Friday, May 01, 2015

The American Century Is Over

Someday American politicians will recognize that the world isn’t asking for their leadership. The image of America as benevolent superpower may endure in parts of Eastern Europe and in the former Soviet Republics, where some imagine American jets are going to abolish geography and clear out the Russians. But nowhere else.

At the time of this writing, an Orioles-White Sox game in Baltimore has been cancelled because of rioting in the city, while on Saturday 37,000 fans were confined inside the stadium for hours after a game ended because of mayhem outside. The state, which cannot protect crowds of dating couples and parents with children outside of Camden Yards, is not going to make eastern Ukraine safe for neoliberalism.

In the run-up to the Baltimore riots, Congress debated ways to tell Europeans what their Mideast policies should be. Working with an AIPAC-drafted playbook, Maryland senator Ben Cardin and Illinois representative Peter Roskam attached language to a large trade bill intended to squelch the growing movement in Europe to label as such Israeli products that originate in the occupied territories. The AIPAC amendments defined as primary American goals in trade talks the discouragement of European economic sanctions against Israel. Mike Coogan’s account of the behind-the-scenes maneuvers highlighted some glimpses of House legislators stunned at the brazenness of AIPAC in action. First hearings on the bill were moved to a smaller room to keep out the public. Then, at the last moment, pro-Israel anti-boycott amendments were tacked on, with language treating Israel and “Israeli-controlled territories” as identical. One congressman asked Chairman Paul Ryan why members of the Ways and Means Committee were unable to consider public health, or labor standards, or food safety in debating the trade legislation, but were able on short notice to rubberstamp an AIPAC-sponsored amendment. He didn’t receive an answer.

The larger point made by the U.S. Congress is that it is wrong for Palestinians to fight for their freedom by terrorism or any form of armed struggle, but it is also wrong to seek their rights by peaceful political means such as boycott. If you are a Palestinian, you have no legitimate way to seek political and civil rights, no avenue is open to you—and Congress is going to intervene in American trade policy to try to enforce that. Congress will make it a priority to instruct U.S. trade policymakers to protect Israeli settlements, considered illegal by virtually every country in the world. About measures (labor practices, health and safety standards) which might protect U.S. workers and U.S. consumers, Congress doesn’t have time for. By the way, Cardin, who introduced the senate version, represents Baltimore.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Yes, BALTIMORE SUN, There Is A “Baltimore Riot.” And The Answer (Again) Is Ruthless Coercion

Baltimore is burning as I write, the streets are filled with rioters and police. They don’t seem to be “clashing” much, however. Photographs show looters looting, and cops standing around. The mayor[1]black lady mayor of Baltimore, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, [Email her] made a statement that, in the interests of the demonstrators’ “free speech” rights, she had told the Baltimore PD to “give those who wished to destroy space to do that.” The white Governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan, said as late as 5:30 Monday afternoon there had been no requests for the National Guard.

(But by 8:30 pm he had signed an Executive Order [PDF] declaring a State of Emergency and activating the Maryland National Guard—a promising sign, although at this point I don’t know if they’ll even be issued live ammunition. The lady mayor finally asked for the Guard, and the lady Brigadier General who is head of Maryland’s Army National Guard (Linda Singh, pictured below—despite her last name, the “first African-American” to head the Maryland Guard) stood beside him at a press conference, so they must be getting worried. Gov. Hogan Declares State of Emergency, Activates Md. National Guard, CBS Baltimore, April 27, 2015).

All of this will be news to the notoriously liberal Baltimore Sun. On Monday, it posted an editorial titled No ‘Baltimore riots’ | Saturday’s violence was deplorable, but it was no “Baltimore riot.” April 27, 2015. Its only reason for insisting that it was “no Baltimore Riot” was that there was much worse rioting in 1968.
“With all sympathies to the police officers who have been injured and the handful of businesses that sustained damage, Baltimore has had riots before, in 1968 after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, and we are, thankfully, seeing nothing on that scale.”[Cached | Alternate link.]
Read the entire article 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Did a Chinese-Russian-Iranian coalition opposing NATO debut in Moscow?

Talk about joint efforts between China, India, Russia and Iran against NATO expansion was augmented with plans for tripartite military talks between Beijing, Moscow, and Tehran.

Defense ministers and military officials from all over the world gathered on April 16 at the landmark Radisson Royal or Hotel Ukraina, one of the best pieces of Soviet architecture in Moscow, which is known as one of the “Seven Sisters” that were constructed during Joseph Stalin’s time. The two-day event hosted by the Russian Defense Ministry was the fourth annual Moscow Conference on International Security (MCIS).

Civilian and military officials from over seventy countries, including NATO members, attended. Fifteen defense ministers took part in the event. However, aside from Greece, defense ministers of NATO countries did not participate in the conference.

Unlike previous years, the MCIS organizers did not send Ukraine an invitation for 2015’s confab. According to Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov, “At this stage of the brutal information antagonism in regard to the crisis in southeastern Ukraine, we decided not to inflame the situation at the conference and at this stage made the decision not to invite our Ukrainian colleagues to the event.”

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

EU’s Israel-Palestine Policy Is Out Of Touch With Reality

In a letter calling on European Union foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini to promote and implement a 2012 plan to mark produce and products for the European marketplace from the Israeli-occupied West Bank, 16 EU foreign ministers stated that what they are requesting is “an important step in the full implementation of EU longstanding policy in relation to the preservation of the two-state solution”.

If that’s what they truly believe, the 16 who signed the letter – they included the foreign ministers of Britain and France but not Germany – are clearly out of touch with reality because the two-state solution has long been dead, killed by Israel’s on-going colonisation and ethnic cleansing by stealth.

There are, of course, two other possible explanations.

One is that those who signed the letter (as well as their EU ministerial colleagues who didn’t) are entertaining the hope that the Palestinian Authority can be bullied and bribed into accepting a two-state solution on Israel’s terms – terms which would leave Israel in occupation of large chunks of the West Bank and the Palestinian “state” little more than a collection of disconnected Bantustans, with Israel’s various security services still in overall control.

The other possibility is that those who signed the letter (as well as their EU ministerial colleagues who didn’t) know that the two-state solution is dead but must go on pretending it isn’t because the only alternative if there is ever to be justice for the Palestinians is one state with equal political and human rights of every kind for all. And that is something European governments do not want to think about. Why?

If Zionism does not resort to a final ethnic cleansing, the day is coming when the Arabs of what is today Greater Israel will outnumber the Jews, so one state for all would lead in time to the de-Zionisation of it. The end of the Zionist enterprise. That being so, the obvious implication is that getting to the point where a one state solution might be possible would require the EU to play its necessary part in putting Israel on notice that unless it ends its defiance of international law and becomes serious about peace on terms the Palestinians could accept, it will be isolated and subjected to sanctions of the kind that played a major role in pushing South Africa’s apartheid regime to its end.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

CORRUPTION Is What’s Making Us Vulnerable to Terrorism

Americans’ Safety and Security Is Being Sacrificed On the Altar of Corruption By the Military-Industrial Complex

America is vulnerable to terrorism because our government officials have been more concerned with building an empire more than stopping terrorism:
A senior officer on the Joint Staff told State Department counter-terrorism director Sheehan he had heard terrorist strikes characterized more than once by colleagues as a “small price to pay for being a superpower”.
And we’re vulnerable to terrorism because we keep backing corrupt foreign dictators and launching wars to grab other countries’ resources.

And because our counter-terror efforts – including mass surveillance, drone strikes and torture – only increased terrorism.

And the Co-Chair of the Congressional Inquiry into 9/11 and former Head of the Senate Intelligence Committee – Bob Graham – says that the Paris terror attack, ISIS, and other terrorist developments are a result of American officials covering up the truth about 9/11.

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Friday, April 17, 2015

‘Bloggers’ Compared to ISIS During Congressional Hearing

Bloggers, conspiracy theorists and people who challenge establishment narratives on the Internet were all likened to ISIS terrorists during a chilling Congressional hearing which took place yesterday.

The hearing, hosted by the House Foreign Relations Committee, was titled “Confronting Russia’s Weaponization of Information,” and accused Russian state broadcaster RT of weaponizing “conspiracy theories” to spread propaganda.

One of the speakers giving testimony was former RT host Liz Wahl, who made a public spectacle of quitting Russian state media last year in an incident stage-managed by neo-con James Kirchick, himself a former employee of Radio Free Europe – a state media outlet.

Remarking that the Internet provided a platform for “fringe voices and extremists,” Wahl characterized people who challenge establishment narratives as a “cult”.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Will “Disgruntled Military Veterans” Defend The Southern Border?

Mexican sources report an ISIS camp on our southern border. A suspected Russian intelligence asset, a Shiite Muslim formerly part of the Iraqi Army, was recently caught trying to cross [Exclusive: Iraqi Caught Crossing US-Mexico Border Was Military Trainer and Spoke Fluent Russian, by Brandon Darby, Breitbart, April 7, 2015] But the Pentagon seems more focused on fighting “sexual assault” (real and imagined) than protecting the country. American veterans are talking about doing the job.

A Special Forces veteran has detailed a thoughtful and feasible plan to militarize the southern border. Writing in the popular military blog SOFREP, Green Beret vet Loren Schofield explained in depth his plan to secure the border [A Green Beret’s Solution To Protecting The Southern Border, by Loren Schofield, July 27, 2014]

Schofield’s plan includes
Apparently it takes a veteran like Schofield to point out how high the stakes are:

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Monday, April 13, 2015

Israel’s Strategy: Divide and Rule

While the Israel lobby is blanketing the US media with propaganda to the effect that Iran cannot be trusted to adhere to the terms of any agreement limiting its nuclear research and development, back in Tel Aviv Bibi and his government know better. Ha’aretz has the story:

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a recent meeting of the security cabinet that if a comprehensive nuclear agreement between Iran and the six world powers is indeed signed by the June 30 deadline, the greatest concern is that Tehran will fully implement it without violations, two senior Israeli officials said.”

The problem for the Israelis isn’t that the Iranians can’t be trusted to keep the agreement. Quite the opposite:

“According to the two senior officials, Netanyahu said during the meeting that he feared that the ‘Iranians will keep to every letter in the agreement if indeed one is signed at the end of June.’

“One official said: ‘Netanyahu said at the meeting that it would be impossible to catch the Iranians cheating simply because they will not break the agreement.'”

Hey, wait a minute – so what about the much touted Second Holocaust that’s supposed to happen if our Secret Muslim of a President succeeds in getting the agreement past a hostile Congress? What about all the kvetching and gnashing of teeth over the “existential threat” supposedly looming over Israel? 

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Thursday, April 09, 2015

The Real Nuclear Threat in the Middle East

To get a sense of how badly the regime in Iran wants sanctions relief for the Iranian people, you have to do more than contemplate the major concessions it has made in negotiations with the United States and the rest of the P5+1. Not only is Iran willing to dismantle a major part of its peaceful civilian nuclear program, to submit to the most intrusive inspects, to redesign a reactor, to eliminate two-thirds of its centrifuges, to get rid of much of its enriched uranium, and to limit nuclear research -- it must do all this while being harangued by the nuclear monopolist of the Middle East -- Israel -- which remains, unlike Iran, a nonsigner of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and faces no inspections or limits on its production of nuclear weapons.
This is something out of Alice in Wonderland. The Islamic Republic of Iran, born in 1979, has not attacked another country. (With U.S. help, Iraq attacked Iran in 1980.) In contrast, Israel has attacked its Arab neighbors several times its founding, including two devastating invasions and a long occupation of Lebanon, not to mention repeated onslaughts in the Gaza Strip and the military occupation of the West Bank. Israel has also repeatedly threatened war against Iran and engaged in covert and proxy warfare, including the assassination of scientists. Even with Iran progressing toward a nuclear agreement, Israel (like the United States) continues to threaten Iran.
Yet Iran is universally cast as the villain (with scant evidence) and Israel the vulnerable victim.
You’d never know that Iran favors turning the Middle East into a weapons-of-mass-destruction-free zone (a nuclear-weapons-free zone was first proposed by the U.S.-allied shah of Iran and Egypt in 1974), and beyond that, Iran over a decade ago offered a “grand bargain” that contained provisions to reassure the world about its nuclear program and an offer to recognize Israel, specifically, acceptance of the Arab League’s 2002 peace initiative. The George W. Bush administration rebuffed Iran.
At the last NPT review conference in 2010, Iran renewed its support for the zone, the BBC reported at the time: “Tehran supports the ‘immediate and unconditional’ implementation of the 1995 resolution [to create the zone], declares the [then] president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.” (Iran also favors global nuclear disarmament.)