The Anti-Trump Regime Change Sequence Is Worthwhile Studying

By Andrew Korybko

Source

It’s worthwhile studying the sequence of regime change events leading to the recent overt attempt to anti-democratically topple the incumbent President of the United States through superficially “democratic” means since obtaining a better understanding of how this plot played out can help in preemptively identifying and subsequently thwarting similar such attempts elsewhere in the world before they reach that stage.

Does Anyone Even Fully Understand What’s Happening?

I wrote on Wednesday that “Every Democrat Is A Wannabe Dictator”, but many of these potential tyrants don’t even fully understand the dynamics of the regime change process that they’re supporting. Nor, for that matter, do many of those who patriots and principled observers abroad who oppose it understand it all that much either. They just hold their respective positions because it’s either in their political interests to do so like the supporters do, or it’s against their own and/or conflicts with their principles. In any case, it’s worthwhile enlightening everyone by sharing a simplified sequence of events explaining how this unprecedented regime change process unfolded over the past four years. The resultant insight will hopefully enable others to preemptively identify similar regime change schemes when they’re only in their incipient phases, thus allowing the responsible authorities to potentially take action to thwart them before they reach their final stage.

The Seeds Of The Scheme

The seeds of this scheme were planted several months prior to the 2016 election when Hillary Clinton authorized a smear campaign against Trump alleging that he’s secretly a “Russian agent”. It was hoped that this would discredit the race’s frontrunner and thus result in handing her the presidency that November. This eventually morph into the discredited “Steele dossier” and the subsequent Russiagate conspiracy theory. The purpose of these information warfare provocations was to delegitimize Trump’s election, insincerely present the Democrats as the guardians of America’s electoral integrity, and therefore powerfully shape public perceptions ahead of the 2020 election. During the interim, a related narrative was weaponized claiming that Trump is a corrupt lawbreaker and wannabe dictator who’ll cling to power at all costs.

The Democrats’ Preemptive Deflection Of Suspicion

The intention behind that claim was to precondition the public into expecting that Trump would resort to an illegal power grab if he lost the election fair and square, the latter scenario of which people were made to believe since the Democrats spent four years insincerely portraying themselves as the guardians of America’s electoral integrity via their now-debunked Russiagate and Ukrainegate crusades. All of this was meant to preemptively deflect any suspicions that they were preparing to carry out what’s arguably the largest electoral fraud in American history, though the means through which they planned to do so unexpectedly changed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic which presented an entirely new opportunity for them. That was the prospect of a massive influx of mail-in ballots into an electoral system that obviously wasn’t prepared for it.

The Political Exploitation Of The COVID-19 Pandemic

Like I wrote in my recent analysis about how “The Connection Between World War C & Psychological Processes Is Seriously Concerning”, COVID-19 is indeed real and definitely dangerous for at-risk members of the population, but it’s also been unquestionably exploited for political ends as evidenced by the double standards that Democrat governors applied towards the lockdown. If they really thought that COVID-19 was as deadly for the vast majority of the population as some experts have said that it is, then they wouldn’t have risked the massive culling of their electorate by encouraging them to wantonly burn, loot, riot, and even murder in rare instances all across their states’ major cities under the banner of Antifa and “Black Lives Matter” (BLM). This kinetic phase of the decades-long Hybrid War of Terror on America was meant to intimidate average Americans.

Red Wave” vs. “Blue Wave”

Just as importantly, however, their selective enforcement of draconian lockdown decrees against people of a different political persuasion (i.e. Trump supporters) was an ill-convincing effort to keep up the charade that mail-in voting was necessary in order to “save lives from COVID”. Few truly believe that this is the case since the Democrats’ visible double standards prove that the pandemic has been completely politicized for the purpose of justifying a massive influx of mail-in ballots into an electoral system totally unprepared to handle it. This set the stage for the Democrats to craftily predict over the summer that the winner might not be known on election day and to disregard any initial signs of a “red wave” pointing to Trump’s re-election since people were misled to believe that a “blue wave” will inevitably follow to crush it.

Connecting The Dots

This was extremely sneaky from the perception management perspective because it preemptively served to cover their tracks among average voters who might otherwise immediately suspect fraud in that scenario. Coupled with the prior narrative that Trump is a corrupt lawbreaker and wannabe dictator who’ll cling to power at all costs, the impression was shaped in many minds that any condemnation of this course of events by Trump would supposedly be indicative of him — not the Democrats — endeavoring to commit fraud. Had it not been for COVID-19 and the Democrats’ subsequent politicization thereof for the purpose of justifying ~100 million mail-in ballots, then their preplanned effort to defraud the vote might not have been as successful or convincing. Even so, their visible double standards in response to the lockdown made many people question their motives.

Big Tech Censorship

So many are suspicious of what happened, in fact, that the Democrats’ Big Tech allies went on a censorship spree the day after the election to block accounts and pages that encouraged concerned Americans to peacefully express their first amendment right to the freedom of assembly by staging law-abiding rallies in Trump’s support. As a case in point, OneWorld was deplatformed within hours of me sharing my article about how “It’s Time To Employ ‘Democratic Security’ Strategies To #StopTheSteal” for suggesting exactly that, which speaks to the powerful role that social media companies played in the lead-up to and subsequent aftermath of the election. Not only did they suppress practically all reporting of the Hunter Biden corruption scandal (which also seems to implicate Joe Biden), but they’re now actively suppressing Americans’ freedom of assembly.

The Unholy Trinity”

This wasn’t coincidental either but the result of Big Tech’s alliance with the Democrats and their anti-Trump patrons in the US’ permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”). All three of them literally conspired with one another to manipulate Americans’ perceptions of both the incumbent candidate and the electoral process. In addition, this “unholy trinity” also fully supports the half-year-long spree of urban terrorism unleashed by their de-facto street militias of Antifa and BLM in response to their political exploitation of the George Floyd incident. It’s unclear, just like with mail-in ballots, whether this stage of the Hybrid War would have gone active had it not been for that event which was as unexpected as COVID-19 was, but in any case, both were politicized to the extreme for the earlier mentioned regime change purposes.

Everything Went According To Plan

On election night, everything went off without a hitch from their perspective. Trump’s “red wave” crashed into most battleground states but was then pushed back by the “blue wave” supposedly resulting from the millions of mail-in ballots that the mainstream media wants everyone to believe were almost entirely for Biden. Not only is so statistically unlikely as to practically be impossible, but it also followed a suspicious suspension of the ballot count for at least several hours in the election-deciding states that had yet to declare a winner. As expected, Trump condemned this blatant fraud, thus conforming to the role of a corrupt lawbreaker and wannabe dictator who will stop at nothing to cling to power like many were preconditioned to wrongly believe. Even if Trump somehow pulls off a legal victory and ends up winning the race, his legitimacy is now in dispute.

The Democrats’ “Worst-Case” Scenario

In the Democrats’ “worst-case” scenario, they’d simply intensify their now-kinetic Hybrid War of Terror on America by encouraging their de-facto street militias of Antifa and BLM to wage a more sophisticated campaign of urban terrorism on the pretext of it supposedly being “legitimate antifascist resistance to a racist dictator who illegally stole the election”. It shouldn’t be forgotten that similar terrorist campaigns were launched against Syrian President Assad and former Libyan leader Gaddafi under almost identical “pro-democracy” pretexts, which testifies to the fact that what’s already happening in America nowadays as well as what’s poised to follow in the Democrats’ “worst-case” scenario of having their voter fraud attempt overturned (perhaps at the Supreme Court level) has the “deep state’s” fingerprints all over it.

Concluding Thoughts

The sequence of events which culminated in the ongoing superficially “democratic” coup attempt is very complex and also involves much more than what was simplified in this analysis, though the present piece highlights the most important trends that everyone should pay attention to. The outcome of this unprecedented struggle for leadership of the fading unipolar superpower is still uncertain since this is completely uncharted territory for the country. Nevertheless, understanding how everything got to this point might help others identify similar patterns ahead of time so that they can be snuffed out in their infancy before maturing into the anti-democratic disaster that’s facing America today. Seeing as how the US is the global trendsetter, it can thus be expected that this regime change method might eventually be employed elsewhere across the world with time.

Why Taking US NED Money is Wrong

The National Endowment for Democracy has as much to do with promoting “democracy” as the illegal US invasion of Iraq – code name “Operation Iraqi Freedom” had to do with bringing “freedom” to the Iraqi people. And as it turns out the same circle of regime change promoters are/were involved in both. 

November 5, 2020 (Brian Berletic – LD) – I cover the US National Endowment for Democracy’s (NED) board of directors – pointing out how many of them have been involved in some of the worst crimes against humanity of the 21st century including promoting and even participating in the invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003. 

I also explain why taking US NED money poses a danger to national security – and specifically why Thai agitators taking the money pose a danger to Thailand’s peace, stability, and future.

References: 

NED funding – THAILAND 2019: https://www.ned.org/region/asia/thailand-2019/

NED Board of Directors: https://www.ned.org/about/board-of-directors/

CBS News – Elliott Abrams, convicted of lying about Iran-Contra, named special representative for Iran: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/elliott-abrams-iran-contra-named-special-representative-iran/

London Guardian – US diplomat convicted over Iran-Contra appointed special envoy for Venezuela: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jan/26/elliott-abrams-venezuela-us-special-envoy

NED BoD – Ambassador Victoria Nuland: https://www.ned.org/experts/victoria-nuland/

CNAS Supporters: https://www.cnas.org/support-cnas/cnas-supporters

Reuters – Leaked audio reveals embarrassing U.S. exchange on Ukraine, EU: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-ukraine-tape/leaked-audio-reveals-embarrassing-u-s-exchange-on-ukraine-eu-idUSBREA1601G20140207

NED BoD  – George Weigel: https://www.ned.org/experts/george-weigel/

American Magazine – The Just War Case for War: https://www.americamagazine.org/issue/428/article/just-war-case-war

NED BoD – Scott Carpenter: https://www.ned.org/experts/scott-carpenter/

NED BoD – Senator Tim Kaine: https://www.ned.org/experts/senator-tim-kaine/Tim Kaine – Kaine Statement On Withdrawal Of U.S. Troops From Northern Syria: https://www.kaine.senate.gov/press-releases/kaine-statement-on-withdrawal-of-us-troops-from-northern-syria

ما هي تغييرات السياسة الأميركيّة في حال خسارة دونالد ترامب

باريس – نضال حمادة

تظهر النتائج شبه النهائية للانتخابات الرئاسية في أميركا تقدّم المرشح الديمقراطي جو بايدن على الرئيس المنتهية ولايته دونالد ترامب، وإنْ كان بفارق ضئيل يجعل ترامب يحاول عرقلة هذه النتيجة عبر الاعتراض وتقديم الشكاوى، دون أن يكون لذلك تأثير مباشر على عملية الانتقال في الحكم التي سوف تحصل بعد شهرين من الآن في حال ثبتت النتائج الحالية بفوز بايدن.

الآن ومع اقتراب موعد ذهاب ترامب كما تشير صناديق الاقتراع، ما الذي سوف يتغيّر في السياسة الأميركية في العالم وفي الشرق الأوسط بخاصة؟

لا شك في أنّ أوّل المتغيّرات سوف يكون في السعودية على صعيد صراع أطراف آل سعود على السلطة ودعم ترامب المباشر لمحمد بن سلمان الذي مكّنه من السيطرة على مقاليد الحكم في السعودية وزجّ كلّ أطراف آل سعود الأقوياء من أبناء عمومته في السجون، ودعمه لإبن سلمان في حرب اليمن التي ربما لن تغيّر إدارة بايدن الموقف منها بقدر ما سوف تسحب الدعم الكبير داخلياً لإبن سلمان في وجه أبناء عمومته الذين يتحيّنون الفرص للثأر منه.

تركيا سوف تتأثر بسبب كره جو بايدن الشخصي لأردوغان، وهو لم يتورّع (أيّ بايدن) عن التصريح مرتين أنّ أميركا يجب أن تعمل على إسقاط أردوغان من حكم تركيا، وهذا ما سوف يزيد اعتماد أردوغان على روسيا وقد يخلق أجواء إيجابية أكثر في سورية.

روسيا سوف تفتقد ترامب الذي حفلت ولايته بتعاون بينه وبين بوتين في أكثر من مكان، منها سورية التي قرّر ترامب مغادرتها لكن ضغوط الجمهوريّين عليه وأموال العرب التي دفعت له جعلته يتراجع عن قراره هذا ثلاث مرات.

إيران التي وعد بايدن بإعادة العمل بالاتفاق النووي معها، وقد تكون غلطة ترامب القاتلة إلغاء هذا الاتفاق من دون إعطاء أيّ بديل عنه للعالم ولإيران، التي ترى أنّ بايدن بعكس ترامب لن ينسحب من سورية ولا من أفغانستان ولا من العراق، وبالتالي فإنّ أجواء التوتر مع أميركا في ظلّ حكمه سوف تستمرّ، كما أنّ كلام بايدن عن ضرورة إسقاط أردوغان لا يصبّ في مصلحة إيران التي ترى أنّ أميركا سوف تعود من باب إسقاط أردوغان إلى سياسة إسقاط الأنظمة في المنطقة.

في سياسات الحصار التي عمل عليها ترامب لا شيء يوحي أنّ بايدن سوف يوقف العمل بها أو بجزء منها من دون مقابل، هو طوال حملته الانتخابية لم ينتقد قوانين الحصار التي فرضها ترامب على إيران وسورية وغيرها من البلدان، وبالتالي لن يكون التخلي عن هذه السياسات من دون مقابل.

على صعيد دول الغرب تترقب كلّ من ألمانيا وفرنسا بفارغ الصبر ذهاب ترامب الذي عمل على تفكيك أوروبا ودعم بوريس جونسون في خروج بريطانيا من الاتحاد الأوروبي، وكانت علاقات ترامب مع ماكرون وميركل سيئة على الصعيد الشخصي بعكس علاقته الشخصيّة مع بوتين مثلاً.

الصين تنظر بارتياح لخروج ترامب من البيت الأبيض وهو الذي دخل معها في حرب تجارية من دون هوادة، واتهمها بتصنيع ونشر فيروس كورونا، وكانت علاقته بها عبارة عن حفلات من الكره وتوجيه الشتائم.

أخيراً الخاسر الأكبر على الصعيد الشخصي سوف يكون بنيامين نتنياهو صنو محمد بن سلمان الذي سوف يفقد ترامب الداعم الكبير لكلّ اليمين المتطرف الأميركي و»الإسرائيلي» رغم أنّ بايدن أعلن مرة أنه صهيوني لكن علاقته بنتنياهو كانت سيئة إبان وجوده في الحكم مع باراك أوباما ولا شيء يوحي بتحسّنها لحدّ الآن…

No Letup in US War on Iran by Other Means Ahead

By Stephen Lendman

Global Research, November 02, 2020

On all things Iran under both right wings of the US war party, transforming the country into a subservient vassal state is a high priority.

Regardless of whether Republicans or Dems control the White House and/or Congress, things won’t change ahead.

That’s been firm policy in Washington since Iranians ended a generation of US-installed fascist tyranny in 1979.

Since that time, the Islamic Republic of Iran has been target No. One in the oil-rich Middle East for regime change by Washington’s ruling class.

Bipartisan US policy aims to regain control over the country’s vast hydrocarbon resources — along with wanting Israel’s main regional rival neutralized.

So far, US strategy focused on war by other means since its orchestrated 1980s Iran/Iraq war.

Under Trump since 2017, maximum pressure has been and continues to be prioritized.

It’s all about wanting to inflict maximum human pain and suffering on the Iranian people that includes medical terrorism to prevent imports of medicines, medical equipment and related supplies.

It’s also all about piling on sanctions and more of the same to try isolating Iran.

The latest ones came in late October.

On October 23, the Trump regime unilaterally in breach of the UN Charter sanctioned five Iranian entities and IRGC officials on phony charges of “interfering in our elections.”

Ignored was that throughout US history, no evidence ever showed foreign meddling in the process by any foreign government — not Iran, Russia, or any others.

In stark contrast, clear evidence revealed unlawful US interference in scores of foreign elections throughout the post-WW II period.

On October 26, the Trump regime unlawfully sanctioned entities, individuals and vessels connected to Iran’s energy industry.

They included Iran’s Oil Ministry, its minister, the National Iranian Oil Company, National Iranian Tanker Company, and various other Iranian officials.

On Friday, October 30, more illegal US sanctions were imposed — in a futile attempt to “constrain (Iran’s) oil and petrochemical sales.”

Iran’s Arya Sasol Polymer Company, Binrin Ltd, Bakhtar Commercial Co., Kavian Petrochemical Co., and Strait Shipbrokers PTE. Ltd were targeted.

Officials connected to these firms were also sanctioned.

Everything the Trump regime and its predecessors threw at Iran since its 1979 revolution failed to achieve regime change — including their war of words.

Islamic Republic resilience preserved and protected the nation’s sovereign independence from diabolical USA aims.

US establishment media serve as imperial state press agents, managed news misinformation and disinformation their specialty.

US Policy Toward Iran Is All About Regime Change

One of the latest examples came from NBC News  on Thursday, saying:

“Top US officials were briefed on an active threat against Pentagon leaders (sic)” — citing customary unnamed sources, adding:

“US military, intelligence and law enforcement officials were briefed late last month on a threat against the Pentagon’s most senior leaders while they are on American soil…”

The “threat…remains active.” A Hollywood-style cloak and dagger scenario followed, saying:

Last month, when a “Defense Department leader left the Pentagon…in a government-owned black SUV driven by a member of his security detail…an unknown vehicle immediately began to follow them…”

“The driver, identified as an Iranian national, was in a vehicle with Virginia license plates and trailed closely behind the official SUV for five to seven miles…”

“The Pentagon and the FBI disagree about whether it was a serious attempt to target a senior Defense Department leader…”

According to an FBI probe, the above “was not part of any larger threat to senior military leaders or connected directly back to Iran…”

In other words, the above scenario smacks of fake news that surfaces repeatedly against nations on the US target list for regime change — notably Russia, China and Iran.

In its report, NBC cited no sources by name. Nor was any evidence presented to suggest an Iranian threat against any US officials domestically or abroad.

Throughout Islamic Republic history since 1979, Iran never attacked another country or its officials preemptively.

It justifiably acted in self-defense when attacked as the UN Charter and other international law permit.

In stark contrast, the US, NATO, Israel, and their imperial partners committed acts of aggression against targeted nations time and again.

Since creation of the Jewish state, it’s been perpetually at war on Palestinians by hot and other means — with full US-led Western support.

Iran supports peace, stability, cooperative relations with other countries and the rule of law.

The nation, its government, and military pose no threat to any other countries and their officials — except in self-defense if attacked, the legal right of all nation states.

A Final Comment

NBC News said key congressional members were not  briefed on the alleged incident.

“The White House declined to comment, including on whether President Donald Trump was briefed…”

The above anti-Iran accusation lacks credibility.

Why brief the White House and congressional leaders on what no evidence exists to prove the above scenario.

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Award-winning author Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Before the Bidens ‘Did’ Ukraine, There Was Iraq – and Serbia

Before The Bidens “Did” Ukraine, There Was Iraq… And Serbia – Finanz.dk
Analyst, former U.S. diplomat and foreign policy adviser to the Senate GOP leadership

James George Jatras

October 16, 2020

The United States approaches the November 2020 election with growing apprehension, even dread.

Among the possibilities:

For those who have followed events outside the United States during the past few decades, much of this sounds familiar. We’ve seen it before – inflicted on other countries.

Now It’s Coming Home to the U.S.

As explained by Revolver News, what happens in America next to a great extent may be a form of blowback from a specific event: the U.S.-supported 2014 regime change operation in Ukraine:

‘A “Color Revolution” in this context refers to a specific type of coordinated attack that the United States government has been known to deploy against foreign regimes, particularly in Eastern Europe deemed to be “authoritarian” and hostile to American interests. Rather than using a direct military intervention to effect regime change as in Iraq, Color Revolutions attack a foreign regime by contesting its electoral legitimacy, organizing mass protests and acts of civil disobedience, and leveraging media contacts to ensure favorable coverage to their agenda in the Western press.

‘It would be disturbing enough to note a coordinated effort to use these exact same strategies and tactics domestically to undermine or overthrow President Trump. The ominous nature of what we see unfolding before us only truly hits home when one realizes that the people who specialize in these Color Revolution regime change operations overseas are, literally, the very same people attempting to overthrow Trump by using the very same playbook. Given that the most famous Color Revolution was the [2004] “Orange Revolution” in the Ukraine, and that Black Lives Matter is being used as a key component of the domestic Color Revolution against Trump, we can encapsulate our thesis at Revolver with the simple remark that “Black is the New Orange.”

This hardly should come as a surprise. The same government agencies and their corporate, NGO, and think tank cronies that are now weaponizing Black Lives Matter, Antifa, other Wokesters, and military putsch plotters here at home to remove Trump have turned regime change abroad into an art form. Ukraine was one of their signal successes, featuring a cast of characters later key to the failed “Ukrainegate” impeachment.

Another consequence of regime change: corruption. As the old saying goes, any idiot can turn an aquarium into fish soup, but no one has yet figured out how to reverse the process. Once a country gets broken it tends to stay broken, whether the “breaking” is accomplished by military means (Serbia 1999, Iraq 2003, Libya 2011) or by a color revolution from the streets (Serbia 2000, Georgia 2003, Ukraine 2004-2005 and again in 2014, Kyrgyzstan 2005, Lebanon 2005, Armenia 2018, plus many others of varying degrees of success, and failures in Iran, Russia, Venezuela, China (Hong Kong), and Belarus). With the target nation’s institutions in shambles, the dregs take over – in Libya, for example, even to the point of reintroducing trade in sub-Saharan African slaves, whose black lives evidently don’t matter to anyone at all.

Iraq: Crush, Corrupt, Cash In

Finally, once regime change occurs and corruption is rampant, another shoe drops: foreign vultures descend on the carcass, profiteers who in many cases are the very same people that helped to create the chaos on which they are cashing in. Invariably, these carpetbaggers are well-connected individuals in the aggressor states and organizations positioned on the inside track both for the carve-up of the target country’s resources and (the word “hypocrisy” doesn’t begin to describe it) for funds to implement “reform” and “reconstruction” of the devastated target.

The showcase of this scam, pursuant to Colin Powell’s reported “Pottery Barn Rule” (You break it, you own it) was the money ostensibly spent on rebuilding Iraq, despite assurances from the war’s advocates that it would pay for itself. With the formal costs conservatively set at over $60 billion to $138 billion out of a tab for the war of over two trillion dollars, the lion’s share of it went to U.S. and other vendors, including the notorious $1.4 billion no-bid contract to Halliburton subsidiary KBR, of which then-Vice President Dick Cheney, a major proponent of the war, had been a top executive. (“Rand Paul Says Dick Cheney Pushed for the Iraq War So Halliburton Would Profit.”)

In Ukraine, Biden’s Son Also Rises

The predatory cronyism vignette most pertinent to the Black/Orange regime change op now unfolding before us with the intent of installing Joe Biden in the Oval Office is that of his son, Hunter, and a Ukrainian energy company with a sketchy reputation, Burisma Holdings. (Right at the outset, even some of Hunter’s associates though the gig with Burisma was too “toxic” and broke off ties with him.) Though ignored or dismissed as fake news and a conspiracy theory by Democrats and legacy media (or do I repeat myself?), the facts are well enough known and fit the Iraq pattern to a T: then-Vice President Joe Biden pushed for regime change in Ukraine, which succeeded in February 2014 with the ouster of the constitutionally elected president, Viktor Yanukovych. In April 2014, Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, was brought onto Burisma’s board (along with a fellow named Devon Archer, later convicted of unrelated fraud) at an exorbitant level of compensation that made little sense in light of Hunter’s nonexistent expertise in the energy business – but which made plenty of sense given that his dad was not only Veep but the Obama administration’s point man on policy toward Ukraine, including foreign assistance money. [NOTE: It now has come out that in 2015 Hunter put his dad, the U.S. Vice President, in direct contact with Burisma, news the giant tech firms sought to suppress on social media.]

When a troublesome Ukrainian prosecutor named Viktor Shokin seemed to be taking too much interest in Burisma, Papa Joe came to the rescue, openly threatening the western-dependent politicians installed after Ukraine’s 2014 color revolution with withholding of a billion dollars in U.S. aid until Shokin, whom Joe unironically alleged to be “corrupt,” got the heave-ho. As Tucker Carlson nails it, Shokin’s ouster followed a direct request from Burisma’s Clinton-connected PR firm, Blue Star Strategies, to Hunter to lobby his dad to get Shokin off their back. Joe did just what was asked. He later bragged: “I said, ‘You’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here [i.e., Kiev] in, I think it was about six hours.’ I looked at them and said, ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money.’ Well, son of a bitch. He got fired.”

But First There Was Serbia

Today many people remember Iraq, some have a clue about Ukraine. But Serbia, which preceded them, is off the radar screen of most Americans. To recap:

As a Senator in the 1990s, Joe Biden was one of the most militant advocates of U.S. military action against Serbs during the breakup of the Yugoslav federation, first in Croatia (1991-95), then in Bosnia (1992-95), and then in Serbia’s province of Kosovo (1998- 1999). (As has been said about others like Hillary Clinton and the late John McCain, Biden evidently has never met a war he didn’t like. Along with Hillary, in 2003 Biden helped to whip Senate Democrat votes for the Bush-Cheney Iraq war.) Channeling his inner John McCain, Biden continually called for the U.S. to bomb, bomb, bomb bomb the Serbs while (in a foreshadowing of the Obama-Biden administration’s support for jihad terrorists in Libya and Syria, which ultimately resulted in the appearance of ISIS) pushed successfully for sending weapons to the Islamist regime in Bosnia and then for the U.S. to arm the Islamo-narco-terrorist group known as the “Kosovo Liberation Army” (KLA).

Joe Biden was the primary sponsor of the March 1999 Kosovo war authorization for military action against Serbia and Montenegro, S. Con. Res. 21. (As a little remembered historical note, Biden’s resolution might be seen as the last nail in the coffin of Congress’s constitutional war power. While S. Con. Res 21 passed the Senate, it failed in the House on a 213-213 tie vote, with Republicans overwhelmingly voting Nay. It didn’t matter. Bill Clinton, reeling from the Lewinsky scandal, went ahead with the bombing campaign anyway.) The ensuing 78-day NATO air operation had little impact on Serbia’s military but devastated the country’s infrastructure and took hundreds of civilian lives. (Even now, more than 20 years later, Serbia suffers from elevated cancer levels attributed to depleted uranium munitions.) But for Jihad Joe even that wasn’t punishment enough for people he collectively demonized as “illiterate degenerates, baby killers, butchers, and rapists.” In May 1999, at the height of the NATO air assault, he called for the introduction of U.S. ground troops (“we should announce there’s going to be American casualties”) followed by “a Japanese-German style occupation.”

Eventually the bombing stopped in June 1999 when then-Serbian strongman Slobodan Milošević acceded to temporary international occupation of Kosovo on the condition that the province would remain part of Serbia, as codified in United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244. It was a promise the U.S. and NATO, not to mention their European Union (EU) concubine, had no intention of keeping. Under the nose of the NATO occupation, ostensibly demobilized KLA thugs were given virtually free rein to terrorize the Serbian population, two-thirds of whom were driven out along with Jews and Roma, the rest sheltering in enclaves where they remain to this day. Orthodox Christian churches and monasteries, many of them centuries old, were particular targets for destruction and desecration. KLA commanders – who were also kingpins in the Kosovo Albanian mafia dealing in sex slaves, drugs, weapons, and even human organs – were handed local administration.

In 2007 Senator Biden praised the new order as a “victory for Muslim democracy” and “a much-needed example of a successful U.S.-Muslim partnership.” A year later, the Bush administration sought to complete the job by ramming through Kosovo’s independence in barefaced violation of UNSCR 1244 and despite strong Russian objections. But instead of resolving anything the result was a frozen conflict that persists today, with about half of the United Nations’ member states recognizing Kosovo and half not. Touting itself as the most pro-American “country” [sic] in the world, the Kosovo pseudo-state became a prime recruiting ground for ISIS.

But hey, business was good! Just as in Iraq, the politically well-connected, including former officials instrumental in the attack on Serbia and occupying Kosovo, flocked to the province fueled by lavish aid subsidies from the U.S. and the EU, which for a while made Kosovo one of the biggest per capita foreign assistance recipient “countries” in the world. One such vulture – sorry, entrepreneur – was former Secretary of State Madeleine we-think-a-half-million-dead-Iraqi-children-is-worth-it Albright, a prominent driver of the Clinton administration’s hostile policy on top of her personal Serb-hatred. Albright sought to cash in to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars on sale of the mobile telephone company PTK, originally a Yugoslav state-owned firm that was “privatized” (i.e., stolen) in 2005 as a joint stock company, but who later dropped her bid when it attracted unwanted publicity. Also in the hunt for Kosovo riches was former NATO Supreme Commander and operational chief of the Kosovo war General Wesley Clark, who reportedly cornered a major share of the occupied province’s coal resources under a sweetheart deal that seems to have vanished from public scrutiny since first reported in 2016.

At the moment there seems to be no smoking gun of a direct Biden family payout, à la Ukraine, but there is a possible trail via Hunter’s Burisma-buddy Devon Archer and Archer’s fellow-defendant John “Yanni” Galanis, who in turn is connected to top Kosovo Albanian politicians. In any case, the Biden clan seems to have paid a lot of attention to Kosovo for not having skin in the game. Joe’s late son and Delaware Attorney General, Beau, worked in Kosovo following the war to train local prosecutors as part of an OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe) “rule of law” mission (admittedly a big task in a mafia-run pseudo-state), for which a road was named after him near the massive U.S. base Camp Bondsteel. With Hunter on hand for the naming ceremony, Joe Biden took the opportunity to express his “condolences” to Serbian families who lost loved ones in the NATO air assault – of which he was a primary advocate.

A ‘Shokin’ Demand  

Perhaps the best parallel between Biden’s handiwork in Ukraine and his interest in Kosovo also relates to getting rid of an inconvenient individual. But in this case, the person in question wasn’t a state official like Burisma prosecutor Viktor Shokin but a hierarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

In May 2009 Vice President Biden insisted on visiting one of Kosovo’s most venerable Serbian Orthodox Christian sites, the Visoki Dečani monastery. Ruling Bishop Artemije of the Eparchy of Raška and Prizren, which includes Kosovo and Metohija, refused to give his blessing for the visit, in effect telling Biden he was not welcome. Bishop Artemije long had been a bane of Biden and others advocating detachment of Kosovo from Serbia, starting with his first mission to Washington in 1997 as war clouds gathered. In 2004 Bishop Artemije sued the NATO powers in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg following their inaction to protect his flock during an anti-Serbian rampage by Muslim Albanian militants in March of that year. Then, in March 2006, as preparations were underway for a “final solution” to the Kosovo issue, Bishop Artemije launched an intensive multinational lobbying and public relations effort (in which Yours Truly was the lead professional) to try to derail the U.S. policy to which Biden had devoted so much attention. While the Bishop’s campaign was unsuccessful in reversing U.S. policy it was instrumental in delaying it for over a year – to howls of outrage from Biden’s associates in Washington. Thus, for Biden, the monastery visit snub by Bishop Artemije was adding insult to injury.

The end for Bishop Artemije came a few months later, at the beginning of 2010 at the time of two visits to Kosovo by U.S. Admiral Mark P. Fitzgerald, then Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa, and Commander, Allied Joint Force Command (JFC) Naples, (who retired later that year, becoming, unsurprisingly, a consultant “with numerous defense and commercial maritime and aviation contractors”). At that time, an unconfirmed report indicated that a high NATO officer (whether Admiral Fitzgerald or someone else is not specified) stated in the course of one of his local meetings (this is verbatim or a close paraphrase): “What we need here is a more cooperative bishop.” (More details are available here. Since that posting last year the NATO command in Naples seems to have scrubbed the items about Fitzgerald’s 2010 visits from their site.)

Shortly afterwards, Biden’s troublesome priest was forcibly removed by police and exiled from his see, without ecclesiastical trial, by Church authorities in Belgrade under pressure from compliant Serbian politicians installed after the October 2000 color revolution, in turn pressured by NATO. The pretext? Transparently baseless charges of financial wrongdoing. In other words, bogus accusations of “corruption” – like against Ukraine’s Shokin.

One could almost hear Joe Biden chortle: “Well, son of a bitch. He got fired.”

But Look at the Bright Side…

Back to the incipient coup facing the United States, there should be no illusion that what’s at stake in the unfolding scenario for the removal of Donald Trump is not just his presidency but the survival of the historic American ethnos of which he is seen as an avatar by both his supporters and detractors. Remember, we’re dealing with predators and scavengers who are happy to burn the old, evil America down as long as they can achieve total power and continue to feather their cushy nests. Short of a blowout Trump victory by a margin too big to hijack, we’re headed for a dystopian state of affairs.

If they do manage to remove Trump, “by any means necessary,” and Joe Biden takes the helm, we can anticipate a bevy of globalist warmonger appointees that make Trump’s team look like disciples of Mahatma Gandhi. Among the names floated like Nicholas BurnsAntony BlinkenMichele FlournoyEvelyn Farkas, and Anne-Marie Slaughter, all were on board with Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, Libya, Ukraine, Syria … [NOTE: The Atlantic Council, known as NATO’s semi-official think tank in Washington and which will be instrumental in staffing a future Joe Biden administration, also has been the beneficiary of generous donations from Hunter Biden’s paymaster, Burisma.]

It’s a recipe for wars, regime changes, and color revolutions galore.

But to finish on a positive note, the potential future business opportunities will be endless!

AIPAC and U.S. elections

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By Richard Anderson Falk

AIPAC is a strong lobbying group that is perceived by the political parties to exert great influence on large Jewish donors and Jewish voters generally. The leadership of both parties competes for AIPAC approval, although as an organization it refrains from political endorsements at national levels. It does have a record of opposing Congressional candidates deemed critical of Israel, making inflammatory accusations that candidates critical of Israel are by that fact alone anti-Semitic. Such a campaign has been launched with at least implicit AIPAC support to defeat the candidacy of Ilhan Omer who is running for reelection in urban Minneapolis.

Part of the effectiveness of AIPAC is due to money and tight organizational discipline, and part of its influence is due to the absence of countervailing Jewish organizations that speak for liberal Zionism and progressive Jews. J-Street has attempted to provide a voice for liberal Zionism in Washington, and has limited success at legislative levels, but not in relation to party platforms or the selection of national candidates. Jewish Voice for Peace is an admirably balanced NGO, but its influence is mainly felt in civil society, where it has created growing support for a just outcome of this struggle that has gone on for a century, which includes supported the realization of the Palestinian right of self-determination whether in the form of a viable separate sovereign state or a single state whose foundational principle is ethnic equality.

Throughout its existence, AIPAC has been and remains subservient to the priorities of the Israeli leadership and consistently supportive of maximal Zionist goals, and hence an adherent of antagonistic attitudes on international law, the UN, and international morality. In my judgment, AIPAC has harmed the role of the U.S. in West Asia and at the UN by pushing American foreign policy in belligerent and regime-changing directions, focusing on heightening the confrontation with Iran, and secondarily, with Turkey, which has intensified regional tensions and dangers of war. The recent sanctions debate in the UN Security Council manifested both U.S. belligerence and its defiance of the views of even its normally close European allies.

Richard Anderson Falk is an American professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University. In 2008, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) appointed Falk to a six-year term as a United Nations Special Rapporteur on “the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967”.

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Leaked Docs Expose Massive Syria Propaganda Operation Waged by Western Govt Contractors and Media

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Leaked Docs Expose Massive Syria Propaganda Operation Waged by Western Govt  Contractors and Media — Strategic Culture

September 26, 2020

Western government-funded intelligence cutouts trained Syrian opposition leaders, planted stories in media outlets from BBC to Al Jazeera, and ran a cadre of journalists. A trove of leaked documents exposes the propaganda network.

Ben NORTON

Leaked documents show how UK government contractors developed an advanced infrastructure of propaganda to stimulate support in the West for Syria’s political and armed opposition.

Virtually every aspect of the Syrian opposition was cultivated and marketed by Western government-backed public relations firms, from their political narratives to their branding, from what they said to where they said it.

The leaked files reveal how Western intelligence cutouts played the media like a fiddle, carefully crafting English- and Arabic-language media coverage of the war on Syria to churn out a constant stream of pro-opposition coverage.

US and European contractors trained and advised Syrian opposition leaders at all levels, from young media activists to the heads of the parallel government-in-exile. These firms also organized interviews for Syrian opposition leaders on mainstream outlets such as BBC and the UK’s Channel 4.

More than half of the stringers used by Al Jazeera in Syria were trained in a joint US-UK government program called Basma, which produced hundreds of Syrian opposition media activists.

Western government PR firms not only influenced the way the media covered Syria, but as the leaked documents reveal, they produced their own propagandistic pseudo-news for broadcast on major TV networks in the Middle East, including BBC Arabic, Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, and Orient TV.

These UK-funded firms functioned as full-time PR flacks for the extremist-dominated Syrian armed opposition. One contractor, called InCoStrat, said it was in constant contact with a network of more than 1,600 international journalists and “influencers,” and used them to push pro-opposition talking points.

Another Western government contractor, ARK, crafted a strategy to “re-brand” Syria’s Salafi-jihadist armed opposition by “softening its image.” ARK boasted that it provided opposition propaganda that “aired almost every day on” major Arabic-language TV networks.

Virtually every major Western corporate media outlet was influenced by the UK government-funded disinformation campaign exposed in the trove of leaked documents, from the New York Times to the Washington Post, CNN to The Guardian, the BBC to Buzzfeed.

The files confirm reporting by journalists including The Grayzone’s Max Blumenthal on the role of ARK, the US-UK government contractor, in popularizing the White Helmets in Western media. ARK ran the social media accounts of the White Helmets, and helped turn the Western-funded group into a key propaganda weapon of the Syrian opposition.

The leaked documents consist mainly of material produced under the auspices of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. All of the firms named in the files were contracted by the British government, but many also were running “multi-donor projects” that received funding from the governments of the United States and other Western European countries.

In addition to demonstrating the role these Western intelligence cutouts played in shaping media coverage, the documents shine light on the British government program to train and arm rebel groups in Syria.

Other materials show how London and Western governments worked together to build a new police force in opposition-controlled areas.

Many of these Western-backed opposition groups in Syria were extremist Salafi-jihadists. Some of the UK government contractors whose activities are exposed in these leaked documents were in effect supporting Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra and its fanatical offshoots.

The documents were obtained by a group calling itself Anonymous, and were published under a series of files entitled, “Op. HMG [Her Majesty’s Government] Trojan Horse: From Integrity Initiative To Covert Ops Around The Globe. Part 1: Taming Syria.” The unidentified leakers said they aim to “expose criminal activity of the UK’s FCO and secret services,” stating, “We declare war on the British neocolonialism!”

The Grayzone was not able to independently verify the authenticity of the documents. However, the contents tracked closely with reporting on Western destabilization and propaganda operations in Syria by this outlet and many others.

UK Foreign Office and military wage media war on Syria

A leaked UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office report from 2014 reveals a joint operation with the Ministry of Defence and the Department for International Development to support “strategic communications, research, monitoring and evaluation and operational support to Syrian opposition entities.”

The UK FOC stated clearly that this campaign consisted of “creating network linkages between political movements and media outlets,” by the “building of local independent media platforms.”

The British government planned “Mentoring, training and coaching for enhanced delivery of media services, including digital and social media.”

Its goal was “to provide PR and media handling trainers, as well as technical staff, such as cameramen, webmasters and interpreters,” along with the “production of speeches, press releases and other media communications.”

An additional 2017 government document explains clearly how Britain funded the “selection, training, support and communications mentoring of Syrian activists who share the UK’s vision for a future Syria… and who will abide by a set of values that are consistent with UK policy.”

This initiative entailed British government funding “to support Syrian grassroots media activism within both the civilian and armed opposition spheres,” and was targeted at Syrians living in both “extremist and moderate” opposition-held territory.

In other words, the UK Foreign Office and military crafted plans to wage a comprehensive media war on Syria. To establish an infrastructure capable of managing the propaganda blitz, Britain paid a series of government contractors, including ARK, The Global Strategy Network (TGSN), Innovative Communication & Strategies (InCoStrat), and Albany.

The work of these firms overlapped, and some collaborated in their projects to cultivate the Syrian opposition.

Western government contractor ARK plays the media like the fiddle

One of the main British government contractors behind the Syria regime-change scheme was called ARK (Analysis Research Knowledge).

ARK FZC is based in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. It brands itself as a humanitarian NGO, claiming it “was created in order to assist the most vulnerable,” by establishing a “social enterprise,  empowering local communities through the provision of agile and sustainable interventions to create greater stability, opportunity and hope for the future.”

In reality ARK is an intelligence cutout that functions as an arm of Western interventionism.

In a leaked document it filed with the British government, ARK said its “focus since 2012 has been delivering highly effective, politically-and conflict-sensitive Syria programming for the governments of the United Kingdom, United States, Denmark, Canada, Japan and the European Union.”

ARK boasted of overseeing $66 million worth of contracts to support pro-opposition efforts in Syria.

On its website, ARK lists all of these governments as clients, as well as the United Nations.

ARK contractor Syria UK US Australia Canada

In its Syria operations, ARK worked together with another UK contractor called The Global Strategy Network (TGSN), which is directed by Richard Barrett, a former director of global counter-terrorism at MI6.

ARK apparently had operatives on the ground inside Syria at the beginning of the regime-change attempt in 2011, reporting to the UK FCO that “ARK staff are in regular contact with activists and civil society actors whom they initially met during the outbreak of protests in spring 2011.”

The UK contractor boasted an “extensive network of civil society and community actors that ARK has helped through a dedicated capacity building centre ARK established in Gaziantep,” a city in southern Turkey that has been a base of intelligence operations against the Syrian government.

ARK played a central role in developing the foundations of the Syrian political opposition’s narrative. In one leaked document, the firm took credit for the “development of a core Syrian opposition narrative,” which was apparently crafted during a series of workshops with opposition leaders sponsored by the US and UK governments.

ARK trained all levels of the Syrian opposition in communications, from “citizen journalism workshops with Syrian media activists, to working with senior members of the National Coalition to develop a core communications narrative.”

The firm even oversaw the PR strategy for the Supreme Military Council (SMC), the leadership of the official armed wing of Syria’s opposition, the Free Syrian Army (FSA). ARK created a complex PR campaign to “provide a ‘re-branding’ of the SMC in order to distinguish itself from extremist armed opposition groups and to establish the image of a functioning, inclusive, disciplined and professional military body.”

ARK admitted that it sought to whitewash Syria’s armed opposition, which had been largely dominated by Salafi-jihadists, by “Softening the FSA Image.”

ARK contractor Syria soften FSA image

ARK took the lead in developing a massive network of opposition media activists in Syria, and openly took credit for inspiring protests inside the country.

In its training centers in Syria and southern Turkey, the Western government contractor reported, “More than 150 activists have been trained and equipped by ARK on topics from the basics of camera handling, lighting, and sound to producing reports, journalistic safety, online security, and ethical reporting.”

The firm flooded Syria with opposition propaganda. In just six months, ARK reported that 668,600 of its print products were distributed inside Syria, including “posters, flyers, informative booklets, activity books and other campaign-related materials.”

In one document spelling out the UK contractors’ communications operations in Syria, ARK and the British intelligence cutout TGSN boasted of overseeing the following media assets inside the country: 97 video stringers, 23 writers, 49 distributors, 23 photographers, 19 in-country trainers, eight training centers, three media offices, and 32 research officers.

ARK emphasized that it had “well-established contacts” with some of the top media outlets in the world, naming Reuters, the New York Times, CNN, the BBC, The Guardian, the Financial Times, The Times, Al Jazeera, Sky News Arabic, Orient TV, and Al Arabiya.

The UK contractor added, “ARK has provided regular branded and unbranded content to key pan-Arab and Syria-focused satellite TV channels such as Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, BBC Arabic, Orient TV, Aleppo Today, Souria al-Ghadd, and Souria al-Sha’ab since 2012.”

“ARK products promoting HMG (Her Majesty’s Government) priorities by fostering attitudinal and behavioural change are broadcast almost every day on pan-Arab channels,” the firm bragged. “In 2014, 20 branded and un-branded Syria reports were produced on average by ARK each month and broadcast on major pan-Arab television channels such as Al Arabiya, Al Jazeera, and Orient TV.”

“ARK has almost daily conversations with channels and weekly meetings to engage and understand editorial preferences,” the Western intelligence cutout said.

The firm also took credit for placing 10 articles per month in pan-Arab newspapers such as Al Hayat and Asharq Al-Awsat.

US-UK program Basma cultivates Syrian media activists

The Syrian opposition media war was organized within the framework of a project called Basma. ARK worked with other Western government contractors through Basma in order to train Syrian opposition activists.

With funding from both the US and UK governments, Basma developed into an enormously influential platform. Its Arabic Facebook page had over 500,000 followers, and on YouTube it built up a large following as well.

Mainstream corporate media outlets misleadingly portrayed Basma as a “Syrian citizen journalism platform,” or a “civil society group working for a ‘liberatory, progressive transition to a new Syria.’” In reality it was a Western government astroturfing operation to cultivate opposition propagandists.

Nine of the 16 stringers used by Al Jazeera in Syria were trained through the US/UK government’s Basma initiative, ARK boasted in a leaked document.

In an earlier report for the UK FCO, filed just three years into its work, ARK claimed to have “trained over 1,400 beneficiaries representing over 210 beneficiary organisations in more than 130 workshops, and disbursed more than 53,000 individual pieces of equipment,” in a vast network that reached “into all of Syria’s 14 governorates,” which included both opposition- and government-held areas.

ARK UK contractor Syria media map

The Western contractor published a map highlighting its network of stringers and media activists and their relationships with the White Helmets as well as newly created police forces across opposition-controlled Syria.

ARK UK contractor Syria opposition media map

In its trainings, ARK developed opposition spokespeople, taught them how to speak with the press, and then helped arrange interviews with mainstream Arabic- and English-language media outlets.

ARK described its strategy “to identify credible, moderate civilian governance spokespeople who will be promoted as go-to interlocutors for regional and international media. They will echo key messages linked to the coordinated local campaigns across all media, with consortium platforms able to cover this messaging as well and encourage other outlets to pick it up.”

In addition to working with the international press and cultivating opposition leaders, ARK helped develop a massive opposition media super-structure.

ARK said it was a “key implementer of a multi-donor effort to develop a network of FM radio stations and community magazines inside Syria since 2012.” The contractor worked with 14 FM stations and 11 magazines inside Syria, including both Arabic- and Kurdish-language radio.

To propagate opposition broadcasts across Syria, ARK designed what it called “Radio in a Box” (RIAB) kits in 2012. The firm took credit for providing equipment to 48 transmission sites.

ARK also circulated up to 30,000 magazines per month. It reported that “ARK-supported magazines were the three most popular in Aleppo City; the most popular magazine in Homs City; and the most popular magazine in Qamishli.”

A Syrian opposition propaganda outlet directly run by ARK, called Moubader, developed a huge following on social media, including more than 200,000 likes on Facebook. ARK printed 15,000 copies per month of a “high-quality hard copy” Moubader magazine and distributed it “across opposition-held areas of Syria.”

The British contractor TGSN, which worked alongside ARK, developed its own outlet called the “Revolutionary Forces of Syria Media Office (RFS),” a leaked document shows. This confirms a 2016 report in The Grayzone by contributor Rania Khalek, who obtained emails showing how the UK government-backed RFS media office offered to pay one journalist a staggering $17,000 per month to produce propaganda for Syrian rebels.

Another leaked record shows that in just one year, in 2018 – which was apparently the final year of ARK’s Syria program – the firm billed the UK government for a staggering 2.3 million British pounds.

This enormous ARK propaganda operation was directed by Firas Budeiri, who had previously served as the Syria director for the UK-based international NGO Save the Children.

40 percent of ARK’s Syria project team were Syrian citizens, and another 25 percent were Turkish. The firm said its Syria team staff had “extensive experience managing programmes and conducting research funded by many different governmental clients in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Yemen, Turkey, the Palestinian Territories, Iraq and other conflict-affected states.”

Western contractor ARK cultivates White Helmets “to keep Syria in the news”

The Western contractor ARK was a central force in launching the White Helmets operation.

The leaked documents show ARK ran the Twitter and Facebook pages of Syria Civil Defense, known more commonly as the White Helmets.

ARK took credit for developing “an internationally-focused communications campaign designed to raise global awareness of the (White Helmets) teams and their life saving work.”

ARK also facilitated communications between the White Helmets and The Syria Campaign, a PR firm run out of London and New York that helped popularize the White Helmets in the United States.

It was apparently “following subsequent discussions with ARK and the teams” that The Syria Campaign “selected civil defence to front its campaign to keep Syria in the news,” the firm wrote in a report for the UK Foreign Office.

“With ARK’s guidance, TSC (The Syria Campaign) also attended ARK’s civil defence training sessions to create media content for its #WhiteHelmets campaign which launched in August 2014 and has since gone viral,” the Western contractor added.

In 2014, ARK produced a long-form documentary on the White Helmets, titled “Digging for Life,” which was repeatedly broadcast on Orient TV.

While it was running the White Helmets’ social media accounts, ARK bragged that it was boosting followers and views on the Facebook page for Idlib City Council.

The Syrian city of Idlib was taken over by al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, which then went on to publicly execute women who were accused of adultery.

While effectively aiding these al-Qaeda-aligned extremist groups, ARK and the British intelligence cutout TGSN also signed a document with the FCO hilariously pledging to follow “UK guidance on gender sensitivity” and “ensure gender is considered in all capacity building and campaign development.”

Setting the stage for lawfare on Syria

Another leaked document shows the Western government-backed firm ARK revealing that, back in 2011, it worked with another government contractor called Tsamota to help develop the Syrian Commission for Justice and Accountability (SCJA). In 2014, SCJA changed its name to the Commission for International Justice and Accountability (CIJA).

The Grayzone exposed CIJA as a Western government-funded regime-change organization whose investigators collaborated with al-Qaeda and its extremist allies in order to wage lawfare on the Syrian government.

ARK noted that the project initially worked “with seed funding from the UK Conflict Pool to support investigative and forensic training for Syrian war crimes investigators” and has since “grown to become a major component of Syria’s transitional justice architecture.”

Since the US, European Union, and their Middle East allies lost the military phase of their war on Syria, CIJA has taken the lead in trying to prolong the regime-change campaign through lawfare.

InCoStrat creates media network, helps them interview al-Qaeda

In the leaked documents, another UK government contractor called Innovative Communications Strategies (InCoStrat) boasted of building a massive “network of over 1600 journalists and key influencers with an interest in Syria.”

InCoStrat stressed that it was “managing and delivering a multi donor project in support of UK Foreign Policy objectives” in Syria, “specifically providing strategic communication support to the moderate armed opposition.”

Other funders of InCoStrat’s work with the opposition in Syria, the firm disclosed, included the US government, the United Arab Emirates, and anti-Assad Syrian businessmen.

InCoStrat served as a liaison between its government clients and the Syrian National Coalition, the Western-backed parallel government that the opposition tried to create. InCoStrat advised senior leaders of this Syrian shadow regime, and even ran the National Coalition’s own media office from Istanbul, Turkey.

The Western contractor took credit for organizing a 2014 BBC interview with Ahmad Jarba, the then-president of the opposition National Coalition.

The firm added that “journalists have often reached out to us in search of the appropriate people for their programmes.” As an example, InCoStrat said it helped plant its own Syrian opposition activists in BBC Arabic reports. The firm then added, “Once making the initial connections we encouraged the Syrians to maintain the relationships with the journalists in the BBC instead of using ourselves as the conduit.”

Like ARK, InCoStrat worked closely with the press. The firm said it had “extensive experience in engaging Arab and international news media,” adding that it worked directly with “heads of regional news in major satellite TV networks, press bureaus and print media.”

“Key members of InCoStrat have previously worked as Middle East correspondents for some of the world’s largest news agencies including Reuters,” the Western contractor added.

Also like ARK, InCoStrat established a vast media infrastructure. The firm set up Syrian opposition media offices in Dera’a, Syria; Istanbul and Reyhanli, Turkey; and Amman, Jordan.

InCoStrat worked with 130 stringers across Syria, and said it had more than 120 reporters working inside the country, along with “an additional five official spokesmen who appear several times a week on international and regional TV.”

InCoStrat also established eight FM radio stations and six community magazines across Syria.

The firm reported that it penetrated the armed opposition by developing “strong relationships with 54 brigade commanders in Syria’s southern front,” that involved “daily, direct engagement with the commanders and their officers inside Syria,” as well as defected officers Free Syrian Army (FSA) units in government-held Damascus.

In the leaked documents, InCoStrat boasted that its reporters organized interviews with many armed opposition militias, including the al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra.

Don’t just plants media stories; “initiate an event” to create your own scandals

In its media war on Damascus, InCoStrat pursued a two-pronged campaign that consisted of the following: “a) Guerrilla Campaign. Use the media to create the event. b) Guerrilla Tactics. Initiate an event to create the media effect.”

The intelligence cutout therefore sought to use the media as a weapon to advance tangible political demands of the Syrian opposition.

In one case, InCoStrat took credit for a successful international campaign to force the Syrian government to lift its siege of the extremist-held opposition stronghold of Homs. The Grayzone contributor Rania Khalek reported on the crisis in Homs, which was besieged by Damascus after the far-right Sunni fundamentalists that controlled it began carrying out sectarian massacres against religious minorities and kidnapping Alawite civilians.

“We connected international journalists with Syrians living in besieged Homs,” InCoStrat explained. It organized an interview between Britain’s Channel 4 and a doctor in the city, which helped raise international attention, ultimately leading to an end to the siege.

In another instance, the UK contractor said it “produced postcards, posters and reports” comparing the secular government of Bashar al-Assad to the fundamentalist Salafi-jihadists in ISIS. Then it “provided a credible, Arabic-English speaking Syrian spokesperson to engage the media.”

The campaign was very successful, according to InCoStrat: Al-Jazeera America and The National published the firm’s propaganda posters. The British contractor also organized interviews on the topic with The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, The Guardian, The Times, Buzzfeed, Al-Jazeera, Suriya Al-Sham, and Orient.

InCoStrat Syrian opposition media Assad ISIS

After regime change comes Nation Building Inc.

InCoStrat has apparently been involved in numerous Western-backed regime-change operations.

In one leaked document, the firm said it helped to train civil society organizations in marketing, media, and communications in Afghanistan, Honduras, Iraq, Syria, and Libya. It even trained a team of anti-Saddam Hussein journalists inside Basra, Iraq after the joint US-UK invasion.

In addition to contracting for the United Kingdom, InCoStrat disclosed that it has worked for the governments of the United States, Singapore, Latvia, Sweden, Denmark, and Libya.

After NATO destroyed the Libyan state in a regime-change war in 2011, InCoStrat was brought in in 2012 to conduct similar communications work for the Libyan National Transitional Council, the Western-backed opposition that sought to take power.

Coordinating with extremist militias, cooking news to “reinforce the core narrative”

The leaked documents shed further light on a UK government contractor called Albany.

Albany boasted that it “secured the participation of an extensive local network of over 55 stringers, reporters and videographers” to influence media narratives and advance UK foreign policy interests.

The firm helped create an influential Syrian opposition media outfit called Enab Baladi. Founded in 2011 in the anti-Assad hub of Daraya, at the beginning of the war, Enab Baladi was aggressively marketed in the Western press as a grassroots Syrian media operation.

In reality, Enab Baladi was the product of a British contractor that took responsibility for its evolution “from an amateur-run entity into one of the most prominent Syrian media organizations.”

Albany also coordinated communications between opposition media outlets and extremist Islamist opposition groups by hiring an “engagement leader (who) has deep credibility with key groups including (north) Failaq ash-Sham, Jabha Shammiyeh, Jaysh Idleb al Hur, Ahrar ash-Sham, (center) Jaysh al Islam, Failaq al Rahman, and (south) Jaysh Tahrir.” Many of these militias were linked to al-Qaeda and are now recognized by the US Department of State and European governments as official terrorist groups.

Unlike other Western government contractors active in Syria, which often tried to feign a semblance of balance, Albany made it clear that its media reporting was nothing more than propaganda.

The firm admitted that it trained Syrian media activists in a unique “newsroom process” that called to “curate” news by “collecting and organising stories and content that support and reinforce the core narrative.”

In 2014, Albany boasted of running the Syrian National Coalition’s communications team at the Geneva Peace talks.

Albany also warned that revelations of Western government funding for these opposition media organizations that were being portrayed as grassroots initiatives would discredit them.

When internal emails were leaked showing that the massive opposition media platform Basma Syria was funded by the United States and Britain, Albany wrote, “the Basma brand has been compromised following leaks about funding project aims.”

The leaks on social media “have damaged the credibility and trustworthiness of the existing branded platform,” Albany wrote. “Credibility and trust are the key currencies of the activities envisaged and for this reason we consider it essential to refresh the approach if the content to be disseminated is to have effect.” The Basma website was taken down soon after.

These files provide clear insight into how the Syrian opposition was cultivated by Western governments with imperial designs on Damascus, and was kept afloat with staggering sums of cash that flowed from the pockets of British taxpayers – often to the benefit of fanatical militiamen allied with Al Qaeda.

While Dutch prosecutors prepare war crimes charges against the Syrian government for fighting off the onslaught, the leaked files are a reminder of the leading role that Western states and their war-profiteering companies played in the carefully organized destruction of the country.

thegrayzone.comThe views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.

Russia responds to Trump’s revelation about potentially assassinating Bashar Al-Assad

By News Desk -2020-09-19

BEIRUT, LEBANON (1:20 P.M.) – Russia’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Vasily Nebenzia, responded to U.S. President Donald Trump’s revelation about wanting to assassinate Syrian leader Bashar Al-Assad after Washington accused his government of carrying out a chemical weapons attack.

“We recently heard about plans to assassinate the president of a sovereign state, President Bashar Al-Assad,” Nebenzia said during the U.N. Security Council session on Friday. “How is this not a policy of regime change?”

Russia’s permanent representative to the United Nations stressed that “the unilateral sanctions, which are unlawful in and of themselves, which are used as a tool of collective punishment and aim to stir up social discontent impede the efforts of those who want peace in Syria.”

He called on parties that show their lack of respect for international law to abandon this practice.

Trump previously said in a televised interview with Fox News earlier that he had the opportunity to “get rid of Bashar al-Assad,” but then Defense Secretary James Mattis objected.

For its part, Damascus condemned the recent statements of U.S. President Donald Trump, stressing that Trump’s recognition of such a step confirms that the U.S. administration is a rogue and outlaw country, and is pursuing the same methods as terrorist organizations with killing and liquidation without taking into account any legal, humanitarian or ethical measures.

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Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions during the online session “Russia and the post-COVID World”

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Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions during the online session “Russia and the post-COVID World”

10 July 2020 15:55

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions during the online session “Russia and the post-COVID World,” held as part of the Primakov Readings international forum, Moscow, July 10, 2020

First of all, I would like to express my gratitude for inviting me to once again speak at the Primakov Readings. This is a young, but also one of the most respected platforms for discussing international matters. Unfortunately, we cannot meet in person due to the coronavirus pandemic. Nevertheless, thanks to modern technology we could keep it on schedule. I am glad that my colleagues were able to take part in the preceding sessions of these readings. Judging by their feedback, this was a useful experience.

I will not delve into the question of how the coronavirus has affected every aspect of our lives, and what it will bring in the future. We already feel its effect on the economy and in personal contacts, from official visits and talks, to humanitarian, cultural and education exchanges. There seems to be a consensus that it will take quite some time for things to get back to normal. How long it will take and what the new norm will be is anybody’s guess. That said, all tend to agree that things will change.

By the way, I cannot fail to mention that our foreign service has had to face serious challenges. There were confirmed cases both at the Foreign Ministry head offices and our representative offices in the regions, as well as in our affiliated institutions. Thank goodness, we did not face a massive outbreak or severe cases. There were also people in our missions abroad affected by the pandemic. When borders closed, all our foreign missions without exception were mobilised to assist Russian nationals stranded abroad. Along with other agencies represented in the Emergency Response Centre, primarily the Transport Ministry, the Federal Air Agency, the Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Protection and Welfare and the Communications Ministry, we complied repatriation lists. This was a lot of work, fraught with many mistakes, mostly unintentional rather than deliberate, that had to be rectified. At the same time we had to make arrangements to pay support allowances to those stranded abroad without funds. We have already done a great deal on this front, although there are still people asking to be repatriated, and some have come forward only recently. It seems that looking at the developments in the countries where they are staying and considering the uncertainty as to when all this will come to an end, they finally opted to return home.

Speaking of other ways in which the pandemic influenced our work and the way we perform our professional duties, the virus has aggravated other pre-existing challenges and threats. They have not gone away, including international terrorism. As you know, some speculate that terrorists are thinking about somehow using the strain of this virus, or maybe even creating new strains to achieve their malicious ends. Drug trafficking, cybercrime, environmental issues, climate and, of course, the many conflicts around the world – all these problems are still with us. And all this overlaps with the specific nature of the Trump administration and its deliberate policy of undermining all legal and contractual frameworks without exception on arms control and international cooperation, for example, regarding UNESCO, the WHO, the UN Human Rights Council, etc.

Of course, we keep a close eye on all these developments and analyse them. We still believe that sustainable solutions to various crises, conflicts and problems in the interests of all countries, and taking into consideration each and everyone’s concerns can only result from collective efforts based on the principles enshrined in the UN Charter, by respecting UN Security Council prerogatives, mobilising consensus-based associations, including the G20, as well as BRICS, the SCO and associations on the post-Soviet space. Unfortunately, not everyone has been ready to work together during the pandemic, to engage in collective efforts and approaches. We are witnessing attempts to push through narrow-minded agendas, and use this crisis to continue strangling unwanted regimes. The call from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet to suspend unilateral sanctions, at least during the pandemic, that impede the distribution of medial and other humanitarian goods, and other essential items to the corresponding countries, was completely ignored. The same goes for attempts to assign blame for the infection in the midst of the pandemic, when what we need is to think about how we can help medical workers, doctors and virologists. You know very well what I am referring to.

Like 75 years ago, when Victory over a common enemy was won only by working together and rising above the ideological differences of the time, we now also need to realise that we will resolve these issues only if we cooperate. I’m sure we’ll talk about the future of the WHO later. We are in favour of resolving any issues based on the UN Charter, which is a collective security platform.

Our Western colleagues – I’ve already mentioned this many times – are trying to actively introduce the concept of a “rules-based order” into diplomatic, political and practical usage. This is not international law. This is something else (we can also talk about this in more detail during the discussion). Clearly, this is an attempt to regain the dominance that the historical West has enjoyed for almost 500 years now. This attempt takes the form of convening a “group of interests” and various partnerships, where convenient countries are invited that either share the attempts to adopt unilateral approaches to international affairs, or will yield to pressure and join these initiatives. Not everyone is invited. Those who have their own outlook on things and are ready to defend it are left out. Later, when a concept, say, on chemical weapons, is fabricated, or an attempt is made to create a club of the select few who will decide on who is to blame for violating cybersecurity, they will start selling it as universally applicable norms. We are witnessing this now as it’s happening. These are very serious problems.

I would like to conclude my opening remarks. Our main goal, as before, is to protect our national interests and create the most favourable external conditions for the country’s development. You may have noticed that we come up with ideas that unite. Convening a summit of the UN Security Council permanent members is our top priority. This effort is ongoing. We are now focusing on the substantive part of the event, because, of course, it will play the decisive part.

The current hardships in international relations increase the importance of these discussions and, in general, the contribution of the expert community, and academic and political circles, into the efforts to analyse the situation and make reasonable realistic forecasts. I’d be remiss not to mention the case study concept that Yevgeny Primakov introduced into our foreign policy and political science. We appreciate the fact that the participants and organisers of the Primakov Readings always help us draw from a rich well of ideas, from which we then pick the ones that we submit to the President to determine our policies in specific circumstances.

Question: Five years ago, an IMEMO strategic forecast assumed that a new bipolarity might emerge as one of the four scenarios for the future world order.   At that time, this hypothesis was based on the relative dynamics of the synergetic power of China and the United States.  The COVID-19 pandemic has provided plenty of evidence of this theory. Of course, a different – asymmetrical – bipolarity is emerging, where the strategic parity is between Russia and the US, and the economic parity is between China and the United States, which is distinct from what was the case in the 20th century.

Do you think that the US-PRC conflict has passed the point of no return? It is obvious that any exacerbation of this confrontation is not in Russia’s interests. Will Russia be able to act as a swing power in order to maintain stability of the world system, including based on your unique experience of multilateral diplomacy?

Sergey Lavrov: I remember the forecast you have mentioned. I would like to say that, certainly, a lot has changed over these past five years, primarily in terms of confirming that the confrontation, rivalry, antagonism, and the struggle for leadership between the United States and China have, of course, been mounting. Before I pass directly to an analysis of this bipolar process, I would like to note that the real situation in the world as a whole is much more complicated. After all, the world is growing more polycentric than it was previously. There are numerous players apart from the US and China, without whom it is very difficult to promote one’s interests, if some or other capital suddenly decides to do this single-handedly.  I think we will yet discuss some other possible options in this sense. Let me mention the fact that Dean of the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs at the National Research University – Higher School of Economics   Sergey Karaganov has commented on this subject in an article for Russia in Global Affairs, a journal published by Fyodor Lukyanov.

It is quite clear that we should take into consideration, in our practical work, the entire diversity and totality of political, economic, military, historical, and ideological factors that are manifesting themselves in the multipolar world, a world that Yevgeny Primakov predicted. We are assessing the US-Chinese controversy against this backdrop and through this prism.  That it is not existing in a vacuum is, as a minimum, confirmed by the fact that each of the sides is seeking to recruit as many supporters of their approaches as possible to the WHO or any other subject that in some way or other is associated with Washington and Beijing as defining contradictions in their approaches.

The Americans are certainly perceiving the growth of the PRC’s total state power as a threat to their claims to retaining the world leadership against all odds. Back in 2017, the US National Security Strategy listed China, along with Russia, among the main threats. It was for the first time that China was put before Russia as a threat to the United States.

Russia and China were directly accused of seeking to challenge the American influence, values and prosperity.  It is quite clear that the US is waging a struggle by absolutely unsavoury methods, as is obvious and clear to everyone. They are putting forward unilateral demands that take into account solely the US interests. If demands are turned down, they say the refusal is unacceptable and introduce sanctions.

If a discussion is suggested, the discussion rapidly degenerates into delivering an ultimatum and ends up in selfsame sanctions – trade wars, tariffs, and lots more.

A highly indicative fact is how the Americans and the Chinese managed to come to terms on phase one of the trade talks in January and what the fate of this agreement is now. The US authorities are accusing Beijing of drawing off jobs and glutting the market, while showing reluctance to buy US products. According to the Americans, China is implementing the Belt and Road project intended to steamroll all world economy mechanisms, production chains, and so on.  China allegedly was concealing information on COVID-19 and is engaging in cyber espionage. Notice how zealously the Americans are forcing their allies and others to give up any collaboration with Huawei and other Chinese digital giants and companies. China’s hi-tech companies are being squeezed out of the world markets.  China is being charged with expansionism in the South China Sea, problems on the actual control line with India, human rights violations, and [misbehaviour with regard to] Tibet, the Xinjiang-Uyghur Autonomous Region, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. All of this is taking place simultaneously. A powerful wave of fault-finding, a perfect storm is being raised. I hope, of course, that common sense will prevail and the situation will not pass the point of no return mentioned by Mr Dynkin.

We hope that there are people in the United States, who are figuring out how to reassure the world of the dollar system’s reliability in the post-election period. The US Secretary of the Treasury is speaking about this all but openly. He is warning that they should be wary of overstepping the red line, after which people will just start fleeing from America, saying that the dollar is no good anymore because it is being brazenly abused.

There is, of course, hope that the Chinese possess a political, diplomatic and foreign policy culture that always seeks to avoid various imbroglios.  But there are also some very alarming signs that, despite these rays of hope, which must be nurtured and cherished, US and Chinese officials start getting personal, occasionally in a very harsh form. This bespeaks a high degree of tension on both sides. And, of course, this is really alarming.

I do hope that our Chinese and US partners have some diplomatic methods, ways of classical diplomacy tucked up their sleeve. People should not insult each other in public or accuse each other of all sins, as the Americans are doing on every street corner. A better option is to sit down [to the negotiating table] and recognise that your opposite number is a great power and that every state, be it a great power or otherwise, has interests that must be respected.  The world certainly should seek to function based on a search for a balance of these interests.

Now let me pass to the second question – that this aggravation is not in Russia’s interests. I think that it is totally at variance with our interests, the interests of the European Union, and those of other countries as well. If you take the EU, China-EU trade is absolutely comparable with trade between China and the US. I think it is also necessary to pay attention to the EU’s increasingly publicised aspirations as regards a strategic autonomy not only in the military-political and security sphere but also in trade and the economy. Incidentally, the EU also wants to start repatriating its industries and localise as many trade and distributive chains as possible on its territory. In this regard, it is entering direct competition with the Americans.

The EU is unlikely to support the United States on every count in its desire to bleed the Chinese economy white by “pumping over” all development-friendly processes to its territory. There will be a lot of wrinkles, tension and clashes of interests.

Today, unlike in 2014, when the EU, under atrocious US pressure, introduced sanctions against Russia, it is showing signs of sound pragmatism towards our country. Specifically, they have publicly announced that they will revise the notorious “five principles” that Federica Mogherini formulated several years ago to guide relations with Russia.  They also say that it is necessary to overhaul their entire approach so that it should be more consistent with EU interests.

Incidentally, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell gave a talk recently on EU and China and on EU and Russia. Asked, why not impose sanctions on China for Hong Kong and human rights, he said that sanctions were not a method to be used in relations with China. We inquired whether sanctions were, in his opinion, a method that could be used in relations with Russia?  Our European friends will be thinking about this. It is a tough question.

I think that the European Union and Russia have a stake in cooperating, but not to the detriment of anyone else.  Basically, we do not ally with others to organise some actions against a third party.  We prefer pragmatism and shared benefit. I think Brussels will be doing something to overcome the myopia of the recent period.  The survey of EU policy vis-à-vis Russia will give more heed to an analysis of the real benefits inherent in promoting relations with Russia and the EAEU.

I do not see any benefits that Russia could derive from a trade war between Washington and Beijing. We will not benefit from relations with the EU and India either. Relations with India are traditionally friendly and other than time-serving. I do not envisage any changes in this area. We have proclaimed a “specially privileged strategic partnership” with India. I do not see any reasons why our Indian friends should sacrifice the gains that exist in the context of our partnership and prospects that it opens.

Question: You have mentioned Russian-US relations. Of course, international security and strategic stability depend on them. The situation is rather alarming now because of a deep crisis in the arms control regime. It is possible that the last key treaty in this sphere will expire in six months. There are many reasons for this, both geopolitical and technological. I believe we have to admit that public opinion is not pressuring the political elites to maintain arms control as much as during the Cold War, when large-scale demonstrations were held, as we well remember. The highest priority threats for the public now are the pandemic, climate change and terrorism. The fear of a nuclear war has receded into the background. What can be done to change this, or will it take a new Cuban crisis for the public to become aware of the nuclear conflict threat and to start expressing its opinion?

Jointly with our academic community we are now holding many videoconferences with American experts. You have said that there are rational people in the United States. It can be said that these conferences offer an opportunity to coordinate a number of new proposals, which could be used to formulate our initiatives. Of course, we update the Foreign Ministry and Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov about our activities. But it seems that today we need to think about some radical action, possibly in connection with the proposed summit of the five nuclear states, in order to create conditions that will help prevent the dismantling of the arms control regime and launch the creation of a new system of international security and strategic stability suited to the conditions of the 21st century.

Sergey Lavrov: I fully agree with you. Nuclear risks have increased dramatically, and the situation in the sphere of international security and strategic stability is visibly deteriorating. The reasons for this are obvious to everyone.  The United States wants to regain global domination and attain victory in what it describes as great-power rivalry. It has replaced the term “strategic stability” with “strategic rivalry.” It wants to win, whatever the price, as the saying goes. It is dismantling the arms control architecture so as to have the freedom to choose any instrument, including military force, to put pressure on its geopolitical opponents, and it wants to be able to use these instruments anywhere around the world. This is especially alarming in light of the changes in the doctrines of the US military-political authorities. These changes have allowed the limited use of nuclear weapons. It is notable that, like in the case of other strategic stability topics, the Americans have once again alleged that it is the Russian doctrine that permits the limited use of nuclear weapons and escalation for the sake of de-escalation and victory. They have recently issued comments on our doctrines, claiming that there are some secret parts where all of this is stipulated. This is not true. Meanwhile, we can see that the United States has adopted a number of practical programmes to support their doctrines with military and technical capabilities. This concerns the creation of low-yield nuclear warheads. American experts and officials are openly discussing this.

In this context, we are especially alarmed by the Americans’ failure to reaffirm – for two years now – the fundamental principle that there can be no winners in a nuclear war and that therefore it must never be unleashed. Early in the autumn of 2018, we submitted to the American side our written proposal that has been formulated as the confirmation of what People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs Maxim Litvinov and US President Franklin Roosevelt had coordinated and the notes they exchanged. We have reminded them about this proposal several times. They have replied that they are analysing it. Of course, we will raise the issue of the inadmissibility of fighting a nuclear war and winning it at the upcoming summit meeting of the five nuclear powers. It is important for our arguments to be no weaker than the arguments in the relevant Soviet-US documents. The slackening of these formulations has shown that the Americans would like to dilute the fact that there is no alternative to this principle and it cannot be repealed.

You have said that civil society is not paying sufficient attention to these threats, and I fully agree with you on this count. It is vital to attract public attention to this problem, to tell the people about the risks in understandable terms, because technicalities are often difficult to understand, and the form in which the analysis of this situation is presented to people is very important. Of course, we should count not only on official establishments but also on civil society and its politically active part – the NGOs and the academic and expert community.

I have said that I agree with you on this count, but I would also like to caution against going too far with raising public awareness of nuclear risks, so as not to play into the hands of those who want to prohibit all nuclear weapons and not to raise other concerns. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons openly contradicts the Non-Proliferation Treaty, creating confusion and problems. The necessary balance can be found with the help of top quality professionals, and I believe that we have more of them than any other country.

As for public sentiments, they do not always determine the reality. During the election campaign of US President Donald Trump, public sentiments were largely in tune with his declared plans and his calls for normalising Russian-US relations. Since then, the public has calmed down, and nobody is staging any riots over this matter.

Of course, it is vital to continue to interact directly with the nuclear powers and their authorities. We would like reasonable approaches to take priority.

You have mentioned that political consultations are underway between you, your colleagues and American experts. We appreciate this. Your contribution and assessments, as well as the information we receive following such consultations are taken into account and have a significant influence on the essence of our approaches, including in situations when we submit several alternatives to the leadership; this helps us analyse the possible scenarios and all their pros and cons.

The United States, as well as Britain and France, which are playing along with it, would like to limit the summit’s agenda to arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation. China sees this as an attempt to press through the idea of expanding the number of negotiating parties at the talks on nuclear weapons by one means or another. China has put forth its position on the idea of multilateral talks clearly and more than once. We respect this position. By the way, the Americans are clever at twisting things. They use only the parts of our statements and those of the Chinese that suit their position. The Chinese have said recently that they will join the arms control talks as soon as the Americans reduce their capability to the level of China’s arsenal. A day later, Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control Marshall Billingslea announced that the United States welcomed China’s readiness to join the multilateral talks and invited Beijing to Vienna. The next round of Russian-US consultations at the level of experts will be held in late July, following on from the late June meeting between Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov and US Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control Marshall Billingslea, when the Americans made a show with Chinese flags. The Americans have once again stated publicly that they would like to invite the Chinese to Vienna but it would be better if Russia met with China before that so as to tell Beijing what Washington expects from it. I think everyone can see that this is impolite and undiplomatic. When we say that we proceed from the assumption that China is free to take whatever stand it deems necessary, it shows our respect for China’s position. I would like to add that the Americans have not put on paper anything of what they said about the need for transitioning to a multilateral format. Let them at least document what they have in mind. But they seem to be categorically averse to this.

We are ready to take part in multilateral talks, but it should be a voluntary and independent decision of everyone. Only voluntary participation can be effective.

None of the reservations are being taken into account. They say that Russia supports their call for multilateral talks. What do we hear when we add that multilateral talks must also include Britain and France? Special Envoy Billingslea didn’t blink when he said the other day in reply to a question about the possible involvement of Britain and France that they are sovereign states who are free to decide whether to join the talks or not, and that the United States will not make the decision for them. Why has it actually made the decision for China then?

Knowing the US negotiating party, I am not optimistic about the New START, for example, but it’s good that we have started talking. Sergey Ryabkov and Marshall Billingslea have agreed to set up three working groups within the framework of the process they are supervising. They will hold a meeting of the working group on space, nuclear and weapons transparency plus nuclear doctrines in Vienna between July 27 and 30. We’ll see what comes of it. We never refuse to talk, and we will try to make negotiations result-oriented.

Question: Extending the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty is one of the critical items on the agenda of Russia-US relations, primarily in the sphere of arms control. If Russia fails to reach an agreement with Washington to renew this treaty before February 2021, what will it do next? If there’s a pause in the dialogue with Washington in the sphere of arms control, and if the treaty is not renewed, what will the arms control system become and will the multilateral formats that we are talking about now be possible in the future?

Sergey Lavrov: It appears that the United States has already decided not to renew this treaty. The fact that it insists that there’s no alternative to taking the deal to the trilateral format suggests that everything has been already decided. In addition to this, they want the latest Russian weapons to be part of the deal which, by and large, is nothing short of trying to force an open door. We told the Americans earlier on that when Avangard and Sarmat become fully deployed, they will be subject to the restrictions established by the treaty for as long as it remains valid. The other systems are new. They do not fit into the three categories covered by START-3, but we are ready to start talking about including the weapons that are not classical from the START-3 perspective in the discussion, of course, within the context of a principled discussion of all, without exceptions, variables that affect strategic stability that way or another. This includes missile defence, where we are now able to see that the once existing allegations that it was designed solely to stop the missile threat coming from Iran and North Korea, were lies. No one is even trying to bring this up anymore. Everything is being done solely in terms of containing Russia and China. Other factors include high-precision non-nuclear weapons known as a programme of instant global strike, openly promoted plans by the Americans and the French to launch weapons into space, the developments related to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and a number of other factors too. We are ready to discuss new weapons, but to do so not in order to humour someone or to respond to someone’s initiatives, but to really reduce the threat to global stability and security.

To this end, we need to look at all the things that create these threats, pushing us to create antidotes, as was the case with our hypersonic weapons, which were developed in response to the global deployment of the US missile defence system.

Speaking specifically about the START-3 Treaty, we need an extension as much as the Americans do. They see some kind of a game in our calls to extend it for five more years without any preconditions. Russia, they say, has modernised its entire nuclear arsenal, but we are just beginning the modernisation, so they want to “tie our hands.” This is absolutely not so. We need to extend the START-3 Treaty as much as the Americans. If they refuse to do so, we will not insist. We know and we firmly believe that we will be able to ensure our security in the long run, even in the absence of this treaty. I think it is premature to discuss our actions if this treaty expires without any further action, but we are indeed ready for any turn of events. If the renewal is turned down, our options may be different, but I can assure you that overall we will continue the dialogue with the United States on strategic issues and new weapons control tools based on the facts that underlie strategic stability, as I just mentioned.

With regard to the multilateral talks, we already said back in 2010, when we were signing START-3, that the signing of this treaty puts an end to the possibility for further bilateral reductions and that, talking about future reductions, I emphasise this term, we will need to take into account the arsenals of other nuclear powers and start looking for other forms of discussions, if we’re talking about reductions. If we are talking about control, I think the bilateral Russian-American track has far more to offer. Losing all forms of control and transparency would probably be an unreasonable and irresponsible thing to do in the face of our nations and other nations as well. I believe the fact that there’s a transparency group (this is a broad term that includes measures of trust and verification) among the Russian-American working groups which will be meeting in Vienna soon, is a good sign.

Question: The Eurasian countries regard Russia as a mainstay that can connect the EU and Asian countries. How do you see Russia’s role in this space?

Sergey Lavrov: The situation on the Eurasian continent is fully affected by almost all global factors. This is where a number of the most important world centres are located, including China, Russia, India and the European Union if we are talking about the continent as a whole. For various reasons, each of these actors is motivated to pursue a foreign policy independent from the United States. This includes the EU.

Calls for strategic autonomy extend to the development area as such. We in Eurasia feel the influence of forces that would like to put together interest-based blocs and try to introduce elements of confrontation into various processes. We increasingly see centripetal tendencies. I am referring to ASEAN in the east and the EU in the west of our continent.

Located in the centre is the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the Eurasian Economic Union. We would like to promote unifying, not divisive approaches in this space  and intensify trans-regional collaboration based on equality, mutual benefit, and most importantly, we would like to realise the obvious comparative advantages of cooperation on the continent via integration entities created in the West, East, and Centre, with respect for each of these unions and the search for natural forms of collaboration. This is the goal of what we call the Greater Eurasian Partnership that President Vladimir Putin suggested establishing at the Russia-ASEAN summit in Sochi a few years ago. We think this is an absolutely realistic action plan.

Let me note parenthetically that there are opposing approaches. They are mostly promoted by the United States through so-called Indo-Pacific concepts aimed at undermining the central systematic role of ASEAN in the Asia-Pacific region. I am referring to an attempt to put together a group of countries that would openly – this is not even hidden – contain China’s development.

I would favour identifying points of contact among all integration processes. Of course, there is China’s Belt and Road concept. The EAEU has an agreement with China that includes identifying points of contact and the harmonisation of any project that will be implemented as part of Eurasian integration and China’s project. Of course, there is a clash of economic interests in a number of cases, but the sides’ willingness to be guided by international legal principles, respect for each other, and mutual benefit makes it possible to agree on these economic interests based on the search for balance. It is in this way that our relations with our EAEU partners, China within the SCO, and ASEAN, are built. We invite the European Union, as has been repeatedly stated, to consider how it can become part of the development of our common geopolitical and primarily geo-economic space with benefits for itself and for others.

Question: The Middle East and North Africa remain a troubled region. New divides continue to crop up there; the potential for conflict remains and the old conflicts that everyone knows about persist. The humanitarian situation is aggravated due to the West’s unfair sanctions against a certain part of the region. Various asymmetries are growing deeper. What are Russia’s strategic interests in the region today? What do we want to achieve there, given the post-COVID nature of the era we are now entering?

Sergey Lavrov: We have very good relations in this region, possibly the best in the history of relations between this country, in its various capacities, and the region. I mean relations with all sides: the Arab countries, regardless of the conflict potential within the Arab world, and Israel. We will proceed from the need to promote positive contact with all these countries and seek to understand their problems and needs, and take this into account in our relations not only with a specific country but also with the countries that this particular partner has problems with.

In the beginning, I was asked whether Russia was ready to perform as a balancing influence in relations between the United States and China. If they ask us to, if they are interested, we would not decline this. We have established contacts with both sides and our historical development record enables us to see that we have potential.

If there is interest in mediation services that we can offer in this region or elsewhere, we are always ready to try to help, but of course, we will not push ourselves on anyone. Our own interest is primarily in precluding new military crises and in settling old crises so that the Middle East and North Africa become a zone of peace and stability. Unlike certain major countries outside the region, we have no strategic interest in maintaining controlled chaos. We have no such interest whatsoever.

We are not interested in engineering head-on clashes between countries in the region so as to create a pretext and a motive for continuing, and sometimes expanding, our military presence there. We are interested in promoting mutually beneficial trade, economic, investment and other ties with these states. In this respect, we would not like any other country in the region to have the same fate as Libya, which was robbed of its statehood and now no one knows how to “sew it together.” This is why we will be actively involved in efforts to reestablish an international legal approach to avoid any further toothpowder-filled test tubes passed off as VX and lies about weapons of mass destruction in other countries in the region as is now happening in Syria. Some have already started talking about “undiscovered” chemical weapons in Libya. All of these are inventions. How they are concocted is no secret.

We would like to derive economic benefits from our relations with the countries in the region. For this, we primarily have much in common in our approaches to problems in the contemporary world: international law, the UN Charter, and inter-civilisational dialogue, something that is also important, considering the Muslim population in the Russian Federation. Russia’s Muslim republics maintain good ties with the Gulf countries and other countries in the Arab world. We would like to support and develop all this. We will not gain anything from the chaos that continues in the region. As soon as the situation stabilises, the Russian Federation’s reliability as a partner in economic cooperation, military-technical cooperation, and the political area will always ensure us important advantages.

Question: My question is related to the recent changes in Russia. The new wording of the Constitution, which has come into effect, includes a provision according to which any actions (with the exception of delimitation, demarcation and re-demarcation of the state border of the Russian Federation with adjacent states) aimed at alienating part of the Russian territory, as well as calls for such actions, shall be prohibited. This provision is understandable. This brings me to my question: Does this mean that our years-long talks with Japan on the so-called territorial dispute have become anti-constitutional because they contradict our Fundamental Law? As far as I recall, the terms “delimitation” and “demarcation” have never been applied to the Kuril Islands, or have they?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, you are spot on. Our relations with Japan are based on a number of agreements. The Russian Federation as the successor state of the Soviet Union has reaffirmed its commitment to all of the agreements signed by the Soviet Union. President Vladimir Putin has confirmed this more than once. This includes the 1956 Declaration under which we are ready to discuss and are discussing with our Japanese colleagues the necessity of signing a peace treaty, but not a treaty that would have been signed the next day after the last shot, that is, immediately after the termination of the war, as some of our Japanese colleagues would like. The state of war between the Soviet Union and Japan was terminated by the 1956 Declaration, which provides for the end of the state of war and for the restoration of diplomatic relations. What else do we need? In other words, a peace treaty we are negotiating should be modern and comprehensive, and it should not reflect the situation of 60-70 years ago but the current state of affairs, when we believe that we should develop full-scale ties with Japan. This document must be essential and inclusive, that is, it should include issues of peace, friendship, neighbourliness, partnership and cooperation, and it should cover all spheres of our relations, including economic ties, which are improving but not in all economic sectors. It should be remembered that our Japanese neighbours have imposed sanctions on Russia, although they are not as all-embracing as the US restrictions, but anyway.

A peace treaty should also cover security topics, because Japan has a close military alliance with the United States, which has essentially declared Russia to be an enemy. Of course, a comprehensive peace treaty should also include our views on foreign policy interaction, where, to put it simply, we disagree on all disputable matters, as well as humanitarian and cultural ties and many other factors. We have offered a concept of such a treaty. Our Japanese colleagues have not responded to this concept so far.

It is clear that the outcome of WWII is the fundamental issue that should determine our relations. Japanese officials have stated more than once that they recognise the results of WWII excluding the decision concerning the South Kuril Islands, or the “Northern Territories,” as they say. This position contradicts the law. Japan’s position must be based on the fact that the country ratified the UN Charter, which essentially means that the actions taken by the winner countries with regard to the enemy countries are beyond discussion.

Of course, our Japanese neighbours keep saying that they would sign a peace treaty as soon as the territorial dispute is settled. This is not what we have agreed to do. We have agreed to focus on signing a peace treaty as stipulated in the 1956 Declaration.

Question: Russia often criticises the US for promoting non-inclusive associations in the Pacific and Indian Oceans to isolate “uncomfortable” states. I am primarily referring to the so-called Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad. Obviously, the very existence of such formats turns the region from a zone of cooperation into a zone of confrontation. We are certainly not interested in that. However, for all its minuses, the Quad concept is obviously finding understanding from Russia’s strategic partners, for instance, India. The Quad Plus project, where the US plans to invite Vietnam, our strategic partner as well, is also under discussion. Apparently, there is a need to enhance security in the region. Can Russia offer an alternative to such formats to prevent our two strategic partners from being in a position where they have to deter a third one?

Sergey Lavrov: I talked about the appearance of concepts and strategies on forming what US diplomats call “a free and open Indo-Pacific” several years ago. When some initiative calls itself free and open, I always have the impression that this includes a tinge of PR because how can it be called open if every state the region without exception is not invited to join?

When the term “Indo-Pacific strategies” appeared we inquired if they did not deal with the Asia-Pacific Region the contours of which are clear: the APEC, and the mechanisms that were established around ASEAN (the ASEAN regional security forum, the meeting of the ASEAN defence ministers and the partner countries, which is very important and, of course, the East Asia Summit (EAS), a forum that will be a decade old this year). We asked why the established term, Asia-Pacific Region, was replaced with this “Indo-Pacific strategies.” Does this mean that these strategies will embrace more countries, including all Indian Ocean coastal states? We received a negative answer. But what does “Indo” mean then? Will the Persian Gulf, which is part of the Indian Ocean, take part in the new format? We got a negative answer again. The Gulf has too many problems to be involved in these initiatives.

As for the ideas pursued by this Quad, as I have said, they are not really hiding them. These ideas come down to attempts to deter China. Our specially privileged partner India is fully aware of this. Pursuing its multi-vector policy, India is certainly interested in developing relations with the US (and who isn’t?), Japan and Australia. We are also interested in this. But India does not want to benefit from this cooperation at the price of further aggravating its relations with China. They had sad incidents on the Line of Actual Control but we welcome their immediate contacts between militaries, which are ongoing. They reached agreements on de-escalating tensions. Their politicians and diplomats also met. We can see that neither India nor China want their relations to get worse. Therefore, before talking seriously about Indo-Pacific strategies as a future for our large region, it is necessary to explain the choice of wording. If this was done to please India because of the Indian Ocean, just say so.

There are things that have already been established. I mentioned a diverse network of institutions and mechanisms around ASEAN. ASEAN brings together a group of countries that promote unifying approaches in the context of their civilisations and cultures. Everything is aimed at searching for consensus based on a balance of interests. For decades, the members have been absolutely content with developing relations in this venue with its regional security forum, defence minister meetings and East Asia Summits. There is even an expression: “ASEAN-way.” They always emphasise that they want to handle matters in “the ASEAN-way.” This means never to seek confrontation or launch projects that will create problems for other members. Regrettably, Indo-Pacific strategies may pursue different goals, at least under their initial concept.

In the beginning of our conversation, I mentioned the tough claims made by the US against China. They sound like an ultimatum. This is a mechanism for exerting and intensifying pressure. We do not see anything positive in this. Any problems must be resolved peacefully, through talks. Let me repeat that ASEAN is an ideal venue where every participant can discuss its problems with another member without polemics or tension. We are actively forming bridges with ASEAN (I mentioned the EAEU and the SCO). Their secretariats have already signed related memorandums. We will continue promoting ASEAN’s core role in the South Pacific Region.

We will only welcome Indo-Pacific strategies if they become more understandable, if we are convinced that they lean towards joining the ASEAN-led processes rather than try to undermine its role and redirect the dialogue against China or someone else. However, we are not seeing this so far.

Question: A week ago, experts were polled on US allegations that Russian military intelligence, the GRU, had offered rewards to the Taliban for killing US troops in Afghanistan. All of the analysts agree that the allegation could be rooted in domestic, primarily political reasons. Your subordinate, Special Presidential Representative for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov, has pointed out that one of the factions in the United States is against the planned troop withdrawal from Afghanistan because US security services have become deeply involved in the drug trade over the past few years. We have not asked you about this situation yet. What do you think about this uproar?

Sergey Lavrov: We have already responded to the hype in the United States over Russia’s alleged connection with the Taliban, who were allegedly financed to fight US troops and even offer bounties for the murder of American military personnel. I can only tell you once again that all this is a dirty speculation. No facts have been provided to prove anything. Moreover, responsible officials in the US administration, including the Secretary of Defence, have said that they know nothing about this.

These allegations fit in very well with the political fighting during an election year in the United States, as if they were invented – and it appears that this is so – for this purpose. The objective is to disgrace the US administration and to discredit everything it has been doing, especially with regard to Russia. I would like to repeat that there are no facts to prove these allegations. But there were facts in the late 1970s and 80s, when the US administration did not make a secret of helping the Mujahedeen, of supplying them with Stingers and other weapons, which they used against Soviet soldiers.

As I have said, we would like both Russia and the United States to draw lessons from the experience they have accumulated in that long-suffering country and to help launch an intra-Afghan dialogue together with the other countries that could help allay tensions there, primarily China, Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan’s other neighbours. We have been working actively towards this end.

As for the United States, we have been acting within the framework of this political process under the agreements being advocated by the United States in its dialogue with the Taliban and the Afghan Government. We are using our channels to make these agreements possible. There is a mechanism for consultations between Russia, the United States and China, which Pakistan sometimes joins and to which Iran has been invited. However, Iran has not acted on the invitation because of its problems with the United States and the actions Washington has been taking against Iran around the world. These consultations are a mechanism for cooperation that is being used to define the spheres where signals could be sent to the sides. This is being done within the framework of the logic of the so-called Moscow format, which brings together all of Afghanistan’s neighbours without exception, as well as the United States, Russia and China. This is more than adequate.

Now, regarding Afghanistan’s drugs and the possible involvement of the US military in the drug business. We have received numerous reports, including through the media, according to which NATO aircraft are being used to smuggle Afghan opiates to other countries, including to Europe. The governors of the concerned Afghan provinces have stated more than once that unmarked helicopters are flying in the area. It should be noted that the sky over Afghanistan is controlled by the NATO coalition. Other reports have mentioned other forms of smuggling opiates.

Of course, we cannot verify such information to the dot, but it has been reported so regularly that we cannot ignore it. If combat aircraft were used in Afghanistan (as I mentioned, it could only be NATO aircraft), the flights could only be made by military or intelligence personnel. These circumstances should be investigated, first of all in the United States. The Americans have agencies that are in charge of monitoring compliance with American laws. Second, investigations should also be held in the country where military personnel are deployed, that is, Afghanistan. This is exactly what Zamir Kabulov said. By the way, established facts show that over the 20 years of the deployment of the US and other coalition members in Afghanistan the volume of drugs smuggled into other countries, including in Europe and our neighbours, as well as into Russia, has increased several times over. Neither the United States nor the other members of the NATO coalition are seriously fighting this drug business. By the way, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko noted in a recent report that there are opium poppy plantations right next to NATO bases. This is an established fact. And this is possibly not right from the viewpoint of the US stand on the drug business.

We have regularly tried to attract the UN Security Council’s attention to this issue when we listened to reports on NATO coalition operations in Afghanistan, and we also did this via bilateral channels when we urged our partners to combat the drug industry. They replied that the mandate of the NATO mission in Afghanistan did not include drugs, that it only stipulated counterterrorist activities. But it is a well-known fact that the drug business is used to finance terrorism and is the largest source of funds for terrorist organisations. You can reach your own conclusions. As I have pointed out, we take this problem very seriously.

QuestionA few hours after this meeting of the Primakov Readings is over, an extraordinary UN General Assembly session on combating the pandemic will begin at 10 am New York time. This session was convened by the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). How important is this session? Who will represent Russia? Do you think the UN is late in responding to the pandemic? What do you think about the Non-Aligned Movement’s principles in these conditions?

Sergey Lavrov: Of course, we are aware that a special session of the UN General Assembly on the subject of COVID-19 will be convened upon the initiative of the Non-Aligned Movement chaired by Azerbaijan this year. It will take place a little later. Today, on July 10, the procedural registration of the rules to be used for convening the session begins, since amid the coronavirus infection, all remotely held events are subject to coordination in terms of their organisational and procedural aspects. Only this matter will be discussed today. The date for convening the special session itself has not yet been determined.

I don’t think we have any reason to believe that the UN is slow or late in responding to the coronavirus infection challenges. The UN General Assembly met twice some time ago at an early stage of this situation. Two resolutions were adopted which were dedicated to the international community’s goals in fighting the coronavirus infection. Most recently, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution on COVID-19. We were unable to do this for a long time because the Americans strongly opposed mentioning the role of the World Health Organisation in the document. Eventually, we found words that allowed us to mention this role and to ensure consensus approval.

Let us remember that the World Health Assembly, by the way, with the participation of the Americans, held a special session in May. The WHA adopted a resolution supported by the US in which the WHO’s role was objectively reflected. It was agreed at that session that as soon as the pandemic and all major programmes are completed, an international assessment of the lessons we learned from the WHO’s work in this area would be made, but without pointing a finger at anyone. It is an objective scientific evaluation of independent professionals.

Of course, the Non-Aligned Movement is our close partner. We are a guest country that is regularly invited to NAM summits and ministerial meetings in this capacity. This body was created in a wholly different historical context at the height of the Cold War, when the developing countries that formed this movement wanted to emphasise the principle of neutrality with respect for the two military blocs. Nevertheless, the Non-Aligned Movement remains a significant factor in international politics even after the Cold War. I think this is good, since the attempts to cobble up certain blocks again (we have already discussed this today) continue. It is important that this neutrality, non-commitment and focus on advancing the principles of international law be preserved at the core of NAM activities.

By the way, another NAM summit was held in Baku in October 2019. We attended it as a guest. Important joint statements were agreed upon. We confirmed our support for strengthening multipolarity in the international arena and respect for the UN Charter principles. NAM statements in support of Palestine and Bolivia were adopted as well. Back then, these were important topics. We are interested in seeing our status in NAM help us actively work on issues of common interest.

Question: Did Dmitry Kozak give an ultimatum at the talks on the Minsk agreements, telling Kiev to draft amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine on the special status of Donbass as soon as possible? If so, why has this demand become so tough only now that these agreements are already five years old?

Sergey Lavrov: There were no demands or ultimatums. Working as Normandy format advisors, the assistants of the four leaders that are part of our Contact Group, we are trying to ensure, in cooperation with the OSCE, the direct dialogue that Kiev is required to conduct with Donetsk and Lugansk. Conceptually, we are striving for only one goal – we are asking our Ukrainian partners to reaffirm their full commitment to the Minsk agreements as they were drafted, signed and approved by the UN Security Council. When we are told that Kiev is committed to the Minsk agreements but that it is necessary to first establish control of the Ukrainian Army and border guards over the entire border, this has nothing to do with the Minsk agreements. This is a deliberate attempt to mislead the public. When we are told, at the top level, that the Minsk agreements must be preserved to continue the sanctions against Russia, we would like to know if Ukraine is primarily interested in these agreements because of the sanctions, why it signed them and whether it is still committed to what is written in them rather than this absolutely artificial and inadequate link with sanctions. The majority of EU members consider this link incoherent. This is an approach of principle. I talked with the foreign ministers of France and Germany. Mr Kozak spoke with his counterparts as well. We would like our French and German partners to continue to express their views about this as participants in the Normandy format. Every day, we hear Kiev’s official statements that simply discard the agreements that were reaffirmed by the UN Security Council after the talks in Minsk.

For all this, we continue to hold pragmatic conversation with a view to coordinating specific steps on promoting all aspects of the Minsk agreements: security, socio-economic, humanitarian and political issues. At the recent, fairly productive meeting of the leaders’ assistants of the Normandy format states, the participants reached a number of agreements on yet another detainee exchange, and the Contact Group’s security arrangements, including reconciliation of the texts of the orders that must be adopted by the parties to the conflict (Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk) and describe in detail the actions to be banned by these orders. These issues were agreed upon. The third negotiated item on the political agenda is the presentation by Ukraine of its vision of the document that will contain amendments to the Constitution to reflect the special status of Donbass fully in line with the Minsk agreements.

Understandings were reached in these three areas and were supposed to be formalised in the decisions of the Contact Group that ended its session the other day. In Minsk, the Ukrainian delegation disavowed everything that was agreed upon in Berlin. We noted this, and Deputy Chief of the Presidential Executive Office Dmitry Kozak sent a related message to his colleagues. So, this is no surprise at all. We have always insisted that the Minsk agreements must be carried out in full and with the due succession of actions. It’s not that we are losing patience, but patience helps when there is a clear understanding of what comes next. President Vladimir Zelensky came to power under a slogan of quick peace in Donbass. However, at this point, we have no idea what the attitude of his administration is to the actions that must be taken under the Minsk agreements.

Question: Former US National Security Advisor John Bolton writes in his memoirs that US President Donald Trump was unhappy about the sanctions over Salisbury and Syria. Did you hear about this? Is the agreement with the US on the exchange of top level visits still valid? Is Russia’s participation in the extended G7 format being considered?

Sergey Lavrov: I haven’t read John Bolton’s memoirs but I’m familiar with some parts of his book. Clearly, Mr Bolton has his own view of Russia-US relations, the US mission in the world, and America’s vision of the world order and what it should be. Apparently, every author wants his or her book to sell well (and in America practically every person writes a book after serving in the government for one or two years). To achieve this, it is necessary to make it interesting, and “hot issues” are helpful in this respect. I’ll leave all this on the conscience of Mr Bolton: both his presentation of this material and the spicy and sensitive details. I’ll also leave on his conscience his obvious embellishment of US actions in different situations.

Nobody has signed any agreements on exchanging top level visits because such an agreement implies a certain date for a visit, and the name of the city and geographical location. But nobody is discounting the possibility of such meetings, either. We are willing to work with the Americans at all levels and President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin has good relations with US President Donald Trump. From time to time, I talk with US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo. Our deputies also maintain a dialogue. So, if the Americans are interested, we do not see any obstacles. We don’t want our relations to be seen as some appendage to the election campaign and the tough actions taken by the sides as regards each other on the eve of the US election.

As for the G7, I think we have already said everything we wanted to say on this issue. Russia was a full member of the G8. The G8 did not meet in 2014 and not due to any action on our part. Our partners — Europe, North America and Japan — decided not to hold this event in full. This is their choice. President Vladimir Putin said in one of his comments that as before we will be happy to host the entire G8 in the Russian Federation. If our colleagues do not want this, love cannot be forced.

As for the G7, the list of countries invited to attend, as mentioned by US President Donald Trump, shows that the G7 can no longer accomplish much on its own. But even the countries that were mentioned will not make any radical change because the list is incomplete. We are convinced that the serious issues of the world and global finances can hardly be resolved effectively. Apparently, these reasons — the need to involve the main players in world financial, economic and commodity markets — have prompted the resumption and upgrade of activities in the G20. This is an inclusive mechanism that relies on consensus and the principles of equality. We believe the G20 format must obviously be preserved, encouraged and actively used if we want to talk about the underlying causes of current economic problems rather than their use in foreign policy disputes or any other sort of rhetoric.

Question: In Russia, they always say that they are ready to work with any president that is elected by the American people. Can you predict potential development of bilateral relations if former US Vice President Joe Biden wins? Do you think some analysts are correct in believing that he could revise some of President Donald Trump’s decisions, which do not benefit Russia, such as withdrawal from the INF Treaty and the Open Skies Treaty?

Sergey Lavrov: We do not comment on election campaigns. This is done by the media in all countries. The election campaign in the US is creating much interest in the entire world. This is understandable, but officially we proceed from the correct assumption that the choice of the head of state is up to the American people. This is a domestic US affair.

As for how this or that outcome might affect Russia-US relations, if we reason in a perfectly abstract way, we can quote some analysts that have commented on how this will influence disarmament talks. There is an opinion that is probably buttressed by some facts, that the Democrats are less prone than the Republicans to destroy the agreements on strategic stability and disarmament that had been reached over the past few decades. But we have not forgotten that a major anti-Russia campaign was launched during the Democratic administration of Barrack Obama. Many elements of this campaign, including sanctions, are now an element of bipartisan consensus. I don’t want to guess. This situation is unpredictable. Let me repeat, let the American people make their decision.

The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights that is in charge, among other things, of monitoring elections, has conducted such monitoring remotely and distributed a report that was recently presented at the OSCE Permanent Council. The report contains many critical remarks about the correlation of election processes to American laws. I will not go into details. You can read this report yourself. But the report mentions, in particular, that for a variety of reasons at least 2 million US citizens are deprived of the right of the vote to which they are entitled by law. Interestingly, the report notes such a congenital defect in US election legislation, notably, a two-stage election process.

At first, people elect the Electoral College that later on chooses the president. The report also noted that the creation of the electoral districts is unfair to different ethnic groups. This is an indicative observation on behalf of the OSCE. We have spoken about this for a long time. I also recall that when Condoleezza Rice was US Secretary of State, she complained about our elections. I replied that if she had specific grievances, we had international and domestic observers and many other mechanisms and the entire process would be analysed. I reminded her that in the US a nominee can win a popular vote but a different candidate can be elected president because of different shares of votes in the electoral districts and the Electoral College. This is what happened in 2000 when the Florida votes were recounted for such a long time. Eventually, this process was stopped by the Supreme Court. George Bush Jr became US President and Alexander Gore accepted his defeat. Ms Rice told me then that they know this is a problem but this is their problem and they will settle it themselves. They probably will respond to the OSCE report in the same way.

As for the prospects and the projection of this or other decision on treaties, including the Open Skies Treaty, in line with the current schedule and its own announced decision on withdrawal, the US is supposed to end its participation in the treaty on November 22 or two and a half weeks after the election. No matter who becomes president, the new administration will assume its duties on January 20. Therefore, this decision will not likely be revised if the treaty expires. If the new administration, Democratic or Republican, decides to return to the treaty, the talks will have to be started from scratch. Therefore, at the extraordinary conference of the signatories of the Open Skies Treaty that was held online on July 6 of this year, we urged all remaining parties to the treaty to try and preserve it. We are prepared to continue with it but will take our final decision on whether we should remain part of it after analysing all consequences of the US decision on withdrawing from it, that is unlikely to be revised. It is final and irreversible as we are seeing, in my opinion. This is also confirmed by what happened with the INF Treaty. The decision was announced. This was followed by attempts at persuading them to keep it but to no avail.

But let me return to what I said in replying to one of the questions. We are ready for a situation where nothing will be left of arms control due to the US’s persistent line to throw all of these agreements out. But we are also prepared not to start from scratch but continue our contacts with the Americans on all strategic stability issues. I am confident that all members of the international community will support this approach. That said, we will keep the door open for multilateral talks as well. Let me repeat that these talks must rely on common understanding, voluntary participation and a balanced lineup of participants.

USA seeks to drive regime-change by starving the people of Syria

Source

30 June 2020 

By:Reneva Fourie

The United States of America has intensified its economic warfare against the people of Syria. Battered by a 9-year war that resulted in investment and capital flight; and infrastructure and industry destruction, Covid-19 came as a heavy blow to the ailing Syrian economy. The most devastating however has been the ongoing, escalating, illegally imposed USA-driven, and European Union supported, sanctions against Syria. 

Sanctions barring USA-based companies from trading with Syria were imposed in 2004. In 2011 it was extended to include the financial and energy sectors (this while the USA pillages Syrian oil daily; an act that has been designated as illegal under international law and the rules of war, yet there are no repercussions). On Wednesday, June 17, 2020 the sanctions provisions of the USA so-called ‘Caesar’ Civilian Protection Act of 2019, which extends sanctions to all foreign firms or countries that deal with the government of Syria, came into force.

The government of Syria had largely managed to control their weakening currency during the war, despite its domestic challenges. The value of the currency, however, plummeted over the past three weeks in anticipation, and due to the implementation of, the ‘Caesar’ Act.  The Syrian Pound (SYP), which was trading at around SYP 47 (about R ) to the dollar prior to the war, is now, as at end June 2020, hovering around SYP 2 500 to the dollar.

The impact of these sanctions on the quality of life of the Syrian people has been disastrous. According to UNDP data, Syria’s human development index was on the rise between 2000 and 2010.

The IMF outlook for 2010 was as follows, “The outlook for 2010 points to an overall strengthening in economic performance. The ongoing recovery in Syria’s trading partners is expected to contribute to a gradual increase in exports, remittances, and FDI in 2010.” The currency was beginning to appreciate against the dollar. But the gains made during those years were reversed by the war and subsequent sanctions, and the country experienced a drop of nearly 60 percent in GNI per capita from 2010 to 2016.

As political stability in the country increased recently, the economy was once again beginning to show signs of recovery. Sadly, the ‘Caesar’ Act, will cause a major setback.

Syria, home of some of the oldest cities in the world, has a highly sophisticated and cultured populace, who have relatives across the world. Sanctions have compelled them to do much of their banking, particularly that of an international nature, from Lebanon. Most Syrians have relatives in Lebanon due to the historic ties between the two countries.

Traveling between the two countries is a common practice and goods and medication that could not be accessed in Syria due to sanctions, were still obtainable in Lebanon. All that has now come to an abrupt halt.

Covid-19 has made travel across borders difficult; but threats of sanctions against Lebanon, which has its own economic crisis that pre-dates Covid-19, for trading with Syria, will be the final nail in the coffin. Syria is unable to repair the power stations and water infrastructure that was damaged during the war by the West, Israel, Turkey, and insurgents including Isis and al-Qaeda, as they cannot purchase the parts due to sanctions.

Domestic manufacturing of medicines is waning as ingredients cannot be imported. The exemptions around food and medicines touted by the USA and EU are misleading as they apply mostly to areas that remain outside of government control and their “humanitarian aid” in these occupied areas primarily serves to strengthen counter-revolutionary activities.

Exacerbating the cruelty of the general adverse economic impact of sanctions, are the deliberate actions to undermine food security through the regular burning of staple crops by the USA and Turkey-backed mercenaries. For example, Apache helicopters affiliated to the USA occupation forces dropped thermal balloons on barley and wheat crops in a number of villages surrounding al-Shaddadi city, while Turkey-backed mercenaries set fire to a number of wheat and barley fields in Abu Rasin and Tal Tamir towns.

The intention literally is to starve the people of Syria into submission. According to the World Food Programme, as at June 2020, food prices have increased by a staggering 209 percent in the last year, in which most of the increases occurred over the past weeks. This country, where less than 7.5 percent of the population experienced multidimensional poverty in 2009, now has more than 80 percent of its population living below the poverty line, thanks to the USA and its allies. 

The government of Syria has tried to ease the impact of this economic onslaught on its people, who have already suffered tremendous human losses, by broadening access to food parcels, vouchers, subsidised fuel, and government-subsidised grocery shops.  The interventions are however unsustainable. Domestic and international protests calling for the lifting of sanctions in Syria took place regularly over the past two weeks.

But while there have been reports of protests in Syria, almost none of those reports, even from ‘reputable’ entities, state that the protests were AGAINST the USA and its implementation of the Act. The international protests received little coverage.

Sanctions must be lifted. In fact, the USA’s regime-change agenda in Syria must be stopped.

Sanctions are but one aspect of the continued broader regime-change agenda of the USA. The ‘Statement of Policy’ which serves as a preamble to the ‘Caesar’ Act states, “to support a transition to a government in Syria that respects the rule of law, human rights, and peaceful co-existence with its neighbours.”  The last phrase – ‘peaceful co-existence with its neighbours’ – can only refer to Israel, which illegally occupies the Golan and regularly conducts acts of military aggression against Syria.

It must be noted that prior to the war, neither the UNDP nor the IMF made any reference to corruption, maladministration, and human rights abuses in Syria. It became the buzz word when an alleged Syrian military dissenter codenamed Caesar, after whom the USA Act is named, who in 2014 revealed thousands of photographs supposedly depicting torture in Syrian prisons.

An examination of the photos however revealed that it could not be indisputably proven that the injuries depicted in the photographs were indeed inflicted in government prisons.  In fact, the Human Rights Watch found that at least half the photographs depict the bodies of government soldiers killed by the armed opposition.  This confirmed that the opposition is violent and has killed large numbers of Syrian security forces.

The credibility of ‘Caesar’ is highly questionable given the discrepancies in his ‘evidence’ and the USA’s history for fabricating information to suit its interests. Prof Theodore Postol, a respected expert on missile defence and nuclear weapons, who was part of the Joint Investigative Mechanism that investigated allegations of the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government, disputed the conclusiveness of the allegation. 

Note further that the preamble does not say ‘peaceful transition’, thereby justifying military intervention.  The military situation remains tense despite the cease-fire negotiated between Russia and Turkey in the northwest of the country, as the USA and Turkey continue to reinforce their troops in Syria.

Turkey-backed insurgents and mercenaries continue to engage in motorcycle and car bombs in areas that are outside of the Syrian government’s control.  And Israel regularly invades Lebanese air space to advance missile attacks on the south of Syria.

In addressing the United Nations earlier this month, the Syrian Ambassador, Bashar al-Jaafari stated, “The crimes and practices perpetrated by the governments of those states (the West, Israel and Turkey) rise to the level of war crimes and constitute a violation of the rules of international law and a direct aggression on the sovereignty, safety, independence and territorial integrity of Syria.”

The continued aggression in Syria cannot be delinked from other developments in the region.  The Israeli government continues to persecute the people of Palestine and is determined to forge ahead with implementing the Trump ‘Deal of the Century’. Tension between Lebanon and Israel remains high.  And USA-led sanctions against Iran remain. 

The USA-Israeli-Turkey alliance with their allies continue to seek hegemony in the region, supposedly to reduce the influence of Iran, Russia, and China. Their relentless aggression has however cost this region too many lives.  The people of the region have also suffered too much due to sanctions. Their actions are tantamount to genocide.

As we join the global demand for an end to racism, we should also call for a just and peaceful world. Implementation of this demand begins with a call for all USA troops to exit West Asia, as well as an end to Israeli aggression in the Middle East.

* Reneva Fourie is a policy analyst specialising in governance, development and security and currently resides in Damascus, Syria.She is also a member of the Central Committee of the South African Communist Party.

This article was first published by Independent  Online,South Africa  

Reem Haddad 

Editor-in-chief

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The US Lost in Syria – So Now They’re After Their Business and Military Affiliates

Source

By Mona El-Hajj

The US Lost in Syria – So Now They’re After Their Business and Military Affiliates

Beirut – After 9 years of a war which had torn, killed and exiled millions from their homeland, Syria has fought hawkish NATO powers and diabolic militias which devastated the country. However, unlike Libya and Iraq whose land has been destroyed and economically annexed by US, their allies and proxies, Syria approaches the finish line as Gulf and other foreign investors set foot on Syrian land to discuss post-war reconstruction efforts.

With that being said, it would be naive to assume that Syria will be able to reconstruct without a fight. As US foreign policy fails miserably before the entire planet, they’re betting on their last chips – an optimistic venture – that they still have a chance at crushing the Syrian government. The Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, which does anything but protect civilians, came into effect on June 17. According to the US State Department, the sanction bill is to hold the Syrian government accountable for the ‘widespread death of civilians’ and to seek ‘justice for those suffering under the [Syrian President Bashar] Assad regime’s brutality’ – baseless allegations deflated by renowned journalists around the world, such as Vanessa Beeley and Eva Bartlett, who have visited and explored Syria throughout the war as opposed to “experts” who haven’t read a shred of its history.

Independent Journalists Vanessa Beeley & Eva Bartlett Puncture the ...

As Syria’s UN Representative Bashar al-Jaafari puts it, the Caesar bill isn’t much different than the previous sanctions, but instead serves as a form of psychological warfare to frustrate the Syrian population further. The major difference is that this time, any individual or business who wish to deal with the government are condemned and sanctioned.

Although Pompeo reinforced that the sanctions are to hold the regime accountable on their own terms, this is fraudulent on many counts. The sanctions do not aim to punish President Assad himself, but rather worsen the humanitarian hell in which people have been living under in the past 9 years (and, crushing the Lebanese Resistance on their way). As Pompeo smugly articulates in his press statement, “the United States remains committed to working with the UN and international partners to bring life-saving assistance to the Syrian people.” What would muddle with logic here is that, if the US were so concerned with the welfare of the Syrian people, why have US forces burnt down over 200 dunums of wheat, barley and other crop fields in Hasaka before the sanctions came into effect?  If the United Nations is a credible humanitarian organization that assists those in need, why hasn’t it condemned the US burning of crop fields?

Sanctions don’t ‘change political behavior’ of regimes and enforce ‘accountability for human rights abuses;’ this theory has proven nil statistical significance. Sanctions starve people, deprive them of basic necessities like oil and gas and hold essential medication from them under the sunshade of ‘dual use’. Morality, morbidity and trauma rates go higher, and under maximum pressure, their effects last for generations. Given the reality that sanctions have almost never resulted in ‘regime change,’ then they are just a sadistic pursuit by the Global North to punish people for resisting imperialism. It is sufficient to take a good look at Iran, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, whose governance have become nearly immune to international pressure.

Once again, the US is dictating the world who to normalize relations with and who not to. They coerce the world who to be friends with and who not to. On its way, it hacks its way into the scene, tells Lebanon, an economic and military ally to Syria, that they will be punished if they were to trade with their own neighbor. As if Sykes-Picot wasn’t enough to divide West Asia, this is a clear reattempt at destroying any form of unison between the two countries and thus instantiating divide through economic restrictions and punishment.

Syria, an already war-torn country, is flattened by an economic crisis and shortages as a result of 9 years of war trauma. While Lebanon, minus the sanctions, today suffers from the depreciation of the Lira and one of the worst economic crises in its history since the 1975 Civil War. With the rise of the dollar crisis in Lebanon, the IMF, the Lebanese Central Bank and other institutions hold back dollar injections into the country, fueling a high demand and short supply. Knowing that goods are largely imported in Lebanon, the currency of transaction is naturally by the dollar, which has recently started to smother entire households making ends meet on low incomes. Syria, a country which has criminalized the use of dollar on land, enjoys strong economic ties with Lebanon, through which they deal by the Lira. This entails that the function of the sanctions isn’t only to affect Syria alone, but it is also to cut Lebanon’s main trade partner which only exacerbates the dollar crisis in the country. Wishful thinking-ly, America’s proxy, “Israel”, through such a tactic, thinks they could coerce Hezbollah into trading its weapons for food.

From infrastructure and basic necessities comes security, and America’s parasite – “Israel” – cannot allow for a strong, stable Syria to heal, and a Lebanon which continually threatens their existence. As Lebanon has recently transitioned into a new government, with a new prime minister and cabinet, MSM has turned to paint it as ‘Hezbollah-led government’ in attempt to delegitimize and punish it on the short run. Under such premise, “Israel” pushes America into a cost-effective war to crush Hezbollah – not militarily – but through sanctioning the Lebanese government, which has a high possibility given the terms and conditions of the Caesar Act. Hezbollah Secretary General His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah reassured the Lebanese that the government will not end trade with Syria, and neither will the community starve. Deviating the economic hues of the country to the East seemed like a plausible solution, proposing more ties with China and Iran. The world awaits the repercussions of economic terrorism, which will eventually end up in defeat as it always has.

Victoria Nuland Alert

The foreign interventionists really hate Russia

PHILIP GIRALDI • JUNE 23, 2020 

It is difficult to find anything good to say about Donald Trump, but the reality is that he has not started any new wars, though he has come dangerously close in the cases of Venezuela and Iran and there would be considerable incentive in the next four months to begin something to bolster his “strong president” credentials and to serve as a distraction from coronavirus and black lives matter.

Be that as it may, Trump will have to run hard to catch up to the record set by his three predecessors Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Bush was an out-and-out neoconservative, or at least someone who was easily led, including in his administration Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Perle, Michael Ledeen, Reuel Gerecht, Paul Wolfowitz, Doug Feith, Eliot Abrams, Dan Senor and Scooter Libby. He also had the misfortune of having to endure Vice President Dick Cheney, who thought he was actually the man in charge. All were hawks who believed that the United States had the right to do whatever it considered necessary to enhance its own security, to include invading other countries, which led to Afghanistan and Iraq, where the U.S. still has forces stationed nearly twenty years later.

Clinton and Obama were so-called liberal interventionists who sought to export something called democracy to other countries in an attempt to make them more like Peoria. Clinton bombed Afghanistan and Sudan as a diversion when the press somehow caught wind of his arrangement with Monica Lewinsky and Obama, aided by Mrs. Clinton, chose to destroy Libya. Obama was also the first president to set up a regular Tuesday morning session to review a list of American citizens who would benefit from being killed by drone.

So the difference between neocons and liberal interventionists is one of style rather than substance. And, by either yardstick all-in-all, Trump looks pretty good, but there has nevertheless been a resurgence of neocon-think in his administration. The America the exceptional mindset is best exemplified currently by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who personifies the belief that the United States is empowered by God to play only by its own rules when dealing with other nations. That would include following the advice that has been attributed to leading neocon Michael Ledeen, “Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business.

One of the first families within the neocon/liberal interventionist firmament is the Kagans, Robert and Frederick. Frederick is a Senior Fellow at the neocon American Enterprise Institute and his wife Kimberly heads the bizarrely named Institute for the Study of War. Victoria Nuland, wife of Robert, is currently the Senior Counselor at the Albright Stonebridge Group and a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. That means that Victoria aligns primarily as a liberal interventionist, as does her husband, who is also at Brookings. She is regarded as a protégé of Hillary Clinton and currently works with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who once declared that killing 500,000 Iraqi children using sanctions was “worth it.” Nuland also has significant neocon connections through her having been a member of the staff assembled by Dick Cheney.

Nuland, many will recall, was the driving force behind efforts to destabilize the Ukrainian government of President Viktor Yanukovych in 2013-2014. Yanukovych, an admittedly corrupt autocrat, nevertheless became Prime Minister after a free election. Nuland, who was the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs at the State Department, provided open support to the Maidan Square demonstrators opposed to Yanukovych’s government, to include media friendly appearances passing out cookies on the square to encourage the protesters.

Nuland openly sought regime change for Ukraine by brazenly supporting government opponents in spite of the fact that Washington and Kiev had ostensibly friendly relations. It is hard to imagine that any U.S. administration would tolerate a similar attempt by a foreign nation to interfere in U.S. domestic politics, particularly if it were backed by a $5 billion budget, but Washington has long believed in a global double standard for evaluating its own behavior.

Nuland is most famous for her foul language when referring to the potential European role in managing the unrest that she and the National Endowment for Democracy had helped create in Ukraine. For Nuland, the replacement of the government in Kiev was only the prelude to a sharp break and escalating conflict with the real enemy, Moscow, over Russia’s attempts to protect its own interests in Ukraine, most particularly in Crimea.

And make no mistake about Nuland’s broader intention at that time to expand the conflict and directly confront Russia. In Senate testimony she cited how the administration was “providing support to other frontline states like Moldova and Georgia.” Her use of the word “frontline” is suggestive.

Victoria Nuland was playing with fire. Russia, as the only nation with the military capability to destroy the U.S., was and is not a sideshow like Saddam Hussein’s Iraq or the Taliban’s Afghanistan. Backing Moscow into a corner with no way out by using threats and sanctions is not good policy. Washington has many excellent reasons to maintain a stable relationship with Moscow, including counter-terrorism efforts, and little to gain from moving in the opposite direction. Russia is not about to reconstitute the Warsaw Pact and there is no compelling reason to return to a Cold War footing by either arming Ukraine or permitting it to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Victoria Nuland has just written a long article for July/August issue of Foreign Affairsmagazine on the proper way for the United States manage what she sees as the Russian “threat.” It is entitled “How a Confident America Should Deal With Russia.” Foreign Affairs, it should be observed, is an establishment house organ produced by the Council on Foreign Relations which provides a comfortable perch for both neocons and liberal interventionists.

Nuland’s view is that the United States lost confidence in its own “ability to change the game” against Vladimir Putin, who has been able to play “a weak hand well because the United States and its allies have let him, allowing Russia to violate arms control treaties, international law, the sovereignty of its neighbors, and the integrity of elections in the United States and Europe… Washington and its allies have forgotten the statecraft that won the Cold War and continued to yield results for many years after. That strategy required consistent U.S. leadership at the presidential level, unity with democratic allies and partners, and a shared resolve to deter and roll back dangerous behavior by the Kremlin. It also included incentives for Moscow to cooperate and, at times, direct appeals to the Russian people about the benefits of a better relationship. Yet that approach has fallen into disuse, even as Russia’s threat to the liberal world has grown.”

What Nuland writes would make perfect sense if one were to share her perception of Russia as a rogue state threatening the “liberal world.” She sees Russian rearmament under Putin as a threat even though it was dwarfed by the spending of NATO and the U.S. She shares her fear that Putin might seek “…reestablishing a Russian sphere of influence in eastern Europe and from vetoing the security arrangements of his neighbors. Here, a chasm soon opened between liberal democracies and the still very Soviet man leading Russia, especially on the subject of NATO enlargement. No matter how hard Washington and its allies tried to persuade Moscow that NATO was a purely defensive alliance that posed no threat to Russia, it continued to serve Putin’s agenda to see Europe in zero-sum terms.”

Nuland’s view of NATO enlargement is so wide of the mark that it borders on being a fantasy. Of course, Russia would consider a military alliance on its doorstep to be a threat, particularly as a U.S. Administration had provided assurances that expansion would not take place. She goes on to suggest utter nonsense, that Putin’s great fear over the NATO expansion derives from his having “…always understood that a belt of increasingly democratic, prosperous states around Russia would pose a direct challenge to his leadership model and risk re-infecting his own people with democratic aspirations.”

Nuland goes on and on in a similar vein, but her central theme is that Russia must be confronted to deter Vladimir Putin, a man that she clearly hates and depicts as if he were a comic book version of evil. Some of her analysis is ridiculous, as “Russian troops regularly test the few U.S. forces left in Syria to try to gain access to the country’s oil fields and smuggling routes. If these U.S. troops left, nothing would prevent Moscow and Tehran from financing their operations with Syrian oil or smuggled drugs and weapons.”

Like most zealots, Nuland is notably lacking in any sense of self-criticism. She conspired to overthrow a legitimately elected democratic government in Ukraine because it was considered too friendly to Russia. She accuses the Kremlin of having “seized” Crimea, but fails to see the heavy footprint of the U.S. military in Afghanistan and Iraq and as a regional enabler of Israeli and Saudi war crimes. One wonders if she is aware that Russia, which she sees as expansionistic, has only one overseas military base while the United States has more than a thousand.

Nuland clearly chooses not to notice the White House’s threats against countries that do not toe the American line, most recently Iran and Venezuela, but increasingly also China on top of perennial enemy Russia. None of those nations threaten the United States and all the kinetic activity and warnings are forthcoming from a gentleman named Mike Pompeo, speaking from Washington, not from “undemocratic” leaders in the Kremlin, Tehran, Caracas or Beijing.

Victoria Nuland recommends that “The challenge for the United States in 2021 will be to lead the democracies of the world in crafting a more effective approach to Russia—one that builds on their strengths and puts stress on Putin where he is vulnerable, including among his own citizens.” Interestingly, that might be regarded as seeking to interfere in the workings of a foreign government, reminiscent of the phony case made against Russia in 2016. And it is precisely what Nuland did in fact do in Ukraine.

Nuland has a lot more to say in her article and those who are interested in the current state of interventionism in Washington should not ignore her. Confronting Russia as some kind of ideological enemy is a never-ending process that leaves both sides poorer and less free. It is appropriate for Moscow to have an interest in what goes on right on top of its border while the United States five thousand miles away and possessing both a vastly larger economy and armed forces can, one would think, relax a bit and unload the burden of being the world’s self-appointed policeman.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation (Federal ID Number #52-1739023) that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is https://councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org.

The Globalization of War. America’s “Long War” against Humanity

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Global Research, June 11, 2020

America’s hegemonic project in the post 9/11 era is the “Globalization of War” whereby the U.S.-NATO  military machine –coupled with covert intelligence operations, economic sanctions and the thrust of “regime change”— is deployed in all major regions of the world.  The threat of pre-emptive nuclear war is also used to black-mail countries into submission.

This “Long War against Humanity” is carried out at the height of the most serious economic crisis in modern history. It is intimately related to a process of global financial restructuring, which has resulted in the collapse of national economies and the impoverishment of large sectors of the World population.

The ultimate objective is World conquest under the cloak of “human rights” and “Western democracy”.

The Globalization of War

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““The Globalization of War” comprises war on two fronts: those countries that can either be “bought” or destabilized. In other cases, insurrection, riots and wars are used to solicit U.S. military intervention. Michel Chossudovsky’s book is a must read for anyone who prefers peace and hope to perpetual war, death, dislocation and despair.”The Dirty War on Syria and The Globalization of War: Special Offer

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“Michel Chossudovsky describes globalization as a hegemonic weapon that empowers the financial elites and enslaves 99 percent of the world’s population.

“The Globalization of War” is diplomatic dynamite – and the fuse is burning rapidly.”

Michael Carmichael, President, the Planetary Movement

The Globalization of War: America’s “Long War” against Humanity

by Michel Chossudovsky

Global Research Publishers, Montreal 2015

EXCERPT FROM PREFACE:

The “globalization of war” is a hegemonic project.  Major military and covert intelligence operations are being undertaken simultaneously in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia and the Far East. The U.S. military agenda combines both major theater operations as well as covert actions geared towards destabilizing sovereign states.

Under a global military agenda, the actions undertaken by the Western military alliance (U.S.-NATO-Israel) in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, Ukraine, Syria and Iraq are coordinated at the highest levels of the military hierarchy. We are not dealing with piecemeal military and intelligence operations. The July-August 2014 attack on Gaza by Israeli forces was undertaken in close consultation with the United States and NATO. The actions in Ukraine and their timing coincided with the onslaught of the attack on Gaza.

In turn, military undertakings are closely coordinated with a process of economic warfare which consists not only in imposing sanctions on sovereign countries but also in deliberate acts of destabilization of financial and currencies markets, with a view to undermining the enemies’ national economies.

The United States and its allies have launched a military adventure which threatens the future of humanity. As we go to press, U.S.and NATO forces have been deployed in Eastern Europe including Ukraine. U.S. military intervention under a humanitarian mandate is proceeding in sub-Saharan Africa. The U.S. and its allies are threatening China under President Obama’s “Pivot to Asia”.

In turn, military maneuvers are being conducted at Russia’s doorstep which could potentially lead to escalation.

The U.S. airstrikes initiated in September 2014 directed against Iraq and Syria under the pretext of going after the Islamic State are part of a scenario of military escalation extending from North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean to Central and South Asia.

The Western military alliance is in an advanced state of readiness. And so is Russia.

Russia is heralded as the “Aggressor”. U.S.-NATO military confrontation with Russia is contemplated.

Enabling legislation in the U.S. Senate under “The Russian Aggression Prevention Act” (RAPA) has “set the U.S. on a path towards direct military conflict with Russia in Ukraine.”

“Any U.S.-Russian war is likely to quickly escalate into a nuclear war, since neither the U.S. nor Russia would be willing to admit defeat, both have many thousands of nuclear weapons ready for instant use, and both rely upon Counterforce military doctrine that tasks their military, in the event  of war, to pre-emptively destroy the nuclear forces of the enemy.”

The Russian Aggression Prevention Act (RAPA) is the culmination of more than twenty years of U.S.-NATO war preparations,which consist in the military encirclement of both Russia and China:

“From the moment the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the United States has relentlessly pursued a strategy of encircling Russia, just as it has with other perceived enemies like China and Iran. It has brought 12 countries in central Europe, all of them formerly allied with Moscow, into the NATO alliance. U.S. military power is now directly on Russia’s borders.”

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The original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Prof Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, 2020

US Activist: Internal Crises Overwhelming Racist US, People Will Not Retreat

US Activist: Internal Crises Overwhelming Racist US, People Will Not Retreat 

By Elham Hashemi

The latest riots and looting in the United States of America were triggered by the cold-blooded killing of the US citizen George Floyd. The entire planet knows the sad story of Floyd no need to mention in it here.

But this story is only the tip of the iceberg. For those who think that Floyd’s killing is the real reason that made streets of different US states and regions flood with protestors and rioters, you are mistaken. Underneath the tip of the iceberg is what has been accumulating for long years.

If you know the US well, you must know by now that there is no universal healthcare, there are starvation wages, there exists mass incarceration, the US has a long history of police brutality, there is a lack of opportunities, racist politicians are everywhere, a racist justice system exists, there are no reparations and there is no access to affordable education.

With the coming of Covid-19 and the state of chaos across the country, and the sad crime of killing Floyd, it seems that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Thanks to alternative and social media networks, nothing is hidden; information flows in specs of a second through fiber optic technology to reach millions across the world.

News activist and analyst Sam G. from the city of Michigan told al-Ahed news that “Information is not monopolistic anymore. People across the world have become news junkies contributing to the multiplicity of informative voices as well as provide information on first-hand experience and what is happening in each country.”

Sam told al-Ahed “Corona, the pandemic which probably should be thanked at a certain point, revealed the spirit of each country, that is, those who are interested in giving more importance to the economy, as is the case of the United States, while other countries such as Iran carried out a coronavirus control policy where the health of its people was given more importance despite being financially sanctioned by the United States where its people are suffering from the individualistic policies of their government.

“The difference is clear, economy versus health, money versus life and here are the countries that suffer the most that are setting the example.”

The activist noted “The United States has loads of internal crises that it needs to overcome. The political crisis has extended to reach US President Donald Trump; his own officials who can no longer support his statements and poor decisions.”

“We are talking about a government that is racist towards its people. It is a country that is sinking in problems and complex issues and has a government that is sort of living in a state of denial. The US suffers an economic crisis where unconventional oil companies declared bankruptcy and the state had to go out to subsidize them while people continue to die for not being able to access the health system that is private and segregating.” 

This, according to Sam, “leads to an unprecedented social crisis that proves once again that the Trump administration has no intention of improving its own country.”

According to Sam, this is only the beginning of change in the US as well as the world and its order. The activist thinks that people are not willing to retreat or stop protesting until they see the arrest of all officers involved in the killing of Floyd and see action in terms of protecting the rights of African Americans at least.

In many parts of the world, the death of yet another black man at the hands of the police in the United States set off mass protests against police brutality. For many activists and community organizers, Floyd’s death under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer was a blunt reminder of Chicago’s racial divide and history of police brutality against African Americans.

Between 2013 and 2019, police in the United States killed 7,666 people, according to data compiled by Mapping Police Violence, a research and advocacy group. In 2019 alone, more than 1,000 people were killed by police, according to Mapping Police Violence, a research group.

Several states have called in National Guard troops to help quell the protests, some of which have turned violent. Cities nationwide have also implemented curfews, but protesters appear undeterred.

The US has even failed in ensuring the right of citizens to protest, which is the simplest form of freedom of expression and human rights in the so-called land of democracies and freedoms. According to the human rights group Amnesty International, police tactics used so far can trigger escalating violence. “Equipping officers in a manner more appropriate for a battlefield may put them in the mindset that confrontation and conflict are inevitable,” read the statement, adding that police “should demilitarize their approach and engage in dialogue with protest organizers”.

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ماذا تقول الأحداث الأميركيّة؟ وماذا عن المقارنات اللبنانيّة؟

ناصر قنديل

تدخل الأحداث التي تتفجّر عنفاً في الشوارع الأميركيّة وتشمل عدداً كبيراً من المدن والولايات طريق التعاظم، لأسبوع إضافي، وبمعزل عن حماسة الترحيب بهذه الأحداث أو الدعوات لعدم الاحتفال بها، فهي لا تبدو مجرد احتجاج عابر على مقتل الرجل الأسود على أيدي رجال الشرطة، بمقدار ما شكل الحادث الصادم بطريقته وظروفه، عنصر التفجير لمخزون غضب كان ينتظر فرصة التحوّل إلى شريك في المشهد الأميركي. ومخزون الغضب يتجمّع مع الخطاب العنصريّ للرئيس دونالد ترامب، وزادته تعاظماً بأضعاف مضاعفة الأزمات الاجتماعية الناجمة عن تداعيات وباء كورونا، وتشرد ملايين العاطلين عن العمل من وظائفهم، وانضمامهم إلى طالبي الإعانات، في ظل تراكم مجموعة أحداث سياسية دولية أصابت الهيبة الأميركية، خصوصاً في الجوار المباشر، الذي تمثله فنزويلا، بعدما قدّمها ترامب كثمرة ناضجة للقطاف العنصري لنظامه، وتحوّلت بعد وصول ناقلات النفط الإيرانيّة، إلى عنوان الفشل الأميركي، فيما لا تبدو الانتخابات الفرصة التي كان ينتظرها الشارع الغاضب على ترامب وإدارته لتغيير ديمقراطي، في ظل الصورة الباهتة التي يقدّمها الحزب الديمقراطي، والمشاكل التي تحيط بأهليّة مرشحه جو بايدن لمواصلة السابق الانتخابي، مع ظهور بوادر للتلاعب بالعملية الانتخابية برمّتها، وصولاً لفرضيات التأجيل حتى إشعار آخر.

الغضب وانعدام الأمل هما طريق النزول إلى الشارع، وهما عنصران متوافران بقوة في شارع أميركي ليس محصوراً بأصحاب البشرة السوداء. فضحايا العنصرية التي يضخها خطاب ترامب تتخطاهم لتطال ذوي الأصول اللاتينيّة، والمسلمين، والنساء، والأزمة الاقتصادية الاجتماعيّة تمسّ شرائح كانت تحسب حتى الأمس على الطبقة الوسطى من البيض المتنورين، وتحرك مجموعات الوسط الليبرالي واليساري الذين أظهرت حملة المرشح بيرني ساندرز أنهم شريحة وازنة في معظم الولايات الأميركية، وهذا الشارع المتنوع يبدو أنه ينضم تدريجاً للحركة الاحتجاجية التي تتسع بصورة لافتة على مستوى تنوّع مكوّناتها، وتعدد ولاياتها، لتصير أقرب نحو تشكيل شارع وطني أميركي يواجه سلطة حكم، متوحشة، اقتصادياً واجتماعياً وسياسياً وإعلامياً، يقودها وحش مالي عنصري هو دونالد ترامب، من دون وجود أفق راهن لتسوية في منتصف الطريق، في ظل أزمة اقتصادية مرشحة للمزيد من التفاقم، وشح متزايد في الموارد، مع تراجع عام تعانيه الشخصية الأميركية في العالم، في ظل فقدان السيطرة على الملفات السياسية الخارجية كحاكم منفرد للعالم، من جهة، وتراجع كبير في الصورة العلمية والأخلاقية التي حرص الأميركيون دائماً على إظهار تفوّق نموذجهم في تمثيلها. وكان ما شهدته الولايات الأميركية وخصوصاً نيويورك، في مواجهة وباء كورونا، التعبير الأقوى عن هذا السقوط العلمي والأخلاقي.

المخاض الأميركي يبدو مفتوحاً، بلا أفق واضح لخاتمة قريبة، والحديث هنا ليس عن ثورة ولا عن تغيير نظام بالتأكيد، هو الغضب الشعبي اليائس من قدرة النظام على احتواء الأزمات ضمن مؤسسات الديمقراطية. وهذا يجب أن يدركه الذين يرغبون بإجراء المقارنات مع ما شهده لبنان، ويحبّون بتسميته ثورة، فما يجري في أميركا يشبه ما جرى في لبنان، وليس تغيير النظام في كليهما أفقاً ممكناً، ولا صفة الثورة تصحّ فيه، لأنها بالضبط بلا قيادة وبلا برنامج، وما يجري في أميركا يقول للبنانيين الذين يتساءلون عن معنى احتفال الخصوم السياسيين للإدارة الأميركية بما يجري، بينما لم يفعلوا ذلك تجاه ما جرى في لبنان، الجواب بسيط، هو أنهم لا يرغبون لبلدهم ما يرغبونه لعدوهم، من فوضى ومخاطر أمنية، وضياع للأفق السياسي؛ أما الذين يقولون لماذا لا يطعن أحد بأهلية ما يجري في أميركا من الذين طعنوا بأهلية ما جرى في لبنان؟ فالجواب ببساطة هو أن “لا وجود لسفارة أميركية في أميركا”.

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Why U.S. Must Be Prosecuted for Its War Crimes Against Iraq

Why U.S. Must Be Prosecuted for Its War Crimes Against Iraq

May 16, 2020

by Eric Zuesse  for The Saker Blog

The reason why the U.S. Government must be prosecuted for its war-crimes against Iraq is that they are so horrific and there are so many of them, and international law crumbles until they become prosecuted and severely punished for what they did. We therefore now have internationally a lawless world (or “World Order”) in which “Might makes right,” and in which there is really no effective international law, at all. This is merely gangster “law,” ruling on an international level. It is what Hitler and his Axis of fascist imperialists had imposed upon the world until the Allies — U.S. under FDR, UK under Churchill, and U.S.S.R. under Stalin — defeated it, and established the United Nations. Furthermore, America’s leaders deceived the American public into perpetrating this invasion and occupation, of a foreign country (Iraq) that had never threatened the United States; and, so, this invasion and subsequent military occupation constitutes the very epitome of “aggressive war” — unwarranted and illegal international aggression. (Hitler, similarly to George W. Bush, would never have been able to obtain the support of his people to invade if he had not lied, or “deceived,” them, into invading and militarily occupying foreign countries that had never threatened Germany, such as Belgium, Poland and Czechoslovakia. This — Hitler’s lie-based aggressions — was the core of what the Nazis were hung for, and yet America now does it.)

As Peter Dyer wrote in 2006, about “Iraq & the Nuremberg Precedent”:

Invoking the precedent set by the United States and its allies at the Nuremberg trial in 1946, there can be no doubt that the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 was a war of aggression. There was no imminent threat to U.S. security nor to the security of the world. The invasion violated the U.N. Charter as well as U.N. Security Council Resolution #1441.

The Nuremberg precedent calls for no less than the arrest and prosecution of those individuals responsible for the invasion of Iraq, beginning with President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Condoleez[z]a Rice, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz.

Take, for example, Condoleezza Rice, who famously warned “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” (That warning was one of the most effective lies in order to deceive the American public into invading Iraq, because President Bush had had no real evidence, at all, that there still remained any WMD in Iraq after the U.N. had destroyed them all, and left Iraq in 1998 — and he knew this; he was informed of this; he knew that he had no real evidence, at all: he offered none; it was all mere lies.)

So, the Nuremberg precedent definitely does apply against George W, Bush and his partners-in-crime, just as it did against Hitler and his henchmen and allies.

The seriousness of this international war crime is not as severe as those of the Nazis were, but nonetheless is comparable to it.

On 15 March 2018, Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J.S. Davies headlined at Alternet “The Staggering Death Toll in Iraq” and wrote that “our calculations, using the best information available, show a catastrophic estimate of 2.4 million Iraqi deaths since the 2003 invasion,” and linked to solid evidence, backing up their estimate.

On 6 February 2020, BusinessInsider bannered “US taxpayers have reportedly paid an average of $8,000 each and over $2 trillion total for the Iraq war alone”, and linked to the academic analysis that supported this estimate. The U.S. regime’s invasive war, which the Bush gang perpetrated against Iraq, was also a crime against the American people (though Iraqis suffered far more from it than we did).

On 29 September 2015, I headlined “GALLUP: ‘Iraqis Are the Saddest & One of the Angriest Populations in the World’,” and linked to Gallup’s survey of 1,000 individuals in each of 148 countries around the world, which found that Iraq had the highest “Negative Experience Score.” That score includes “sadness,” “physical pain,” “anger,” and other types of misery — and Iraq, after America’s invasion, has scored the highest in the entire world, on it, and in the following years has likewise scored at or near the highest on “Negative Experience Score.” For example: in the latest, the 2019, Gallup “Global Emotions Report”, Iraq scores fourth from the top on “Negative Experience Score,” after (in order from the worst) Chad, Niger, and Sierra Leone. (Gallup has been doing these surveys ever since 2005, but the first one that was published under that title was the 2015 report, which summarized the 2014 surveys’ findings.) Of course, prior to America’s invasion, there had been America’s 1990 war against Iraq and the U.S. regime’s leadership and imposition of U.N. sanctions (which likewise were based largely on U.S.-regime-backed lies, though not totally on lies like the 2003 invasion was), which caused massive misery in that country; and, therefore, not all of the misery in Iraq which showed up in the 2015 Global Emotions Report was due to only the 2003 invasion and subsequent military occupation of that country. But almost all of it was, and is. And all of it was based on America’s rulers lying to the public in order to win the public’s acceptance of their evil plans and invasions against a country that had never posed any threat whatsoever to Americans — people residing in America. Furthermore, it is also perhaps relevant that the 2012 “World Happiness Report” shows Iraq at the very bottom of the list of countries (on page 55 of that report) regarding “Average Net Affect by Country,” meaning that Iraqis were the most zombified of all 156 nationalities surveyed. Other traumatized countries were immediately above Iraq on that list. On “Average Negative Affect,” only “Palestinian Territories” scored higher than Iraq (page 52). After America’s invasion based entirely on lies, Iraq is a wrecked country, which still remains under the U.S. regime’s boot, as the following will document:

Bush’s successors, Obama and Trump, failed to press for Bush’s trial on these vast crimes, even though the American people had ourselves become enormously victimized by them, though far less so than Iraqis were. Instead, Bush’s successors have become accessories after the fact, by this failure to press for prosecution of him and his henchmen regarding this grave matter. In fact, the “Defense One” site bannered on 26 September 2018, “US Official: We May Cut Support for Iraq If New Government Seats Pro-Iran Politicians”, and opened with “The Trump administration may decrease U.S. military support or other assistance to Iraq if its new government puts Iranian-aligned politicians in any ‘significant positions of responsibility,’ a senior administration official told reporters late last week.” The way that the U.S. regime has brought ‘democracy’ to Iraq is by threatening to withdraw its protection of the stooge-rulers that it had helped to place into power there, unless those stooges do the U.S. dictators’ bidding, against Iraq’s neighbor Iran. This specific American dictator, Trump, is demanding that majority-Shiite Iraq be run by stooges who favor, instead, America’s fundamentalist-Sunni allies, such as the Saud family who own Saudi Arabia and who hate and loathe Shiites and Iran. The U.S. dictatorship insists that Iraq, which the U.S. conquered, serve America’s anti-Shiite and anti-Iranian policy-objectives. “The U.S. threat, to withhold aid if Iran-aligned politicians occupy any ministerial position, is an escalation of Washington’s demands on Baghdad.” The article went on to quote a “senior administration official” as asserting that, “if Iran exerts a tremendous amount of influence, or a significant amount of influence over the Iraqi government, it’s going to be difficult for us to continue to invest.” Get the euphemisms there! This article said that “the Trump administration has made constraining Iran’s influence in the region a cornerstone of their foreign policy.” So, this hostility toward Iran must be reflected in Iraq’s policies, too. It’s not enough that Trump wants to destroy Iran like Bush has destroyed Iraq; Trump demands that Iraq participate in that crime, against Iraq’s own neighbor. This article said that, “There have also been protests against ‘U.S. meddling’ in the formation of a new Iraqi government, singling out Special Presidential Envoy Brett McGurk for working to prevent parties close to Iran from obtaining power.” McGurk is the rabidly neconservative former high G.W. Bush Administration official, and higher Obama Administration official, who remained as Trump’s top official on his policy to force Iraq to cooperate with America’s efforts to conquer Iran. Trump’s evil is Obama’s evil, and is Bush’s evil. It is bipartisan evil, no matter which Party is in power. Though Trump doesn’t like either the Bushes or Obamas, all of them are in the same evil policy-boat. America’s Deep State remains the same, no matter whom it places into the position of nominal power. The regime remains the same, regardless.

On April 29th, the whistleblowing former UK Ambassador Craig Murray wrote:

Nobody knows how many people died as a result of the UK/US Coalition of Death led destruction of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and, by proxy, Syria and Yemen. Nobody even knows how many people western forces themselves killed directly. That is a huge number, but still under 10% of the total. To add to that you have to add those who died in subsequent conflict engendered by the forced dismantling of the state the West disapproved of. Some were killed by western proxies, some by anti-western forces, and some just by those reverting to ancient tribal hostility and battle for resources into which the country had been regressed by bombing.

You then have to add all those who died directly as a result of the destruction of national infrastructure. Iraq lost in the destruction 60% of its potable drinking water, 75% of its medical facilities and 80% of its electricity. This caused millions of deaths, as did displacement. We are only of course talking about deaths, not maiming.

UK’s Prime Minister Tony Blair should hang with the U.S. gang, but who is calling for this? How much longer will the necessary prosecutions wait? Till after these international war-criminals have all gone honored to their graves?

Although the International Criminal Court considered and dismissed possible criminal charges against Tony Blair’s UK Government regarding the invasion and military occupation of Iraq, the actual crime, of invading and militarily occupying a country which had posed no threat to the national security of the invader, was ignored, and the conclusion was that “the situation did not appear to meet the required threshold of the Statute” (which was only “Willful killing or inhuman treatment of civilians” and which ignored the real crime, which was “aggressive war” or “the crime of aggression” — the crime for which Nazis had been hanged at Nuremberg). Furthermore, no charges whatsoever against the U.S. Government (the world’s most frequent and most heinous violator of international law) were considered. In other words: the International Criminal Court is subordinate to, instead of applicable to, the U.S. regime. Just like Adolf Hitler had repeatedly made clear that, to him, all nations except Germany were dispensable and only Germany wasn’t, Barack Obama repeatedly said that “The United States is and remains the one indispensable nation”, which likewise means that every other nation is “dispensable.” The criminal International Criminal Court accepts this, and yet expects to be respected.

The U.S. regime did “regime change” to Iraq in 2003, and to Ukraine in 2014, and tried to do it to Syria since 2009, and to Yemen since 2015, and to Venezuela since 2012, and to Iran since 2017 — just to mention some of the examples. And, though the Nuremberg precedent certainly applies, it’s not enforced. In principle, then, Hitler has posthumously won WW II.

Hitler must be smiling, now. FDR must be rolling in his grave.

The only way to address this problem, if there won’t be prosecutions against the ‘duly elected’ (Deep-State-approved and enabled) national leaders and appointees, would be governmental seizure and nationalization of the assets that are outright owned or else controlled by America’s Deep State. Ultimately, the Government-officials who are s‘elected’ and appointed to run the American Government have been and are representing not the American people but instead represent the billionaires who fund those officials’ and former officials’ careers. In a democracy, those individuals — the financial enablers of those politicians’ s‘electoral’ success — would be dispossessed of all their assets, and then prosecuted for the crimes that were perpetrated by the public officials whom they had participated in (significantly funded and propagandized for) placing into power. (For example, both Parties’ Presidential nominees are unqualified to serve in any public office in a democracy.)

Democracy cannot function with a systematically lied-to public. Nor can it function if the responsible governmental officials are effectively immune from prosecution for their ‘legal’ crimes, or if the financial string-pullers behind the scenes can safely pull those strings. In America right now, both of those conditions pertain, and, as a result, democracy is impossible. There are only two ways to address this problem, and one of them would start by prosecuting George W. Bush.

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

Syrian ‘Regime Change’ Architect: William Roebuck, US Ambassador of Destruction

By Steven Sahiounie

Global Research, May 06, 2020

Since 2006, William Roebuck, a US Diplomat, has been working toward ‘regime change’ in Syria at any cost. The destruction of Syria, hundreds of thousands of deaths and injuries, and the migration of one-third of the population have been the price of the US policy under Roebuck’s tenure.  The ultimate goal of ‘regime change’ has never been about greater freedoms, democracy, or human rights for Syrians, but has been with the single target spelled out by Roebuck in 2006: to break the relationship between Iran and Syria. 

William Roebuck, US Ambassador ‘to the Kurds in Syria’

William Roebuck is a 27 year veteran of the US State Department, having served under Presidents Bush, Obama, and currently Trump.  His current title is Deputy Special Envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. He is a former US Ambassador to Syria and Bahrain.  He has served in the US embassies in Iraq and chargé d’affaires in Libya under Obama. Seymour M. Hersh wrote about the US Embassy in Libya and its role in arming the terrorists used by the US in Syria.  For the past several years, he has been based in Northeast Syria and managing the Kurds.

Roebuck designed the 2011 “Arab Spring” in Syria

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange revealed a plan concocted by William Roebuck, the former US Ambassador to Syria.  Wikileaks published US diplomatic cables, and chapter 10 of “The Wikileaks Files” concerns Roebuck’s cable sent on December 13, 2006.  Ambassador Roebuck wrote that the US should take action to try to destabilize the Syrian government by provoking it to overreact, both internally and externally. That plan was put into action in March 2011 at Deraa, where armed terrorists were interspersed among unarmed civilians in street protests. The terrorists were provoking the police and security forces by shooting at them, as well as shooting unarmed civilians which were blamed on the security forces.

The cables prove that ‘regime change’ had been the goal of US policy in Syria since 2006 and that the US promoted sectarianism in support of its policy, which built the foundation for the sectarian conflict which resulted in massive bloodshed. Roebuck advocated for exploiting Syria’s relationship with Iran, which makes Syria vulnerable to Israeli airstrikes. Roebuck advised that the US should destabilize the Syrian government by promoting sectarian divisions between Sunni and Shia, which at the time was not an issue in Syria, which is a secular government and a tolerant society. By promoting sectarian conflict, which he had observed in the oil-rich Arab Gulf monarchies, Roebuck was crafting the destruction of Syrian society.  The ultimate US goal in Syria was to destabilize the Syrian government by violent means, resulting in a change of government, and the new government would be pro-Israeli, and anti-Iranian.

Roebuck’s memo leaked

In November 2019 an internal memo written on October 31 by Roebuck was leaked to the press. He criticized Trump for failing to stop Turkey from invading the Northeast of Syria. “Turkey’s military operation in northern Syria, spearheaded by armed Islamist groups on its payroll, represents an intentioned-laced effort at ethnic cleansing,” Mr. Roebuck wrote, calling the abuses “what can only be described as war crimes and ethnic cleansing.”Empowering Terrorism to “Stop” Terrorism: America’s Foreign Policy in Syria Summed Up in Three Headlines

Roebuck praised the SDF as a reliable partner acting as guards to keep US troops safe while they occupied Syria illegally, to steal the Syrian oil, which is to be used to support the SDF, instead of the Pentagon payroll.

Two is the company, but three is a crowd

The US state department has a Syrian trio: William Roebuck, and the special representative for Syria engagement, James Jeffrey. Joel Rayburn is a deputy assistant secretary for Levant Affairs and special envoy for Syria.

Iraqi and Syrian Kurdish officials are often confused as to which US officials are in charge on any given issue, and whether their policies were personally driven, or reflected US foreign policy directives. Many analysts agree that the US foreign policy on Syria is a confusing mess.

Roebuck pushes the Syrian Kurds to unite

The Kurdish National Council (KNC) and the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) have begun direct talks which US diplomat William Roebuck has promoted. For the last two years, he has been working with the Syrian Kurds.  The goal is to unite all Kurdish parties in Syria in one body, which could be part of the UN peace talks in Geneva to end the Syrian conflict.  The KNC and PYD have had serious disagreements over the years.

The KNC is part of the Istanbul-based ‘Syrian opposition’ and aligned with the Kurdish nationalist Massoud Barzani and his Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in Iraq.  The KNC received criticism as being pro-Turkish after the Turkish Army invaded the Northeastern region of Syria.

The PYD is part of the political arm of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) who had been the US partner fighting ISIS.  PYD bases its political and organizational projects on the PKK’s ideology. The PKK is considered as an international terrorist group accused of thousands of deaths in Turkey over the decades.

The first direct negotiations between the KNC and PYD were held in early April at an illegal US military base near Hasakah, with William Roebuck, an SDF commander Mazlum Abdi in attendance.  Roebuck has met numerous times over the past three months with the KNC, trying to push the idea of unification among the Kurdish factions.

At an April 25 press conference in Qamishli, it was announced that Roebuck had presented a draft that called for a unified political vision for Syria.  After about four meetings, the two sides were in agreement on the following points: Syria is to be a federal, democratic, and pluralistic state; the current Syrian government in Damascus was not acceptable; the Kurdish northeast region was to be a political unit.  It was stressed that both parties were committed to resolving the Syrian crisis through the implementation of UN Resolution 2254, and the new Syrian constitution must recognize Kurdish national, cultural, and political rights.

The SDF and PYD do not have political representation in the Geneva talks because of Turkish opposition to their participation, given the fact that Turkey views the groups as terrorists.  Turkey rejects any project that would lead to Kurdish autonomous rule in Syria, which is the goal of the US. When Trump ordered the sudden withdrawal of US troops from the Northeast of Syria in October, the Kurdish leaders immediately turned to the Syrian government in Damascus to save them from extermination at the hands of the invading Turkish Army.  However, the US did not want the Kurds to be protected by Damascus. The US goal is ‘regime change’ using UN Resolution 2254 as their tool. To achieve that end, William Roebuck has continued to work with the Kurds of the Northeast and is now trying to get them united to be at the negotiating table in Geneva. The Kurds might unite, but they will always remain a small minority numbering only 7% of the population, but who are attempting to control 20% of the territory in Syria.  Will there be justice for the Syrian homeowners and landowners within the territory the Kurds call “Rojava”, who have been made homeless and destitute at the hands of the Kurds? Will the Syrians one day rise in a “Kurdish Spring” cleaning to regain their properties?

Ahed al-Hindi, a political analyst based in Washington, DC, told  Al-Monitor that the US goal to unify the Kurdish ranks in northeastern Syria is a part of a project designed to unify the entire Syrian north, including Idlib and the Kurdish Northeast.  The US goal is to prevent the Syrian government from access to the resources which could be used to rebuild Syria.

The next UN peace talks in Geneva

UN Special Envoy Geir O. Pedersen gave a UN Security Council briefing on the situation in Syria on April 29. He announced the agenda for the next session of the Constitutional Committee had been agreed between the co-chairs, and meetings in Geneva would resume as soon as the COVID-19 restrictions would allow. He continued to stress the importance of the current nationwide ceasefire, which was needed to combat and treat COVID-19.  He declared there is no military solution to the Syrian conflict, and the UN Security Council resolution 2254 must be used as the path to a political settlement that would be acceptable for the Syrian people while restoring the sovereignty, borders, and independence of Syria.

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This article was originally published on Mideast Discourse.

Steven Sahiounie is an award-winning journalist. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

OPCW’s Own Scientists Say OPCW Is Now Just a U.S.-Propaganda Agency

OPCW’s Own Scientists Say OPCW Is Now Just a U.S.-Propaganda Agency

April 29, 2020

by Eric Zuesse for the Saker Blog

The formerly respected global authority on whether or not a chemical-weapons attack has occurred, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, or OPCW, has now so continuously ignored its own hired expert investigators, so that in an April 28th news-report, at “The Gray Zone” investigative-news site, anonymous “OPCW Insiders” have issued a public statement saying that:

A number of impartial and principled professionals no longer wish to be associated with the politically motivated reports being issued by the OPCW FFM  [Fact-Finding Mission] and now the IIT [Investigation and Identification Team]. Many consider this work and these reports to be procedurally and scientifically flawed. Some of us believe they should not be seen as representing the work of OPCW inspectors at all.

The recent publication of the IIT report into alleged chemical attacks at Ltamenah [in Syria — a country whose non-sectarian Government the U.S. regime has been trying since 2009 to overthrow and replace by a fundamentalist-Sunni government that would be controlled by the Saudson March 24, 25 and 30 2017, has highlighted again the misuse of the OPCW by influential state parties to further their political and foreign affairs objectives.

The news-reports that are listed below provide the essential background to this, indicating that the “influential state parties” which are being referred-to are the U.S. and its allied regimes (such as UK).

If the quoted statement is, in fact, a leak by “OPCW Insiders,” as “The Gray Zone” alleges, then it’s yet another nail in the coffin of the OPCW’s international credibility. Coming after a lengthy string of such OPCW scandals as are documented in the below-listed articles, all international funding organizations will then cancel their commitments to OPCW, except for organizations that represent the U.S. regime; and, then, the only international organizations that will continue to publicize the ‘findings’ from the OPCW will be organizations that themselves are agencies of the U.S. regime.

In that case, of course, no national delegations to the United Nations, except ones that represent regimes which themselves likewise front for (are vassals of) the U.S. regime, will continue to cite OPCW ‘findings’, in any other way than to deny the credibility of OPCW reports.

The background on all of this, including an explanation of what the main objectives of the U.S. regime are in Syria — what the purposes of this OPCW propaganda against Syria’s Government are — is provided here.

And, now, following, are the news-reports that describe the events building up to the “OPCW Insiders” statement, that “Some of us believe they should not be seen as representing the work of OPCW inspectors at all” (these events will be listed starting with the latest, and working backwards in time, to the earliest):

“As an employee of the OPCW I was horrified” 12 March 2020

“Deluge Of New Leaks Further Shreds The Establishment Syria Narrative” 15 December 2019

“Fresh Evidence that UN Watchdog Suppressed Evidence Casting Doubt on Assad Gas Attack” 15 December 2019

“New WikiLeaks Bombshell: 20 Inspectors Dissent From Syria Chemical Attack Narrative” 14 December 2019

“Newsweek reporter resigns after accusing outlet of SUPPRESSING story about OPCW leak that undermines Syria ‘gas attack’ narrative” 8 December 2019

“Second whistleblower exposes cover-up at OPCW & Syria chemical weapons report (Video)” 16 November 2019

“SUPPRESSED OPCW FINDING: War-Crime Likely Perpetrated by U.S. Against Syria on 14 April 2018 (Update)” 19 May 2019

“A memo from a member of the OPCW’s Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) in Douma to the OPCW Director General Fernando Arais” 14 March 2019

“Douma Videos and Photos” 24 April 2018

“Did Al Qaeda Dupe Trump on Syrian Attack?” 9 November 2017

“The Trumped-Up Syria-Sarin Case” 4 November 2017

“UN On Khan Sheikhoun – Victims Hospitalized BEFORE Claimed Incident Happened” 29 October 2017

“The Red Line and the Rat Line: Seymour M. Hersh on Obama, Erdoğan and the Syrian rebels” 17 April 2014

“Possible Implications of Faulty US Technical Intelligence in the Damascus Nerve Agent Attack of August 21, 2013” 14 January 2014

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

A Lesson Coronavirus Is About to Teach the World

By Jonathan Cook

Global Research, March 19, 2020

If a disease can teach wisdom beyond our understanding of how precarious and precious life is, the coronavirus has offered two lessons.

The first is that in a globalised world our lives are so intertwined that the idea of viewing ourselves as islands – whether as individuals, communities, nations, or a uniquely privileged species – should be understood as evidence of false consciousness. In truth, we were always bound together, part of a miraculous web of life on our planet and, beyond it, stardust in an unfathomably large and complex universe. 

It is only an arrogance cultivated in us by those narcissists who have risen to power through their own destructive egotism that blinded us to the necessary mix of humility and awe we ought to feel as we watch a drop of rain on a leaf, or a baby struggle to crawl, or the night sky revealed in all its myriad glories away from city lights.

And now, as we start to enter periods of quarantine and self-isolation – as nations, communities and individuals – all that should be so much clearer. It has taken a virus to show us that only together are we at our strongest, most alive and most human.

In being stripped of what we need most by the threat of contagion, we are reminded of how much we have taken community for granted, abused it, hollowed it out. We are afraid because the services we need in times of collective difficulty and trauma have been turned into commodities that require payment, or treated as privileges to which access is now means-tested, rationed or is simply gone. That insecurity is at the root of the current urge to hoard.

When death stalks us it is not bankers we turn to, or corporate executives, or hedge fund managers. Nonetheless, those are the people our societies have best rewarded. They are the people who, if salaries are a measure of value, are the most prized.

But they are not the people we need, as individuals, as societies, as nations. Rather, it will be doctors, nurses, public health workers, care-givers and social workers who will be battling to save lives by risking their own.

During this health crisis we may indeed notice who and what is most important. But will we remember the sacrifice, their value after the virus is no longer headline news? Or will we go back to business as usual – until the next crisis – rewarding the arms manufacturers, the billionaire owners of the media, the fossil fuel company bosses, and the financial-services parasites feeding off other people’s money? 

‘Take it on the chin’ 

The second lesson follows from the first. Despite everything we have been told for four decades or more, western capitalist societies are far from the most efficient ways of organising ourselves. That will be laid bare as the coronavirus crisis deepens.

We are still very much immersed in the ideological universe of Thatcherism and Reaganism, when we were told quite literally: “There is no such thing as society.” How will that political mantra stand the test of the coming weeks and months? How much can we survive as individuals, even in quarantine, rather than as part of communities that care for all of us?Western leaders who champion neoliberalism, as they are required to do nowadays, have two choices to cope with coronavirus – and both will require a great deal of misdirection if we are not to see through their hypocrisy and deceptions.

Our leaders can let us “take it on the chin”, as the British prime minister Boris Johnson has phrased it. In practice, that will mean allowing what is effectively a cull of many of the poor and elderly – one that will relieve governments of the financial burden of underfunded pension schemes and welfare payments.

Such leaders will claim they are powerless to intervene or to ameliorate the crisis. Confronted with the contradictions inherent in their worldview, they will suddenly become fatalists, abandoning their belief in the efficacy and righteousness of the free market. They will say the virus was too contagious to contain, too robust for health services to cope, too lethal to save lives. They will evade all blame for the decades of health cuts and privatisations that made those services inefficient, inadequate, cumbersome and inflexible.

Or, by contrast, politicians will use their spin doctors and allies in the corporate media to obscure the fact that they are quietly and temporarily becoming socialists to deal with the emergency. They will change the welfare rules so that all those in the gig economy they created – employed on zero-hours contracts – do not spread the virus because they cannot afford to self-quarantine or take days’ off sick.

Or most likely our leaders will pursue both options.

Permanent crisis 

If acknowledged at all, the conclusion to be draw from the crisis – that we all matter equally, that we need to look after one another, that we sink or swim together – will be treated as no more than an isolated, fleeting lesson specific to this crisis. Our leaders will refuse to draw more general lessons – ones that might highlight their own culpability – about how sane, humane societies should function all the time. 

In fact, there is nothing unique about the coronavirus crisis. It is simply a heightened version of the less visible crisis we are now permanently mired in. As Britain sinks under floods each winter, as Australia burns each summer, as the southern states of the US are wrecked by hurricanes and its great plains become dustbowls, as the climate emergency becomes ever more tangible, we will learn this truth slowly and painfully. 

Those deeply invested in the current system – and those so brainwashed they cannot see its flaws – will defend it to the bitter end. They will learn nothing from the virus. They will point to authoritarian states and warn that things could be far worse. 

They will point a finger at Iran’s high death toll as confirmation that our profit-driven societies are better, while ignoring the terrible damage we have inflicted on Iran’s health services after years of sabotaging its economy through ferocious sanctions. We left Iran all the more vulnerable to coronavirus  because we wanted to engineer “regime change” – to interfere under the pretence of “humanitarian” concern – as we have sought to do in other countries whose resources we wished to control, from Iraq to Syria and Libya.

Iran will be held responsible for a crisis we willed, that our politicians intended (even if the speed and means came as a surprise), to overthrow its leaders. Iran’s failures will be cited as proof of our superior way of life, as we wail self-righteously about the outrage of a “Russian interference” whose contours we can barely articulate. 

Valuing the common good 

Those who defend our system, even as its internal logic collapses in the face of coronavirus and a climate emergency, will tell us how lucky we are to live in free societies where some – Amazon executives, home delivery services, pharmacies, toilet-paper manufacturers – can still make a quick buck from our panic and fear. As long as someone is exploiting us, as long as someone is growing fat and rich, we will be told the system works – and works better than anything else imaginable. 

But in fact, late-stage capitalist societies like the US and the UK will struggle to claim even the limited successes against coronavirus of authoritarian governments. Is Trump in the US or Johnson in the UK – exemplars of “the market knows best” capitalism – likely to do better than China at containing and dealing with the virus?

This lesson is not about authoritarian versus “free” societies. This is about societies that treasure the common wealth, that value the common good, above private greed and profit, above protecting the privileges of a wealth-elite.

In 2008, after decades of giving the banks what they wanted – free rein to make money by trading in hot air – the western economies all but imploded as an inflated bubble of empty liquidity burst. The banks and financial services were saved only by public bail-outs – tax payers’ money. We were given no choice: the banks, we were told, were “too big to fail”.We bought the banks with our common wealth. But because private wealth is our era’s guiding star, the public were not allowed to own the banks they bought. And once the banks had been bailed out by us – a perverse socialism for the rich – the banks went right back to making private money, enriching a tiny elite until the next crash.

Nowhere to fly to 

The naive may think this was a one-off. But the failings of capitalism are inherent and structural, as the virus is already demonstrating and the climate emergency will drive home with alarming ferocity in the coming years.

The shut-down of borders means the airlines are quickly going bust. They didn’t put money away for a rainy day, of course. They didn’t save, they weren’t prudent. They are in a cut-throat world where they need to compete with rivals, to drive them out of business and make as much money as they can for shareholders.

Now there is nowhere for the airlines to fly to – and they will have no visible means to make money for months on end. Like the banks, they are too big to fail – and like the banks they are demanding public money be spent to tide them over until they can once again rapaciously make profits for their shareholders. There will be many other corporations queuing up behind the airlines. 




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Sooner or later the public will be strong-armed once again to bail out these profit-driven corporations whose only efficiency is the central part they play in fuelling global warming and eradicating life on the planet. The airlines will be resuscitated until the inevitable next crisis arrives – one in which they are key players.

A boot stamping on a face

Capitalism is an efficient system for a tiny elite to make money at a terrible cost, and an increasingly untenable one, to wider society – and only until that system shows itself to be no longer efficient. Then wider society has to pick up the tab, and assist the wealth-elite so the cycle can be begun all over again. Like a boot stamping on a human face – forever, as George Orwell warned long ago.

But it is not just that capitalism is economically self-destructive; it is morally vacant too. Again, we should study the exemplars of neoliberal orthodoxy: the UK and the US.

In Britain, the National Health Service – once the envy of the world – is in terminal decline after decades of privatising and outsourcing its services. Now the same Conservative party that began the cannibalising of the NHS is pleading with businesses such as car makers to address a severe shortage of ventilators, which will soon be needed to assist coronavirus patients.

Once, in an emergency, western governments would have been able to direct resources, both public and private, to save lives. Factories could have been repurposed for the common good. Today, the government behaves as if all it can do is incentivise business, pinning hopes on the profit motive and selfishness driving these firms to enter the ventilator market, or to provide beds, in ways beneficial to public health.

The flaws in this approach should be glaring if we examine how a car manufacturer might respond to the request to adapt its factories to make ventilators.

If it is not persuaded that it can make easy money or if it thinks there are quicker or bigger profits to be made by continuing to make cars at a time when the public is frightened to use public transport, patients will die. If it holds back, waiting to see if there will be enough demand for ventilators to justify adapting its factories, patients will die. If it delays in the hope that ventilator shortages will drive up subsidies from a government fearful of the public backlash, patients will die. And if it makes ventilators on the cheap, to boost profits, without ensuring medical personnel oversee quality control, patients will die.

Survival rates will depend not on the common good, on our rallying to help those in need, on planning for the best outcome, but on the vagaries of the market. And not only on the market, but on faulty, human perceptions of what constitute market forces.

Survival of the fittest 

If this were not bad enough, Trump – in all his inflated vanity – is showing how that profit-motive can be extended from the business world he knows so intimately to the cynical political one he has been gradually mastering. According to reports, behind the scenes he has been chasing after a silver bullet. He is speaking to international pharmaceutical companies to find one close to developing a vaccine so the United States can buy exclusive rights to it.

Reports suggest that he wants to offer the vaccine exclusively to the US public, in what would amount to the ultimate vote-winner in a re-election year. This would be the nadir of the dog-eat-dog philosophy – the survival of the fittest, the market decides worldview – we have been encouraged to worship over the past four decades. It is how people behave when they are denied a wider society to which they are responsible and which is responsible for them.




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But even should Trump eventually deign to let other countries enjoy the benefits of his privatised vaccine, this will not be about helping mankind, about the greater good. It will be about Trump the businessman-president turning a tidy profit for the US on the back of other’s desperation and suffering, as well as marketing himself a political hero on the global stage.

Or, more likely, it will be yet another chance for the US to demonstrate its “humanitarian” credentials, rewarding “good” countries by giving them access to the vaccine, while denying “bad” countries like Russia the right to protect their citizens.

Obscenely stunted worldviewIt will be a perfect illustration on the global stage – and in bold technicolour – of how the American way of marketing health works. This is what happens when health is treated not as a public good but as a commodity to be bought, as a privilege to incentivise the workforce, as a measure of who is successful and who is unsuccessful.

The US, by far the richest country on the planet, has a dysfunctional health care system not because it cannot afford a good one, but because its political worldview is so obscenely stunted by the worship of wealth that it refuses to acknowledge the communal good, to respect the common wealth of a healthy society.

The US health system is by far the most expensive in the world, but also the most inefficient. The vast bulk of “health spending” does not contribute to healing the sick but enriches a health industry of pharmaceutical corporations and health insurance companies.

Analysts describe a third of all US health spending – $765 billion a year – as “wasted”. But “waste” is a euphemism. In fact, it is money stuffed into the pockets of corporations calling themselves the health industry as they defraud the common wealth of US citizens. And the fraudulence is all the greater because despite this enormous expenditure more than one in 10 US citizens has no meaningful health cover.

As never before, coronavirus will bring into focus the depraved inefficiency of this system – the model of profit-driven health care, of market forces that look out for the short-term interests of business, not the long-term interests of us all.

There are alternatives. Right now, Americans are being offered a choice between a democratic socialist, Bernie Sanders, who champions health care as a right because it is a common good, and a Democratic party boss, Joe Biden, who champions the business lobbies he depends on for funding and his political success. One is being marginalised and vilified as a threat to the American way of life by a handful of corporations that own the US media, while the other is being propelled towards the Democratic nomination by those same corporations.

Coronavirus has an important, urgent lesson to teach us. The question is: are we ready yet to listen?

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This essay first appeared on the author’s blog site, Jonathan Cook’s blog.

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His books include “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jonathan-cook.net. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from Health.milThe original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Jonathan Cook, Global Research, 2020

Opening Iran’s Black Box

By David Macilwain

Source

Ukraine Flight 752 a0457

As Western governments continue to poke at the Iranian bear, thinking it is busy licking its wounds, they should keep an eye on its claws, and not turn their backs, or their minds to other matters. But neither should we, because the regime changers have not abandoned their plans, nor written off their investment in creating this disorder, as the sudden resumption of NATO-backed “protests” in Iraq and Lebanon demonstrate. A new leader of Islamic State has even been launched into the fray in a timely fashion – on the third anniversary of Trump’s infamous inauguration.

It’s now twenty days since the ‘B’ team murdered their chances of a peaceful settlement in Iraq, but barely enough time for the Iranian bear to muster its strength after such a shock, though that strength is now many times greater and extends across its borders. Had that shock been isolated, with only the close involvement of Iraq, then the subsequent ballistic missile attack by Iran on US bases could have passed for a response, and even led to a peaceful pull-out of Western forces, as demanded by the Iraqi government.

But at that point, the two sides diverged, irreconcilably – the shooting down of Ukrainian flight PS 752 changed everything.

The argument over whether this pre-emptive extrajudicial assassination was a crime was partly down to opinion – on whether Qasem Soleimani was “a terrorist” who needed to be “taken out”,  or the Hero of Shia Islam who saved his Iraqi and Syrian brothers from brutal Salafists and Zionist occupiers. As a soldier in the war against the US coalition and its mercenaries, he was in some sense a legitimate target, but the US crime was in denying him the chance to die and kill in a fair fight. Being picked off by some gum-chewing coward a thousand miles away is the yardstick for US morality and criminality not lost on Iranians or Iraqis, or the IRGC which promptly declared the US army to be a terrorist organization.

For the 167 innocent passengers and crew on PS 752 however, there can be no such argument; their killing, accidental or not, was a crime because of its means, and someone may be held responsible, even if indirectly, as indeed they already are by those rushing to judgment in the West. Despite the initial qualification of the crash by most leaders and media as a “tragic accident”, it is now referred to simply as “the plane shot down by the Iranian military”, implicitly suggesting a civilian airliner was intentionally targeted. But just as with MH17, if Iran was responsible for shooting down a civilian plane carrying Iranians on its own territory it was quite clearly an accident, and should be treated as one – particularly as Iran’s leaders have accepted responsibility and apologized profusely.

But the similarity to MH17 goes further, as the consequences of the Iranian missile defense action for Western public opinion have been devastating for Iran but remarkably beneficial for her enemies, as noted before. On the back of this sudden turn around, the IRGC now appears as it has always been portrayed by Iran’s greatest foes – Israel and the US, while the Iranian government’s entirely reasonable abandonment of the farcical JCPOA provides just the excuse needed for NATO to step up the nuclear pressure and even re-introduce sanctions.

To an impartial observer – and in this case to all those aligned with Iran, Russia and China – this looks grossly unfair, and offensive to any sense of International law and justice.

America and its local allies and co-conspirators have committed a totally illegal political assassination as a provocation, which has led to an environment where hundreds of innocent people have died – including those in the stampede at Soleimani’s funeral. Rather than offering help and sympathy, and understanding of the circumstances behind this tragedy, Western regimes have exploited the disaster to their own ends, almost as if it were their intent.

But perhaps it was.

Forgetting the substantial evidence of covert planning for actions following the killing of the IRGC commander such as staged anti-government protest rallies, and even questions about the identity of the person who shot the video of the missile strike, a little giveaway in a second NYT report could be the clue Iran needs to close its case – that tricking the IRGC into shooting down PS 752 was an integral part of the operation that saw the IRGC leader first assassinated.

A few days after the New York Times publicized the missile video, unleashing a volley of abuse at Iran’s leaders for “lying” about it being a technical malfunction, but then needing to answer difficult questions on how the videographer just happened to be there with camera at the ready, the NYT put out a second report showing that two missiles had been fired:

“The New York Times has verified security camera footage on Tuesday that shows, for the first time, that two missiles hit Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 on Jan. 8. The missiles were launched from an Iranian military site around eight miles from the plane.

The new video fills a gap about why the plane’s transponder stopped working, seconds before it was hit by a second missile.

An earlier Times analysis confirmed what Iran later admitted: that an Iranian missile did strike the plane. The Times also established that the transponder stopped working before that missile hit the plane. The new video appears to confirm that an initial strike disabled the transponder, before the second strike, also seen in the video, around 23 seconds later.”

As explained elsewhere, the absence of a transponder signal from a flying object immediately identifies it as hostile to a missile defense system, and it was generally accepted that the apparent failure of PS 752’s transponder just two minutes after take-off was what led to its tragic shooting down. The question was why did the transponder suddenly fail, or get disabled?

This was a key question being asked by those who suspected foul play, such as may have occurred two days earlier during “maintenance”, or through some cyber means. It was a question that also needed answering by the Bellingcat club, and the second NYT report and video was their answer.

But it doesn’t work! It really doesn’t work!

On hearing first of this second missile that “took out the transponder”, my thought was simply that this was ridiculous and impossible, but it took two days to realize just why:

Why did the missile defense unit fire the first missile at PS 752 when its transponder was working?

Flights leaving IKA before PS 752 Jan 8th 3737c

Nine other flights took off from Imam Khomeini Airport that morning, including a Qatar airways flight just 30 minutes earlier, and passed by the IRGC missile defense systems without notice – with their transponders operating normally. Their pilots would have been particularly conscious of the need to turn transponders on at take-off given the extreme tensions following Iran’s missile volley early that morning – about four hours before the Ukrainian jet took off bound for Kyiv.

Flight PS 752, which flies five times a week on that popular route for Iranian Canadians, followed the identical flight path to those earlier jets, according to Flight Radar 24. But this site is hardly the only one tracking aircraft and other movements in Iran. In a report on the Iranian missile strikes on Ain al Asad base, the NYT candidly admits that the NSA was following the movements of Iranian missile defense systems as well as monitoring IRGC communications networks “with spy satellites”, and anticipating a response to Soleimani’s murder following his funeral. But much evidence points to the use of these cyber-warfare systems to confuse and control Iran’s defenses, in the same way that the Western public is confused and controlled by disinformation and emotive propaganda coming from their own governments.

But Iran has the Black Box, and holds the Ace. Because if the “conspiracy” theory is correct – that enemy intelligence actions caused the “accidental” downing of the chosen aircraft, the electronic record from the flight recorders will prove it. It only needs to show that the first missile hit PS 752 one second after the transponder stopped working to turn this Iranian tragedy into a US coalition atrocity, and the most infernal and criminal conspiracy since the demolition of the Twin Towers.

Perhaps then it will finally be the citizens of the countries who suffer under the Great Satan’s boot who benefit from its Imperial Overreach.

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