Western central bankers: they’re God, they trust – a 10-part series on the QE economy

October 21, 2019

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

Western central bankers: they’re God, they trust – a 10-part series on the QE economy

It’s not that the West’s central bankers are infallible – the similarity is that they cannot be held accountable. After all – who can call God to account for His decisions?

Like God, when things succeed it is They (central bankers) who deserve all the credit – when things fail it’s because we failed to properly follow Their policies.

And like God, they don’t need regulation – it is They who give the regulations, which must be accepted on faith alone and no matter how poor the results.

Central bankers are held partially accountable by only one sector – the markets of money. If markets go down based on any of their statements the bankers immediately reverse themselves, regardless of the situation. Countless times Bernake, Yellen, Trichet, Draghi and others have made statements purposely as clear as mud and then backtracked at the first lower lip quaver from the rich. Despite this exception, neoliberalism has proven to be the worship of bankers, as they rule and not markets – central bankers, of course, subvert and control the markets in many ways.

This idolatry is not new: for two centuries “capitalism with Western characteristics” has truly been “banker rule”. The most impressive victory of neoliberalism – their ability to extend their unholy domain despite provoking the Great Recession – proves this: Central bankers in the G7 nations and the Eurozone have all been given the power to set fiscal policy, to decide social policy priorities and to render domestic elections irrelevant. Western nations are no longer democracies (and they were all, every one, merely the types of democracies which pointedly refused to evolve after 1917) but bankocracies.

The Great Recession has exposed modern capitalism to be not just banker worship but also banker governance.

This is not some wild-eyed lefty nonsense – they are deciding public policy. If we called them a “Politburo” instead of a “central bank” the West would rally up a posse of Nazis and send them to invade.

This multipart series will – as many of my previous such series have also done – use an exceptionally important political book as a jumping off point, which also allows me to humbly impart my point of view gleaned from my work as a daily hack journalist in the heart of the Eurozone. This point of view is rarely heard, yet has virtues which academics, think-tankers, specialists and authors cannot possibly contain – even we hack journalists must have some virtues, after all?

The book is 2018’s Collusion: How Central Bankers Rigged the World by Nomi Prins, a former Wall Street executive who saw the light and is now informing on the crimes of Western imperialism-capitalism.

Quite simply, the book’s primary virtue is chronological: Prins gives a historical account of central banker doings in key areas – Mexico, China, Brazil, Japan and Europe – ever since US banker crimes set off the Great Recession in 2007. Prins gives us all the key happenings in these regions (only China is the one which is undoubtedly not capitalist-imperialist), and that is not something you can find all in one place elsewhere.

And because central bankers run the West, it is like reading the daily itinerary of a dictator – “this is how things were decided”.

What Prins does a good job in reminding us is that this has all been done to keep US banks solvent. Every policy of the US Fed is about defending this goal, and not at all about the health of the global economy; the idea that the US would be militarily aggressive and culturally overbearing yet financially benevolent is preposterous and unsupported by evidence.

But the book is essentially conventional journalism – it is a recounting of historical decisions, facts and consequences. The only radical, non-Western change Prins really suggests is to move away from the dollar. The world “class” is used less than a handful of times. Her mentions of the negative effect of central bankers’ decisions on the average person are clearly sincere but both sparing and brief. Few people get into Wall Street out of their love for poetry, after all. The book is a former Wall Streeter watching other Wall Streeters who have taken a brief detour into public service (except in China) – it is banker-centric. And this is quite useful in the 21st century.

Prins clearly and correctly views bankers as the problem, but her solution is essentially limited to hoping that China’s central bankers will re-balance the status quo, and that their stewardship will allow developing countries to coordinate cooperatively instead of exploitatively. She does not believe that the entire system needs re-ordering upon new moral and political foundations (or even upon the very different moral foundations upon which Red China rests, and which account for their different policies).

But merely changing Western-centrism to Sino-centrism, with its obvious shift away from the US greenback (and even combined with her correct approval of cryptocurrency) cannot be enough. China is not insisting that Western capitalist-imperialist nations follow Beijing, but that they reform themselves – Iran does this too, but where Beijing uses a whisper Iran uses a megaphone amplified by a megaphone. Prins needed far more moral condemnation and to propose far more actual changes to the prevailing Western system, but – as I wrote – this is essentially a book of typical Western capitalist “objective” journalism, where moralising is supposed to be left entirely to the reader.

This series is advocacy journalism. What I have done is to take Prins’ useful chronological, globally-oriented journalism on modern economic history and analyse it from a perspective very different from her own: a pro-socialist and anti-imperialist one.

It’s a great book, but lacks a modern political viewpoint

Prins gets the main point across, though, and it’s there in her title: G7/G20 central bankers have colluded since 2008 to (greenback) paper over the causes of the Great Recession.

Her book makes it undoubtedly clear how monetary policy has been coordinated to inflate and appease the 1%-dominated “markets” at different points around the world at different times. She doesn’t use these correct political terms, but she shows that 21st century Western financial policies are fundamentally neo-imperialist: the world has slaved for the benefit of the former unipolar imperium since 2008 – even though said imperium provoked the financial crisis in 2008 – because of collusion orchestrated by the imperium to inflict policies on the global economy which were mainly to save their biggest, busted banks.

There you have it: three major points upon which the past 11 years of Western economic history have been resting. This also explains why the West’s financial foundation is even shakier than it was in 2008.

You don’t need a PhD in economics to immediately grasp the correctness of these allegations: Nobody in their right mind would buy the securities of the top US banks… except for unaccountable central bankers. Central banks West-wide routinely bought $200 billion of such assets per month. Taxpayers were not enriched by buying bad investments, of course, but the busted banks in the US, Germany and France were.

The collusion Prins refers to in her title is the way the Fed used their influence to force other G20 banks to adopt the same policies. These policies are: massive money printing via QE, ZIRP (Zero interest rate policies) to persuade banks to take the money, and relaxing collateral standards in order to make sure banks got that money no matter how unsound everybody knew they were.

The problem comes down to a simple difference between capitalist and socialist views of finance: governments with policies dominated by the former give taxpayer money to private banks with no rules or accountability, whereas governments with policies dominated by the latter give this money with massive oversight, regulations and directives in order to ensure that it is used as efficiently as humanly possible. The irony for socialist-inspired nations is that they are the ones who are painted as corrupt!

Governments influenced by the former can rely on compliant, privately-owned Mainstream Media to repeatedly insist that these loans are for the benefit of all even though there is no such evidence for such a claim, nor any logical reason to expect such an outcome. Governments influenced by the latter really don’t care what the Western MSM says – their own people don’t need to be propagandized in favor of capitalist lies, and thus they mainly try to keep a low profile as regards international media.

(Cuba spends almost nothing on their media; Iran only recently started PressTV (and this service is more notable for its “different” viewpoint – “Voice of the voiceless” is the official slogan – rather than its scope and size); Xinhua seems to spend most of its time on soft news and certainly doesn’t trumpet its own beliefs. Indeed, much can be said about that difference between Iran and China: the former is nearly screaming up to Heaven what it is thinking and doing, whereas inscrutability in China is not just a cliché but their government policy, which aims to avoid friction. But I digress….)

The ultimate problem with Prins is that – like all “I’m a capitalist but not THIS capitalism” – she is ultimately a historical/economic nihilist:

Prins is like so many fine commentators on the Anglophone fringe: accumulating, exposing and railing against the crimes of capitalism, and garnering many clicks and views, but remaining fundamentally supportive of the capitalist system. They don’t believe in the only philosophical and economic alternative humans have designed to capitalism – socialism – nor do such analysts ever thread the camel through needle and become the one capitalist who finally proposes a capitalist system which is not based on exploitation, competition, aggression, etc.

There are ostensibly two main types of central bankers: the ones with more legacy power, and the ones with less but rising power, as is the case in China.”

Totally false: very real alternatives exist, and denying that – which Prins essentially does – only keeps people stuck in the political nihilism of TINA (There Is No Alternative).

The very real, very working alternative: the ‘terrorist’ central bankers of Iran & China

As I alluded to, China’s central bank is predicated on totally different foundations. And then you have Iran’s central bank: Iran’s central bank chief, Valiollah Saif, was declared a terrorist last month by Washington. Neither of these countries with socialist-inspired revolutions have banking leaders who are quotidian, interchangeable “central bankers minus legacy power”, as Prins describes.

Why was Iran’s Central Bank declared a “global terrorist”?

More flagrantly oppositional than Iran’s foreign policy are the tenets which guide Iran’s National Bank: it is totally state-owned, whereas the Fed is a consortium of private banks and set up like private corporations (something rarely understood). Iran’s National Bank is not “independent” from the government in the slightest. Iran’s central bank cannot meddle in – much less dictate – domestic policy, because that is why Iran has elections. Iran’s Central Bank, due to its fundamental independence, anti-capitalist and revolutionary nature proves that not all central bankers are the same.

Importantly, the independence of many Western central banks came after the Iranian Islamic Revolution of 1979: The Bank of Japan was made independent in 1998, the same year the ECB opened its doors to let greed rush in. Of course, their independence ensures that they follow policies which are for private concerns and not public ones.

Contrarily, China and Iran have central banks owned, literally, by the People. Former ECB chief Jean-Claude Trichet often talked about how the ECB was a “bank of the people”, but it was classic continental hypocrisy – the Maastricht treaty, in the neoliberal & anti-socialist model in which the EU and Eurozone were created, explicitly made the ECB independent of any government. Does anyone possibly persist in believing, 10 years into (not after) the crisis, that the ECB has chosen policies which benefit the 99% and not the 1%?

There is widespread agreement in Iran that Islam tolerates capitalism – there are plenty of private banks – but Iran has agreed with socialism that the only solution is to have the biggest banks owned by the state. That is the only way “strings” can ever be applied to taxpayer money-created-loans in order to create a virtuous – and not exploitative – monetary cycle between government and business.

Such a solution is not proposed by a capitalist like Prins. She even tries to intimate that China’s Central Bank is almost equally duplicitous (though she could never get away with implying that China’s central bank was as exploitative), which is pure political nihilism and easily disproved.

The reality is that governments must issue paper money and private bankers act as the middleman to get this money to citizens… but only in capitalist countries. In socialist-inspired countries government workers serve as the middleman, and that is why they are succeeding in the 21st century. China and Vietnam are the two biggest boomers since 1980, while Cuba, Iran, Venezuela and a handful of others would be booming if they were not so terribly sanctioned.

Conclusion: There is no god but God

(That is perhaps the theological heart of Islam there, and repeated in every Salah daily prayer. Various stone idols with multiple limbs, the Christian trinity and Western central bankers all are not God because there is only one, single God and His name is God.)

Allow me to conclude with a few more indisputable truths, many of which have been painfully learned over the past decade:

  • Neoliberal central bankers are not as competent as even those much-maligned Iranian Revolutionary Shi’a mullahs. Per Prins:

With rates already near zero, or negative in some countries, there is little-to-no room to maneuver in the event of a looming crisis. After the decade-long money-conjuring policy, one with no real end in sight, one thing has become clear: central bank craftsmanship has been ineffective, at best, and has demonstrated gross negligence for the lasting consequences at worst. The assumption that these central banking policies will anytime soon evoke real growth is as preposterous as it is wrong.”

  • Once these paper props are stopped, chaos is certain to result in the Western economy. This chaos was always merely postponed via QE’s “helicopter money” (money thrown from helicopters (to the rooftops of fancy banker soirees?) in the hope that it will do good); this chaos will be even worse because 10 years of failed policies logically means that the West’s economies are far weaker than they were 10 years ago.
  • Capitalism is guaranteed to go from boom to bust, but the 2008 bust was both exceptionally bad and exceptionally driven by the US. The policy response was also exceptionally bad and also exceptionally driven by the US, and is also culturally designed to make Western society’s labor and financial laws even more exceptionally like those of the US.
  • If Western central bankers wanted to do everything they could to empower their enemy – socialist China – only then can they consider themselves as having been a success. The past decade has seen China soar so high they have broken the glass ceiling of a unipolar world. In slower historical processes, China has floated its yuan since January 2016, no longer pegging it to the dollar, and they have gotten the yuan added to the IMF Special Drawing Rights basket. QE could have changed the nature of Western societies in a good way, as it did in China, per Prins: “In China, conjured money went to building real things, whether they were needed or not, whereas for the rest of the G7, it tended to go into less tangible and more speculative uses.” The idea that China is building “unneeded” things and ghost towns is pro-capitalist propaganda, and is debunked here, but the result is clear: QE has only made China stronger but the West weaker.
  • The West has been told that the problem is developing countries not pulling their weight – China (alleged currency manipulation, their “slowdown” from incredible growth to merely fantastic growth, their trade war, etc.), Greece and other weak economies – when both the primary cause of the Great Recession and the primary cause of the continued global slowdown has been due to following the leading ideologies of the capitalist-imperialist West.
  • What the MSM has refused to shout from the rooftops is that all these trillions of QE could have gone directly into the pocket of the average person and produced comparatively spectacular economic growth on the macro level and on the micro/individual level. Half could have gone to citizens and the other half to infrastructure growth, and the money-conjuring nations would have assured their people 50 years of success and modernity. Sadly, capitalism does not believe in controlling their banks or their 1%. Instead, as everyone reading this fringe series on a fringe website written by a fringe hack journalist likely already knows, it went into the FIRE economy (Finance, Insurance and Real Estate) and created massive bubbles worse than the ones a decade ago.

It comes down to a palpable feeling of social responsibility in government policy – there is none in hyper-competitive, “you have no right to a social safety net” Western neoliberal capitalism: contrarily, there is some of this rather holy spirit in Iranian Islamic Socialism, Socialism With Chinese Characteristics, Cuban-style socialism, etc.

It does not matter if this social responsibility comes from fear of God, or fear of incurring social shame or fear of el Norte, or whatever – results matter in social policy, because they mean life and death; because social policy always has and always will include very real judges dispensing very real (even if unfair) justice. Western distractions like “psychological motivation” are mainly overly-dwelled upon by existential Western urbanites who need to pay a psychologist to get them to finally accept that they are ragingly self-destructive, just like their economic principles and policies.

I will allow you to skip to the final page (of my series, not Prins’): At some point China will be asked to pick up the baton of QE collusion, because they are the only major economy which hasn’t done it yet… and they will not do it.

Why would they save the West? Not just because of their socialist ideals, nor their “Century of Humiliation”, but also because they have already been propping up the US monetarily (along with Japan) for quite some time.

But perhaps realizing that China won’t devalue its own economy via Western economic policies, the US has begun their fourth round of Quantitative easing. Their private media/propaganda outlets are ordering us “dont call it QE4”, but it’s exactly the same as before: printing new money to give to private banks with no strings attached.

QE, like God, has to be permanent.

Unlike God, there will be a reckoning for QE one day and it will be worse than in 2008.

For now, the West remains righteous neoliberal believers, and heaven rain down furious destruction on any Yellow Vester who smashes the window of a Western bank!

An 10-part series may seem like a lot, but these articles are shorter than my usual output when it comes to analytical series (Part 1 is the longest, or nearly). This series is essentially a continuation, updating and expansion of a 7-part series I wrote in autumn 2017 which also covered the failed Western policy of QE. Here is the list of articles slated to be published, and I hope you will find them useful in your leftist struggle!

***********************************

Part 1 – Western central bankers: they’re God, they trust – a 10-part series on the QE economy

Part 2 – How QE has radically changed the nature of the West’s financial system

Part 3 – QE paid for a foreign buying spree: developing countries hurt the most

Part 4 – Iran vs Mexico: ‘economic inflows’ versus ‘economic independence’

Part 5 – Understanding the West’s obsession with inflation

Part 6 – The new ‘beggar thy neighbor’: wars to devalue labor, not currencies

Part 7 – Blaming China for the Great Recession… to avoid emulating China’s (socialist-inspired) success

Part 8 – 1941, 1981, 2017 or today – Europe’s mess is still Germany’s fault

Part 9 – Don’t forget the real root of Brexit: fear of Eurozone economic contagion

Part 10 – Bankocracies: the real Western governance model

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books Ill Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China and the upcoming Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television.

 

Iranophobic propaganda factory of fake martyrs: the case of the Blue Girl

Iranophobic propaganda factory of fake martyrs: the case of the Blue Girl

by *Ivan Kesić for the Saker Blog

September 30, 2019

In the last two weeks, a heartbreaking story from Iran hit the world’s headlines. The storyline goes something like this: a female football fan, nicknamed as the Blue Girl, tried to enter the men-only Tehran’s Azadi Stadium in March this year and she was arrested by the security guards only because she was a woman. Six months later, more precisely in early September, she was ordered to attend a court in Tehran and after she found out about the prison sentence, she poured petrol on herself and set herself on fire outside the courthouse. She died in hospital one week later due to the third-degree burns. These reports in the Western media quickly gained a vast readership and triggered numerous reactions. Some compared her to Jan Palach, some wrote to international sports organizations seeking sanctions against Iran, and some went so far as to argue that the case would cause mass unrest or even revolution.

As is almost always the case with Western stories about Iran which target the audience’s emotions, by fact-checking the story details and comparing them with the statements of victim’s family given to the Persian-language media, it turns out that virtually all of the claims are incorrect, or even contrary. First of all, she was not arrested because she was a woman who wanted to go to the stadium, but because she violently attacked the policemen at the stadium gates, after refusing the security check. According to her sister, strife erupted when she told the security guards that they shouldn’t touch her because she is a girl from a conservative family. It means that the alleged liberal feminist, implied as such by the Western media, in reality was someone completely opposite, a conservative girl from the holy city of Qom. Most important of all, she did not attack the guards due to any sort of political protest, but because she was a mentally ill girl who had a hysterical attack. Unfortunately, she was alone so there was no one to explain her about the stadium rules, or to the guards about her mental health.

Unknowing about her medical record, police placed her in three-day detention, which led to a worsening of her mental condition. Her family came from Qom to Tehran, paid bail and showed documents about her health. When her scheduled trial came six months later, the judge was away so no verdict had been issued. There is no sentence of six months or two years in prison, as falsely claimed. Whether it’s due to a judge’s absence, rumors about potential penalties or something else, eventually setting fire to herself outside the building. It had nothing to do with football, politics or verdicts, only her mental disorder and an unfortunate set of circumstances. Her family further noted about her suicide attempt several years ago when she was a university student and was hospitalized for a while, adding that all related medical documents also exist. All these information were systematically ignored in the Western mass media. Even alleged image of the victim wearing a blue hat, circulated widely on the Internet, is false. It actually shows a transgender boy.

Her death is undoubtedly a tragedy and it provoked a number of reactions within Iran, especially among fans of the Esteghlal FC. Some public figures have criticized security guards for treating her as a normal citizen, and some also criticized the Iranian judiciary for the alleged prison sentence, which proved to be only a rumor. Still, these public criticisms have nothing in common with a distorted story from the foreign press, based on the misinformation by political activists who recognized the tragedy as the perfect opportunity to spread propaganda and manipulate the emotions of the world public. Their main focus was on sex-segregation in certain football stadiums and they have been seeking to stir an online outcry to call on the world football’s governing body to ban Iran from international competitions.

The hypocritical sex segregation debate

Speaking of sex segregation, which is completely irrelevant to this case, it is true that certain sports venues implement a policy of sex separation. Some have exclusive male audiences for men’s team matches, others have special sections for both men and women, while third ones are mixed. However, anyone who has visited Iran can testify that the country is far from some kind of segregationist society, since it does not exist in universities, theaters, cinemas, restaurants, urban transport, offices, mosques, holy shrines, etc. Certain football stadiums are rare exceptions, along with prayer halls, schools and public baths.

Furthermore, there are a number of problems in defining “discrimination,” whether at Iranian or international level. All those who are holding moral lectures about “discriminated women banned from stadiums” forget or intentionally ignore the fact that, in their own words, there are also “discriminated men banned from stadiums.” To be more precise, as there are stadiums for men’s matches with a men-only audience, there are also stadiums for women’s matches with an exclusively female audience. One example is the Ararat Stadium in Tehran, used by the Iran women’s national football team.

Debates over two-way segregation in stadiums are being waged within Iran itself, but foreign individuals and organizations operating under the guise of human rights and equality are always hypocritically invoking one-way segregation, specifically female spectators at men’s matches. The reason is apparent; the advocacy of this kind fits perfectly into the archaic Orientalist narrative about “oppressed women,” long propagated in the West and covered extensively in academic literature. The same one-way argument can be applied, for example, to the male-only schools in Iran, ignoring the fact that there are also female-only schools, or that there are plenty of single-sex schools in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and other countries.

One may say that the focus on female spectators is due to the popularity of men’s football, which is partly true. For example, the match between Iran and Belarus at Ararat Stadium in last March was attended by less than one hundred female spectators. Even women’s matches in other countries are not better attended, but this tells us about the global discrimination against women’s football and sports in general. Advocating alleged equality by seeking mixed audience for single-sex matches is a bit ironic itself, despite the fact that female football players can hardly physically compete with their male counterparts. Similar justification is however difficult to find for sports segregation in numerous international motor racing competitions, which implicitly suggest that women are bad drivers. But this is not the case in Iran, its female racing drivers like Laleh Seddigh and Mitra Fallahpour competed against their male counterparts and won medals, which is a hard-to-find example in most countries of the world.

The only valid argument about sex segregation in football stadiums is the fact that Iran is one of the rare exceptions in a global context. Nevertheless, as in the example of the aforementioned female racing drivers, Iran is also a rare exception in various other fields of women’s emancipation. For example, Iran has women like Zohreh Sefati in the highest level of clergy, while the vast majority of other countries, including Western ones, have none. There is still no media circus or public debate on the issue. Another example is that despite being 4-5 times less populous, Iran has more female students at technical universities than the five largest EU countries combined, or twice as many as the second-ranked United States. Therefore, if you feel morally superior to give Iran lectures on the topic of women in stadiums, keep in mind that Iran can also do the same, but on much more serious topics. And if you believe that female cheerleaders are a better indicator of women’s emancipation than female engineers, then you have a serious problem in understanding gender equality.

The last ones who have a moral right to participate in this public debate are precisely those who were among the first and the loudest about the Blue Girl case, namely counter-revolutionary activists and the Saudi media clique. The former ones because in the pre-revolutionary period only a quarter of Iranian women were literate, and the latter ones because they represent the country with the most rigid sex segregation in the world, present in virtually all public places. This fact did not hamper The Independent, a half Saudi-owned British newspaper, from being among the first to publish a heartwarming false story, based largely on rumors by the apologists of Pahlavi regime.

The propaganda factory of fake martyrs

A particularly intriguing case is the role of the United States and the United Kingdom whose mass media and PR agencies have a long tradition of manufacturing fake martyrs for Iranophobic propaganda purposes. Notable cases include Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni, executed in 2005 for allegedly being “gay lovers,” Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, allegedly sentenced to death in 2010 because of “her love for another man,” Zahra Bahrami, alleged “democracy activist” executed in 2011, and Hashem Shabani, an alleged “poet and human rights campaigner” executed in 2014. In reality, the first two were sentenced for raping a 13-year-old boy, the second one for murdering her husband, the third one for drug trafficking, and the fourth one for Takfiri terrorism. These criminals were misrepresented as brave individuals who stood for freedom, and the Internet contains tons of heartbreaking reviews, fake biographies and quotes, calls to action, and so on.

All these cases have a lot more in common: they all emerged during the fiercest tensions between Iran and the United States, they all followed the same propaganda modus operandi, and all were promoted by the same media, organizations and individuals. For example, if you intend to learn more about these controversies on the highly popular English Wikipedia, do not expect anything credible in most cases and bear in mind that literally all articles were arranged by the same person, a pro-Israeli activist nicknamed as Plot Spoiler, who got indefinitely banned only since last year after administrators had uncovered that he was paid for contributions. The current version of the Blue Girl article is arranged by a user who openly declares himself as a monarchist and a hater of the Iranian political system. Do not expect much more from Internet search engines because fake news stories from the days of media hypes will appear at the top, while relevant critical reviews and scholarly articles are technically “hidden” for ordinary people.

In all the above cases, a propaganda campaign followed the same order. First, a particular judicial case was selected, to which rumors and false information were added. Secondly, a distorted version was released in the mass media, causing a moral crusade which involves politicians, organizations, celebrities and others. Everyone is asked for an (emotional) reaction. Thirdly, after the official Tehran denies false information, they accuse it of hiding facts or seeking excuses. A media hype thus keeps going on, along with demonization in the eyes of the world public. Such repetitive method was also used on the eve of aggression against Iraq, misinformation were repeated and the public debate has been prolonged until the majority of Americans were misled that Baghdad had weapons of mass destruction and military invasion was justified. A propaganda campaign sometimes includes a fourth step: when certain trial does not end in line with false sensationalist announcements, they claim that Iran has withdrawn under international pressure. This gives an impetus for a new round of same games, particularly among benevolent but manipulated activist volunteers, who believe that their babbling on social networks has an impact on the Iranian judiciary.

There is no shortage of resources for such games and potential “martyrs,” especially pseudo-feminist ones, as there are currently 7,440 women in Iranian prisons. It is easy to dig up domestic news, turn numerous stories upside down, and claim that trials are “dubious” or “unfair.” Theoretically, it is, even more, easier to do the same with the United States, considering there are 211,870 women imprisoned in that country or proportionally seven times higher than in Iran, but in practice virtually no one bothers with such facts and all find it quite normal when Americans are holding moral lectures. One may wonder whether it is because of the well-known “credibility” of the US courts, the same ones that seized billions of Iranian assets, delivered a verdict holding Iran responsible for the 9/11 attacks, and ordered the sale of Iranian antique art from American museums. Or perhaps many find the US trustworthy because their official criticism is always confirmed and joined by “eminent” Human Rights Watch?

Human Rights Watch (HRW), as well as similar US-funded organizations allegedly in charge of “promoting human rights,” plays an already seen game. Their modus operandi is to act in symbiosis with the mass media and Washington’s politics: at the beginning of propaganda campaigns, they back the biased claims and timely participate in provoking mass outrage, but after the media circus passes and its purpose was served, then they publish a more factual review, thus building the reputation of a credible and neutral institution. In this particular case, the HRW’s report about the Blue Girl contains a false balance, i.e., they do mention her mental illness and certain statements by her sister, but the title and most of the text deals with unfounded criticism, thus serving as a reference for the more aggressive mass media. Later, they can simply deny earlier allegations or the whole story; however, media coverage will then be absent. The most (in)famous example of such modus operandi is the false testimony of a Kuwaiti girl that helped build public support for the First Persian Gulf War. Both Human Rights Watch and their British equivalent Amnesty International initially supported the story of Iraqi tearing Kuwaiti babies from incubators and issued corrections only after the war. In other words, they fulfilled the task of their governments, and as “truthful organizations that acknowledge their own mistakes,” they continued to fulfill the same tasks later.

Even if the Blue Girl was a sane girl and immolated herself in political protest, which is definitely not the case, the United States would be among the last in a position to criticize. In just a few months before the self-immolation of Czech student Jan Palach, a celebrated anti-Soviet dissident who gained huge media coverage in the West, eight US citizens self-immolated themselves in protest against the Vietnam War. The media coverage of these American examples was negligible, as was in cases with ten other US citizens who later set themselves on fire in various political protests. On the other hand, no such case has been recorded in Iran, with the exception of two rumors based on dubious dissident sources.

The only valid criticism of the Iranian authorities over the Blue Girl case is that they treated her as an average sane person in the first three days. The security forces defended themselves that they did not know about her mental condition, further explaining that it was not even possible to know in given circumstances, which can be seen as a valid excuse. Even with regard to the treatment of people with a mental health condition, the United States would be the last candidate to sit on a high horse. We do not have to deal with hypothetical questions about what would happen if someone refuses a security check and violently attacks policemen at the US stadium gates, it is enough to recall the empirically confirmed cases of Artogi Groshe, Kevin Thorpe, Ronald Madison and many others. All of them were shot for resisting the police, and the responsible police officers later confronted them with fact that they killed people with mental disabilities, not arrogant criminals.

Exploiting the tragic death of a mentally ill person for political purposes of any kind is disgustingly shameful and below any human level. The same goes for this article, its purpose is not to justify any state policy, security guards or stadium rules, but merely to point out lies, hypocrisy, double standards and mass propaganda. Out of respect for the victim and her family who criticized the intense politicization in the foreign media, the identity of Blue Girl is deliberately not mentioned in the text. It’s not hard to notice that these media manipulations emerged in the midst of US-Iranian tensions and warmongering propaganda, orchestrated by the same group of people who called Iranians as “a terrorist nation,” sanctioned Iranian humanitarian organizations like Setad, along with child cancer patients and flood victims. They had previously manipulated the emotions of the world public with the aim of provoking a war with hundreds of thousands dead, and judging by their latest actions, they would be happy to repeat it all. Ultimately, we should remember that one of the basic points of John Bolton’s policy towards Iran included “a close cooperation with the media.” He may be gone, but his policies and old manipulation methods are still alive.

Ivan Kesić is a Croatia-based freelance writer and open-source data analyst. He worked as a writer at the Cultural Center of Iran in Zagreb from 2010 to 2016. His articles has appeared on the Consortium News, the Anti War, the Strategic Culture, the UNZ Review, & Mintpress News among the many.

Back to French tear gas in the morning: smells like austérité

Back to French tear gas in the morning: smells like austérité

September 22, 2019

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

September 21 (hello autumn) was the worst day of violence in Paris since May 1st. That day is best remembered for when “centrist” politicians and citizens were enraged that Yellow Vest/union/old lady demonstrators would dare to seek refuge in a hospital rather than stand there and get tear gassed prior to getting charged and beaten by cops.

President Emmanuel Macron knew a black mark day was coming – not just Yellow Vests but unions and climate change protesters would also be marching – so he made a major concession: he gave a public interview. Noblesse oblige!

Macron waited two years before giving his first press conference, so we shouldn’t have expected a miracle, but France’s #1 public servant could have considered to talking to French media, at least. Instead he spoke with US magazine Time.

In the land of Ayn Rand, where the petit bourgeois boss is the undisputed chief in a million hillbilly fiefs, Macron may have been playing to his audience when he said: “In our country, we want leadership, but we also want to kill the leaders.” Who can forget Louis XVI?

However, I thought of all the French leaders who weren’t hacked to death by a vengeful populace. Louis I, for example. Louis II – there’s another one. Louis III, him too. In fact, Louis IV through Louis XV all were not assassinated, so why is Macron so worried about public retribution?

Look deeper into French history – despite #MeToo claims of universality it’s not even a gender thing: (2018’s 43,434th-most popular name) Ermentrude of Orléans, (don’t call me “Big”) Bertha of Burgundy and that lousy job-stealing immigrant Clementia of Hungary all escaped assassination despite being the nation’s #1 lady. Joan the Lame was a regent, and thus held the real power, and yet she wasn’t beheaded even though she must have been pretty easy to catch. They did destroy Joan’s tomb during the French revolution – she couldn’t run forever.

I also note that way back in the Merovingian era Engelbert the Humperdinck was not assassinated either, despite his many crimes which fell harshly on the ears of his suffering subjects.

To clarify for Macron: France wants leadership but they also want to kill their leaders sometimes. Other times they build huge statues to their leaders, like Charles de Gaulle and Joan of Arc. It seems to rather depend on the leader, and I thus think this allegedly French sentiment may actually be universal.

Jokes aside, Macron is obviously not trying to get re-elected, and thus he shows the biggest loophole in Western bourgeois democracy: the one in which opportunists temporarily accept public service in order to exploit it for personal gains.

(Contrarily, I’m not sure Iran’s Supreme Leader is even allowed to resign? He is there expressly to be a permanent patriotic force within a democratic system – presidents came and go but the Leader does not – and to mediate among different societal groups for the good of the national well-being.)

I look at Macron’s cover of Time and I see Brazil’s Michel Temer.

There is a clear contradiction between the image and caption on the cover of Time: Macron is frankly and aggressively rolling up his sleeves, yet the words about his “troubled presidency” indicate contrition, guilt and a desire for reconciliation. Anybody need to roll up their sleeves before a fraternal embrace? Anyway, Time got it fundamentally wrong: In June Macron declared he was on “Act 2” of his presidency, which is not at all a reset but an advance, a progression. Macron is rolling up his sleeves because his current pension and unemployment system rollbacks are the most divisive and most sweeping of his presidency. Like Temer, he couldn’t care less about the consequences – he has work to do, and the work is the social dismantling ordered by neoliberal austerity ideology and Brussels. Both Macron and Temer act on the orders of their 1% friends – the only reset for them is personal and after their terms, when they get the cushy lives and private, ego-stroking conferences where their hurt, under-appreciated egos can be revived.

But why should Time journalists have any real idea about what the “French Street” thinks? They aren’t there, haven’t been there and ain’t gonna be there – they hold the Yellow Vests in the same contempt as US Zionists do the “Arab Street”.

What Time would have seen on the worst day of violence since May 1

The tear gas and police brutality started at 10 am. I’m not sure what time it was in Hong Kong?

The first tear gas always provokes the most dramatic symptoms – I imagine it is because your body is telling you, “What the hell is this you’re inhaling now? Get it out of here.” Your skin burns more, you are expectorating excessively via the mouth and nose, your heart rate is elevated well after the “conflict adrenaline” has worn off. The next gassings are much easier, provided you are not at ground zero of course.

I have taken so much tear gas in “the birthplace of human rights” I wonder just how much poison I have built up in my bloodstream? I wonder if I can sue the French government for creating a hazardous work environment after organ failure from cyanide poisoning? Probably not.

Tear gas was falling from the skies regularly, and especially loud Yellow Vests were being individually targeted for violent arrest, but for whatever reasons – programming, shift change, etc. – after my 12pm live interview PressTV didn’t want another interview until 2pm. Being the die-hard activist journalist me and my cameramen are, we went on lunch break.

Hey, we gotta eat sometime. We’re workers, and Macron hasn’t revoked our right to a lunch break yet. And we can’t be there for every gassing/beating/rubber bullet – it’s not possible; furthermore, if we, did eventually our time would come and then there’d be no more reports at all. Gotta play the long game.

By the time we returned the Champs the crowds had really thinned out, after looking like there would be enough to hold it all day. Cops were being totally brutal: gas, confuse and punish, push people off the Champs, and then don’t allowing them back in, thus locking down the world’s greatest mall/boulevard. But we had an interview scheduled, so we stuck around with the perhaps 500 die-harders still hoping unionists, climate changers and Black Bloc would show up to retake this iconic mall-evard from the hated regime.

So we go live and do our interview, and we probably contributed to the violence. This is what often happens: The Yellow Vests know they’re on TV all of a sudden, cuz some monkey with a microphone is yammering in front of a camera, and they want to represent. They get loud and rowdy. In this way the presence of journalists hypes up the crowd in a way similar to, but actually very different, the presence of hyper-armed cops agitates a crowd. For political protesters journalist coverage is a sign that they matter and that they are doing something right and worthy of comment: that’s what makes it so sad that my French media colleagues are never covering the Yellow Vests – if they were, thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people would join the protests again. Of course, the vast police repression since late March is the main reason the average Frenchmen isn’t showing up.

We finish live French protest interview #481 (I truly and humbly contend that no journalist in France has covered as many demonstrations as I have in the past decade – that number I gave is my honest estimate) and the little crowd is back to being the Yellow Vest engine that could.

Heartwarming… let’s get out of here. And we left because we had to go find another demonstration to cover – newsroom bosses want you to be where the action is, and there was a huge climate change protest there. Frankly, and sadly, I think much of the crowd had dissipated because they wanted to go join the eco-nuts, who are have as much backbone for a political fight as tofu.

Why was I going to the climate change protest and not the union demonstration? Because only one of the nine major unions ultimately decided to demonstrate that day – total betrayal of a day which was supposed to be so huge, but that’s the “virtue” of “independent” trade unions, right?

As we are leaving and I take one last look and – the tear gas is flying again. Of course it was: cops fear rowdy protesters whom they haven’t totally beaten into silence and submission, thus – launch some more gas.

Nothing we can do for ya, Vesters. We gotta think of where the action will be 45 minutes from now, and y’all had been kettled (boxed in by cops) and y’all knew they were going to gas you, drive you out and put the Champs on lockdown and if ya didn’t know then now ya know.

What teases we journalists are! Get ‘em all excited, and then leave ‘em in their moment of need. Don’t blame me, lady – blame the system.

The alternative hypothesis is that the cops saw that the only camera-wielding journalists around were leaving, and that the coast was clear for more gassing. Then it is still our presence which provoked it, and more shame on my well-heeled French media colleagues for not being there.

The final hypothesis is that the cops were about to gas them anyway and the timing of our leaving was purely coincidental. That is certainly mathematically logical, given the rates of tear gassing by French cops on Saturdays.

Regardless, that was an interesting anecdote which proves the journalistic corollary to quantum mechanics – the mere observation of a phenomenon inevitably changes that phenomenon. Again, what would the effects be if the French media were actually there? Or even journalists from Time?

The eco-kooks: fake-leftist politics at its most pathetic

I can’t stand covering ecological protests – what a waste of time.

Firstly, climate change requires a cooperative solution on an international level, and obviously capitalism is predicated on competition at an international level. Therefore, there is no reason at all to do a damned thing about environmental issues – the only solution is to get socialism first. No socialism? Then no possible climate solution.

Secondly, is climate change a news beat which is not being covered enough already? Hardly – there are 900 billion Western journalists who simply adore covering this story. I note that the roughly 900 billion climate change articles in Western media on any given Tuesday hasn’t done much good. Don’t tell that to the eco-freaks, though – they think they’re God’s favourite servants.

Definitely don’t point out to them that the 1% just adores you wasting your political energy on climate change instead of class issues. Climate change is inherently neutered of any class aspect: billionaires and homeless alike all litter or leave a “climate impact” (or whatever) or don’t compost properly.

Climate change protests are thus so very, very useless that I cannot give a damn, and the protesters directly acknowledged this: they had one big ballon, which read “Give a f***”. Classy. And they’re the only ones who give a f***, right?

Smug punks. And climate change protesters are punks with a capital P – too many examples to list, but here’s a quick few:

The presence of alcohol at French political demonstrations is lamentable – this is not a party – but only at eco-protests do you see Champagne.

The presence of loud music at protests – instead of loudly-chanted slogans or even silence – is… acceptable, I guess. But for many people Saturday wasn’t a protest but a rave, celebrating Mother Earth – techno music boomed it’s 4-on-the-floor “pound my tiny soul into submission” with the idiot hipster/bobo DJ calmly, slowly saying (for the people there on ecstasy or MDMA) “Feeeeeeeeeeel the earth…. don’t let it die.” Nothing says “I protest” like dancing during a protest march.

The presence of mimes at protests… can only happen in France, of course. I have no idea what political purpose they served, but I must admit they were amusing. I must also admit I was hoping they would also be tackled by cops for their very minor vandalisms, because they they would have to say something. Mimes are a good symbol for ecological protesters in general: they are there to be seen. And, I’d add, to feel good about and receive praise for their nonsensical works.

The presence of tear gas at ecological protests is not expected because WHAT a buzzkill, amirite? When the first tear gas flew the eco-warriors were so panicked thousands of them all ran in the wrong direction… and just kept marching that way. LOL, later comrades!

That was a new one. But I was hopeful, because instead of heading in the exact opposite direction of the Champs (as the eco-route had planned), they were now heading toward it – let’s retake the Champs, yes!

No, eco-warriors planned to march in the exact opposite direction of the Champs (east, not west) and they were determined to make sure they stayed away from any possible conflict with cops that could create bad karma/force them to shower (the tear gas off) later. Eventually, the thousands all just turned around and marched in the proper direction. Inwardly, they were likely too egotistical to ask themselves if they looked like idiots.

Black Bloc must have got the address wrong

The violence which spooked the eco-kooks was provided by Black Bloc. We had arrived just in time to see it happen:

The usual. Targeted vandalism against banks, real estate agencies (10,000 euros per square meter now in Paris, so believe me when I say that my landlord – whom I have made rich – can take a long walk off a short pier), and sexist ads (lotta Black Bloc are women).

There was a twist, and you gotta admit Black Bloc is up on things: they attacked the Egyptian Central Centre… obviously in solidarity with the anti-Sisi protests in Egypt going on that day. These Blocers were up on the news, found out the Egyptian Cultural Centre was on the eco-route, and took action. I got that wrong in this live interview from the scene among the debris – maybe Black Blocers could do my job better? Cut me some slack – live interviews are hard: I got it right in time for the days official report.

(I talked with the lone Egyptian worker at the Centre, and whom you can see in that video – he said the Centre was clearly targeted. He showed me an empty vodka bottle they had thrown inside, but Black Bloc isn’t a bunch of drunks. I felt bad for the poor guy – who knows if he supports Sisi or not? He’s just manning a cultural centre in some far away place – Egyptians need cultural centres, after all.)

Ok, there was some damage which was not purely political – two motorcycles were set on fire. However, when I claw my way to the top and become dictator of France the first thing I will do is ban those damned loud lawnmowers they call transportation. You have to live in Paris to understand just how much extra reverberations motorcycles make in this walled city – noise pollution is a much bigger problem than regular pollution (which is also a problem) – so I personally view anti-motorcycle actions as 100% justified; it is social, if not necessarily political. On top of their annoying and perpetual noise, motorcycle riders do nothing but drive between car lanes and break every law imaginable. I truly believe Paris has become more dangerous to drive in than Tehran, and that is pretty amazing. (Of course, in the past few decades Iran has actually invested in driver infrastructure whereas Paris just makes more bike lanes; Iran now has many more traffic cops, which is a type of public worker you’ll never seen in Paris – maybe they were there pre-austerity?)

Seeing as how our job is to be at the front line, we had to be at the front line fire. I made a rookie mistake – never be in a situation where you have to flee down a side street, always stay on the main thoroughfares and close to the wall. So, they gassed us (women, elderly, children) to clear way for the fire trucks to put out the fire. Here’s the thing: the crowd was already moving back to clear a way – the gassing was not at all necessary but punitive. The tear gas cans exploded mid-air so close to me I could see them ignite clearly, and that’s when you lose an eye. Alhamdulillah, me and my colleague were ok. Pretty badly gassed, but we’ve had worse. The worst part? I was only so close because I was scheduled to do a live interview from the craziness, but our damned connection wasn’t good enough! So I was gassed, crying, running and yelling at Tehran to put me on the damned air all at the same time. It happens.

But I admit it humbly: with my awesome-sounding French in my PressTV Français recap at the end of the day (not posted yet), I was not critical enough of Black Bloc – they can do more harm than good. Mainly when they go where they are not wanted – like that ecological protest instead of the Champs.

Immediately after the violence and mid-demonstration Greenpeace and Youth for Climate tweeted that they were revoking their leadership of the march and that everyone should leave the protest. Tough kids, eh?

I talked with a Black Blocer just prior to the gassing: a woman who was very voluptuously built. She was probably one of those defacing sexist ads, as she is likely subject to constant objectification when walking down the street (a hejab undoubtedly gives women a break from that, but let’s leave that issue there): heaven forbid she violently object to female nudity in public advertising, because that’s proof France is so “sexually progressive” and “respectful of women”, right? She took off her mask when she saw I was one of the good journalists – her pretty young face was flushed from leftist exertion. Dressed head to toe in black, she said she wasn’t Black Bloc but merely rocking the “Goth” look. A lovely figure, pretty face, guts and a sense of humour? Of course I was so smitten I could not identify her to authorities if ever forced to do so, such was the mass of stars, hearts and bright lights swirling around her.

I would have talked to a Youth for Climateer but they were retreating too fast… yet somehow they were able to tweet at the same time? Millennials – so talented!

Another Saturday in France, more long-term lung damage

The reality, which is still difficult to grasp as we left Yellow Vest #45 and filmed an old man whose face was red and bloodied from cops, as well as a bleeding, handcuffed old woman, is that things are only going to get worse: As I wrote, the pension and unemployment systems will have the broadest immediate impact of any of Macron’s “deforms”, thus they will provoke the broadest protests.

Such protests go beyond the Yellow Vests’ capability. September 21 was significant because it was the “Yellow Vest Day Without the Yellow Vests” – most did not wear them. The idea was to finally converge the Vesters with the various social struggles (unions, NGOs, mainstream leftist political parties, even eco-kooks, etc.). After 10 months, they have to join forces with the right groups.

They are talking about an unlimited transport strike in December, and I never recall hearing that before. No Christmas vacation for me, I guess.

The only TV media openly covering the Yellow Vests remains Iran (in English, French, Spanish and Farsi) and RT. I have seen France’s LCI (the government channel) openly there for about 6 weeks, and once or twice last month I saw TF1, but that’s it. I’m sure the fake-leftist MSM was all over the climate change march – because they always are – and I hope they got more tear gas than I did.

However, the process of lasting revolution is long – it takes years of struggle, and victory is not assured until households and families are forced to choose sides against each other. I am not promoting familial disharmony, just reporting what I have read of previous revolutions – the simplest, most moral and most effective choice, of course, is to side with the lower classes.

The thing about a “reset” in a video game is that you just go right back to the same beginning, and you have totally erased from memory all the bad you did. Why would Macron deserve a reset from the French public?

Too bad for Macron that civil service and politics are not a video game, or a hippie rave. Too bad for everyone in the global economy that austerity continues.

The reality is that Macron doesn’t even know his own country’s history: since the 9th century less than five of France’s just over 100 leaders have been killed. France doesn’t kill their leaders – they exile them, even those of the First Republic (1792-1804). This is another false cliche Macron has accepted as fact which is mainly promoted by fearful, reactionary English monarchists. Beheadings aren’t necessary – just ask any Frenchman: what could be a worse fate than to not live in France?

Macron will likely wind up exiled as well – who doesn’t imagine the young Macron being feted like an emperor in the Anglophone business world after he isn’t re-elected in 2022?

So Macron needn’t worry – he’ll probably just have his tomb desecrated like Joan the Lame. Probably a lot of other similarities between Macron and Joan the Lame, I imagine….

The question Macron should ask himself is: what is it that he is doing which is causing him to have regicide on his mind?

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of “I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China”.

The Terrorists Among US – The Coup Against the Presidency

The Terrorists Among US – The Coup Against the Presidency

by George Eliason for The Saker Blog

For the last few years, a deep state coup against the presidency has been in the media off and on. Starting in 2015 very serious efforts were made to put all the parts in place that guaranteed the 2016 US presidential election’s outcome.

This went so far beyond every extraordinary measure that it deserves special attention.

Before your eyes glaze over, this isn’t an article discussing theories. Why debate what could have happened when we can trace the route showing how things developed. We will show how this is continuing today through a continuing deep state coup.

The first thing you’ll notice is the title is present tense. The cyber terrorists I’ve written about through the last articles have very definite political goals in mind. That word “political” separates what they do from anything remotely close to 1st Amendment freedom of speech issues. The terrorists work for foreign countries directly or they work for groups working for foreign governments that aren’t trying to influence but change the fabric of the US. They’re doing a bang-up job so far.

The attacks on society, social groups, and governmental institutions have been for profit. The terrorist groups push political agendas at the expense of republican democracy in the west, eastern and central Europe, the Middle East, and the Far East.

Second, you’re going to see even the most successful conspiracies in history including this one are a matter of process. Things actually have to happen for the terrorists to be dangerous. It can’t just be ideas. They follow specific directions with their plans to reach goals and milestones.

Third, not all the most brilliant strategies are built on a clean process. Things get messy. When you include new methods, things evolve as you go. People start shooting from the hip or chattering if they are inexperienced. New people are generally clueless about how they should conduct your business.

The case at hand is the business of overthrowing legitimate governments. One of these happens to be your own. The terrorists are in the business of destroying citizen rights and protections. Reducing innocent people into victims like a wolf does its prey.

The coup against the office of the president of the United States started unofficially in 2012. It wasn’t meant to, but it did. It was a reaction to something we never thought about. We certainly didn’t believe it.

This was long before anyone had issues with Donald Trump who was busy with other things at the time. So, understand the term coup against the presidency means against the executive branch.

Should it succeed, and it still may, the next world war will be one of the invariable consequences. Fascism and its sidekick nationalist chauvinism will become the new norm across the western world. If they win, there may be nothing left to turn the clock back to after this.

If we succeed, the coup against the US government stops. There will be no war with Russia. The war in Donbass stops. Criminals investigations, trials in court, and sentencing of seditionists and traitors can and will happen.

On the day before the 2016 election happened, I wrote an article about the current deep state coup and what some of the ramifications were. In the larger sense, it helps because it shows the coup started when no one knew who would be running in the general election or who would win.

Think about that. The first problem was Bernie Sanders, only afterward it became Donald Trump. The accusation against both was they were Putin’s lackeys.

Let’s start at the end of the story. In 2019, a deep state coup still continues against the office of the president of the United States. This materialized in the media as an Information Operation (IO) during the 2016 election cycle.

We are watching the second evolution of a new regime change method in play. It was originally developed to overthrow the election process and be the deciding factor for a given election.

The developers have decided it pays to screw the will of the people. And that is the easiest answer to every political problem we face today.

The newest iteration of this method was developed in 2012 as a new strategy for IO (Information Operations). It’s important to note IO is the realm of Green Berets (SF-Special Forces) and spies. With that in mind, the tactician, a former SF, took the following definition of IO and put it on steroids.

In military IO operations center on the ability to influence foreign audiences, US and global audiences, and adversely affect enemy decision making through an integrated approach. Even current event news is released in this fashion. Each portal is given messages that follow the same themes because it is an across the board mainstream effort that fills the information space entirely when it is working correctly.

The purpose of “Inform and Influence Operations” is not to provide a perspective, opinion, or lay out a policy. It is defined as the ability to make audiences “think and act” in a manner favorable to the mission objectives. This is done through applying perception management techniques which target the audience’s emotions, motives, and reasoning.

These techniques are not geared for debate. It is to overwhelm and change the target psyche.

Using these techniques information sources can be manipulated and those that write, speak, or think counter to the objective are relegated as propaganda, ill informed, or irrelevant. US Psychological Warfare in Ukraine: Targeting Online Independent Media Coverage

Former Green Beret Joel Harding pioneered IO for the US military. In 2012, he took his expertise, the core of regime change, to the extreme for Ukrainian nationalists inside the State Department and in the US Ukrainian Diaspora.

Harding revolutionized regime change by asking the crucial question; What if we did this at a whole nation level?

Next Generation Regime Change

What you are about to see is literally the cutting edge of US military regime changeLessons from Others for Future U.S. Army Operations in and Through the Information Environment –Christopher Paul, Colin P. Clarke, Michael Schwille, Jakub P. Hlávka, Michael A. Brown, Steven S. Davenport, Isaac R. Porche III, Joel Harding

Today, this method is being used in the United States by public Intel officials, NGOs, lobbyists, and private IO and Intel contractors.

Joel Harding developed this IO program for the 2014 coup in Ukraine to enact regime change. It is being used to provoke a war with Russia in the western media. His method is being used across many of the conflict areas primed for regime change in the post-2014 world. Taiwan is the newest example. Syria has suffered the most from this.

Instead of focusing on a small group, Harding’s methods speed the process by controlling all the information everyone has access to within the operation zone and every zone that can influence the operation outcome across the world. Regime change will be welcomed by every sane person reading, watching, or hearing the news his channels are publishing.

This enables him to define the terms used and the enemies fought. Controlling the information means you decide who and where the enemy is. You decide what the enemy is.

All this deals with information that an adversary desperately needs to make an informed decision. That is how we ” influence, disrupt, corrupt, or usurp the decision making of adversaries and potential adversaries”.

Bottom line on the bottom. Cyber and EW are cool, but we dare not lose sight of their ultimate goal, targeting an adversary’s or potential adversary’s decision cycle. Cyber and EW are not goals nor ends by themselves, it’s all about information. Information is the most powerful tool or weapon at our disposal at all times. To Inform is to Influence

After managing the coup in 2014 Ukraine, Harding’s IO group started the war in Donbass. Every major event from the overthrow of Victor Yanukovych until today in Ukraine has its clear marker on it.

This same group is responsible for Russian interference accusations before and during the 2016 election as well as blaming Russia for the DNC hacking exploits. This is very dangerous. The real “hackers” had State Department server passwords from two sources for years, access to DNC servers, as well as state-level tools and support.

The goal of Harding’s employers is to break up Russia and China and reward their old cold war cronies in the Diasporas with countries of their own under a two-level nationalism which is subservient to their interests. This ensures corrupt US politicians will remain incumbents and national elections will always have pre-determined results. If US politicians ignore what these groups are doing or worse, continue to help them, they won’t stop until nuclear war occurs.

This current IO group works with the US State Department and all the agencies from the ODNI including the FBI, CIA, NSA, DHS, etc. Many of them are still trainers and contractors. They still provide the Intel that goes into the President’s Daily Briefing.

They can and do literally provide the president of the United States with enough rope to hang himself through foreign policy missteps. This quagmire has to be cleaned up.

The group we expose today is infecting the US and international media with their Information Operation talking points. This is part is integral to the process of regime change. None of them do this for any high or lofty goal of a better life.

They do this for money and an anti-American contempt for US democracy. To make their story more compelling, I’ll rely on the conspirator’s braggadocio and allow them to tell it while I provide context.

The rest of the article will show the single most successful IO campaign the world has seen.

2010

For the sake of this one event, the world is almost at war. This statement by Stepan Bandera II is the catalyst that prepared the ground for the Ukrainian coup in 2014 and brought us here today.

For the same day your court in Donetsk ruled to strip [Ukrainian Ultra Nationalist hero Stepan] Bandera of his Hero title, God bestowed the best gift possible to our family: the birth of Stepan Bandera’s fifth great-grandchild. The KGB succeeded in killing his great-grandfather. But try as you might, you will never stop the Banderas Coming soon to a gene pool near you! Signed, Glory to Ukraine! Glory to Her Children! In prostration, S.A. Bandera, Grandson of Hero of Ukraine.” This was the third-generation Stepan Bandera’s open letter to Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych in 2010.- Kyiv Post

2012

2012 was a pivotal year for history and international diplomacy. Every evil from the early 20th century that could never rise again was about to be given a platform and PR campaign that would make Adolf Hitler blush.

In 2012, regime changer and former Green Beret Joel Harding was already hard at work. He worked with the HRC (Hillary Rodman Clinton) State Department to develop the method for regime change in Ukraine. The attempt in the US was soon to follow.

“…but I was having problems describing a “whole of government” approach, and I was having even more difficulty explaining how a “whole of nation” effort might be divided. We finally came up with five categories for what I might call government/corporate/private information activities…I am also not certain how to include discussions on content, such as a narrative. Cultural, religious and historical considerations also may be discussed. Where would they fit in?

I also can’t forget the methodology of efficiency, how do we determine Methods of Effectiveness. Once again, the voice of my friend and mentor, Dr. Dorothy Denning reminds me of this important consideration.

If I take a whole of nation approach then I should include marketing, public relations, perception management, reputation management and strategic communications (with an s).

What have I missed?”- How Best to Discuss a Whole of Nation Approach to Information Activities?

Methods of Effectiveness are ways to measure your success or failure so you can adjust course. Harding was keen to publish those too. Pay attention to the dates as we go. We’ll be jumping back and forth across the timeline as we go to cover the involvement of different actors getting involved.

By 2019, Harding’s IO success included Ukraine’s Chief Rabbi Yaakov Bleich and the namesake and grandson to Ukrainian NAZI leader Stepan Bandera working together to rehabilitate Bandera’s murderous image. Bandera is responsible for the murder of close to 500,000 Jews and it was also his people staffed the death camps. When you can get Jewish leaders to deny the Holocaust, it’s a big win for your IO.- Haaretz.com

Milestone 2012

Recently, on a LinkedIn forum, I referred to the Swiss model for a cyber militia. As many of you are aware the Swiss have a ‘home guard’, where all citizens are trained, armed and sent home packing their own individual weapon. Each has the responsibility to secure their weapon, practice periodically and are subject to recall to defend their country. Basically, they go home, stay in shape and wait.- Joel Harding On a US Cyber Militia 2012

Milestone January 2014 Digital Maidan, gained momentum following the initial Twitter storms. Leading the effort were: Lara Chelak, Andrea Chalupa, Alexandra Chalupa, Constatin Kostenko, and others.

The Diaspora learned they could organize and fund the coup in Ukraine from the outside.

· Milestone February 4, 2015- The Ukrainian Diaspora illegally crowdfunded weapon for Ukrainian punisher battalions. This was a continuation of the practice using social media platforms through 2014. The Atlantic Council’s Michael Weiss reports the UCCA was raising money for weapons. These weapons were subsequently used in war crimes. This action by itself is enough to take away 5013C tax-exempt status for every Ukrainian group giving money for Ukraine’s war effort. Ukrainian Diasporas have been funding all the Ukrainian punisher battalions. According to Ukrainian Diaspora sources, Ukrainian Diaspora leaders like Ivanka Zajac is also making leadership decisions for the battalions including how they spend the money. Just knowing that the volunteers are murdering innocent civilians with continued funding by their groups makes the Ukrainian Diaspora liable for the crimes.

Milestone -February 8th, 2014 On Maidan”… Russian websites outright accusing the US of supplying ammunition and other support to the rebels. I asked a friend in a position within the US, that might know more about this, he claims it is a private initiative of US citizens. This I like” “- Harding

· In February 2014, Eliot Higgins of Bellingcat made his first analysis of Ukraine’s EuroMaidan. He claimed the Russians were attacking.

· February 22nd, 2014 marks Harding’s first visible involvement in the Ukrainian crisis. “Yesterday I agreed to help present the information about this situation, bringing in representatives from many of the sources cited above. It is time International Broadcasting is examined. “- Harding

Milestone– On February 22, 2014, Joel Harding did his first efficiency assessment. His only concern was whether or not the international media saw the February 22, 2014 ouster of Victor Yanukovych as a coup. According to Harding “This is a snapshot in time, showing headlines only. The intent is to show how a current situation is being divided in its presentation, pro or con the power in Ukraine, pro or con Russian/Chinese/Iranian, or, it could be argued, pro and anti-Western powers (US/UK, etc).

· On February 28th, 2014 he was announced director of the NSE Strategy Center. Harding reached out immediately to the IO community to see what information anyone had on current Russian cyberspace operations.

MilestoneOn March 1 st 2014 Harding announced cyber options for Ukraine. “Since March 2014, in the wake of the rise of the volunteer movement, several activist groups and individuals assumed the state security functions in the media- and cyber-space

In January 2014, Harding worked with 17-year-old Sviatoslav Yurash to open Euromaidanpress.com. He took Yurash under his wing showing him how to run an IO platform. This can be seen in the comments early on. Sviatoslav Yurash went on to become the deputy representative in Kiev for the Ukrainian World Congress (UWC). The UWC was a sponsor of the 2014 coup and is a signatory partner to the Atlantic Council.

Yurash became the spokesman for the EuroMaidan protest that was turning into an insurgency. He became the post-coup Ukrainian Defense Ministry, Dimitry Yarosh, as well as the 3 conspirators, Arsenii Yatsenyuk, V. Klitschko, and Oleh Tyanhybok.

· Yurash web properties spawned InformNapalm and Ukrainian Cyber Intel UCA, CyberHunta, RUH8, TRINITY, Shaltay Boltay (Humpty Dumpty) aka Anonymous Ukraine: This hacker group is the branch of the hacktivist movement Anonymous in Ukraine. It is, however, internally divided in its position regarding the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. Some of its members are pro-Ukrainian and tend to be close to Cyber Hundred and Null Sector, while others are pro-Russian and close to CyberBerkut. The pro-Russian element is prominent, having claimed several attacks on NATO, US and EU governments’ websites (Carr, 2014). Cyber and Information warfare in the Ukrainian conflict

Anonymous/ Shaltay Boltay/Humpty Dumpty very important when the DNC hacks and influence story comes into play. Note now, they fall under Joel Harding’s IO operation. The other names for these combined groups you are more familiar with are APT 28, APT29, Fancy Bear, and Cozy Bear.

· March 2014 According to InformNapalm, InformNapalm, Myrotvorets, Ukrainian Cyber army, and other volunteer communities organized a series of effective campaigns in data collection, data analysis, identification of hostile activities and retaliation against them. The volunteers took on the roles of intelligence and counterintelligence agents.

· They collected the information on locations and movements of enemy weapons and equipment, blocked servers and websites engaged in Russian terrorist propaganda, and blocked bank accounts of the militants. And they still continue carrying out the important volunteer work in cyberspace. 2016 became the year of escalation of cyber-warfare…

Sviatoslav Yurash worked with Andrea Chalupa, Alexandra, Chalupa, and Irena Chalupa. His team works directly with the Atlantic Council through Bellingcat and Dimtri Alperovich from Crowdstrike. The importance of this will be clear shortly.

· Today, Yurash is a chief advisor to new Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Milestone-On March 3rd, 2014 Harding’s advice was “Now I have a thought bouncing around inside my head, which actually makes sense. But the repercussions are wild, off the charts, bloody and may destroy a nation. .. If one looks at that graphic, natural gas pipelines run through Ukraine. If one had the talent, one could close valves in any of those pipelines and shut down a major part of Russia’s exports and, therefore, a source of money, another kind of power which Putin must truly understand.

Bumping this up one step, blow up those pipelines, although that is going to make one helluva mess. This would result in a Russian invasion. End of story? No. Imagine trying to defend thousands of miles of pipeline. Ukrainian insurgents would make Russia devote dozens of divisions of soldiers…” At the time Victoria Nuland was trying to court Pravy Sektor into legitimacy by offering money and support.

· On March 16th Dimitri Yarosh answered. Yarosh threatened gas lines across Ukraine. The advice Harding gave threatened one of the only remaining sources of income remaining in Ukraine for the Kiev junta. Joel Harding was writing his own foreign policy.

Milestone May 2, 2014, Odessa Trade Union Massacre

It was after this event I figured out Joel Harding existed. Within a couple of days, it was evident from the reporting that a hand was guiding the narrative Ukraine was building. I didn’t know who Joel Harding was, but I could see his handiwork clearly. I started passively looking for him. The official death toll from Ukraine stands at 42.

This alone should have been enough to warrant independent investigations. When enough information came in, witness accounts put the Odessa Trade Union death toll to over 340 and later it rose closer to 400 with over 200 people missing that were never in the building.

According to a police detail who was guarding the scene and a Pravy Sektor member who carried the bodies out, 99 corpses were removed before the official count. That was just from the basement.

This isn’t public relations. This is a crime against humanity on Harding’s part. He covered up the crime which makes him part of it.

The free press part has already been covered. Building dissenting opinions make the work of IO/IIO professionals difficult or impossible. It’s called Information Fratricide and it is to be avoided by all means possible.

Information fratricide is defined as Actions, perceptions, and information from friendly forces that create improper impressions can adversely affect IO in sensitive situations.

Milestone MH17 July 17, 2014, All the information about MH17 from Ukraine comes from Ukrainian IO Joel Harding developed. His sources are described in the March 1st milestone. Five years later, no other sources have been considered by the investigators. Harding took control of the information and took it out of the realm of witness testimony or forensics.

Milestone July 29, 2014, The Information War for Ukraine has taken on a whole new look.  Russia, you need to go down.  You need to choke on your ilk.  You need to feel the pain of exceeding the limits of acceptability.  You need to pay.

Suffer, Russia.- Words Fail the World Against Russia

  • The addition of Eliot Higgins’ Bellingcat (see Feb 2014 Maidan) as an independent investigator cemented Ukraine’s reliance on Harding’s IO. Ukraine’s cyber team (InformNapalm, UCA, CyberHunta) provided the information Bellingcat collated and called their own.
  • The Deputy of Information Policy (Joel Harding started the ministry) announces Bellingcat is his counterpart. They work under Harding. Pay attention as the rest of the IO team comes aboard. This is the same crew mounting the deep state coup. US Intel leaders at the ODNI, FBI, and CIA will be working very closely with them in just over 2 years.
  • Harding’s IO team covered up the shootdown of MH17. This is a crime against humanity. The families will never see justice because until a real investigation is mounted, the only proof of wrongdoing is easily shown to be manufactured.
  • Milestone Mark Paslawsky August 19, 2014, The nephew of Bandera’s 3rd in command, Mikola Lebed was shot in the back as he fled at the battle of Ilovaisk with Donbass battalion.

“The second reason I mention Paslawsky is that he was, after all, a Ukrainian American. In killing him—and make no mistake about it: Putin killed him—Putin has taken on, in addition to the entire world, the Ukrainian American Diaspora. He probably thinks it’s a joke. But in killing a Ukrainian American, he’s made the war in Ukraine personal for Ukrainian Americans. Their intellectual, material, and political resources are far greater than Putin can imagine. Be forewarned, Vlad: diasporas have long memories. And this one will give you and your apologists in Russia and the West no rest.- Alexander Motyl Loose Cannons and Ukrainian Casualties

This event is what unifies the players, methods, and leaders fighting Ukraine’s IO and is the seed for the deep state coup in the USA. It’s important to note who Paslawsky’s brother is. Nestor Paslawsky is the apparent leader of OUNb Ukrainian American Diaspora. It is his rage and revenge that Motyl threatens Putin with. Paslawsky is coming for his pound of flesh.

The June 2016 milestone will show Harding, Ukrainian hackers, Team Hillary, Chalupas, the Ukrainian Diaspora, Bellingcat, and Aaron Weisburd working together pushing toward the overthrow of the 2016 general election.

Milestone-On December 12th, 2014 Harding wrote “Ukraine is a bright shining star. They approved a Minster of Information Policy. They received a National Information Strategy and are working on a counter-propaganda center.

Milestone January 2015 Andrew Aaron Weisburd joins Harding’s IO group and starts Kremlintrolls.com to start documenting websites against the Ukrainian agenda and geolocate readers for action against them.

Milestone February 23rd, 2015 Harding tweeted the creation of the i-army. The next day it was announced to the world. “This effort is geared to contain what they call Russian propaganda in the west.”In late January, Ukraine’s Minister of Information Policy, Yuriy Stets, promised to create an “information-army” to fight Russian propaganda…”

With this, the concept of the troll army was born. Right out of the gate, Ukraine was bragging the Ukrainian I-Army numbered over 40,000 volunteer trolls, hackers, commenters, and propagandists.  According to the Ukrainian Information Ministry– The first assignment is to “Invite your best and closest friends to the website of the Ukrainian Information Forces, where they can join the army by subscribing to a mailing list of daily assignments. This is very important, considering our information struggle against the foreign aggressor.”

· Ukrainian Cyber Troops/Army: This hacker group, which was founded by Eugene Dukokin, a former cybersecurity consultant and programmer (Maheshwari, 2015), targets pro-Russian separatists and Russian troops in Ukraine. The report accounts of pro-Russian officials to various banking and payment websites or social media in order to get the accounts closed. These actions are legal and do not require them to hack any systems (Kerkkänen and Kuronen, 2016) Cyber and Information warfare in the Ukrainian conflict

· In January 2015 Andrew Weisburd starting work for the Ukrainians showing them how he finds the networks of people he is paid to hurt.

· Weisburd starts Kremlintrolls.com and builds the first list of journalists and publications that are against Harding’s Ukrainian Information Ministry agenda.

· Between him and Joel Harding, over 200 publications were listed as Russian assets. Many of them are American websites.

· It should be noted that according to Weisburd and Harding the only real qualifier to be included on the lists is supporting someone other than Hillary Clinton

· According to Weisburd- These countries account for 81% of all the Kremlin Trolls and their engaged followers. The top five countries alone account for 58%. That the USA is ranked first came as something of a surprise. Detailed analysis is ongoing, and I’m unlikely to share the findings publicly.”

From the Economist-“As one of his other guests, a deputy from Mr. Poroshenko’s party, remarked later in the show: “Today, an information war is being waged against Ukraine.

Our task is to be united, to comment as one.”Information warfare, like the shooting kind, is a new art for Ukraine and the learning curve is steep…Criticism of the government is dismissed as mudslinging by Kremlin agents. Last month authorities jailed Ruslan Kotsaba, a western Ukrainian blogger who had spoken out against mobilization. 

Ukrainian authorities accused him of working in Russia’s interests; Amnesty International labeled him a 

As one of his other guests, a deputy from Mr. Poroshenko’s party, remarked later in the show: “Today, an information war is being waged against Ukraine; Our task is to be united, to comment as one.”

Milestone April 16, 2015, Joel Harding/ Ukraine Ministry of Information Policy property Myrotvorets claims first murder victim, Oles Buzina.

From here, we have most of the players lined up. Two years of IO events clearly showcase their handiwork now that it’s been put in context. The same IO teams responsible for developing the terms Russian trolls and characterizing fake Russian influence started characterizing journalists and news sites that were contrary to Harding’s mission as close to enemies of the state as they dared.

“Disrupt, deny, degrade, destroy, or deceive” The 2016 US Election and Deep State Coup

Milestone 1990, Nigel Oakes of Cambridge Analytica fame started the Behavioral Dynamics Institute. He set up a facility that became home for the leading experts in strategic communication and manipulation. He wanted to turn the ability to change people’s behavior into a commercial business. Shifting mass opinion would be more lucrative than traditional advertising ever could be. Based on this, in 1993 he opened Strategic Communication Laboratories (SCL).

He expanded into military disinformation, social media, and voter targeting. Within a few years, he advertised he could change the outcome of elections. His company participated in 25 international elections since 1994. Because he was successful, by 1997 SCL was in trouble in the UK because its principals were ignoring the principle of neutrality at home and targeting UK election results.

According to Wikipedia “SCL’s involvement in the political world has been primarily in the developing world where it has been used by the military and politicians to study and manipulate public opinion and political will. It uses what have been called “psy ops” to provide insight into the thinking of the target audience.”

SCL promoted itself as having the knowledge, the people and the experience to help global brands, political organizations, world leaders and militaries deliver measurable and lasting behaviour change.

Wikipedia goes on to say SCL claims that its methodology has been approved or endorsed by agencies of the Government of the United Kingdom and the Federal government of the United States, among others

The SCL Group has been working at the forefront of behavioural change communication for 25 years. Developed in conjunction with the Behavioural Dynamics Institute, SCL has evolved into a multi-disciplined group of behavioural research and communication agencies.

Cambridge Analytica was developed as a subgroup of SCL and designed specifically to take part in the US elections.

While the end of Cambridge Analytica is known, it wasn’t the only company spawned out of the Behavioral Dynamics Institute.

Remember Milestone July 29, 2014, by Joel Harding about MH17 The Information War for Ukraine, has taken on a whole new look.  Russia, you need to go down.  You need to choke on your ilk.  You need to feel the pain of exceeding the limits of acceptability.  You need to pay.

Milestone 11 Aug 2014 1st tweet from IOTA Global. We are an InfoOps, PsyOps, & StratCom training org staffed by 30 experts from 6 nations. iota-global.com

IOTA Global was what changed. Joel Harding started advertising the company he started with his friend IO expert Steve Tatham. IOTA Global and Cambridge Analytica while loosely partnered were worlds apart in terms of skill sets.

IOTA Global is an organisation of the world’s most recognised military Information Operations, Psychological Operations, and Influence professionals, backed by proven social and behavioural scientists, who provide the capability transfer and advice to governmental clients, globally.  Our members have commanded Information Operations and Psychological Operations units on operations; they have written NATO and national doctrine; they lecture in the world’s Defence Academies. Teamed with some of the leading behavioural scientists in the field, there is no other organisation with the same experience and knowledge.

…IOTA Global is the world’s experts.

As predominantly ex-military Officers and diplomats, we understand the importance of discretion and we appreciate the needs of governmental and military organizations. We work only with clients approved by our own respective governments. All IOTA Global products and services are subject to Export Control regulation by the UK Government. Our expertise is so strong that we are the only commercial IO company subject to such conditions.

Through Joel Harding, IOTA Global’s expertise was shared with Ukraine’s Intel community which works for Ukraine’s Information Ministry that Harding is responsible for.

· Milestone July 18, 2014, This appears to be IOTAs first venture into the information space about MH17.

· August 13, 2014, Haynes Mahoney, previously @StateDept and Deputy Chief of US Mission to #Syria has joined

· Milestone June 2015 IOTA Global has been selected as the research and advisory partner to the Norwegian Defence Research Organisation (FFI) for a major project on understanding IO threats and developing future capabilities.

· Milestone July 20, 2015, 8 weeks in Latvia doing #NATO course in TA Analysis. I’m now a senior trainer in the #BDI methodology. stratcomcoe.org/lv/NewsandEven… @iotaglobalIO

· Milestone October 2015 Pleased to have been helping @STRATCOMCOE Latvia with training today. #Stratcom @iotaglobalIO

· Milestone November 2015 Behavioural Conflict @BehaviouralC · 27 Nov 2015

· @iotaglobalIO in Chisinau Moldova working with NATO to build Moldovan govt

· StratCom capability with @STRATCOMCOE

· Milestone December 2015 @iotaglobalIO assists @stratcomcoe in @CanadaLatvia funded capacity building of Ukraine Govt Strat Coms.

SCL Elections shut down, SCL Group’s defence work needs real scrutiny– We can’t understand the significance of Cambridge Analytica without looking at the network it sits in, and how inadequate controls nurtured aspects of this networks’ development. It’s been frustrating to watch some of the key players manage to escape crucial questions that should be asked of them. Because this isn’t just a scandal about an obscure, unethical company. It’s a story about how a network of companies was developed which enabled wide deployment of propaganda tools – based on propaganda techniques that were researched and designed for use as weapons in warzones – on citizens in democratic elections. It’s a logical product of a poorly regulated, opaque and lucrative influence industry. There was little or nothing in place to stop them.- Emma Briant OpenDemocracy.net

While all this success is going on, Harding doesn’t neglect Ukraine, NATO COE Latvia, or the US press with his efforts. From the beginning, he pulled together a team that trains and influences the ODNI and its agencies. For Russia, Ukraine, and Syria, Harding’s teams are writing what the media is presenting and the Intel committees and US president are reading.

Even at this point, everything is about Russia and anything favorable toward Russia is an American heresy. Harding’s machine looks well oiled when it has no visible opponents standing in the way.

· Milestone November 2015 Information Policy Advisor to the Minister Dmitry Zolotukhin met with his US counterpart, team representative Bellingcat Aric Toler. In the notice above which was prepared by his office, it is noted Bellingcat’s Aric Toler is working in an equal capacity to him in the USA. One of the Media Development Center’s sponsors is NATO. It is a project of the US Embassy in Kiev because of the association with the embassy’s diplomatic paper, the Kyiv Post.

· Milestone November 2015 “I am building a database of planners, operators, logisticians, hackers, and anyone wanting to be involved with special activities I will call ‘inform and influence activities’. I have received a few different suggestions to help organize operations – of all sorts – against anti-Western elements. No government approval, assistance or funding. This skirts legalities. This is not explicitly illegal and it may not even be legal, at this point. That grey area extends a long way. I am only trying to assess the availability of people willing to participate in such efforts. Technology, equipment and facility offers are also appreciated. If you would like to be included in my database, please send a tailored resume to joel_harding@”

At the same time, team Bellingcat was training the groups in Ukraine its methods and branches out to doing seminars across the western world. Andrew Weisburd, his partners Clint Watts, and J Berger are filling the media with stories of Russian trolls and Russian conspiracies.

January 2016 started with an unfocused attempt to prove Russian interference in the US election primaries and general election. Until the late summer of 2016, the accusations were incoherent and partisan. The White House and Intel Agencies denied there was any Russian election interference and didn’t put any credence on the rapidly coagulating narrative in MSM.

In fact, the ODNI chief James Clapper said there was no evidence of Russian interference in late November 2016.

Milestone June 2016, Joel Harding met with Christina Dobrovolska and a small contingent of Rada MPs after meeting with one of her bosses, Alexandra Chalupa.  Chalupa was working with the Ukrainians to get OppoResearch on Donald Trump. By working with the Information Ministry, Chalupa was working with a group she was familiar with through her sister Andrea’s work with them, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council, and Crowdstrike. Yes, later we’ll detail how Ukrainian Intel worked with Crowdstrike on the DNC hacks. See Milestone Mark Paslawsky August 19, 2014

Christina and Joel worked on the Ukrainian project together since the beginning or according to Harding for years already. Dobrovolska worked with Harding’s Information Ministry in Ukraine with Ukrainian cyber Intel CyberHunta, Ukrainian Cyber Alliance (UCA), and RUH8.

As a side note, according to the Ukrainian State hackers Milestone March 2014- And they still continue carrying out the important volunteer work in cyberspace. 2016 became the year of escalation of cyber-warfare The Ukrainian Intel project provides Bellingcat’s MH17 intelligence as well as Syria Intel through the same workgroups. Refer to the March 2014 Milestone.

Chistina Dobrovolska took the visiting Rada members to the top of the Ukrainian Diaspora, OUNb head Nestor Paslawsky in New York after meeting Harding and Harding was hired.

It was only subsequent to this meeting that the Russian interference and hacking charges started to crystallize into a narrative that went across the spectrum of media. Connecting the Diaspora to Ukraine’s Monsters Through a Ukrainian Diaspora Handler

How important is the Diaspora to understand the events around the 2016 election and subsequent coup attempts? It couldn’t be done without them. In 2010, HRC set up the International Diaspora Engagement Alliance. This brought all the Diasporas supporting HRC together to work on foreign policy initiatives under the umbrella of the State Department. HRC’s State Department set up the Ukrainian coup and subsequent war the same way she did in Syria, Libya, Yemen, and so on by tapping the various Diasporas. The Diasporas decided who should be in power. All in all her choices have been solidly nationalist chauvinist oppositional governments or figures in exile.

We understand the Clinton camp has hired beaucoup and Zwanzig (a lot) of trolls, we also understand the Kremlin has done the same. We just do not know if Trump has followed suit. From a counterintelligence perspective, this is confusing as heck.- Joel Harding

While the Clinton trolls turned out to be a real I-army (Ukraine), the Kremlin trolls turned out to be the list of American alternative news and analysis websites that published articles against a Clinton presidency.

Benchmark November 2016, this panned out for HRC in a big way. The Central & Eastern European Coalition (CEEC) brought her a 20 million strong bloc vote and internet army based on one question. Will you stand against Russia? The story of the Diasporas full support for HRC can be read here as well as the electoral math that goes with it.

This includes the story of the single Diaspora bloc responsible for the election win by Donald Trump. I still can’t believe Sara Palin spoke to this group and thought they were “cheez heads.”

If you go to the CEEC website, this group represents 20 million US BLOC votes in any election. This means with a little organizing they can and do determine elections.  The Atlantic Council (AC) is the primary think tank among many it employs. The AC is signatory as a working partner with the Ukrainian World Congress which represents another 20 million Ukrainian Diaspora donors worldwide. The AC is signatory with the Ukrainian Congressional Committee of America (UCCA).

The Atlantic Council and its resources primarily through its experts like Irena Chalupa, Dimitry Alperovich, or Aric Toler work to support the Ukrainian and American IO effort. When we get to the DNC hacking aspect, you’ll see how closely the AC works with the hackers the AC experts found.

Photographs can be photoshopped, so can videos.  Eyewitness accounts are suspect.  Reporters stories are only as reliable as the news sources and that means they are not reliable. Even if the most reliable person in the world says something, their word can always be branded speculation, biased or that they are a paid troll, be it Russian or otherwise (although I really don’t know of any others). Harding Aug 31, 2015

What you are about to read should be impossible. No matter how directly or indirectly Hillary Clinton was behind the Ukrainian coup in 2014, showing US government agencies conspiring at the directors level to overthrow the 2016 election and continuing to pursue a coup against the presidency on her behalf should not be possible.

Let’s set the bar.

Is US & international media complicit in the coup against Donald Trump?

The answer is yes. Media is the backbone of any Information Operation and to overthrow the US government it is the key component. The IO operator has to control information and the impact it has on the population.

For a deep state coup against the US presidency to be possible through IO, mainstream media has to be complicit. No proof can stand without this leg in place. Information Operations are about controlling all the information. You set the message and control it.

Why would mainstream media work with Joel Harding’s IO group?

Two years ago I started breaking a story that all of a sudden became popular early in the winter of 2016 with the Washington Post’s introduction of propornot which listed news websites that published”misleading articles online with the goal of punishing Democrat Hillary Clinton, helping Republican Donald Trump and undermining faith in American democracy.”

The Russian troll and interference lists Joel Harding and Andrew Weisburd drew up became the model for anti-Americanism inside DNC McCarthyite circles. The Atlantic Council project called @propornot plagiarized these lists to come up with the one the Washington Post made famous and start the fake news meme.

One of the really neat things about this election is seeing all my information operations and information warfare friends on social media, contributing and commenting, looking darned intelligent! Theirs is normally the voice of reason, maturity, and intelligence.” Joel Harding

Tablet Magazine’s story SPIES ARE THE NEW JOURNALISTS-  And with the help of big names in media, they’re turning journalism into an intelligence operation By Lee Smith makes short work out of finding friends for Joel Harding. At the agency and policy-making level, Harding pioneered IO and cyber in the US.

If you look at Harding’s Ukraine and Syria team, they are a who’s who of agency, state, law enforcement, and military trainers. These aren’t just the guys the media listens too, Lee Smith drives it home they are the media too. With so many journalists and analysts freelancing, who are they working for?

The media is now openly entwined with the national security establishment in a manner that would have been unimaginable before the advent of the age of the dossier—the literary forgery the FBI used as evidence to spy on the Trump team. In coordinating to perpetuate the Russiagate hoax on the American public, the media and intelligence officials have forged a relationship in which the two partners look out for the other’s professional and political interests. Not least of all, they target shared adversaries and protect mutual friends.

Fellow MSNBC contributor Naveed Jamali— author of How to Catch a Russian Spy and a self-described “Double agent” and “Intel Officer”—joined in tweeting: “Here’s the other thing to understand about espionage: once you’ve crossed the line once, the second time is easier. While at DIA Flynn had contact with Svetlana Lokhova who allegedly has Russian intel ties.”

Lokhova is seeking $25 million from NBC, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Dow Jones & Co., owner of the Wall Street Journal, and U.S. government informant Stefan Halper. The British historian alleges that Halper was the source for the press’ multipronged smear campaign against her, a private citizen.

Unlike the New Journalists at CNN and MSNBC/NBC, Julian Assange meets the old-fashioned definition of a journalist, meaning a person who is willing to take personal risks to publish information that powerful people and institutions routinely lie to the public about in order to advance their political and personal agendas.

This problem is unique in that it is private-sector spies that are staffing publications and Intelligence work that gets reported to the agencies and the Presidents Daily Briefing. They literally write the stories their clients want to sell to the government thereby setting policy.

Why aren’t the publishers complaining about this?

If the journalists work for and with Intel, who would they complain to? One of the functions of the US State Department is maintaining America’s image abroad. So, suffice to say it has tools to do this in what was until recently called the Board of Broadcast Governors (BBG), now the USAGM.

Milestone 2016 According to The Quasi-Legal Coup-Hillary Clinton Information Operations In Election 2016 published November 7, 2016the 8-member board, appointed by the President of the United States, are the who’s who of powerful media moguls in film, news, print, and radio. Appointment to the BBG is like being awarded an ambassador position for the media industry. It’s also why big media carries the same line or themes.

· The 7th member of the board of directors which runs RFE/RL in 2016 was Mathew Armstrong. He is a longtime friend and mentor to Joel Harding. He provides Harding a lot of access and influence in media. Armstrong’s background is public relations. He is an expert in IO and IIO operations. His bio: Author, lecturer, and strategist on public diplomacy and international media. He has worked on traditional and emerging security issues with both civilian and military government agencies, news organizations, think tanks, and academia across several continents.

· After the election results came in and Mathew Armstrong found himself without a job, he has sequestered himself to the no extradition country of Switzerland for some unknown reason.

· In what appears to be a conflict of interest, at least two BBG board members were working actively for the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.

· Karen Kornbluh is helping refine and to get Hillary Clinton’s message out. ” All of them are names to watch if Clinton wins — and key jobs at the FCC and other federal agencies are up for grabs.”

· According to her bio: Karen founded the New America Foundation’s Work and Family Program and is a senior fellow for Digital Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. Karen has written extensively about technology policy, women, and family policy for The Atlantic, The New York Times and The Washington Post. New York Times columnist David Brooks cited her Democracy article “Families Valued,” focused on “juggler families” as one of the best magazine articles of 2006.

· Michael Kempner is the founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of MWW Group, a staunch Hillary Clinton supporter, and may get a greater role if she is elected.  Kempner is a member of the Public Relations Hall of Fame. Michael Kempner hired Anthony Weiner after the sexting scandal broke in 2011.

· Jeff Shell, chairman of the BBG and Universal Filmed Entertainment is supporting a secondary role by being an honor roll donor to the Atlantic Council. While the BBG is supposed to be neutral it has continuously helped increase tensions in Eastern Europe. While giving to the Atlantic Council may not be illegal while in his position, currently, the Atlantic Council’s main effort is to ignite a war with Russia. This may set up a major conflict of interest.

Today, Karen Kornbluh is Director of Technology Programming at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, a think tank dedicated to finding Russian trolls in cyberspace. The German Marshall Fund subgroup, Alliance for Securing Democracy has former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff its board of advisors.

Milestone 2019 Kornbluh is still on the board of the BBG, now renamed to the USAGM and is supposed to be politically neutral in her work. Instead, the German Marshall Fund helped produce the failed Hamilton 68 troll finder cobbled together by Joel Harding IO superstars Andrew Weisburd, Clint Watts, and J Berger.

This team has the distinction of fabricating most of the lies that plague the Trump presidency today starting with Russian election interference.

This state agency within the State Department is actively working against the office of the presidency.

What’s missing?

To say this is happening and not tie Joel Harding in would be a travesty. Joel Harding’s bio at InfoWarCon includes working at the BBG. Harding quite literally positioned himself to decide what the narrative for HRC politics would be and accomplished it.

Joel Harding has shown clearly what the world looks like when a private citizen is allowed to put themselves in positions that are clearly a state responsibility. The world today is according to his client’s politics.

Benchmark January 2015 US broadcasters put RT on same challenge list as ISIS, Boko Haram

RT, formerly known as Russia Today has been labeled a threat by Andrew Luck, the brand new CEO of the US Broadcasting Board of Governors or BBG. Thank you, Joel.

Benchmark- Everything up to this point takes the legs away from the Russian influence and hacking lie. As you ‘ll see, the accusations of collusion along with everything else can’t be real unless some of the information Harding’s IO team released was real.

· This fact makes it clear that the general election was being thrown to HRC through an illegal maneuver that threatens US democracy. After the election, it is coldly clear these same forces used these tools and resources to try to overthrow the presidency of the United States.

Milestone June 2016 The DNC HACK, ALMOST HACK, AND ATTRIBUTION

I have the distinction of showing you Russian hackers without a Russian hack. After HRC left the State Department she retained 6 seats (passwords) to the State Department server for research purposes. Alexandra Chalupa was one of those researchers and she was investigating Paul Manafort in 2015.

One of the groups working for Chalupa (Diaspora royalty) is Christina Dobrovolska’s Ukrainian Intel. Refer to Milestone March 2014 and Milestone of June 2016.

The Ukrainian Intel hacker group working for the Atlantic Council and the DNC through Alexandra Chalupa and Christina Dobrovolska was the only hacker group outside of Crowdstrike that had the X-Agent component of the DNC hack.

· They had access to the DNC servers because of this.

· In January 2016, Alexandra Chalupa claimed there was a hack attempt that Google informed her of. The origin according to Google was Ukraine.

· Because of the Yahoo email hack, some of their members had Huma Abedin’s State Department passwords already

· Their favorite way to hack was phishing exploits. This was the same used on the Podesta hack.

· Ukrainian hackers code in Russian because the Ukrainian language is too underdeveloped. It’s too young to have the expressiveness.

· Russian hacker contingent of Ukrainian Intel was in Kiev working with Ukrainian Intel at the time of the hack. They did OppoResearch with Alexandra Chalupa and Andrea Chalupa.

Benchmark DNC HACKS

If there is only one group that possesses the tools, means, opportunity, and can blame part of their own group to get away with it, all that’s left is to ask- WHO BENEFITED FROM THE “HACK?’ HRC & TEAM HILLARY.  Was there a hack? Nothing remotely close to what is claimed happened.

· “So the help of the USA, I don’t know, why would we need it? We have all the talent and special means for this. And I don’t think that the USA or any NATO country would make such sharp movements in international politics.” We have no Need of 2016 Help Ukrainian Hackers of #Surkov Leaks

· Ukrainian Intel hackers testify as experts for US Congress– Usovsky’s correspondence with the Russian MP and director of the Institute of CIS countries, Konstantin Zatulin, who provided this funding, was revealed by the Ukrainian groups CyberHunta and Cyber Alliance. Usovsky coordinated his anti-Ukrainian actions with…” – Statement of Mustafa Nayyem and Svitlana Zalishchuk Members of the Parliament of Ukraine before the Subcommittee on Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs of the Senate Committee on Appropriations March 29, 2017

Ukraine’s IO hackers testify in front of Congress to get more money and support so they can continue their operations?

Milestone Early 2017 HRC advisor Ukrainian Diaspora member Adam Parkhomenko goes to work with the Ukrainian Intel hackers at the Atlantic Council through Bellingcat and the Digital Sherlock program.

Tic Toc Why The Clock Stops for Progressives if Trump is Dumped

According to the Washington Times ” As recently as Nov. 17, 2016, James Clapper, the nation’s top intelligence officer told Congress his agencies “don’t have good insight” into a direct link between WikiLeaks and the emails supposedly hacked by a Russian operation from Democrats and the Hillary Clinton campaign.”

· January 10, 2017, According to Reuters “Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said on Tuesday the U.S. intelligence community’s report concluding that Russia orchestrated hacks during the 2016 presidential campaign was based on a mix of human sources, collection of technical data and open-source information.”

In January 2017, when the ODNI report came out, the report relied almost in its entirety on Joel Harding’s IO groups which now included Dimitry Alperovich and the Atlantic Council. Alperovich has a professional relationship with the Ukrainian Intel hackers.

The only evidence Dimitry Alperovich provided outside this loop came from a blog Joel Harding tries to denounce. The information stream went like this: IISS Report(think tank) –>Colonel Cassad (Russian blogger)–> the Saker(analytical blog/ translator)—>Alperovitch/ Crowdstrike(information purposely misquoted to create Russian hacker) —>FBI—>CIA—>ODNI (DNI report)—-> You scratching your head wondering who makes this intel crap up. This is one of the DNI report’s secret sources and one that the whole report rests on.

Benchmark  May 31, 2018, Former top spy James Clapper explains how Russia swung the election to Trump “It stretches credulity to conclude that Russian activity didn’t swing voter decisions.”

But now I’m speaking as a private citizen, having left government service and knowing what I know about what the Russians did, how massive the operation was, how diverse it was, and how many millions of American voters it touched. When you consider that the election turned on 80,000 votes or less in three key states, it stretches credulity to conclude that Russian activity didn’t swing voter decisions, and therefore swing the election.

If you refer to the Benchmark November 2016 the group that caused HRC’s loss by that small margin is laid open and they give their own reason why they bloc voted Donald Trump into the presidency.

Benchmark The ODNI and associate agencies based their claim of Russian hacking and influence on a group of Influence peddlers including- Aric TolerPetr PoroshenkoJames ClapperDimitry AlperovichDimitry YaroshHillary ClintonBarrack ObamaAndrij DobrianskyIvanka ZajacGeorge MasniTaras MasnijAlexandra ChalupaIrena ChalupaElliot HigginsNestor PaslawskyJoel HardingAndrew Aaron WeisburdClint WattsAndreas Umland, and Andrea Chalupa. Oh, lest I forget, it just wouldn’t be the same without Ukrainian nationalism’s uber nazi- Stepan Bandera III.

Key organizations working directly and indirectly with Joel Harding’s IO are BellingcatInformNapalmStopfakePropornot, InterpreterMagEuromaidan PressHamilton 68 Dashboard, Facebook, and Twitter.

Linked into the article already is the continuation of the IO starting with the Women’s March which was about everything other than Women’s rights. Trans rights and Immigration topped the headlines while Ukrainian Diaspora allies that don’t qualify for status were tucked in. The Ukrainian Diaspora was bold enough to have youth dressed in WWII OUN nazi uniforms parading around in New York.

Charlottesville had IO operatives on both sides. George Soros footed the bill for Black Lives Matter who were taking down the statues and the so-called neo-nazis forgot to change and some were wearing Ukrainian Diaspora aligned polo shirts with their own CEEC nation logo emblazoned on it.

What this did was legitimize the destruction of historic monuments without even a public hearing and attempt to delegitimize the presidency of the United States.

The free speech protest in Boston on the heels of this was shut down by these same IO actors. The rally was even recognized by the Atlantic Council as a legitimate free speech rally.

What they took note of was the salient point, no one gave a damn about freedom of speech.

If those attempting to impeach Donald Trump do so on any of the false information provided by the IO actors, no future presidency is safe. Without those lies, what is left to target this president? That’s the question that needs to be answered.

Every one of the Intel seniors, leaders of the Intel community that took part, agency heads, and department heads, groups, companies, and private citizens responsible for organizing this have to be investigated. While there is no way to put the genie back in the bottle, Congress has to regulate who gets to do this and how.

If this IO wins and the president is cast out, war with Russia and then World War is the only inevitable event left to look forward to. If you don’t like Donald Trump, vote in 2020 like any other person that believes in western democracy.

If we don’t stop this Information Operation deep state coup, you may not get the chance.

Booming Sochi – Debunking the $50-billion Olympic Expenditure Hoax

September 10, 2019

by Jon Hellevig for The Saker Blog

Booming Sochi – Debunking the $50-billion Olympic Expenditure Hoax

It’s a two and a half hour flight from Moscow to Sochi and when you land you are in another world. Sochi is absolutely unique and like no place else in Russia, a gem in its own right. Sheltered by the Caucasian mountains from the severe northern winds which sweep over most of Russia in wintertime and tempered by the Black Sea breezes the summer, Sochi has a pleasant climate all year round. While the other resorts to the west on the same Russian Black Sea coast may get winter peak colds of -10 degrees and below, Sochi could see morning frosts but daily temperatures rarely drop below +10. There’s a reason the climate is characterized as subtropical.

Leaving Moscow birch trees and Siberian pines behind, the traveler when he emerges from the airport is amazed to be welcomed by swaying palm trees. And, above the palms, you will behold the snowcapped peaks of the guarding mountains lit by the sun.

It’s not only the nature and climate that make Sochi special, the man-made environment is also unique for Russia and at the highest global levels. Russia went through some rough times in the 20th century, which set a mark on most its cities, but in Sochi there is not a trace of bygone Soviet decay. Everything is as neat as we would think of countries like Switzerland. At the same time, we see stunning new Miami-style high-rise buildings perfectly placed among the lush scenery. A lot of that marvel came courtesy of Vladimir Putin’s bold decision to transform Sochi into a world-class all-year tourist destination in the run-up to the 2014 Winter Olympics.

The Sochi hoax just won’t go away

I was reminded of this just recently, when in my research on the Russian economy I plowed through a couple of grant-fueled Western accounts of the economic history of the Putin years. One was Chris Miller’s book (2018) with the ridiculous title “Putinomics” (as unfit as they come for a book purporting to be academic research). The other one, a 2019 book from the Atlantic Council’s fiction department hack Anders Aslund – of Russian shock therapy fame – with the no less bizarre title “Russia’s Crony Capitalism.” In the case of Aslund and his employer, I am sure nobody would have expected anything else.

Miller unilaterally declared: “What is clear, however, is that a significant share of the funds invested [in Sochi] were wasted or stolen.” For evidence he refers to Navalny’s fraudulent pamphlet in addition to all the other propaganda clichés. (*1). In his book, Aslund in turn returns time after time – without any justification – to Sochi as an alleged hotbed of corruption and waste and one of the alleged original sins of Putin.

As these fellows cannot in the real Russia detect, no matter how hard they try, any Putinomics and not much of crony capitalism either, they just make it up. One of the favorite clichés such sham analysts resort to in order to back up their agenda-driven narratives about Russia is the supposed corruption and lavish spending in connection with the Olympic Games, trying to convince their readers that it was all nothing but “Putin’s vanity project.”

This line of attack was first developed in a desperate attempt to destroy the reputation of the Russian Olympic games even before they were held. Another topic on the anti-Sochi black agenda centered around the fake claims that gay people were supposedly persecuted in the country. And everything culminated just a couple of days before the games started in the wacky claim going viral in Western media that the Russians had built “twin-seat toilets,” toilets designed to have two people doing their business next to each other in one cubicle. In reality, the photos were from work in progress just before the partition walls and cubicle doors were being installed.

The Nemtsov report

The original raw material for the corruption and overspending narrative was delivered by late rabid opposition activists – derailed presidential hopeful from the anarchy of the 90s – Boris Nemtsov. It was a shamelessly forged report titled “Winter Olympics in the Subtropics: Corruption and Abuse in Sochi” (2013). (*2). Nemtsov as a sworn nemesis of Putin was a totally unreliable witness to start with, it was clear that he would have no intention to render an honest and fair account of what was going on. All he wanted to do was to destroy the Games and deny millions of Russians, whose lives he had already conspired to wreck in the 1990s, to take pride in the Olympic Games which symbolized the national awakening and resurrected prosperity. – But the Western press sucked it all up – of course, because they were part of it.

Nemtsov’s report was rehashed in January 2014, just before the games were set to open, by another frenzied one-cause anti-Putin activist, Alexey Navalny, who basically plagiarized Nemtsov’s report with an added portion of hyperbole. (*3). This with the predictable and orchestrated knee-jerk reactions of the combined Western media.

The central claim and giant falsehood in these reports was the contention that the $50 billion dollar budget for the Sochi region in the run-up to the Olympics would have been event-based, that is, supposedly been spent on organizing the Games with a zero residual value. Following this blatantly false argument, the critics then pushed the meme that the Sochi Olympics would have been by far the most expensive in history. In reality, the actual organizing costs of hosting the Games, including the construction of all the sporting facilities was $10.6 billion, while the resting $39 billion were investments in the Sochi urban infrastructure. This infrastructure spending was related to the Games only insofar as Putin had wanted to take the chance of upgrading at one fell swoop Sochi into a modern urban area and world-class resort, a first for Russia. It was an investment for the future. Real experts never doubted the wisdom of that decision, but today only the most diehard lying propagandist could argue against it, as it is shown in the present report.

The $10.6 billion spent on Sochi is perfectly in line with other recent Games. The cost of London 2012 Olympics was $13.9bn, and that is a city which even from before had all the sporting infrastructure you could wish for. Sochi had none. Vancouver in 2010 coughed up $8.9bn. Pyeongchang 2018 had a cost of $13.1bn.

With the $40 billion, which did not form part of the organizational costs, Sochi has indeed been transformed into a top destination for both winter and summer tourism as well as business travel with amazing congress facilities and a solid offering of high-class hotels.

This is what Sochi in reality got with that money

Let’s see what Sochi in reality got for that money in addition to the amazing sports facilities:

  • A state-of-the art modern airport
  • A new seaport for cargo, passenger liners, ferries and personal boats
  • Several new railway stations, among them the Adler station which is one of the biggest in Russia (not known for its miniscule rail stations
  • 367 km of roads and bridges
  • 967,400 square meters of road surface and pavements
  • 200 km of railways, with 22 tunnels, 54 bridges and several multi-level junctions
  • Two thermal power plants and one gas power plant with a combined capacity of 1200 MW, and four electric substations
  • 480 km of low-pressure gas pipelines
  • 550 km of high voltage power lines
  • A new water and wastewater treatment facility
  • Three new sewage treatment plants
  • A new graduate-level Russian International Olympic University
  • 60 new educational, cultural and health facilities
  • Two hospitals
  • A fascinating cluster of mountain villages built from scratch in the Krasnaya Polyana area (Gorky Gorod, Rosa Khutor, and others)
  • 25,000 additional hotel rooms, with 56 hotels rated four-star and above
  • A new theme park (Sochi Park)
  • A Formula 1 racing track (not an Olympic sport)
  • Renovation of a huge number of residential houses and public space
  • Barrier-free accessibility to public and commercial buildings for disabled persons
  • A 7-kilometer pedestrian and bicycle seaside boardwalk, Russia’s coolest along the newly created impressive beach down at the Olympic Village in the Imereti Lowlands

Most of the details for the above list were derived from Oleg Golubchikov’s marvelous report on the actual costs of the Sochi investments. (*4). Golubchikov provides transparent and detailed costs on each investment category with a division of the costs on organizational costs and investments in sporting facilities, and the Sochi urban infrastructure. Incidentally, he reaches the same grand total of $50 billion ($49.5bn, to be precise) for the combined costs as the propagandists announced, but with the difference that he shows where the funds in reality went. According to Golubchikov, the direct costs for holding the Games amounted to $10.75bn, whereas the infrastructure costs were $38.76bn. There is a break-down of both cost groups in his report, while the below table focuses on the infrastructure costs, which were the objects of the fabricated scandal.

This data on the costs and the infrastructure investments that they went into should convince anybody who is interested in the truth that there has absolutely been no squandering of funds and that $39 billion of the alleged “most expensive Olympics ever” in fact were investments in the Sochi urban infrastructure. Nevertheless, we will proceed below with exposing some more details, which should finally put the Nemtsov hoax to rest.

Nemtsov’s calculations just don’t hold water – and were never meant to

Nemtsov’s and Navalny’s propaganda pamphlets were masquerading as sound economic analysis based on global comparisons of alternative costs. Their findings then purported to show that Russia had built the Sochi objects significantly more expensively than global best practices would have it. As those reports are nothing but blatant propaganda and the calculations without merit, it would not make any sense to try to decipher them in detail. Just one example, concerning road and railroad works, the most expensive objects, will suffice more than enough.

I remind, 367 km of roads and bridges and 200 km of railways were constructed with 22 tunnels, 54 bridges and several multi-level junctions. These included, among other things, a new elevated road passing through the whole city of Sochi (the Kurortny Avenue bypass road), an extension of the Sochi ring road, and the combined railroad and highway connecting the sporting cluster down at the Adler coastal area with the skiing cluster up in the mountains at Krasnaya Polyana. The latter was by far the most expensive individual investment. The railroad and highway are each 48-kilometer long and include 10.3 km of railroad tunnels, 6.7 km of highway tunnels and 6.7km of escape tunnels, in addition to 40 highway and 37 railway bridges and overpasses with a combined length of 35 km.

The total cost for these were $10.3. In Nemtsov’s account the cost was $9.404. The difference may be explained by the additional stretch of railroad going from the Adler railway station to the airport. Nemtsov claimed that the expenditure on the road would normally buy 940 kilometers of highway. That is a highly dubious claim in itself, but most importantly, Nemtsov is here cutting corners and straightening the bends by comparing flatland highway with a mountainous road with tunnels, bridges and underpasses. But those were precisely the challenging and costly parts of the entire combined highway and railroad.

Instead of minding the Nemtsov antics, we can just look at a very transparent comparative project cost from the United States. In 2013, construction began on the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement tunnel, a bored highway tunnel in the city of Seattle, Washington. It is a 2-mile (3.2 km) tunnel under Downtown Seattle. The construction cost was estimated at $3.3 billion. (*5).

Once again, this is a 3.2 km tunnel that cost $3.3 billion. But the Adler-Krasnaya Polyana highway had 6.7 km of automotive road tunnels, 10.3 km of railroad tunnels, 6.7km of escape tunnels, and 77 bridges and overpasses. Now, compare that with the total price of the merely 3.2-km Seattle tunnel. What can you say, glaring economy in favor of Russia here. With the Seattle cost level, the expenditure on tunnels alone would have been $17.5 billion, not counting the escape tunnels, bridges, overpasses and the surface parts of the 48-km four-lane road and 48-km railroad.

There is no reason to refrain from spelling it out: Nemtsov was not mistaken here, he was lying. His narrative is full of holes and deliberate attempts to confuse the reader. (He would not have fooled anybody, hadn’t it been for the orchestrated media propaganda). In his scandalous report, Nemtsov claimed that the combined “highway/railroad” had cost $9.404 billion. But immediately in the next paragraph, the activist dropped the railroad part and pretended that the expenditure was exclusively for the highway, to quote: “For 266 billion rubles, you could build 940 kilometers (and they only built 48 kilometers!) of high-quality four-lane highway in Russia…” (*6). Thus the 48 km railroad – which made up at least half of the cost – was magically made disappear from the comparison.

But that’s not all, next Nemtsov spirited away the tunnels, bridges and overpasses. Quote: “To estimate the cost of the 35-kilometer portion of the four-lane highway, we will use the average European cost – $10 million per kilometer. Thus, the price of the automobile road without the bridges and tunnels would be $350 million. One kilometer of high-speed railroad track, according to average European standards, is $45 million. Thus, the 25.7 kilometers of regular rail track should cost $1.156 billion.” – Here the railroad is back in the narrative, but the items that objectively carry a high cost – tunnels, bridges, overpasses – were all wiped out and never returned into Nemtsov’s mendacious narrative. Interestingly enough, there was that admission of those costly items being omitted. That is a common propaganda ploy, the fabulists mining their narratives with half-truths to gain tools to deflect criticism.

The above exposure of the Nemtsov bluff has clearly shown that the intention was just that: to bluff, to create a giant propaganda hoax aimed at spoiling the Games and sullying the reputation of Russia and its president.

There’s another giant transparent con right in the introduction of the Nemtsov travesty. Although he proceeds further down in the report to discuss the cost of the road building, Nemtsov pretends in the introduction that the $50 billion was all spent on sporting facilities. Quote: “With over $50 billion already spent, it is more expensive than the sports buildings of all 21 other Winter Olympics combined.” (*7). – He compares the cost for an airport, a seaport, several railway stations, power plants, power lines, gas pipelines, all those 367 km of roads and bridges, 25,000 hotel rooms, etc. etc. with previous costs on sports building. Give me a break and STFU.

Spinning the facts, he tells that the original budget for the sporting facilities and organization costs were $12 billion, but then allows (referring to the experience from previous Games) for regular Olympic cost overruns and inflation (from 2007 to 2013) and concludes that $24bn would have been the fair price. Therefore, Nemtsov fancies, the remaining $26bn would consists of nothing but “embezzlement and kickbacks.” (*8). This ridiculous postulation amounts to saying that the real price of organizing the Games and getting all that amazing infrastructure – of which only the Adler-Krasnaya Polyana combined highway and railroad had a fair cost, by global comparison, of at least $25bn – would have been only $24bn.

The Sochi Olympic expenditure also compares favorably with the Berlin Brandenburg Airport (in construction since 2006 and still unfinished, sic!) with a present price tag of 10.3 billion euro. (Approximately USD 13 billion). (*9).

A good gauge is also the approximately $3 billion that Toronto is planning to invest in just one subway station. (*10).

Enough of the fairy tales, now let’s return back to the real Sochi.

Tourists are Flocking to Sochi

All these infrastructure goodies obviously remained in Sochi after the Olympics. They were not dismantled and tucked away after the Games as the brothers-in-arm Nemtsov and Navalny and their cheerleaders in the Western media insinuated. They are there for the millions of visitors and the population of Sochi to enjoy. Notably, the population has grown with one fifth, up from the pre-Olympic 368 thousand to present day 450 thousand.

In the same period from 2013 to 2018, the number of visitors has nearly doubled from 3.8 million to levels around 7 million. It is difficult to pinpoint an exact figure for visitors as many stay in private accommodation, rented or owned, but that must be the level. A foolproof indicator is the number of passengers travelling through Sochi airport. It has grown 150% from 2.4 million in 2013 to 6.3 million in 2018. (Note, both arrivals and departures are counted in airport statistics). A further 10% growth has been reported for first half of 2019.

Obviously, this tremendous growth in population and visitors would not have been possible without the $40 billion investment in Sochi’s infrastructure.

It has been established that 25,000 additional hotel rooms where built for the Olympics, of these 12,000 in 56 new world class hotels rated four-stars or above. This practically doubled the pre-Olympic capacity to a total of 55,000 rooms. Before the Olympic boom, Sochi had only one single hotel conforming to international standards, a Gazprom owned Radisson establishment with 200 rooms.

There’s more devastating news in store for the propagandists. The Olympic constructions did not result in any overcapacity, far from it, on the contrary the number of hotel rooms has significantly further risen since then. Reporting on the results of completing the new mandatory star rating procedures for hotels, the Sochi city administration told in February 2019, that the city now possessed a total capacity of 84 thousand rooms combined in 2,387 hotels, guest houses and hostels. (*12). On top of that comes the huge number of private accommodation.

This means that there has been a major shift towards more value-added visitors. With this total capacity, Sochi was ready to accommodate 200 thousand guests simultaneously in one day during the FIFA football world cup.

For sake of comparison, Helsinki (Finland) has built only 63 hotels with a combined 9,373 rooms in its entire history. (*12). Sochi then built 5 times more in just a couple of years before and after the Olympics than one of Europe’s major capital cities managed in over 100 years.

Interestingly, due to good bookings, the mountain resort hotels also get guests in the summer, and the coastal hotels in the winter.

Western wishful predictions of doom and gloom failed to materialize

Right after the Olympic games, the Western media kicked off a follow-up campaign designed to convince that all the investments actually had been in vain. Sochi is “Deserted and already falling apart,” The Daily Mail gleefully declared. (*13). A “ghost town,” announced the spooks at The Guardian (*14). “A $51 billion ‘ghetto’: Extraordinary images show Vladimir Putin’s Sochi Olympic park lying desolate and abandoned one year after most expensive games in history,” more lies from London. (*15). I cannot even get worked up about these claims — they are so ludicrously flawed — just what one would expect from the London fiction factory.

As there simply was nothing real to complain about, what the Western reporters did was to go up to the mountain winter sport cluster in summertime to report that no skiers were spotted, as the CNN did (*16), and then descend onto the coastal beach resort in wintertime (*17) to share their amazement over the empty beaches, as The Daily Mail did. (*18). The winter is mild down there, rarely cooler than 10°C in daytime, but it hardly qualifies for a beach season.

As post-Olympic Sochi really has been a resounding success, this line of attack is largely dead in the media. My impression is that the only ones who are trying to rehash the scandals are Moscow based correspondents of Western media who want to take a long weekend off and travel over to Sochi to enjoy some nice days in the sun during the Moscow winter gloom. It’s a surefire trick to get your employer to pay for it by promising a report about the “post-Olympic decay of Putin’s vanity project.” But even so, they seem not to be able to deliver, as for example was the case with Marjo Nakki from Yle, Finland’s state broadcasting corporation. She enjoyed her free meal but really had nothing to complain about. (*19).

For those who are interested to see how the real Sochi looks like, I refer to an article which I wrote back in 2017. It has a lot of pictures displaying the beauty of Sochi. Here is the link https://russia-insider.com/en/society/sochi-sunny-side-reality/ri4658

White Elephants Live and Kicking

What about the claims that the Olympic sporting arenas stand out like white elephants – unfinished, useless and abandoned? Already a few days before the games even took off, Voice of America declared that “Sochi Facilities Will Not Be Used After Olympics.” (*20). Alas, this wish did not come true; far from it.

These sporting facilities are surrounded on a large territory by hotels, convention centers, and various clusters of housing developments originally built to accommodate the Olympic teams, support staff, organizers and media. The result is an extraordinarily vibrant residential and recreational area with a gorgeous beach on one side and snowcapped mountains on the other. This area will for sure provide for some of the best quality of life in Russia, and a good one by any global standards.

And the venues are bustling with activity. One of the ice rinks is the busy home rink of the new Sochi Hockey Club, debuting in Russia’s prestigious KHL league right after the Olympics in 2014. The club draws between six to ten thousand spectators per game. Another ice rink is being used for various figure skating activities and ice shows. A third one has been converted into a Russian central facility for child health and sports activities. The speed skating arena was turned into a tennis center with nine courts under roof and 15 open-air courts. The Fisht Stadium, the central stadium of the Sochi Olympics, which hosted the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, was fast reconstructed to serve as one of football stadiums for the FIFA World Cup in Russia 2018. In 2014 Sochi hosted its first annual Formula One race on a street circuit built around these venues of the Sochi Olympic Park.

The sporting venues and adjacent hotels and congress centers have also been busy with continuously hosting one or another top level conference or summit.

President Putin has practically transformed Sochi into the country’s summer capital, where he frequently meets with foreign dignitaries during the sunnier half of the year. This also tallies with Russia’s pivot to Asia as Sochi is much closer to those countries.

Real Estate

Sochi saw a lot of real estate development – not included in the famous $50 billion price tag – across the city in the years leading up to the Olympic Games. After the sharp devaluation of the Russian ruble in 2014/2015 in the wake of the Western-imposed sanctions and the decline of the oil price, the Sochi real estate prices initially declined in in dollar terms. But since the decline the prices have surged by more than 100 to 200%. Premium category apartments with a sea view currently sell at a level of five to ten thousand dollars per square meter.

Concluding remarks

The present report should serve to convince the skeptic that without even a glimmer of doubt the bulk of the much touted Sochi $50 billion investment budget went towards a regional transformation and a thorough infrastructural overhaul of Sochi with a lasting impact. The reports about vanity spending and corruption can be firmly put down to malicious propaganda aimed at destroying Russia’s and its presidents external image, wipe out national support for the Games, and destabilize Russia’s political system.

Now, we are not saying that there would not be any legitimate concerns about the Sochi spending, there always are in connection with such huge projects, in all countries of the world. And while Russian law enforcement and the president have addressed some of them, the so-called opposition and their foreign cheerleaders have done nothing to expose any kinds of real misallocation of funds, solely concentrating on an entirely fictious propaganda narrative.

In addition to the impressive data evidencing the permanent economic boost that those investments delivered to Sochi, we may look at this from the point of view of the national economy. After the Sochi investments and the reunification of Crimea with Russia, the nation’s current account surplus got a $20 billion boost in form of a much lower capital outflow on foreign travel. In 2013, Russians spent $53 billion on travel abroad, but by 2018 the figure was down at $34 billion. Obviously, not all that money saved from foreign travel was spent in Sochi and Crimea, but these places sure made an enormous contribution towards it.

Finally, let’s see how miniscule the alleged scandal would be in an international comparison, even if the whole propaganda lie had been true. In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the United States spent on entirely murky bailouts of the country’s banks and largest corporations 475 billion on the federal TARP bailout program. In addition to that the Federal Reserve’s own bailout program regaled the banks and corporations with $1.2 trillion in the immediate aftermath of the crisis (*21) without any oversight in blatant corruption schemes. (*22). These were followed by more venal schemes in form of Fed’s program to pump $3.5 trillion of virtually interest free money to those private entities belonging to the American financial aristocracy. (*23). Those funds were further contributed by the highly contentious $787 billion Obama stimulus package. Independent analysts have shown that, Obama’s stimulus package resulted in nothing else but “waste, fraud and abuse as well as highly questionable projects.” (*24).

I bring up the American corruption here, because the fabricated Sochi spending scandal was aimed at portraying Russia as a particularly corrupt country. Without any evidence and distorted facts and outright lies the propaganda media indeed managed to convince a substantial majority of the Western populations that this was the case. Therefore, I find it very opportune to remind where the real corruption and waste resides. After all, those people, and types like above referenced Chris Miller and Anders Aslund, especially designed their narratives to convince the public how a supposed byzantine Russian government was the epitome of crony capitalism in comparison with the shining city upon a hill that their America is supposed to be.

FOOTNOTES:

*1. Chris Miller (2018). Putinomics. Pages 139 and 140.

*2. Boris Nemtsov and Leonid Martynyuk (2013). Winter Olympics in the Subtropics: Corruption and Abuse in Sochi” (2013). https://www.putin-itogi.ru/cp/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Report_ENG_SOCHI-2014_preview.pdf

*3. Alexey Navalny (2014). Sochi 2014: The Comprehensive Report. https://sochi.fbk.info/en/report/

*4. Oleg Golubchikov (2017): From a sports mega-event to a regional megaproject: the Sochi winter Olympics and the return of geography in state development priorities, International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/19406940.2016.1272620

*5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alaskan_Way_Viaduct_replacement_tunnel

*6. Nemtsov report, pages 23 – 25.

*7. Nemtsov report, page 6.

*8. Nemtsov report, page 6 and 7.

*9. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berlin_Brandenburg_Airport

*10. https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2017/nov/24/3bn-subway-station-toronto-alaska-bridge-pyongyang-hotel-valencia-city-arts-sciences

*11. https://ria.ru/20190219/1551082088.html

*12. https://www.stat.fi/til/matk/2018/12/matk_2018_12_2019-02-07_tau_005_fi.html

*13. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2589194/How-Sochi-ghost-town-just-weeks-Olympics.html

*14. https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2014/dec/17/sochi-olympics-legacy-city-feels-like-a-ghost-town

*15. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2941216/Extraordinary-images-Vladimir-Putin-s-Sochi-Olympic-park-lying-desolate-abandoned.html

*16. https://edition.cnn.com/videos/world/2014/10/13/bizview-davies-rus-ghosts-of-sochi.cnn

*17. https://edition.cnn.com/videos/world/2014/10/13/bizview-davies-rus-ghosts-of-sochi.cnn

*18. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2589194/How-Sochi-ghost-town-just-weeks-Olympics.html

*19. https://yle.fi/uutiset/3-10380886

*20. https://www.voanews.com/content/expert-worry-sochi-facilities-will-not-be-used-after-olympics/1844282.html

*21. https://www.forbes.com/sites/mikecollins/2015/07/14/the-big-bank-bailout/#482128b32d83

*22. A fantastic description about the bailout and Federal Reserve quantitative easing frauds and corruption schemes is provided by David Stockman in his The Great Deformation (2013).

*23. https://www.awaragroup.com/blog/with-global-recession-looming-russia-looks-strong/

*24. https://www.judicialwatch.org/corruption-chronicles/more-stimulus-fraud-waste/

 

Syria: Trump & Erdogan Forces in War Criminal ‘Joint Patrol’

trump and erdogan forces patrol inside Syria - archive photo

US-Turkey NATO forces in Syria – Archive Photo

Trump and Erdogan regime terrorists continue their flouting of International Law and have begun war criminal ‘joint patrols’ in the territories of the Syrian Arab Republic. Both countries are signatories to the Geneva Agreements; ignoring the Treaty to which they pledged fidelity — and without complaints from transatlantic MSM — again shows Trump and Erdogan among the many unindicted war criminals of NATO countries.

Caliph-wannabe Erdogan’s imperialist plot involves his desire to annex more of Syria than was stolen by his Ottoman Empire predecessors.

foreign-terror-sponsor-erdogan

Rabid ErDOGan, war criminal
Erdogan: Syrian factories and economy thief

Trump — the POTUS elected on his promise to drain the swamp but who preferred to become addicted to huffing its decomposing fumes — also wants a share of a new Sykes-Picot partitioning.

Swamp Drunk Trump - Was elected to drain the swamp and instead became swamp drunk
Swamp Drunk Trump – Was elected to drain the swamp and instead became swamp drunk.

The Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Expatriates condemned the flagrant violation of Syria’s national sovereignty and integrity, which follows the colonial bragging of CENTCOM in the joint illegal invasion of Syrian airspace, two days ago.

Let us not expect any reporting on these illegals, by MSM, which is much too busy trying to keep the magic marker and the Hurricane Dorian map trending. Let us also not forget that all the MSM glorified Trump when he bombed Syria for al-Qaeda, based on the criminal lies of an illegal Brit, a de-licensed physician, via ‘fake news CNN!’.

Let us not expect any complaints from the un-anti-fascist Antifa on this joint fascist incursion into Syria; this gang of phony Trump-haters is aligned with his arrogant, colonial, illegal incursions.

syrian-democratic-forces

Fascist US wetworkers of the Syrian Democratic Forces.

Let us especially not expect grumbling from the bogus liberals who condemn the US president for everything but war crimes. That haughty gang of colonial serfs support the US armed and run separatist SDF, engaged in strategic depopulation, kidnapping, serial killings, torching of farms, bombing churches, theft of Syrian oil (to be sold to Israel) and the menticide of Syrian children via forcing them into armed militias.

The criminal alliance of the Trump and Erdogan regimes, in the rancid colonial arrogance of criminal ‘joint patrols’ in Syria, will not be permanent; Syria’s beloved President Bashar al Assad has promised that “every inch” of the SAR will be liberated.

syria

 Syria President Dr. Bashar al-Assad: “Every inch of Syria will be liberated”

You can follow Miri Wood on Twitter.

 

 

Southeast Asia Ignores US War on Huawei

September 7, 2019 (Joseph Thomas – NEO) – The Western media has begun complaining about Southeast Asia’s collective decision to move forward with 5G network technology from Chinese telecom giant Huawei despite US demands that nations ban all Huawei products.

These demands are predicated on clearly fabricated security threats surrounding Huawei technology. The US itself is a global leader of producing hardware with hidden backdoors and other security flaws for the purpose of spying worldwide.

Instead, the US is clearly targeting the telecom giant as part of a wider campaign to cripple China economically and contain its ability to contest US global hegemony.

Media Disinformation Serves the War on Huawei 

Articles like Reuters’ “Thailand launches Huawei 5G test bed, even as U.S. urges allies to bar Chinese gear,” in title alone confounds informed readers.

The article’s author, Patpicha Tanakasempipat, fails to explain in which ways the US is “allies” with any of the nations of Southeast Asia, including Thailand. The history of US activity in Southeast Asia has been one of coercion, interference, intervention, colonisation and protracted war.

As US power has faded, it has resorted to “soft power,” with its most recent “pivot to Asia” being accompanied by several failed attempts to overthrow regional governments and replace them with suitable proxies.

Considering this, and a complete lack of suitable US alternatives to Huawei’s products, there is little mystery as to why the region as a whole has ignored US demands regarding Huawei.

The article claims:

Thailand launched a Huawei Technologies 5G test bed on Friday, even as the United States urges its allies to bar the Chinese telecoms giant from building next-generation mobile networks.

Huawei, the world’s top producer of telecoms equipment and second-biggest maker of smartphones, has been facing mounting international scrutiny amid fears China could use its equipment for espionage, a concern the company says is unfounded.

Patpicha fails categorically to cite any evidence substantiating US claims. She also fails categorically to point out that there is in fact a glaring lack of evidence behind US claims, just as many other articles across the Western media have predictably and purposefully done.

Vietnam, the Outlier 

The one exception in Southeast Asia is Vietnam. It has sidestepped considering Huawei in favour of US-based Qualcomm and Scandinavian companies Nokia and Ericsson. While the Vietnamese government said its decision was based on technical concerns rather than geopolitics, a Bloomberg article quoted the CEO of state-owned telecom concern, Viettel Group, who claimed:

We are not going to work with Huawei right now. It’s a bit sensitive with Huawei now. There were reports that it’s not safe to use Huawei. So Viettel’s stance is that, given all this information, we should just go with the safer ones. So we choose Nokia and Ericsson from Europe.

The same article would also cite supposed experts who claim Vietnam seeks closer ties with the US in countering China’s growing stature upon the global stage, and ultimately folded to US demands because of this.

This however is unlikely. Vietnam – among all of Southeast Asia’s nations – is not an “ally” of Washington.

The US waged a bloody war against Vietnam at the cost of 4 million lives. The nation still bears the burden of chemical warfare through persistent birth defects as well as swaths of land covered in unexploded ordnance. To this day the US maintains a stable of opposition groups it funds to pressure and coerce the Vietnamese government. The US also invests in groups fanning anti-Chinese sentiment inside Vietnam.

Considering this, Vietnam, by spurning Huawei at the moment, is more likely cynically playing the US and China off one another with this particular move aimed at currying leverage over Beijing and favour with Washington, while at other junctures, Vietnam has made moves to gain leverage over Washington while cultivating closer ties with Beijing.

Not Just Thailand

The same Bloomberg article would note:

Vietnam’s decision to shun Huawei appears to make it an outlier in Southeast Asia, where other countries such as the Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia are open to deploying Huawei’s technology.

The irony of this is that the Philippines in particular has been touted by Washington as one of its key partners in provoking China over its claims in the South China Sea. Not only has Manila repeatedly sabotaged or undermined Washington’s efforts in the South China Sea deciding to bilaterally deal with Beijing instead and without US help, it is now openly ignoring US demands to dump Huawei technology.

Malaysia has been another target of US political interference. There were hopes in Washington that after the last Malaysian elections, victorious parties backed by Washington would cut growing ties with Beijing. This did not happen. While some Malaysian-Chinese deals were renegotiated, they continued to move forward nonetheless.

By ignoring US demands that Huawei products be banned and by moving forward with Huawei technology for national 5G infrastructure, Malaysia affirms again that Asia’s future will be determined in Asia by the nations residing there, not by Washington thousands of miles away.

While the US remains a potent geopolitical hegemon with a powerful military and economy, and the means to inflict punishment on nations opposing its agenda across the globe, it is still a hegemon in decline.

The US is not losing to China because it hasn’t been ruthless enough or because its “allies” are not cooperating. It is not losing to China because of anything in particular China is doing to the US. The US is losing because of fundamental flaws in what is an entirely unsustainable and indefensible foreign policy.

Until it fixes those fundamental flaws and adopts a more appropriate foreign policy, it will continue to lose out to competitors like China. Its tech giants like Apple and Qualcomm will continue to lose out to competitors like Huawei. No amount of coercion, threats or acts of malice can change the fact that at a fundamental level, the US has no competitive edge and its power stems more from momentum than from any remaining driving strength.

While nations bide their time for this momentum to diminish, Beijing, Moscow and the capitals of other developing and emerging global powers continue building an alternative global order based on a multipolar balance of power and the primacy of national sovereignty… a global order where, for example, one nation does not get to decide who the rest of the world works with to build their respective telecom infrastructure.

Joseph Thomas is chief editor of Thailand-based geopolitical journal, The New Atlas and contributor to the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

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