Sen. Richard Black to ST: Establishment of an occupied zone within Syria is prohibited by international law

ST

Thursday, 08 August 2019 20:55

Virginia Senator Richard Black has described the ‘safe’ zone which the United States and Turkey seek to establish in the north of Syria as an ‘occupied’ zone, stressing that this move is prohibited by the International law.

In an interview with Syria Times e-newspaper, the senator said that the actions of the US ignore the fact that this is not the imaginary land known as “Kurdistan.” It is Syria.

“The idea of a “no-fly zone” was intended to facilitate an all-out attack on Syria,” the Senator asserted, adding that Washington wants to preserve the Kurdish-run pocket in northern Syria in order to inhibit trade between Iran and Syria.

Following is the full text of the interview:

ST: Can the US and Turkey establish a ‘safe’ zone in the north of Syria?

Sen. Black : The US and Turkey disagree over the dimensions of any “safe” zone in northern Syria. Turkey would like to double the size of the zone proposed by the United States. The fact that the United States and Turkey are increasingly hostile powers makes cooperation very tenuous.

Establishment of an occupied zone within Syria is, of course, prohibited by international law. It seems that international law has been disregarded so frequently that it is losing its validity across the globe.

Turkey will never accept the permanent establishment of a Kurdish State in Northern Syria. Turkey will expand its control, over time, until the so-called Kurdish State disappears. The United States cannot establish a Kurdish State without an unending military commitment to occupy Northern Syria.

It is important to remember that Kurds comprise a distinct minority of the population of Northeast Syria. The dominant population are Arabs. It is unfair to the Arab population to force them to live under Kurdish domination. Already, there has been considerable friction with the Christian Arab population in the region. Kurds have closed a number of Christian schools which functioned independently under the Syrian government.

There has been much unrest among Arab Muslims who chafe under Kurdish minority rule.  Raqqa is by far the largest city in Northeast Syria. It is almost entirely an Arab city. Nonetheless, the proposed Kurdish state would force Syrian Arabs to submit to a Kurdish minority who are not even present in Raqqa.

The actions of the US ignore the fact that this is not the imaginary land known as “Kurdistan.” It is Syria. When it was governed by Syria, the region was free of terrorist activity and Kurds presented no threat to Turkey. The same could be said of Iraq before it was also invaded. It was the invasion of Iraq, followed by the invasion of Syria, which generated ISIS and all the other terrorist activity plaguing the region today.

ST: Why does Washington help Turkey establish this  zone?

 Sen. Black: Elements of the Washington deep state continue to dream of overthrowing the legitimate Syrian government led by President Bashar al-Assad. In order to placate Turkey, they must insulate them from the perceived threat of Kurdish terror. Washington wants to preserve the Kurdish-run pocket in northern Syria in order to inhibit trade between Iran and Syria. Additionally, the United States hopes to deprive the Kurdish people of oil and agricultural production generated in the region. That oil and food have always provided electricity, transportation, industrial power, and food supplies to the entire Syrian nation. The strategic objective is to impoverish the Syrian people by depriving the nation of these essential products while giving them to the small Kurdish minority in Syria.

ST: What will be the repercussions of such move?

Sen. Black: None of these problems would exist if the United States would permit the Syrian Government to reoccupy its sovereign territory in the north. The Syrian Government could quickly arrange to replace all Kurdish troops near the border with Turkey. At the same time, Syrian Kurdish soldiers could be redirected to guard the ISIS prison camps, which hold about ten thousand prisoners today. This would benefit the entire region by helping to feed the people, rebuild the country, and reduce military tensions throughout the region. It would promote regional trade, which would lift millions from poverty.

ST: Since the start of war on Syria, Turkey has announced several times that it will establish a safe zone in the north of Syria, why is it doing that?

Sen. Black: Proposed safe zones in Northern Syria have taken various forms. Senator John McCain wanted to establish a “no-fly zone.” He intended to use that as a pretext for a gigantic aerial attack against Syria, just as he had done in Libya. You may recall, that in 2011, the establishment of a “no-fly zone,” was followed by an immediate, devastating aerial campaign that killed hundreds of thousands of Libyans and destroyed the major population centers of the nation. After that was done to Libya, terrorists engaged in massive slaughter and western powers looted the national treasury, stealing 149 tons of gold, 2,000 tons of silver, and over half a trillion US dollars and Euros. So, the idea of a “no-fly zone” was intended to facilitate an all-out attack on Syria. Fortunately, that idea did not gain traction.

Turkey has also attempted to carve out Syrian territory to provide a safe haven for terrorists. Today, Turkey is massively supplying Tahrir al-Sham (Al-Qaeda in Syria) in Idlib Province with military vehicles, missiles, and ammunition. The Central Intelligence Agency has released supplies from its warehouses to assist in this endeavor.

If Turkey and the United States were successful in their efforts to carve out a terrorist state in Idlib Province, they would establish an Islamic Caliphate dominated by Abu Mohammad al-Julani, the head of Tahrir al-Sham (al-Qaeda in Syria). Having boasted about the US role in destroying the ISIS Caliphate, we ourselves will have established an al-Qaeda caliphate ruled by an “Especially Designated Global Terrorist” with a $10 million bounty on his head. If successful, it would be especially ironic that the United States, which lost three thousand dead in the terror attacks on the Twin Towers and Pentagon on 9/11, would become the nation responsible for the establishment of a permanent terrorist caliphate led by those same people.

It is also ironic that one-third of America’s national debt was incurred fighting wars of aggression against Middle Eastern nations, though not a single benefit has ever flowed to the American people or has ever enhanced our national security. Yet from almost its outset, Vice President Dick Chaney labeled war against the Middle East as “the long war.”

How was it that Dick Chaney and the Central Intelligence Agency understood the agonizing longevity of these wars when the American people did not?

This leaves one to question whether the designers of American foreign policy have the faintest interest in the well-being of our nation or its people.

Related links:

http://syriatimes.sy/index.php/editorials/opinion/42014-sen-richard-black-i-do-not-want-more-americans-dying-for-saudi-arabia

http://www.syriatimes.sy/index.php/editorials/opinion/41821-sen-richard-black-to-st-the-world-would-be-much-safer-if-president-trump-replaced-bolton-and-pompeo

Interviewed by: Basma Qaddour

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Israel’s Hands Spread Wide and Dig Deep

Image result for Israel’s Hands Spread Wide and Dig Deep
Brian Cloughley
August 6, 2019
© Photo: Flickr / Official Photo by Caleb Smith

In the US House of Representatives on 23 July there was an overwhelming vote condemning the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement which has the objective of encouraging the government of Israel to meet “its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully comply with the precepts of international law by:

1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall;

2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and

3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.”

There is nothing morally or legally questionable in any of these aims.  But the United States Congress does not concern itself with morality or legality if these are inconsistent with its policy concerning Israel, which, as enunciated by Representative Lee Zeldin of New York, is based on the conviction that “Israel is our best ally in the Mid East; a beacon of hope, freedom & liberty, surrounded by existential threats.”  Fox News reported that the condemnatory resolution “has been pushed by AIPAC, the influential Israel lobby in Washington,” which explains a great deal, as AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee is a very powerful organisation, with deep pockets and wide-spreading hands.

In February 2019 The Intercept noted  that “AIPAC, on its own website, recruits members to join its ‘Congressional Club,’ and commit to give at least $5,000 per election cycle.” In a film called The Lobby “Eric Gallagher, a top official at AIPAC from 2010 to 2015, tells an Al Jazeera reporter that AIPAC gets results.”  A secret recording revealed that “Getting $38 billion in security aid to Israel matters, which is what AIPAC just did. Everything AIPAC does is focused on influencing Congress.”

And AIPAC influences Congress and other agencies extremely efficiently, even to the extent of managing to have Al Jazeera refrain from broadcasting the US-focused version of The Lobby.The Director of Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit, Clayton Swisher, said that pressure included “pro-Israel lobbyists in Washington threatening to convince Congress to register the network as ‘foreign agents,’ and false accusations of anti-Semitism against the producers of the documentary.”  That’s all you need:  the mere mention of anti-Semitism makes everyone suck their teeth, roll their eyes, and leap out of the way.

It so happened that the day before Congress condemned an initiative aimed at having Israel recognise the rights of Palestinians and abide by international law, the Israelis carried out an operation of destruction that was specifically aimed against the rights of Palestinians and was contrary to international law.  As the BBC reported, it involved 200 Israeli soldiers and 700 police, weapons at the ready, deploying to the Palestinian village of Wadi Hummus at 4 in the morning of July 22, along with bulldozers and excavators that proceeded to destroy Palestinian homes.

There wasn’t a word of objection from the US Administration whose Tweeter-in-Chief had made his views on Israel crystal-clear on 16 July when he announced that the four non-white female Members of Congress whom he loathes to the point of psychosis are “a bunch of Communists [who] hate Israel.”  Moreover, they “talk about Israel like they’re a bunch of   thugs, not victims of the entire region.”  On the other hand, the European Union stated that “Israel’s settlement policy, including actions taken in that context, such as forced transfers, evictions, demolitions and confiscations of homes, is illegal under international law. In line with the EU’s long-standing position, we expect the Israeli authorities to immediately halt the ongoing demolitions.”  Fat chance of that — just as there is no possibility that the United states or the United Kingdom will support pursuit of international law when it is violated by Israel.

Britain is on its way out of the European Union, so has no say in EU policy, but in any case it wouldn’t agree about criticism of Israel because the governing Conservative Party fosters an organisation called ‘Conservative Friends of Israel’ (CFI) whose members constitute some eighty per cent of Conservative Members of Parliament.

Boris Johnson, Britain’s Trump-loving new prime minister, is a fervid supporter of CFI which supported him in his bid to be head of the Conservative party. On 23 July, after his selection to be leader and thus prime minister, the CFI’s Chairmen, Stephen Crabb MP and Lord Pickles, and Honorary President Lord Polak declared that “From his refusal to boycott Israeli goods in his time as Mayor of London through to his instrumental role as Foreign Secretary…  Boris has a long history of standing shoulder to shoulder with Israel and the Jewish community. Mr Johnson continued to display his resolute support… reiterating his deep support for Israel and pledging to be a champion for Jews in Britain and around the world.”

One of Johnson’s first ministerial appointments was of Ms Priti Patel to be Home Secretary. She had resigned from the Cabinet of PM Theresa May in November 2017 because it had been discovered that she had been telling lies, which wasn’t in itself unusual, but the circumstances were intriguing.  As the BBC headlined about the then head of International Development :  “Priti Patel quits cabinet over Israel meetings row” which involved her apologising to the prime minister “after unauthorised meetings in August with Israeli politicians — including prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu — came to light. But it later emerged she had two further meetings without government officials present in September.”  Not only that, but in a media interview “she gave the false impression that the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, and the Foreign Office knew about her meetings in Israel.”

It’s one of these irregular verbs which were met with much laughter during the marvellous BBC series ‘Yes Minister’ and ‘Yes, Prime Minister’ — ‘I make a misstatement;  she gives a false impression;  he is in prison for telling lies.’

And it was decidedly strange that the egregious Lord Polak, he of the statement that Boris Johnson stands “shoulder to shoulder with Israel” accompanied Patel at 13 of her 14 meetings with Israeli officials during August and September. What on earth could have been going on?

Of course she had no reason to worry about having to resign for telling lies, because at the time of her disgrace Boris Johnson told the BBC that “Priti Patel has been a very good colleague and friend for a long time and a first class secretary of state for international development. It’s been a real pleasure working with her and I’m sure she has a great future ahead of her.”  The man has the gift of prophecy.

Then Johnson appointed Michael Gove to his Cabinet as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, which is a weird appointment that gives a lot of power and very little responsibility. Gove had been demonstrably disloyal to Johnson during the first leadership struggle, in what the Daily Telegraph called a “spectacular act of treachery” but all was forgiven because, as recorded approvingly by the Conservative Friends of Israel he believes that anti-Zionism and antisemitism are “two sides of the same coin”, which means that anybody who criticises Israel’s nationalistic persecution of Palestinians is an anti-Semite. He believes that “the test for any civilised society is whether it stands with the Jewish people, and whether it stands with Israel. It is a pleasure to stand with the Jewish people. It is a duty to stand with Israel.”

The Palestinians are not going to get one tiny bit of support from either the United States or Britain when their houses are bulldozed to rubble.  They can expect no criticism from Washington or London when their children are killed in Gaza by Israeli soldiers.

The West Bank of the Jordan River, between Israel and Jordan, was captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war. Then it annexed East Jerusalem. Both areas are defined in international law as occupied territory.  Although this is ignored by the US and Britain it was intriguing that in a minor but telling legal finding in Canada on 30 July, a judge ruled that wines made in Jewish settlements in the West Bank should not carry labels that say “Product of Israel” because of course the settlements are built on Palestinian land.

But there’s no point in telling that to the Israeli-supporting wine connoisseur Donald Trump or the US Congress or any member of Britain’s governing Conservative party, because international law means nothing when there are other priorities.

U.S. Economic Warfare and Likely Foreign Defenses*

 

July 25, 2019

U.S. Economic Warfare and Likely Foreign Defenses*

by Michael Hudson, posted by special permission on the Saker blog

* Keynote Paper delivered at the 14th Forum of the World Association for Political Economy, July 21, 2019.

Today’s world is at war on many fronts. The rules of international law and order put in place toward the end of World War II are being broken by U.S. foreign policy escalating its confrontation with countries that refrain from giving its companies control of their economic surpluses. Countries that do not give the United States control their oil and financial sectors or privatize their key sectors are being isolated by the United States imposing trade sanctions and unilateral tariffs giving special advantages to U.S. producers in violation of free trade agreements with European, Asian and other countries.

This global fracture has an increasingly military cast. U.S. officials justify tariffs and import quotas illegal under WTO rules on “national security” grounds, claiming that the United States can do whatever it wants as the world’s “exceptional” nation. U.S. officials explain that this means that their nation is not obliged to adhere to international agreements or even to its own treaties and promises. This allegedly sovereign right to ignore on its international agreements was made explicit after Bill Clinton and his Secretary of State Madeline Albright broke the promise by President George Bush and Secretary of State James Baker that NATO would not expand eastward after 1991. (“You didn’t get it in writing,” was the U.S. response to the verbal agreements that were made.)

Likewise, the Trump administration repudiated the multilateral Iranian nuclear agreement signed by the Obama administration, and is escalating warfare with its proxy armies in the Near East. U.S. politicians are waging a New Cold War against Russia, China, Iran, and oil-exporting countries that the United States is seeking to isolate if cannot control their governments, central bank and foreign diplomacy.

The international framework that originally seemed equitable was pro-U.S. from the outset. In 1945 this was seen as a natural result of the fact that the U.S. economy was the least war-damaged and held by far most of the world’s monetary gold. Still, the postwar trade and financial framework was ostensibly set up on fair and equitable international principles. Other countries were expected to recover and grow, creating diplomatic, financial and trade parity with each other.

But the past decade has seen U.S. diplomacy become one-sided in turning the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, SWIFT bank-clearing system and world trade into an asymmetrically exploitative system. This unilateral U.S.-centered array of institutions is coming to be widely seen not only as unfair, but as blocking the progress of other countries whose growth and prosperity is seen by U.S. foreign policy as a threat to unilateral U.S. hegemony. What began as an ostensibly international order to promote peaceful prosperity has turned increasingly into an extension of U.S. nationalism, predatory rent-extraction and a more dangerous military confrontation.

Deterioration of international diplomacy into a more nakedly explicit pro-U.S. financial, trade and military aggression was implicit in the way in which economic diplomacy was shaped when the United Nations, IMF and World Bank were shaped mainly by U.S. economic strategists. Their economic belligerence is driving countries to withdraw from the global financial and trade order that has been turned into a New Cold War vehicle to impose unilateral U.S. hegemony. Nationalistic reactions are consolidating into new economic and political alliances from Europe to Asia.

We are still mired in the Oil War that escalated in 2003 with the invasion of Iraq, which quickly spread to Libya and Syria. American foreign policy has long been based largely on control of oil. This has led the United States to oppose the Paris accords to stem global warming. Its aim is to give U.S. officials the power to impose energy sanctions forcing other countries to “freeze in the dark” if they do not follow U.S. leadership.

To expand its oil monopoly, America is pressuring Europe to oppose the Nordstream II gas pipeline from Russia, claiming that this would make Germany and other countries dependent on Russia instead of on U.S. liquified natural gas (LNG). Likewise, American oil diplomacy has imposed unilateral sanctions against Iranian oil exports, until such time as a regime change opens up that country’s oil reserves to U.S., French, British and other allied oil majors.

U.S. control of dollarized money and credit is critical to this hegemony. As Congressman Brad Sherman of Los Angeles told a House Financial Services Committee hearing on May 9, 2019: “An awful lot of our international power comes from the fact that the U.S. dollar is the standard unit of international finance and transactions. Clearing through the New York Fed is critical for major oil and other transactions. It is the announced purpose of the supporters of cryptocurrency to take that power away from us, to put us in a position where the most significant sanctions we have against Iran, for example, would become irrelevant.”[1]

The U.S. aim is to keep the dollar as the transactions currency for world trade, savings, central bank reserves and international lending. This monopoly status enables the U.S. Treasury and State Department to disrupt the financial payments system and trade for countries with which the United States is at economic or outright military war.

Russian President Vladimir Putin quickly responded by describing how “the degeneration of the universalist globalization model [is] turning into a parody, a caricature of itself, where common international rules are replaced with the laws… of one country.”[2] That is the trajectory on which this deterioration of formerly open international trade and finance is now moving. It has been building up for a decade. On June 5, 2009, then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev cited this same disruptive U.S. dynamic at work in the wake of the U.S. junk mortgage and bank fraud crisis.

Those whose job it was to forecast events … were not ready for the depth of the crisis and turned out to be too rigid, unwieldy and slow in their response. The international financial organisations – and I think we need to state this up front and not try to hide it – were not up to their responsibilities, as has been said quite unambiguously at a number of major international events such as the two recent G20 summits of the world’s largest economies.

Furthermore, we have had confirmation that our pre-crisis analysis of global economic trends and the global economic system were correct. The artificially maintained uni-polar system and preservation of monopolies in key global economic sectors are root causes of the crisis. One big centre of consumption, financed by a growing deficit, and thus growing debts, one formerly strong reserve currency, and one dominant system of assessing assets and risks – these are all factors that led to an overall drop in the quality of regulation and the economic justification of assessments made, including assessments of macroeconomic policy. As a result, there was no avoiding a global crisis.[3]

That crisis is what is now causing today’s break in global trade and payments.

Warfare on many fronts, with Dollarization being the main arena

Dissolution of the Soviet Union 1991 did not bring the disarmament that was widely expected. U.S. leadership celebrated the Soviet demise as signaling the end of foreign opposition to U.S.-sponsored neoliberalism and even as the End of History. NATO expanded to encircle Russia and sponsored “color revolutions” from Georgia to Ukraine, while carving up former Yugoslavia into small statelets. American diplomacy created a foreign legion of Wahabi fundamentalists from Afghanistan to Iran, Iraq, Syria and Libya in support of Saudi Arabian extremism and Israeli expansionism.

The United States is waging war for control of oil against Venezuela, where a military coup failed a few years ago, as did the 2018-19 stunt to recognize an unelected pro-American puppet regime. The Honduran coup under President Obama was more successful in overthrowing an elected president advocating land reform, continuing the tradition dating back to 1954 when the CIA overthrew Guatemala’s Arbenz regime.

U.S. officials bear a special hatred for countries that they have injured, ranging from Guatemala in 1954 to Iran, whose regime it overthrew to install the Shah as military dictator. Claiming to promote “democracy,” U.S. diplomacy has redefined the word to mean pro-American, and opposing land reform, national ownership of raw materials and public subsidy of foreign agriculture or industry as an “undemocratic” attack on “free markets,” meaning markets controlled by U.S. financial interests and absentee owners of land, natural resources and banks.

A major byproduct of warfare has always been refugees, and today’s wave fleeing ISIS, Al Qaeda and other U.S.-backed Near Eastern proxies is flooding Europe. A similar wave is fleeing the dictatorial regimes backed by the United States from Honduras, Ecuador, Colombia and neighboring countries. The refugee crisis has become a major factor leading to the resurgence of nationalist parties throughout Europe and for the white nationalism of Donald Trump in the United States.

Dollarization as the vehicle for U.S. nationalism

The Dollar Standard – U.S. Treasury debt to foreigners held by the world’s central banks – has replaced the gold-exchange standard for the world’s central bank reserves to settle payments imbalances among themselves. This has enabled the United States to uniquely run balance-of-payments deficits for nearly seventy years, despite the fact that these Treasury IOUs have little visible likelihood of being repaid except under arrangements where U.S. rent-seeking and outright financial tribute from other enables it to liquidate its official foreign debt.

The United States is the only nation that can run sustained balance-of-payments deficits without having to sell off its assets or raise interest rates to borrow foreign money. No other national economy in the world can could afford foreign military expenditures on any major scale without losing its exchange value. Without the Treasury-bill standard, the United States would be in this same position along with other nations. That is why Russia, China and other powers that U.S. strategists deem to be strategic rivals and enemies are looking to restore gold’s role as the preferred asset to settle payments imbalances.

The U.S. response is to impose regime change on countries that prefer gold or other foreign currencies to dollars for their exchange reserves. A case in point is the overthrow of Libya’s Kaddafi after he sought to base his nation’s international reserves on gold. His liquidation stands as a military warning to other countries.

Thanks to the fact that payments-surplus economies invest their dollar inflows in U.S. Treasury bonds, the U.S. balance-of-payments deficit finances its domestic budget deficit. This foreign central-bank recycling of U.S. overseas military spending into purchases of U.S. Treasury securities gives the United States a free ride, financing its budget – also mainly military in character – so that it can taxing its own citizens.

Trump is forcing other countries to create an alternative to the Dollar Standard

The fact that Donald Trump’s economic policies are proving ineffective in restoring American manufacturing is creating rising nationalist pressure to exploit foreigners by arbitrary tariffs without regard for international law, and to impose trade sanctions and diplomatic meddling to disrupt regimes that pursue policies that U.S. diplomats do not like.

There is a parallel here with Rome in the late 1st century BC. It stripped its provinces to pay for its military deficit, the grain dole and land redistribution at the expense of Italian cities and Asia Minor. This created foreign opposition to drive Rome out. The U.S. economy is similar to Rome’s: extractive rather than productive, based mainly on land rents and money-interest. As the domestic market is impoverished, U.S. politicians are seeking to take from abroad what no longer is being produced at home.

What is so ironic – and so self-defeating of America’s free global ride – is that Trump’s simplistic aim of lowering the dollar’s exchange rate to make U.S. exports more price-competitive. He imagines commodity trade to be the entire balance of payments, as if there were no military spending, not to mention lending and investment. To lower the dollar’s exchange rate, he is demanding that China’s central bank and those of other countries stop supporting the dollar by recycling the dollars they receive for their exports into holdings of U.S. Treasury securities.

This tunnel vision leaves out of account the fact that the trade balance is not simply a matter of comparative international price levels. The United States has dissipated its supply of spare manufacturing capacity and local suppliers of parts and materials, while much of its industrial engineering and skilled manufacturing labor has retired. An immense shortfall must be filled by new capital investment, education and public infrastructure, whose charges are far above those of other economics.

Trump’s infrastructure ideology is a Public-Private Partnership characterized by high-cost financialization demanding high monopoly rents to cover its interest charges, stock dividends and management fees. This neoliberal policy raises the cost of living for the U.S. labor force, making it uncompetitive. The United States is unable to produce more at any price right now, because its has spent the past half-century dismantling its infrastructure, closing down its part suppliers and outsourcing its industrial technology.

The United States has privatized and financialized infrastructure and basic needs such as public health and medical care, education and transportation that other countries have kept in their public domain to make their economies more cost-efficient by providing essential services at subsidized prices or freely. The United States also has led the practice of debt pyramiding, from housing to corporate finance. This financial engineering and wealth creation by inflating debt-financed real estate and stock market bubbles has made the United States a high-cost economy that cannot compete successfully with well-managed mixed economies.

Unable to recover dominance in manufacturing, the United States is concentrating on rent-extracting sectors that it hopes monopolize, headed by information technology and military production. On the industrial front, it threatens disrupt China and other mixed economies by imposing trade and financial sanctions.

The great gamble is whether these other countries will defend themselves by joining in alliances enabling them to bypass the U.S. economy. American strategists imagine their country to be the world’s essential economy, without whose market other countries must suffer depression. The Trump Administration thinks that There Is No Alternative (TINA) for other countries except for their own financial systems to rely on U.S. dollar credit.

To protect themselves from U.S. sanctions, countries would have to avoid using the dollar, and hence U.S. banks. This would require creation of a non-dollarized financial system for use among themselves, including their own alternative to the SWIFT bank clearing system. Table 1 lists some possible related defenses against U.S. nationalistic diplomacy.

As noted above, what also is ironic in President Trump’s accusation of China and other countries of artificially manipulating their exchange rate against the dollar (by recycling their trade and payments surpluses into Treasury securities to hold down their currency’s dollar valuation) involves dismantling the Treasury-bill standard. The main way that foreign economies have stabilized their exchange rate since 1971 has indeed been to recycle their dollar inflows into U.S. Treasury securities. Letting their currency’s value rise would threaten their export competitiveness against their rivals, although not necessarily benefit the United States.

Ending this practice leaves countries with the main way to protect their currencies from rising against the dollar is to reduce dollar inflows by blocking U.S. lending to domestic borrowers. They may levy floating tariffs proportioned to the dollar’s declining value. The U.S. has a long history since the 1920s of raising its tariffs against currencies that are depreciating: the American Selling Price (ASP) system. Other countries can impose their own floating tariffs against U.S. goods.

Trade dependency as an aim of the World Bank, IMF and US AID

The world today faces a problem much like what it faced on the eve of World War II. Like Germany then, the United States now poses the main threat of war, and equally destructive neoliberal economic regimes imposing austerity, economic shrinkage and depopulation. U.S. diplomats are threatening to destroy regimes and entire economies that seek to remain independent of this system, by trade and financial sanctions backed by direct military force.

Dedollarization will require creation of multilateral alternatives to U.S. “front” institutions such as the World Bank, IMF and other agencies in which the United States holds veto power to block any alternative policies deemed not to let it “win.” U.S. trade policy through the World Bank and U.S. foreign aid agencies aims at promoting dependency on U.S. food exports and other key commodities, while hiring U.S. engineering firms to build up export infrastructure to subsidize U.S. and other natural-resource investors.[4] The financing is mainly in dollars, providing risk-free bonds to U.S. and other financial institutions. The resulting commercial and financial “interdependency” has led to a situation in which a sudden interruption of supply would disrupt foreign economies by causing a breakdown in their chain of payments and production. The effect is to lock client countries into dependency on the U.S. economy and its diplomacy, euphemized as “promoting growth and development.”

U.S. neoliberal policy via the IMF imposes austerity and opposes debt writedowns. Its economic model pretends that debtor countries can pay any volume of dollar debt simply by reducing wages to squeeze more income out of the labor force to pay foreign creditors. This ignores the fact that solving the domestic “budget problem” by taxing local revenue still faces the “transfer problem” of converting it into dollars or other hard currencies in which most international debt is denominated. The result is that the IMF’s “stabilization” programs actually destabilize and impoverish countries forced into following its advice.

IMF loans support pro-U.S. regimes such as Ukraine, and subsidize capital flight by supporting local currencies long enough to enable U.S. client oligarchies to flee their currencies at a pre-devaluation exchange rate for the dollar. When the local currency finally is allowed to collapse, debtor countries are advised to impose anti-labor austerity. This globalizes the class war of capital against labor while keeping debtor countries on a short U.S. financial leash.

U.S. diplomacy is capped by trade sanctions to disrupt economies that break away from U.S. aims. Sanctions are a form of economic sabotage, as lethal as outright military warfare in establishing U.S. control over foreign economies. The threat is to impoverish civilian populations, in the belief that this will lead them to replace their governments with pro-American regimes promising to restore prosperity by selling off their domestic infrastructure to U.S. and other multinational investors.

US Warfare on Many Fronts —————————————————————— Dedollarization defense

Military warfare (the Near East, Asia)NATO and bilateral treaty (Saudi, ISIS, Al Qaida). color revolutions and proxy wars. Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and pressure for Europe to withdraw from NATO unless the U.S. alleviates its New Cold War threats.
Dollarization is monetary warfare. The US Treasury-bill standard finances the mainly military U.S. balance-of-payments deficit. SWIFT threatens to isolate Iran and Russia Dedollarization will refrain from foreign central banks financing U.S. overseas military spending by keeping their savings in dollars.Creation of alternative payments clearing system.
The IMF finances US client regimes and seeks to isolate those not following US policy. An alternative global financial organization, such as Europe’s INSTEX to circumvent US anti-Iran sanctions, and Russo-China alternative to SWIFT.
Creditor policy forcing austerity on debtor economies, forcing them to privatize and sell off their public domain to pay debts. An international court empowered to write down debts to the ability to pay, based on the original principles that were to guide the BIS in 1931.
The World Bank finances trade dependency on US food exports and opposes national food self-sufficiency. An alternative development organization based on food self-sufficiency. Annulment of World Bank and IMF debt as “odious debt.”
Unilateral US trade war based on levy of US protectionist tariffs, quotas and sanctions, Countervailing sanctions, and creation of an alternative to the WTO or a strengthened organization free of US control.
Cyber War, spycraft via US internet platforms, and Stuxnet sabotage. Work with Huawei and other alternatives to US internet options.
Class War: austerity program for labor MMT, taxation of rentier income and capital gains.
Neoliberal monetarist doctrine of privatization and creditor-oriented rules Promotion of a mixed economy with public infrastructure as a factor of production.
US patent policy seeks monopoly rents. Non-recognition of predatory monopoly patents.
Investment control Deprivatization and buyoutsof US assets abroad.
International law and diplomacy The U.S. as the world’s “exceptional nation,” not subject to international laws or even to its own treaty agreements.Veto power in any organization it joins. The basic principle that the U.S. is not subject to any foreign say over its laws and policies.

Global Problems caused by US Policy ——————————-  Response to U.S. Disruptive Policy

U.S. refuses to join international agreements to reduce carbon emissions, Global Warming and Extreme Weather.U.S. diplomacy is based on control of oil to make other countries dependent on U.S. energy dominance. Trade and tax sanctions against U.S. exporters and banks. Taxes on U.S. tax avoidance by the oil industry’s “flags of convenience” (convenient for tax avoidance).Taxation or isolation of U.S. exports based on high-carbon production.
Attempt to monopolize new G5 Internet technology, Sanctioning of Huawei, insistence on US priority in high-tech. Rejection of patents on basic IT, medicine and other basic human needs.
Patent laws in pharmaceuticals, etc. Taxation of monopoly rents.

There are alternatives, on many fronts

Militarily, today’s leading alternative to NATO expansionism is the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), along with Europe following France’s example under Charles de Gaulle and withdrawing. After all, there is no real threat of military invasion today in Europe. No nation can occupy another without an enormous military draft and such heavy personnel losses that domestic protests would unseat the government waging such a war. The U.S. anti-war movement in the 1960s signaled the end of the military draft, not only in the United States but in nearly all democratic countries. (Israel, Switzerland, Brazil and North Korea are exceptions.)

The enormous spending on armaments for a kind of war unlikely to be fought is not really military, but simply to provide profits to the military industrial complex. The arms are not really to be used. They are simply to be bought, and ultimately scrapped. The danger, of course, is that these not-for-use arms actually might be used, if only to create a need for new profitable production.

Likewise, foreign holdings of dollars are not really to be spent on purchases of U.S. exports or investments. They are like fine-wine collectibles, for saving rather than for drinking. The alternative to such dollarized holdings is to create a mutual use of national currencies, and a domestic bank-clearing payments system as an alternative to SWIFT. Russia, China, Iran and Venezuela already are said to be developing a crypto-currency payments to circumvent U.S. sanctions and hence financial control.

In the World Trade Organization, the United States has tried to claim that any industry receiving public infrastructure or credit subsidy deserves tariff retaliation in order to force privatization. In response to WTO rulings that U.S. tariffs are illegally imposed, the United States “has blocked all new appointments to the seven-member appellate body in protest, leaving it in danger of collapse because it may not have enough judges to allow it to hear new cases.”[5] In the U.S. view, only privatized trade financed by private rather than public banks is “fair” trade.

An alternative to the WTO (or removal of its veto privilege given to the U.S. bloc) is needed to cope with U.S. neoliberal ideology and, most recently, the U.S. travesty claiming “national security” exemption to free-trade treaties, impose tariffs on steel, aluminum, and on European countries that circumvent sanctions on Iran or threaten to buy oil from Russia via the Nordstream II pipeline instead of high-cost liquified “freedom gas” from the United States.

In the realm of development lending, China’s bank along with its Belt and Road initiative is an incipient alternative to the World Bank, whose main role has been to promote foreign dependency on U.S. suppliers. The IMF for its part now functions as an extension of the U.S. Department of Defense to subsidize client regimes such as Ukraine while financially isolating countries not subservient to U.S. diplomacy.

To save debt-strapped economies suffering Greek-style austerity, the world needs to replace neoliberal economic theory with an analytic logic for debt writedowns based on the ability to pay. The guiding principle of the needed development-oriented logic of international law should be that no nation should be obliged to pay foreign creditors by having to sell of the public domain and rent-extraction rights to foreign creditors. The defining character of nationhood should be the fiscal right to tax natural resource rents and financial returns, and to create its own monetary system.

The United States refuses to join the International Criminal Court. To be effective, it needs enforcement power for its judgments and penalties, capped by the ability to bring charges of war crimes in the tradition of the Nuremberg tribunal. U.S. to such a court, combined with its military buildup now threatening World War III, suggests a new alignment of countries akin to the Non-Aligned Nations movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Non-aligned in this case means freedom from U.S. diplomatic control or threats.

Such institutions require a more realistic economic theory and philosophy of operations to replace the neoliberal logic for anti-government privatization, anti-labor austerity, and opposition to domestic budget deficits and debt writedowns. Today’s neoliberal doctrine counts financial late fees and rising housing prices as adding to “real output” (GDP), but deems public investment as deadweight spending, not a contribution to output. The aim of such logic is to convince governments to pay their foreign creditors by selling off their public infrastructure and other assets in the public domain.

Just as the “capacity to pay” principle was the foundation stone of the Bank for International Settlements in 1931, a similar basis is needed to measure today’s ability to pay debts and hence to write down bad loans that have been made without a corresponding ability of debtors to pay. Without such an institution and body of analysis, the IMF’s neoliberal principle of imposing economic depression and falling living standards to pay U.S. and other foreign creditors will impose global poverty.

The above proposals provide an alternative to the U.S. “exceptionalist” refusal to join any international organization that has a say over its affairs. Other countries must be willing to turn the tables and isolate U.S. banks, U.S. exporters, and to avoid using U.S. dollars and routing payments via U.S. banks. To protect their ability to create a countervailing power requires an international court and its sponsoring organization.

Summary

The first existential objective is to avoid the current threat of war by winding down U.S. military interference in foreign countries and removing U.S. military bases as relics of neocolonialism. Their danger to world peace and prosperity threatens a reversion to the pre-World War II colonialism, ruling by client elites along lines similar to the 2014 Ukrainian coup by neo-Nazi groups sponsored by the U.S. State Department and National Endowment for Democracy. Such control recalls the dictators that U.S. diplomacy established throughout Latin America in the 1950s. Today’s ethnic terrorism by U.S.-sponsored Wahabi-Saudi Islam recalls the behavior of Nazi Germany in the 1940s.

Global warming is the second major existentialist threat. Blocking attempts to reverse it is a bedrock of American foreign policy, because it is based on control of oil. So the military, refugee and global warming threats are interconnected.

The U.S. military poses the greatest immediate danger. Today’s warfare is fundamentally changed from what it used to be. Prior to the 1970s, nations conquering others had to invade and occupy them with armies recruited by a military draft. But no democracy in today’s world can revive such a draft without triggering widespread refusal to fight, voting the government out of power. The only way the United States – or other countries – can fight other nations is to bomb them. And as noted above, economic sanctions have as destructive an effect on civilian populations in countries deemed to be U.S. adversaries as overt warfare. The United States can sponsor political coups (as in Honduras and Pinochet’s Chile), but cannot occupy. It is unwilling to rebuild, to say nothing of taking responsibility for the waves of refugees that our bombing and sanctions are causing from Latin America to the Near East.

U.S. ideologues view their nation’s coercive military expansion and political subversion and neoliberal economic policy of privatization and financialization as an irreversible victory signaling the End of History. To the rest of the world it is a threat to human survival.

The American promise is that the victory of neoliberalism is the End of History, offering prosperity to the entire world. But beneath the rhetoric of free choice and free markets is the reality of corruption, subversion, coercion, debt peonage and neofeudalism. The reality is the creation and subsidy of polarized economies bifurcated between a privileged rentier class and its clients, eir debtors and renters. America is to be permitted to monopolize trade in oil and food grains, and high-technology rent-yielding monopolies, living off its dependent customers. Unlike medieval serfdom, people subject to this End of History scenario can choose to live wherever they want. But wherever they live, they must take on a lifetime of debt to obtain access to a home of their own, and rely on U.S.-sponsored control of their basic needs, money and credit by adhering to U.S. financial planning of their economies. This dystopian scenario confirms Rosa Luxemburg’s recognition that the ultimate choice facing nations in today’s world is between socialism and barbarism.

  1. Billy Bambrough, “Bitcoin Threatens To ‘Take Power’ From The U.S. Federal Reserve,” Forbes, May 15, 2019. https://www.forbes.com/sites/billybambrough/2019/05/15/a-u-s-congressman-is-so-scared-of-bitcoin-and-crypto-he-wants-it-banned/#36b2700b6405. 
  2. Vladimir Putin, keynote address to the Economic Forum, June 5-6 2019. Putin went on to warn of “a policy of completely unlimited economic egoism and a forced breakdown.” This fragmenting of the global economic space “is the road to endless conflict, trade wars and maybe not just trade wars. Figuratively, this is the road to the ultimate fight of all against all.” 
  3. Address to St Petersburg International Economic Forum’s Plenary Session, St Petersburg, Kremlin.ru, June 5, 2009, from Johnson’s Russia List, June 8, 2009, #8, 
  4. https://www.rt.com/business/464013-china-russia-cryptocurrency-dollar-dethrone/. Already in the late 1950s the Forgash Plan proposed a World Bank for Economic Acceleration. Designed by Terence McCarthy and sponsored by Florida Senator Morris Forgash, the bank would have been a more truly development-oriented institution to guide foreign development to create balanced economies self-sufficient in food and other essentials. The proposal was opposed by U.S. interests on the ground that countries pursuing land reform tended to be anti-American. More to the point, they would have avoided trade and financial dependency on U.S. suppliers and banks, and hence on U.S. trade and financial sanctions to prevent them from following policies at odds with U.S. diplomatic demands.  
  5. Don Weinland, “WTO rules against US in tariff dispute with China,” Financial Times, July 17, 2019. 

 

Sergey Lavrov’s interview with the newspaper Argumenty i Fakty

Via The Saker

July 18, 2019

Sergey Lavrov’s interview with the newspaper Argumenty i Fakty

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with the newspaper Argumenty i Fakty published on July 17, 2019

Original interview in Russian

Question: Can an improvement in the relations with the United States be expected in the near future?

Sergey Lavrov: An improvement will hardly materialise any time soon, since it is anything but easy to sort out the mess that our relations are in, which is not our fault. After all, bilateral relations require reciprocal efforts. We have to meet each other half way.

Russia is ready to move in this direction, as we have said on a number of occasions. We proceed from the premise that Russia and the United States bear special responsibility. We are the two largest nuclear powers, the founding members of the United Nations and permanent members of its Security Council. Cooperation between our two countries is key to ensuring stability and predictability in international affairs. However, not everything depends on us. It takes two to tango, as the saying goes.

The situation is quite complicated on the American side. On the one hand, President Donald Trump talks about seeking to be on good terms with Russia, but this attitude is far from prevalent in Washington. We see this in unfriendly steps, such as various groundless accusations Russia faces, imposing financial and economic sanctions, seizing diplomatic property, kidnapping Russian nationals in third countries, opposing Russia’s foreign policy interests, as well as attempts to meddle in our domestic affairs. We are seeing system-wide efforts to reach out to almost all countries around the world and persuade them to scale back their relations with Russia.

Many US politicians are trying to outshine each other in ramping up anti-Russia phobias and they are using this factor in their domestic political struggles. We understand that they will only escalate in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election. Nevertheless, we will not give up in despair. We will continue to look for common ground with the US despite all the challenges that there are.

It is essential that the Russian and US presidents both understand that there is a need to end the deadlock in our relations. During their June meeting which took place in Osaka the two leaders spoke out in favour of stepping up economic cooperation, combining efforts to settle regional crises, resuming dialogue on strategic stability, and also said that they appreciated dialogue on combatting terrorism. Vladimir Putin invited Donald Trump to Moscow to take part in the events to mark the 75th anniversary of Victory in WWII.

All in all, it has to be recognised that Washington has been inconsistent and quite often unpredictable in its actions. For this reason, trying to predict anything in our relations with the US is a fruitless task. Let me reiterate that as far as Russia is concerned we are ready to patiently work on improving our relations. Of course, this will be possible only if Russia’s interests are respected, and based on equality and mutual respect.

Question: Our diplomats’ access to several Russian properties in San Francisco has been restricted. What practical actions are you taking to protect our property?

Sergey Lavrov: Washington has actually expropriated six Russian buildings which have been registered with the US Department of State as diplomatic property. These are two buildings of the Russian Consulate General in San Francisco, the Consul General’s residence in Seattle, the countryside facilities of the Russian Embassy and Trade Mission in New York, as well as our Trade Mission in Washington. We have no diplomatic presence on the West Coast, where tens of thousands of Russian citizens and compatriots live. We have been denied the right to visit these places by the US State Department. All this is a flagrant violation of the United States’ international legal obligations.

We have responded to these openly coercive actions. We have shut down the US Consulate General in St Petersburg, which incidentally was not a US property. We are mulling over a choice of possible methods to reclaim the illegally seized Russian property. We regularly raise the subject of Washington’s violation of its obligations at the bilateral level and also at multilateral platforms. We will continue to do this.

Question: The United States abducts and hunts down Russian citizens around the world, imprisoning them under far-fetched pretexts, whereas we appear to be afraid of giving an appropriate response to these international bandits.

Sergey Lavrov: We are not afraid of anything. But we will not act like bandits either, because we respect international law.

The hunt for Russian citizens in other countries is nothing other than an instrument of US pressure on Russia. Washington has flatly refused to cooperate with our law enforcement agencies on the basis of the 1999 Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters. Instead, it puts pressure on its allies and other states to arrest Russian citizens on their territory and subsequently to extradite them to the United States. This is being done quietly, furtively and without any reliable proof [of these people’s guilt]. Some of our citizens have been abducted, as it happened to Konstantin Yaroshenko in Liberia in 2010 and to Roman Seleznev in the Maldives in 2014.

Of course, we will not leave our citizens alone with their problems. We carefully examine all the cases of Russian citizens detained at Washington’s request. The Russian authorities are working on measures to enhance the effectiveness of the legal protection of our citizens abroad. The Foreign Ministry and Russian diplomats in the United States are taking all possible measures to protect the rights and interests of our compatriots in distress. We are doing our best to ensure that Russian detainees have access to consular and legal assistance around the clock, as well as to improve their detainment conditions. In our contacts with the Americans, we invariably demand that our citizens be released and returned home as soon as possible. This also concerns the widely publicised cases of Viktor Bout and Maria Butina.

We raise this question at multilateral platforms, including the UN Human Rights Council, as well as in our contacts with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, and the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights.

Unfortunately, knowing the aggressive methods of the American system, which does not just stop at using illegal methods, we cannot guarantee that nothing bad will happen to Russian citizens abroad. In this context, I would like to use this occasion to recommend that our citizens thoroughly consider the risks of foreign trips, especially ones to the countries that have extradition agreements with the United States.

Question: Why would Russia pay for PACE membership if it is constantly subject to the assembly’s provocations?

Sergey Lavrov: Just to clarify, there are no separate fees for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Our country makes payments to the Council of Europe’s budget pursuant to the council’s Statute and Russian law. PACE-related expenses account for a small fraction of the Council of Europe’s common budget.

Strictly speaking, Council of Europe membership is a source of a number of benefits for our citizens and the country in general. They include refining our national legal system, solving a whole range of social and humanitarian issues, and fighting corruption. Every single ministry and agency that is part of the Inter-Agency Commission on Russia’s Council of Europe Membership (around 20 in total) confirm the importance of proactive participation in this organisation, including mechanisms of over 60 conventions that our country joined. 

As concerns provocations, they are engineered by the aggressive Russophobic minority egged on by the United States, an observer in the Council of Europe. Of course, this sours the atmosphere and does not bode well for constructive PACE work. But then again, the sensible majority of PACE members who support Russia’s return to the fold of this parliamentary structure is sick and tired of this meaningless vagary. This is indicated by the fact that at the June session, the assembly issued a resolution to restore Russia’s powers without any reservations, thus meeting the condition of Russia’s resuming payments.

Question: It is outrageous to watch the Ukrainian army’s rampage against LPR and DPR residents. Innocent civilians, children and defenders of these two republics are being killed. It was reported that local people addressed Russian President Vladimir Putin with a request to send in troops. Why not do it and force Ukraine to make peace as was the case with Georgia?

Sergey Lavrov: True, the situation in Donbass remains extremely disturbing. To this day, hardly anything has been done to cease fire and shelling continues. Of course, the suffering of the people in these two unrecognised republics strikes a painful chord in our hearts.

The signals that President Vladimir Zelensky sent during his election campaign and right after being elected were rather contradictory. We hope that Kiev’s recent pledge to fully comply with the Minsk Agreements will take the shape of a practical policy after the pre-term Verkhovna Rada elections. The most important thing is to end the war and hear the people in southeastern Ukraine who want peace to be restored, who want to freely speak their native Russian language and their socioeconomic rights to be observed. All this was committed to writing in the Package of Measures.

I really hope that the new Ukrainian leadership will not continue the disastrous course of Poroshenko’s regime and will successfully convert the credit of trust it has into actual efforts to restore civil peace in Ukraine. The long-awaited disengaging of forces and equipment that began in late June in Stanitsa Luganskaya that had been blocked by the previous administration for two and a half years is a convincing indication that where there is political will there can be progress.  

Question: Does Russia intend to officially recognise the DPR and the LPR as independent states?

Sergey Lavrov: Our position on this matter is well known. According to the Minsk Package of Measures, where Russia acts as a guarantor, Donbass has to be granted special status that is permanently enshrined in Ukraine’s constitution. We believe in the need to focus at this point in time on implementing the Minsk Agreements as approved by a UN Security Council resolution, which makes them a binding instrument.

The Ukrainian leadership must look its own citizens straight in the face and renounce the policy of putting Donbass in an economic chokehold, recognise the right of Donetsk and Lugansk residents to speak their native language and celebrate the dates and public holidays they hold as sacred, and honour the memory of their national heroes. Without this it would not be serious, to say the least, to talk about restoring trust among DPR and LPR residents toward official Kiev. Of course, establishing meaningful and direct dialogue between Kiev and the unrecognised people’s republics is the central condition of the Minsk Agreements. This requires streamlining the work of the Contact Group formed by Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk representatives and supported by Russia and the OSCE. In this case, the Normandy Format can also be effective in facilitating the work of the Contact Group. There can also be other ways to support the settlement process in Donbass from the outside, as long as they are acceptable for all sides, and, of course, do not water down the tenets of the Minsk Agreements. President Vladimir Putin was abundantly clear in reaffirming his position, including during his telephone conversation with President Vladimir Zelensky on July 10.

Question: What is Russia’s Foreign Ministry doing to liberate Russian journalist Kirill Vyshinsky from detention in Kiev? He has spent more than a year in prison, in essence, for his professional activity. Why cannot Russia put pressure on Ukraine to free him?

Sergey Lavrov: The court proceedings in the case of RIA Novosti Ukraine editor-in-chief resemble the theatre of the absurd. There is no doubt that the journalist was subject to an illegal arrest, just for working for a Russian media outlet and honestly reporting on the ongoing developments. Even Ukrainian prosecutors seem to understand this, since they have been postponing hearings under the pretext of studying the investigative materials.

Russia demands that Kiev immediately release Kirill Vyshinsky and fully restore all his rights. Our diplomats maintain close contacts with the journalist’s lawyers, since Ukraine declined consular access. We do everything we can to reach out to our foreign partners, including on international platforms, calling on them to work with Kiev in order to bring about a positive resolution as soon as possible.

Question: What measures should the Georgian government take in order to prevent individuals who are a disgrace for Georgia from holding anti-Russia demonstrations near the country’s parliament?

Sergey Lavrov: Relations between the government and the opposition are Georgia’s internal affair. We have no intention to interfere in this process. However, we are definitely concerned about any attempts made by some radical representatives of the Georgian political elite to whip up Russophobic sentiment and pit our peoples against one another. I doubt that these individuals thought about the damage their action was causing to their country and the prosperity of its people, which depends to a significant extent on the state of economic and humanitarian relations with Russia.

We expect the Georgian leadership to recognise as soon as possible the detrimental nature and danger of further efforts to fan anti-Russia hysteria. After all, it is essential that official Tbilisi found the strength to condemn the shameful actions of a local television network that offended the President of Russia, causing misgivings even within the Georgian society.

We hope that the Georgian authorities will be able to restore social and political stability in the country and remove the existing security threats Russians currently face there. Should this happen, the necessary conditions will be created in order to look into the possibility for removing the precautionary measures Russia has taken, including a ban on air travel to Georgia. We want to be friends and to cooperate so that Russians and Georgians can benefit.

Question: The Chinese media have recently started referring to Siberia as “Chinese land.” Some 12 million Chinese currently live in Russia’s Far East and Siberia. Can it happen that China actually takes over Siberia and Russia’s Far East in the near future?

Sergey Lavrov: Border disputes between Russia and China were settled for good a long time ago. The bilateral Treaty of Good-Neighbourliness and Friendly Cooperation adopted in 2001 states that there are no territorial claims between the two countries. Against this backdrop, those who have misgivings over the constructive development of Russian-Chinese relations seek to spread the myth of the Chinese threat.

As for the 12 million Chinese who allegedly live in the Far East and Siberia, I have great doubts about the accuracy of this figure. The associated fears are clearly blown out of proportion.

The policy by Russia and the People’s Republic of China to strengthen their neighbourly relations is a multifaceted and long-term effort that cannot be affected by short-term fluctuations. Sino-Russian cooperation is not aimed against anyone. Its main purpose is to facilitate socioeconomic development and prosperity for our countries and peoples. As Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping said following the June 5 talks in Moscow, the two countries are entering a new era in their comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation. The growing mutual trust in military and political affairs, record-high trade figures and expanding cultural and humanitarian contacts, as well as better coordination with Beijing on international affairs speak volumes of the positive momentum in our bilateral dialogue.

Question: Relations with Iran are essential for Russia’s geopolitics. However, Iran has indulged in unacceptable aggressive rhetoric against the state of Israel on numerous occasions and went beyond words. How is Russia’s position any different from that of European countries in the 1930s when they encouraged Hitler’s anti-Soviet stance?

Sergey Lavrov: Russia sees intrinsic value in its relations with Iran, Israel and all other Middle East countries. Russia has a multipronged foreign policy that is free from the principle of “being friends against someone.” In our contacts with the leaders of all regional countries we are consistent in calling on our partners to find peaceful solutions to the problems that may arise and renounce the use or threat of force.

The escalating tension in the region we are witnessing today is the direct result of Washington and some of its allies raising the stakes in their anti-Iranian policy. The US is flexing its muscles by seeking to discredit Tehran and blame all the sins on the Islamic Republic of Iran. This creates a dangerous situation: a single match can start a fire. The responsibility for the possible catastrophic consequences will rest with the United States.

As for the historical aspect of your question, it is not appropriate to project what happened in Europe in the 1930s on the current developments in the Middle East. As we all know, Neville Chamberlain and Edouard Daladier sought to appease Hitler in order to direct the German military might against the USSR. We are not seeing anything of this kind today.

Iran regularly reaffirms to us its interest in regional stability through dialogue with all the interested countries, including the Gulf Arab states. In addition to this, Tehran has always stressed that it did not intend to undertake any aggressive action.

As far as Russia is concerned, we are taking steps to de-escalate tensions. We are proactive in promoting the concept of collective security in the Persian Gulf implying a stage-by-stage approach to resolving conflicts and devising confidence building and control mechanisms. We are working with our partners to preserve the multilateral agreements to promote a settlement on the Iranian nuclear programme.

Question: Do you think that we are geopolitically losing in Ukraine, Armenia and Georgia and allowing a belt of “Russia’s enemies” to build up around us from among some of the former “brotherly nations” who earn money in Russia and on Russia, repatriate it and still consider us if not enemies, definitely not friends?

Sergey Lavrov: The political processes in Ukraine, Georgia and Armenia concern us, there is no question about it, because they are our brotherly peoples and we are tied by a long history of relations, including being part of one state.

Unfortunately, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union the West came to believe that it was the end of history and the West can now blatantly interfere with the affairs of any country and presumptuously call the shots in its domestic politics. Ukraine is perhaps the most flagrant example.

Armenia is a different story. This country is Russia’s key partner in the South Caucasus with whom we have strong strategic relations and an alliance. We are engaged in an extensive political dialogue and cooperate between parliaments and on the international scene. Russia is Armenia’s leading economic partner. Our links in the education, culture, investment, military and technical sector are on the rise.

As concerns Georgia, I am certain that Georgians do not see us Russians as enemies. Unfortunately, right now we see certain politicians in Georgia competing in anti-Russian rhetoric to achieve their mercenary and opportunistic goals. I am sure that everything will be ironed out sooner or later and that our countries will again enjoy neighbourly relations.

Broadly speaking, our agenda in the post-Soviet space has a unifying nature and is aimed at stimulating the socioeconomic development of respective countries, promoting and harmonising integration in the region, strengthening collective security and the potential of our coordinated response to threats and challenges. 

Question: What is the status of the talks with Iraq over bringing back our women and children from prisons? What are the prospects of them returning back home?

Sergey Lavrov: So far, we have managed to bring back home 90 children. According to our records, some 30 more children remain in Iraq. We plan to bring them back within the next months.

Unfortunately, the situation is more complicated when it comes to their mothers. All of them are convicted for breaking Iraqi law, by illegally crossing the border, staying in the country illegally and participating in terrorist activities. Sixty-six Russian nationals are currently in prison. The Russian Embassy in Baghdad is constantly monitoring their cases and providing necessary help.

To recap, we started working on the humanitarian operation to return our minor citizens back to Russia in the autumn of 2017 when Iraqi officials informed us that Russian women and children were detained during a counter-terrorist operation in Mosul.

The office of the Presidential Commissioner for Children’s Rights Anna Kuznetsova established a commission to coordinate the operation. The commission involves representatives of competent government bodies, including the Foreign Ministry. Together with the Iraqi authorities we agreed on a course of action to locate the children and prepare the necessary documents for their repatriation. Russian specialists collected the children’s and mothers’ biological material for DNA relationship testing. Meanwhile, we were looking for relatives to establish formal guardianship. Then we received rulings of the Baghdad Central Court on returning the children.

We continue to work hard on this matter.

Question: What is the reason for facilitating access to Russian citizenship for people living abroad?

Sergey Lavrov: These decisions are based above all on humanitarian considerations. This is why we have adopted a facilitated procedure for the granting of Russian citizenship to the residents of certain districts in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. The procedure was formalized in April of this year by a presidential executive order.

Kiev’s blockade has made the living in certain districts of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine unbearable. The people have been deprived of everything, including social payments, pensions, wages, as well as the national system of banking, education and healthcare services. They have been stripped of their voting rights, as neither election commissions nor polling stations were established in their districts. In other words, Kiev has de facto turned these people into stateless persons.

It was our duty to provide assistance to these people in that situation. Russian citizenship will allow them to tackle their current problems, give them freedom of movement as well as access to healthcare services, education, banking services and transportation.

At the same time, Russia is not forcing anyone to adopt its citizenship or abandon the Ukrainian citizenship. Each resident of Donbass makes the decision independently.

Besides, this is not a new practice at all. A number of European countries, for example, Poland, Hungary and Romania, have been doing this for years.

The general procedure for granting Russian citizenship is regulated by a federal law, which says that the basic condition is the applicant’s residence in Russia. But the law also stipulates preferences for foreign nationals living outside Russia if at least one of their parents is a Russian citizen living in Russia. An exception has been made for the stateless persons who used to hold Soviet citizenship and are living in the former Soviet republics. They can receive Russian citizenship without taking up residency in Russia. In addition to this, parents holding Russian citizenship can register their children born in mixed marriages as Russian citizens. We are working to improve this procedure.

In reality, Russian offices abroad issue Russian passports to some 50,000 people every year. Over half of them are children born in mixed marriages. Their parents usually write in their applications that they want to maintain the legal and spiritual connection to Russia.

Question: Have you ever developed good personal relations with foreign colleagues even though you may have political differences with their home countries? Can you provide an example of such friendship?

Sergey Lavrov: Good and trust-based personal relations are extremely important in the diplomatic profession. In some cases communications are maintained and solutions to problems are found only thanks to such personal relations. In general, I believe that the ability to maintain close contacts, avoid emotional decision-making and never forget about your country’s strategic interests when dealing with short-term concerns are the required qualities of all diplomats irrespective of rank and post.

Of course, partners and counterparts do change. For example, as a Foreign Minister I have worked with five US Secretaries of State. But this does not mean [personal] ties are broken off when my colleagues retire or are appointed to another position. After all, this is a small world.

As for giving examples, I would not like to name anyone now, including out of respect for the other colleagues. After all, friendship is a very personal matter. Besides, many of my friends are still working in the diplomatic service or are prominent in the socio-political sphere.

Question: What quality distinguishes a real diplomat from a fake one?

Sergey Lavrov: As for the qualities a professional diplomat must have, I would say that the most important of them is a deep understanding of your country’s development goals and foreign policy interests. Of course, this calls for special training, good knowledge of history, constant involvement in all aspects of life, as well as colossal erudition. Diplomats routinely work with people from other countries, ethnicities and cultures. So they must be well-versed in a country’s specifics. Of course, it is very important to have a knowledge of foreign languages, which is, by the way, a strong point when it comes to our diplomacy. Overall, diplomatic work consists of active contacts with people, which is why a real diplomat must make a good impression, find common language with others in any situation, as well as be able not only to hear but also to listen to what the counterparts say.

US Sanctions Are Acts of War

US Sanctions Are Acts of War

Sun Jun 30, 2019 10:4

TEHRAN (FNA)- In great violation of UN Charter and international law, and with no international accountability, the United States is currently engaged in illegal and comprehensive economic blockades against Iran, North Korea and Venezuela, as well as several lesser blockades against countries such as Cuba and Nicaragua, and an intensifying effort to cut off China’s access to technology.

The blockade against North Korea is sanctioned, at least in part, by the UN Security Council. The blockade against Iran is in direct opposition to the Security Council. And the blockade against Venezuela is so far without Security Council engagement for or against.

The US is attempting to isolate the three countries from almost all international trade, causing shortages of food, medicines, energy, and spare parts for basic infrastructure, including the water supply and power grid. This is because they are not on the same page as Washington in regional matters.

The North Korean blockade operates mainly through UN-mandated sanctions, and includes a comprehensive list of exports to North Korea, imports from North Korea, and financial relations with North Korean entities.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization reports that ten million North Koreans are at risk of hunger, partly owing to sanctions.

The…”negative impact sanctions can have on agricultural production, through both direct and indirect impacts, cannot be ignored,” the FAO warns. “The most obvious are restrictions on the importation of certain items that are necessary for agricultural production, in particular fuel, machinery and spare parts for equipment.”

The draconian US sanctions on Venezuela have come in two phases. The first, beginning in August 2017, was mainly directed at the state oil company PDVSA, the country’s main earner of foreign exchange; the second round of sanctions, imposed in January 2019, was more comprehensive, targeting the Venezuelan government.

A recent detailed analysis of the first round of sanctions shows their devastating impact. The US sanctions gravely exacerbated economic mismanagement, contributing to a catastrophic fall in oil production, hyperinflation, economic collapse, hunger, and rising mortality.

US illegal sanctions against Iran have been in place more or less continuously since 1979. The most recent and by far most draconian measures, introduced in August 2018 and intensified in the first half of this year, aim to cut Iran off from foreign trade.

The US illegal sanctions are in direct contravention of UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorsed the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran. The effects have been inhumane.

One might expect that other countries would easily circumvent these illegal sanctions. But the US has threatened to punish foreign companies that violate the sanctions and has used the dollar’s global clout as a bludgeon, threatening to sanction foreign banks that finance trade with Iran.

European companies have fallen into line, despite the European Union’s political support for the UN resolution and nuclear deal with Iran. The history of the past 40 years shows that over the longer term, more ways will be found to circumvent the sanctions, using renminbi, ruble, or euro financing.

Despite the intense economic pain inflicted on North Korea, Venezuela, and Iran, none of them has succumbed to US demands. In this sense, sanctions have proved to be no more successful than military intervention.

North Korea has maintained, and most likely is expanding, its nuclear arsenal. The Iranian government rejects US demands concerning its missile program and foreign policies. And Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro remains in power.

The US blockades have been carried out by presidential decrees and mostly on the basis of congressional ratifications and oversight. Yet under President Trump, this has been a one-man show, even more so than in the case of president-led wars, which trigger vastly more public scrutiny. Trump realizes that he can impose sanctions abroad with virtually no political or international accountability.

Military blockades are acts of war, and therefore subject to international law, including UN Security Council oversight. America’s economic blockades are similar in function and outcome to military blockades, with inhumane consequences for civilian populations, and risk provoking war. It is time for the Security Council to take up the US sanctions regimes and economic terrorism and weigh them against the requirements of international law and peacekeeping.

Sovereignists of all countries – unite!

The Saker

Sovereignists of all countries – unite!

June 07, 2019

[This analysis was written for the Unz Review]

We all know that the Neocons are by far the largest and most influential group of sponsors of US wars of aggression. They are the ones who lobbied the hardest for the invasion of Iraq, and they are the ones which for decades have tried every possible dirty trick to lure the US into acts of aggression against Iran. In fact, in terms of international law, the Neocons could be seen as a gang of international war criminals. Why? Because, as I have already pointed out several times, according to the fundamental positions of the Nuremberg Tribunal, the worst crime possible is not genocide or any other crime against humanity. The worst possible crime is the crime of *aggression* because, according to the experts who set up the Nuremberg Tribunal, the crime of aggression “contains” all the other crimes (by the way, the International Criminal Court takes the same position). In the words of the chief American prosecutor at Nuremberg, Robert H. Jackson, “to initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.” By that definition, every single US President would be a war criminal (at least as far as I know; if you can think of a US President who did not commit the crime of aggression – including against Native Americans! – please let me know). As for the Neocons, they could be fairly characterized as a “criminal conspiracy to commit the crime of aggression.” In a sane world, that would make them international pariahs on par with the al-Qaeda crazies (who, whether they realize it or not, were federated by the US Neocons and are still their hired guns not so much against the West but mostly against all the other (non-Takfiri) forms of Islam, primarily Hezbollah and Iran). In fact, while most are still afraid to say so publicly, I believe that there is a growing realization amongst political analysts that the Neocons are a dangerous international gang of warmongering thugs.

What is, however, less known is that inside the US, the Neocons and their allies have been a prime force to dismantle the Bill of Rights, especially the First and Second Amendments.

Today, I want to give a simple yet telling example of how this kind of stuff is quietly happening with very little opposition. And for that example, I will use the US state in which I am currently living, Florida.

Check out this stunning sequence of events:

On April 11th the FL House unanimously (114-0) passed a House Bill 741 which would define anti-Semitism as:

  • “A certain perception of the Jewish people, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jewish people.”
  • “Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism directed toward a person, his or her property, or toward Jewish community institutions or religious facilities.”

The bill also provides many examples of “anti-Semitism,” including:

  • Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews, often in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.
  • Accusing Jews as a people or the State of Israel of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
  • Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interest of their own nations.

The bill also provides that examples of anti-Semitism related to Israel include:

  • Applying a double standard to Israel by requiring behavior of Israel that is not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation, or focusing peace or human rights investigations only on Israel.
  • Delegitimizing Israel by denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination and denying Israel the right to exist.

On April 29th Governor DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet met in Jerusalem (not a joke!) to proclaim their support for “the Jewish state” (sic) and declare that DeSantis will be the most pro-Israel governor in “America” (sic). The fact that holding that meeting abroad is a violation of Florida law did not bother anybody (except The Florida First Amendment Foundation which filed a lawsuit against this outrage). Neither did the fact that Israel is the last openly and officially racist state on our planet. Sadly, Florida is hardly an exception, two dozen other states (including Texas) have passed similar laws.

The tiny little fig-leaf covering the real anti-civil-rights nature of such laws is the cop-out that such laws do not technically violate the First Amendment since they “only” apply to schools (FL) or that they do not ban free speech as such, but “only” allow for disinvestment from corporations and individuals who dare to profess the “wrong” point of view about Israel (TX).

This is, of course, utter nonsense.

Since the Neocons cannot openly come out and declare “let’s abolish the First Amendment”, they use what I would call a “legislative death by a thousand cuts” meaning that rather than openly repealing the First Amendment, they simply neuter it by imposing innumerable small limitations, regulations, interpretations, restrictions, etc. etc. etc (by the way, that is how the US elites are currently also trying to dismantle the Second Amendment).

As somebody who studied in the USA and obtained two diplomas here (1986-1991), I can attest that before 9/11 US schools and campuses were a wonderful Petri dish for all sorts of opinions and ideas, including very controversial ones. The freedom of speech on US colleges was total, and it was understood and expected that all opinions and ideas were to compete on their intrinsic merits and not carefully parsed for any sign of crimethink. This has now totally changed: with a few exceptions, most US schools (including many colleges!) have now become ideologically monolithic, and the only possible opinion is total hatred for Trump and unconditional support for the Clinton gang.

The most toxic aspect of these freedom-crushing laws is that they are deliberately directed at the young because the ruling plutocracy fully appreciates the fact that young people are far easier to mold ideologically, to indoctrinate. Add to this that the bulk of the US “educational” system (along with the US corporate media) is designed to actually stupidify students and make them compliant (the exact opposite of what “education” is supposed to achieve) since all that is required from 90+% of the US population are just the basic skill-sets needed to serve their overlords and ruling elites (the remaining top 10% of schools are mostly reserved for the children of the ruling US nomenklatura such as doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc.).

There is another aspect of this slo-mo deconstruction of civil rights in the USA which I think is extremely important to point out: I believe that the absolutely outrageous nature of such laws is not only a side-effect of the infinite arrogance of the Neocons but also a deliberate mind-manipulation technique. By being so “in your face” with their ideological arrogance, the Neocons are forcing everybody observing the laws into one of two camps: first, those who meekly accept whatever the Neocons want, and those who dare to resist. The first group then becomes an accomplice, a bystander, who by silence acquiesces, while the second group becomes a target to be silenced, by whatever means necessary. The similarities in other circumstances are apparent: 9/11, MH-17, Skripal, fictional gas attacks in Syria, etc. The rulers of the Empire demand that everybody endorse a narrative which is self-evidently false thereby creating a very accurate tool to measure the degree of political subservience of every person asked whether the official version is true or not.

In this context, it is quite amazing to see that very few people dare to openly question why and how a foreign power acquired such total control over a supposed superpower. There are, of course, many courageous individuals who dare to question all this (the names of Cynthia McKinney, Ron Unz, Philip Giraldi, Paul Craig Roberts, Catherine Austin-Fitts, Bonnie Faulkner and many others come to mind), but their courageous voices are drowned by an CAT5 hurricane of pro-Zionist propaganda. And, of course, when all else fails, the vapid and nonsensical accusation of “anti-Semitism” is used to discredit anybody whose arguments cannot be simply dismissed. Finally, the US deep-state has been very successful in its covert support for all kinds of genuinely racist movements, personalities and media outlets as a means to discredit (by supposed association) anybody critical of Israel or of Zionism. The exact same technique was used to discredit the 9/11 Truth movement which has been negatively affected on a grass-roots level by all sorts of plain stupid theories (nukes, Russian missiles, directed energy weapons, etc.) which helped to “dissolve” the serious and rigorously scientific studies of what really happened on 9/11.

One of the most devastating consequences of this Zio-compatible political orthodoxy in the USA has been that no US politician has successfully challenged the total control of the Zionist Occupation Government (ZOG – a much-discredited term, yet a totally accurate one, in my opinion). Cynthia McKinney tried, and we all know what happened to her. Even more chilling is the fact that even people like Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich, Ralph Nader or Tulsi Gabbard clearly decided to stay away from this issue, lest they be demonized and removed from any position of power like Cynthia McKinney was.

This is all entirely deliberate. Just check the language used by HB 741 which clearly and repetitively conflates any rejection or condemnation of Zionism (which is an ideology) with the hatred of Jews (as a religion, ethnicity or race; FWIW, I personally think of Jews as a tribe, not a race or ethnicity). This conflation is the cornerstone of Zionist power in the West, and this is why any discussion of it is considered as an impeachable evidence of racist crimethink).

Still, those who, like myself, live in the USA are comparatively better off than any European dissidents since in most EU countries (and in Russia, by the way) there are already plenty of laws banning specific forms of free speech including even the so-called “Holocaust denial” and the (vaguely worded) ban on “hate speech”: there is no First Amendment in Europe and the ban on some forms of free speech has always been present in Europe (the French philosopher Alain Soral is now risking a year in jail for various “thought-crimes”. I will write about his plight in the near future).

Conclusion: in so many ways, Russians and Americans have the same problem!

Once we make the decision to call things by their proper names, it becomes evident what the problem is, of the USA: the USA is not a genuinely free or sovereign country, but an “occupied territory” ruled by a transnational gang of thugs whose ideology is as racist, messianic and as hateful as it gets (Zionism); I would, therefore, suggest that a perfect US “liberation slogan” might be “restore full sovereignty to the people”. Russia, I believe, has the same problem, albeit to a lesser degree (the most significant difference is that there are still many patriots in Russia who are willing to speak up against this state of affairs, but without falling into the trap of endorsing racist views). Fundamentally, I think that it would be fair to say that both Russia and the USA are struggling to free themselves from the yoke of a trans-national gang of thugs whose goal is world domination, literally (if you are naïve enough to believe that Zionism is “just” the advocacy of a Jewish homeland and a relocation of any threatened Jews to “Eretz Yisrael” you are totally mistaken, see why here).

Furthermore, both Russia and the USA also suffer from the internal oppression of a ruling class, which is corrupt to the core and profoundly contemptuous of everybody else. And while these people are not united under one leader or organization, and while they don’t have to have secret coordinating meetings, they have such a commonality of interests that they will always and instinctively act in concert. I know that this is not a cool thing to say in 2019, but for all his other mistakes, Karl Marx was quite correct in his realization that class struggles are what defines the structure of most societies and that class consciousness often determines how those in power act.

So, whatever we choose to call them (Neocons, Zionists, Atlantic Integrationists, 5th columnists, etc.), these labels are all situational, and we all know who we are dealing with here and how these people operate. And to those who would (inevitably) accuse us of some kind of crypto-racism we would simply reply with the words of a very famous Jew, Saint Paul, who said: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12). Besides, blaming Jews for Zionism is about as logical as blaming Russians for Bolshevism, Germans for National Socialism or blaming US Americans for imperialism: this is both counter-factual and profoundly immoral. But, not to worry, the Pope has already declared that Christians have to ask for pardon for “19 centuries of Christian anti-Judaism”! I suppose that soon the Latins will declare Saint Paul an “optional saint” (like they did with Saint Nicholas). In fact, judging by the Pope’s obsession with denouncing anti-Semitism, we can safely assume that soon such notorious “anti-Semites” like Saint Paul, Saint Cyprian of Carthage, Saint Gregory of Nyssa, Saint Ephrem the Syrian, Saint Ambrose of Milan, Saint Justin Martyr and many others will soon be made “optional”. At the end of the day, I fully expect these folks to make Christ Himself “optional,” again for His anti-Semitism (especially in the Gospels of Saint Matthew and Saint John which will surely be “corrected” in the near future).

Russians and US Americans live in very different societies with very different histories. Yet I believe that rather than futilely hoping that Russia will one day become a backer of the (deep-state sponsored and therefore truly racist) Alt-Right, it would be far more realistic and productive to hope that all the people of Russia and the USA, irrespective of their race, ethnicity or religion, join forces to struggle to recover their sovereignty over their country. It does not matter what ideology the trans-national plutocracy happens to advocate as long as the rest of us realize that true sovereignty is the counter-poison which will restore our freedoms and stop wars of aggression (which only the ruling elites benefit from). Today the Neocons are enemy #1 for the US. The Russian 5th columnists are the enemy #1 for Russia. Showing how they work towards the same goals is, I believe, one of the first things which those who resist these thugs must achieve. Paraphrasing Marx, I would suggest this slogan: “sovereignists of all countries – unite!”.

The Saker

The Middle East Agenda: Oil, Dollar Hegemony & Islam in Imperialism

By Professor Francis A Boyle

May 11, 2019 “Information Clearing House” –  Assalamu’alaikum. Dr. Mahathir, Mrs. Mahathir, distinguished Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen. Little has changed in the imperialist tendencies of American foreign policy since the founding of the United States of America in seventeen eighty-nine. The fledgling United States opened the nineteenth century by stealing the continent of North America from the Indians, while in the process ethnically cleansing them and then finally deporting the pitiful few survivors by means of death marches (à la Bataan) to Bantustans, which in America we call reservations, as in instance of America’s “Manifest Destiny” to rule the world.

Then, the imperial government of the United States opened the twentieth century by stealing a colonial empire from Spain — in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines, then inflicting a near-genocidal war against the Filipino people. While at the same time, purporting to annex, the kingdom of Hawaii and subjecting the native Hawaiian people to near-genocidal conditions from which they still suffer today. All in the name of securing America’s so-called place in the sun.

And today at the dawn of the twenty first century, the world witnesses the effort by the imperial government of the United States of America to steal a hydrocarbon empire from the Moslem states and peoples, surrounding central Asia and the Persian Gulf under the pretext of fighting a war against international terrorism or eliminating weapons of mass destruction or promoting democracy, which is total nonsense.

For the past two hundred and sixteen years, the imperialist foreign policy of the United States of America since its foundation, has been predicated upon racism, aggression, ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity, war crimes and outright genocide. At the dawn of the third millennium of humankind’s parlous existence, nothing has changed about the operational dynamics of American imperial policy. And we see this today in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and what appears to be an illegal attack upon Iran.

Now the assigned topic today is The Middle East Agenda : Oil, Dollar Hegemony and Islam. So, I’m only going to limit my comments to that subject. We have to begin the story with the Arab oil embargo in 1973. As you know in 1967, Israel launched an illegal war of aggression against the surrounding Arab states, stole their land and ethnically cleansed their people. But eventually Egypt offered a Peace Treaty to Israel, which Israel rejected and the Egyptians and the Arab states decided then to use force to recover their lands.

Israel almost collapsed, the United States and Europe came to their support by providing weapons and in reaction the Arab states imposed an oil embargo on the United States and Europe, and brought their economies to their knees. Whereupon, the then U.S Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger threatened them and said: This will never happen again, and if you do, we will prevent it. And it was not just a threat. The United States government then at that time, planned, prepared and conspired, to steal the oil of the Persian Gulf. They did not have the military capability to do this at that time, to carry out the Kissinger threat, which was also then repeated by the Ford administration, and the Carter administration under Harold Brown and Zbigniew Brzezinski.

So they put into planning an interventionary force, designed expressly for the purpose of stealing Arab oil fields, and that was called the Rapid Deployment Force. And it took ten years of training, planning, positioning, and supply to build that interventionary force of that capability and eventually it was called the U.S. Central Command. The purpose of the U.S. Central Command is to steal and control and dominate the oil and gas resources of the Persian Gulf and Central Asia. And that’s exactly what the U.S. Central Command proceeded to do in the Bush Sr. war against Iraq, their first military expedition.

And as we know, that war exterminated probably two hundred thousand Iraqis. Half of them innocent civilians. Simply wiped out in a bombing campaign and a military expedition of unprecedented dimensions. But remember, it took fifteen years for the Pentagon and three different administrations both Republicans and Democrats to get the capability to do this. And then, when that genocide or conflict was over, what happened? The United States carved Iraq up into three pieces with their air force, the so-called no-fly zones, a zone for the Kurds in the North, a zone for the Shi’ah in the South, and the Sunni in the middle. Why? To destroy Iraq as an effectively viable state.

In his book, Clash of Civilizations, Huntington from Harvard who advised the Pentagon and advised the State Department pointed out that the only Arab state with the capability to lead the Arab world and challenge the United States and Israel was Iraq. And so Iraq had to be destroyed, to maintain the domination of the United States and its proxy, Israel. And remember after 1973, whatever it was before then, Israel is nothing more than a catspaw of the United States. They do what America tells them to do! Otherwise Israel is nothing more than a failed state.

In addition then, to destroying Iraq as a state, carving it up into three pieces, was the decision to debilitate and destroy the Iraqi people. And so they continued the genocidal economic sanctions on the people of Iraq, that my colleagues, Denis Halliday, Hans Von Sponeck, so courageously resisted and finally resigned from the United Nations as a matter of principle, calling them by what they really were: genocide. The United States and Britain maliciously and criminally imposed genocidal sanctions on the people of Iraq, that killed approximately 1.5 million Iraqis, all of whom were innocent civilians.

And when U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and later Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was asked about the five hundred thousand dead children, she said that she thought the price was worth it. Now, I could have taken that statement to the International Court of Justice, and filed it against the United States as evidence of genocidal intent against the people of Iraq in violation of the 1948 Genocide Convention. And indeed I offered to do so to the then President of Iraq, but for whatever reasons he decided not to take these claims to the International Court of Justice.

And now, as you see, he is on trial in a total kangaroo court proceeding in Baghdad that is completely controlled and dominated by the United States government. So, 1.5 million Iraqis died as the result of these genocidal sanctions. And then came September 11. And we know for a fact that the Bush Jr. administration knew that a major terrorist attack was going to be launched on the United States. And they let it happen anyway deliberately and on purpose. Why? They wanted a pretext for war. And not just one war but for a long war which they are talking about today.

Indeed, from my research the war plans drawn up by the Pentagon for the war against Afghanistan were formulated as early as 1997.Enormous military forces fielded by that same U.S. Central Command, were already in and around and surrounding the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean before September 11. This war had been long-planned against Afghanistan. And armed, equipped, supplied, trained and war-gamed and ready to go. They just needed the pretext and that was September 11. Why? The United States wanted access to the oil and natural gas of Central Asia.

That had been a Pentagon objective since at least before the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. And the 9/11 attack gave them the pretext to make this major grab for the oil and gas of Central Asia. And they are there today with their bases, with their troops, in the surrounding countries in Central Asia. And of course in the process, obliterated, we don’t even have an estimate of the Muslims in Afghanistan who were killed in the air bombardment, twenty, twenty five thousand, maybe more, and tens of thousands of others starved to death and still suffering today.

But that, as we know from all the records was only the first step in the process. They wanted to finish the job in Iraq. And so immediately after September 11, Bush ordered Rumsfeld to update and operationalize the plans for attacking and invading Iraq. It had nothing at all to do with weapons of mass destruction. We in the peace movement in America had been saying that all along. The United Nations had determined there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. These were lies designed to scaremonger the American people and Congress into supporting an illegal war of aggression, a Nuremberg crime against peace, against Iraq. And they told whatever lies and broke what international laws they had to break in order to attack Iraq.

And today the estimate, again we don’t know. Perhaps two hundred thousand people in Iraq had been killed outright by the United States, Britain, their allies, in Iraq. And again, most of them civilians. Clearly if you add up what United States government has done to Iraq from August of 1990, when it imposed the genocidal economic embargo until today. The United States and Britain have inflicted outright genocide on the Muslim and Christian people of Iraq and they are predominately Muslim as we know.

Now comes the third step in the Pentagon’s pre-existing plan, to control and dominate the oil and gas resources of the Persian Gulf and Central Asia. It sounds a bit like the plan that Hitler and the Nazis had in the 1930s. Does it not? First go into Austria, then go into Czechoslovakia, then go into Poland. So first Afghanistan, then Iraq, and now Iran. Iran is going to be the next victim of these outright criminals unless you and I can stop them.

Right now there are three aircraft carrier task forces in the Persian Gulf. And whenever they had put three aircraft carrier task forces over there, it’s always to prepare for an attack. And according to Seymour Hersch, the award winning journalist, it will probably be an aerial bombardment, along the lines of what they did to Yugoslavia in 1999. As you remember there, seventy eight days of aerial bombardment by the United States and NATO with no authorization from the Security Council. Clearly illegal. Killing again, we don’t know the exact number outright, four to five thousand innocent civilians. And targeting civilian infrastructure, all up and down, from which the people still suffer today. The use of depleted uranium ammunitions, with consequent outbreaks of cancer are documented today.

So this is what, is being planned right now as we speak; an attack upon Iran. Using jet fighter aircraft, fighter bombers, on these three aircraft carrier task forces, using cruise missiles on submarines. Of course Israel will be involved and have a role to play, doing exactly what the Americans tell them to do. In addition, it appears that if they attack Iran, they will also attack Syria. Yesterday, if you heard President Bush’s press conference in Vienna, he threatened Syria, right? There’s no other word for it. He threatened Syria.

These Neo-Conservatives want to take out Syria as a favour to Israel. Remember, many of these Neo-Conservatives are affiliated personally and professionally with the Likhud Party in Israel and Ariel Sharon, the Butcher of Beirut, the man who exterminated twenty thousand Arabs in Lebanon, most of them, not all of them were Muslims. And in addition, slaughtered two thousand completely innocent Palestinian women, children and old men at Sabra and Shatila. Ariel Sharon, the man who went to Haram Al-Sharif, the third holiest site in Islam, where Muhammad, (Peace Be Upon Him) ascended into heaven, and desecrated the Haram on September 28th, 2000, and deliberately provoked the start of the Al-Aqsa Intifada and has inflicted death and destruction on the Palestinian people since then. Close to thirty seven hundred Palestinians since then alone have been killed….most of them shot down like dogs in the street, and what has the Muslim world done about this?

My Palestinian friends tell me that they are worried that the government of Malaysia might recognize Israel and establish diplomatic relations with Israel. I certainly hope this is not true. We must treat the criminal apartheid regime in Israel, the same way the world treated the criminal apartheid regime in South Africa.

If the United States attacks Iran, they will probably attack Syria with the Israeli air force and they will attack Lebanon to take out the Islamic resistance movement in southern Lebanon – Hezbollah that defended the legitimate rights of Lebanon and the Lebanese people and expelled the invading longstanding occupying Israeli army that had the full support of the United States government for over twenty years.

So they could attack Iran, Syria, Southern Lebanon and inflict yet another round of ethnic cleansing on the suffering Palestinian people. Remember Sharon and Likhud believe that Jordan is Palestine. And they want to drive as many Palestinians as possible out of their homes and into Jordan.

So if the United States as reported by Hersh and other reliable sources, goes ahead and attacks Iran, we could see warfare erupt all the way from Egypt to the border with India. This whole area convulsed in warfare. And who will be the primary victims of this war? Muslims. The United States could not care less about Muslim life. Look at the demonisation and victimisation of Muslims that we have seen inflicted by the United States and its surrogate, Israel. Look at Guantanamo, where six hundred Muslim men have been treated like dogs in a kennel. Pretty much the way the Nazis treated the Jews. Look at Abu Ghraib and the sadism and sexual exploitation and perversion of Muslims by their American captors. And the same thing has been done in Baghram in Afghanistan. And when Professor Sharif Bassiouni, the U.N. special rapporteur filed the Report with the Security Council against U.S. practices in Afghanistan, the Americans had Kofi Annan fire him. Just as they had Kofi Annan fire Mary Robinson, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, when she protested what was going on down in Guantanamo.

The United States could not care less about Muslim life. And the same is true for the genocidal apartheid regime in Israel. They would be happy to use nuclear weapons against Iran. They would be happy to break the taboo of Hiroshima and Nagasaki against Muslims in Iran. It would create no problem at all for them. Indeed, I went to school with these Neo-Conservatives at the University of Chicago. Wolfowitz was there, ChalabiKhalilzadShulsky, all the rest of them. I went through the exact same programme. Their mentor, Professor Leo Strauss. And who was his teacher in Germany and his sponsor? Professor Carl Schmitt who went on to become the most notorious Nazi law Professor of his day, justifying every atrocity that the Nazis inflicted on everyone. We must understand that these Neo-Conservatives are in fact Neo-Nazis. They have espoused the Nazi doctrine of Schmitt and Strauss and Machiavelli and Nietzsche, the “superman.” They are the supermen, and the Muslims are the scum of the earth.

Now, I do not believe the United States will initially start bombing Iran with nuclear weapons. But if things get out of control they are fully prepared to use tactical nuclear weapons. And here in our materials, you have the Pentagon’s Joint Publication 3-12, which you can get on the internet…. just do a Google search and read it. And you will see there dated March 15, 2005; nuclear, tactical nuclear weapons have been fully integrated into United States conventional forces.

So if Iran were to defend itself, human wave attacks, whatever, they will be happy to use nuclear weapons, tactical nuclear weapons against Iran. Remember, these Neo-Nazis, Neo-Cons want to break the taboo of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They want to use tactical nuclear weapons, to be able to say to the rest of the world, you do what we tell you to do or else look what we did to the Iranians!

It’s a very serious situation. And this could even get further out of control. Remember that before Bush invaded Iraq, President Putin of Russia said that if he invades Iraq he could set off World War Three. Well, I interpreted that as an implicit threat. Even the famous American news broadcaster Walter Cronkite said that if Bush invaded Iraq he could set off World War Three. Two weeks ago we had the meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization; China, Russia and Iran. So again, if Bush were to attack Iran, he very well could set off a Third World War, a nuclear war. And that is where you come in:

“This is what I can do. These are my talents. These are my professional qualifications. These are my skills. This is my cheque book. Let me help. Let me prevent, let me help prevent a nuclear war, a possible final, cataclysmic Third World War.”

Thank you, shukran.

ARAB STRATEGY FORUM: Political Systems in the Arab World in 2020:

Moving Towards Reform and Development

 

by Professor Francis A. Boyle

IN THE NAME OF GOD, THE COMPASSIONATE, THE MERCIFUL

Your Royal Highnesses, Distinguished Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen.

The demand by the Bush Jr. administration and its Zionist neo-conservative operatives for democratization in the Arab world is a joke and a fraud that is designed to pressure, undermine, and destabilize Arab governments and states at the behest of the genocidal Israeli apartheid regime, and to pursue America’s continuing campaign for outright military control and domination of the Gulf oil and gas resources that the United States government launched in direct reaction to the Arab oil embargo of the West in 1973. For over the past three decades American foreign policy toward the entire Middle East has been determined by oil and Israel, in that order.

The United States government will seek direct military control and domination of the hydrocarbon resources of the Arab and Muslim world until there is no oil and gas left for them to steal, using Israel as its regional “policeman” towards that end. Oil and Israel were behind both the Bush Sr. and Bush Jr. wars against Iraq. And now Bush Jr. is threatening to attack Syria, Lebanon, and Iran in conjunction with the genocidal apartheid regime in Israel. As the oil and gas in the Arab and Muslim world proceed to run out, the United States and Israel will become even more predatory, aggressive, destructive, and genocidal toward Arab and Muslim states and peoples.

The Bush Jr. administration and its Zionist neo-conservative operatives could not care less about democracy in the Arab world. In fact, Bush Jr. and his Neo-Cons are all trying very hard to build a Police State in the United States of America that we lawyers are vigorously opposing. What the Bush Jr. administration and its Zionist neo-conservative operatives really want in the Arab world are quisling dictators who will do their dirty work for them and the genocidal Israeli apartheid regime against the wishes and prayers of the Arab people for democracy, human rights, the rule of law, constitutionalism, as well as for the liberation of Palestine and Al Quds.

Those will be the predominant facts and trends that the Arab world will have to confront between now and 2020. It was not my assignment here today to advise Arab states and the Arab people how to counteract this anti-Arab and anti-Muslim agenda by the United States and Israel. But certainly the sacred Koran and the divinely inspired teachings of the Prophet Mohammed – May Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him! – shall guide you and protect you during this most difficult period in the history of the Arab Nation, the Arab People, Arab States, and Islam.

Shukhran.

Professor Francis A. Boyle is an international law expert and served as Legal Advisor to the Palestine Liberation Organization and Yasser Arafat on the 1988 Palestinian Declaration of Independence, as well as to the Palestinian Delegation to the Middle East Peace Negotiations from 1991 to 1993, where he drafted the Palestinian counter-offer to the now defunct Oslo Agreement. His books include “ Palestine, Palestinians and International Law” (2003), and “ The Palestinian Right of Return under International Law” (2010).

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.

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