Israeli Arms Trade, The Lobby and the Meaning of Chosenness

 BY GILAD ATZMON

tehran Times .jpg

Source: https://www.tehrantimes.com/

 “America is willing to sacrifice its young soldiers and national interests and even its economy for Israel,” Gilad Atzmon, who was born in a Jewish family in Israel and grew up in Jerusalem al-Quds, tells the Tehran Times. *
Atzmon, who now lives in Britain, also says, “Israeli pressure groups seem to believe that they are actually more powerful and certainly more important than the American constitution.” 
The following is the text of the interview:

Tehran Times:       Numerous rights bodies have slammed Western countries’ arms trade with Israel. What is your comment?

Gilad Atzmon: For decades, Israel has been selling killing machines to the most oppressive regimes around the world and this shouldn’t be surprising, as Israel itself is at the forefront of the list of oppressive regimes.

 Embarrassed by the Israeli government’s current arming of Azerbaijan in its war with Armenia,  Holocaust scholar Israel W. Charny penned an article for The Times of Israel titled:  Would Israel sell a used drone to a Hitler? Charny admits in his piece that Israel’s conduct is fundamentally unethical. He ends his commentary writing, “to my Armenian colleagues and friends, I can only say that as a Jew and as an Israeli, I am mortified – and angry.”

 I would think that if Israel’s leading genocide historian allows himself to admit in an Israeli nationalist outlet that the Jewish State is profiting from non-ethical arms trade, the rest of us should be entitled to engage with this topic freely and to use every possible platform to denounce Israel or anyone else from profiting from non- ethical practices.

 The issues go well beyond Israel’s arms trade. A few days ago we learned from the Jewish Press about a Bipartisan bill in America that would give Israel a say on Middle East arms sales. The bill “would require the President to consult with the Israeli government to ensure concerns are settled.” If the bill passes, the USA military industrial complex trade would be dependent on Israeli consent.  

Tehran Times:   How great is the influence of the Zionist and Jewish lobbies in the United States and how can this status quo change?

GA: The facts regarding the immense influence of Israel and the Jewish Lobby in the USA and other Western countries have been established for a while. One can refer to The Israeli Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, a detailed study by two of the most influential American social scientists  (Prof. John Mersheimer & Prof. Stephen Walt). Another leading American political scientist admired by a generation of academics who also covered the topic is, of course, Prof James Petras in his book The Power of Israel in the United States.

What can be done about the well documented domination of AIPAC? I would like to believe that the most effective method to approach this topic would be to point squarely at The Lobby and its corrosive impact: this entails pointing the finger at the wars the USA fights on behalf of Israel, the sanctions that the USA mounts for Israel, the fact that America is willing to sacrifice its young soldiers and national interests and even its economy for Israel. Theoretically speaking, American citizens are entitled to voice such criticisms as freedom of speech is enshrined in the first amendment of their constitution. Israeli pressure groups seem to believe that they are actually more powerful and certainly more important than the American constitution. A few months ago we learned that Right wing activists attempted to spread new laws across Republican controlled states that would suppress criticism on public university campuses of Israel and its occupation of Palestinian territory.

By now, the USA is practically functioning as a remote and subservient Israeli satellite. I am unable to identify  any genuine political force in the USA that can change this anytime soon. I do not see anyone within American politics who is willing to tackle the matter. But the American people, like the Brits and the French are no fools, they see it all.

Tehran Times:    Though Israel is violating and defying international law on a daily basis, its Western supporters and allies continue to support these actions or at least turn a blind eye to what is taking place. How do you assess this double standard?

GA: In general, it’s a good practice not to overestimate people’s intelligence. But Israel and its Lobby make the opposite mistake; they tend to believe that people are far stupider than they are.

People do see what is going on and the general discomfort with Israel and its lobby is growing rapidly. People do notice Israeli criminality, they also notice their politicians on all levels operating as foreign agents for a criminal state.  Israel and The Lobby interpret this rise of awareness as ‘growing anti-Semitism,’ but this is hyperbole. A general mass awareness has surfaced. The Israelis and The Lobby know that once you see the full picture, you can’t just un-see it. In that respect, Israel is facing a wall of silent resistance and the consequences of this reality are unpredictable.

It is fascinating to observe the tsunami of mass protests that we see within Israel against Netanyahu and institutional corruption. The Israelis, or at least many of them, are also tired of themselves being themselves. It is very possible that in line with Jewish history, it will actually  be the Jews who bring their current empire down. As far as I can tell they are better at that battle than anyone else. 

Tehran Times:       How do the Western countries exploit Human Rights as a tool to apply their policies and how do they politicize Human Rights?

GA: Human rights issues are close to our hearts. We don’t like to see abuse of others, we hate discrimination, we are appalled by racism of any kind. Seemingly, some were clever enough to attach barcodes to these genuine universal and ethical  feelings. As things stand, human rights matters have morphed into a profitable industry. Many human rights campaigns are funded by elements who are themselves dedicated human rights abusers. 

Since the Palestinian struggle is close to my heart it took me little time to find out that while the BDS movement was receiving money from George Soros’ Open Society Institute, BDS changed its goal statement and practically gave up on the Palestinian Right of Return.

In 2012 the BDS National Committee in Ramallah made a crucial change to its goal statement. It changed the wording of its original (June 2005) mission statement from “demanding that Israel end its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands” to demanding that Israel end “its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967*” My attempt to find out who introduced this change revealed that this new wording first appeared in Omar Barghouti’s 2011 book, ‘BDS: Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions: the Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights’ (page 6).

It seems that since 2011, The BDS National Committee basically abandoned the most precious Palestinian right—it drifted away from the commitment to land occupied since 1948 and limited its struggle to the liberation of lands occupied in 1967.  Further attempts to clarify who made the change and by what process revealed that this significant change was made in a clandestine manner—it appeared only in English. It has never appeared in Arabic or any other language. It is evident that the change took place behind the backs of the Palestinian people. Despite BDS’ claim to be a ‘civil society’ representing more than 170 Palestinian organizations, Palestinians were totally unaware of the BDS National Committee’s compromise of their mission.  

Further investigation revealed that BDS—like most Palestinian NGOs—was funded by George Soros’ Open Society Institute. In 2013 I was asked to review a book titled Israel/Palestine and the Queer International,by Sarah Schulman. It was Schulman who resolved the mysterious change in the  BDS goal statement. In her search for funding for a young Palestinian Queer USA tour in support of BDS, Schulman wrote  that she was advised to approach George Soros’ Open Society institute. The following account may leave you flabbergasted, as it did me:

“A former ACT UP staffer who worked for the Open Society Institute, George Soros’ foundation, suggested that I file an application there for funding for the tour. When I did so it turned out that the person on the other end had known me from when we both attended Hunter [College] High School in New York in the 1970s. He forwarded the application to the institutes’s office in Amman, Jordan, and I had an amazing one-hour conversation with Hanan Rabani, its director of the Women’s and Gender program for the Middle East region. Hanan told me that this tour would give great visibility to autonomous queer organizations in the region. That it would inspire queer Arabs—especially in Egypt and Iran…for that reason, she said, funding for the tour should come from the Amman office” (Israel/Palestine and the Queer Internationalby Sarah Schulman p. 108).

Here is clear and embarrassing evidence of a crude intervention made by George Soros’ institute in an attempt to shape Arab and Islamic culture and political life. We also learn about the manner in which Soros’ Open Society Institute introduces gay and queer politics to the region. Apparently money for a tour promoting Palestine and BDS is traveling from Soros’ Open Society to Jordan and then back to the USA with the hope that such a manoeuvre would “inspire” gays in Iran.

This makes it clear why  BDS had “good reason” to remain silent regarding its funding sources. After all, being funded directly or indirectly by a liberal Zionist philanthropist, a man who also funds the openly Zionist JStreet and was invested in Israeli companies in the West Bank, is indeed embarrassing. But the meaning of it is rather devastating. The discourse of the solidarity of the oppressed is shaped by the sensitivities of the oppressor who funds the movement of the oppressed. We see this in the Palestine solidarity movement, we saw the same thing in Occupy Wall Street and currently in some segments of BLM activity. Instead of genuinely caring for the oppressed, Human rights and solidarity movements often morph into policing forces that dedicate themselves to controlling the so-called opposition.

The case of the language of BDS has a good ending. Though Omar Barghouti didn’t change the words printed in his book where he bluntly compromised on occupied land demands on behalf of the Palestinian people. The BDS movement eventually changed its goal statement once again. It now resembles the original 2005 statement opposing occupation of ALL Arab Land.  

Tehran Times:      Why doesn’t Israel accept the idea of a nuclear-free zone in the region?

GA: The real meaning of thinking yourself chosen is in attributing a unique sense of impunity to yourself and to no one else. In real politics this means that your Jewish State is the only nuclear power in the region, your Air Force is the only one to fly F-35s, your army is not committed to any recognized ethical standards, your military industry trades with the darkest regimes around. Try to imagine a world where everyone believes themselves to be chosen.

  • In the Interview the Iranian outlet refers to me as “a Jewish political activist.” I wrote to the Tehran Times and pointed out that I am neither an activist nor I am a Jew. However, by the time I posted this article, my request is yet to make any impact.

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Hollywood Star Mark Ruffalo Calls out Israel’s Apartheid (VIDEO)

October 9, 2020

Source

Hollywood A-lister Mark Ruffalo has a long history of speaking out for Palestinian rights. (Photo: via Facebook)

Hollywood A-lister Mark Ruffalo called out Israeli apartheid during an interview on the Mehdi Hasan Show aired yesterday.

Speaking to the British journalist, Ruffalo said: “My connection to Palestine came through Palestinians and hearing their stories and then watching this asymmetrical warfare being enacted upon them.”

“That kind of inequality, that kind of oppression, that kind of apartheid.”

The Avengers star has a long history of speaking out for Palestinian rights, during Israel’s 2014 war on Gaza, Ruffalo slammed the Israeli army for blowing up Al-Wafa Hospital killing dozens of patients.

“There is no reason why an ally of America shouldn’t be held to the standards of any other country in the world, especially an ally. And what I see there is wrong,” he added.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

The last taboo: A postscript and way forward

The last taboo: A postscript and way forward

September 17, 2020

By Ken Leslie for The Saker Blog

Dear reader, this time I shall not test your patience by producing another behemoth. Rather, I would like briefly to summarise and extend the lessons of my previous article as well as discuss some of the reaction to it.

First, let me thank Saker again for giving me a platform and Vladimir, Epithet, Djole, Marko, Katerina and many other comrades who were not cowed by the din of disapproving voices. But thank you also to the disapproving voices!

The first thing I noticed was the offended-disappointed tenor of some comments. It goes something like this: Yes, this is an interesting article, but why did you have to poke the hornet’s nest? It is not doing anybody any favours and will only bring harm to your tribe. This is the tone of a slightly annoyed Southern town Sheriff (let’s call him J. W. Pepper) circa 1962 when he realises that those uppity (SELF-CENSORED) have decided to protest the burning of their churches and lynching of their young. “I’m a reasonable God-fearing man and I am keeping my cool, but if you… persist in causing trouble, I’ma call Billy Bob and his boys…”. Unlike J. W. who is uneducated and a bit clumsy, the defenders of the Holy Empire are often sophisticated and subtle. Like J. W., they can rely on assassination squads made up of primitive and bloodthirsty Slav rednecks to enforce their dictate and fight the schizmatics.

But it’s that tone… It was in the 1990s that the notorious hangout for the British intelligence, Dominic Lawson, wrote in the Telegraph riled by threats by some anonymous Serb who in turn had been aggrieved by Lawson’s open support for the Croatian and Moslem Nazis (despite the fact that he was Jewish). One phrase: “but we know where you live” stayed with me. It is a kind of mental “we know where you live” that permeates this thread. Instead of embracing the idea and discussing it openly, the sleepers of the Empire react with fear and anger. As I said elsewhere, this topic is like ultraviolet light—it rouses vampires from their holes and fills them with ire. At this stage, the ire is still controllable. Unable to offer a coherent response, they indulge in whataboutery (although I hate having to use that excuse for drowning out justified criticism), petty insults, appeals to one’s “humanity”, shooting the messenger and other techniques of stifling dissent and promoting a racist, supremacist agenda of their masters.

Look, you are full of passion when discussing the plight of the Palestinians or Yemenis or Iraqis. And I support you 100%. But you are completely and shamefully silent when discussing a much larger and more pernicious holocide which happened in the middle of Europe more than a thousand years ago and is ongoing as we speak. There can be no excuse for that, full stop. Your silence is even more surprising given that the victims are completely white and represent the “flower” of Aryanism. But here, I am exposing your irredeemable fascist and racist leanings and you like that even less. For the Slavs are white and clearly Aryan yet are the greatest enemy of Catholic fascism and Nazi racism (at least most are).[1] This causes cognitive dissonance and you withdraw sulking to a debate about whether Trump is good for Russia and other nonsense. For you, it is not about the truth but about comfort, cosiness (Gemütlichkeit) and cheap self-validation—the sense that your ego is fed and massaged by others like yourself without having to do any hard work or take any risks.

If you are one of the fake leftists infecting the cyberspace these days, ponder the only group of people today that is allowed to be thought of as subhuman, oppressed and discriminated against, openly in front of your cold merciless eyes. Hundreds of thousands have been killed and similar numbers expelled from their homes by the Vatican’s Nazi legions in the last 30 years—this time with the full support of the American Jews and their useful idiots. You are no more of the left than I am Kenny G (thank God).

You like to think of yourself as standing on the vanguard of the anti-imperial struggle but are struggling with your own sense of guilt—and this mutates into raging hatred as soon as your amour propre (sigh) is challenged. You are not righteous just because you’re Irish or Moslem or Slav—there is much more to it. Learn from true freedom fighters or exceptional scholars and spiritual leaders such as Sheikh Imran Hosein.

I’ve noticed something else. The ultimate hypocrisy as always lies with the Catholics. They are the ones playing fervent nationalists (the Poles, Croats and Irish for example) ready to die for their fatherland and religion. And yet, they are slaves to the most openly globalist, internationalist imperialist dogma of all time—Roman Catholicism. Vatican’s political Catholicism is the ultimate source of fifth-columnism and it needs to be rendered harmless if not completely impotent before the Slavs can prosper. This doesn’t mean that we unconditionally support Jewish grievances against the Catholics. All we are asking is: “But is it good for the Slavs?”

Attacks on me are understandable and even welcome—for if everyone agreed (as they often do in many other articles), I wouldn’t be saying much, would I? At first, attacks are unpleasant and can deter a less than sturdy soul. But after a while, they become a sort of a compass—the louder they are, the closer one is to some uncomfortable truth. Of course, this is only a rough guide.

The paradox lies in the juxtaposition of the hundreds of semi-nonsensical conspiracies (e.g. COVID) which are debated passionately by millions of people and a simple and painful truth that causes even the staunchest “anti-imperialist” to go shtum in a nanosecond and run away. Their silence (or anger) tells me better than any words that I am on the right track.

I was also surprised by a lack of response from people who I would expect to be interested. But then, I understand—many are fed up and disgusted by another possible “false spring”—it could simply be the British preparing another “Slav federation of the unwilling”. For those who abhor the idea as the main threat to their Weltanschauung (here I go again)—various Catholicised and Germanised Slavs—again, I understand. The conditioning will not disappear overnight. Until it does, let me briefly sketch out a few start-up suggestions.

First, any attempts at a revival of the Slav idea will be immediately attacked and threatened by the sophisticated information and intelligence warfare capabilities of the West.[2] This is why the movement if any must grow slowly from a few seeds. People think that successful movements must be lavishly funded. Perhaps, but I don’t think so. What really needs to happen is for a few people of pure heart and sound mind to get in touch and form small, local cells involved in research and discussion of political, historical and cultural ties between Slavs and how these ties could be restored and strengthened. If there is true interest, eventually those cells will connect with each other to form larger bodies capable of attracting funds. There can be no brotherhood by ukase—bottom up all the way or not at all.

Regarding the topics for discussion, I suggest several to start with:

  • Analysis of the geopolitical situation with a focus on the Slav civilisation, its history and interests
  • Developing the idea of common interests and ways of furthering them
  • Learning about, making contact with and supporting endangered branches of the Slav tree—the Sorbs, the people of Donbass, expelled Serbs of Srpska Krajina, Ruthenians, Baltic Russians, Slavs in Albania, Serbs in Montenegro and others[3]
  • Replacing the false Austro-German account of Slav history with a genuine one
  • Discussing the project of repatriation of the Slavs to their native lands in Northern Germany and the Baltics. Making contact with Die Linke in Germany and starting a dialogue about the holocide of the Slavs and how this might be remedied.
  • Roman Catholic Church in the Slav lands needs to be replaced by national Catholic churches which retain the western rite and symbolism while being independent of Rome and focussed on the pastoral needs of their flocks. This was attempted unsuccessfully in the 1930 in some places but this time it mustn’t fail. It is both necessary and sufficient condition for the renaissance of the Slav nations.

If it is to live, the movement must transcend national boundaries but NOT I repeat NOT the boundaries of Slavdom. That means that there can be no talk of forming links if these are sponsored by Western intelligence agencies or involve the Vatican. People with true intentions will recognise each other.

More to come soon if there is interest.

Yours,

Ken Sharp… sorry, Leslie

  1. I repeat that I do not consider the Slavs in any way superior to any other group. In any case, true superiority manifests itself as charity and helping the fellow human being to regain their freedom and honour—like the Soviet Union which helped liberate countless third-world countries from Western colonialism. Despite their despicable political present, most Poles and Ukrainians fought against the Nazis. 
  2. Unless there is a sudden rupture between the Anglo-Saxons and German Europe, it is sensible to think in terms of a united West. 
  3. Of course, Slavs in any Western countries are welcome to participate and reflect on their situation. 

Macron in Lebanon: Hijabi Reporter Not Allowed to Speak and Dual Standards on Protesters

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Macron in Lebanon: Hijabi Reporter Not Allowed to Speak and Dual Standards on Protesters

By Nour Rida

On Thursday, August 7, 2020, Western mainstream media covered French President Manuel Macron’s visit to Lebanon in the aftermath of the Hiroshima-like explosion that hit Lebanon three days earlier. News headlines and stories covered his visit as he called for “reforms and change”, and told Lebanon that any money to help Beirut recover must come with what he called a “new political order” to replace a “system that no longer has the trust of its people.”

Of course the media failed to mention two things; Macron’s (indirect) racist attitude towards a Lebanese reporter when he got her prevented from asking a question during a press conference, and his dual standards in dealing with protesters in Lebanon and protesters back in France.

Mona Tahini, a Lebanese citizen who has been working as a news reporter for the past 13 years was prevented from asking Macron a question during his press conference at the Pine Palace in Beirut on Thursday, one single question, at the time other reporters were allowed to ask multiple questions or even have discussions and pose for pictures with the French president.

The reporter who works for al-Manar TV, posted a video on her Twitter account which shows Macron having a side talk and taking selfie pictures with a number of journalists although the pretext for preventing her from raising her question was that that the French President Macron did not have enough time before heading to the airport to back into France.

Tahini said that some journalists consumed a long time while raising their questions, adding that she was not given her turn to ask although she had already taken a permission for that.

Interpreting the instance, Macron’s attitude towards Tahini can be explained as prejudice and bias towards the female reporter in what clearly indicates a racist attitude towards her wardrobe as she was the only reporter wearing the Hijab. Macron was unfair, and did not give Tahini the chance to ask a question for wearing her Hijab. Else, there would be one more interpretation to preventing Tahini from asking: he is afraid of the question itself in advance.

It is said that people usually fear what they are unfamiliar with. But for someone like Macron, a President of what he claims to be a “modern” and “developed” France, he should have educated himself a bit more on that piece of cloth called Hijab; supposedly a personal and religious freedom.

Both, banning Tahini from speaking and his double standards on confronting French protesters with violence while supporting Lebanese protesters (for political aims obviously) refute the claims about Macron’s France holding the values of democracy and freedom of speech. Not only does his attitude contest his claims of being democratic, but also highlights the lack of values France claims as one of its major legacies in its motto of the so-called French revolution: “egalité” i.e. equality.

Now before discussing Macron and his dual standards on protesters, it is interesting to see how Western mainstream media frames the story. It reported that “Lebanese protesters” seemed to feel like Macron was on their side and reporting that they said “he was their only hope.” Quoting one protester, the media allowed itself to do what it does all the time, have one speak on behalf of a few million who do not agree with that view point necessarily.  Western media and Macron are similar in one aspect: they both allow themselves to speak on behalf of others.

Now Macron warmly reacted with Lebanese protesters who chanted “Revolution!” as he walked through the Gemmayze street. The scenario seems a bit odd when remembering France’s 2019 which offers a preview of Macron’s real face and how he could not take in any criticism: growing protests against liberalism—and growing brutality against the protests.

Protesters in France believed they were objecting Macron’s Neoliberal policies which have brought so much poverty & human misery to France, but Macron could not digest it. Thousands of Yellow vests or “Gilets Jaunes” took to the streets in for long consecutive weeks and were confronted with severe violence.

Never mind, we are by no means in a place to impeach Macron for his violence against his own people, they can sort out their issues within their country, but of course it remains sad to see how French protesters are confronted with tear gas bombs and severe ferocity.

What should be unclouded and completely transparent is that Macron, who enjoys no tolerance back at home towards his people and is accused of standing behind a corrupt system is by no means eligible to guide Lebanon on what to do and how to sort out its issues.

Lebanon economic crisis: Sovereignty and solidarity are the keys to prevent collapse

Source

9 July 2020 11:14 UTC | 

By Hicham Safieddine, He is a lecturer in the History of the Modern Middle East at King’s College London. He is author of Banking on the State: The Financial Foundations of Lebanon (Stanford University Press, 2019).

As the US ramps up financial pressure, a political struggle is underway over whether Lebanon should turn eastwards to China, Russia and Iran for relief

Lebanese protesters take part in a symbolic funeral for the country in Beirut on 13 June (AFP)

Lebanon has joined the club of sanctioned nations by proxy. Limited sanctions were already in place, but the US Caesar Act targeting Syria has cast its net over Lebanon’s entire economy. 

The country’s crumbling financial system had been gasping for fresh foreign funds. It is now stuck between the anvil of morbidly corrupt Lebanese elites obstructing reform, and the hammer of financial coercion by western powers.

On top of accelerating inflation that has rippled into Syria, the spectre of sanctions in the wake of failed International Monetary Fund talks has triggered a political tussle inside Lebanon over turning eastwards to China, Russia and Iran for relief.

Wedded to the West

This is not the first time that Lebanon has been unhinged by shifts in the global and regional balances of power. But it is one of the most dangerous crises. Sanctions on top of financial bankruptcy, oligarchic manipulation, regional instability, coronavirus and a global slump, are a recipe for total collapse.

There is no denial of the impending calamity. But the undignified media spectacle of apocalyptic suffering, divorced from a serious discussion of the tough choices Lebanon faces, borders on sanctions-mongering and accentuates this very suffering.

Aside from being a historic fiction, Lebanese neutrality today is wishful thinking

The first choice is clinging to the West and forgetting the rest through negative neutrality. In real terms, this means passive normalisation with Israel and active distancing from Syria, both of which meet western expectations. Aside from being a historic fiction, Lebanese neutrality today is wishful thinking. 

Firstly, calls for neutrality underestimate the nature and extent of the ongoing geo-economic war, of which the Caesar Act is the latest salvo. Having lost the proxy war militarily, Washington is flexing its powerful financial muscle – powered by dollar supremacy in global markets – to spoil reconstruction efforts in Syria by its lesser rivals, Russia, China and Iran. 

More broadly, financial sanctions are now a fixture of US foreign policy, with the majority of affected states in the Middle East. These sanctions are part of a multi-front war that involves tertiary actors such as Turkey, Egypt and the Gulf states and are tied to reconstruction in Iraq and Syria, geo-military rivalries in Yemen and Libya, settler-colonial expansion in Palestine, and control over gas fields in the Eastern Mediterranean. Lebanon is engulfed by these conflicts from all four cardinal directions.

Political suicide

Secondly, neutrality vis-a-vis Syria in particular is economic euthanasia and political suicide given the two countries’ shared borders, common history, interdependent economies, joint threat of Israeli aggression, oligarchic and authoritarian governing elites, and – as these sanctions have shown – converging financial crises. 

Neutrality would cut Lebanon off from its only land lifeline to Syria and the wider region at a time when air and sea travel are grounded thanks to Covid-19. It would also revive animosity between the two peoples while doing little to alleviate the crisis or topple ruling elites. 

Lebanon protests: We should not let the ruling class reproduce itself again Read More »

In addition, western powers continue to play the game of double standards, feigning concern while tightening the noose. While Washington slapped criminal sanctions on the entire population of Lebanon, its ambassador in Beirut singled out the usual suspect, Hezbollah, for destabilising the country. The accusation was parroted by her British counterpart, while a sniffer dog at London’s Heathrow Airport – as this author witnessed firsthand – frisked Lebanese expatriates carrying much-needed cash back home. Travellers caught “red-handed” were interrogated without cause. 

To top it off, Gulf states within the western orbit are also withholding aid while awash with trillions of dollars in sovereign funds.

Finally, US allies themselves, such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, are anticipating a decline in the global role of the US. More to the point, European states, as well as the US, have multibillion-dollar trade and financial ties with China and the rest of the east – but they have no qualms about denying Lebanon and the region their sovereign share of ties.

Going East

Despite these realities, resistance to seeking eastern alternatives persists. Dependency on western and Gulf capital runs deep within Lebanese society, beyond the banking and business sectors. 

The private education and NGO sectors, home to large segments of highly visible pro-uprising activists, are heavily reliant on western funding. These material ties are augmented by an internalised cultural affinity to all things western and prejudice against all things eastern. Some resistance is also driven by a blind rejection and immature ridicule of any proposals uttered by status-quo forces.

A man walks past a money exchange company in Beirut on 1 October (AFP)
A man walks past a money exchange company in Beirut on 1 October (AFP)

In theory, turning eastwards increases bargaining power vis-a-vis the West, diversifies sources of foreign investment, and could offer practical and quick solutions to pressing problems such as power generation, waste management and transportation infrastructure. But in reality, it is not the easy way out it is being portrayed to be.

Firstly, its current proponents reduce the turn eastwards to a tool against western intervention that would strengthen ties with the Syrian regime without holding the latter accountable for its role in the killing, displacement and destruction in Syria, or curbing the stranglehold of Syrian oligarchs associated with the regime on the country’s economic future. 

Nor is the turn eastwards preconditioned by cleaning house in Lebanon itself. The oligarchs who looted public wealth for so long will not bear the costs of financial loss, let alone face justice for their crimes. Without these corrective measures, Chinese or other foreign investments are likely to turn into dividing up the spoils of sanctions. It will reinforce existing structures of oppression, clientelism and inequality.

Secondly, Chinese capital is not manna from heaven or a communist free lunch. Reports of plans for nine development projects worth more than $12bn sound promising and may offer some respite, but these come with strings attached.

They include possible privatisation of state assets, government guarantees to compensate potential losses that will ultimately come out of citizens’ pockets, continued – even if partial – reliance on dollar-based banking systems, and access to energy resources, which in the case of Lebanon are confined to potential energy reserves in a hotly contested sea zone. 

Sovereignty deficit

Formal state-to-state protocols are preconditions for all of the above, the same way they are for requesting legal assistance to return stolen assets deposited in Switzerland or other offshore financial havens. 

Whether turning west, east or inwards, fixing Lebanon’s political regime is crucial to restoring external and internal sovereignty

Government decrees are also needed internally to to implement the basic demands of the uprising and resolve the crisis in a fair and expedited manner. These include legislating capital controls, forcing the oligarchs and their banking agents to bear the costs of collapse, implementing universal healthcare, redistributing wealth through progressive taxation, clearing up violations of coastal beaches to revive tourism in a competitive neighbourhood, reforming unjust labour and personal status laws, and subsidising productive economic activity. 

In other words, whether turning west, east or elsewhere, fixing Lebanon’s political regime is crucial to restoring external and internal sovereignty, without which major change is unlikely to happen.

Since its founding, Lebanon has had a sovereignty deficit in relation to foreign powers and its ruling oligarchy. It is now facing the twin challenge of restoring both amid unfavourable conditions. 

The path to sovereignty does not place all foreign actors in the same basket. Aware of its own economic limitations and position as part of the Global South, and in the face of US threats, Lebanon should adopt a strategy of positive neutrality that plays on the contradictions of the ongoing geo-economic war to maximise the gains of its people – not its usurping elites or neocolonial masters, old or prospective. 

Dignity and social justice

Fighting for sovereignty on both fronts, external and internal, in the face of global powers, requires the mustering of tremendous political strength. This is not possible without a well-organised mass movement that is still missing in Lebanon, let alone the absence of regional solidarity stretching from Iraq to Palestine, which incorporates geopolitics into revolutionary struggle. 

In Lebanon, the starting point is necessarily Syria. Whatever the sensitivities, prejudices and complications associated with Syrian-Lebanese relations, they need to be reconfigured in a manner that serves rather than sidelines the fundamental demands of both uprisings for political dignity and social justice. 

Lebanon protests: The people want the downfall of the banks Read More »

This includes, first and foremost, confronting the contradictions of fighting against the two major historical forces impacting them today: oppressive regimes on the one hand and Zionist colonisation and occupation on the other.

All proclamations to the contrary, this is not a straightforward matter given the alignments on the ground. 

Another would be redrawing the terms of struggle across class, rather than nationalist, lines. This means finding common cause with Syrian and Palestinian workers in Lebanon, beyond the liberal paradigm of refugee rights, as well as uniting efforts to dislodge the ruling elite in both countries without further foreign intervention.

A third would be a united vision of managing the global shift from West to East in coordination with fellow Global South nations.

Devising solutions to these and other thorny issues that are both morally defensible and politically viable is not an obvious or easily achievable task. But with street mobilisation on the wane and community solidarity in the face of hardship taking a front seat, they may be the necessary rites of passage for both struggles beyond the current stalemate.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

UK denying Maduro access to Venezuelan gold is not only THEFT, it’s MURDER of London’s reputation as trusted financial center

Source

George Galloway

George Gallowaywas 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. Follow him on Twitter @georgegalloway

©  Getty Images / Vitoria Holdings LLC

The standards are poor at the Bank of England these days, I don’t know why anyone would want to do business with them. George Galloway gives British banking, and justice, a triple-fail rating.

It used to be “a thing” when I was growing up. “As safe as the Bank of England” was the acme of trustworthiness and security. But as Venezuela – and any other Global South country foolish enough to entrust the British with their sovereign wealth just found out in the High Court in London – the Bank of England isn’t any longer safe at all.

Almost a billion dollars worth of Venzuelan gold bullion has just been stolen by the British government, theft has just been legalized, and the thieves didn’t even bother to wear a mask.

The gold was deposited in London by the then internationally recognized government of Venezuela. But the now internationally recognized government of Nicolas Maduro has been refused permission to have its value transferred to the United Nations in New York for work they wish the UN Development Program to conduct against the coronavirus pandemic.

READ MORE

Venezuela in legal battle to get its gold back from Bank of England

Venezuela in legal battle to get its gold back from Bank of England

Instead, a man off the street in Caracas by the name of Juan Guaido – who has not only never been elected to power in Venezuela, he’s no longer even elected as the leader of the opposition – is the legal owner of the gold, says Justice Alice-in-Wonderland. After all, words mean whatever the British government wants them to mean.

The elected president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, is recognized by the great majority of countries in the world. More importantly, his government is recognized at the United Nations. It is not true, as the British government told the High Court, that they “do not recognize” the Maduro government – they recognize it every day at the UN, in discussions in the canteen as well as in the chamber.

Moreover, it is the principle of British diplomacy that they “recognize” whomsoever is in effective control of a territory – whether they like them or not. Though, come to think of it, they did breach that “principle” once before – when they continued to recognize the Cambodian genocidal murderer Pol Pot  and insist that Comrade Number 1 remains in his seat in New York long after he was actually overthrown and while the mountain of corpses in Cambodia were being counted.

By any standards, Maduro is in effective control of Venezuela and Juan Guaido is not. Maduro controls every square inch of Venezuela, is the elected president, is recognized by the United Nations and by most countries in the world. Guaido is not elected, is not recognized by the United Nations, nor by most countries in the world and doesn’t control one single inch of Venezuelan territory. But he is now the proud owner of the gold in the Bank of England. It makes the Great Train Robbery look like a mere bagatelle, Guaido makes the Thief of Baghdad look like an amateur. It is the greatest single act of theft ever to take place on British soil. And that’s saying something.

ALSO ON RT.COMMystery of the Venezuelan gold: Bank of England is independent of UK govt – but not of foreign govt

But away from the scene of the crime, away from Venezuela, British officials in their ivory tower should take note. It wasn’t just theft which took place in the Strand this week – it was murder. The murder of London’s reputation as a financial center you can trust.

Certainly, any sovereign government which has invested its sovereign wealth in London should examine their head if not the current state of their balance. This decision has given a green light to the Pirates of the Caribbean, and you could be next. Fall out with the British government and they can now hand all your country’s wealth they can grab, over to your opposition, however discredited.

Quite a day’s work in financial standards, a triple-A fail.

If I ever won the National Lottery (which I don’t enter) the last place on Earth that I would deposit my millions would be in London. Standards here just went down the rabbit-hole and will never re-emerge. The City of London has fallen.

When I was young I told my Irish grandfather that the teacher had told me that the British had an empire so vast that the Sun never set upon it. He answered “that’s because God would never trust the British in the dark.” I knew he was telling the truth. And now so does Venezuela.

©  Getty Images / Vitoria Holdings LLC

https://www.rt.com/op-ed/493718-uk-maduro-venezuela-gold/

Meng, Huawei and Canadian Law: Soap, Rinse and Dry-Laundered

By Harry Glasbeek

Global Research, June 25, 2020

The Bullet

Prologue

One of the graver risks for big-time criminals is that investigators will be able to identify them and their deeds by ‘following the money’. The criminals have to hide the proceeds of their crimes. This is done by depositing their monies into legitimate finance houses and businesses. It often requires some fancy book-keeping tricks and intricate transactions. This is called layering by the afficionados of this dark art. Once it is done, the criminals can draw on the accounts created and mix the ill-gotten gains with legally garnered capital. The term for this is ‘integration’ and it makes the investigators’ tasks much harder. The rotten fruit of crime will have been laundered.,

Extradition

For some time now, Hong Kong has seen massive street protests as many people want more of a say for themselves in governance and less of a say for Beijing. In the midst of the chaos, Hong Kong’s legislators proposed to ink an extradition agreement to which China would be the other signatory.

Extradition treaties are arrangements whereby a nation state agrees to return to its partner-nation to the treaty people alleged to have committed criminal acts against that other nation’s laws. It is meant to prevent alleged criminals from avoiding the consequences for their misconduct by escaping to another jurisdiction. When a request for extradition by a signatory to a treaty is received, a court there is to determine whether the application should succeed. It is not its task to question whether the person actually committed a crime. It merely has to determine whether it is the kind of crime which could lead to prosecution if the conduct had occurred in its jurisdiction. This gives the process its legitimacy because it gives effect to legal values shared by both parties to the extradition treaty. The court considering the request has no interest in whether the conduct actually amounted to a crime, either in the applicant nation or in its own. It assumes the facts as alleged by the applicant nation and then determines whether that conduct would amount to a violation of its own laws if it occurred in its jurisdiction.

It is, then, a judicial exercise which is purely formal. It does not make any findings about the issues between the applicant for extradition and the person resisting extradition.

Although this was the essential nature of the Hong Kong Bill, it met with fierce resistance: huge marches, physical fights in the legislature. The protests added fuel to the already widely burning fires of dissent and the Hong Kong government withdrew the Bill. In addition to the upheaval and violence in the streets, the government was likely somewhat influenced by the great show of support for the anti-Extradition Bill movement in countries such as the UK, the US and Canada. This anti-extradition stance by these nations seemed to sit uneasily alongside the fact that they had signed on to many similar extradition treaties themselves. But, they bought into the argument made by the Hong Kong dissidents. This was that, even though an extradition request made by China would be vetted by Hong Kong courts steeped in the principles and values of English common law, the proposed treaty would allow China to use extradition requests for crass political purposes, to help it chase down political opponents and agitators. It would lead to attacks on precious freedoms. Even though the proposed treaty ‘looked’ much like any other, it was likely to be used for unacceptable purposes. This sort of thing would never occur in the UK the US or Canada because, unlike China, they respected and lived by the Rule of Law.

The Lore and Lure of the Rule of Law

Canada’s legal system presents itself as embodying society’s shared values and norms. They are embodied in principles and the instrumental rules devised to give these fundamental principles life. This presupposes that the basic principles can be found and defined and that the rules will be appropriately fashioned and applied. The conventional view is that the judiciary is an independent institution and can be trusted to go about the finding of principles and the interpretation and application of rules in a non-partisan, in a non-political, manner.

Courts will treat all private individuals, whatever their social or economic circumstances, as legal equals whose disputes must be settled by the application of known, rational criteria. Rationality, of the legal kind, is to replace political and economic power, that is, irrational power.

The courts abide by generalizing principles and specific rules. The rules have to be spelled out clearly; citizens are to know of the existence of those rules; new rules should not apply retroactively. The principles and rules are to be applied even-handedly, regardless of status and class. The access to this justice system should be equally available to one and all. These are some of the ingredients of what is so often termed the Rule of Law. It is an attractive system because it suggests that everyone is subject to the same laws and requirements, that political or economic power is not allowed to deny anyone their entitlements or rights established in law. The UK, US and Canadian view is that it, or any equivalent, regime does not exist in China. But, while the idea of it certainly exists in our rather self-satisfied Anglo-American settings, its implementation may leave something to be desired.

While our courts are punctilious about following the procedural safeguards which make up the Rule of Law, they have an enormous amount of leeway when determining how substantive principles and rules are to be interpreted and applied. They are in a position to launder otherwise politically troubling, anti-liberal, anti-democratic, policies and decisions. What happens is a mixing of the adherence to procedural formalities which abjure bias and prejudice with the manipulation of substantive laws which incorporate bias and prejudice. The integrated outcome is analogous to the consequence of the criminals’ mixing suspect monies with legally acquired assets. It makes it hard to see whether there was a political wrong in the first place. It is a form of laundering, legalized laundering.1

The recent proceedings in Canada dealing with the US demand that the Chief Financial officer of Huawei, Meng Wanzhou, be extradited to the US brings some of this into the open. The Supreme Court of British Columbia ruled that Meng’s argument that there was no legal basis for extradition was rejected. Canada’s talking heads and chattering class sighed with relief. The self-proclaimed liberal Toronto Star’s editors welcomed and characterized the virtue of the decision: “Beijing must understand: out courts don’t serve the government… It’s called ‘rule of law,’ a concept foreign to China’s Communist Party and its mouthpieces.” Apart from their evident cold war genre chauvinism, the editors undoubtedly were glad to have any doubts about the Trudeau government’s and Canada’s allegiance to the Rule of Law stilled.

The recent embarrassment caused by the tawdry behaviour of almost every cog in the ruling class’s legal engine room during the SNC-Lavalin scandal which involved the government forcing its own Minister of Justice to resign because she wanted to act independently and deny a flagrantly wrongdoing corporation any kind of soft landing, now could be pushed aside as an uncharacteristic violation of Canada’s basic principles. To them, the Meng ruling signified that, once again, Canada was entitled to be smug, to assert that it was to be envied because of its stout adherence to an unalloyed good, the Rule of Law.

The Ruling in the Meng Case

It all began with a warrant issued by a New York court for Meng Wanzhou’s arrest in August 2018. She was not there. On December 1, 2018, after an extradition request from the US, Meng was arrested by Canadian authorities when she landed in Vancouver. On 28 January 2019, formal charges were laid by the US Department of Justice, accusing Meng’s employer, Huawei, of misrepresentations about its corporate organization which had enabled it to circumvent laws that imposed economic sanctions on Iran. Huawei was also charged with stealing technology and trade secrets from T-Mobile USA. Meng, the Chief Financial Officer of Huawei, was charged with fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud. Huawei pled not guilty to the charges of violating the Iran sanction provisions in a New York court and not guilty to the stealing charges in a Seattle court. After a number of preliminary legal skirmishes, the extradition hearings against Meng began in 2020. Associate Justice Holmes issued her ruling on 27 May, 2020. Law takes its time.

Meng had told HSBC officials who met with her in the back of a Hong Kong restaurant in 2013 that, despite the allegations in a newspaper article, Huawei had not made improper use of a closely associated firm, named Skycom Tech, to supply US materiel to Iran. The reason she had made this statement to HSBC, it was alleged, was that Huawei used HSBC as a banker when transacting business. If Huawei, as alleged, was implicated in violations of the Iran sanction laws, HSBC might well be held to be complicit in such crimes. The US alleged that Meng’s representations to HSBC constituted fraud under its law.

Meng Wanzhou argued that, for a case of fraud to be made out, in both the US and Canada, it was necessary for the prosecution to prove that the fraud materially contributed to a tangible loss. This could not be made out here. For Meng’s deception of HSBC to cause it a tangible loss in the US, it was necessary for US prosecutors to invoke the impact of another law, the Iranian sanction law. Without it there would not be any harm and, therefore, no fraud in the US. As Canada did not have any such sanction provisions in place, Meng’s deception would not have led to any tangible loss in Canada and there would have been no fraud committed in Canada. This argument that the basic requirement for extradition – mirroring laws – had not been met, was rejected by Associate Chief Justice Holmes.

She deployed standard legal reasoning that is, she looked for previous holdings and used the imprecisions she found in them and in the wording of the legislation she was interpreting. Holmes found that previous decisions had held that, in order to determine whether the conduct in the applicant jurisdiction created an offence, it was necessary to assess the essential nature of that conduct. That meant evaluating the foreign conduct in its context, in its legal environment. Meng argued that looking at the legal environment required taking a foreign law, one distinct from the laws being compared, into account, something which should not be done under the Extradition Law.

The presiding judge responded that only some aspects of the legal environment, constituted by that other law, had to be taken into account, not all of it. It was her job to say which aspects could be so used. Holmes admitted that she was going out on a limb because the distinction between looking at some aspects of a foreign law and taking the actual law into consideration is fraught, both as a matter of logic and of established law. She wrote that “the issue is at what level of abstraction… the essence … of the conduct is to be described… there is little authority or precisely what may be included in ‘imported legal environment’.”

Undeterred by the lack of any known criteria (remember the Rule of Law!), she used what she likely calls her common sense and what Meng’s supporters probably think was her unconscious bias. Associate Justice Holmes decided that, in this case, it was appropriate, when looking for the essential nature of the foreign conduct, to look at the effects of that US law, the Iran sanction law. As its effects made Meng’s deceiving conduct fraudulent in the US, and as deception is the core of fraud in Canada, the essential/contextualized nature of Meng’s conduct satisfied the essence of fraud as defined under Canada’s Criminal Code. Lawyers call this sort of finessing good lawyering; in the wider community it is seen as legal chicanery. Holmes ruled that Canada was free to extradite Meng.

Laundered

All that effort to put Wanzhou Meng’s fraud into legal context and not a scintilla of regard for the political, social and economic context of the case!

Everyone, literally everyone, knew what had led the US to charge Huawei and its CFO. It was to obtain bargaining chips in its fight with China. It was to persuade its citizens that it was right for the government to deny them access to cheaper goods and a better 5G system because China would abuse its growing economic influence and enhance its spying potential. It was to make China more pliable when the US demanded better trade terms and more protection for its intellectual property, etc. There was no attempt to hide any of this.

Did the Canadian government understand this? Of course. Did it feel it had to allow the US to use Canada’s supposedly neutral legal machinery to further its political project? Of course. Could the Canadian government have said “no” and simply turned a blind eye when Wanzhou Meng landed in Vancouver? Of course.

Was Associate Justice Holmes, at the very least, in a position to guess all of this? Of course.

The Supreme Court of British Columbia had the timelines of the saga before it. All the events that led to the fraud charges occurred years before the tug-of-war between the US and China turned into a full blown version of a new cold war. Meng’s alleged misrepresentations to HSBC occurred in August 2013, several months after Reuters had published its report on the links between Huawei and Skycom Tech. that supposedly led to Iran being supplied with US materiel.

It took five years for the US to charge Huawei and Meng. It took five years for its righteous indignation about Huawei’s and Meng’s violations to reach fever pitch. It took five years for the US to decide that a deception of one set of private entrepreneurs by other private entrepreneurs ( a garden variety event in an aggressive competitive milieu), a deception which took place in a far away jurisdiction, presented a danger to the integrity of the US justice system. That integrity had not been seen as severely threatened when the masters of the universe deceived millions of people during the subprime mortgage scandals, at least not sufficiently to charge any of the more senior perpetrators. None of this was of any concern to the Supreme Court of British Columbia. The court was only concerned with the narrowest of decontextualized legal issues before it. Its certainty that its only responsibility was to the Rule of Law signified to it that it should not be troubled by the possibility that it might be used as a pawn, by either the US or the Canadian government or both.

Nor was this lack of concern shaken by President Trump’s highly publicized statement to Reuters (the outfit which had written the report which started the ball rolling), made just after Wanzhou Meng was released on bail. Trump said that he would certainly intervene in her case “if I thought it necessary” to help forge a trade deal with China. Undoubtedly some people (especially lawyers) might think it right and proper for a court to ignore a blatant admission by a craven politician that the supposedly independent system of law of both the US and Canada was being used for partisan political purposes. After all, the statement had been made extrajudicially and had not been put before the court. While the judge might have known about the Trump intervention, much as she knew that the US and China were having a political tug-of-war and that Canada had been drawn into it, the wilful blindness demanded by the Rule of Law demanded that she make no reference to any off this knowledge.

This reasoning makes no sense to anyone not held in rapture by the Rule of Law fantasy. Immediately after Trump made his provocative statement, Trudeau realized that the public might draw the inference that Canada was just bowing to its Big Brother ally and permitting it to abuse the Canadian justice system. It evoked the notion that the US and Canada were just one country with two systems. He was forced to respond.

Trudeau issued the following statement: “Regardless of what goes on in other countries, Canada is and will always remain a country of the rule of law.” The message was clear: we, the elected government and its executive have nothing to do with any of this; we rule an independent country; we have an independent legal system and it makes these kinds of decisions. We respect this and abide by the results. When it comes to the extradition of Meng, we, the politicians, like Pontius Pilate, wash our hands off the whole mess. It has nothing to do with us. It is not a political matter.

This is why the editors of the Toronto Star and all other opinion moulders greeted the ruling in the Meng case with such acclaim. By ignoring all the real facts underlying the dispute, the court had given support to the Canadian government’s pretence that the Meng case had not raised questions about its participation in a complex set of political, economic and ideological controversies. Their role had been laundered. If the outcome suited the US in its struggle with China, this was incidental; Canada’s government had not pushed for such an outcome because it believed in the Rule of Law. These cheerleaders pointed out that, if Canada had interfered with the judiciary’s operations, it would certainly have pushed for a different result.

As it was, the judicial ruling could only strain relations between Canada and China, a most undesirable state of affairs as Canada hoped to have China release two Canadians accused of committing serious offences in China; more Canada had no interest in imperilling important trade relations with China, as the judicial ruling might well do. That is, the result may be a political win for Trump, but a loss for Trudeau, two Canadian citizens and, likely, some farmers and manufacturers if China uses its economic clout to punish Canada.

So viewed, the judicial outcome gives the impression that the government had not played any part in the decision-making. It should, therefore, not be held politically responsible for the consequences. The government had acted righteously, it had been true to the Rule of Law. Its conduct had been sanitized, laundered.

Of course this argument is not as strong if the judicial outcome is not seen as inimical to the government. What did Canada actually want? We can only guess. But it is to be remembered that the government did detain Wanzhou Meng; if it had not done so, the worst that would have happened is that the US might have been annoyed. Assuming, as it makes sense to do, that Canadian officials understood full well what the US was up to, the detention suggests, although it does not prove, that the government was not opposed to the obvious political and economic goals of the US. More strongly, it indicated that it was willing to support those goals. After all, it knew the risks it was taking. The headline in the Ottawa Citizen on 15 December, 2018, read: “Abelev: In the Huawei case, Trump has enlisted in a game Canada can’t win.”

Another glimpse of the Canadian government’s thinking is provided by Prime Minister’s request that John McCallum resign from his post as Ambassador to China after he had made public statements which indicated that he thought the case against Meng was trumped up and, therefore, should lead the government to reject the extradition request. This would help Canada in its negotiations with China which, in apparent retaliation, had jailed two Canadian citizens.

Implicit in McCallum’s intervention was a reference to a legal power that Canada has reserved for itself over extradition processes. The Minister for Justice can, at any moment after a request for extradition is received, abort the process. In Trudeau’s angry reaction to McCallum, he made no reference to this, pretending political interference with the judicial system was to be eschewed.2 While to some people, then, Trudeau’s publicized disapproval of McCallum’s views (and of similar ones by former Prime Minister Jean Chretien a little later), did dovetail with the claim that the government should not take a position on matters to be determined by a judge, it also suggested that the government would not object too much if the ruling went against Meng, regardless of what it might mean for Huawei, Meng and the prisoners. After all, the justification for the hands-off the justice system proffered by Trudeau should not have been given too much credence.

At that time a full-blown scandal was raging over the SNC-Lavalin affair. Trudeau was brazenly trying to get rid of an independent Minister of Justice precisely because she was thwarting his enactment of a law which was to apply retroactively (remember the Rule of Law!) to save a serial wrongdoing corporation. A curious symmetry weirdly surfaces. The Trudeau government was trying to give its rogue actor, SNC-Lavalin, the kind of gentle treatment the US had given HSBC by giving it access to a deferred prosecution agreement of the kind that the US had given that deviant bank.

There were many polluting particles in the ambient air as the Meng case was processed in the supposedly politically unpolluted atmosphere of law. Undoubtedly, Associate Justice Holmes did her best to blow all these toxic particles out of her mind, as all judges claim to do. But this does not mean that they did not influence her mind-set. We will never know. That is how laundering works: if the dirt which soiled the cloth is rinsed out, all that one is left with is clean cloth. Just what the government needed.

Epilogue

The legal processes have not ended. Meng may appeal the ruling on double criminality handed down by the Supreme Court of British Columbia, arguing the Holmes’ reading of how the essential nature of conduct in a foreign state was to be found was erroneous. Her lawyers do have some plausible arguments to proffer on this issue. Before that will take place, a hearing will be held into Meng’s allegation that, when she was detained in Vancouver, prior to being turned over to the RCMP, the border official obtained Meng’s telephone numbers and passwords and then passed these on to the RCMP. She was detained and questioned for three hours before she was told of her arrest. She claims her constitutional rights were violated and that the RCMP and Canada’s Border Services Agency acted, improperly, as US agents.

This is a claim that procedural safeguards essential to the proper operation of the Rule of Law had been breached. If successful it would make the arrest wrongful and mean that the committal process which led to Holmes’ ruling should be voided. The result of the adjudication on this action by Meng can also be the basis for an appeal. If all of it, the denial of proper process and the Supreme Court of British Columbia’s ruling on double criminality, are settled in favour of Canada, the extradition process can continue, although, as seen, the Minister for Justice can always set the whole thing aside.

There are many other hurdles to clear. The Trump Administration may be replaced, the Trudeau government (in a minority position) may fall before all this is over. It is also difficult to know what steps China will take and how this will influence political minds in Washington and Ottawa. These unknowns highlight how artificial it is to pretend that a request for extradition is a legal, non-political, struggle based on rational aseptic criteria.

To underscore this point, note that, on 4 June, 2020, the US State Department issued a threat. It will reassess its sharing of intelligence with Canada (a member of the so-called Five Eye intelligence network) if Canada chooses to let Huawei market its 5G technology in Canada. This makes it clear that the extradition case was never about a fraudulent misrepresentation to a ‘vulnerable’ foreign bank, but about furthering US efforts to ward-off the danger of an economic and political threat posed by China.

Law and its Rule of Law are convenient tools, no more no less. They should not be granted too much respect. Certainly they should not permit our governments to present themselves as unsullied, as if they have come out of the washing machine, smelling fragrantly.

And, oh yes, after its agreement with the US Department of Justice, HSBC had made much of its new approach and had spent money on better systems to inhibit wrongdoing. On 8 April, 2020, it was reported that HSBC had admitted it had engaged in money laundering in Australia. Maybe it does not require Huawei or Meng to engage in fraud to get HSBC to participate in criminality.

*

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Harry Glasbeek is a Professor Emeritus and Senior Scholar, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University. His latest books are Class Privilege: How law shelters shareholders and coddles capitalism (2017) and the follow-up, Capitalism: a crime story (2018) both published by Between the Lines, Toronto.

Notes

  1. ‘The legalization of politics’ is the name given by Harry Glasbeek and Michael Mandel, “The Legalization of Politics in Advanced Capitalism: The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms” (1984), Socialist Studies, 2:84, and by Michael Mandel, The Charter of Rights and the Legalization of Politics in Canada, rev. ed., Toronto; Thompson Educational, 1994, to a process which removes class and history from political discourse and consciousness.
  2. As well, there is a rarely used law on the books, the Foreign Extra Territorial Measures Act, that the Attorney-General can deploy to repulse measures of a foreign state that are likely to significantly affect Canadian interests. This is the legislation used to allow Canada not to comply with the US sanctions on Cuba. Arguably, but not certainly, it could be used to block the extradition of Meng.

Featured image is from The BulletThe original source of this article is The BulletCopyright © Harry GlasbeekThe Bullet, 2020

Palestine Bleeds: Execution of Autistic Man is Not an Exception but the Norm

Source

June 10, 2020

The mother of Iyad Hallaq, an autistic Palestinian man who was killed by Israeli forces in Jerusalem. (Photo: via Social Media)

By Ramzy Baroud

A 32-year-old man with the mental age of an 8-year-old child was executed by Israeli soldiers on May 30, while crouching behind his teacher near his special needs school in the Old City of Jerusalem.

The cold-blooded murder of Iyad Hallaq might not have received much attention if it were not for the fact that it took place five days following the similarly heartbreaking murder of a 46-year-old black man, George Floyd, in Minneapolis, at the hands of American police.

The two crimes converge, not only in their repugnancy and the moral decadence of their perpetrators but also because countless American police officers have been trained in Israel, by the very Israeli ‘security forces’ that killed Hallaq. The practice of killing civilians, with efficiency and callousness, is now a burgeoning market. Israel is the biggest contributor to this market; the US is the world’s largest client.

When thousands of people rushed to the streets in Palestine, including hundreds of Palestinian and Israeli Jewish activists in Jerusalem, chanting “Justice for Iyad, justice for George”, their cry for justice was a spontaneous and heartfelt reaction to injustice so great, so blatant.

Hallaq’s story might appear particularly unique, as the ‘suspected terrorist’ was killed while merely walking in King Faisal Street in Jerusalem, on his way to take out the trash. He was afraid of soldiers and terrified of blood.

“He was also afraid of the armed police officers who stood along the route to the special needs center he went to, where he participated in a vocational training program,” the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, reported.

Hallaq’s many fears, which may have appeared exaggerated by his family, turned out to be true. Even an autistic person in Palestine is not safe from the vengeance of soldiers.

But Iyad Hallaq did not need to die for Israel to maintain its pathological sense of ‘security’. The fact that he was already shot and wounded, and found bleeding in a roofless garbage room in Jerusalem’s Old City, was not enough to spare him that horrific fate. The fact that the man screamed in agony while hiding behind his caregiver, who pleaded with the soldiers, begging them to stop puncturing his already bleeding body with more bullets, was also not enough.

Still, the soldiers stepped forward, and from a very close range, fired three bullets into Hallaq’s midsection as he lay wounded on his back. Instantly, the young man, the ‘apple of the eyes of his parents’, ceased breathing.

“He was our mother’s love, her entire life,” Iyad’s sister, Diana said in an interview with +972 magazine., adding:

“She would hold his hand like he was a baby, and he would walk with her to the market, or the mosque or the clothing store. He was like her shadow. She worried about him and whether other kids would bother or hurt him.”

Caught off guard by the grisly nature of the murder and the mental state of the victim, Israel’s spin doctors moved quickly to contain the damage, initially spreading lies that Hallaq was carrying a toy gun at the time of the shooting, then backing off, promising an investigation.

But what is there to investigate? In recent years, the Israeli army has upgraded its code of conduct, adopting a shoot-to-kill policy of any Palestinian they suspect of attempting to harm Israeli occupation soldiers, even when the alleged Palestinian ‘attacker’ is no longer posing a threat.

In the case of Gaza, where protesters are separated from Israeli snipers by barbed wire and nearly a mile-long empty space, the Israeli military issued orders, as of June 2019, to shoot and kill ‘key instigators’ of the mass protests even while ‘at rest’. Hundreds of people have been killed in Gaza’s Great March of Return in this way, and the ‘key instigators’ included medics, journalists, young boys, and girls.

Indeed, the killing of Palestinian civilians is a regular occurrence. It is the devastating routine with which Palestinians have been forced to co-exist for many years and for which Israel was never ever held accountable.

Only one day before Hallaq was murdered, Fadi Samara Qaad, 37, was killed by Israeli occupation soldiers while driving his car near the Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh, west of Ramallah.

The Israeli military immediately claimed that Qaad “tried to ram his car into a group of soldiers” before they opened fire, killing him on the spot.

This is the go-to Israeli military pretense that is often offered when a Palestinian driver is shot and killed by Israeli soldiers. Otherwise, the Palestinian victim, whether a man, a woman, or a child, is often accused of carrying a ‘sharp object’.

Hallaq’s mental disability might have spared him, in the eyes of some, from being that archetypical ‘terrorist’, although the Israeli army immediately raided his house, looking for ‘evidence’ that would implicate him and be useful in their sinister propaganda.

In the case of Qaad, a Palestinian worker, on his way to join his wife in a nearby town to celebrate the Muslim Eid holiday, the Israeli army statement suffices, no questions asked.

This is the same stifling logic that has prevailed in Palestine for so many years, and counting. Children are killed for throwing stones at men with guns, who have invaded their homes and villages; pregnant women are gunned down at Israeli army checkpoints; men with amputated legs on wheelchairs shot by snipers while protesting and demanding their freedom.

All of this is taking place in the complete absence of any promising political horizon. Even the protracted and ultimately useless ‘peace process’ has been halted in favor of greater American backing of Israel and of the Israeli government’s mad rush to expand illegal Jewish settlements.

To secure his colonial accomplishments – read: land theft – Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is about to reveal the crown jewel of his legacy, as he prepares for the expansion of Israel’s borders through the annexation of yet more Palestinian land.

Inspired by the common struggle that ties them with their African-American brethren, Palestinians are now left only with their cries for justice: Palestinian lives matter, hoping, for once, the world may hear and echo their screams and, perhaps, do something.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books. His latest is “These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons” (Clarity Press, Atlanta). Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA), Istanbul Zaim University (IZU). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

SCIENTIST BEHIND “LOCKDOWN” DOESN’T ACTUALLY BELIEVE IN, OR ABIDE BY, HIS OWN FEAR PORN ADVICE

Source

Eva Bartlett

Scientist who promoted the lockdown doesn’t actually believe in the need for physical distancing. Shocker

Alrighty. If lockdowns are soooo necessary to save the world from Covid, why did the man behind the UK lockdown hypocritically violate it (for sex, okay, urges, we get it)?For people who are unwillingly imprisoned in their homes, doesn’t this piss you right off?

Double-standards. And he isn’t the only one. Canada’s Trudeau violated his own “stay home” warning, saying “enough is enough! Go home and stay home!”

Justin Trudeau’s a ‘giant hypocrite’ for going to the cottage after saying physical-distancing rules are for everyone:

“Trudeau also crossed provincial boundaries. (Harrington Lake is in Quebec.) Another no-no.

And he brought with him his security detail and serving staff — an entire royal entourage — which means he brought with him more than a dozen potentially infected people.

Public health officials in Ottawa — Trudeau’s home base — are threatening to crack down on driveway parties and over-the-fence conversations while Trudeau galivants about having Easter egg hunts and posting charming photos to social media…”

Corbett:

“This is about the person–one of the key architects of this lockdown madness that has spread around much of the world–it shows by his actions, not what he says but by his actions, shows that this is nonsense, that he doesn’t believe these things that he is preaching. That is the important part of this.

It’s about the fact that they lied to you, this person is outright lying to you he shows by his actions that this is not necessary, but he’s telling you to do it now. You guys should do this I’m not gonna do it but you guys should do it because you guys it’s very important that you guys do it…

So he’s showing by his actions that this is a lie.

There are many many examples that are popping up of politicians and health experts and all of these people who are telling you to lock down who are not socially distancing and doing all the rules that they’re telling you to do…”

When is enough enough? What is your line in the sand, as people around the world actually starve, suffer, get depressed, have their immune systems suppressed…and much more under lockdowns? Further, as I’ve written a lot by now, Syria did not choose to lock down. Yes a partial curfew, 7:30 pm to 6 am, but otherwise, no enforced physical distancing, to the contrary, markets are crowded, people kissing cheeks in greeting, friends hugging…normality and healthy interactions.

My thoughts on Syria’s response to Covid19:–Syria is not under lockdown, is not the dystopian society of war propagandistsDamascus walks, April 26-28, Stores Re-Opened, Life in Streets

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Tucker Carlson interviews Roger Waters about Julian Assange

Roger Waters explains Julian Assange to Tucker Carlson and they AGREE!!!

The Gangster!

ST

 Sunday, 01 March 2020 07:58

President Erdogan of Turkey has indeed lost what remained of his brain! In a mafia and gang-like show, Erdogan called on Russia, which has been pioneering the fight against terrorism, to get out of his way and allow his occupying forces to invade the more of Syria!

Erdogan, the liar and butcher, claimed in his yesterday hallucinations that the Syrian people demanded him to send his occupying forces , if not thousands of multinational terrorists into Syria!

The Syrians have every legitimate right to defend their country; has Erdogan any right to invade Syria!? Erdogan’s occupation troops were mingled with terrorists, who were too dressed in Turkish military uniforms. Should the Syrian Army and its allies welcome by roses the invading terrorists!

Erdogan’s so-called observation posts, used merely to support and take part in the war of terrorists against Syrians, might be after his crazy threats, legitimate targets. Why should Erdogan take pride in killing many Syrians and  many of their anti-terrorism allies!!? Simply because he himself is a terrorist.

This Ottoman terrorist is but a threat to the entire world. Erdogan the criminal is trying to play the role of a victim! The majority of the Syrians abroad, left in fear of terrorism, want to return back to their country. This terrorist prevents them!

As the Sputnik accurately transmitted, Turkish soldiers invaded Northern Syria. Turkish soldiers were killed while being in Syria. Idlib is not under dispute. It is part of Syria. Turkey is the aggressor nation, not the victim. If we had a fair and balanced media we would all be informed of that salient fact, not set up to support further actions against Syria for the ‘crime’ of trying to repel invaders from its territory.

The classic George Orwell novel ‘1984’ was meant as a warning to society about the destructive and freedom sapping nature of oligarchs and tyrannical nation state, not a user manual for the powerful in the 21st century but recent events in Syria highlight yet again the incredible ability of the rulers of the world in the West to use their compliant and sycophant media to create narratives that belong in fairy tales, not news bulletins.

War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength. These are the three mottos inscribed on the Ministry of Truth building of the nation of Oceania in Orwell’s dystopian 1948 masterpiece which imagined a society of totalitarianism and perpetual war in 1984, thirty five years in the future as Orwell sat in a small farmhouse on the Scottish island of Jura to construct his warning to the world in the post WWII era. Totalitarianism may not be universal or at least recognized as such by all but perpetual war is certainly an underlying feature of the 21st century world. It used to be the case that arms companies were created to feed wars but nowadays wars are created to feed arms companies.

When a sovereign nation is attacked and/or invaded they have an inalienable right to defend themselves and repel invaders. Isn’t it pathetic to witness the brutal suppression of thousands of firefighters and other public service workers by heavily armed police in France for the ‘crime’ of protesting against damaging pension changes reported as legitimate ‘public order’ and ‘crowd control measures’ but actions by the Syrians against terrorists and foreign army invaders as being aggressive and tyrannical?

Our world is indeed more Orwellian by the day. In such an era of lies and distortions those who speak truth to power will be more brutally repressed.

Dr. Mohamad Abdo Al-Ibrahim

alibrahim56@hotmail.com   

If The US Is OK with Israeli Annexing the West Bank, Why Is It Sanctioning Russia for Annexing Crimea?

By David Morrison

Source

Trump at the Israeli American Council National Summit 8b64d

At a ceremony in the East Room in the White House on 28 January 2020, President Trump unveiled his 181-page “vision” for Israel/Palestine to an audience of enthusiastic cheerleaders, many flown in from Israel for the occasion. While he spoke, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stood by his side and afterwards he welcomed the President’s “vision” ecstatically.

And well he might.  The “vision” was written for him, if not by him.  According to US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, it is the “product of more than three years of close consultations” between Trump, Netanyahu and their senior staff.  Understandably, therefore, it gives Netanyahu almost everything he has ever wished for politically.  In essence, the document is an agreement between the US and Israel about the future of Israel/Palestine.

Trump’s favours to Netanyahu

Of course, this is not the first incidence of Prime Minister Netanyahu, and Israel, receiving political favours from President Trump.  Already, under the Trump administration,

  • in December 2017, the US recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and, in May 2018, moved the US embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv
  • in August 2018, the US ended financial support for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).
  • in September 2018, the US cut $25 million of financial support for 6 hospitals for the care of Palestinians in East Jerusalem
  • in September 2018, the US closed the PLO office in Washington
  • in February 2019, the US ended financial support to the Palestinian Authority
  • in March 2019, the US recognised as Israeli sovereign territory the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights (which Israel took over by force in 1967 and has subjected to military occupation ever since)
  • in November 2019, the US declared that the 130+ Jewish-only settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Golan Heights are “not per se inconsistent with international law” (in the words of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo)

Perhaps, the US flagrantly breaching the nuclear deal it signed with Iran (and other states) should be added to this list.  When he unveiled his “vision” on 28 January 2020, President Trump boasted:

“As everyone knows, I have done a lot for Israel: moving the United States Embassy to Jerusalem; recognizing — (applause) –- recognizing the Golan Heights — (applause) — and, frankly, perhaps most importantly, getting out of the terrible Iran nuclear deal.  (applause)”

A much bigger favour to Netanyahu

Now, the President has done Netanyahu (and Israel) a much bigger favour – he has undertaken that the US will henceforth recognise a lot more Israeli-occupied territory as sovereign Israeli territory, this time territory East of the Green Line, that is, in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem).

In recent months, Netanyahu has said that he wanted to annex to Israel (a) the Jordan Valley and (b) areas surrounding the Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank.  It is probably not a coincidence that annexations along these lines are at the heart of the President’s “vision” for Israel/Palestine – and there is no suggestion that Palestinians are to be consulted, let alone have a veto, about these annexations.

After the President unveiled his “vision”, Netanyahu responded ecstatically:

“This is a historic day.  And it recalls another historic day.  We remember May 14th, 1948, because on that day, President Truman became the first world leader to recognize the State of Israel after our first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, declared our independence.  That day charted a brilliant future.

“Mr. President, I believe that down the decades — and perhaps down the centuries — we will also remember January 28th, 2020, because on this day, you became the first world leader to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over areas in Judea and Samaria that are vital to our security and central to our heritage.  (Applause) …

“For too long — far too long — the very heart of the Land of Israel where our patriarchs prayed, our prophets preached, and our kings ruled, has been outrageously branded as illegally occupied territory.  Well, today, Mr. President, you are puncturing this big lie.  (Applause)

“You are recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over all the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, large and small alike.  (Applause)”

Israel seized the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) by military force in June 1967 and has colonised it relentlessly in the ensuing years transferring over 620,000 of its citizens across the Green Line into Jewish-only settlements.

If some or all of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) becomes sovereign Israeli territory on a permanent basis, then with the blessing of the US, Israel will have acquired territory by military force in flagrant violation of the first principle of international law.  The US can no longer complain about Russia annexing Crimea, not least because that was done with the consent of the people living there.

A false notion: Israel an occupier

This US recognition of Israeli sovereignty over first the Golan Heights and now parts of the West Bank was foreshadowed during the Trump presidential campaign by his advisory team on Israel.  This consisted of Jason Greenblatt, who was until recently his chief negotiator on Israel/Palestine (along with his son-in-law, Jared Kushner), and David Friedman, who is now US Ambassador to Israel.

A joint statement by Greenblatt and Friedmanjoint statement by Greenblatt and Friedman on 2 November 2016 contained the following short but very significant sentence:

“The false notion that Israel is an occupier should be rejected.”

That principle has been implemented in respect of the Golan Heights and now in respect of part of the West Bank.  In addition, it is reflected in US State Department documents, which no longer refer to the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), Gaza and the Golan Heights as “the occupied territories”.

The internationally agreed position

The Security Council has always regarded the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) as Israeli occupied territory and never as territory belonging to the State of Israel.  Thus, Security Council Resolution 2334 passed on 23 December 2016 specifically called upon UN member states to “distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967”.

The same is true of the International Court of Justice (“the principal judicial organ of the United Nations” in the words of the UN Charter).  In its July 2004 Advisory Opinion Legal consequences of the construction of a wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory it left no doubt that Israel was the occupying power in  the West Bank under international law:

“The territories situated between the Green Line … and the former eastern boundary of Palestine under the Mandate were occupied by Israel in 1967 during the armed conflict between Israel and Jordan. … All these territories (including East Jerusalem) remain occupied territories and Israel has continued to have the status of occupying Power.” (Paragraph 78)

All, or nearly all, states in the world (apart from Israel and the US) accept this UN position that the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) is Israeli occupied territory.

Most states also accept the UN position that, along with Gaza, the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) should form the territory of a Palestinian state, with its capital in East Jerusalem, existing alongside Israel in its pre-1967 borders – and that any adjustments to the pre-1967 borders by way of land swaps must be agreed between Israel and Palestine.  The EU has always been very firm on the latter point, saying:

“The EU will recognize changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem, only when agreed by the parties.”

Of course, a “two-state solution” along these lines is not going to happen.  It’s not going to happen because Israel has no intention of reversing its aggression of June 1967 and withdrawing from the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) so that a Palestinian state can be established.  And there is no chance of sufficient external pressure being brought to bear on Israel to force it to withdraw – which is what should have been done in the wake of Israel’s aggression in June 1967.

A Palestinian “state”

Trump’s “vision” document does propose the creation of a Palestinian “state”, of a kind arrogantly dictated by the US and Israel.  They have decreed that its territory would consist of Gaza plus those parts of the West Bank (about 50% of it) not already selected by them for annexation to Israel – and that it would have a capital on the outskirts of East Jerusalem, not in Jerusalem itself.

Its West Bank territory would consist of a number of non-contiguous chunks, linked together by a network of roads, bridges and tunnels and surrounded by territory to be annexed to Israel – and therefore with no access to the outside world except through Israeli-controlled territory.

At Israel’s insistence, the Palestinian “state” would be demilitarised, and Israel would retain the right to make armed incursions into its territory to ensure that it remained demilitarised and, in Israel’s opinion, non-threatening to Israel.  Hamas and other paramilitary groups in Gaza would have to disarm, recognise the State of Israel (with its greatly expanded territory, presumably) and hand over control of Gaza to the Palestinian Authority or “another national or international body acceptable to the State of Israel”, to quote from Trump’s “vision” document.

If this “state” were ever to come into existence, it would mean the continuation of Israeli occupation for Palestinians with Israel still in control of all the land between the Jordan and the Sea.

(For more on the US/Israel requirements for a Palestinian “state”, see the Endnote below)

Negotiations with Palestinians?

Responding to President Trump in the White House on 28 January, Netanyahu said:

“Mr. President, … because I believe your peace plan strikes the right balance where other plans have failed, I’ve agreed to negotiate peace with the Palestinians on the basis of your peace plan.  (Applause)”

Later he qualified this by saying that Palestinians had to “agree to abide by all the conditions” in the “peace plan” (see Endnote below) before Israel would be prepared to “negotiate peace” with them.

Trump had earlier said that the territory he had allocated to a Palestinian “state” would “remain open and undeveloped for a period of four years” during which Palestinians can “negotiate with Israel, achieve the criteria for statehood, and become a truly independent and wonderful state”.

None of this matters, of course, since the “peace plan” is completely unacceptable to Palestinian leaders and to the Palestinian public: an opinion poll carried out by Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found that 94% of Palestinians were opposed to it (despite President Trump’s judgment that: “It’s very good for them.  In fact, it’s overly good to them.”).

Are annexations going to happen?

Are the proposed annexations going to happen?  Almost certainly, they will, whether Netanyahu remains Prime Minister or is replaced by Benny Gantz.  Palestinian opposition will count for nothing.  Both Trump and Netanyahu made it clear on 28 January that the annexations are going ahead.  Trump said:

“We will form a joint committee with Israel to convert the conceptual map [pubin the “vision” document] into a more detailed and calibrated rendering so that recognition can be immediately achieved.”

In his response to Trump that day, Netanyahu said:

“Regardless of the Palestinian decision [to enter into negotiations], Israel will preserve the path of peace in the coming years.  … At the same time, Israel will apply its laws to the Jordan Valley, to all the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, and to other areas that your plan designates as part of Israel and which the United States has agreed to recognize as part of Israel.  (Applause)”

For obvious reasons, Netanyahu hoped that visible progress could be made on this prior to the Israeli General Election on 2 March.  However, the Trump administration vetoed that and insisted that the joint US/Israel mapping committee first complete its work of defining precisely what territory is to be annexed.  The committee has now been set up – it is headed by the US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, who explained that the US was anxious that the annexation process was completed properly in one go and the US didn’t have to recognise several incremental annexations.  Needless to say, there are no Palestinian representatives on this committee that is to divide up their land.

It is possible that, after the election on 2 March, Netanyahu will be replaced as Prime Minister by Benny Gantz, the leader of the Blue and White party (who was formerly head of the Israeli military).  Will that delay or prevent the annexations going ahead?  That’s unlikely, since from the outset he has expressed support for Trump’s plan: on 27 January after he was briefed by Trump himself about it, he described it as “a significant and historic milestone” and said:

“Immediately after the elections, I will work toward implementing it from within a stable, functioning Israeli government, in tandem with the other countries in our region.”

The President himself is bound to be keen to complete the annexations before his re-election campaign, because that would please the Evangelical Christian voters who form a significant part of his electoral base – and it would ensure that, if he lost the election, his Democratic successor would be faced with a fait accompli.

Almost all the Democratic presidential candidates have expressed opposition to his plan: for example, Senator Elizabeth Warren said:

“Trump’s ‘peace plan’ is a rubber stamp for annexation and offers no chance for a real Palestinian state. Releasing a plan without negotiating with Palestinians isn’t diplomacy, it’s a sham. I will oppose unilateral annexation in any form—and reverse any policy that supports it.”

But would a Democratic president attempt to reverse the annexations?  That’s very doubtful, since it would require at the very least the US to threaten to cut off military aid to Israel.

What is to be annexed

Under the Oslo Agreement, the Israeli-occupied West Bank (excluding East Jerusalem) was divided into three areas.  The largest, Area C, with around 61% of the land area is where Israel has built 130+ Jewish-only settlements.

Israel treats Area C as if its sole purpose is to serve Israeli needs, expanding settlements there relentlessly, their population having more than tripled since the Oslo Agreement was signed in 1993.  Israel doesn’t consider itself obligated in any way to the estimated 200,000 Palestinians living in Area A, banning virtually all construction and development by them.  When, having no other option, Palestinians build without permits, their buildings, including their living quarters, are liable to be demolished by Israel, with the residents themselves being billed for the demolition costs.

Most of the approximately 2.5 million Palestinian residents of the West Bank live in Areas A and B, which consist of 165 disconnected “islands” surrounded by land designated as part of Area C.

In total, Israel has transferred over 413,000 of its citizens into Area C.  A further 209,000 Israeli citizens now live in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem.  Colonisation of occupied territory was and is contrary to international law – to be precise, it is war crime contrary to Article 8.2(b)(viii) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which states that “the transfer, directly or indirectly, by the Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies” is a war crime.

Up to now, Israel has treated the settlements in Area C as extensions of its sovereign territory, applying most of its domestic laws there and allowing settlers to vote in Knesset elections.  Now, the settlements are to be annexed and treated as an integral party of Israel.  Here, we are talking about all the settlements and the land around them being annexed to Israel, not just a few of the settlements located close to the Green Line.  This avoids any political difficulties for an Israeli government from having to uproot Jews from outlying settlements and repatriate them to Israel.

The fact that the settlements are widely spread across the West Bank makes it difficult to construct a contiguous territory to be annexed to Israel.  Nevertheless, Trump’s “vision” document claims that “approximately 97% of Israelis in the West Bank will be incorporated into contiguous Israeli territory”.  But, 15 of the settlements are planned to be in enclaves within “Palestinian territory” with dedicated access routes connecting them to Israeli-controlled territory.  (By “Palestinian territory”, we mean the territory in the West Bank generously assigned to a Palestinian “state” by the US and Israel).

It is Trump’s “vision” that this territory with its attached enclaves become sovereign Israeli territory.  Conquest and a 50-year programme of colonisation is about to bear fruit for Israel.

Jordan Valley

The US has also agreed that the Jordan Valley be annexed to Israel.  Trump’s “vision” states bluntly:

“The Jordan Valley, which is critical for Israel’s national security, will be under Israeli sovereignty.” (p12)

East Jerusalem

When the US has recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017, it didn’t formally recognise East Jerusalem as sovereign Israeli territory, even though Israel had long since treated it as such.

After capturing and occupying the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in June 1967, Israel greatly expanded the city by annexing West Bank land and applying Israeli law to the expanded city.  From then on, Israel regarded the expanded Jerusalem as an integral part of Israel.  This was not accepted by the Security Council, which has always regarded it (and the rest of the West Bank) as Israeli occupied territory, as did most states in the world, including the US, apart from Israel.

On Jerusalem, Trump’s “vision” states bluntly:

“Jerusalem will remain the sovereign capital of the State of Israel, and it should remain an undivided city.” (p17)

That would seem to be a statement that the US now recognises all of Jerusalem, including occupied East Jerusalem, as sovereign Israeli territory.

International reactions

The Ambassadors of three Gulf States – Oman, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates – attended the ceremony in the East Room in the White House on 28 January, when President Trump unveiled his “vision” for Israel/Palestine, and were publicly thanked by him for their attendance.

Afterwards, it was suggested that they attended the event because they were given the false impression that his “vision” included a Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem, whereas in reality there is no Palestinian state and no capital in East Jerusalem.

A few days later representatives from the three states joined the other members of the Arab League in unanimously rejecting what they called the US-Israeli deal, saying that it “does not meet the minimum rights and aspirations of Palestinian people”.  However, no action was proposed that would impose a cost on Israel for annexing Palestinian territory.

The EU was unable to make an official statement criticising the US proposals because that required unanimity amongst the 27 member states.  The EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell couldn’t achieve unanimity because, as a result of lobbying by Israel, at least six states (including Italy, Hungary, Austria and the Czech Republic) objected.

Borrell issued a critical statement on his own, warning that “steps towards annexation, if implemented, could not pass unchallenged”.  Those are empty words – on the Israel/Palestine issue the EU is now paralysed.

When the Security Council held a meeting on the US/Israel proposals on 11 February, the EU was not in a position to present an official policy on the proposals.  However, a joint statement issued by Belgium, France, Germany, Estonia and Poland at the Security Council had the merit of robustly restating EU policy:

“The annexation of any part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, constitutes a breach of international law, undermines the viability of the two-State solution and challenges the prospects for just, comprehensive and lasting peace. In line with international law and relevant UN Security Council resolutions, we do not recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the territories occupied since 1967.”

The UK, by contrast, limited itself to expressing “concern” at the about possible annexations.

A draft Security Council resolution critical of the US/Israel proposals was not pressed to a vote because it was not going to get the nine positive votes necessary to force the US to veto it.

The sad conclusion is that there is no pressure worthy of the name on the US/Israel that might persuade them not to go ahead with the proposed annexations.

Crimea

To say that, in the past, the US has applied double standards in its response to Russia’s takeover of Crimea compared with Israel’s takeover of Palestinian territories is a gross understatement.

In June 1967, Israel took over Palestinian territories whose populations were overwhelmingly opposed to being taken over by Israel.  But no economic sanctions have ever been imposed by the US to force Israel to withdraw.  Quite the contrary, Israel has been showered with US tax dollars over the years and today it receives more US aid (mostly military) than any other state in the world.  Before leaving office, President Obama promised that this largesse would continue, promising Israel $38 billion over the following 10 years.

By contrast, in 2014 Russia took over Crimea whose population was both overwhelmingly Russian and overwhelmingly in favour of being taken over by Russia (and was part of Ukraine in 2014 rather than Russia because of an arbitrary decision in 1954 by the USSR Supreme Soviet to transfer it without its consent from the Russian SFSR to the Ukrainian SSR).  Nevertheless, Russia was immediately subjected to economic sanctions by the US, sanctions that are still in force today.

With the President’s recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights and now great swathes of the West Bank, the divergence in standards has widened further.  To be consistent, the President should immediately recognise Russia’s sovereignty over Crimea and lift the economic sanctions imposed on Russia because of its takeover of Crimea.

Endnote: US/Israel requirements for a Palestinian “state”

The Palestinian “state” prescribed in President Trump’s “vision” for Israel/Palestine would mean the continuation of Israeli occupation in a not very different form: if the “state” ever came into existence, Israel would remain in control of all the land between the Jordan and the Sea, including the territory assigned to a Palestinian “state” by the US/Israel.

This territory includes Gaza and the West Bank, minus the areas in the West Bank which the US has approved for annexation by Israel in the “vision” document.  These areas consist of all the 130+ Jewish-only settlements built illegally by Israel since it took over the West Bank by force in 1967, along with large swathes of land around them, plus the Jordan Valley and East Jerusalem.

The West Bank territory of the “state” would consist of a number of non-contiguous chunks, linked together by a network of roads, bridges and tunnels and surrounded by territory to be annexed to Israel – and therefore with no access to the outside world except through Israeli-controlled territory.

Sovereignty

So much for the territory assigned by the US to the new Palestinian “state”.  As for the sovereignty, which the new “state” will be able to exercise, suffice to say the US has agreed that it will be highly restricted by Israel.  To quote from the “vision” document:

“Upon signing the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Agreement, the State of Israel will maintain overriding security responsibility for the State of Palestine” (p21)

“The State of Israel will continue to maintain control over the airspace and the electromagnetic spectrum west of the Jordan river.” (Appendix 2C)

“The State of Israel will retain sovereignty over territorial waters, which are vital to Israel’s security and which provides stability to the region.” (p13)

“The lack of ports has raised the costs of Palestinian economic activity. Though the State of Palestine will include Gaza, security challenges make the building of a port in Gaza problematic for the foreseeable future.” (p27)

“Five years following the signing of the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Agreement and assuming the full satisfaction of the Gaza Criteria, the State of Palestine shall have the right, subject to the satisfaction of State of Israel’s security and environmental requirements, to create an artificial island off the coast of Gaza to develop a port to serve Gaza (the “GAZA PORT”), as well as an airport for small aircraft.” (p29)

“All persons and goods will cross the borders into the State of Palestine through regulated border crossings, which will be monitored by the State of Israel. Israeli border crossing officials, using state of the art scanning and imaging technology, shall have the right to confirm that no weapons, dual-use or other security-risk related items will be allowed to enter into the State of Palestine.” (p24)

A demilitarized “state”

The “vision” document is clear:

“The State of Palestine shall be fully demilitarized and remain so” (p22)

The document extols the virtue of this for Palestine, presenting military expenditure as a burden which Israel is generously prepared to carry on behalf of Palestinians:

“Every country spends a very significant sum of money on its defense from external threats. The State of Palestine will not be burdened with such costs, because it will be shouldered by the State of Israel. This is a significant benefit for the economy of the State of Palestine since funds that would otherwise be spent on defense can instead be directed towards healthcare, education, infrastructure and other matters to improve Palestinians’ well-being.” (p21)

“A demilitarized State of Palestine will be prohibited from possessing capabilities that can threaten the State of Israel including:  weapons systems such as combat aircraft (manned and unmanned); heavy armored vehicles; mines; missiles; rockets; heavy machine guns; laser/radiating weapons; anti-air; anti-armor; anti-ship; military intelligence; offensive cyber and electronic warfare capabilities; production facilities and procurement mechanisms for weapons systems; military infrastructure and training facilities; or any weapons of mass destruction.” (Appendix 2C)

The State of Palestine will not have the right to forge military, intelligence or security agreements with any state or organization that adversely affect the State of Israel’s security, as determined by the State of Israel. The State of Palestine will not be able to develop military or paramilitary capabilities inside or outside of the State of Palestine.” (Appendix 2C)

Israel will have a permanent veto over Palestinian security capabilities:

“[Palestinian security] capabilities (i) may not (A) violate the principle that the State of Palestine in all its territory, including Gaza, shall be, and shall remain, fully demilitarized or (B) derogate the State of Israel’s overriding security responsibility, and (ii) will be agreed upon by the State of Palestine and the State of Israel.

“Any expansion of Palestinian security capabilities beyond the capabilities existing on the date this Vision is released shall be subject to agreement with the State of Israel.” (Appendix 2C)

Israel will retain the right to make armed incursions into Palestinian territory:

“The State of Israel will maintain the right to dismantle and destroy any facility in the State of Palestine that is used for the production of prohibited weapons or for other hostile purposes. While the State of Israel will use its best efforts to minimize incursions into the State of Palestine, the State of Israel will retain the right to engage in necessary security measures to ensure that the State of Palestine remains demilitarized and non-threatening to the State of Israel, including from terrorist threats.” (Appendix 2C)

Palestinian prisoners and administrative detainees in Israeli jails

The signing of a “peace agreement” is often accompanied by the release of prisoners and the granting of amnesty to individuals for actions prior to the signing of the agreement.

If this agreement ever came to pass, Palestinians would not even get their prisoners out.  Instead, the “vision” document sets out a very limited scheme for prisoner release and amnesty (p30): Israel will release Palestinian prisoners and administrative detainees, but not “(i) those convicted of murder or attempted murder, (ii) those convicted of conspiracy to commit murder … and (iii) Israeli citizens”.

In the first phase of releases immediately after an agreement is signed, prisoners to be released must generally have served at least two-thirds of their sentence; in the second phase, at an unspecified future time, they must have served at least half their sentence.

Refugees

First and foremost, the “vision” document states:

“There shall be no right of return by, or absorption of, any Palestinian refugee into the State of Israel.” (p32)

Secondly, Israel will be able to restrict Palestinian immigration into the “state” of Palestine:

“The rights of Palestinian refugees to immigrate to the State of Palestine shall be limited in accordance with agreed security arrangements.” (p33)

The immigration rate “shall be agreed to by the parties and regulated by various factors”, for example, “security risks to the State of Israel” (p33).  Presumably, one of “parties” will be Israel.

The United Nations Relief & Works Agency (UNRWA) which was established by the UN General Assembly in 1949, provides education, health care and social services in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Gaza and the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) to over 5 million Palestinians registered as refugees with the Agency.

The “vision” document boasts: “In the last 10 years alone, the US contributed approximately $2.99 billion ($3.16 billion in 2017 terms), which accounted for 28% of all contributions to UNRWA” (p31).  The document doesn’t mention that the US ceased making contributions to UNRWA in August 2018.

A couple of pages later the document declares:

“Upon the signing of the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Agreement, Palestinian refugee status will cease to exist, and UNWRA will be terminated and its responsibilities transitioned to the relevant governments.” (p33)

The document does not identify any “government” that has agreed to take over relevant UNRWA responsibilities, though it does say that the US “will endeavor to raise a fund to provide some compensation to Palestinian refugees” (p33).

Happily, UNRWA cannot be “terminated” by the US since it was established by the UN General Assembly and operates under its auspices.

Conduct During Negotiations

In Section 22 headed Conduct During Negotiations, the “vision” document instructs the PLO and the Palestinian Authority to

“Refrain from any attempt to join any international organization without the consent of the State of Israel;” (p39)

“Take no action, and shall dismiss all pending actions, against the State of Israel, the United States and any of their citizens before the International Criminal Court, the International Court of Justice, and all other tribunals” (p39)

It’s not clear if all these conditions continue to apply in the unlikely event of Palestinian statehood being achieved, for instance, would Israel have a veto over the State of Palestine being a party to the International Criminal Court?

The PLO and the Palestinian Authority is instructed to cease giving financial support to the families of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and

“Take all necessary actions to immediately terminate the paying of salaries to terrorists serving sentences in Israeli prisons, as well as to the families of deceased terrorists.  The latter must be done prior to the signing of an agreement.” (p39)

Conditions for Palestinian statehood

In Section 22, the “vision” document lays down an astonishing set of conditions which Palestinians must fulfil before they are deemed worthy of statehood by Israel and the US.  It says:

“The following criteria are a predicate to the formation of a Palestinian State and must be determined to have occurred by the State of Israel and the United States …

  • The Palestinians shall have implemented a governing system with a constitution or another system for establishing the rule of law that provides for freedom of press, free and fair elections, respect for human rights for its citizens, protections for religious freedom and for religious minorities to observe their faith, uniform and fair enforcement of law and contractual rights, due process under law, and an independent judiciary with appropriate legal consequences and punishment established for violations of the law.
  • The Palestinians shall have established transparent, independent, and credit-worthy financial institutions …
  • The Palestinians shall have achieved civilian and law enforcement control over all of its territory and demilitarized its population.
  • The Palestinians shall have complied with all the other terms and conditions of this Vision.”

Few states in this world satisfy these conditions, and none in the Middle East.

Not even Israel – because, according to the US, it discriminates against its Arab citizens.  In its 2016 Report on Human Rights Practices in Israel & the occupied territories (published on 3 March 2017), the US State Department asserts that one of “the most significant human rights problems in Israel” is “institutional and societal discrimination against Arab citizens of Israel, many of whom self-identify as Palestinian, in particular in access to equal education, housing, and employment opportunities”.

Clearly, Israel has some way to go before it is worthy of statehood.

 

Lavrov’s speech at the UN Security Council on September 25, 2019

September 26, 2019

Source

Lavrov’s speech at the UN Security Council on September 25, 2019Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at the UN Security Council meeting on Cooperation between the United Nations and regional and subregional organisations in maintaining international peace and security: the contribution by the CSTO, CIS, and SCO in countering terrorist threats, New York, September 25, 2019

 

Mr Secretary General,

Members of the Security Council,

Colleagues,

Today, we are all faced with the problem of terrorism, which has grown more acute than ever. International terrorists, led by ISIS and al Qaeda, continue to sow terror and destruction around the world. As a result of their actions, the situation in the Middle East, including in Syria and Iraq, remains extremely alarming. The terrorist threat emanating from that region is spreading rapidly across the African continent, including through Libya. Central, South, and Southeast Asia are also becoming the scene of inhuman acts of terrorism. The problem of foreign terrorist fighters (as discussed by the Secretary General and our colleagues earlier today) who return to their homeland or their countries of residence, or move to third countries, is coming to the fore. An ever-smaller number of countries remain untouched by terrorism. In this regard, I would like to highlight the fact that several years ago, the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation created an international database of terrorism, with about 50 states and several international organisations, including Interpol, involved in the project now. This database really helps track the movement of foreign terrorist fighters around the world. We invite everyone to join this important effort.

This state of affairs dictates the need to consolidate the efforts of the international community to counteract international terrorist networks. In 2015, President of Russia Vladimir Putin proposed an initiative here to form a broad international anti-terrorist front which would rely on the UN Charter, the norms and principles of international law, without political motivation or preconditions. This initiative is gaining an even greater relevance today. The double standards applied by some states are complicating the response to modern threats, including terrorism. Deviating from the principles of a consistent collective action against international terrorism is fraught with dire consequences.

It is unacceptable, I must emphasize this specifically, to use terrorist associations for selfish political goals. There can be no excuse for this.

The increasing cooperation with regional and sub-regional organisations as prescribed by Chapter VIII of the UN Charter is becoming more relevant today.

Our meeting today is devoted to the role of the CSTO, the CIS and the SCO in fighting terrorism in cooperation with the United Nations. These regional associations have a lot of experience in combating terrorist threats and are making serious contributions to strengthening stability on the vast expanse of the Eurasian continent. Their vigorous practical efforts are the key to ensuring the security of their member states. Their effective anti-terrorist efforts have contributed to a marked stabilisation in the Central Asian countries. The importance of these efforts has been confirmed this year in the unanimously adopted General Assembly resolutions on UN cooperation with the CSTO, the SCO and the CIS.

At the same time, we are concerned about the recurring attacks by foreign terrorists in the Central Asian countries, as well as by various terrorist groups’ recruitment campaigns in the region, including those associated with ISIS.

One CSTO priority is countering efforts to draw people into terrorist activities at all stages – from ideological indoctrination to returning from regions with higher terrorist activity after having received so called combat experience. Specific measures are taken to block the channels of recruitment by terrorist groups and to counter illegal migration. Much attention is paid to identifying threats on the internet, which has become a tool for disseminating extremist ideas.

Cooperation between the CSTO and the UN on the antiterrorist track is becoming more substantive. The memorandum of understanding between the CSTO and the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism is being successfully carried out. A regular plan of collective actions by the CSTO member states on implementing the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy for 2019-2020 will be discussed at the CSTO summit in November this year. The CSTO regularly makes a contribution to carrying out this strategy.

The SCO is a major factor in ensuring stability in Eurasia. Its indisputable priority is to enhance security in the region, in part, by countering extremism, terrorism and separatism. The defence departments of CSTO member countries regularly hold antiterrorist exercises on a scheduled basis.

In the years of its existence the SCO has formed a solid package of legal documents regulating the various aspects of national counter-terrorist activities of its members. The SCO Secretary-General spoke about this in detail today. I would like to point out the convention on combating extremism that was adopted at the highest level in 2017. It provides fixed fundamental principles of international cooperation in this area. Under the convention the participants play a decisive role and bear the main responsibility for its implementation. The convention is open to all interested parties. We invite them to join. I would also like to mention the effective operation of the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS), whose experience is much in demand in Eurasia. Last March the RATS signed a memorandum of cooperation with the Executive Directorate of the UN Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee.

The CSTO and the SCO focus on threats emanating from Afghanistan, including threats to Central Asia. The north of Afghanistan could become a new bridgehead of ISIS-led international terrorist organisations. Afghanistan certainly requires external assistance in overcoming these threats and challenges.

The experience of the past few years has made it clear that not a single plan on developing economic cooperation between Central Asia and Afghanistan can be carried out without an adequate response to threats coming from Afghanistan. I would like to note in this context that the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group proceeds from this reality in following the roadmap on developing cooperation between the SCO member countries and Afghanistan. The roadmap was approved this year.

The Counter-Terrorism Centre has been operating in the CIS since 2000. It ensures coordination between national security agencies, special services and law enforcement bodies in fighting international terrorism. The centre closely cooperates with counter-terrorism sanctions committees and the Executive Directorate of the Counter-Terrorism Committee of the UN Security Council as well as the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism. I hope these agencies will continue operating.

In conclusion, I would like to say that I was pleased to hear that the CSTO, the CIS and the SCO are willing to further promote antiterrorism cooperation with the UN to maintain regional and international peace and security. This was confirmed today in statements by the directors of their secretariats.

DONALD TRUMP: ‘FUTURE BELONGS TO PATRIOTS NOT GLOBALISTS’

Donald Trump: 'Future Belongs To Patriots Not Globalists'

South Front

On September 24, US President Donald Trump made his third address to the United Nations. Many said that the adress was ‘ordinary’ for Trump. Some parts of the adress are inspiring, while others raise concerns.

Donald Trump at the United Nations General Assembly (full transcript):

Madam President, Mr. Secretary General, world leaders, ambassadors, and distinguished delegates:

One year ago, I stood before you for the first time in this grand hall. I addressed the threats facing our world, and I presented a vision to achieve a brighter future for all of humanity. Today, I stand before the United Nations General Assembly to share the extraordinary progress we have made.

In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country. America is so thrilled. [Laughter] I did not expect that reaction, but that’s okay. [Applause] America’s economy is booming like never before. Since my election, we have added $10 trillion in wealth. The stock market is at an all-time high in history, and jobless claims are at a 50-year low.

Comment: Mr. Trump is right and his ill-wishers cannot deny this. It is important to note that the successes of the US economy took place amid the decline of the global economy. The economic strategy of the Trump administration was designed to support the US national industry and demonstrated own effectiveness. The US nation is lucky that in the current condition the US leader is patriot Trump rather than some creature of the global capital.

African American, Hispanic American, and Asian American unemployment have all achieved their lowest levels ever recorded. We have added more than 4 million new jobs, including half a million manufacturing jobs. We have passed the biggest tax cuts and reforms in American history. We have started the construction of a major border wall, and we have greatly strengthened border security. We have secured record funding for our military, $700 billion this year and $716 billion next year. Our military will soon be more powerful than it has ever been before. In other words, the United States is stronger, safer, and a richer country than it was when I assumed office less than two years ago. We are standing up for America and the American people.

We are also standing up for the world. This is great news for our citizens and for peace-loving people everywhere. We believe that when nations respect the rights of their neighbors and defend the interests of their people, they can better work together to secure the blessings of safety, prosperity, and peace. Each of us here today is the emissary of a distinct culture, a rich history, and a people bound together by ties of memory, tradition, and the values that make our homelands like nowhere else on Earth. That is why America will always choose independence and cooperation over global governance, control, and domination. I honor the right of every nation in this room to pursue its own customs, beliefs, and traditions. The United States will not tell you how to live or work or worship. We only ask that you honor our sovereignty in return.

Comment: Since the very start of the presidency, Mr. Trump has demonstrated that for him such words are not just a colorful rhetoric needed to cover destructive US actions towards other states. However, the life is not rainbows and unicorns. Washington has been demonstrating double standards in its foreign policy for a very long time.

From Warsaw to Brussels to Tokyo to Singapore, it has been my highest honor to represent the United States abroad. I have forged close relationships and friendships and strong partnerships with the leaders of many nations in this room.

Our approach has always yielded incredible change. With support from many countries here today, we have engaged with North Korea to replace the specter of conflict with a bold and new push for peace. In June, I traveled to Singapore to meet face-to-face with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un. We had highly productive conversations and meetings. We agreed that it was in both countries’ interest to pursue the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Since that meeting, we have seen a number of encouraging measures that few could have imagined a short time ago. The missiles and rockets are no longer flying in every direction. Nuclear testing has stopped. Some military facilities are already being dismantled. Our hostages have been released. And as promised, the remains of our fallen heroes are being returned home, to lay at rest in American soil. I would like to thank Chairman Kim for his courage and for the steps he has taken, though much work remains to be done. The sanctions will stay in place until denuclearization occurs. I also want to thank the many member states who helped us reach this moment, a moment that is actually far greater than people would understand—far great. But for, also, their support and the critical support that we will all need going forward, a special thanks for President Moon of South Korea, the Prime Minister Abe of Japan, and President Xi of China.

In the Middle East, our new approach is yielding great strides and very historic change. Following my trip to Saudi Arabia last year, the Gulf countries opened a new center to target terrorist financing. They are enforcing new sanctions, working with us to identify and track terrorist networks, and taking more responsibility for fighting terrorism and extremism in their own region. The UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar have pledged billions of dollars to aid the people of Syria and Yemen, and they are pursuing multiple avenues to ending Yemen’s horrible, horrific civil war.

Ultimately, it is up to the nations of the region to decide what kind of future they want for themselves and their children. For that reason, the United States is working with the Gulf Cooperation Council, Jordan, and Egypt to establish a regional strategic alliance so that Middle Eastern nations can advance prosperity, stability, and security across their home region.

Comment: These remarks once again demonstrate that the US president is supporter of the traditional system of the international relations. At the same time, the colorful phrase about the right of “the nations of the region to decide what kind of future they want for themselves and their children” is used to hide anti-Iranian intentions and efforts to create and strengthen an anti-Iranian coalition that would include Jordan and Egypt. The goal of this coalition would be to counter Iranian influence and in some cases even to meddle the Iranian internal political situation.

Thanks to the United States military, and our partnership with many of your nations, I am pleased to report that the bloodthirsty killers known as isis have been driven out from the territory they once held in Iraq and Syria. We will continue to work with friends and allies to deny radical Islamic terrorists funding, territory, or support or any means of infiltrating our borders.

The ongoing tragedy in Syria is heartbreaking. Our shared goals must be the de-escalation of military conflict along with a political solution that honors the will of the Syrian people. In this vein, we urge the United Nations–led peace process to be reinvigorated. But rest assured, the United States will respond if chemical weapons are deployed by the Assad regime.

Comment: Mr. Trump demonstrates a dramatic shift of the US position towards the conflict in Syria. He does not repeat the ‘Assad must go’ mantra and says that the conflict should be settled through “political solutions”. The President also avoids to mention the supposed US support to the Syrian opposition. Even, the cornerstone of the US public agenda in the Syrian conflict, “chemical weapons”, is used just as a warning in for the case if such weapons “are deployed”. This stance is in contrary to the stance of the Obama administration and the Trump administration during its first two years.

I commend the people of Jordan and other neighboring countries for hosting refugees from this very brutal civil war. As we see in Jordan, the most compassionate policy is to place refugees as close to their homes as possible, to ease their eventual return to be part of the rebuilding process. This approach also stretches finite resources to help far more people, increasing the impact of every dollar spent.

Every solution to the humanitarian crisis in Syria must also include a strategy to address the brutal regime that is fueled and financed in the corrupt dictatorship in Iran. Iran’s leaders sow chaos, death, and disruption. They do not respect their neighbors or borders, or the sovereign rights of nations. Instead, Iran’s leaders plunder the nation’s resources to enrich themselves and to spread mayhem across the Middle East and far beyond. The Iranian people are rightly outraged that their leaders have embezzled billions of dollars from Iran’s treasury, seized valuable portions of the economy, and looted the religious endowments, all to line their own pockets and send their proxies to wage war. Not good. Iran’s neighbors have paid a heavy toll for the regime’s agenda of aggression and expansion. That is why so many countries in the Middle East strongly supported my decision to withdraw the United States from the horrible 2015 Iran nuclear deal and reimpose nuclear sanctions.

The Iran deal was a windfall for Iran’s leaders. In the year since the deal has been reached, the military budget grew nearly 40 percent. The dictatorship used the funds to build nuclear-capable missiles, increase internal repression, finance terrorism, and fund havoc and slaughter in Syria and Yemen. The United States has launched a campaign of economic pressure to deny the regime the funds it needs to advance its bloody agenda. Last month, we began reimposing hard-hitting nuclear sanctions that have been lifted under the Iran deal. Additional sanctions will resume November 5, and more will follow. We are working with countries that import Iranian crude oil to cut their purchases substantially. We cannot allow the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism to possess the planet’s most dangerous weapons. We cannot allow a regime that chants “Death to America” and that threatens Israel with annihilation to possess the means to deliver a nuclear warhead to any city on Earth. We just cannot do it. We ask all nations to isolate Iran’s regime as long as its aggression continues, and we ask all nations to support Iran’s people as they struggle to reclaim their religious and righteous destiny.

This year, we took another significant step forward in the Middle East in recognition of every sovereign state to determine its own capital. I moved the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. The United States is committed to a future of peace and stability in the region, including peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. That aim is advanced, not harmed, by acknowledging the obvious facts. America’s policy of principled realism means that we will not be held hostage to old dogmas, discredited ideologies, and so-called experts who have been proven wrong, over the years, time and time again.

Comment: These remarks were expected. They were based on Trump’s vision of Israel as the key US ally in the Middle east. However, attempts to link the relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem with the commitment to the “future of peace and stability in the region, including peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians” are surprising. It is unclear how the peace and stability could be achieved through these actions. Nonetheless, Trump once again demonstrated himself as the supporter of hard realpolitik principles and direct actions.

This is true, not only in matters of peace, but in matters of prosperity. We believe that trade must be fair and reciprocal. The United States will not be taken advantage of any longer. For decades, the United States opened its economy, the largest by far on Earth, with few conditions. We allowed foreign goods from all over the world to flow freely across our borders. Yet other countries did not grant us free and reciprocal access to their markets in return. Even worse, some countries abused their openness to dump their products, subsidize their goods, target our industries, and manipulate their currencies to gain unfair advantage over our country. As a result, our trade deficit ballooned to nearly $800 billion a year. For this reason, we are systematically renegotiating broken and bad trade deals. Last month, we announced a groundbreaking U.S.-Mexico trade agreement.

Comment: The strengthening of protectionism policies is generally consistent with Trump’s economic doctrine. Trump focuses on the revision of unfair, “broken and bad” trade deals. If Trump is re-elected, further protectionist measures in the field of the US foreign trade should be expected.

Just yesterday, I stood with President Moon to announce the successful completion of the brand-new U.S.-Korea trade deal. This is just the beginning. Many nations in this hall will agree that the world trading system is in dire need of change. For example, countries were admitted to the World Trade Organization that violate every single principle on which the organization is based.

Comment: The fact that the World Trade Organization does not work is an open secret. The organization de-facto does not pursues goals declared during its creation. Trump is right that the WTO violates “every single principle on which the organization is based.” It is important to note that the WTO gained its current form thanks to actions and policy of the previous US administrations, which were shaped by supporters of the globalists. These very powers were interested in the current state of the WTO. However, the US president that demonstrates different approaches, focusing on protectionism, the national economic development and the rationale nationalism, is not interested in such a state of the WTO.

While the United States and many other nations played by the rules, these countries use government-run industrial planning and state-owned enterprises to rig the system in their favor. They engaged in relentless product dumping, forced technology transfer, and the theft of intellectual property. The United States lost over 3 million manufacturing jobs, nearly a quarter of all steel jobs, and 60,000 factories after China joined the WTO. We have racked up $13 trillion in trade deficits over the last two decades.

But those days are over. We will no longer tolerate such abuse. We will no longer allow our workers to be victimized, our companies to be cheated, and our wealth to be plundered and transferred. America will never apologize for protecting its citizens. The United States has just announced tariffs on another $200 billion in Chinese-made goods, for a total so far of $250 billion. I have great respect and affection for my friend President Xi, but I have made clear that our trade imbalance is just not acceptable. China’s market distortions and the way they deal cannot be tolerated.

As my administration has demonstrated, America will always act in our national interests. I spoke before this body last year and warned that the UN Human Rights Council had become a grave embarrassment to this institution, shielding egregious human-rights abusers while bashing America and its many friends. Our ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, laid out a clear agenda for reform, but despite reported and repeated warnings, no action at all was taken. So the United States took the only responsible course: We withdrew from the Human Rights Council and we will not return until real reform is enacted.

For similar reasons, the United States will provide no support and recognition to the International Criminal Court. As far as America is concerned, the ICC has no jurisdiction, no legitimacy, and no authority. The ICC claims near-universal jurisdiction over the citizens of every country, violating all principles of justice, fairness, and due process.

Comment: Trump once again declares his vision of the United States as an independent sovereign state, which should be governed exclusively by the people of the United States through democratic procedures. He rejects the globalism and demonstrates that he is well aware of the nature and specifics of the processes that take place in a number of international bodies – for example, in the Human Rights Council and the International Criminal Court. He names the forces that dominate these organizations – the global bureaucracy and the associated global capital – the globalists aiming to establish the so-called New World Order. Trump makes it clear that he is a fierce opponent of this concept.

WE WILL NEVER SURRENDER AMERICA’S SOVEREIGNTY TO AN UNELECTED, UNACCOUNTABLE GLOBAL BUREAUCRACY. AMERICA IS GOVERNED BY AMERICANS. WE REJECT THE IDEOLOGY OF GLOBALISM, AND WE EMBRACE THE DOCTRINE OF PATRIOTISM. AROUND THE WORLD, RESPONSIBLE NATIONS MUST DEFEND AGAINST THREATS TO SOVEREIGNTY NOT JUST FROM GLOBAL GOVERNANCE, BUT ALSO FROM NEW FORMS OF COERCION AND DOMINATION.

Comment: These words are the culmination and the very essence of the address. Globalists will not forgive this. The next US presidential race is expected to be even tenser than the previous one. Trump could be described as a controversial person. But in this very case, he seems to be an island of sanity and a clear vision surrounded by oligarchic clans advocating globalism and the New World Order.

In America, we believe in energy security for ourselves and for our allies. We have become the largest energy producer anywhere on the face of the Earth. The United States stands ready to export our abundant, affordable supply of oil, clean coal, and natural gas. OPEC and OPEC nations are, as usual, ripping off the rest of the world, and I don’t like it. Nobody should like it. We defend many of these nations for nothing, and then they take advantage of us by giving us high oil prices. Not good. We want them to stop raising prices; we want them to start lowering prices. They must contribute substantially to military protection from now on. We are not going to put up with it, these horrible prices, much longer. Reliance on a single foreign supplier can leave a nation vulnerable to extortion and intimidation. That is why we congratulate European states such as Poland for leading the construction of a Baltic pipeline so that nations are not dependent on Russia to meet their energy needs. Germany will become totally dependent on Russian energy if it does not immediately change course.

Here in the Western Hemisphere, we are committed to maintaining our independence from the encroachment of expansionist foreign powers. It has been the formal policy of our country since President Monroe that we reject the interference of foreign nations in this hemisphere and in our own affairs. The United States has recently strengthened our laws to better screen foreign investments in our country for national-security threats. We welcome cooperation with countries in this region and around the world that wish to do the same. You need to do it for your own protection.

The United States is also working with partners in Latin America to confront threats to sovereignty from uncontrolled migration. Tolerance for human struggling and human smuggling and trafficking is not humane. It is a horrible thing that is going on, at levels that nobody has ever seen before. It is very, very cruel. Illegal immigration funds criminal networks, ruthless gangs, and the flow of deadly drugs. Illegal immigration exploits vulnerable populations and hurts hardworking citizens and has produced a vicious cycle of crime, violence, and poverty. Only by upholding national borders, destroying criminal gangs can we break the cycle and establish a real foundation for prosperity.

We recognize the right of every nation in this room to set its own immigration policy in accordance with its national interests, just as we ask other countries to respect our own right to do the same, which we are doing. That is one reason the United States will not participate in the new Global Compact on Migration. Migration should not be governed by an international body, unaccountable to our own citizens. Ultimately, the only long-term solution to the migration crisis is to help people build more hopeful futures in their home countries. Make their countries great again.

Comment: Trump’s United States would continue demonstrate the rationale protectionism and isolationism and defend the right of the nation to decide what kind of future it wants for itself.

Currently, we are witnessing a human tragedy as an example in Venezuela. More than 2 million people have fled the anguish inflicted by the socialist Maduro regime and its Cuban sponsors. Not long ago, Venezuela was one of the richest countries on earth. Today, socialism has bankrupted the oil-rich nation and driven its people into abject poverty. Virtually everywhere, socialism or communism has been tried. It has produced suffering, corruption, and decay. Socialism’s thirst for power leads to expansion, incursion, and oppression. All nations of the world should resist socialism and the misery that it brings to everyone. In that spirit, we ask the nations gathered here to join us in calling for the restoration of democracy in Venezuela. Today, we are announcing additional sanctions against the repressive regime, targeting Maduro’s inner circle and close advisers.

We are grateful for all of the work the United Nations does around the world to help people build better lives for themselves and their families. The United States is the world’s largest giver in the world by far of foreign aid. But few give anything to us. That is why we are taking a hard look at U.S. foreign assistance. That will be headed up by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. We will examine what is working, what is not working, and whether the countries who receive our dollars and our protection also have our interests at heart. Moving forward, we are only going to give foreign aid to those who respect us and, frankly, are our friends. We expect other countries to pay their fair share for the cost of their defense.

The United States is committed to making the United Nations more effective and accountable. I have said many times that the United Nations has unlimited potential. As part of our reform effort, I have told our negotiators that the United States will not pay more than 25 percent of the UN peacekeeping budget.

Comment: The US president just mocked international bodies in his unique style. He declared support to their actions, but said that he would not give them money.

This will encourage other countries to step up, get involved, and also share in this very large burden. We are working to shift more of our funding from assessed contributions to voluntary so that we can target American resources to the programs with the best record of success. Only when we each of us does our part and contributes our share can we realize the United Nations’ highest aspirations. We must pursue peace without fear, hope without despair, and security without apology.

Looking around this hall, where so much history has transpired, we think of the many before us who have come here to address the challenges of their nations and of their times. Our thoughts turn to the same question that ran through all of their speeches and resolutions, through every word and every hope. It is the question of, what kind of world will we leave for our children and what kind of nations they will inherit. The dreams that fill this hall today are as diverse as the people who have stood at this podium, and as varied as the countries represented right here, in this body, are. It really is something. It really is great, great history.

There is India, a free society over a billion people, successfully lifting countless millions out of poverty and into the middle class. There is Saudi Arabia, where King Salman and the crown prince are pursuing bold new reforms. There is Israel, proudly celebrating its 70th anniversary as a thriving democracy in the Holy Land. In Poland, the great people are standing up for their independence, their security, and their sovereignty.

Comment: The list of ‘successful and democratic’ nations named by Mr. Trump is especially interesting and funny. He said that India is “a free society over a billion people, successfully lifting countless millions out of poverty and into the middle class”. But he somehow forgot to mention that India is the state with one of the highest levels of social inequality. In fact, India is in the list because it’s the main regional competitor of China, the US is draining brains from the Indian nation, and India is a prospective market for the US industry, mainly the military industrial complex.

Saudi Arabia and Israel are the united Middle Eastern family of the traditional US allies. Their economies are incorporated into the US economy.

As to Poland, this state is currently one of the main political and economic competitors of Germany within the EU and thus the US ally. At the same time, Washington sees Poland as a deterrent force against Russia. Besides this, Poland has been acting as an agent working in interests of the Anglo-Saxon world in Europe.

Many countries are pursuing their own unique visions, building their own hopeful futures, and chasing their own wonderful dreams of destiny, of legacy, and of a home. The whole world is richer. Humanity is better because of this beautiful constellation of nations, each very special, each very unique, each shining brightly in its part of the world. In each one, we see also promise of a people bound together by a shared past and working toward a common future.

As for Americans, we know what kind of future we want for ourselves. We know what kind of a nation America must always be. In America, we believe in the majesty of freedom and the dignity of the individual. We believe in self-government and the rule of law. We prize the culture that sustains our liberty, a culture built on strong families, deep faith, and fierce independence. We celebrate our heroes, we treasure our traditions, and, above all, we love our country. Inside everyone in this great chamber today, and everyone listening all around the globe, there is the heart of a patriot that feels the same powerful love for your nation, the same intense loyalty to your homeland, the passion that burns in the hearts of patriots and the souls of nations has inspired reform and revolution, sacrifice and selflessness, scientific breakthroughs and magnificent works of art.

Our task is not to erase it, but to embrace it—to build with it, to draw on its ancient wisdom, and to find within it the will to make our nations greater, our regions safer, and the world better. To unleash this incredible potential in our people, we must defend the foundations that make it all possible. Sovereign and independent nations are the only vehicle where freedom has ever survived, democracy has ever endured, or peace has ever prospered. And so we must protect our sovereignty and our cherished independence above all. When we do, we will find new avenues for cooperation unfolding before us. We will find new passion for peacemaking rising within us. We will find new purpose, new resolve, and new spirit flourishing all around us, and making this a more beautiful world in which to live.

Together, let us choose a future of patriotism, prosperity, and pride. Let us choose peace and freedom over domination and defeat. Let us come here to this place to stand for our people and their nations.

Comment: These are great words. Nonetheless, we kindly ask Mr. Trump to reveal the list of nations that would have a right able to achieve this “future of patriotism, prosperity, and pride”, according to his vision.

Forever strong, forever sovereign, forever just. Forever thankful for the grace and the goodness and the glory of God. Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the nations of the world. Thank you very much.

***

In the end, it is also interesting to note that Mr. Trump has almost fully ignored the so-called ‘Russian threat’ in his address. He mentioned Russia once when talked about the US interests in the European energy market and the German-Russian relations. However, there was no criticism aimed against Russia in general. Furthermore, the US President fully ignored the Ukraine question demonstrating his real stance towards the conflict.

Over the past days, the Trump administration has sent signals that it is not going to fund Ukraine just because it’s allegedly engaged in the “war with Russia”. Furthermore, Washington demonstrates that it is not interested in the further escalation of the situation in the region.

How pervasive is Saudi penetration of western political systems?

Padraig McGrath, political analyst

When the Royal Marines seized the Iranian-owned Grace 1 supertanker off Gibraltar on July 4th, then British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt hailed the seizure as a sign that Iran had “no place to hide.” On July 19th, when the Iranian government retaliated by authorizing the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps to seize the Swedish-owned, British-registered tanker Stena Impero in Hormuz, Hunt described it as an act of “state-piracy.”

Now, at first glance, this looks like just another tedious example of the blatant double-standards which we’ve come to expect from western politicians in relation to non-vassal states, and it is certainly that. This is not the first article in which I have drawn attention to Hunt’s tendency to practice blatant double-standards such as these. However, it has subsequently transpired that Jeremy Hunt’s recent campaign for the leadership of the British Conservative Party was largely financed by a close associate of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman. The South African banker and philanthropist Ken Costa has been described in some quarters as Bin Salman’s “point-man” in the UK.

Or bagman, if you prefer.

It is unsurprising, then, that Hunt publicly bats for Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) at every available opportunity, for example in deflecting criticism regarding the Saudi role in the precipitation of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, and also in consistently demonstrating hostility toward Iran.

On August 7th, US Energy Secretary Rick Perry met with Saudi Minister for Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources Khalid Al-Falih. They are reported to have discussed ways of countering what they see as Iranian attempts to “destabilize” world-oil markets, with Al-Falih indicating that KSA favours the policy of increasing oil-production to moderate any surges in the world-price of crude.

Well, when the US withdraws from the JCPOA as a pretext for unilaterally imposing new sanctions on Iranian oil, “destabilization” is inevitable, but there wouldn’t be any point in making that argument to someone to whom it was not already self-evident.

It turns out that Perry also has a lot of Saudi grit under his fingernails. The US Senate House Oversight Committee has just published a report which is extremely critical of Perry’s role in advocacy for the sale of nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia. Attempts have been made by IP3, an energy-consulting firm, to persuade the US Department of Energy to facilitate the sale without requiring the Saudis to sign a Section 123 agreement, which would be a commitment regarding the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Can you imagine Saudi Arabia with nuclear weapons?

Not that these dubious Saudi entanglements mark the Trump administration in particular, of course. Enormous Saudi funding for the Clinton Foundation prior to 2016 was well documented. During Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State, US arms-sales to Saudi Arabia increased by 97%, including a $29.4 billion sale of over 80 F-15 fighters to KSA, and her 2016 campaign-manager John Podesta’s consulting firm was paid $140,000 per month to lobby on behalf of the KSA government. The Clinton Foundation itself also received about $10 billion in donations from the Saudi government while Clinton was Secretary of State.

And let’s not even talk about the Bush family’s history with the Saudis.

So we see, then, that the level of penetration which the Saudi government has achieved in the west’s political systems transcends both nationalities and ideological boundaries. British and American hostility toward the Islamic Republic of Iran is usually analyzed as being primarily ideologically driven. This interpretation is certainly valid on a number of levels.

The Iranian Islamic revolution has been one of the most stunningly resilient and successful anti-colonial movements in history, and therefore many imperial strategists see it as an imperative that the Islamic revolution must be crushed, not simply in order for Iran’s immense natural resources to be looted as they were before 1979, but also for the same strategic-ideological reasons that the western geo-strategic perspective has historically seen it as an imperative that all revolutionary societies be crushed.

Furthermore, we can discern a deeper ideological confluence between Saudi Wahhabism and liberal universalism, currently the Occident’s dominant (but rapidly decaying) ideological paradigm. Both are rooted in 18th century excessively transcendental thought, in an explicitly ahistorical, anti-historical or post-historical way of thinking. Both explicitly reject historical comparison or collective historical experience as a normative basis for the evaluation of social, political, ideological or ethical questions.

While the French philosophes of the 18th century sought to ground their worldview in something which they called “pure reason,” unburdened by any considerations of historical embeddedness or context (a form of philosophical naiveté thankfully not shared by any of the most notable figures in the German enlightenment), Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab sought to rediscover a “pure” version of Islam, unburdened by the allegorical Koranic hermeneutics of sophisticated Persian intellectuals.

In an Inforos column on August 1st, my colleague Sarah Abed argued that the United States’ ultimate objective in Iran remains regime-change, hence the willingness to use any spurious pretext whatsoever in order to re-impose sanctions. She argues that there is a strategy of continuing to economically pressure the Iranian state until it collapses in its current form.

I certainly agree with this analysis, but in breaking down the various motivating factors behind it, our broadly justified emphasis on ideological and geo-strategic issues sometimes blinds us to the role of straightforward corruption and influence-peddling in the process. Saudi financial power has led to a situation wherein KSA exerts very arguably more influence on the foreign policies of western governments than any other foreign entity.

Paranoid liberal fantasies about the Kremlin’s influence in subverting the internal political processes of western countries used to make us laugh, but by now they are simply tedious, and paranoid fantasies about pervasive Israeli influence are almost as tedious. We overlook the point that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has arguably more raw bribery-power than any other nation-state.

Source: InfoBrics

Defrauding Americans for a Living

 

defrauding.jpg

by Eve Mykytyn and Gilad Atzmon

Binary options fraud flourished in Israel for years before the industry was gradually outlawed by the Knesset which first made binary options illegal only for Israeli investors. Finally, in 2017 the Knesset managed to ban the sale of binary options altogether (with a three month grace period). The legislation followed superb  investigative reporting by The Times of Israel that began with a March 2016 article entitled “The Wolves of Tel Aviv.” At its peak, thousands of Israelis were employed by hundreds of Israeli companies engaged in the fraud.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ls04sJh1e58

Despite the fact that an Israeli industry was defrauding Americans and Europeans, the American and European press have remained quiet about it. The US media has barely reported on the FBI ‘s arrest  or the trial of Lee Elbaz, CEO of Yukom Communications Ltd, an Israeli company accused of defrauding American investors out of millions of dollars. Maybe it is too much for the American MSM to advertise that a state that is pumped with billions of dollars of American taxpayers’ money gives little in return and ran an industry designed to separate Americans from their savings.

Apparently the Hebrew press also ignored the issue. Maybe this is because, after spring 2016, only  non Israelis were being defrauded. Perhaps the Israeli press was intimidated. After breaking the story, The Times of Israel was subjected to a ‘welter of legal and illegal threats’ and intimidation some of which were delivered by Israel’s most prestigious law firms no doubt paid for by the billions scammed.

The Times of Israel once again brought to our attention the trial of Lee Elbaz that is presently before a jury in Maryland.

The Times of Israel reports that In closing arguments on August 1, prosecutor L. Rush Atkinson described Elbaz as someone who lied to investors about their chances of making money and lied about their ability to withdraw money once they had deposited it. If an investor came to understand that he had been duped or wanted his money returned for whatever reason, his money was suddenly unavailable.

 A defense attorney said Elbaz did not condone the fraudulent tactics used by employees who worked under her supervision. Federal prosecutors alleged that far from being unaware of the fraud her employees were committing, Elbaz directed her sales agents to lie over the phone in addition to lying herself.

“In her own words, she was ‘a money-making machine.’ She was the center of a devastating fraud,” Atkinson said. “Her workers couldn’t remember a single client who withdrew the money they invested,” he added.

Elbaz’s defense attorney Barry Pollack displayed some pilpul* sophistry suggesting in his closing argument that being a “money-making machine” is not a crime.

Pollack is correct, some would even argue that making money is a mitzvah, yet making money by means of fraud is a crime even when the American press is too embarrassed to report about it.

Pollack argued that Elbaz had drawn that line at a place she thought was proper, based on a ‘legal opinion’ offered by David Bitton, lawyer for Yukom Communications. Bitton had opined that under Israeli law it is not illegal for a business to lie unless that lie is specifically about the product they are selling. Did Bitton affirm that lying for the cause is a kosher procedure, at least in Israel? You can sell products under fake name. You can fake your credential and even invent your past as long as you don’t lie about your  (non existent) product.

Asked by her attorney whether she thought it was wrong to use a fake name when interacting with investors, Elbaz replied: “No. I saw a legal opinion that it was allowed and I was asked by the broker to do it and also not to say we are from Israel; some people don’t like it [for anti-Semitic reasons].”

For those with short memories, this is the second time we’ve  learned this month that Jews should be allowed to lie about their identity and even fake their passports because of anti-Semitism. ‘Explaining’ the fake Passport found in Jeffrey Epstein’s house his defense lawyer Marc Fernich wrote: “Some Jewish-Americans were informally advised at the time to carry identification bearing a non-Jewish name when traveling internationally in case of hijacking.”

“Did you know your employees used fake names?” prosecuting attorney Henry Van Dyck asked. “We were asked by our broker not to expose Israeli names, and anti-Semitic-wise we are Jewish, working with people who don’t like it.”

“Some names are difficult to pronounce,” she added, offering this as another reason that employees used what she referred to as stage names.

“Why did Austin Smith need a fake name?” asked Van Dyck. “What about Oren Montgomery?”

“It’s hard to pronounce,” she replied.

“Harder to pronounce than Bill Shneizer?” he asked, referring to the pseudonym used by an employee named Oren Montgomery.

Prosecutor Caitlin Cottingham said that far from being harmless lies, the fake names and locations Elbaz and other used were essential to the alleged scheme, and used for a simple reason. “They used fake names because they didn’t want to get caught,” she said.

Or maybe the Israeli employees were asked to hide their Jewish names, not because their clients were potentially ‘anti-Semitic’ but because this entire operation evokes bad memories of the wolves of Wall Street.

* Pilpul – a method of Talmudic disputation among rabbinical scholars regarding the interpretation of notions, actions, rules, principles and  Scriptures.

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How is it possible that the Right Wing Fox News asks all the right questions?

The answer is devastatingly simple: truth often interferes with the Left and Progressive’s worldview. It is then suppressed so it fits with a vision of correctness.

I delved into this question at length in my latest book: Being in Time – a Post Political Manifesto:

Traditional Left Ideology sets out a vision of how the world ought to be. The ‘Left’ view can be summed up as the belief that social justice is the primary requirement for improving the world, and this better future entails the pursuit of equality in various forms. The Left ideologist believes that it is universally both ethical and moral to attempt to approach equality in terms of civil rights and material wealth.

But if the Left focuses on ‘what could be,’ the Right focuses on ‘what is.’ If the Left operates where people could be, the Right operates where people ‘are’ or at least, where they believe themselves to be. The Right does not aim to change human social reality but rather to celebrate, and to even maximize it. The Right is also concerned with rootedness that is often nostalgic and even romanticised.

The Left yearns for equality, but for the Right, the human landscape is diverse and multi-layered, with inequality not just tolerated but accepted as part of the human condition, a natural part of our social, spiritual and material world. Accordingly, Right ideology encompasses a certain degree of biological determination and even Social Darwinism. It is enthralled by the powerful, and cruel, evolutionary principle of the ‘survival of the fittest.’ For the Right ideologue, it is the ‘will to survive’ and even to attain power that makes social interactions exciting. It is that very struggle that brings humanity and humanism to life.

So, the traditional debate between Right and Left can loosely be summarized as the tension between equality and reality. The Right ideologue argues that, while the Left’s attempt to flatten the curve of human social reality in the name of equality may be ethically genuine and noble, it is nonetheless naive and erroneous.

Illusion vs Insomnia

Left ideology is like a dream. Aiming for what ‘ought to be’ rather than ‘what is’, it induces a level of utopian illusory detachment and depicts a phantasmal egalitarian world far removed from our abusive, oppressive and doomed reality. In this phantasmic future, people will just drift away from greed and gluttony, they will work less and learn to share, even to share that which they may not possess to start with.

This imaginary ‘dream’ helps explain why the (Western) Left ideology rarely appealed to the struggling classes, the masses who, consumed by the pursuit of bread and butter, were hardly going to be interested in utopian ‘dreams’ or futuristic social experiments. Bitten by the daily struggle and chased by existence, working people have never really subscribed to ‘the revolution’ usually because often they were just too busy working. This perhaps explains why so often it was the middle class agitators and bourgeois who became revolutionary icons. It was they who had access to that little bit extra to fund their revolutionary adventures.

The ‘Left dream’ is certainly appealing, perhaps a bit too appealing. Social justice, equality and even revolution may really be nothing but the addictive rush of effecting change and this is perhaps why hard-core Leftist agitators often find it impossible to wake from their social fantasy. They simply refuse to admit that reality has slipped from their grasp, preferring to remain in their cosy phantasmal universe, shielded by ghetto walls built of archaic terminology and political correctness.

In fact, the more appealing and convincing the revolutionary fantasy is, the less its supporters are willing to face reality, assuming they’re capable of doing so. This blindness helps explain why the Western ideological Left has failed on so many fronts. It was day-dreaming when the service economy was introduced, and it did not awaken when production and manufacturing were eviscerated. It yawned when it should have combatted corporate culture, big money and its worship, and it dozed when higher education became a luxury. The Left was certainly snoring noisily when, one after the other, its institutions were conquered by New Left Identitarian politics. So, rather than being a unifying force that could have made us all – workers, Black, women, Jews, gays etc. – into an unstoppable force in the battle against big capital, the Left became a divisionary factor, fighting amongst itself. But it wasn’t really the ideologues’ and activists’ fault; the failure to adapt to reality is a flaw tragically embedded in the Left’s very fantasised nature.

If I am right, it is these intrinsically idealistic and illusory characteristics that doom Left politics to failure. In short, that which makes the Left dream so appealing is also responsible for the Left being delusional and ineffectual. But how else could it be? How could such a utopian dream be sustained? I suspect that for Left politics to prevail, humanity would have to fly in the face of the human condition.

And what of the Right? If the Left appears doomed to failure, has the Right succeeded at all? As opposed to the ‘dreamy’ Left, the Right is consumed by reality and ‘concretisation.’ In the light of the globalized, brutal, hard capitalist world in which we live, traditionally conservative laissez-faire seems a naive, nostalgic, peaceful and even poetic thought.

While the Left sleeps, Right-wing insomnia has become a universal disease which has fuelled the new world order with its self-indulgence and greed. How can anyone sleep when there’s money to be made? This was well understood by Martin Scorsese who, in his The Wolf of Wall Street, depicts an abusive culture of sex, cocaine and amphetamine consumption at the very heart of the American capitalist engine. Maybe such persistent greed can be only maintained by addled, drug-induced and over-stimulated brains.

Rejection of fantasy, commitment to the concrete (or shall we say, the search for ‘being’ or ‘essence,’) positions the Right alongside German philosophy. The German idealists’ philosophical endeavour attempts to figure out the essence of things. From a German philosophical perspective, the question ‘what is (the essence of) beauty?’ is addressed by aesthetics. The question ‘what is (the essence of) being?’ is addressed by metaphysics. The questions: ‘what are people, what is their true nature, root and destiny?’ are often dealt with by Right-wing ideologists. It is possible that the deep affinity between Right ideology and German philosophy explains the spiritual and intellectual continuum between

German philosophy and German Fascism. It may also explain why Martin Heidegger, one of the most important philosophers in the last millennium, was, for a while at least, a National Socialist enthusiast.

The Right’s obsession with the true nature of things may explain its inclination towards nostalgia on one hand and Darwinist ideologies on the other. Right ideology can be used to support expansionism and imperialism at one time, and isolationism and pacifism at another. Right ideology is occasionally in favour of immigration as good for business, yet can also take the opposite position, calling for protection of its own interests by sealing the borders. The Right can provide war with logos and can give oppression a dialectical as well as ‘scientific’ foundation. Sometimes, a conflict may be justified by ‘growing demand’ and ‘expanding markets.’ Other times, one race is chosen to need living space at the expense of another.

The Right is sceptical about the prospects for social mobility. For the Right thinker, the slave* is a slave because his subservient nature is determined biologically, psychologically or culturally. In the eyes of the Left, such views are ‘anti-humanist’ and unacceptable. The Left would counter this essentialist determinism with a wide range of environmental, materialist, cultural criticism and post- colonial studies that produce evidence that slaves do liberate themselves eventually. And the Right would challenge this belief by asking ‘do they really?’ ( Being in Time – a Post Political Manifesto pg. 13-17)

* I refer here to the slave in an Hegelian metaphorical way rather than literally.

Venezuela Facing Western Hypocrisy

By Hussein Samawarchi

A few months after the brutal torture and execution of Imam Muhammad Baqir Al-Sadr, Saddam Hussein gave the order to attack Iran. Imam Al-Sadr represented a peaceful opposition wave against dictatorship. The popular cleric used literature as a way of mending what was wrong. For that, he was made to watch his own sister being tortured and killed while, according to witnesses, the political prisoner was beaten with metal cables until his body was covered with cuts everywhere. Then, the torturers dragged him through acid before hammering an iron nail into his head.

When Saddam invaded Iran, the western world rallied behind him. The butcher of opposition leaders received support from diplomats who published books about ethical politics as their countries shipped to him one load after another of weapons. No one who lived through that era could forget Iraq’s Exocet missiles.

If Saddam is old news now, if something more contemporary exposing western hypocrisy is favored, the event that took place in Turkey last October might do.

A team of sloppy assassins was dispatched to Istanbul. They waited for a public figure in his country’s consulate to which he was sent by none other than the brother of the current crown prince of Saudi Arabia. Jamal Khashoggi might have been a controversial personality due to his historical affiliations with fanatic movements, links with Taliban, and statements that don’t abide by journalistic objectivity norms. But he spoke through western media and therefore deserved western protection. The man was cut to pieces after being subdued and drugged. It is still not clear if the drug used rendered him unconscious during the horrific act or just paralyzed him so he could witness and feel his arms and legs being sawn-off.

The world heard a lot of condemnations and denouncements. Still, at the end of the day, not one ambassador took part in a public display of support to a journalist who was merely hinting to the need for reform in his country.

Juan Guaidó returned to Venezuela after 10 days of prancing around with his people’s enemies. He violated the constitution by declaring himself president, broke the law by traveling, instigated popular violence, cooperated with hostile foreign powers, and initiated a contraband operation on a large scale from Colombia. The renegade politician was neither dragged in acid nor dismembered. He was allowed to enter Venezuela with strict orders from President Maduro that no one would obstruct his way.

The sight of the all those foreign ambassadors welcoming the man that Mike Pence views as an American investment gives a sufficient idea of who are the stakeholders in the future distribution of Venezuelan petroleum shares should the coup being staged by Trump’s gang succeed. It’s an indication for the minority of Venezuelan people who think riches will pour in if the country is handed over to American puppets. Do they not realize that every entity which recognized Guaidó as interim president will become their partner in their national wealth?

This is the level of degradation that the western political scene has reached. Ambassadors did not react when public figures were mutilated to death but ran to the airport to welcome a man who says “A la orden jefe” to John Bolton.

There is nothing wrong in forming an opposition; actually, it’s a basic requirement for a sound democratic political system. The opposing politicians’ main duty is to act as performance auditors and highlight the ruling party’s shortcomings which, inevitably, leads to the improvement of the country and the standard of living. What they don’t do is collude with foreign powers to surrender the country’s wealth. What they don’t do is act as internal agents in a hunger campaign against their own people. And what they definitely don’t do is sell their integrity knowing that they are public servants and that integrity represents their constituency.

The topic of Venezuela is not a discussion of a mere Latin American country. Rather, a modern-day political epidemic suffered by many states. It has to do with the injection of malicious agents into a national body while this body is battered with sanctions preventing it from acquiring the necessary antibiotics and nutrition. Syria recovered, Yemen is recovering, and Venezuela is following suit. Patriotism is the remedy and it is abundant in this proud Bolivarian state.

What if al-Aqsa Mosque caught fire?

It is doubtful in today’s US-dominated world that anyone would rally to its cause, as they did for Notre Dame
Palestinians gather at al-Aqsa Mosque compound in June 2018 (AFP)

On 15 April, a devastating fire broke out at France’s famous Notre Dame Cathedral.

In the course of the conflagration, the church’s distinctive 93-metre medieval spire and two thirds of its roof were destroyed. Had it not been for the tireless efforts of French firefighters, who fought day and night to extinguish the blaze, the damage would have been far more extensive.

For days, the story was front-page news in Western countries, and media outlets were saturated with expert analyses of the cathedral’s history, architecture and significance.

Symbol of national identity

There is no doubt that Notre Dame, dating from 1163, is a Gothic masterpiece and a Parisian landmark. It is a symbol of France and of Roman Catholicism, even though France is an officially secular state that prides itself on what it calls laicité. Church and state were formally separated in 1905.

But that did not stop crowds of people from singing hymns in a vigil near the stricken cathedral and marching in its honour. Paris’s deputy mayor of tourism and sports joined others in creating a human chain to save the ancient relics held inside the cathedral.

For Palestinians, al-Aqsa is their very own possession – a symbol of Arab historical continuity in a city claimed by non-Arabs

Notre Dame is today not just a religious monument, but a symbol of French national identity. For that reason, the French president quickly took on the responsibility of rebuilding the cathedral, and French billionaires and businesses have already pledged more than €700 million ($787m) towards that goal.

In recognition of that nationalist bond, many western states, from Australia to Europe, hastened to send their condolences to President Emmanuel Macron. Japan, Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan did the same.

In the United States, the One World Trade Centre and the Empire State Building were lit up in the tricolour of the French flag, and the governor of New York pledged his city’s solidarity with the people of France.

Sacred character

What if a similar fate overtook al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem? This building is older than Notre Dame, built by the Umayyad caliphs in the eighth century, and has a long, rich history. The mosque was hit by earthquakes in 746 and 1033 and rebuilt each time; taken over by crusaders in 1099 and reclaimed by Saladin in 1187; then remained under Muslim rule until the war of 1967, when it came under Israel’s control.

Muslims everywhere revere this mosque. It is the third holiest place after the mosques of Mecca and Medina. Many associations bind al-Aqsa to Muslim religious sentiment.

Palestinians pray at al-Aqsa Mosque compound in May 2018 (AFP)
Palestinians pray at al-Aqsa Mosque compound in May 2018 (AFP)

Interpreted as the place referenced in the Isra verse in the Quran, al-Aqsa has taken on a sacred character, and is traditionally associated with the Prophet Muhammad’s miraculous night journey to Jerusalem. Its spiritual significance for Muslims is hard to overstate. Jerusalem was Islam’s first qibla, or direction of prayer, and it has been an important place of pilgrimage ever since.

For Palestinians, al-Aqsa is their very own possession – a symbol of Arab historical continuity in a city claimed by non-Arabs, and an affirmation of Arab identity in an anti-Arab environment. Though it stands beside what is claimed to be the site of the now-vanished Jewish Second Temple, it is the only concrete historical building in that place.

No assaults by religious Jewish groups claiming rights to the mosque can alter this reality, nor have Israel’s constant excavations to detect a trace of Jewish history at the site since 1967 produced that evidence.

The case of the 1969 fire

What if this unique building, so meaningful for the 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide, succumbed to fire, or collapsed after Israel’s archaeological digs weakened its ancient foundations?

Would the Arab and Islamic world rise up as one? Would Israel, the de facto custodian of Jerusalem’s holy places, be made accountable? Would world leaders rush to rebuild the mosque or to help the Palestinian people?

The struggle for al-Aqsa: Palestinians have ‘no one but God to help them’

Read More »

We have a preliminary answer in the case of the fire that burned Saladin’s minbar inside al-Aqsa Mosque in 1969. Denis Michael Rohan, an evangelical Christian Australian, started a fire in the mosque to try to destroy it, aiming to clear the way for the Jewish Temple to be rebuilt in its place, thus hastening Christ’s second coming. The incident led to the establishment of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

Jordan’s representative to the UN presented letters of protest over the fire at al-Aqsa. These came from just 17 states, and a further 58 letters came from NGOs, Muslim religious bodies, other Muslim groups and Muslim individuals around the world. They called on the UN to intervene to protect the holy site from Israel’s occupation.

An orphan without allies

The Western response to the fire at al-Aqsa was muted. None displayed solidarity with Palestinians or Muslims, and no effective action was taken by the UN.

In the 50 years since the fire at al-Aqsa, Israel has only increased its hold on Jerusalem’s holy places. In 2017, it illegally installed turnstiles and metal detectors at the entrances to al-Haram al-Sharif, although they were subsequently removed. Religious settlers are now regularly allowed to march through al-Aqsa compound, threaten Muslim worshippers, and perform Jewish religious ceremonies.

Al-Aqsa Mosque is no less a religious and nationalist symbol for Arabs and Muslims than Notre Dame is for the French

Al-Aqsa Mosque is no less a religious and nationalist symbol for Arabs and Muslims than Notre Dame is for the French. But if it burned down, it is doubtful in today’s US-dominated world – and given Arab and Islamic weakness – that anyone would rally to its cause. Only the Palestinians who live there would go on fighting to defend it.

Like them, this wonderful Islamic icon is an orphan in a world without allies.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Ghada Karmi
Ghada Karmi is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter. She was born in Jerusalem and was forced to leave her home with her family as a result of Israel’s creation in 1948. The family moved to England in 1949, where she grew up and was educated. Karmi practised as a doctor for many years working as a specialist in the health of migrants and refugees. From 1999 to 2001 Karmi was an Associate Fellow of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, where she led a major project on Israel-Palestinian reconciliation. In 2009, she became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Is May Scared of Putin? British Showing Double Standards Over Russia

British Prime Minister Theresa May © Getty Images

Ken Livingstone
Ken Livingstone is an English politician, he served as the Mayor of London between 2000 and 2008. He is also a former MP and a former member of the Labour Party.
Although Saudi Arabia admitted weeks ago that its staff murdered Jamal Khashoggi, the UK hasn’t imposed sanctions on the Riyadh government. In stark contrast, when it comes to sanctioning Russia, London never lacks enthusiasm.

While no punishment has been inflicted on the Saudi government and no diplomats were expelled over the murder of the journalist in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, we have still got Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May demanding action against President Putin’s government because of recent conflict with Ukraine.

Even though it is now nine months since the attempted murder of the Skripals in Salisbury, there has still been no conclusive evidence that President Putin’s government was involved in any way. So why does Britain’s prime minister have such a double standard in how she handles events? She cannot really believe that Russia is going to go to war against the West, but there seems an absolute determination to see the removal of Putin’s government.

To understand this hysteria about Putin we need to look at the history of Russia since the disintegration of the Soviet Union back in 1991. Once Boris Yeltsin had seized power one of his first actions was to bring in a group of economists from the neo-liberal Institute of Economic Affairs which is based in London.

The result of Yeltsin adopting the neo-liberal economic agenda was effectively the looting of Russia’s economy with devastating effects on the Russian people. There was widespread support from the US government for Yeltsin’s policy with the so-called Wolfowitz Doctrine which spelt out that no nation must ever again be allowed to rise to the stature of the Soviet Union and there should now be a unipolar world under the domination of the United States.

The looting of Russia’s economy was finally stopped and the neo-liberalist economists thrown out when Vladimir Putin was elected president in 2000 and began the reversal of the destruction of Russia’s industries. Putin firmly rejected the Wolfowitz Doctrine which led to several insurgencies in Russia’s Caucasus which Moscow suspected had the backing and instigation of British intelligence.

Although President Trump seems uncertain about what his policy should be towards Russia and China, his vice-president Mike Pence has no doubts. On October 4, Pence made a speech at the Hudson Institute in which he strongly denounced China. The host was Mike Pillsbury, a consultant with the US Department of Defense, who has a long involvement in America’s policy towards China. He said that Pence’s speech represents a “significant influential minority around Trump, but not a government wide position. There is a rising influence in Trump’s administration, by those who wish to provoke conflict with both China and Russia with its members still committed to the neoconservative doctrine of America’s global predominance.

Similar views have been expressed by Trump’s National Security Advisor John Bolton, who has constantly urged a hard line towards China and Russia. Bolton has opposed Trump’s policy towards North Korea and has been a key player in persuading Trump to get the USA to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which had been agreed between Reagan and Gorbachev in 1987.

READ MORE: Business as usual: US INF pullout will delight arms industry as it threatens to reignite Cold War

To build support for this hostility to Putin’s administration the Western media has been filled with lies about the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Up until 2014 there was a good relationship between Putin and the directly-elected president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych. That year Yanukovych announced a delay in reaching an economic agreement with the European Union because he wished to ensure it did not damage Ukraine’s economic relations with its biggest trading partner, Russia.

Almost immediately right-wing demonstrators started protesting in Kiev’s central square. These protests quickly evolved into violent clashes with radical nationalists and paramilitary groups echoing the fascist ideology of Stepan Bandera, chanting Nazi and racist slogans and demanding the ethnic cleansing of Russians from Ukraine.

No-one will be surprised that Britain, the US and EU officials supported the coup, and there is little doubt that Western intelligence agencies had been up to their necks in encouraging these far-right groups ever since the end of WWII.

Nowhere in the Western media do we see honest reporting about the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. It is never mentioned that during the WWII, as Russian troops drove the Nazis out of Ukraine, many Ukrainians fought side-by-side with the Nazis against Stalin’s troops. This long-standing conflict has recently erupted following the Kerch Strait crisis.

The Western press constantly repeats the story that Russia has seized three Ukrainian ships in the Black Sea and their crews and dismisses Russia’s claim that these ships had illegally entered Russian waters. President Putin pointed out that “it was without a doubt, a provocation. It was organised by the president ahead of the elections. The president is in fifth place ratings-wise and therefore had to do something. It was used as pretext to introduce martial law.”

The Russian newspaper Izvestia cited sources in Ukraine’s leadership saying that they have been trying to persuade the US (unsuccessfully) to open a military base in Ukraine. The report cannot be confirmed but could well be true.

I believe that Ukraine’s President Poroshenko is deliberately talking up the so-called threat from Russia because at the elections in March he seems doomed to lose. But his imposition of martial law in several parts of Ukraine could be used to rig the forthcoming election and he has warned of the risk of full-scale war, claiming to have detected a build up of Russian tanks on the border which overlooks the fact that Moscow moved army units closer to the border four years ago.

The hardliners in Trump’s administration want him to increase his support for NATO and Kiev, while Ukraine itself wishes to become a member of the organization which would mean the frontier of the military alliance coming right up to the border of Russia.

Poroshenko has also claimed that Putin is planning to annex Ukraine. On November 29, he told the German newspaper Bild “Don’t believe Putin’s lies. Putin wants the old Russian empire back. Crimea, Donbass, the whole country… He believes his empire cannot function without Ukraine. He sees us as his colony.

Poroshenko has been pushing for the West to increase economic sanctions against Russia and urged Germany’s Angela Merkel to drop a plan to cooperate with Russia on building a new gas pipeline. Poroshenko warned this would make the EU dependent on Russian energy and reduce Ukraine’s sales to the EU via its existing pipeline.

Given the enfeebled state of Ukraine’s economy it’s hard to see how Russia could benefit by taking it over. Back in August, in my first column for RT, I spelt out the truth about the history of tensions between Russia and Ukraine. From the beginning of the Soviet Union under Lenin, Crimea had never been a part of Ukraine and over ninety percent of its population were Russians. It was only in 1954 that Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev changed the boundary to include Crimea in Ukraine.

After the overthrow of Ukraine’s government in 2014 the vast majority of Crimean residents decided to opt out of Ukraine and reunite with the Russia they had been part of for centuries before Khrushchev’s arbitrary decision. The whole of the Western media was screaming that Russia had gone to war to seize Crimea and this led to the US, UK and other European states imposing sanctions against Russia without recognising the right of Crimea’s people of to determine their own future.

Given the number of US satellites that circle the planet, spying around the world, it is surprising that America hasn’t been able to reveal the truth about whether or not Ukraine’s three ships deliberately crossed the boundary into Russian waters on November 25.

As Putin pointed out “Military vessels intruded into Russian territorial waters and did not answer [the border guards]… What were they supposed to do?” he said at a business forum in Moscow. “They would do the same in your country, this is absolutely obvious,” he told a foreign investor. “These territorial waters were always ours even before Crimea joined Russia.

As I wrote in my first article for RT, my generation was lied to all our lives about the so-called threat from the Soviet Union, so don’t be surprised if I don’t always believe what our prime ministers tell us.

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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.

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