Thursday, August 21, 2014

Guantánamo Hunger Strikers and the "Torture Chairs"

“Most of the Hunger Strikers Are Vomiting on the Torture Chairs”: Emad Hassan’s Latest Harrowing Letter from Guantánamo

by Andy Worthington

In the long-running struggle by prisoners at Guantánamo to get US judges to order the prison authorities to stop force-feeding them when they are on a hunger strike to protest about their indefinite imprisonment without charge or trial, the focus in the last few months has been on Abu Wa’el Dhiab, a Syrian prisoner, cleared for release in 2009 by the high-level, inter-agency Guantánamo Review Task Force that President Obama appointed shortly after taking office, but still held, like 78 other prisoners cleared for release.

Guantánamo detainee, Emad Hassan

In May, in Washington D.C., District Judge Gladys Kessler delivered a powerful and unprecedented ruling in Mr. Dhiab’s case, ordering the government to stop force-feeding him, and also ordering the release, to his lawyers, of videotapes showing his force-feeding and “forcible cell extractions” (FCEs), where prisoners are violently extracted from their cells by a group of armored guards and taken for force-feeding after refusing to voluntarily drink the liquid nutritional supplements given to hunger strikers.

The order regarding Mr. Dhiab’s force-feeding was withdrawn by Judge Kessler shortly after it was issued, as she feared that otherwise Mr. Dhiab would die, but the videotapes have been seen by his lawyers, who described them as profoundly shocking — and 16 US media organizations are currently engaged in trying to get the videotapes released to the public.

Last week, Mr. Dhiab secured another victory, when Judge Kessler ordered the government to allow two independent doctors to visit him to assess the state of his health.

It may well be that the Obama administration will soon prevent Mr. Dhiab from causing them further irritation by releasing him to Uruguay, which has offered a new home to him and to five other men long cleared for release who, like Mr. Dhiab, cannot be safely repatriated.

However, two other hunger striking prisoners — Emad Hassan, a Yemeni, and Ahmad Rabbani, a Pakistani — have already submitted motions following up on the precedent established in Mr. Dhiab’s case, as I reported here. Rulings have not yet been delivered in these cases, but three weeks ago, Mr. Hassan, a prolific letter-writer, who, as Reprieve described it, has been “abusively force-fed more than 5,000 times since 2007 as part of the military’s efforts to break his hunger strike,” wrote a letter to Judge Kessler that was submitted by his lawyers, at the legal action charity Reprieve, in Abu Wa’el Dhaib’s case, even though Judge Kessler is not presiding over his own case.

In his letter, Hassan wrote about the latest developments in the force-feeding program, describing how “[m]ost of the hunger strikers are vomiting on the torture chairs,” and noting how what is happening now is reminiscent of the events of June 2006, when three long-term hunger strikers died, reportedly by committing suicide — although the official story has long been challenged by personnel working at Guantánamo at the time, and by serious discrepancies and omissions in the internal investigation that followed the deaths.

In his letter, which includes references to a specific prisoner who is believed to be Abu Wa’el Dhiab, Emad Hassan wrote:

Many times I write a letter to describe the events here, in detail. Specific[a]lly, the hunger strikes. I stop! I can’t keep up with it. I have to go with what is going now. As right now: the F.C.E. team took him to be fed. The SMO [Senior Medical Officer] boosted his feed to two can[s] of [E]nsure plus 1 can of TwoCal. It took ten minutes for his stomach to hold the formula [and he] then began vomiting horribly.

I stopped my writting [sic]. I could not continue untill [sic] my brother stopped. I took a pen to resume my writing. Six lines, again, my brother start vomiting. The tube came from my mouth as the liquid gush from his stomach through his mouth.

What’s happening now remined [sic] me of 2006 events! Most of the hunger strikers are vomiting on the torture chairs. Under the ventilation hole in the roof the air beat him on the head. Very, very cold. 74 degree. The nurse or corpsman come to one. Will you drink or the F.C.E. team? The threatening tone is unmistakable.

Mr. Hassan went on to describe Judge Kessler as “the one who shows kind of empathy, understandable and HOPE,” and stated:

You are not alone in the road of justice, listen with me to the first bishop woman, Barbara Clementine Harris [the first woman to be ordained as a bishop in the Anglican Communion, in 1980]: “No one expect[s] us to eliminate all the evils of the world, nor to liberate all those who are oppressed, nor to feed all who are hungry, or to house the millions who are homeless. But when the oppressed see one who fight[s] for liberation, their burden become[s] lightened because they know that somebody stand[s] with them.”

Mr. Hassan also asked:

Your honor: how one person, detainee his health condison [sic] [is] in danger and [he] could die! At the same time, send the F.C.E. team to pick him up to be fed. Isn’t [it] a contrad[iction ?] Is it?!

Your honor: It is a great responsible [sic] on your shoulder. Every ward [sic], action or hint from you will be taken sirious [sic]. There are many people watching you, a right and wrong pleas. Follow your faith. [...]

Your honor: I would like to remind you [of] some thing: Medical ethics in time of conflict is identical to medical ethics in time of peace,” the World Medical Association explaining that.

You honor: You are an human [sic]. Would you let anyone humiliate you, spit on your face, or let him abolish your existence! [T]hink about it.

Speaking to Jason Leopold of VICE News, Alka Pradhan, one of Mr. Hassan’s lawyers at Reprieve, said that it was “unprecedented” for a Guantánamo prisoner to be able to “speak directly to a judge.” As Leopold described it, Pradhan had “tried in the past to get Guantánamo’s strict security censors to clear letters written by other detainees to federal judges, but she was always rebuffed.”

Pradhan told Leopold:

“We were surprised the whole thing was unclassified. It’s amazing to see because it gives Judge Kessler an idea of what men are going through in their own words. Usually in a Guantánamo case the judge is dealing with a person she has never seen. There’s no way to make that human connection without this sort of evidence. This letter is the closest we can get to having the person’s face and voice in the courtroom.”

Pradhan also confirmed that her client continues to be force-fed twice a day, seven years after he first began his hunger strike. “They still take out tubes and reinsert them everyday,” she told Leopold. “He will occasionally drink the liquid nutrient. One of his nostrils is completely closed up. He only has one working nostril. But it gets infected and sore. That’s why he tries to drink the liquid nutrient.”

She also explained that she thought Mr. Hassan was “describing policy changes that have been implemented since the arrival of a new Guantánamo warden and commander of the detention facility last month,” as Jason Leopold put it.” She said, “Every time you get a new commander, they will tighten up the rules if they had loosened before, and that’s what I think we’re seeing.”

Leopold also spoke to Guantánamo spokesman Navy Capt. Tom Gresback, who claimed that “there have been no major changes to the force-feeding policies,” as Leopold described it, reading from the carefully-prepared script that describes hunger strikes as “non-religious fasting,” and force-feeding as “enteral feeding.”

“Enteral feeding provided by the medical staff at Joint Task Force-Guantánamo (JTF-GTMO) to the detainees who choose to participate in non-religious fasting is prescribed following strict Standard Operating Procedures which are based on established medical protocols,” Capt. Gresback said. “With the exception of modifying the SOP to now use a water-based lubricant, the SOP for enteral feeding at JTF-GTMO has not changed.”

He added, as Leopold described it, that “any procedures that have been characterized as violent at Guantánamo ‘are in compliance with US law’” — a claim that contradicts the assertions, made by medical professionals worldwide, that force-feeding is akin to torture.

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer and film-maker. He is the co-founder of the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here – or here for the US).

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, and “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011. Also see the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

- See more at: http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2014/08/21/most-of-the-hunger-strikers-are-vomiting-on-the-torture-chairs-emad-hassans-latest-harrowing-letter-from-guantanamo/#sthash.6DbSYkGf.dpuf

Gaza's Grinding Genocide: Peace Too High a Price for Netanyahu's Political Career

Gaza Changed Everything: Things Cannot Stay the Same after Israeli Genocide in Gaza

by Ramzy Baroud - PalestineChronicle.com

After every bloody episode of violence perpetrated by Israel, media spin doctors are often deployed with one grand mission: to absolve Israel of any responsibility in their acts of carnage.

Not only do these apologists demonize Palestinians, but anyone who dares to take a stand on their behalf. The main staple of this Israeli strategy has been blaming the victim. Such a tactic is nothing new in the way the so-called “Arab-Israeli conflict” has been presented in Western media, whose narrative has been much closer to that of Israeli official and media discourses than that of Palestinians. This continued despite the decades-long military occupation, successive wars, and countless massacres.

Specifically, since the Israeli siege on Gaza, following the democratic elections that brought Hamas to power in January 2006, Israel needed all of its hasbara savvy, alongside that of its backers in western countries to explain why a population has been brutalized for making a democratic choice. The sheer amount of deception involved in the cleverly knitted story which purposely mixed between Hamas and al-Qaeda (as they once did between late Yasser Arafat and Hitler), among other ruses was a new low, even by Israel’s own standards.

While the media demonized Hamas, the resistance and all the other “bad” Palestinians who voted for the movement, it intentionally ignored the fascism that was taking over Israeli society.

For the bad – as in “radical,” “extremist,” anti-peace – Palestinian to exist, they have to be juxtaposed with the good Palestinian, represented in Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and any faction, person or leader willing to, practically speaking, co-exist with the Israeli occupation. The PA went even further, by cooperating with Israel to ensure the demise of the Palestinian “radicals,” as in those who insist on resisting the occupation.

Thanks to the PA, the price for the Israeli occupation has never been so cheap. Despite repeated attempts at re-activating the so-called peace process, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu always found a way to torpedo such efforts, even those promoted by his closest allies in Washington. “Peace” is a major risk for Netanyahu, whose government is sustained by Jewish nationalists and extremists, who feel no particular need to end their colonization of the West Bank. Abbas had done a great deal to ensure that Israel feels no pressure to negotiate. Every attempt at resistance, even by standing peacefully with placards and banners in Ramallah’s al-Manara Square was crushed; often brutally.

Gaza, however, remained an exception. Israel’s brutality there has reached unprecedented levels, especially after Israel’s Cast Lead Operation, which killed and wounded thousands. Many predicted that the crimes in Gaza would turn the tide against Israel, but they didn’t. Israeli influence over the media was still tight enough that somehow they managed to, at least, neutralize the impact of Cast Lead. The advent of the Arab Spring and the devaluing of human life, as happened in Syria, Libya and Egypt, somehow buried the Israeli crimes in Gaza; however temporarily.

But Israel’s latest war on Gaza mounted to a genocide. Israel’s argument that it was “defending itself” was no longer a sufficient excuse. No amount of hasbara was enough to explain the burying alive of entire families, the summary execution of civilians, the pulverizing of entire neighborhoods, the gunning down of fleeing children playing at the beach during a deceptive moment of “lull,” the destruction of dozens of mosques and churches, the killing of civilians hiding in UN schools-turned temporary shelters.

It was particularly embarrassing for Israel, but also telling, that the Gaza resistance, which stood alone, fighting tens of thousands of well-armed invaders from tunnels, killed 64 Israelis. All but three were soldiers, mostly killed inside Gaza.

As the world was awakened to the level of devastation created by Israel in Gaza, many also became aware that such wrath is not independent from the fascism that has gripped Israeli society for years. In Israel, there is no longer room for dissent, and those in the highest positions of power, are the ones who openly and freely preach genocide.

In his excellent article in the American Conservative on August 06, Scott McConnell, wrote, “All societies have their hate groups and extremists, but nowhere in the democratic world are they nearer to the center of power than Israel.” He elaborated, “In the 1980s Meir Kahane had a small following in Israel, but his pro-ethnic cleansing party was made illegal. Now Kahanists are in the center of the country’s ruling ideology.”

This was discussed in context of statements made by Moshe Feiglin, deputy speaker of the Knesset and a “top player in Israel’s ruling Likud Party.” Fieglin called for Palestinians from Gaza to be resettled in concentration camps, and all of Hamas and its supporters to be “annihilated.” Who can now, with a good conscience, protest those who infuse the Nazi analogy to what is happening in Palestine?

Meanwhile, in this age of social media, where mainstream news networks no longer have complete command over the narrative, no self-respecting intellectual, journalist, official or any citizen with a conscience can plead ignorance and stand on the fence of neutrality.

Gaza has indeed changed everything. Israel’s criminality and fascism should no longer be open for vibrant media debates, but it must be acknowledged as an uncontested fact. Our language, as in our perception, must also change to accommodate this uncontested reality.

To end the Israeli genocide and occupation, the wheel of continuous action must turn and keep on turning. Those who support Israel must be exposed, and those who facilitate the Israeli occupation and sustain its war machine are partakers in the war crimes committed daily in Gaza and the rest of Palestine. They must be boycotted. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement must grow and serve as the main platform for international solidarity.

Time for clever words and no action are long gone, and those who remain “soft” on Israel, for whatever reason, have no place in what is becoming a global movement with uncompromising demands: end the occupation, punish its sustainers, halt ethnic cleaning and genocide, end the siege, and bring Israeli and other culprits to the international criminal court for their massive war crimes and crimes against humanity.


Ramzy Baroud is a PhD scholar in People's History at the University of Exeter. He is the Managing Editor of Middle East Eye. Baroud is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London).

Frenemies Ours: Washington's Schizophrenic ISIS Relationship

Why Washington’s War on Terror Failed: The Underrated Saudi Connection

by Patrick Cockburn  - TomDispatch

 There are extraordinary elements in the present U.S. policy in Iraq and Syria that are attracting surprisingly little attention. In Iraq, the U.S. is carrying out air strikes and sending in advisers and trainers to help beat back the advance of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (better known as ISIS) on the Kurdish capital, Erbil. The U.S. would presumably do the same if ISIS surrounds or attacks Baghdad. 
 
But in Syria, Washington’s policy is the exact opposite: there the main opponent of ISIS is the Syrian government and the Syrian Kurds in their northern enclaves. Both are under attack from ISIS, which has taken about a third of the country, including most of its oil and gas production facilities.

But U.S., Western European, Saudi, and Arab Gulf policy is to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, which happens to be the policy of ISIS and other jihadis in Syria. If Assad goes, then ISIS will be the beneficiary, since it is either defeating or absorbing the rest of the Syrian armed opposition.
 
Tomgram: Patrick Cockburn, How to Ensure a Thriving Caliphate

Think of the new “caliphate” of the Islamic State, formerly the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), as George W. Bush and Dick Cheney's gift to the world (with a helping hand from the Saudis and other financiers of extremism in the Persian Gulf). How strange that they get so little credit for its rise, for the fact that the outlines of the Middle East, as set up by Europe’s colonial powers in the wake of World War I, are being swept aside in a tide of blood.

Had George and Dick not decided on their “cakewalk” in Iraq, had they not raised the specter of nuclear destruction and claimed that Saddam Hussein’s regime was somehow linked to al-Qaeda and so to the 9/11 attacks, had they not sent tens of thousands of American troops into a burning, looted Baghdad (“stuff happens”), disbanded the Iraqi army, built military bases all over that country, and generally indulged their geopolitical fantasies about dominating the oil heartlands of the planet for eternity, ISIS would have been an unlikely possibility, no matter the ethnic and religious tensions in the region. They essentially launched the drive that broke state power there and created the kind of vacuum that a movement like ISIS was so horrifically well suited to fill.

All in all, it’s a remarkable accomplishment to look back on. In September 2001, when George and Dick launched their “Global War on Terror” to wipe out -- so they then claimed -- “terrorist networks” in up to 60 countries, or as they preferred to put it, “drain the swamp,” there were scattered bands of jihadis globally, while al-Qaeda had a couple of camps in Afghanistan and a sprinkling of supporters elsewhere. Today, in the wake of the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and an air power intervention in Libya, after years of drone (and non-drone) bombing campaigns across the Greater Middle East, jihadist groups are thriving in Yemen and Pakistan, spreading through Africa (along with the U.S. military), and ISIS has taken significant parts of Iraq and Syria right up to the Lebanese border for its own bailiwick and is still expanding murderously, despite a renewed American bombing campaign that may only strengthen that movement in the long run.

Has anyone covered this nightmare better than the world’s least embedded reporter, Patrick Cockburn of the British Independent? Not for my money. He’s had the canniest, clearest-eyed view of developments in the region for years now. As it happens, when he publishes a new book on the Middle East (the last time was 2008), he makes one of his rare appearances at TomDispatch. This month, his latest must-read work, The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising, is out. Today, this website has an excerpt from its first chapter on why the war on terror was such a failure (and why, if Washington was insistent on invading someplace, it probably should have chosen Saudi Arabia). It includes a special introductory section written just for TomDispatch. Thanks go to his publisher, OR Books. Tom 
 
[Excerpted from the first chapter of Patrick Cockburn’s new book, The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising, with special thanks to his publisher, OR Books. The first section is a new introduction written for TomDispatch.]

Why Washington’s War on Terror Failed: 

The Underrated Saudi Connection

by Patrick Cockburn

 
There is a pretense in Washington and elsewhere that there exists a “moderate” Syrian opposition being helped by the U.S., Qatar, Turkey, and the Saudis. It is, however, weak and getting more so by the day. Soon the new caliphate may stretch from the Iranian border to the Mediterranean and the only force that can possibly stop this from happening is the Syrian army.

The reality of U.S. policy is to support the government of Iraq, but not Syria, against ISIS. But one reason that group has been able to grow so strong in Iraq is that it can draw on its resources and fighters in Syria. Not everything that went wrong in Iraq was the fault of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, as has now become the political and media consensus in the West. Iraqi politicians have been telling me for the last two years that foreign backing for the Sunni revolt in Syria would inevitably destabilize their country as well. This has now happened.

By continuing these contradictory policies in two countries, the U.S. has ensured that ISIS can reinforce its fighters in Iraq from Syria and vice versa. So far, Washington has been successful in escaping blame for the rise of ISIS by putting all the blame on the Iraqi government. In fact, it has created a situation in which ISIS can survive and may well flourish.

Using the al-Qa'ida Label


The sharp increase in the strength and reach of jihadist organizations in Syria and Iraq has generally been unacknowledged until recently by politicians and media in the West. A primary reason for this is that Western governments and their security forces narrowly define the jihadist threat as those forces directly controlled by al-Qa‘ida central or “core” al-Qa‘ida. This enables them to present a much more cheerful picture of their successes in the so-called war on terror than the situation on the ground warrants.

In fact, the idea that the only jihadis to be worried about are those with the official blessing of al-Qa‘ida is naïve and self-deceiving. It ignores the fact, for instance, that ISIS has been criticized by the al-Qa‘ida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri for its excessive violence and sectarianism. After talking to a range of Syrian jihadi rebels not directly affiliated with al-Qa‘ida in southeast Turkey earlier this year, a source told me that “without exception they all expressed enthusiasm for the 9/11 attacks and hoped the same thing would happen in Europe as well as the U.S.”

Jihadi groups ideologically close to al-Qa‘ida have been relabeled as moderate if their actions are deemed supportive of U.S. policy aims. In Syria, the Americans backed a plan by Saudi Arabia to build up a “Southern Front” based in Jordan that would be hostile to the Assad government in Damascus, and simultaneously hostile to al-Qa‘ida-type rebels in the north and east. The powerful but supposedly moderate Yarmouk Brigade, reportedly the planned recipient of anti-aircraft missiles from Saudi Arabia, was intended to be the leading element in this new formation. But numerous videos show that the Yarmouk Brigade has frequently fought in collaboration with JAN, the official al-Qa‘ida affiliate. Since it was likely that, in the midst of battle, these two groups would share their munitions, Washington was effectively allowing advanced weaponry to be handed over to its deadliest enemy. Iraqi officials confirm that they have captured sophisticated arms from ISIS fighters in Iraq that were originally supplied by outside powers to forces considered to be anti-al-Qa‘ida in Syria.

The name al-Qa‘ida has always been applied flexibly when identifying an enemy. In 2003 and 2004 in Iraq, as armed Iraqi opposition to the American and British-led occupation mounted, U.S. officials attributed most attacks to al-Qa‘ida, though many were carried out by nationalist and Baathist groups. Propaganda like this helped to persuade nearly 60% of U.S. voters prior to the Iraq invasion that there was a connection between Saddam Hussein and those responsible for 9/11, despite the absence of any evidence for this. In Iraq itself, indeed throughout the entire Muslim world, these accusations have benefited al-Qa‘ida by exaggerating its role in the resistance to the U.S. and British occupation.

Precisely the opposite PR tactics were employed by Western governments in 2011 in Libya, where any similarity between al-Qa‘ida and the NATO-backed rebels fighting to overthrow the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, was played down. Only those jihadis who had a direct operational link to the al-Qa‘ida “core” of Osama bin Laden were deemed to be dangerous. The falsity of the pretense that the anti-Gaddafi jihadis in Libya were less threatening than those in direct contact with al-Qa‘ida was forcefully, if tragically, exposed when U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens was killed by jihadi fighters in Benghazi in September 2012. These were the same fighters lauded by Western governments and media for their role in the anti-Gaddafi uprising.

Imagining al-Qa'ida as the Mafia


Al-Qa‘ida is an idea rather than an organization, and this has long been the case. For a five-year period after 1996, it did have cadres, resources, and camps in Afghanistan, but these were eliminated after the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001. Subsequently, al-Qa‘ida’s name became primarily a rallying cry, a set of Islamic beliefs, centering on the creation of an Islamic state, the imposition of sharia, a return to Islamic customs, the subjugation of women, and the waging of holy war against other Muslims, notably the Shia, who are considered heretics worthy of death. At the center of this doctrine for making war is an emphasis on self-sacrifice and martyrdom as a symbol of religious faith and commitment. This has resulted in using untrained but fanatical believers as suicide bombers, to devastating effect.

It has always been in the interest of the U.S. and other governments that al-Qa‘ida be viewed as having a command-and-control structure like a mini-Pentagon, or like the mafia in America. This is a comforting image for the public because organized groups, however demonic, can be tracked down and eliminated through imprisonment or death. More alarming is the reality of a movement whose adherents are self-recruited and can spring up anywhere.

Osama bin Laden’s gathering of militants, which he did not call al-Qa‘ida until after 9/11, was just one of many jihadi groups 12 years ago. But today its ideas and methods are predominant among jihadis because of the prestige and publicity it gained through the destruction of the Twin Towers, the war in Iraq, and its demonization by Washington as the source of all anti-American evil. These days, there is a narrowing of differences in the beliefs of jihadis, regardless of whether or not they are formally linked to al-Qa‘ida central.

Unsurprisingly, governments prefer the fantasy picture of al-Qa‘ida because it enables them to claim victories when it succeeds in killing its better known members and allies. Often, those eliminated are given quasi-military ranks, such as “head of operations,” to enhance the significance of their demise. The culmination of this heavily publicized but largely irrelevant aspect of the “war on terror” was the killing of bin Laden in Abbottabad in Pakistan in 2011. This enabled President Obama to grandstand before the American public as the man who had presided over the hunting down of al-Qa‘ida’s leader. In practical terms, however, his death had little impact on al-Qa‘ida-type jihadi groups, whose greatest expansion has occurred subsequently.

Ignoring the Roles of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan


The key decisions that enabled al-Qa‘ida to survive, and later to expand, were made in the hours immediately after 9/11. Almost every significant element in the project to crash planes into the Twin Towers and other iconic American buildings led back to Saudi Arabia. Bin Laden was a member of the Saudi elite, and his father had been a close associate of the Saudi monarch. Citing a CIA report from 2002, the official 9/11 report says that al-Qa‘ida relied for its financing on “a variety of donors and fundraisers, primarily in the Gulf countries and particularly in Saudi Arabia.”

The report’s investigators repeatedly found their access limited or denied when seeking information in Saudi Arabia. Yet President George W. Bush apparently never even considered holding the Saudis responsible for what happened. An exit of senior Saudis, including bin Laden relatives, from the U.S. was facilitated by the U.S. government in the days after 9/11. Most significant, 28 pages of the 9/11 Commission Report about the relationship between the attackers and Saudi Arabia were cut and never published, despite a promise by President Obama to do so, on the grounds of national security.

In 2009, eight years after 9/11, a cable from the U.S. secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, revealed by WikiLeaks, complained that donors in Saudi Arabia constituted the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide. But despite this private admission, the U.S. and Western Europeans continued to remain indifferent to Saudi preachers whose message, spread to millions by satellite TV, YouTube, and Twitter, called for the killing of the Shia as heretics. These calls came as al-Qa‘ida bombs were slaughtering people in Shia neighborhoods in Iraq. A sub-headline in another State Department cable in the same year reads: “Saudi Arabia: Anti-Shi’ism as Foreign Policy?” Now, five years later, Saudi-supported groups have a record of extreme sectarianism against non-Sunni Muslims.

Pakistan, or rather Pakistani military intelligence in the shape of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), was the other parent of al-Qa‘ida, the Taliban, and jihadi movements in general. When the Taliban was disintegrating under the weight of U.S. bombing in 2001, its forces in northern Afghanistan were trapped by anti-Taliban forces. Before they surrendered, hundreds of ISI members, military trainers, and advisers were hastily evacuated by air. Despite the clearest evidence of ISI’s sponsorship of the Taliban and jihadis in general, Washington refused to confront Pakistan, and thereby opened the way for the resurgence of the Taliban after 2003, which neither the U.S. nor NATO has been able to reverse.

The “war on terror” has failed because it did not target the jihadi movement as a whole and, above all, was not aimed at Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, the two countries that fostered jihadism as a creed and a movement. The U.S. did not do so because these countries were important American allies whom it did not want to offend. Saudi Arabia is an enormous market for American arms, and the Saudis have cultivated, and on occasion purchased, influential members of the American political establishment. Pakistan is a nuclear power with a population of 180 million and a military with close links to the Pentagon.

The spectacular resurgence of al-Qa‘ida and its offshoots has happened despite the huge expansion of American and British intelligence services and their budgets after 9/11. Since then, the U.S., closely followed by Britain, has fought wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and adopted procedures normally associated with police states, such as imprisonment without trial, rendition, torture, and domestic espionage. Governments wage the “war on terror” claiming that the rights of individual citizens must be sacrificed to secure the safety of all.

In the face of these controversial security measures, the movements against which they are aimed have not been defeated but rather have grown stronger. At the time of 9/11, al-Qa‘ida was a small, generally ineffectual organization; by 2014 al-Qa‘ida-type groups were numerous and powerful.

In other words, the “war on terror,” the waging of which has shaped the political landscape for so much of the world since 2001, has demonstrably failed. Until the fall of Mosul, nobody paid much attention.

Patrick Cockburn is Middle East correspondent for the Independent and worked previously for the Financial Times. He has written three books on Iraq’s recent history as well as a memoir, The Broken Boy, and, with his son, a book on schizophrenia, Henry’s Demons. He won the Martha Gellhorn Prize in 2005, the James Cameron Prize in 2006, and the Orwell Prize for Journalism in 2009. His forthcoming book, The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising, is now available exclusively from OR Books. This excerpt (with an introductory section written for TomDispatch) is taken from that book.

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Copyright 2014 Patrick Cockburn

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Quebec's Mega-Pit Mines: Environmental Groups Unite to Rein Big Nickel Royaly

Open Pit Mega-mines in Quebec – Size Really Does Matter

by Coalition Québec meilleure

Open Pit Mega-mines in Quebec – Size Really Does Matter. Citizens’ coalition says independent assessment and new regulations are urgently needed. Citizens’ coalition says independent assessment and new regulations are urgently needed

Quebec, August 20, 2014
- As Quebec’s Environmental Assessment Office examines the largest open pit mine project ever proposed in Canada, Royal Nickel’s Dumont project in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, a coalition of citizens, doctors, environmental groups and unions is demanding that the Quebec government establish an independent review of the laws and standards for environmental protection, safety, and public health at open pit mega-mines.

In a substantial fifty-page report (http://www.miningwatch.ca/sites/www.miningwatch.ca/files/qmm_analyse_de_royal_nickel.pdf) released today, members of the Coalition Québec meilleure mine (http://www.quebecmeilleuremine.org/) demonstrate why they are concerned about the increase in massive low-grade, high-volume open pit mining projects across Quebec. A key part of the concern is the fact that many of these large projects are proposed to be in close proximity to residential areas or other sensitive sites.

We have the 2.5 kilometre-long mega-pit at Malartic and the proposed 3.5 kilometre-long pit in Sept-Îles but we now have Royal Nickel with its 5 kilometre pit. It would be the largest open pit mine in Canadian history and only 800 metres from people’s homes,” stated Ugo Lapointe, spokesperson for the Coalition. The proposed mine would affect residents in the municipalities of Launey and Trécesson in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region of Quebec.

Environmental and Health Standards Not Respected


Members (http://www.quebecmeilleuremine.org/content/qui-nous-sommes) of the Coalition are troubled by the absence of a regulatory framework that deals specifically with these large open pit mines. The group is equally worried by the inability of the industry and public sector authorities to ensure compliance with the requirements that do exist.

Since the authorization of the Malartic open pit in 2009, the company has had 134 citations and 1,289 complaints over its failure to meet environmental and health standards. Neither the company nor the regulators have been able to do what it takes to bring the mine into compliance,” commented Nicole Kirouac, lawyer and resource person for the citizens’ group Comité vigilance de Malartic.
The current standards aren’t strict enough to protect the health of citizens, but mining companies still aren’t meeting them. The regulators either lack the means to enforce the standards or turn a blind eye to the situation,” noted Louise Gagnon of Regroupement pour la sauvegarde de la grande Baie de Sept-Îles.

We can no longer tolerate public health and the environment being put at such risk,” added Isabelle Gingras of Canadian Physicians for the Environment.

Authorities shut their eyes to biased environmental studies


In its report the Coalition clearly demonstartes how the Arnaud project in Sept-Iles and the Royal Nickel project in Launey/Trécesson presented models of the projects’ impacts and mitigation measures that are off-base and unreliable. This has not, however, stopped them from getting authorizations under the current regulatory system.

An unacceptable system in urgent need of change


The regulatory situation in Quebec is completely unacceptable and requires urgent changes to how we evaluate authorize and oversee large open-pit mines – especially those that are close to communities and sensitive areas,” stated Daniel Green of Société pour vaincre la pollution.

The Coalition is not alone in its concern. In three separate reports filed since 2009, Quebec’s Auditor General pointed out substantial weaknesses and gaps in the follow-up and monitoring of mines and other industrial projects. A 2011 report (http://www.vgq.gouv.qc.ca/fr/fr_publications/fr_rapport-annuel/fr_index.aspx?Annee=2011) was directed to the Ministry of the Environment while reports in 2009 and 2013 were directed to the Ministry of Natural Resources.

More than 89% of people in mining area favour changes to the regulations for open pit mines


In 2011 regional organizations in Abitibi-Témiscamingue found that 89% of the 1,2000 people surveyed  wanted to see changes to the mining regulations with strict conditions for open-pit operations. The groups, which represented 12,000 members in the region and across northern Quebec, called for a public debate on open-pit mining. “While it was important to have this debate in 2011, in 2014 it’s become essential,” concluded Yvan Croteau of Action boréale.

-30-


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Coalition Québec meilleure mine
 (http://www.quebecmeilleuremine.org/)

Contacts:

Ugo Lapointe, Coalition Québec meilleure mine, 514-708-0134 (English and French)

Nicole Kirouac, Comité vigilance de Malartic, 819-354-1911 (French only)

Louise Gagnon, Regroupement pour la sauvegarde de la grande Baie de Sept-Îles (French only)

Dr. Isabelle Gingras ou Dr. Éric Notebaert, Association canadienne des médecins pour l’environnement, 418-965-6814 ou 514-978-6262 (English and French)

Daniel Green, Société pour vaincre la pollution, 514-245-4676 (English and French)

Original French version of the press release available here (http://www.quebecmeilleuremine.org/communique/o-s-arr-te-la-limite-des-m-ga-mines-ciel-ouvert) .


Ukraine in Crisis Yet

Ukraine Crisis Continues

by Paul Craig Roberts - ICH

Having served Washington’s propaganda purposes, the downed Malaysian airliner and the alleged Russian armored column that entered Ukraine and was allegedly destroyed have dropped out of the news even though both stories remain completely and totally unresolved.

Washington’s stooge government in Ukraine has not released the records of communications between Ukrainian air traffic control and Malaysian flight 17, and Washington has not released the photos from its satellite which was directly overhead at the time of the airliner’s demise.

We can safely and conclusively conclude from this purposeful withholding of evidence that the evidence does not support Washington’s and Kiev’s propaganda.

We can also safely and conclusively conclude that the Western media’s sudden disinterest in the unresolved story and failure to demand the evidence kept secret by Washington and Kiev is in keeping with the Western media’s role as a Ministry of Propaganda.

In other words, Washington and its presstitutes are protecting the lie that Washington and its media vassals successfully spread around the world and have used as the basis for further sanctions that escalate the conflict with Russia. Washington could not possibly make it clearer that Washington intends to escalate, not defuse, the conflict that Washington alone orchestrated.

Ditto for the alleged Russian armored column. The Russian government has labeled the story a fantasy, which it clearly is, but nevertheless Washington and its media vassals have left the story in place.

As English is the world language and as the European press follows the lead of the American presstitutes, the propaganda war is stacked against Russia (and China). Russian and Chinese are not world languages. Indeed, these languages are difficult for others to learn and are not well known outside the countries themselves. The Western media follows Washington’s lead, not Moscow’s or Beijing’s.

As facts are not relevant to the outcome, Moscow and Beijing are in a losing situation in the propaganda war.

The same holds for diplomacy. Washington does not engage in diplomacy. The exceptional country uses bribes, threats, and coercion. The Russian government’s diplomatic efforts come to naught. As Russian President Putin has complained, “Washington doesn’t listen, the West doesn’t hear us.”

And yet the Russian government continues to try to deal with the Ukrainian situation with facts and diplomacy. This approach is proving to be very costly to the residents of the former Russian territories in eastern and southern Ukraine. These people are being killed by air and artillery strikes against their homes and infrastructure. Large numbers of these people have been displaced by the Ukrainian attacks and are refugees in Russia. The Western media does not report the violence that Washington’s stooge government in Kiev is inflicting on these people. The Western media speaks only with Washington’s voice: “It is all Russia’s fault.”

The crisis would have been prevented if the Russian government had accepted the provinces request to be reunited with Russia as in the case of Crimea. However, the Russian government decided to avoid any decision that Washington could misrepresent as “invasion and annexation,” thinking that Europe would see Russia’s unprovocative behavior as reassuring and resist Washington’s pressure to enter into conflict with Russia.

In my opinion the Russian government over-estimated the power of diplomacy in the West. Washington is interested in fomenting crises, not in resolving them.

In the 23 years since the collapse of the Soviet Union, many Russians have been of the opinion that Washington, not the Soviet government, was the party to be trusted in the Cold War. What the Russian government has learned recently is that Washington cannot be trusted and that the Soviet government’s suspicions of the West were very well founded.

Kiev’s military assault on eastern and southern Ukraine is not going to stop because Europeans finally see the light and object. Europeans not only stood aside for 13 years while Washington bombed civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Pakistan, Yemen, and organized outside forces to attack Syrians, while isolating Iran for military attack, but also actively participated in the attacks. Europe has stood aside while Israel has massacred Palestinians on numerous occasions. For Russia to rely on Europe’s moral conscience is to rely on something that does not exist.

The continued slaughter and destruction of the Russian populations in eastern and southern Ukraine will eventually demoralize the Russian people and undermine their support of Putin’s government for failing to halt it. The Russian government’s acceptance of the slaughter makes Russia look weak and encourages more aggression against Russia.

If the Russian government intends to resolve its problems in Ukraine and to forestall Washington’s ability to further erode Russia’s political and economic relationships with Europe with more sanctions, the Russian government will have to turn to more forceful measures.

In Ukraine the Russian government has two alternatives. One is to announce that the ongoing slaughter and the unresponsiveness of Kiev and its Western backers to Russia’s efforts to end the killing with a diplomatic settlement has caused Russia to reconsider the provinces’ requests to be reunited with Russia and that any further attacks on these territories will be regarded as attacks on Russia and be met with a devastating military response.

The other alternative is for Putin to meet privately with Washington’s stooge and convey to the corrupt oligarch that enough is enough and that if the attacks continue Russia will accept the requests for reunification and protect the provinces. Putin would explain to Washington’s stooge that if he wants to retain the former Russian territories as part of Ukraine, he will have to work out satisfactory arrangements with the provinces. In other words, Putin would deliver an ultimatum, one that required an immediate answer so that the stooge couldn’t run to Washington and Washington would not have time to create a new propaganda.

Karl Marx regarded morality as a rationale for class interests. As each class created a morality to justify its interests, there was no basis for good will between people. With reform impossible, violence becomes the only effective method of change. Washington has its own version of Marx’s doctrine. As the exceptional country, history has chosen the US to prevail over other countries’ interests. Prevailing rules out diplomacy which requires compromise. Therefore, Washington, like Marx, relies on violence.

The Russian government cannot rely on diplomacy and good will if the West is relying on violence.

Perhaps s solution could be found by President Putin meeting separately with Merkel and Hollande and explaining that Russia cannot indefinitely accept sanctions based on lies and propaganda without taking more determined steps than Russian sanctions against European agricultural products. Putin could make it clear that if Europe continues to accommodate Washington’s assault on Russia, the flow of energy could be restricted or be turned off.

Additionally, President Putin might explain to the European leaders that the dynamics of Washington’s campaign to demonize Russia can escape control and result in war that would devastate Europe. Putin could tell Europeans that by disassociating from Washington’s foreign policy and adopting foreign policies that serve their own interests instead of Washington’s, Europeans have nothing to lose but their chains of vassalage.

Putin could explain to Europeans that Russia is prepared to guarantee Europe’s security and, therefore, that Europe does not need Washington’s guarantee against a nonexistent Russian threat.

If this very reasonable and diplomatic approach to Europe fails, then Russia and China know that they must prepare for war.

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts' latest books are The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West and How America Was Lost.

The Traitors: How Nixon and Kissinger Sabotaged Peace in Vietnam for Political Gains

Nixon’s Vietnam Treason

by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman - CounterPunch

Richard Nixon was a traitor.

The new release of extended versions of Nixon’s papers now confirms this long-standing belief, usually dismissed as a “conspiracy theory” by Republican conservatives. Now it has been substantiated by none other than right-wing columnist George Will.

Nixon’s newly revealed records show for certain that in 1968, as a presidential candidate, he ordered Anna Chennault, his liaison to the South Vietnam government, to persuade them refuse a cease-fire being brokered by President Lyndon Johnson.

Nixon’s interference with these negotiations violated President John Adams’s 1797 Logan Act, banning private citizens from intruding into official government negotiations with a foreign nation.

Published as the 40th Anniversary of Nixon’s resignation approaches, Will’s column confirms that Nixon feared public disclosure of his role in sabotaging the 1968 Vietnam peace talks. Will says Nixon established a “plumbers unit” to stop potential leaks of information that might damage him, including documentation he believed was held by the Brookings Institute, a liberal think tank. The Plumbers’ later break-in at the Democratic National Committee led to the Watergate scandal that brought Nixon down.

Nixon’s sabotage of the Vietnam peace talks was confirmed by transcripts of FBI wiretaps. On November 2, 1968, LBJ received an FBI report saying Chernnault told the South Vietnamese ambassador that “she had received a message from her boss: saying the Vietnamese should “hold on, we are gonna win.”

As Will confirms, Vietnamese did “hold on,” the war proceeded and Nixon did win, changing forever the face of American politics—-with the shadow of treason permanently embedded in its DNA.

The treason came in 1968 as the Vietnam War reached a critical turning point. President Lyndon Johnson was desperate for a truce between North and South Vietnam.

LBJ had an ulterior motive: his Vice President, Hubert Humphrey, was in a tight presidential race against Richard Nixon. With demonstrators in the streets, Humphrey desperately needed a cease-fire to get him into the White House.

Johnson had it all but wrapped it. With a combination of gentle and iron-fisted persuasion, he forced the leaders of South Vietnam into an all-but-final agreement with the North. A cease-fire was imminent, and Humphrey’s election seemed assured.

But at the last minute, the South Vietnamese pulled out. LBJ suspected Nixon had intervened to stop them from signing a peace treaty.

In the Price of Power (1983), Seymour Hersh revealed Henry Kissinger—then Johnson’s advisor on Vietnam peace talks—secretly alerted Nixon’s staff that a truce was imminent.

According to Hersh, Nixon “was able to get a series of messages to the Thieu government [of South Vietnam] making it clear that a Nixon presidency would have different views on peace negotiations.”

Johnson was livid. He even called the Republican Senate Minority Leader, Everett Dirksen, to complain that “they oughtn’t be doing this. This is treason.”

“I know,” was Dirksen’s feeble reply.

Johnson blasted Nixon about this on November 3, just prior to the election. As Robert Parry of consortiumnews.com has written: “when Johnson confronted Nixon with evidence of the peace-talk sabotage, Nixon insisted on his innocence but acknowledged that he knew what was at stake.”

Said Nixon: “My, I would never do anything to encourage….Saigon not to come to the table….Good God, we’ve got to get them to Paris or you can’t have peace.”

But South Vietnamese President General Theiu—a notorious drug and gun runner—did boycott Johnson’s Paris peace talks. With the war still raging, Nixon claimed a narrow victory over Humphrey. He then made Kissinger his own national security advisor.

In the four years between the sabotage and what Kissinger termed “peace at hand” just prior to the 1972 election, more than 20,000 US troops died in Vietnam. More than 100,000 were wounded. More than a million Vietnamese were killed.

But in 1973, Kissinger was given the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating the same settlement he helped sabotage in 1968.

According to Parry, LBJ wanted to go public with Nixon’s treason. But Clark Clifford, an architect of the CIA and a pillar of the Washington establishment, talked Johnson out of it. LBJ’s close confidant warned that the revelation would shake the foundations of the nation.

In particular, Clifford told Johnson (in a taped conversation) that “some elements of the story are so shocking in their nature that I’m wondering whether it would be good for the country to disclose the story and then possibly have [Nixon] elected. It could cast his whole administration under such doubt that I think it would be inimical to our country’s best interests.”

In other words, Clifford told LBJ that the country couldn’t handle the reality that its president was a certifiable traitor, eligible for legal execution.

Fittingly, Clark Clifford’s upper-crust career ended in the disgrace of his entanglement with the crooked Bank of Credit and Commerce (BCCI), which financed the terrorist group Al Qaeda and whose scandalous downfall tainted the Agency he helped found.

Johnson lived four years after he left office, tormented by the disastrous war that destroyed his presidency and his retirement. Nixon won re-election in 1972, again with a host of dirty dealings, then became the first America president to resign in disgrace.

Bob Fitrakis is Editor-in-Chief of the Free Press and Harvey Wasserman is Senior Editor. Read more Harvey Wasserman at solartopia.org.

Racism Not the Only Constitutional Violation Committed by Ferguson Police/National Guard

Police Continue to Violate Press Freedom In Ferguson

by TRNN

With 11 journalists arrested thus far, Truthout.org investigative reporter Mike Ludwig describes how Ferguson police are using intimidation tactics against journalists.


Mike Ludwig is an investigative reporter for Truthout.org


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Gorilla Radio with Chris Cook, David Swanson, Andre Vltchek, Janine Bandcroft Wed. August 20, 2014

This Week on GR

by C. L. Cook - Gorilla-Radio.com

The war drum tempo in Western capitals has quickened. For the citizens of Ukraine, Iraq, Palestine, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, and the other places where the Global War on Terra's horrors are felt, hopes for a normal life are dimming by the day.

But even as Ferguson, Missouri roils in scenes all too familiar to those distant places mentioned, Americans, largely, are yet to recognize the systemic root to the widespread violence.

David Swanson is a community activist and internet organizer extraordinaire, lecturer, former journalist and communications director for Dennis Kucinich's 2004 presidential campaign, and author.

Listen. Hear.

David's book titles include: 'When the World Outlawed War,' 'Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union,' 'War is a Lie,' 'The Military Industrial Complex at 50,' 'Tube World,' 'Iraq War Among World's Worst Events,' and 'War No More: The Case for Abolition.' David Swanson's latest effort is with World Beyond War.org, a campaign to abolish finally war.

David Swanson in the first half.

And; though we're hearing little of last week's Casus belli for a greater war in Ukraine - the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17 - the brutal shelling of the cities of Eastern Ukraine continues. More than 2,000 are believed killed so far, while hundreds of thousands have been displaced by the fighting. And there seems no end in sight.

Andre Vltchek is a globe-trotting, freelance investigative journalist and photographer who has covered conflict in dozens of the world's war zones from Bosnia and Peru to Sri Lanka, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Timor Leste. Andre was filing reports from Ukraine last month, leaving the embattled country literally mere moments before the ill-fated MH 17 was brought down.

Andre Vltchek is also a filmmaker, poet, playwright, and author who's bibliography includes the novels: 'Nalezeny,' and 'Point of no Return,' and the non-ficiton titles: 'Western Terror: From Potosi to Baghdad,' 'Indonesia: Archipelago of Fear,' 'Oceania,' (published by Expathos and a result of five years work in Micronesia, Polynesia, and Melanesia), and, with Rossie Indira, 'Exile' a book of conversations with foremost Southeast Asian writer, Pramoedya Ananta Toer. Andre's dispatches from nearly every corner are featured online at CounterPunch, Z Magazine, the Asia Times, and Pacific Free Press among others.

Andre Vltchek and Ukraine behind the media hyperbole in the second half.

And, Victoria Street Newz publisher emeritus and CFUV Radio broadcaster, Janine Bandcroft will join us a the bottom of the hour, bringing newz for the coming week in our city, and beyond there too.

But first, David Swanson and imagining a world without war.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, airing live every Wednesday, 1-2pm Pacific Time. In Victoria at 101.9FM, and on the internet at: http://cfuv.uvic.ca. He also serves as a contributing editor to the web news site, http://www.pacificfreepress.com. Check out the GR blog at: http://gorillaradioblog.blogspot.ca/

G-Radio is dedicated to social justice, the environment, community, and providing a forum for people and issues not covered in the corporate media.

Growth BRICS and the Threat of Resistance Dilution

Do Not Dilute BRICS!

by Andre Vltchek - CounterPunch

There is a growing danger that BRICS – the club of the nations that are holed up at the frontline, in the trenches, facing global Western imperialism – could one day be diluted and weakened if some radically right-wing Western allies, such as Indonesia and Turkey, were to be allowed to join.

Fascist countries should not be welcomed.

BRICS consists of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, and it was originally supposed to be just an economic block, but in recent years, Western attacks against countries with independent political and economic systems, pushed most of the BRICS nations into a powerful political alliance, even an embrace.

With the exception of the staunch ally of the United States and a capitalist zealot – India – all the other member countries are standing defiantly and proudly against the latest wave of a Western neo-colonialist onslaught. They may have diverse political and economic systems, but anti-imperialism is their essential common denominator.

All of them, again with the exception of India, are under severe propaganda attacks from the Western mass media.

For the last few years, China and Russia are being encircled militarily, and openly provoked. South Africa is demonized and ridiculed, while Latin America has endured countless attacks, and gross interference in its internal affairs: the progressive governments in Honduras and Paraguay were overthrown, and many ‘opposition movements’ were persistently manufactured and financed from the North.

But the block that embraces roughly 40% of the global population has been moving forward, creating the much needed diversity and, once again, a bipolar world.

On 15 July 2014, Pepe Escobar wrote for Asia Times from Brazil, where the leaders of BRICS countries met, incorporating into these encounters, other Latin American nations. Grandiose plans were defined, and it has, once again, become clear how close China and Russia are to the progressive Latin American nations; how fast they are all moving towards each other politically, strategically and economically:

“The headline news is that this Tuesday in Fortaleza, northeast Brazil, the BRICS group of emerging powers (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) fights the (Neoliberal) World (Dis) Order via a new development bank and a reserve fund set up to offset financial crises.

It’s been a long and winding road since Yekaterinburg in 2009, at their first summit, up to the BRICS’s long-awaited counterpunch against the Bretton Woods consensus – the IMF and the World Bank – as well as the Japan-dominated (but largely responding to US priorities) Asian Development Bank (ADB).

These are great times, without any doubts.

***

Where India stands is unclear. I recently visited this the second most populous nation and after travelling there, intensively, came to the conclusion that its elites, its military and the religious cadres that are running what the West cynically calls “the world’s largest democracy”, are definitely much closer to Washington and the ‘Chicago School of Economics boys’, than they are to Moscow, Brasilia, Pretoria or Beijing.

I also established that the overwhelming majority of Indian people are told very little about developments in Latin America, China and Russia, and that they have almost no influence on the direction in which their country is developing.

I will soon release my report on India in the BRICS’s context, but what I can say now is that it is obvious that this complex country is not at all a driving force in the alliance.

It is also clear that this new, powerful and important (for the survival of the mankind) block does not need in its ranks more “client” states handled by the West. For that very reason, the ‘dilution’ of BRICS countries and of their determination is exactly what the corporate and neo-colonialist world is trying to achieve.

There is an entire group of lethal candidates, ready to join BRICS at any moment, in order to torpedo the movement. And there are several different packages of extension on offer, from a ‘small enlargement’ by Indonesia and Turkey to much a bigger one, by an entire group called MINT, an abbreviation for Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey.

If such an expansion occurs, it would, most certainly, destroy the entire political direction in which the BRICS are moving.

It has to be averted by all means.

***

MINT countries range from those that are simply right-wing, to those that are openly fascist. All of them are staunchly pro-Western, and governed by the elites. Mexico is the most reasonable and benign of them.

Indonesia is the ‘deadliest’ one, as it is not just a country but it also an entire concept. In 1965, the West teamed up with the corrupt Indonesian elites, the military and religious cadres, and overthrew the progressive President Sukarno, father of the Non-aligned movement.

At least 1 million Indonesian Communists, intellectuals, union leaders, teachers and members of the Chinese minority were murdered, but the number may well have been much higher; as high as 3 million. Mass ‘punitive’ rapes and the destruction of Indonesian culture took place simultaneously. Books were burned. Almost everything was privatized and offered up for foreign exploitation.

Two brutal genocides followed: those against the people of East Timor and, an on-going one, against resource-rich but poor and tribal Papua. In the first one, one third of the local population vanished, and in the second, even according to Western human rights groups, at least 120,000 people died. More are dying as this is being written. There are no discussions and no protests against the slaughter.

‘Concept Indonesia’ (just murder indiscriminately, spread fear, paralyze the entire nation and then let the private sector grab everything) has latterly been implemented with varying success in numerous countries around the globe, including Chile (Allende’s people were told again and again, before the 1973 coup: “Watch out comrades, Jakarta is coming!”), Russia under Yeltsin, and in the Democratic Republic of Congo, to name just a few.

Suharto’s ‘stepping down’ and the ‘return of democracy’ was just a cosmetic maneuver. Savage capitalism has clenched its fists and survived. In Indonesia, virtually nothing public remains. There are hardly any public parks, public cultural institutions or even modern public waste management. If international statistics were to apply, more than half of the population lives in misery. Creativity has been reduced to almost zero, with the fourth most populous nation on earth showing hardly any scientific or artistic achievements, hardly any research. And the economy is growing only due to the severe plundering of what is left of its natural resources, and due to high global commodity prices.

In the recent Presidential elections, two candidates ran neck-and-neck: a retired general, an alleged war criminal with a bunch of his buddies behind him, and a populist with another set of military cronies backing him up.

With all the mass media being owned and controlled by business interests, and with virtually all the political parties serving local oligarchs, ‘democracy’ is just a word with which the West is covering up all those past and present horrors of one of its most brutal and grotesque client-states.

It is also important to mention, that in ‘democratic’ Indonesia, the law bans atheism and Communism, and many gatherings that are aimed at discussing the reintroduction of at least something ‘public’, are brutally broken up by religious zealots and by the cronies that serve corporate interests.

It is easy to imagine what impact there would be, if Indonesia were to be ‘invited’ to join BRICS!

***

It would be naive to think that a country like Indonesia is a natural ally of, for instance, Latin America, just because it is located in the ‘South’, and because it is not near the West, geographically. Its direction of ‘development’ and the mentality of its rulers, are the exact opposite of what countries like Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, but also Brazil or China, stand for and are fighting for.

Countries like Indonesia take dictates not from their people, but from their corrupt business cronies and their Western handlers.

Turkey is somehow better, but it is also implementing a savage capitalist system, and it allowed itself to be used as the main Western ally in the Middle East, with its RAF and USAF air forces bases, with ‘refugee camps’ that are training Syrian ‘opposition’ fighters.

Turkey is an important member of NATO, and many ‘opposition intellectuals’ there (even those who claim to be from the Left), particularly those in Istanbul, still see their country joining Western alliances (including the European Union) as the main goal.

Nigeria is, in many ways, the same as Indonesia: a country that gulps its own citizens. There seems to be no ideology there, but plenty of market fundamentalism, ego-trips of the elites, of religious fundamentalism (and Islam is definitely not the only religion that goes overboard), and of serving foreign interests.

And, just as in Indonesia, in Nigeria there is an absolute and endemic spite for the poor people – for the majority of the nation.

A Ugandan left wing opposition figure, Arthur Tewungwa, commented on Nigeria for this essay:

“There is a veneer of competence masking an underbelly of business as usual, plain uncaring corruption. Is the present government in Nigeria pro-US; pro-Western? It is; very! The current Finance minister, for instance, is a former World Bank big wig. BRICS have to be wary – too many fifth columnists!”

Mexico used to be a revolutionary country and it is still a nation with both a big culture and a tremendous heart. But it is not certain yet which direction it will take, under the stewardship of its young President from PRI, Enrique Peña Nieto. However, of all the MINT countries, Mexico has the most humane social system and it is certain that if accepted, it would hardly steer BRICS off its present foreign policy course.

***

The BRICS are moving forward and it is mainly the quality of their designs for a much better world, not just the number of its members that matters.

It is not, and it should never function, like a commercial club that tries to attract a broad membership base.

BRICS developed, evolved, from an economic group, into the leaders of the truly free world; of course together with their great allies like Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia.

As has been said many times: they are not perfect, but they are all that we have, and they are constantly improving.

Among the BRICS, there is no place for countries that are siding with the colonialist powers, as there is no place for those nations that are tormenting and sacrificing their own people. For now it is still just an acronym of the countries, its members. But soon, who knows, it may be interpreted as the Broad Revolutionary Internationalist Causeway towards Socialism.

The BRICS should be very careful, very selective, whom they invite and whom they accept into their ranks. They are the vanguard of the new world. And they are what the “Old World” (or call it the ‘world regime’) wants to destroy, by all means.

It is their duty, their obligation to live, to survive.

Each country that wants to join should be asked to prove that it exists solely in order to serve its own people, as well as our great humanity!

Andre Vltchek is a novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. The result is his latest book: “Fighting Against Western Imperialism”. ‘Pluto’ published his discussion with Noam Chomsky: On Western Terrorism. His critically acclaimed political novel Point of No Return is re-edited and available. Oceania is his book on Western imperialism in the South Pacific. His provocative book about post-Suharto Indonesia and the market-fundamentalist model is called “Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear”. His feature documentary, “Rwanda Gambit” is about Rwandan history and the plunder of DR Congo. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and Africa. He can be reached through his website or his Twitter.

Kiev's Bizarre Energy Policies Leave Western Investors Puzzling

Ukraine's Next Crisis? Economic Disaster

by Robert Bensh - Oilprice.com

Ukraine's next crisis will be a devastatingly economic one, as violent conflict destroys critical infrastructure in the east and brings key industry to a halt, furthering weakening the energy sector by crippling coal-based electricity production.

The Ukrainian military's showdown with separatists in the industrial east has forced coal mines to severely cut production or close down entirely. This has led to an electricity crisis that can only be staunched by cutting domestic production along with exports to Europe, Crimea, and Belarus -- or worse, getting more imports from Russia.

In the coal centers of Ukraine's industrial east, Luhansk and Donetsk, fighting has forced the full closure of an estimated 50 percent of coal mines, while overall coal production has fallen 22 percent over the same period last year.

Key industry sources say they will potentially run out of coal in less than three weeks.

For Ukraine, the second largest producer of coal in Europe, this will have a devastating impact on the energy sector, which is in a state of emergency, unable to get coal to thermal power plants that provide some 40 percent of the entire country's electricity.

In the wider energy picture, the halt of coal production sets Ukraine back a decade. The plan was to rely more on coal in order to reduce dependence on Russian natural gas.

But the new reality has insiders wondering how Ukraine will produce more of its own natural gas, after the implementation earlier this month of an amended tax code that targets private gas producers with a tax so high that they will significantly reduce production through the end of the year and beyond that is anyone's guess. (Full disclosure: my firm, Pelicourt LLC, is the majority shareholder of Ukraine's third-largest gas producer, Cub Energy, and I have advised the U.S. and Canadian governments on the potential harm the new tax will cause.)

Economically, the conflict in the east is a disaster for Ukraine, which has traditionally been a net exporter of thermal coal for power generation. Now it will have to increase imports of fuel to make up for the loss. But even then, the destruction of supply routes makes this challenging.

Not only have coal supply routes been destroyed in the conflict, but other critical infrastructure has taken a hit as well, threatening other industries.

Across the board, Ukraine's industrial heartland is reeling from cut-off supply and shipping chains that threaten to destroy as much as 5 percent of Ukraine's gross domestic product in the second half of this year.

In the meantime, observers can be forgiven their confusion over various measures Kiev has taken since the intensification of the conflict. Indeed, the signals coming out of Kiev have been mixed, at best.

While parliament has passed a bill allowing for sanctions against Russia, the state-run Naftogaz leadership has been quick to point out that we probably shouldn't expect sanctions against Russian gas giant Gazprom, and the new bill doesn't implement sanctions of any kind; it simply makes it legal to slap sanctions on Russian individuals should Kiev decide to do so. Another paper tiger.

Parliament has also adopted a bill approving the joint-venture lease of Ukraine's gas-transit facilities with Western firms.

At the same time, however, Kiev passed a new amendment to the tax code that doubles taxes for private gas producers and promises to keep Western investors as far away from Ukraine as they can get.

Each move is designed to negate the other. The economy is being destroyed, yet Kiev is itself destroying any chance of bringing in Western investment to prop it up. Western firms are invited to invest in Ukraine, while at the same time Ukraine makes a mockery of transparency and ensures that the investment climate is suddenly even less attractive than it was two weeks ago. Lip service is paid to developing more resources to build energy independence, but a new tax doubles costs for private producers who will stop producing and pick up stakes.

It's hard not to conclude that Energy Minister Yuriy Prodan is working hard to discourage new investment in the energy sector.

Git Yur Boots, Jack; It's Back to Iraq!

Back in Iraq, Jack!

by David Swanson - War is a Crime

President Obama may want us to sympathize with patriotic torturers, he may turn on whistleblowers like a flesh-eating zombie, he may have lost all ability to think an authentic thought, but I will say this for him: He knows how to mark the 50th anniversary of the Gulf of Tonkin fraud like a champion.

It's back in Iraq, Jack! Yackety yack!

Obama says the United States has fired missiles and dropped food in Iraq -- enough food to feed 8,000, enough missiles to kill an unknown number (presumably 7,500 or fewer keeps this a "humanitarian" effort). The White House told reporters on a phone call following the President's Thursday night speech that it is expediting weapons to Iraq, producing Hellfire missiles and ammunition around the clock, and shipping those off to a nation where Obama swears there is no military solution and only reconciliation can help. Hellfire missiles are famous for helping people reconcile.

Obama went straight into laying out his excuses for this latest war, before speaking against war and in favor of everything he invests no energy in. First, the illegitimate government of Iraq asked him to do it. Second, ISIS is to blame for the hell that the United States created in Iraq. Third, there are still lots of places in the world that Obama has not yet bombed. Oh, and this is not really a war but just protection of U.S. personnel, combined with a rescue mission for victims of a possible massacre on a scale we all need to try to understand.

Wow! We need to understand the scale of killing in Iraq? This is the United States you're talking to, the people who paid for the slaughter of 0.5 to 1.5 million Iraqis this decade. Either we're experts on the scale of mass killings or we're hopelessly incapable of understanding such matters.

Completing the deja vu all over again Thursday evening, the substitute host of the Rachel Maddow Show seemed eager for a new war on Iraq, all of his colleagues approved of anything Obama said, and I heard "Will troops be sent?" asked by several "journalists," but never heard a single one ask "Will families be killed?"

Pro-war veteran Democratic congressman elected by war opponents Patrick Murphy cheered for Obama supposedly drawing a red line for war. Murphy spoke of Congress without seeming aware that less than two weeks ago the House voted to deny the President any new war on Iraq. There are some 199 members of the House who may be having a hard time remembering that right now.

Pro-war veteran Paul Rieckhoff added that any new veterans created would be heroes, and -- given what a "mess" Iraq is now -- Rieckhoff advocated "looking forward." The past has such an extreme antiwar bias.

Rounding out the reunion of predictable pro-war platitudes and prevarications, Nancy Pelosi immediately quoted the bits of Obama's speech that suggested he was against the war he was starting. Can Friedman Units and benchmarks be far behind?

Obama promises no combat troops will be sent back to Iraq. No doubt. Instead it'll be planes, drones, helicopters, and "non-combat" troops. "America is coming to help" finally just sounded as evil as Reagan meant it to, but it was in Obama's voice. The ironies exploded like Iraqi houses on Thursday. While the United States locks Honduran refugee children in cages, it proposes to bomb Iraq for refugees. While Gaza starves and Detroit lacks water, Obama bombs Iraq to stop people from starving. While the U.S. ships weapons to Israel to commit genocide, and to Syria for allies of ISIS, it is rushing more weapons into Iraq to supposedly prevent genocide on a mountaintop -- also to add to the weapons supplies already looted by ISIS.

Of course, it's also for "U.S. interests," but if that means U.S. people, why not pull them out? If it means something else, why not admit as much in the light of day and let the argument die of shame?

Let me add a word to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs spokesman David Swanson, who is not me and whom I do not know: Please do keep pushing for actual humanitarian aid. But if you spoke against the missiles that are coming with the food, the reporters left that bit out. You have to fit it into the same sentence with the food and water if you want it quoted. I hope there is an internal U.N. lobby for adoption by the U.N. of the U.N. Charter, and if there is I wish it all the luck in the world.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Deficits in the Economist's Rationales for Continued War

Causes of War Krugman Overlooked

by David Swanson - War is a Crime

While I'm working on a campaign to abolish war, it's helpful and appreciated that a columnist for one of the most effective war promoting institutions in the world, the New York Times, on Sunday mused aloud about why in the world wars are still waged.

Paul Krugman rightly pointed to the destructive nature of wars even for their victors. He admirably presented the insights of Norman Angell who figured out that war didn't pay economically over a century ago. But Krugman didn’t get much further than that, his one proposal to explain wars fought by wealthy nations being political gain for the war makers.

Robert Parry has pointed out the falsity of Krugman's pretense that Vladimir Putin is the cause of trouble in Ukraine. One might also question Krugman's claim that George W. Bush actually "won" his reelection in 2004, considering what went on in Ohio's vote counting.

Yes, indeed, a great many fools will rally around any high official who wages war, and it's good for Krugman to point that out. But it's just plain bizarre for an economist to lament the cost (to the U.S.) of the U.S. war on Iraq as reaching possibly $1 trillion, and never notice that the United States spends roughly $1 trillion on preparations for war each and every year through basic routine military spending -- itself economically destructive, as well as morally and physically destructive.

What drives the spending that Eisenhower warned would drive the wars? Profits, legalized bribery, and a culture that searches for the causes of war primarily among the 95 percent of humanity that invests dramatically less in war-making than the United States does.

Krugman dismisses economic gain as relevant only to poor nations' internal wars, but doesn't explain why U.S. wars concentrate in oil-rich areas. "I am saddened," wrote Alan Greenspan, "that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil." As Krugman is no doubt aware, rising oil prices are not lamented by everyone, and the high cost of weaponry is not a downside from the perspective of weapons makers. Wars don't economically benefit societies, but they do enrich individuals. That same principle is central to explaining the U.S. government's conduct on any area other than war; why should war be different?

No particular war, and certainly not the institution as a whole, has a single simple explanation. But it's certainly true that if Iraq's top export were broccoli there'd have been no 2003 war. It's also possible that if war profiteering were illegal and prevented there'd have been no war. It's also possible that if the U.S. culture didn't reward war-making politicians, and/or the New York Times reported on war honestly, and/or Congress had made a habit of impeaching war-makers, and/or campaigns were publicly financed, and/or U.S. culture celebrated nonviolence rather than violence there'd have been no war. It's also possible that if George W. Bush and/or Dick Cheney and a few others were healthier psychologically there'd have been no war.

We should be wary of creating the assumption that there are always rational calculations behind wars. The fact that we can never quite find them is almost certainly not a failure of imagination, but a reluctance to recognize the irrational and evil behavior of our political officials. Global domination, machismo, sadism, and lust for power contribute significantly to the discussions of war planners.

But what makes war common in certain societies and not others? Extensive research suggests that the answer has nothing to do with economic pressures or the natural environment or other impersonal forces. Rather the answer is cultural acceptance. A culture that accepts or celebrates war will have war. One that spurns war as absurd and barbaric will know peace.

If Krugman and his readers are beginning to think of war as a bit archaic, as something requiring an explanation, that can only be good news for the movement to abolish war making.

The next big leap might come sooner if we all try to see the world for a moment from the perspective of someone outside the United States. After all, the idea that the U.S. should not be bombing Iraq only sounds like a denial that there is a major crisis in Iraq requiring swift action, to people who suppose that crises require bombs to solve them -- and most of those people, by some coincidence, seem to live in the United States.

Press and Pundits Drinking the Kool-Ade on Ukraine


The Powerful ‘Group Think’ on Ukraine

by Robert Parry - Consortium News

When even smart people like economist Paul Krugman buy into the false narrative about the Ukraine crisis, it’s hard to decide whether to despair over the impossibility of America ever understanding the world’s problems or to marvel at the power of the U.S. political/media propaganda machine to manufacture its own reality.

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivering 
a speech on the Ukraine crisis in Moscow 
on March 18, 2014. - Russian government photo

On Monday, Krugman’s New York Times column accepts the storyline that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin instigated the Ukraine crisis and extrapolates from that “fact” the conclusion that perhaps the nefarious Putin did so to engineer a cheap land grab or to distract Russians from their economic problems.

“Delusions of easy winnings still happen,” Krugman wrote. “It’s only a guess, but it seems likely that Vladimir Putin thought that he could overthrow Ukraine’s government, or at least seize a large chunk of its territory, on the cheap — a bit of deniable aid to the rebels, and it would fall into his lap. …

“Recently Justin Fox of the Harvard Business Review suggested that the roots of the Ukraine crisis may lie in the faltering performance of the Russian economy.
As he noted, Mr. Putin’s hold on power partly reflects a long run of rapid economic growth. But Russian growth has been sputtering — and you could argue that the Putin regime needed a distraction.”

Or you could look at the actual facts of how the Ukraine crisis began and realize that it was the West, not Russia, that instigated this crisis. Putin’s response has been reactive to what he perceives as threats posed by the violent overthrow of elected President Viktor Yanukovych and the imposition of a new Western-oriented regime hostile to Moscow and Ukraine’s ethnic Russians.

Last year, it was the European Union that was pushing an economic association agreement with Ukraine, which included the International Monetary Fund’s demands for imposing harsh austerity on Ukraine’s already suffering population. Political and propaganda support for the EU plan was financed, in part, by the U.S. government through such agencies as the National Endowment for Democracy.

When Yanukovych recoiled at the IMF’s terms and opted for a more generous $15 billion aid package from Putin, the U.S. government ratcheted up its support for mass demonstrations aimed at overthrowing Yanukovych and replacing him with a new regime that would sign the EU agreement and accept the IMF’s demands.

As the crisis deepened early this year, Putin was focused on the Sochi Winter Olympics, particularly the threat of terrorist attacks on the games. No evidence has been presented that Putin was secretly trying to foment the Ukraine crisis. Indeed, all the evidence is that Putin was trying to protect the status quo, support the elected president and avert a worse crisis.

Moscow supported Yanukovych’s efforts to reach a political compromise, including a European-brokered agreement for early elections and reduced presidential powers. Yet, despite those concessions, neo-Nazi militias surged to the front of the protests on Feb. 22, forcing Yanukovych and many of his officials to flee for their lives. The U.S. State Department quickly recognized the coup regime as “legitimate.”

Since the new regime also took provocative steps against the ethnic Russians (such as the parliament voting to ban Russian as an official language), resistance arose to the coup regime in the east and south. In Crimea, voters opted overwhelmingly to secede from Ukraine and rejoin Russia, a process supported by Russian troops stationed in Crimea under a prior agreement with Ukraine’s government.

There was no Russian “invasion,” as the New York Times and other mainstream U.S. news outlets claimed. The Russian troops were already in Crimea assigned to Russia’s historic naval base at Sebastopol. Putin agreed to Crimea’s annexation partly out of fear that the naval base would otherwise fall into NATO’s hands and pose a strategic threat to Russia.

But the key point regarding Krugman’s speculation about Putin provoking the crisis so he could seize territory or distract Russians from economic troubles is that Putin only annexed Crimea because of the ouster of Yanukovych. If Yanukovych had not been overthrown, there is no reason to think that Putin would have done anything regarding Crimea or Ukraine.

It’s also true that the Feb. 22 coup was partly engineered by the U.S. government led by Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who had been an adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney and who is married to arch-neocon Robert Kagan, one of the intellectual authors of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Before the Ukraine coup, Nuland, was caught in a phone conversation plotting with the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine about who should replace Yanukovych. After the coup, her choice “Yats” – or Arseniy Yatsenyuk – emerged as the new prime minister and then shepherded through the IMF austerity plan.

But resistance to Kiev’s new rulers soon emerged in eastern Ukraine, which had been Yanukovych’s political base and stood to lose the most from Ukraine’s economic orientation toward Europe and reduced economic ties to Russia. Yet, instead of recognizing these understandable concerns of the eastern Ukrainians, the Western media portrayed the ethnic Russians as simply Putin’s pawns with no minds of their own.

I’m told that Moscow has provided some covert support for the eastern Ukrainian rebels (mostly light weapons), but that Putin has favored a political settlement (similar to what has been proposed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel). The deal would grant eastern Ukraine more autonomy and accept Russia’s annexation of Crimea in exchange for peace in the east and some financial support from Russia for the Kiev government.

Yet, whatever anyone thinks of Putin or the proposed peace deal, it is simply inaccurate to assert a narrative claiming that Putin provoked the current crisis in Ukraine. The opposite is much closer to the truth. It is thus misguided for Krugman or anyone else to extrapolate from this false premise to deduce Putin’s “motives.”

Krugman, who has been one of the few rational voices on issues of global economics in recent years, should know better than anyone how a mistaken “group think” can create assumptions that will lead inevitably to wrongheaded conclusions.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). For a limited time, you also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.