Western lawmakers call for ‘free elections’ in Bahrain

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

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

Fri Nov 9, 2018 03:47PM

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

Bahrain is scheduled to hold parliamentary elections on November 24.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See Also

B1

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

 

Related Videos

Related News

Advertisements

‘Cost-Push’ Narrative Formation in the Trump Era

October 31, 2018

‘Cost-Push’ Narrative Formation in the Trump Era

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

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

Immediately, the statement begs two questions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

Side Bar

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

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

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

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

Read more

©

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more

© Omar Sanadiki

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!

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

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

Kenan Malik

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Western Hijacked Democracy

Image result for western democracy

by Ghassan Kadi for the Saker Blog

June 22, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what happened to Western democracy then?

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

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

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

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

Where is democracy here?

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

How does this system serve the interests of the people?

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

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

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

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

Image result for Putin has a very high popularity

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

Where is the democracy here?

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

How does this enhance freedom and equality?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Parallel Universe of BBC Panorama @BBCPanorama

The Parallel Universe of BBC Panorama

By Kit | OffGuardian | June 21, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*

Enter Vladimir Putin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And so we begin…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*

David on… the Russian Birthrate

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

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

Mrs Cherenkova’s medals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*

David on… the Russian Orthodox Church

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

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

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

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

*

David on… Russian Opinion Polls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*

David on… Propaganda

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With truly Orwellian posters intimidating us into paying for it.

Imagine this poster was in cyrillic and about RT.

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

*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The most extreme surveillance in the history of western democracy.

Is Panorama asking questions about that? Of course not.

Does the BBC call our government authoritarian? Not once.

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

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

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

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

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

*

David on… Russia’s Controlled Media

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

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

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

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

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

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

They get around this in one, short sentence:

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

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

It just looks like it.

Much like that old expression:

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

*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So much for Russia the conservative theocracy.

*

David on… Russians’ Right to Protest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Because we have a constitution.”

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

*

David on… Russian Paranoia

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

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

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

Why would the Russian government be paranoid about revolution?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

David doesn’t mention these facts.

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

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

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

*

David on… Russia’s “Orchestrated” Democracy

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

They all like him, apparently:

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

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

What do you like about Putin?

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

You feel happy with one person controlling the whole country?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When confronted with Dimbleby asking yet another offensively phrased question…

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

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

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

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

Putin had him convicted of fraud.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Putin uses carefully orchestrated elections to legitimise his rule.”

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

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

They never explain.

*

David on… Russia’s “small” economy

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

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

There’s a lot to unpack here.

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

Russia is very big.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

… this list could go on and on.

Russian GDP under Yeltsin, Putin and Medvedev

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

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

Average salary in Russia since 1998

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

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

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

*

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And I watched it five times to write this.

I need a shower.

ليست ليلة رأس السنة

Image result for ‫ابراهيم الأمين‬‎ابراهيم الأمين

الناس الخارجون من العاصمة باتجاه المناطق، يذهبون بغالبيتهم للمشاركة في الانتخابات النيابية. صحيح أن هواة الاستجمام لهم حصتهم. لكن الذين يريدون الاقتراع أو المقاطعة يعرفون أن غداً هو يوم مهم.

يوم مهم، لأن لبنان مقبل على تحديات غير مسبوقة. برضى أو بغير رضى أهله، وهي تحديات، لا تتصل هذه المرة بحجم الدين العام، أو بمصير مشروع إنمائي أو تشكيلات إدارية. بل هي، متصلة هذه المرة، وأكثر من أي مرة، بموقع لبنان في المعركة الإقليمية ــــ الدولية القائمة في المنطقة، والتي ترتفع فيها الأسقف إلى حيث لا شيء إلا السماء!

(مروان بوحيدر)

الأسئلة الكثيرة الخاصة بالعملية الانتخابية قد توحي بأن الناس لاهية عما يجري حولنا. وبرغم أن الشعارات الانتخابية تستخدم ملفات المنطقة كأداة للتعبئة، إلا أن القوى السياسية، كما جمهورها، تتصرف فعلياً بأن الخيارات الانتخابية هي حكماً جزء من الخيارات السياسية الكبرى. وهذا ما يسهّل فهم التدخلات الخارجية في هذه الانتخابات، وما يجب فهمه أن هذا البلد يقوم على قواعد عمل ليست كلها من بنات أفكار اللبنانيين، ولا من عضلاتهم ولا من جيوبهم. وإذا بقي الجميع في حالة إنكار، فإن ما نُقبل عليه قريباً جداً سوف يجعل انتخابات الغد، كأنها «صبحية» متأخرة في أول يوم من السنة الجديدة.

غداً، الجميع سيشاركون في العملية السياسية. المقترع والممتنع على حد سواء. ولكل فعل نتيجته المباشرة. لكن الحقيقة التي سيعيشها الناس بعد الأحد الكبير، هي أن الأزمة الداخلية لم تكن متصلة بهذا القدر مع أزمة المنطقة. تعقدت الأمور وتداخلت الى حدود صار معها بالإمكان القول، لا الادعاء أو الزعم، بأن اقتصاد لبنان رهن خياراته السياسية في المنطقة. وأن عيش الناس وأعمالهم رهن خياراتهم السياسية. وأن أحلامهم بالبقاء هنا، أو الهجرة والبحث عن فرص في بلاد الأحلام، هي أيضاً رهن خياراتهم السياسية. كما أن مستقبل الآباء قبل الأبناء، هو فعلياً رهن هذه الخيارات السياسية.

من قرر الاقتراع، سوف يدفع قريباً جداً ثمن ما اقترفت يداه. فلن تنفعه أبداً كل تبريرات تستند الى حكاية الزعبرة اللبنانية. سيعرف الذين رفضوا مساءلة من صوّتوا لهم قبل تسع سنوات، أنهم إذا أعادوا الكرّة، فسيحصدون المزيد. وهذا المزيد ليس إيجاباً في كل الأمكنة. سوف يحصل الملتصقون بالخيار الأميركي ـــ السعودي على نتائج قاسية تشمل الإحباط والتعب والنزف، إن هم اعتقدوا أن بالإمكان الاستمرار بهذه الحالة لعقد إضافي. وفي المقابل، سيحصل الملتصقون بخيار المقاومة على فرصة لحياة أفضل، لكنها تحتاج الى خوض معركة قاسية جديدة، فيها الكثير من الدم والدموع. والمشكلة التي تزعج قسماً غير قليل من اللبنانيين، أن محاولة تبني الحياد، والقول بخيار ثالث، هي محاولة خارج الواقع، وهي لا تتصل أبداً بما يجري في لبنان ومن حوله، وهي محاولة سخيفة تفترض أن هذا البلد لديه فائض بشري ومادي وسيادي يتيح له التنمّر على العالم، وهي محاولة مجنونة، تصب في خدمة أحد الفريقين الواضحين في خياراتهما. ومتى وقعت الواقعة، لن يبقى لهؤلاء حتى حائط للبكاء.

الساعات المتبقية ليوم غد هي للاستعداد لوقائع ستدهمنا جميعاً، ومن دون استثناء، ذات صباح قريب!

ما هو مهم غداً، أن غالبية كبيرة جداً من اللبنانيين المقيمين فعلياً في هذا البلد ستشارك في العملية الانتخابية. أما شعار الأغلبية الصامتة، فهو شبيه بكذبة الفرادة اللبنانية. هو شعار العاطلين من الفعل السياسي. وهو شعار الخاسرين غير القادرين على إقناع أنفسهم قبل الآخرين بقدرتهم على التغيير. ونتائج الأحد الكبير، ستكشف أن غالبية تلامس 85 بالمئة من العائلات اللبنانية المقيمة هنا، من مقترعين وأفراد عائلاتهم الممنوعين من الاقتراع بسبب القانون، هي التي وضعت أوراقها في صناديق الاقتراع. وأن خانة «لا أعرف» أو «لا أحد» التي ترد كثيراً في استطلاعات الرأي، ستكون «لا شيء» في حصيلة يوم الانتخاب.

صحيح أن من قرر الاقتراع قرر التعبير علناً عن موقفه، وأن من قرر المقاطعة قرر التعبير علناً عن قرفه، لكن، ليس هناك من لم يدل بصوته. الجميع سيكون مقترعاً غداً. ونتيجة الاقتراع التي تظهرعلى شكل توزيع لمقاعد نيابية، هي التي تمسك بمقاليد حياة الجميع، مقترعين ومقاطعين. ولذلك، فإن كل محاولات التغابي والإنكار، والهروب من السؤال الكبير حول موقع لبنان في الصراع الكبير من حولنا، هي محاولات لا تنفع في منع الناس من تحمّل النتيجة قريباً، وقريباً جداً…
ما قد يرفض البعض الإقرار به، هو أن اللبنانيين الذين تورطوا جميعاً في كل صراعات المنطقة سيكونون جميعاً على موعد قريب مع مواجهة، قد تكون الأخيرة من نوعها في المنطقة. وسيكون الجميع متورطاً فيها، وعندها لن تنفعهم كل قصائد «النأي بالنفس» و«العيش المشترك» و«المسافة الوحيدة من الجميع». وما يعدّ للمنطقة من مواجهة شاملة، تقع فجأة أو نتدحرج صوبها سريعاً، لن يعيد سؤال الناس عن رأيهم في أي خيار يفضلون، كما لن يكون بمقدور فريق منع الفريق الآخر من القيام بما يتوجب عليه من خطوات تعبّر ساعتها عن حقيقة التزامه السياسي…

الساعات المتبقية ليوم غد، ليست ساعات الاستعداد لسهرة رأس السنة، بل هي ساعات الاستعداد لوقائع ستدهمنا جميعاً، ومن دون استثناء، ذات صباح قريب!

%d bloggers like this: