Resistance, Referendum Only Viable Solution to Palestine Issue: Iran’s FM Zarif

February 18, 2020

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the only viable solution to the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict lies in taking the path of resistance and a popular vote, rather than the US-devised Middle East proposal that seeks to bolster Israeli hold on occupied land at the expense of Palestinian rights.

Zarif made the remarks in an interview with khamenei.ir, the official website of Leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei, published on Monday.

He stressed that the Palestine dispute cannot be resolved through a scheme that seeks to violate the Palestinian rights and expand unlawful settlements on occupied territory.

“As for Palestine, instead of giving in to the humiliation and the increasing and infinite pressures exerted by the US and the Zionist regime, there are two solutions that should be pursued simultaneously, not separately from one another. One is resistance and another is democracy and popular vote. If they put these two solutions in practice, the question of Palestine will be resolved,” he said.

Last year, the Islamic Republic submitted to the United Nations its proposal for the holding of a referendum on the issue of Palestine issue, as put forth by Ayatollah Khamenei, he noted.

“The solution for the issue of Palestine turns around the two pivots of democracy and resistance. The purpose of resistance is clear and the Palestinians are in fact resisting, but today all Palestinians should express their unanimous opposition to the “deal of the century.” The unity inside Palestine on the basis of resistance can help foil Zionist policies,” he said.

Zarif highlighted the role of democracy as another game changer in the issue of Palestine, saying the proponents of a fake democracy who consider the Zionist regime to be “the only democracy in the region” need to be prepared to embrace true democracy.

“What does true democracy mean? It means that all those who live in Palestine, who are the real owners of Palestine, but who have been displaced around the world should be able to determine and make decisions for their own future,” he pointed out.

US President Donald Trump released his self-proclaimed “deal of the century” during an event at the White House alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington on January 28.

The so-called ‘Vision for Peace’ bars Palestinian refugees from returning to their homeland, regards Jerusalem al-Quds as “Israel’s undivided capital” and allows the regime to annex West Bank settlements and the Jordan Valley.

Elsewhere in his comments, Zarif described the US initiative as the continuation of Washington’s interventionist policies regarding the question of occupied Palestine.

“One of the mistakes made in the past 30 years was that they [some Palestinian organizations] thought they would be able to revive the rights of the Palestinians through cooperating with the occupiers,” he said, adding that all Palestinian parties have realized the fallacy of this notion.

“We have always stressed that it is the Palestinians who have the right to choose and the Islamic Republic will accept whichever path the people of Palestine opt for. In other words, we accept that the Palestinians should make the final decision and their final decision should be respected by everyone.”

The top Iranian diplomat further emphasized that even the former Pahlavi regime had proposed a democratic solution for the Palestine issue and rejected the 1947 UN Palestine Partition Plan.

He also complained about the “passivity and degradation” of the Arabs in the face of the Americans and the Zionists.

In recent years, the Arab world has not only adopted “a passive outlook” towards Tel Aviv and Washington, but also allied with the pair against Palestine, Zarif said, noting that such an approach has led the Americans to the conclusion that they can unveil their plan for the Middle East.

Zarif pointed out that the Arab world has stooped to such a level of disgrace that the Americans think they can portray such a despicable plan as a means of upholding the rights of Palestinian people, whereas “on the basis of what Trump and [his son-in-law and adviser Jared] Kushner think and say, they are not at all concerned about anyone’s rights and they view this plan as a [real estate] project.”

“The Arab world is still insisting to purchase security from the US and the Zionist regime… instead of relying on themselves, their people and their Muslim neighbors. As for the Americans, they obviously welcome it due to the fact that they sell weapons to Saudi Arabia worth 67 billion dollars, and at the same time they purchase the dignity of Saudi Arabia.”

Zarif exclaimed that the Arab leaders do not even dare voice their opposition or adopt a position in support of Palestine, and they even go as far as thanking Trump for his skewed proposal.

The Palestinians need to realize that they cannot achieve their goal by giving in to US interventionism, he pointed out.

Source

Censorship Is the Way that Any Dictatorship — and NO Democracy — Functions

Eric Zuesse February 15, 2020

No democracy can survive censorship. If there is censorship, then each individual cannot make his/her own decisions (voting decisions or otherwise) on the basis of truth but only on the basis of whatever passes through the censor’s filter, which is always whatever supports the censoring regime and implants it evermore deeply into the public’s mind — regardless of its actual truthfulness.

The public does have a mind, as a collective constituting the majority of the residents in the given land, which majority rules any democratic government. If the government doesn’t really represent the majority, it’s no democracy, at all, but instead represents other individuals, the real rulers, who might be hidden. Consequently, if a democracy exists but a censor somehow becomes allowed, and emerges into existence in a given land, then democracy will inevitably be snuffed-out there, and dictatorship will inevitably be the result — merely because censorship has been applied there, which blocks some essential truths (truths that the rulers don’t want the public to know) from reaching the public.

Nothing is as toxic to democracy as is censorship. Censorship prevents democracy.

If a dictatorship already exists in a given land, then it does so by means of censorship, because only by that means will the public be willing to pay taxes to the regime and to go to war for it and to kill and die for it. Without censorship, none of that could happen, except in an authentic democracy. An authentic democracy has no censorship.

This is why democracy is so rare. Almost every dictatorship calls itself a ‘democracy’. But a government which calls itself “democratic” isn’t necessarily democratic, but more likely it has simply fooled its public to think that it is one (such as the United States has by now been scientifically proven to be — an actual dictatorship).

Anyone who endorses censorship is a totalitarian, a supporter of totalitarianism, even without recognizing the fact. If the person fails to recognize the fact that censorship is applied only in a totalitarian regime, then that person has bought into the most basic belief of totalitarianism: the idea that censorship can be justified in some circumstances. Dictatorships always pump that lie, so as to be able to continue to exist as a dictatorship. There is no circumstance which ever can justify censorship, unless one believes that dictatorship is, or can be, good instead of bad.

If you think that some censorship is good, then you have bought into the fundamental belief that is promulgated in any dictatorship. It’s a lie, but it fools the majority of people, in a dictatorship.

No writing, nor any other statement, should ever be censored, no matter how vile it is. Indeed, if it is vile, then it needs to be exposed, not hidden; because, if it is hidden, then it will fester until it grows in the dark and finally becomes sprung upon a public who have never been inoculated against it by truth, and therefore the false belief becomes actually seriously dangerous and likely to spread like wildfire, because it had been censored before it became public. The most deadly infections are those that grow in the dark and then become released upon a population who have no pre-existing protection against it.

Every religion, and every evil regime, seeks to censor-out whatever contradicts its propaganda, and is therefore intrinsically hostile toward democracy, but the danger is always being presented not by the writers and speakers of the propaganda, but by its publishers (regardless of media: print, broadcast, or online) — they are the source of all censorship. They are the censors. The people who select what to publish, and what not to publish, are the censors. The regime’s media are what perpetrate censorship, routinely, because those media are actually essential arms of the dictatorship, even if they are not directly owned by the government but instead by the clique who actually possess control over the government because they possess control over the mainstream (and much of the non-mainstream) media and thus the public’s mind in a ‘democracy’ in order to make it the dictatorship that it actually is.

Much has been written about how this censorship has been perpetrated in the post-WW-II (post-26-July-1945) USA., such as here, and here, and here, and here. (All of that has been censored-out from the major media — they don’t report that they represent the regime instead of the public.) As a consequence of that censorship against truth, history is being revised to be ‘history’ so as to portray a false ‘reality’ to people today. And there are numerous other examples of this, by the U.S. regime, each instance, of which lying, is affirmed as being truth by the regime’s agents, but is actually nothing more than vicious lies that are spread by the regime and its agents. What goes on behind the scenes is hidden from the American public, not really in order to protect them, but purely in order to deceive them. The deception of the American people, and of the residents in all of the U.S. Government’s foreign vassal-states (or ‘allies’) in Europe and elsewhere, is extreme, in all fields of international relations. Whereas Julian Assange was the world’s strongest enemy against censorship, he has been almost ten years now under some form or another of imprisonment, including solitary confinement and torture, all without ever having been convicted of anything, and all because he is an enemy against censorship instead of a flak for censorship. And Twitter and other ‘social media’ are hiding from the public — censoring — the sheer outrageousness of it all.

The solution to the problem of lies is not censorship, it is banning censorship. On 7 June 2019, the need for this seemed even clearer to me after Russia’s RT headlined on that date “Glenn Greenwald rips liberals who ‘beg for censorship’”, and that brilliant lawyer and investigative journalist presented powerfully the case against any censorship at all. As one can see from the accompanying video interview there of him, Greenwald was like a force of nature, in that video, or (to use a different metaphor) a huge dose of mental draino for clogged minds.

This also means that issues of libel and slander are only to be addressed in the civil courts, and not, at all, in the government’s prosecutions, the criminal courts.

All censorship needs to be banned. The question therefore becomes: How can this be done? That’s a question I have never seen discussed, perhaps because it is being censored. It’s a very serious question. Any ‘political science’ which exists that has no extensive literature about this question is fake. Perhaps draino for clogged minds is needed especially for scholars.

Things are worse than we know, because censorship exists. Maybe censorship is pervasive.

So: I shall venture a solution to this problem: By law, all media which discuss national and/or international affairs will fire all editors and producers of “news,” but not the employees who have only managerial, presentational, and/or stylistic assignments, and replace these people (all personnel who select what to present and what not to present) by a randomized algorithm being applied to each topic, so that, if, for example, something is entered into a search-box, then the order or presentation of the findings will be listed either (at the user’s selection) from earliest-posted to latest-posted, or latest-posted to earliest-posted, but not by anything that is chosen or determined by the search-engine itself. (In other words: no search-engine will be allowed to censor.) On print or broadcast media, every news-piece will be controlled in real time by its audience so as to determine what the questions are and then to bring into the presentation randomly selected scientifically qualified experts regarding each such question. For example: on the question of climate-change, the experts would be individuals who have terminal graduate-level degrees in each of the related climatology sub-specialties, such as those listed at Wikipedia, but also in essential related fields such as economics (an important climatological sub-specialty that’s not listed there). If, indeed, over 90% of climatologists agree that man-made global warming is a reality, then the result of this method of selecting the “experts” who will be presented is that that viewpoint will be represented by over 90% of the experts — and this outcome would not be controlled by the given ‘news’-medium, nor affected by its advertisers. In other words: only the subject-matter and academic qualifications — no governmental positions or background — would qualify individuals as being “experts” on the given topic. If a terminal degree isn’t a qualification for expertise on a topic, then what is? Aren’t government officials supposed to be relying on them? And if, for example, the topic is Syria, then shouldn’t all individuals who have terminal degrees on Syria be the “experts” who are invited, on a randomized basis, to comment to the public about Syria-related issues? If that were the case, then perhaps many Americans would know that the U.S. and NATO “began operations in April- May 2011 to organize and expand the dissident base in Syria,” “organizing defectors in Syria,” and “smuggle U.S. weapons into Syria, participate in U.S. psychological and information warfare inside Syria” to produce regime-change there, and that Syria had never posed any threat to U.S. national security. And Barack Obama was hoping for such opportunities to overthrow Syria’s Government even when he became President in 2009. If the American public didn’t know those things at the time, then perhaps America’s censorship was total — which would indicate how absolutely crucial a randomization of the public’s information-sources is, so as to replace the power that the existing mainstrean ‘news’-media have over the public’s mind, in America, and in its vassal-nations (which don’t yet include Syria). If the public do not have unprejudiced — which means entirely uncensored — information presented routinely to them, then democracy isn’t even possible.

Anyway: that is one proposed way of replacing censorship, and overcoming dictatorship. How many politicians are proposing such changes? Why aren’t any? Are all of them afraid of the dictators? Is there no basis for hope, at all?

A Tour for Americans in Kaddafi’s Libya they never saw on Television

Meet the king:  Added by UP
Anyone talking about pre-war Libya is simply making it up.  
The King never lived under Gaddafi, still,
he can tell you “everything” about Libya,
and he is not making it up.
This post was first posted on 27 Oct 2011 as reply to Senior Editor of VT Gordon Duff, who rejoiced the Death of on TV: Gaddafi Questions. Though Duff never lived in pre-war Libya may be never visited Libya, he claimed he can tell his readers “everything” about Libya, and he is not making it up.



A Tour for Americans in Kaddafi’s Libya they never saw on Television


The Libya Americans never saw on Television

You know I have to wonder if Americans know anything about Libya at all. There are many from other countries that don’t seem to know much about it either I am afraid.

Comments on different news sites tell me how mislead many are. One of the most predominant comments is now Libya will come out of the Dark Ages.
Well I am not sure what dark ages they are talking about as Libya was quite advanced.
NATO has blown them back to the dark ages,
So take a tour of Libya with me and see how things were before US/NATO intervention and tell me if they lived in the Dark Ages.
Videos of how Libya was before the invasion are below. Definitely they did not live in the dark ages.
Before we start the tour there are a few things you need to know however.
1. There is no electricity bill in Libya; electricity is free for all its citizens.
2. There is no interest on loans, banks in Libya are state-owned and loans given to all its citizens at zero percent interest by law.
3. Having a home considered a human right in Libya.
4. All newlyweds in Libya receive $60,000 dinar (U.S.$50,000) by the government to buy their first apartment so to help start up the family.
5. Education and medical treatments are free in Libya. Before Gaddafi only 25 percent of Libyans were literate. Today, the figure is 83 percent.
6. Should Libyans want to take up farming career, they would receive farming land, a farming house, equipments, seeds and livestock to kickstart their farms are all for free.
7. If Libyans cannot find the education or medical facilities they need, the government funds them to go abroad, for it is not only paid for, but they get a U.S.$2,300/month for accommodation and car allowance.
8. If a Libyan buys a car, the government subsidizes 50 percent of the price.
9. The price of petrol in Libya is $0.14 per liter.
10. Libya has no external debt and its reserves amounting to $150 billion are now frozen globally.
11. If a Libyan is unable to get employment after graduation the state would pay the average salary of the profession, as if he or she is employed, until employment is found.
12. A portion of every Libyan oil sale is credited directly to the bank accounts of all Libyan citizens.
13. A mother who gives birth to a child receive U.S.$5,000.
14. 40 loaves of bread in Libya costs $0.15.
15. 25 percent of Libyans have a university degree.
16. Gaddafi carried out the world’s largest irrigation project, known as the Great Manmade River project, to make water readily available throughout the desert country.
17 Women’s Rights: Under Gaddafi, gender discrimination was officially banned and the literacy rate for women climbed to 83 per cent. The rights of Black’s were also improved.
To add to problems now facing those in Libya are the tons of DU dropped on them by US/NATO forces.
There was no DU before to make people sick, so now there will be numerous health problems never before seen in Libya.
1. Libya is Africa’s largest exporter of oil, 1.7 million tons a day,
which quickly was reduced to 300-400,000 ton due to US-NATO bombing.
Libya exports 80% of its oil: 80% of that to several EU lands (32%
Italy, 14% Germany, 10% France); 10% China; 5% USA.
2. Gaddafi has been preparing to launch a gold dinar for oil trade with
all of Africa’s 200 million people and other countries interested.
French President Nickola Sarkozi called this, “a threat for financial
security of mankind”. Much of France’s wealth—more than any other
colonial-imperialist power—comes from exploiting Africa.
3. Central Bank of Libya is 100% owned by state (since 1956) and is thus outside of multinational corporation control (BIS-Banking International Settlement rules for private interests). The state can finance its own projects and do so without interest rates
4. Gaddafi-Central Bank used $33 billion, without interest rates, to
build the Great Man-Made River of 3,750 kilometers with three parallel pipelines running oil, gas and water supplying 70% of the people (4.5 of its 6 million) with clean drinking and irrigation water.
5. The Central Bank also financed Africa’s first communication satellite with $300 million of the $377 cost. It started up for all Africa, December 26, 2007, thus saving the 45-African nations an annual fee of $500 million pocketed by Europe for use of its satellites and this means much less cost for telephones and other communication systems.
Some of the numbers above vary a bit from web site to web site but all are relatively close.More here

Switzerland: the political system and the cold arrogance

by Paul Schmutz Schaller for the Saker Blog

Switzerland: the political system and the cold arrogance

Since more than 125 years, Switzerland has a very interesting tradition of popular votes. There are three situations which lead to a popular vote:

a) (Small) changes of the constitution, proposed by the government and approved by the parliament.

b) (Small) changes of the constitution, proposed by a popular initiative, which needs to collect 100’000 signatures (not online!); actually, there are 5.44 millions who are entitled to vote so that 100’000 are about 1.84% of all.

c) New laws or changes of existing laws, proposed by the government and approved by the parliament, if there is a popular referendum, which needs 50’000 signatures.

In the last 10 years, there were 85 popular votes, with very diverse subjects, for example: social and economical questions; questions of immigration and asylum; questions of environment, energy, and nutrition; taxes; transport (roads, railways); medical questions; security and army. Of the 85 popular votes, 16 were of category a) (13 of them were approved in the vote), 46 of category b) (6 of them were approved, against the recommendation of the government), and 23 of category c) (in 16 cases, the proposal of the government and the parliament was approved). Hence, in 16 of the 85 votes, the government did not win. The participation was quite variable; usually, it is between 40% and 50%.

Please do not think that these votes are something like “people” against “elite” or “working class” against “monopoly capital”. Such votes do not exist in reality, at least not in Switzerland. Nearly each vote is the result of some divisions among the ruling classes. Each side tries to convince the population that it supports the real interests of the people while the other side defends only egoistic, particular interests. Of course, in most cases, there are huge differences concerning the financial resources of the two sides. Moreover, the press is in the hands of very few people (as usually in Western countries), which gives them a big advantage. Nevertheless, they are not omnipotent and it arrives that their money and their propaganda is not well targeted.

By the way, the results are usually not overwhelming clear. Only sometimes for subjects of category a) since in these cases, a popular vote is necessary even if there is no serious political opposition. Aside from such cases, there was only one popular vote in the last 10 years, where the losing side got less than 20%. The subject was a popular initiative of a small political party, which demanded a radical change of the tax system without being able to simply explain how the new tax system would work. They got only 8%. On the other hand, close results occur regularly.

Some examples of popular votes

Let me now discuss some examples. As in many other countries, the financing of the retirement is a problem in Switzerland, due to important changes in the age structure of the population. Generally speaking, I think that the Swiss population is quite aware of the problem. However, obviously, right wing parties and left wing parties greatly differ on the method how to solve this problem. In this situation, a quite creative idea emerged in the parliament. In 2017, the government had lost three popular votes, two concerning the retirement and one concerning tax relief for commercial enterprises. The first two were lost mainly due to the opposition of right wing parties while the third was opposed by left wing parties. So, the parliament proposed a combination of the two subjects, considering that both sides would have some advantages as well as disadvantages. This proposition was clearly accepted in a popular vote in 2019.

The immigration question has occupied the Swiss population since at least 50 years. In 2014, a popular initiative for the limitation of the immigration was accepted in a popular vote by 50,3% against 49,7%. This was almost a political sensation, which had some immediate consequences. Since the result was close and very unexpected, some people quite quickly proposed to repeat the popular vote. However, one must underline that these were rather amateurish people, politically speaking. No important political party, which was among the losers of the vote, gave support to this proposition and a second popular vote will not happen. On the other hand, popular initiatives are usually formulated quite generally and it is up to the parliament to elaborate the precise laws. In this case, the winners of the vote were not satisfied with the elaboration of the parliament.

Switzerland has the reputation of being a beautiful country and I shall not say the contrary. Protection of the environment has a long popular tradition in this country. In 2012, a popular initiative was accepted with 50.6% against 49.4%. It demanded the restriction of the construction of secondary residences, which was mainly a problem in the touristic regions of the Alps. This result also was a huge surprise. In this case, there were no demands for repeating the vote; however, again, the winners were not completely satisfied with the successive elaboration of the laws by the parliament.

In a popular vote in 2014, it was rejected that Switzerland buys new fighter jets. This also was an important defeat for the government. Many Swiss think that fighter jets are expensive prestige objects. Clearly, the subject is not closed and more popular votes will come. I wonder whether the recent experiences with Yemen and Saudi Arabia will have some influence.

My last example is from 2013 where a popular initiative – called fat cat initiative – was accepted with 68,0%. In the history of Switzerland, this was the highest score for a popular initiative which was not supported by the government. The subject turned around the excessive salaries of top managers. The vote was a kind of protest against the parallel world in Switzerland, formed by the top managers of big enterprises and their sponsors. Ordinary Swiss people have no access to this world, which functions in its own way. I would think that few people have the illusion that the acceptance of this popular initiative will change much. But it was a warning to this parallel world, indicating that the population is not completely defenceless against them.

In the light of the Swiss experiences, let me make some comments about the most famous popular vote in the world of the last years, namely the vote on Brexit of June 2016. Recall that the participation was 72.2% and the result was 51.9% to 48.1%. In the international press, this was characterized as a close vote. Moreover, prominent politicians, for example former prime minister Blair, almost immediately demanded a repetition of the vote, based among other things on online petitions. From my point of view, this all is nonsense. A difference of 3.8% cannot be judged as close, considering also the high participation and the fact that the British government was against Brexit. The actual prime minister Johnson may be what he is, but for me, his main argument – that one has to respect the popular vote on Brexit – is completely legitimate.

A government of national unity

The Swiss government consists of seven members, called federal council. In principle, each one has the same power; the president changes each year by a rotation principle. Federal councils are elected by the parliament. As a consequence of the system of popular votes, the Swiss government is a government of national unity, not by law, but by tradition. Important political forces are integrated in this way. In the last 80 years, there are three essential examples. Beginning in 1943, the worker and trade union movement was integrated and has – since 1959 – two members of the government. Since 1971, Swiss women are entitled to vote and now, a Swiss government without women is unthinkable (actually 3 of the 7 are women). In connexion with the problems of immigration, the Swiss party with the clearest position against exaggerated immigration became the most important party. As a consequence, this party has now 2 members of the government.

Again from a Swiss point of view, the political system in France is not effective. It systematically excludes large parts of the population, in particular the parties of Marine Le Pen and Jean-Luc Mélenchon. It is obvious for me that the protest movement of the “Gilets Jaunes” is a consequence of this exclusion, provoked by the political system.

The next elections for the Swiss parliament will be on 20 October 2019. In December 2019, the new parliament will elect or re-elect the 7 federal councils. Concerning the parliament elections, everybody expects important gains for the green and ecological parties. This will then raise the question whether one of the federal councils should be from an ecological party. Such questions are among the most discussed and most interesting in Swiss politics.

Generally speaking, the Swiss population is very content with the political system. Usually, the approval rating of the government is much higher in Switzerland than in other Western countries.

Relations with the European Union (EU)

Switzerland is not a member of the EU, but is surrounded by countries of the EU. Therefore, the relations with the EU are crucial. Some 25 years ago, the EU was quite popular in Switzerland. But this has very much changed. Today, it is merely seen as a necessary evil to have good relations with the EU. Paradoxically, the majority in Switzerland seems however to be opposed that other countries leave the EU.

Recently, the Swiss government has negotiated a new bundle of treatises with the EU. For the EU, the subject seems to be settled. However, in Switzerland, the result of the negotiations will have no chance in a popular vote (which necessarily will be held). The Swiss government is aware of this situation and looks for some improvements. I must say that I am looking forward to a confrontation between the Swiss population and the EU concerning these new treatises.

Why are there dissidents in Switzerland?

One cannot say that the Swiss political system is bad. As I said, the country is quite beautiful and, moreover, quite rich, modern, and open to the world. So, why are we not all happy? Why are there dissidents like me? Of course, I can only give my own explications. By the way, if you read “About the Saker” on this website, you will easily conclude that the Saker is a Swiss citizen, but not particularly happy about his experiences in Switzerland – to say the least.

From an abstract point of view, you can say that Switzerland is a typical Western country. Take as an example the fact that the “approval rating” in the Swiss population of countries like Russia, Iran, or Syria is very small. And since the case of the Occident in the world is utterly unfair, it is only logical that you become a dissident if you live in a Western country. Ok, this is a simple formula, which moreover is not wrong. However, in some sense, it completely misses the point. I claim that nobody becomes a dissident just by rational reflection. What really matter are life experience and a protracted confrontation with the society.

I would say that a dissident is somebody who expects nothing more from his or her country. Who no longer looks for being integrated. Not because of revenge, but because of he or she has tried hard for some reasonable time, but did not find any possible way. Accordingly, I completely lost my faith in Switzerland. I would not longer appreciate being identified with Switzerland. I owe nothing to this country. Ok, I admit that I was disappointed when Roger Federer lost the Wimbledon final despite having match points. And I would support Swiss football team (soccer, for Americans) against most other countries, including China and Russia (but not against Syria, Iran, or Venezuela). But this is more nostalgia, than anything else.

In fact, I consider Switzerland as a boring country. No positive dreams, no ideals, no engagement, no ideas, not even serious discussions. Only chilling defence of the achievements – which, in principle, is not wrong, but the problem is the “only”. And above all, an intolerable arrogance against all that is not glorifying Western hegemony.

“But you have the right of expressing all this criticism.” I hear this argument since 50 years. But only recently, I understood what is thoroughly wrong with it. It suggests that criticism is the aim. But no, I was not born for criticizing. Looking for critics was never my first reaction, except maybe very occasionally in my youth. Ok, I had my own ideas – but for constructive reasons. What I was looking for was the opportunity to contribute to the society as well as possible. But again and again, I was frustrated. The society did not at all care about my contributions. They wanted just my subordination to the existing order. So, finally, I lost interest and became a dissident. Obviously, this made me more calm and easy-going. And as the Saker says: “The deserts are filled with submarines.”

Are Democracy and Despotic Racism Compatible

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Are Democracy and Despotic Racism Compatible? An Analysis (12 April 2019) by Lawrence Davidson

Part I—The Israeli Model and Its American Supporters

On 25 February 2019, the Jewish American publication Forward, printed a remarkable opinion piece by Joshua Leifer. Leifer, who had worked in Israel for the anti-establishment +972 Magazine, is currently an associate editor ofDissent. His piece in the Forward was entitled “Wake Up, American Jews: You’ve Enabled Israel’s Racism for Years.”

Leifer begins by saying that the Israeli rightwing political parties have always been racist, though there was a time, back in the 1980s, when they objected to being too upfront about this. Thus, for the sake of public relations, they held their violent and despotic fringe—the Kahanists—at arm’s length. As Leifer puts it, what was frowned upon was the style rather than the substance of “explicit, violent racism.” That objection is now gone. The goal of a “Jewish supremacist state” is out in the open—an explicit political goal. And the Palestinians, including those who are Israeli citizens, are to be condemned to “forever live subjugated under military occupation, confined to isolated Bantustans, or … expelled.” Those Jews, both Israelis and diaspora Jews, who object to this process will be labeled as “traitors.”

Having established these facts on the ground, Leifer asks “how has the American Jewish establishment responded?” His answer is, they have either been silent or, more often, have actively sought to enable the power of Israel’s despotic racism. They have cooperated with, lobbied for, and raised money to underpin Israel’s racist policies. Of course, a Zionist is sure to assert that the lobbying and money are pursued for the sake of Israeli security. Yet, today’s Israeli leaders don’t define security, with the possible exceptions of Gaza and the Lebanese frontier, in terms of borders. Instead security is defined in terms of achieving and maintaining Jewish supremacy in all territory under Zionist control. This is why all of Israel’s Zionist parties have pledged never to include the token number of Arabs in the Knesset in a governing coalition.

In their effort to support Zionist Israel, America’s establishment Jewish leaders have proven themselves willing to undermine the constitutional freedoms of their own native country, as has been the case with their relentless attacks on the right of free speech as practiced in the boycott Israel movement—BDS. In the end, there can be no more convincing proof that these organizations serve as de facto agents of a foreign power, than to see how their leadership willingly discards the modern principles of civil and human rights found in the U.S. Constitution—to say nothing of international law—in order to support a state that openly pursues apartheid ends.

Leifer offers two possible reasons for why establishment Jewish organizations in the U.S. have chosen this path. The first possibility is “willful ignorance,” that is, a psychological inability to face the truth about a state that they, as American Jewish leaders, have always seen as an ultimate haven if a new Holocaust threat arises. The second possibility is that the leadership of the American Jewish organizations are themselves conscious racists when it comes to a Jewish supremacist state. According to Leifer, “No one exemplifies this better than Ambassador David Friedman, whose rhetoric—calling JStreet “worse than kapos”—mirrors the kind of rhetoric popular on the Israeli right.”

Part II—Racism Beyond the Israeli Right

This is a strong, and quite searing, condemnation of Israeli society and its American Jewish allies. Still, things can and do get worse. On 4 April 2019 the British anti-Zionist Jewish writer Tony Greenstein posted an essay entitled “There Is Nothing That Netanyahu Has Done That Labour Zionism Didn’t Do Before Him.” Greenstein begins by citing an 11 March 2019 piecein Haaretz written by Amira Haas, one of the few prominent non-Zionist Jewish journalists still working in Israel. Haas draws attention to the fact that “when Israeli governments in the 1960s and 1970s worked hard to steal Palestinian land while quoting God’s promises to atheists, they paved the way for parties promoting Jewish supremacy.” Thus, as Greenstein puts it: “It is often forgotten that it wasn’t Likud but the Israeli Labour Alignment which helped to launch the settler movement.” The remorseless absorption of Palestinian land and the oppressive treatment of its native population is not the work solely of the Israeli right wing. From the beginning, all of the major Zionist political parties, left and right, supported these policies as a way of fulfilling Zionist destiny.

Haas is unflinching in her characterization of their actions. For her, this “racist messianism” smacks of the policy of “Lebensraum” or “the urge to create living space.” Haas goes on to lament the fact that “we thought that in the end, the heads of the Labour movement would learn from the expansionist impulses of other nations. After all, they were the sons and brothers of the victims of Lebensraum.” In other words, at least in this policy of expansion and expulsion, all Israeli governing coalitions have adopted behaviors toward the Palestinians reminiscent of those practiced by the persecutors of Europe’s Jews.

Part III—The Question Answered

Considering that Israel and its supporters often proclaim that it is a Western-style democracy, and given the bit of history laid out above, we can ask if democracy and racist despotism can in fact be compatible. And, while the example of Israel serves as our backdrop for this query, we can consider the question generically. Can any democracy prove compatible with racist despotism?

Historically, the answer is an obvious yes. All that needs to happen is that a powerful group within the nation identifies itself as a privileged elite and reserves democratic procedures and privileges for itself, while condemning others to discrimination, segregation, or worse. Again, this posture has nothing to do with Jewishness. Any ethnicity or self-identified group can adopt it—based on color, religion, gender, or something else. The much-idealized ancient democracy of Athens did it based on gender and citizenship linked to birth.The United States ran as a selective democracy/racist despotism that practiced slavery until the middle of the 19th century while statutory discrimination persisted until the 1960s. Recent events indicate a revival of virulent white supremacism.

If there is a remedy to this it is in the rule of law functioning as an enforced regulatory process—one linked to a tenets of human rights. The U.S. Bill of Rights and the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights are good, if incomplete models. Politics, including democratic politics, has to be constitutionally regulated to assure equity (much like economies), and the regulations have to be applied consistently until they become ingrained as natural expectations within the consciousness of the citizenry. This probably requires generations of equalitarian practice. And, even then, what you achieve is the minimizing of the infiltration of corruptive bias, and other such variants corrosive of genuine democracy, into the system. The truth is that you probably cannot eliminate the threat altogether.

Getting back to Israel: under the present circumstances, there is no reason to believe that the outcome of the recent 9 April 2019 Israeli elections would have changed the fate of either the the country’s Jews or the Palestinians. And, now that we know that Benjamin Netanyahu and his rightwing Likud Party will lead the next coalition government, it is certain that the illegal Zionist colonization of the West Bank, and its accompanying oppression, will continue apace. This, by the way, is simply the maintenance of a long-standing status quo—a conscious policy in its own right. And, it is a policy that reflects the fact that “for years, most Israelis have passively or actively allowed values of equality, justice, and yes, peace, to go by the wayside.”

So what is the legacy of Zionism? Is it the establishment of a genuine democracy in the Middle East? Is it even the realization of a haven for the world’s Jews against the next Holocaust? No, it is neither of these. It is rather the melding of an elitist pseudo-democracy with racist despotism—the realization of an elitist fortress from which Israel maintains distinctly undemocratic control of a hinterland full of conquered people. To paraphrase the odious Israeli Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked, this whole setup smells nothing like democracy. It smells to me like fascism.

About Lawrence Davidson

Lawrence Davidson is professor of history emeritus at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He has been publishing his analyses of topics in U.S. domestic and foreign policy, international and humanitarian law and Israel/Zionist practices and policies since 2010.

Bouteflika warns of ‘chaos’ as protests continue against his candidacy الحراك الشعبي في الجزائر… ما مصيره؟ بوتفليقة يحذر من اختراق الحراك الشعبي

In this file photo taken on May 04, 2017, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is seen on a wheelchair as he casts his vote at a polling station in Algiers during parliamentary elections. (Photo by AFP)
In this file photo taken on May 04, 2017, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is seen on a wheelchair as he casts his vote at a polling station in Algiers during parliamentary elections. (Photo by AFP)

Algeria’s President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who is facing protests against his bid for a fifth term in office, has called for vigilance, saying foreign or domestic groups may seek to stoke chaos in the North African country.

Demonstrations have been staged almost daily in Algeria since February 22, with Bouteflika cautioning protesters not to allow their peaceful rallies to be manipulated as he invoked the country’s decades-long civil war.

“Breaking this peaceful expression by any treacherous internal or foreign group may lead to sedition and chaos and resulting crises and woes,” the 82-year-old leader wrote in a letter on Thursday on the eve of a major rally.

The elections are due to be held on April 18 but protesters are unlikely to give up demanding the resignation of Bouteflika, who uses a wheelchair and has rarely been seen in public since he suffered a stroke in 2013.

He has been in Switzerland since February 24 for what his office has described as “routine medical tests,” without giving an exact fate for his return home.

In the letter, Bouteflika urged protesters to exercise “vigilance and caution” and warned of a return to the “national tragedy” of the country’s decade-long civil war and of the “crises and tragedies caused by terrorism” in neighboring countries.

Algerian lawyers and journalists take part in a protest against their ailing president’s bid for a fifth term in power, in Algiers on March 7, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

Bouteflika’s letter came as some 1,000 lawyers took to the streets of the capital Algiers on Thursday, saying his ill health should disqualify him from the upcoming elections.

“We are asking the Constitutional Council to assume its responsibilities … This candidacy is inadmissible,” protester Ahmed Dahim, a member of the Bar Association of Algiers, said as his fellow demonstrators chanted “No to the fifth mandate.”

The Constitutional Council must decide on the candidates by March 14.

Opponents also cite what they call chronic corruption and a lack of economic reform to tackle unemployment.

On Sunday, Bouteflika promised that if re-elected, he would order a referendum on a new constitution and call an early election where he would not run.

The compromise came nearly three weeks after he announced that he would once again participate in the presidential race, infuriating his opponents and unleashing major protests in the country.

Algeria’s divided opposition and civic groups have called for more protests against Bouteflika’s 20-year rule if he proceeds to seek another term.

الحراك الشعبي في الجزائر… ما مصيره؟ 

مارس 7, 2019

كمال حميدة

كنت أتوقع أن يمضي الرئيس عبد العزيز بوتفليقة في تقديم ملف ترشحه لولاية خامسة، رغم الاحتجاجات العارمة التي شهدتها معظم المدن الجزائرية، الرافضة لتوليه ولاية جديدة. هذا التوقع أتى نتيجة أنّ الرئيس بوتفليقة يستمدّ ترشيحه من طرف جبهة التحرير الوطني، وهي الحزب الحاكم منذ الاستقلال وبعض الأحزاب والحركات الموالية له، هذا الحزب هو الآخر يستمدّ حضوره من المشروعية الثورية التي نالت الحرية وانتزعتها بفضل تضحياتها ونضالاتها ضدّ المحتلّ الفرنسي، وهي بدورها تسلّمت مقاليد السلطة لكونها اعتقدت اعتقاداً جازماً أنّ السلطة هي مكسب لها ومشروع محق للحفاظ والدفاع عن المبادئ الثورية وأهدافها.

هذا الترشح أتى بالوكالة عبر رئيس حملته الانتخابية عبد الغني زعلان، الذي عيّن خلفاً لرئيس الحكومة السابق عبد المالك سلال، هذا الأخير تجنّب معارضته للاحتجاجات الشعبية لأسباب صحية من الدرجة الأولى للرئيس بوتفليقة. وعقب تقديم ملف ترشح الرئيس الحالي تلا رسالته الوزير السابق بالنيابة عنه، التي نصّت في أهمّ بنودها على أنّ الرئيس الجزائري وعد بانتخابات رئاسية مبكرة في حال انتخابه للدورة الخامسة، وعقد ندوة وطنية تجمع كافة الأطياف والمكوّنات الحزبية لإجراء تعديلات دستورية، وتأسيس لجنة مستقلة تشرف على الانتخابات.

فبعض المراقبين اعتبروا أنّ هذه الخطوة استفزازية وتؤدّي بالبلاد نحو المجهول وهي مناورة لكسب الوقت من أجل تجديد النظام من رحم ذاته، مضيفين أنّ ثمة رجالاً في الخفاء يديرون الدولة من أعلى الهرم السلطوي، بالأخصّ في الظروف الصحية الحالية لرئيس الجمهورية. ومنهم رأى أنّ الصراع القائم بين الحرس القديم والحرس الحالي، هو من فجر هذا الحراك الشعبي في الشوارع العامة، ويعمّق الفجوة بين الهرم السلطوي والقاعدة الشعبية، ورأي آخر يرى أنّ رجال المال الفاسد أو ما يعرفون بـ «باترونة المال» أو «المجموعة النافذة» بما يتمتعون به من نفوذ وعلاقات داخل مفاصل الدولة لا يروق لهم أن تتنازل السلطة عن مركزية قرارتها وأن تعيد النظر في تقديم وجه آخر لمرشحها.

كما أنّ هذه الرسالة اعترضت عليها منابر إعلامية وحزبية بأنّ هذه الوعود أتت متأخرة، حيث سبق أن قدّمت أحزاب المعارضة قبل سنوات هذه المقترحات، عندما كان الرئيس يتمتع بكامل صحته، فأقدمت السلطة على الأخذ بعين الاعتبار بجزء منها، وتجاهلت المقترحات المتبقية، وهنا بدت الأحزاب غير الموالية للسلطة أنها فقدت ثقتها بنظام الحكم، خصوصاً عندما تفجّر الحراك الشعبي في معظم المدن، التي باتت تعتمد على أصوات زخم المسيرات من أيّ وقت مضى، وتدعم مطالبه بكلّ ما أوتي من قوة، وتنظر إليه أنه أتى في الفرصة المواتية ليكون هو المحرك الحقيقي لإرغام السلطة الحاكمة للنزول عند شعاراته وهتافاته وتقبل ما يريده من المسؤولين الحاكمين.

الإنجازات التي تحققت في حقبة طوال الحكم تفتخر بها الأحزاب الموالية، كشبكة الطرق والسكك الحديدية، والسدود، وزيادة في عدد الجامعات، ومنح حوالي ثلاثة ملايين مسكن للمواطنين بصفة مجانية، إلى جانب الدور الأساسي لرئيس قصر المرادية في استتباب الأمن وترسيخ الاستقرار الداخلي. إلا أنّ المعارضة تقضي عليها بأنها إنجازات نسبية، والأموال التي أنفقت في جميع المشروعات هي أموال الشعب، فضلاً أنّ رجالاً من داخل النظام والمقرّبين منهم هم الذين انتفعوا من الأموال التي استثمرت فيها. واستاءت المعارضة من مستوى الفقر المستشري في المجتمع الجزائري بحيث وصلت نسبتها إلى 38 بالمئة من خلال تقارير الأمم المتحدة.

مطلب المتظاهرين على منع الولاية الخامسة دون تحديد سقف معيّن للتجاوب معها، قد يحمل في طياته نتائج لا تصبّ في خانة المحتجّين. فمضاعفة الاحتجاجات دون الالتقاء والتقاطع مع تنازلات السلطة بالحدّ المعقول من وجهة نظر دوائر الحكم، من المحتمل أنه سيصطدم بمواجهات في الشارع، لأنّ نظام الحكم له مناصروه ومؤيدوه سيدافعون عن نظام الدولة ويرفضون رفضاً قاطعاً اللجوء إلى الانقلاب عليه بين عشية وضحاها ودفع السلم الأهلي نحو حافة الهاوية، لا سيما أنّ الأسرة الحاكمة قدّمت مقترحاً واعداً بتنفيذه في أجل قصير المدى، وهو مبرّر قد يضيفها رصيداً لإقناع الشارع بأنّ الدولة في خدمة المصلحة العامة للشعب، والحفاظ على أمنها واستقرارها بدلاً من جرّ البلاد نحو المجهول أو الفراغ الدستوري. وفي حال إصرار الشارع الرافض لرئاسة خامسة على المضيّ قدماً في تجاوز مطالبه وفي طليعتها تغيير جذري للنظام القائم، واعتراضه من جانب شارع المؤيدين والموالين قد سيؤدّي إلى اندلاع صدامات واشتباكات وأعمال شغب وعنف، حينها ستتدخل الأجهزة الأمنية والعسكرية وتفرض حالة الطوارئ داخل البلاد لأجل قصير أو طويل المدى، بطبيعة الحال ستصبح فرض منطق الغالب هو الأقوى على الأرض. وفي هذه الحالة ستعمل السلطة على إعادة النظر في تصحيح أوراقها وترتيب بيتها ومعالجة ما يمكن معالجته وعلى رأسها تقديم مرشح رئاسي مستقبلاً يحظى بإجماع وطني لإقناع شريحة واسعة من الشعب الجزائري بأنها الجهة الوحيدة القادرة على إنقاذ البلاد من دوامة الخلافات الخانقة والانقسامات الحادة التي تهدّد الوحدة الوطنية، والحامية الكفيلة بالتصدي وردع كلّ صوت أو حراك يستهدف زعزعة الأمن الداخلي والاستقرار السلمي.

كاتب سياسي

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بوتفليقة يحذر من اختراق الحراك الشعبي ضد الولاية الخامسة من أطراف داخلية وخارجية

الميادين نت

الرئيس الجزائري عبد العزيز بوتفليقة يحذر من اختراق الحراك الشعبي ضد الولاية الخامسة من أطراف داخلية وخارجية، ومدير حملته الانتخابية ينفي ما تضمّنته تقارير إعلامية عن تدهور صحته، والمحامون يبدأون التجمع في إطار تحركات باتجاه المجلس الدستوريّ.

مدير الحملة الانتخابية عبد الغني زعلان، يؤكد أنّ "التصريحات الرسمية الجزائرية عن صحة بوتفليقة مطابقة للواقع"

مدير الحملة الانتخابية عبد الغني زعلان، يؤكد أنّ “التصريحات الرسمية الجزائرية عن صحة بوتفليقة مطابقة للواقع”

حذر الرئيس الجزائري عبد العزيز بوتفليقة من اختراق الحراك الشعبي ضد الولاية الخامسة من أطراف داخلية وخارجية.

كما حذر بوتفليقة من “إثارة الفتنة وإشاعة الفوضى وما ينتج عنها من أزمات وويلات”، مشيداً بالطابع السلمي للمسيرات الشعبية في الجزائر.

وأكد بوتفليقة على ضرورة الحفاظ على الاستقرار للتفرغ للاستمرار في معركة البناء.

وكان مدير الحملة الانتخابية لبوتفليقة نفى ما تضمّنته تقارير إعلامية عن تدهور صحته.

وأكد مدير الحملة الانتخابية عبد الغني زعلان، أنّ “التصريحات الرسمية الجزائرية عن صحة بوتفليقة مطابقة للواقع”.

في هذه الأثناء، بدأ المحامون في الجزائر التجمع في إطار تحركات باتجاه المجلس الدستوريّ.

كما قرر اتحاد المحامين تجميد العمل على مستوى المحاكم والمجالس القضائية، ويطالب المحامون السلطات بـ”إرجاء الانتخابات المقررةِ في الثامن عشر من نيسان/أبريل المقبل، وبتأليف حكومة انتقالية”.

هذا وأعلن حزب جبهة القوى الاشتراكية في الجزائر، “سحب نوابه من المجلس الشعبيّ الوطنيّ ومجلس الأمة”، موضحاً في بيانه أنّ “الانسحاب جاء من أجل النضال مع الشعب في الميدان”.

كما أعلنت جمعية قدماء وزراء التسليح والاتصالات العامّة، دعمها الاحتجاجات ضد الولاية الخامسة للرئيس بوتفليقة.

الى ذلك، أكد رئيس أركان الجيش الجزائري الفريق أحمد قايد صالح، “استعداد الجيش لتوفير الظروف الآمنة التي تكفل للشعب حقّه في الانتخاب”.

ومن ناحيته، أشار النائب في البرلمان الجزائريّ عن حزب العمال يوسف تعزيبت للميادين، “رفض أي تدخّل في شؤون الجزائر من قبل القوى الإمبريالية”.

France’s Yellow Vests: Proving cops are indeed part of the 1%

Source

France’s Yellow Vests: Proving cops are indeed part of the 1%

March 04, 2019

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

The demonstration for “Acte 16”, on March 2nd, was designed as a sight-seeing tour which passed by bastions of rich, traitorous criminals (the OECD, a school of luxury marketing, etc.) and so it concluded at a small roundabout in a ritzy area, Denfert-Rochereau.

As protesters amassed and cops loaded up, and with time in between my on-air interviews for PressTV, I headed for a florist shop. I needed some poles to train my sagging office plant, George W. Bouchra, named after a former boss who departed ignominiously (she was never employed by PressTV nor my boss – it’s a shared office).

As I began talking to the female shopkeeper, who seemed to be deciding whether or not to lock up and flee, a member of France’s riot police barged in and interrupted our conversation. He was thirsty. I can see why – French riot cops wear more armour than an American football player, and carry more attacking equipment than Batman. With his huge size thus rendered even huger, he quite intimidated the petite young florist.

The florist, of course, expected to pass her day among delicate flowers. She probably had no idea the Yellow Vest demonstration was designed to combust literally at her doorstep.

My hand to God, he asked her for bottled water not once, but 6 to 9 times. Was he convinced that florists also sell bottled water? More likely is: because he was a cop he knew that all he had to do was apply pressure to this lady/citizen, and she would hand over her own bottled water. Of course, because he was a French cop, he also knew that there would be zero repercussions if what he was doing was not forthright.

The intimidated young lady kept insisting she had no bottled water to give, and the cop finally gave up. When she turned to back to me I asked, “And do you have anything for me to eat?”

With the same look of fear still in her eyes, she answered quite earnestly, “No, I don’t. I’m sorry.” She honestly believed me, poor lady! It was only after I smiled and pressed her again, in the manner of the cop, that she finally relaxed back to her former self. She gave me the plant poles for free.

What this story relates is just how elitist Western cops are in 2019. Truly, only 1% of society feels they can act so above-the-law and so humiliatingly disrespectful to others.

“The 1%” can be only economic, but not necessarily. The slogan of the US Occupy Movement was, “We are the 99%.” Whether we say that, “Cops are part of the 1%”, or, “Cops aren’t part of the 99%”, the effect is the same – and it’s time to start saying it openly.

Everybody, in every Western country, hates the police

Here’s something never reported in any Mainstream Media: at any French demonstration where riot cops are deployed one will hear the chant, “Everybody hates the cops” (Tout… le monde… déteste la police!).

Now because the Yellow Vests are totally composed of White Power, anti-Semitic fascists such a chant would never be heard, right? The Yellow Vests – because they are a class-ignorant, intolerant, Islamophobia-focused movement calling for Joan of Arc’s exhumed skeleton to replace Emmanuel Macron as president – obviously love the cops. That’s also why leftist-rightish French intellectuals like Alain Soral are convinced that the cops are secretly wearing Yellow Vests under their blue uniforms, and are breathlessly waiting for the moment when France’s cops do what is never, ever done in any political revolution – join the protesters. Cops never switch sides – they have too much to lose.

Oh wait – the Yellow Vests were chanting it as well! The reason for that is, well, everybody hates the cops in France. They hate them with same force as they hate the 1% because cops are part of the 1%.

Let’s look at history: the rude demands for provisions and quarter (if not bottled water) was always made by soldiers and cops in ancient times. The banning of quartering soldiers – i.e., theft and parasitism – is the 3rd amendment in the US Bill of Rights for good reason. From the point of view of citizens: the idea that the Praetorian Guard, or anyone with a sword and a license to stab, was not part of the 1% could only be made by an absurd dogmatist.

Let’s look at 2019: go to any blue-collar community in the US and talk to women – they view cops and firemen as the biggest catches. Why? Because they have everything a conservative woman could want: social status, guaranteed jobs, early retirement and great pensions.

Social status: For those who have not lived in a small town – and I have lived in multiple and reported from them, as well – cops absolutely are social stars. Everybody knows who they are and the power they have; everybody kisses up to them, because they fear them and their power.

Guaranteed jobs: Ah, but our boys in blue are such heroes for working such dangerous jobs, right? Wrong. It’s not even in the top 10 of most dangerous professions – being a baseball umpire is almost as deadly. And check that list of the top 25 – cops are among the highest-paid on the list (median salary: $59,680).

It is almost unheard of for French policemen to go to jail, and certainly not if they commit a crime against a Muslim or Black person. In French law the testimony of a cop is always valid and cannot be questioned, only disproved via evidence. This is why so many innocent protesters are going to prison – because the cops say so.

Early retirement and great pensions: Indeed, the only time I have seen a French protest lead to immediate capitulation by the government is when cops marched – reforms were promised that very day. Politicians know how vital Praetorian Guards are. The usual method for cop pensions in the US is retirement after just 20 years with half your pay… that’s not just spectacular for those in small towns – who wouldn’t want that?

Add all these things up: Cops are not part of the 99%.

Yellow Vests throwing excrement on cops via ‘poo bombs’ – it’s the ultimate form of rejection

As someone who sides with non-dog cultures, I find it tremendously degrading for a person to fill a plastic bag (or a “projectile”) with excrement, but getting hit by it – wow. That’s disrespect on an almost unthinkable level. (I assume it was dog excrement, LOL!)

The policemen were deeply humiliated,” reads the report. Well, turnabout is fair play, no? That’s what cops do to regular citizens day in and day out; that’s what the cop did to the florist.

Yellow Vests are doing what their American cousins in New Orleans did during the US Civil War – they are dumping their chamber pots on the heads of an army they have no connection with and whom they despise.

Westerners should, but do not, make a clear distinction between police and the army. Soldiers deserve infinitely more respect than cops, who in capitalist-imperialist societies are drawn from the most reactionary parts of the population. Cops in the West are not at all like the Revolutionary Guards in Cuba or Iran – Western cops violently guard against any progressive revolution, and their citizens all know that but can do nothing about it.

Nor can they stop the appalling deification of police in Western societies since 9/11. Despite all the bullets in the backs of minorities, all the secret torture sites and all the smartphone videos of shootings, cops are culturally, legally and fiscally untouchable because they ARE part of the 1%. The Western Mainstream Media defies cops, and Western mainstream politicians protect their salaries and pensions while cutting those of other public servants, because they are all in it together against the 99%.

Westerners know that I could go on and on with examples of glorification of cops which have become so extreme as to become disgustingly servile. The treatment of cops in capitalist-imperialist societies is, just like most Western problems, so ingrained that it can only be labelled as “total socio-political dysfunction”, and could only be remedied by something like a Chinese or Iranian Cultural Revolution. And that is what the Yellow Vests are essentially calling for.

Until that occurs, I will continue to report honestly: mass arrests, mass trials and mass jailings are an everyday part of French life now.

More blunt language, which is rarely heard in the Mainstream Media: Every Saturday the numbers of people hurtand arrested simply for protesting governmental policies rises by the scores or the hundreds.

Numbers: 8,000+ arrested, 500 major injuries, 2,000+ imprisoned (as of Feb. 14), 1,500+ awaiting trials (Feb. 14), 12 deaths, 20+ blindings, 6 hands lost, 10,000+ rubber bullets fired. If Venezuela reaches 1% of these figures the UN will authorise military intervention.

Rather than make concessions, change policy, or reflect the popular will, the government is using legal repression on top of physical repression to scare people from joining the Yellow Vests – every day newspapers big and small have stories of sentenced Yellow Vesters.

What’s sad is that the majority of those arrested are first-time protesters – they simply didn’t know how to deal with cops, how to avoid cops, and how to demand their rights from bullying cops. It’s not the longtime activists who are in prison, but truly the most innocent and the most desperate. Normally in France a sentence of less than 2 years leads to no prison time – a “suspended sentence” – but not for Yellow Vesters.

France is not a modern democratic nation but a “rubber bullet republic” led by a “liberal strongman”; it’s not new – Yellow Vests are experiencing what Muslims did during the 2-year State of Emergency.

I have only barely discussed the appalling violence, arrests, mass trails and and mass imprisonment of France’s Yellow Vests – these are inflicted by the very cops who Western media repeatedly insist are the greatest heroes of the nation. But only a reactionary believes that – everyone hates the police; only a reactionary hates the Yellow Vests.

The media is to blame: rubber bullets are euphemistically called “flash balls”. They are fired from “defense ball launchers”, which automatically makes protesters the aggressors. Injuries to cops are treated as being equivalent to the injuries of protesters, even though I have never read of a blinded cop, a cop in a coma, a cop killed, 200+ cops with serious head injuries – surely the media would have relayed such stories on a loop. Of course, the protesters are rampaging berserkers, who commit violence with no rhyme or reason, with demands “so varied” that it’s not even worth examining them, and who are not the victims of 8 years of austerity but the “losers” of neoliberal globalisation who lost in a 100% fair fight. Every poll is dissected in a way to show that the Yellow Vests are actually dwindling in popularity, and not that they actually (still) have unprecedented popularity for a protest movement in France. Every defense of the Yellow Vests must begin with a condemnation of “their” violence. Etc.

Act 16 was the tamest one yet… in Paris, that is. Rubber bullets, water cannons, tear gas, mass arrests were still used in the smaller cities more accessible to rural inhabitants. The florist had no cause for alarm that day – except from the riot police.

An article like this will be gleefully put in front of me by border cops the next time I fly into the United States, perhaps. Such an article is not just career suicide for a Mainstream journalist, but it would never get past any editor. However, it’s not like Western cops ever needed justification for their acts of intimidation, humiliation and violence. And maybe the 1% will get me before then – either via a rich person’s decree or their heavily-armed proxies.

This was an article about the horrific police and judicial violence against the Yellow Vests, but it barely touched on it – France’s problems run much deeper than just the past 3+ months.

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV 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. He can be reached on Facebook.

The Curse of Free Elections

By Hussein Samawarchi

The US assumes it has the right to interfere in elections around the world, accepting results for some countries and refusing others. Any presidential nominee who leads a campaign on the grounds of true political sovereignty becomes the subject of hate speech on Fox News and that has proved to be the first step towards loading jet fighters with depleted uranium ordinance.

They did not like the popular vote in Iran that took the form of a spontaneous street movement about 40 years ago but the Persian nation is no easy game. In those four decades, neither did the subsequently elected governments show signs of subordination nor did the people who elected them show readiness to lose national pride. The Americans have been battering the Iranian people with one embargo after another, attempting to deprive them of medicine, food, electricity, clean water, defensive weapons, and anything else that could spark a popular movement against a political system that refuses to condone colonialism.

Syria has proved to be the master of its own politics. President Bashar al-Assad stood firmly by his people’s beliefs in independent choices regarding the rights of Arabs. He voiced out, as President Hafez did before him, the need to maintain the right to dignity regardless of which self-proclaimed superpower gets furious. And, furious it became.

After years of harsh embargos, rendered unsuccessful due to the resilience of the people, aimed at the Syrian society’s very basis, Washington gave its regional agents the green light to introduce terrorism with budgets in the billions. Qatar, alone, is said to have spent three billion dollars in arms and payoffs to those aiming mortar shells at morning markets, hospitals, and schools.

This was all because Syria held its own elections and refused foreign intervention in the people’s choice.

In January 2006, the Palestinian people chose Hamas representatives as majority seat holders in the parliament. That didn’t sit well with the American administration. A punishment was therefore administered to teach the children of Abraham a lesson in “democratic” elections. Not that they haven’t been subjected to the true meaning of the word Holocaust for the past 80 years or so, but now  their systematic annihilation is being supported by regional powers as well.

The majority in Bahrain dared to ask for proportionate representation in the government and the Saudi women began questioning their status quo. As a result, minors were executed and women were tortured. The governments who administered those crimes are not elected. The White House says those governments are friends. It seems that George Washington’s beliefs do not apply to the humans living on that side of Earth.

Nicaragua and Cuba are deemed to be in desperate need of American intervention in the people’s choice according to recent statements and last but not least, Venezuela.

The American government has finally decided that years of economic warfare against the Venezuelans are not yielding the desired results in controlling their freedom of choice when ballots are set. Last August, Former President Obama’s favorite toys were dispatched to get rid of their majority’s choice. When that did not work, they had a public figure go openly against the constitution and proclaim himself a president who could, with the help of Trump, relief the country from famine, medicine shortages, independence, and free elections.

So, despite Russian denial and lack of credible proof, President Putin interfered in the 2016 US presidential elections! The same media sources who are not letting us hear the end of this are glorifying pilots of US aerial refueling aircraft extending the range of Saudi bombers that target Yemeni civilians who chose a government out of free will.

What is the new world order going to look like if we give up our rights to form our own governments according to our social beliefs? Should we just send the voting booths to the US where Americans can do the voting for us? Perhaps, this way they can choose the puppets they have trained to govern us without cruise missiles armed with democracy warheads falling on our children.

How America’s Dictatorship Works

How America’s Dictatorship Works

ERIC ZUESSE | 16.02.2019 | WORLD / AMERICAS

How America’s Dictatorship Works

Trump could not have become America’s President if he had not won the “vote” of his nation’s second-largest political donor in 2016, casinos-owner Sheldon Adelson.

In publicly recorded donations, as of 25 December 2018, Adelson and his wife donated $82,522,800 to Republican candidates in 2016, and this amount doesn’t include any of the secret money. Of that sum, it’s virtually impossible to find out how much went specifically to Trump’s campaign for President, but, as of 9 May 2017, the Adelsons were publicly recorded as having donated $20.4 million to Trump’s campaign. Their impact on the Presidential contest was actually much bigger than that, however, because even the Adelsons’ non-Trump-campaign donations went to the Republican Party, and the rest went to Republican pro-Trump candidates, and the rest went to Republican PACS — and, so, a large percentage (if not all) of that approximately $60 million non-Trump-campaign political expenditure by the Adelsons was boosting Trump’s Presidential vote.

The second-largest Republican donor in 2016 was the hedge fund manager Paul Singer, at $26,114,653. It was less than a third, 31.6%, as large as the Adelsons’ contribution. Singer is the libertarian who proudly invests in weak entities that have been sucked dry by the aristocracy and who almost always extracts thereby, in the courts, far larger returns-on-investment than do other investors, who have simply settled to take a haircut on their failing high-interest-rate loans to that given weak entity. Singer hires the rest of his family to run his asset-stripping firm, which is named after his own middle name, “Elliott Advisors,” and he despises any wealthy person who won’t (like he does) fight tooth-and-nail to extract, from any weak entity, everything that can possibly be stripped from it. His Elliott Advisors is called a “vulture fund,” but that’s an insult to vultures, who instead eat corpses. They don’t actually attack and rip apart vulnerable struggling animals, like Singer’s operation does.

So, that’s the top two, on the Republican Party side.

On the Democratic Party side, the largest 2016 donor was the largest of all political donors in 2016, the hedge fund manager Thomas Steyer, $91,069,795. The second-largest was hedge fund manager Donald S. Sussman, $41,841,000. Both of them supported Hillary Clinton against Bernie Sanders, and then against Donald Trump.

As of 23 January 2019, the record shows that Trump received $46,873,083 in donations larger than $200, and $86,749,927 in donations smaller than $200. Plus, he got $144,764 in PAC contributions. Hillary Clinton received $300,111,643 in over-$200 donations, and $105,552,584 in under-$200 donations. Plus, she got $1,785,190 in PAC donations. She received 6.4 times as much in $200+ donations as Trump did. She received 1.2 times as much in under-$200 donations as he did. Clearly, billionaires strongly preferred Hillary. So, it’s understandable why not only America’s Democratic Party billionaires but also many of America’s Republican Party billionaires want President Trump to become replaced ASAP by his V.P., President Pence, who has a solid record of doing only whatever his big donors want him to do. For them, the wet dream would be a 2020 contest between Mike Pence or a clone, versus Hillary Clinton or a clone (such as Joe Biden or Beto O’Rourke). That would be their standard fixed game, America’s heads-I-win-tails-you-lose ‘democracy’.

On 18 January 2018 was reported that, “Trump pulled in $107 million in individual contributions, nearly doubling President Barack Obama’s 2009 record of $53 million.” However, in both of those cases, the figures which were being compared were actually donations to fund the inaugural festivities, not the actual campaigns. But Adelson led there, too: “Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson was [the] most generous [donor], giving $5 million to the inaugural committee.” The second-biggest donor to that was Hushang Ansary of Stewart & Stevenson, at $2 million. He had previously been the CEO of the National Iranian Oil Company until the CIA-appointed dictator, the brutal and widely hated Shah, was overthrown in 1979 and replaced by Iran’s now theocratically overseen limited democracy. The US aristocracy, whose CIA had overthrown Iran’s popular and democratically elected Prime Minister in 1953, installed the Shah to replace that elected head-of-state, and they then denationalized and privatized Iran’s oil company, so as to cut America’s aristocrats in on Iran’s oil. Basically, America’s aristocracy stole Iran in 1953, and Iranians grabbed their country back in 1979, and USbillionaires have been trying to get it back ever since. Ansary’s net worth is estimated at “over $2 billion,” and, “By the 1970s, the CIA considered Ansary to be one of seventeen members of ‘the Shah’s Inner Circle’ and he was one of the Shah’s top two choices to succeed Amir Abbas Hoveyda as Prime Minister.” But, that just happened to be the time when the Shah became replaced in an authentic revolution against America’s dictatorship. Iran’s revolution produced the country’s current partially democratic Government. So, this would-be US stooge Ansary fled to America, which had been Iran’s master during 1953-79, and he was welcomed with open arms by Amerca’s and allied aristocracies.

Other than the Adelsons, the chief proponents of regime-change in Iran since 1979 are the US-billionaires-controlled CIA, and ‘news’-media, and Government, and the Shah’s family, and the Saud family, and Israel’s apartheid regime headed by the Adelsons’ protégé in Israel, Netanyahu. America’s billionaires want Iran back, and the CIA represents them (the Deep State) — not the American public — precisely as it did in 1953, when the CIA seized Iran for America’s billionaires.

In the current election-cycle, 2018, the Adelsons have thus far invested $123,208,200, all in Republicans, and this tops the entire field. The second-largest political investor, for this cycle, is the former Republican Mayor of NYC, Michael Bloomberg, at $90,282,515, all to Democrats. Is he a Republican, or is he a Democrat? Does it actually make any difference? He is consistently a promoter of Wall Street. The third-largest donor now is Tom Steyer, at $70,743,864, all to Democrats. The fourth-largest is a Wisconsin libertarian-conservative billionaire, Richard Uihlein, at $39,756,996. Back on 19 March 2018, Politico reported that “Uihlein and his wife, Elizabeth, are currently the biggest Republican donors of the 2018 midterm elections, having given $21 million to candidates for federal office and super PACs that will support them. And that doesn’t include their funding of state candidates.” On 1 October 2016, International Business Times had listed the top ten donors to each of the two Parties, and the Uihleins at that time were #4 on the Republican side, at $21.5 million.

Of course, all of the top donors are among the 585 US billionaires, and therefore they can afford to spend lots on the Republican and/or Democratic nominees. Open Secrets reported on 31 March 2017 that “Of the world’s 100 richest billionaires, 36 are US citizens and thus eligible to donate to candidates and other political committees here. OpenSecrets Blog found that 30 of those [36] [or five sixths of the total 36 wealthiest Americans] actually did so, contributing a total of $184.4 million — with 58 percent [of their money] going to Republican efforts.” Democratic Party nominees thus got 42%; and, though it’s not as much as Republican ones get, it’s usually enough so that if a Democrat becomes elected, that person too will be controlled by billionaires.

For example, in the West Virginia Democratic Presidential primary in 2016, Bernie Sanders won all 55 counties in the state but that state’s delegation to the Democratic National Convention handed 19 of the state’s 37 votes at the Convention to his opponent, Hillary Clinton, who got more money from billionaires than all other US Presidential candidates combined. The millions of Democrats who voted for Hillary Clinton were voting for the billionaires’ favorite, and she and her DNC stole the Party’s nomination from Sanders, who was the nation’s most-preferred Presidential candidate in 2016; and, yet, most of those voters still happily voted, yet again, for her, in the general election — as if she hadn’t practically destroyed the Party by prostituting it to its billionaires even more than Obama had already done. Of course, she ran against Trump, and, for once, the billionaires were shocked to find that their enormous investment in a candidate had been for naught. That’s how incompetent she was. But they still kept control over both of the political Parties, and the Sanders choice to head the DNC (the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Party itself) lost out to the Obama-Clinton choice, so that today’s Democratic Party is still the same: winning is less important to them than serving their top donors is.

This means that America’s winners of federal elections represent almost entirely America’s 585 billionaires, and not the 328,335,647Americans (as of noon on 23 January 2019). Of course, there is a slight crossover of interests between those two economic classes, since 0.000002 of those 328,335,647, or 0.0002% of them, are billionaires. However, if 0.0002% of federal office-holders represent the public, and the remaining 99.9998% represent the billionaires, then is that actually a bipartisan Government? If instead 99.9998% represented 328,335,062 Americans, and 0.0002% represented the 585 billionaires; then, that, too, wouldn’t be bipartisan, but would it be a democratic (small “d”) government? So, America is not a democracy (regardless of whether it’s bipartisan); it is instead an aristocracy, just like ancient France was, and the British empire, etc. The rest of America’s population (the 328,335,062 other Americans) are mere subjects, though we are officially called ‘citizens’, of this actual aristocracy.

The same is true in Israel, the land that the Adelsons (the individuals who largely control America) are so especially devoted to. On 8 November 2016, Israel’s pro-Hillary-Clinton and anti-Netanyahu Ha’aretz newspaper headlined “The Collapsing Political Triangle Linking Adelson, Netanyahu and Trump”, and reported that Ha’aretz’s bane and top competitor was the freely distributed daily Israeli newspaper, Israel Hayom, and:

Israel Hayom was founded by Adelson nine years ago, in order to give Netanyahu – who has been rather harshly treated by the Israeli media throughout his political career – a friendly newspaper. Under Israeli law, the total sum an individual can donate to a politician or party is very limited, and corporate donations are not allowed. Israel Hayom has been a convenient loophole, allowing Adelson to invest the sort of money he normally gives American politicians on Netanyahu’s behalf. It has no business model and carries far fewer ads than most daily newspapers. While the privately owned company does not publish financial reports, industry insiders estimate that Adelson must spend around $50 million annually on the large team of journalists and the printing and distribution operations.

Distributed for free, in hundreds of thousands of copies the length and breadth of the country, Israel Hayom … clings slavishly to the line from Netanyahu’s office – praising him and his family to the heavens while smearing his political rivals, both on the left and the right.

A billionaire can afford to use his or her ‘news’-media in lieu of political campaign donations. Lots of billionaires do that. They don’t need to make direct political donations. And ‘making money’ by owning a ‘news’-medium can even be irrelevant, for them. Instead, owning an important ’news’-medium can be, for them, just another way, or sometimes their only way, to buy control over the government. It certainly works. It’s very effective in Israel.

Adelson is #14 on the 2018 Forbes 400 list of wealthiest Americans, all having net worths of $2.1 billion or more, his being $38.4 billion, just one-third as large as that of Jeff Bezos. Bezos is the owner of around 15% of Amazon Corporation, whose profits are derived almost entirely from the Amazon Web Services that are supplied to the US Pentagon, NSA, and CIA. So, he’s basically a ‘defense’ contractor. Bezos’s directly owned Washington Post is one of America’s leading neoconservative and neoliberal, or pro-invasion and pro-Democratic Party, media; and, so, his personal ownership of that newspaper is much like his owning a one-person national political PAC to promote whatever national policies will increase his fortune. The more that goes to the military and the less that goes to everything else, the wealthier he will become. His newspaper pumps the ‘national security threats’ to America.

Adelson controls Israel’s Government. Whereas he might be a major force in America’s Government, that’s actually much more controlled by the world’s wealthiest person, the only trillionaire, the King of Saudi Arabia. He has enough wealth so that he can buy almost anybody he wants — and he does, through his numerous agents. But, of course, both Israel’s Government and Saudi Arabia’s Government hate Iran’s Government at least as much as America’s Government does. In fact, if Russia’s Government weren’t likely to defend Iran’s Government from an invasion, then probably Iran would already have been invaded. Supporters of America’s Government are supporters of a world government by America’s billionaires, because that’s what the US Government, in all of its international functions (military, diplomatic, etc.) actually represents: it’s America’s global dictatorship. They throw crumbs to America’s poor so as to make it a ‘two-party’ and not merely a ‘one-party’ government and so that one of the Parties can call itself ‘the Democratic Party’, but America’s is actually a one-party government, and it represents only the very wealthiest, in both Parties. The aristocracy’s two separate party-organizations compete against each other. But their real audience is the aristocracy’s dollars, not the public’s voters. This “two-Party” dictatorship (by the aristocracy) is a different governing model than in China and some other countries.

The great investigative journalist Wayne Madsen headlined on January 24th “Trump Recognition of Rival Venezuelan Government Will Set Off a Diplomatic Avalanche” and he reported the possibility of a war developing between the US and Russia over America’s aggression against Venezuela. US media even have pretended that the US Government isn’t the one that customarily perpetrates coups in Latin America, and pretended that Russia’s and Cuba’s Governments are simply blocking ‘democracy’ from blossoming in Venezuela. On January 24th, Middle East Eye reported that Morgan Stanley’s CEO James Gorman had just told the World Economic Forum, in Davos, that the torture-murder of Saudi Crown Prince Salman’s critic and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was “unacceptable,” “But what do you do? What part do you play in the process of economic and social change?” and the report continued: “Gorman said he did not judge any country’s attempts to root out corruption,” and Gorman and a French tycoon joined in throwing their “weight behind Riyadh’s economic and social direction, by saying, ‘it is quite difficult and brave what the kingdom is doing’,” by its ‘reforms’. It was all being done to ‘root out corruption, and to spread democracy’. Sure. There’s “a sucker born every minute,” except now it’s every second. That seems to be the main way to win votes.

On January 26th, Trump appointed the fascist Elliott Abrams to lead this ‘democratization of Venezuela’, by overthrowing and replacing the elected President by the second-in-line-of succession (comparable in Venezuela to removing Trump and skipping over the Vice President and appointing Nancy Pelosi as America’s President, and also violating the Venezuelan Constitution’s requirement that the Supreme Judicial Trbunal must first approve before there can be ANY change of the President without an election by the voters). It’s clearly another US coup that is being attempted here. Trump, by international dictat, says that this Venezuelan traitor whom the US claims to be installing is now officially recognized by the US Government to be the President of Venezuela. Bloomberg News reported that Abrams would join Trump’s neocon Secretary of State on January 26that the UN to lobby there for the UN to authorize Trump’s intended Venezuelan coup. The EU seemed strongly inclined to follow America’s lead. On the decisive UN body, the Permanent Security Council, of China, France, Russia, UK, and US, the US position was backed by three: US, France, and UK. Russia and China were opposed. In the EU, only France, Germany, Spain, and UK, came out immediately backing the US position. On January 25th, Russia’s Tass news agency was the first to report on the delicate strategic situation inside Venezuela. It sounded like the buildup to Obama’s successful coup in Ukraine in February 2014, but in Venezuela and under Trump. In fact, at least two commentaors other than I have noted the apparent similarities: Whitney Webb at “Washington Follows Ukraine, Syria Roadmap in Push for Venezuela Regime Change” and RT at “‘Venezuela gets its Maidan’: Ukrainian minister makes connection between regime change ops”.

Abrams’s career has been devoted to “regime-change,” and is as unapologetic about it as is John Bolton. Also like Bolton, he’s an impassioned supporter of Jewish apartheid. He wrote in his 1997 book Faith or Fear, that “Outside the land of Israel, there can be no doubt that Jews, faithful to the covenant between God and Abraham, are to stand apart from the nation in which they live. It is the very nature of being Jewish to be apart — except in Israel — from the rest of the population.” Israel is, in this and the view of many billionaires, the whole world’s ghetto, and ‘real’ Jews don’t belong anywhere else than there. And, according to that, nobody else does belong there, except people who accept being ruled by Jewish Law — the Torah. So, on 25 June 2001, George W. Bush, as the main representative of America’s billionaires, made Abrams the Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Democracy, Human Rights, and International Operations at the National Security Council. Of course, Abrams was gung-ho for Americans to conquer Iraq, because Iraqis didn’t like Israel. And the current US President hires that same agent of Israel, Abrams, now to sell internationally America’s current coup to grab Venezuela for America’s billionaires. Abrams, for years, had been courting Trump’s favor by having declined to include himself among the many Republican neoconservatives, both Jewish and non-Jewish, who endorsed Hillary Clinton for President. He thereby has now won his new job, on the real-world sequel to The Apprentice, which is known as President Trump’s Administration. Another such winner, of course, is John Bolton, who likewise had declined to endorse Hillary.

Perhaps the US regime thinks that testing the resolve of Russia’s Government, regarding Venezuela, would be less dangerous than testing it over the issue of Iran. But Big Brother says that this imposition of America’s corruption is instead merely a part of rooting out corruption and spreading democracy and human rights, throughout the world.

The US has managed to get Venezuela in play, to control again. Some American billionaires think it’s a big prize, which must be retaken. The largest oil-and-gas producers — and with the highest reserves of oil-and-gas in the ground — right now, happen to be Saudi Arabia, Iran, Qatar, Russia, Venezuela, and US So, for example, Venezuela is a much bigger prize than Brazil.

All of those countries have an interest in denying the existence of human-produced global warming, and in selling as much of their product as quickly as possible before the world turns away from fossil fuels altogether. High-tech doesn’t drive today’s big-power competition nearly so much as does the fossil-fuels competition — to sell as much of it as they can, as fast as they can. The result of this competition could turn out to be a nuclear winter that produces a lifeless planet and thus prevents the planet from becoming lifeless more slowly from global burnout — the alternative outcome, which would be produced by the burnt fossil fuels themselves. Either way, the future looks bleak, no matter what high-tech produces (unless high-tech produces quickly a total replacement of fossil fuels, and, in the process, bankrupts many of the billionaires who are so active in the current desperate and psychopathic global competition).

This is what happens when wealth worldwide is so unequally distributed that the “World’s Richest 0.7% Own 13.67 Times as Much as World’s Poorest 68.7%”. According to economic theory (which has always been written by agents for the aristocracy), the distribution of wealth is irrelevant. This belief was formalized by a key founder of today’s mathematized economic theory, Vilfredo Pareto, who, for example, in his main work, the 1912 Trattato di Sociologia Generale, wrote (# 2135), that, though “the lover of equality will assign a high coefficient to the utility of the lower classes and get a point of equilibrium very close to the equalitarian condition, there is no criterion save sentiment for choosing between the one [such equality of wealth] and the other [a single person — whom he called “superman” — owning everything].” The article on Pareto in the CIA’s Wikipedia doesn’t even so much as mention this central feature of Pareto’s thinking, the feature that’s foundational in all of the theory of “welfare” in economics. Pareto was also the main theoretician of fascism, and the teacher of Mussolini. This belief is at the foundation of capitalism as we know it, and as it has been in economic theory ever since, actually, the 1760s. Pareto didn’t invent it; he merely mathematized it.

So, we’ve long been in 1984, or at least building toward it. But US-allied billionaires wrote this particular version of it; George Orwell didn’t. And it’s not a novel. It’s the real thing. And it is now becoming increasingly desperate.

If, in recognizing this, you feel like a hog on a factory-farm, then you’ve got the general idea of this reality. It’s the problem that the public faces. But the publics in the US and its allied regimes are far less miserable than the publics in the countries that the US and its allied regimes are trying to take over — the targeted countries (such as Syria). To describe any realistic solution to this systematic global exploitation would require an entire book, at the very least — no mere article, such as here. The aristocracy anywhere wouldn’t publish such a book. Nobody would likely derive any significant income from writing it. That’s part of the reality, which such a book would be describing.

However, a key part of this reality is that for the billionaires — the people who control international corporations or corporations that even are aspiring to grow beyond their national market — their nation’s international policies are even more important to them than its domestic affairs (such as the toxic water in Flint, Michigan; or single-payer health insurance — matters that are relatively unimportant to billionaires), and, therefore, the most-censored and least-honestly reported realities on the part of the aristocracy’s ‘news’-media are the international ones. And, so, this is the field where there is the most lying, such as about “Saddam’s WMD,” and about all foreign countries. However, when a person is in an aristocracy’s military, deception of that person is even more essential, especially in the lower ranks, the troops, because killing and dying for one’s aristocracy is far less attractive than killing or dying in order honestly to serve and protect an authentic democracy. Propagandizing for the myth that the nation is a democracy is therefore extremely important in any aristocracy. Perhaps this is the reason why, in the United States, the military is consistently the institution that leads above all others in the public’s respect. It’s especially necessary to do that, in the nation that President Barack Obama repeatedly said is “the one indispensable nation”. This, of course, means that every other nation is “dispensable.” Any imperial nation, at least since ancient Rome, claimed the same thing, and invaded more nations than any other in the world when it was the leading imperial nation, because this is what it means to be an empire, or even to aspire to being one: imposing that given nation’s will upon other nations — colonies, vassal states, or whatever they are called. When soldiers know that they are the invaders, not the actual defenders, their motivation to kill and die is enormously reduced. This is the main reason why the ‘news’-media in an imperial nation need to lie constantly to their public. If a news-reporting organization doesn’t do that, no aristocrat will even buy it. And virtually none will advertise in it or otherwise donate to it. It will be doomed to remain very small and unprofitable in every way (because the “World’s Richest 0.7% Own 13.67 Times as Much as World’s Poorest 68.7%”). Billionaires donate to ‘news’-organizations that might report accurately about domestic US problems, but not to ones that report accurately about international affairs, especially about important international affairs. Even liberal ‘news’-media are neoconservative, or favorable toward American invasions and coups. In order to be a significant player in the ‘news’-business in the United States, one has to be.

So: this is how America’s dictatorship works. This is not America’s exceptionalism: it is America’s ordinariness. America’s Founders had wanted to produce something not just exceptional but unique in its time: a democratic republic. But what now exists here is instead a dictatorial global empire, and it constitutes the biggest threat to the very existence of the United Nations ever since that body’s founding in 1945. If that body accepts as constituting the leader of Venezuela the person that America’s President declares to be Venezuela’s leader, then the UN is effectively dead. This would be an immense breakthrough for all of the US regime’s billionaires, both domestically and throughout its allied countries (such as in France, Germany, Spain, and UK). It would be historic, if they win. It would be extremely grim, and then the UN would immediately need to be replaced. The US and its allies would refuse to join the replacement organization. That organization would then authorize economic sanctions against the US and its allies. These will be reciprocated. The world would break clearly into two trading-blocs. In a sense, the UN’s capitulation to the US on this matter would create another world war, WW III. It would be even worse than when Neville Chamberlain accepted Hitler’s offer regarding the Sudetenland. We’d be back to the start of WW II, with no lessons learned since then. And with nuclear weapons.

Photo: Flickr

Is Democracy Consistent with Islam?

Global Research, February 16, 2019

Most people are under the impression that democracy and Islam are somehow incompatible. However, I don’t see any contradiction between democracy and Islam, as such. Although, I admit, there is some friction between Islam and liberalism.

When we say there is a contradiction between Islam and democracy, we make a category mistake which is a serious logical fallacy. There is a fundamental difference between democracy and liberalism. Democracy falls in the category of politics and governance, whereas liberalism falls in the category of culture. We must be precise about the definitions of terms that we employ in political science.

Democracy is simply a representative political system that ensures representation, accountability and the right of electorate to vote governments in and to vote governments out. In this sense, when we use the term democracy, we mean a multi-party, representative political system that confers legitimacy upon a government which comes to power through an election process which is a contest between more than one political parties in order to ensure that it is voluntary. Thus, democracy is nothing more than a multi-party, representative political system.

Some normative scientists, however, get carried away in their enthusiasm and ascribe meanings to technical terminology which are quite subjective and fallacious. Some will use the adjective liberal to describe the essence of democracy as liberal democracy while others will arbitrarily call it informed or enlightened democracy. In my opinion, the only correct adjective that can be used to describe the essence of democracy is representative democracy.

After settling on theoretical aspect, let us now apply these concepts to the reality of practical world, and particularly to the phenomena of nascent democratic movements of the Arab Spring. It’s a fact that the ground realities of the Arab and Islamic worlds fall well short of the ideal liberal democratic model of the developed Western world.

However, there is a lot to be optimistic about. When the Arab Spring revolutions occurred in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain and Yemen, and before the Arab Spring turned into an abysmal winter in Libya and Syria, some utopian dreamers were not too hopeful about the outcome of those movements.

Unlike the socialist revolutions of 1960s and 1970s, when the visionaries of yore used to have a magic wand of bringing about a fundamental structural change that would culminate into equitable distribution of wealth overnight, the neoliberal democratic movements of the present times are merely a step in the right direction that will usher the Arab and Islamic worlds into an era of relative peace and progress.

The Arab Spring movements are not led by the likes of Gamal Abdel Nasser, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Jawahar Lal Nehru and other such charismatic messiahs that socialist thinkers are so fond of. But these revolutions are the grassroots movements of a society in transition from an abject stagnant state toward a dynamic and representative future.

Let us be clear about one thing first and foremost: any government – whether democratic or autocratic – would follow the same economic model under the contemporary global political and economic dispensation. It’s a growth-based neoliberal model as opposed to an equality-based socialist model. It’s a fact that the developing, Third World economies with large populations and meager resources cannot be compared with the social democracies of Scandinavian countries where per capita incomes are more than $40,000.

A question would naturally arise that what would the Arab Spring movements accomplish if the resultant democratic governments would follow the same old neoliberal and growth-centered economic policies? It should be kept in mind here that democracy is not the best of systems because it is the most efficient system of governance. Top-down autocracies are more efficient than democracies.

But democracy is a representative political system. It brings about a grassroots social change. Enfranchisement, representation, transparency, accountability, checks and balances, rule of law and consequent institution-building, nation-building and consistent long term policies; political stability and social prosperity are the rewards of representative democracy.

Immanuel Kant sagaciously posited that moral autonomy produces moral responsibility and social maturity. This social axiom can also be applied to politics and governance. Political autonomy and self-governance engender political responsibility and social maturity.

A top-down political system is dependent on the artificial external force that keeps it going. The moment that external force is removed, the society reverts back to its previous state and the system collapses. But a grassroots and bottom-up political system evolves naturally and intrinsically. We must not expect from the Arab Spring movements to produce results immediately. Bear in mind that the evolution of the Western culture and politics happened over a course of many centuries.

More to the point, the superficially “socialist” Arab revolutions of 1960s and 1970s only mobilized the elite classes. Some working classes might have been involved, but the tone and tenor of those revolutions was elitist and that’s the reason why those revolutions failed to produce desirable long-term results. The Arab Spring movements, by contrast, have mobilized the urban middle class of the Arab societies in the age of electronic media and information technology.

In the nutshell, if the Arab Spring movements are not about radical redistribution of wealth, or about creating a liberal utopia in the Middle East overnight, what is the goal of these movements then? Let me try to explain the objectives of the Arab Spring movements by way of an allegory.

Democracy is like a school and people are like children. We only have two choices: one, to keep people under paternalistic dictatorships; two, to admit them in the school of representative democracy and let them experience democracy as a lived reality rather than some stale and sterile theory. The first option will only breed stunted bigots, but the second option will engender an educated human resource that doesn’t just consume resources but also creates new resources.

Finally, I would like to clarify that the militant phenomena in Libya and Syria has been distinct and separate from the political and democratic phenomena of the Arab Spring movements as in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain and Yemen.

A question arises that when political movements for enfranchisement turn violent, do their objectives cease to be legitimate? No, the objectives remain the same, but from a pacifist standpoint, we ought to make a distinction between political movements for democratic reforms, to which we should lend our moral support; and the militant phenomena, which must be avoided at any cost due to immense human suffering that proxy wars and military interventions anywhere in the world inevitably entail.

In legal jurisprudence, a distinction is generally drawn between lawful and unlawful assembly. It is the inalienable right of the people to peacefully assemble to press their demands for political reform. But the moment such protests become militarized and violent, they cease to be lawful.

Expecting from heavily armed militants, as in Libya and Syria, who have been described by the Western mainstream media as “moderate rebels,” to bring about political reform and positive social change is not only naïve but is bordering on insanity.*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Nauman Sadiq is an Islamabad-based attorney, columnist and geopolitical analyst focused on the politics of Af-Pak and Middle East regions, neocolonialism and petro-imperialism. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from Kodak Agfa

Western lawmakers call for ‘free elections’ in Bahrain

The file photo, taken on December 26, 2014, shows a Bahraini man holding up a placard reading in Arabic, "Your government and your parliament are without legitimacy," during an anti-government protest in the village of Jannusan, west of the capital Manama. (Photo by AFP)

The file photo, taken on December 26, 2014, shows a Bahraini man holding up a placard reading in Arabic, “Your government and your parliament are without legitimacy,” during an anti-government protest in the village of Jannusan, west of the capital Manama. (Photo by AFP)

Fri Nov 9, 2018 03:47PM

The government of Bahrain has come under fire by Western lawmakers against the backdrop of a ban on an opposition party from contesting the upcoming elections in the Arab country.

Bahrain is scheduled to hold parliamentary elections on November 24.

A cross-party group of British lawmakers, including Conservative MP Peter Bottomley, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, and Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake, said in a letter to the Foreign Office that Bahrain “effectively bans major opposition figures from holding political office.” They added that a countless number of Bahraini individuals have been “incarcerated on charges that criminalize free expression and assembly.”

“Free and fair elections can only take place if citizens are able to express their views.”

The British lawmakers also referred to the forcible closure of the only independent newspaper, Al-Wasat, back in 2017 and the detention of at least 15 journalists and Bahrain’s most prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab for comments deemed critical of the Bahraini state.

“Bahrain may be a key strategic ally to the UK but human rights and democratic values are fundamental pillars of our society and foreign policy”, the letter concluded.

In Ireland, a cross-party group of lawmakers involved in foreign affairs urged the release of all political detainees in Bahrain and permitting international bodies to observe the elections.

Members of the European Parliament also slammed the Bahraini regime for missing the opportunity of the elections “to ease tensions and allow space for open dialogue to take place.”

Some 40 members of the European Parliament composed a letter addressed to Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah which is to be published next week.

The letter also points to “the enactment of increasingly repressive measures.”

“Under these conditions, Bahrain’s elections cannot be recognized by the international community as free, fair, or legitimate.”

Last week, US Congressmen James McGovern and Randy Hultgren, who are co-chairs of the bipartisan Tom Lantos human rights commission in the US House of Representatives, stressed that it would be difficult for the international community to recognize the upcoming elections as legitimate, noting that Manama “has dissolved two major opposition political societies, barred all members of the societies from running for office on an individual basis, and imprisoned a number of key figures, as well as writers and civil society leaders.”

“In addition, Bahrain’s electoral infrastructure inherently disadvantages the political opposition. There is no independent electoral commission and, to date, there has been no commitment by the government to permit either domestic or international observers,” the letter added.

In May, Bahrain’s parliament approved a bill barring members of the al-Wefaq from running in elections, the latest step in Manama’s political crackdown.

Thousands of anti-regime protesters have held numerous demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the kingdom on February 14, 2011.

They are demanding that the Al Khalifah dynasty relinquish power and let a just system representing all Bahrainis be established.

Manama has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent. Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or got arrested as a result of the Al Khalifah regime’s crackdown.

See Also

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Bahrainis Protest in Solidarity with Sheikh Ali Salman, in Protest of Normalization: Photos

 

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‘Cost-Push’ Narrative Formation in the Trump Era

October 31, 2018

‘Cost-Push’ Narrative Formation in the Trump Era

In his 1928 landmark book Propaganda, public relations pioneer and Goebbelsian trailblazer Eddie Bernays offered what amounts to a disingenuous assertion at best:

“It is important that any effort to influence or effect the American public that is not in the public interest be killed by the light of pitiless publicity and analysis.”

Immediately, the statement begs two questions:

  • What if the American public decides at the ballot box that what passes for the prevailing public interest (really a manufactured imposition) runs counter to its own version of said interest?
  • Who orchestrates the “pitiless publicity” aimed at killing competing visions of the “public interest” and by what authority do they undertake this mission?

Bernays references the ‘who’ elsewhere, albeit vaguely as, “…invisible rulers who control the destinies of millions… and shrewd persons operating behind the scenes.”

Conceivably a tug of war could ensue between two competing visions of the public interest; one vision expressed at the ballot box in the manner of direct democracy and the other emanating top-down from managed democracy’s “invisible rulers”.

For Bernays such a conflict would not represent an intractable impasse so much as a cue for redoubling the, “conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses”. After all, only intensified propagandizing efforts can correct the People’s ill-informed sense of the public interest. Undemocratic manipulation is, “an important element in democratic society” under Bernays’ weirdly circular formulation.

Of course self-determination is neither a path to infallibility nor a vaccine against public policy blunders. Direct Democracy merely makes the People the masters of their own fate, which is equally to say the captains of their own errors.

Bernays would have been better to say manipulation is a vital facet of a smoothly running Republic or Oligarchy, not so much a Democracy. His paternalistic subtext clearly reflects the former. Indeed another name for Managed Democracy is Republicanism (not to be confused with the political party of the same name).

A rough but effective analogy can be drawn from what serve normally as macroeconomic terms used to describe two varieties of inflation: Cost-Push and Demand-Pull. For an explanation of the traditional economic context of the terms, see here.

Applied to political narrative formation, Push is the bottom-up, propulsive force of the Will of the People. While Pull is the manipulative, diversionary desires of the Elite. Push is hard knocks and demonstrable scrapes. Pull is consciously engineered wishfulness harnessed to oligarchic solipsism, Empire objectives and atrophying noblesse oblige.

Popular consent should be organically derived and not subject to extrinsic manufacturing at all. Nor should its germination process be invaded by an externally fashioned agenda. The People should be the authors of their own consciousness. That’s the ideal anyway.

The Culture Industry’s mandate is steeped, from the outset, in inauthenticity and misdirection; or, as Theodor Adorno insisted, structurally inescapable insincerity. Through the endless propagation of false consciousness, Media is charged with convincing the People that the Pull is actually the Push. Sustaining this inversion has become a difficult task.

The Pull techniques are many and varied. Here are but a few:

The last chart addresses Russophobia. Anyone who’s walked past an American TV over the last two years can attest to a media obsession bordering on the manic; an intensity not shared by (nor successfully seeded within) the American public as evidenced by a July 2018 Gallup poll showing concern about Russia to be immeasurably unimportant (the issue garnered an * meaning less than 1%).

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein fed the sui generis racialist fires when he referred with casual malice to The Russians (wink-wink-nudge-nudge) in his February 16th indictment press conference for Concord Management officials who happened to be Russian nationals with no discernible state actor affiliation.

The farcical social media trolling charges relate to “spread[ing] distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general”, as if the American populace wasn’t already immersed in boatloads of domestically-inspired skepticism. Chances are slim the politically-motivated indictments (announced on a Friday in part to the get the Parkland, Florida shootings off the front page) will ever come to trial despite Concord’s heroic efforts to have their day in court (see 3:48 here).

 

Surely it surprises no one that Putin is simply too busy to plot subterfuge at every table of every Russian boardroom engaged in Stateside business. Attempting to dampen Western media’s impression of his fearsome omniscience, the Russian President had this to say at the Jul 16, 2018 Summit Joint Press Conference:

Today’s Russophobic dog whistles recall John Maynard Keynes’ 1932 assertion that Bolshevism sprang from, “some beastliness in the Russian nature”. Far from dispelling these beastly stereotypes, CNN reinforces them nightly for the ‘higher dual purpose’ of de-legitimizing the Trump Presidency and positioning Russia as the Military Industrial Complex’ Enemy of Requisite Budgetary Scale.

Attorney Alan Dershowitz has routinely decried the ACLU’s MIA status throughout the Trump Russia witch-hunt. The same can be said of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) whose charter states: “We fight anti-Semitism and all forms of hate.” We’re familiar with battles waged on behalf of the former, less so the latter. Here’s an opportune chance to engage on behalf of another besieged group.

Russian-Americans comprise 3.13 million people, a sizable population by any metric. Surely Russophobia (a dark retread of Nazism’s Anti-Slavism) warrants urgent attention. Blessed be the stoic forbearance of our Russian neighbors. One hopes it is a circumspection that will continue to go unpunished, though the Japanese and German internment camps that dotted WW2 America hardly inspire confidence.

Since at least Hillary Clinton’s Putin = Hitler equivalence-setting, the public consciousness has been in the grips of determined preparatory spadework for war with Russia. Frankly, the People are to be applauded for enduring the last two years of cognitive carpet-bombing with their disinterest and skepticism intact. Alas this failed impartation will not derail WW3. Rather it will cause the war to break out preemptively without the embedded pretext of settled consent. What cannot be consented to will occur nonetheless, leaving ‘new realities’ to compel the appropriate consent post-factum, that is, in a manner analogous to journalist Ron Suskind’s recounting of a 2004 quote attributed to Karl Rove:

“We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

As we see in Syria and elsewhere this authorial prerogative is increasingly being shared by Russia in either a nascent reemergence of bipolarity or an interim way-station towards a multi-polar actor ensemble.

Another Pull variant is, as Nancy Pelosi so helpfully anatomized for us, the wrap-up smear. This is the technique of creating a false set of facts (the smear), “merchandising” the false fact pattern to the Media, then wrapping the smeared individual in the ensuing tar-and-feathery media glare until the former stops beating his or her spouse lately.

Of course the ensnared victim is obliged to continually reference the false facts if only to mount a self-defense. Perversely, righteous denial further reinforces the falsehoods through repetition. There is, as they say, no such thing as bad publicity if the purpose is to keep one’s name front-and-center, which in the case of a wrap-up smear, it most surely isn’t.

Again, the purpose is to pull the media consumer towards a desired narrative based on falsity and distortion. The news-maker advantages his or her podium to initiate news that only becomes news by virtue of a bully pulpit (one of the top-down trappings of power), and not by the inherent truth-value of ‘facts-on-the-ground’. Putin and Trump, the world’s most potent nationalists, are no strangers to being wrapped in deceptive, pejorative garb.

A crucial point to note is that both leaders enjoy the shared contempt of the globalists.  Putin’s favorability among Americans has been engineered down to 16%, 9% among collusion-besotted Democrats. Thus, while Russia is not a front-burner issue in US households, the Mackinder-MIC catastrophe of a US-Russia rapprochement is rendered all but verboten by these figures as detente would confirm extortioned compromise.

Viewed in this perma-war context, the establishment palpitations caused by Trump ‘being left alone’ with fellow loose cannon Putin make perfect, twisted sense. Suppose a powerful personal chemistry had erupted into a sudden outbreak of peaceful intentions between the two unchaperoned leaders? The prospects for WW3 might have lain in shards. Summit? What Summit? It’s practically been erased from the annals of geopolitics as was the proposed follow-on Summit in Washington. All that can be hoped for are dashed-off corridor meetings at future co-attended events.

Alas, this shell-game is breaking down in the Trump Era. Fake News is a more tactile, street-level term for false consciousness propagation. There’s little doubt Trump has a gift for branding.

The President is routinely accused of thinking in 220-character Twitter bytes, giving way to charges of truncated intelligence. There may be other reasons to doubt his intelligence. With Twitter, he is fulfilling the greater need of bypassing the Media filter for a communication path more consistent with the needs of direct democracy. The truncation is a non-rescindable feature of the Twitter platform itself.

The current Push-Pull narrative divergence –which has the opinion-shapers in conniptions– is on stark display in the recent Gallup vs. Media Research Center numbers (graphic at the bottom of this post). Surely 92% negative coverage evidences Bernay’s “pitiless publicity”.

Even after the desperate steps taken to shut down alt-media (and yes, desperate is the term), the divergence grows. The Media responds with ever more dislocating and lurid material. Bombs –or at least clocks resembling bombs– appear on Democrats’ doorsteps with eerie synchronicity.

A recursive self-consciousness has now infiltrated the system contributing further noise, not unlike how the pings of a too-high-octane fuel destroy the kayfabe experience (instilled by the car salesman) of a frictionless magic carpet-ride. The clunky mechanics of the process overwhelm the message itself.

The collective wisdom of the People has fully determined their passenger status in a vehicle driven by a malevolent chauffeur. Managed Democracy will be hard-pressed to recover their prior innocence.

The divergence also implodes the notion that the media is in any way reflective of the population it claims to derive its news from. Clearly the reportage has become prescriptive which is to say, not reportage at all. We’re not happy with the facts where we find them. Thus we will be moving them over here instead, beneath the canopy of our desired narrative.

The breakdown of the Pull hasn’t stopped the usual talking heads from pushing endlessly on strings deemed mission-critical by their managers. Like deer trapped in the klieg lights of an indiscernible new reality, they fumble along, in thrall to a dark comedy that takes its cues from absurd representations of untenable narratives.

Though opinions on Trump differ sharply, few can dispute his disruptive role in fomenting managed democracy’s narrative crisis, and for putting back onto its heels a myth-making prowess whose influence up until now had been considered unassailable.

Why might Trump be an authentic change agent, albeit one with a high probability of derailment or self-betrayal? Because the bifurcating narratives cannot be denied. If the divergence is real, the systemic stress must be equally real. Why, one has to ask, does the corporate press protesteth so much? Therein lies a telling litmus.

There’s a tendency to forget Trump’s formal political career is less than two years old and that he contends against a hostile, entrenched security-media complex seventy years in the making. Whether he is already capitulating to insuperable neoconservative power centers or is engaging in tactical ducks-and-feints cannot be confirmed either way. His post-midterm demeanor, and inevitable staffing changes, will reveal much. A verdict today is premature.

For the moment, we applaud small mercies and encouraging signs…

A breakaway bloc now exists in America along the lines of the red pill, blue pill demarcation. Many have been ‘dispelled’. Let us hope more can Push away from the master’s table forever.

 

‘Assadist list’ nothing more than McCarthyism paired with ‘hoodwink’ science

George Galloway
George Galloway was a member of the British Parliament for nearly 30 years.
He presents TV and radio shows (including on RT).
He is a film-maker, writer and a renowned orator.
‘Assadist list’ nothing more than McCarthyism paired with ‘hoodwink’ science

 

To paraphrase those Hollywood actors when dragged before the arc-lights of the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC): “I am not now nor have I ever been an Assadist.”

In the long stand-off between Syria and Iraq, with all its ruinous consequences, I was with Iraq. Between 1980 and 2002 – 22 years – I never set foot in Syria and wouldn’t have been welcome if I had. I have a house named after the Beirut Palestinian refugee camp Tel al-Zaatar which was razed to the ground by the Syrians [Phalange party/Lebanons Forces/Arafat] with many residents massacred. My first ever solidarity mission – more than 40 years ago – was to collect bagpipes for the orphans’ band from Tel al-Zaatar.

Side Bar

  • In his biographical profile of Yasser Arafat, The broken revolutionary, Robert Fisk writes: “When he needed martyrs in 1976, he called for a truce around the besieged refugee camp of Tel el-Zaatar, then ordered his commanders in the camp to fire at their right-wing Lebanese Christian enemies. When, as a result, the Phalangists and “Tigers” militia slaughtered their way into Tel el-Zaatar, Arafat opened a “martyrs’ village” for camp widows in the sacked Christian village of Damour. On his first visit, the widows pelted him with stones and rotten fruit. Journalists were ordered away at gunpoint.”
  •  The Real Story of Tel al-Zaatar

I met the late president Hafez Assad only once – at a World Peace Conference in Damascus where I shared the stage with him, Yasser Arafat and others. I was 26 years old.

I have met the now-president Bashar Assad only twice – both times in formal meetings.

I have zero relations with the government in Syria and never have had. In fact I denounced sections of the regime under examination by Michael Mansfield QC in an inquest not that long ago.

Read more

©

It’s true that in the existential battle for the Syrian Arab Republic between the Assad government and its motley array of enemies I have stood foursquare with the Republic. It’s true that in a fight between the Assad forces and the head-chopping, heart-eating Islamist fanatics of Islamic State, Al-Qaeda and the alphabet soup of extremism they have spawned, I stand with the former rather than the latter. But then what sentient being without an ulterior agenda wouldn’t?

It’s true I have said that Assad is being targeted by imperialism, not for the bad things about his political system, but for the opposite reasons.

The West is not against authoritarian regimes in the Middle East, to the contrary – all of its best friends are such. The West is not against one-party – even one-family – rule in the Middle East, to the contrary – we have preferred them, armed them and had the closest possible relations with such states in the Middle East for a 100 years. The West is not against rigged elections in the Middle East, to the contrary. We have facilitated them ever since such farcical elections began.

Syria as been targeted by imperialism and its local satrapies for other reasons. Because of its historic relationship with Russia, it has been the victim of a proxy war, in effect a war against Russia by other means.

Because it refuses to make a surrender peace with Israel, giving up in the process its sovereign territory on the illegally annexed Golan Heights.

Because it refuses to break relations with the Lebanese resistance, and with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Because it refused to allow its territory to be used as a back-door entry into Iraq to facilitate the Anglo-American illegal invasion and occupation of its neighbor.

For all these reasons I repeat what I have said many times: the Syrian Arab Republic is the last castle of Arab dignity.

Read more

© Omar Sanadiki

But none of that makes me an Assadist. It just makes me an enemy of his enemies.

Yet I have made the Assadist List, compiled by a student scribbler, a Kester Ratcliff, whose name needn’t detain us for long. He is his masters’ voice and his masters are whom we should focus on.

Mind you I am in good company on the list. My friend, Right Honourable Jeremy Corbyn PC MP, Leader of Her Majesty’s Most Loyal Opposition in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland for one. The multiply-commended award-winning, regularly British Foreign Correspondent of the year Patrick Cockburn is another. The Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott MP is another. As is Mother Agnes Mariam De La Croix, the Mother Superior of the Monastery of St James the Mutilated in Syria. The veteran Trotskyite leader Tariq Ali, who led my first ever demonstration against the war in Vietnam in 1968 when I was 14 years old, is another.

The redoubtable American author and journalist Max Blumenthal is apparently an Assadist, as is the Fox News host Tucker Carlson, as is Noam Chomsky! Baroness Cox of the British House of Lords makes the list as does Ireland’s finest MP Clare Daly. The American comedian Jimmy Dore is an Assadist, don’t you know!

Britain’s best known foreign correspondent Robert Fisk makes the cut as does future US presidential hopeful Tulsi Gabbard. The world’s most famous journalist Seymour Hersh is there –  an Assadist, who’d a thunk it?

The quintessential English Christian gentleman newspaperman Peter Hitchens is too, as is the doyen of English journalism Simon Jenkins or, Sir Simon Jenkins FSA FRSL, to give him his Sunday name. An Assadist (if only the Queen had known when she tapped his shoulder with her sword at Buckingham Palace).

Read more

FILE PHOTO: Members of the Civil Defence, also known as the 'White Helmets'. © Alaa al-Faqir

Boris Johnson, the erstwhile British Foreign Secretary – he’s an Assadist! (although possibly only because of his “foolishness”)

Owen Jones, the liberal milksop from the Guardian newspaper, who witch-hunted Mother Agnes from public platforms in England on the grounds SHE was an Assadist, well, you’ve guessed it, he’s an Assadist too (though a “milder” Assadist).

The British Shadow Foreign Secretary – a well known “Friend of Israel” – Emily Thornberry is an Assadist. As is the former Associate Editor of the Guardian, Seumas Milne.

I could go on, believe me, there are 151 of us – but you have probably already got the picture. This list of Assadists is a farrago of foolishness, a soupcon of silliness, a pile of what the Pope called at the weekend – “the material of the toilet bowl.”

As such it could be laughed off as the teenage student scribbling that it is.

But just like the McCarthyite witch-hunts in 1950s America, this kind of malignant list-making can have consequences for those listed. Many of those never worked or were able to travel again. For some on this list the potential consequences could be graver still. Some on the Assadist list should be subject to criminal sanctions, according to the author.

It is fitting perhaps that the list comes complete with a diagram which looks like the unhinged green-ink scrawling of a madman in a hospital for the criminally insane. It purports to map all of those listed as somehow connected even though many of us hate each other’s guts. I could make a diagram of the connections between the gun-runners, the financiers and the propagandists for the Jihadists and the crucifying Islamist Pol Pots doing their dirty work. Whilst it would make a more convincing case, ennui I’m afraid precludes it.

In any case the great Western effort to overthrow Assad and destroy the Syrian Arab Republic has failed. All their money, all their weapons, all the blood they shed have been to no avail – except for the hundreds of thousands of lives they destroyed. Come to think of it, a hospital for the criminally insane is perhaps the best place for the author and his patrons.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Don’t be Deluded – Our Saudi ‘Partners’ are Masters of Repression

Kenan Malik

Five Saudi activists face possible execution. Their crimes? “Participating in protests”, “chanting slogans hostile to the regime” and “filming protests and publishing on social media”.

The five, including women’s rights campaigner Israa al-Ghomgham, come from the Shia-majority Eastern Province. They have spent more than two years in prison. Now the prosecution has demanded their deaths.

Their plight reveals the vacuity of claims that Saudi Arabia is “liberalizing”. The death in 2015 of King Abdullah and his replacement by Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has led to much gushing in the west about the new reforming regime and, in particular, about the “vision” of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, heir apparent and driving force behind the “modernization” moves. The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman wrote a fawning piece about the Saudi “Arab spring”. “It’s been a long, long time,” he wrote, “since any Arab leader wore me out with a fire hose of new ideas about transforming his country.” Even the fierce critic of Islam Ayaan Hirsi Ali has suggested that if the crown prince “succeeds in his modernisation efforts, Saudis will benefit from new opportunities and freedoms”.

Yes, Salman has allowed women to drive, to run their own businesses and to attend sports events. Cinemas have opened and rock concerts been staged. But the king remains the absolute ruler of a kingdom that practices torture, beheads dissidents and exports a barbarous foreign policy, including prosecuting one of the most brutal wars of modern times in Yemen.

Over the past year, dozens of activists, clerics, journalists and intellectuals have been detained in what the United Nations, an organization usually wary of criticizing the kingdom, has called a “worrying pattern of widespread and systematic arbitrary arrests and detention”. Few countries execute people at a higher rate. Under the current “reforming” regime, at least 154 people were executed in 2016 and 146 in 2017. Many were for political dissent, which the Saudi authorities rebrand as “terrorism”. A regime that permits women to drive but executes them for speaking out of turn is “reforming” only in a columnist’s fantasy.

For all the paeans, what really attracts western commentators and leaders to Saudi Arabia is that the regime’s refusal to countenance any dissent has until now created a relatively stable state that is also pro-western. Precisely because the Saudi royal family is deeply reactionary, it has long been seen as a bulwark against “radicalism”, whether that of the Soviet Union, Iran or local democratic movements.

Last week, in the wake of a Saudi bombing of a school bus in Yemen that left 33 children dead, Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary, defended Britain’s relations with Riyadh on the grounds that the two countries were “partners in fighting Islamist extremism” and that the Saudis have helped to stop “bombs going off in the streets of Britain”. In fact, Saudi Arabia bears more responsibility for the rise of ‘Islamist’ terror than any other nation.

From the 1970s onwards, flush with oil money, the Saudis exported across the world Wahhabism, a vicious, austere form of Islam that the Saud clan has used to establish loyalty to its rule after creating Saudi Arabia in 1932. Riyadh has funded myriad madrasas and mosques. It has funded, too, ‘jihadist’ movements from Afghanistan to Syria. Osama bin Laden was a Saudi. So were most of the 9/11 bombers. A 2009 internal US government memo described Saudi Arabia as “the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide”. The Saudis have leveraged their knowledge of such groups to win influence with the west.

The viciousness of the Saudi regime is matched only by the cynicism of western leaders. The price is being paid by the children in that school bus and by the five activists facing possible beheading for peaceful protests; by the million of Yemenis on the verge of starvation and by thousands of Saudis imprisoned, flogged and executed for wanting basic rights. But what’s all that when set against the value of a “friendly” regime?

The Western Hijacked Democracy

Image result for western democracy

by Ghassan Kadi for the Saker Blog

June 22, 2018

If my previous article (http://thesaker.is/the-lebanese-style-of-democracy-of-no-winners-or-losers/) dissected Lebanese style democracy and mentioned Western style democracy in passing, then we should perhaps have a closer look at Western democracy; or what is left of it.

The word “democracy’ comes from the Greek word demokratia; from demos ‘the people’ and kratia ‘power’. In other words, it means the power of the people.

Different dictionaries give slightly different definitions, but I find the definition given in the Cambridge Dictionary to be closest to the commonly-held understanding of democracy being “the belief in freedom and equality between people, or a system of government based on this belief, in which power is either held by elected representatives or directly by the people themselves.”

According to the Cambridge Dictionary also, this is the definition of the adjective “democratic”: “a person or a group that is democratic believes in, encourages, or supports freedom and equality between people and groups”.

The Constitutions of all Western democracies are based on the above lofty principles, and this should mean that all Western citizens should have equal rights in choosing their leaders and equal opportunity in being elected on their own merits…right? This statement sadly cannot be further from the truth.

The problem is not in the Constitutions, not in the laws, but in the political parties and politicians who colluded to protect each other. This is perhaps one of the biggest travesties against human rights, and to add insult to injury, it is one that is not talked about or even mentioned.

Why?

Because as much as opposing Western political parties hate each other and compete fiercely on parliamentary representation and winning enough votes to win government, when it comes to hijacking democracy, they are all equal partners in crime; and for one party to expose the other to this effect, it would be shooting itself in the foot.

The duopoly that major parties have created in the West is a new form of feudalism; with an onion skin façade camouflaged with slogans of equality and freedom.

Yes, when a Western voter goes to the polling booth, he/she has a choice, but it is a choice that is mainly between party candidates that have been chosen, not by the people, but by party members.

Party members constitute a very small fraction of Western society, and in many instances, nominated candidates are chosen from between a handful of people who are party members from within the electorate.

Yes, Western Parliaments have members who are totally nonpartisan and known as “independents” and others who belong to minor parties (back to those later), but the numbers speak for themselves. If all citizens and candidates had equal rights and power, as democracy stipulates, then this should be reflected in the number of candidates who win; but it doesn’t.

Can we blame the voters for voting for the party candidates? Yes and no. In theory they are to be blamed, but in practice they face a number of difficulties when contemplating voting for an independent candidate. First of all, in many situations they know little about the independent candidate, and in most situations, they are led to believe that to create a change and/or keep the status quo, they shouldn’t “waste” their vote on an independent.Image result for Ralph Nader, Ron Paul and bosh

The American Presidential independent bids of Ralph Nader and Ron Paul did not go very far. In real democratic terms however, the few votes those candidates received have more democratic substance than the mere 537 votes that brought George W. Bush over the line and won him Florida and his first Presidential term.

Unlike Ron Paul, George W. Bush was a party candidate, and voters outside the GOP did not have any say in deciding who the GOP was to nominate, and had the GOP nominated Ron Paul, they would have voted for him. If the GOP could nominate Mickey Mouse, they would vote for him too. Now, did Ron Paul have the same opportunity to be voted for as much as Bush? No.

So what happened to Western democracy then?

The West has the audacity to accuse other nations of being undemocratic and dictatorial when in fact Western political parties have hijacked democracy and unashamedly dictate to voters who to vote for.

The truth of the matter is that when the European feudal systems collapsed and personal freedom and equality were given to citizens to replace their stature of serfdom and slavery, and as surviving European Monarchies gave the executive power to Parliaments and maintained titular roles, a new breed of European power-mongers emerged; the political parties.

Western political parties found a loophole in democracy, a loophole that didn’t exactly give them monopoly of power, but a second best consolation prize; duopoly. Furthermore, this illusion of freedom gave the political parties the “security” they needed for long term survival, because the voters truly believed they were liberated and free and had no grounds for revolt.

With duopoly, the ruling party has one and one concern only, and that is to be re-elected. Certainly, the opposition party has also one and one concern only, and that is to be elected in the next election. However, the opposition party knows that it is a question of time before it is elected, because even if it does precious little, even if it doesn’t come up with policies that are meant to lure in voters, before too long, voters will get disenchanted by the ruling party, demand change, and vote in hoards for the opposition.

Where is democracy here?

And the obsession of Western political parties with election wins makes it very difficult, if not impossible, for the ruling party to make tough decisions of long-term vision and nation-building outlooks. They tend to please voters, even if this leads to economic disasters, the likes of which the West is now deeply entrenched in.

How does this system serve the interests of the people?

An independent candidate with independent non-partisan policies of long-term vision and aspirations therefore can be highly qualified, honest, capable and worthy of being elected, but he/she will miss out because the major parties have nominated uneducated, corrupt and dysfunctional candidates; and how often is this seen in every corner of the West?

How does this represent the will and the power of the people?

And when Churchill boasted about British democracy saying that he was the only leader amongst the Allies who could be replaced at any time by the will of the people, what he really meant was that he could be replaced at any time by the will of his political party (The Conservatives aka Tories). He was having a dig at Stalin, the ‘dictator’, but his own position as Britain’s Prime Minister at that time was actually dictated by his party, not by his people.

And ironically enough, the fact that Russia does not have a party-based duopoly that is akin to the West, Western Russophobes question how democratic Russia is even though President Putin has a very high popularity rate; higher than any Western political leader could ever dream of.

Image result for Putin has a very high popularity

Then come the so-called Western minor parties; those parties were meant to keep the major parties in check and prevent them from abusing their power. Ironically however, in some instances, they ended up in situations in which the balance of power was in their hands. Instead of instituting reform, the minor parties became a part of the problem. They gave themselves the “Western democratic” right to dictate, pass or block motions and bills, based on their own agendas, even though they only represent a fraction of the community at large.

Where is the democracy here?

As a matter of fact, when a ruling Western party has a clear majority that does not need the support of the minor parties, it goes to Parliament to rubber-stamp its decisions; unopposed. And instead of rationally debating their policies with the opposition and vice versa, they end up in a slinging match with each other and exchanging words of ridicule and insults.

How does this enhance freedom and equality?

But perhaps the most ridiculous case scenario however is what some Western systems call a “Hung Parliament”; i.e. a parliament that does not have a political majority. This is the nightmare election outcome of any Western political party, and ironically also, many Western citizens see in it an absolute disaster, and this is because they have been brainwashed and trained to think this way; by the political parties of course. In real democratic terms, an election result that ends up with a “Hung Parliament” is a clear indication of the power of the people and ought to be respected instead of finding ways around it; ways that would serve the objectives of one particular party against another.

What is democratic about political parties refusing to accept the mandate of the people when election results result in a “Hung Parliament”?

What Western political parties have been doing ever since the inception of Western democracy is at the least immoral. Is it illegal? Well, the answer to this question depends on who answers it. In theory, this party-imposed system of duopoly, or triopoly, stands in total contrast to what democracy is meant to uphold and defend. It is taking away the power from people and putting it in the hands of parties and party members. However, this status quo serves the interests of all Western political parties, and none of the parties will be prepared to challenge it, as any such challenge will be self-defeating.

The media play a big role in this, and so do Western political journalists, analysts, commentators, activists and reformers. They take it for granted, accept and propagate the notion that democracy means party rule, when in fact there is nothing in the Constitutions of Western nations, or within the spirit of democracy, to this effect.

However, Western countries do have court systems, and those courts are independent from the states and their politics. If some individual or organization in any given Western nation challenges the Constitutional legality of the modus operandi of Western political parties and wins, this can and should create a precedence that can reverberate in all other Western nations.

What makes such a legal challenge virtually impossible to pursue and win is not necessarily its substance, but its legal cost.

What is democratic about letting democracy down merely because to challenge those who hijacked it is a cost prohibitive exercise? That’s the ultimate irony.

The Parallel Universe of BBC Panorama @BBCPanorama

The Parallel Universe of BBC Panorama

By Kit | OffGuardian | June 21, 2018

The BBC flag-ship documentary series “Panorama” has long been a stalwart of state-funded television propaganda. They can always be relied upon to tell us what we’re supposed to think. In 2013, just days before the Commons vote on military intervention in Syria, BBC aired “Panorama: Saving Syria’s Children”, a shambolic piece of fiction designed to outrage the public into war.

Robert Stuart has done truly exceptional work in deconstructing the fakery and propaganda on which the BBC sees fit to spend taxpayer’s money.

In just the last year they’ve had two documentaries about North Korea being evil (“North Korea’s Secret Slave Camps” and “North Korea’s Nuclear Trump Card”).

And it’s not just foreign “enemies” that end up in Panorama’s crosshairs either – it’s also domestic ones.

In 2015, just a few days before Jeremy Corbyn’s first Labour leadership victory, the BBC aired “Panorama: Jeremy Corbyn – Labour’s Earthquake”, a documentary which prompted Corbyn’s team to file an official complaint, labelling it a “hatchet job”.

Then in 2016, on the eve of Corbyns second (larger) Labour leadership victory, the BBC aired “Panorama: Labour – Is the Party over?”, a documentary full of doom and gloom, featuring anecdotes about abuse, and various (predictable) Blairite MPs bemoaning the “unelectability” of their leader.

In the 2017 General Election, Jeremy Corbyn’s resurgent Labour defied the polls, the pundits and the BBC to knock-off the Tory majority and come within 2% of winning. Could the BBC’s, and Panorama’s, relentlessly negative slanted coverage be responsible for keeping Corbyn out of No.10? It would be foolish to deny the possibility.

And there, neatly demonstrated in those three paragraphs, you see the value and purpose of state-sponsored propaganda. Panorama is the spirit of the BBC, a pretense of faux objectivity, shrouded in cuddly familiarity, employed exclusively and decisively against anything the establishment sees as a threat.

*

Enter Vladimir Putin

The folks at Panorama LOVE Putin, or at least love to hate him. In the last two years there have been no less than five (five!) episodes devoted to the man, and indeed the myth.

January 2016 brought us “Putin’s Secret Riches”, January 2017 “Trump: The Kremlin Candidate”, March of this year brought us two inside a week, “Putin: The New Tsar” and “Taking On Putin!”. As the titles suggest, none of them were especially objective or open-minded. That’s not in the BBC’s remit.

The most recent Putin-hit piece aired just last week – in the run up to the World Cup – its rather more mundane title simply: “Putin’s Russia with David Dimbleby”. The documentary, for want of a better word, opens on David Dimbleby wandering through a Moscow market looking at sigh Russian nesting dolls, and it doesn’t get less predictable from there on in.

A long time ago, I was taught you construct an argument in three steps – “Statement, Evidence, Conclusion”. Instead Panorama opted to go for the unorthodox “Conclusion, Anecdote, Stock Footage of Nesting Dolls” approach.

The first problem, and perhaps the biggest, is David’s hat… but it never really goes up-hill from there.

The second problem, is the smugness. Forget the factual inaccuracies re: the Russian economy, forget the totally evidence-free assertions, and just focus on the smugness.

The smugness of an English man who went to Charterhouse School, and then on to Oxford, is possibly one of the most toxic things in the world. So much evil has been done by men who are taught their own effortless superiority. Blood has been spilled by such men, oceans of it, evils done beyond imagining, all with a soft chuckle and clear conscience, because they come from a system that tells them their very existence MAKES them RIGHT. They do the “right thing” as a matter of course because of who they are and what they think. They are right, and the vast swamps of Other are wrong, and that’s just the way it is.

These are the people who spread the British Empire over a quarter of the globe, all the time telling themselves that they were doing the savages a favour by giving them civilisation. The same men, the same minds, in suits that change with time and with methods that shift with the ages, have run the country for centuries… and run the BBC since its inception. Men who believe morality is a function of their very existence. A path that rises up to meet their feet.

This is the British version of what the Americans call “exceptionalism”. It’s less brash, and less obvious, but no less poisonous for that.

The worst actions of mankind flow from minds who never question their own moral position, and this documentary can be counted as small, septic, addition to that list.

And so we begin…

I’ve come to see how Putin has managed to hold on to power for so long, and what the Russians see in the Putin that We, in the West, don’t.

Dimbleby’s introduction is immediately partisan and dishonest – referring to “we” in the West as if there is a consensus, when clearly that is not the case, is a variation on the argumentum ad populum, the argument to common knowledge. “Everybody knows that”, or “We all agree on this”. It is deceptive language, being used to paint a false picture.

Likewise, saying Putin “held on” to power for so long, makes it seem like his Presidency was an act of force, when all the evidence is to the contrary. Dimbleby says so himself just a few minutes later.

(SIDEBAR: When Dimbleby says “so long”, he means 18 years. The classic mainstream media trick of ignoring Medvedev’s term as president is employed here. As is every other, long discredited, anti-Putin rhetorical device.)

In a democracy if you failed to deliver on your economic promises, if you surrounded yourself with cronies, and if you used the law to oppress opposition, well you’d be thrown out on your ear… but this is Russia, and they do things differently here.

Dimbleby lays out, in one broad stroke, that Russia is backwards, and silly, and he’s going to come along and point out to us sensible Westerners just how they went wrong.

Leaving aside the hypocrisy (this is, let’s be honest, a pretty accurate summary of what every single British government has done since Margaret Thatcher), it’s also simply insulting. I find it insulting, and I’m British. If I was Russian and heard that? I would vomit blood.

It’s sickening… and we’re only 2 minutes in.

*

David on… the Russian Birthrate

Our first port of call on David’s whistle-stop tour of everything that’s shit about Russia is the birth rate. He tells us that it fell sharply in the years following the collapse of the USSR, and this is true, he doesn’t say WHY this happened. As a matter of policy this programme avoids, at all costs, mentioning what Russia was like in the 1990s.

Anyway, when Putin came to power the birth rate was declining, and what did he do about this? Well, in a masterstroke, decided to encourage people to have babies.

Mrs Cherenkova’s medals

How? Well by increasing state benefits to mothers with more than 2 children, and further increasing them for families with more than 3 children. Families with multiple children are also entitled to free school meals, tax breaks and get discounts on family holidays. Medvedev also introduced a medal in 2008 – “The Order of Glorious Motherhood” – for mothers with 7 or more children, based on the “Mother Heroine” medal from World War 2.

(SIDEBAR: It’s worth noting here that we, in lovely hugs-and-flowers Britain with our nice fluffy democracy, DON’T have free school meals… for anyone. At all. Ever. The government that proposed this bill was not “thrown out on their ear”, but DID have to spend £1.4 BILLION pounds bribing a minority party to vote it through.)

The measures worked, and under Putin/Medvedev the birthrate has increased almost every year since 2000. In 2011 the birthrate moved ahead of the death rate for the first time since 1992, and Russia’s population started growing.

Now, if this is all sounding very sensible and not at all bad to you, then well done for paying attention.

It’s here the film reaches its first hurdle… and goes into it face first. Russia is supposed to be backwards and Putin is supposed to be a brutal corrupt dictator with no concern for the country he runs… but the facts on the ground don’t jive with this at all, at least in the birthrate example. Not only did he try to improve his country, but he did via perfectly reasonable methods, and they worked.

The film makers decide to simply leave an ellipsis on this one, just a long pause that’s obviously designed to make us ruminate on how bad Russia is, but it doesn’t really work. Partly because it doesn’t make any sense, but mostly because – for some reason – David thinks the best way to hammer this point home is show us the Cherenkovas. A very happy family with lots of healthy children. He refers to them as “Putin’s ideal family”, as if the term itself is insulting.

Mrs Cherenkova proudly displays her medals for motherhood in a leather case, explaining she wears them on public holidays. The family sing as they sit down for dinner, talk about the Church and how life has improved under Putin compared to the 1990s. (David, staying true to his brief, doesn’t ask how bad things were in the 1990s. In 58 minutes it’s not mentioned once.)

*

David on… the Russian Orthodox Church

The Cherenkovas praying as they sit down to dinner provides a neat segue for David to discuss something really terrible – the growing influence of the Russian Orthodox Church.

You see, the ROC was suppressed under Communism, which was bad, and now it’s not… which is apparently, also bad. I don’t fully understand the point David is trying to make, but that’s OK since I’m pretty sure he doesn’t either.

We are presented with a Bishop, who tells us that it’s now easier for the Church to interface with the state than it was during the 1990s. We don’t know what he means by that, because he’s cut off and David never asks.

The implication, backed by stock footage of Putin lighting candles in a church and David’s narration about “conservative values”, is that Russia is becoming a kind of quasi-theocracy. It’s never stated out-loud, because the position is so ridiculous as to be indefensible, but it is quite clearly the implication.

*

David on… Russian Opinion Polls

Curious to see “how widely [the Cherenkovas’] views are shared”, David goes in search of a broad opinion, but meets an apparent problem:

It’s all very well to say “I’ve come to Russia to find out what the Russians really think”, but it’s not actually that easy in a country where the press, radio and television are all strictly controlled by an authoritarian government.

1) He hasn’t gone there to find out what Russians think. He knows what Russians “really think”. He’s there to tell US why THEY are wrong. He’s there, at our expense, to make sure we hate who we’re told to hate.

2) The press, radio and television are not all “strictly controlled”, that’s a lie, and he knows it’s a lie because he proves it himself less than 10 minutes later.

But that’s beside the point. How does David get around the problem of finding out what Russian’s “really think” under such an authoritarian regime? Well, he goes to the one of the biggest public opinion polling companies in Russia, the Levada Centre.

The irony of rambling on about Russia’s repressive controlling government as you take a gentle stroll down to the partly-American funded NGO, just minutes from Red Square, is apparently lost on David.

Imagine, if you can, a Russian-funded “polling centre” operating within walking distance of Westminster or Pennsylvania Avenue. That not only calls the government-run polls inaccurate, but claims that the CIA forces people to vote and that the President is corrupt.

It would never be allowed to happen, but in “authoritarian” Russia, with its “strictly controlled” media, this is the current reality.

In the Levada Centre (Russia’s only “independent” polling centre), David finds out that around 80% of Russian’s support Putin as President. Which everyone in the world already knew.

The fact the “independent” Levada’s centre polls almost perfectly align with the apparently unreliable government polls doesn’t cause anyone to question their assertions about corruption or dishonesty. It’s one of the many inconvenient truths the Panorama team feel the need to brush over as quickly as possible.

When the head of the Levada Centre claims a President with an 80% approval rating had to “force” people to vote, David doesn’t ask why, or state that it doesn’t make any sense. No, he just makes concerned faces at the camera.

They discuss the “annexation” of Crimea as Russia “taking back” what is theirs, with no reference to the polls that show huge Crimean support for the move, going all the way back to 1992, including those done by both the American and German governments.

*

David on… Propaganda

From Crimea it’s a steady flow to “propaganda” – theirs, not ours – Dimbleby narrates in solemn tones:

For most Russians, state-run television remains the main source of television news.”

… blithely passing over that this statement is being made on a state-run television station, that is the main source of television news for most people in Britain.

He goes from Russian domestic television to RT, saying they are “accused of spreading conspiracy theories”, he doesn’t say who accuses them, or ask his audience to consider the possible reason behind such accusations. He doesn’t even throw the weight of conviction behind it enough to make a declarative statement. No, just sends out the little accusation, evidence free and with no reply or counter, and hopes the implication does its job.

He interviews a British anchor for RT, who says that they aren’t told what to say, and he’s “answerable to no one but his own conscience”. To which David replies, “And that’s clear is it?” The anchor explains the structure of RT, but David isn’t listening. He’s too busy making a documentary demonising a designated “enemy” for a state-funded broadcaster.

He doesn’t pose the same questions about his own conscience.

It’s always worth remembering that the BBC, formerly the British Broadcasting Corporation, is not “independent”, even though they’ve spent decades pretending otherwise. We’re encouraged to think of the BBC as a friendly presence, our shared “Auntie Beeb”, cosy and reassuring and honest. It’s none of those things, it’s a state backed broadcaster with a history of launching pro-government, pro-war propaganda, for which it never faces censure or punishment. It’s a much a less “friendly auntie”, more a threatening “big brother”.

With truly Orwellian posters intimidating us into paying for it.

Imagine this poster was in cyrillic and about RT.

That Dimbleby can stand under the banner of one of the biggest state-funded media organizations in the world, and pontificate about “media control” from an “authoritarian government” demands levels of cognitive dissonance few would think possible. It’s marvelously without irony.

*

Next David seeks out a human rights lawyer to discuss Russia’s legal system. David tells us that Russian judges convict in 99% of cases. This is apparently shockingly high. It does sound high, but deliberately left without context to make it seem worse than it is.

Firstly, the 99% refers only to Judge cases. Jury trials are relatively new to Russian law – in fact Putin, in one of his desperate power grabs, introduced them nationwide in 2003 – and they have a conviction rate of roughly 80%, right in line with the UK’s own courts.

A high conviction rate is not unheard of, especially in systems that run “special procedure court hearings”, a slightly complex system of what amounts to plea bargaining.

Japan runs a similar system and has a conviction rate of nearly 100%, as does Israel. The US federal courts had a conviction rate of 93% in 2012. Will we be seeing documentaries about that? No.

I’m not a lawyer, I’m in no position to launch a full defense of the Russian legal system – for all I know it is corrupt and/or unfair. But there’s no evidence in this film that shows it to be the case, outside of some anecdotal evidence from one lawyer.

Then they move on to Putin’s “online crackdown”.

Apparently Russia is starting to try to censor the internet. How? We don’t know, they don’t tell us. They cite no laws and name no Acts. It is just anecdote after anecdote. There’s no body to any part of it. We’re told Putin wants more control of the internet, as if this is shockingly tyrannical and when Dimbleby says there is…

… a crackdown on what the security services call “online extremism”.

He thinks his scare quotes show some desperately dystopian alternative universe, but doesn’t seem to know, or at least acknowledge, that WE call it that too, or that our very own dear Theresa May called for a “crackdown in online extremism” in a speech just last year.

Or that she put having an entirely government controlled internet in her manifesto last year.

Or that she passed an act in 2016 which Edward Snowden described as:

The most extreme surveillance in the history of western democracy.

Is Panorama asking questions about that? Of course not.

Does the BBC call our government authoritarian? Not once.

Instead they offer just a talking-head, making a scary statement that “thousands” of innocent Russians could be in prison, with again no evidence to back it up at all.

When you actually dig into the numbers they tell a completely different story.

The New York Post, not known for its pro-Russia bias, reported that 233 Russians were convicted of “hate speech” in 2015, “most of them for online activity.”

Meanwhile, in happy bunny funland Britain, 2015 saw 857 people arrested for “offensive” tweets or Facebook posts… in London alone.

It sounds like we’re more “authoritarian” than the Russians on the internet front at least. A fact which takes maybe 30 seconds of research to find.

*

David on… Russia’s Controlled Media

Next David goes to Echo of Moscow Radio to talk to one of the completely non-existent members of the independent media in Russia. She claims that the entire country is actually run by the KGB. As per usual, she produces no evidence for this statement, she just says it. But that’s good enough for David who asks her to “explain how the KGB dominates society”, underlining that the KGB and MI6 are not at all similar:

Explain to our UK viewers, who might think of the KGB as just like our MI5 or MI6… how the KGB dominates society?”

Got that everyone? There’s their spies, and our spies, and they are completely different. This attitude was ridiculous enough to be used as satire in Blackadder, but now is being seriously repeated by one the BBC’s most respected personalities.

Her “explanation” involves simply repeating the same sentiment she already expressed, only in slightly different words, and David is too polite to press for more, or too lazy to be bothered, or too smug to notice. It’s really getting hard to say at this point.

(SIDEBAR: Of course one of the most prominent ways that MI6 and the KGB differ is that the KGB doesn’t exist anymore, whereas MI6 are very much still going.)

It’s at this point the documentary seems to realise the rather confusing contradiction of its own existence. They are there to talk about how autocratic and terrible Russia is, and yet they seem to talk to human rights lawyers, anti-government television hosts and the head of anti-Putin radio stations. If Putin has all dissidents and protestors locked up and/or murdered… how do these people exist?

They get around this in one, short sentence:

By allowing a few independent outlets, a few dissident voices, Putin can claim freedom of expression.

Brilliant logic. Unfailing reason. Yes there’s SOME freedom of speech, but only so Putin can say there’s freedom of speech, it’s not REAL freedom of expression.

It just looks like it.

Much like that old expression:

“If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it’s not really a duck because Putin doesn’t allow ducks. He’s just letting that duck exist so he can pretend he’s got a duck.”

*

The Russian Orthodox Church seems to be a real bugbear of David’s, because fresh from announcing that “there IS free-speech in Russia, it just doesn’t count”, David goes back to talk to a member of the Church… and asks him if he approves of the lack of free speech in Russia. David narrates:

When it comes to political repression, the one place not to look for support is the Orthodox Church.”

This sentence implies we’re about to hear a Church spokesman defending political repression… which is not the case. Instead we see the same bemused Bishop as before, being asked:

You know there’s a lot of criticism of Putin’s encroachment on human rights: People in prison for speaking out against the state, internet communications closed down, the state spying on people’s communications, do you approve of all that?”

Note he’s asking “do you approve of…”, not “is this the case…”. Leading questions predicated upon unproven assumptions have no place in honest discourse… but if you took them out the documentary there would only be 3 or 4 minutes of stock footage of nesting dolls and onion domes.

The bishop, who seems slightly perturbed by the rudeness of the question, evidently wasn’t provided with a script because he doesn’t launch into a fascistic diatribe about values, or verbal attacks on traitors and dissidents… he simply says:

This is your point of view, and we do not always agree. With all due respect.

You can see his Russian politeness straining, but not breaking. And that’s it.

So much for Russia the conservative theocracy.

*

David on… Russians’ Right to Protest

The documentary just gets less coherent and more confusing from here on in. The facts they present never align with the spin they try to put on them. They point out eminently reasonable realities of Russian life, with a weight of sinister implication that defies all reason. (In the trade, we refer to this maneuver as “The Harding”).

The perfect example is the story of a women’s rights campaigner Alena Popova, protesting about the allegations of sexual harassment made against the Russian MP Leonid Slutsky.

We see her standing outside the State Duma with cardboard cut-out of Slutsky. I don’t read Russian, but I can’t imagine the slogans on the cut-out are especially complimentary. She is briefly detained by the police who ask her who she is and what she’s doing… she explains and is released. Then she returns to the Duma, and does her protest unmolested.

All this seems perfectly fine, despite David’s chuntering narration.

This is just one example of brutal oppression of dissent, ever present in Putin’s Russia.

Alena is standing literally right outside the door of the parliament building, with a cut-out of Slutsky covered in protest slogans. She requires no permit to do this under Russian law, which states that solo protests are allowed anywhere at any time without a permit. You do need permission to hold group protests.

By way of comparison, let’s imagine Alena were British, not Russian: If she attempted the same exact protest in the UK… she would not be allowed to. At all. Ever.

Firstly, you would never get to stand within inches of the doors of Parliament without getting halted by armed police. Secondly, you’re not allowed to protest in Parliament Square – even alone – without getting prior permission. This law was passed by Blair’s government in 2006, in order to shift anti-war protester Brian Haw.

At one point a young man approaches David and Alena and asks what’s going on, David’s voice-over claims the young man works for state security, and intones the words with foreboding. We have no way of knowing if this is true, if it even matters. I’m fairly sure a Russian camera crew standing outside the Houses of Parliament would attract the attention of special branch. He asks them two questions and then leaves.

Later, there’s a counter-protest. Four people appear with signs in support of Slutsky. David claims they’re there to cause trouble for Alena, and even implies they are working for the state. A claim which is rather shot-down when the counter-protest group – who support the government – are escorted away by the police because they don’t have permission for their group protest.

The pro-government protesters are gone, the anti-government protester remains. David doesn’t see this as, in any way, challenging his position on government oppression of dissent. He asks Alena:

If they control protest, if they’re against protest, why do they let it happen at all?”

A fantastic question, the only really cogent thing he’s said for the last half an hour. She replies:

Because we have a constitution.”

(SIDEBAR: Britain, of course, has no written constitution at all.)

*

David on… Russian Paranoia

The next episode in this bizarre saga opens with the director of the Levada Centre claiming the Kremlin is “paranoid” about a revolution, referencing the 2012 protests (the aborted “Snow Revolution”). To which David adds some rather incongruous narration:

Putin prepares to go to almost any lengths to prevent a popular uprising against him.”

He never says what these “lengths” are. In fact, we have no idea what the Russian government has done to prevent a Revolution. If anything. But breaking away from the specific facts, which the documentary forces us to do, maybe we should ask a simple question.

Why would the Russian government be paranoid about revolution?

Maybe we should look at other countries that have had “revolutions” recently for an answer to this question.

Ukraine is a disaster. Libya is possibly the only country in the world worse off than Ukraine and the only reason Syria isn’t just as bad those two is that Russia stepped in to help. David talks about revolutions as if they are organic, almost accidental, occurrences. But we all know that’s not true, we’ve all seen “Colour Revolutions” be fomented by the Western powers to overthrow governments that the USA has deemed to not have “American interests” at heart.

“Revolutions”, in recent years, are Imperial acts of aggression carried out by proxy armies with the aim of removing an “enemy” of the West. And they have left nothing in their wake but blood and destruction. The Kremlin has every right to be concerned about possible Western attempts at a coup against their government. Such a move could destroy everything they have built.

Do you think a Western-backed coup government will keep up free school meals and medals for motherhood? Do they have a constitutional right to protest in Libya right now? How about the birthrate vs death rate in Syria, is that going up?

Shouldn’t all governments fear revolution and hope for stability?

How would David feel about a revolution in Britain? Would it be welcomed? Would Theresa May like seeing violent unrest in the streets of London? Or being replaced by a Russian-backed, unelected leader?

Despite the chaos that has been left in the wake of “revolutions” the world over in recent years, the documentary gives no credence to Russian fears. Russia is never “afraid”, and always “paranoid”.

David talks to an Sergei Markov, a “political consultant who has worked with Putin”. We have no way of knowing if this is true, and this being Panorama taking it in faith is an unearned act of trust, but let’s assume that they’re telling the truth.

Markov highlights that Russia has good reason to fear Western aggression. Pointing out, reasonably enough, that no Russian soldier has ever set foot on British soil in the name of conquest, whereas Britain has invaded Russia every several times since the 19th Century:

Now, you are preparing to invade Russian territory again, to establish your control of Russian political, social and economic constitution, for us it is absolutely clear.”

We are encouraged to see Markov as a crazy-eyed lunatic, and David’s response is to laugh in his face:

You don’t seriously think an invasion of Russia is planned by the West? I mean, you’ll have me laughing in a moment.”

A rather patronising rebuttal, that would hold more water if Russia weren’t practically encircled by NATO airbases. Or if the US hadn’t unilaterally withdrawn from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002. Or if they hadn’t positioned their missile defense shield in Eastern Europe under clearly false pretences, granting them theoretical first-strike capability.

David doesn’t mention these facts.

Just as he doesn’t go into any recent history of Western military interventions. How America has, in the last 20 years alone, carried out coups in Venezuela, Ukraine and Honduras. Or how, when covert means did not work, they simply declared all out war in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.

Any impartial viewing of world history – especially recent history – would explain every country in the world having a fear of falling into NATO’s crosshairs.

Rather than acknowledging this, the documentary remains resolutely in its own little world. Insisting, in the face of all evidence to the contrary, that Russia has nothing to fear from the West.

*

David on… Russia’s “Orchestrated” Democracy

Fresh from telling us that Putin’s Russia is a “paranoid place”, where the leader with 80% approval is constantly worried about revolution and is prepared to go any lengths to stop it – even so far as having laws regulating protests that are almost identical to our own – David goes to talk to all the young people about their views on Putin.

They all like him, apparently:

One of the most fascinating aspects of today’s Russia, is that the under 25s, who might be expected to rebel, are Putin’s strongest supporters.

He’s talking to a group called Set (Russian for Network), a collection of “young artists, writers and designers” who consider Putin a role-model. David asks them a series of questions.

What do you like about Putin?

One of the young men says that before Putin it was “uncomfortable”, even “shameful”, to be associated with Russia. David doesn’t ask a follow-up question, putting paid to his earlier claims about wanting to know what Russians “really think” and staying true to the programme’s aim of never, ever mentioning the 1990s. Instead he skips back to leading questions based on false assumptions:

You feel happy with one person controlling the whole country?

We don’t know what they say to that, because it cuts off before anyone answers.

Do you agree that he’s quite ruthless when it comes to opposition?

They say they don’t agree. In fact they say quite the opposite. Which cues in a snide narration:

This generation of Russians are internet savvy, globally connected, but they prefer Putin’s authoritarian rule to democracy.

None of the people on camera ever express this opinion. Which makes this one of the most egregious lies in the whole 58 minutes. To appreciate what a statement that is, you really need to watch the film.

None of these young people “prefer authoritarianism to democracy”, they make it quite clear – in their opinion, they live in a democracy. Is there an effort to understand their position? None whatsoever. Instead we get treated to the head of the Levada Centre (again), this time dismissing all the young people who like Putin as being either stupid or brainwashed:

They are very different to Western youth, their minds were formed at the same time Putin’s regime was established, and for them the rhetoric of a great power is a very important part of their collective identity.

This is, as far as we know, another unsupported statement. Not one of the half-dozen young people David talked to said anything about Russia being a great power. Not one thing. They talked about Putin personally being relatable and they talked about improving conditions from the Yeltsin era.

When confronted with Dimbleby asking yet another offensively phrased question…

People in Britain look at Russia and say “this is a powerful autocrat who stops opposition, prevents anyone, if necessary puts them in jail to stop them opposing him” is that not how you see it?

… one young man, far from claiming to “prefer authoritarian rule” or praising the “rhetoric of a great power”, launches into a defense of Russian democracy. Pointing out the sheer number of different political parties (48), and that they had 8 different Presidential candidates running against Putin.

David isn’t listening. He’s nailed his colours to the mast on this one, Russia isn’t a democracy. It doesn’t matter how popular the leader is. It doesn’t matter how many elections they have, how many candidates are on the ballots, or how much public support they have. Russia is NOT a democracy, because David says so.

The film even references Navalny as “Putin’s biggest political opponent”, without mentioning that his party has ZERO seats in the Duma, and that he polls at less than 2% public support. Dimbleby doesn’t know these numbers, because his “researchers” either didn’t look them up, or pretended not to know them. Instead David solemnly declares:

Putin had him convicted of fraud.

Not “he was found guilty”, no, “Putin HAD him convicted”. Is there evidence produced that shows Navalny was framed? Nope. Is there evidence produced that shows any corruption on behalf of the judiciary? None. Is there any mention of Navalny being a right-wing ultra-nationalist who referred to Caucasians as “cockroaches”? Not even a little.

“Russia isn’t a democracy”, and “Putin’s main political opponent” is an unpopular convicted criminal with a history of racism, who was forbidden by the constitution from running in a Presidential election in which he would have come ninth.

Cut to:- Skyline of Moscow. Night. Synthy music plays, and the David lets fly with this beauty:

As many autocrats have shown, just holding an election doesn’t make a democracy.”

Boom. Just as a free press doesn’t mean Russia has freedom of expression, elections don’t mean they are a democracy. The documentary is slowly becoming less an attack on Putin and Russia, than an attack on the English language, and indeed logic itself.

David doesn’t tell us what DOES make a democracy, but it certainly isn’t elections. Following this logic, of course, you could have a democracy without elections. And if that sounds absurd, then remember that Margaret Thatcher praised Pinochet for bringing “democratic order” to Chile.

Elections that return the “wrong” result? They aren’t democratic. Rounding up dissidents in soccer stadiums and gunning them down? That is democratic.

“Democracy” means whatever the establishment wants it to mean.

Putin uses carefully orchestrated elections to legitimise his rule.”

Who “orchestrates” the elections? How do they do it? How does David know this? We’re not told. We’re now 40 minutes in, and we’ve yet to have any single accusation or anecdote backed up with anything even approaching evidence. We’re not even provided basic logical reason.

Perhaps more pressing is: Why would a President with 80% popularity NEED to “orchestrate” elections?

They never explain.

*

David on… Russia’s “small” economy

David’s next port-of-call on his tour of Bizzarro World is the Russian economy. Having been told that the Russian economy is “struggling” we get some more stock footage – this time of factories and oil wells – with David narrating:

Russia is one of the largest countries on Earth, with a population of 144 million, but its economy is much smaller – not even two-thirds the size of Britain, and even smaller than Italy.”

There’s a lot to unpack here.

First, it’s absolutely hilarious that dear little David can’t even bring himself to acknowledge the simple fact that Russia is not “one of the largest countries on Earth”, it is the largest. It’s nearly double the size of China. It’s European portion is the largest country in Europe, its Asian portion is the largest country in Asia and if you cut it evenly in half the two new countries would still be 4th and 5th largest countries in the world.

Russia is very big.

Nobody would ever dispute that, so why not just say it? It goes to show the pettiness of the mindset behind this programme. They simply cannot give Russia any credit, even so far as acknowledging its size.

Second, the language is again very deceptive. When he says “much smaller than Britain” and “EVEN smaller than Italy”, he’s painting a picture of small economy. He doesn’t mention that the UK has the 4th largest economy in the world, and Italy the 7th. Russia is 10th, just behind Canada. He also doesn’t mention that those figures don’t include the economy of Crimea, which the World Bank refuses to count as Russian.

Nobody would seriously claim that the 10th biggest economy in the world is “small”.

David sits down with Russia’s former deputy-Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich who says, when asked about the size of Russia’s economy:

If you look at other European economies, they have a long tradition of private entrepreneurship, we started this tradition only in the 1990s and need to accumulate experience.”

It’s a fair point, considering they’ve only been capitalist for 28 years or so, the 10th biggest economy in the world isn’t bad at all. David is unmoved. We don’t see his answer to that point, I would suggest because he couldn’t make one.

Instead he changes the subject, in voice-over, to corruption. Calling it a “tradition” in Russia.

He talks to Vladimir Pozner, a member of the allegedly “strictly controlled” Russian media, who apparently feels free to say corruption is endemic, giving yet more anecdotal evidence. This time about entirely hypothetical traffic policeman being bribed. A (strictly controlled?) anti-corruption campaigner points at a flat and says a politician lives there and shouldn’t be able to afford it. And David mentions an (unnamed) survey which ranks Russia 135th in the world in terms of corruption.

Thus is it established that Russia has a terrible corruption problem.

At this point the documentary devolves into a series of complete lies. Not mistakes, not exaggerations, lies. Lies so simple and so easy to refute with only a few google searches, that we’ll just go ahead and work through them one at a time:

Corruption is widespread, according to one survey it’s one of the worst countries in the world – it ranks 135 out of 180.”

He’s almost certainly referring to the famous “corruption perception index”, which is NOT a measure of corruption, but a measure of how corrupt some (unnamed) people THINK something MIGHT BE. It is a nonsense stat, discussed in more detail here.

“Russia has one of the most unequal economies in the world…. 20 million people live in poverty.”

This is technically true, there are 20 million people living under the poverty line in Russia, or 13.8% of the population. Before the sanctions it was less than 12%.

In the US, there are 45 million people living under the poverty line, or 13.8% of the population.

In the UK, there are 14 million people living under the poverty line, or 20.6% of the population.

Of course, where these numbers differ is that Russia’s number is coming down from 35%, and ours is going up. The makers of this programme know this, because the numbers were published on the BBC’s own website.

Putin’s failure to diversify the economy means that half the Russian budget comes from oil and gas, so when the price of oil fell after the annexation of Crimea, Russia was plunged into crisis.”

The price of oil did not “fall”, it was deliberately sabotaged by the gulf monarchies flooding the market. This was done to try to hurt the Russian economy, we can tell David knows this because he references the “annexation of Crimea” as the cause, he just doesn’t explain the details.

Putin’s aggressive foreign policy, along with the West’s sanctions, made the situation worse.”

Putin’s foreign policy – “aggressive” or otherwise – has no bearing on the Russian economy. This is all about the sanctions. Sanctions imposed by the West are not any reflection on the economic competence of the Russian government, especially when they are put in place over entirely false accusations, such as the Skripal poisoning or “hacking” the US Presidential election.

It is one of the oldest tricks in the US Imperial playbook, create a pretext for action against a country which they see as an “enemy”. Use this pretext to sanction a country with the aim of crippling their economy, and then use the fact the economy is struggling to criticise the government of the target country. The US has been doing it to Cuba and North Korea for decades, to Venezuela for years and Russia since 2014.

The deliberate destruction of their economy by powers beyond their control has no bearing on the competence or corruption of the Russian government.

In fact, by any standards, the Russian government under both Putin and Medvedev has been exceptionally competent.

… this list could go on and on.

Russian GDP under Yeltsin, Putin and Medvedev

Russia’s economy – under both Putin and Medvedev – has gone largely in the right direction.Of course, part of that is that there was only one direction to go.

All of this comes back to the 1990s. When Russia, as a country, was possibly within only months of ceasing to exist, collapsing into Balkanisation and chaos.

Average salary in Russia since 1998

Putin’s government prevented that, and turned things around for ordinary Russians in a quasi-miraculous fashion. That is why 80% of Russians support the man.

It’s the most basic rule of governance, but its one we in the West are encouraged to ignore – the first priority of government is to make the country better. Do that, and the people will support you.

To discuss the Russian economy, or the living standards of Russian people, or popularity of Putin, without acknowledging these facts, is just incredibly dishonest. Sickeningly so.

*

Conclusion

This is a bad documentary. It’s not simply ethically bankrupt, it’s also badly made. It’s badly paced, badly edited and incoherent. It’s so dedicated to its agenda that it sacrifices all else.

There is a relentless war being waged here, not just at the BBC and not just against Russia, but throughout the Western world… and against reality itself.

Consider the implications of this situation: One of the largest media organizations in the world spent license fee-payers money to send a man half-way around the globe, to convince their captive audience of tax-payers that elections don’t equal democracy, that independent media doesn’t equal free speech and that a $15bn trade surplus means your economy is struggling.

It recycles lies that have become terribly dull to refute, so must be simply exhausting to repeat. It routinely accidentally steps on its own argument, realises it has done so, and then performs logical gymnastics to try to prove it knows what it’s talking about. It makes no sense, and you can tell that they know it.

The list of contradictions and unanswered questions goes on and on, creating a world that cannot exist under the laws of reason. We’re told that Putin is popular, but that people are forced to vote for him. We’re told by Russian independent media organizations, critical of the government, that Russia has no independent media organizations critical of the government, and we’re told by a protester standing right outside the Russian parliament, that protests are practically illegal.

All of this irrationality combines to put together a patchwork-Picasso portrait of “Vladimir Putin”, the corrupt communist idealist, KGB hardliner and devout christian ideologue, who forces all the devoted members of his cult of personality to vote for him in elections he rigs anyway. A man who stole all the money he also spent on rebuilding Russia’s military, schools and hospitals, is best-buddies with all the oligarchs he sent to jail for tax evasion, and who – despite the size of the country – has “only” got the 10th biggest economy in the world.

It’s a documentary made by people at war with themselves, unable to understand that their delusions are absurd and incomprehensible to those of us struggling to live a reality-based life.

There’s desperation in this film, a hysterical repetition of proven lies and shrill fake news, screamed out by people who feel they’re losing control of the narrative.

They don’t know what they think except that Russia is bad and Putin is worse, they don’t know why they think it except that they’ve got to because they were told to, and they’re aghast. Unable to understand why no one’s listening when they’re making so much sense!

This documentary, like so much of the MSM’s recent output, is a wail of outrage at a world that refuses to listen to their nonsense. As well-reasoned as a toddler’s tantrum, as well sourced as “Trevor from the pub” and as well researched as toilet stall graffiti. A limping, heaving, slime-ridden pile of self-defeating, self-contradictory garbage that has no place in people’s hearts, minds or homes.

And I watched it five times to write this.

I need a shower.

على هامش انتخابات الاغتراب

أبريل 28, 2018

ناصر قنديل

– لا يجوز إفساد الفرحة اللبنانية بإنجاز أول مشاركة للاغتراب اللبناني بالانتخابات النيابية بسرد الملاحظات التي يجب قولها في أي بحث هادئ يطال هذا المسار، وسيكون حاضراً بقوة في الانتخابات المقبلة، طالما أنّ نسبة التسجيل والمشاركة في هذه الدورة بدتا أقرب لتمرين أوّلي، واحتفال وطني، ولا يمكن بسبب حجم المشاركة المحدودة التي تقارب 1 في المئة من عدد المقيمين في بلاد الاغتراب، اعتبار هذه المشاركة مؤثرة في نتائج الانتخابات، لكن الملاحظات السريعة التي ظهرت مع التمرين الأول لا تقتصر رؤيتها علينا، بل يراها الآخرون، منهم الدول التي تجري على أرضها الانتخابات وتستضيف أعداداً كبيرة من اللبنانيين، لكنها تتخذ موقفاً سياسياً واضحاً نحو عناوين اللعبة السياسية اللبنانية الداخلية ولا يُحرجها القول إنها ليست على الحياد فيها، وإنها تسعى علناً لترجيح كفة على كفة في أيّ استحقاق، ولا تُخفي تدخلها في الانتخابات داخل لبنان، فكيف عندما يجري بعض فصولها على أراضيها، ما يجعل الجولات اللاحقة مصدراً للانتباه والاهتمام من زوايا مختلفة، عندما تصير النسبة فوق الـ 10 في المئة من المقيمين في الخارج ويصير لها وزنها في تقرير نتائج الانتخابات وتحديد صورة المجلس النيابي.

– لم تخفِ الدول الغربية ولا دول الخليج، حيث أغلبية الاغتراب اللبناني، أن عنوان مقاربتها للانتخابات النيابية، ومثلها للسياسات اللبنانية، صار معلناً وهو إضعاف حزب الله وقوى المقاومة. ووصلت واشنطن في الحديث عن العقوبات بالتهديد بإضافة اسمي رئيس الجمهورية ورئيس المجلس النيابي إلى لائحة المعاقبين بتهمة دعم حزب الله، وبدا واضحاً في مشهد الانتخابات في السعودية أن تيار المستقبل والقوات اللبنانية يسيطران على الصورة، بالأعلام والهتافات والمندوبين، وليس مستغرباً أن يحظى حلفاء السعودية بتسهيلات لا يحظى بها سواهم، مقابل استحالة ظهور أي علم أو مندوب أو صورة، للتعبير عن حضور لحزب الله كفريق رئيسي في العملية الانتخابية. وما يصحّ في السعودية يصحّ في أغلب الدول الخليجية والغربية من باريس إلى واشنطن، وما بينهما، وهذا أمر لا يمكن تجاهله في سلامة العملية الانتخابية، وتكافؤ الفرص فيها، خصوصاً إذا تنبّهت هذه الدول في المرات المقبلة، وهي متنبّهة جداً، لكيفية التأثير في خيارات الناخبين على أراضيها بقوة الإمساك بلقمة عيشهم، بعدما كانت في الماضي تحاول استعمال هذا الضغط للتأثير على حجم واتجاه مشاركة العاملين فوق أراضيها إذا قرّروا المجيء إلى لبنان في موسم الانتخابات فتدقق في وجهة خياراتهم، وغالباً يمتنع بعضهم عن المجيء كي لا يتّهم بدعم قوى المقاومة ويدفع مصدر رزقه ثمناً.

– النجاح اللوجستي والإداري والتنظيمي لعملية الاقتراع للمغتربين يستحقّ التقدير، لكن البعد السياسي الذي تساهل حزب الله من منطلقات وطنية، في اعتباره سبباً للطعن بالعملية الانتخابية في الخارج في ظل الحظر الذي يطاله ويطال حلفاءه، والملاحقة التي ستطال مؤيديه ومنتخبي لوائحه، يجب أن ينال حقه في النقاش مع المجلس النيابي الجديد والتعديلات التي ستطال قانون الانتخابات النيابية في ضوء التجربة.

– بالتأكيد تجب مواصلة تشجيع المشاركة الاغترابية، وبالتأكيد يجب التنبّه لمخاطر منح دول عربية وأجنبية منصات وفرص التدخل لصياغة أي مجلس نيابي يولد من العملية الانتخابية، من بوابة الإمساك بالانتخاب الاغترابي وحجم تأثيره، كلما اتسعت المشاركة، لذلك تبدو الصيغة الأسلم هي ربط التصويت للوائح المتنافسة عن الدوائر الانتخابية اللبنانية بالذين يصوّتون في لبنان، وربط التصويت الاغترابي بدوائر مخصّصة للمغتربين لا يزيد عدد مقاعدها عن 10 في المئة من أعضاء المجلس النيابي، وتطبق عليها المعايير ذاتها التي تطبق على تشكيل اللوائح وإجراء الانتخابات في الدوائر الانتخابية الأخرى، فتضمن للاغتراب مشاركة تتخطى مجرد حق الانتخاب ليصير هناك مقاعد لتمثيل الاغتراب يختارها المغتربون أنفسهم، تعبّر عن حضورهم في قضايا التشريع والمراقبة النيابية، ونقل همومهم واهتماماتهم، وتحصّن المجلس النيابي من مخاطر التلاعب بهويته عبر التدخّلات الأجنبية، وتضمن عبر التسجيل المسبق فرز الراغبين بالمشاركة بصفتهم الاغترابية في العملية الانتخابية عن الراغبين بالمشاركة في دوائرهم المحلية في لبنان.

 

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كتاب مفتوح الى هيئة الإشراف على الانتخابات

أبريل 25, 2018

ناصر قنديل

– أتوجّه بهذا الكتاب المفتوح لكم، لأنني أحمل كل التقدير والاحترام لأشخاصكم رئيساً وأعضاء في الهيئة المنوط بها الإشراف على الانتخابات، ولأنني أراها ضرورة دستورية متقدّمة لا يجب السماح بإجهاضها، ولأنني واثق من رعب لدى الممسكين بالسلطة من كل رقابة مستقلة وعجزهم عن رفضه أو تجنبه بالمقابل، لأنهم استنفدوا كل باب للثقة بتولّيهم هذه الرقابة، فصار تفخيخ النصوص هو الحال في كل وضع مشابه، ترمى كرة النار على عاتق هيئة تستوحى من نماذج ديمقراطية أخرى. ويجري الإيحاء بالتسمية أنّها مستقلة، ويتم تجويف المهمة سلفاً بنصوص غامضة، ووضع الهيئة التي يفترض أنها وجدت ضامناً للديمقراطية، بوجه معادلة الحرية التي يمثلها الإعلام بمؤسساته. وهي مؤسسات ليست موجودة أصلاً خارج لعبة المال والطائفية والسلطة والفوضى، لكنها تبقى بكل شوائبها نافذة الحرية وآلة الرقابة الفعلية على أداء السلطة ورموزها، في توازن رعب ينشئه احتكام الإعلام للرأي العام في قياس نجاحه وموارده، وفي النجاح بالمرور بين تناقضات الحاكمين، فنصف الحقيقة من هنا ونصفها الثاني من هناك يسمحان للمتلقي بتجميع الشظايا وبناء صورته الخاصة شبه الكاملة.

– النصوص الصريحة لقانون الانتخاب حول مسؤولية الهيئة الرقابية على الإعلام، ودخولها بالتفاصيل مقابل غموض وعمومية وابتعاد متعمّد عن توضيح الآليات الإجرائية، عند الحديث عن الرقابة على المرشحين وحملاتهم، وخصوصاً تكافؤ الفرص بينهم، بتحييد مرافق الدولة ومؤسساتها ومنابرها وخدماتها وأموالها وأجهزتها عن الاستخدام الانتخابي، تكشف النيات بدفع الهيئة للفشل في تحقيق الغاية المرجوّة نظرياً وهي ضمان نزاهة العملية الانتخابية، من دون تحمّل السلطة ومن يتولاها مسؤولية هذا الفشل، ولسان حالهم «لقد شكّلنا لكم هيئة مستقلة للإشراف وليس الإشراف مسؤوليتنا»، وهم يعملون أنهم عاملوا الهيئة وفقاً لقول الشاعر، «ألقاه في البحر مكتوفاً وقال له إياك أن تبتلّ بالماء»، ومن جهة مقابلة ترك الهيئة تتخبّط في صدام مع الإعلام يصل حدّ خلق الشعور بالاستهداف للحرية، نتيجة الشعور بالغبن، لأن المكان الذي يفترض رؤية فروسية الهيئة ومهابتها فيه، هو التصدّي لجموح وتوحش رموز السلطة في ممارسة التجاوزات بلا حساب. وهذا التصدي هو الذي يمنحها حصانة موضوعية ضرورية لمحاسبة الحلقة الأضعف، وهي الإعلام. وهذا كافٍ ليشعر الإعلام بالإنصاف حتى عندما يجري الأخذ على يده.

– لذلك كله يصير السؤال الطبيعي هو كيفية التعامل مع هذا الالتباس النموذجي، المدروس والمبرمج، والحل ليس الانكفاء ولا الاكتفاء طبعاً، لا الانكفاء باستقالة تخالف مفهوم المسؤولية الوطنية الكبرى والمصلحة العليا للدولة كمفهوم قانوني ودستوري، ولا الاكتفاء بممارسة متحفّظة للمسؤولية المنصوص عليها، والقول اللهم أشهد أني قد بلغت، أو لم يكن بالإمكان أفضل مما كان. فالقوانين أيّها الأساتذة المحترمون كما تعلمون تكمّلها الأعراف، والأعراف يصنعها الشجعان أمثالكم الذين ينطلقون من روح القانون لمنح الوضوح لنصوصه الغامضة، لأنهم يدركون أن الديمقراطية تراكم أعرافاً أكثر مما هي تراكم نصوصاً. ويعلم الأستاذة رئيس وأعضاء الهيئة وبينهم رجال قانون كبار، أن النص الأصلي التعريفي لمهمة الهيئة كهيئة رقابة محدثة له صفة الإطلاق ما لم تحدّه نصوص أخرى تمنح صلاحيات الرقابة لجهة ثانية. وفي المادة الرابعة من مهام الهيئة هذا الإطلاق «مراقبة تقيّد اللوائح والمرشحين ووسائل الإعلام على اختلافها بالقوانين والأنظمة التي ترعى المنافسة الانتخابية، وفقاً لأحكام هذا القانون»، وحيث لا وضوح كافٍ للكيفية التي تمارس فيها الهيئة هذه المهمة، لا تحديد موازٍ لقيام سواها بما يحقق غاية هذه المهمة. ما يعني أن صفة الإطلاق هنا تمنح الهيئة صلاحية إنتاج أعراف الممارسة، وابتكار الآليات ضمن الحدود التي قيّدها بها القانون، وفيها في المادة الثامنة من المهام «ممارسة الرقابة على الإنفاق الانتخابي وفقاً لأحكام هذا القانون». وفي المادة الحادية عشرة من نص المهام «تلقّي الشكاوى في القضايا المتعلقة بمهامها والفصل بها، ويعود لها أن تتحرّك عفواً عند تثبتها من أية مخالفة وإجراء المقتضى بشأنها»، أما في الآليات فقد نصت المادة الثانية عشرة «يمكن للهيئة أن تستعين عند الضرورة بأصحاب الخبرة المشهودة في الاختصاصات المرتبطة بالانتخابات وشؤونها»، ما يعوّض نقص الكادر الوظيفي والتعاقد مع شركات متخصصة للقيام بمهام التوثيق والتحقق والمتابعة لوضع التقارير بالوقائع الدقيقة في كل من مجالات الرقابة أمام الهيئة، وفقاً لقواعد مهنية احترافية.

– في بناء الأعراف أيضاً تستطيع الهيئة أن تخاطب الرأي العام بتقارير أسبوعية تصير يومية مع اقتراب موعد الانتخابات ترصد المخالفات وتنشرها، فيصير الرأي العام شريكاً لها في ممارسة الرقابة، والسؤال البديهي، ماذا لو وجّهت الهيئة تنبيهاً لمرشح وزير يتجاوز حد السلطة في وزارته بتوظيفها لحملته الانتخابية، هل يخالف هذا صلاحياتها؟ أم يكفي لتجنّبه أنه لم يرد في تحديد صلاحياتها بنص واضح، وقد لا يرد مطلقاً؟ وماذا لو نشرت الهيئة أسبوعياً تقارير تدقيق مكاتب محاسبة بإنفاق المرشحين مقارنة بما يفيدون به، أو نشرت تقارير بالمخالفات يرتكبها المرشحون مرفقة بالتنبيهات الموجّهة لهم، وتولت تنبيههم علناً قبل تخطي السقوف المسموحة مالياً وقبل بلوغ التجاوزات حدّ تهديد إبطال نيابتهم في الطعون اللاحقة للعملية الانتخابية، أليس هذا مستوى الشفافية والنزاهة الأمثل الذي ينشده القانون، رغم عدم تضمينه نصوصاً واضحة لكيفية تحقيق هذه الغاية، لكن ألا يكفي الهيئة للقيام به أن القانون لم يمنح هذه الصلاحية لجهة أخرى، وأن الهيئة هي الجهة الأوسع مسؤولية عن الإشراف على الأداء الانتخابي للمرشحين ومراقبة تقيدهم بالقانون؟ وصلاحيتها هي كل ما ليس هناك نص واضح على أنه صلاحية سواها، وسواها ليس مطالباً بذلك بعد ولادة الهيئة، وسيتوسّع لسد الفراغ الذي تتركه له الهيئة متذرّعاً بالمصلحة العليا للدولة ومفهومها، لكن المصلحة العليا للدولة تحضر هنا بمفهوم سد الفراغ التشريعي بالممارسة ومراكمة الأعراف، وهي مهمة بين أيديكم وتنتظر مبادراتكم.

– السادة رئيس وأعضاء الهيئة المحترمين، آملاً أن ينال هذا الكتاب بعضاً من عنايتكم، من موقع الحرص على مراكمة البناء الثابت لمداميك الديمقراطية التي تشكلون أحد حراسها، وأمامنا عشرة أيام قبل التوجّه لصناديق الاقتراع هي فرصة لا تقدّر بثمن لتكون لنا منكم أمثولة في كيفية تطبيق النص القانوني المرجعي الذي يحدّد مهمتكم وينتظره منكم اللبنانيون «مراقبة تقيّد اللوائح والمرشحين ووسائل الإعلام على اختلافها بالقوانين والأنظمة التي ترعى المنافسة الانتخابية، وفقاً لأحكام هذا القانون».

– ما لا يُدرَك كلُّه لا يُترَك جلُّه، فالخطوة الأولى دائماً تكون غير مكتملة، لكنها اقتراب صادق من الهدف المنشود، هو حق اللبنانيين عليكم، مع كل الاحترام والمحبة والتقدير.

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HEZBOLLAH LEADER: OUR MISSILES CAN HIT ANY TARGET IN ISRAEL

South Front

22.04.2018

Hezbollah Leader: Our Missiles Can Hit Any Target In Israel

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah warned, during a speech to the group’s supporters in the Lebanese southern city of Tyer, via al-Manar TV

Hezbollah has the capabilities of hitting any target in Israel, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said during a speech to the group’s supporters in the Lebanese southern city of Tyer on April 21.

“The forces of the resistance today have the ability, the power and the missiles to hit any target in Israel,” the Times of Israel quoted Nasrallah as saying.

Earlier, Vice commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Hossain Salami said that the Iranian “missiles are ready” and warned all Israel airbases are within the reach of the IRGC. Many Israeli news outlets linked Nasrallah’s remarks to Salami’s statement.

Several Iranian officials have vowed to respond to the alleged April 9 Israeli airstrike on Syria’s T4 airbase in which at least 7 Iranian Army soldiers and officers were killed. According to some local sources, Nasrallah’s threat could be a hint that Hezbollah may play a role in the Iranian response.

Hezbollah carried out a cross border attack against a patrol of the Israeli Army on January 28, 2015. The attack was a direct response to an Israeli airstrike that killed officers of Hezbollah and the IRGC in southern Syria. Due to this it may be possible that if the announced Iranian response takes place, it could come from Lebanon or could involve directly or indirectly Hezbollah.

April 21, 2018

Sayyed Nasrallah: On May 6, Voters in Southern Lebanon Will Assert Sticking to Resistance Path

Mohammad Salami

Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah stressed on Saturday that the voters in southern Lebanon who belong to the various sects will elect the candidates nominated by Hezbollah and Amal movement in the upcoming parliamentary elections on May 6, adding that this reflects their responsibility of protecting the resistance and sticking to its path.

Delivering a speech during Hezbollah electoral ceremony in Tyre, Sayyed Nasrallah stressed that the southern city is one of the basic strongholds of the resistance where its fighters and the commanders used to confront the Zionist occupation forces in 1982, noting that it is also the area of tolerance and Islamic-Christian coexistence.

Resistance

Sayyed Nasrallah mentioned on the anniversary of the Israeli 16-day aggression on Lebanon in 1996 some of its details, revealing that the Zionists started the campaign by striking the headquarters of the resistance military command.

“The Zionist air raid at that time failed to hit Hezbollah military commander martyr Mustafa Badreddine. The enemy, then, moved to attacking the civilians throughout all the war which was ended by April’s Accord.”

Sayyed Nasrallah added that April’s Accord in 1996 protected the Lebanese civilians and put the enemy occupation troops under the intensified fire capabilities of the resistance, which established the needed conditions for 2000 victory.

Sayyed Nasrallah recounted the historical course of the emergence of the resistance, saying that when the Israeli aggressions on southern Lebanon started in 1949 and included committing massacres, Imam Sayyed Abdol Hussein Sharafeddine sent a letter to President Bechara Al-Khouri in which his eminence pleads the state authorities top defend the southerners.

Hezbollah leader added that when Imam Sayyed Moussa Al-Sadr came to Lebanon, his eminence also followed the same path of Sayyed Sharafeddine till establishing the popular resistance groups in 1975, noting that its military and financial support used to be collected from individual initiatives, not any governmental aid.

Sayyed Nasrallah also stressed that the southerners have always wanted the governmental authorities to hold their areas’ responsibilities, but that the state had not responded to those calls before the Resistance victory over the Zionist enemy in 2006 war when the Lebanese army deployed its troops in southern Lebanon.

Sayyed Nasrallah said that the situation in southern Lebanon has changed as the Resistance has possessed the needed weaponry, experience and technological advancement to defeat the Zionist enemy, adding that this area has been enjoying favorable security conditions since the end of 2006 war.

National Issues

Hezbollah Secretary General tackled a number of domestic issues, asking Al-Mustaqbal Movement to show the Lebanese its achievements in administering the country’s economics.

Sayyed Nasralah said that during the recent decades it has been conventional that Hezbollah holds the resistance responsibility and Al-Mustaqbal movement administer the economic issues, adding that the Resistance achievements are clear, but that the country’s economic administration has completely failed.

Sayyed Nasrallah also maintained that corruption which infests the governmental institutions must be addressed in order to eradicate it, calling on the political parties that raise superficial slogans to care getting rid of greed, plunder, and corruption.

Sayyed Nasrallah, moreover, highlighted that sectarianism has stormed all the national sectors, warning against adopting this path in tackling the country’s issues.
Sayyed Nasrallah emphasized that the Lebanese must share all the national resources, harshly criticizing the leaders who adopt sectarianism to reach their political aims.

“After the parliamentary elections, all the Lebanese must preserve their co-existence, so the political rhetoric must be well-tuned.”

Electorally, Sayyed Nasrallah highlighted the strategic alliance between Hezbollah and Amal Movement across Lebanon, stressing that each candidate on the two parties’ lists represents both of them.

Sayyed Nasrallah also emphasized that Hezbollah resolutely nominates the head of Amal Movement Nabih Berri to keep as the House Speaker.

Finally, Sayyed Nasrallah called on the crowds and all the southerners to vote for the candidates nominated by Hezbollah and Amal Movement across Lebanon, highlighting the importance of the public participation in the democratic event in the context of following the path of coexistence and resistance.

Source: Al-Manar Website

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نارام سرجون:ادارة الكلاب المسعورة تعيد انتاج الكلاب ..عم شنبو في عالم صنع في سورية

John Bolton: The Cartoonish Hawk

John Bolton: The Cartoonish Hawk 

مارس 27, 2018

نارام سرجون

أحب دوما أن أدغدغ اولئك الذين لايضحكون عندما نمر على ذكر الديمقراطيات الغربية الرصينة .. بل يكادون يقفون باحترام اذا ما تحدث احد عن قداسة الديمقراطية الطاهرة في اميريكا والغرب .. وتدمع عيونهم من فرط التأثر لغيابها في الشرق والعالم كله .. ويرون ان العالم مأزوم بسبب غياب النموذج الديمقراطي المخملي الغربي .. ولكن لكلماتي اصابع تأبى الا ان تمر على المناطق الحساسة لمشاعرهم الديمقراطية .. لتثير جنونهم ..

اليوم سأضع أصابعي على جسد ديمقراطية “عم شنبو* ” الاميريكية .. وكل من تصله أصابعي وتلامس بقعة الديمقراطية الغربية في عقله ستدغدغه أو ستؤلمه .. وانا على يقين بأنه سيضحك الا أولئك الذين صاروا من اتباع ديانة “الديمقراطية” التي لايقبلون المساس بها والتجديف برموزها أو اهانتها .. كأنها بقرة مقدسة .. وانا أعلم انهم يقاومون الضحك في قرارة نفوسهم ولكنهم لايجرؤون على الاعتراف انهم يعيشون كذبة العمر الكبرى ..

ديمقراطية أميريكا اليوم يقود ديبلوماسيتها الخارجية اليوم رئيس مخابرات شرس .. ويوضع جون بولتون المعروف – بأنه يصوّت لكل الحروب – في المنصب الأهم في الامن القومي .. فتخيلوا اننا قلدنا ديمقراطية اميريكا وعزلنا السيد وليد المعلم وعينا السيد علي مملوك وزيرا للخارجية .. والسيد عاطف نجيب مستشارا للأمن القومي .. لاأشك لحظة ان مجلس الامن سينعقد وسيتم اطلاق موجة نحيب على حقوق الانسان في طول العالم وعرضه وسيتم اطلاق برامج الضحك والسخرية والانتقادات والشتائم في كل صحف العالم التي سترى في تعيين ضابط مخابرات وزيرا للخارجية اهانة لقيم الديمقراطية واعلانا للحرب على الانسان ..

ولكن أميريكا يحل لها مالايحل لغيرها .. هي تضرب بالسلاح الذري ولكنها اذا شمت رائحة غاز المطابخ في الغوطة فانها تدافع عن حقوق الانسان وتضرب المطارات التي شمت فيها رائحة الغاز .. وهي تفتح غوانتانامو وتعين ملائكة التعذيب والاستجواب مسؤولين في المخابرات ثم تدافع عن حقوق الانسان .. وهي ترفض ديكتاتورية ضدام حسين والقذافي والأسد ولكنها ترحب بدكتاتورية آل سعود وآل نتنياهو .. وهي تمر بتجربة فشل المحافظين الجدد وعنفهم لكنها تعيدهم الى أدق المناصب واكثرها حساسية وتطلبا للرزانة ..

أميريكا جورج بوش تعيد انتاج نفسها واستنساخ تجربتها مع المحافظين الجدد .. فالمحافظون الجدد يتسربون الى ادارة ترامب الذي تقاسم السلطة مع دولة المخابرات الاميريكية .. وكان الاتفاق هو اعطوا مالله لله .. وأعطوا مالقيصر لقيصر .. فالله هو دولة المخابرات والبنتاغون في اميريكا .. وقيصر هو رجال الاقتصاد والتجارة والصناعة والصفقات .. اي ترامب ومعسكره ..

ولكن اعادة انتاج ذات الشيء تخضع لمقولة فلسفية شهيرة لهراقليطس هي أنك لاتستطيع ان تقفز في ذات النهر مرتين .. لأن مياه النهر تجري وتتجدد .. وهي من أكثر الأقوال الفلسفية حكمة .. والاميريكون يقفزون في النهر ثانية معتقدين أنهم يسبحون في نفس المياه التي سبحوا فيها في عام 2003 وقبله في مياه البيريسترويكا وأوهام عم غورباتشوف .. ولكن جمهورية جون بولتون أو من نحب ان نلقبه بـ “عم شنبو” لم تعد نفس الجمهورية كما أن عم شنبو صار دقة قديمة في عالم فلاديمير بوتين والروس الجدد ..

ويظن المحافظون الجدد انهم سيخيفون العالم بادارة الكلاب المسعورة .. ماتيس الكلب المسعور .. ومديرة المخابرات جين هاسبل ملاك التعذيب .. وجون بولتون الكلب العجوز .. وكأن العالم لايزال تخيفه شنبات جون بولتون التي كانت تهتز بغضب كلما تحداها أحد والتي رقصت على جثة بغداد وضاحية بيروت .. وكانت تريد الرقص على جثة دمشق ايام جورج بوش .. ولكن شنبات عم شنبو لم تعد تخيف احدا .. بل يجب ان يخاف عم شنبو على شنباته لأنه يواجه عالما ليس كالعالم الذي كان فيه صدام حسين وجورج بوش .. هذا عالم صنع في سورية حيث تمت حلاقة شنبات زعماء العالم كافة من الذين كانوا يمسكون شواربهم ويحلفون أنهم سيحلقونها كما في باب الحارة ويتعهدون ان يسقطوا الدولة السورية ورئيسها وجيشها .. وصارت لدينا مجموعة تذكارية ضخمة من شنبات الزعماء التي تمت حلاقتها في الحرب على سورية سنعرضها يوما في قلعة حلب .. الى جانب مجموعة من الضفائر النسائية .. منها ضفيرة هيلاري كلينتون ..

عالم اليوم صنع في سورية .. وفيه روسيا العظمى تعود .. وتتمطط الصين من شواطئ بحر الصين الى بحر طرطوس .. ووصلت صواريخ فلاديمير بوتين الى سورية .. فيما طارت صواريخ الأسد فوق تل ابيب وفتكت بأحدث طائرات اميريكا ف 35 .. وظهر السيد سارمات المحترم من تحت الأرض .. وعاد حزب الله الى حدود فلسطين وجهز بخبرة حروب المدن .. وصار الجليل مكافأته التي ينتظرها في أي لقاء قادم مع جيش نتنياهو ..

أميريكا التي تغير كلابها ولاتغير أنيابها .. كلب اسود يليه كلب أشقر ومعه كلب مسعور وعم شنبو .. ولكن ادارة الكلاي المسعورة لاتخيف الا قطعان النعاج في الخليج المحتل .. ومزارع دجاج الاخوان المسلمين في تركيا والخليج .. التي بالت في ثيابها من هول الرعب والفزع من هذه الادارة ..

نصيحتي لعم شنبو ان لايزيد عيار تصريحاته وأن يعرف كيف يحافظ على شنباته وكرامة شنباته .. ادارة الكلاب المسعورة لاتخيف أحدا ..

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* ملاحظة هامة: لقب عم شنبو اطلقه السيد حسن نصرالله على جون بولتون عندما كان الاخير ممثلا لجورج بوش في مجلس الامن ابان حرب 2006 وكان عم شنبو يستميت للدفاع عن اسرائيل واجتياح عواصم الشرق .. السيد حسن يومها عندما شاهد جون بولتون أحس انه رآه قبل ذلك اليوم ولكن لايتذكر أين وكيف على وجه الضبط .. وفجأة تذكر انه شاهد مرة مسلسلا للأطفال بعنوان (مغامرات بن بن) وهي عن كلب صغير ..

 

وكان من بين شخصيات المسلسل الكرتوني شخصية (العم شنبو) .. وهو كلب كبير وله شنبات كبيرة .. لاتشبهها الا شنبات جون بولتون .. انه هو عم شنبو بشحمه ولحمه وذيله وشنبه ..

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