The End of International Law?

Do the Western powers hope to put an end to the constraints of International Law? That is the question asked by the Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sergueï Lavrov, at the Moscow conference on International Security [1].

Over the last few years, Washington has been promoting the concept of « unilateralism ». International Law and the United Nations are supposed to bow to the power of the United States.

This concept of political life is born of the History of the United States – the colonists who came to the Americas intended to live as they chose and make a fortune there. Each community developed its own laws and refused the intervention of a central government in local affairs. The President and the Federal Congress are charged with Defense and Foreign Affairs, but like the citizens themselves, they refused to accept an authority above their own.

Bill Clinton attacked Yugoslavia, blithely violating Internal Law. George Bush Jr. did the same by attacking Iraq, and Barack Obama by attacking Libya and Syria. As for Donald Trump, he has never hidden his distrust of supra-national rules.

Making an allusion to the Cebrowski-Barnett doctrine [2], Sergueï Lavrov declared: « We have the clear impression that the United States seek to maintain a state of controlled chaos in this immense geopolitical area [the Near East], hoping to use it to justify the military presence of the USA in the region, without any time limit, in order to promote their own agenda ».

The United Kingdom also seem to feel quite comfortable with breaking the Law. Last month, it accused Moscow in the « Skripal affair », without the slightest proof, and attempted to unite a majority of the General Assembly of the UN to exclude Russia from the Security Council. It would of course be easier for the Anglo-Saxons to unilaterally rewrite the Law without having to take notice of the opinions of their opponents.

Moscow does not believe that London took this initiative. It considers that Washington is calling the shots.

« Globalisation », in other words the « globalisation of Anglo-Saxon values », has created a class society between states. But we should not confuse this new problem with the existence of the right to a veto. Of course, the UNO, while it declares equality between states whatever their size, distinguishes, within the Security Council, five permanent members who have a veto. This Directorate, composed of the main victors of the Second World War, is a necessity for them to accept the principle of supra-national Law. However, when this Directorate fails to embody the Law, the General Assembly may take its place. At least in theory, because the smaller states which vote against a greater state are obliged to suffer retaliatory measures.

La « globalisation of Anglo-Saxon values » ignores honour and highlights profit, so that the weight of the propositions by any state will be measured only by the economic development of its country. However, over the years, three states have managed to gain an audience to the foundations of their propositions, and not in function of their economy – they are the Iran of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (today under house arrest in his own country), the Venezuela of Hugo Chávez, and the Holy See.

The confusion engendered by Anglo-Saxon values has led to the financing of intergovernmental organisations with private money. As one thing leads to another, the member states of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), for example, have progressively abandoned their propositional power to the profit of private telecom operators, who are united in a « consultative committee ».

« Communication », a new name for « propaganda », has become the imperative in international relations. From the US Secretary of State brandishing a phial of pseudo-anthrax to the British Minister for Foreign Affairs lying about the origin of Novitchok in the Salisbury affair, lies have become the substitute for respect, and cause general mistrust.

During the first years of its creation, the UNO attempted to forbid « war propaganda », but today, it is the permanent members of the Security Council who indulge in it.

The worst occurred in 2012, when Washington managed to obtain the nomination of one of its worst war-hawks, Jeffrey Feltman, as the number 2 of the UNO [3]. From that date onward, wars have been orchestrated in New York by the very institution that is supposed to prevent them.

Russia is wondering today about the possible desire of the Western powers to block the United Nations. If this is so, it would create an alternative institution, but there would no longer be a forum which would enable the two blocks to discuss matters.

Just as a society which falls into chaos, where men are wolves for men when deprived of the Law, so the world will become a battle-field if it abandons International Law.

Therry Meyssan, Voltair

by alfonso


The Iraq War and the Crisis of a Disintegrating Global Order

The following is a statement given by Inder Comar at a side event of the 37th Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva, Switzerland, on March 15, 2018.

By Inder Comar

Democracy is dying. As we convene to remember the 15th year anniversary of the Iraq War, the fundamental lesson of that war is that our democratic norms are at grave risk when judges and courts fail to hold government leaders accountable for a patently illegal war.

Inder Comar delivers the statement at a side event of the 37th Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva, Switzerland, on March 15, 2018.

It is impossible to understand the lack of accountability over the Iraq War without understanding the defining crisis of our time. And that is the crisis of Empire; of a disintegrating global order where the rule of law is now being replaced with the rule of might.

Aggression: the supreme international crime.

A crime that was banned at Nuremberg.

A crime which sent Nazi leaders to the gallows.

The prohibition against aggression is a jus cogensnorm of international law, meaning a norm from which no derogation is permitted, and which states are obligated to uphold.

There is overwhelming legal consensus that the United States and the United Kingdom committed the crime of aggression when they launched their invasion in 2003. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan concluded that the US-led war was “illegal” in 2004 and in contravention of the UN Charter.

The Charter only allows acts of violence against another State under two circumstances. The first is in times of self-defense. The second is with explicit approval from the Security Council. Neither circumstance applied to the Iraq War.

There was no Security Council resolution that authorized the war.  Language in Resolution 1441, passed in November 2002, threatening Iraq with “serious consequences” for failure to disarm was not enough.

The U.S. and the U.K. knew they needed a specific Security Council resolution to authorize an invasion. This is plainly evidenced by their frantic attempts to obtain a second resolution immediately prior to the war. That effort was abandoned when it became clear that a second resolution would be vetoed. The U.S. and the U.K. invaded Iraq anyway.

Where would we be if all States acted like this? What would be the purpose of the resolution process? What would be the purpose of the U.N.?

It is also clear the war was not conducted in self-defense. Self-defense is generally an immediate action against an imminent aggression. Iraq, which had been subject to more than a decade of crippling international sanctions, was not in any position to invade the strongest country on Earth. Iraq had no connection to al Qaeda, and had disarmed its weapons program—two truths the Bush Administration did not want to believe, and which they tried to cover up as they pushed for war.

In the 15 years since the U.S.-led invasion, there has been only one serious attempt to hold the responsible leaders accountable for this “supreme international crime.” Private Iraqi civilians who were affected by the war tried to hold Bush-era officials accountable in U.S. courts under a theory of aggression.

However, in 2017 a court of appeals ruled in the case Saleh v. Bushthat former President Bush and other high officials were immune from civil investigation. The appellate court relied upon a domestic law that grants U.S. officials immunity for alleged crimes, including heinous international crimes.

This shows that, in the United States today, international legal obligations are inferior to the protection of government leaders, even when those leaders have committed grave offenses against others.

The Coalition also committed numerous other war crimes during the Iraq War that I would like to address:

o   First, the Member States of the Coalition directed attacks against civilians who were not taking part in hostilities—a direct breach of the Geneva Conventions.

o   Second, human rights organizations, news agencies, and official military inquiries found that U.S.-operated detention facilities used various forms of torture during the occupation.

  • For instance, the torture at Abu Ghraib prison included common physical abuse like punching, slapping, and kicking detainees, as well as arranging naked male detainees in a pile and then jumping on them.
  • There is a documented history of sexual abuse and rape at the prison.

These acts of torture are grave breaches under the Geneva Conventions. They are war crimes and should be addressed as such.

The U.S. has never prosecuted any high-ranking government employee for these war crimes, including for torture. And in light of that 2017 judgment in Saleh v. Bushthere is virtually no chance that a civil inquiry will produce restitution for victims, or change anyone’s behavior in high office. In fact, just this week, the woman who helped oversee the Bush-era torture program has been rewarded for her complicity and is now the nominee to run the Central Intelligence Agency.

A world in which government officials are immune from judicial scrutiny is a world of despotism and tyranny. The essence of the rule of law is that no one is above the law; and that the actions of all people, including chief executives, can be scrutinized by a judge.

Today the rule of law, everywhere, is in grave danger. And we are dangerously close to living in a world where imperial norms are ascendant—even in Western countries.

Fifteen years after the U.S. invasion, what chills me the most has been the rapid acceptance and glorification of Empire in the United States.

In matters of foreign policy, and increasingly, in matters of domestic policy, the American president is totally unaccountable, immune from inquiry, and hostile to inalienable freedoms.

Today, President Trump claims the authority and the power:

  • To invade any country at will, or destroy it completely with nuclear weapons;
  • To assassinate any person with a robotic drone;
  • To gather and collect any and all electronic communications;
  • To hold any suspected terrorist indefinitely, without charge, in Guantanamo Bay;
  • And to disregard preexisting laws, constitutional rights or judicial review.

The powers of the American president today are greater than that of any English king, or any Roman emperor.

Like the ancient Romans, who were fed a steady diet of bread and circus, modern Americans are subject to some of the most pernicious forms of propaganda ever developed. Concentrated media power has resulted in corporate news programming which demonizes Muslims, foreigners, and people of color.

Meanwhile, concentrated economic power has resulted in the greatest systemic inequality of wealth in American history.

And concentrated political power has resulted in a neo-fascist and openly racist Republican Party, and a neo-liberal and systemically racist Democratic Party.

More than ever, Americans accept the slaughter of people in the Middle East in the name of their security. In Bagram, Guantanamo, and elsewhere people are indefinitely detained, without trial, and are subjected to torture.

Imperial garrisons encircle our planet with more than 800 American military bases in 80 countries on every major continent, from Diego Garcia to Okinawa to Rammstein to Samoa to the Azores. Just in the last month, the American Government announced its plans to develop a new class of nuclear weapons, furthering an arms race with the Russians, the Chinese and the North Koreans. It also seeks a 13% increase in its arms budget from 2017.

Not since Rome has the world borne witness to so few controlling so many.

But, “these violent delights have violent ends.” American society—my society—is ever more crippled by moral, ethical and humanitarian crises that routinely shock visitors from other countries.

Students are drowning in student debt, unable to start their careers or build families.

Lack of affordable health care and an addiction crisis is dragging American life expectancy downward. America’s obsession with war has now turned inward, as a gun violence crisis results in the weekly sacrifice of children, to the cult of the Second Amendment.

De facto apartheid keeps power in the hands of a privileged white elite, who have destroyed labor unions, created enemies out of Muslims and blacks, have crippled millions of people into lives of debt servitude and destitution, and who buy and sell their favored elected officials by caprice and whim.

The country that produced the Iraq War 15 years ago is in far worse shape today.

There are three important reasons we need to urgently create accountability for the Iraq War.

First, we must restore an international order based on the rule of law.

Second, we must confront the bias of international law—holding only poor and non-Western countries liable for international crimes, while ignoring the crimes of Western powers. This bias is underscored and exacerbated if the international community declines to investigate and prosecute the Coalition’s crimes in Iraq.

Third, we must provide justice to the victims of the Iraq War.

These three reasons are of course related.

The United Nations was manipulated as a tool to acquire wider support for the invasion—most prominently, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell’s 2003 speech falsely claimed facts about the Iraqi weapons program. In so doing, the United States abused the United Nations, turning these halls into a house of lies — lies spread to support the annihilation of another member state.

This abuse of the United Nations to further a perverse agenda—an agenda that stands in direct contradiction to the purpose of the United Nations—makes it essential to restore accountability.

Without accountability, we invite future abuse of this precious international system. And we exacerbate the divisions in our world where non-Western crimes are treated with far more scrutiny than those committed by Western Powers. A just world order depends on consistent accountability, for all nations, for war crimes and the crime of aggression. International law needs to be applied equally to all nations.

Without accountability, we leave Iraqi victims to fend for themselves. We fail them—as lawyers, as diplomats, and as ethical beings.

There is a choice facing our species at this very moment. Humor me when I tell you that I have glimpsed our future. And it is a future that is dark.

I foresee a world beset by environmental problems, with numerous species going extinct, with plastic choking our waterways and forests, and with climate change creating global chaos for which our world is simply not prepared.

I foresee displacement and refugee crises, as people flee their homes in the wake of rising seas, more powerful storms, and historic heat waves and droughts—people movements that will make the Syrian crisis seem like a child’s game.

I foresee a world where people, devastated by economic despair, turn to demagogues and authoritarians—as they are already doing—as ways of dealing with the desiccation of their ways of life.

I foresee a world where our democratic freedoms, already withering, are replaced with stark imperial values.

But this does not have to be our future.

There is another way.

And that way begins here, today, with each of us. It begins with imagining a world where the rule of law and democracy are the fundamental building blocks of our shared human rights, our shared freedoms, and our shared civilization.

It begins with us realizing that we deserve to live in a better world than one in which leaders who commit grave international crimes can walk free, while the victims of those outrageous acts are forced to recover in the solitude and pain of trauma.

There is a choice we face—a choice between civilization and chaos.

The Iraq War was the gravest international crime since the Second World War. It was a malicious act committed by leaders of the most powerful country in history, with the full resources of a multi-trillion dollar economy.

We cannot build a civilized future for ourselves and for our descendants unless we build a robust international legal order.

The people who commandeered my country and my government must be held to account before a judge—so that they know, and others may know, that the supreme crime cannot go unpunished.

Help me build that future. Help me in our shared quest for a civilized Earth.

I call today for the creation of an independent international tribunal, with jurisdiction to investigate and indict the British and American leaders who led the invasion, for the crime of aggression, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

I call for this tribunal to analyze, impartially, once and for all, the issue of immunity as it relates to grave international crimes.

I call for due process for the accused, that they be advised of the charges against them and be given access to counsel so that they may mount a defense. If convicted, I call for them to serve out their sentences in humane conditions, where they can reflect on what they have done. I call on the tribunal to order restitution to the millions of victims who suffered on account of their conduct.

I call for every nation concerned with justice to open their courts to claims of aggression on the basis of universal jurisdiction. Those who commit aggression, like those who commit torture, slavery, and piracy, are hostis humani generis– enemies of humanity, who may be prosecuted and held to account in the court of any civilized country.

The hope of our shared civilization rests on a renewed commitment to the United Nations and its vision of collective security.  World leaders must settle their disputes through dialogue.

Thus, I urge the Human Rights Council to appoint a Special Rapporteur for the human rights situation in Iraq. I urge the United Nations to condemn illegal acts of aggression, torture and mass killings, including those committed by powerful countries like the United States.

And I ask my countrymen and women, in America, to walk back from the abyss of Empire. We have a special duty to hold our leaders responsible, to make redress to the Iraqi people, and to promote and sustain the global peace.

This is the way back to civilization itself, towards a deep and fulfilling justice that enables all of us to live out our lives in dignity and in peace. This is a future worth imagining and a future worth creating. It starts with justice for Iraq.

Thank you.

by alfonso

100% Non Commercial, Fearless, Forthright & Independent 

“Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half never voted for President. One hopes it is the same half.” – Gore Vidal, Screening History

“The whole framework of the presidency is getting out of hand. It’s come to the point where you almost can’t run unless you can cause people to salivate and whip on each other with big sticks. You almost have to be a rock star to get the kind of fever you need to survive in American politics.” – Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72

“Around the world, the message received is that, whoever wins [the U.S. election], expect only more of the same – national narcissism disguised as altruism, corporate appeasement, and the arbitrary use of U.S. military and economic might.” – Greg Guma – Toward Freedom magazine

Russia-Baiting and the International Fallout of the Murky Skripal Poisoning Case

By Kanwal Sibal, former foreign secretary of India

 The West would do well to remember that it cannot escape engaging Russia – a formidable nuclear power, a permanent member of the UN Security Council and Europe’s crucial energy partner.

The facts about the Skripal poisoning incident are murky indeed. Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, initially began by claiming that either the Russian authorities engineered this chemical assault on the former Russian spy or that they had lost control over the nerve agent Novichok produced at the time of the Soviet Union and that elements that got hold of it used it in the murder attempt at Salisbury.

But the British have so far produced no proof that the Russians are officially or unofficially responsible for this manifestly outrageous act. They are proceeding on the assumption that Russia has to be the villain, which is a political position, not one based on verifiable facts.

There is a striking disparity between the international tumult that the British government has created over the affair and the unprecedented collective punitive actions they have mobilised against Russia and the less than definitive conclusion the British government has reached about Russian culpability when Theresa May does not go beyond stating that it is “highly likely” that Russia is behind the incident.

“Highly likely” means that the some dots have not been connected, yet the reprisals against Russia assume that they have. British foreign secretary Boris Johnson, who spurns the virtues of self-restraint and moderation, has accused President Vladimir Putin personally for this poisoning operation and has invoked Hitler in this context.

Such lack of sobriety only raises suspicions about Britain’s version and intentions.

Russia’s stand

Russia has vehemently denied any role in the Skripal poisoning. Foreign minister Sergey Lavrov has pointed out that Britain, as a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention, has not followed the procedure laid down by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to deal with cases of use of chemical agents.

According to him, no samples were sent as required to the OPCW and to Russia for investigation at their end about the exact nature of the chemical agent used and its provenance. (The British have subsequently sent a sample to the OPCW).

Putin has asked convincingly as to why Russia would commit such an act just before the Russian presidential elections and months before the Football World Cup event that Russia would host. Russia has faced sports boycotts in the past, be it the Olympics of 1980, the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, and, most recently, Russian athletes were banned from participating in the Winter Olympics in South Korea on account of doping allegations. A Skripal type incident would thus  seem perfectly tailored to provoke a western boycott of the Football World Cup in a bid to “spoil Putin’s party”.

Other commonsensical arguments are being made by the Russian side. Skripal, a Russian spy who worked for Britain, was in Russian custody for six years before he was exchanged in a spy swap and sent to Britain in 2010. This exchange meant that he was no longer of any further use to Russia, having been extracted dry of anything worthwhile. Why seek to eliminate him after eight years, the Russians say, when he could have been eliminated on Russian soil while in their custody?

Putin has also made the point that if it really was a Russian operation it would not have been bungled the way it has been. What makes the incident even more difficult to unravel is that the very existence of Novichok is in doubt as it did not figure in the list of chemical weapons prepared by the OPCW for destruction by Russia. As it happens, Russia destroyed all its chemical weapon stocks by November 2017 under OPCW’s verification.

A deterioration of ties

Whatever the truth behind the Skripal affair, Russia-baiting has become a prime feature of US and European foreign policy for various reasons. Even before it intervened in Georgia and Ukraine tensions between Russia and the West were mounting, be it because of NATO’s eastwards expansion, the narrative that if erstwhile constituent parts of the Soviet Union wanted to join NATO or the EU they should be free to do so and that Russia had no right to object, Russia’s supposed threat to the Baltic states, the positioning of elements of the US anti-ballistic missile system on European soil under the pretext that it was intended to counter the Iranian missile threat, Russian fears that the US was trying to acquire a first strike capability and so on.

Russia’s internal politics had become a source of contention with the West, with Putin accused of curtailing democracy at home, violating human rights, extending state control over the economy and throttling free enterprise. Russia was not considered eligible for a partnership with the West unless it measured up to western standards of domestic political and economic governance. America’s active promotion of democracy in Russia’s neighbourhood, especially in the Ukraine, in the hope that success there would encourage internal democratic change in Russia was not a recipe for earning Russia’s trust. Russia’s intervention in Georgia in 2008 caused by provocations by its then president Mikheil Sakaashvili with encouragement from elements in the US establishment caused a further deterioration of Russia’s ties with the West.

In 2013, the Ukraine crisis erupted with the coup engineered against president Yanukovych with western connivance, leading eventually to Crimea’s annexation by Russia in 2014. This has sharpened political confrontation between the two sides to the point that a Cold War like atmosphere is growing. Russia’s military intervention in Syria to prevent one more regime change engineered by the West in West Asia has exacerbated matters further.

Under Obama the US  conducted itself in a patronising manner against Russia, denigrating it as a regional power and characterising it in Obama’s 2014 United Nations general assembly as a global threat along with the ebola virus and the Islamic State. Following Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, in 2014, three rounds of wide-ranging sanctions were imposed on individuals, companies and officials by the US, EU, Australia and Japan, including Russia’s energy sector and banks.

In December 2016, Obama expelled 35 Russian diplomats and closed two Russian compounds in the US. He also sanctioned GRU and the FSB, the two Russian intelligence agencies for cyber operations. In June 2017 the US Senate passed legislation- signed by Trump in August – that would prevent the easing, suspending or ending of sanctions by the President without the approval of the Congress. This targeted the planned Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, provoking both Germany and Austria to strongly protest.

Continuing the politics of sanctions the UK has, over the Skripal incident, expelled 23 Russian diplomats, the US 60 and others, both EU and non-EU countries, have joined the expulsions that now number almost 150.

Russia has previously retaliated by expulsions of its own, sanctioning individuals in US and Europe, closing some western consulates and its market to western products. It has threatened to respond to the latest round of sanctions.

That the West should continue to demonise and vilify Putin who has been elected again, and cause a virtual collapse of relations with Russia is difficult to understand. The West cannot escape engaging Russia, the world’s largest country with immense natural resources at its command, a formidable nuclear power, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Europe’s direct neighbour and its crucial energy partner.

The policy of sanctions has not brow-beaten Russia into submission and is unlikely to do so. These sanctions  have become an instrument in the hands of the West which controls global finance to conduct a kind of asymmetric warfare against  vulnerable countries, even one as militarily strong as Russia. It is telling that a permanent member of the UNSC is being sanctioned by three other permanent members, reducing the UNSC to a bystander notwithstanding the increasing risk of conflict.The Russian economy is, however, nowhere near collapsing.

Putin has unveiled a new array of advanced weaponry to signal its capacity to defend itself. It has to be a party in any eventual solution to the current crisis in West Asia. Public opinion in the West has been conditioned to look at Russia as a virtually rogue state, which is preventing any sensible engagement with it. Trump had the intention to normalise ties with Russia but the US Congress, anti-Russian lobbies and the mainstream media has made this virtually impossible, particularly as Russia’s purported interference in the US presidential elections has become an issue of intense domestic debate, involving the legitimacy of Trump’s electoral win.

A Britain weakened by Brexit and a British prime minister with a shaky political base find the Skirpal affair handy to gain political popularity and project that Britain remains a “great power”. Britain has artfully and successfully mustered support from its allies, especially the US, to demonstrate that it would retain international clout even outside the EU.

The biggest beneficiary of the intense western hostility towards Russia is China. The more Russia is strategically weakened, the more strategic strength China gains. For India, the free-fall in US/Europe relations with Russia is doubly negative, in that not only China’s ambitions are being served with Russia becoming more dependent on China, but also because of the pressure it puts on us to maintain a dynamic balance between our very valuable ties with Russia and our closer understandings with the West.

by alfonso

US form new rebel army in Syria with massive arms deliveries from the Balkans.

The Pentagon, after seven years of war, shows no signs of halting its massive arms purchases for Syrian rebels in the Balkans.

New plans indicate that the US wants to buy 25,000 Kalashnikov rifles and 20 million cartridges. The Pentagon plans to spend $ 162.5 million on weapons, ammunition, and other equipment in 2019 to arm Syrian fighters, who, as the official reading suggests, are fighting the “Islamic State.” The information is based on a recently disclosed budget report. The amount adds to the $ 2.2 billion already paid by the US for weapons from former Eastern Bloc countries to Syrian fighters [and other Pentagon-backed groups].

This was reported by the Investigative Portal BIRN in September last year. The arming of Syrian rebels with weapons and ammunition as part of the so-called education and equipment program of the United States was almost exclusively about war weapon manufacturers from the Balkans and Central Europe, as the news portal Balkan Insight writes. The Arab news portal Al Jazeera, in cooperation with BIRN, unveiled details about US spending on the continuation of the proxy war in Syria. BIRN tracked more than 20 flights commissioned by the Pentagon leaving the island airport of Krk in Croatia.

The “unidentified military equipment” was shipped to US bases, especially in the Middle East. The pattern of these arms transports did not change in comparison to first revelations in the past year, it is said. The return flights will continue to be operated by the Azerbaijani airline Silk Way. The Serbian Aviation Directorate informed BIRN that a Silk Way flight from Baku, Azerbaijan, to Rijeka in Croatia on October 5, 2017, which overflowed its airspace, received a permit for “transport of weapons and dangerous goods”. The Croatian authorities have refused to confirm or deny whether the flights are carrying arms to Syria.

Expert: Paths of delivered weapons uncontrollable James Bevan, Director of Conflict Armament Research, has documented more than 40,000 items found in the inventory of the Islamic State terrorist group in Syria and found that many of them were originally delivered by the Pentagon to its allies. Apparently, there are no mechanisms by which the US can guarantee that war goods will not end up in the hands of terrorists. “The main problem is that giving weapons to non-state actors has very little control over what happens to these weapons,” Bevan said, “especially in a situation like Syria, where we have several competing groups.” “In other words, as someone who provides weapons in this conflict, you really have no control over where they go,” he added. The Pentagon insists that US arms deliveries to Syria are “step-by-step” and are only for certain operations. The new weapons are needed, according to the latest Pentagon budget, to create a force capable of “ensuring a safe environment and fighting ISIS 2.0 and AQ [al-Qaeda].” The equipment will be provided to 65,000 “Vetted Syrian Opposition” fighters, which is meant to mean something like “verified Syrian opposition”. Of the fighters, 30,000 are to be tasked with offensive combat operations, while the remaining 35,000 will become part of the new “Internal Security Forces” whose task will be to maintain security in “liberated areas”. The “Vetted Syrian Opposition” has also been used in the past to refer to Syrian rebel groups in West Syria, which have been equipped by the US with BGM-71 anti-tank guided missiles. These units fought primarily with al-Qaeda-related al-Nusra Front against the Syrian army, which is supported by Russia and Iran. The news portal Telepolis notes critically in a recent report that the US is providing “hundreds of millions in support to opponents of a legitimately elected government and undermining the stability of a country.” Continue US support for YPG The US Department of Defense is currently building a deployment force of 30,000 troops in eastern Syria. Most fighters are recruited from the so-called Democratic Forces of Syria. The unit is led by the Kurdish YPG militia and is itself around 50,000 strong. Through the Syrian Democratic Forces, the US controls at least one-third of Syria’s territory. The US military announced in January that half of the new “Internal Security Forces” – still known as the “Border Guard

By alfonso


Global Britain

by Thierry Meyssan

On 13 November last, Theresa May seized the opportunity offered by the Prime Minister’s annual speech at Lord Mayor’s Banquet to give an overview of the new British strategy after the Brexit [1]. The United Kingdom intends to re-establish its Empire (Global Britain) by promoting international free exchange with the help of China [2] and ejecting Russia from international instances with the help of its military allies – the United States, France, Germany, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

Retrospectively, all the elements we can see today were mentioned in this speech, even if we didn’t immediately understand it at the time.

Let’s take a step back. In 2007, Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke at the Munich Security Conference. He noted that the unipolar world proposed by NATO was by essence anti-democratic, and he called upon the European states to dissociate themselves from this US fantasy [3]. Without responding to this essential comment about the absence of democracy in international relations, NATO denounced Russia’s desire to weaken the cohesion of the Alliance in order to threaten it more easily.

However, a British expert, Chris Donnelly, has since refined this rhetoric. In order to weaken the West, Russia is allegedly attempting to delegitimise its economic and social system, the foundation for its military power. That would be the hidden motive behind Russian criticism, particularly in the media. Let’s note that Donnelly does not respond any more than did NATO to the essential remark by Vladimir Putin, although why bother debating democracy with an individual who is suspected, a priori, of authoritarianism?

I believe that Donnelly is correct in his analysis, and that Russia is correct in its objective. Indeed, the United Kingdom and Russia are two diametrically opposite cultures.

The former is a class-based society with three levels of nationality fixed by law and mentioned on all identity papers, while the latter – like France – is a Nation created by law, where all citizens are « equal in rights » and where the British distinction between civil rights and political rights is unthinkable [4].

The aim of social organisation in the United Kingdom is the accumulation of wealth, while in Russia it is the construction of one’s own individual personality. Therefore in the United Kingdom, the ownership of land is massively concentrated in very few hands, unlike Russia, and especially France. It is almost impossible to buy an apartment in London. The best that one can do – as in Dubaï – is to sign a 99-year lease. For many centuries, almost all of the city has belonged to no more than four people. When a British citizen dies, he or she decides freely to whom they will bequeath their heritage, and not necessarily to their children. On the contrary, when a Russian citizen dies, History begins again at zero – his or her property is divided equally between all the children, whatever the wishes of the deceased may have been.

Yes, Russia is indeed attempting to delegitimise the Anglo-Saxon model, which is all the more easy to do since it is an exception which horrifies the rest of the world as soon as they understand it.

Let’s return to Theresa May. Two months after her speech at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet, on 22 January 2018, Her Majesty’s Chief of Staff, General Sir Nick Carter, gave a very important speech which was entirely dedicated to the coming war with Russia, based on Donnelly’s theory [5]. Drawing the lessons from the Syrian experience, he described an enemy who possesses new, extremely powerful weaponry. (This was two months before President Putin revealed his new nuclear arsenal [6]). Sir Nick Carter confirmed the necessity of having many more ground troops, of developing the British arsenal, and of preparing for a war in which the images broadcast by the medias would be more important than victory on the ground.

The day after this shock conference at the Royal United Services Institute (the Defence think tank), the National Security Council announced the creation of a military unit to combat « Russian propaganda » [7].

How is the British project developing?

Although the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons has cast doubts on the reality of the Global Britain project [8], several of its points have moved ahead, despite a huge setback.

It is important to understand that Mrs. May is not attempting to change, but rather to reorganise her country’s policies. Over the last half century, the United Kingdom has been trying to integrate the European structure, progressively losing the advantages inherited from its former Empire. The question now is not to abandon everything that was achieved during this period, but to re-establish the former world hierarchy, in which Her Majesty’s officials and the gentry lived in clubs all over the world, waited on by the local populations.

In her journey to China the week following Sir Nick Carter’s speech, Theresa May negotiated several commercial contracts, but entered into political conflict with her hosts. Beijing refused to distance itself from Moscow, and London refused to support the Silk Road project. Free exchange, yes, but not via communication routes controlled by China. Since 1941 and the Atlantic Charter, the United Kingdom shares the charge of the « common spaces » (both maritime and aerial) with the United States. Their two navies are designed to be complementary, even though the US Navy is much more powerful than that of the Admiralty.

Thereafter, the Crown activated the government of its Australian dominion in order to reconstitute the Quads, the anti-Chinese group which used to meet during Bush Jr’s mandate [9]. Apart from Australia, this group is composed of Japan, India and the United States.

Presently the Pentagon is working on ways to create trouble on both the maritime Pacific Silk Road and the land-based Silk Road.

The announced military Alliance was constituted in the form of the very secret « Little Group » [10]. Germany was weathering a government crisis at the time and did not participate at first, but it seems that this late start was rectified at the beginning of March. All the members of this conspiracy coordinated their actions in Syria. Despite their efforts, they failed three times to organise a false-flag chemical attack in Western Ghouta, since the Syrian and Russian armies had seized their laboratories in Aftris and Chifonya [11]. However, they did manage to publish a common anti-Russian statement concerning the Skripal affair [12] and to mobilise both NATO [13] and the European Union against Russia [14].

How might this situation evolve?

It is obviously strange to see both France and Germany support a project which was specifically designed against them: Global Britain, insofar as the Brexit is not a retreat from the federal bureaucracy of the European Union, but an act of rivalry.

In any case, Global Britain today may be defined as follows :

the promotion of international free exchange, but exclusively in the thalassocratic context, in other words with the United States against the Chinese communication routes;

and the attempt to exclude Russia from the Security Council and cut the world in two, which implies the on-going manipulation with chemical weapons in Syria, and the Skripal affair.

We may anticipate several incidental consequences of this programme:

The current crisis is a reshuffle of the elements from the end of Obama’s mandate, except that London is now at the centre of the game rather than Washington. The United Kingdom, which can now no longer count on the support of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, will turn to the new US National Security Advisor, John Bolton [15]. Contrary to the allegations of the US Press, Bolton is absolutely not a neo-conservative, but a close friend of Steve Bannon. He refuses the idea that his country could be submitted to international law, and howls at Communists and Muslims, but in reality he has no intention of launching any new wars, and desires only to live at peace in his own home. He will not fail to sign all the declarations proposed to him against Russia, Iran, Venezuela, and North Korea. London will be unable to manipulate him to exclude Moscow from the Security Council, because his personal objective is not to reform the UNO, but to get rid of it altogether. He will however be a faithful ally concerning the the conservation of the « common spaces » and the opposition to the Chinese « Silk Road », particularly since he was the initiator of the Proliferation Security Initiative – PSI in 2003. We should therefore begin to notice the outbreak, here and there, along the traces of the Chinese routes, of new pseudo civil wars nourished by the Anglo-Saxons.

Saudi Arabia is preparing the creation of the « Neom », a new fiscal paradise in the Sinaï and the Red Sea. It should replace Beyrouth and Dubaï, but not Tel-Aviv. London will connect it with the Crown’s different fiscal paradises – including the City of London, which is not English, but depends directly from Queen Elisabeth – in order to guarantee the opacity of international commerce.

The multitude of jihadist organisations which flows out of the Levant is still controlled by MI6, via the Muslim Brotherhood and the Order of the Naqshbandis. These troops may well be redeployed for use, mainly against Russia – and not against China or in the Caribbean, which is the option currently being studied.

After the Second World War, we were witness to the decolonisation of the European empires, and then, after the Vietnam war, we saw the financialisation of the world economy by the Anglo-Saxons, and finally, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, we saw the solitary attempt at world domination by the United States. Today, with the powerful rise of modern Russia and China, the fantasy of a culturally globalised world governed in unipolar fashion is fading away, while the Western powers – and particularly the United Kingdom – are falling back on their own imperial dreams. Of course, the high level of current education in the old colonies is forcing them to rethink their models of domination.

added by alfonso



Hope for a new beginning.

Hope for a new beginning. Thousands of civilians leave the East Ghuta, where they have been held hostage by Islamists. Now they are receiving medical care. Thousands of civilians leave the East Ghuta, where they have been held hostage by Islamists. Now they are receiving medical care

By Karin Leukefeld, Al-Wafidin

The evacuation of civilians from the East Ghuta continues. Thousands of fighters from various armed groups have arrived with relatives in Idlib. Only the “Islamic Army” in Duma, the former administrative center of the region, remains uncompromising.

Four buses are waiting on Wednesday at the outskirts of Al-Wafidin. Hundreds of residents of the eastern suburbs of Damascus, who are to be taken to one of five detention centers of the Syrian government, are sitting and crowded in the buses. In the morning, these people had come through the humanitarian corridor established by Al-Wafidin at the end of February, as part of the UN Security Council ceasefire.

For days, civilians were initially prevented from leaving East-ghuta by the combat groups. Since the beginning of March, with the help of the Russian “Center for Reconciliation”, arrangements have been made for their withdrawal, and the pale and exhausted people are pouring out of the area.

“In the first few days, far more people came than we expected,” reports an officer in the Syrian army. Times were 5,000, then come again 6,500. Today, 1,000 civilians have come so far, he says: “Women, children, old people. Men are held back there. As hostages. ”

In a schoolyard, people are gathered before being checked for identity in the school building. Many no longer have their Syrian papers with them. Among the combat groups, a semi-state administration with its own birth and marriage certificates and identity cards had been installed. Those in possession of official documents were suspected of being agents and in danger of being arrested or killed.

Many do not want to talk to foreign journalists. Women grab their headscarves and shyly turn away. Abu Khalid smiles friendly and agrees to answer questions in English. He is supported on two crutches, his eleven-year-old son Khalid stands next to him and holds a coat tightly.

Five years ago, he broke his leg in an accident, says Abu Khalid. Because there was no medical care, the fracture was inflamed, and he could only walk with crutches. “I’m very glad we could leave Duma,” he says, putting his arm around his son’s shoulder. He, his wife and three children could go. The daughter is twelve, the youngest child was born a year before the beginning of the war and will soon be eight.

He used to breed and sell chickens, says Abu Khalid. Her life was good. On the way down the corridor, he saw his business for the first time since 2011. Now he hopes to build a new life: “I need to get well, find work and a place to live.” The daughter comes to fetch the father, and soon after, the family disappears into the school building.

From the school to the front line to Duma, it is only a few minutes’ walk. Another group has safely made its way through the corridor. Tired, people run past the cameras of the journalists. Some smile, children laugh, wave. Special forces of the Syrian army accompanied the group of about 200 people, then take over the volunteers of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARH).

About 300 medical emergencies have been placed in clinics in Damascus from this point of arrival, says SARH representative Abu Samir: “Children who have lost their arms or legs and urgently need care. Kidney and cancer sufferers who need special medicines. “However, these are hardly to be found in Damascus because of the economic sanctions against Syria imposed by the European Union.

Nothing of this is reported by the MSM

translation by alfonso

MeToo in Russia

As many as 48 reporters have been barred from the State Duma after protesting alleged sexual harassment of colleagues by a senior lawmaker.

Dozens of reporters for Russian media outlets have been stripped of their parliamentary accreditation after supporting allegations of sexual harassment against a senior lawmaker. More than 30 Russian newspapers, radio and television outlets are boycotting coverage of the State Duma (parliament) after accusing it of failing to take allegations of sexual harassment against Leonid Slutsky seriously.

Slustky, the powerful head of the Duma’s International Relations Committee, is said to have allegedly cornered women in his office and, on at least one occasion, touched a female reporter on her pubis.

As Russian media’s #MeToo moment escalated last week, dozens of outlets announced a boycott of their parliamentary coverage in protest after the Duma’s ethics committee exonerated Slutsky, ruling that he “didn’t violate” the legislative body’s code of conduct.

Parliamentary speaker Vyacheslav Volodin has now stripped 48 correspondents from outlets that include business daily RBC, independent web-based TV channel Dozhd, newsmagazine Novaya Gazeta and online news site Znak of their State Duma accreditation. Other outlets that have supported the boycott don’t have reporters with permanent Duma accreditation credentials.

Volodin, a loyal supporter of President Vladimir Putin — who won re-election to his fourth term on March 18 — has told journalists supporting the boycott that they “should find other jobs” if they were unhappy covering the boycott. He was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying that journalists shouldn’t “exert pressure on Duma members.”

Meanwhile, as the row escalates, other Russian journalists are emerging with their own stories of harassment, including one male reporter who alleges Vladimir Zhirinovsky, head of the LDPR, Russia’s right-wing nationalist party, sexually harassed him.

Vitaly Tretyakov, dean of Moscow State University’s School of Television, has been vilified by students after telling them that “any decent man in certain circumstances can put his hand on a woman’s exposed knee … or any other place.”

Tretyakov, who was talking to students on Friday at Novosibirsk State University in Siberia about the Slutsky case, someone he says he knows well, was criticized by students in the audience, many of whom walked out.

By alfonso

US abusing its rights as host country by expelling Russian diplomats at UN – Russia’s UN envoy.


Washington has abused its power as the host of the UN headquarters when it moved to expel 12 staffers from Russia’s mission at the UN, Moscow’s envoy Vassily Nebenzia said. He called the decision an “extremely unfriendly” step.

“The expulsion of Russian diplomats as well as other recent unfriendly steps, such as restriction of access to Russian diplomatic property, visa denials to mission staff and other [measures], can be viewed as the US abusing its rights and privileges as the hosting country,” Vassily Nebenzia said.

Nebenzia pointed out that the status of the staff at the permanent representations of the countries at the United Nations are regulated by UN conventions, namely the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations of 1946 and the Agreement Between the United Nations and the US Regarding the Headquarters of the United Nations, signed in 1947.

The US announced earlier on Monday that it was expelling 48 Russian diplomats from the US and declaring 12 Russian diplomats at the UN seat in New York ‘persona non grata’. Washington followed the lead of the UK in their retaliation over the Sergei Skripal poisoning in Salisbury, which London blames on Russia without providing any evidence. The UK is also refusing to cooperate with Moscow in the investigation.
In a statement on the expulsion of the 12 UN staffers, US ambassador at the UN Nikki Haley accused them of having “engaged in espionage activities that are adverse to our national security.” 

These allegations were dismissed by Nebenzia, who said that the US had no right to interfere with the work of the UN.
“The employees of Russia’s mission at the UN present their credentials to the UN and perform their functions exclusively within the UN,” he stressed, noting that, as the host country, the US has a special obligation to preserve the privileges and immunity of the staff of the UN member countries, as well as the employees at the UN administrative bodies.

“This is an extremely inappropriate and unfriendly step,” Nebenzia said, adding that he “doesn’t think” that kicking out Russian UN diplomats from US territory is in line with the agreements the US has with the UN.

The US, Canada and 16 EU countries have agreed to expel Russian diplomats, in what appears to be a coordinated manner. While the punitive measure is being linked to the Skripal case, Nebenzia suggested the anti-Russia campaign could have been premeditated, even before the increasingly murky incident in Salisbury on March, 4.

“This friendship against Russia, is, no doubt, over the case which, the further it goes, the more murky details emerge. There’s no case, so to speak. There is a verdict made without any investigation,” Nebenzia said, noting that Russia’s requests for information on a supposedly ongoing probe have been neglected.

“The further we go the more questions arise, including from me. What happened before – did the Salisbury incident precede the expulsion of Russian diplomats, or did the decision to expel Russian diplomats precede the Salisbury incident?” Nebenzia wondered.

Nebenzia said that the departure of the diplomats will deal “a blow” to the mission. “But I think we will mobilize,”he added.

by alfonso



America’s Troll Farm Media


Despite all the smoke and mirrors, most Americans seem to see where the stenographers of corporate capitalism are taking us. A recent Gallup poll found that while 84% of Americans see media as “critical” or “very important” to democracy, only 28% see the corporatist mainstream news media (MSM) as actually supporting democracy. They’re right on both counts of course.  The quality of a democracy is only as good as the information people have to make informed judgements about public policy and politicians.

Even as the mainstream news media continue to lose street cred, they persist in a rumor-saturated full court press against the “Trump-Putin presidency,” which only further exposes their lack of professionalism and increasing vulgarity. MSM management and their boardroom bosses have long understood that as long as they spice up their “nothing burger” news, ratings and advertising rates will keep them in business and please their commercial and government clients. Tabloid journalism, which can describe most American mainstream media these days, even when wrapped up as “all the news that’s fit to print,” is in constant search of sensation, scandal, gossip, and profit – and only occasionally in public-oriented investigative integrity.

What else does the citizenry have to say? A mere 18% have “a lot” of trust in the MSM, while 74% see them as “biased” (Pew Research, July 2016). A study by the Harvard-Harris polling organization in May 2017 confirmed this, finding that 65 percent of Americans consider the so-called “free press” biased, obsessed with scandal, and full of “fake news” and therefore cannot be trusted. Among the concurring are a majority of both Democrats (53%) and Independents (60%) as well as 80% of Republicans. Amongst the “informed public,” trust in American institutions in general, that is, the government, business, NGOs, and the MSM, is going through the worst crisis in recorded history, according to the marketing firm Edelman in 2018. The US is the lowest rated of the 28 countries surveyed by the firm on this measure. This is not consistent with the image of a serious “democracy.”

On the MSM coverage of national politics, Americans are equally skeptical. A June 2017 Rasmussen survey of likely American voters indicated that 50% think most reporters are prejudiced against the president, and only 4% believe most reporters are biased in Trump’s favor. Although this is weighted by the 76% of Republicans who support this view, the study also found that 51% of independent voters and even 24% of Democrats also agree. Aided by the billions of dollars of free, almost all negative, publicity the MSM provided, with apparent reverse effect during the presidential campaign, Trump’s standing is also supported by the 47 million American shock troops that faithfully follow him on Twitter.

On January 27, 2018, the Washington Post editorial board issued this statement: “A foreign power interfered in the 2016 presidential election. U.S. law enforcement is trying to get to the bottom of that story. Congress should be doing everything possible to make sure

the investigation can take place.” Obviously referring to Russia, the Post’s declaration, as the late investigative journalist Robert Parry and many other independent and respected writers have pointed out, was and remains without a shred of evidence. It’s WMD time all over again, only this time the propaganda is being trumpeted mainly by the Democrats. It would better serve the cause of democracy to investigate the Post for its covert coalition and collusion with the deep state and the Clinton (right) wing of the Democratic Party. The Post and the rest of their pack have constructed a wicked Russia foil in order to undermine Moscow’s presumed ally Trump and boost bigger Pentagon budgets. It’s an extremely dangerous game that is headed toward military confrontation and massive annihilation by the yahoos in government and the liberal media.

But it’s not a new game, because despite their “free press” claims, American major news media have long been instruments of state propaganda. In the 1970s, Carl Bernstein exposed the fact that the overseas branches of US MSM had long served as eyes and ears of the CIA’s “Operation Mockingbird,” and it’s very likely than many amongst their ranks remain agency assets. Back then, Philip Graham, publisher of the Post, ran the agency’s media industry operations, a fact not mentioned in the currently showing eponymous film. During the GW Bush presidency, the Pentagon recruited over 75 military generals to spread propaganda in the mass media, fed in camera by leaders at the Defense Department, the State Department, the Justice Department, and the White House. Their responsibilities included their employment as “objective” foreign policy and war analysts for major network and cable news channels, many of them concurrently receiving pay by military contracting firms. The Pentagon referred to the on-air military propagandists as “surrogates” and “message force multipliers.”

 The Russians are Coming

In February 2018, former CIA director John Brennan, the man who fed the Russian“hacking” story to the House Intelligence Committee, became a senior national security and intelligence analyst for NBC and MSNBC in what has become standard revolving door practice between government and the corporate world. Brennan was a well-known advocate for the CIA’s rendition and torture program, spying on its critics, and its use of drone bombings and assassinations in the Middle East. And he certainly knows something about hacking, as he was forced to admit, after first lying about it, that his CIA hacked the computers of Senate staffers who were investigating the agency’s role in torturing prisoners. A man the MSM apparently regard as having impeccable credentials for truth telling.

If the Russia “hacking” story has no legs, the more interesting piece of news is the organized efforts of the Democrats and some Republicans to bring down Trump and turn over the White House to theocrat Mike Pence. Mainstream pundits and reporters are churning out unsubstantiated speculations about Russia and Trump by the hour. A number of Democrats, military brass, and mercenary journalist (and former country club caddy) Thomas Friedman have characterized alleged Russian intervention as a new “Pearl Harbor” or “9/11,” thereby building a case for war and for treason against the president. There’s no downside to making even the most absurd claims about Russia and Trump, no penalty for fabrications, misrepresentations, or getting facts wrong. If they were honest, their ledes might read: “This fictional news report is loosely based on a true story.” Or: “Any resemblance in this story to real people and events is merely coincidental.”

There’s room in the inferno for the Democrats’ deep state allies. Starting in mid-2015, Peter Strzok, the FBI’s H. Clinton personal email scandal investigator before taking the lead in the probe of Russian election interference, sent emails to his lover, FBI lawyer Lisa Page, which  clearly revealed that both of them were actively working for the Clinton campaign to undermine Trump in any way possible. The pair also exchanged references to a “secret society” that was operating within the Department of Justice and the FBI to block a Trump victory. Until their exposure, Strzok had been Robert Mueller’s right hand man on the Trump-Russia investigation.

Meanwhile, two years later, the hunt for the smoking Kalashnikov continues. The best the MSM have come up with is that a St. Petersburg outfit called Internet Research Agency (IRA) placed $100,000 in ads on Facebook (compared to the $81 million Facebook ad spending by the Trump and Clinton campaigns), some of the Russian ads actually directed against Trump. As Jeffrey St. Clair pointed out in the pages of CounterPunch, in the key states where Clinton lost the election, the traditional Democrat strongholds of Michigan ($832 spent on token IRA buy ads), Pennsylvania ($300), and Wisconsin ($1,979), all but $54 of this amount was spent before the party primaries even started.

Facebook’s vice president for advertising Rob Goldman said that in fact most of the total Russian ad buys occurred after the presidential election. “We shared that fact,” he tweeted, “but very few [news] outlets have covered it because it doesn’t align with the main media narrative” about Trump’s election victory. Winning the election for Trump was simply not the Russian objective, Goldman says. Alex Stamos, Facebook chief security officer, concurred. The ads, he said, were more about sowing discord, with messages about guns, immigrants, and racial strife, than on pushing a particular candidate. Think about all the blockbuster American (and British) movies that portray Russians as sinister, violent, and criminal. For starters, remember über-teutonic Ivan Drago, Sgt. Yushin, the many sadistic “Russian” mafia nogoodniks, along with the Cold War-for-children cartoon characters, Boris Badanov and Natasha Fatale? Among the many Russophobic films and TV shows over the decades: The Americans, Air Force OneThe Peacemaker, The Saint, Rambo III, Red Dawn, Red Heat, the James Bond flicks, and the 2018 Oscar for documentaries, Icarus. Soviet and Russia-era films, not well tutored in ethnic caricatures, have no comparable stereotypical American counterparts.

There are a few signs of life in mainstream journalism. New York Times correspondent Scott Shane was one of the few journalists who happened to notice that the US intelligence agency (the CIA, NSA, and FBI) report of January 6, 2017 on Russian “hacking” actually offered no evidence. “Instead,” he said, “the message from the agencies essentially amounts to ‘trust us.’” It took the mainstream media 6 months before they acknowledged that the Obama administration claim that 17 intelligence agencies backed the hacking claim was false, the real number was only 3, and even the NSA had only “moderate confidence” in the finding. Last January, the NSA made a significant alteration in its mission statement: it removed the words “honesty” and the pledge to be truthful from its list of priorities.

Even if there were genuine evidence that Russian officials had hacked the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign manager John Podesta emails, as originally claimed by the intelligence agencies, one should put this in context of the long history of the CIA’s efforts to overthrow many democratically elected leaders who had the temerity to stand up to the superpower. These would include Allende, Arbenz, Mossadeq, Lumumba, Chavez, Goulart, Ortega, and others. The list of US interventions in foreign elections just since 1948 (Italy) is voluminous. Do the mainstream media suffer amnesia about Victoria Nuland and John McCain’s presence in the Maidan, egging on the coup against Yanukovych or her infamous leaked phone call to the US ambassador in Kiev in which she dictated the ousted president’s successors? And is it reasonable to expect Russia to be passive about a hostile NATO putting troops along its borders and reacting to efforts to install an anti-Russian regime next door in the Ukraine? In this recent historical context, US accusations of Russian political interference smack of complete hypocrisy.

A study by Carnegie Mellon professor Dov Levin found that between 1946 and 2000 alone, the US intervened in foreign elections 81 times, which does not include its invasions, blockades, sanctions, assassination attempts, and other regime change initiatives. “The U.S. is no stranger to interfering in the elections of other countries,” he wrote. In 1996, the US intervened in the Russian election to prevent the Communist Party from returning to power. Have the MSM also forgotten the lies the government and the CIA told about Saddam Hussein’s WMD and connections to terrorist movements? Or that, thanks to Edward Snowden’s exposés, we know that Obama’s NSA bugged the phones of 35 foreign political leaders?

If the MSM are still confused, perhaps they should listen to former CIA director James Woolsey. Interviewed by Fox News’ Laura Ingraham, Woolsey was asked directly whether the US ever interfered with other countries’ elections. He initially said, “probably, but it was for the good of the system in order to avoid the communists from taking over.” Ingraham followed up with the question, “We don’t do that now?” To this Woolsey responded, “nyum, nyum, nyum, nyum, nyum, only for a very good cause,” a rather frank admission that merely amused Ingraham, who failed to follow up with this obvious statement of US double standards. After leaving the CIA, Woolsey became chairman of Freedom House, a right-wing government-supported private NGO that putatively supports human rights causes and has been active in regime change operations around the world – far more actively than merely doing Facebook postings.

William Binney, formerly with NSA as a high-level intelligence operative, subsequently becoming a whistleblower on the agency’s illegal surveillance operations, called the alleged Russian attacks on the DNC “a charade.” Speaking to Daniel Bernstein at Consortium News, Binney said that had any bulk transmissions come from across the Atlantic, the NSA would have known about it, as they tap every communication from abroad. The data from “Guccifer 2.0,” was a download “not a transfer across the Web,” which “won’t manage such high speed.” The intelligence agencies “have been playing games with us.  There is no factual evidence to back up any charge of hacking here.” It was likely no more than a USB transfer, he said.

Is there any hope for the mainstream media to change? It would take a revolution to get the MSM to become more democratic. A Harvard Shorenstein Center report found that media coverage of the 2016 US party conventions contained almost no discussion of policy issues and instead concentrated on polling data, scandals, campaign tactics, and Trump and Russia bashing. Leslie Moonves, CEO of CBS, spoke for the media establishment: “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS …. The money’s rolling in …. It’s a terrible thing to say. But bring it on, Donald.”

As Walter Cronkite would say, “And that’s the way it is.”

By alfonso