11.04.2018 Pressenza London

Sanders: Trump has ‘no legal authority’ to bomb or attack Syria
(Image by BernieSanders.com Via Common Dreams)

It is Congress, not the president, who determines whether our country goes to war and Congress must not abdicate that responsibility,” declares Independent senator from Vermont

Advertisements

11.04.2018 Pressenza London

On The Threshold of War
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Main_Page

By Paul Craig Roberts, April 9, 2018

“The Russian view is simple: the West is ruled by a gang of thugs supported by an infinitely lying and hypocritical media while the general public in the West has been hopelessly zombified.” — The Saker

https://russia-insider.com/en/russia-ready-war-mood-prime-time-tv-grim/ri23019

“The US generals, unlike the US politicians and media and US administration, are risk-averse if the outcome may be catastrophic.” — Gilbert Doctorow

https://russia-insider.com/en/were-not-going-war-not-yet-last-nights-russian-tv-analysis/ri23024

Above are two of the three most intelligent and reliable Russian experts. The third is Professor Stephen Cohen, who worries, as I do, that an arrogant Washington drowning in hubris is provoking Russia to war.

The Saker has concluded that the Russians have concluded that it has been a mistake to put up with Washington’s lies, insults, and orchestrated events and have decided that if the dumbshit Americans attack Syria, Russia is going to take out the US forces involved.

Doctorow has concluded that as dumbshit as Washington is, the US Joint Chiefs of Staff have more sense and will not go along with an attack on a Russian ally.

I hope that Doctorow is correct. However, with that crazed demented warmonger John Bolton sitting in the White House next to Trump, who enjoys the role of tough guy, I am more scared by The Saker’s reading than I am reassured by Doctorow’s.

There are reports, the validity of which I cannot confirm at this time, that the entirety of the Russian military has been put on high alert, not merely the Russian forces in Syria. See for example:http://defence-blog.com/news/russia-suddenly-puts-troops-alert.html

Nikki Haley’s threats against Russia today in the UN do not support Doctorow’s hopes that reason will prevail in Washington. The crazed bitch said that the US will act against the “monster” Assad with or without the UN.

Tough man Trump, sitting next to the crazed warmonger Bolton, declared that the alleged chemical attack in Syria “will be met and it will be met forcefully. We can’t let atrocities like we all witnessed… we can’t let that happen in our world, especially because of the power of the US, we are able to stop it.”

There was NO chemical attack by Syria. I know that for an absolute 100% fact. I would bet my life on it. Yet here is the US president declaring a total non-fact to be something “we all witnessed.” Little wonder that the Russians have concluded that the West is ruled by a gang of thugs supported by an infinitely lying and hypocritical media while the general public in the West has been hopelessly zombified.

If Doctorow is not correct that a sane US Joint Chiefs of Staff will prevail over the crazed President and his National Security Adviser, we are headed for war.

It is a war that the US will not win.

Notice, dear readers, that there is no mention of this pending crisis in the Western media. Instead the media whether CNN or the BBC has as the lead news story the FBI’s raid on Trump’s lawyer:

https://www.cnn.com

http://www.bbc.com/news 
Insouciant Americans is too mild, isn’t it. Clueless is the correct word.

UPDATE

There is no longer any doubt that the criminally insane government in Washington is driving the world to the last war.

https://www.rt.com/news/423634-unsc-security-threats-syria-chemical/

https://www.rt.com/news/423627-russian-military-checks-chemical-douma/

UPDATE:

As Americans we must face the possibility that we have a criminally insane government in Washington that is leading the world to destruction.

A Russian Government Press Release:

False information is being planted about the alleged use of chlorine and other toxic agents by the Syrian government forces. The latest fake news about a chemical attack on Douma was reported yesterday. These reports are again referenced to the notorious White Helmets, which have been proved more than once to be working hand in glove with the terrorists, as well as to other pseudo-humanitarian organisations headquartered in the UK and the US.
We recently warned of the possibility of such dangerous provocations. The goal of these absolutely unsubstantiated lies is to protect the terrorists and the irreconcilable radical opposition that has rejected a political settlement, as well as to justify the possible use of force by external actors.
We have to say once again that military interference in Syria, where Russian forces have been deployed at the request of the legitimate government, under contrived and false pretexts is absolutely unacceptable and can lead to very grave consequences.

http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/3155552?p_p_id=101_INSTANCE_cKNonkJE02Bw&_101_INSTANCE_cKNonkJE02Bw_languageId=en_GB

This is John Helmer’s interpretation of the warning:

“WHEN THE RULE OF LAW WAS DESTROYED IN SALISBURY, LONDON AND THE HAGUE, AND THE RULE OF FRAUD DECLARED IN WASHINGTON, THAT LEAVES ONLY THE RULE OF FORCE IN THE WORLD. THE STAVKA [the high command of the Russian armed forces] MET IN MOSCOW ON GOOD FRIDAY AND IS READY. THE FOREIGN MINISTRY ANNOUNCED ON SUNDAY “THE GRAVEST CONSEQUENCES”. THIS MEANS ONE AMERICAN SHOT AT A RUSSIAN SOLDIER, THEN WE ARE AT WAR. NOT INFOWAR, NOT CYBERWAR, NOT ECONOMIC WAR, NOT PROXY WAR. WORLD WAR.”

http://johnhelmer.org/?p=17680

I hope that the situation is not this severe.

 

Republished with permission from the author

 

10.04.2018 – Gaza City Patrizia Cecconi

This post is also available in: Italian

Gaza: another slaughter as the UN once again looks the other way

At this very moment (2pm local time, April, 7), the funeral of the last victims of Israeli gunfire is taking place here in Gaza. Yesterday’s slaughter showed the world how Tel Aviv, confident of its impunity, intends to stop the people of Gaza from peacefully protesting against Israeli occupation of their land. And yet their right to return has been recognized by UN resolutions! Alas – in spite of its name and charter – the UN remains a timid organization; when confronting Israel, it limits itself to expressing generic reproaches and generally does so after the facts.

Anyone with a smattering of law knows that without sanctions, norms loose their effectiveness. UN officials know this perfectly well, of course, and, in fact, do apply sanctions – even for the violation of a single resolution – when dealing with other nations. But not when it comes to Israel, which has violated dozens of resolutions, practically all those concerning it directly. These repeated violations without sanctions have, in turn, contributed to discrediting the United Nations, which to many people seems like a trained bear: despite its size and strength, it dances to the tune set by its trainer.

This is the gift Israel that has given to the world: the discredit of the United Nations. Brought about by Israel’s intent to eliminate the Palestinians instead of recognizing their right to return to their home.

Yesterday, the second Friday of the “Great Return March”, the Israeli army injured a thousand more peaceful demonstrators and killed at least seven of them. The number could increase even as we write, because it seems that some of the bullets used are of the forbidden butterfly type. But this is not a problem for an army which used white phosphorus to burn alive a large number of children in its most recent large-scale military aggression against the Palestinian people.

Yaser Muntaja, the young Palestinian journalist killed yesterday while filming the march in Khuza’a, near Khan Younis, seems to have been one more victim of butterfly bullets: he was shot in the abdomen by one, or so they tell us at the European Gaza Hospital where they tried to save the young man’s life, without success.

Yaser was wearing an official PRESS jacket and was therefore easily recognizable. So, what happened? Here in Gaza many people are convinced that jackets with writing on them actually attract the attention of Israeli snipers. We do not know if this is true, but we do know how much Israel fears an unfiltered account of the facts, capable of contradicting the Official Versions that the international media dutifully repeat without checking, versions in which Israel is portrayed as the victim and the Palestinians as the aggressors or, at best, versions portraying both sides as equally aggressive. This latter misrepresentation is characteristic of Italian media in particular.

Italy’s major newspapers and tv channels have no envoys in the Gaza Strip, so the “news” they provide has not been witnessed or verified on the spot, but rather expresses opinions often at odds with what witnesses on the spot – like the young journalist Yaser Muntaja – have seen and reported through social media.

Other Palestinian journalists have been wounded as well, although visibly wearing PRESS jackets, and this reinforces the hypothesis that such jackets make the bearer a target, instead of protecting him. The large white letters spelling out “press” are clearly visible even through the black smoke of the tires, burned by the thousands as a defensive tactic by the demonstrators.

Just two days ago we saw the demonstrators at Khuza’a manifesting an incredible determination to resist – the same we observed later on in the evening during the get togethers in the Great March camps. And it was in Khuza’a, a town massacred beyond all words during the 2014 Israeli aggression, that the voice of one more journalist – undoubtedly considered a threat precisely because he was such a capable and credible eye witness – was put to silence.

 

This Friday our on-the-spot reporting has brought us to Al Breji, Nusseirat, in the central area of the Strip, where the occupying army made martyrs of five Gazans last week and two yesterday, in addition to wounding 118 others. What we have seen is what countless photos taken by social workers and posted on social media have shown: the incredibly courageous defensive tactics used by the Gazans to limit the ability of the Israeli snipers to shoot. Large groups of young men and women, partly shielded by the tire smoke previously produced, would approach the border as close as possible, about three hundred feet away (the length of a football field), and there they would set fire to hundreds of tires. Behind them, at a distance equivalent to a couple of city blocks, thousands of Great March demonstrators remained camped out, cheering the youths on, peacefully and almost festively. At times the Israeli tear gas would pass through the smoke curtain and reach the camp. Fortunately, the children present had been given handmade masks to wear since the new gases used by the Israeli army are deadly if inhaled massively and without protection: they cause strange convulsions that the doctors at Shifa Hospital have not yet found a way to cure.

Incredibly the whole day unfolded as though it was some kind of festival. The campers chanted and sang outside their tents, each of which bears name of one of the Gazan villages that the Israeli army has destroyed. The campers were surrounded by the black smoke produced by the tires, the white smoke coming from the teargas grenades, the sounds of rifle shots fired by the snipers, the screaming sirens of the ambulances taking the wounded away. It was meant to be a solemn and touching commemoration of last Friday’s martyrs, yet a festive one: there were stalls with falafels, lupins and hazelnuts to eat, other stalls and carts with fresh fruit and coffee; there was music in the air and, for the children, a clown who showed them how to wear the makeshift anti-gas masks. Finally, there was something that Western readers may find incredible: an itinerant barber. Yes, at the Great March for the Right to Return Home, you could also sit down and get your hair cut. Behind the barber’s folding chair hung a sign with his name and prices. The barber’s nonchalance – as he trimmed his clients’ hair amid the smoke, gas and gunshots – made us smile… That is, until an Israeli teargas canister came crashing into our windshield (who knows how it reached us, given our distance from the line of fire).

How can the Israelis possibly nurture any illusions about defeating such a people!” I asked myself, sweeping the glass debris away. “Forget the nut stalls, the coffee cart and even the clown – but the barber, no, that was too much. Either the Israelis kill off everyone here or they will never win!”

After sunset, hoping that the Israeli army will retire, we go to the Al Aqsa hospital, where the ambulances in the central area have carried the wounded. We see a shoe on the ground, covered with blood. They tell us it is the shoe of one of the two Gazans who did not survive this week. He had been brought to the hospital on a stretcher, under a sheet already encrusted with blood, and his body had been jostled by the frantic gait of the stretcher bearers. And so his shoe had fallen off. When you die, your foot shrinks and so you can easily lose a shoe.

Here everyone runs, both outside and inside the hospital. Many are volunteers. Others are just like the volunteers, despite being hospital employees, because they no longer get a salary. This is due to the recent cuts in funding for UNRWA and also because of the punitive policy of Ramallah after the staged assassination attempt.

The nurses and doctors here, whether paid or not, try to do everything they can to reduce the damage that the Israeli snipers have inflicted on the bodies brought to them. The gun wounds almost seem scientifically placed: for example, right in the center of the pelvis, resulting in the removal or functional reduction of the genital apparatus. Or right in the most critical part of the legs, the kneecaps in particular, causing permanent invalidity. We find it hard to believe that the snipers had taken deliberate aim at these vital parts, we are simply reporting what the medical staff has told us. We didn’t discuss the point then and there: what we saw around us was simply too depressing for talk. Like the man who learned that both legs had to be amputated, or the young man in a pharmaceutical coma with both a pelvis and a leg wound and on the point of death, or the father of six children who knows his leg wound has made him disabled for life, or the young man hit in the liver by a bullet that tore through his body from one side to the other, or the boy who does not know whether he will ever leave the hospital but who manages to put on a smile and say “shukran”, that is, “thank you”, for the support our presence as Italian journalists seems to show him.

Out of compassion we do not tell him that our government, as most Western governments, is an accomplice of Israel; we simply say that there are indeed many people in the West who know what is happening in Palestine and who are by his side. The doctors also thank us for our support and we do not have the heart to tell them that our gestures of solidarity are not those of our government and not even of our people but only of a certain number of persons who have managed to see though the pro-Israeli narrative that dominates Western mainstream media and who feel solidarity with the Palestinians in their struggle. We prefer explaining things more precisely at another time.

But what to say to the families of the deceased, gathered in the hospital? We cannot find the right words but fortunately we have a skillful interpreter who conveys, in heartfelt Arabic, what, in English, would have sounded like a conventional expression of sympathy. We leave and hope that our Internet connection will last all night and allow us to upload the videos and photos to show the world what a truly festive day could have looked like if only international law was applied in Palestine, instead of the law of the jungle.

As we leave, our eyes fall once more on that bloodstained shoe. It’s a gym shoe, almost new. The young idealist who wore it became a martyr today, like Yasser, the journalist killed yesterday in Khuza’a or like Mohammed, the young sculptor killed last Friday. Or like all the other martyrs of this Great March for the Right to Return Home, who, overcoming their fears, have stood defiantly unarmed before a heavily armed and ruthless enemy, calling on a distracted world to awaken.

Traslation from italian by Patrick Boylan

08.04.2018 Redação São Paulo

This post is also available in: Spanish

Letter of Solidarity with the defenders of communication democracy in Brazil
(Image by insurgenciamagisterial.com)

As communicators and citizens of diverse countries of the world, committed to the struggle for the right to communicate and to the current democratic communication standards, we are witnessing a situation of institutional overthrow that has just taken another step forward in Brazil, in the Brazilian courts’ rejection on 5 April 2018 of the writ of habeas corpus submitted by former president Lula da Silva and in the confirmation of his imprisonment. Thanks to the mobilization of a democratic, responsible journalism, we have seen from the outside how recent events have been accompanied and supported once again by offensive media operations, in coordination with pressure from the armed forces.

From 2014’s Operation Lava Jato (Car Wash) to the Brazilian Court’s decision this week, we have witnessed how a core of media groups in Brazil, benefiting from the international relaying of their news by hegemonic media on all five continents, have promoted and exploited a situation of legal and political conflict to turn it into a media, judicial, and therefore political coup, targeting a legitimately elected government, particularly the former president Dilma Roussef and now the former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

This letter is not intended as an expression of partisan support, as communicators and communication activists, for one political figure or another. Above all, we want to express our utmost concern at the anti-democratic direction that these events constitute and at the violation of communicational citizenship that these media figures have committed in a situation of selective permissiveness and judicial complicity.

We know that this type of media action is occurring today in various parts of the world, where there is a great degree of political violence, despotism and an absence of democratic traditions. Although we have progressed in terms of institutionalization of rights, we also see that growing connectivity has increased the sophistication of strategies to manipulate public opinion. We repudiate the use of concentrated media as weapons of mass manipulation of societies.

In this regard, we wish to highlight the active commitment of Brazilian and Latin American communicators, be they free media users, bloggers, activists, citizen media or professional media, allowing the world to understand what is happening in their country. Democratic communication is an asymmetrical struggle. The struggle is long, systemic, and beautiful, because it is a struggle for all the rights. It is essential to protect these forms of citizen communication and strengthen their own voices.

In solidarity,
The Mobilization Committee of the World Forum on Free Media
.
www.fmml.net

30.03.2018 Pressenza London

Change Is coming… and not through the barrel of our guns
Tears roll down the face of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Emma Gonzalez as she observes 6 minutes and 20 seconds of silence while addressing the March for Our Lives rally on March 24, 2018 in Washington, DC. Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators, including students, teachers and parents gathered in Washington for the anti-gun violence rally organized by survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on February 14 that left 17 dead. More than 800 related events are taking place around the world to call for legislative action to address school safety and gun violence.

The uncontained force behind the national murder rate is dehumanization, and as this movement grows, it must — it will — look institutional dehumanization straight in the eye.

30.03.2018 – Curitiba, Brazil Foro de Comunicación para la Integracion de NuestrAmérica (FCINA)

This post is also available in: Spanish

We shall not stay silent! The Communication Forum for the Integration of Our America condemns the attack against Lula

The Communication Forum for the Integration of Our America expresses its strongest repudiation of the attack suffered by the Caravan of former President Lula as it passed through the state of Paraná in Brazil.

This armed aggression is a direct consequence of the climate of violence and hatred installed by the distorted and permanent propaganda of concentrated groups of communication such as the Globo Organizations. It is also a prolongation of the growing militarization that Michel Temer’s illegitimate government wants to impose in order to silence all social demands in the face of its anti-popular programme of adjustment.

At the same time, it is a new attempt to remove from the electoral contest the candidate with the greatest intention of voting ahead of the presidential elections that should be held this year. The goal of the de facto government is to perpetuate itself in power and for that it needs to outlaw Lula, these attacks seek to prepare the ground for that, even at the expense of making evident at international level the lack of limits into which the usurping government of Michel Temer has fallen and especially the more radicalized fractions of the right that support it.

Among other issues, this situation also highlights the conflict between the struggle to achieve the redistribution of land through an integral agrarian reform in opposition to the interests of large landowners, who finance and arm groups to attack social leaders. Conflict in which the de facto government has taken a clear party in favour of the ruralists, promoting the criminalization of peasant organizations.

We are before a new sample of the generalized decomposition of Democracy in Latin America, which must be denounced outright by all citizens.

We also warned about the legitimacy that the conservative and neoliberal governments intend to give to the judicial persecution and political proscription of progressive candidates in the name of a supposed anti-corruption crusade, corruption of which they  are the main actors and representatives along with the companies that originate it.

The communication networks, media and social movements grouped in the Communication Forum for the Integration of Our America express our full solidarity to the colleague  Luiz Inácio “Lula” Da Silva, the companions of his caravan, those involved in the struggle  and all the Brazilian people in this juncture of social regression Brazil is going through.

We shall not stay silent!

COMMUNICATION FORUM FOR THE INTEGRATION OF OUR AMERICAS

28.03.2018 Pressenza London

The March for Our Lives in Pictures: demonstrators mourn those lost to gun violence and condemn complicit politicians

Who here is going to vote in the 2018 election? If you listen real close, you can hear the people in power shaking.”

by Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams (watch the videos here)

Taking the stage on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, high school student David Hogg offered hundreds of thousands of audience members a visual representation of his reasons for helping to organize the March for Our Lives, a worldwide gun control advocacy demonstration.

“I’m going to start off by putting this price tag right here as a reminder for you guys to know how much Marco Rubio took for every student’s life in Florida,” Hogg said, placing a price tag reading “$1.05” on the podium.

SSen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has received $3,303,355 from the National Rifle Association (NRA). Because the #NeverAgain movement has found that there are 3,140,167 children enrolled in Florida’s schools, Hogg reasoned, each child’s life is worth approximately one dollar to the senator.

When politicians say that your voice doesn’t matter because the NRA owns them, we say: No more. When politicians send their thoughts and prayers with no action, we say: No more. And to those politicians supported by the NRA, that allow the continued slaughter of our children and our future, I say: Get your résumés ready,” said Hogg.

The student was one of several speakers at the march from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where 14 of Hogg’s classmates and three staff members were killed in a mass shooting on February 14.

After reading the names of the victims, Emma Gonzalez, who has been a prominent voice in the school community’s calls for common-sense gun control reforms in recent weeks, stood silently for six minutes and 20 seconds to signify the amount of time it took for a gunman with an AR-15 to kill the 17 people.

 

 

 

Prior to the students’ speeches, hundreds of thousands of Americans marched through the city, many carrying signs reading “Never Again” and chanting “Enough is enough!”

By 1:00pm in Washington, more than 207,000 people had ridden the city’s Metro—more than three times the average number of Saturday riders.

“Sibling marches” both large and small took place in cities across the country.

 

On every continent except Antarctica, supporters—many from countries that have had strict regulations on gun ownership for decades—staged protests in solidarity with American students.

 

In Washington, D.C., Hogg alluded to the fact, often-repeated by the #NeverAgain movement, that many of the students who survived the Parkland shooting will be voting for the first time in the 2018 or 2020 elections.

“Who here is going to vote in the 2018 election?” he asked the crowd. “If you listen real close, you can hear the people in power shaking.”

 

28.03.2018 – New York, USA Tony Robinson

Venezuela becomes 7th country to ban nuclear weapons
(Image by Venezuelan Ministry of Communication)

Following last week’s announcement from Palestine, Venezuela this week joined six other ratifying countries in formally endorsing the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

A statement released by the Venezuelan Ministry of Communication said, “On Tuesday, the Permanent Representative of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the United Nations, Samuel Moncada, presented the instrument of ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons to the UN Office of Legal Affairs, signed by the President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro Moros.”

Noting that the TPNW is the biggest development in recent decades in matters of disarmament with direct implications for the maintenance of global peace and security, Ambassador Moncada said, “For our country, the threat of use or the use of nuclear weapons is unjustifiable, illegal and immoral. We therefore believe that the use of nuclear weapons represents a flagrant violation of international law and international humanitarian law, which in turn constitutes a war crime, in accordance with the provisions of the Rome Statute.”

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was negotiated at the UN in New York in 2017 and approved on the 7th of July by 122 countries.  The treaty enters into force when the 50th country delivers its instrument of ratification to the UN Office of Legal Affairs.  So far no nuclear weapon state has shown any signs of supporting the treaty, but some impact is already being felt in the financing of nuclear weapons as evidenced by the latest Don’t Bank on the Bomb report which shows that financial institutions investing in nuclear weapon producers have dropped by 10%.

Venezuela becomes the fourth country in Latin America and the Caribbean to ratify the treaty after Guyana, Mexico and Cuba.  A full list is available on the ICAN website here.

21.03.2018 Redazione Italia

How They Sold the Iraq War
(Image by Pinterest)

The war on Iraq was a propaganda war where loaded phrases, such as “weapons of mass destruction” and “rogue state” were hurled like precision weapons at the target audience: us. Blair paid a price for his grandiose puffery. Bush has skated freely through the tempest. Why?

By Jeffrey St. Clair. First published on Counterpunch, 20/03/2018

 

The war on Iraq won’t be remembered for how it was waged so much as for how it was sold. It was a propaganda war, a war of perception management, where loaded phrases, such as “weapons of mass destruction” and “rogue state” were hurled like precision weapons at the target audience: us.
To understand the Iraq war you don’t need to consult generals, but the spin doctors and PR flacks who stage-managed the countdown to war from the murky corridors of Washington where politics, corporate spin and psy-ops spooks cohabit.

Consider the picaresque journey of Tony Blair’s plagiarized dossier on Iraq, from a grad student’s website to a cut-and-paste job in the prime minister’s bombastic speech to the House of Commons. Blair, stubborn and verbose, paid a price for his grandiose puffery. Bush, who looted whole passages from Blair’s speech for his own clumsy presentations, has skated freely through the tempest. Why?
Unlike Blair, the Bush team never wanted to present a legal case for war. They had no interest in making any of their allegations about Iraq hold up to a standard of proof. The real effort was aimed at amping up the mood for war by using the psychology of fear.

Facts were never important to the Bush team. They were disposable nuggets that could be discarded at will and replaced by whatever new rationale that played favorably with their polls and focus groups. The war was about weapons of mass destruction one week, al-Qaeda the next. When neither allegation could be substantiated on the ground, the fall back position became the mass graves (many from the Iran/Iraq war where the U.S.A. backed Iraq) proving that Saddam was an evil thug who deserved to be toppled. The motto of the Bush PR machine was: Move on. Don’t explain. Say anything to conceal the perfidy behind the real motives for war. Never look back. Accuse the questioners of harboring unpatriotic sensibilities. Eventually, even the cagey Wolfowitz admitted that the official case for war was made mainly to make the invasion palatable, not to justify it.

The Bush claque of neocon hawks viewed the Iraq war as a product and, just like a new pair of Nikes, it required a roll-out campaign to soften up the consumers. The same techniques (and often the same PR gurus) that have been used to hawk cigarettes, SUVs and nuclear waste dumps were deployed to retail the Iraq war. To peddle the invasion, Donald Rumsfeld and Colin Powell and company recruited public relations gurus into top-level jobs at the Pentagon and the State Department. These spinmeisters soon had more say over how the rationale for war on Iraq should be presented than intelligence agencies and career diplomats. If the intelligence didn’t fit the script, it was shaded, retooled or junked.

According to the trade publication PR Week, the Rumsfeld Group sent “messaging advice” to the Pentagon. The group told Clarke and Rumsfeld that in order to get the American public to buy into the war on terrorism, they needed to suggest a link to nation states, not just nebulous groups such as al-Qaeda. In other words, there needed to be a fixed target for the military campaigns, some distant place to drop cruise missiles and cluster bombs. They suggested the notion (already embedded in Rumsfeld’s mind) of playing up the notion of so-called rogue states as the real masters of terrorism. Thus was born the Axis of Evil, which, of course, wasn’t an “axis” at all, since two of the states, Iran and Iraq, hated each other, and neither had anything at all to do with the third, North Korea.

Tens of millions in federal money were poured into private public relations and media firms working to craft and broadcast the Bush dictat that Saddam had to be taken out before the Iraqi dictator blew up the world by dropping chemical and nuclear bombs from long-range drones. Many of these PR executives and image consultants were old friends of the high priests in the Bush inner sanctum. Indeed, they were veterans, like Cheney and Powell, of the previous war against Iraq, another engagement that was more spin than combat .

At a diplomatic level, despite the hired guns and the planted stories, this image war was lost. It failed to convince even America’s most fervent allies and dependent client states that Iraq posed much of a threat. It failed to win the blessing of the U.N. and even NATO, a wholly owned subsidiary of Washington. At the end of the day, the vaunted coalition of the willing consisted of Britain, Spain, Italy, Australia, and a cohort of former Soviet bloc nations. Even so, the citizens of the nations that cast their lot with the U.S.A. overwhelmingly opposed the war.

Domestically, it was a different story. A population traumatized by terror threats and shattered economy became easy prey for the saturation bombing of the Bush message that Iraq was a terrorist state linked to al-Qaeda that was only minutes away from launching attacks on America with weapons of mass destruction.
Americans were the victims of an elaborate con job, pelted with a daily barrage of threat inflation, distortions, deceptions and lies, not about tactics or strategy or war plans, but about justifications for war. The lies were aimed not at confusing Saddam’s regime, but the American people. By the start of the war, 66 per cent of Americans thought Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11 and 79 per cent thought he was close to having a nuclear weapon.

Of course, the closest Saddam came to possessing a nuke was a rusting gas centrifuge buried for 13 years in the garden of Mahdi Obeidi, a retired Iraqi scientist. Iraq didn’t have any functional chemical or biological weapons. In fact, it didn’t even possess any SCUD missiles, despite erroneous reports fed by Pentagon PR flacks alleging that it had fired SCUDs into Kuwait.

This charade wouldn’t have worked without a gullible or a complicit press corps. Victoria Clarke, who developed the Pentagon plan for embedded reports, put it succinctly a few weeks before the war began: “Media coverage of any future operation will to a large extent shape public perception.”

“A lot of our imagery will have a big impact on world opinion,” predicted Lt. Jane Larogue, director of Combat Camera in Iraq. She was right. But as the hot war turned into an even hotter occupation, the Pentagon, despite airy rhetoric from occupation supremo Paul Bremer about installing democratic institutions such as a free press, moved to tighten its monopoly on the flow images out of Iraq. First, it tried to shut down Al Jazeera, the Arab news channel. Then the Pentagon intimated that it would like to see all foreign TV news crews banished from Baghdad.

Few newspapers fanned the hysteria about the threat posed by Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction as sedulously as did the Washington Post. In the months leading up to the war, the Post’s pro-war op-eds outnumbered the anti-war columns by a 3-to-1 margin.

Back in 1988, the Post felt much differently about Saddam and his weapons of mass destruction. When reports trickled out about the gassing of Iranian troops, the Washington Post’s editorial page shrugged off the massacres, calling the mass poisonings “a quirk of war.”

The Bush team displayed a similar amnesia. When Iraq used chemical weapons in grisly attacks on Iran, the U.S. government not only didn’t object, it encouraged Saddam. Anything to punish Iran was the message coming from the White House. Donald Rumsfeld himself was sent as President Ronald Reagan’s personal envoy to Baghdad. Rumsfeld conveyed the bold message than an Iraq defeat would be viewed as a “strategic setback for the United States.” This sleazy alliance was sealed with a handshake caught on videotape. When CNN reporter Jamie McIntyre replayed the footage for Rumsfeld in the spring of 2003, the secretary of defense snapped, “Where’d you get that? Iraqi television?”

The current crop of Iraq hawks also saw Saddam much differently then. Take the writer Laura Mylroie, sometime colleague of the New York Times’ Judy Miller, who persists in peddling the ludicrous conspiracy that Iraq was behind the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.

How times have changed! In 1987, Mylroie felt downright cuddly toward Saddam. She wrote an article for the New Republic titled “Back Iraq: Time for a U.S. Tilt in the Mideast,” arguing that the U.S. should publicly embrace Saddam’s secular regime as a bulwark against the Islamic fundamentalists in Iran. The co-author of this mesmerizing weave of wonkery was none other than Daniel Pipes, perhaps the nation’s most bellicose Islamophobe. “The American weapons that Iraq could make good use of include remotely scatterable and anti-personnel mines and counterartillery radar,” wrote Mylroie and Pipes. “The United States might also consider upgrading intelligence it is supplying Baghdad.”

In the rollout for the war, Mylroie seemed to be everywhere hawking the invasion of Iraq. She would often appear on two or three different networks in the same day. How did the reporter manage this feat? She had help in the form of Eleana Benador, the media placement guru who runs Benador Associates. Born in Peru, Benador parlayed her skills as a linguist into a lucrative career as media relations whiz for the Washington foreign policy elite. She also oversees the Middle East Forum, a fanatically pro-Zionist white paper mill. Her clients include some of the nation’s most fervid hawks, including Michael Ledeen, Charles Krauthammer, Al Haig, Max Boot, Daniel Pipes, Richard Perle, and Judy Miller. During the Iraq war, Benador’s assignment was to embed this squadron of pro-war zealots into the national media, on talk shows, and op-ed pages.

Benador not only got them the gigs, she also crafted the theme and made sure they all stayed on message. “There are some things, you just have to state them in a different way, in a slightly different way,” said Benador. “If not, people get scared.” Scared of intentions of their own government.

It could have been different. All of the holes in the Bush administration’s gossamer case for war were right there for the mainstream press to expose. Instead, the U.S. press, just like the oil companies, sought to commercialize the Iraq war and profit from the invasions. They didn’t want to deal with uncomfortable facts or present voices of dissent.

Nothing sums up this unctuous approach more brazenly than MSNBC’s firing of liberal talk show host Phil Donahue on the eve of the war. The network replaced the Donahue Show with a running segment called Countdown: Iraq, featuring the usual nightly coterie of retired generals, security flacks, and other cheerleaders for invasion. The network’s executives blamed the cancellation on sagging ratings. In fact, during its run Donahue’s show attracted more viewers than any other program on the network. The real reason for the pre-emptive strike on Donahue was spelled out in an internal memo from anxious executives at NBC. Donahue, the memo said, offered “a difficult face for NBC in a time of war. He seems to delight in presenting guests who are anti-war, anti-Bush and skeptical of the administration’s motives.”

The memo warned that Donahue’s show risked tarring MSNBC as an unpatriotic network, “a home for liberal anti-war agenda at the same time that our competitors are waving the flag at every opportunity.” So, with scarcely a second thought, the honchos at MSNBC gave Donahue the boot and hoisted the battle flag.

It’s war that sells.

There’s a helluva caveat, of course. Once you buy it, the merchants of war accept no returns.

 

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His new book is Bernie and the Sandernistas: Field Notes From a Failed Revolution.

 

20.03.2018 Countercurrents

00:00:10 Seconds To Midnight

By Jim Miles

I have lived my whole life under the notifications of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and their Doomsday Clock. It is currently set a two minutes to midnight after many years of variance, some as far away as seventeen minutes. After reading Daniel Ellsberg’s The Doomsday Machine, it would probably be more appropriate to move it forward to ten seconds before midnight. A combination of two main factors – global climate change and nuclear weapons launch on warning risks – puts not only humanity but virtually all species under threat of extinction.

Admittedly it is just a metaphor. Obviously if you are reading this at least a several midnight’s worth of ten seconds has gone by without destruction. In consideration of global climate change however it is already past midnight for those killed by the various episodes of storms, droughts, floods, and food shortages accompanying this phenomenon. While global warming is assured by humanities output of carbon dioxide, the chance that some form of humanity will survive into another era does exist.

That chance drops to zero for nuclear war. Unlike global warming, nuclear war for most people, safely cocooned within their fuzzy entertainment distractions and/or the toil of daily life, has no daily impact or reminders. Arguably the vast majority of humanity does not truly understand the ultimate impact of a war anywhere going nuclear, a frame of mind the established powers in the west are quite content to see continue.

Turnabout, the same applies to global climate change. The more distraction and obfuscation and dissimulation (lying, concealing, ignoring) on climate change, the better it is for the corporate-military sector to continue on its wealth harvesting ways. These events will have smaller effects on my lifetime, with increasing problems for all successive generations, a slow turning up of the heat so that every new generation sees it as the new normal. That is, unless somewhere along the line, sooner or later, a tipping point is reached that flips what we now consider a rather benign climate into a threat to most of humanity.

The two are seriously linked together.

Climate change increases the chance of strife between different groups, of mass migrations, mass starvations, devastation of the resources that mankind needs to survive on. With the loss of oxygen producing capabilities and the toxic factor of too much carbon dioxide survival will be difficult. It could result in more wars, arguably already having an influence especially in the Middle East and the Sahel, more wars leading to the possibility of more aggressive wars pitting nuclear nations against other nations nuclear or not.

Nuclear war’s factors for the survival of humanity include the obvious initial destruction, the secondary and lingering radiation effects, and the predicted nuclear winter. This does not include the inevitable melt down of the four hundred plus nuclear plants scattered around the world, four hundred possible Chernobyls, Three Mile Islands and Fukishimas. War planning is such that the U.S. has first strike options ready ‘on the table’, at the same time that Russia has signalled that it has a new generation of both offensive and defensive weapons – created mostly after the U.S.’ abrogation of the 1972 Anti-ballistic missile treaty. China is calculated into U.S. plans, somewhat casually as China is unrealistically still considered to be much less advanced technologically. Initially U.S. war planners understood that hundreds of millions could die in a nuclear war without knowing about the consequences of nuclear winter. Once the latter idea was discussed and considered almost inevitable after such a war, that toll rises to include most of life on earth. Nuclear winter is global climate change writ large and sudden across the face of the earth.

Geopolitics dooms us….?

The dominant factor in all this is the U.S. geopolitical view of global domination – hegemony – under the guise of a neoliberal economic outlook and a neoconservative political perspective. It is a society based on consumer consumption promoted through a lifetime of advertising propaganda in the material sense, the pretentious and unrealistic “rugged individualism” of Reagan and Rand, and in the emotive ideas of being the world’s indispensable nation. To support the material side, the corporate world – ranging from the military industries, the financial corporations, through the large media outlets – supports the ongoing wars and subversions around the world in order to harvest the resources and use the cheap labour required to keep the domestic economy going.

This is aided and abetted by their many sycophantic allies. Europe has essentially been occupied and subordinated since WW II, for sure after NATO was created and even more so with its eastward expansion. Canada is essentially the 51st state of the union. Australia copies and parrots the U.S. line especially across south and east Asia. Japan and South Korea are similar to the European countries having been rebuilt through autocratic dictatorship or subordinate business class governments, along with large remaining contingents of U.S. military personnel. Other countries, many of them theocratic dictatorships (Saudi Arabia and the members of the Gulf Council), have worked out a plan of support with the U.S. in order not to be attacked as others who have rejected U.S. dominance have suffered subversion and direct attack (Iraq, Libya, and Syria as prime examples).

The U.S. is not immune to certain forms of blowback. Israel is the tail that frequently wags the U.S. dog and has a powerful lobbying position inside Congress. Similarly the Saudis have a large lobby, looking for means to ensure their security but foremost to ensure the circulation of the dollars they earn. If they needed to, both countries would ditch the dog in order to turn to another benefactor that suits their circumstances and desires.

The dollar dooms us….?

Without the power of the dollar, the U.S. would collapse geopolitically. It is not the fact of the dollar’s ubiquitous use, its power to bribe and coerce, but its use as the global reserve currency. In order to trade globally, the institutions of the Washington consensus (i.e. those institutions supposedly functioning independently around the world – the World Bank, the IMF, the WTO, SWIFT, BIS) have created a financial environment in which the US$ reigns supreme. Only the U.S. can ‘print’ its money, only the U.S. can carry a trade imbalance because of the dollar’s global necessity, and only the U.S. can carry such a whopping debt load without collapsing. Only the U.S. can run such a large military budget (trillions of dollars if all aspects such as the nuclear sites and security measures are added in). All this since the U.S. took itself off the gold standard and its limitations.

The real threat to the dollar would be its lack of use, something Russia has indicated it wishes, but even more strongly China has outright stated that the era of the US$ as the sole global fiat currency is drawing to a close. While China has been noted as a trade competitor/challenger, it is Russia that has become the neocon ‘other’, the country that is to be maligned and discredited regardless of evidence and truths. Russia has large resource wealth, a strong agricultural sector, a renewed manufacturing/technology sector, a relatively stable economy (in spite of sanctions and regardless of U.S. media reports otherwise), and a large nuclear arsenal – and now a tested and experienced military force used in an asymmetric war. Having overcome the depredations of the Yeltsin U.S. shock doctrine era, Russia has rebounded to become once again a major power on the geopolitical stage. Russia and China have been pushed together as a result of U.S. actions threatening both economically and militarily.

Moral and intellectual cretins doom us….?

The philosophical meanderings of geopolitics, its hubris, arrogance, wilful ignorance, combine with the power of the dollar and the power of the military to create our existence on the edge of midnight. What has saved us in the past has been the few individuals with enough intelligence and enough moral certitude while being in the right place at the right time that has prevented any nuclear catastrophe to date. Those kind of people are few and far between in the political military mindset of western leaders as it is almost incumbent upon them to at best be unable to think critically and morally. The vetting process through the western ‘democratic’ systems ensures that only the mentally damaged, the mentally unstable, those easy for the deep state to manipulate, ever get to be in leadership roles.

It does not matter a whole lot if a Canada’s blowhard government with its sycophantic support of U.S. foreign policy and its carefully crafted Russophobia rising from Chrystia Freeland’s warped mind calls for actions against Russia or China. However the current turnstile residents of Washington’s cuckoo nest – while simply continuing and aggravating all previous U.S. government’s war mongering – should chill anyone to the marrow. As of today, the military is well ensconced in the major positions of unelected power, while the likes of chicken-hawk neocon John Bolton circle around looking for carrion.

Trump himself is an arrogant, narcissistic, ignorant and readily manipulated leader. His unscripted speaking only demonstrates the inability to put coherent thoughts together in order to formulate a plan, at the same time highlighting his lack of any moral sensibilities. Given that, it is the people he has brought into the White House along with those already on the same trajectory as his “fire and fury” comments that are the big concern, the nuclear war concern. I am not sure how they do it, but somehow in their minds a first strike nuclear war is winnable, a small scale tactical nuclear strike is containable, and threats will not create a response.

Solutions and a pessimistic future

The solutions are easy: get rid of nuclear weapons and change our consumptive lifestyles and become highly innovative with energy technology. Simple. Except that the world that wants the simple solution has to deal with the cretins and morons that for whatever reason are able to convince the majority that they should remain in power. Part of that is achieved by providing the warm fuzzy comforts of life as cheaply as possible, blaming others when that cannot be achieved at the personal level, creating the myth of rugged individualism that it is the person’s own fault. and then, ultimately, finding and creating an enemy to redirect that anger and distract the populace from the domestic roots of the problem.

The ‘simple’ solution is blocked by a rather desultory education system, a corporate controlled media, and an ever increasing militarized police state. It is this latter that will prevent change as the current “one percenters” will not relinquish power and control without a fight, a fight that the domestic populations do not seem to have in them, nor is it latently visible. In other words, while the solutions are available to a rationale moral mind, the imperial structure is such that those minds will have little if any effect on outcomes.

The U.S. (thus the ‘western world’) will change only under two related circumstances. First would be the demise of the US$ as global fiat currency. The sudden rush of dollars returning ‘home’ and the unpayable trillions of debt would collapse the economy, and the economies of the rest of the world would suffer significantly – with a caveat that Russia and China already have in place a system of exchange separated from the previously mentioned Washington consensus. Whither then Israel and Saudi Arabia? Europe?

The next consideration then becomes whether the U.S. will go down without initiating a nuclear war and would bring the military home. China and Russia probably prefer this to be a ‘soft’ landing for the U.S. economy, without really disrupting too much of the wealth of the powers that be, allowing them to continue to reside in relative ease over an impoverished third world country and without support for a global military empire. A ‘hard’ landing, a sudden crash of the economy by either a foreseen event (e.g. the coming gold standard oil bourse in China) or some other unforeseen event might trigger a hard response as associated with all U.S. challenges as being wars (on drugs, on crime). The global set of military bases may then be put into action, into global disaster.

Approaching midnight

The world as such, the natural world, does not require that humans exist. That we do is sort of a miracle, developing from the probabilities of all the interactions that have gone before us. If we cease to exist, the planet will circle our star for billions of years without us. Yet somehow, we care. Call it whatever you want, but people strive for life, strive for fulfillment, strive for the most part to pass on a better world to our children and grandchildren. Humanity as a species is a temporary thing, but while we are here, should we not strive to get rid of that which could kill us, to move into that space that our supposedly well developed minds can create such that all of us can co-exist peacefully? It is a thin possibility, becoming thinner as the clock ticks towards midnight.


Jim Miles is a Canadian educator and a regular contributor/columnist of opinion pieces and book reviews for The Palestine Chronicle. Miles’ work is also presented globally through other alternative websites and news publications.

 

Blog Stats

  • 8,297 hits
April 2018
S M T W T F S
« Mar    
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
2930  

Support 2007, 2008 and 2009

More Light Presbyterians

Visite recenti

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

We must act and dare the appropiateness and not whatever comes to our mind not floating in the likelihood but grasp the reality as brave as we can be freedom lies in action not in the absence of mind obedience knows the essence of good and satisfies it, freedom dares to act and returns God the ultimate judgment of what is right and what is wrong, Obedience performs blindly but Freedom is wide awake Freedom wants to know why, Obedience has its hands tied, Freedom is inventive obedient man respects God’s commands and by virtu of his Freedom, he creats new commands. Both Obedience and Freedom come true in responsability (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

Blog Stats

  • 8,297 hits
Follow Ecumenics and Quakers on WordPress.com
Advertisements