Saturday, November 25, 2017

America's Lengthening Enemies List

America’s Enemies, Who’s On the List? Prospects and Perspectives

by Prof. James Petras - ICH

November 24, 2017

For almost 2 decades, the US pursued a list of ‘enemy countries’ to confront, attack, weaken and overthrow. This imperial quest to overthrow ‘enemy countries’ operated at various levels of intensity, depending on two considerations: the level of priority and the degree of vulnerability for a ‘regime change’ operation. The criteria for determining an ‘enemy country’ and its place on the list of priority targets in the US quest for greater global dominance, as well as its vulnerability to a ‘successfully’ regime change will be the focus of this essay.

We will conclude by discussing the realistic perspectives of future imperial options.

Prioritizing US Adversaries

Imperial strategists consider military, economic and political criteria in identifying high priority adversaries.

The following are high on the US ‘enemy list’:

1) Russia, because of its military power, is a nuclear counterweight to US global domination. It has a huge, well-equipped armed force with a European, Asian and Middle East presence. Its global oil and gas resources shield it from US economic blackmail and its growing geo-political alliances limit US expansion.

2) China, because of its global economic power and the growing scope of its trade, investment and technological networks. China’s growing defensive military capability, particularly with regard to protecting its interests in the South China Sea serve to counter US domination in Asia.

3) North Korea, because of its nuclear and ballistic missile capability, its fierce independent foreign policies and its strategic geo-political location, is seen as a threat to the US military bases in Asia and Washington’s regional allies and proxies.

4) Venezuela, because of its oil resources and socio-political policies, challenge the US centered neo-liberal model in Latin America.

5) Iran, because of its oil resources, political independence and geo-political alliances in the Middle East, challenge US, Israeli and Saudi Arabia domination of the region and present an independent alternative.

6) Syria, because of its strategic position in the Middle East, its secular nationalist ruling party and its alliances with Iran, Palestine, Iraq and Russia, is a counterweight to US-Israeli plans to balkanize the Middle East into warring ethno-tribal states.

US Middle-level Adversaries

1) Cuba, because of its independent foreign policies and its alternative socio-economic system stands in contrast to the US-centered neo-liberal regimes in the Caribbean, Central and South America.

2) Lebanon, because of its strategic location on the Mediterranean and the coalition government’s power sharing arrangement with the political party, Hezbollah, which is increasingly influential in Lebanese civil society in part because of its militia’s proven capacity to protect Lebanese national sovereignty by expelling the invading Israeli army and helping to defeat the ISIS/al Queda mercenaries in neighboring Syria.

3) Yemen, because of its independent, nationalist Houthi-led movement opposed to the Saudi-imposed puppet government as well as its relations with Iran.

Low Level Adversaries

1) Bolivia, because of its independent foreign policy, support for the Chavista government in Venezuela and advocacy of a mixed economy; mining wealth and defense of indigenous people’s territorial claims.

2) Nicaragua, because of its independent foreign policy and criticism of US aggression toward Cuba and Venezuela.

US hostility to high priority adversaries is expressed through economic sanctions military encirclement, provocations and intense propaganda wars toward North Korea, Russia, Venezuela, Iran and Syria.

Because of China’s powerful global market linkages, the US has applied few sanctions. Instead, the US relies on military encirclement, separatist provocations and intense hostile propaganda when dealing with China.

Priority Adversaries, Low Vulnerability and Unreal Expectations

With the exception of Venezuela, Washington’s ‘high priority targets’ have limited strategic vulnerabilities. Venezuela is the most vulnerable because of its high dependence on oil revenues with its major refineries located in the US, and its high levels of indebtedness, verging on default. In addition, there are the domestic opposition groups, all acting as US clients and Caracas’ growing isolation within Latin America due to orchestrated hostility by important US clients, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico.

Iran is far less vulnerable: It is a strong strategic regional military power linked to neighboring countries and similar religious-nationalist movements. Despite its dependence on oil exports, Iran has developed alternative markets, like China, free from US blackmail and is relatively safe from US or EU initiated creditor attacks.

North Korea, despite the crippling economic sanctions imposed on its regime and civilian population, has ‘the bomb’ as a deterrent to a US military attack and has shown no reluctance to defend itself. Unlike Venezuela, neither Iran nor North Korea face significant internal attacks from US-funded or armed domestic opposition.

Russia has full military capacity – nuclear weapons, ICBM and a huge, well-trained armed force – to deter any direct US military threat. Moscow is politically vulnerable to US-backed propaganda, opposition political parties and Western-funded NGO’s. Russian oligarch-billionaires, linked to London and Wall Street, exercise some pressure against independent economic initiatives.

To a limited degree, US sanctions exploited Russia’s earlier dependence on Western markets, but since the imposition of draconian sanctions by the Obama regime, Moscow has effectively counteredWashington’s offensive by diversifying its markets to Asia and strengthening domestic self-reliance in its agriculture, industry and high technology.

China has a world-class economy and is on course to become the world’s economic leader. Feeble threats to ‘sanction’ China have merely exposed Washington’s weakness rather intimidating Beijing. China has countered US military provocations and threats by expanding its economic market power, increasing its strategic military capacity and shedding dependence on the dollar.

Washington’s high priority targets are not vulnerable to frontal attack: They retain or are increasing their domestic cohesion and economic networks, while upgrading their military capacity to impose completely unacceptable costs on the US for any direct assault.

As a result, the US leaders are forced to rely on incremental, peripheral and proxy attacks with limited results against its high priority adversaries.

Washington will tighten sanctions on North Korea and Venezuela, with dubious prospects of success in the former and a possible pyrrhic victory in the case of Caracas. Iran and Russia can easily overcome proxy interventions. US allies, like Saudi Arabia and Israel, can badger, propagandize and rail the Persians, but their fears that an out-and-out war against Iran, could quickly destroy Riyadh and Tel Aviv forces them to work in tandem to induce the corrupt US political establishment to push for war over the objections of a war-weary US military and population. Saudi and Israelis can bomb and starve the populations of Yemen and Gaza, which lack any capacity to reply in kind, but Teheran is another matter.

The politicians and propagandists in Washington can blather about Russia’s interference in the US’s corrupt electoral theater and scuttle moves to improve diplomatic ties, but they cannot counter Russia’s growing influence in the Middle East and its expanding trade with Asia, especially China.

In summary, at the global level, the US ‘priority’ targets are unattainable and invulnerable. In the midst of the on-going inter-elite dogfight within the US, it may be too much to hope for the emergence of any rational policymakers in Washington who could rethink strategic priorities and calibrate policies of mutual accommodation to fit in with global realities.

Medium and Low Priorities, Vulnerabilities and Expectations

Washington can intervene and perhaps inflict severe damage on middle and low priority countries. However, there are several drawbacks to a full-scale attack.

Yemen, Cuba, Lebanon, Bolivia and Syria are not nations capable of shaping global political and economic alignments. The most the US can secure in these vulnerable countries are destructive regime changes with massive loss of life, infrastructure and millions of desperate refugees . . . but at great political cost, with prolonged instability and with severe economic losses.


The US can push for a total Saudi Royal victory over the starving, cholera-stricken people of Yemen. But who benefits? Saudi Arabia is in the midst of a palace upheaval and has no ability to exercise hegemony, despite hundreds of billions of dollars of US/NATO arms, trainers and bases. Colonial occupations are costly and yield few, if any, economic benefits, especially from a poor, geographically isolated devastated nation like Yemen.


Cuba has a powerful highly professional military backed by a million-member militia. They are capable of prolonged resistance and can count on international support. A US invasion of Cuba would require a prolonged occupation and heavy losses. Decades of economic sanctions haven’t worked and their re-imposition by Trump have not affected the key tourist growth sectors.

President Trump’s ‘symbolic hostility’ does not cut any ice with the major US agro-business groups, which saw Cuba as a market. Over half of the so-called ‘overseas Cubans’ now oppose direct US intervention.

US-funded NGOs can provide some marginal propaganda points but they cannot reverse popular support for Cuba’s mixed ‘socialized’ economy, its excellent public education and health care and its independent foreign policy.


A joint US-Saudi economic blockade and Israeli bombs can destabilize Lebanon. However, a full-scale prolonged Israeli invasion will cost Jewish lives and foment domestic unrest. Hezbollah has missiles to counter Israeli bombs. The Saudi economic blockade will radicalize Lebanese nationalists, especially among the Shia and the Christian populations. The Washington’s ‘invasion’ of Libya, which did not lose a single US soldier, demonstrates that destructive invasions result in long-term, continent-wide chaos.

A US-Israeli-Saudi war would totally destroy Lebanon but it will destabilize the region and exacerbate conflicts in neighboring countries – Syria, Iran and possibly Iraq. And Europe will be flooded with millions more desperate refugees.


The US-Saudi proxy war in Syria suffered serious defeats and the loss of political assets. Russia gained influence, bases and allies. Syria retained its sovereignty and forged a battle-hardened national armed force. Washington can sanction Syria, grab some bases in a few phony ‘Kurdish enclaves’ but it will not advance beyond a stalemate and will be widely viewed as an occupying invader.

Syria is vulnerable and continues to be a middle-range target on the US enemy list but it offers few prospects of advancing US imperial power, beyond some limited ties with an unstable Kurd enclave, susceptible to internecine warfare, and risking major Turkish retaliation.

Bolivia and Nicaragua

Bolivia and Nicaragua are minor irritants on the US enemy list. US regional policymakers recognize that neither country exercises global or even regional power. Moreover, both regimes rejected radical politics in practice and co-exist with powerful and influential local oligarchs and international MNC’s linked to the US.

Their foreign policy critiques, which are mostly for domestic consumption, are neutralized by the near total US influence in the OAS and the major neo-liberal regimes in Latin America. It appears that the US will accommodate these marginalized rhetorical adversaries rather than risk provoking any revival of radical nationalist or socialist mass movements erupting in La Paz or Managua.


A brief examination of Washington’s ‘list of enemies’ reveals that the limited chances of success even among vulnerable targets. Clearly, in this evolving world power configuration, US money and markets will not alter the power equation.

US allies, like Saudi Arabia, spend enormous amounts of money attacking a devastated nation, but they destroy markets while losing wars. Powerful adversaries, like China, Russia and Iran, are not vulnerable and offer the Pentagon few prospects of military conquest in the foreseeable future.

Sanctions, or economic wars have failed to subdue adversaries in North Korea, Russia, Cuba and Iran. The ‘enemy list’ has cost the US prestige, money and markets – a very peculiar imperialist balance sheet. Russia now exceeds the US in wheat production and exports. Gone are the days when US agro-exports dominated world trade including trade with Moscow.

Enemy lists are easy to compose, but effective policies are difficult to implement against rivals with dynamic economies and powerful military preparedness.

The US would regain some of its credibility if it operated within the contexts of global realities and pursued a win-win agenda instead of remaining a consistent loser in a zero-sum game.

Rational leaders could negotiate reciprocal trade agreements with China, which would develop high tech, finance and agro-commercial ties with manufacturers and services. Rational leaders could develop joint Middle East economic and peace agreements, recognizing the reality of a Russian-Iranian-Lebanese Hezbollah and Syrian alliance.

As it stands, Washington’s ‘enemy list’ continues to be composed and imposed by its own irrational leaders, pro-Israel maniacs and Russophobes in the Democratic Party – with no acknowledgement of current realities.

For Americans, the list of domestic enemies is long and well known, what we lack is a civilian political leadership to replace these serial mis-leaders.

James Petras is a Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York.

Puerto Rico: "America's" Refugee Crisis

Puerto Rico: Ruined Infrastructure and a Refugee Crisis

by Vijay Prashad - CounterPunch

November 24, 2017

Hurricanes Irma and Maria struck Puerto Rico in September-October 2017. The impact of these storms was great, but greater still are the convulsions on the island long after the storms had passed over.

Puerto Rico’s infrastructure remains in tatters, with the power grid still largely dysfunctional and basic institutions such as schools and hospitals on life support.

Not surprisingly, large numbers of Puerto Ricans—who are citizens of the United States—have moved to the mainland. The Centre for Puerto Rican Studies (Hunter College, New York) estimates that of a population of 3.5 million, hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans will make this journey. Already, 130,000 Puerto Ricans have arrived in Florida since October.

Photo: NASA Earth Observatory | CC BY 2.0

 Towns and States in the mainland U.S. that are already home to Puerto Ricans have welcomed thousands more since the storms of this year. In Holyoke, Massachusetts, for instance, hundreds of Puerto Ricans have already arrived to join their families. There is little indication that these people will return to the island. Betty Medina Lichtenstein of Enlace de Familias says that it is the elderly who are likely to return, while the younger families seem to want to stay on.

The arrival of thousands of families into a State such as Massachusetts has meant that a thousand additional students have already been enrolled in Massachusetts’ public schools. School officials say that they are sympathetic to the plight of these refugees who have fled a devastated island with its educational infrastructure in a shambles.

Schools yet to reopen

Of Puerto Rico’s 1,113 schools, only 119 have reopened. The teachers’ union, Federación de Maestros de Puerto Rico, has suggested that the government has slowed down rebuilding of schools in order to push for their privatisation. They say that the plans for the rebuilding of Puerto Rico are similar to what was done in New Orleans after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when schools fired teachers and created a network of private charter schools. The Federación worries that much the same will happen in Puerto Rico. The failure to reopen schools is one sign of such a plan.

In early November, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos met Puerto Rico’s Education Secretary Julia Keleher in San Juan. Members of the Federación marched outside the Department of Education to demand a seat at the table. It was not offered to them. Betsy DeVos and Julia Keleher did not talk to the teachers. Julia Keleher had already been pushing a plan to privatise the island’s schools, and the storms gave her and Betsy DeVos the opportunity to do so with minimal resistance. The storm, said Julia Keleher, gave the island a “real opportunity to press the reset button”. Privatisation, she suggested to a local paper, “makes sense”. About the teachers’ unions, she said that “they can go out and protest in the streets, but that doesn’t change the fact that we can’t go back to life being the same as it was before the hurricane”.

Puerto Rico and Cuba

Two U.S. Congressmen, Kevin McCarthy and Steny Hoyer, visited Puerto Rico in November to assess the situation. They found Puerto Rico “in a state of frenzied recovery”, but with people cut off by destroyed roads and fallen electric lines, with little food and little medicine and “hope for a swift recovery even scarcer”.

They pledged to fight for more resources for the island to ensure not only that it can be rebuilt but also that it can withstand the next storm. Meanwhile, a United Nations team went to Cuba at around the same time to assess the damage and recovery there. It found that the devastation was comparable to that experienced by Puerto Rico, but that the recovery had been swift.

Voluntary teams rushed in to rebuild the collapsed infrastructure and the state provided insurance to agriculturalists and homeowners who had suffered damage. A decade ago, Cuba had rebuilt its power system into a series of 1,800 decentralised diesel and fuel-oil fired electric plants. The microgrid was quickly restored to full power a week after the hurricane. It is a system that has been opposed by private monopoly power companies.

Power grid collapse

In the second week of November, when the power grid should have been functional, it went down completely. The blackout was indication enough that matters could get worse for the residents. Reports from the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) suggested that 40 per cent of the grid had been repaired. But after this blackout, the grid collapsed to 18 per cent, later recovering to 47 per cent in a few days. For nearly seven weeks, the residents of Puerto Rico have been living on generators and solar panels. This includes the few schools that are open. The Puerto Rican government had chosen a small firm from Montana that had close connections to U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. This sweetheart contract earned Whitefish, the Montana firm, $300 million to repair the collapsed grid. It turned out that Whitefish had no experience in such matters. It charged Puerto Rico $319 per hour for the work of a lineman but paid the workers only $63 per hour, the rest going to the coffers of Whitefish. When news broke of such malfeasance, the government had to break its contract with Whitefish.

Death toll

Meanwhile, controversy continues over the death toll from the storm. The government says that the total death toll is 55. However, Puerto Rican officials now say that the number is likely to be 472. But even this is a deflated figure, since there is now evidence that the government encouraged the cremation of bodies of people who died during the storm. The reason given was that without power, the bodies could not be refrigerated. But they were not all tallied towards the storm and post-storm death. High temperatures, lack of clean water and spreading bacteria have taken hundreds of lives that have not been registered as part of the death toll for the storm and its aftermath. Funeral home managers point out that the numbers given by the government are not correct. Given their own challenges, hospitals have few resources to provide accurate counts.

Doctors are worried about the particularly vulnerable population of the elderly and the newborn. With stagnant water around the island and with widespread power failure, there are worries about the Zika virus spread by mosquitoes as well as leptospirosis that would have a dangerous impact on pregnant women and newborn children. Generators from the U.S. government and solar arrays from Tesla have been able to help the hospitals in certain areas, but health clinics and hospitals in the rural interior remain in distress.

Decline in population

Puerto Rico’s population has been declining over the past two decades. From 2005 to 2015, a staggering 10 per cent of the population—446,000 people—moved to the U.S. mainland. There is an expectation that an equal number will leave the island over the next few months. The same thing happened to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. The city has since been remoulded as a playground for tourists and the rich. The U.S. government’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has created a programme to transport Puerto Ricans to the mainland. The island, cynics say, is being prepared to be converted into a tourist resort, with “excess” inhabitants relocated.
Vijay Prashad’s most recent book is No Free Left: The Futures of Indian Communism (New Delhi: LeftWord Books, 2015).
More articles by:Vijay Prashad

This story originally appeared in Frontline (India).

US Role Airbrushed from CBS Yemen Expose

Why is US Complicity in Yemen's Crisis Ignored? 


November 24, 2017

After a lengthy "60 Minutes" report fails to even mention the vital US support for the devastating Saudi-led war on Yemen, Shireen Al-Adeimi says Americans are largely hidden from their government's complicity.

History, Atrocity, Pain, and Remembrance

History, Law and Ratko Mladić

by Binoy Kampmark - Dissident Voice

November 23rd, 2017

While Zimbabwe was changing under various inexorable forces of power, the more sterile surrounds of The Hague and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia offered the scene for a conviction.

The “Serb Warlord” or the “Butcher of Bosnia”, as he has been termed in various circles, had finally received a verdict few were doubting. One of the doubters was, naturally, the man himself, Ratko Mladić, who accused the judicial officers of incurable mendacity.

Of the 11 charges levelled at Ratko Mladić, he was acquitted of one – genocide in Bosnian municipalities outside Srebrenica. Others covered genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity which took place while he was Chief Commander of the Army of Republika Srpska between 1992 and 1995 in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Judicial deliberations are rarely the stuff of fine history. Verdicts are, by their very nature, judgmental, giving false finality and coherence to muddy narratives. In the Balkans, muddy narratives have met and parted; others have been forged in the blood of memories constructed and confected.

Bodies have been heaped over these generational accounts – the wars, the murders, the ecstatic patriotism and genocidal enthusiasm, and in time, the descendants pursue the task, less of living for the future than inhabiting the unchanging past.

The politicians have been attempting to make do with the verdict. The Serbian president, Aleksandar Vučić, is mindful that anything less than solemn acceptance of the ruling is bound to be met with stares of disbelief throughout Europe. This is hardly the view within the Bosnian Serb entity of Republika Srpska.

“I would like to call on everyone [in the region] to start looking into the future and not to drown in the tears of the past… we need to look to the future… so we finally have a stable country.”

Stability, that cherished dream, an ambition long frustrated in the region, and ever precarious.

Bosnia itself is a divided creature barely on political life support. Rather than promoting reconciliation, one of the proclaimed aims of the ICTY’s judgments, the opposite is true. Ed Vuilliamy, who spent much time covering instances of camp brutality and atrocity during the Yugoslav wars insists that Mladić may have lost his case, but won, at least in a part of Bosnia.

His consternation is the customary one that insists that Serbia and Serbian policies should have been brought to the fore as culprit and villain, rather than atomised through individual verdicts. Again, such are the limits of law and its false didactic worth.

Accordingly, “for all the back-slapping by human rights organisations and lawyers, there is a dark cloud under which the majority of those who survived Mladić’s hurricane of violence etch out their lives, and that shrouds the memory of those killed, or are still ‘missing’.”

Niđara Ahmetašević enlarges that black cloud, accusing Europeans, notably in the west, for hypocrisy and wilful blindness.

“By not reacting on time to stop mass crimes being committed, Western leaders sent a message to everybody in the world that it is OK to kill other people, and to promote dangerous, ultranationalist ideas.”

With little surprise, survivors of the conflict find little in terms of satisfactory proportion. Sead Numanović of the Sarajevo daily, Dnevni Avaz, felt “some kind of emptiness.” Ajša Umirović went so far as to see such a verdict as futile. “Even if he lives 1,000 times and is sentenced 1,000 times to life in prison, justice would still not be served.” That’s what losing 42 relatives to massacre does.

As with all matters to do with trauma, memory lingers as poisoned, selective and singular. It banishes other accounts and plights, becoming self-referential, a sort of infirmary consciousness. These sufferings and tendencies are not confined to the Bosnian Muslims.

When Yugoslavia fractured in the spirit of hypernationalism, it split the groups making up the entity. Jungle retributions, territorial seizures, expulsions, took place as a matter of historical account keeping. Elephantine memories were triggered and enacted upon.

Mladić insisted on purging the old remnants of the Ottoman Empire, a historic mission he dedicated himself to with conspicuous enthusiasm. He was fortunate to be quick off the mark in the aftermath of the independence referendum held by Muslims and Croats. Others, given the same opportunity, would have exploited it, given the men and material put at his disposal.

That the main fighting, slaughter and ethnic cleansing took place in Bosnia on, it is important to note, all sides, is a point judgments of law can only imperfectly consider. What rendered the killings in Srebrenica so fundamental was the scale and avid dedication of the butchers – some 8,000 Muslim men and boys dispatched – and the question of abandonment by the international community.

Mladić himself furnished a sense of how the law remains, in some instances, the least capable of resolving what are, essentially, social and political problems that linger with vicious obstinacy. “I am here,” he told a pre-trial hearing in 2011, “defending my country and people, not Ratko Mladić.” He is far from the only one to persist holding this view, nor will he be the last.

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne and can be reached at:
Read other articles by Binoy.

Friday, November 24, 2017

"Linking" Iran

How US Tries to Link Iran to Al Qaeda

by Gareth Porter - Consortium News

via The American Conservative

November 23, 2017

The U.S. propaganda campaign against Iran has tried to tie it somehow to Al Qaeda, including exploitation of a newly released document, but a close reading shows a very different story, says Gareth Porter at The American Conservative.

For many years, major U.S. institutions ranging from the Pentagon to the 9/11 Commission have been pushing the line that Iran secretly cooperated with Al Qaeda both before and after the 9/11 terror attacks. But the evidence for those claims remained either secret or sketchy, and always highly questionable. In early November, however, the mainstream media claimed to have its “smoking gun” — a CIA document written by an unidentified Al Qaeda official and released in conjunction with 47,000 never-before-seen documents seized from Osama bin Laden’s house in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei visiting the holy
city of Qom in January 2013. (Iranian government photo)

The Associated Press reported that the Al Qaeda document “appears to bolster U.S. claims that Iran supported the extremist network leading up to the September 11 terror attacks.” The Wall Street Journal said the document “provides new insights into Al Qaeda’s relationship with Iran, suggesting a pragmatic alliance that emerged out of shared hatred of the United States and Saudi Arabia.”

NBC News wrote that the document reveals that, “at various points in the relationship … Iran offered Al Qaeda help in the form of ‘money, arms’ and ‘training in Hezbollah camps in Lebanon in exchange for striking American interests in the Gulf,’” implying that Al Qaeda had declined the offer.

Former Obama National Security Council spokesman Ned Price, writing for The Atlantic, went even further, asserting that the document includes an account of “a deal with Iranian authorities to host and train Saudi-Al Qaeda members as long as they have agreed to plot against their common enemy, American interests in the Gulf region.”

But none of those media reports were based on any careful reading of the document’s contents. The 19-page Arabic-language document, which was translated in full for The American Conservative, doesn’t support the media narrative of new evidence of Iran-Al Qaeda cooperation, either before or after 9/11, at all.

It provides no evidence whatsoever of tangible Iranian assistance to Al Qaeda. On the contrary, it confirms previous evidence that Iranian authorities quickly rounded up those Al Qaeda operatives living in the country when they were able to track them down, and held them in isolation to prevent any further contact with Al Qaeda units outside Iran.

Taken by Surprise

What it shows is that the Al Qaeda operatives were led to believe Iran was friendly to their cause and were quite taken by surprise when their people were arrested in two waves in late 2002. It suggests that Iran had played them, gaining the fighters’ trust while maximizing intelligence regarding Al Qaeda’s presence in Iran.

 Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad 
(from 2005 to 2013)

Nevertheless, this account, which appears to have been written by a mid-level Al Qaeda cadre in 2007, appears to bolster an internal Al Qaeda narrative that the terror group rejected Iranian blandishments and were wary of what they saw as untrustworthiness on the part of the Iranians. The author asserts the Iranians offered Saudi Al Qaeda members who had entered the country “money and arms, anything they need, and training with Hezbollah in exchange for hitting American interests in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf.”

But there is no word about whether any Iranian arms or money were ever actually given to Al Qaeda fighters. And the author acknowledges that the Saudis in question were among those who had been deported during sweeping arrests, casting doubt over whether there was ever any deal in the offing.

The author suggests Al Qaeda rejected Iranian assistance on principle. “We don’t need them,” he insisted. “Thanks to God, we can do without them, and nothing can come from them but evil.”

That theme is obviously important to maintaining organizational identity and morale. But later in the document, the author expresses deep bitterness about what they obviously felt was Iranian double-dealing in 2002 to 2003.

“They are ready to play-act,” he writes of the Iranians.
“Their religion is lies and keeping quiet. And usually they show what is contrary to what is in their mind …. It is hereditary with them, deep in their character.”

The author recalls that Al Qaeda operatives were ordered to move to Iran in March 2002, three months after they had left Afghanistan for Waziristan or elsewhere in Pakistan (the document, by the way, says nothing of any activity in Iran before 9/11). He acknowledges that most of his cadres entered Iran illegally, although some of them obtained visas from the Iranian consulate in Karachi.

Among the latter was Abu Hafs al Mauritani, an Islamic scholar who was ordered by the leadership shura in Pakistan to seek Iranian permission for Al Qaeda fighters and families to pass through Iran or to stay there for an extended period. He was accompanied by middle- and lower-ranking cadres, including some who worked for Abu Musab al Zarqawi. The account clearly suggests that Zarqawi himself had remained in hiding after entering Iran illegally.

Strict Conditions

Abu Hafs al Mauratani did reach an understanding with Iran, according to the Al Qaeda account, but it had nothing to do with providing arms or money. It was a deal that allowed them to remain for some period or to pass through the country, but only on the condition that they observe very strict security conditions: no meetings, no use of cell phones, no movements that would attract attention. The account attributes those restrictions to Iranian fears of U.S. retribution — which was undoubtedly part of the motivation. But it is clear Iran viewed Al Qaeda as an extremist Salafist security threat to itself as well.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani addresses the United Nations 
General Assembly on Sept. 22, 2016. (UN Photo)

The anonymous Al Qaeda operative’s account is a crucial piece of information in light of the neoconservatives’ insistence that Iran had fully cooperated with Al Qaeda. The document reveals that it was more complicated than that.

If Iranian authorities had refused to receive the Abu Hafs group traveling with passport on friendly terms, it would have been far more difficult to gather intelligence on the Al Qaeda figures who they knew had entered illegally and were hiding. With those legal Al Qaeda visitors under surveillance, they could identify, locate and ultimately round up the hidden Al Qaeda, as well as those who came with passports.

Most of the Al Qaeda visitors, according to the Al Qaeda document, settled in Zahedan, the capital of Sistan and Baluchistan Province where the majority of the population are Sunnis and speak Baluchi. They generally violated the security restrictions imposed by the Iranians. They established links with the Baluchis — who he notes were also Salafists — and began holding meetings. Some of them even made direct contact by phone with Salafist militants in Chechnya, where a conflict was rapidly spiraling out of control. Saif al-Adel, one of the leading Al Qaeda figures in Iran at the time, later revealed that the Al Qaeda fighting contingent under Abu Musab al Zarqawi’s command immediately began reorganizing to return to Afghanistan.

Waves of Arrests

The first Iranian campaign to round up Al Qaeda personnel, which the author of the documents says was focused on Zahedan, came in May or June 2002 — no more than three months after they have had entered Iran. Those arrested were either jailed or deported to their home countries. The Saudi Foreign Minister praised Iran in August for having transferred 16 Al Qaeda suspects to the Saudi government in June.

In February 2003, Iranian security launched a new wave of arrests. This time they captured three major groups of Al Qaeda operatives in Tehran and Mashad, including Zarqawi and other top leaders in the country, according to the document. Saif al Adel later revealed in a post on a pro-Al Qaeda website in 2005 (reported in the Saudi-owned newspaper Asharq al-Awsat), that the Iranians had succeeded in capturing 80 percent of the group associated with Zarqawi, and that it had “caused the failure of 75 percent of our plan.”

The anonymous author writes that the initial Iran policy was to deport those arrested and that Zarqawi was allowed to go to Iraq (where he plotted attacks on Shia and coalition forces until his death in 2006). But then, he says, the policy suddenly changed and the Iranians stopped deportations, instead opting to keep the Al Qaeda senior leadership in custody—presumably as bargaining chips. Yes, Iran deported 225 Al Qaeda suspects to other countries, including Saudi Arabia, in 2003. But the Al Qaeda leaders were held in Iran, not as bargaining chips, but under tight security to prevent them from communicating with the Al Qaeda networks elsewhere in the region, which Bush administration officials eventually acknowledged.

After the arrests and imprisonment of senior al Qaeda figures, the Al Qaeda leadership became increasingly angry at Iran. In November 2008, unknown gunmen abducted an Iran consular official in Peshawar, Pakistan, and in July 2013, al Qaeda operatives in Yemen kidnapped an Iranian diplomat. In March 2015, Iran reportedly released five of the senior al Qaeda in prison, including Said al-Adel, in return for the release of the diplomat in Yemen.

In a document taken from the Abbottabad compound and published by West Point’s Counter-Terrorism Center in 2012, a senior Al Qaeda official wrote,

“We believe that our efforts, which included escalating a political and media campaign, the threats we made, the kidnapping of their friend the commercial counselor in the Iranian Consulate in Peshawar, and other reasons that scared them based on what they saw (we are capable of), to be among the reasons that led them to expedite (the release of these prisoners).”

There was a time when Iran did view Al Qaeda as an ally. It was during and immediately after the war of the mujahedin against Soviet troops in Afghanistan. That, of course, was the period when the CIA was backing bin Laden’s efforts as well. But after the Taliban seized power in Kabul in 1996 — and especially after Taliban troops killed 11 Iranian diplomats in Mazar-i-Sharif in 1998 — the Iranian view of Al Qaeda changed fundamentally.

Since then, Iran has clearly regarded it as an extreme sectarian terrorist organization and its sworn enemy. What has not changed is the determination of the U.S. national security state and the supporters of Israel to maintain the myth of an enduring Iranian support for Al Qaeda.

Gareth Porter is an independent journalist and winner of the 2012 Gellhorn Prize for journalism. He is the author of numerous books, including Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare (Just World Books, 2014).
[This article originally appeared at The American Conservative.]

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanks a Million

Uncle Bill, in keeping with tradition, please lead us in A Thanksgiving Prayer

by Uncle Bill Burroughs

Fourth Thursday


Anti-Semitism, the Jewish National Fund, and McGill University

McGill University and the Jewish National Fund (JNF)

by Yves Engler - Dissident Voice

November 22nd, 2017  

While accusations of student anti-Semitism at McGill draw international headlines, the university administration’s open association with a Jewish supremacist organization has been ignored.

In the latest iteration of a multi-year smear campaign against Palestine solidarity activists at the university, Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee activist Noah Lew cried “anti-Semitism” after he wasn’t voted on to the Board of Directors of the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU).

At a General Assembly last month Democratize SSMU sought to impeach the student union’s president Muna Tojiboeva.

The ad-hoc student group was angry over her role in suspending an SSMU vice president and adopting a Judicial Board decision that declared a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions resolution unconstitutional.

(After two close votes, in February 2016 a motion mandating the student union support some BDS demands passed the union’s largest ever General Assembly, but failed an online confirmation vote after the university administration, Montreal’s English media and pro-Israel Jewish groups blitzed students. The resolution’s constitutionality was subsequently challenged.)

At the recent General Assembly Democratize SSMU’s effort to impeach the president failed. While they couldn’t muster the two thirds of votes required to oust the non-Jewish president of the student union, Democratize SSMU succeeded in blocking the re-election of two Board of Directors’ candidates who supported the effort to outlaw BDS resolutions.

After failing to be re-elected to the Board of Directors Noah Lew claimed he was,

“[B]locked from participating in student government because of my Jewish identity and my affiliations with Jewish organizations.” 

His claim was reported on by the National Post, Montreal Gazette, Global Television, as well as Israeli and Jewish press outlets. McGill Principal Suzanne Fortier sent out two emails to all students and faculty concerning the matter while the SSMU Board of Directors established a committee to investigate anti-Semitism. The affair was even mentioned in the House of Commons.

While a great deal has been written about alleged student anti-Jewish attitudes, the McGill administration’s open association with an explicitly Jewish supremacist organization passes with nary a comment. On November 28 McGill’s Associate Vice-Principal Innovation Angelique Mannella is scheduled to participate in a Jewish National Fund networking event called Tech Shuk, which connects Jewish capitalists with Montreal start-ups in a “Dragon’s Den” style competition. But, the JNF is an explicitly racist organization.

Owner of 13% of Israel’s land, it systematically discriminates against Palestinian citizens of Israel, who make up a fifth of the population. According to a UN report, Jewish National Fund lands are “chartered to benefit Jews exclusively,” which has led to an “institutionalized form of discrimination.” The JNF oversees discriminatory land use policies in Israel outlawed in this country 60 years ago.

In 2004 long-time McGill Principal Bernard Shapiro was the honoured guest at JNF Montréal’s annual fundraising dinner (two years later the then former University Principal was master of ceremonies at the event).

The current president of JNF Montréal, Michael Goodman, was a member of the advisory board of McGill ASD (Autism spectrum disorder).

In 2014 McGill gave an honorary degree to Marvin Corber. The University’s press release announcing its two honorary degree recipients cited an award Corber received from the JNF. Corber has been a JNF Montréal campaign advisor and chair of its annual fundraising dinner.

While the university administration’s ties to the JNF are a stark example of its racial bias, McGill is also entangled in other more subtle forms of anti-Palestinianism. The Montréal university has a memorandum of understanding with Tel Aviv University, which claims to be on “the front line of the critical work to maintain Israel’s military and technological edge.” McGill also has a partnership with Technion, which conducts “research and development into military technology that Israel relies on to sustain its occupation of Palestinian land.”

In 2012 the estate of Simon and Ethel Flegg contributed $1 million to McGill’s Jewish Studies department partly for an “education initiative in conjunction with McGill Hillel.” But, the cultural organization turned Israel lobby group refuses to associate with Jews (or others) who “delegitimize, demonize, or apply a double standard to Israel; support boycott of, divestment from, or sanctions against the state of Israel.”

Imagine the outcry if a McGill department accepted a large donation to work with an organization that openly excluded Jews and others who “delegitimize, demonize, or apply a double standard to Palestine and fail to recognize Palestinians’ UN enshrined rights.”

It’s time to discuss the McGill administration’s support for Jewish/white supremacy in the Middle East.

Yves Engler is the author of A Propaganda System: How Canada’s Government, Corporations, Media and Academia Sell War and Canada in Africa: 300 years of aid and exploitation.
Read other articles by Yves.

Beginning of the End, End of Beginning, or Just End to Syria War?

Did The Putin/Assad Meeting Cement The End Of America's Mid-East Dominance?

by Tom Luongo - Gold, Goats, 'n Guns

via ZeroHedge
Nov 23, 2017

I’m not a terribly religious man. But, I’d like to believe there is a special corner in Hell reserved for those that fomented the Syrian Civil War.

From its beginnings in Libya with gun-funneling through the U.S. embassy in Benghazi to yesterday’s meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, this entire affair will be remembered as one of the most cynical and abusive periods of history.

The Syrian ‘Civil War’ was meant to be the crowning achievement of U.S./Israeli/Saudi policy in the Middle East, the apotheosis of neoconservatism.

Had it succeeded it would have transformed the world into a living hell governed by the likes of Hillary Clinton, George Soros, Angela Merkel and the U.S./U.K. banking cartel.

Syria was to be the wedge that blew open not only the Middle East but Central Asia as well. It would stop the resurgence of Russia as a world power, subjugate Europe to an endless nightmare of forced cultural assimilation and completed bankrupting the United States to bring it in line with the a failing European integration project.

Supranational treaties like the TPP, TTIP and the Paris Accord were designed to create a superstructure that would supplant national sovereignty without any input from the people who were most affected by it.

Putin’s Turning Point

With Vladimir Putin’s pivotal speech at the United Nations on September 28th, 2015, opposition to this vision was expressed in the most forceful, and frankly, humanist terms one could imagine. I’m going to remind you of the most important passage as it relates to Syria.

"In these circumstances, it is hypocritical and irresponsible to make loud declarations about the threat of international terrorism while turning a blind eye to the channels of financing and supporting terrorists, including the process of trafficking and illicit trade in oil and arms. It would be equally irresponsible to try to manipulate extremist groups and place them at one’s service in order to achieve one’s own political goals in the hope of later dealing with them or, in other words, liquidating them.
"To those who do so, I would like to say — dear sirs, no doubt you are dealing with rough and cruel people, but they’re in no way primitive or silly. They are just as clever as you are, and you never know who is manipulating whom. And the recent data on arms transferred to this most moderate opposition is the best proof of it.

"We believe that any attempts to play games with terrorists, let alone to arm them, are not just short-sighted, but fire hazardous (ph). This may result in the global terrorist threat increasing dramatically and engulfing new regions, especially given that Islamic State camps train militants from many countries, including the European countries."

In truth, the whole speech is worth revisiting. It is a stark reminder that Putin, normally very reserved in his words, laid all of his cards on the table and directly accused the United States of declaring war on the world.

And within 48 hours Sukhois were flying over Syria, bombing targets opposed to Syria’s government, allowing one military victory after another for the beleaguered Syrian Arab Army. Shortly thereafter a coalition formed around Assad’s government including Iran’s Republican Guard, Hezbollah’s military wing and China’s tacit financial and moral support.

Putin told everyone, “Enough is enough” at the U.N. Then he backed up his words with actions. War is always regrettable. It is almost never justified. But, when faced with an implacable enemy, there was little else to be done.

And I submit that the neoconservative forces driving the anti-Assad policy decisions are that implacable enemy.

The End of ‘Assad Must Go’

That action began the process of unraveling the carefully constructed narrative that was the Syrian Civil War.

But, enough history.

Yesterday Putin introduced Assad to the military commanders who are most responsible for the stabilization of his country. Syria as a political unit has survived.

Saudi Arabia’s old guard are imprisoned, impoverished and losing influence around the world by the minute. Israel’s neoconservative government, led by madman Benjamin Netanyahu, is fulminating impotently at the turn of events, and, of course, ISIS has all but been wiped out in both Syria and Iraq.

The U.S. continues to talk out of both sides of its mouth, allowing some ISIS members cover to escape to be used again another day, presumably against Iran and/or Lebanon, while taking credit for ISIS’s collapse and the capture of Raqqa.

This reflects the deep-seated issues within the vast U.S. diplomatic, military and intelligence communities and the difficulties President Trump is having bringing these disparate groups to heel while not appearing weak and ineffectual.

You need only look at the odd event over the weekend of military helicopters arriving at the CIA’s headquarters at Langley to know that, at a minimum, there is an internal war occurring within the U.S. government.

The best explanation I’ve heard (and this is by no means a corroborated fact) is that the U.S. military put on a show of force against Obama administration hold-overs in the CIA still operating its terrorist proxies in Syria. And that these operations are in direct conflict with U.S. military goals there.

If that is the case then Putin is right to simply ignore the Americans and move policy talks forward at an accelerated rate, ignoring the talks in Geneva and giving Assad all the support he needs to continue on as Syria’s leader, if that is what the Syrian people want.

Given Assad’s open support of his military and the way the war against ISIS and other separatist groups was led by Syrian forces on the ground, there is little doubt that Assad will win that support in any upcoming elections.

Putin Won’t Gloat

The big question is, however, what price will be extracted from the U.S. for their part in all of this. Putin will not put Trump in a bad position. The loss of face for the U.S. has already occurred internationally.

The Obama administration’s complicity in this sorry chapter of Middle East history has been mostly laid bare for anyone with eyes open enough to see.

Putin will offer Trump a way to save face for the U.S. while laying all the blame on Obama, Clinton, McCain and the rest of them. If you don’t think this ties into Robert Mueller’s ‘Russia-Gate’ investigation run amok, you aren’t paying attention.

Mueller is trying to desperately save everyone implicated here from treason charges. But, I expect, everything about the U.S. political scene is about to change radically.

Once Judge Roy Moore enters the Senate (the odds of that not happening are close to zero), Trump has an impeachment-proof majority in the House and the Senate and can shut down Mueller or get him to play ball.

Trump has the opportunity to play peace-maker here. He can solidify his position as the handler of Saudi Arabia’s and Israel’s worst actors and keep them on a short leash.

In fact, one could make a credible argument that is what the purge in Saudi Arabia was all about. Mohammed bin Salman’s counter-coup was done with Trump’s blessing.

Putin can act similarly to allay suspicions of Iran’s and Hezbollah’s intentions. He can also restrain Assad from retaliating against his enemies, though rightly deserved, in order to build a lasting peace. And once the talks are over and the threat of Kurdish independence is over, Turkey will withdraw its troops from Syria.

Putin called Trump earlier in the week to update him on what comes next. It’s obvious that the two have been in contact about how things are progressing in Syria. And, Trump, for his part has smartly left the clean-up work to Putin while he deals with his domestic neoconservative problems.

Whatever happens after this - framework for long-term peace or an uneasy ceasefire with Russia playing the go-between for the time being - the U.S. has lost all credibility in the region outside of Riyadh and Tel Aviv.

And we have no one to blame except ourselves.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Gorilla Radio with Chris Cook, Ken Boon, Whitney Webb, Janine Bandcroft November 23, 2017

This Week on GR

by C. L. Cook -

November 23, 2017

The clock is winding down, the moment of truth drawing nearer for the contentious Site C dam mega project in BC's Peace country. Billions in the hole, and billions more promised to go down it too should it proceed, or be cancelled; now the new government in Victoria has to decide which way it will go.

Ken Boon is a farmer and president of the Peace Valley Landowners Association. His has been nothing short of an epic battle against crown corporation, BC Hydro and the former BC Liberal government.

But, the battle is not his alone, all British Columbians have a stake in what John Horgan and his NDP decide, as do their yet unborn children, and the generations that follow them.

Listen. Hear.

Ken Boon in the first half.

And; perhaps no other entity embodies better all that is wrong and tragic with the corporate dominance of the world today than Monsanto. The "life science" company specializes in creating cancer causing poisons currently killing unknown millions, and yet none seem able to stop the Leviathan's inexorable progress. As glyphosate, one of the key toxic ingredients of its Roundup weed killer faces a possible ban in Europe, due to a growing body of scientific evidence of carcinogenic effects, the company is pivoting to its newly "improved" product, Dicamba. Problem solved, right? Not quite.

Whitney Webb is a South America-based journalist writing about environmental, political, and economic issues in English and Spanish. She’s a staff writer at MintPress, and her articles have featured at ZeroHedge, the Anti-Media, and 21st Century Wire, among other places. Her recent work for MintPressNews includes the article, ‘With Roundup On The Rocks, Monsanto Hatches New Seeds And A Dangerous New Plan'.

Whitney Webb in the second half.

And; Victoria-based activist and CFUV Radio broadcaster at-large, Janine Bandcroft will be here at the bottom of the hour with the Left Coast Events bulletin, bringing us up to speed with some of the good things to get up to around here in the coming week. But first, Ken Boon and the last dinosaur, the Site C dam.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, airing live every Thursday between 11-Noon Pacific Time. In Victoria at 101.9FM, and on the internet at:  He also serves as a contributing editor to the web news site, Check out the GR blog at:

Journey Back to Darkness: The End of Internet's Too Brief Era of Enlightment

From an open internet, back to the dark ages

by Jonathan Cook

November 22, 2017

Can anyone still doubt that access to a relatively free and open internet is rapidly coming to an end in the west? In China and other autocratic regimes, leaders have simply bent the internet to their will, censoring content that threatens their rule. But in the “democratic” west, it is being done differently. The state does not have to interfere directly – it outsources its dirty work to corporations.

As soon as next month, the net could become the exclusive plaything of the biggest such corporations, determined to squeeze as much profit as possible out of bandwith. Meanwhile, the tools to help us engage in critical thinking, dissent and social mobilisation will be taken away as “net neutrality” becomes a historical footnote, a teething phase, in the “maturing” of the internet.

In December the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) plans to repeal already compromised regulations that are in place to maintain a semblance of “net neutrality”. Its chairman, Ajit Pai, and the corporations that are internet service providers want to sweep away these rules, just like the banking sector got rid of financial regulations so it could inflate our economies into giant ponzi schemes.

That could serve as the final blow to the left and its ability to make its voice heard in the public square.

It was political leaders – aided by the corporate media – who paved the way to this with their fomenting of a self-serving moral panic about “fake news”. Fake news, they argued, appeared only online, not in the pages of the corporate media – the same media that sold us the myth of WMD in Iraq, and has so effectively preserved a single party system with two faces. The public, it seems, needs to be protected only from bloggers and websites.

The social media giants soon responded. It is becoming ever clearer that Facebook is interfering as a platform for the dissemination of information for progressive activists. It is already shutting down accounts, and limiting their reach. These trends will only accelerate.

Google has changed its algorithms in ways that have ensured the search engine rankings of prominent leftwing sites are falling through the floor. It is becoming harder and harder to find alternative sources of news because they are being actively hidden from view.

Google stepped up that process this week by “deranking” RT and Sputnik, two Russian news sites that provide an important counterweight – even if one skewed in its pro-Russia agenda – to the anti-Russia propaganda spouted by western corporate media. The two sites will be as good as censored on the internet for the vast majority of users.

RT is far from a perfect source of news – no state or corporate media is – but it is a vital voice to have online. It has become a sanctuary for many seeking alternative, and often far more honest, critiques both of western domestic policy and of western interference in far-off lands. It has its own political agenda, of course, but, despite the assumption of many western liberals, it provides a far more accurate picture of the world than the western corporate media on a vast range of issues.

That is for good reason. Western corporate media is there to shore up prejudices that have been inculcated in western audiences over a lifetime – the chief one being that western states rightfully act as well-meaning, if occasionally bumbling, policemen trying to keep order among other, unruly or outright evil states around the globe.

The media and political class can easily tap into these prejudices to persuade us of all sorts of untruths that advance western interests. To take just one example – Iraq. We were told Saddam Hussein had ties to al-Qaeda (he didn’t and could not have had); that Iraq was armed with WMD (it wasn’t, as UN arms inspectors tried to tell us); and that the US and UK wanted to promote democracy in Iraq (but not before they had stolen its oil). There may have been opposition in the west to the invasion of Iraq, but little of it was driven by an appreciation that these elements of the official narrative were all easily verified as lies.

RT and other non-western news sources in English provide a different lens through which we can view such important events, perspectives unclouded by a western patrician agenda.

They and progressive sites are being gradually silenced and blacklisted, herding us back into the arms of the corporate propagandists. Few liberals have been prepared to raise their voices on behalf of RT, forgetting warnings from history, such as Martin Niemoller’s anti-Nazi poem “First they came for the socialists”.

The existing rules of “net neutrality” are already failing progressives and dissidents, as the developments I have outlined above make clear. But without them, things will get even worse. If the changes are approved next month, internet service providers (ISPs), the corporations that plug us into the internet, will also be able to decide what we should see and what will be out of reach.

Much of the debate has focused on the impact of ending the rules on online commercial ventures. That is why Amazon and porn sites like Pornhub have been leading the opposition. But that is overshadowing the more significant threat to progressive sites and already-embattled principles of free speech.

ISPs will be given a much freer hand to determine the content we can can get online. They will be able to slow down the access speeds of sites that are not profitable – which is true for activist sites, by definition. But they may also be empowered to impose Chinese-style censorship, either on their own initiative or under political pressure. The fact that this may be justified on commercial, not political, grounds will offer little succour.

Those committed to finding real news may be able to find workarounds. But this is little consolation. The vast majority of people will use the services they are provided with, and be oblivious to what is no longer available.

If it takes an age to access a website, they will simply click elsewhere. If a Google search shows them only corporately approved results, they will read what is on offer. If their Facebook feed declines to supply them with “non-profitable” or “fake” content, they will be none the wiser. But all of us who care about the future will be the poorer.

Straining Mercy? An End to the Forever Wars

The Quality of Mercy

by Kathy Kelly -

November 22, 2017

During the spring of 1999, as part of Voices in the Wilderness’s campaign to end indiscriminately lethal U.S./U.N. economic sanctions against Iraq, the Fellowship of Reconciliation arranged for two Nobel Peace laureates, Adolfo Perez Esquivel and Mairead Maguire, to visit the country. Before their travel, Voices activists helped organize meetings for them with a range of ordinary Iraqis affected by an economic warfare targeting the most vulnerable: the elderly, the sick, and most tragically of all, the children.
In Baghdad, 1999, Layla, at the Dijla
Secondary School for Girls, speaks for her class
Photo: Alan Pogue

Perez Esquivel studied the itinerary. His voice and face showed clear disappointment. “Yes,” he said, shaking his head, “but when do we meet with the teenagers?” He advised to always learn from a region's young people, and seek clear, inquisitive views not yet hardened by propaganda. We quickly arranged for Maguire and Perez Esquivel to meet with young women at Baghdad's Dijla Secondary School for Girls.

It was the spring of 1999. After eight years of deadly economic sanctions, the 2003 U.S. invasion was still the haziest of looming future threats. I was there with them at the school, and I remember Layla standing up and raising her voice. “You come and you say, you will do, you will do. But nothing changes. Me, I am sixteen. Can you tell me, what is the difference between me, I am sixteen, and someone who is sixteen in your country? I’ll tell you. Our emotions are frozen. We cannot feel.” But then she sat down and cried.
Other Iraqi students wondered what their country had done to deserve this treatment. What would happen to them if the UN said Iraq’s foreign policy directly contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of children, in another country, under age five? “Who are the criminals?” they asked.

In 1999, young Layla’s voice was both pleading and accusing when she said, “Nothing changes.” A change did occur in 2003. The 13-year economic war turned into a fierce bombing and invasion called “Shock and Awe.” U.S.-led foreign troops battered the nation. With its cities and reservoirs wrecked, its power lines downed, and its police and economy abolished, chaos broke out. Occupying troops watched the country convulse into escalating violence, replicable anywhere. The long smother of the sanctions was lifted from the crushed windpipe of a nation struggling even harder to breathe, its desperate flailing summoning ever more violent responses. The young people’s question, then, should persist: “Who are the criminals?”

As they do each month, my young friends in Kabul, Afghanistan, hosted a three-hour international internet call on November 21st, 2017, focused on ways to survive the psychological traumas inflicted on people living in a war zone. They spoke about how war causes mistrust, fear and a constant anxiety because there is no safe space. They said what they most need are relationships. Trauma destroys connections, makes people feel alone and isolated. Healing involves connection.

Through self-education, they’ve learned to connect and care deeply about people in Yemen where seven million people, according to CBS’s Sixty Minutes, face famine. Meanwhile, a Saudi-led coalition, backed and joined by the U.S., continues blockading and bombing civilians. Despite their own destitution, the Afghan Peace Volunteers collected what they could for relief efforts in Yemen, raising about $48.00.

“The quality of mercy is strained in the Middle East,” reads a New York Times op-ed from mid-November, 2017, turning to literature to point out the unspeakably brutal throttling of Yemen where, according to the NYT op-ed,

“Saudi Arabia closed off the highways, sea routes and airports in war-torn Yemen, forbidding humanitarian groups from even shipping chlorine tablets for the Yemenis suffering from a cholera epidemic…The International Red Cross expects about a million people to be infected by cholera in Yemen by December.” 

The op-ed clearly links the epidemic to U.S. policy and emphasizes the Saudi-led campaign's dependence on military assistance from the U.S.

Mark Weisbrot, an analyst with the Center for Economic and Policy Research, urges ordinary U.S. people to speak up about Yemen, “because this is the world’s best chance of ending what UN aid chief Mark Lowcock called “the largest famine the world has seen for many decades with millions of victims.” Last week, 120,000 people watched a brief video of Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin risking arrest to protest U.S. participation in Saudi war crimes. Now, as local groups in the U.S. and other countries plan vigils, legislative action, civil disobedience and education campaigns, we have a chance to end the nightmare fears of Yemenis facing starvation, disease, and war.

As I watched in 1999, Layla stood before her class to ask two renowned peacemakers what difference there was between her and a sixteen-year-old living in a more secure part of the world. The answer, in terms of her basic human rights and her irreplaceable human value, should be manifestly clear: there is no difference whatsoever. And yet, while U.S. warlords and military contractors collude with their counterparts in other lands, they earn former president Dwight Eisenhower’s blistering evaluation. This world in arms “is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists and the hopes of its children.” Among the most vulnerable children sacrificed are those forced into poverty by military blockade and military occupation, who steel themselves as the bombs tear through their towns and their neighborhoods and their neighbors, through their traumatized memories, and through their prospective futures when they dare to hope for one.

The comfortable nations often authorize the worst atrocities overseas through fear for their own safety, imagining themselves the victims to be protected from crime at all costs. Such attitudes entitle people in Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen to look in our direction when they ask, “Who are the criminals?” They will be looking at us when they ask that, until we at last exert our historically unprecedented economic and political ability to turn our imperial nations away from ruinous war, and earn our talk of mercy.

Kathy Kelly ( co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence (, a campaign to end U.S. military and economic wars.

Fukushima Night Shift

Fukushima Darkness

by Robert Hunziker - CounterPunch

November 22, 2017  

The radiation effects of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant triple meltdowns are felt worldwide, whether lodged in sea life or in humans, it accumulates over time. The impact is now slowly grinding away only to show its true colors at some unpredictable date in the future. That’s how radiation works, slow but assuredly destructive, which serves to identify its risks, meaning, one nuke meltdown has the impact, over decades, of 1,000 regular industrial accidents, maybe more.

It’s been six years since the triple 100% nuke meltdowns occurred at Fukushima Daiichi d/d March 11th, 2011, nowadays referred to as “3/11”. Over time, it’s easy for the world at large to lose track of the serious implications of the world’s largest-ever industrial disaster; out of sight out of mind works that way.

Photo by thierry ehrmann | CC BY 2.0

According to Japanese government and TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) estimates, decommissioning is a decade-by-decade work-in-progress, most likely four decades at a cost of up to ¥21 trillion ($189B). However, that’s the simple part to understanding the Fukushima nuclear disaster story.

The difficult painful part is largely hidden from pubic view via a highly restrictive harsh national secrecy law (Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets, Act No. 108/2013), political pressure galore, and fear of exposing the truth about the inherent dangers of nuclear reactor meltdowns. Powerful vested interests want it concealed.

Following passage of the 2013 government secrecy act, which says that civil servants or others who “leak secrets” will face up to 10 years in prison, and those who “instigate leaks,” especially journalists, will be subject to a prison term of up to 5 years, Japan fell below Serbia and Botswana in the Reporters Without Borders 2014 World Press Freedom Index. The secrecy act, sharply criticized by the Japanese Federation of Bar Associations, is a shameless act of buttoned-up totalitarianism at the very moment when citizens need and in fact require transparency.

The current status, according to Mr. Okamura, a TEPCO manager, as of November 2017:

“We’re struggling with four problems: (1) reducing the radiation at the site (2) stopping the influx of groundwater (3) retrieving the spent fuel rods and (4) removing the molten nuclear fuel.” (Source: Martin Fritz, The Illusion of Normality at Fukushima, Deutsche Welle–Asia, Nov. 3, 2017)

In short, nothing much has changed in nearly seven years at the plant facilities, even though tens of thousands of workers have combed the Fukushima countryside, washing down structures, removing topsoil and storing it in large black plastic bags, which end-to-end would extend from Tokyo to Denver and back.

As it happens, sorrowfully, complete nuclear meltdowns are nearly impossible to fix because, in part, nobody knows what to do next. That’s why Chernobyl sealed off the greater area surrounding its meltdown of 1986. Along those same lines, according to Fukushima Daiichi plant manager Shunji Uchida:

Robots and cameras have already provided us with valuable pictures. But it is still unclear what is really going on inside,” Ibid.

Seven years and they do not know what’s going on inside. Is it the China Syndrome dilemma of molten hot radioactive corium burrowing into Earth? Is it contaminating aquifers? Nobody knows, nobody can possibly know, which is one of the major risks of nuclear meltdowns, nobody knows what to do. There is no playbook for 100% meltdowns. Fukushima Daiichi proves the point.

“When a major radiological disaster happens and impacts vast tracts of land, it cannot be ‘cleaned up’ or ‘fixed’.” (Source: Hanis Maketab, Environmental Impacts of Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Will Last ‘decades to centuries’ – Greenpeace, Asia Correspondent, March 4, 2016)

Meanwhile, the world nuclear industry has ambitious growth plans, 50-60 reactors currently under construction, mostly in Asia, with up to 400 more on drawing boards. Nuke advocates claim Fukushima is well along in the cleanup phase so not to worry as the Olympics are coming in a couple of years, including events held smack dab in the heart of Fukushima, where the agricultural economy will provide fresh foodstuff.

The Olympics are PM Abe’s major PR punch to prove to the world that all-is-well at the world’s most dangerous, and out of control, industrial accident site. And, yes it is still out of control. Nevertheless, the Abe government is not concerned. Be that as it may, the risks are multi-fold and likely not well understood.

For example, what if another earthquake causes further damage to already-damaged nuclear facilities that are precariously held together with hopes and prayers, subject to massive radiation explosions? Then what? After all, Japan is earthquake country, which defines the boundaries of the country. Japan typically has 400-500 earthquakes in 365 days, or nearly 1.5 quakes per day.

According to Dr. Shuzo Takemoto, professor, Department of Geophysics, Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University:

“The problem of Unit 2… If it should encounter a big earth tremor, it will be destroyed and scatter the remaining nuclear fuel and its debris, making the Tokyo metropolitan area uninhabitable. The Tokyo Olympics in 2020 will then be utterly out of the question,” (Shuzo Takemoto, Potential Global Catastrophe of the Reactor No. 2 at Fukushima Daiichi, February 11, 2017).

Since the Olympics will be held not far from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident site, it’s worthwhile knowing what to expect, i.e., repercussions hidden from public view. After all, it’s highly improbable that the Japan Olympic Committee will address the radiation-risk factors for upcoming athletes and spectators. Which prompts a question: What criteria did the International Olympic Committee (IOC) follow in selecting Japan for the 2020 Summer Olympics in the face of three 100% nuclear meltdowns totally out of control? On its face, it seems reckless.

This article, in part, is based upon an academic study that brings to light serious concerns about overall transparency, TEPCO workforce health & sudden deaths, as well as upcoming Olympians, bringing to mind the proposition: Is the decision to hold the Olympics in Japan in 2020 a foolish act of insanity and a crude attempt to help cover up the ravages of radiation?

Thus therefore, a preview of what’s happening behind, as well as within, the scenes researched by Adam Broinowski, PhD (author of 25 major academic publications and Post Doctoral Research Fellow, Australian National University): “Informal Labour, Local Citizens and the Tokyo Electric Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Crisis: Responses to Neoliberal Disaster Management,” Australian National University, 2017.

The title of Dr. Broinowski’s study provides a hint of the inherent conflict, as well as opportunism, that arises with neoliberal capitalism applied to “disaster management” principles. (Naomi Klein explored a similar concept in The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, Knopf Canada, 2007).

Dr. Broinowski’s research is detailed, thorough, and complex. His study begins by delving into the impact of neoliberal capitalism, bringing to the fore an equivalence of slave labor to the Japanese economy, especially in regards to what he references as “informal labour.” He preeminently describes the onslaught of supply side/neoliberal tendencies throughout the economy of Japan. The Fukushima nuke meltdowns simply bring to surface all of the warts and blemishes endemic to the neoliberal brand of capitalism.

According to Professor Broinowski:

“The ongoing disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station (FDNPS), operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), since 11 March 2011 can be recognised as part of a global phenomenon that has been in development over some time. This disaster occurred within a social and political shift that began in the mid-1970s (ed. supply-side economics, which is strongly reflected in America’s current tax bill under consideration) and that became more acute in the early 1990s in Japan with the downturn of economic growth and greater deregulation and financialisation in the global economy. After 40 years of corporate fealty in return for lifetime contracts guaranteed by corporate unions, as tariff protections were lifted further and the workforce was increasingly casualised, those most acutely affected by a weakening welfare regime were irregular day labourers, or what we might call ‘informal labour.”

In short, the 45,000-60,000 workers recruited to deconstruct decontaminate Fukushima Daiichi and the surrounding prefecture mostly came off the streets, castoffs of neoliberalism’s impact on,

“… independent unions, rendered powerless, growing numbers of unemployed, unskilled and precarious youths (freeters) alongside older, vulnerable and homeless day labourers (these groups together comprising roughly 38 per cent of the workforce in 2015) found themselves not only (a) lacking insurance or (b) industrial protection but also in many cases (c) basic living needs. With increasing deindustrialisation and capital flight, regular public outbursts of frustration and anger from these groups have manifested since the Osaka riots of 1992.” (Broinowski)

The Osaka Riots of 25 years ago depict the breakdown of modern society’s working class, a problem that has spilled over into national political elections worldwide as populism/nationalism dictate winners/losers. In Osaka 1,500 rampaging laborers besieged a police station (somewhat similar to John Carpenter’s 1976 iconic film Assault on Precinct 13) over outrage of interconnecting links between police and Japan’s powerful “Yakuza” or gangsters that bribe police to turn a blind eye to gangster syndicates that get paid to recruit, often forcibly, workers for low-paying manual jobs for industry.

That’s how TEPCO gets workers to work in radiation-sensitive high risks jobs. Along the way, subcontractors rake off most of the money allocated for workers, resulting in a subhuman lifestyle for the riskiest most life-threatening jobs in Japan, maybe the riskiest most life-threatening in the world.

Japan has a long history of assembling and recruiting unskilled labor pools at cheap rates, which is typical of nearly all large-scale modern industrial projects. Labor is simply one more commodity to be used and discarded. Tokyo Electric Power Company (“TEPCO”) of Fukushima Daiichi fame adheres to those long-standing feudalistic employment practices. They hire workers via layers of subcontractors in order to avoid liabilities, i.e. accidents, health insurance, safety standards, by penetrating into the bottom social layers that have no voice in society.

As such, TEPCO is not legally obligated to report industrial accidents when workers are hired through complex webs or networks of subcontractors; there are approximately 733 subcontractors for TEPCO. Here’s the process: TEPCO employs a subcontractor “shita-uke,” which in turn employs another subcontractor “mago-uke” that relies upon labor brokers “tehaishilninpu-dashi.” At the end of the day, who’s responsible for the health and safety of workers? Who’s responsible for reporting cases of radiation sickness and/or death caused by radiation exposure?

Based upon anecdotal evidence from reliable sources in Japan, there is good reason to believe TEPCO, as well as the Japanese government, suppress public knowledge of worker radiation sickness and death, as well as the civilian population of Fukushima. Thereby, essentially hoodwinking worldwide public opinion, for example, pro-nuke enthusiasts/advocates point to the safety of nuclear power generation because of so few reported deaths in Japan. But, then again, who’s responsible for reporting worker deaths? Answer: Other than an occasional token death report by official sources, nobody!

Furthermore, TEPCO does not report worker deaths that occur outside of the workplace even though the death is a direct result of excessive radiation exposure at the workplace. For example, if a worker with radiation sickness becomes too ill to go to work, they’ll obviously die at home and therefore not be reported as a work-related death. As a result, pro-nuke advocates claim Fukushima proves how safe nuclear power is, even when it goes haywire, because there are so few, if any, deaths, as to be inconsequential. That’s a boldfaced lie that is discussed in the sequel: Fukushima Darkness – Part 2.

“As one labourer stated re Fukushima Daiichi: ‘TEPCO is God. The main contractors are kings, and we are slaves’. In short, Fukushima Daiichi clearly illustrates the social reproduction, exploitation and disposability of informal labour, in the state protection of capital, corporations and their assets.” (Broinowski)

Indeed, Japan is a totalitarian corporate state where corporate interests are protected from liability by layers of subcontractors and by vested interests of powerful political bodies and extremely harsh state secrecy laws. As such, it is believed that nuclear safety and health issues, including deaths, are underreported and likely not reported at all in most cases. Therefore, the worldview of nuclear power, as represented in Japan at Fukushima Daiichi, is horribly distorted in favor of nuclear power advocacy.

Fukushima Darkness, Part Two

The impact of Fukushima Daiichi’s nuclear meltdown extends far and wide, as the hemispheric ecosystem gets hit by tons of radioactive water. Additionally, surreptitiousness surrounds untold death and illness, yet it remains one of the least understood and deceitfully reported episodes of journalism in modern history.

At the same time as Japan passed its totalitarian secrecy act in December 2013, it passed an obstructive Cancer Registration Law, which made it illegal to share medical data or information on radiation-related issues, denying public access to medical records, with violators subject to fines of two million Yen or 5-10 years in prison, a pretty stiff penalty for peeking into medical records, giving the appearance of somebody running scared.

Furthermore, and more egregiously yet, a confidentiality agreement to control medical information about radiation exposure was signed in January 2014 by IAEA, UNSCEAR, and Fukushima Prefecture and Fukushima Medical University. Thereafter, all info of illness from radiation is reported to a central repository run by Fukushima Medical Centre and IAEA. In turn, the Fukushima Centre for Environmental Creation was created in 2015 to communicate “accurate information on radiation to the public and dispel anxiety.” Ahem!

Well now, isn’t that convenient, a central depository controlled by the International Atomic Energy Agency –IAEA- to report on Fukushima Daiichi radiation exposure and medical illness. It’s not hard to figure that’s rotten to the core, sounding a lot like words lifted directly off the pages of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949).

Meanwhile, much, but not all, mainstream media reports about radiation-induced illnesses and deaths at Fukushima are feeble grossly incompetent journalism, as follows: “The latest update (in April) by the World Nuclear Association re the Fukushima disaster: There have been no deaths or cases of radiation sickness from the nuclear accident…” (Source: Michael W. Chapman, 5 Years Later, Deaths Caused by Radiation Leak at Fukushima -O-, CNS News, May 11, 2016).

According to The World Nuclear Association, as of October 2017: “There have been no deaths or cases of radiation sickness from the nuclear accident, but over 100,000 people were evacuated from their homes to ensure this. Government nervousness delays the return of many.”

Here’s one more statement of zero deaths at Fukushima, by Hannah Ritchie, published in Our World in Data, July 24, 2017: “In the case of Fukushima, although 40-50 people experienced physical injury or radiation burns at the nuclear facility, the number of direct deaths from the incident are quoted to be zero.”

And one more, an article in Forbes by Dr. James Conca, an expert on energy, nuclear and dirty bombs, “After Five Years, What Is The Cost Of Fukushima?” d/d March 10, 2016:

“Strangely, the costs that never materialized were the most feared, those of radiation-induced cancer and death… No one received enough dose, even the 20,000 workers who have worked tirelessly to recover form this event.”

Au contraire, it is believed that official reports of Fukushima radiation-induced sicknesses and deaths are horribly underreported and/or intentionally manipulated to show few, if any, cases. Based upon numerous testimonials obtained by independent journalists and researchers in Japan and U.S, attorneys, there is considerable evidence of radiation-induced deaths and sicknesses.

Seemingly, somebody is dead wrong on the issue of radiation-induced deaths, whether it’s (1) official sources via mainstream news or (2) independent researchers/journalists/U.S. attorneys that claim to personally know of deaths. One of those two sources is dead wrong and seriously misleading the world, which, in and of itself, should be classified as a criminal act, like the Nazi Nuremberg trials (1945-49). In point of fact, if it can be proven that people are covering up and/or lying about Fukushima radiation-induced illness and death, they should be tried and imprisoned, similar to Nazi war criminals. The implications of widespread radiation are not a trifle.

When it comes to uncontrollable radiation, there’s an ecumenical obligation for full transparency as a basic right for all humanity, worldwide.

“It’s a real shame that the authorities hide the truth from the whole world, from the UN. We need to admit that actually many people are dying. We are not allowed to say that, but TEPCO employees also are dying. But they keep mum about it,” Katsutaka Idogawa, former mayor of Futaba (Fukushima Prefecture), Fukushima Disaster: Tokyo Hides Truth as Children Die, Become Ill from Radiation – Ex-Mayor, RT News, April 21, 2014.

Individual medical doctors in Japan have reported serious radiation-related problems, for example: “In April 2014, Dr Tsuda Toshihide, an epidemiologist at Okayama University, declared this a ‘thyroid cancer epidemic’ and predicted multiple illnesses from long-term internal radiation below 100 mSv/y and advocated for a program of outbreak (emergency or rapid) epidemiology in and outside Fukushima.” (Source: Adam Broinowski, PhD (author of 25 major academic publications and Post Doctoral Research Fellow, Australian National University): “Informal Labour, Local Citizens and the Tokyo Electric Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Crisis: Responses to Neoliberal Disaster Management,” Australian National University, 2017.

“Similarly, a Tokyo-based physician, Dr Mita Shigeru, circulated a public statement notifying his colleagues of his intention to relocate his practice to Okayama due to overwhelming evidence of unusual symptoms in his patients (roughly 2,000). Given that soil in Tokyo post-Fukushima returned between 1,000 and 4,000 Bq/kg, as compared to an average of 500 Bq/kg (Cs 137 only) in Kiev soil, Mita pointed to a correlation between these symptoms and the significant radiation contamination in Tōhoku and metropolitan Tokyo.” (Broinowski)

“The ashes of half a dozen unidentified laborers ended up at a Buddhist temple in a town just north of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant. Some of the dead men had no papers; others left no emergency contacts. Their names could not be confirmed and no family members had been tracked down to claim their remains. They were simply labeled “decontamination troops” — unknown soldiers in Japan’s massive cleanup campaign to make Fukushima livable again five years after radiation poisoned the fertile countryside,” (Source: Mari Yamaguchi, Fukushima ‘Decontamination Troops’ Often Exploited, Shunned, AP & ABC News, Minamisona, Japan, March 10, 2016).

Mako Oshidori, director of Free Press Corporation/Japan, investigated several unreported worker deaths, and interviewed a former nurse who quit TEPCO:

“I would like to talk about my interview of a nurse who used to work at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) after the accident… He quit his job with TEPCO, and that’s when I interviewed him… As of now, there are multiple NPP workers that have died, but only the ones who died on the job are reported publicly. Some of them have died suddenly while off work, for instance, during the weekend or in their sleep, but none of their deaths are reported.” (Source: The Hidden Truth about Fukushima by Mako Oshidori, delivered at the International Conference, Effects of Nuclear Disasters on Natural Environment and Human Health held in Germany, 2014 co-organized by International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War).

“They are not included in the worker death count. For example, there are some workers who quit the job after a lot of radiation exposure… and end up dying a month later, but none of these deaths are either reported, or included in the death toll. This is the reality of the NPP workers,” Ibid.

Greenpeace has been conducting radiation readings throughout Fukushima ever since 311. Accordingly, Greenpeace/Japan Press Release -Tokyo, 21 February 2017:

“The Japanese government will soon lift evacuation orders for 6,000 citizens of Iitate village in Fukushima Prefecture where radiation levels in nearby forests are comparable to the current levels within the Chernobyl 30km exclusion zone – an area that more than 30 years after the accident remains formally closed to habitation. Seventy-five percent (75%) of Iitate is contaminated forested mountains.”

Over time, high levels of radiation from the mountains leach onto cleaned up areas down below. In point of fact, based upon several Greenpeace analyses throughout Fukushima Prefecture, former inhabitants of several communities are returning to towns and villages where spot checks show unacceptable levels of radiation.

“Faced with the post-311 reality of government (and corporate) policy that protects economic and security interests over public health and well-being, the majority of the 2 million inhabitants of Fukushima Prefecture are either unconscious of or have been encouraged to accept living with radioactive contamination. People dry their clothes outside, drink local tap water and consume local food, swim in outdoor pools and the ocean, consume and sell their own produce or catches. Financial pressure after 311 as well as the persistent danger of social marginalisation has made it more difficult to take precautionary measures (i.e. permanent relocation, dual accommodation, importing food and water) and develop and share counter-narratives to the official message. Nevertheless, some continue to conceal their anxiety beneath a mask of superficial calm.” (Broinowski)
“As Fukushima city resident Shiina Chieko observed, the majority of people seem to have adopted denial as a way to excise the present danger from their consciousness. Her sister-in-law, for example, ignored her son’s ‘continuous nosebleeds’; while her mother had decided that the community must endure by pretending that things were no different from pre-311 conditions.” (Broinowski)

Radiation exposure shows up years later as one of several illnesses. This gives the nuclear industry an advantage of time lapses in its position statements about the safety of nuclear energy. After all when enough time lapses, who knows for sure the cause of death?

However, Chernobyl provides a perfect case study of radiation-caused deaths of workers with a direct link, “liquidators,” exposed to Chernobly radiation (1986), keeping in mind that radiation takes several years to show up as cancer and other severe ailments:

“By 2001, of 800,000 healthy Russian and Ukrainian liquidators (with an average age of 33 years) sent to decontaminate, isolate and stabilise the reactor, 10 per cent had died and 30 per cent were disabled. By 2009, 120,000 liquidators had died, and an epidemic of chronic illness and genetic and perigenetic damage in nuclear workers’ descendants appeared (this is predicted to increase over subsequent generations). The full extent of the damage will not be understood until the fifth generation of descendants. By the mid-2000s, 985,000 additional deaths between 1986 and 2004 across Europe were estimated as a direct result from radiation exposure from Chernobyl.” (Broinowski)

Chernobyl likely foreshadows a dismal future for those exposed to Fukushima radiation whether residents, workers, or untold recipients throughout the extent of flowing seas, which is universal.

As Chernobyl clearly demonstrates: Over time, radiation cumulates in bodily organs. For an example of how radiation devastates human bodies generation by generation, consider: According to USA Today, Chernobyl’s Legacy: Kids With Bodies Ravaged by Disaster, April 17, 2016:

“There are 2,397,863 people registered with Ukraine’s health ministry to receive ongoing Chernobyl-related health care. Of these, 453,391 are children — none born at the time of the accident. Their parents were children in 1986. These children have a range of illnesses: respiratory, digestive, musculoskeletal, eye diseases, blood diseases, cancer, congenital malformations, genetic abnormalities, trauma.”

As for Fukushima’s direct impact on Americans that helped at the time of the meltdowns, former Senator John Edwards is representing cancer-ridden sailors who interceded on a humanitarian basis aboard the USS Ronald Reagan. According to Edwards:

“We have all these sailors. Sailors whose case is now five years old, who have died or are in the process of dying right now.” 

Edwards noted that some of his sailor clients have children born with birth defects. (Source: Bianca Bruno, Dying Navy Sailors Push for Trial on Fukushima Meltdown, Courthouse, September 1, 2017).

Attorney Charles Bonner, representing US service members exposed to Fukushima fallout, Jul 21, 2015 (at 10:45 in on YouTube): We now have a 250+ young sailors with all kinds of illnesses, we’ve had three die. We had one of the sailors who came home and impregnated his wife. They gave birth to a little baby born with brain cancer and cancer down the spine, lived for two years, and just died in March of this year. (Source:

TEPCO’s attorney Gregory Stone claims his client accepts responsibility for the radiation released but maintains the amount sailors were exposed to was negligible. Stone: “People get sick at different times of their lives for different reasons.”

As people unceremoniously, more times than not anonymously, die from radiation exposure, the Abe administration keeps a tight lid on the reality and the potency of Fukushima Daiichi radiation. And, when faced with the prospect of not knowing what to do, bring on the Olympics! That’s pretty good cover for a messy situation, making it appear to hundreds of thousands of attendees, as well as to the world community “all is well.”

But, is it really?

Postscript: “These sailors are supposed to be very healthy. It’s not a normal situation. It is unbelievable that just in four or five years that these healthy sailors would become sick… I think that both the U.S. and Japanese government have something to hide.” Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi of Japan 2001-06 quoted in New York Times 12/31/2016. 

Robert Hunziker lives in Los Angeles and can be reached at
More articles by Robert Hunziker