U.S. Propaganda: It’s Not Just False, but Absurd.

By Eric Zuesse, as originally published at strategic-culture.org.

It’s so ridiculous, no intelligent and informed person would give it any serious consideration whatsoever. It insults the public’s intelligence.

Here’s a typical example of the ridiculousness of U.S. propaganda: On July 16th, the U.S. State Department issued a “Ukraine Travel Warning.” It says:

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The Department of State warns U.S. citizens to defer all travel to Crimea and the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, and recommends those U.S. citizens currently living in or visiting these regions to depart. …

Russia-backed separatists continue to control areas in the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts. Despite the signing of a ceasefire agreement by representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE, violent clashes between combined Russian separatist forces and Ukrainian forces continue in parts of the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, resulting in thousands of injuries and deaths. The ceasefire agreement established a de facto dividing line between Ukrainian government-controlled and separatist-held areas of Ukraine, with numerous checkpoints controlled by government and separatist forces. Individuals, including U.S. citizens, have been threatened, detained or kidnapped for hours or days after being stopped at separatist checkpoints. …

The Department of State also warns U.S. citizens to defer all travel to the Crimean Peninsula, which is occupied by Russia. The Russian Federation is likely to take further actions in Crimea throughout the remainder of 2015 consistent with its attempted unlawful annexation and occupation of this part of Ukraine. The international community, including the United States and Ukraine, does not recognize this purported annexation. The Russian Federation maintains an extensive military presence in Crimea and along the border of eastern Ukraine. …

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Prior to the U.S. overthrow of the democratically elected President of Ukraine in February 2014, there was peace throughout Ukraine. Obama (his Administration, as shown in that video) replaced the existing Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych, who, like all of his predecessors, was corrupt; and the U.S. propaganda-machine publicized his corruption, while virtually ignoring the fact of corruption’s normalcy in at least post-Soviet Ukraine (corruption that had been greatly encouraged by the U.S.). The U.S. didn’t replace him because he was corrupt. The U.S. replaced him because he supported a non-aligned Ukraine: neither a stooge to the U.S., nor to Russia. Barack Obama repeatedly asserts that — as he phrased it to West Point cadets on 28 May 2014 — “The United States is and remains the one indispensable nation. [So: all other  nations are ‘dispensable.’] That has been true for the century passed [he misspelled ‘past’] and it will be true for the century to come.” Adolf Hitler and his Nazis said it for their country more succinctly: “Deutschland über alles.” Except that Hitler proclaimed that his would be a “Thousand-Year Reich,” not merely “for the century to come.”

The U.S. began its overthrow-operation early in 2013. At that time, Yanukovych was still considering offers for Ukraine to join the U.S.-backed European Union, or else to join the Russia-backed Eurasian Economic Community. The EU is much larger, but Ukraine’s centuries-long former association with, and economic extensions from (including favored-nation trading status with) Russia, would have been very costly for Ukraine to sever. Ukraine’s economy had long been based far more on trade with Russia than on with trade with the rest of Europe. 

According to MIT, the “Top 5 export destinations” from Ukraine were: Russia (24%), Egypt (6.5%), Turkey (5.2%), Italy (3.8%), and Kazakhstan (3.5%). The “Top 5 import origins” into Ukraine were: Russia (31%), China (9.0%), Germany (8.2%), Belarus (6.4%), and Poland (5.0%). 

On 19 November 2013, Yanukovych met with the European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy. The economists at the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences had recently delivered their report to Yanukovych, which concluded that the net loss from joining the EU would be $160 billion. Yanukovych asked the Commissioner, “If we sign, will you help us,” so that Ukraine wouldn’t bear the entirety of this enormous cost. The Commissioner said, “Sorry,” no. (The Commissioner suggested that Ukraine might borrow the money from the IMF — which would be the kind of national suicide that actually occurred after the U.S. overthrew Yanukovych.) The next day, Yanukovych announced that he was turning down the EU’s offer. Then, according to wikipedia, the “Maidan” demonstrations to oust Yanukovych from power started on 21 November 2013. Brandon Turbeville has described the 40-year-long development of the technology that the CIA and State Department built for that overthrow.

But, in fact, as I documented back in February, “The Entire Case for Sanctions Against Russia Is Pure Lies.” The whole case is fraudulent

So: the U.S. State Department rejects the legitimacy of the overwhelming, and the repeatedly polling-confirmed, desire of the Crimean people to cease being Ukrainian (which they had been only from 1954 to 2014), even though this same U.S. State Department accepts the legitimacy of the Scottish people to determine whether or not to continue being British (which they have been ever since 1707). The sovereign democratic right of Crimeans is denied, while the sovereign democratic right of the Scotts is affirmed. One needs to be a sucker to believe that, but it’s the U.S. Government’s official line.

As for the residents of Donbass (“Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts”), Obama needs to get rid of them, because they had voted over 90% for the man he overthrew. If they stay alive and within Ukraine, then the regime that Obama installed will get voted out of office. 

In fact, that’s the reason why Russia’s leader, Vladimir Putin, has insisted that they remain within Ukraine — so that they will vote out of office the anti-Russian racist fascists that Obama installed, next door to Russia, in Ukraine. That’s as if during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, the dictator of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khruschev, had grabbed control over not only Cuba but even over Mexico right on America’s border. Would the United States have tolerated that, then? So, Putin doesn’t tolerate this, now.

The irony is that it’s Putin who wants the “pro-Russian rebels” to remain as part of Ukraine; and it’s Obama who wants them not to be — even while he claims that Putin does, and asserts that Putin is the aggressor.

For example, on 3 September 2014, Obama said:

“Fifth — we must continue to stand united against Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. (Applause.) Keep in mind that, repeatedly, President Putin has ignored the opportunity to resolve the crisis in Ukraine diplomatically. The United States, the European Union, our partners around the world have all said we prefer a diplomatic solution. But in light of Russia’s unwillingness to seize that opportunity, we have come together to impose major sanctions on Russia for its actions.”

A more devilishly lying country than the United States of today is hard to imagine. It’s even a dictatorship: its government represents not the public (as its Founders had intended) but its aristocracy (which those Founders had tried to overthrow — and did overthrow, in their own era).

The U.S. Government even has the brazen audacity to brag about its success at fooling the global publics — not only here but around the world — to deceive them to think that the demon is Putin, and not Obama.

In fact, as I headlined on 7 October 2014, “Leading German Journalist Admits CIA ‘Bribed’ Him and Other Leaders of the Western ‘Press’.”

The U.S. Government holds the public everywhere in contempt.

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Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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Politicians from Both Sides of the Aisle: Corruption Has Destroyed America

Pervasive corruption in modern America has been thoroughly documented.

There are some very juicy quotes from high-level insiders about corruption in the USA.

Jon Schwarz has rounded up a good collection of recent quotes on corruption from both sides of the aisle:

• “Now [the United States is] just an oligarchy, with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or to elect the president. And the same thing applies to governors and U.S. senators and congressmembers. … So now we’ve just seen a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors …” — Jimmy Carter, former president, in 2015.

• “You have to go where the money is. Now where the money is, there’s almost always implicitly some string attached. … It’s awful hard to take a whole lot of money from a group you know has a particular position then you conclude they’re wrong [and] vote no.” — Vice President Joe Biden in 2015.

• “Lobbyists and career politicians today make up what I call the Washington Cartel. … [They] on a daily basis are conspiring against the American people. … [C]areer politicians’ ears and wallets are open to the highest bidder.” — Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in 2015.

• “When you start to connect the actual access to money, and the access involves law enforcement officials, you have clearly crossed a line. What is going on is shocking, terrible.” – James E. Tierney, former attorney general of Maine, in 2014.

• “Allowing people and corporate interest groups and others to spend an unlimited amount of unidentified money has enabled certain individuals to swing any and all elections, whether they are congressional, federal, local, state … Unfortunately and rarely are these people having goals which are in line with those of the general public. History well shows that there is a very selfish game that’s going on and that our government has largely been put up for sale.” – John Dingell, 29-term Democratic congressman from Michigan, in 2014 just before he retired.

• “When some think tank comes up with the legislation and tells you not to fool with it, why are you even a legislator anymore? You just sit there and take votes and you’re kind of a feudal serf for folks with a lot of money.” — Dale Schultz, 32-year Republican state legislator in Wisconsin and former state Senate Majority Leader, in 2013 before retiring rather than face a primary challenger backed by Americans for Prosperity.

• “The alliance of money and the interests that it represents, the access that it affords to those who have it at the expense of those who don’t, the agenda that it changes or sets by virtue of its power is steadily silencing the voice of the vast majority of Americans … The truth requires that we call the corrosion of money in politics what it is – it is a form of corruption and it muzzles more Americans than it empowers, and it is an imbalance that the world has taught us can only sow the seeds of unrest.” – Secretary of State John Kerry, in 2013 farewell speech to the Senate.

• “I think it is because of the corrupt paradigm that has become Washington, D.C., whereby votes continually are bought rather than representatives voting the will of their constituents. … That’s the voice that’s been missing at the table in Washington, D.C. — the people’s voice has been missing.” — Michele Bachmann, four-term Republican congresswoman from Minnesota and founder of the House Tea Party Caucus, in 2011.

• “The banks — hard to believe in a time when we’re facing a banking crisis that many of the banks created — are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place.” – Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., in 2009.

Posted in Politics / World News | 3 Comments

Chicago’s unknown hero of peace

By David Swanson, Guest columnist, The Daily Herald

In its 1929 Man of the Year article, Time magazine acknowledged that many readers would believe Secretary of State Frank Kellogg the right choice, as probably the top news story of 1928 had been the signing by 57 nations of the Kellogg-Briand Peace Pact in Paris, a treaty that made all war illegal, a treaty that remains on the books today.

But, noted Time, “analysts could show that Mr. Kellogg did not originate the outlawing-war idea; that a comparatively obscure lay figure named Salmon Oliver Levinson, Chicago lawyer,” was the driving force behind it.

David Swanson

Indeed he was. S.O. Levinson was a lawyer who believed that courts handled interpersonal disputes better than dueling had done before it was banned. He wanted to outlaw war as a means of handling international disputes. Until 1928, launching a war had always been perfectly legal. Levinson wanted to outlaw all war. “Suppose,” he wrote, “it had then been urged that only ‘aggressive dueling’ should be outlawed and that ‘defensive dueling’ be left intact.”

Levinson and the movement of Outlawrists whom he gathered around him, including well-known Chicagoan Jane Addams, believed that making war a crime would begin to stigmatize it and facilitate demilitarization. They pursued as well the creation of international laws and systems of arbitration and alternative means of handling conflicts. Outlawing war was to be the first step in a lengthy process of actually ending that peculiar institution.

The Outlawry movement was launched with Levinson’s article proposing it in The New Republic magazine on March 7, 1918, and took a decade to achieve the Kellogg-Briand Pact. The task of ending war is ongoing, and the pact is a tool that might still help. This treaty commits nations to resolving their disputes through peaceful means alone. The U.S. State Department’s website lists it as still in effect, as does the Department of Defense Law of War Manual published in June 2015.

Levinson and his allies lobbied senators and key officials in the United States and Europe, including French Foreign Secretary Aristide Briand, U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Chairman William Borah, and Secretary of State Kellogg. The Outlawrists united a U.S. peace movement far more mainstream and acceptable than anything that’s borne that name in the decades since. But it was a movement that had been split over the League of Nations.

The frenzy of organizing and activism that created the peace pact was massive. Find me an organization that’s been around since the 1920s and I’ll find you an organization on record in support of abolishing war. That includes the American Legion, the National League of Women Voters, and the National Association of Parents and Teachers.

By 1928, the demand to outlaw war was irresistible, and Kellogg who had recently mocked and cursed peace activists, began following their lead and telling his wife he might be in for a Nobel Peace Prize.

On August 27, 1928, in Paris, the flags of Germany and the Soviet Union newly flew along many others, as the scene played out that is described in the song “Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream.” The papers the men were signing really did say they would never fight again. The Outlawrists persuaded the U.S. Senate to ratify the treaty without any formal reservations.

None of this was without hypocrisy. U.S. troops were fighting in Nicaragua the whole time, and European nations signed on behalf of their colonies. Russia and China had to be talked out of going to war with each other just as President Coolidge was signing the treaty. But talked out of it they were. And the first major violation of the pact, World War II, was followed by the first ever (albeit one-sided) prosecutions for the crime of war — prosecutions that rested centrally on the pact. The wealthy nations have, for a number of possible reasons, not gone to war with each other since, waging war only in poor parts of the world.

The United Nations Charter, which followed without replacing the Kellogg-Briand Pact, seeks to legalize wars that are either defensive or U.N. authorized — loopholes more abused than used over the years. The lessons of the Outlawry movement may still have something to teach both the neocon war advocates and the “Responsibility to Protect” humanitarian warriors. It’s a shame that their literature is largely forgotten.

In St. Paul, Minn., appreciation is reviving for local hero Frank Kellogg, who was indeed given the Nobel, is buried in National Cathedral, and for whom Kellogg Avenue is named.

But the man who led the movement that began to stigmatize war as evil and to make war understood as optional rather than inevitable was from Chicago, where no memorial stands and no memory exists.

David Swanson is the author of “When the World Outlawed War.” He’ll be speaking in Chicago on Aug. 27. For information, see http://faithpeace.org.

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Corruption is Legal in the USA

Here is an animated guide to the 2014 study (often cited by Washington’s Blog) conducted by teams of researchers out of Princeton and Northwestern, looking at whether the US population can influence public policy.  This is the largest study of the topic to date, covering nearly 2,000 policy issues.  It finds that:

“…the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”

Posted in General, Media, Politics / World News, propaganda | Leave a comment

Jimmy Carter Is Correct that the U.S. Is No Longer a Democracy

Eric Zuesse

On July 28th, Thom Hartmann interviewed former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, and, at the very end of his show (as if this massive question were merely an aftethought), asked him his opinion of the 2010 Citizens United decision and the 2014 McCutcheon decision, both decisions by the five Republican judges on the U.S. Supreme Court. These two historic decisions enable unlimited secret money (including foreign money) now to pour into U.S. political and judicial campaigns. Carter answered:

“It violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now it’s just an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for President or being elected President. And the same thing applies to governors, and U.S. Senators and congress members. So, now we’ve just seen a subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect, and sometimes get, favors for themselves after the election is over. … At the present time the incumbents, Democrats and Republicans, look upon this unlimited money as a great benefit to themselves. Somebody that is already in Congress has a great deal more to sell.”

He was then cut off by the program, though that statement by Carter should have been the start of the program, not its end. (And the program didn’t end with an invitation for him to return to discuss this crucial matter in depth — something for which he’s qualified.)

So: was this former President’s provocative allegation merely his opinion? Or was it actually lots more than that? It was lots more than that.

Only a single empirical study has actually been done in the social sciences regarding whether the historical record shows that the United States has been, during the survey’s period, which in that case was between 1981 and 2002, a democracy (a nation whose leaders represent the public-at-large), or instead an aristocracy (or ‘oligarchy’) — a nation in which only the desires of the richest citizens end up being reflected in governmental actions. This study was titled “Testing Theories of American Politics,” and it was published by Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page in the journal Perspectives on Politics, issued by the American Political Science Association in September 2014. I had summarized it earlier, on 14 April 2014, while the article was still awaiting its publication.

The headline of my summary-article was “U.S. Is an Oligarchy Not a Democracy Says Scientific Study.” I reported: “The clear finding is that the U.S. is an oligarchy, no democratic country, at all. American democracy is a sham, no matter how much it’s pumped by the oligarchs who run the country (and who control the nation’s ‘news’ media).” I then quoted the authors’ own summary: “The preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.” 

The scientific study closed by saying: “In the United States, our findings indicate, the majority does not rule—at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes.” A few other tolerably clear sentences managed to make their ways into this well-researched, but, sadly, atrociously written, paper, such as: “The preferences of economic elites (as measured by our proxy, the preferences of ‘affluent’ citizens) have far more independent impact upon policy change than the preferences of average citizens do.” In other words, they found: The rich rule the U.S.

Their study investigated specifically “1,779 instances between 1981 and 2002 in which a national survey of the general public asked a favor/oppose question about a proposed policy change,” and then the policy-follow-ups, of whether or not the polled public preferences had been turned into polices, or, alternatively, whether the relevant corporate-lobbied positions had instead become public policy on the given matter, irrespective of what the public had wanted concerning it.

The study period, 1981-2002, covered the wake of the landmark 1976 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Buckley v. Valeo, which had started the aristocratic assault on American democracy, and which seminal (and bipartisan) pro-aristocratic court decision is described as follows by wikipedia: It “struck down on First Amendment grounds several provisions in the 1974 Amendments to the Federal Election Campaign Act. The most prominent portions of the case struck down limits on spending in campaigns, but upheld the provision limiting the size of individual contributions to campaigns. The Court also narrowed, and then upheld, the Act’s disclosure provisions, and struck down (on separation of powers grounds) the make-up of the Federal Election Commission, which as written allowed Congress to directly appoint members of the Commission, an executive agency.”

Basically, the Buckley decision, and subsequent (increasingly partisan Republican) Supreme Court decisions, have allowed aristocrats to buy and control politicians.

Already, the major ‘news’ media were owned and controlled by the aristocracy, and ‘freedom of the press’ was really just freedom of aristocrats to control the ‘news’ — to frame public issues in the ways the owners want. The media managers who are appointed by those owners select, in turn, the editors who, in their turn, hire only reporters who produce the propaganda that’s within the acceptable range for the owners, to be ‘the news’ as the public comes to know it.

But, now, in the post-Buckley-v.-Valeo world, from Reagan on (and the resulting study-period of 1981-2002), aristocrats became almost totally free to buy also the political candidates they wanted. The ‘right’ candidates, plus the ‘right’ ‘news’-reporting about them, has thus bought the ‘right’ people to ‘represent’ the public, in the new American ‘democracy,’ which Jimmy Carter now aptly calls “subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors.”

Carter — who had entered office in 1976, at the very start of that entire era of transition into an aristocratically controlled United States (and he left office in 1981, just as the study-period was starting) — expressed his opinion that, in the wake now of the two most extreme pro-aristocratic U.S. Supreme Court decisions ever (which are Citizens United in 2010, and McCutcheon in 2014), American democracy is really only past tense, not present tense at all — no longer a reality.

He is saying, in effect, that, no matter how much the U.S. was a dictatorship by the rich during 1981-2002 (the Gilens-Page study era), it’s far worse now.

Apparently, Carter is correct: The New York Times front page on Sunday 2 August 2015 bannered, “Small Pool of Rich Donors Dominates Election Giving,” and reported that:

“A New York Times analysis of Federal Election Commission reports and Internal Revenue Service records shows that the fund-raising arms race has made most of the presidential hopefuls deeply dependent on a small pool of the richest Americans. The concentration of donors is greatest on the Republican side, according to the Times analysis, where consultants and lawyers have pushed more aggressively to exploit the looser fund-raising rules that have fueled the rise of super PACs. Just 130 or so families and their businesses provided more than half the money raised through June by Republican candidates and their super PACs.”

The Times study shows that the Republican Party is overwhelmingly advantaged by the recent unleashing of big-corporate money power. All of the evidence suggests that though different aristocrats compete against each other for the biggest chunks of whatever the given nation has to offer, they all compete on the same side against the public, in order to lower the wages of their workers, and to lower the standards for consumers’ safety and welfare so as to increase their own profits (transfer their costs and investment-losses onto others); and, so, now, the U.S. is soaring again toward Gilded Age economic inequality, perhaps to surpass the earlier era of unrestrained robber barons. And, the Times study shows: even in the Democratic Party, the mega-donations are going to only the most conservative (pro-corporate, anti-public) Democrats. Grass-roots politics could be vestigial, or even dead, in the new America.

The question has become whether the unrestrained power of the aristocracy is locked in this time even more permanently than it was in that earlier era. Or: will there be yet another FDR (Franklin Delano Roosevelt) to restore a democracy that once was? Or: is a President like that any longer even possible in America?

As for today’s political incumbents: they now have their careers for as long as they want and are willing to do the biddings of their masters. And, then, they retire to become, themselves, new members of the aristocracy, such as the Clintons have done, and such as the Obamas will do. (Of course, the Bushes have been aristocrats since early in the last century.)

Furthermore, the new age of aristocratic control is not merely national but international in scope; so, the global aristocracy have probably found the formula that will keep them in control until they destroy the entire world. What’s especially interesting is that, with all of the many tax-exempt, ‘non-profit’ ‘charities,’ which aristocrats have established, none of them is warring to defeat the aristocracy itself — to defeat the aristocrats’ system of exploitation of the public. It’s the one thing they won’t create a ‘charity’ for; none of them will go to war against the expoitative interests of themselves and of their own exploitative peers. They’re all in this together, even though they do compete amongst themselves for dominance, as to which ones of them will lead against the public. And the public seem to accept this modern form of debt-bondage, perhaps because of the ‘news’ they see, and because of the news they don’t see (such as this).

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Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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U.S. Tries to Stir Ethnic Division in Crimea

Eric Zuesse

On Saturday, August 1st, Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko (who now acknowledges that his government is illegitimate and that his predecessor Viktor Yanukovych was overthrown in a February 2014 coup), sent greetings to an international conference of supporters of Tatars in Crimea, at the Second World Congress of the Crimean Tatars. He charged the current Crimean government (the government that Crimeans elected on 16 March 2014, rejoining Russia) of discriminating against Tatars. His message attacked the “torn imperial policies of the Kremlin,” and the “temporary occupation of Crimea by Russia.” He said that, “The Crimean Tatar people are again experiencing terror, and tens of thousands are thus forced to flee.” He thanked America’s Sunni ally Turkey for hosting this conference of pro-Saudi, Sunni Muslim, Crimeans.

According to polls, the 12% to 15% of Crimeans who are Tatars (most of whom are Sunni Muslims, and thus oriented toward Saudi Arabia) are overwhelmingly in support of Crimea’s having severed its ties with Ukraine and of having become instead a province of Russia, as Crimea had been part of Russia for centuries until the Soviet dictator Nikita Khrushchev transferred Crimea to Ukraine in 1954.

That linked poll there was taken in January 2015, but its findings were similar to earlier ones. For example, it showed that 82% of Crimeans said that they “endorse Russia’s annexation of Crimea.” Another 11% said they “mostly endorse” it. That’s overall 93% approval. By comparison, an April 2014 Gallup poll of Crimeans showed that 82.8% said that, “The results of the referendum on Crimea’s status likely reflect the views of most people here.” Only 6.7% did not agree. So, those two polls seem to have agreed: both showed overwhelming acceptance by Crimeans of the referendum’s result: Crimea’s becoming again a part of Russia.

An earlier (pre-referendum, even pre-coup), May 2013, Gallup poll of only Crimeans, found that 15% of their sample said they were “Tatar,” and that unlike all other ethnic groups in Crimea, none of Crimea’s Tatars considered themselves to be either “Ukrainian” or “Russian,” though they all were, at that time, technically Ukrainains. Back at that time, 68% of all Crimeans said they were “warm” toward Russia; only 5% said they were “cold” toward Russia; so, even if all of the respondents who were “cold” there were among the 15% of Crimeans who were Tatar, fully two-thirds of Crimea’s Tatars were not “cold” toward Russia. However, by contrast, only 6% of Crimeans said that they were “warm” toward the U.S.; 24% said they were “cold” toward it. So: at best (even if all Crimeans who are “warm” toward the U.S. are the Tatars) Crimea’s Tatars are actually as “cold” toward the U.S. as they are toward Russia. Besides the 15% of Crimeans who self-identified as being “Tatar,” there were 20% of Crimeans who self-identified as “Ukrainian,” and 59% who self-identified as “Russian.” So, that pre-coup breakdown helps to explain why the vast majority of Crimeans were “warm” toward Russia: most Crimeans, even before Crimea was restored to Russia in March 2014, already considered themselves to be “Russian.”

That May 2013 poll was taken for the International Republican [Party] Institute, and for the (Obama) U.S. State Department-run agency, USAID, in preparation for the coup (by Obama, backed strongly by congressional Republicans). Back in May 2013, the U.S. State Department was already a few months into organizing the overthrow of Ukraine’s democratically elected President, which coup occurred, or took place, actually, less than a year later, in February 2014. This poll was asking questions that were designed to tap into the prospects for winning the support of Crimeans, and especially of its Tatars, for the overthrow that was being planned, and for America’s intended yanking away from Russia of Russia’s centuries-long control over Russia’s Crimean naval base, which has been one of Russia’s top military assets ever since 1783.

Basically, what all three polls showed was that Crimeans were going to be appalled at the overthrow, but that Crimea’s Tatars would be more supportive of it than other Crimeans would.

And this is why America’s agent, Petro Poroshenko, is now courting Crimea’s Tatars. They may not like Ukraine, but they dislike it less than other Crimeans do.

Poroshenko is just doing his job for his American sponsors.

U.S. President Barack Obama says that Russia’s “conquest of land” to seek “great nation status” is what caused Crimea to switch from Ukraine to Russia, and that this “conquest of land” caused Russia’s consequent punishment for “Russia’s aggression.” He says that this “aggression” is the reason for the economic sanctions against Russia.

But actually, “The Anti-Crimean Pogrom that Sparked Crimea’s Breakaway” expressed the passionate hatred against Russians on the part of Ukraine’s Right Sector — the organization that the Obama Administration had, in fact, hired as the gunmen who carried out the anti-Russian coup d’etat in Ukraine next door to Russia during February 2014. The leader of Right Sector is Dmitriy Yarosh, who aspires to destroy Russia. He’s just the type of man Obama needed to mastermind this coup and so to carry out not only Obama’s will, but his own. Yarosh also masterminded “The Anti-Crimean Pogrom that Sparked Crimea’s Breakaway,” and also was one of the key leaders and masterminds of the massacre of the coup’s opponents inside the Odessa Trade Unions Building on 2 May 2014, the event that sparked Ukraine’s civil war. Obama hires the right people for a job, and these were far-right jobs.

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Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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The Anti-Crimean Pogrom that Sparked Crimea’s Breakaway

Eric Zuesse

#1:

Here is a description of the “Korsun Pogrom” or “Korsun Massacre”: the 20 February 2014 event that sparked Crimea’s breakaway from Ukraine:

http://fortruss.blogspot.com/2015/02/korsun-massacre-anniversary-what-really.html

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#2:

Here is a 25-minute documentary about it, dated 14 August 2014:

http://ukraine-human-rights.org/the-pogrom-of-korsun/

It’s also here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=loKajkXoTBU

——

#3:

Here is a chaotic 19 minutes of video footage showing the massacre from a distance (silent for its opening 2:20): 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=13&v=pwtiw7MoRVs

Some of its scenes ended up being included in the documentary, #2.

——

And here are some scenes from the documentary (#2 above):Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 5.25.12 PM Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 5.28.13 PM Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 5.33.19 PM Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 5.34.11 PM Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 6.19.24 PM Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 6.24.14 PM Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 6.25.35 PM Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 6.26.59 PM Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 6.30.14 PM Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 6.31.07 PM Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 6.34.48 PM Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 6.36.00 PM Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 6.37.11 PM

——

Obama then imposed economic sanctions against Russia, for “Russia’s aggression.”

Obama’s only statement of what “Russia’s aggression” consisted of, that has been even as lengthy as moderately brief — since he has never presented it at any more length — was his interview with Fareed Zacaria of CNN on 1 February 2015, which happened to be a statement given just three days short of the first anniversary of his agent’s, Victoria Nuland’s, having selected, on 4 February 2014, whom the next leader of Ukraine would be; it would be Arseniy Yatsenyuk (she called him “Yats”), as soon as the democratically elected and sitting Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych, would become overthrown, which happened 18 days later, on 22 February 2014. (It was nothing like Czechoslovakia’s “Velvet Revolution”. This wasn’t democratic; it was a coup.) Obama seized Ukraine, and blamed Putin for “aggression” against Crimea — a “conquest of land.”

Obama said there, in this CNN interview, that the reason for the sanctions against Russia was that, 

“since Mr. Putin made this decision around Crimea and Ukraine  not because of some grand strategy, but essentially because he was caught off-balance by the protests in the Maidan and Yanukovych then fleeing after we had brokered a deal to transition power in Ukraine  since that time, this improvisation that he’s been doing has getting  has gotten him deeper and deeper into a situation that is a violation of international law, that violates the integrity, territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, has isolated Russia diplomatically, has made Europe wary of doing business with Russia, has allowed the imposition of sanctions that are crippling Russia’s economy at a time when their oil revenues are dropping. There’s no formula in which this ends up being good for Russia. The annexation of Crimea is a cost, not a benefit, to Russia. The days in which conquest of land somehow was a formula for great nation status is over.”

So, that’s how Americans learned about what caused Russia’s “conquest of land,” to seek “great nation status,” and Russia’s consequent punishment for “Russia’s aggression.”

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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The Cost of Stagnation: We’re Living in Limbo

The idea that human life subdivides rather naturally into stages is based on our natural progression from childhood into adulthood and eventual (if we’re lucky) old age.

Confucian thought views life as a developmental process with seven stages, each roughly corresponding to a decade: childhood, young adulthood (16-30), age of independence (30-39), age of mental independence (40-49), age of spiritual maturity (50-59), age of acceptance (60-69), and age of unification (70 – end of life).

Each stage has various tasks, goals and duties, which establish the foundation for the next stage.

Each stage is centered on a core human challenge: for the teenager, establishing an identity and life that is independent of parents; for the young adult, finding a mate and establishing a career; for the middle-aged, navigating the challenges of raising children and establishing some measure of financial security; for those in late middle-age, helping offspring reach independent adulthood and caring for aging parents; early old age, seeking fulfillment now that life’s primary duties have been accomplished and managing one’s health; and old age, the passage of accepting mortality and the loss of vitality.

The End of Secure Work and the diminishing returns of financialization are disrupting these core human challenges and frustrating those who are unable to proceed to the next stage of life:

1. Teenagers are being pressured to focus their lives on achieving a conventional financial success (see “Training for Discontent” in From Left Field) that is becoming harder to achieve.

2. Young adults without secure full-time careers cannot afford marriage or children, so they extend the self-absorption of late adolescence into middle age.

3. The middle-aged are finding financial security elusive or out of reach as they struggle to fund their young adult children, aging parents and their own retirement.

4. Increasing longevity is pressuring the late-middle-aged’s stage of fulfillment, as elderly parents may require care even as their children reach their own retirement (65-70).

The financial pressures generated by the demise of financialization and the End of Secure Work are not just disrupting each stage; they are upending essential financial balances between the young, the middle-aged and the old.

The elderly, protected by generous social welfare benefits paid by current taxpayers, also benefit from the soaring value of assets such as real estate and stocks. Meanwhile, financialization’s asset bubbles have pushed housing beyond the reach of most young people.

Downsizing, lay-offs, low-paying replacement work and poor decisions to buy houses near the peak of the prior bubble have left many of the middle-aged with high fixed costs and a stagnant or increasingly insecure income.

The stresses of trying to make enough money to afford what was once assumed to be a birthright–a “middle class” lifestyle–is taking a heavy toll on the mental and physical health of the middle-aged, leaving many of them too tired for any fulfilling activities and easy prey for destructive self-medication.

This erosion of opportunities to complete life’s stages and core dramas is rarely recognized, much less addressed. We are constantly bombarded with messages to innovate, keep up, be fulfilled, etc.–essentially impossible demands for those with multiple generational and/or business duties.

The most workable and productive response to these financial disruptions is to focus not on what’s scarce and fraught with intense competition (the top 5% slots of conventional financial security) but on what’s still abundant, which is opportunities outside conventional hierarchies, ways of reducing fixed costs and life-skills that happen to be entrepreneurial, adaptive and fulfilling.

When I talk about the Mobile Creative class in Get a Job & Build a Real Career, I’m not talking about a finance-centric definition of success or a path to join the top 5% in Corporate America and the government. The herd is chasing those dwindling slots, too, guaranteeing frustration and failure for the 95% who won’t secure one of those slots.

What we’re really discussing is a way of living that places a premium on independent thinking, maintaining very low fixed costs, establishing a healthy honesty with oneself and one’s associates and customers, the ability to make realistic assessments of oneself, one’s successes, failures and errors, and a focus on challenges, opportunities, risks, adaptability, flexibility and experimentation, all with a goal of building one’s own human, social and material capital–the foundations not just of well-being but of any meaningful measure of wealth.

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STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND

“Thinking doesn’t pay. Just makes you discontented with what you see around you.”

Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

I wish I didn’t think when I travel to NYC. It only makes me discontented. My last article about New York City – Uneasy in NYC – produced a lot of commentary pro and con about New York. That two day trip last October was more eventful as we met world renowned financial mind David Stockman. When my son got notice he had to leave for Penn State this weekend to start his job as an RA (saving his old man $6,800 in rent), we decided to do something fun before he left. The choice was a one day sightseeing excursion to the Big Apple.

My wife plotted out the day and the boys and I just went along for the ride. The plan was to drive to the Hamilton Station and catch a NJ Transit train to Penn Station. We got up early and were on the road by 8:10. We should have been able to easily make the 9:22 express. Everything was going smoothly until we were ten miles from the station on Route 1. First there was an accident, then one car overheated in the left lane, then another car overheated in the left lane. We picked a day with a heat index of 100 degrees to go to New York.

We didn’t make the 9:22 express. We got the last spot in the parking lot about a quarter mile from the station. We made the 10:00 local. I expected a 50 year old piece of crap train with standing room only to pull into the station, but to my pleasant surprise a brand new double decker train with dozens of open seats pulled in. Life was good again. We got a four seat combo and settled in for our 1 hour and 15 minute trek to Penn Station. The family were pecking away on their iGadget phones while I started reading my tattered copy of Running Man, bought at the used book store – Hooked on Books – in Wildwood a few weeks ago.

It looked good for a 11:15 arrival until the engineer came over the loud speaker (which sounded like the teacher from Charlie Brown) and announced that a train had stalled in the tunnel and we’d be delayed for 30 minutes. The concept of on-time is meaningless in our paradise of crumbling infrastructure. As you get closer to New York, the decay comes into clear view. Dilapidated vacant factories covered in graffiti dot the landscape along the tracks. The disappearance of our manufacturing base is clearly evident. Instead of producing capital goods we produce financial derivatives, debt and despair. As you approach the tunnel into New York you see the Empire State building and off in the distance the new Liberty Tower, where you once saw the Twin Towers.

Continue reading

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Congress Passes Bill In 15 Minutes To Revoke Americans’ Passports Without Due Process

Submitted by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

The “war on terror” is a status quo fraud perpetuated by the oligarch-controlled mainstream media and authoritarian members of Congress as a way to systematically strip the American public of its freedom and civil rights in the name of fighting an outside enemy. This tried and true tactic has been used by statists throughout history, and history is indeed repeating itself here in the “land of the free.”

Of course, I’ve spent innumerable hours writing on this topic for many years, even before I started this website. Here are a few recent examples:

The “War on Terror” Turns Inward – DHS Report Warns of Right Wing Terror Threat

More “War on Terror” Abuses – Spying Powers Are Used for Terrorism Only 0.5% of the Time

How the Department of Homeland Security Monitored and Tracked Peaceful “Black Lives Matter” Protests

Moving along, today’s story is so incredible it’s almost hard to believe. It appears our so-called “representatives” recently took fifteen minutes to pass a bill that allows the Secretary of State to revoke Americans’ passports with no due process. Did you know about this? Well neither did I, and what’s worse, these members of Congress are so cowardly they passed the bill with a voice vote to avoid going on record. Talk about anti-American.

First, from Reason:

On Tuesday, without much notice, and after a whopping 15-minute debate, the U.S. House of Representatives passed via voice vote the Foreign Terrorist Organization Passport Revocation Act of 2015. Its intent: “To authorize the revocation or denial of passports and passport cards to individuals affiliated with foreign terrorist organizations, and for other purposes.” Some of the bill’s sparse details:

The Secretary of State may refuse to issue a passport [or revoke a previously issued one] to any individual whom the Secretary has determined has aided, assisted, abetted, or otherwise helped an organization the Secretary has designated as a foreign terrorist organization

How does today’s John Kerry or tomorrow’s John Bolton make such a determination? The bill doesn’t say.

Don’t we have laws, courts and due process in this country? Guess not.

It was also covered by Police State USA:

A bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives would allow the government to restrict Americans’ travel through the revocation of passports based upon mere suspicions of unscrupulous activity.  This bill represents another dangerous step forward in the war on terror and the disintegration of American due process.

H.R. 237, the “FTO (Foreign Terrorist Organization) Passport Revocation Act of 2015,” will allow the U.S. Secretary of State the unchecked authority to prohibit individuals from traveling internationally.  According to the bill, the Secretary may unilaterally revoke (or refuse to issue) a passport from “any individual whom the Secretary has determined has aided, assisted, abetted, or otherwise helped an organization the Secretary has designated as a foreign terrorist organization pursuant to section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1189).”

The bill did not bother to define what the terms “aided, assisted, abetted, or otherwise helped” actually mean, in legal terms.  The power has been left open-ended so that it can mean whatever the secretary wants it to mean.  Needless to say, a bill like this would be easily abused.

The travel restriction requires no presumption of innocence for the targeted individual; no explanation; no public presentation of evidence; no opportunity for a defense; no checks and balances on the power.  The bill does not outline any appeals process for the targeted individual.  The only stipulation is that the Secretary of State must issue a report to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs — “classified or unclassified.”  The bill does not state that either committee can reverse the secretary’s decisions.

What’s really disturbing though, is that as I was researching this bill, I came across the fact that Congress is also sneaking in a provision to the highway-bill that would allow the IRS to revoke Americans’ passports if they owe the agency $50,000. Here’s some excellent coverage on the matter from the Ron Paul Institute:

Just the other day we wrote about a US House “suspension” bill that would give the Secretary of State the authority to cancel your passport if he decided that you had “aided” an organization that he rules is terrorist. There is no definition of what “aided” means, no chance to dispute the Secretary’s decision, no trial or presentation of evidence, and in fact any evidence the government has can be classified as secret so that you may not see it. In effect the Secretary of State can unilaterally consign you to internal exile and there is nothing you can do about it.

Because Members of the US House were too cowardly to go on record voting for such an anti-American piece of legislation, the bill passed by a voice vote.

Today the US Senate plans to one-up its counterparts on the lowlier side of Capitol Hill. Buried inside the US highways funding bill is a provision to revoke or deny issuance of a US passport to anyone who has a large outstanding tax debt to the US Internal Revenue Service. According to a Senate Finance Committee summary (PDF) acquired today, the measure provides for:

Revocation or denial of passport in case of certain unpaid taxes. This provision would authorize the Federal government to deny the application for a passport when an individual has more than $50,000 (indexed for inflation) of unpaid federal taxes which the IRS is collecting through enforcement action. It would also permit the Federal government to revoke a passport for such individuals. Before revocation, however, the Federal government would be allowed to limit a previously issued passport only for return travel to the United States or to issue a limited passport that only permits return travel to the United States. The provision would be effective on January 1, 2016, and is estimated to raise $0.398 billion over 10 years.As can be seen from the summary, this measure threatening to imprison Americans within (or outside) US borders is simply viewed as a means by which to raise revenue. The hoped-for increase in revenue coming from this threat is considered an “offset” to the money being spent on the highway bill — in other words the threat to imprison US citizens within their own country or freeze them out is considered appropriate incentive to force them to pay what the government claims it is owed.

Unconvinced that the US government would do such a thing? Check the bill coming to the Senate Floor. Section 52102 of the Highway Funding bill, to be taken up by the Senate today,  states:

If the Secretary receives certification by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue that any individual has a seriously delinquent tax debt in an amount in excess of $50,000, the Secretary shall transmit such certification to the Secretary of State for action with respect to denial, revocation, or limitation of a passport pursuant to section 52102(d) of the Transportation Funding Act of 2015.

The use of citizenship rights as a weapon against Americans is becoming increasingly common as Washington is ever more desperate for control of its passport holders.

Indeed, Congress does seem rather obsessed in creating various loopholes by which the government can snatch American citizens’ passports and restrict travel without due process. It makes you wonder if Ron Paul was right in 2011 when he stated: “Border Fence Will Be Used To ‘Keep Us In’”

Posted in Politics / World News | 4 Comments

NATO Member Busted Massively Supporting ISIS … Now Declares War Against ISIS, But Instead Bombs Its Political Rival (Which Is the Most Effective Force FIGHTING ISIS)

Turkey Enabling ISIS

NATO member Turkey has been busted supporting ISIS.

The Guardian reported this week:

US special forces raided the compound of an Islamic State leader in eastern Syria in May, they made sure not to tell the neighbours.

The target of that raid, the first of its kind since US jets returned to the skies over Iraq last August, was an Isis official responsible for oil smuggling, named Abu Sayyaf. He was almost unheard of outside the upper echelons of the terror group, but he was well known to Turkey. From mid-2013, the Tunisian fighter had been responsible for smuggling oil from Syria’s eastern fields, which the group had by then commandeered. Black market oil quickly became the main driver of Isis revenues – and Turkish buyers were its main clients.

As a result, the oil trade between the jihadis and the Turks was held up as evidence of an alliance between the two.

***

In the wake of the raid that killed Abu Sayyaf, suspicions of an undeclared alliance have hardened. One senior western official familiar with the intelligence gathered at the slain leader’s compound said that direct dealings between Turkish officials and ranking Isis members was now “undeniable”.

“There are hundreds of flash drives and documents that were seized there,” the official told the Observer. “They are being analysed at the moment, but the links are already so clear that they could end up having profound policy implications for the relationship between us and Ankara.”

***

However, Turkey has openly supported other jihadi groups, such as Ahrar al-Sham, which espouses much of al-Qaida’s ideology, and Jabhat al-Nusra, which is proscribed as a terror organisation by much of the US and Europe. “The distinctions they draw [with other opposition groups] are thin indeed,” said the western official. “There is no doubt at all that they militarily cooperate with both.”

***

One Isis member says the organisation remains a long way from establishing a self-sustaining economy across the area of Syria and Iraq it controls. “They need the Turks. I know of a lot of cooperation and it scares me,” he said. “I don’t see how Turkey can attack the organisation too hard. There are shared interests.”

While the Guardian is one of Britain’s leading newspapers, many in the alternative press have long pointed out Turkey’s support for ISIS.

And experts, Kurds, and Joe Biden have accuses Turkey of enabling ISIS.

Has Turkey Changed Its Ways?

On Tuesday, Turkey proclaimed that it will now help to fight ISIS.

Don’t buy it …

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson – former chief of staff to Colin Powell, and now distinguished adjunct professor of Government and Public Policy at William & Mary – asked yesterday:

What is [Turkish president] Erdogan’s ultimate purpose? He hates Assad. He’d love to bring him down. Is that why he’s doing this?

There’s also the Kurds …

As Time Magazine pointed out in June:

Ethnic Kurds—who on Tuesday scored their second and third significant victories over ISIS in the space of eight days—are by far the most effective force fighting ISIS in both Iraq and Syria.

And yet Turkey is trying to destroy the Kurds. Time writes:

Since [Turkey announced that it was joining the war against ISIS] it has arrested more than 1,000 people in Turkey and carried out waves of air raids in neighboring Syria and Iraq. But most of those arrests and air strikes, say Kurdish leaders, have hit Kurdish and left wing groups, not ISIS.

***

Kurds are an ethnic minority that live in parts of Syria, Iraq, Turkey and Iran. They have been persecuted for decades — from Turkey’s suppression of Kurdish identity and banning of Kurdish language to Saddam Hussein’s use of chemical weapons on Kurdish communities. Their leaders, from the numerous different parties and rebel groups that represent them, have long sought an independent Kurdish state encompassing that territory and have fought against their respective governments to try to achieve that.

***

Hoshang Waziri, a political analyst based in Erbil, says the Kurds’ recent territorial gains in Syria along Turkey’s border and their increasing political legitimacy in the eyes of the West, have made the Kurds a bigger threat to Turkey than ISIS. “The fear of the Turkish state started with the Kurdish defeat of ISIS in Tel Abyad,” says Waziri.

***

“The image in the West of the Kurds as a reliable ally on the ground is terrifying for Turkey,” says Waziri. “So before it’s too late, Turkey waged its war — not against ISIS, but against the PKK.”

***

Some see the war against ISIS simply as a cover for an attack on Kurdish groups. Of the more than 1,000 people Turkey has arrested in security sweeps in recent days, 80% are Kurdish, associated either with the PKK or the non-violent Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), says İbrahim Ayhan, a member of parliament for the HDP.

***

Ayhan says the AKP needs a state of “chaos” to perusade voters that it is the only bulwark against chaos. As of yet no new government has been formed in Turkey and if that doesn’t happen in the next few weeks, new elections will be called. By that time Ayhad fears many of the leaders of his HDP party will be in jail and some even worry the HDP will be outlawed. At the same time, Erdoğan and his AKP hope they will have shown only they can defend Turkey from internal and external threats.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Turkey’s military activity against Islamic State does not stem from sudden realizations about threats from ISIS but appears designed to elicit international support for its fight against the Kurds.

The Kurdish Workers’ Party, known as the PKK, was locked in a bloody war with the Turkish state from the mid-1980s until 2013. The cease-fire has, for all intents and purposes, been destroyed. Turkey is battling both ISIS and the PKK under the guise of fighting terrorism. Yet Turkish attempts to conflate ISIS and the PKK–even in the wake of the suicide bombing in a Kurdish border town that killed 32 young people–effectively ask people to overlook some salient facts:

The Kurds are Islamic State’s ideological opposites. The Kurds have been fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq for some time; in particular, the Kurdish People’s Protection Unit (YPG) in northern Syria has been among the most effective forces at repelling ISIS efforts to take control of the Syrian-Turkish border. Kurdish military resistance in Syria and, to a lesser extent, the Kurdish autonomous government in Iraq have shouldered the lion’s share of the ground conflict against Islamic State, standing their ground at high cost and with limited support from the Western coalition.

***

A declaration of a state of emergency in Turkey would give the Justice and Development Party (or AKP), which lost its parliamentary majority in June elections, more flexibility to crack down on political opponents such as the Kurdish majority People’s Democratic Party. More than 1,300 people have been detained recently under the guise of cracking down on domestic PKK and ISIS elements in Turkey.

The AKP has declared the peace process with the Kurdish separatists dead and is trying to discredit the only recognized political representatives of the Turkish left and the Kurdish population; the Kurdish People’s Democratic Party won a 13% share of the Turkish parliament in the June elections–a sign of its rising popularity not only among Kurds but also with increasingly disgruntled Turkish liberals.

***

If a governing coalition isn’t formed, early elections will be held. The AKP appears to be hoping for that–under the thinking that a majority of voters would seek to maintain the status quo in a time of uncertainty and potential civil war, and that AKP’s standing in parliament would, in turn, be strengthened.

Zero Hedge adds:

Even the most mainstream of news outlets are unable to completely obscure the fact that Turkey’s ISIS “offensive” may amount to nothing more than a smokescreen, as Erdogan launches a renewed effort to crush the PKK and nullify opposition gains won at the ballot box early last month when, for the first time in more than a decade, AKP [Erdogan’s party] lost its parliamentary majority.

Coalition building efforts since the election have gone largely nowhere, and in what amounted to a sure sign that some manner of crackdown was likely just around the corner, Erdogan warned on June 21 that “if politicians are unable to sort [it] out, then the people are the only recourse” – a nod to his right under the constitution to call new elections.

Critically, AKP doesn’t need much to push them back over the top in terms of regaining their majority in parliament. Consider the following from WSJ:

Turkey’s government—which lost its parliamentary majority last month— bills its new two-front war against Kurdish militants and Islamic State as a much-overdue reaction to terrorism. But, on the third front of domestic politics, this violence could also help President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his party regain control.

In the June 7 parliamentary elections, Mr. Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, or AKP, lost its majority for the first time in 12 years, and has been in coalition talks since. If these negotiations fail in coming weeks, Mr. Erdogan has said he will send the country back to the polls.

A rise in nationalist feelings amid the bloodshed and an unfolding crackdown on the government’s Kurdish political foes could bolster AKP’s chances in such a new election, many analysts say.

A two-percentage point shift from the last election could restore AKP’s absolute majority, making concessions demanded by its potential coalition partners on press freedom, corruption prosecutions and foreign policy unnecessary. This could also allow Mr. Erdogan to proceed with controversial plans to turn Turkey into a presidential republic and solidify his personal power.

The last passage there is critical.

AKP needs but a two percentage point swing in order to pave the way for Erdogan’s power grab and there’s no better way to stoke a renewed sense of nationalism and turn voters away from HDP than to invent a conflict and then trot out a few casualities as proof of what can happen when Kurdish “terrorists” are emboldened by a victory at the ballot box.

Given this, one could be forgiven for casting a wary eye at the rather convenient series of events that has now culminated in Ankara going back to war with the PKK. Here’s a recap:

NATO representatives met in Brussels on Tuesday after Turkey made a rare Article 4 request which compels treaty parties to convene in the event a member state is of the opinion that its “territorial integrity, political independence or security” is being threatened. 

That’s the case in Turkey, where the security situation has rapidly deteriorated over the past two weeks following a suicide bombing in Suruc (claimed by Islamic State) and the murder of two Turkish policemen in the town of Ceylanpinar (at the hands of the PKK, which claims the officers were cooperating with ISIS). Ankara responded by launching airstrikes against both Islamic State and PKK.

So, ISIS launches a suicide attack and the PKK (whose Syrian affiliate YPG is battling ISIS just across the border) retaliates by killing two Turkish policemen, an event which gives the government an excuse to tighten the screws on the Kurds with virtual impunity under the guise of stepping up its efforts against ISIS.

Better still, the ISIS red herring has allowed Ankara to effectively obtain NATO’s blessing for a brutal crackdown on its Kurdish political rivals. To wit, from Salon:

The choreography attaching to the accord authorizing Turkey’s entry into war as a combatant is, as often, so careful and predictable as to be self-evident. On Sunday Ankara announced that it had requested a meeting of NATO ambassadors to consider its new circumstance. The outcome was obvious from the first.

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s Norwegian secretary-general, suggested Monday that Turkey was unlikely to get “any substantial NATO military support.”

This was a straw man: Material support is not what the Erdogan government wants. In its fight against ISIS and the Kurds—against both, note—it wants “solidarity and support from our NATO allies,” as the foreign ministry in Ankara later made clear.

Legitimacy, in other words. And it got it Tuesday in Brussels, where Stoltenberg announced, “We all stand united in condemning terrorism, in solidarity with Turkey.”  See the problem? Not “united against ISIS,” but “united in condemning terrorism.”

Erdogan understood. Within hours he declared that no peace process with the Kurds is possible—and then urged parliament to strip legislators with ties to the PKK of immunity from prosecution. An Istanbul source wrote Tuesday afternoon to say that some sitting parliamentarians have already been arrested.

So there you have it – mission accomplished. Erdogan has now secured Western support for his effort to nullify an election result he did not like.

***

Consider the following from Al Jazeera:

“When AK party lost [its] absolute majority [in parliament] on June 7, while HDP won, getting over the 10 percent barrier, the results showed how people started seeing that not every Kurd is a terrorist,”  Ilya U Topper, an Istanbul-based analyst on foreign affairs and democracy for the M’Sur, a Spanish media outlet added.

He noted that HDP was able to perform so well in June’s elections because there was peace.

“Two years of peace make people forget bloodshed and give them hope. Now we are back to square one. Kurds are ‘terrorists’ again,” he said. “If elections are repeated, HDP might fall under the barrier and AK party will achieve [an] absolute majority in the elections. The big question is why the PKK accepted that game.”

And that is a very good question.

Why would the PKK, whose political affiliate had just won a major victory at the ballot box, suddenly decide that now is the time to break a fragile cease fire, likely knowing that doing so would imperil further political gains and legitimacy for HDP?

***

In the final analysis, Turkey wants Assad out of Syria and that means backing anyone and everyone who is willing to help make that happen (including ISIS) with the exception of the PKK, who Ankara is keen on crushing especially after June’s election results. So now, Turkey will use ISIS as an excuse to procure NATO support for a politically motivated rout of Kurdish “terrorists”. The West will hope that ISIS will suffer more damage than YPG, Turkey will hope that PKK and, by extension, YPG will suffer more damage than ISIS, and everyone – Ankara, Washington, ISIS, and PKK – will hope the when the dust (and blood) finally settles, Bashar al-Assad will have met a Gaddafi-esque end.

So Turkey isn’t really going after ISIS … instead, the ruling party is going after its main political threat – the Kurds – and continuing its long-term effort to overthrow Syria’s Assad.

Posted in Politics / World News | 12 Comments

The Greek Coup: Liquidity as a Weapon of Coercion

By Ellen Brown.

“My father made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. Luca Brasi held a gun to his head and my father assured him that either his brains, or his signature, would be on the contract.”                                                                                                                                                 — The Godfather (1972)

In the modern global banking system, all banks need a credit line with the central bank in order to be part of the payments system. Choking off that credit line was a form of blackmail the Greek government couldn’t refuse. 

Former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis is now being charged with treason for exploring the possibility of an alternative payment system in the event of a Greek exit from the euro. The irony of it all was underscored by Raúl Ilargi Meijer, who opined in a July 27th blog:

The fact that these things were taken into consideration doesn’t mean Syriza was planning a coup . . . . If you want a coup, look instead at the Troika having wrestled control over Greek domestic finances. That’s a coup if you ever saw one.

Let’s have an independent commission look into how on earth it is possible that a cabal of unelected movers and shakers gets full control over the entire financial structure of a democratically elected eurozone member government. By all means, let’s see the legal arguments for this.

So how was that coup pulled off? The answer seems to be through extortion. The European Central Bank threatened to turn off the liquidity that all banks – even solvent ones – need to maintain their day-to-day accounting balances. That threat was made good in the run-up to the Greek referendum, when the ECB did turn off the liquidity tap and Greek banks had to close their doors. Businesses were left without supplies and pensioners without food. How was that apparently criminal act justified? Here is the rather tortured reasoning of ECB President Mario Draghi at a press conference on July 16:

There is an article in the [Maastricht] Treaty that says that basically the ECB has the responsibility to promote the smooth functioning of the payment system. But this has to do with . . . the distribution of notes, coins. So not with the provision of liquidity, which actually is regulated by a different provision, in Article 18.1 in the ECB Statute: “In order to achieve the objectives of the ESCB [European System of Central Banks], the ECB and the national central banks may conduct credit operations with credit institutions and other market participants, with lending based on adequate collateral.” This is the Treaty provision. But our operations were not monetary policy operations, but ELA [Emergency Liquidity Assistance] operations, and so they are regulated by a separate agreement, which makes explicit reference to the necessity to have sufficient collateral. So, all in all, liquidity provision has never been unconditional and unlimited. [Emphasis added.]

In a July 23rd post on Naked Capitalism, Nathan Tankus calls this “a truly shocking statement.” Why? Because all banks rely on their central banks to settle payments with other banks. “If the smooth functioning of the payments system is defined as the ability of depository institutions to clear payments,” says Tankus, “the central bank must ensure that settlement balances are available at some price.”

How the Payments System Works

The role of the central bank in the payments system is explained by the Bank for International Settlements like this:

One of the principal functions of central banks is to be the guardian of public confidence in money, and this confidence depends crucially on the ability of economic agents to transmit money and financial instruments smoothly and securely through payment and settlement systems. . . . [C]entral banks provide a safe settlement asset and in most cases they operate systems which allow for the transfer of that settlement asset.

Internationally before 1971, this “settlement asset” was gold. Later, it became electronic “settlement balances” or “reserves” maintained at the central bank. Today, when money travels by check from Bank A to Bank B, the central bank settles the transfer simply by adjusting the banks’ respective reserve balances, subtracting from one and adding to the other.

Checks continue to fly back and forth all day. If a bank’s reserve account comes up short at the end of the day, the central bank treats it as an automatic overdraft in the bank’s reserve account, effectively lending the bank the money in the form of electronic “liquidity” until the overdraft can be cleared. The bank can cure the deficit by attracting new deposits or by borrowing from another bank with excess reserves; and if the whole system is short of reserves, the central bank creates more to maintain the liquidity of the system.

The most dramatic exercise of this liquidity function was seen after the banking crisis of 2008, when credit was frozen and banks had largely stopped lending to each other. The US Federal Reserve then stepped in and advanced over $16 trillion to financial institutions through the TAF (Term Asset Facility), the TALF (Term Asset-backed Securities Loan Facility), and similar facilities, at near-zero interest. Toxic unmarketable assets were converted into “good collateral” so the banks could remain solvent and keep their doors open.

Liquidity as a Tool of Coercion

That is how the Fed sees its role, but the ECB evidently has other ideas about this liquidity tool. Whether a country’s banks are allowed to “access monetary policy operations” is seen by the ECB not as mandatory but as discretionary with the central bank. And as a condition of that access, if a country’s bonds are “below investment grade,” the country must be under an IMF program — meaning it must subject itself to forced austerity measures. According to ECB Vice President Constâncio at the same press conference:

[W]hen a country has a rating which is below the investment grade which is the minimum, then to access monetary policy operations, it has to have a waiver. And the waiver is granted if there are two conditions. The first condition is that the country must be under a programme with the EU and IMF; and second, we have to assess that there is credible compliance with such a programme. [Emphasis added]

Liquidity is provided only on “adequate collateral” — usually government bonds. But whether the bonds are “adequate” is not determined by their market price. Rather, political concessions are demanded. The government must sell off public assets, slash public services, lay off public workers, and subject its fiscal policies to oversight by unelected bureaucrats who can dictate every line item in the national budget.

Tankus observes:

Europe now has a system where liquidity and insolvency problems can occur and can be deliberately generated (at least in part) by the central bank. Then the Troika can force that country into an “IMF program” if it wants to continue having a functioning banking system. Alternatively, the central bank can choose to simply “suspend convertibility” to the unit of account [i.e. cut off the supply of Euros] and force the write down of deposits [haircuts and bail-ins] until the banks are solvent again.

Pushed to the Cliff by the Financial Mafia

Were liquidity and insolvency problems intentionally generated in Greece’s case, as Tankus suggests? Let’s review.

First there was the derivatives scheme sold to Greece by Goldman Sachs in 2001, which nearly doubled the nation’s debt by 2005.

Then there was the bank-induced credit crisis of 2008, when the ECB coerced Greece to bail out its insolvent private banks, throwing the country itself into bankruptcy.

This was followed in late 2009 by the intentional overstatement of Greece’s debt by a Eurostat agent who was later tried criminally for it, triggering the first bailout and accompanying austerity measures.

The Greek prime minister was later replaced with an unelected technocrat, former governor of the Bank of Greece and later vice president of the ECB, who refused a debt restructuring and instead oversaw a second massive bailout and further austerity measures. An estimated 90% of the bailout money went right back into the coffers of the banks.

In December 2014, Goldman Sachs warned the Greek Parliament that central bank liquidity could be cut off if the Syriza Party were elected. When it was elected in January, the ECB made good on the threat, cutting bank liquidity to a trickle.

When Prime Minister Tsipras called a public referendum in July at which the voters rejected the brutal austerity being imposed on them, the ECB shuttered the banks.

The Greek government was thus broken Mafia-style at the knees, until it was forced to abandon its national sovereignty and watch its public treasures sold off piece by piece. Suspicious minds might infer that this was a calculated plot designed from the beginning to throw Greece’s prized assets onto the auction block, a hostile takeover and asset stripping for the benefit of those well-heeled entities in a position to purchase them, including the very banks, hedge funds and speculators instrumental in driving up Greek debt and destroying the economy.

No Sovereignty Without Control Over Currency and Credit

In the taped conference call for which Yanis Varoufakis is currently facing treason charges, he exposed the trap that eurozone countries are now in. It seems there is virtually no legal way to break free of the euro and the domination of the troika. The government has no access to the critical data files of its own banks, which are controlled by the ECB.

Varoufakis said this should alarm every EU government. As Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King warned in 1935:

Once a nation parts with the control of its currency and credit, it matters not who makes the nation’s laws.  Usury, once in control, will wreck any nation.

For a nation to regain control of its currency and credit, it needs a central bank with a mandate to serve the interests of the nation. Banking should be a public utility, serving the economy and the people.

____________________

Ellen Brown is an attorney, founder of the Public Banking Institute, and author of twelve books including the best-selling Web of Debt. Her latest book, The Public Bank Solution, explores successful public banking models historically and globally. Her 300+ blog articles are at EllenBrown.com. Listen to “It’s Our Money with Ellen Brown” on PRN.FM.

 

Posted in Politics / World News | 3 Comments

Drivers, Beware: The Costly, Deadly Dangers of Traffic Stops in the American Police State

By John Whitehead, constitutional and human rights attorney, and founder of the Rutherford Institute.

“The Fourth Amendment was designed to stand between us and arbitrary governmental authority. For all practical purposes, that shield has been shattered, leaving our liberty and personal integrity subject to the whim of every cop on the beat, trooper on the highway and jail official. The framers would be appalled.”—Herman Schwartz, The Nation

Trying to predict the outcome of any encounter with the police is a bit like playing Russian roulette: most of the time you will emerge relatively unscathed, although decidedly poorer and less secure about your rights, but there’s always the chance that an encounter will turn deadly.

The odds weren’t in Walter L. Scott’s favor. Reportedly pulled over for a broken taillight, Scott—unarmed—ran away from the police officer, who pursued and shot him from behind, first with a Taser, then with a gun. Scott was struck five times, “three times in the back, once in the upper buttocks and once in the ear — with at least one bullet entering his heart.”

Samuel Dubose, also unarmed, was pulled over for a missing front license plate. He was reportedly shot in the head after a brief struggle in which his car began rolling forward.

Levar Jones was stopped for a seatbelt offense, just as he was getting out of his car to enter a convenience store. Directed to show his license, Jones leaned into his car to get his wallet, only to be shot four times by the “fearful” officer. Jones was also unarmed.

Bobby Canipe was pulled over for having an expired registration. When the 70-year-old reached into the back of his truck for his walking cane, the officer fired several shots at him, hitting him once in the abdomen.

Dontrell Stevens was stopped “for not bicycling properly.” The officer pursuing him “thought the way Stephens rode his bike was suspicious. He thought the way Stephens got off his bike was suspicious.” Four seconds later, sheriff’s deputy Adams Lin shot Stephens four times as he pulled out a black object from his waistband. The object was his cell phone. Stephens was unarmed.

If there is any lesson to be learned from these “routine” traffic stops, it is that drivers should beware.

At a time when police can do no wrong—at least in the eyes of the courts, police unions and politicians dependent on their votes—and a “fear” for officer safety is used to justify all manner of police misconduct, “we the people” are at a severe disadvantage.

According to the Justice Department, the most common reason for a citizen to come into contact with the police is being a driver in a traffic stop. On average, one in 10 Americans gets pulled over by police. Black drivers are 31 percent more likely to be pulled over than white drivers, or about 23 percent more likely than Hispanic drivers. As the Washington Post concludes, “‘Driving while black’ is, indeed, a measurable phenomenon.”

As Sandra Bland learned the hard way, the reason for a traffic stop no longer matters. Bland, who was pulled over for allegedly failing to use her turn signal, was arrested after refusing to comply with the police officer’s order to extinguish her cigarette and exit her vehicle. The encounter escalated, with the officer threatening to “light” Bland up with his taser. Three days later, Bland was found dead in her jail cell.

You’re doing all of this for a failure to signal?” Bland asked as she got out of her car, after having been yelled at and threatened repeatedly. Had she only known, drivers have been pulled over for far less. Indeed, police officers have been given free range to pull anyone over for a variety of reasons.

This approach to traffic stops (what I would call “blank check policing,” in which the police get to call all of the shots) has resulted in drivers being stopped for windows that are too heavily tinted, for driving too fast, driving too slow, failing to maintain speed, following too closely, improper lane changes, distracted driving, screeching a car’s tires, and leaving a parked car door open for too long.

Motorists can also be stopped by police for driving near a bar or on a road that has large amounts of drunk driving, driving a certain make of car (Mercedes, Grand Prix and Hummers are among the most ticketed vehicles), having anything dangling from the rearview mirror (air fresheners, handicap parking permits, troll transponders or rosaries), and displaying pro-police bumper stickers.

Incredibly, a federal appeals court actually ruled unanimously in 2014 that acne scars and driving with a stiff upright posture are reasonable grounds for being pulled over. More recently, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that driving a vehicle that has a couple air fresheners, rosaries and pro-police bumper stickers at 2 MPH over the speed limit is suspicious, meriting a traffic stop.

Unfortunately for drivers, not only have traffic stops become potentially deadly encounters, they have also turned into a profitable form of highway robbery for the police departments involved.

As The Washington Post reports, “traffic stops for minor infractions such as speeding or equipment violations are increasingly used as a pretext for officers to seize cash from drivers.” Relying on federal and state asset forfeiture laws, police set up “stings” on public roads that enable them to stop drivers for a variety of so-called “suspicious” behavior, search their vehicles and seize anything of value that could be suspected of being connected to criminal activity. Since 2001, police have seized $2.5 billion from people who were not charged with a crime and without a warrant being issued.

“In case after case,” notes The Washington Post, “highway interdictors appeared to follow a similar script. Police set up what amounted to rolling checkpoints on busy highways and pulled over motorists for minor violations, such as following too closely or improper signaling. They quickly issued warnings or tickets. They studied drivers for signs of nervousness, including pulsing carotid arteries, clenched jaws and perspiration. They also looked for supposed ‘indicators’ of criminal activity, which can include such things as trash on the floor of a vehicle, abundant energy drinks or air fresheners hanging from rearview mirrors.”

If you’re starting to feel somewhat overwhelmed, intimidated and fearful for your life and your property, you should be. Never before have “we the people” been so seemingly defenseless in the face of police misconduct, lacking advocates in the courts and in the legislatures.

So how do you survive a police encounter with your life and wallet intact?

The courts have already given police the green light to pull anyone over for a variety of reasons. In an 8-1 ruling in Heien v. North Carolina, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that police officers can pull someone over based on a “reasonable” but mistaken belief about the law.

Of course, what’s reasonable to agents of the police state may be completely unreasonable to the populace. Nevertheless, the moment those lights start flashing and that siren goes off, we’re all in the same boat: we must pull over.

However, it’s what happens after you’ve been pulled over that’s critical. Survival is the key.

Technically, you have the right to remain silent (beyond the basic requirement to identify yourself and show your registration). You have the right to refuse to have your vehicle searched. You have the right to film your interaction with police. You have the right to ask to leave. You also have the right to resist an unlawful order such as a police officer directing you to extinguish your cigarette, put away your phone or stop recording them.

However, as Bland learned the hard way, there is a price for asserting one’s rights. “Faced with an authority figure unwilling to de-escalate the situation, Bland refused to be bullied or intimidated,” writes Boston Globe contributor Renee Graham. “She understood her rights, but for African-Americans in encounters with police, the appalling price for asserting even the most basic rights can be their lives.”

So if you don’t want to get probed, poked, pinched, tasered, tackled, searched, seized, stripped, manhandled, arrested, shot, or killed, don’t say, do or even suggest anything that even hints of noncompliance when it comes to interactions with police.

One police officer advised that if you feel as if you’re being treated unfairly, comply anyhow and contest it in court later. Similarly, black parents, advising their kids on how to deal with police, tell them to just obey the officer’s orders. “The goal,” as one parent pointed out, “is to stay alive.”

It seems that “comply or die” has become the new maxim for the American police state.

Then again, not even compliance is a guarantee of safety anymore. “Police are specialists in violence,” warns Kristian Williams, who has written extensively on the phenomenon of police militarization and brutality. “They are armed, trained, and authorized to use force. With varying degrees of subtlety, this colors their every action. Like the possibility of arrest, the threat of violence is implicit in every police encounter. Violence, as well as the law, is what they represent.”

In other words, in the American police state, “we the people” are at the mercy of law enforcement officers who have almost absolute discretion to decide who is a threat, what constitutes resistance, and how harshly they can deal with the citizens they were appointed to “serve and protect.”

As I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, this mindset that any challenge to police authority is a threat that needs to be “neutralized” is a dangerous one that is part of a greater nationwide trend that sets the police beyond the reach of the Fourth Amendment. Moreover, when police officers are allowed to operate under the assumption that their word is law and that there is no room for any form of disagreement or even question, that serves to chill the First Amendment’s assurances of free speech, free assembly and the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Frankly, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a casual “show your ID” request on a boardwalk, a stop-and-frisk search on a city street, or a traffic stop for speeding or just to check your insurance. If you feel like you can’t walk away from a police encounter of your own volition—and more often than not you can’t, especially when you’re being confronted by someone armed to the hilt with all manner of militarized weaponry and gear—then for all intents and purposes, you’re under arrest from the moment a cop stops you.

Sad, isn’t it, how quickly we have gone from a nation of laws—where the least among us had just as much right to be treated with dignity and respect as the next person (in principle, at least)—to a nation of law enforcers (revenue collectors with weapons) who treat us all like suspects and criminals?

Clearly, the language of freedom is no longer the common tongue spoken by the citizenry and their government. With the government having shifted into a language of force, “we the people” have been reduced to suspects in a surveillance state, criminals in a police state, and enemy combatants in a military empire.

Posted in General | 5 Comments

US Forces Succeed in Clearing Peaceful Environment Guardians, Escorting Shell Rig Through and Sending on to Arctic

Reporting from the scene:

US forces cleared kayakers out of the way and cut the cables connecting suspended climbers, making space for the government-escorted Shell oil rig to move through and continue on to the Arctic to begin the fossil fuel extraction process.

As the ship approached, one (hopelessly naive) onlooker shouted, “Where is President Obama?“, as if this were being done against his will.

Obama in 2012:

“Now, under my administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years. That’s important to know. Over the last three years, I’ve directed my administration to open up millions of acres for gas and oil exploration across 23 different states. We’re opening up more than 75 percent of our potential oil resources offshore. We’ve quadrupled the number of operating rigs to a record high. We’ve added enough new oil and gas pipeline to encircle the Earth and then some.”

Here is the oil rig passing through the cleared blockade:

After the rig passed through, a cheer of appreciation for the climbers and kayakers rang out from the onlookers, along with shouts of “Thank you!”

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Gov.-escorted Shell rig spews exhaust after passing through cleared blockade.

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Exhaust fumes from oil rig wash over the climbers.

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Drone watches from above.

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Drone hovers.

Author focuses on force dynamics, national and global. @_DirtyTruths

Donations to help the environmental organizations with bail money, etc., can be made here and here.

Posted in General, Politics / World News | 10 Comments

Understanding Oil Qaeda

In The Al Qaeda Network: A New Framework For DefiningThe Enemy, Katherine Zimmerman of the American Enterprise Institute describes the terrorist groups affiliated with Al Qaeda. Zimmerman is seen as a leading expert on the Al Qaeda network, having testified about it to Congress and written about it for The Washington Post, the Weekly Standard, and the Huffington Post.

Al Qaeda region 2In her analysis, Zimmerman identified the geographical locations of the groups said to be within the Al Qaeda network. These locations outline an area encompassing parts of Northern Africa and all of the Middle East. This region, in which the entire Al Qaeda network is based, represents about 15% of the total land on planet earth.

What is special about this land that might lead its inhabitants to a life of terrorism? Some, including Zimmerman, say that this region correlates to the land of Islam and that therefore the correlation is simply an indication that Muslims are prone to terrorism.

However, the known distribution of the world’s population of Muslims does not support that contention. According to the Pew Research Center, only about 55% of the world’s Muslims live inside the Al Qaeda network region.

The other possibility is that, since the area is rich in untapped resources, powerful people have used claims of terrorism as a pretext to invade. That possibility is definitely supported by evidence. For example, ten years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, U.S. officials began openly admitting that the war in Iraq was motivated by the desire to seize oil. U.S. military leaders including General John Abizaid, head of the U.S. military in Iraq, and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel have said that the war was about oil. Even former Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Alan Greenspan admitted it.

Geographical correlation also supports this possibility much better. When the region outlined by Zimmerman’s Al Qaeda network is superimposed on a map of oil reserves by country, over 70% of the world’s oil reserves fall within the same area.

If one considers only oil reserves that are not yet fully within the control of the world’s superpowers (the U.S., Russia, China, and the E.U.), about 90% of what is left is within Zimmerman’s region. Only Venezuela, with 6.5% of the remaining oil, stands out. It is therefore not surprising that the U.S. government has recently declared Venezuela to be a national security threat.

The strong correlation between Al Qaeda and oil suggests that the terrorist group might be better named Oil Qaeda. However, the truth is a little more complex. As reported before, the geopolitical significance of this relatively small part of the world is as much about natural gas as it is about oil. Other critical resources, including lithium and gold, are motivators for those wanting control of the region.

Moreover, it has been seen that the invasion of Afghanistan probably had something to do with that country having the ideal climate for the production of opium. Just before the U.S. invasion in 2001, the Taliban had essentially eradicated the production of opium in Afghanistan. Under the U.S. occupation, opium production has reached record levels and the country now supplies 90% of the world’s heroin.

There’s no doubt that the Al Qaeda network serves multiple purposes. For those who want simple answers, there will continue to be propaganda about the region’s problems with “Islamic terrorism.” For those who can still think and see, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Al Qaeda and its associated network is largely an excuse for seizing resources.

Kevin Ryan blogs at Dig Within.

Posted in General | 3 Comments