iranian Socialism has been so successful at redistributing wealth to the average person; has safeguarded the nation’s security despite being ringed by US military bases and repeated threats; has grown the economy despite an international blockade; has produced a foreign policy motivated on political principles; and has fought against the divisive identity politics which undermine human solidarity.

I have actually seen Iran over the decades, unlike 99% of the journalists who claim to understand Iran, so you can’t dissuade me.

And I’m not even going to try to persuade you. This is not that article, either.

This article is to lay out for left-wing readers and supporters of socialism what should be crystal clear: Iran is a socialist nation. Even more than that: Iran is a socialist success story.

Iran, like all nations, has had its unique developmental history; of course we have been reading Marx just as long as anyone else, as well.

But the most convincing and simplest way I can put it to non-Iranians is this: Europe came to socialism through industrialization, theory and war, but Iran came to socialism through its religious and moral beliefs. The ends are the same, and that is all that should matter to anyone who is truly trying to promote socialism for the benefits it brings to the average person.

The problem is not us, it is you

I repeat: The problem is not us, it is you…when it comes to looking at Iran’s contributions to socialism.

I believe that around 99% of Westerners have no idea at all what Iran is really like. Unfortunately, this total ignorance about Iran and the Muslim world is the historical norm in the West.

The greatest contribution of Middle East scholar Edward Said was that his book, “Orientalism”, definitively proved through historical scholarship that the West has never, ever, ever been favorable towards the Muslim world.

Not in the 8th century, when Muslims were occupiers of the Iberian Peninsula, not in the following centuries when Islam was an ideological competitor to Christianity; not in the 15th century, when the Ottoman Empire occupied the Balkans; not in the 19th century, when the Europeans occupied the Middle East & North Africa; not in 1916, when they redrew the borders for the West’s benefit; not in 1945, when they bombed countries like Syria which had fought on their side against the Germans and the Italians; not in the 1960s, when their reaction to independence was neo-colonialism; not in 1979, when they created the forerunner of the Taliban; not during 2 wars in Iraq, a war in Syria today, etc. Said’s point was: Never has the West viewed or treated the Muslim world as equals, much less intellectual equals.

Given this history, why should us Iranians expect the reality of our high-achieving modernity to be accepted and admired?

LOL, believe me, I am over it! I write this to enlighten you, not me! I humbly hope that it works.

I will address the elephant in the room, and quickly: Yes, I assume that a large part of this prejudice is religious. Some Christians cannot accept that Islam promotes the most recent prophet of the monotheism which they both share.

Such religious prejudices are not my problem, and they do not blind my analysis of 2017 Iran.

No socialist believes in a “clash of civilizations” or “religious war”, anyway.

My point is not to criticize Europe for a lack of brotherhood with their fellow Abrahamic religion: My point is to criticize them in 2017 because most Westerners believe that that even the most leftist Iranian cannot even qualify as merely a “conservative social democrat”!

Can there never be a Muslim “democrat” or an Iranian “republican”?

The proof of this bias is the decades of Western support for the oppression of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Iranian Revolution and any Muslim attempt to allow their religion into their politics. This is even though Christian Democratic parties governed Europe for decades after WWII, and it is absurd to think that the Christian dogma is not upheld and promoted in European politics today.

So, if Iranians cannot even be allowed to fulfill 19th century notions, why would the West accept that 2017 Iran can be even more truly leftist than the merely centrist ideology of European social democracy?

Of course, the average European cannot accept this, and this is why Western Socialists are aghast at my idea that Iran is an “ignored Socialist success story”.

The radical left of European Socialism, which seeks to destroy organized religion, is especially aghast, but they are a tiny minority and on the way out, thankfully. They do not realize that they have already been drastically tempered, if not ousted, in the still-Socialist countries they purportedly admire: Cuba is full of Santeria and Pope pictures, yin-yangy Confucianism is being promoted in China, etc.

But these Western radicals are a minority who simply cannot accept that spirituality cannot be rubbed out, largely because they see it as a choice or a social conditioning instead of a part of many people’s intrinsic nature (if not theirs). A modern Socialist must accept that this fight has already been fought and decided. The capitalists certainly advance as we chase our tails….

Even if leftist detractors can get past religion, they immediately will talk about Iran’s human rights faults.

I respond: Yawn yawn yawn African-Americans fill US jails; Muslims fill France’s jails; this is the centenary of the British-orchestrated Persian Famine, which killed 8-10 million people and actually made Iran the biggest victim of WWI, that is just one Western/capitalist inspired famine/death/human rights violation yawn yawn yawn.

I am not here to say Iran is perfect – only God can be – I am saying that Iran is absolutely no worse than the West. It is an undeniable fact that the current Islamic Republic of Iran has far less blood on its hands than most – and Iran has not invaded a country in 300 years!

Religion, human rights – these are all classic diversions from the facts presented against socialist societies, and Iran certainly is one.

Iran checks all the boxes as a Socialist nation, and as Revolutionary Socialists

What are the key components of socialism? Let’s clarify our terms.

The first is leadership by an avant-garde party committed to defending the revolution: Iran certainly has this, and it crosses over Principlist/Reformist party lines.

The second is central planning of the economy: Whoever had won, they would be largely implementing the 6th Five-year plan (2016-2021). And there is also the “Resistance Economy” approach promoted by many, which is certainly anti-globalization.

The third is control over the media: This is mixed – I would say Iran does not really have this in the traditionally Socialist sense. Cuba has no private media, for example, while Iran has dozens of private newspapers and innumerable TV satellites. But Iran does have limitations, so let’s check this box.

The fourth is support for foreign liberation movements: When the history of Palestinian liberation is finally written, just as a now-free South Africa thanks Cuba for sending troops to Angola, will not Palestinians do the same for Iran’s decades of support? The same with Lebanon and now Syria, correct?

The fifth is democratically devolving as much democracy as possible in order to empower the average person: There is no doubt that Iran is the most vibrant democracy in the Middle East, and by a huge margin. The difference between Iran’s social-democratic procedures and guarantees in 2017 when compared with 1978 is obviously laughable. I write this from Paris, a nation in an 18-month state of emergency with no end in sight….

If your country has these five crucial components: Congratulations! You are in a socialist country!

A little bit more on each for the naysayers….

An Avant-Garde Party:

Iran is a one-party system – that party defends the 1979 Revolution. China is a one-party system – promoting Chinese communism. Many would say that the US is a one-party system – promoting imperialist capitalism.

The difference between Iran & China and the US is that in the former their one-party systems are formalized, explicit and well-known; in the US it is informal, but just as strong, and maybe even stronger.

I don’t think this needs much further explanation but, for example, you cannot propose to end the Iranian Revolution and run for office. In France a presidential candidate in their recent election (Jean-Luc Melenchon) won 20% of the first-round vote by proposing to abolish France’s current 5th Republic.

Like all socialist countries, Iran is criticized for not having democracy but they do: it is simply within their own particular structure. Just as in the USSR, there was lively debate about how to advance their own system – should we following the right-wing model of socialism of Bukharin/Khrushchev or the left-wing model socialism of Lenin/Trotsky? – but there was no debate about deviating from their chosen national system, i.e. communism. When they did allow such debates under Gorbachev, Soviet Socialism was almost immediately subverted by capitalist reactionaries and consigned to oblivion.

Again, please examine the repression of communism in the US, South Korea, Greece, Italy, Chile, etc. for historical examples of capitalist “one-party systems”, which are definitely NOT avant-garde and promoting socialism….

The idea that Iran has no avant-garde party but is some sort of totalitarian structure governed by the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is only expressed by those who are supremely ignorant about Iran. For the second presidential election in a row Hassan Rouhani won despite not seeming to be Khamenei’s preferred candidate, after all.

Central Planning of the Economy:

I think I can illustrate Iran’s state of economic socialism with this anecdote: Back in 2013 all 8 presidential candidates were pushing for more privatization…not to promote capitalism, but because everything has already been nationalized for so long, LOL!

So Iran has already done the nationalizing, and maybe they need to do more? However, socialist countries have increasingly agreed that some revenue-producing businesses are needed to meet some of the basic needs of their people: North Korea has the Kaesong Industrial area, Cuba’s Port Mariel is giving some space to completely foreign-owned businesses, Vietnam and China have plenty of state-run capitalist enterprises, etc. The reality is that even producing things as simple as soap need some expertise, and very often only capitalist corporations can have that expertise.

That’s why the Iranian government went on a spending spree in 2016, but it was decidedly not your typical capitalism. (I do not want to appear to credit only the Rouhani administration because economic policy is produced by the entire government in 5-year development plans, as already noted.)

Iran was feted like a king in places like France and Italy because they were prepared to spend dozens of billions of euros. But what pleased me was how Iran spent: They demanded equal partnerships, joint ventures and technology transfers.

These are the ways in which foreign investment can be mutually beneficial and not exploitative – this was good for France too. I am not a dogmatic person who is absolutely against all capitalism, but I am against all exploitative capitalism.

My point is: It was a socialist spending spree, not a capitalist one. Iran did not just give money away; they did not waste money on vanity projects; this was not one billionaire dealing with another for their own benefit; they invested in Iran via long-term central planning, i.e. the socialist view of economic management.

This is not like France’s ruling “Socialist Party” recently selling off national industrial jewel Alstom to the United States’ General Electric: The French people got nothing for that. That was capitalism; that was globalization

Iran is not in favor of globalization – they are not even a member of the World Trade Organization, unlike 164 other countries. Some will say this is solely due to the opposition of the United States, but it is not: As many in Iran said during the election: membership in the WTO is against Iran’s principles…and these are socialist principles regarding the economy – there is nothing about the WTO in the Koran.

Control over the Media:

It’s true you can’t have Charlie Hebdo in Iran – hardly a major loss –but Iran is certainly no Cuba.

Iran’s refusal to crack down on TV satellites which permit reactionary, anti-revolutionary channels like BBC Persian and VOA Persian (UK and US government-funded respectively) appears to be a dangerous fire which Havana will not tolerate. This tolerance does give Iran “human rights” credibility with the West – well it doesn’t, but it should!

I would suggest that Iran is simply confident that foreign propaganda cannot overwhelm the obvious successes of the 1979 Revolution. I imagine that Cuba feels that they cannot take chances, being just 100 kilometers from the USA.

Of course, Cubans simply laugh at Western propaganda channels like the US government’s pathetic Radio Marti. Cubans are supremely intelligent politically and, after all, their education programs are decades older than Iran’s.

Iran, like Cuba and China, bans pornography. I note that such respect for sexuality and for women is a very basic tenet of Socialism. If your utopia includes unfettered access to porn I suggest that you are a libertarian, and not a socialist.

I remind again that the media glasnost implemented by Gorbachev was a major driver in the catastrophic implosion of the Russian Revolution. To privatize media means, necessarily, that you are giving those few people rich enough to actually start newspapers the chance to promote their obviously capitalist worldviews.

I, for one, am not about to cry over the lack of published capitalist, imperialist, sexist, racist, regressive anti-revolutionary nonsense, and neither are most Iranians. As sad as the Dutch may be about it – Iran is not Amsterdam!

Support of foreign liberation movements:

Some will say that Palestine is just a “distraction” from Iran’s own problems. Nonsense – this is a point of pride to all Iranians. This is a point of admiration for Iran from the entire Muslim world, just as it is a negative point for much of the Western world.

This is another way Iran is revolutionary Socialist country: they support oppressed countries on the basis of ideology. Perhaps Iran is not the “Mecca of Revolutionaries” which Algeria was in the 1960s, but let’s agree that the rate and scope of revolutionary movements worldwide are at a much lower level today, sadly.

Russia may support Syria, for example, but it appears more for Moscow’s self-interest and the idea of national sovereignty – which is the idea of national self-interest – rather than a moral-based ideology.

Call Iran the same as Russia – no insult there – but you cannot deny that Iran supports Palestine for reasons which are clearly to the detriment of their own success, i.e., they do it out of solidarity and morality. Were Iran to recognize Israel they would surely have the international dogs called off them…but Iran is a revolutionary Socialist society, as you are hopefully agreeing with by now.

Iran is also an anti-racist society, like all modern socialist societies.

They constitutionally protect minorities, with parliamentary seats for Armenians, Assyrians, Christians and Jews, despite their small numbers. Iran may not promote them, but their tolerance of local languages like Azeri and Kurdish far exceeds that of many minorities in Western Europe. Iran accommodates the 5th-largest number of refugees in the world, while French authorities put up gates and even ‘’anti-migrant boulders’’ to deny refugees even the barest shelter.

When it comes to religion they are extremely tolerant of ancient Iranian Zoroastrianism and all of the pre-Prophet Muhammad Abrahamic religions. Any religion after Prophet Muhammad? Well…it is an “Islamic” Revolution, after all.

This is perhaps a pedantic point but an important one on a verbal, Foucauldian level: Has there been any “revolution” in the world since WWI which was not “socialist”? I can’t think of any, because without a socialism component it cannot be a revolution – it can only be a continuation of the capitalist/feudalist/bourgeois status quo, or a military coup.

Empowering people:

The two fundamental tenets of socialism are redistribution of wealth and empowering the average person so that they can reach their full potential. Dismantling the social roadblocks thrown up by capitalism against the non-wealthy has clearly been a major goal of the Islamic Revolution, and I can quite easily prove it has been achieved with a tremendous amount of real-world success.

Since 1990 – when the West’s attack dog of Iraq was beaten off – no country’s Human Development Index has improved more than Iran’s, with the lone exception of South Korea.

Everyone should take notice, especially Socialists, as it is we anti-capitalists who prize human development – not economic development – above all.

That’s why I’m going to leave the Human Development Index as the only proof of success. For me, I have so many other econometrics, anecdotes and personal reflections to prove that Iran has succeeded in creating a new, better, modern society that to do so is quite boring.

Bottom line: It is obvious that I do not have to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Despite the tremendous amount of opposition, violence and propaganda, Iran has advanced the most in the past 3+ decades.

I say “the most” because, unlike South Korea, Iran has done this without 30,000 US troops currently on its soil; it was not preceded by decades of brutal dictatorship which slaughtered hundreds of thousands of people (mainly leftists); and they did not collaborate with the Americans in the division of their nation which currently causes the greatest possibility of thermonuclear war.

Iran didn’t get to #1 as many others did: by capitalism and imperialism.

Iran’s recent election had a 73% voter turnout rate, ranking it #12 in the world. Unlike many of these other 11 countries, Iran does not compel citizens to vote. There is obviously tremendous support for the Iranian system from the Iranian people because…they are not blind to success, I would say!

The hardest thing to get people to do when it comes to socialism (or Iran) is to think realistically: Nobody can achieve “perfect” socialism. No country has 100% voter turnout. No country has zero human rights violations.

But for Iran you have add on another layer of misconception: Many of the “restrictions” in Iranian society predate 1979 by centuries: women were largely wearing the hejab before then; unmarried people, especially young women, also lived at home before 1979; alcohol could send you to prison then and now.

My point is: Iran is a culturally conservative nation, and it was like that long, long before 1979. You will have to simply trust me that Iranians don’t need a government to make them want to live in a society which appears conservative to modern Western standards.

Again, Iran is not Amsterdam, LOL! Maybe you can talk about the royal court in Shiraz in the 14thcentury as being a hotbed of drunken poetic reveling, but this is does not reflect the reality of life for the average person.

Only an Iranian will agree quickly with this statement and move on: Take away the 1979 Revolution and you would still have many of the same rules in place – they would just be enforced informally.

I will, lastly, put it this way: Take away the mullahs, and you still have to deal with my grandmother!!!!!

But to believe that the government has not empowered people since 1979…well, back then the average woman had 7 children, was illiterate 70% of the time, and the UN was not calling its health care system “excellent”.

Today, the birthrate is 1.7 children per woman, the overall literacy rate is 93% and the right-wing Washington DC-based think-tank the Brookings Institution runs dumbfounded articles with headlines like “Are Iranian Women Overeducated?”.

All in 30+ years…and have you thought it was capitalism that did it?!

Socialists who ignore Iran are not really Socialists at all

Do you still want to think that Iran is a country solely motivated by religious radicalism and not the ideals of socialism? Well, then I place you on the right and the left, and that is the point of this article.

It is bad enough that the right (capitalists, imperialists) not only co-opt Socialist ideas as their own (social security, Medicare, Medicaid, affirmative action programs, welfare, free schooling, free nurseries, etc.), but it is laughable when the left refuses to see the leftism in Iran because it does not fit with their preconceived, totally inflexible notions.

Any true Socialist/Communist should realize that attacking Iran is doing a capitalist’s job for them.

And how can someone who proclaims to be a “leftist” have the exact same interpretation of Iran as a right-wing capitalist does?

Again, it is simply laughable that Iran is “not” what it really is.

But this is what always happens: Chinese communism “is not really communism”…despite having 1-party rule, a state-run economy, control over the media, support for Vietnam and North Korea, and the 2nd highest HDI improvement from 1970-2010.

North Korean communism is just a “cult of personality”…despite expelling the Japanese, resisting the Americans, maintaining their independence, security and high-level of education. Cuba is just the Castro dictatorship and, again, not communism.

This is all anti-socialist propaganda – for capitalism there can never be ANY “Socialist success story”.

You remain adamant that you do not want to implement all the principles of the Iranian Islamic Revolution in your country?

Fine, it is your country to decide for as you like. Like I wrote, no worries – Iran hasn’t invaded in 300 years and it sure seems like our military is necessarily focused on defense.

But just because you disagree with some aspects of the 1979 Revolution I encourage you not to throw the baby out with the bath water. I remind you that I needed only one fact to prove that Iran has been improving at a rate which is essentially the best in the world over the last 3 decades – how far below Iran does your country rank, hmm?

I write this article because practically no media in the English language will ever pursue the links between Iran and socialism. We leftists know this not just anti-Iran bias, but a much larger anti-Socialist bias.

However, it is truly suicidal to ignore the left-wing successes in Iran because, even if you reject some of them, Iran has clearly found MANY modern solutions to our MANY modern problems: surely some of them can be of use to you, right? Is Iran ALL wrong?

Of course not – only Satan can be all wrong.

Therefore, I advise those fighting against capitalism and imperialism: Please afford Iran a bit more respect and interest than you would afford Satan!

And now I take our victory lap

I can only laugh at those who say Iran’s revolution has failed!

“Oh really? Who was the puppet that was installed? Who was the king that was restored? What is the name of the popular democratic revolution which replaced the peoples’ one of 1979, because I have not heard of it and I still see many familiar faces from 1979?”

The revolution has succeeded, and I am not sorry to say so.

Not that I care about your opinion – this is for YOUR own benefit: YOU will not win socialism, anti-capitalism or anti-imperialism in your country if you cannot learn from the successes of others.

But sadly, your inability to recognize socialism in Iran imperils all of us, because the people worldwide cannot win in the long term if even like-minded leftists cannot stick together to work against fascism, capitalism and racism.

But Iran, Cuba, China, etc. – we can win enough of these things for ourselves, at least.

We are doing just fine – steady as she goes, eh? All thanks to central planning, as the capitalists veer from crisis to crisis, with the 1% sucking up a greater percentage every time. Our election had huge participation rates, as usual, dwarfing the European cultures who probably want to claim they invented voting, along with everything else. Asia has heard it all before….

For the non-Western readers: I know that the vast majority of you already support Iran. I have talked with too many of you over my life – I know better. I also know that for us “field slaves” we have to give that impression in order to survive, sometimes, or at least to avoid annoyances.

Anyway, many Westerners appear to misunderstand Socialism completely: they don’t realize it is intrinsically a global idea; they think the Franco-German-Russian (European) variety is the only one. More Eurocentrism blinding them to reality, and necessarily limiting them….

But I look across the West and I see nothing but leftist failure after leftist failure: The fall of communism in Russia, the breakup of Yugoslavia, the obvious absorption of “left” parties into the dominant right-wing parties, the rise of austerity, the advance of globalization at the expense of national interests….

So the next time you look at Iran, you should applaud it as a rare socialist success. Iranians will certainly keep living their path of creating modern socialism, Inshallah.

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television.

Interview: North Korea teaches that ‘a small, blocked country may resist’ US domination

Source

A Brazilian who has recently been in Pyongyang points out that the DPRK poses no threat to the world, only fighting for its sovereignty in the face of the American “urges for domination”

Eduardo Vasco, Pravda.Ru

In recent weeks tensions on the Korean peninsula have reached a frightening level, where analysts and news reports havepredicted nuclear war at any moment.

Meanwhile, after the military parade on April 15, as part of the celebrations for the 105th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung, the founder of the country, North Korea tested new intercontinental missiles, even under threat of a US attack. The test, instead of leading to American intervention, has prompted President Donald Trump to withdraw from his warmonger speech against Pyongyang.

North Koreans, however, remain on the alert in the same way they have been for more than 60 years, since the US has been keeping troops stationed in South Korea and Japan since the end of World War II.

Gabriel Gonçalves Martinez was on April 15 in Pyongyang, capital of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), North Korea. He was invited by the North Korean government, representing the Communist Reconstruction Union (URC) and the Center for Juche Idea Studies – Brazil.

What did you think of the commemorations of the 105th anniversary of Kim Il Sung’s birth on April 15?

The celebrations were impressive. On the 15th we had the opportunity to watch the military parade held in Pyongyang. At the time, we were able to see with our own eyes the power of the Korean People’s Army. After the military parade, in the streets it was possible to see the people in a festive mood. In all corners of the city there were cultural and artistic groups performing presentations, young pioneers singing. In short, a situation totally different from what was being presented by the media in the West.

What is the mood between the authorities and the North Korean people in the midst of this renewed escalation of tension with the United States?

The North Koreans harbor no illusions about US imperialism. They know that much of Trump’s aggressive rhetoric is also linked to his attempt to gain some legitimacy among the sectors that really govern the United States, namely the industrial-military complex. Anyway, the official policy of the DPRK is to develop what they call “prosperous socialist power” and the possession of nuclear weapons is not something that is open for negotiation. The possession of nuclear weapons by the DPRK is already a fact, whether or not the United States likes it.

Do North Koreans hate the US and are they really aggressive and dangerous, as the media say?

North Koreans hate American imperialism. They had a traumatizing experience during the 50’s that was the Korean War. They suffered in their own skin the destruction promoted by the United States, so they have every reason in the world to be angry with the United States. Now, this does not mean that this hatred of US imperialism translates into an automatic hatred of the American people. The media in the capitalist countries demonize the DPRK, but it is clear that the country poses no threat to the world. They pose a threat to the imperialists and their longing for domination, for they teach that even a small, blocked country can resist.

From what you saw in the military parade, has the DPRK the ability to face the US should there be a war? It seems that Donald Trump has stepped back and toned down the threats …

Yes, they have full capacity to face the US. The United States needs to take into consideration that the DPRK is not Libya or Iraq. It is a country that has nuclear arsenal and a powerful army. A war with the DPRK would not be so simple.

What is the importance of Kim Il Sung, the 105th anniversary celebration, for North Korean history?

Kim Il Sung was the main figure in the Korean people’s liberation struggle against Japanese imperialism and the main organizer of the communist movement in Korea. As a young man he founded several important communist organizations, such as the Union to Defeat Imperialism, the Communist Youth Union, the Anti-Imperialist Youth Union; In the aftermath of the anti-Japanese war, he founded the Communist Party of North Korea, which later gave rise to the Korean Labor Party. He was also the main founder of the Korean People’s Army, which is the Army of the Labor Party. Kim Il Sung was at the forefront of the socialist construction process in the DPRK until the end of his life in 1994.

To finish. This was not the first time you were in the DPRK. What did you see in your visits to the country? Did you see differences from what is broadcast by the media? Has anything changed since your previous visit?

This was my fourth time in the DPRK.

The first was in 2011 to attend the celebrations of the 99th anniversary of President Kim Il Sung. The reality of the country is totally different from what is shown by the mainstream media. Contrary to what many may think, the DPRK is not a bankrupt country, miserable, about to collapse. Pyongyang, for example, can easily be considered one of the most beautiful cities in Asia, full of parks, museums, monuments, etc. Since when I first visited the country, one can see in Pyongyang a rapid economic development. In recent years the government is inaugurating various infrastructure works, new buildings with popular housing, avenues. Recently Mirae Avenue was built, which is a street with huge buildings, where the apartments are dedicated to the scientists who made outstanding contributions to the socialist construction process in Korea. In this residential avenue you can find several restaurants, shops, popular markets, cinema, bars, etc. A few days ago Ryomyong Avenue opened, also with gigantic buildings and modern apartments. Also on Ryomyong Avenue you can find all the infrastructure we see on Mirae Avenue, with the difference that this new avenue is even more modern. In Pyongyang, in all corners of the city, it is possible to see new works being built, buildings being renovated. This demonstrates a certain economic development.

 


North Korean missiles rattled Japan and South Korea

US-North Korea Tensions: North Threatens to Sink US Aircraft Carrier

 24-04-2017 | 09:25

Local Editor

After two Japanese navy ships joined a US carrier group for exercises in the western Pacific, North Korea said it is ready to sink a US aircraft carrier to demonstrate its military might.

 

US-North Korea Tensions: North Threatens to Sink US Aircraft Carrier


US President Donald Trump ordered the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group to sail to waters off the Korean peninsula in response to rising tension over the North’s nuclear and missile tests, and its threats to attack the United States and its Asian allies.

The United States has not specified where the carrier strike group is as it approaches the area. US vice president Mike Pence said on Saturday it would arrive “within days” but gave no other details.

North Korea, however, remained defiant. “Our revolutionary forces are combat-ready to sink a US nuclear powered aircraft carrier with a single strike,” the Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party, said in a commentary.

The paper likened the aircraft carrier to a “gross animal” and said a strike on it would be “an actual example to show our military’s force”.

Relatively, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said during a visit to Greece that there were already enough shows of force and confrontation at present and appealed for calm.

“We need to issue peaceful and rational sounds,” Wang said, according to a statement issued by China’s Foreign Ministry.

Adding to the tensions, North Korea detained a Korean-American man in his fifties, bringing the total number of US citizens held by Pyongyang to three.

Tensions have been heightened between the US and the isolationist state ahead of North Korea’s 85th anniversary of the foundation of its Korean People’s Army, which it will celebrate on Tuesday. It has in the past marked important anniversaries with tests of its weapons.

North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests, two of them last year, and is working to develop nuclear-tipped missiles that can reach the United States.

It has also carried out a series of ballistic missile tests in defiance of United Nations sanctions.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

 

US Imposed Syria Sanctions Hit Children’s Cancer Treatment at Damascus Children’s Hospital

Six years of conflict have brought the Syrian health service, once one of the best in the Middle East, close to collapse

Global Research, March 25, 2017
Gulf News 25 March 2017
syrian children cancer

Damascus: In the cancer ward at Damascus Children’s Hospital, doctors are struggling with a critical shortage of specialist drugs to treat their young patients — and it’s not just due to the general chaos of the Syrian civil war.

Local and World Health Organisation (WHO) officials also blame Western sanctions for severely restricting pharmaceutical imports, even though medical supplies are largely exempt from measures imposed by the United States and European Union.

Six years of conflict have brought the Syrian health service, once one of the best in the Middle East, close to collapse. Fewer than half of the country’s hospitals are fully functioning and numbers of doctors have dived.

The result is tumbling life expectancy — even after accounting for the hundreds of thousands directly killed in the fighting — and soaring deaths in pregnancy and childbirth.

On top of this, cuts in health spending by the government that is fighting a hugely expensive war, a drastic fall in the Syrian currency and indirect effects of the sanctions are all deepening the misery of patients who need foreign-made drugs.

Copy of 2017-03-16T180355Z_1713427651_RC1BBD31B430_RTRMADP_3_MIDEAST-CRISIS-SYRIA-SANCTIONS

Children suffering from cancer at Damascus Children’s Hospital. Image credit: Reuters

For families with sick children, the situation is dire.

At the children’s hospital in government-held Damascus, the waiting room outside the cancer ward was crowded with relatives, many of whom had brought clothes, mattresses and blankets in case they had to spend long periods far from their homes outside the city.

One of them was Naim Der Moussa, 55, who has been living in Damascus for a year to secure regular treatment for his 10-year-old daughter Wa’ad. They left his wife and six other children behind in the eastern city of Deir Al Zor, where government forces are besieged by Daesh.

“My daughter was first diagnosed with kidney cancer and treated,” he said. “Now cancer has been found also in her lungs.”

Before the conflict, Syria produced 90 per cent of the medicines it needed but anti-cancer drugs were among those where it traditionally relied on imports.

Elizabeth Hoff, the WHO representative in Syria, said medicine imports have been hit by significant cuts in the government’s health budget since the war began in 2011 plus a 90 per cent drop in the value of the Syrian pound, which has made some pharmaceuticals prohibitively expensive.

However, a lack of cash is not the only reason why supplies of cancer drugs are falling far short of increasing demand.

“The impact of economic sanctions imposed on Syria heavily affected the procurement of some specific medicine including anti-cancer medicines,” said Hoff. The sanctions were preventing many international pharmaceutical companies from dealing with the Syrian authorities as well as hindering foreign banks in handling payments for imported drugs, she added.

The United States and EU have imposed a range of measures targeted both at the government and some of the many armed groups operating in the country.

Washington has banned the export or sale of goods and services to Syria from the United States or by US citizens.

The EU has imposed travel bans, asset freezes and an arms embargo, with sanctions also targeting financial ties with Syrian institutions, buying oil and gas from the country or investing in its energy industry.

President Bashar Al Assad has partly blamed the sanctions for turning many Syrians into refugees, often heading to Europe.

Both the US and EU regimes include exemptions for medicines and other humanitarian supplies. However, by clamping down on financial transactions and barring much business with the Syrian government, the sanctions are indirectly affecting trade in pharmaceuticals.

Many drugs companies have erred on the side of caution, avoiding any business with Syria for fear of inadvertently falling foul of the sanctions.

The US State Department said the Treasury had authorised services in support of humanitarian activities in Syria, adding that there were legal ways to bring medicine into the country.

The EU also rejected criticism of its sanctions.

“Such measures are not aimed at the civilian population,” an EU spokeswoman said. “EU sanctions do not apply to key sectors of the Syrian economy such as food and medicine.”

She acknowledged firms had increasingly pulled out of business with Syria but said this was also due to other reasons, including “security, reputation, commercial motivation, anti-money laundering measures” and the presence of militant groups.

The WHO brings essential medicines and medical supplies into Syria, procuring generic drugs from approved sources in Europe, North Africa and Asia. Branded US products cannot be imported due to the sanctions situation, Hoff said.

With funds from Kuwait, the WHO has delivered life-saving medicine to more than 16,000 cancer patients, of whom thousands are children with leukaemia.

Damascus2

Syrian girl Rahma sits on a bed as she receives treatment for cancer at Damascus Children’s Hospital. Image Credit:Reuters

But this does not meet demand. Besides cancer medication, there are critical shortages of insulin, anaesthetics, specific antibiotics needed for intensive care, serums, intravenous fluids and other blood products and vaccines, Hoff said.

The overall collapse in Syrian health care has contributed to a drop in life expectancy to 60 years for men and 70 for women in 2014, from 72 and 75 respectively in 2009. Only 44 per cent of hospitals are now fully functioning and more than a quarter aren’t working at all, the WHO said.

By 2014, the number of doctors in Syria had dropped to 1.3 per 1,000 people, less than half the level in neighbouring Jordan and Lebanon.

Against this deterioration, Damascus Children’s Hospital has also come under increasing pressure. Cancer units in the provincial cities of Aleppo and Latakia were both put out of service in fighting earlier in the war.

Now about 200 children visit the Damascus hospital every week, with more than 70 per cent from outside the capital, according to its head, Maher Haddad.

The weight of demand has delayed treatment for dozens of sick children by 15-20 days, affecting their prospects, overall health and response to medication, he added.

Haddad also singled out the sanctions. Pharmex, the state-owned company that buys drugs for government-funded hospitals across Syria, was able to provide only 5-10 per cent of the cancer medication that is required, he told Reuters.

“Most of the cancer medicines are imported. Pharmex used to import the stock of medicines that public hospitals need. But it has not been able to do so largely because of the economic sanctions, I believe,” he said.

His hospital has only 36 free beds, with 17 of those allocated to children with cancer.

In the waiting room, a woman who identified herself only by her first name Nawal, said she travels from the Qalamoun area north of Damascus every fortnight with her 14-year-old daughter who requires chemotherapy treatment for leukaemia.

“We don’t have hospitals or charities in Qalamoun. Free treatment is offered only at the Children’s Hospital in Damascus,” Nawal said.

One private charity, Basma, is trying to help out by funding cancer drugs for poor families. The proportion of patients who need assistance has risen from about 30 per cent to nearly 80 per cent since the war began, executive manager Rima Salem said.

Salem finds the delays in treatment worrying.

“A child with cancer might die waiting for his turn to get treatment,” she said.

‘US military budget requires an enemy’: Sanctions imposed on 8 Russian defense & aviation firms

Iran General: US better watch moves more carefully in Persian Gulf

 

March 26, 2017

Iran General: US better watch moves more carefully in Persian Gulf

Iran’s chief Armed Forces spokesman has dismissed reports about alleged “unprofessional behavior” by Iranian vessels in the Persian Gulf, saying the US had better watch more carefully the moves of its naval forces in the region.Deputy Chief of Staff of Iran's Armed Forces Brigadier General Massoud Jazayeri

“Reports released by American sources about unprofessional behavior by Iranian vessels are devoid of any truth,” Deputy Chief of Staff of Iran’s Armed Forces Brigadier General Massoud Jazayeri said on Saturday.

He added that such reports are either “based on false information or pursue ulterior motives.”

“The US must more than ever monitor and control the conduct of its warships in the Persian Gulf,” said the commander.

“We stress that the Americans are to blame for any disturbance in the Persian Gulf and for this reason we once again warn that the US forces must alter their attitude,” Jazayeri pointed out.

He made the comments after the US navy claimed that its aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush was “harassed” and “threatened” by Iranian vessels while passing through the Strait of Hormuz on March 21.

The US navy claimed that more than 20 small Iranian vessels were involved in the incident as the US aircraft carrier was sailing to the northern areas of the Persian Gulf.

Rear Admiral Kenneth Whitesell, the commander of the Bush carrier strike group, described the alleged move as “unprofessional behavior.”

A commander with Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) said on March 8 that an American warship recently drew warnings by sailing “unprofessionally” close to the force’s vessels near Iranian territorial waters.

Mehdi Hashemi, who commands the IRGC Navay’s Zolfaqar Flotilla, said the American ship was sailing as part of a naval fleet also comprising British vessels.

His remarks came after Reuters cited a US official as saying on condition of anonymity on March 6 that “a US Navy ship and three British Royal Navy boats were forced to change course when several Iranian fast-attack vessels approached them in the Strait of Hormuz” on March 4.

Source: Press TV

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What America’s Coup in Ukraine Did

What America’s Coup in Ukraine Did

By Eric Zuesse,

Armée Ukraine USA

On March 23rd, Gallup headlined “South Sudan, Haiti and Ukraine Lead World in Suffering”, and the Ukrainian part of that can unquestionably be laid at the feet of U.S. President Barack Obama, who in February 2014 imposed upon Ukraine a very bloody coup (see it here), which he and his press misrepresented (and still misrepresent) as being (and still represent as having been) a ‘democratic revolution’, but was nothing of the sort, and actually was instead the start of the Ukrainian dictatorship and the hell that has since destroyed that country, and brought the people there into such misery, it’s now by far the worst in Europe, and nearly tied with the worst in the entire world.

America’s criminal ‘news’ media never even reported the coup, nor that in 2011 the Obama regime began planning for a coup in Ukraine, and that by 1 March 2013 they started organizing it inside the U.S. Embassy there, and that they hired members of Ukraine’s two racist-fascist, or nazi, political parties, Right Sector and Svoboda (which latter had been called the Social Nationalist Party of Ukraine until the CIA advised them to change it to Freedom Party, or “Svoboda” instead), and that in February 2014 they did it (and here’s the 4 February 2014 phone call instructing the U.S. Ambassador whom to place in charge of the new regime when the coup will be completed), under the cover of authentic anti-corruption demonstrations that the Embassy organized on the Maidan Square in Kiev, demonstrations that the criminal U.S. ‘news’ media misrepresented as ‘democracy demonstrations,’ though Ukraine already had democracy (but still lots of corruption, even more than today’s U.S. does, and the pontificating Obama said he was trying to end Ukraine’s corruption — which instead actually soared after his coup there).

The head of the ‘private CIA’ firm Stratfor said it was “the most blatant coup in history” but he couldn’t say that to Americans, because he knows that our press is just a mouthpiece for the regime (just like it was during the lead-up to George W. Bush’s equally unprovoked invasion of Iraq — for which America’s ‘news’ media suffered likewise no penalties).

When subsequently accused by neocons for his having said this, his response was “I told the business journal Kommersant that if the US were behind a coup in Kiev, it would have been the most blatant coup in history,” As I pointed out when writing about that rejoinder of his, he had, in fact, made quite clear in his Kommersant interview, that it was, in his view “the most blatant coup in history,” no conditionals on that.

Everybody knows what Obama, and Clinton, and Sarkozy, did to Libya — in their zeal to eliminate yet another nation’s leader who was friendly toward Russia (Muammar Gaddafi), they turned one of the highest-living-standard nations in Africa into a failed state and huge source of refugees (as well as of weapons that the Clinton State Department transferred to the jihadists in Syria to bring down Bashar al-Assad, another ally of Russia) — but the ‘news’ media have continued to hide what Obama (assisted by America’s European allies, especially Poland and Netherlands, and also by America’s apartheid Middle Eastern ally, Israel) did to Ukraine.

I voted for Obama, partly because the insane McCain (“bomb, bomb, bomb Iran”) and the creepy Romney (“Russia, this is, without question, our number one geopolitical foe”) were denounced by the (duplicitous) Obama for saying such evil things, their aggressive international positions, which continued old Cold-War-era hostilities into the present, even after the Cold War had ended long ago (in 1991) (but only on the Russian side). I since have learned that in today’s American political system, the same aristocracy controls both of our rotten political Parties, and American democracy no longer exists. (And the only scientific study of whether America between the years 1981 and 2002 was democratic found that it was not, and it already confirmed what Jimmy Carter later said on 28 July 2015: “Now it’s just an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or being elected president. And the same thing applies to governors, and U.S. Senators and congress members.” But yet our Presidents continue the line, now demonstrably become a myth, of ‘American democracy’, and use it as a sledgehammer against other governments, to ‘justify’ invading (or, in Ukraine’s case, overthrowing via a ‘democratic revolution’) their lands (allies of Russia) such as in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and maybe even soon, Iran.

Here are some of the events and important historical details along the way to Ukraine’s plunge into a worse condition than most African nations:

“Yanukovych’s Removal Was Unconstitutional”

“Obama Definitely Caused The Malaysian Airliner To Be Downed”

“War on Donbass was planned to ignite a major war in Europe.”

“Our ‘Enemies’ In Ukraine Speak”

“Meet Ukraine’s Master Mass-Murderer: Dmitriy Yarosh”

“Ukrainian Soldier Explains Why He Enjoys Killing Russians”

“Russia’s Leader Putin Rejects Ukrainian Separatists’ Aim To Become Part Of Russia”

“Gallup: Ukrainians Loathe the Kiev Government Imposed by Obama”

Please send this article to every friend who is part of the majority that, as a Quinnipiac University poll published on March 22nd reported, “A total of 51 percent of voters say they can trust U.S. intelligence agencies to do what is right ‘almost all of the time’ or ‘most of the time’” (and that level of trust was far higher than for the rotten press and for the rotten politicians), even after the CIA’s rubber-stamping Bush’s lies to invade Iraq, and after the FBI’s shameless performance on Hillary Clinton’s privatized State Department emails even after her smashing their cell-phones with hammers, etc., and all the other official cover-ups, with no American officials even so much as being charged for their rampant crimes against the American public.

Besides: ever since the CIA’s founding, it has had an “Operation Gladio” that specializes in organizing terrorist acts so as for them to be blamed on, first, communist countries when they existed; and, then, after the end of communism, on allies of Russia. Did the American dictatorship begin right after FDR died in 1945? How much longer will these lies succeed?

For the people of Iraq, and of Syria, and of Ukraine, and many such countries, this dictatorship has destroyed their lives. Trusting the ‘intelligence’ services of a dictatorship doesn’t make any sense at all. They’re all working for the aristocracy, the billionaires — not for any public, anywhere; not here, not there, just nowhere. Should the cattle trust the feedlot-operator? Only ignorance can produce trust, under the conditions that actually exist.

So, unless the idea is that ignorance is bliss, pass along the truth, when you find it, because it is very rare — and the system operates to keep it that way.

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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