Foreign Interference in Elections: Is it Real or Just Political Noise?

Foreign Interference in Elections: Is It Real or Just Political ...

Philip Giraldi

July 30, 2020

A recently concluded British Parliamentary inquiry has determined that Russia may have interfered in the 2016 Brexit referendum, which resulted in the departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union. But, ironically, it also concluded that Russia might not have interfered given the fact that the British government never bothered to try to find out if there had been any attempt made by the Kremlin to manipulate the voting.

The Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee is reportedly perplexed by the lack of official interest in what might have been a foreign intelligence operation that had major impact, all too plausible given that it is assumed that Moscow would have welcomed Brexit as a first step that will eventually put an end to European political and economic unity.

So, no one knows if Russia or anyone else interfered in Britain, which is perhaps just as well as inquiries into voting in the U.S. also in 2016 have likewise created nothing but confusion and no smoking pistol. And, of course there is a question of definitions of interference. Millions of pounds were spent on advertising by those pro- and con-Brexit, just as billions were spent in political adverts in the United States. Much of the “information” provided in that fashion was deliberately misleading, often fearmongering, both in the U.K. and the U.S., suggesting that the problem is much bigger than one country’s possible attempt to influence the vote, if that even took place.

There were similar claims about Russian generated fake news and “a massive hacking attack” in the French presidential election in 2017, while Germany’s Federal Election was notable for a lack of any identifiable Kremlin interference in spite of warnings from some observers that Berlin would be targeted.

So, while claims of Russian interference in elections are fairly common, they are difficult to prove in any serious way. And one should recognize that the “victimized” governments and political parties have strong motives to conjure up a foreign enemy to explain to the public why things are going wrong, be it for coronavirus fumbling or for general political ineptitude. To be sure, as the allure of blaming Russia has faded China is increasingly being targeted by American politicians as a scapegoat, indicating that there must always be a foreigner available to blame for one’s problems.

The most recent nugget to come out of the U.S. Congress on foreign interference in elections originates with Adam Schiff, the sly head of the House Intelligence Committee. In an interview with MSNBC, Schiff revealed that U.S. intelligence has obtained information suggesting multiple nations could be trying to meddle in the 2020 U.S. elections, to include feeding or “laundering” possible disinformation through Congress.

Schiff explained how various nations us different tactics to get “fake news” messages through to the American voters. Some governments openly support a particular candidate or policy, while others like the Chinese provide misinformation during their trade negotiations with Washington. He observed that “The Russians may get involved in hacking and dumping operations or social media campaigns. The Iranians may have their own tactics and techniques like the North Koreans may have theirs.”

letter signed by Schiff, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Senate Intelligence Committee ranking member Mark Warner, D-Va has asked for a counterintelligence briefing for Congress regarding foreign efforts to interfere in the upcoming election. It includes “We are gravely concerned, in particular, that Congress appears to be the target of a concerted foreign interference campaign, which seeks to launder and amplify disinformation in order to influence congressional activity, public debate, and the presidential election in November.”

Democratic Party presidential candidate presumptive Joe Biden also has confirmed that he has received briefings about Russian alleged plans to interfere in November saying “The Russians are still engaged in trying to delegitimize our electoral process. China and others are engaged as well in activities that are designed for us to lose confidence in the outcome.”

Of course, there are a number of things to say about the claims that other nations are possibly planning to meddle in the voting. First, the list of possible players being presented by Schiff and others is all too convenient, kind of like a Congressional dream list of bad boys. Russia pops up because of longstanding claims about it, but China is a new entry in the game because it all ties up into a neat package, including the “Wuhan virus” and its challenges both to American economic supremacy and to U.S. naval power in the South China Sea. And of course, there are Iran and also North Korea.

One should ask what exactly China, Iran and North Korea stand to gain by attempting to “interfere” in the election? What message could they possibly be sending and what would be the mechanisms they would use to get their points of view across to a skeptical American public? In a campaign that will undoubtedly cost hundreds of billions of dollars in advertising and other “messaging,” what exactly is the possible place of Iran and North Korea?

There is also a lack of “realism” in the Schiff comments. By far the country that interferes the most in U.S. politics is Israel. Israel and its domestic Lobby initiate legislation relating to the Middle East and Israeli diplomats, lobbyists and soldiers all have free access both to Capitol Hill and to the Pentagon. If a Congressman dares to speak up against the Jewish state’s crimes he or she is smeared in the media and eventually forced out of office by a well-funded pro-Israel opponent. No other country gets away with all that. As it is highly likely that Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be pulling out all the stops to reelect Donald Trump in November, why isn’t the Jewish state included on Schiff’s list?

And then there is the tantalizing bit about concerns over disinformation being “laundered” through Congress. It is difficult to imagine what exactly Schiff is referring to as the corrupt gasbags in Congress already constitute one of the world’s biggest sources of false information, second only to the fully coopted U.S. mainstream media.

In any event, if some countries that are accustomed to being regularly targeted by the United States are taking advantage of an opportunity to somehow diminish America’s ability to meddle globally, no one should be surprised, but it is a politically driven fantasy to make the hysterical claim that the United States has now become the victim of some kind of vast multi-national conspiracy to interfere in its upcoming election.

The Vaccine Race Is The Next Phase Of The COVID World Order

Source

By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

24 JULY 2020

The Vaccine Race Is The Next Phase Of The COVID World Order

The head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) warned last week that the world is at risk of being further divided by the forthcoming COVID-19 vaccines that leading Great Powers are expected to publicly unveil in the coming future, which would make the vaccine race the next phase of the COVID World Order that’s quickly changing life as everyone knows it, including International Relations.

Welcome To World War C

The planet is in the midst of what the author previously referred to as World War C, which is his neologism for the full-spectrum paradigm-changing processes that were catalyzed as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak and the global community’s uncoordinated efforts to contain it. This is part of what he also earlier called the COVID World Order, which specifically relates to the everyday changes brought about by this development but which are also quickly making their impact felt in the sphere of International Relations as World War C continues.

The Vaccine Race

The latest escalation in this unconventional competition between states occurred last week when Canada, the UK, and the US accused Russian hackers of trying to steal information about a British vaccine, a charge that Moscow promptly denied. The day after, the head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), Kirill Dmitriev, warned the Financial Times in an exclusive interview that the world is at risk of being further divided by the forthcoming COVID-19 vaccines that leading Great Powers are expected to unveil in the coming future.

This would in effect make the vaccine race the next phase of the COVID World Order as countries scramble to carve out exclusive markets for what’s being presented as their life-saving product. It’s neither here nor there how anyone personally feels about vaccines or even the reported lethality of COVID-19 since it should be objectively recognized that this epidemiological situation has already been politicized and is being resultantly instrumentalized for grand strategic purposes.

Necessary Disclaimer

To be clear, the author believes that COVID-19 is real, it’s lethal for certain at-risk members of the population, and is reportedly highly contagious. He also recommends that the reader use their personal discretion in deciding which guidelines to apply to protect themselves, their families, and everyone else in society. Still, this doesn’t mean that governments aren’t fearmongering about COVID-19 in order to expand their powers at home and abroad since that’s precisely the case when it comes to the latest accusations against Russia.

Reputational Ramifications

On the surface, the claims are predictable enough since they correspond with the Mainstream Media’s narrative about the so-called “Russian threat” that’s supposedly lurking behind every corner just waiting to undermine the West at each turn. Accusing Russia of trying to steal vaccine information makes sense from their perspective since many of their people are already scared to death of this disease and it thus serves their governments’ interests to make it seem like Russia is somehow trying to sabotage their inoculation efforts.

There might be a more nefarious motive behind all of this than just attempting to ruin Russia’s international reputation, however, since the country’s rivals are likely thinking a few steps ahead as usual. Firstly, they aim to protect their own reputations at home and abroad since they’ll understandably be embarrassed if the same country that they tried to convince everyone else was “backwards” and “isolated” ends up releasing a COVID-19 vaccine before they do. Saying that Russia stole it helps them “save face” a bit.

No Western Vaccine, No Western Travel?

Secondly, peddling this false narrative could create the basis to sanction those countries that buy Russia’s forthcoming vaccine or receive it free of charge as humanitarian aid. The US and its allies can claim that they’re receiving something that was produced with stolen trade secrets and that they should instead buy “the real thing” from them. If those states don’t comply, then their citizens might be banned from traveling to Canada, the UK, and/or the US if those governments claim that Russia’s vaccine “doesn’t work” or “isn’t reliable”.

To put it another way, the Western countries can implement blanket travel bans on the basis that they can’t be certain that foreign guests are inoculated against COVID-19 unless they receive one of their or their allies’ vaccines. Considering how much more closely connected most of the world is to the Western economies as opposed to Russia’s, this might be sufficient enough of a threat to force their governments to comply under pane of suffering unacceptable economic damage if trade is predictably affected as a result of these bans.

Challenging China

Looking ahead, this strategy might be experimented with against Russia in order to gauge its success prior to modifying it for use against China. The challenge there, however, is much more formidable since many countries nowadays are even more closely connected to China than they are to the West so such pressure tactics would amount to a de-facto ultimatum forcing their governments to take a clear side in World War C. It’s unclear how many of them will go with the West, but there’s a credible enough chance that some of them will.

Even so, the soft power victory might just be superficial since China is unlikely to make its own similar ultimatum. The People’s Republic probably won’t ban travelers who weren’t inoculated with a Chinese vaccine so the citizens of those countries that feel pressured to choose Western ones for the previously mentioned reasons can still trade with the world’s second superpower without any problems. If Western vaccines are proven to be ineffective and/or dangerous, however, then that policy might of course change.

“Global South” Guinea Pigs

Returning back to the overarching theme of this analysis, the COVID World Order’s vaccine race, it might very well be a fait accompli that people the world over will be compelled to receive some sort of vaccine in order to travel or even use basic services in their home country. This might especially be the case with the more desperate masses of the “Global South” who could be exploited as guinea pigs by some of the leading Great Powers in order to test the safety of these vaccines in exchange for humanitarian aid and preferential trade.

Concluding Thoughts

However it plays out, the global masses should expect the widespread proliferation of COVID-19 vaccines within the next year. This is no longer only an issue of public health, but is now a geopolitical instrument of power for various governments to wield against one another and their own citizens alike. The epidemic has been politicized and there’s no going back to the innocent assumption that the world might work together “for the common good” to fight this disease. That was never true to begin with, and forthcoming events will prove it.

Le Drian: A Step Towards Realistic Federalization – By Nasser Kandil لودريان وخطوة نحو الفدراليّة الواقعيّة

By Nasser Kandil

ناصر قنديل

الانضباط الفرنسي بالسقوف الأميركية في التعامل مع لبنان، بعد سقوط أطروحة وزير المالية الفرنسية برونو لومير بالدعوة لفصل مساعي تعافي لبنان عن المواجهة التي تخوضها واشنطن مع طهران، كان انضباطاً واضحاً ودقيقاً خلال زيارة وزير الخارجية الفرنسية جان إيف لودريان إلى بيروت، وكل الحديث عن وجود شروط إصلاحية لفتح الطريق للمساعدات هو للتغطية على الانضباط الفرنسي بالمحظورات الأميركيّة. ودعوة لومير كانت تتضمن الشروط الإصلاحيّة لكن على طريقة مختلفة كتلك التي طرحها لودريان، تعبر عن جدية لا عن نفاق سياسي كما هو الحال اليوم، فلومير دعا لعقد جولة خاصة لمؤتمر سيدر والمانحين لأجل تحديد القطاعات التي تحتاج دعماً ووضع دفتر شروط دولي لإصلاح وتمويل كل منها، ليسيرا معاً بالتوازي إصلاحاً وتمويلاً، وبالتأكيد كانت الحكومة اللبنانية لتوافق فوراً على مثل هذا المسار، وتلتزم بدفتر الشروط الخاص بكل قطاع، لكن طريقة لودريان هي عملياً طرح ذريعة قابلة للتكرار لسنوات، أنتم لم تقوموا بما يكفي لتستحقوا المساعدات، وهذا هو السقف الأميركي، فماذا فعل لودريان؟

ارتضت فرنسا دور وكيل الضغوط الأميركية، وتنازلت عن دور الشريك المستقل، فجاء وزير خارجيتها ليقول إن الأزمة طويلة وإن الأموال ستتأخّر. وهذا يعني أن الدولة ومؤسساتها سيضمر ويتراجع تأثيرها في النشاط الحياتي والاقتصادي، ويرتفع منسوب ضعفها وتتراجع مداخيلها، وتضعف فاعلية مؤسساتها الخدميّة وخصوصاً الأمنية والعسكرية، وبالمقابل يفتح لودريان الباب لمسار موازٍ، هو مسار المساعدات الطائفيّة، فيقول للبنانيين لن نترككم للجوع، كل دولة ستهتمّ بطائفة، ففرنسا تعهّدت الموارنة والكاثوليك وعلى روسيا أن تتعهّد الأرثوذكس وبريطانيا تهتم بالإنجيليين، وبالأمس أعلنت تركيا عن توزيع مساعدات في عكار وستوسّع الاهتمام، وقد تدخل السعودية على خط تبني مدارس ومستشفيات ذات لون طائفي، ومثلها بالطبع ستكون إيران معنية بمؤسسات لون طائفي آخر، وهذا لن يبقى عند حدود المدارس، بل سيتوسّع نحو المستشفيات ومؤسسات رديفة لمؤسسات الدولة، فيما مؤسسات الدولة تضمر وتتراجع وتفقد قدرتها على تقديم الخدمات الموازية.

المسار الذي يفتتحه لودريان ظاهره قد لا يلفت الانتباه إلى مؤداه والنتائج التي ستنجم عنه. فإذا نجحت محاولة فرضه مساراً لتصغير حجم دور الدولة، وتكبير حجم المؤسسات الطائفية، وزيادة اعتمادها على دعم خارجي يعتمد توزيعاً لمناطق نفوذ لعدد من الدول في لبنان كبديل يحل تدريجياً مكان الدولة، على أساس الهوية الطائفية، فإنه يصير مفهوماً معنى حديث لودريان عن دعم دعوات الحياد التي أطلقها البطريرك بشارة الراعي، بحيث تصير لكل منظومة طائفية ملحقة بعاصمة خارجية مالياً سياسة خارجية خاصة بها، ليظهر أن دعوة الحياد ليست موجّهة للبنانيين بوهم تحولها سياسة للدولة اللبنانية، بمعزل عن كيف يفكر بالدعوة أصحابها، بل هي دعوة موجّهة للخارج الذي سيشكل الراعي الحقيقي للطائفة ولسياستها الخارجية، مقابل الدعم المالي الذي سيجلبه هذا الخارج لإنعاش مؤسسات الطائفة، ومقابل الحياد سنسمع غداً عن دعوات للعروبة من بوابة الخليج مقابل دعم وتمويل وتنشيط مؤسسات تربوية وصحية كالمقاصد، وعن سياسة أوراسية للأرثوذكس مقابل دعم جامعة البلمند ومستشفى الروم، وتصير سياسة المقاومة محصورة بالشيعة، وتصير المرجعيات السياسية في طوائفها أو التي لا تمثل بعداً طائفياً، التي لا يتم اعتمادها من الخارج مهددة بالتراجع لضعف المقدرات والعجز عن تلبية الاحتياجات، ورهانها على الدولة يفقد بريقه بعيون اللبنانيين المحتاجين.

سنشهد المزيد على هذا الطريق لتفكيك الدولة والعودة بنا إلى منتصف القرن التاسع عشر وحكم القناصل، ما لم ينهض مشروع الدولة كجواب موحّد مستقل يواجه من خلاله اللبنانيون أزماتهم، ويربطون كل مساهمة للخارج بمعابر الدولة الإلزامية، وشرط ذلك أن تملك الدولة شجاعة السير بالخيارات التي تلبي حاجاتها وحاجات مواطنيها، وتغادر أسلوب التلميذ الشاطر الذي ينتظر الرضا الخارجي، قبل أن تحزم الصين أمرها وتعتذر عن عروضها، لأن ليس في لبنان طائفة بوذيّة أو كونفوشيّة تتبنّاها.

Russia Report: Short on Details, But Long on Recommendations for Sweeping New Intelligence Powers

By Alan McLeod

Source

Boris Johnson Putin c8fec

The much hyped Russia Report, detailing supposed foreign interference in British democracy has been released. The story is the number one topic in the United Kingdom right now, with new Labour leader Keir Starmer calling for Russian TV network RT to be kicked out of the country, and promising to make this new national security threat top priority.

Written by the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament, the 55-page document makes a number of confusing assertions and contains many well-worn stereotypes, but is particularly thin on evidence, given the media pandemonium over it. Russia, we learn, is a simultaneously “strong” and “weak” country, with a “fundamentally nihilistic” outlook. The committee also allege that Moscow is fuelled by “paranoia,” “believing that Western institutions such as NATO and the EU have a far more aggressive posture towards it than they do in reality.” In fact, the “reality” is that NATO has indeed been creeping steadily towards Russia for decades. Despite promising Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990 that the organization would never move even “one inch to the east” of Berlin, it now contains not only a number of ex-Eastern bloc nations, but even counts multiple nations of the former USSR as members. Thus, NATO is now directly on the Russian border.

The report offers no new evidence of Russian hacking, meddling or serious interfering, simply noting continually that “there has been widespread public allegations” about Russia’s role in the UK’s European Union referendum, Scotland’s independence vote, and the UK general election. It also points to “credible open source commentary” that Moscow undertook influence operations. This commentary cites Moscow-funded outlets like RT and Sputnik’s generally pro-Brexit stance as equating an attack on democracy.

The first part of the document is so vague that some might wonder why it was written at all. The recommendations section, however, gives a clue. “Given the difficulties inherent in seeking to counter Russian Hostile State Activity, it is essential that the Intelligence Community have the legislative powers and tools they need,” they write, also asking parliament to “consider whether there is a need for new counter-espionage powers to clamp down on the full spectrum of hostile activities of foreign agents in our country.” “A new Espionage Act,” they conclude, is vital.

The writers of the document did not have to wait long to get their wish. Today, the government announced that the secret services would indeed be granted new powers as a result. And therein, a cynic might think, lies the utility, and possibly the purpose of the report.

While the extent of Russian interference in British politics is much debated, the role of the country’s own security services in subverting democracy should not be forgotten. In 2017, former head of MI5 Stella Rimington (who Judi Dench’s character in the James Bond movies is based upon) claimed that her organization had constantly spied on the associates of then leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn, claiming that they (and by association, Corbyn himself) were attempting to “destroy” democracy. Two years previously, an anonymous general in the British Army announced that if the British people did elect the pacifist socialist Corbyn into Number 10 Downing Street, then there would likely be a military coup.

The extent of Russian interference also pales in comparison to documented American meddling in British affairs. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was recorded telling British Jewish leaders that the US would “do our level best” to prevent Corbyn from ever becoming Prime Minister. “It could be that Mr. Corbyn manages to run the gauntlet and get elected,” he said, “You should know, we won’t wait for him to do those things to begin to push back. We will do our level best. It’s too risky and too important and too hard once it’s already happened.”

President Obama also involved himself heavily in domestic British affairs, sharing a stage with Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, expressing his disapproval at the thought of Scottish independence, backing a “strong and united UK.” Obama also told the UK that it would be “hard to be advantageous” for it to leave the European Union, claiming it would put Britain at the “back of the queue” for trade talks, a statement Boris Johnson described as a “perverse” intervention.

Whatever the role of Moscow in British internal affairs, it is clear that the Russia Report is far from the definitive document some commentators have made it out to be. Often, it bears remembering, threats to democracy come from much closer to home.

Report: OPCW Leaks Show US Cover-Up of Illegal Syria Bombing

Report: OPCW Leaks Show US Cover-Up of Illegal Syria Bombing

By Staff, Agencies

Leaked documents from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons [OPCW] show that the administration of US President Donald Trump bombed Syria in 2018 on false grounds and pressured officials at the chemical weapons watchdog to cover it up, an American weekly magazine reports.

Analyzing the leaks, The Nation reported on Friday that the OPCW had manipulated the original report on the alleged chemical attack in the city of Douma near the capital Damascus on April 7, 2018.

The US and its allies were quick to blame the incident on the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Damascus, however, said that no chemical attack happened and that the incident was staged by foreign intelligence agencies to pressure the government in the face of army advances against foreign-backed terrorists.

One week after the Douma incident, the US, Britain and France launched a coordinated missile attack against sites and research facilities near Damascus and Homs with the purported goal of paralyzing the Syrian government’s capability to produce chemicals.

In March 2019, the OPCW concluded in its final report that there are “reasonable grounds” to believe that a chemical weapons attack occurred in Douma and that “the toxic chemical was likely molecular chlorine.”

But, subsequent internal OPCW documents, including a trove published by WikiLeaks, revealed that the Douma investigators’ initial report had reached different conclusions from their organization’s published version.

According to the report, the leaks reveal that senior OPCW officials “reedited” the Douma investigators’ original report, “removed or misrepresented” key facts and rewrote conclusions in a bid to support the allegation that a chlorine gas attack had occurred in Douma.

“Yet the team’s initial report did not conclude that a chemical attack occurred, and left open the possibility that victims were killed in a ‘non-chemical related’ incident,” it added.

The report also referred to a toxicology review which found that observed symptoms of the civilians in Douma, particularly the rapid onset of excessive frothing, as well as the concentration of victims filmed in the apartment building so close to fresh air, “were inconsistent with exposure to chlorine, and no other obvious candidate chemical causing the symptoms could be identified.”

It further said chemical tests of the samples collected in Douma showed that chlorine compounds were, in most cases, “detected at what amounted to trace quantities in the parts-per-billion range” and that they could have resulted from “contact with household products such as bleach or come from chlorinated water or wood preservatives.”

The author of the initial POCW report protested the revisions in an e-mail, saying the altered version “misrepresents the facts,” thereby “undermining its credibility.”

After the e-mail of protest, a US government delegation met with members of the investigation team in an attempt to convince them that the Syrian government had committed a chemical attack with chlorine.

Veteran reporter Jonathan Steele said the Douma team saw the meeting as “unacceptable pressure and a violation of the OPCW’s declared principles of independence and impartiality.”

Meanwhile, the OPCW’s final report claimed that gas cylinders found in Douma likely came from Syrian military aircraft, but an unpublished engineering study found that the cylinders were manually placed.

“The OPCW leadership has yet to offer a substantive explanation for why they excluded critical findings and radically altered the original report. Instead, it has denigrated the two members of the Douma fact-finding mission team who challenged the manipulation of their investigation,” The Nation reported.

Ian Henderson and another unnamed OPCW inspector are the whistleblowers who challenged the whitewash at the chemical weapons watchdog.

OPCW Director General Fernando Arias claimed that the pair had committed “deliberate and premeditated breaches of confidentiality.”

A third OPCW official, who was speaking on the condition of anonymity, said he was “horrified” by the “abhorrent…mistreatment” of the pair.

“I fully support their endeavors,” he added. “They are in fact trying to protect the integrity of the organization which has been hijacked and brought into shameful disrepute.”

“The possibility that the United States may have bombed Syria based on falsehoods – and pressured a global investigative body to grant that intervention legitimacy after the fact –should break the media blockade. So too should the fact that it was exposed by whistleblowers who face risk for speaking out,” The Nation reported.

Former OPCW head Jose Bustani said, “The convincing evidence of irregular behavior in the OPCW investigation of the alleged Douma chemical attack confirms doubts and suspicions I already had.”

“The picture is certainly clearer now, although very disturbing,” he added, expressing hope that the outcry over the Douma leaks “will catalyze a process by which the [OPCW] can be resurrected to become the independent and non-discriminatory body it used to be.”

BRITISH ESTABLISHMENT NEW FEARS: RUSSIA WEAPONIZES ‘FUNDAMENTAL NIHILSM’

Source

22.07.2020 

British Establishment New Fears: Russia Weaponizes 'Fundamental Nihilsm'

On July 21st, the UK’s Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament (ISC) released a report specifically on Russia and the challenges it presents, as well as recommendations on how to deal with it. [pdf]

The ISC makes a number of points, mostly focused on the presumed Russian intervention in the UK political and economic life. They are:

  1. Russian influence in the UK is the new normal. Successive Governments have welcomed the oligarchs and their money with open arms, providing them with a means of recycling illicit finance through the London ‘laundromat’, and connections at the highest levels with access to UK companies and political figures.
  2. This has led to a growth industry of ‘enablers’ including lawyers, accountants, and estate agents who are – wittingly or unwittingly – de facto agents of the Russian state.
  3. It demonstrates the inherent tension between the Government’s prosperity agenda and the need to protect national security. While we cannot now shut the stable door, greater powers and transparency are needed urgently.
  4. The UK is a target for Russian disinformation. While the mechanics of our paper-based voting system are largely sound, we cannot be complacent about a hostile state taking deliberate action with the aim of influencing our democratic processes.
  5. Yet the defense of those democratic processes has appeared something of a ‘hot potato’, with no one organization considering itself to be in the lead, or apparently willing to conduct an assessment of such interference. This must change.
  6. Social media companies must take action and remove covert hostile state material: Government must ‘name and shame’ those who fail to act.
  7. The UK needs other countries to step up with the UK and attach a cost to Putin’s actions. Salisbury must not be allowed to become the high water mark in international unity over the Russia threat.

The entire report is actually just a fraction, since there is a Classified Annex that contains most of the issues that are being discussed and are not available for open access.

Okay, so “What does Russia want?”, according to the ISC:

“The security threat posed by Russia is difficult for the West to manage as, in our view and that of many others, it appears fundamentally nihilistic. Russia seems to see foreign policy as a zero-sum game: any actions it can take which damage the West are fundamentally good for Russia. It is also seemingly fed by paranoia, believing that Western institutions such as NATO and the EU have a far more aggressive posture towards it than they do in reality. There is also a sense that Russia believes that an undemocratic ‘might is right’ world order plays to its strengths, which leads it to seek to undermine the Rules Based International Order – whilst nonetheless benefitting from its membership of international political and economic institutions.”

Russia, according to the report, also wishes to show that it is a “great power” no less than the former Soviet Union, and possibly even more so.

And the UK is a target since Russia “apparently” considers London as one of its top Western intelligence targets. That is primarily because of the good job that the UK has been doing in countering “Russian aggression.”

“This perception will have been reinforced by the UK’s firm stance recently in response to Russian aggression: following the UK-led international response to the Salisbury attack – which saw an unprecedented 153 Russian intelligence officers and diplomats expelled from 29 countries and NATO – it appears to the Committee that Putin considers the UK to be a key diplomatic adversary. The threat to the UK – and any changes to this following the actions taken in response to the Salisbury attack – is described in this Report, together with the action that the UK Intelligence Community is taking to counter those threats.”

The report provides several areas that need improvement in terms of the fight against Russia:

  1. The Government Communications Headquarter (GCHQ) assesses that Russia is a highly capable cyber actor with a proven capability to carry out operations which can deliver a range of impacts across any sector. It’s allegedly been doing so since 2014, including GRU agents carrying out alleged phishing operations against UK government departments.
  2. The spreading of disinformation (by which we mean the promotion of intentionally false, distorting or distracting narratives) and the running of ‘influence campaigns’ are separate but interlinked subjects. An influence campaign in relation to an election, for example, may use the spreading of disinformation, but may also encompass other tactics such as illicit funding, disruption of electoral mechanics or direct attacks on one of the campaigns (such as ‘hack and leak’). Equally, the spreading of disinformation is not necessarily aimed at influencing any individual outcome.
  3. Whilst the Russian elite have developed ties with a number of countries in recent years, it would appear that the UK has been viewed as a particularly favourable destination for Russian oligarchs and their money. “What is now clear is that it was in fact counte-productive, in that it offered ideal mechanisms by which illicit finance could be recycled through what has been referred to as the London ‘laundromat’.

The report emphasizes that Russia currently poses a significant threat to the UK on a number of fronts – from espionage to interference in democratic processes, and to serious crime. It continues  that the response needs to be combined from all UK security and intelligence agencies, government bodies, included with the ministers of government, as well as the ISC. This will require renewed doctrines, more and improved projects.

And this will not be an easy feat:

“As already noted, the Russian government is an accomplished adversary with well-resourced and world-class offensive and defensive intelligence capabilities. The well-publicised mistakes Russian operatives made in Salisbury, and later in trying to infiltrate the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), have led to public speculation about the competence of the Russian Intelligence Services (RIS), and the GRU in particular. Whilst these attacks demonstrate that the RIS are not infallible, it would be foolhardy to think that they are any less dangerous because of these mistakes. Indeed, the likelihood is that the RIS will learn from their errors, and become more difficult to detect and protect against as a result.”

Of course, none of this can be achieved without due support from international partners such as the US, NATO and others.

Russia, however, supposedly can’t rely on allies, at least not as much as the UK:

“By contrast to the West, Russia has traditionally been suspicious of building significant international partnerships. However, we note that in recent years it has been proactive in seeking ‘alliances of convenience’ across the world. This has included deepened defense and security co-operation with China, as a useful partner against the US (going so far as to conduct joint military exercises), increased influence in South America, and substantive engagement in several African countries, including widespread trade campaigns.”

It’s interesting to note that to motivate the need of the expanded campaign against Russia, the report is extensively using such terms as “open source studies”, including some mysterious “credible open source commentary”, and complains about the “fundamentally nihilistic” approach of Russia.

British Establishment New Fears: Russia Weaponizes 'Fundamental Nihilsm'
British Establishment New Fears: Russia Weaponizes 'Fundamental Nihilsm'

Indeed, if one translates the report wording from the mainstream propaganda language to the ordinary English, the British government and special services complain that they have not enough leverages of pressure and instruments to influence Russia and needs to expand clandestine, diplomatic and propaganda campaigns against Moscow. At the same time, London tries to demonize tactical successes of the Russian state to inform the English-speaking audience of its point of view through diplomatic channels and English-language state media like RT and Sputniknews.

Probably, the main point of the concern for London is that in the conditions of the crumbling neo-liberal narrative (due to the global economic crisis, the COVID-19 outbreak and a series of crises in base states for the Euro-Atlantic establishment), the Russian behavior on the international arena became attractive for the part of the European and American population, which is still not fully indocrinated by the mainstream propaganda.

The Russian side has already denied all the accusations provided by the report of the UK Intelligence and Security Committee. Maria Zakharova, the spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry said that it has shown “nothing sensational” and is just “fake shaped Russophobia.”

In response to the report, the Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov made a statement:

“Russia has never interfered in electoral processes in any country of the world: not in the United States, not in Great Britain, or in other countries. We do not do it ourselves and do not tolerate when other countries try to interfere in our political affairs,” Peskov told reporters.

The head of the international committee of the Federation Council, Konstantin Kosachev, believes that by criticizing Russia, Britain is trying to regain its positions in European politics.

“I am convinced that the reason for the appearance of such an odious report is the attempts of the British authorities to regain the European palm at any cost … And why not lead in Russophobia? While in the European Union, London lost some of its brilliance against the background of the Young Europeans, competing with each other, which of them in exchange for European dividends could ruin relations with our country more abruptly,” he wrote on Facebook.

It’s unlikely that the Russian statements will convince anybody in the British establishment because the main goal of the report was not to find the truth but to set conditions for a further action against Moscow.

At the same time, the content of the entire report is quite funny as the side blaming Moscow for the supposed “fundamentally nihilistic” approach and simultaneously proposing employing various propaganda, intelligence and censorship methods against the alternative point of view. Such complains are only fueling this ‘Russia-styled fundamental nihilism’ among the audience, which still is able to have own critical point of view and like to check facts. This demonstrates a sad tendency of the falling level of competence among personnel (including agents, analysis and propagandists) of the Western special services. These agencies are now forced to be fully in the framework of the neo-liberal, minorities-ruled agenda employing the policy of ‘tolerance’ and ‘inclusivity’ promoted by the globalists. Apparently, personal details of particular personnel have become more important that their skills.

Since the very start of SouthFront work, our team has been repeatedly accused of intervening in various processes in the ‘democratic countries’ and spreading top-notch ‘disinformation’ on the highest level (including  press briefings of the US Department of State and reports by the French Defense Ministry). And we are not going to stop on this. So, if you want to fuel some more ‘nihilism’ and coverage that disturb the Euro-Atlantic establishment and globalists, support our work.

“Putin Hacked Our Coronavirus Vaccine” Is The Dumbest Story Yet

By Caitlin Johnstone

Source

Putin Hacked Our Coronavirus Vaccine 8de37

OMG you guys Putin hacked our coronavirus vaccine secrets!

Today mainstream media is reporting what is arguably the single dumbest Russiavape story of all time, against some very stiff competition.

“Russian hackers are targeting health care organizations in the West in an attempt to steal coronavirus vaccine research, the U.S. and Britain said,” reports The New York Times.

“Hackers backed by the Russian state are trying to steal COVID-19 vaccine and treatment research from academic and pharmaceutical institutions around the world, Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said on Thursday,” Reuters reports.

“Russian news agency RIA cited spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying the Kremlin rejected London’s allegations, which he said were not backed by proper evidence,” adds Reuters.

I mean, there are just so many layers of stupid.

First of all, how many more completely unsubstantiated government agency allegations about Russian nefariousness are we the public going to accept from the corporate mass media? Since 2016 it’s been wall-to-wall narrative about evil things Russia is doing to the empire-like cluster of allies loosely centralized around the United States, and they all just happen to be things nobody can actually provide the public with hard verifiable evidence of.

Ever since the shady cybersecurity firm Crowdstrike admitted that it never actually saw hard proof of Russia hacking the DNC servers, the already shaky and always unsubstantiated narrative that Russian hackers interfered in the US presidential election in 2016 has been on thinner ice than ever. Yet because the mass media converged on this narrative and repeated it as fact over and over again they’ve been able to get the mainstream headline-skimming public to accept it as an established truth, priming them for an increasingly idiotic litany of completely unsubstantiated Russia scandals, culminating most recently in the entirely debunked claim that Russia paid Taliban-linked fighters to kill coalition forces in Afghanistan.

Secondly, the news story doesn’t even claim that these supposed Russian hackers even succeeded in doing whatever they were supposed to have been doing in this supposed cyberattack.

“Officials have not commented on whether the attacks were successful but also have not ruled out that this is the case,” Wired reports.

Thirdly, this is a “vaccine” which does not even exist at this point in time, and the research which was supposedly hacked may never lead to one. Meanwhile, Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University reports that it has “successfully completed tests on volunteers of the world’s first vaccine against coronavirus,” in Russia.

Fourthly, and perhaps most importantly, how obnoxious and idiotic is it that coronavirus vaccine “secrets” are a even a thing??? This is a global pandemic which is hurting all of us; scientists should be free to collaborate with other scientists anywhere in the world to find a solution to this problem. Nobody has any business keeping “secrets” from the world about this virus or any possible vaccine or treatment. If they do, anyone in the world is well within their rights to pry those secrets away from them.

This intensely stupid story comes out at the same time British media are blaring stories about Russian interference in the 2019 election, which if you actually listen carefully to the claims being advanced amounts to literally nothing more than the assertion that Russians talked about already leaked documents pertaining to the UK’s healthcare system on the internet.

“Russian actors ‘sought to interfere’ in last winter’s general election by amplifying an illicitly acquired NHS dossier that was seized upon by Labour during the campaign, the foreign secretary has said,” reports The Guardian.

“Amplifying”. That’s literally all there is to this story. As we learned with the ridiculous US Russiagate narrative, Russia “amplifying” something in such allegations can mean anything from RT reporting on a major news story to a Twitter account from St Petersburg sharing an article from The Washington Post. Even the foreign secretary’s claim itself explicitly admits that “there is no evidence of a broad spectrum Russian campaign against the General Election”.

“The statement is so foggy and contradictory that it is almost impossible to understand it,” responded Russia’s foreign ministry to the allegations. “If it’s inappropriate to say something then don’t say it. If you say it, produce the facts.”

Instead of producing facts you’ve got the Murdoch press pestering Jeremy Corbyn on his doorstep over this ridiculous non-story, and popular right-wing outlets like Guido Fawkes running the blatantly false headline “Government Confirms Corbyn Used Russian-Hacked Documents in 2019 Election”. The completely bogus allegation that the NHS documents came to Jeremy Corbyn by way of Russian hackers is not made anywhere in the article itself, but for the headline-skimming majority this makes no difference. And headline skimmers get as many votes as people who read and think critically.

All this new cold war Russia hysteria is turning people’s brains into guacamole. We’ve got to find a way to snap out of the propaganda trance so we can start creating a world that is based on truth and a desire for peace.

Masks Are All About the Economy Not Safety!

The Compulsory wearing of masks Law is nothing to do with safety or science and everything do with cash and PR.

If it’s necessary to wear a mask now, then surely it was even more necessary back on March 12 when the Deputy chief medical officer, Dr Jenny Harries stated “For the average member of the public walking down a street, it is not a good idea… in fact, you can actually trap the virus in the mask and start breathing it in.”

This was the same date that she also said that the Cheltenham Festival and other sporting events could continue and we all know what happened as a result of that ‘scientific’ advice.

However, now suddenly, with death figures tumbling we are told that face coverings in shops will be mandatory from July 24th and that cops will issue spot fines of £100 if we do not comply.

It’s the Economy, Stupid

I wonder why? You don’t think it has anything to do with the economy being in free fall, do you?!

Of course, it has. This new policy is ‘all about the economy stupid’ and nowt to do with the safety of us. We are being used as Lab Rats again. Wear a mask to be ‘safe’ and spend, spend, spend.

Having scared the nation to death for months, Boris now wants us back out on the streets and in the pubs and shops spending like that thick lottery winner in Norwich, who ended up skint after blowing his fortune. He now delivers coal.

The whole policy is rubbish. If it’s so important to wear a mask why are we having to wait until July 24 to implement this new law? Boris has stated that a cloth face covering is all that’s necessary, so if the threat is so real we don’t need any preparation time, do we?

Meanwhile, Government Minister George ‘Useless’ Eustice was on TV this morning saying that we need two weeks to organise a face covering for ourselves!

Then up popped London Mayor Sadiq ‘Khant’ who said the law would be impossible to enforce in London as it lacks clarity.

So, we have to wear a mask in a shop but not in a pub? Boris opening swimming pools and gyms but they’re mask free? Why don’t you have to wear a mask in a cinema which last time I looked is a confined space?

I could go on but seeking clarity in this government’s inept handling and policy decisions during this pandemic is as fruitless as finding the Holy Grail.

Incompetent Mob

Boris was elected on a tide of optimism and a promise of taking back control but his government has morphed into an incompetent mob who want to control us.

Boris, please tell me, how the hell are the cops meant to enforce this law?

They weren’t even allowed by their political masters and their politically correct Chief Constables to stop the Black Lives Matter protests and counter-protests from happening during the pandemic a few weeks ago.

The mob ruled and the coppers were either too busy bending a knee or scared to intervene as Churchill’s statue was vandalised and the cenotaph desecrated. The only time they moved and got off their knees was when they ran away from whichever mob was chasing them. Pathetic.

But, I guess that there has been a calculation that shoppers are an easy nick, so you watch as thousands of people are made into criminals by Boris’ Barmy edict.

To be fair, Boris played a blinder in getting us all to self-isolate and stay home but that was because we are a tolerant lot and realised that it was the best thing to do at that time. However, many of us also wanted a swifter and more draconian lockdown which should have included masks then but instead he opted for the so-called libertarian approach, instead of learning from Italy.

He was slow off the blocks then and he is still lagging behind the rest of the runners in this race to defeat coronavirus.

He decided to treat us as children by not telling us all the facts and he refused to actually confess when he got things wrong as Macron did in France. No, instead he had to keep ramping up the fear factor to warp factor 11.

Boris has consistently said that he is following the science and the scientific advice but it’s clear that either the scientific advice was poor or even wrong, or he is spinning us a line to deflect criticism away from himself.

Killing off the High Street

Now people are very concerned about going out again which is why pubs are not being besieged and are operating on at least 50 percent lower takings.

The same is happening on the High Street. Why would you go shopping in town when you have to queue to get into every shop and you’re treated like a leper by an assistant in a mask asking if you’ve hand-sanitized?

Then you can’t touch the clothes or even try the shoes on.

No wonder people are practising real social distancing and shopping from the safety of their own homes via the internet.

The high street and town centres were already dying before COVID but Boris’ mandatory face mask law will be the final death blow for our Town centres.

It will have the opposite effect to the one he intends; the shoppers will stay away and the economy will continue to collapse until he gets a grip, has realistic policies and most importantly a clear and consistent road map which we all understand and are willing to follow.


By Jon Gaunt
Source: Sputnik News

The Future for China

Source

The Future for China

July 15, 2020

by Eric Zuesse for the Saker Blog

On July 14th, the two conjoined gangster-regimes, U.S. & UK, simultaneously started, with deadly seriousness, their aggressive economic war against China.

Business Insider headlined “US Navy warship challenges China in South China Sea as US blasts Beijing’s ‘unlawful’ claims and ‘gangster tactics’” and reported that,

After the US Department of State declared Beijing’s maritime claims in the South China Sea and efforts to assert dominance to be unlawful, the US Navy destroyer USS Ralph Johnson further challenged China with a sail-by operation.

The Navy released a couple of photos on Tuesday of the destroyer sailing near the contested Spratly Islands, and a Navy spokesman confirmed that the ship conducted a freedom-of-navigation operation in the area.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ralph Johnson (DDG 114) steams near the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. Ralph Johnson is deployed conducting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts for a free and open Indo-Pacific. U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Anthony Collier

On the same day, Russia’s RT headlined “George Galloway: UK ban on Huawei is national self-harm. China’s riposte could devastate the ailing British economy”, and he reported that

Having alienated the remaining 27 members of the European Union and set Anglo-Russian relations back a century, Boris Johnson has just declared an economic war on China. … The proximate reason – that allowing Huawei into Britain’s 5G roll-out is a “security risk” – is patently false. If that were true for 5G, it would be true of 3 and 4G. If it were true then the company would have to be banished now, not in 2027 (by when, incidentally, 5G will be so last year).

There is not a shred, not a scintilla, not a jot or tittle, of evidence that Huawei has ever done anything wrong during its highly successful penetration of the British market, from which Britain has economically benefited mightily.

And if Chinese investment in 5G is not wanted – indeed, is being ejected – what of China’s powerful stake in Britain’s energy sector? What happens if China pulls the plugs on its nuclear power stations? Do all our lights go out? Has anyone thought this Chinese Kick-Away through? … BoJo’s decision to throw the Huawei 5G deal on the scrapheap shows UK poodle still obeys its US master

In this triple whammy of sanctions, gunboats and settlement, the brassy note of Jingoism plays ‘Rule Britannia’, but no one seems to have noticed that China is a vastly richer and more powerful adversary than it was when we extorted Hong Kong from them in punishment for their attempt to halt the flood of British opium into China which caused the addiction of 90 million Chinese people.

The economic sanctions imposed on China in the Huawei affair will be returned several-fold by Beijing.

Galloway might be correct, that China will be able to survive UK’s attempts to stifle China’s rise as a global economic competitor to the UK-U.S. empire, but if the U.S. is allowed to block China’s shipments through the South China Sea, then the war against China has already been won. It’s much more serious.

China has internationally been losing each one of the major rounds in its territorial disputes regarding its territorial claims in the South China Sea. It’s as if the U.S. were losing territorial claims in the Caribbean, except that the South China Sea is far more geostrategically important to China than the Caribbean is to the United States. So, China’s losses here are geostrategic ones. Those are disputes versus the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia, and the U.S. regime has played a decisive role in each case on the basis of its bilateral treaties, such as the 1951 U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty, which enables the Philippines to call upon U.S. military backing in case the Philippines needs muscle in order to assert a territorial claim against another country, such as, say, China, which is the giant in their neighborhood.

U.S. President Harry S. Truman strongly disagreed with his predecessor, Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s, opposition to imperialism, and he went for it almost as soon as he became the U.S. President. Actually, he became President at FDR’s death on 12 April 1945, and then, less than four months later, on 26 July 1945, committed himself to the Military-Industrial Complex’s dream of establishing an all-encompassing U.S. global empire. He made that decision, on 26 July 1945, which subsequently created the coups, military invasions, importations of thousands of Nazi officials into The West, to help America’s fight against the Soviet Union, and construction of the CIA’a program to control what international ‘news’ would be off-limits to report in the U.S., and in its vassal-nations.

Elliott Roosevelt, FDR’s son who accompanied his father during crucial international meetings, felt that Truman was a traitor to his father’s anti-imperialistic legacy. FDR, according to his son, Elliott, also wasn’t too fond of Churchill, who agreed with Truman because Churchill had always been a champion of British imperialism and he needed U.S. acceptance of that.

Elliott wrote:

——

https://www.mtholyoke.edu/

Roosevelt and Churchill Discuss Colonial Questions, August 10, 1941, excerpt from Elliott Roosevelt, As He Saw It (New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1946).”

Father [FDR] started it.

“Of course,” he remarked, with a sly sort of assurance, “of course, after the war, one of the preconditions of any lasting peace will have to be the greatest possible freedom of trade.”

He paused. The P.M.’s [Churchill’s] head was lowered; he was watching Father steadily, from under one eyebrow.

“No artificial barriers,” Father pursued. “As few favored economic agreements as possible. Opportunities for expansion. Markets open for healthy competition.” His eye wandered innocently around the room.

Churchill shifted in his armchair. “The British Empire trade agreements,” he began heavily, “are — ”

Father broke in. “Yes. Those Empire trade agreements are a case in point. It’s because of them that the people of India and Africa, of all the colonial Near East and Far East, are still as backward as they are.”

Churchill’s neck reddened and he crouched forward. “Mr. President, England does not propose for a moment to lose its favored position among the British Do-minions. The trade that has made England great shall continue, and under conditions prescribed by England’s ministers.”

You see,” said Father slowly, “it is along in here somewhere that there is likely to be some disagreement between you, Winston, and me.

I am firmly of the belief that if we are to arrive at a stable peace it must involve the development of backward countries. Backward peoples. How can this be done? It can’t be done, obviously, by eighteenth-century methods. Now — ”

Who’s talking eighteenth-century methods?”

Whichever of your ministers recommends a policy which takes wealth in raw materials out of a colonial country, but which returns nothing to the people of that country in consideration. Twentieth-century methods involve bringing industry to these colonies. Twentieth-century methods include increasing the wealth of a people by increasing their standard of living, by educating them, by bringing them sanitation — by making sure that they get a return for the raw wealth of their community.”

Around the room, all of us were leaning forward attentively. [Harry] Hopkins [a major FDR adviser] was grinning. Commander [C. R.] Thompson, Churchill’s aide, was looking glum and alarmed. The P.M. himself was beginning to look apoplectic.

“You mentioned India,” he growled.

“Yes. I can’t believe that we can fight a war against fascist slavery, and at the same time not work to free people all over the world from a backward colonial policy”

What about the Philippines?”

I’m glad you mentioned them. They get their independence, you know, in 1946. And they’ve gotten modern sanitation, modern education; their rate of illiteracy has gone steadily down

There can be no tampering with the Empire’s economic agreements.”

They’re artificial …”

They’re the foundation of our greatness.”

The peace,” said Father firmly, “cannot include any continued despotism. The structure of the peace demands and will get equality of peoples. Equality of peoples involves the utmost freedom of competitive trade. …”

It was after two in the morning when finally the British party said their good nights. I helped Father into his cabin, and sat down to smoke a last cigarette with him.

Father grunted. “A real old Tory, isn’t he? A real old Tory, of the old school.”

“I thought for a minute he was [you were] going to bust, Pop.”

“Oh,” he smiled, “I’ll be able to work with him. Don’t worry about that. We’ll get along famously.”

“So long as you keep off the subject of India.”

“Mmm, I don’t know. I think we’ll even talk some more about India, before we’re through. And Burma. And Java. And Indo-China. And Indonesia. And all the African colonies. And Egypt and Palestine. We’ll talk about ’em all.”

http://east_west_dialogue.

At the Casablanca Conference

A similar kind of discussion occurred between Roosevelt and Churchill at the Casablanca Conference in January 1943. The following is Elliott’s description of his father’s talk with him one evening during that meeting:

His thoughts turned to the problem of the colonies and the colonial markets, the problem which he felt was at the core of all chance for future peace. ‘The thing is,’ he remarked thoughtfully, replacing a smoked cigarette in his holder with a fresh one, ‘the colonial system means war. Exploit the resources of an India, a Burma, a Java; take all the wealth out of those countries, but never put anything back into them, things like education, decent standards of living, minimum health requirements — all you’re doing is storing up the kind of trouble that leads to war. All you’re doing is negating the value of any kind of organizational structure for peace before it begins.

‘The look that Churchill gets on his face when you mention India!

India should be made a commonwealth at once. After a certain number of years — five perhaps, or ten — she should be able to choose whether she wants to remain in the Empire or have complete independence.

As a commonwealth, she would be entitled to a modern form of government, an adequate health and educational standard. But how can she have these things, when Britain is taking all the wealth of her national resources away from her, every year? Every year the Indian people have one thing to look forward to, like death and taxes. Sure as shooting, they have a famine. The season of the famine, they call it.’

He paused for a moment, thinking.

‘I must tell Churchill what I found out about his British Gambia today,’ he said, with a note of determination.

‘At Bathurst?’ I prompted.

This morning,’ he said, and now there was real feeling in his voice, ‘at about eight-thirty, we drove through Bathurst to the airfield. The natives were just getting to work. In rags … glum-looking. … They told us the natives would look happier around noontime, when the sun should have burned off the dew and the chill. I was told the prevailing wages for these men was one and nine. One shilling, ninepence. Less than fifty cents.’

An hour?’ I asked, foolishly.

A {day!} Fifty cents a {day!} Besides which, they’re given a half-cup of rice.’ He shifted uneasily in his big bed. ‘Dirt, disease. Very high mortality rate. I asked. Life expectancy — you’d never guess what it was. Twenty-six years. Those people are treated worse than the livestock. Their cattle live longer!’

He was silent for a moment.

Churchill may have thought I wasn’t serious, last time. He’ll find out, this time.’ He looked at me thoughtfully for a moment. ‘How is it, where you are? How is it in Algeria?’ he asked.

I told him it was the same story. Rich country, rich resources, natives desperately poor, a few white colonials that lived very well, a few native princes that lived very well, otherwise poverty, disease, ignorance. He nodded.

And then he went on to tell of what he thought should be done: France to be restored as a world power, then to be entrusted with her former colonies, as a trustee. As trustee, she was to report each year on the progress of her stewardship, how the literacy rate was improving, how the death rate declining, how disease being stamped out, how. …

Wait a minute,’ I interrupted. ‘Who’s she going to report all this to?’

The organization of the United Nations, when it’s been set up,’ answered Father. It was the first time I’d ever heard of this plan. ‘How else?’ I asked Father. ‘The Big Four — ourselves, Britain, China, the Soviet Union — we’ll be responsible for the peace of the world after. …

‘… It’s already high time for us to be thinking of the future, building for it. … These great powers will have to assume the tasks of bringing education, raising the standards of living, improving the health conditions — of all the backward, depressed colonial areas of the world.

And when they’ve had a chance to reach maturity, they must have the opportunity extended them of independence. After the United Nations as a whole have decided that they are prepared for it.

If this isn’t done, we might as well agree that we’re in for another war.’

https://www.marxists.org/

Elliott’s book as quoted in the 17 September 1946 Look Magazine:

Father remarked,” says Elliott Roosevelt, “on how British and French financiers had dredged riches out of colonies. …” He continued later, “How do they belong to France? Why does Morocco, inhabited by Moroccans, belong to France? By what logic and custom and historical rule?”

——

Obviously, Winston Churchill’s dream came true when FDR died on 12 April 1945 and became replaced by Truman.

Among those statements by FDR, the one specifically regarding the Philippines has particular relevance today. The 1951 U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty violated what FDR had said to Churchill, “I’m glad you mentioned them. They get their independence, you know, in 1946.” That U.S. commitment, “freedom,” to the Philippine nation, had already been made. He promised to Churchill that it would be fulfilled, and that therefore Churchill would not be able to say that America is an imperialist power as England is. It was a basic commitment from him. Furthermore, FDR said:

No artificial barriers,” Father pursued. “As few favored economic agreements as possible. Opportunities for expansion. Markets open for healthy competition.” His eye wandered innocently around the room.

Churchill shifted in his armchair. “The British Empire trade agreements,” he began heavily, “are — ”

Father broke in. “Yes. Those Empire trade agreements are a case in point. It’s because of them that the people of India and Africa, of all the colonial Near East and Far East, are still as backward as they are.”

And: “‘The peace,’ said Father firmly, ‘cannot include any continued despotism. The structure of the peace demands and will get equality of peoples.’”

He linked bilateral, and also multilateral, trade treaties, to the creation of both World Wars. The United States, after his death, has used them in exactly the same way — building toward a WW III. Truman was the death of FDR’s plan. For example, Barack Obama’s proposed TTIP international-trade treaty for the Pacific was specifically designed against China, so as to isolate and diminish China in international trade — precisely the sorts of things that FDR had condemned in his statements to Churchill. Obama was an anti-FDR, pro-Truman, Democrat, who repeatedly emphasized, “The United States is and remains the one indispensable nation.” Every other nation is “dispensable.” Hitler had agreed with Obama’s view, except that in Hitler’s mind, Germany was the only indispensable nation.

In a sense, Hitler posthumously won WW II. His ideology, imperialistic fascism certainly did.

The Philippine President, Rodrigo Duterte, condemns U.S. imperialism and repels any dependency of his country upon the U.S. military. He explains “I have nothing against America. They’re perfectly alright. Trump is my friend. But my foreign policy has shifted from the pro-Western one. I am now working on alliance with China, and I hope to start a good working relationship with Russia. Why? Because the Western world, the EU, and everything – it’s all this double talk.”

CONSEQUENTLY:

The path forward for China will be increasingly for China to serve as a defender of the independence of the nations in its area (such as the Philippines), so that they won’t need to accept the U.S. regime’s offers of military assistance. Either this, or else China itself will cede control of its own neighborhood over to a distant enemy-nation, the ceaselessly grasping U.S. regime, and might as well just quit altogether, and become an American pawn itself.

Either all of the nations in that area will thrive together, or else the U.S.-UK alliance will succeed at crushing and swallowing-up them all.

This means that in the conflicts that China has with its nearby nations, China must grant those nations’ interests as being also China’s interests. China must accept its obligation to defend their interests in order to become enabled to assert its own. Only if this is done will those nearby nations ally with China against the U.S. Empire, not just militarily, but also in regard to commerce and trade. For China not to take on this obligation would be unacceptable, not only for China, but for the entire world. Regardless of what China wants, China has this obligation, now, to protect its region, against America’s billionaires, and their military, and their corporations.

However, the U.S. regime’s unmistakable threat now to block China’s freight-traffic through the South China Sea will succeed if China becomes the first side to attack and tries to down any U.S. forces there. Even if the U.S. strikes without warning and with no clear excuse, China will need to hold back for a while, before retaliating. The U.S. has arrayed an awesome striking force in that area. China will have to wait until the U.S. attacks it first, in any event, but now is the time for China to negotiate with its neighbors. Otherwise China will have almost the whole world against it, if China provides the bad optics of having been the first to strike.

During this time, therefore, China needs to be negotiating with each of the other regional players in order to persuade each one that only a unified facing-down against the U.S. in that region can even possibly salvage the independence of each one of them from now on. Russia may also need to be brought into the arrangement as a protector of China, just in case the U.S. turns out to be uncompromising in its intention to take over the entire world. Either Russia will soon enter this new World War that the UK-U.S. regimes are already waging, or else Russia will be forced to enter it only after Russia’s major allies will already have been swallowed-up by the U.S. The safer choice for Russia is consequently to enter the war sooner, as a guarantor for their side, their allies, the independent nations, than to enter it after those nations have already been defeated and swallowed-up.

—————

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

UK Remains Silent as Al-Khalifa Court Confirms Death Sentences on Social Media

UK Remains Silent as Al-Khalifa Court Confirms Death Sentences on Social Media

By Staff, Agencies 

Amid sounding silence from all over the globe, Bahrain’s highest court has upheld death sentences against pro-democracy protesters, Mohammed Ramadhan and Hussein Moosa.

The two men, who were both tortured by security services and convicted on the basis of torture confessions, could now be executed at any time.

Mohammed’s wife Zainab reported that she was denied entry to the courtroom. The verdict was announced by the Bahraini Public Prosecutor’s Office on Instagram and Twitter.

The UK Government had declined to make public representations to Bahrain ahead of the Court of Cassation’s verdict, despite demands from MPs and peers of all parties to intervene. 

Sir Peter Bottomley, Father of the House, wrote to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab asking him to “urgently call for the quashing of Mohammed and Hussein’s death sentences.” More than 4,000 people wrote to their MPs asking them to raise the cases.

Since 2012, Britain has provided £6.5 million of technical assistance to Bahrain, including training the Bahraini Ombudsman and Special Investigations Unit [SIU], two institutions which failed to properly investigate Ramadhan and Moosa’s torture.

The two men were granted a case review, and their original death sentences overturned, after they made credible revelations that they had been tortured. In January 2020, Bahrain’s high court re-imposed their death sentences, stating that the SIU investigation had shown that Moosa’s confession, implicating Ramadhan, was not obtained through torture and could be relied upon.

An assessment by the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims [IRCT] concluded that the SIU’s investigation “fails to meet the minimum professional standards and minimum international legal standards to which the Kingdom of Bahrain is subject” and raised additional concerns the SIU is neither independent, nor impartial. The IRCT also found that the 2020 court judgment was “critically flawed.”

In declining to take action before the verdict, UK’s Foreign Office Minister James Cleverly committed to raise the cases if the death penalty was handed down, telling the House: “I assure her that if the death penalties are upheld through the Court of Cassation process, the UK will publicly and loudly remind Bahrain of our opposition to the death penalty, and we will continue to seek to have it set aside.”

Reprieve Director Maya Foa said: “What more evidence does the UK Government need that its soft-touch approach to protecting human rights in Bahrain has failed? The UK must now loudly and publicly intervene to save Mohammed and Hussein’s lives, as promised, and call for their sentences to be commuted. Now is the moment to make clear that the Government cannot and will not continue to fund institutions that whitewash torture and enable death sentences.”

Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, Director of Advocacy at Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, said: “Today’s verdict is yet another dark stain in the struggle for human rights in Bahrain, demonstrating the regime’s iron grip over the country’s corrupt judiciary. This horrendous injustice could not have happened without the tacit acceptance of Bahrain’s western allies.”

US Calls China the New East India Company at Sea

Source

July 14, 2020

US China flags

A senior US official on Tuesday likened China’s state enterprises to Britain’s colonizing East India Company as Washington takes a tougher stance against Beijing in the dispute-rife South China Sea.

A day after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo branded most of Beijing’s claims in the sea illegal, his top aide for East Asia denounced a proliferation of rigs, survey ships and fishing boats sent by Chinese state-run companies.

Assistant Secretary of State David Stilwell said that oil major CNOOC and other firms were serving as “battering rams” to intimidate other nations.

“In all our societies, citizens deserve to know the differences between commercial enterprises and instruments of foreign state power,” Stilwell said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“These state enterprises are modern-day equivalents of the East India Company,” he said.

The British East India Company seized control of most of the Indian subcontinent in the guise of trading in tea, cotton, spices and other goods before Britain formally took charge in the mid-19th century.

The reference is especially loaded due to the East India Company’s role in smuggling opium into China, culminating in Britain’s 1843 colonization of Hong Kong — the start of what Beijing calls a century of humiliation.

China has recently triggered international outrage by clamping down on freedoms promised to Hong Kong before Britain handed back the financial hub in 1997.

In the latest rift between the United States and China, Pompeo on Monday sided with the Philippines, Vietnam and other Southeast Asian nations in rejecting China’s vast claims in the South China Sea.

The United States had previously said that China’s claims were unlawful but had taken no explicit position on individual disputes in the resource-rich and strategic sea.

Stilwell renewed US concerns on China’s long-running talks with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on a South China Sea code of conduct, whose target date of next year has been pushed back due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Beijing may have backed off its arbitrary 2021 deadline for concluding the talks, but its hegemonic goals remain,” Stilwell said.

While the United States has no claims in the sea, he warned that US interests were “clearly at stake” in the code of conduct.

“A code of conduct that in any way legitimates Beijing’s reclamation, militarization or unlawful maritime claims would be severely damaging, and unacceptable for many nations,” he said.

Source: AFP

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.

Selected Articles: The Pentagon’s “Anti-China Weapons” and “The New Silk Roads”

By Global Research News

Global Research, July 13, 2020

We hope that by publishing diverse view points, submitted by journalists and experts dotted all over the world, the website can serve as a reminder that no matter what narrative we are presented with, things are rarely as cut and dry as they seem.

If Global Research has been a resource which has offered you some solace over the past few months, we ask you to make a financial contribution to our running costs so that we may keep this important project alive and well! We thank you for your support!

Click to donate:

Busted: 11 COVID Assumptions Based on Fear Not Fact

By Makia Freeman, July 13, 2020

COVID assumptions – the assumptions people make about COVID, how dangerous it is, how it spreads and what we need to do to stop it – are running rampant, running far more wildly than the supposed virus SARS-CoV2 itself. The coldly calculated campaign of propaganda surrounding this ‘pandemic’ has achieved its aim. Besieged with a slew of contradictory information coming from all angles, people in general have succumbed to confusion. Some have given up trying to understand the situation and found it is just easier to obey official directives, even if it means giving up long-held rights. Below is a list of commonly held COVID assumptions which, if you believe them, will make you much more likely to submit to the robotic, insane and abnormal conditions of the New Normal – screening, testing, contact tracing, monitoring, surveillance, mask-wearing, social distancing, quarantine and isolation, with mandatory vaccination and microchipping to come.

Congress Wants More Unnecessary Anti-China Weapons Programs in Annual Defense Bill

By Michael T. Klare, July 13, 2020

Cotton’s proposal, stuffed with lucrative giveaways to the defense industry — $1.6 billion for “logistics and security enablers,” $775 million for “building national resilience to space weather,” among others — bears little apparent relevance to the military equation in Asia and is unlikely to be embraced by a majority of Senators. However, many of his proposed budgetary add-ons have been incorporated into other measures aimed at boosting U.S. military might in the Asia-Pacific region.

75 Years Ago: When Szilard Tried to Halt Dropping Atomic Bombs Over Japan

By Greg Mitchell, July 13, 2020

On July 3, 1945, the great atomic scientist Leo Szilard finished a letter/petition that would become the strongest (virtually the only) real attempt at halting President Truman’s march to using the atomic bomb–still almost two weeks from its first test at Trinity–against Japanese cities.

We rarely hear that as the Truman White House made plans to use the first atomic bombs against Japan in the summer of 1945, a large group of atomic scientists, many of whom had worked on the bomb project, raised their voices, or at least their names, in protest. They were led by the great physicist Szilard who, among things, is the man who convinced Albert Einstein to write his famous yes-it-can-be-done letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, setting the bomb project in motion.

As the Arctic Burns, Trump Bailouts Fossil Fuel Industry with Billions

By Andy Rowell, July 13, 2020

The Arctic is once again on fire. And the extremely warm temperatures in the region — and concurrent wildfires — are another urgent reminder that we need to divest from fossil fuels as soon as possible.

They are a pressing reminder that any post COVID-19 bailout should be focused on an immediate just recovery toward industry workers, renewables, and clean energy.

The UK Reading Stabbings: Al Qaeda LIFG Terrorists Supported by UK. Product of British Foreign Policy

By Tony Cartalucci, July 12, 2020

It should surprise no one paying attention that the suspect in the recent stabbing spree in Reading, UK was not only known to British security agencies as an extremist and security threat, but that he comes from the pool of extremists the British aided Washington in funding, arming, training, and providing air support for during the 2011 overthrow of the Libyan government and have harbored before and ever since.

Looks Like Sweden Was Right After All

By Mike Whitney, July 12, 2020

Why is the media so fixated on Sweden’s coronavirus policy? What difference does it make?

Sweden settled on a policy that they thought was both sustainable and would save as many lives as possible. They weren’t trying to ‘show anyone up’ or ‘prove how smart they were’. They simply took a more traditionalist approach that avoided a full-scale lockdown. That’s all.

Iran and China Turbo-charge the New Silk Roads

By Pepe Escobar, July 12, 2020

Two of the US’s top “strategic threats” are getting closer and closer within the scope of the New Silk Roads – the leading 21st century project of economic integration across Eurasia. The Deep State will not be amused.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi blasted as “lies”  a series of rumors about the “transparent roadmap” inbuilt in the evolving Iran-China strategic partnership.The original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Global Research News, Global Research, 2020

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs: The decision of OPCW on Syria represents clear politicization and is a result of Western pressures and threats

Source

 Monday, 13 July 2020 19:44

The Syrian Arab Republic expressed its deep concern over the policies of blackmail, threats and pressure adopted by a group of Western countries, especially the United States, Britain and France, to pass a Western decision during the ninety-fourth session of the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

The OPCW’s policies constitute a dangerous precedent and play a pivotal role in politicizing its work and turning it into a hostage to many well-known countries that impose their narrow and malicious political agendas through it.

“Russia, China and Iran voted against the decision,while  nine countries abstained from voting ,  as it was unlawfully targeting Syria – the member state of the organization and party in the Chemical Weapons Prohibition Convention,” according to a statement by the Ministry of Foreign affairs and Expatriates, adding that decisions of the councils and conferences of OPCW are not usual protocol and the majority of its important decisions were adopted by consensus.

“The Western decision was based on misleading conclusions prepared by the so called illegal team “investigation and identification” regarding three alleged incidents on the use of chemical weapons in the town of Latamna in Hama Governorate in March 2017 in a report issued on the eighth of April 2020.  These incidents were fabricated by”Jabhat al-Nusra” terrorists, with the help of its allies, the “White Helmets Group”, which is supported, funded and directed by the United States, Britain, France and Germany,” the statement reiterated. 

The Ministry pointed out that the decision included aspects that go beyond the mandate established by the agreement for the technical work of this organization.  It will only create more complications in the organization’s work and will make it lose its purpose – thus negatively affecting  the constructive cooperation  between Syria and the organization.

The Ministry affirmed that taking this decision represents clear politicization of the organization’s work and will reinforce the division between its member states, which in turn will lead to more manipulation of the provisions of the agreement in accordance with the plans of these well-known countries. 

The Ministry stated that this decision will allow the United States and some Western countries to use the organization as a tool for carrying out more fabrications against the Syrian Arab Republic and others under the pretext of using chemical weapons to achieve political purposes and known agendas. At the same time, this decision sends a wrong message encouraging terrorist groups to fabricate  more  chemical plays to accuse the Syrian state rather than seeking to mobilize international efforts to confront and eliminate these terrorist groups. 

In its statement, the Ministry stated that the Syrian Arab Republic renews its strong condemnation of the use of chemical weapons by anyone, anywhere and under any circumstances. It also rejects the campaign of lies and fabrications led by the United States, France, the United Kingdom and other Western countries in which the Syrian state is accused of using Chemical weapons, while it is known to all that terrorist organizations, including the so-called “White Helmets” terrorist organization, fabricated incidents of the use of chemical weapons with every heroic achievement and victory realized by the Syrian Arab army against terrorism along the Syrian territories.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates expressed Syria’s thanks and appreciation to the countries that chose to take the right position of not supporting this decision and rejecting the pressures being but on them, as its rejection of this decision aimed at protecting the organization’s work unit and the proper application of the Chemical Weapons Prohibition Convention.

Inas Abdulkareem

More Articles…

  1. A comprehensive strategy is being prepared to confront U.S. sanctions on Syria, says diplomat
  2. The US occupation-backed Qasad groups kidnapped again a number of the people of Al-Shaddadi city in Hasaka countryside
  3. SDF militias seize the communications center of Safia village, north of Hasaka
  4. The Syrian Union of Journalists condemns the Israeli campaign against the Chairman of the Palestinian Journalists Union

JCPOA: The Deal That Wasn’t

Source

July 11, 2020 Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich

JCPOA Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action - Iran USA EU China Russia Germany France UK
July 14th, 2020, marks the fifth anniversary of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) Agreement, often referred to as the Iran Nuclear Deal (or simply the Deal) – the Deal that wasn’t.   It was yet another attempt at regime change. 
Of all the plans to control Iran beginning from Operation Ajax to Operation JCPOA and everything in between, the Iran Nuclear Deal was by far the most devious attempt at undermining the sovereignty of Iran – one way or another.   The Greek’s Trojan Horse pales compared to this dastardly scheme.  Years in the making, the crafty plan even prompted Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) to nominate John Kerry and Javad Zarif to recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize.  
As such, it is high time that the Deal’s planners, their motivations and their associations were discussed in order to grasp the depth of the deception.

Iran, due to its geopolitical position, has always been considered a jewel in the crown of the colonial powers.   Attempts to conquer Iran through a proxy which started with Operation Ajax in August 1953, at the behest of the British and carried out by the CIA were not abandoned even with the ousting of America’s man, the Shah.    Although the Islamic Revolution reclaimed Iran’s sovereignty,  America was not ready to abandon its plans of domination over Iran, and by extension, the Persian Gulf.

The Persian Gulf has been the lynchpin of US foreign policy. “To all intents and purposes,” a former senior Defense Department official observed, “‘Gulf waters’ now extend from the Straits of Malacca to the South Atlantic.” Nevertheless, bases nearer the [Persian] Gulf had a special importance, and Pentagon planners urged “as substantial a land presence in the as can be managed.” (Anthony H. Cordesman, “The Gulf and the Search for Strategic Stability”, Boulder: Westview, 1984).



https://www.google.com/maps/d/embed?mid=1FGmy1KGMlllXpX4-jmpuJa259fyPdBUs

Having failed in numerous attempts including the Nojeh coup at the nascent stages of the IR Iran’s newly formed government, war, sanctions, terrorism,  and a failed color revolution,  the United States needed other alternatives to reach its goal.  Unlike the illegal war against Iraq, war with Iran was not a feasible option.  The United States was aware of its inability to wage a successful war against Iran without serious damage to itself and its allies.  

When George W. Bush took office, he commissioned a war exercise to gage the feasibility of an attack against Iran. The  2002 Millennium Challenge,  was a major war game exercise conducted by the United States Armed Forces in mid-2002. The exercise, which ran from July 24 to August 15 and cost $250 million,  proved that the US would not defeat Iran.   The US  even restarted the war games changing rules to ensure an American victory, in reality, cheating itself.  This led to accusations that the war game had turned from an honest, open, playtest of U.S. war-fighting capabilities into a controlled and scripted exercise intended to end in a U.S. victory to promote a false narrative of US invincibility. 

For this reason, the United States continued its attempts at undermining Iran’s sovereignty by means of sanctions, terror, and creating divisions among the Iranians.   The JCPOA would be its master plan.

A simple observation of Iran clearly suggests simple ideological divisions among the Iranian people (pro-West, anti-West, minorities, religious, secular) which have all been amply exploited by the United States and allies.   None of the exploits delivered the prize the US was seeking.  And so it was that it was decided to exploit the one factor which united Iranians of ALL persuasion.  Iran’s civilian nuclear program.

In an interview with National Public Radio (25 November 2004), Ray Takyeh (Council on Foreign Relations CFR and husband to Iran expert Suzanne Maloney  of Brookings) stated that according to polls 75-80% of the Iranians rallied behind the Islamic Republic of Iran in support of its nuclear program, including the full fuel cycle.   In other words, the overwhelming uniting factor among the Iranians for the Islamic Republic was the nuclear program.  (USIA poll conducted in 2007 found that 64% of those questioned said that US legislation repealing regime change in Iran would not be incentive enough to give up the nuclear program and full fuel-cycle).    The next phase was to cause disunity on an issue that united Iranians of all stripes:  negotiate away the nuclear program.

The first round of nuclear negotiations 2003-2005 dubbed the Paris Agreement between Iran and the EU3 proved to be futile, and as  one European diplomat put it: “We gave them a beautiful box of chocolate that was, however, empty.”  As West’s fortune would have it, the same Iranian officials who had participated in the 2003-2005 negotiations would negotiate the JCPOA.

Around the time of the end of the first round of negotiations, another Brookings Fellow, Flynt Leverett , senior advisor for National Security Center, published a book “Inheriting Syria, Bashar’s Trial by Fire” (Brookings book publication, April 2005).  In his book, Leverett argued that instead of conflict, George W. Bush should seek to cooperate with Syria as Assad was popular, but instead seek to weaken Assad’s position among his people by targeting the Golan (induce him to give it up) so that he would lose popularity among the Syrians.   The JCPOA was designed in part along the same line of thinking.   And more.  His wife Hillary Leverett had a prominent role in ‘selling’ the Deal.

Secret negotiations between the Americans and ‘reform-minded’ Iranians never ceased, bypassing both Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, and the President at the time – Mahmood Ahmadinejad.  In a 2012 meeting at the University of Southern California, present members of the Iran Project team had no reservations about suggesting that it was more beneficial to engage Iran rather than attack.  They went as far as stating in the Q&A session to this writer that “they had been engaged with the “Green” (the opposition movement in the failed 2009 color revolution) for years, but Ahmadinejad won” (referring to the 2009 elections).  But Ahmadinejad would soon leave office and be replaced by Rohani – a more amenable player.

Why Negotiate?

Fully appreciating the challenge of attacking Iran, in 2004, the pro-Israel  Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), presented its policy paper “The Challenges of U.S. Preventive Military Action” authored by Michael Eisenstadt.   It was opined that the ideal situation was (and continues to be) to have a compliant ‘regime’ in Tehran.   Eisenstadt was of the opinion that unlike the Osiraq nuclear power plant which was bombed and destroyed, Israel/US would not be able to bomb Iran’s Bushehr reactor with the same ease.  In particular, Eisenstadt claimed that Israel may have benefited from French aid in destroying Osiraq. French intelligence reportedly emplaced a homing beacon at Osiraq to help Israeli pilots locate the facility or target a critical underground structure there.

In this light, it was recommended that the principal goal of U.S. action should be to delay Iran’s nuclear program long enough to allow for the possible emergence of new leadership in Tehran.  Failing that, war would have been facilitated.

It was thought the Paris Agreement talks would fail (as the JCPOA was designed to fail) and as such, the following were some of the suggestions made:

  • harassment or murder of key Iranian scientists or technicians;
  • introduction of fatal design flaws into critical reactor, centrifuge, or weapons components during their production, to ensure catastrophic failure during use;
  • disruption or interdiction of key technology or material transfers through sabotage or covert military actions on land, in the air, or at sea;
  • sabotage of critical facilities by U.S. intelligence assets, including third country nationals or Iranian agents with access to key facilities;
  • introduction of destructive viruses into Iranian computer systems controlling the production of components or the operation of facilities;
  • damage or destruction of critical facilities through sabotage or direct action by U.S. special forces.

As with the murder and terror of the nuclear scientists, and the Stuxnet virus into the reactor, the JCPOA enabled personnel on the ground in Iran to carry out extensive sabotage as has been recently observed in recent days and weeks.  Rohani’s visa free travel opened the flood gates to spies and saboteurs – dual citizens,  who easily traveled with passports other than American, British, and Australian.  Iran even managed to prevent an IAEA inspector who triggered an alarm at Iran’s nuclear facility.  But it would seem, Iran has not been able to stop other intruders and terrorists – not yet. 

Other Motivational Factors for Negotiating

According to studies, as of 2008 Iran’s Bushehr nuclear reactor had 82 tons of enriched uranium (U235) loaded into it, according to Israeli and Chinese reports.  This amount was significantly higher pre and during negotiations.  History has not witnessed the bombing of a nuclear power plant with an operational nuclear enrichment facility.  Deliberate bombing of such facilities would result breach containment and radioactive elements released.  The death toll horrifying.  The Union of Concerned Scientists has estimated 3 million deaths would result in 3 weeks from bombing the nuclear enrichment facilities near Esfahan, and the contamination would cover Afghanistan, Pakistan, all the way to India.

The JCPOA significantly reduced the amount of enriched uranium reducing the potential casualty deaths in the event that a strike is carried out.

The Deal buys time –  Iran’s strength has been its ability to retaliate to any attack by closing down the Strait of Hormuz. Given that 17 million barrels of oil a day, or 35% of the world’s seaborne oil exports go through the Strait of Hormuz, incidents in the Strait would be fatal for the world economy. Enter Nigeria (West Africa) and Yemen.

In 1998, Clinton’s national security agenda made it clear that unhampered access to Nigerian oil and other vital resources was a key US policy. In the early 2000s, Chatham House was one of the publications that determined African oil would be a good alternate to Persian Gulf oil in case of oil disruption. This followed a strategy paper for US to move toward African oil. Push for African oil was on Dick Cheney’s desk on May 31, 2000. In 2002, the Israeli based IASPS suggested America push toward African oil. In the same year Boko Haram was ‘founded’.

In 2007, AFRICOM helped consolidate this push into the region. The 2011, a publication titled: “Globalizing West African Oil: US ‘energy security’ and the global economy” outlined ‘US positioning itself to use military force to ensure African oil continued to flow to the United States’. This was but one strategy to supply oil in addition to or as an alternative to the passage of oil through the Strait of Hormuz.  (See HERE for full article).

JCPOA as a starting point

It has now been made abundantly clear that the Deal was simply JCPOA1.  Other Deals were to follow to disarm Iran even further, to stop Iran’s defensive missile program, and to stop Iran helping its allies in the region.   This would have been relatively easy to achieve had Hillary Clinton been elected – as had been the hope.  The plan was to allow trade and neoliberal polices which the Rohani administration readily embraced, a sharp increase in imports (harming domestic production and self-reliance) while building hope – or as Maloney called it ‘crisis of expectation’.   It was thought that with a semblance of ‘normalcy’ in international relations and free of sanctions, Iranians would want to continue abandoning their sovereignty, their defenses, and rally around the pro-West/America politicians at the expense of the core ideology of the Islamic Revolution, the conservatives and the IRGC.   In other words, regime change.  (several meetings speak to this; see for example, and here). 

The players

The most prominent, one could argue, was President Obama.  Obama was not about peace.   The biggest threat to an empire is peace.  Obama had chosen feigned diplomacy as his weapon.   But before picking up the mantle of diplomacy, he had proposed terrorism – sanctioned terrorism.  Obama, while a junior senator introduced S. 1430 in 2007  and had “crippling sanctions” in mind for the Iranian people.   As president, his executive orders assured this. 

Addressing AIPAC as a candidate, he said: “Our willingness to pursue diplomacy will make it easier to mobilize others to join our cause. If Iran fails to change course when presented with this choice by the United States it will be clear to the people of Iran and to the world that the Iranian regime is the author of its own isolation and that will strengthen our hand with Russia and China as we insist on stronger sanctions in the Security Council. And we should work with Europe, Japan, and the Gulf States to find every avenue outside the United Nations to isolate the Iranian regime from cutting off loan guarantees and expanding financial sanctions to banning the export of refined petroleum to Iran to boycotting firms associated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard whose Kuds forces have rightly been labeled a terrorist organization.”

No wonder he was dubbed ‘the first Jewish president’!

Not to be left unmentioned was the darling of the theatrics of this Deal – Federica Mogherini.  So enamored were some of the Iranian parliamentarians with her that to the embarrassment of Iran, the internet was abuzz with these MPs taking pictures with her.   Perhaps they looked at her and not her years as a German Marshall Fund Fellow.

The German Marshall Fund (GMF) sounds harmless enough, but perhaps Russia may not view it that way.  And Iran shouldn’t.  The GMF pushed for bringing Ukraine into NATO’s fold.  Furthermore, the GMF gives funding to American Abroad Media.    AMA boasts of some of the most dangerous anti-Iran neoconservatives who have shaped America’s policies such as Dennis Ross, James Woolsey, Martin Indyk (responsible for the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act later to become ISA and still in place after the JCPOA), Tom Pickering (one of the main proponents of the Iran Deal and member of the Iran Project).  Supporters are not limited to the GMF.   Others include Rockerfeller, Ford Foundation, and NED.

And the most active proponent of the JCPOA was none other than NED recipient, Trita Parsi/NIAC.    Trita Parsi was personally thanked for his role in pushing the JCPOA through.  Job well done for a 3-time recipient of NED funds.  No wonder the George Soros – Koch foundation Quincy Institute selected him as their Executive Vice President.

And last but not least, Hillary Mann Leverett (wife of aforementioned Flynn Leverett) who persuaded her audiences that the JCPOA was akin to “Nixon going to China”.   While some in Iran naively believed this to be the case, and even defended her, they failed to realize that when Nixon went to China it was to bring China on board against Russia.   And Israel was not a player.   It was not an opening to befriend Iran any more than Nixon’s trip had altruist motivations.

Russia and China’s role

The Russians and the Chinese were so eager to embrace a long-awaited peace after all the calamity caused by the United States that they fully embraced this Deal, even though it was detrimental to their interests in so doing.

America’s animosity and never-ending schemes encouraged cooperation between Russia, China, and Iran.  Although the lifting of sanctions post JCPOA would have facilitated trade and enhanced diplomacy between Iran and the West, at a cost to China and Russia, they  stood steadfast by the Deal.  Peace was more valuable.  But far more importantly, the two powerful nations allowed the United States to be the arbitrator of an international treaty – the NPT. 

During the Shah’s reign, President Ford had signed onto a National Security Decision Memorandum (NSDM 292, 1975) allowing and encouraging Iran to not only enrich uranium, but sell it to neighboring countries to profit America.  The United States then decided that since the Islamic Republic of Iran did not serve the interests of the United States, the United States would determine how the NPT should apply to Iran.    

But their efforts at peace and the West’s efforts at regime change all came to naught.  What is important to bear in mind is that America’s efforts at war, sabotage, and terrorism have not ended.  Imposing unilateral sanctions – terrorism against the Iranian people, has not ceased.  Although the Iranian people and their selected representative in the new Iranian parliament are far more aware of, and have an aversion to America’s ploys and the Deal, China and Russia must do their part not only as guarantors of peace, but also to maintain their integrity in a world where both aspire to live in multilateralism.   The world already has a super power without morals and integrity; it does not need other great powers that act similarly.

Iran has fended off another assault on its sovereignty.  However,  saboteurs and terrorists are soliciting war with their recent string of terrorism in Iran.  As the fifth anniversary of this trap approaches, the world needs to understand and step up in order to defend peace, international law and social justice.   The future of all depends on it. 

And to American compatriots:  Make sure Trump understands war will not get him re-elected.

Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich is an independent researcher and writer with a focus on U.S. foreign policy and the role of lobby groups in influencing US foreign policy. 

Intercontinental Wars – Part 2: The Counterattack

https://www.syrianews.cc/intercontinental-wars-part-2-the-counterattack/embed/#?secret=bnZ0gj7yPs

Intercontinental Wars – Part 3 The Open Confrontation

Ambassador Sabbagh: OPCW’s politicized & biased resolution encourages terrorists to fabricate more chemical attacks

Source

 Friday, 10 July 2020

The Hague (ST):  Syria’s permanent representative at the Organization of the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) ambassador  Bassam al-Sabbagh affirmed that the Syrian Arab Republic considers the resolution adopted by the OPCW’s executive  council regarding the alleged use of chemical weapons in al-Latamneh village in Hama in March 2017 politicized, and it targets a member state in the Organization and a partner in the agreement of the prohibition of chemical weapons for political purposes and well-known agendas.

He added that the resolution is biased towards the point of view of a group of states that have been working on colonialist projects against Syria, noting that the resolution was passed through blackmail and political pressure practiced against member states.

In a speech he made following the vote, Ambassador Sabbagh stressed that the resolution depended on false and incorrect conclusions of a team founded illegitimately, pointing out that this resolution would encourage terrorist organizations to fabricate more chemical plays to accuse the Syrian Arab army of such attacks instead of unifying international efforts to confront these terrorist groups, eliminate them and restore security and stability to Syria. 

The Syrian diplomat went on to say that this resolution would increase divisions among member states and weaken the Organization. “Moreover, it  would give the US, the UK and France more pretexts to commit more aggressive acts against Syria.” Ambassador Sabbagh said, extending thanks and appreciation for all the states  that voted against the resolution and rejected all forms of pressure and political blackmail practiced against them.

The executive council of  the OPCW voted for a Western draft resolution that supports the conclusions of the so-called the “Investigation and Identification Team ” regarding the allegation of using chemical weapons in al-Latamenah area, Hama governorate in March 2017.

China, Russia and Iran voted against the resolution while 29 states voted in favor of it with nine states abstained.

Earlier, the Syrian Foreign Ministry had  affirmed that the report of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) about using toxic materials in al-Latamenah town in 2017 is misleading which included false and fabricated conclusions.

The statement released by  the Ministry said that the report included false and fabricated conclusions which aim at forging facts and accusing the Syrian government of using toxic materials in 2017 in al-Latamenah town, depending on sources that were prepared and fabricated by Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists and the so-called “White Helmets” terrorist organization in an implementation of the instructions of their operators in the US, Turkey.

K.Q.

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Death Penalty: A Tool of Vengeance in Bahrain

Death Penalty: A Tool of Vengeance in Bahrain

By Sondos al-Assad

Lebanon – Since 2017, Bahrain has executed five political prisoners by firing squad instead of launching a political dialogue and national reconciliation that ease the prolonged crisis. The execution of those detainees has been part of a broad repressive trend sweeping the tiny Gulf Kingdom since February 2011.

Meanwhile, there are 12 death row detainees who are on death row, all of them are victims of severe and inhumane treatment, 10 could be executed at any moment, without warning, in case the verdicts were ratified by the monarch.

Those victims of torture have convicted based on confessions that they had retracted in court because they were extracted under pressure and torture.

So, the king’s signature is now all that stands between those victims of torture and their execution.

According to rights groups, Manama pays less and less attention to the question of civil liberties and rights in its attempts to tamp down on peaceful dissents. Hence, the trend of Death Penalty has sharply exacerbated in the recent years amid the absence of censure from Western allies, namely Washington and London, whose priority is security and oil not human rights.

Annually, the UK spends $1.59 million on supporting Bahrain’s Special Investigation Unit [SIU] and the Ombudsman who are accused of violating their international and domestic human rights commitments.

Those so-called oversight bodies have failed to investigate torture allegations against two death row inmates Mohamed Ramadan and Hussain Moussa.

“I’d been taken in handcuffs to village of Al-Deir to act out a murder I didn’t commit… It terrifies me to think there is only one chapter left,” says sentenced to death Hussain Musa.

Besides, the authorities is accused of using the terrorism charge to retaliate against number of conscience activists and social justice seekers, a crime which is deemed to be an extrajudicial killing which results of unfair trials.

Bahrain uses the “Anti-Terrorism Act” as pretext to justify illegal sentences against its peaceful citizens only because they exercise their rights for freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, which are guaranteed not only by international covenants but supposedly by the Bahraini constitution.

Amid the absence of fair judicial transparency, perpetrators of human rights violations are not held accountable in a blatant attack against the minimum standards of human rights stipulated in international conventions.

Ali Al-Arab, Ahamd Al-Malali, Abbas Al-Samei, Sami Mushaima and Ali Al-Signace are the 5 inmates who have been sentenced to death so far.

They were arbitrarily executed by firing squads after allegations of their unjust trial, inhumane torture, sexual assault and medical negligence.

Prior to their execution, they met their families; however they hadn’t even known about the visit that was scheduled based on an ambiguous call from the prison’s administration as part of psychological intimidation. Furthermore, while their last visit, their families noticed that the searching measures were specific, exceptional and humiliating.

Currently and before it’s too late, Bahrain must be pressured to immediately commute the death sentences and establish an official moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty.

The king must not ratify but urgently quash these death sentences which are a result of sham court proceedings that brazenly flout international fair trial standards.

Related

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

Do Palestinians’ Lives Matter?

By Stuart Littlewood

Source

Not according to the UK Government which continues to cuddle and slobber over the rogue regime that terrorizes, dispossesses and slaughters them.

Palestinian Lives Matter e2524

Lately, anti-racism activists and their fellow-travelers have been vandalizing statues in the UK, including a memorial to Winston Churchill. Even Nelson is threatened. And Robert Peel, like Churchill, has been boarded up for protection from the loonies. Incredibly Robert the Bruce, king of Scotland 1306-1329, hero of Bannockburn and bringer of independence, has been branded a racist by graffiti scribblers. Bruce (or de Brus), Earl of Carrick and 7th Lord of Annandale, was of Norman descent I believe. So, is our entire medieval history and culture – 1066 and all that – condemned? If it’s the feudal system and the struggle between mighty lords and their lowly vassals that bothers today’s hypersensitive agitators, most of our history books will have to be taken off the shelves and our monarchs consigned to the dustbin in order to appease them.

Why don’t these firebrands look for modern-day racists to complain about? In which case they might focus on “Israel’s knee-on-the-neck occupation of Palestine”, as Leslie Bravery describes it. This snarling, brutal entity illegally occupies Palestine and part of Syria and is stuffed with baddies with no redeeming features whatsoever. They have been busy ethnically cleansing the native Palestinians and stealing their lands for seven decades.  And what of their many supporters in high places? What should we call people who defend the indefensible… who admire the despicable… who applaud the expulsion at gunpoint of peaceable civilians and the confiscation of their homes?

Being a Friend of Israel – like most of the Conservative Party at Westminster – means embracing the terror and racism on which the state of Israel was built. It means embracing the dispossession of the innocent and oppression of the powerless. It means embracing the discriminatory laws against those who stubbornly remain in their homeland. It means embracing the jackboot gangsterdom that abducts civilians — including children — and imprisons and tortures them without trial. It means embracing the theft and annexation of Palestinian lands and water resources, the imposition of hundreds of military checkpoints, the severe restrictions on the movement of people and goods, and maximum interference with Palestinian life at every level.

It means not minding the bloodbaths inflicted by Israel on Gaza and feeling not too bothered about blowing hundreds of children to smithereens, maiming thousands more, trashing vital infrastructure such as hospitals, schools, power plants and clean water supplies, and causing $billions of devastation that will take 20 years to rebuild. And where is the money coming from? That’s right – from you and me.

It means turning a blind eye to the strangulation of the West Bank’s economy and the cruel 14-year blockade on Gaza. It means endorsing the denial of Palestinians’ right to self-determination and return to their homes. It means shrugging off the religious war that humiliates Muslims and Christians and prevents them visiting their holy places. It means meekly accepting a situation in which hard-pressed American and British taxpayers are having to subsidize Israel’s illegal occupation of the Holy Land.

And if, after all that, you are still Israel’s special friend, where is your self-respect?

Pandering to Israel has been immensely costly in blood and treasure and stupidly damaging to our reputation. Is it not ludicrous that a foreign military power which has no regard for international law and rejects weapons conventions and safeguards can exert such influence on foreign policy in the US and UK?

Everyone outside the Westminster/Washington bubble knows perfectly well that there can be no peace in the Holy Land without justice. In other words no peace until the occupation ends. Everyone knows that international law and countless UN resolutions still wait to be enforced. Everyone knows that Israel won’t comply unless sanctions are imposed. Everyone knows that the siege on Gaza won’t be lifted until warships are sent.

What’s more, everyone now knows that the US is not an honest broker, that Israel wants to keep the pot boiling and that justice won’t come from more sham ‘negotiations’. Nor will peace. Everyone knows who is the real cause of turmoil in the Middle East. And everyone knows that Her Majesty’s Government’s hand-wringing and empty words of ‘concern’ serve no purpose except to prolong the daily misery for Palestinians and buy time for Israel to complete its criminal scheme to make the occupation permanent.

And that is about to happen.

Can’t breathe!

For the last year Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been saying he’ll “extend sovereignty on all the settlements” including sites that have security importance or are important to Israel’s heritage. And that will include Hebron, Jericho and the Jordan Valley.

The move would be another major step in the fulfillment of the long-running Plan Dalet (otherwise known as Plan D) which was the Zionists’ blueprint for the violent takeover of the Palestinian homeland as a prelude to declaring Israeli statehood – which they did in May 1948. It was drawn up by the Jewish underground militia, the Haganah, at the behest of David Ben-Gurion, then boss of the Jewish Agency.

Plan D’s intention was not only to gain control of the areas of the Jewish state and defend its borders but also to control the areas of Jewish presence outside those borders and ensure “freedom of military and economic activity” by occupying important high-ground positions on a number of transport routes.

“Outside the borders of the state” was a curious thing to say when nobody would admit to where Israel’s borders actually ran, but the aim was to steal land that wasn’t allocated to Israel but was reserved for a Palestinian state on the 1947 UN Partition Plan map. Since then Israel has purposely kept its borders fluid in order to accommodate the Zionists’ perpetual lust for expansion into Palestinian and Syrian territory and eventual takeover.

No doubt with this in mind the Israeli government has confirmed the appointment of the pro-annexation Settlements Minister Tzipi Hotovely as Israel’s next ambassador to the UK. Hotovely is a religious-nationalist extremist committed to the ‘Greater Israel’ project.  As Minister of Settlement Affairs in the Israeli government many here will regard her as a war criminal. All Israeli settlements (a more appropriate word would be ‘squats’) in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) violate Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and are considered illegal under international law. And many see Israel’s long-running squatter policy as a war crime for the simple reason that Article 8(2) of the Rome Statute defines “the transfer, directly or indirectly, by the Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies, or the deportation or transfer of all or parts of the population of the occupied territory within or outside this territory” as such “when committed as part of a plan or policy or as part of a large-scale commission of such crimes”.

Hotovely tends to run off at the mouth having criticised American Jews for not understanding the complexities of the region because “they never send their children to fight for their country, most of the Jews don’t have children serving as soldiers”. She herself slid out of compulsory military service by becoming an educational guide in Jerusalem and an emissary of the Jewish Agency in the United States.

She’s also keen to re-write New Israel’s sordid history: “We need to delete the word ‘occupation’ and we need to redefine the term ‘refugee’….” Hotovely rejects Palestinians’ hopes for statehood and instead dreams of a Greater Israel spanning the length and breadth of current Israel plus the Palestinian territories, saying “We need to return to the basic truth of our rights to this country…. This land is ours. All of it is ours. We did not come here to apologise for that.”

But what is the basic truth of her right to the land? She came there from the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic so a question that immediately springs to mind is: “What ancestral links does she have with the Holy Land? Has she had a DNA check-up? And what exactly gives her and her kind the right to lord it over the Palestinians who have been there all the time?”

In London she’ll replace Mark Regev, former Netanyahu spokesman and mastermind behind Israel’s propaganda programme of disinformation and dirty tricks. Under Regev’s watch in January 2017 a senior political officer at the Israeli embassy in London, Shai Masot, plotted with stooges among British MPs and other maggots in the rotting political woodwork to “take down” senior government figures including Boris Johnson’s deputy at the Foreign Office, Sir Alan Duncan.

Masot was almost certainly a Mossad asset. His hostile activities were revealed not, as one would have wished, by Britain’s own security services and media but an Al Jazeera undercover news team. Her Majesty’s Government’s response? “The UK has a strong relationship with Israel and we consider the matter closed.”

At a Labour Party conference fringe meeting Israel insider Miko Peled warned that “they are going to pull all the stops, they are going to smear, they are going to try anything they can to stop Corbyn…. the reason anti-Semitism is used is because they [the Israelis] have no argument….”

And that’s exactly what happened. Corbyn, a perceived threat to Israel’s cosy relationship with the UK, is now relegated to the sidelines.

Regev came to help silence criticism of the Israeli regime. Why the switch to lovely Tzipi? I’d say she’s here to smooth ruffled feelings caused by Israel’s latest planned land grab in the creeping annexation of the West Bank. And Regev, mission accomplished in the UK, is needed in Tel Aviv to defend Netanyahu from the ensuing flak if he goes ahead with annexation.

EU’s shame

Where does the EU stand in all this? A year ago one hundred and fifty-five European researchers and academics delivered a stinging rebuke to Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs & Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, and Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Science, Research & Innovation.

Their letter expressed the outrage felt throughout the world, and especially in European countries including the UK, at the EU’s policy of endlessly rewarding the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Israel. Perversely each new act of unspeakable brutality, each new onslaught of disproportionate force against civilians had brought fresh privileges, fresh co-operation, fresh embraces from an enthusiastic EU élite. The letter said among other things:

“In spite of continual and serious breaches of international law and violation of human rights, and regardless of the commitment for upholding human rights of European countries, Israel enjoys an exceptionally privileged status in dealing with Europe also through the Association Agreement and has been receiving grants from the European Commission in the area of research and innovation (FP7 and its successor Horizon 2020).

“Funds are granted even to Israeli arms producers such as Elbit Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd, the producers of lethal drones that were used in the Gaza military assaults against civilians, together with numerous academic institutions that have close ties with Israeli military industry.

“We appeal to the European Union to impose a comprehensive military embargo on Israel, as long as Israel continues to blatantly violate human rights. We are deeply disturbed that public funds contributed by European tax payers are channeled to a country that not only disregards human rights but also uses most advanced knowledge and technology for the very violation of human rights.”

The EU-Israel Association Agreement has a lot to answer for. It came into force in 2000 for the purpose of promoting (1) peace and security, (2) shared prosperity through, for example, the creation of a free trade zone, and (3) cross-cultural rapprochement. It governs not only EU-Israel relations but Israel’s relations with the EU’s other Mediterranean partners, including the Palestinian National Authority. To enjoy the Association’s privileges Israel undertook to show “respect for human rights and democratic principles” as set out as a general condition in Article 2, which says:

“Relations between the Parties, as well as all the provisions of the Agreement itself, shall be based on respect for human rights and democratic principles, which guides their internal and international policy and constitutes an essential element of this Agreement.”

Essential being the operative word.

Respecting human rights and democratic principles is not optional. Article 2 allows steps to be taken to enforce the contractual obligations regarding human rights and to dissuade partners from pursuing policies and practices that disrespect those rights. The Agreement also requires respect for self-determination of peoples and fundamental freedoms for all. Given Israel’s contempt for such principles the EU, had it been an honorable group, would have enforced Article 2 and not let matters slide. They would have suspended Israel’s membership until the regime fully complied. Israel relies heavily on exports to Europe so the EU could by now have forced an end to the brutal occupation of the Holy Land.

Rewarding annexation

Questions in the House of Commons last week revealed that the Government plans to host a UK-Israel trade and investment conference in London. One such question advertised the fact that “Israeli exports to the UK grew by 286% over the last decade, and bilateral trade levels are at a record high”. The Minister, Conor Burns, announced: “We strongly value our trading relationship with the State of Israel and are working closely with the Israeli government to implement the UK-Israel trade and partnership agreement.… We are working with the Israeli counterparts to host a UK-Israel trade and investment conference in London, which will have its primary focus on scoping out and identifying new opportunities and collaboration between Israel and the United Kingdom.”

Then Andrew Percy MP, a notorious stooge for Israel, asked the Secretary of State for International Trade what recent discussions she’d had with her counterpart in the Israeli government on a UK-Israel free trade deal. Ranil Jayawardena, answering for the Secretary of State, said that the UK-Israel Trade and Partnership Agreement, signed in February 2019, will enter into force at the end of the Transition Period in January 2021. It will allow businesses to trade as freely as they do now, without additional tariffs or barriers. “Total trade between the United Kingdom and Israel increased by 15 percent in 2019 to £5.1bn. We value this trade relationship and are committed to strengthening it, so we will seek to work with counterparts in the new Israeli government to host a bilateral trade and investment summit in London.”

So there’s still a desire at the heart of UK government to reward racist Israel, not only for its knee-on-the-neck brutality but even for a crime of such enormity as can’t-breathe annexation.

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