Articles Fri, 15 Dec 2017 00:56:38 +0000 en-gb Role of Islamic Revolution in fostering Islamic Unity

The victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran on February 11, 1979 heralded the start of a new era in international developments. For the first time over the past few centuries a grassroots movement of a nation, without reliance on any outside power and with full trust in God Almighty had succeeded in overthrowing a repressive system and ushering in a dynamic system of government with wide-ranging international impacts.


The revolution in Iran with its policy of “Neither East nor West; Islam is the Best”, has made the Islamic Republic of Iran the promoter of Islamic unity much to the dismay of the enemies of Islam. O culmination of the Ten-Day-Dawn celebrations marking the 37th anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Revolution, we present you a feature titled “Role of Islamic Revolution in Fostering Islamic Unity”.

The Late French Muslim thinker, Roger Garaudy, in one of his articles described the victory of the Iranian people with the words: Truly the Islamic Revolution led by Imam Khomeini (God bless him) is not similar to any of the revolutions that have occurred in history for changing the society or the political systems. Social revolutions have also occurred in some countries because of the indignation of the poor against the rich.

This revolution, however, although possessing these trends, had new meanings which not only overthrew the political, social and colonialist system but also nailed the lie of the secular school of thought against religion and its role in ably administering the society and country. One of the impacts of the Islamic Revolution has been to strengthen Islamic brotherhood and foster unity among Muslims.

The Islamic Revolution in Iran, by drawing inspiration from the holy Qur’an and immaculate practice and behavior of Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny) established the pattern of unity and solidarity among Muslims.

The Father of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Khomeini, from the very outset invited world Muslims to unity and solidarity in the face of the hostility of the enemies of Islam. In one of his statements we read: O Muslims of the world who have faith in the truth of Islam! Rise and gather under the banner of monotheism and cut the hands of the treacherous superpowers from your countries in order to revive the dignity of Islam by overcoming differences, since you have everything.

The Late Imam was not a visionary, but he took practical steps in fostering Islamic unity. For instance, he immediately designated as Islamic Unity Week, the two dates of the month of Rabi al-Awwal believed to be the birth anniversary of the Prophet of Islam by the Sunni and Shi’a Muslims – 12th as per the Sunnis and 17th as per the Shi’as. He next declared the Last Friday of the blessed month of Ramadhan, “Qods International Day” for mobilizing world Muslims against the illegal Zionist entity called Israel.

Another dynamic step was setting up of the World Assembly for Proximity among Schools of Islamic Jurisprudence. Imam Khomeini always paid special attention to the annual Hajj pilgrimage and viewed it as the best opportunity to promote Islamic solidarity by taking advantage of the presence of Muslims of different ethnicities, languages, colours, cultures, dresses, and social classes. He remarked on American plots to sow disunity by saying: Now when Muslim have travelled to the Land of Revelation for the Hajj pilgrimage from all over the world, by faith in Almighty God and the determination to resist the superpowers through unity of word, the Great Satan and its agents are trying to sow discord among Muslims. The strategy for fostering unity among Muslims was an outstanding feature of the politico-religious thought of Imam Khomeini.

In one of his speeches, Imam Khomeini remarked: We are prepared for defending Islam and the Muslim states. Our emphasis is on unity and brotherhood among Muslim states and all schools of Islamic jurisprudence. In line with the views of Imam Khomeini, the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran stresses Islamic unity and defense of world Muslims.

The emphasis on Islamic unity has been continued by the Late Imam’s successor, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei. In a speech to the joint gathering of Shiite and Sunni Ulama in Kermanshah, he said: By unity we do not mean that the various schools of Islamic jurisprudence should give up their beliefs and join one particular school, for; this is impossible.

But by unity we mean that every Islamic school should adhere to its beliefs and have no prejudice toward the other schools. Ayatollah Khamenei considers the basic solution for removal of difference to be dialogue among world Muslims. While, we are marking the 37th anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Revolution while the enemies of Islam are pursuing the policy of discord in Muslim states by promoting the Takfiri and other terrorist groups which have tarnished the image of Islam. Saudi Arabia with its divisive policies and reliance on the US is the main promoter of Takfirism that is against the spirit of Islam and Islamic unity. There was no such thing during the lifetime of Prophet of Islam.

Islam not only does not encourage sectarian clashes and spread of Takfirism, but it invites Muslims to unite with each other. Followers of Islamic schools have the right to freely propagate the teachings of their schools, without any negative propagation against the other schools. We hope that inspired by the ideals of the Islamic Revolution and by holding to the Rope of Allah by following the conduct of the Prophet of Islam, all Muslim states and schools of jurisprudence, will join hands to promote Islamic unity.


Articles Thu, 11 Feb 2016 05:40:43 +0000
How to avert real change in election 2016

To judge by the early returns, the presidential race of 2016 is shaping up as the most disheartening in recent memory.

Other than as a form of low entertainment, the speeches, debates, campaign events, and slick TV ads already inundating the public sphere offer little of value. Rather than exhibiting the vitality of American democracy, they testify to its hollowness. Andrew J. Bacevich, a TomDispatch regular writer, and the author of America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History, has written an article on the developing story of the US elections and the hollow words of presidential candidates either hollow promises or being far from the ground realities.

The writers believe that present-day Iranian politics may actually possess considerably more substance than our own. There, the parties involved, whether favoring change or opposing it, understand that the issues at stake have momentous implications. Here, in the United States, what passes for national politics is a form of exhibitionism about as genuine as pro wrestling.

A presidential election campaign ought to involve more than competing coalitions of interest groups or bevies of investment banks and billionaires vying to install their preferred candidate in the White House. It should engage and educate citizens, illuminating issues and subjecting alternative solutions to careful scrutiny.
That this one won’t even come close we can ascribe as much to the media as to those running for office, something the recent set of “debates” and the accompanying commentary have made painfully clear. With certain honorable exceptions such as NBC’s estimable Lester Holt, representatives of the press are less interested in fulfilling their civic duty than promoting themselves as active participants in the spectacle. They bait, tease, and strut. Then they subject the candidates’ statements and misstatements to minute deconstruction. The effect is to inflate their own importance while trivializing the proceedings they are purportedly covering.

Above all in the realm of national security, election 2016 promises to be not just a missed opportunity but a complete bust. Recent efforts to exercise what people in Washington like to call “global leadership” have met with many more failures and disappointments than clear-cut successes. So you might imagine that reviewing the scorecard would give the current raft of candidates, Republican and Democratic alike, plenty to talk about.
But if you thought that, you’d be mistaken. Instead of considered discussion of first-order security concerns, the US presidential candidates have regularly opted for bluff and bluster, their chief aim being to remove all doubts regarding their hawkish bona fides.
In that regard, nothing tops rhetorically beating up on the terrorist group of ISIS. So, for example, Hillary Clinton promises to “smash the would-be caliphate,” Jeb Bush to “defeat ISIS for good,” Ted Cruz to “carpet bomb them into oblivion,” and Donald Trump to “bomb the shit out of them.” For his part, having recently acquired a gun as the “last line of defense between ISIS and my family,” Marco Rubio insists that when he becomes president, “The most powerful intelligence agency in the world is going to tell us where ISIS terrorists are; the most powerful military in the world is going to destroy them; and if we capture any of them alive, they are getting a one-way ticket to Guantanamo Bay.”
These carefully scripted lines perform their intended twofold function. First, they elicit applause and certify the candidate as plenty tough. Second, they spare the candidate from having to address matters far more deserving of presidential attention than managing the fight against the ISIS.

In the hierarchy of challenges facing the United States today, ISIS ranks about on a par with Sicily back in 1943. While liberating that island was a necessary prelude to liberating Europe more generally, the German occupation of Sicily did not pose a direct threat to the Allied cause. So with far weightier matters to attend to – handling the Soviet’s Joseph Stalin and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, for example – President Franklin Roosevelt wisely left the problem of Sicily to subordinates. Yes, thereby demonstrating an aptitude for distinguishing between the genuinely essential and the merely important.

By comparison, today’s crop of presidential candidates either are unable to grasp, cannot articulate, or choose to ignore those matters that shouldrightfully fall under a commander-in-chief’s purview. Instead, they compete with one another in vowing to liberate the twenty-first-century equivalent of Sicily, as if doing so demonstrates their qualifications for the office. What sort of national security concerns shouldbe front and center in the current election cycle?
While conceding that a reasoned discussion of heavily politicized matters like climate change, immigration, or anything to do with the usurper regime of Israel is probably impossible, other issues of demonstrable significance deserve attention. What follows are some of them – by no means an exhaustive list – that are framed as questions a debate moderator might ask of anyone seeking the presidency, along with brief commentaries explaining why neither the posing nor the answering of such questions is likely to happen anytime soon.

Nearly 15 years after this the so-called “war on terror” was launched by George W. Bush, why hasn’t “the most powerful military in the world,” won it? Why isn’t victory anywhere in sight?
As if by informal agreement, the candidates and the journalists covering the race have chosen to ignore the military enterprise inaugurated in 2001, initially called the Global War on Terrorism and continuing today without an agreed-upon name. Since 9/11, the United States has invaded, occupied, bombed, raided, or otherwise established a military presence in numerous countries across much of the Islamic world. How are we, the Americans doing? Intending to promote stability, reduce the incidence of terrorism, and reverse the tide of anti-Americanism among many Muslims, that “war” has done just the opposite.

Amazingly, this disappointing record has been almost entirely overlooked in the campaign. The reasons why are not difficult to discern. First and foremost, both parties share in the serial failures of U.S. policy in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and elsewhere in the region. Pinning the entire mess on George W. Bush is no more persuasive than pinning it all on Barack Obama. An intellectually honest accounting would require explanations that look beyond reflexive partisanship. Among the matters deserving critical scrutiny is Washington’s persistent bipartisan belief in military might as an all-purpose problem solver.

Given the availability of abundant oil and natural gas reserves in the Western Hemisphere and the potential future abundance of alternative energy systems, why should the Persian Gulf continue to qualify as a vital U.S. national security interest?
Back in 1980, two factors prompted President Jimmy Carter to announce that the United States viewed the Persian Gulf as worth fighting for. The first was a growing U.S. dependence on foreign oil and a belief that American consumers were guzzling gas at a rate that would rapidly deplete domestic reserves. The second was a concern that, having just invaded Afghanistan, the Soviet Union might next have an appetite for going after those giant gas stations in the Persian Gulf, Iran, or even Saudi Arabia.
Today we know that the Western Hemisphere contains more than ample supplies of oil and natural gas to sustain the American way of life while also heating up the planet. As for the Soviet Union, it no longer exists – a decade spent chewing on Afghanistan having produced a fatal case of indigestion.
No doubt ensuring U.S. energy security should remain a major priority.

Does the national debt constitute a threat to national security? If so, what are some politically plausible ways of reining it in?
Together, the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama can take credit for tripling the national debt since 2000. Well before Election Day this coming November, the total debt, now exceeding the entire gross domestic product, will breach the $19 trillion mark.
In 2010, Admiral Mike Mullen, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, described that debt as “the most significant threat to our national security.” Although in doing so he wandered a bit out of his lane, he performed a rare and useful service by drawing a link between long-term security and fiscal responsibility. Ever so briefly, a senior military officer allowed consideration of the national interest to take precedence over the care and feeding of the military-industrial complex. It didn’t last long.
Admiral Mullen’s comment garnered a bit of attention, but failed to spur any serious congressional action. Again, we can see why, since Congress functions as an unindicted co-conspirator in the workings of that lucrative collaboration. This much is certain: regardless of who takes the prize in November, the United States will continue to accumulate debt at a non-trivial rate.

If a Democrat occupies the White House, Republicans will pretend to care these things, among other important developments and realities. If the US next president is a Republican, they will keep mum and vice versa. In either case, the approach to national security that does so much to keep the books out of balance will remain intact.

Come to think of it, averting real change might just be the one point on which the candidates generally agree.

Articles Fri, 29 Jan 2016 10:43:18 +0000
US abets Saudi war crimes in Yemen

U.S. officials are quick to decry “human rights violations” in so-called “enemy” states, but different rules apply to “allies” such as Saudi Arabia, which is committing war crimes in Yemen and executing dissidents at home while the Obama administration aids and abets the atrocities.

Marjorie Cohn, a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, former president of the National Lawyers Guild, and deputy secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, has written more revelations on the story for TeleSUR.

Saudi Arabia has engaged in war crimes, and the United States is aiding and abetting them by providing the Saudis with military assistance. In September 2015, Saudi aircraft martyred 135 wedding celebrants in Yemen. The air strikes have claimed the lives of 2,800 civilians, including 500 children. Human Rights Watch charges that these bombings “have indiscriminately killed and injured civilians.”

This conflict is part of a regional power struggle of Saudi Arabia. The Saudis are bombing Yemen in order to defeat the revolutionaries, who have been resisting government repression for a long time. Yemen is strategically located on a narrow waterway that links the Gulf of Aden with the Red Sea. Much of the world’s oil passes through this waterway.
A United Nations panel of experts concluded in October 2015 that the Saudi-led coalition had committed “grave violations” of civilians’ human rights. They include indiscriminate attacks; targeting markets, a camp for displaced Yemenis, and humanitarian aid warehouses; and intentionally preventing the delivery of humanitarian assistance. The panel was also concerned that the Saudi-led forces considered civilian neighborhoods, including Marra and Sadah, as legitimate strike zones. The International Committee of the Red Cross documented 100 attacks on hospitals.

Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions prohibits the targeting of civilians. It provides that parties to a conflict “shall at all times distinguish between the civilian population and combatants and between civilian objects and military objectives and accordingly shall direct their operations only against military objectives.”

Saudi Arabia is also engaging in serious individual human rights violations. In January 2016, the Saudi government executed 47 people, including a prominent pacifist Shia cleric, Sheikh Nemr Bagher al-Nemr. Many of those executed were tortured during their detention and denied due process. Most were beheaded.

This horrifies us when the Takfiri terrorist group of ISIS does it. Yet US State Department spokesman John Kirby protested weakly, “We believe that diplomatic engagement and direct conversations remain essential in working through differences.”
Also in January 2016, Palestinian artist and poet Ashraf Fayadh, a Saudi citizen whose family is from Gaza, was sentenced to death by beheading. His alleged crimes: “apostasy,” or renouncing Islam just for photographing women. Amnesty International UK found that “Throughout this whole process, “Ashraf was denied access to a lawyer – a clear violation of international human rights law.”

Both Saudi Arabia and the United States are parties to the Geneva Conventions, which define as grave breaches willful killing, willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, and torture or inhuman treatment. Grave breaches are considered war crimes.

Also prohibited are “the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.”

Although neither the United States nor Saudi Arabia is party to the Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court, that statute sets forth standard aider and abettor liability provisions. It says that an individual can be convicted of war crimes if he or she “aids, abets or otherwise assists” in the commission or attempted commission of the crime, “including providing the means for its commission.”

The U.S. government is the primary supplier of Saudi weapons. In November 2015, the U.S. sold $1.29 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia. It included more than 10,000 bombs, munitions, and weapons parts manufactured by Raytheon and Boeing, as well as bunker busters, and laser-guided and “general purpose” bombs.
A month earlier, the United States had approved a $11.25 billion sale of combat ships to Saudi Arabia. The U.S. also provides intelligence and logistical support to the Saudi-led coalition. During the past five years, the U.S. government has sold the Saudis $100 billion worth of arms. These sales have greatly enriched U.S. defense contractors.

Why has the United States “usually looked the other way or issued carefully calibrated warnings in human rights reports as the Saudi royal family cracked down on dissent and free speech and allowed its elite to fund extremists,” in the words of New York Times’ David Sanger? “In return,” Sanger writes, “Saudi Arabia became America’s most dependable filling station, a regular supplier of intelligence, and a valuable counterweight to Iran.” Saudi Arabia, and close U.S. ally, the Zionist usurper regime of Israel, opposed the Iran nuclear deal.

In April 2015, the U.S. government prevented nine Iranian ships loaded with relief supplies from reaching Yemen. President Barack Obama also sent an aircraft carrier to the area to enforce the Saudi embargo on outside supplies. According to UN estimates, 21 million people lack basic services, and over 1.5 million have been displaced. United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund, now United Nations Children's Fund, better known as UNICEF notes that six million people don’t have enough food.

Moreover, the U.S. government seeks to prevent scrutiny of Saudi human rights abuses in Yemen. In October 2015, the United States blocked a UN Security Council sanctions committee proposal that would have required the committee’s chair to contact “all relevant parties to the conflict and stress their responsibility to respect and uphold international humanitarian law and human rights law.”

The U.S. government is also violating domestic law by providing the Saudis with military aid. The Leahy Law prohibits U.S. assistance to foreign security forces or military officers “if the Secretary of State has credible information that such unit has committed a gross violation of human rights.”

The Democrat Senator Patrick Leahy, for whom the law was named, told Foreign Policy: “The reports of civilian casualties from Saudi air attacks in densely populated areas in Yemen compel us to ask if these operations, supported by the United States, violate” the Leahy Law.

Furthermore, 22 U.S.C. section 2304 provides that “no security assistance may be provided to any government which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.”

The Arms Trade Treaty obligates member states to monitor exports of weapons and make sure they do not end up being used to commit human rights abuses. Under the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, a signatory is prohibited from taking action inconsistent with the object and purpose of the treaty.

The U.S. government should immediately halt arms transfers and military support to Saudi Arabia and support an independent investigation into U.S. arms transfers and war crimes in Yemen. The United States must stop participating in and call for an end to the de facto blockade so that humanitarian assistance can reach those in need, engage in diplomatic efforts to end the conflict, and ratify the Arms Trade Treaty.

In an interesting twist, the Saudis contributed $10 million to the Clinton Foundation before Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State. In 2011, the year after the State Department had documented myriad serious human rights violations by Saudi Arabia, Hillary Clinton oversaw a $29 billion sale of advanced fighter jets to the Saudis, declaring it was in our ‘national interest’.

According to Andrew Shapiro, an assistant secretary of state, the deal was “a top priority” for Secretary Clinton. Two months before the deal was clinched, Boeing, manufacturer of one of the fighter jets the Saudis sought to acquire, contributed $900,000 to the Clinton Foundation. Hillary Clinton now says the U.S should pursue “closer strategic cooperation” with Saudi Arabia.
Hillary is now running for the president in the White House. No need to say, Saudis would be given a free hand to continue their reign of terror in the case.


Articles Tue, 26 Jan 2016 10:54:55 +0000
UK parliament debates banning Donald Trump

Speaking at the end of a three-hour debate on whether to ban Republican US Presidential candidate Donald Trump from entering the United Kingdom, Labour’s Paul Flynn boasted, “The triumph of today is that we have had a debate that has been seen by many people outside, including in the United States, and they have seen Parliament at its very best.”

He added that it would “enhance the standing of this Parliament and reinforce our relationship with our great ally, the United States.”
It is difficult to know whether this was monumental self-delusion or low-order sarcasm. Here’s more on the issue by Chris Marsden’s article published by the Information Clearing House.

The debate was triggered by a public petition, launched in response to Trump's call to ban Muslims from the US, which received more than 576,000 signatures. This is more than five times the number required for British MPs to consider sending the matter for debate in parliament under legislation intended to portray the institution as responsive to the concerns and wishes of the electorate. It is the most signatures ever received since the launch of this futile charade by the Conservatives two years ago. As always, the debate was non-binding and no vote was taken.

The anti-Trump petition noted that “The UK has banned entry to many individuals for hate speech. The same principles should apply to everyone who wishes to enter the UK. If the United Kingdom is to continue applying the ‘unacceptable behaviour’ criteria to those who wish to enter its borders, it must be fairly applied to the rich as well as poor, and the weak as well as powerful.”

Labour’s Paul Flynn was addressing only around 50 MPs out of 650. Most, including the Conservatives, had a few scathing remarks on Trump. If there was anything to choose between them, it was that the Tories made more of opposing Trump being banned by proclaiming a burning commitment to upholding the democratic right to free speech, while Labour speakers generally stressed a desire not to make him a martyr.

Tom Tugendhat was the most unrestrained hypocrite on the Tory side, citing Thomas More’s belief in “the liberties of thought and faith” before stating that “liberty is not something that we can take in portion or in part. It comes as one and as a whole.”

On the other side of the rhetorical divide, the crown must go to Jack Dromey, Labour’s shadow home affairs minister, who supported a ban. The former chairman of the National Council for Civil Liberties saw nothing wrong in baldly declaring that “freedom of speech is not an absolute” and nor is the right “to come to our shores.”

Perhaps the most cringe-inducing contribution came from Corri Wilson of the SNP. Speaking for her Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock constituency, she stressed that the most important consideration was that Trump had bought the Turnberry golf course in 2014 and was “investing £200 million in it.”
Turnberry staff, contractors and members… do not talk about Trump the politician, or Trump the showman. They talk about a man with a passion for golf and a commitment and a clear vision of the future for that resort.

Truly this was indeed parliament at its very best. All of this is nonsense, mixed with rank hypocrisy. The UK is not about to ban a US Republican presidential candidate, even if he wore a swastika on his arm. But perhaps more importantly, it was a means whereby MPs could pat each other on the back and proclaim how much more reasonable the assembled “honourable members” were than the idiotic Trump and, by extension, how much more “civilised” Britain is in its dealings with its Muslim minority.

Except that the very day that the 50 MPs gathered in parliament’s Westminster Hall, Prime Minister David Cameron was announcing to the world his intention to step up his campaign to stir up anti-Muslim sentiment. In a column for Rupert Murdoch’s Times, Cameron declared that, supposedly to ensure that women will not be “second-class citizens”, he would force “all migrants to learn English.”

He claimed that “There is also an important connection to extremism”, adding: “I am not saying separate development or conservative religious practices directly cause extremism. That would be insulting to many who are devout and peace-loving. But they can help a young person’s slide towards radicalisation.”

Cameron claimed that “some 190,000 British Muslim women—or 22 per cent—speak little or no English despite many having lived here for decades. 40,000 of these women speak no English at all.”

The Runnymede Trust puts the figure at six percent.

His liberal pose of concern for women did not survive another paragraph, with Cameron threatening, “We’ve already introduced a language test for new migrants, but I believe it’s time to be much more demanding… At the moment, someone can move here with very basic English and there’s no requirement to improve it over time.” Cameron said: “We will change that. We will now say: if you don’t improve your fluency that could affect your ability to stay in the UK.”

From October, people coming to the UK on a five-year spousal visa will have to take a test after two and a half years to show they are making efforts to improve their English. Asked on BBC Radio Four what would happen to those who failed, Cameron replied, “They can't guarantee that they’ll be able to stay.”

That same day, Cameron declared that ending “gender segregation” also meant that it was now considered “proper and sensible” that Muslim women should be forced to remove face veils, like hijabs and niqabs, when asked by public officials.

He said “It should apply to any public official including schools, hospitals, councils, the police”, which he claimed was somehow more enlightened than the type of blanket ban introduced in France.

The British ruling elite can make no pretence of being more liberal than Trump because the stirring up of anti-Muslim sentiment is as much a part of political life in the UK as it is in America and Europe. It is rooted not in the stupidity and ignorance of individuals such as Trump, or Cameron for that matter, but the requirement of the ruling system to poison the political atmosphere with nationalism and xenophobia—in order to create scapegoats for the social problems produced by capitalism. And, above all, to legitimise the turn to imperialist wars of conquest and the repressive measures and curtailing of fundamental democratic rights associated with the so-called “war on terror.”

Parliament and the pro-business parties that occupy it are not an avenue through which redress can be sought against anti-Muslim discrimination, but rather its source. In this regard the role played by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn needs attention. He made the claim that everything can be resolved by a little education and goodwill.
Corbyn told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show the day before the debate that he had invited Trump “on his visit to Britain to come with me to my constituency…. what I was going to do was go down to the mosque with him and let him talk to people there.”
Addressing the US presidential nominee, Donald Trump, Cobrbyn pointedly added: “Take a walk round central Manchester, take a walk round any of our cities, and understand that, yes, we’ve got problems but we’ve also got a great community, a great society and cohesion. He might learn something, you never know.”
Here a question comes to the mind: Will be Trump understood about the reality of Muslims? Will he get the differentiation between the ISIS terrorist group and those peace-seeking Muslims? After all, as a US presidential nominee, is Trump expected to be more realistic than tame toeing the Zionist lobby towards the Muslim world? What about real interest of the Americans?
By the way, ban petition is still underway across the UK.

Articles Mon, 25 Jan 2016 16:49:44 +0000
EU in stress: the German-Polish clash

The strains on Europe from neocon-devised policies of “regime change” in Syria and Ukraine are resurfacing historical divisions and reviving old animosities among European states, including a war of words between Angela Merkel’s Germany and Poland’s new right-wing government, as Gilbert Doctorow explains.

Gilbert Doctorow is the European Coordinator of American Committee for East West Accord, Ltd. His latest book is Does Russia Have a Future?

It may have been a foregone conclusion that Poland under the control of Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s Law and Justice Party – because of its Euroskeptic and nationalist positions – would quickly join Viktor Orban’s Hungary as a “bad boy” of the European Union.

In recent months, especially since the Law and Justice Party’s electoral victory last October, Poland has stood out as a leading naysayer to the E.U.’s calls for sharing the burden of receiving the wave of refugees arriving from Syria and the Middle East. Polish criticism of the open borders policy championed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been stinging.

For instance, before the election, Kaczynski raised alarms about the possibility that the Mideast refugees might carry diseases. He said “There are already signs of emergence of diseases that are highly dangerous and have not been seen in Europe for a long time: cholera on the Greek islands, dysentery in Vienna. There is also talk about other, even more severe diseases”, though European health authorities have not reported any widespread outbreak of infectious diseases connected to the migrants.

Poland also has been quick to take a “we told you so” stand on the New Year’s Eve mass violence and sexual assaults allegedly perpetrated by youths from North Africa and the Middle East, including asylum seekers, outside the Cologne main train station in Germany. Polish media cited the five-day blackout in Germany on news about the New Year’s Eve violence to question the autonomy and social responsibility of German journalism.

There are other reasons behind Polish vehemence on the refugees. First, from the standpoint of its population, Poland is already overrun by refugees and economic immigrants from Ukraine, which has suffered from civil war and economic collapse since February 2014 when a violent coup toppled the government of President Viktor Yanukovych and created a crisis with Russia.

Official statistics put the number of Ukrainian refugees in Poland at about 400,000, as of May 2015, but unofficial estimates are much higher, more than a million today. The Ukrainians are putting pressure on the local job market at a time when there is still a net outflow of ethnic Poles going abroad in search of work. Secondly, admitting Muslims runs directly against the new government’s stress on protecting and nurturing traditional Catholic religious values.
But Merkel’s allies are hitting back against Poland’s new leadership for its apparently anti-democratic actions to tighten government control over the public news media. A controversial new law allows the Polish government to appoint the directors of the public TV and radio services, as well as civil service directors.

This control of public media will be the subject of a European Commission examination into Poland’s possibly violating the E.U.’s Rule of Law provisions, scheduled for Jan. 13 in Brussels. The charges are being pressed by a German commissioner-designate, Guenther Oetttinger, who is taking charge of European Digital Economy and Society.

If a determination is made that Poland’s law violates Europe’s rules, the penalty could be to suspend Warsaw’s voting rights in the European Council. That would be particularly awkward because Poland’s own former premier, Donald Tusk, from what’s now the opposition party, happens to be the Council’s president. To be sure, such an outcome would come only after a period of “supervision” during which Poland’s conduct of affairs would be subject to ongoing review by the Commission. But the notion of such European supervision raises hackles in Warsaw, as reported by the country’s leading daily newspaper, Gazeta Wyborcza.

It also should be noted that suspension of Poland’s voting rights is unlikely given the vocal support for Poland now coming from Hungarian President Viktor Orban.  Resolutions in the E.U. institutions must pass unanimously, which Orban’s veto threatens.

The more likely penalty that Poland could face is a cutback in E.U. financial assistance to the great variety of Polish infrastructure projects now benefiting from the largesse of Brussels. Poland is, in fact, the single largest beneficiary. Any cutbacks could be made simply as an administrative matter.

Poland also was scolded by President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz, a German Social Democrat and thus representative of Merkel’s ruling coalition. He decried the new Polish government in Russophobic terms, meant to insult Poland’s leaders by ‘pointedly’ comparing them to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In statements about Poland’s new press laws, quoted by the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper on Jan. 9, Schulz hurled the following grenade, saying: “The Polish government treats its electoral victory as a mandate to subordinate the wellbeing of the state to the interests of the victorious party, including personnel. This is controlled democracy à la Putin, a dangerous Putinization (Putinisierung) of European politics.”

The underlying resentments and condescension – expressed by Schulz’s remarks – come from historically tense relations between Germany and Poland, even if those conflicts now play out not on battlefields but in the non-violent universe of European institutions in Brussels, a system that many Member States view as German-controlled.  Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission from Luxembourg and Donald Tusk, the ex-Polish premier at the Council, both owe their positions to the strong backing of Angela Merkel. And Schulz at the European Parliament comes from her coalition.

But the image of German hegemony in Europe is something that Berlin strongly rejects. Just recently, Merkel’s spokesman explained to journalists that the Chancellor hopes for continued good working relations with Poland and looks forward to the forthcoming visit to Berlin of Poland’s new prime minister. He said that any differences over policy are with the European Institutions, where Germany is just one of 28 Member States.

Both founders of the 14-year-old Law and Justice Party, Jaroslaw Kaczyński and his brother Lech, the Polish president who died in a plane crash outside Smolensk in 2010, often vented publicly their bitter feelings towards Germany going back to World War II atrocities. Relations with Berlin were fraught under their administration last decade, and their party’s return to power in 2015 was based on campaign promises to free the Polish economy from foreign, meaning German, domination.

The net result of the growing public row may be to unravel one of the key foreign policy achievements of Merkel’s 10 years in power – consolidating her country’s hold over Central Europe. It also has implications for the E.U.’s current anti-Russian stance and sanctions, all of which have depended on Germany’s explicit support for adventurous Polish-written policies to woo Ukraine at the expense of Russian interests.

The passions of the Old World also have spilled over to the United States, where Polish-Americans have taken a close interest in the contest of wills between Warsaw and Berlin and Brussels. One political association in New York, the Polish Patriotic Discussion Club, issued Open Letters to the presidents of the European Institutions, and to Dr. Oettinger, sounding the alarm over what they see as “interference in the matters of the Republic of Poland as a sovereign country.”
As it seems, the EU seems to be in stress, in contrary to what its founders perceived to be as a united Europe.


Articles Sat, 23 Jan 2016 10:32:57 +0000
Failed US sanctions on Russia

The U.S. mainstream media excludes almost all reporting and analysis that challenges the neocon/liberal-interventionist “group think” about the supposed Russian threat, but once in a while a backhand acknowledgement of reality slips through, as Gilbert Doctorow was surprised to find.

Gilbert Doctorow is the European Coordinator, American Committee for East West Accord, Ltd. His latest book is Does Russia Have a Future? Here is more by Doctorow on the failed US sanctions on Russia.

The newest issue of Foreign Affairs continues to show a significant drop-off of professionalism in the mostly Russia-phobic essays at the flagship American magazine on international relations. Yet as low-grade as these essays may be, one of them is highly damaging to the dominant Washington narrative against Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Emma Ashford, a visiting research fellow at the neoliberal/libertarian Cato Institute, produced an essay that is a jumble of statistics and arguments, many of them contradictory, and all of them set out without prioritization. The author may lack experience and judgment. But what makes this essay newsworthy is that hit or miss the author is going up against the U.S. establishment and directly calling for an end to U.S. sanctions against Russia.
If we may sequence her arguments properly, the sanctions have been totally useless in changing Russian foreign and military policy in the directions desired by the U.S.; they have caused very little damage to the Russian economy but much harm to immediate European and American economic interests. The sanctions they have caused the Russians to join with other BRICS members in creating institutions and pursuing financial practices that ultimately will undermine U.S. global hegemony, thereby compromising America’s future.

Along the way, Ashford agrees with the International Monetary Fund, IMF predictions that “even with continued low oil prices … growth will return to the Russian economy in 2016.” This means the sectorial prohibitions have not impaired the economy in the ways intended.

The author notes that Moscow circumvented the sanctions partly by turning to China, where it concluded a $400 billion gas deal, a 150 billion Yuan currency swap and other major agreements. Moreover, the sanctions on individual targeted companies have been compensated by largess from the Kremlin so as to lessen any losses.

And the travel bans and property arrests on targeted members of the elite have only been a minor nuisance, which never provoked them as expected by Washington. Looking to the future, Ashford does not expect the sanctions to eventually work, calling that “wishful thinking.”

The essay goes off the rails when Ashford tries to explain the “costs of containment” to the U.S. and its allies in Europe, which she characterizes as “major.” Next we read that in Europe the European Commission estimates that sanctions cut growth by 0.3 per cent of GDP in 2015. Perhaps even she understands that is not much, so Ashford tries again by citing predictions from the Austrian Institute of Economic Research that continuing the sanctions on Russia may cost Europe “over 90 billion euros in export revenue and more than two million jobs over the next few years.”  Predictions about the “next few years” are not the kind of hard data that normally moves politicians.

And Emma Ashford, a visiting research fellow at the neoliberal/libertarian Cato Institute, trots out the widely cited figure of 400,000 German jobs that are at risk over sanctions. Still more vaguely, she speaks of how major European banks like Société Générale in France and Raiffeisen in Austria may be destabilized and require state bailouts if their large loans to Russian concerns become uncollectible due to borrowers’ insolvency. 

Turning to the U.S., Ashford directs attention to the administrative and legal costs that American banks have to bear as they enforce regulations calling for freezing and managing the assets of sanctioned individuals. They have had to hire additional legal and technical staff to ensure they are in conformity with the myriad of sanctions and thus avoid rippling penalties from the federal authorities for the least error of execution. At what cost? Not a word, although that is obviously a difficult measure to quantify.

Meanwhile U.S. energy companies are suffering inevitable, not specified, profits by being unable to pursue the large exploration and production contracts they had concluded with Russian counterparts. And they may possibly lose the multi-billion-dollar investments they made in such projects before the sanctions came into effect. Still, there is no reason to see any of this as crippling punishment for U.S. energy companies.

It is fairly obvious that all of the foregoing “costs” for the U.S. and its allies are not much more than mosquito bites. By presenting them as she does, Emma Ashford, a visiting research fellow at the neoliberal/libertarian Cato Institute, shows lack of discernment in what constitutes proof to justify a dramatic change in direction of a fundamental foreign policy stand by the U.S.

But her lapse of professionalism does not end there: Ashford moves on, falling into glaring logical inconsistencies. We are told that the sanctions “may harm European energy security.” Specifically, Ashford cites a prediction from Cambridge Energy Research Associates that as a result of sanctions Russian oil production may drop from 10.5 million barrels a day today to 7.6 million barrels in 2025.

This does not jibe with her remarks earlier in the essay on how the Russians were circumventing sanctions. Russia has been able to find loopholes and in order to obtain access to Arctic drilling equipment and expertise, Rosneft acquired 30 percent of the North Atlantic drilling projects belonging to the Norwegian company Statoil.

Nor does this jibe with her assertion at the end of her essay when setting out her recommendations on what punitive measures should replace sanctions if we accept that they have been a failure. There she urges the U.S. to export oil and liquefied natural gas to Europe so as “to provide Europe with an alternative source of energy” and “to starve the Russian state of revenue.” This would, she says “allow European states to wean themselves off Russian oil and gas.”

One of these positions may be correct, but they cannot all be correct, and it should not be up to the reader to choose from this Chinese restaurant menu.

Given the unimpressive nature of Ashford’s arguments against sanctions coming from their past and present economic consequences, her real knock-out blow against sanctions comes in the completely different and unquantifiable area of argumentation that is political and geopolitical. She faults the sanctions for prompting a “rally round the flag” phenomenon in Russia that has, perversely, raised President Putin’s approval rating from 63 percent in March 2014 when Russia took possession of Crimea to 88 percent in October 2015. His power, which theoretically should have been shaken by the U.S. and E.U. sanctions, has instead consolidated.

The sanctions also encouraged Russia to take actions to protect its financial institutions that ultimately will threaten the global economic influence of the United States. These measures include the creation of an alternative international payment system to SWIFT, the creation of a domestic credit-card clearing house that challenges Visa and MasterCard, and the creation of a BRICS development bank that duplicates the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

The net effect of these actions, once implemented, will be to cause the United States “to have a harder time employing economic statecraft,” by which she means imposing crippling financial sanctions on other states as they allegedly succeeded in doing to Iran. In the same vein, Ashford sees a threat in Russia’s shift away from trading in dollars.

A visiting research fellow at the neoliberal/libertarian Cato Institute, Emma Ashford’s recommendation, the true punch-line of the article, is that “the United States should cut its losses and unilaterally lift the majority of the sanctions on Russia.” This advice surely will set off alarms within the Beltway. Let’s keep in mind that Iran has passed successfully through the hurdles of US-led or provoked sanctions, experiencing independence-oriented economy. As it seems, Washington should come to her mind and look for a better role-play at the international arena, rather than bullying or hegemonic attitude.  


Articles Tue, 19 Jan 2016 11:24:53 +0000
The misinformation mess

As Americans approach Election Year 2016, the crisis of misinformation is growing more and more dangerous. On issues from foreign policy to the economy, almost none of the candidates in the race appears to be addressing the real world.

Investigative reporter and writer of the book “America’s Stolen Narrative”, Robert Parry, has more on this.  

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman marvels at the right-wing extremism prevalent in the Republican presidential race not just from the “outsider” candidates but from the “establishment” favorites as well, doubling down on President George W. Bush’s economic prescriptions and foreign policies despite their record of disaster.

From escalating U.S. military involvement in the Middle East to slashing taxes – again – for the rich, the supposedly “mainstream” Republicans, such as Florida Senator Marco Rubio and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, are acting as if the catastrophes under Bush-43 never happened.

It would be fair to say that the Democrats are suffering from a similar disconnect from the lessons of the last quarter century, with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton bristling with hawkish rhetoric toward Syria and Russia while sending fawning salutations to the Zionist regime of Israel despite its crimes against the Palestinian people.
In a rational world, Saudi Arabia would be viewed as a major part of the problem, not part of any solution across the Middle East. But is it really possible to expect that the American people -as propagandized and misinformed as they are - could affect significant change through the electoral process, which is itself deeply compromised by vast sums of dark money from American oligarchs, while other super-rich Americans own the major media companies.

So, while there may be some logical responses to combination of crises, the US media/political system prevents them from being considered in any coherent way.

For instance, a rational approach to the Middle East would shift American alliances away from the reactionary Persian Gulf monarchies and Turkey and toward a balanced approach that would invite greater involvement of Iran. By shedding its current pro-Saudi bias, the United States could finally get serious about resolving the Syrian crisis by shutting down the money and weapons going from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey to the terrorists not just the ISIS but also in Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and its various terrorist allies.

Since summer 2014, US President Barack Obama and his so-called “coalition” have been fighting a half-hearted war that has failed to face down the U.S. “allies” aiding the terrorists in Syria. As for Syria’s political future, a reasonable approach would be to leave the selection of national leaders up to the Syrian people through internationally organized democratic elections. The voters would be the ones to decide Assad’s fate, not outsiders.

Yet, Official Washington finds itself in the crazy position of extending the bloody Syrian war – and the resulting chaos across the region and into Europe – because Obama and other so-called ‘important people’ said “Assad must go!” and don’t want to lose face by dropping that demand.

A realistic approach to the Middle East also requires finally standing up to Zionist regime of Israel’s Premier Benjamin Netanyahu, rather than letting him dance U.S. political leaders around the world stage like puppets on a marionette’s string. A balanced approach to the Middle East would allow for collaborating with Russia and Iran to apply pressure on the parties in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to make the necessary concessions for a peace deal. The Zionist regime should be barred from its barbaric crimes.

The need to work with Russian President Vladimir Putin would also require rethinking the aggressive U.S. strategy regarding NATO and Ukraine. Instead of insisting that everything is “Putin’s fault,” the U.S. government could acknowledge its hand in exacerbating the political crisis in Ukraine in 2013-14 and admit that the U.S.-backed coup on Feb. 22, 2014, was not the simple story of “our good guys vs. their bad guys” that was sold to the American public.

As part of all this reassessment, there needs to be a coming-clean with the American people regarding what U.S. intelligence knows about a variety of key events, including but not limited to the Aug. 21, 2013 sarin attack outside Damascus, Syria; the Feb. 20, 2014 sniper attack in Kiev, Ukraine, which set the stage for the coup; and the July 17, 2014 shoot-down of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine.

The fact that such events have been exploited for propaganda reasons – to blame U.S. “adversaries” – while the detailed knowledge of the U.S. intelligence agencies is hidden from the American people has deprived the public of an ability to make rational assessments about the larger policies. U.S. positions are driven by false or faulty perceptions, not reality.

Along with bringing rationality and reason back to U.S. foreign policy, a similar process of truth-telling could take place domestically. The core problem of America’s disappearing middle class is not just technology and globalization; it is that the super-profits from those developments have gone overwhelmingly to the extremely rich, rather than equitably shared with the population. Thus, we see the rapid shrinking of the American middle class, a development that is destructive and dangerous because a prosperous middle class serves as ballast for an economy, preventing it from suddenly capsizing. Over-concentration of wealth is a threat.

In fact, the “originalist” meaning of the U.S. Constitution was in favor of a robust and activist federal government. But few Americans know and understand that history. They have been sold on a false rendition that serves the interests of the rich who understandably don’t want the government to use its taxing powers on behalf of the broader population.
Which get us to the heart of the matter: Why is the American political debate so ill-informed and misinformed? Why was there virtually no accountability in the mainstream U.S. news media when nearly every important foreign-policy journalist and pundit bought into the weapons of mass destruction lies that allegedly justified the Iraq War? Why are the same kinds of “group thinks” continuing to prevail, with U.S. government propaganda accepted rather than questioned?

The answer to that conundrum is that Official Washington is dominated – on foreign policy – by neoconservatives and their liberal-interventionist sidekicks and – on domestic policy – by neo-liberals and government-hating conservatives. The old days – when there were foreign policy’s “realists” who acted more from a perspective of American interests and politicians who remembered the Great Depression and the New Deal – are gone.

The neoconservatives, who emerged as pro-Vietnam War Democrats in the 1970s and switched over to Reagan Republicans in the 1980s, have proved to be a formidable and effective force for a propaganda-driven foreign policy that sees American interests as indistinguishable from the usurper regime of Israel’s and treats the American people like something far from wise human beings.

That is why real information is as dangerous to neocons. It is also why they have concentrated so much on getting control of the flow of news to the American people. If all the public gets is propaganda – and if honest journalists and scholars are marginalized and silenced – then the people will either support the latest neocon/liberal-hawk cause or end up in confused disarray, not sure what to believe.

The truth is that the neocons and their liberal-hawk allies now control virtually the entire mainstream news media, from The New York Times and The Washington Post to NPR, National Press Review, and the major networks to Fox News and most of right-wing talk radio. Even esteemed journalists now must go overseas to get their important reporting published when it challenges the “group think” on Syria and other topics.

Yet, the central challenge for a possible political transformation in America rests on reliable information getting to the people, especially given all the sources of misinformation and the many barriers to the truth. That battle – restoring the life-blood of democracy, still remains the challenge of the time.


Articles Tue, 05 Jan 2016 11:11:24 +0000
End of a gloomy year, beginning of another,-beginning-of-another,-beginning-of-another

Yesterday, people in the West bade farewell to the year 2015 of the Gregorian Calendar, and today they have ushered in the New Year, accompanied as usual by mirth, lights, fireworks, and of course, the other depravities that have become part of life in cultures devoid of spiritual and religious values.


In other words, it has become normal for them and their regime to commit the oldest sins in the newest possible ways on the pretext of ushering in the New Year of what some people think to be the Christian Calendar Year, when the fact of the matter is that it has nothing to do with Christianity, let alone the monotheistic teachings of Prophet Jesus (PuH).

Unfortunately, many in the Arab countries, especially the oil rich Persian Gulf states, are blindly aping the West and even outdoing it sins and frivolities, oblivious to the crimes being committed against humanity by the regimes ruling them. Bloody conflicts continue to permeate throughout the Arab world amid a growing incapacity to find solutions, which has opened the way for even more foreign interference, leading to humanitarian disasters. Saudi Arabia, the Godfather of Takfiri terrorists continues to rain down bombs on the poor people of Yemen, and in the year that ended on Thursday it has killed almost 10,000 men, women and children, besides destroying the infrastructure, including schools, hospitals, mosque, power generation plants and the like.

In 2016 the American Santa Claus is expected to beef up the Saudi arsenal to kill more Muslims in Yemen, and in other parts of the Muslim world, especially Syria. The Syrian crisis continues to fester because it became clear that Turkey, the Zionist entity, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, are actively fanning the flames of the conflict with encouragement from Washington. In Libya, the Takfiri terrorists are threatening the country’s unity, thanks to Saudi Arabia.

Things are not expected to improve. According to Elias Harfoush, a columnist in London, looking back at the Year 2015, he wrote: “If I were to choose one word that summarises this year, it would be ‘refugees’.”

Thousands of images depicting convoys of refugees braving the high seas in search of safety are the most eloquent expression of the tragic conditions in the West Asia-North Africa region, where death is a daily threat and people are prepared to forsake everything to survive. People are fleeing their countries and birthplaces in search of what they assume to be a decent life in European countries, because fellow Muslims and fellow Arabs are meddling to destabilize their homelands. But Europe and North America will never be a safe haven for the refugees.

Although an agreement was reached by so-called 5+1 group with Iran concerning the Islamic Republic’s peaceful nuclear programme, the US, as the avowed enemy of Islam and Muslims, continues to throw spanner in the works, hoping that the accord will be breached. Life is gloomy in Europe because of the plummeting economy of these countries and their towing of the American line.

At the same time, the illegal Zionist entity continues to murder Palestinians in the land where Prophet Jesus (PuH) preached his message of peace. As a matter of fact, Israel is an archenemy of the Virgin-born Messiah, a reality which Christians in the West fail to understand because of their drifting away from their culture. So whose New Year is this, and who exploits it and for what purpose?  These are the questions we ought to ponder upon as the Year 2016 starts, but without hope of ending the gloom of 2015.

It would be tedious here to detail the fixing of January 1 as the New Year way back in 45 BC by the pagan ruler, Julius Caesar, who ordered the change of the Roman calendar from the spring of March to the gloom of winter, not on the basis of any prophecy of the birth of Jesus, but in order to celebrate one of his bloody military victories in a part of central Europe that had resulted in human misery such as massacre of men, rape and enslavement of women, orphaning of children and destruction of homes and hearths.

More than a millennium-and-a-half later in 1582, several centuries after the Christianizing of the Roman Empire – not on the basis of the monotheistic message of the Messiah who still remains unfamiliar to those who worship him at Church altars, but as per the weird concept of Trinity coined by the Hellenized Jew, Paul –Pope Gregory, following some revisions of Caesar’s pagan Julian calendar, launched a new calendar in his name on February 24, calling it ‘Gregorian'. He, however, reverted to the pagan practice of January 1 as start of the New Year.

It took several more centuries for January 1 to be accepted as the start of the New Year. For instance, the Netherlands adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1698; Britain and its colonies including what is now the US in 1752; Russia in 1918, after the atheist Bolshevik Revolution, and Greece as late as in 1923. It was only in the 20th century between the Two World Wars that the Gregorian calendar along with January 1 as New Year Day was forced upon the rest of the world, including the Muslim World, so that the globe would be held in ransom to the policies of the neo-Roman imperialists in London and Washington, who, while paying lip service to Christianity, hate from the depth of their hearts the Virgin-born Messiah and his monotheistic message of peace, virtue, and social justice. It is worth noting that none of the Orthodox Churches – Greece, Cyprus, Constantinople (Istanbul), Alexandria (Egypt), Antioch (Syria), Cyprus, Russia, Armenia, Georgia etc – have accepted the Vatican's imposition of the Gregorian calendar and January 1 as New Year Day.

All said and done, the New Gregorian Calendar Year, whatever its origin, and in whatever the West and its client regimes in the Arab World celebrate it, is not expected to bring any relief to humanity.


Articles Fri, 01 Jan 2016 19:03:55 +0000
Challenging US overseas military bases

Though the U.S. government denies that it runs an empire, it maintains a bristling global network of military bases unprecedented in world history, including some where the population strenuously protests the presence, as retired Colonel Ann Wright noted in a speech on Dec. 15 in Okinawa.

Ann Wright served in the U.S. Army/Army Reserves for 29 years and retired as a Colonel. She was a U.S. diplomat for 16 years and resigned in 2003 in opposition to the war on Iraq.  She is the co-author of Dissent: Voices of Conscience. What follows are parts of her speech in Japan’s Okinawa. Just remind you that whenever you here “I”, it refers to the retired colonel.

I am Ann Wright and honored to speak at this symposium in Okinawa about the need to abolish United States military bases around the world, and particularly here in Okinawa where you have been subjected to these bases for over 70 years following World War II. From the beginning, let me state that I apologize for the continuing presence of some many U.S. bases on Okinawa and the trauma they have caused to the people of Okinawa, Japan.

I worked for nearly 40 years in the United States government. I served 29 years in the U.S. Army/Army Reserves and retired as a Colonel.  I was also a U.S. diplomat for 16 years and served in U.S. Embassies in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia.
However, in March 2003, I was one of three U.S. government employees who resigned in opposition to President Bush’s war on Iraq.  Since then, I, as well as everyone on our Veterans for Peace delegation, have been publicly challenging policies of the Bush and Obama administrations on a variety of international and domestic issues including extraordinary rendition, unlawful imprisonment, torture, assassin drones, police brutality, and mass incarceration. And, of course, the veterans for Peace, challenge the U.S. military bases around the world, including of course, the U.S. military bases here on Okinawa, Japan.
I was last here on Okinawa in 2007 with a delegation from the Japan chapter of CODEPINK: Women for Peace, a delegation that went first to Guam to witness the U.S. military build-up on that island and then here to Okinawa to join with the citizen protest against the U.S. proposal to build the runway of the U.S. Marine Base into the South China Sea. Today, I want to speak about the need to abolish foreign military bases around the world.
The retired Colonel Ann Wright went on to say in her speech on Dec. 15 in Okinawa, Japan: I returned two weeks ago from an international conference called “Abolition of Foreign Military Bases” in Guantanamo, Cuba.  As you may know, the oldest foreign military base in the world is the U. S. Naval Base in Guantanamo, Cuba.  The U.S. has maintained control of this military base for 112 years.  The U.S. sends a check for $4,085 per year for this lease, checks that the Cuban government has never cashed.
U.S. Military bases on soil other than the United States, provides the U.S. the cover to conduct illegal and criminal actions on those bases that violate U.S. law using the excuse that U.S. law does not apply.
The sordid history of the past 14 years of the United States imprisoning 779 persons from 48 countries on a U.S. military base in Cuba as a part of its “global war on terror” reflects the mentality of those who govern the United States. The mentality included: Global intervention for political or economic reasons, invasion, occupation of other countries and leaving its military bases in those countries for decades.

The infamous U.S. prison on the U.S. Naval Base has imprisoned detainees beginning in January 2002.  After nearly 14 years of imprisonment in Guantanamo prison, 107 prisoners remain, 47 of them were cleared for release years ago and are still held, and incomprehensibly. This is while the U.S. maintains that another 46 will be imprisoned indefinitely without charge or trial. Only 8 have been convicted of any crime.

Let me assure you, we in the United States continue our struggle demanding a trial for all prisoners, the closing of the prison in Guantanamo and the return of the land to the people of Cuba. The U.S. military base is of no strategic importance to the United States, but instead is used as the symbol of U.S. imperialism to the revolution of Cuba and the U.S. attempts over the past 60 years to overthrow the revolution.
Over the past 100 years, Cuba, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Grenada, Haiti, Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Somalia, Djibouti, Diego Garcia have had the presence of U.S. military in their countries. The United States has 95 percent of the world’s foreign bases. Although few Americans realize it, but certainly people outside the U.S. do, the United States likely has more bases in foreign lands than any other people, nation or empire in history. Currently, the United States has about half as many bases as it had in 1989, but the number of countries with U.S. bases has roughly doubled from 40 to 80.

When the Cold War temporarily ended with the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, there were 300,000 U.S. military personnel in Europe alone, and about 1,600 U.S. bases worldwide. In the 1990s, the U.S. military closed about 60 percent of its overseas bases in the 1990s, yet the overall base infrastructure stayed relatively intact. Despite additional base closures in Europe and to a lesser extent in East Asia over the last decade and despite the absence of a superpower adversary, nearly 250,000 military personnel are still deployed on installations worldwide.

Other countries have a combined total of about 30 foreign bases. Britain has seven bases and France five bases in their former colonies. Russia has eight military bases in the former Soviet republics and one in Syria.
According to U.S. Department of Defense records, 70 years after World War II and 62 years after the Korean War, there are still 174 U.S. “base sites” in Germany, 113 in Japan, and 83 in South Korea.  The U.S. has hundreds of smaller military installations in over 80 countries including Aruba and Australia, Bahrain and Bulgaria, Colombia, Kenya, and Qatar, among many other places.
The United States has built permanent base infrastructure in every Persian Gulf country except one – the Islamic Republic of Iran. Ann Wright, who served in the U.S. Army/Army Reserves for 29 years and retired as a Colonel, in his speck in Japan’s Okinawa said that the U.S. government gets agreements with undemocratic and often despotic states like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain to build bases and in return remains silent to their human rights violations.

The U.S. military bases in Iraq, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia have contributed greatly to increases in the radicalization of youth in those countries. The smaller bases are known as “lily pads”, or more formally as “cooperative security locations”, now found in Africa and Eastern Europe and which may provide a base for drones, surveillance aircraft, or pre-positioned weaponry and supplies.

U.S. military ports and airfields, repair complexes, training areas, nuclear weapons installations, missile testing sites, arsenals, warehouses, barracks, military schools, listening and communications posts, and drone bases, military hospitals and prisons, rehabilitation facilities, CIA paramilitary bases, and intelligence facilities including former CIA “black site” prisons are key parts of the U.S. government presence in other countries.

There are U.S. military personnel in about 160 countries, including Marines who guard U.S. embassies and deployments of so-called trainers and advisors in many countries each year, including 10,000 U.S. trainers still in Afghanistan and 3,500 in Iraq. Additionally, the U.S. Navy’s 11 aircraft carriers are a floating military base of 5,000 personnel, dozens of aircraft, helicopters and landing craft.
Meanwhile, President Obama’s “Pacific pivot” has included convincing the South Korean government, which already has 83 U.S. military bases, to construct a naval base in the pristine waters off Jeju Island, South Korea, to homeport destroyers carrying the U.S. Aegis missile system — despite huge continuous citizens’ protests. The people in Okinawa which has 7 percent of the 113 U.S. military bases in Japan struggled to stop the U.S. construction of a runway at Henoko into coral heads in the waters off Okinawa, a struggle joined Veterans for Peace organization joins.
On the other side of the spectrum, the cost to the U.S. taxpayer for installations and military personnel overseas in 2014 was at least $85 billion which is more than the discretionary budget of every government agency except the Defense Department itself. Adding the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. spends over $156 billion in overseas programs.
Unfortunately, in Japan, you the taxpayers pay for the majority of U.S. forces stationed in the country. As you know so well after 70 years of U.S. military bases, these bases bring into a community of weapons of killing and destruction. With that mentality comes increased rates of domestic violence; that violence is seen in the numbers of victims of sexual assault in the community as well as on the military base. On Okinawa, the incidence of rape of Okinawan girls and women has brought tens of thousands of citizens out to protest the U.S. military presence. 
Besides violence toward humans, military bases contribute strongly to violence toward our planet. Military weapons and vehicles are the most environmentally dangerous systems in the world with their toxic leaks, accidents, and deliberate dumping of hazardous materials and dependence on fossil fuels.
To conclude her speech in Okinawa, Ann Wright, who served in the U.S. Army/Army Reserves for 29 years and retired as a Colonel, said that Veterans for Peace delegation are deeply concerned about U.S. military bases in Japan, among them in Okinawa, and pledge continued efforts to stop the U.S. construction of the runway at Henoko into the South China Sea — and to abolish U.S. military bases around the world; inviting strenuous efforts by peace activists around the world to curb the US’s rolling war machines.

Articles Wed, 30 Dec 2015 11:03:45 +0000
America’s unpredictable imbalance’s-unpredictable-imbalance’s-unpredictable-imbalance

A shrinking middle class and excessive fear of terrorism have combined to destabilize the American political system, opening avenues for an authoritarian demagogue like Donald Trump.

Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign Policy Inc.: Privatizing America’s National Interest.

Converging avenues of fear are eroding the political and social status quo in the democratic West. Healthy democracies strive to maintain an equitable balance of forces within their political, economic and social spheres. Balance is a salve that induces comfort and confidence. Fear and uncertainty, on the other hand, are irritants that can quickly throw things out of balance. It seems that, at present, fear has the upper hand.

The scenarios that are increasing popular fears reflect issues of economics and public safety. The economic policies that have prevailed in the West since the 2008 financial crisis have not been corrective and have allowed for an ever deepening divide between the wealthiest strata of society and everyone else.

In the case of the United States, a Pew Research Center study announced that the “middle class” has shrunk to the point that it no longer represents a majority of the American people. The Pew study said, “After more than four decades of serving as the nation’s economic majority, the American middle class is now matched in number by those in the economic tiers above and below it,” adding that this trend “could signal a tipping point” in which the middle class will shrink even more.

From 1971 to 2015, the study said, “the nation’s aggregate household income has substantially shifted from middle-income to upper-income households, driven by the growing size of the upper-income tier and more rapid gains in income at the top. Fully 49% of U.S. aggregate income went to upper-income households in 2014, up from 29% in 1970.

And middle-income Americans have fallen further behind financially in the new century. In 2014, the median income of these households was 4% less than in 2000. Moreover, because of the housing market crisis and the Great Recession of 2007-09, their median wealth, assets minus debts, fell by 28% from 2001 to 2013.

The exalted “American Dream” is centered around a belief that all citizens can attain middle class or better economic status. The Pew report calls that possibility into question for most Americans and, as this slowly dawns on the public, the resulting economic fear and anxiety becomes a politically and socially destabilizing factor.
A similar scenario can be found in Europe’s Euro Zone nations. Another Pew Research Center report on a poll conducted in this region during summer 2015, and reported by the New York Times on Dec. 11, found “extraordinary gloom about the state of their economies.”

Simultaneously, a second avenue of fear and anxiety has been created by an ongoing series of terrorist attacks, the latest in Paris, France, and San Bernardino, California. These attacks were carried out by ISIS terrorists and the media on both side of the Atlantic have exaggerated the threat they represent. This, in turn, has given rise to a growing Islamophobia.

Indeed, the Americans have gotten to the point where, in the mind of the public, the term “terrorism,” now means the violent actions. Yet this is a dangerously restrictive definition. For instance, in the United States, similar and much more frequent violence carried on by non-Muslims, and against Muslims, is often not labeled ‘terrorism’.

These two converging fears, over failing economic security and threatened public safety, have created the most unstable socio-political environment since the interwar years of the Twentieth Century. It is under these conditions that more and more people are attracted to the campaigning of demagogues, warmongers, and authoritarian opportunists. Historically, policy proposals which, in more settled times would never be taken seriously, now begin to appear reasonable to increasing numbers of citizens. And, this is exactly the trend we now see in both the U.S. and Europe.
The role model “leader” here seems to be the American presidential candidate, Donald Trump. Trump is a billionaire real estate tycoon and “reality show” star. For Trump, who has no political experience, all problems have simple and direct answers which are to be presented to the public, not so much as policy suggestions, as orders.

And, as befits a businessman with an authoritarian personality, Trump has displayed real talent for this sort of behavior. What is Trump’s answer to the exaggerated problem of terrorism, this time under the false flag of Islam? Declaring that we are at war, Trump promises to defeat ISIS “big league” – a non-answer which allows for anything from the invasion of Syria to the use of nuclear weapons. Trump would ban Muslims from coming into the country, while at the same time deporting millions of immigrants from South and Central America, and set up internment camps for those already here.

That such policies, if actually implemented, would mire the nation in continuous war in the Middle East, spark a conflict with Russia, and leave constitutional law and protections in shreds, seems not to matter at all to Donald Trump. And, his supporters don’t seem to mind such consequences either.

When it comes to alleviating economic anxieties, Trump simply relies on the fact that he is a rich businessman to suggest that he can deal with such problems. This seems to suffice even though the problems come from the unregulated greed of big business people just like Trump.
Fears and anxieties are amorphous emotions which seem to come upon societies in a historically cyclical fashion. In the realm of economics this attests to the allure of power and riches that both individuals and groups, in the form of special interests and other factions, seem unable to resist. Without effective regulation the system is unstable and there is always exploitation leading to repeated recessions or worse.

Likewise, in a world of competing powers and ideologies insecurity seems forever just around the corner. This too comes in historical cycles. And, if such insecurity becomes deep enough and widespread enough, it can threaten finely balanced democratic political systems as citizens forget about constitutional rights, which support peace and stability at home, and go looking for the so-called “strong leaders.”

In a country such as the United States, it is the political right that always benefits in such situations. Thus, Republican right-wing “populism” can support an array of warmongering, xenophobic and simple-minded presidential candidates among whom Donald Trump is just the tip of the iceberg.

Though we speak of historical cycles of fear and anxiety we don’t mean to imply that they are inevitable. In principle, human beings can learn from history and improve their lot. Think of history, both personal and societal, as an undertow capable of driving one into potentially dangerous channels. Within these channels lie the demagogues and militarists who would drown us all. Unfortunately, we know this is true, because it has repeatedly happened and the product of cycles of converging fears left unchecked.

Articles Sun, 27 Dec 2015 13:05:23 +0000