Good point: Lavrov Deep-Fries Merkel: US Tapped Your Phone, But You’re Whining About ‘Russian Hacking’?

Lavrov Deep-Fries Merkel: US Tapped Your Phone, But You’re Whining About ‘Russian Hacking’?

Russia’s Foreign Minister points out the obvious. Again.

A gentleman and a scholar
A gentleman and a scholar
It’s not even up for debate — Sergei Lavrov is in a league of his own. Russia’s Foreign Minister mutilates NATO press releases  in his sleep and eats Washington soundbites for breakfast — no salt.

As you are well aware, Sergei dropped a payload of painful truth on Mike Pence’s smug, smarmy face during the Munich Security Conference on Saturday. But that was just a warm-up. Pence is a small fish in a big ocean of idiots.

On the sidelines of the Munich conference, Lavrov participating in a meeting with top diplomats from the Normandy Four (Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine).

Angela Merkel used this opportunity to lecture Lavrov and the rest of the audience about the dangers of Russian hacking.

You think Lavrov just sat there and took it on the chin? No. When it was his turn to speak, he reminded the entire world that Angela Merkel’s phones were tapped by her “ally”, and that this is a confirmed fact, and that Angela Merkel is a sad puppet:

The German story was shown to be a fact. You know when it happened, several years ago. It was confirmed that top officials had had their phones tapped. And the other day there was a leak showing that the 2012 presidential election campaign in France coincided with cyber-espianage on the part of the CIA. And talking to a journalist today, a CIA representative said that he had no comments to offer.

So I repeat: show us the facts.

So basically Lavrov can check “told Merkel to her face that she’s a miserable witch” off his bucket list.

A true hero. Watch (starts around 6:40):

We love this man:

BBC a major purveyor of fakenews sets itself up as a guardian of the truth

BBC Fake News Reality Check

This is funny BBC sets up team to debunk fake news | Media | The Guardian

Friday 13th January 2017 was the day we learned of the BBC’s ‘Reality Check’, described by the Guardian as a team to ‘debunk fake news’. If you feel that the BBC debunking fake news might be an oxymoron, then we would agree with you, and the reasons are not difficult to identify.

The BBC stated that their Reality Check team:

… will focus on content that is clearly fabricated and attempting to mislead the public into thinking it has been produced by a reputable news organisation.

The immediate implication here is that the BBC considers that as a £3.65 billion major news broadcaster, it is beyond reproach in reporting facts and truth, and is therefore happy to set itself up to monitor and police other news sources for the accuracy of their content.

BBC claims podium of truth

But what could have caused the BBC to have taken this narcissistic and egotistical stance in self-righteousness?

The clue does not take long to find:

False information around big events such as the UK’s referendum on leaving the EU and the US election has been especially rife, with numerous instances of completely fabricated stories, many of which are created with the sole aim of generating advertising revenue from people viewing the stories.

Both Brexit and the election of Trump have, according to the BBC, been beset with fabricated stories. The inference is that stories were so fabricated and so widespread that 17 million Britons were mistakenly swayed to vote to leave the EU, and millions more US voters were misled into voting for Trump rather than Hillary Clinton. Since the BBC has a track record of highly biased support for both the EU and Hillary Clinton we might just see why the BBC would be upset at competition in the world news circuit.

With heady professional passion and an ego the size of a rhinoceros, James Harding, head of BBC News, led the BBC’s rhetoric:

The BBC can’t edit the internet, but we won’t stand aside either … We will fact check the most popular outliers on Facebook, Instagram and other social media. We are working with Facebook, in particular, to see how we can be most effective. Where we see deliberately misleading stories masquerading as news, we’ll publish a Reality Check that says so.

Climbing even higher onto his podium of BBC truthful self-righteousness, Harding added:

And we want Reality Check to be more than a public service, we want it to be hugely popular. We will aim to use styles and formats – online on TV and on radio – that ensure the facts are more fascinating and grabby than the falsehoods.

Thank goodness the BBC has stepped up to be the guardian of truth, and thank goodness that James Harding has volunteered himself to champion and head the new Reality Check team. We can now all sleep much easier in our beds knowing that the BBC and Mr Harding are looking out for truth.

Mr Harding apologies to Leveson Inquiry

Let’s forget the BBC’s own slight weaknesses in the field of truth for a moment and consider Mr Harding. This is the same man who previously served as Editor of Murdoch’s Times newspaper – itself a bastion of truth and respectability, especially in the City and Westminster circles. Well not quite. Poor James was forced to apologise to the Leveson Inquiry into press ‘respectability’, for his role in running the Times news team whilst reporters for whom he was responsible (his statement) broke the law to hack other people’s emails.

Perhaps he didn’t know, perhaps he wasn’t told, perhaps he didn’t care. No matter, he had the responsibility for editorial standards and the professional behaviour of his team. Heaven forbid that similar such dirty dealings would be going on in the vast organisational black hole of the BBC – or even perhaps, a little fabrication of the truth here and there by BBC reporters. It might be me, but I don’t get good vibes for Harding’s claim of the moral high ground in world-wide truthful reporting.

The launch of BBC Reality Check indicated two key things. Firstly, that despite the rampant BBC propaganda supporting and promoting UK, US and European Union political agendas, which they have churned out for years, the work of many amateur journalists, and especially those broadly known as the web-based alternative media, has clearly upset the BBC’s propaganda apple cart. Secondly, the damage has been so great that the BBC has had to launch a counter-attack against free speech.

Understanding the BBC’s role

At this point we should perhaps remember what the BBC says it is there to do. Its ‘Mission’ is to:

enrich people’s lives with programmes and services that inform, educate and entertain.

And their ‘Vision’ is

to be the most creative organisation in the world.

Of these two self-proclaimed goals, it is perhaps the latter that has a distinctly ‘scary’ feel about it. The most creative organisation in the world! What does that actually mean? Creating what? In reality, what does the BBC create? It clearly doesn’t create a better world. On the contrary, and as we shall see, the BBC specialises in the dark media arts. Are they there to create truth?

As a propaganda machine the BBC is outstanding. Aside from ‘normal’ news reporting, the BBC has operated BBC Monitoring, part of the World Service Group, since the Second World War.

First funded by the FCO, and now the TV licence payer, BBC Monitoring is still intimately linked to the British intelligence services, especially GCHQ. It employs a team of highly trained language specialists to monitor overseas radio and television broadcasts. Their job is to listen to and interpret what the broadcast message and messenger is really saying. If, for example, there are indications of political decisions or objects hitherto unknown to HM GOVERNMENT, or indications of military movements, threats or internal political strife, then BBC Monitoring flags up their findings and analysis to the secret services.

So innocent people on the Indian subcontinent, for example, may listen in the BBC World Service broadcasts believing that they are listening to friendly transmissions and truthful news from Britain, but in reality the BBC is spying on political, social, economic, and military events in their country. Perhaps India is big enough to look after themselves, but few people realise that the BBC spies on hundreds of countries around the world in this way, and especially those within trouble spots. After all, the BBC likes nothing better than reporting violence, riots, mass shootings, rape, torture and wars.

Enter BBC proxy charity BBC Media Action

Unfortunately the BBC does not just stop there. It also boasts that its ‘charity’ BBC Media Action is “transforming lives through media around the world”, backed up by its mission “To inform, connect and empower people around the world.”

These are heady claims by a charity that is funded by the UK government’s Department for International Development (£14.7m) and Foreign and Commonwealth Office (£4.1m), the US State Department (£0.5m), the Government of Norway (£0.7), the UN (£3.0m), the EU (£2.4m), and receives money from many other NGOs, agencies and change agents.

We must also mention Bill and Melinda Gates. The happy couple, who seem to have a deep interest in helping the world’s poor through population control, vaccinations, and easing in Western banking and debt based financial systems to many poor and thus highly vulnerable countries, have scraped their loose change barrel to give BBC Media Action £4.5m. Why?

At this point, as we probe into BBC media truth concerning Syria, we encourage our readers to read our article ‘BBC Media Action: Subversion from Broadcasting House to Kazakhstan.’

This concise analysis delves into the dark political, subversive and propaganda origins of BBC Media Action, including the ‘Marshall Plan for the Mind’, and sets out its dirty media work amongst the unsuspecting people of Kazakhstan.

We should also note that Juliette Harkin, a former BBC Media Action Project Manager, was kind enough to give a little more than a glimpse into the aims of her work, and thus the real agenda of BBC Media Action, in their Country Case Study: Syria. She boasted that they had been working inside Syria to help foment regime change:

We [BBC Media Action] worked in 2004 with individuals within the ministry who wanted change and tried to get them to be the drivers of that. All media development work that has been done in Syria has, in my opinion, been predicated upon this idea that there can be change from within – you have an authoritarian regime and you find who the reformers are within that (individuals) and you work with them.

Was she aware of what she was doing, was she used, or an innocent in her work, or didn’t care?

Understanding BBC Fake News in Regime Change 

In terms of Fake News, just think what Juliette Harkin’s comments really mean. In both the UK and worldwide, the BBC was reporting the unrest and uprising of the Syrian population against the Assad government, as if it was autonomous.

According to the BBC, Syrians were rebelling, of their own accord, due to their own dissatisfaction with their government. Yet the reality was (and still is) that the BBC was reporting events which it had itself helped to foment from inside Syria.

The BBC attacked Assad at every opportunity, accusing him of every brutal action possible, including gassing his own people, when in fact the BBC was itself actively working inside Syria to subvert peaceful life, and to assist the UK’s clearly stated political aim of regime change. Never mind Fake News – this BBC action is duplicitous, obscene and must surely be a hostile act on an unsuspecting overseas nation state.

Just imagine the furore if the BBC discovered that President Assad had been using teams inside the UK to help oust the Prime Minister David Cameron, on the basis that Syria found him to be an aggressive warmonger – a man prepared, for example, to unleash unlawful bombing attacks on Libya, Syria and Yemen.

Getting straight to the heart of the matter, The Huffington Post’s article Hillary Clinton’s Enthusiasm for Regime Change Wars grips the regime change agenda:

The presumption of dictating to an independent nation the form of its government is so arrogant, so atrocious, that indignation as well as moral sentiment enlists all our partialities and prayers in favor of one and our equal execrations against the other.

Wars for regime change also violate international law. Article 2 (4) of the United Nations Charter generally prohibits ‘the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state…’ Article 51 creates a narrow exception for wars in self-defense ‘if an armed attack occurs… Regime change wars do not fit that narrow exception.’

Yet Syrian regime change was the repeatedly declared policy of the US, UK and EU from the outset, and these collective Western powers ultimately trained, armed, funded and unleashed the ‘ISIS’ terrorists to fight their proxy war against Assad. Follow the simple path of deceit. Western governments pay BBC Media Action to run ‘projects’ galvanising rebellion against Assad, whilst those same Western governments work in the margins to set up and equip the terrorists which the BBC was to deliberately and misleadingly label ‘moderate’ anti-Assad rebels.

Follow the Government Money

We must surely be fully justified in asking: just who was BBC Media Action to intervene in the internal politics of the nation state of Syria?

The clue to this pernicious action comes from the old adage: follow the money. BBC Media Action claims to be a charity, but we have clearly revealed that in reality it is a paid agent of the Western collective state. It can only have operated in Syria, and against Assad, on the basis that its work would help the underlying UK, US and EU collective governmental regime change agenda.

Clues are not hard to find. BBC Media Action is a major partner of European External Action Service (EEAS), which promotes their project:

Bridging Syria’s divides: Mass media programming and platforms to build resilience and social cohesion to counter violent conflict and radicalism across all sections of Syrian society.

But what does this description really mean? A secondary sentence in the flyer spells it out:

The project will develop and produce radio series relevant to the topic of radicalisation in Syria and entertain dynamic debate.

Here we can see the BBC up to its old tricks: devise and broadcast programming, preferably with the help of innocent local people, which injects the views, values and agenda of the BBC to foment a change agenda in all areas of the target society. By focusing on radicalism and creating ‘dynamic debate’, the real effect is to create discord, unrest and uncertainty. This is insidious and dangerous interference in a nation state, be it Syria or any other.

So BBC Media Action was working to help undermine Syrian social cohesion and inflame those hostile to Assad, and the EU paid them a mere €2,409,751 to do so. That sum was only just one contribution to the cost of this work, and a fraction of their other government and non-governmental agency funding.

European External Action Organisation 

The blatant hypocrisy could not be clearer since the European (Union) External Action Organisation declares that:

it is the European Union’s diplomatic service, which helps the EU’s foreign affairs chief – the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy – carry out the Union’s Common Foreign and Security Policy.

In this one example BBC Media Action was thus paid to help further the political agenda of the EU, and that agenda was, and remains, Syrian regime change.

The EEAS website reveals a string of other EU-backed political projects to further the anti-Assad agenda:

– Supporting transition towards democracy in Syria through preparing for a[n] engendered constitution building process. The overall objective of the action is to contribute to a democratic transition in Syria inclusive of gender equality.

– Strengthening social cohesion for a democratic and inclusive Syrian civil society. To enable key individuals and community based groups from Syrian civil society to undertake community capacity building in key sectors to foster an effective future transition process in post-conflict Syria.

– Supporting Syrian professionals to prepare for leading roles in a future transition to a peaceful, democratic and inclusive Syria. Qualified Syrians will be enabled to become key actors in a future transition process and are willing and capable to contribute actively in the fields of transitional justice, security sector reform, urban planning and local administration. Exchanges with experts from within the EU are established.

– Promoting social cohesion and moderate voice in Syria. To provide Syrian civil society actors with a tailor-made approach for supporting new and existing initiatives through capacity building, networking, sub grants and continual mentoring to promote social cohesion and non-violent mobilisation and to amplify moderate narratives.

The list — for a number of different executing agencies (alongside BBC Media Action) — goes on, with a never-ending supply of EU funding to drive the agenda. The last of the above programmes is funded to over €1 million by the EU.

Syrian Regime Change aka Transition

Whilst these EU programmes are sold in terms of humanitarian need and aid to help people and society,  the language reveals much more. Transition is a key word. The inference is that selected Syrian professionals will be trained to become EU actors to help drive (transform) Syria towards an EU style society – a new sociopolitical economic society and order that will completely replace traditional Syria lifestyles.

Only yesterday, EU High Representative Frederica Mogherini announced that she will host an international conference in Brussels on the future of Syria and the region. The announcement came following the first meeting in 2017 of EU foreign ministers, which she herself chaired. Mogherini’s weasel words contained a repeated theme, and that was ‘transition’. Her conference, for example, would have two main objectives:

on the one side taking stock of the implementation of commitments of the donor community at the London conference, on which the EU has delivered in full [here, we may ask, is she talking the donation of aid or bombs or both?] … most of all it will be a political conference, hoping that could be the moment for the international community to together turn the page and start the political transition, the reconciliation process and the reconstruction of Syria.

Against this background of very dirty political ‘soft power’ by the West in Syria, the BBC flooded UK and world news with highly biased Syrian news describing how “dictator” Assad murdered babies, used chemical weapons against his own people and murdered all those that opposed him. As we have already stated, this BBC propaganda was supported with descriptions of the Western-backed terrorists and their sadistic killing machine as ‘moderate rebels’ suffering under that very same brutal dictator, Assad.

BBC shocked at desire for profit

Let’s go back to the BBC and Mr Harding’s Reality Check, and remember that he described his concern over:

numerous instances of completely fabricated stories, many of which are created with the sole aim of generating advertising revenue from people viewing the stories.

The key point of interest here is his theatrical shock horror that other media outlets might want to generate advertising revenue from their stories. If the BBC is a £3.65 billion media machine working hand in glove with the UK government and intelligence services, then consider also the existence of the £1.1 billion BBC Worldwide, and £91 million BBC Global News Ltd. All supported by the bully boy muscle of Capita, which does the heavy door-to-door collections should anyone dare not to pay their BBC licence fee in the UK.

Mr Harding acts as if the BBC is a non-profit organisation. Far from it; BBC money and resources, such as pension funds, have been used to create the slick BBC Worldwide corporate media empire, which has profits of some £156 million. Not bad on the back of public money collected by Capita for, yes, you’ve guessed it, profit. BBC Global News has not yet delivered the cash cow, and profits are slim, but give it time.

So against this big money and big profit background, are we to assume then that these BBC companies are so squeaky clean that they will not spin facts to create the best profit-making story?

BBC Reality Check

Hopefully, the BBC’s Reality Check team will read this article. I would very much like them to challenge our investigation into the dirty dealings of the BBC, and their skewed political reporting which has been particularly prevalent in war zones worldwide:

Afghanistan (no mention of the US & UK involvement in the opium poppy drug trade);
Libya (no professional investigation of the funding, training and arming of terrorists by the UK and US to help assert regime change);
Syria (no real investigation of anything – just the regurgitation of UK, US and EU anti-Assad anti-government propaganda);
Yemen (where the BBC has also failed to investigate this UK- and US-created civil war and their funding, training and arms, which features particularly vile military brutality by the British government’s old friend Saudi Arabia).

BBC Reality Check Oxymoron

I encourage readers to watch and read reports by Vanessa Beeley, who has reported the facts from Syria and Aleppo. Her work has established without doubt that BBC reports on the Syrian conflict have ranged from poor to deliberately misleading Fake News.

Taking a ‘Reality Check’, it is apparent the BBC is a master of propaganda, and its duplicitous senior management is happy to betray the thousands of staff who still believe they work for a trustworthy, truthful and reliable organisation, along with the wider viewing and listening public. For the BBC to suggest it is the guardian of media truth is indeed an oxymoron.

British Foreign Policy and the UK Weapons Trade

British Foreign Policy and the UK Weapons Trade

By Matthew JAMISON | Strategic Culture Foundation | 24.02.2017

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By Matthew JAMISON | Strategic Culture Foundation | 24.02.2017

Back in the halcyon days of the election of the first Labour Government in Britain in over 18 years, the New Labour Foreign Secretary Robin Cook expounded a radical shift in British foreign policy making, declaring that the Labour Government of Tony Blair would put human rights at the heart of it’s foreign policy with an «ethical dimension». This was quickly christened by the British media as New Labour’s «ethical foreign policy». Questions were raised at the time how a country with such a large weapons export industry could conduct an ethical foreign policy and that question is as pertinent today as it was back in 1997. In his party conference speech, the first as British Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, paid ritual homage as many British Foreign Secretaries have before him, to his belief in human rights and reflected that: «After a long post-war period in which the world was broadly getting more peaceful the number of deaths in conflict has risen from 49,000 in 2010 to 167,000 last year».

Sadly, Britain has contributed to many of these deaths. According to a study carried out with official UK Government figures by the Independent newspaper, Britain is now the second largest exporter of arms around the world, and according to Freedom House since 2010 has sold weapons to 39 of the 51 countries ranked by Freedom House as «not free». What is even more disturbing is that out of the 30 countries ranked on the British Government’s own human rights watch list, the British Government authorizes the sale of weapons to 22 of those. Indeed, according to statistics from the UK Government’s own Trade and Investment body the UK has sold more weapons on average over the last ten years than Russia, China and France combined. All exports of British manufactured bombs, bullets, weapons and other munitions must be signed off and approved by UK Government Ministers with licenses granted.

Most of these arms are sold to Middle Eastern regimes, which have serious human rights issues, if one were to apply the standards the UK Government sets on human rights. In 2016 alone Britain sold over 3 billion pounds worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia. It is odd how the British Government which constantly lectures other countries on their human rights records can sell weapons of mass destruction to regimes like the Saudis who carry out routine be-headings and lashings of their own citizens as part of their penal code; subject women to severe restrictions such as forbidding them to drive; provide funding to Madrassas that indoctrinate and radicalise young Muslims in the ways of jihad etc. The list of human rights violations could go on. But the British Government, despite wrapping itself in the language of human rights, feels very comfortable within its own «ethical conscience» in allowing shipments of British manufactured BL-755 cluster munitions to be used by the Saudi Government in its war in Yemen. Unexploded remnants of cluster munitions have proved deadly for Yemenis, killing or injuring at least 85 civilians, including children.

Since March 2015, the UK Government has approved £3.3 billion in military sales to Saudi Arabia, yet in November, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office concluded, despite considerable evidence to the contrary, that there was no «clear risk» of serious Saudi breaches of international humanitarian law in Yemen. The British Government has continued to sell arms to Saudi Arabia despite the Saudi Government’s vastly different approach and record regarding human rights which is incompatible with the British Government’s professed commitment to «universal human rights» and the problems that emanate from Saudi Arabia regarding Islamist extremist terrorism and radicalisation such as the fact that fifteen of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers where from Saudi Arabia and the emerging information that certain sections of the Saudi Government may have been complicit in the funding and training of the 9/11 hijackers. Saudi Arabia is not the only regime that does not conform to the UK’s own professed beliefs and standards in human rights that the British supply dangerous and destructive weapons of death to.

The UK Government sells arms to Bahrain which has used British arms to quell internal dissent; Burundi, which is being investigated by the UN for human rights violations and The Maldives, which in 2015 jailed its former President, Mohamed Nasheed, for 13 years following what critics said was a politically motivated show trial. The UK Government has also authorised the sale of massive amounts of arms to Egypt despite the coup against the democratically elected President Mohammad Morsi and the violent crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood that followed. The British Government approved licences for the sale of £7.7bn of arms in 2015 alone. Then there have been weapons scandals in the past involving the British Government and the UK arms industry. There was the shocking Arms-to-Iraq affair of the 1990s when it came to light that the British Government had endorsed and advised on the sale of arms by British companies to Iraq, then under the rule of Saddam Hussein. Ironically, some of these British made and exported weapons to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had been used by the Iraqi regime during the first Gulf War of 1991.

All of this raises serious questions regarding how the British Government can profess to on the one hand be a force for human rights and run a foreign policy based on «universal human values», upholding democracy, human rights and the rule of law and yet on the other hand maintain a massive arms trade of deadly weapons around the world, arming regimes that are the exact opposite of what the British Government professes to believe in and defend when it comes to human rights. At the heart of the British Government’s position on «human rights» is hypocrisy when examined within context of UK arms sales. The British Government maintains a saintly image of itself and believes its own rhetoric that it is a great force for «universal human rights» around the world despite the contradictions in its policies and behaviour and that the British have higher standards and more noble beliefs than other cultures and countries when in reality this is not the truth. What the British Government hates above all else is to have its self-image shattered and exposed for the two-faced hypocrisy that it is. They are unable to effectively answer the inconsistencies and contradictions of their rhetorical image on the one hand and the reality of their behaviour, policies and practices on the other when confronted with reality. It is high time for the British Government, if is serious about its rhetoric on human rights, to scale back its domestic weapons export industry.

CrossTalk: Revolt in the West

February 23, 2017

The West appears to have entered into a new era – the era of the political upsets, growing anger, and increased disillusionment with ruling elites. It is not a question of leftwing – rightwing politics. It is all about a failing status quo.

CrossTalking with Stephen Haseler, Marcus Papadopoulos, and Joaquin Flores.

Take It from a European: NATO Is Obsolete

Take It from a European: NATO Is Obsolete

EDITOR’S CHOICE | 24.02.2017

Take It from a European: NATO Is Obsolete

The alliance’s members no longer share common goals or interests

Tom Sauer

The recent visit by Secretary of Defense James Mattis to NATO allies does not erase the fact that, as a presidential candidate and president-elect, Donald Trump stated on many occasions that NATO is obsolete. It is a bigger problem than just burden sharing. Trump’s key message is that the world has changed to the detriment of the United States, and that NATO no longer fits comfortably into this new world order. Of course, the United States will not withdraw from the organization, but NATO will get less attention from the Oval Office in the coming years. That is for sure.

For those in Europe who care about the alliance, this is a nightmare. But instead of clinging to the past, they should wake up. The world today is indeed fundamentally different from the one we happen to know, and certainly from the times into which NATO was born. It is indeed bizarre that NATO is still alive. Defense alliances are, by definition, temporary. Realists do not believe in long-term structural cooperation between states, and certainly not in the field of security. At most, states can try to cooperate in an alliance on a short-term basis to defeat a common enemy, like during the two world wars and during the Cold War. Once the enemy is gone, alliances have no meaning anymore. It was on this basis that John Mearsheimer and many others predicted the end of the alliance after the end of the Cold War. The implosion of the Warsaw Pact and the USSR itself should, indeed, have led to the demise of NATO.

It did not. The least bad explanation is organizational inertia. NATO tried to adapt to the changed circumstances by finding new enemies: proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, “rogue states,” failed states, ethnic conflicts (as in the Balkans) and, later on, terrorism. It is not difficult to come up with real or imagined dangers. But states do not need to be part of a militarily integrated organization to protect oneself against these kind of minor threats. Collective defense organizations, based on the premise of “an attack on one is an attack on all,” are established to defend oneself against an attack by a major power: Germany in 1914, Germany and Japan in the first half of the 1940s, the USSR during the Cold War, and maybe China in the future. Not for peacekeeping.

Collective defense organizations are not the best match for threats like terrorism and ethnic conflicts. For countering terrorism, coalitions of the willing will do. For managing ethnic conflicts, collective security organizations (like the UN and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) should take the lead, both for peacemaking and peacekeeping. Collective security organizations regulate the use of force amongst its member states, and they are—in contrast to collective defense organizations—not meant to serve against an external enemy. Because NATO stepped in for these collective security tasks, organizations like the UN and the OSCE got sidetracked.

NATO’s post–Cold War track record is dismal, which is not surprising, given the nature of the beast. Apart from the Balkans, which are more or less stable (although tensions are flaring up again these days), the NATO military interventions in Afghanistan and Libya are a complete failure. Thirteen and six years after NATO’s intervention, respectively, these states have hardly stabilized. On the contrary, Afghanistan and Libya are breeding places for terrorists. Again, this should not come as a surprise, because collective defense organizations are not meant for carrying out peace-building operations.

The biggest mistake, however, was NATO expansion. It is hard to refute the thesis that the Ukraine crisis is the result of interference by NATO and the EU in Russia’s spheres of influence. A red line was crossed, in the eyes of Moscow, and Russia had repeatedly made that position clear in advance. NATO expansion also contradicted Western promises. On the basis of these oral guarantees, in February 1990, Mikhail Gorbachev gave the green light for German reunification talks. And what did the West do? Expand NATO. Not just once, but twice. At the NATO Summit in Bucharest in 2008, President Bush even pushed through (against the wishes of the Europeans) a third extension, namely the promise to include Georgia and Ukraine into NATO. What did he expect Russia would do? Just take notice and agree?

More fundamentally, the West made the mistake after the end of the Cold War not to include Russia into the Euro-Atlantic security architecture on an equal basis. Contrary to positive examples in 1815 and 1945, the loser of the Cold War was left alone. Instead of replacing NATO with a regional collective security organization, the West kept NATO artificially in existence—and Russia in the dark. Ironically, the Baltic states, which wanted to feel more secure by becoming NATO members, are now feeling less secure. All this was predicted in the 1990s by foreign-policy giants like George Kennan and Paul Nitze.

Currently, there is a major split among the twenty-eight NATO member states: those in the south worry about migration and ISIS, but are relaxed with respect to Russia; those in the east are relaxed about ISIS, but worry about Russia. There is no common threat assessment. In addition, tensions between member states (Turkey and Greece) and within member states (Poland and Hungary) are rising.

It would be shortsighted to keep relying on NATO now because of the worsening relationship with Russia. A fundamental break with the past is needed, and the Trump administration provides an ideal opportunity. Until recently, the Europeans liked to hide behind American leadership, and not only with respect to burden sharing. Although European states spend on average much less on defense than the United States, the combined European defense budget is $250 billion, which is three and a half times more than Russia’s. The difference in defense spending between the United States and Europe says more about the United States than about Europe. More problematic is the lack of shared responsibility. It is indeed strange that the United States had to intervene in the Balkans in the 1990s. The flipside was that the United States was the one that pulled the ropes inside NATO. The Europeans had to live with NATO expansion and U.S. missile defense in Europe, for instance. The Europeans were always skeptical, but when push came to shove, they gave in to the Americans.

Now, for the first time ever, we have an American president who calls NATO obsolete. European leaders should now get their act together and agree with this assessment, for the many reasons mentioned above. There has never been a better external opportunity to strengthen European foreign, security and defense policy. In a world without NATO, the Europeans have no escape from taking up more responsibilities. In addition, NATO should be transformed, or even be replaced by a new Eurasian-Atlantic collective security organization that includes Russia. That will also be in the interest of Ukraine and the Baltic states. The newly built headquarters for NATO in Brussels, which will be inaugurated in the presence of President Trump at the end of May, is large enough to fit them all.

nationalinterest.org

Theresa May’s IHRA used to silence critics of israel

Mrs May’s IHRA used to silence critics of Israel

The Facebook photo for International Apartheid Week, 2016

University cancels Israel Apartheid Week event

A University of Central Lancashire spokesperson said: “The UK government has formally adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s new definition of what constitutes antisemitism.”

By Rosa Doherty, Jewish Chronicle
February 22, 2017

The University of Central Lancashire has cancelled an event which was due to take place as part of “Israel Apartheid Week” activity on its campus.

The session was organised by the university’s Friends of Palestine group and was billed as a panel discussion looking at the boycott of Israel.

It was due to feature speakers including anti-Israel activist Ben White and pro-Palestinian academics.

But a spokesperson for the university said “Debunking Misconceptions on Palestine” contravened the definition of antisemitism adopted by the government and was “unlawful”.

In a statement on behalf of the university in Preston, Lancashire, the spokesperson said: “The UK government has formally adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s new definition of what constitutes antisemitism.

“We believe the proposed talk contravenes the new definition and furthermore breaches university protocols for such events, where we require assurances of a balanced view or a panel of speakers representing all interests.”

He added: “In this instance our procedures determined that the proposed event would not be lawful and therefore it will not proceed as planned.”

The talk was scheduled to take place as part of a week of anti-Israel events expected to be held at universities nationwide.

The North West Friends of Israel group welcomed the move. Co-chair Raphi Bloom said NWFoI had led a campaign to ban the event.

“Universities across the UK have signed up to the government’s definition of antisemitism and have a duty of care to their Jewish students – and staff – to ensure that they do not feel intimidated or abused on campus,” he said.



Prevent guidance says that support for Palestine is among views that ‘may be regarded as extremist but are not illegal’, London March, August 2014. Photo by PSC/Flickr

REVEALED: UK universities told to ‘manage’ Palestine activism

Prevent training package advises that events involving ‘vocal support for Palestine’ should be ‘risk-assessed and managed’

By Simon Hooper, MEE
February 22, 2017

British university staff are being advised to “risk-assess and manage” events on campus relating to “contentious” issues including Palestine and criticism of western foreign policy in the Middle East in order to demonstrate their compliance with the government’s Prevent counter-extremism strategy.

Critics fear that the guidance, which is contained in an online training presentation, is already stifling free speech and political expression, with one institution, the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), on Tuesday cancelling an event organised by a Friends of Palestine society because of concerns that it would not be “balanced”.

Other issues for which higher education institutions are being instructed to put in place measures to ensure that “extremist views” are challenged include opposition to Prevent itself following vigorous campaigning against the strategy by the National Union of Students (NUS) and the University and College Union (UCU), which represents more than 100,000 university staff.

“Vocal support for Palestine”, “Opposition to Israeli settlements in Gaza”, “Criticism of wars in the Middle East” and “Opposition to Prevent” are included in a list of “contentious topics” in the presentation on a website, Safe Campus Communities, created for university staff to help them fulfil their Prevent Duty obligations.

Since 2015 the Prevent Duty has required public sector workers by law to “have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”.

UK councils link ‘empathy’ for Palestinians to terrorism threat

The creators of Safe Campus Communities, who include the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and the government’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), told Middle East Eye the list was intended to promote free speech by encouraging universities to ensure that “topics that may be seen as controversial” could be “debated in a safe environment”.

Elsewhere in the training material, the topics are described as a “list of views that may be regarded as extremist but are not illegal”. Accompanying notes state that holding such views “may be legitimate provided they are not expressed or furthered by statements, deeds or actions which result in the harassment, intimidation or threats of violence against individuals or society itself”.


 

Prevent training_0The presentation states: ‘Holding these views may be legitimate provided they are not expressed or furthered by statements, deeds or actions which result in the harassment, intimidation or threats of violence against individuals or society itself’. Screengrab

The presentation advises institutions to take steps for events at which “extremist views are likely to be expressed” to ensure that such views are challenged by “inviting additional speakers with opposing views” and through “independent and effective chairing”.

“Relevant higher education bodies also need to risk assess and manage events where these or similar views may be expressed,” it says.

But critics fear that the guidance could lead to a culture of caution and censorship on campuses in which discussion of topics considered controversial is shut down.

On Tuesday, UCLan said it had cancelled a Friends of Palestine event scheduled to take place on 28 February as part of “Israel Apartheid Week” because of concerns that it would be antisemitic and unlawful.


Ben White testifies at the Russell Tribunal, NY City.

The event, titled “Debunking misconceptions on Palestine and the importance of BDS [the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement]”, was due to feature Ben White, an MEE contributor.

In a statement, UCLan said it believed the event would fall foul of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism adopted by the UK government last year.

The IHRA defines antisemitism as “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews” including “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, eg., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour”.

“We believe the proposed talk contravenes the new definition and furthermore breaches university protocols for such events, where we require assurances of a balanced view or a panel of speakers representing all interests,” a spokesperson for the university said.

“In this instance our procedures determined that the proposed event would not be lawful and therefore it will not proceed as planned.”


Poster for Israeli Apartheid Week, provisionally 28th February- 6th March, 2017.

White told MEE: “It is clear from social media posts, as well as an earlier statement issued by the university, that officials caved to pressure from pro-Israel groups, and in so doing, threw their students – and their right to freedom of expression – under a bus.

“Israeli Apartheid Week is marked on campuses across the globe, and its importance is only underlined by the fact that the Israeli government – emboldened by the Trump administration – is so openly opposed to Palestinian self-determination.”

Ben Jamal, director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, told MEE it was absurd to single out support for a Palestinian state or opposition to Israeli settlements as controversial or extremist. He said,

“Given that all major political parties in the UK and the overwhelming majority of governments across the world support a Palestinian state and oppose settlements on the basis that they violate international law and are an obstacle to peace it is absurd to define these as extremist views.

“There is an urgent need for the relevant bodies to review these materials and ensure that any training offered to educational establishments truly reflects the stated intention to uphold academic freedom and freedom of expression.”

The Safe Campus Communities presentation is the most substantial element in a “package of HE-specific Prevent training materials” produced collaboratively by HEFCE, the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, Universities UK and BIS, according to HEFCE’s website.

Since last year, the implementation of Prevent on campuses has been overseen by HEFCE and its counterparts in Scotland and Wales.

But the training material also acknowledges concerns about the government’s efforts to define extremism.

“It is the difficulty in defining what is and what isn’t extremist that has led people to be concerned that the Prevent duty constitutes a threat to academic freedom/freedom of expression,” it says.

“The government definition of extremism is considered by some to be somewhat vague.”

In a statement to MEE, HEFCE said the material in the presentation was intended to uphold free speech and was currently being evaluated.

Double Standards over ‘Russian Interference’ in Western Elections

Double Standards over ‘Russian Interference’ in Western Elections

FINIAN CUNNINGHAM | 23.02.2017 | OPINION

Double Standards over ‘Russian Interference’ in Western Elections

Just as polls show Marine Le Pen of the Front National taking a decisive lead over her two main rivals, Francois Fillon of the Republicans, and Emmanuel Macron of the newly formed En Marche, the latter gets a high-profile reception in Downing Street with British prime minister Theresa May.

Fillon has no plans to make a similar visit to Britain, while Downing Street officially announced that it would not be receiving Le Pen, reported the Independent.

With only weeks to go to the first round of the French presidential elections in April, the British government’s hosting of Macron this week can be seen as an extraordinary endorsement of his candidacy.

One could express it even more strongly and say that Britain is evidently interfering in the French democratic process by elevating one candidate over another.

A spokesman for premier May said that Macron had requested the meeting at Downing Street and «we were able to accommodate».

A smiling Macron photographed on the doorsteps of Number 10 clearly showed him relishing the singular honor bestowed by the British prime minister.

One can imagine the media hullabaloo if Marine Le Pen were greeted in Moscow by Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the Kremlin to then pointedly announce that her rival Macron would not be receiving a similar invitation. There would be howls of «Russian interference» in the French election.

Indeed, Russia is being accused of doing just that already on the basis of scant allegations. Emmanuel Macron has recently claimed that his campaign is being targeted by Russian hackers and «fake news». Macron’s campaign team is alleging – without providing any evidence – that its computers are being attacked by «Russian hackers».

The liberal pro-EU candidate is also claiming that «Kremlin-run news media» are mounting a fake news «influence campaign» to damage his credibility.

This follows the publication of a news article by the Sputnik outlet earlier this month which quoted French political rivals accusing Macron of being supported by global banking interests and a wealthy gay rights lobby.

Russian government-owned Sputnik has denied that it is trying to damage Macron’s candidacy, and that it was merely giving coverage to criticisms aired by French political rivals.

Based on such flimsy, partisan claims of political interference, the French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault earlier this week issued a warning to Russia to «stop meddling in the French presidential election».

Thus, a one-sided overblown claim by one of the presidential candidates is raised to a state level as if it is an established fact of Russian subversion of French sovereignty.

This narrative of Russian interference in foreign elections has evidently become contagious. Ever since American intelligence agencies, amplified by US media, began accusing Russia of hacking into the presidential elections to favor Donald Trump, the narrative has become a staple in other Western states.

Last week, German news outlet Deutsche Welle published this headline: «Is Moscow meddling in everything?» The article goes on to ask with insinuating tone: «Does Putin decide who wins elections in the West? Many believe that he cost Clinton the US presidency; now Macron is next France, and then Merkel will be in the line of fire».

The Russian government is legitimately entitled, as are other governments, to hold views on the outcome of foreign elections. After all, many European governments, including those of Germany and France, were adamantly opposed to Trump winning the US election, instead preferring his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. But they weren’t subjected to criticism that they were interfering in the American election.

Regarding France, Russian state interests might be best served by Marine Le Pen taking the presidency. She has expressed a desire to restore friendlier relations with Moscow and to jettison the NATO agenda of hostility towards Russia. Her anti-EU views would also help to undermine the Washington-led atlanticist axis which has driven enmity between Europe and Russia.

The Kremlin has been careful to not make any public statements on the outcome of the French election, nor of any other foreign election, maintaining that it does not interfere. Nevertheless, Moscow is entitled to have its own private assessment on what would serve its own national interests. There’s nothing untoward about that. It seems almost bizarre to have to explain that.

But such is the fever-pitch and hysteria about alleged Russian malfeasance that the slightest sign, such as a random news article airing critical comments as in the Macron example, is taken as «proof» of Kremlin interference.

This is in spite of the fact that no evidence is presented. German state intelligence, for instance, recently concluded that there was no evidence to support allegations that Russia was running a Trump-like influence campaign against Chancellor Merkel ahead of her country’s elections being held in September.

Perhaps the most egregious expression to date of the Russian interference narrative were claims made this week by Britain’s Telegraph newspaper that the Kremlin had sponsored a coup attempt against the government of Montenegro last October.

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov lambasted the evidence-free claims as «absurd». Lavrov said it «is just another one in a series of groundless assertions blaming our country for carrying out cyberattacks against the entire West, interfering in election campaigns in the bulk of Western countries as well as allegations pointing to the Trump administration’s ties with Russian secret services, among other things».

The height of absurdity is Britain this week hosting Emmanuel Macron at the Downing Street residence of Prime Minister Theresa May.

May’s intervention is a full-on endorsement of this one candidate at a crucial time in the French election which sees his main rival Marine Le Pen taking a decisive lead in the polls.

But where are the headlines denouncing «British interference» in French democracy?

Western media are too preoccupied digging up far-fetched stories claiming Russian interference based on the flimsiest speculation.

That double standard is clear evidence of the irrational Russophobia that is gripping Western governments and news media. Russophobia that has become a psychosis.

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