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By Dave Lindorff
Flash! The US has re-invaded Iraq!
Berlin, 1961 (photomontage)
The Ukrainian government, like Israel in Gaza, relentlessly goes on bombing residential areas in the eastern regions “to kill the terrorists hiding out there” (but also the civilians living there). The separatists, called “terrorists”, are in a siege; to break it, they have launched a bloody counteroffensive to the South, with civilian casualties there, too. Tension has spiked with rumors (later debunked) of a full-scale Russian invasion underway. And yet, in spite of it all, a glimmer of hope for peace has finally appeared. Or is it just an illusion?
After denouncing for months “Putin’s covert aggression” against Ukraine, the media have at last produced the smoking gun: satellite photos of alleged Russian Army armored vehicles inside Ukraine (although no GPS coordinates have been given).
In stark contrast to this inflammatory rhetoric, five reputable authorities have invited us to stay calm and rethink the media account of what is happening in Ukraine, reminding us that, behind the scenes, NATO is active there, too. And that its goal is not just to install a few missiles on the Russian border but, more importantly, to block the recent rise of multipolarity and plunge us all back into the bipolarity (duopoly) of the Cold War. Is this what we want?
Thus the events in Ukraine go far beyond the Donets Basin in the east and touch us all. Let us try to understand them better.
Last July, Henry Kissinger, the highly-conservative former U.S. Secretary of State, shocked officialdom with an op-ed in the Washington Post . In it he called for an end to the hostilities in eastern Ukraine and between Washington and Moscow. “Showdowns” and the “demonization of Vladimir Putin” are not policies, he admonished; they are ”alibis for the absence of one.” It is time to negotiate.
Then, in August and September, three more opinion pieces on the Ukrainian crisis appeared, all of the same tone and all by authorities in the American and European establishments.
- “The West on the wrong path “, an editorial by Gabor Steingart, publisher of Germany’s leading financial newspaper, Handelsblatt , written in English to obtain the widest audience and appearing on August 8 th , 2014;
- “ Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West’s Fault “, a study by John J. Mearsheimer, distinguished academic at the Council on Foreign Relations, in the September 2014 issue of Foreign Affairs , which appeared on-line beginning August 23 rd ;
- “ The Way Out of the Ukraine Crisis : U.S. leaders need to talk to the Russians, not threaten them. “, an article appearing in the September 2014 issue of The Atlantic by contributing editor Jeffrey Tayler, based in Moscow.
These authorities, and others as well (such as the award-winning investigative journalist Robert Parry in this August 10 th report ), go even further than Kissinger and debunk completely the mainstream narration of events in Ukraine, repeated over and over by our mass media. According to which it is Putin – who supposedly wants to rebuild the old Tzarist empire by grabbing country after country – the aggressor to be isolated and castigated.
We now learn, much to our surprise, that it is the West (through NATO) the real aggressor in Ukraine. Indeed, it is the West that engineered an armed coup in Kiev on February 22 nd , 2014, behind the smoke screen of the street protests, using Ukrainian neo-Nazi militias trained in NATO bases in Poland to attack the presidential palace and force President Janukovyč to flee. That put the country into the hands of the West which promptly brought to power, not the leaders that the EuroMaidan protesters had been fighting for, but the leaders that the Pentagon and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) wanted and had been grooming for some time. In other words, the EuroMaidan movement got hijacked. Pro-NATO neo-Nazi goons remained camped out in the central square for months, to make sure no one objected.
The purpose of the coup was: (1.) to permit NATO to install missiles along the Russian frontier – an objective that Kiev and Washington deny but that NATO-Ukraine Commission declarations and U.S. Missile Defense Agency visits confirm; (2.) to interrupt exports to Russia from the specialized industries in Eastern Ukraine (in the USSR, Eastern Ukraine had been assigned the production of those goods and the Russian army continues to this day to depend on them); (3.) to deprive Russia of its vital naval base in Crimea and perhaps install a NATO naval base there; (4.) to permit the IMF to apply its infamous “cure” to the Ukrainian economy, thus impoverishing the population still further and creating, at the doorstep of Western Europe, a vast workforce as cheap as that in Southeast Asia but much closer and better schooled. And at no burden to European Union members, with respect to benefits and rights, since Ukraine is not to be admitted fully as a EU member, but only as an economic-exchange partner (goodbye EuroMaidan dreams). This cheap labor will permit Western subsidiaries and shell corporations in Ukraine, which is a CISFTA member, to conduct, among other things, economic war on Russia through dumping.
It is thus clear that the Ukrainian crisis has been provoked, not by Russia, but by the West in order to put Russia into difficulty, militarily and economically. It is also clear that, in doing so, the West committed two illegal acts: first, in violation of the U.N. Charter, it engineered a coup to overthrow another country’s elected government; secondly, in violation of the 1997 Founding Act which calls for a neutral Ukraine (not in any military alliance), it did so to draw Ukraine into NATO.
Given all this, Putin’s reaction – i.e. , annexing Crimea to safeguard the Russian naval base there and supporting the separatist movement in the Donets region of eastern Ukraine to safeguard the vital industries there and conserve a minimal buffer zone – should be seen less as a “reprehensible grab” by a “voracious Russian bear” and more as an attempt to save the day and salvage whatever possible, after the reprehensible grab of the entire Ukrainian territory carried out last February by NATO and the West. This concept is illustrated below in a poster created by the NoWar Network in Rome, Italy, and displayed at a demonstration outside the Ukrainian embassy in Rome on May 17 th , 2014. The poster reads: “Ukraine: who is the invader?”
Debunking the mainstream narration of the events in Ukraine, as the five authors cited above have done, represents a huge step forward: it empowers us to find a solution to the conflict. We no longer see military confrontation as inevitable. Instead, we see very real possibilities for a negotiated armistice and peace treaty – for example, ones along the lines suggested by Kissinger in July and reworked in August and September by other authors.
Piecing together all the suggestions, a workable armistice/treaty might look like this: the West forgoes its plans to install NATO bases in Ukraine and Kiev forgoes impeding or conditioning commerce between the industries in eastern Ukraine and Russia; in exchange, Russia stops supporting the rebellion in eastern Ukraine and cedes Crimea back to Kiev – with the provision that the naval base there remains leased to Russia as before, although with better safeguards. The armistice/treaty might also contain specific provisions that bind Russia not to hinder Ukraine’s entry into the European economic zone and that bind Ukraine to: (a.), remain neutral politically and militarily (“Finlandization”) and (b.), prevent dumping in Russia by the corporations it regulates. Finally, the armistice/treaty could conceivably concede to the people of eastern Ukraine, in place of independence, substantial regional autonomy, not only cultural (local regulation of linguistic and religious questions) but also economic (for example, local regulation of exports) and military (a Regional Guard in place of the dreaded National Guard, rife with anti-Russian neo-Nazis).
And there would be peace – immediately.
Thus, in five authoritative publications appearing this summer and autumn, a new vision of the events in Ukraine suddenly appears – a vision that contradicts the official descriptions given heretofore. This new vision, by revealing what is truly at stake in the current conflict, empowers us to stand up resolutely and demand a cease-fire followed immediately by negotiations. For we are now able to see that the basis of a potential accord really exists. Of course, the question remains: how do we get the parties in conflict to see this as well?
Gabor Steingart’s editorial indicates a method to follow. Steingart describes the lesson that Willy Brandt, then Mayor of Berlin and subsequently Chancellor of West Germany, gave the world after the construction of the Berlin Wall by the Soviets in 1961. That wall was a slap in the face and could have spelled the end of any dialog between East and West. And yet Brandt did not rant and fume or call for sanctions or rattle a sword. Instead, he worked patiently to conciliate the two sides and, slowly but surely, succeeded. His method? Forgo revenge. Recognize the status quo imposed on you, in order to change it. Identify the real interests at stake and point out possible trade offs. Create ties among the parties involved, with no exclusions, thus promoting, over time, rapprochement and reconciliation. And above all, feel, and get others to feel, compassion – even towards one’s worst enemies.
Could Brandt serve as a model for our leaders today who are involved in the Ukrainian crisis: Merkel, Obama, Porošenko and Putin? Steingart thinks so: in fact, he wrote his editorial to call on German Chancellor Merkel to follow the example of her predecessor. And already, on her own, Merkel has been using Brandt tactics: for example, she phones constantly those leaders who tend not to speak to each other and thus keeps them virtually in touch. The Russian President seems to want to promote dialog as well. Although continuing to furnish “assistance” (and not just of the humanitarian kind) to eastern Ukraine, Putin has declared that he is ready to talk with anyone any time. He even got Porošenko to accept, at a regional meeting in Minsk on August 26 th , to sit down and discuss the current conflict face to face for two hours – something that had not occurred in months. The negotiations were “very tough and complex”, Porošenko confided afterward, but nonetheless “positive”: they permitted the two statesmen to create a permanent contact group to continue working out details. Dialog has begun.
But wait a moment! What about the fourth protagonist in the Ukrainian conflict who, while not present at Minsk, nonetheless cast a long shadow over the meeting there: Barack Obama?
Unfortunately, in Washington the neocons – the ultra-conservative counselors kicked out of the White House after George W. Bush’s defeat – have sneaked back in again and are now pushing Obama to campaign for the old, bipolar vision of the world that Bush famously summed up in these words: “Either you’re with us or you’re with the enemy”. Precisely the opposite of dialog and reconciliation.
Why this insistence on bipolarizing the world? There are at least two reasons, one foreign and the other domestic.
Internationally, neocons (and their influential and well-heeled sponsors) have not been happy with the gradual rapprochement taking place between Europe and Russia these past few years, as seen by the increasing number of oil and gas pipelines “sewing” the two land masses together, by the increasing number of Euro-Russian trade and financial agreements stipulated, by the increasing number of joint research projects for developing new technologies, and so on. Because all this can only lead to genuine multipolarity in the world, i.e., a world in which a future Euro-Russian block will have the same weight and punch as China or as… the United States of America. Goodbye U.S. primacy.
But by engineering the coup in Ukraine to undermine Russia on its western border, the neocons (and their sponsors) managed to provoke Putin’s counterattack and thus a fight. This permitted them, in turn, to denounce Russian “aggression” and to call for measures to castigate Russia – measures having the end effect of crippling Euro-Russian rapprochement, the neocons’ real goal. The beauty of this strategy is that it got Europeans to punish themselves , as well as the Russians, thus permitting the U.S. to rake in a profit off the sanctions. Specifically, EU countries were induced to:
- freeze part of their joint economic and technological exchanges with Russia, thus making it necessary to compensate by increasing their trans-Atlantic exchanges with the U.S. under the conditions spelled out in the forthcoming TTIP agreement. (The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, still top secret, is a free trade agreement that will give U.S.-based multinational corporations a stranglehold on European industries; it is due to be approved this year);
- throw a wrench in their joint oil/gas pipeline projects with Russia (or multiple wrenches as in the case of the South Stream project), thus making it necessary to compensate their energy losses by importing liquified gas from the U.S. – which, it is claimed, is now produced sufficiently in excess, thanks to fracking, to pick up the EU slack. In other words, besides economic and military dependence, Europe will now be dependent on the U.S. for much of its energy and thus, more than ever, a vassal.
All this is a textbook lesson in how to create empire without firing a shot.
The neocon international strategy therefore rejects multipolarity and redivides the world into two blocks, and the dividing line goes right along the eastern border of Ukraine. One block consists of Russia, Iran and China, the backbone of the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) which seems destined to become the new “Axis of Evil”. The other block, called “the West”, consists of all the other countries in the world, aligned behind the United States of America which shields them from Evil, that is, from the SCO.
Coherently with the policy of having no commerce with Evil, Obama refuses to engage directly with Putin and has got Porošenko to refuse to negotiate with the separatist leaders. Instead of dialog, Washington calls for sanctions to cripple and isolate Russia, travel bans to exclude Russian delegates from international encounters, and an increase in NATO troops along Russian borders as a means of intimidation. Likewise, instead of dialog with the separatists, Kiev chooses to intimidate them into submission by bombing their cities with highly imprecise Grad missiles, which kill civilians there indiscriminately (a war crime). On August 26 th , at the regional meeting held in Minsk, there was the unexpected thaw in relations between Porošenko and Putin just described; consequently, to nip it in the bud, two days later NATO circulated a few satellite photos of armored vehicles allegedly belonging to the Russian Army and, although no GPS coordinates were given, supposedly In Ukrainian territory. Porošenko was incited to sound the alarm against a full-scale Russian invasion (words which he later had to retract) and to call for EU intervention. There was not the slightest attempt to understand the concerns prompting the other side’s (alleged) behavior, or to find a way to reconcile differences, or simply to stop the NATO-inspired hysterics and restore calm. The thaw that had just begun promptly froze over.
The neocon insistence on bipolarizing the world and demonizing one’s adversary also serves their domestic agenda.
By evoking a new Axis of Evil (the SCO), the government can point a finger at a powerful enemy – much like the USSR was during the Cold War – and justify a permanent State of Emergency which can then lead to a police state (the real neocon goal). The 9/11 attacks, for example, enabled neocons on Capitol Hill (and not only the neocons, alas) to: (1.) push through the Patriot Act, designed “to punish terrorists” but, in reality, to make it possible to incarcerate any dissident without a trial; (2.) extend NSA spying to all electronic media in order “to discover terrorists” but, in reality, to monitor the life of every single citizen; (3.) militarize local police forces “in order to stop terrorist attacks” but, in reality, to stop any kind of protest, as was seen in Ferguson, Missouri, in August of 2014. If the SCO does indeed become the new Axis of Evil, its sheer size and strength, much greater than that of all the jihadist terrorist movements put together, will make creating a total police state a cakewalk for the neocons and the other conservative forces in Washington.
Can we stop this tendency? Can we halt the stream of propaganda aiming at bipolarizing the world and demonizing our adversaries? Can we convince our leaders to work for an immediate cease-fire in Ukraine and negotiations? And for a policy of more, not fewer, ties and exchanges with Russia? The task is enormous, given the formidable influence worldwide on governments and on the mass media exercised by the neocons’ sponsors (most are in Occupy’s ” 1% ” and many attend Bilderberg and Trilateral meetings). But no stone should be left unturned. For example, petitions, assemblies or coffee klatches debunking the mainstream account of events in Ukraine and calling for peace are most certainly useful. Even if they attract only a handful of signers or attendees, they are peer to peer communication and that counts.
But most of all we should aim at educating our leaders and fellow citizens in the method of conciliation that Willy Brandt put into practice when faced with the construction of the Berlin Wall. Steingart’s editorial in Handelsblatt was an attempt at doing just that. We can, for example, insist that our mass media cease demonizing our adversaries and, instead, help us to understand their concerns – and be ready to boycott the media that refuse to. We can demand that our elected representatives, if they want our vote, explain their foreign policy as much as their economic policies, and, in doing so, always show compassion towards the other side . Even in our everyday conversations and Internet exchanges we can work to civilize discourse, especially when touching on themes of war and peace, like the Ukrainian conflict.
Let us therefore undertake these tasks, all the time mindful that it will be much more difficult for us today, than it was for Brandt in 1961, to open a breach in the new Berlin Wall that is being ruthlessly and methodically erected along the eastern frontier of Ukraine. Because this time around, it is we in the West who are erecting the wall.
(This text is an extensive re-write in English, by the same author, of the original text in Italian, “Ci sono ancora speranze in Ucraina? ”, which appeared in the Italian on-line magazine Megachip on August 29, 2014, and in Pressenza-Italia on August 30, 2014.)
FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)
SUBJECT: Ukraine and NATO
We the undersigned are long-time veterans of U.S. intelligence. We take the unusual step of writing this open letter to you to ensure that you have an opportunity to be briefed on our views prior to the NATO summit on September 4-5.
You need to know, for example, that accusations of a major Russian "invasion" of Ukraine appear not to be supported by reliable intelligence. Rather, the "intelligence" seems to be of the same dubious, politically "fixed" kind used 12 years ago to "justify" the U.S.-led attack on Iraq. We saw no credible evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq then; we see no credible evidence of a Russian invasion now. Twelve years ago, former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, mindful of the flimsiness of the evidence on Iraqi WMD, refused to join in the attack on Iraq. In our view, you should be appropriately suspicious of charges made by the U.S. State Department and NATO officials alleging a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
President Barack Obama tried yesterday to cool the rhetoric of his own senior diplomats and the corporate media, when he publicly described recent activity in the Ukraine, as "a continuation of what's been taking place for months now ... it's not really a shift."
Obama, however, has only tenuous control over the policymakers in his administration -- who, sadly, lack much sense of history, know little of war, and substitute anti-Russian invective for a policy. One year ago, hawkish State Department officials and their friends in the media very nearly got Mr. Obama to launch a major attack on Syria based, once again, on "intelligence" that was dubious, at best.
Largely because of the growing prominence of, and apparent reliance on, intelligence we believe to be spurious, we think the possibility of hostilities escalating beyond the borders of Ukraine has increased significantly over the past several days. More important, we believe that this likelihood can be avoided, depending on the degree of judicious skepticism you and other European leaders bring to the NATO summit next week.
Experience With Untruth
Hopefully, your advisers have reminded you of NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen's checkered record for credibility. It appears to us that Rasmussen's speeches continue to be drafted by Washington. This was abundantly clear on the day before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq when, as Danish Prime Minister, he told his Parliament: "Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. This is not something we just believe. We know."
Photos can be worth a thousand words; they can also deceive. We have considerable experience collecting, analyzing, and reporting on all kinds of satellite and other imagery, as well as other kinds of intelligence. Suffice it to say that the images released by NATO on August 28 provide a very flimsy basis on which to charge Russia with invading Ukraine. Sadly, they bear a strong resemblance to the images shown by Colin Powell at the UN on February 5, 2003 that, likewise, proved nothing.
That same day, we warned President Bush that our former colleague analysts were "increasingly distressed at the politicization of intelligence" and told him flatly, "Powell's presentation does not come close" to justifying war. We urged Mr. Bush to "widen the discussion ... beyond the circle of those advisers clearly bent on a war for which we see no compelling reason and from which we believe the unintended consequences are likely to be catastrophic."
Consider Iraq today. Worse than catastrophic. Although President Vladimir Putin has until now showed considerable reserve on the conflict in the Ukraine, it behooves us to remember that Russia, too, can "shock and awe." In our view, if there is the slightest chance of that kind of thing eventually happening to Europe because of Ukraine, sober-minded leaders need to think this through very carefully.
If the photos that NATO and the U.S. have released represent the best available "proof" of an invasion from Russia, our suspicions increase that a major effort is under way to fortify arguments for the NATO summit to approve actions that Russia is sure to regard as provocative. Caveat emptor is an expression with which you are no doubt familiar. Suffice it to add that one should be very cautious regarding what Mr. Rasmussen, or even Secretary of State John Kerry, are peddling.
We trust that your advisers have kept you informed regarding the crisis in Ukraine from the beginning of 2014, and how the possibility that Ukraine would become a member of NATO is anathema to the Kremlin. According to a February 1, 2008 cable (published by WikiLeaks) from the U.S. embassy in Moscow to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, U.S. Ambassador William Burns was called in by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who explained Russia's strong opposition to NATO membership for Ukraine.
Lavrov warned pointedly of "fears that the issue could potentially split the country in two, leading to violence or even, some claim, civil war, which would force Russia to decide whether to intervene." Burns gave his cable the unusual title, "NYET MEANS NYET: RUSSIA'S NATO ENLARGEMENT REDLINES," and sent it off to Washington with IMMEDIATE precedence. Two months later, at their summit in Bucharest NATO leaders issued a formal declaration that "Georgia and Ukraine will be in NATO."
Just yesterday, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk used his Facebook page to claim that, with the approval of Parliament that he has requested, the path to NATO membership is open. Yatsenyuk, of course, was Washington's favorite pick to become prime minister after the February 22 coup d'etat in Kiev. "Yats is the guy," said Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland a few weeks before the coup, in an intercepted telephone conversation with U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt. You may recall that this is the same conversation in which Nuland said, "f*ck the EU."
Timing of the Russian "Invasion"
The conventional wisdom promoted by Kiev just a few weeks ago was that Ukrainian forces had the upper hand in fighting the anti-coup federalists in southeastern Ukraine, in what was largely portrayed as a mop-up operation. But that picture of the offensive originated almost solely from official government sources in Kiev. There were very few reports coming from the ground in southeastern Ukraine. There was one, however, quoting Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, that raised doubt about the reliability of the government's portrayal.
According to the "press service of the President of Ukraine" on August 18, Poroshenko called for a "regrouping of Ukrainian military units involved in the operation of power in the East of the country. ... Today we need to do the rearrangement of forces that will defend our territory and continued army offensives," said Poroshenko, adding, "we need to consider a new military operation in the new circumstances."
If the "new circumstances" meant successful advances by Ukrainian government forces, why would it be necessary to "regroup," to "rearrange" the forces? At about this time, sources on the ground began to report a string of successful attacks by the anti-coup federalists against government forces. According to these sources, it was the government army that was starting to take heavy casualties and lose ground, largely because of ineptitude and poor leadership.
Ten days later, as they became encircled and/or retreated, a ready-made excuse for this was to be found in the "Russian invasion." That is precisely when the fuzzy photos were released by NATO and reporters like the New York Times' Michael Gordon were set loose to spread the word that "the Russians are coming." (Michael Gordon was one of the most egregious propagandists promoting the war on Iraq.)
No Invasion -- But Plenty Other Russian Support
The anti-coup federalists in southeastern Ukraine enjoy considerable local support, partly as a result of government artillery strikes on major population centers. And we believe that Russian support probably has been pouring across the border and includes, significantly, excellent battlefield intelligence. But it is far from clear that this support includes tanks and artillery at this point -- mostly because the federalists have been better led and surprisingly successful in pinning down government forces.
At the same time, we have little doubt that, if and when the federalists need them, the Russian tanks will come.
This is precisely why the situation demands a concerted effort for a ceasefire, which you know Kiev has so far been delaying. What is to be done at this point? In our view, Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk need to be told flat-out that membership in NATO is not in the cards -- and that NATO has no intention of waging a proxy war with Russia -- and especially not in support of the rag-tag army of Ukraine. Other members of NATO need to be told the same thing.
For the Steering Group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity
William Binney, former Technical Director, World Geopolitical & Military Analysis, NSA; co-founder, SIGINT Automation Research Center (ret.)
Larry Johnson, CIA & State Department (ret.)
David MacMichael, National Intelligence Council (ret.)
Ray McGovern, former US Army infantry/intelligence officer & CIA analyst (ret.)
Elizabeth Murray, Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Middle East (ret.)
Todd E. Pierce, MAJ, US Army Judge Advocate (Ret.)
Coleen Rowley, Division Counsel & Special Agent, FBI (ret.)
Ann Wright, Col., US Army (ret.); Foreign Service Officer (resigned)
Photo: 2 F 16s flying over peaceful Dublin on a quiet Saturday afternoon, source
It is a Saturday afternoon in supposedly neutral Ireland. A quiet Saturday afternoon in Dublin.
In Croke Park, the national stadium of the GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association / Cumann Lúthchleas Gael) which is Ireland’s largest sporting organisation and is celebrated as one of the great amateur sporting associations in the world today a match is played. Penn State v/s UCF.
By Dave Lindorff
Kuopio -- Finland can be a shock to a visitor from America. The cities are clean, the highways and byways are smoothly paved and pothole-free despite the punishing winter climate faced by a country that straddles the Arctic Circle, schools look shiny and new, and it’s hard to see anyone who looks destitute.
A long list of prominent individuals has signed, a number of organizations will be promoting next week, and you can be one of the first to sign right now, a petition titled "Call For Independent Inquiry of the Airplane Crash in Ukraine and its Catastrophic Aftermath."
The petition is directed to "All the heads of states of NATO countries, and of Russia and the Ukraine, to Ban-ki Moon and the heads of states of countries on the UN Security Council." And it will be delivered to each of them.
The petition reads:
"Set up an impartial international fact finding inquiry and a public report on the events in Ukraine to reveal the truth of what occurred.
"Why is this important?
"It's important because there is so much misinformation and disinformation in the media that we are careening towards a new cold war with Russia over this."
That's not hyperbole. It's the language of U.S. and Russian politicians and media.
Of course, there are undisputed facts that could change people's understanding. Many Americans are unaware of NATO's expansion or of what actions Russia views as aggressive and threatening. But when a particular incident appears to be set up as a proximate cause for war it is well worth our time to insist on an exposure of the facts. Doing so is not to concede that any outcome of the inquiry would justify a war. Rather it is to prevent the imposition of an unproven explanation that makes war more likely.
What if the Gulf of Tonkin had been investigated 50 years ago this month? What if the independent inquiry that Spain wanted into the USS Maine had been allowed? What if Congress hadn't swallowed the one about the babies taken from incubators or that hilarious bit about the vast stockpiles of WMDs? Or, on the other hand, what if everyone had listened to John Kerry unskeptically on Syria last year?
When a Malaysian airplane went down in Ukraine, Kerry immediately blamed Vladimir Putin, but has yet to produce any evidence to back up the accusation. Meanwhile, we learn that the U.S. government is looking into the possibility that what happened was actually an attempt to assassinate Putin. Those two versions, the one initially announced with no apparent basis and the one reportedly now being investigated in secret, could hardly be more different. That the second one is under consideration makes it appear very likely that any serious proof of the former claim has not been found.
Here's a longer version of the petition:
"At this very moment in history, when so many people and nations around the world are acknowledging the 100th Anniversary of our planet's hapless stumble into World War I, great powers and their allies are ironically once again provoking new dangers where governments appear to be sleepwalking towards a restoration of old Cold War battles. A barrage of conflicting information is broadcast in the various national and nationalistic media with alternative versions of reality that provoke and stoke new enmities and rivalries across national borders.
"With the U.S. and Russia in possession of over 15,000 of the world’s 16,400 nuclear weapons, humanity can ill-afford to stand by and permit these conflicting views of history and opposing assessments of the facts on the ground to lead to a 21st Century military confrontation between the great powers and their allies. While sadly acknowledging the trauma suffered by the countries of Eastern Europe from years of Soviet occupation, and understanding their desire for the protection of the NATO military alliance, we the signers of this global call to action also note that the Russian people lost 20 million people during WWII to the Nazi onslaught and are understandably wary of NATO expansion to their borders in a hostile environment. Russia has lost the protection of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which the US abandoned in 2001, and warily observes missile bases metastasizing ever closer to its borders in new NATO member states, while the US rejects repeated Russian efforts for negotiations on a treaty to ban weapons in space, or Russia’s prior application for membership in NATO.
"For these reasons, we the peoples, as members of Civil Society, Non-Governmental Organizations, and global citizens, committed to peace and nuclear disarmament, demand that an independent international inquiry be commissioned to review events in Ukraine leading up to the Malaysian jet crash and of the procedures being used to review the catastrophic aftermath. The inquiry should factually determine the cause of the accident and hold responsible parties accountable to the families of the victims and the citizens of the world who fervently desire peace and a peaceful settlement of any existing conflicts. It should include a fair and balanced presentation of what led to the deterioration of U.S. –Russian relations and the new hostile and polarized posture that the U.S. and Russia with their allies find themselves in today.
"The UN Security Council, with US and Russian agreement, has already passed Resolution 2166 addressing the Malaysian jet crash, demanding accountability, full access to the site and a halt to military activity which has been painfully disregarded at various times since the incident. One of the provisions of SC Res 2166 notes that the Council “[s]upports efforts to establish a full, thorough and independent international investigation into the incident in accordance with international civil aviation guidelines.” Further, the 1909 revised Convention on the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes adopted at the 1899 Hague International Peace Conference has been used successfully to resolve issues between states so that war was avoided in the past. Both Russia and Ukraine are parties to the Convention.
"Regardless of the forum where the evidence is gathered and fairly evaluated, we the undersigned urge that the facts be known as to how we got to this unfortunate state of affairs on our planet today and what might be the solutions. We urge Russia and Ukraine as well as their allies and partners to engage in diplomacy and negotiations, not war and hostile alienating actions. The world can little afford the trillions of dollars in military spending and trillions and trillions of brain cells wasted on war when our very Earth is under stress and needs the critical attention of our best minds and thinking and the abundance of resources mindlessly diverted to war to be made available for the challenge confronting us to create a livable future for life on earth."
Here are initial signatories (organizations for identification only): (Add your name.) Hon. Douglas Roche, OC, Canada David Swanson, co-founder, World Beyond War Medea Benjamin, Code Pink Bruce Gagnon, Global Network Against Nuclear Power and Weapons in Space Alice Slater, JD, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, NY Professor Francis A. Boyle, University of Illinois College of Law Natasha Mayers, Union of Maine Visual Artists David Hartsough, co-founder, World Beyond War Larry Dansinger, Resources for Organizing and Social Change Ellen Judd, Project Peacemakers Coleen Rowley, Women Against Military Madness Lisa Savage, Code Pink, State of Maine Brian Noyes Pulling, M. Div. Anni Cooper, Peaceworks Kevin Zeese, Popular Resistance Leah Bolger, CDR, USN (Ret), Veterans for Peace Margaret Flowers, Popular Resistance Gloria McMillan, Tucson Balkan Peace Support Group Ellen E. Barfield, Veterans for Peace Cecile Pineda, author. Devil's Tango: How I Learned the Fukushima Step by Step Jill McManus Steve Leeper, Visiting professor, Hiroshima Jogakuin University, Nagasaki University, Kyoto University of Art and Design William H. Slavick, Pax Christi Maine Carol Reilly Urner, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom Ann E. Ruthsdottir Raymond McGovern, former CIA analyst, VA Kay Cumbow Steven Starr, Senior Scientist, Physicians for Social Responsibility Tiffany Tool, Peaceworkers Sukla Sen, Committee for Communal Amnity, Mumbai India Felicity Ruby Joan Russow, PhD, Coordinator, Global Compliance Research Project Rob Mulford, Veterans for Peace, North Star Chapter, Alaska Jerry Stein, The Peace Farm, Amarillo , Texas Michael Andregg, professor, St. Paul, Minnesota Elizabeth Murray, Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East, National Intelligence Council, ret.: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, Washington Robert Shetterly, artist, “Americans Who Tell the Truth,” Maine Katharine Gun, United Kingdom Amber Garland, St. Paul, Minnesota Beverly Bailey, Richfield, Minnesota Stephen McKeown, Richfield, Minnesota Darlene M. Coffman, Rochester, Minnesota Sister Gladys Schmitz, Mankato, Minnesota Bill Rood, Rochester, Minnesota Tony Robinson, Editor Pressenza Tom Klammer, radio host, Kansas City, Missouri Barbara Vaile, Minneapolis, Minnesota Helen Caldicott, Helen Caldicott Foundation Mali Lightfoot, Helen Caldicott Foundation Brigadier Vijai K Nair, VSM [Retd] Ph.D. , Magoo Strategic Infotech Pvt Ltd, India Kevin Martin, Peace Action Jacqueline Cabasso, Western States Legal Foundation, United for Peace and Justice Ingeborg Breines, Co-president International Peace Bureau Judith LeBlanc, Peace Action David Krieger, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation Edward Loomis, NSA Cryptologic Computer Scientist (ret.) J. Kirk Wiebe, NSA Senior Analyst (ret.), MD William Binney, former Technical Director, World Geopolitical & Military Analysis, NSA; co-founder, SIGINT Automation Research Center (ret.)
No to Nato protests: transport and accommodation
In less than 3 weeks time the leaders of the key Western powers will gather in South Wales for the NATO summit. We need the biggest possible protests to force them to break from their aggressive foreign policy.
The momentum for organised resistance to this year's NATO summit in Newport has grown in response to recent events.
The NATO powers give full backing to Israel, the watchdog of imperialism in the Middle East. Meanwhile, in Ukraine NATO has been stoking the flames of civil war, holding military exercises on Ukrainian soil at time fraught with international tensions - as made clear by the horrific shooting down of flight MH-17. And in Iraq, the increasing sectarian violence over the last few weeks has shown how western intervention has failed by every measure.
Large public meetings have been held by local Stop the War groups and more are being planned, and coaches from around the UK are being organised to mobilise as many people as possible for the mass demonstration in Newport on the 30th of August.
A whole week of protest is planned during the week of the summit.
Everything you need to know to prepare for these vital protests is available on the Stop the War web site.
You can also help us build the protest by ordering our No to Nato protest postcards, which contain details of the week of action. Call 020 7561 4830 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Coaches going to Newport (more to follow - please contact us if your are organizing transport your area):
- Birmingham Saturday 30 August return. Tickets £8. To book a ticket telephone 07771 567 496. Organized by Birmingham Stop the War
- London 8am coach to Newport from ULU, Malet Street. Return Sunday 31st August. Tickets £20/30. To book a ticket telephone 020 7561 4830. Organized by Stop the War and CND
- Norwich More details to follow - telephone 01493 664499 to register interest. Organized by Norwich Stop the War
- Newcastle 6am coach to Newport from Central Station, Newcastle. Saturday 30 August return.Tickets £30/15. To book a ticket telephone 07719 946 814. Organized by Newcastle Stop the War
- More coaches are being organized across the UK and we'll publish details as soon as we have them. Please get in touch if you are organizing for the Nato summit protests in your area.
- NATO Peace Camp. Tredegar Park (facilitated by Newport Council). Camping £2 per night. More details will be announced soon.
- Ibis Newport. Telephone 01633 859058. Rooms from £25 per night.
- Tredegar House Caravan Club Site. Telephone 01633815600. Camping from £18.40 per night. 10 minute bus ride from Newport town centre.
- Cwm Hedd Lakes. Telephone 01633896854. Camping from £12 per night.
The latest on NATO and the spread of war from the Stop the War web site:
- Demonising Putin when it was the West that provoked the Ukraine crisis Christopher Booker
- Obama opened the door to ISIS and is architect of chaos in Iraq, Syria and Libya Jeffrey Sachs
Stop the War Coalition | email@example.com | 020 7561 4830
By Dave Lindorff
There’s an old adage that goes: “You can judge a man by the company he keeps.”
If that’s the case, then applying it to nations, the world has to judge the US to be a truly wretched and repugnant country, and should be steering clear of it.
Whoops! What crisis?: Time to Go on the Offensive to Improve, not just Save Social Security and Medicare
By Dave Lindorff
The wind has suddenly been knocked out of sails of those critics of Social Security and Medicare in Washington -- Republican and Democrat -- who have for years been warning direly that the two programs were going bust. Suddenly their favored “rescue” plans for these crucial programs -- turning to a stingier way of calculating the annual inflation adjustment, raising the retirement age, and even reducing benefits for Social Security, and cutting benefits for Medicare -- don’t make sense to anyone.
By Peter van den Dungen
‘One of the eternal truths is that happiness is created and devel- oped in peace, and one of the eternal rights is the individual’s right to live. The strongest of all instincts, that of self-preservation, is an assertion of this right, affirmed and sanctified by the ancient commandment: "Thou shalt not kill." – It is unnecessary for me to point out how little this right and this commandment are respected in the present state of civilization. Up to the present time, the military organization of our society has been founded upon a denial of the possibility of peace, a contempt for the value of human life, and an acceptance of the urge to kill.’
-- Bertha von Suttner, at the start of her Nobel lecture, delivered on 18th April 1906 in Oslo1
The capital of Austria, and until 1918 of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, is not short of museums. One category celebrates the lives and music of the many great composers who were born here or lived in the city which has a musical heritage sec- ond to none. Beethoven, Haydn, Mozart, Schubert – to mention only the most famous among them – draw classical music lovers from all over the world to Vienna – to visit the houses where they lived, and to enjoy their music, often in the same concert halls where they performed. On the first day of every year, the New Year’s concert from the Musikverein in Vienna featuring mainly music from members of the Strauss family is broadcast live to the four corners of the world. This relatively modern tradition is itself responsible for stimulating interest in Vienna and bringing countless visitors to the city who wish to experience first-hand its unsurpassed musical culture. Impos- ing statues of the great composers with roots in Vienna adorn its beautiful parks. World-class museums are also devoted to art, especially painting. Among late 19th century and 20th cen- tury artists, Gustav Klimt and Friedensreich Hundertwasser have strong associations with the city, and attract countless devotees. In a very different field of human endeavour, stu- dents and practitioners of psycho-analysis associate the city with Sigmund Freud, its pioneer. It was from his residence in the city, now the Freud museum, that in September 1932 he wrote his famous letter to Albert Einstein in reply to the latter’s question, ‘Why War?’.
What’s a little espionage among friends?: Station Chief Ousted as CIA Spies Found in German Parliament and Spy Agency
By Dave Lindorff
Munich -- You have to wonder how much more the German public will take of the country’s ongoing humiliation by the United States and its extensive program of secretly spying on what nominally is one of America’s most reliable allies.
If Germany hasn't had enough, we in the United States sure have.
Despite the supposed ending of World War II, the U.S. still keeps over 40,000 armed soldiers permanently in Germany.
Germany has kicked out the latest CIA "station chief" -- a job title that seems to give one's career the longevity and utility of a Defense Against the Dark Arts professor at Hogwarts.
Does Germany need a better CIA station chief? A reformed NSA? A properly reviewed and vetted U.S. occupation?
What does Germany get out of this deal?
Protection from Russia? If the Russian government weren't demonstrating a level of restraint that dwarfs even that of the Brazilian soccer team's defense there would be full-scale war in Ukraine right now. Russia is no more threatening Germany than Iran is preparing to nuke Washington or the U.N. is confiscating guns in Montana.
Germany must gain something, surely? Perhaps protection from evil Muslims dehumanized in the manner that U.S. war marketers first developed for the dehumanization of Germans 100 years ago? Surely Germans are smart enough to have noticed that violent resistance to foreign aggression targets the nations responsible, not those declining to take part. Hosting bases of the military that gives Israel the weapons with which it slaughters the people of Gaza, whatever else it may be, is decidedly not a security strategy.
So what does Germany gain? The warm feeling that comes with knowing that all those acres and facilities with which so much good could be accomplished are being donated to the wealthiest nation on earth which refuses to care for its own people, chip in its share for the poor of the world, or slow its push for the destruction of the globe's climate even as Germany leads in the other direction?
Come on. Germany is a battered wife, a victim of Stockholm syndrome, a schizophrenic accomplice unwilling to relinquish its gang membership. Germany should know better. Germany should throw out the rest of the CIA and 40,000 members of the U.S. military and their families.
What does the United States get out of this codependent criminality?
A launching area closer to numerous nations it wishes to attack? That's a desire of the Pentagon, and of Chuck Hagel who claims that ISIS is a threat to the United States because he no doubt conceives of the United States as existing wherever it maintains troops (which is just about everywhere). That is not a desire of the U.S. public.
An unaccountable recklessly funded institution that makes enemies of allies, prevents cooperation across borders, destroys the rule of law and diplomatic initiatives, and erodes the rights of people at home and abroad in order to spy on governments, corporations, and those first to beginning murmuring their displeasure (and for all we know, soccer coaches as well)? Many of us are willing to forego this benefit.
The U.S. war machine does not, in fact, benefit the nations it occupies or the nation in whose name it occupies. It endangers both, strips away the rights of both, damages the natural environment of both, impoverishes both, and devotes the energies of both to destructive enterprises or mutual disagreements that distract from the necessary work of actual defense from actual dangers, such as the industrial destruction of our air, land, and oceans.
Pulling U.S. troops out of Germany would be the clearest signal that the United States, which has engaged in 200 military actions during the "post-war period," is ready at long last to actually end the war.
By David Swanson
Remarks at Independence from America event outside Menwith Hill "RFA" (NSA) base in Yorkshire.
First of all, thank you to Lindis Percy and everyone else involved in bringing me here, and letting me bring my son Wesley along.
And thank you to the Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases. I know you share my view that accountability of American bases would lead to elimination of American bases.
And thank you to Lindis for sending me her accounts of refusing to be arrested unless the police disarmed themselves. In the United States, refusing any sort of direction from a police officer will get you charged with the crime of refusing a lawful order, even when the order is unlawful. In fact, that's often the only charge levied against people ordered to cease protests and demonstrations that in theory are completely legal. And, of course, telling a U.S. police officer to disarm could quite easily get you locked up for insanity if it didn't get you shot.
Can I just say how wonderful it is to be outside of the United States on the Fourth of July? There are many wonderful and beautiful things in the United States, including my family and friends, including thousands of truly dedicated peace activists, including people bravely going to prison to protest the murders by drone of others they've never met in distant lands whose loved ones will probably never hear about the sacrifices protesters are making. (Did you know the commander of a military base in New York State has court orders of protection to keep specific nonviolent peace activists away from his base to ensure his physical safety -- or is it his peace of mind?) And, of course, millions of Americans who tolerate or celebrate wars or climate destruction are wonderful and even heroic in their families and neighborhoods and towns -- and that's valuable too.
I've been cheering during U.S. World Cup games. But I cheer for neighborhood, city, and regional teams too. And I don't talk about the teams as if I'm them. I don't say "We scored!" as I sit in a chair opening a beer. And I don't say "We won!" when the U.S. military destroys a nation, kills huge numbers of people, poisons the earth, water, and air, creates new enemies, wastes trillions of dollars, and passes its old weapons to the local police who restrict our rights in the name of wars fought in the name of freedom. I don't say "We lost!" either. We who resist have a responsibility to resist harder, but not to identify with the killers, and certainly not to imagine that the men, women, children, and infants being murdered by the hundreds of thousands constitute an opposing team wearing a different uniform, a team whose defeat by hellfire missile I should cheer for.
Identifying with my street or my town or my continent doesn't lead the same places that identifying with the military-plus-some-minor-side-services that calls itself my national government leads. And it's very hard to identify with my street; I have such little control over what my neighbors do. And I can't manage to identify with my state because I've never even seen most of it. So, once I start identifying abstractly with people I don't know, I see no sensible argument for stopping anywhere short of identifying with everybody, rather than leaving out 95% and identifying with the United States, or leaving out 90% and identifying with the so-called "International Community" that cooperates with U.S. wars. Why not just identify with all humans everywhere? On those rare occasions when we learn the personal stories of distant or disparaged people, we're supposed to remark, "Wow, that really humanizes them!" Well, I'd like to know, what were they before those details made them humanized?
In the U.S. there are U.S. flags everywhere all the time now, and there's a military holiday for every day of the year. But the Fourth of July is the highest holiday of holy nationalism. More than any other day, you're likely to see children being taught to pledge allegiance to a flag, regurgitating a psalm to obedience like little fascist robots. You're more likely to hear the U.S. national anthem, the Star Spangled Banner. Who knows which war the words of that song come from?
That's right, the War of Canadian Liberation, in which the United States tried to liberate Canadians (not for the first or last time) who welcomed them much as the Iraqis would later do, and the British burned Washington. Also known as the War of 1812, the bicentennial was celebrated in the U.S. two years ago. During that war, which killed thousands of Americans and Brits, mostly through disease, during one pointless bloody battle among others, plenty of people died, but a flag survived. And so we celebrate the survival of that flag by singing about the land of the free that imprisons more people than anywhere else on earth and the home of the brave that strip-searches airplane passengers and launches wars if three Muslims shout "boo!"
Did you know the U.S. flag was recalled? You know how a car will be recalled by the manufacturer if the brakes don't work? A satirical paper called the Onion reported that the U.S. flag had been recalled after resulting in 143 million deaths. Better late than never.
There are many wonderful and rapidly improving elements in U.S. culture. It has become widely and increasingly unacceptable to be bigoted or prejudiced against people, at least nearby people, because of their race, sex, sexual orientation, and other factors. It still goes on, of course, but it's frowned upon. I had a conversation last year with a man sitting in the shadow of a carving of confederate generals on a spot that used to be sacred to the Ku Klux Klan, and I realized that he would never, even if he thought it, say something racist about blacks in the United States to a stranger he'd just met. And then he told me he'd like to see the entire Middle East wiped out with nuclear bombs.
We've had comedians' and columnists' careers ended over racist or sexist remarks, but weapons CEOs joke on the radio about wanting big new occupations of certain countries, and nobody blinks. We have antiwar groups that push for celebration of the military on Memorial Day and other days like this one. We have so-called progressive politicians who describe the military as a jobs program, even though it actually produces fewer jobs per dollar than education or energy or infrastructure or never taxing those dollars at all. We have peace groups that argue against wars on the grounds that the military needs to be kept ready for other, possibly more important wars. We have peace groups that oppose military waste, when the alternative of military efficiency is not what's needed. We have libertarians who oppose wars because they cost money, exactly as they oppose schools or parks. We have humanitarian warriors who argue for wars because of their compassion for the people they want bombed. We have peace groups that side with the libertarians and urge selfishness, arguing for schools at home instead of bombs for Syrians, without explaining that we could give actual aid to Syrians and ourselves for a fraction of the cost of the bombs.
We have liberal lawyers who say they can't tell whether blowing children up with drones is legal or not, because President Obama has a secret memo (now only partially secret) in which he legalizes it by making it part of a war, and they haven't seen the memo, and as a matter of principle they, like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, ignore the U.N. Charter, the Kellogg Briand Pact, and the illegality of war. We have people arguing that bombing Iraq is now a good thing because it finally gets the U.S. and Iran talking to each other. We have steadfast refusals to mention a half-million to a million-and-a-half Iraqis based on the belief that Americans can only possibly care about 4,000 Americans killed in Iraq. We have earnest crusades to turn the U.S. military into a force for good, and the inevitable demand of those who begin to turn against war, that the United States must lead the way to peace -- when of course the world would be thrilled if it just brought up the rear.
And yet, we also have tremendous progress. A hundred years ago Americans were listening to snappy tunes about how hunting Huns was a fun game to play, and professors were teaching that war builds national character. Now war has to be sold as necessary and humanitarian because nobody believes it's fun or good for you anymore. Polls in the United States put support for possible new wars below 20 percent and sometimes below 10 percent. After the House of Commons over here said No to missile strikes on Syria, Congress listened to an enormous public uproar in the U.S. and said No as well. In February, public pressure led to Congress backing off a new sanctions bill on Iran that became widely understood as a step toward war rather than away from it. A new war on Iraq is having to be sold and developed slowly in the face of huge public resistance that has even resulted in some prominent advocates of war in 2003 recently recanting.
This shift in attitude toward wars is largely the result of the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq and the exposure of the lies and horrors involved. We shouldn't underestimate this trend or imagine that it's unique to the question of Syria or Ukraine. People are turning against war. For some it may be all about the money. For others it may be a question of which political party owns the White House. The Washington Post has a poll showing that almost nobody in the U.S. can find Ukraine on a map, and those who place it furthest from where it really lies are most likely to want a U.S. war there, including those who place it in the United States. One doesn't know whether to laugh or cry. Yet the larger trend is this: from geniuses right down to morons, we are, most of us, turning against war. The Americans who want Ukraine attacked are fewer than those believing in ghosts, U.F.O.s, or the benefits of climate change.
Now, the question is whether we can shake off the idea that after hundreds of bad wars there just might be a good one around the corner. To do that we have to recognize that wars and militaries make us less safe, not safer. We have to understand that Iraqis aren't ungrateful because they're stupid but because the U.S. and allies destroyed their home.
We can pile even more weight on the argument for ending the institution of war. These U.S. spy bases are used for targeting missiles but also for spying on governments and companies and activists. And what justifies the secrecy? What allows treating everyone as an enemy? Well, one necessary component is the concept of an enemy. Without wars nations lose enemies. Without enemies, nations lose excuses to abuse people. Britain was the first enemy manufactured by the would-be rulers of the United States on July 4, 1776. And yet King George's abuses don't measure up to the abuses our governments now engage in, justified by their traditions of war making and enabled by the sort of technologies housed here.
War is our worst destroyer of the natural environment, the worst generator of human rights abuses, a leading cause of death and creator of refugee crises. It swallows some $2 trillion a year globally, while tens of billions could alleviate incredible suffering, and hundreds of billions could pay for a massive shift to renewable energies that might help protect us from an actual danger.
What we need now is a movement of education and lobbying and nonviolent resistance that doesn't try to civilize war but to take steps in the direction of abolishing it -- which begins by realizing that we can abolish it. If we can stop missiles into Syria, there's no magical force that prevents our stopping missiles into every other country. War is not a primal urge of nations that must burst out a little later if once suppressed. Nations aren't real like that. War is a decision made by people, and one that we can make utterly unacceptable.
People in dozens of countries are now working on a campaign for the elimination of all war called World Beyond War. Please check out WorldBeyondWar.org or talk to me about getting involved. Our goal is to bring many more people and organizations into a movement not aimed at a specific war proposal from a specific government, but at the entire institution of war everywhere. We'll have to work globally to do this. We'll have to throw our support behind the work being done by groups like the Campaign for Accountability of American Bases and the Movement for the Abolition of War and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and Veterans For Peace and so many more.
Some friends of ours in Afghanistan, the Afghan Peace Volunteers, have proposed that everyone living under the same blue sky who wants to move the world beyond war wear a sky blue scarf. You can make your own or find them at TheBlueScarf.org. I hope by wearing this to communicate my sense of connection to those back in the United States working for actual freedom and bravery, and my same sense of connection to those in the rest of the world who have had enough of war. Happy Fourth of July!
Editor Note: The West has accused Russia of violating a 1994 pledge to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty in exchange for its surrender of Soviet-era nuclear weapons. But the West’s political and economic interference might also represent a violation, says ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.
By Ray McGovern
Did Russia’s annexation of Crimea on March violate the 1994 Budapest agreement among Ukraine, Russia, Great Britain and the U.S.? Specifically, in Paragraph One, Ukraine agreed to remove all nuclear weapons from its territory in return for a commitment by Russia, Britain and the U.S. “to respect the independence and sovereignty and existing borders of Ukraine?”
Dear Colleagues, dear Friends:
First of all, thank you very much for organizing the very interesting and important Peace Event in Sarajevo from June 6th to 9th, which you’ve called “the biggest international peace event 2014.” You have put together a compelling program.
Weeks ago I purchased my flight tickets to Sarajevo. I looked forward to the meetings and discussions with colleagues. I was also grateful for the opportunity to show a film, “The Killing Floor,” and to co-present a workshop about the first Global Action Day against the Use of Drones for Surveillance & Killing on October 4, 2014.
Only very recently did I notice that the donors for Peace Event Sarajevo include not only respected NGOs and foundations, but also the French Foreign Ministry (Ministère des Affaires Etrangères) and USAID (United States Agency for International Development).
How can this be? What do the governments of France and the United States hope to achieve by financing a peace event in Sarajevo? Have you perhaps heardthis same concern from other conference participants?
After all, the U.S. is by far the most aggressive war power in the world, with annual military spending that dwarfs that of all other countries and with operations all over the planet in violation of the sovereignty of other nations and international law. Among European nations, France is playing a particularly aggressive role, especially in Africa, and is working to persuade its European partners in NATO and the EU to join in more military ventures, often in the guise of “peacemaking” and “humanitarian” intervention.
Since I am a U.S. citizen, in the remainder of this letter I wish to explain more fully why I strongly object to the acceptance of a donation from USAID for a peace conference.
As you must know, USAID was founded at the height of the Cold War in 1961 and has played a controversial role in U.S. government destabilization efforts in various countries ever since, beginning with Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. The USAID website sets forth the mission of this agency:
“USAID is a U.S. Government agency that provides economic, development, and humanitarian assistance around the world in support of the foreign policy goals of the United States.”
“Although technically an independent federal agency, USAID operates subject to the foreign policy guidance of the President, Secretary of State, and the National Security Council.”
“Further, since 9/11, America’s foreign assistance programs have been more fully integrated into the United States’ National Security Strategy.”
Over the years, many countries have expelled USAID. In 2012 Russia expelled USAID because of “attempts to influence political processes through its grants,” and Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Venezuela called on all the Latin American ALBA countries to expel USAID.
It seems that these countries had good grounds to expel USAID. For example, in 2013 Wikileaks exposed how USAID worked in Venezuela to destabilize its government. In April 2014, an investigative article by the Associated Press exposed USAID attempts to destabilize Cuba by setting up a Cuban Twitter service. Some 40,000 Cubans joined the Twitter service, unaware of the U.S. role in setting it up. They also were unaware that the U.S. government was monitoring their private Twitter communications. The U.S. had planned to subsequently intervene in Cuban social networks by sending messages to the Twitter subscribers with the aim of fomenting unrest in Cuba. Reporting on the Cuban Twitter scandal, the well-known U.S. independent news program Democracy Now asked: “Is USAID the New CIA?”
Nearer to Sarajevo, USAID has played a leading role in the U.S. “regime change” effort in the Ukraine. USAID of course supports the coup government in Kiev, which includes acknowledged fascists and has unleashed terror and death on countless Ukrainians. Over the last twenty years, USAID pumped $1.8 billion into various Ukrainian projects, including $1.25 million to subsidize the pro-Kiev media in advance of the May 25th presidential election. In May 2014 USAID brokered a U.S. government loan guarantee of another billion dollars.
And here in Germany, USAID is partnered with AFRICOM, the United States Africa Command in Stuttgart, which is part of the Pentagon and the central command for all U.S. military ventures in Africa, including intelligence gathering, illegal drone murders, clandestine special forces ventures, and providing training and assistance for African military forces allied with the U.S. The U.S. military activities in Africa are often conducted in close association with those of France, and the U.S. has provided France with Reaper drones for use in Africa. To summarize, USAID provides a “humanitarian” veneer for brutal neo-colonial policies in Africa. USAID is the glove on the massive U.S. military fist.
Acceptance of the USAID donation damages the reputation of Peace Event Sarajevo 2014 and of its participants, and undermines the conference’s credibility.
Acceptance of the donation also helps the nefarious USAID to spruce up its image through association with well-respected peace activists, so that USAID can continue to “talk of peace” while preparing wars.
Peace Event Sarajevo 2014 should immediately return the USAID donation.
If for some reason it is not possible to return the USAID donation, Peace Event Sarajevo organizers should at the beginning of the conference disclose to all conference participants all details concerning the USAID donation, including how it came about, its amount, and any donor letters, contracts or correspondence.
Furthermore, Peace Event Sarajevo organizers must assure conference participants that their contact data and other personal information have not been and will not be made available to USAID for future schemes to influence social networks as was attempted by USAID in the Cuban Twitter project.
This article is a Truthout original.
Author Elsa Rassbach is US citizen, filmmaker and journalist, who often lives and works in Berlin, Germany. She heads the “GIs & US Bases” working group in DFG-VK (the German affiliate of War Resisters International, WRI) and is active in Code Pink, UNAC,No to NATO, and the anti-drone campaign in Germany. Her film short “We Were Soldiers in the ‘War on Terror’” has just been released in the U.S., and “The Killing Floor,” her award-winning film set in the Chicago Stockyards, will be re-released next year.
On Thursday, May 29, with 25 meters of signatures, the resounding NO to Italian cooperation with Israeli water company Mekorot was taken to Rome City Hall. The 7114 signatures on the petition against the agreement signed between Rome’s water utility ACEA and Mekorot snaked their way through the public square where a delegation of the Committee Against ACEA-Mekorot Cooperation and the Rome Coordination for Public Water delivered a copy to the office of mayor Ignazio Marino. The petition calls on the city of Rome, the majority shareholder in ACEA, thus far silent on the issue, to take the necessary steps to block the agreement signed by the two companies.
Mekorot, Israel's national water company, is responsible for serious violations of international law. The company extracts water illegally from Palestinian water sources, in turn providing the stolen water to Israeli settlements built illegally in the occupied Palestinian territory, which could not exist without Mekorot. An artificial water shortage that concerns only the Palestinian people has been created by Israeli policies, implemented by Mekorot, while abundant water supplies flow to the swimming pools, lawns and intensive agriculture of the Israeli settlements. The Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq refers to this as "water apartheid," and organizations such as Amnesty International have stated that the purpose of these policies is to expel the Palestinians from their land.
On the Campidoglio Square in front of City Hall, where the movement for the right to housing was also protesting, activists noted that while the ACEA denies the fundamental right to water with cutoffs for those unable to pay their water bill, the company is now looking to go into business with those stealing water in Palestine in order to turn a profit on a common good.
Beyond Rome and Italy, the signatures on the petition also came from more than 60 countries around the world, including Israel. Just days prior, on May 25 a letter from Israeli citizens was sent to the City of Rome and ACEA demanding that all cooperation with Mekorot cease immediately. http://bdsitalia.org/index.
Protests will continue on June 5 at 10:00 am during the ACEA annual shareholders meeting, where activists working to defend the fundamental right to water, from Rome to Palestine, will reaffirm, in addition to the calls for an end to the agreement with Mekorot, that there is no room for profits and private speculation on water and its management must be public.
No Committee Mekorot ACEA Agreement
Coordination Roman Public Water
“We must use all available options,
which have been given to us,
to end the global suffering.”
The future is always present. The caterpillar contains the information of the butterfly. Behind the global violence, the dream of a new Earth develops.
With this perspective we are able to look into the insanity of our epoch, which has reached its climax. Every day uncountable human beings, animals and biotopes die in order to maintain a system from which ever fewer people profit. Big parts of the Earth are systematically destabilized. Many of the current wars serve – exactly as in the establishment of world spanning “free trade zones” – the extension of capitalist power in the direction of a totalitarian world order. Humanity is heading toward a global catastrophe.
We are facing the decision: Planetary collapse or comprehensive system change?
What we now need is engaged women and men to join powers for the development of concrete perspectives and corresponding strategies for their distribution. It is no longer possible to bear witness to the worldwide atrocities without working on a convincing alternative.
We invite activists, decision-makers, journalists, investors, musicians, artists and researchers from all over the world to the Summer University in Tamera. We especially invite all participants of the worldwide Terra Nova School to meet here, connect with each other and strengthen themselves. We invite you to co-create a global alliance for a future without war.
The ten-day Summer University is an intense community experience and a space for strategic planning and creative work. In a variety of different groups, we want to develop answers to the following questions:
Instead of paying a regular “event fee” we invite you to participate in our current spiritual experiment of redirecting money into models for the future. Our suggestion is that each participant tries to acquire a minimum amount of 1000€ in addition to the 20€ day rate. Please take a moment to read this, and join in.
Just as Greenpeace has to be financed by donations, building functioning peace models needs broad financial support. For this purpose we currently launch a big action. We invite sponsors and people from the financial world to no longer invest money in an outdated economic system, but in the implementation of a profound future perspective – in the development of Tamera and the Healing Biotopes Project. There are many people in this world today who do not know where they can put their money and are searching for meaningful ways to invest in a decent future perspective. We ask all of you to participate in this big fundraising experiment.
We want our International Summer University to become a planetary meeting place for peace workers and to use the event, in the spirit of this money campaign, for a common spiritual experiment. With your contribution you will cover operating costs of Tamera and help to support three of our operations & projects that currently require financial support. For more details on how the 1000€ will be used, please check the Summer University event description on the Tamera website: www.tamera.org.
By participating in this experiment all together, we build a common power field of success. We invite you to become active in seducing money flows in the process.
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Institute for Global Peace Work (IGP)
Tamera Peace Research Center
Monte do Cerro, P-7630-303 Colos, Portugal
Phone: +351-283 635 484, Fax: - 374
From June 6 to 9, the peace movement from around the world will gather in Sarajevo. See http://PeaceEventSarajevo2014.eu We speak with one of the planners of this event, Reiner Braun.
Reiner Braun is based in Berlin, Germany. He is the Executive Director of Scientists for Peace and Sustainability and the International Network of Engineers and Scientists for Global Responsibility. Since 2004 Reiner Braun has been working for various projects related to the Einstein year at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin and for the Max Planck Society. Since 2006 he has been the Executive Director of the German branch and since 2012 of the full International Association Of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms. He is project manager of the Vereinigung Deutscher Wissenschaftler (or Federation of German Scientists), the German Pugwash group. And since Septmber 2013 he has been Co-president of the International Peace Bureau and one of the speakers of the German peace mouvement.
Total run time: 29:00
Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.
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Most taxpayers know that evading tax is a crime, but how many of us know
that paying tax can also be a crime? Chris Coverdale, a tax resister, explains.
It is a salutary fact that every time a resident or visitor to Britain purchases a cup of coffee or buys a drink in a pub we make a small but significant contribution to war and the mass murder of innocent men, women and children. Every time we pay tax we take part in the world’s worst crimes - genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes against peace.
Under the domestic and international laws of war citizens are forbidden from taking part in a war on the side of the aggressor and are legally bound to disobey the orders of any Government that takes part in illegal war or supports acts of genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes. This duty to refuse to obey unlawful Government orders includes orders to pay tax [Income tax, Council tax, VAT etc]. If a government uses the funds raised by taxation to wage illegal war or to commit genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes, then a taxpayer’s normal duty to pay tax is reversed and becomes a duty to refuse to pay tax.
“ The very essence of the Charter is that individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience imposed by the individual State. He who violates the laws of war cannot obtain immunity while acting in pursuance of the authority of the State, if the State in authorising action moves outside its competence under international law…”
Nuremburg War Crimes Tribunal 1946
War is never lawful; it was outlawed in 1928 by the Treaty for the Renunciation of War (Kellogg-Briand Pact). This treaty, which formed the legal basis for the Nuremburg War Crimes Trials and the prosecution of Germany’s leaders, is still in force. The only occasion when the use of armed force is lawful occurs when a State is under attack and it acts in self-defence to repel the attackers. On all other occasions the use of armed force is illegal.
“War between nations was renounced by the signatories of the Kellogg-Briand Treaty. This means that it has become throughout practically the entire world an illegal thing. Hereafter, when nations engage in armed conflict, either one or both of them must be termed violators of this general treaty law.... We denounce them as law breakers."
HenryStimson, USA Secretary of State 1932
Wilful killing during war is a crime. If a person is killed as a consequence of an aggressive military action then the death is unlawful and everyone involved in the commission of the crime commits an offence and can be charged with a war crime, a crime against humanity, genocide, a crime against peace, murder or complicity in these crimes.
WHEN WAR IS ILLEGAL, PAYING TAX IS A WAR CRIME
In international law each of the wars fought since 2001 against Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya is illegal. Not only do they violate the Kellogg-Briand Pact and the UN Charter, but by killing civilians, the leaders and taxpayers of every State involved in these wars committed murder, crimes against peace, war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
Under the common law doctrine of ‘joint enterprise’, Article 25 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court or Terrorism legislation every citizen of a NATO State who has paid tax since 2001 is technically an accessory to the crimes committed by their Government, and is criminally liable for arrest, prosecution and punishment for complicity in war crimes.
The fact, that taxpayers and tax collectors can be arrested, tried and punished as war criminals alongside the civil, political and military leaders responsible for waging a war may come as an unwelcome shock to those who are not familiar with the laws of war. But it should be no surprise to anyone who has experienced or considered the horrific consequences of war. Waging a war, in which tens of thousands of totally innocent men women and children are injured and killed, is the world’s most evil act; so supporting a war, by paying tax and providing the funds to buy the weapons and pay the troops, ranks alongside it as a monstrous crime.
Taxpayers who have unwittingly supported illegal wars will be relieved to know that the legislation provides them with a get-out clause. Article 25.3(f) of the Rome Statute states:
… a person who abandons the effort to commit the crime or otherwise prevents the completion of the crime shall not be liable for punishment under this Statute for the attempt to commit that crime if that person completely and voluntarily gave up the criminal purpose.
As long as taxpayers end their participation in the crimes immediately and refuse to pay tax to their government or its agents until the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Pakistan have ended, they will not be punished. To avoid the possibility of being tried and punished as an accessory to war crimes, sign a Declarationwithdrawing your consent to taxation until all unlawful military actions have ended and the UK Government is abiding by its treaty commitments and the laws of war. Remember, if you continue to pay tax whilst HM Forces and our allies in NATO are attacking and killing innocent civilians – a war crime, you are liable in law for arrest and prosecution as an accessory to war crimes.
We all have a choice. We can withhold tax and force our Governments to end their illegal wars or we can continue to pay our taxes and prolong the carnage. It’s our choice and our decision.
“War is essentially an evil thing. Its consequences are not confined to the belligerent states alone, but affect the whole world. To initiate a war of aggression therefore, is not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”
Nuremburg War Crimes Tribunal 1946
Treaty for the Renunciation of War (Kellogg-Briand Pact), UN Charter, Nuremburg War Crimes Tribunal, Nuremburg Principles, Genocide Convention, Geneva Conventions, Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Terrorism Act.
Article 25.3(f) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
S. 51 and 52 of The International Criminal Court Act 2001 or S.1, 2, and 3 The International Criminal Court [Scotland] Act 2001
By Dave Lindorff
I was shocked to find myself in almost perfect agreement today with a recent column by the neoconservative pundit Charles Krauthammer.
Usually Krauthammer has me groaning, but yesterday his column nailed it.
- Fought to protect corporate America’s $50,000,000.00 investment in Cuba during the Spanish-American War;
- Died on foreign shores during World War I in what President Woodrow Wilson, who involved the U.S. in that war, later said “…in its inception, was a commercial and industrial war;”
- Sacrificed so much in World War II while U.S. companies, with U.S. government approval, continually supplied the Axis powers with goods that U.S. citizens had to ration, including materials used to help kill Allied soldiers;
- Suffered and died in Korea, to safeguard and ensure the expansion of U.S. trade throughout the region;
- Endured the hell of the Vietnam War to satisfy the egos of three presidents, and help ensure their elections and re-elections;
- Fought in the heat of the Iraqi and Kuwaiti deserts to protect Western oil sources;
Lay down your arms in Ukraine!
Stop NATO !
The peace movement in Germany shares with many people the concern for peace in Europe. Nothing is good in Ukraine. The situation is stretched to breaking point, further escalation is to be feared. It is 5 minutes before midnight.
The transitional government is significantly influenced by representatives of the neo-fascist party "Svoboda" and the right-wing militant group "Right Sector“. Their goal is to fight the people in eastern Ukraine, opposing by military force those in the East who demand greater autonomy and self-determination. The recently convened "Round Table" is a sham, because the representatives of the “breakaway” regions are excluded.
The sabre-rattling in the West is completely inadequate to the seriousness of the situation. The ones seeing Russia as the big troublemaker and aggressor, have understood very little of the conditions in and around Ukraine. The authorship of international tensions in Eastern Europe lies in the policies of the EU and NATO, who have pushed their borders towards both Russia and Ukraine. They now want to gag Ukraine economically with a contract of association and bring it into a military posture against Russia. What was once conceived as a "common European home", degenerates into a Western-dominated Europe in which Russia is assigned the role of at best a servants' chamber. Common security is different!
What Ukraine and the region need are an immediate cease-fire and the beginning of a negotiation process with all parties involved. The peace movement demands:
Do everything to achieve a lasting ceasefire in Ukraine.
From EU and the federal government of Germany, we demand a policy of de-escalation in the Ukraine and to reduce tensions with Russia;
No economic sanctions ! Withdrawal of the " Association Agreement " !
To the media in our country, we demand a proper reporting and to tone down the rhetoric.
No tolerance of, and no cooperation with, fascist forces in Ukraine!
Stop the eastward expansion of NATO! Ukraine must remain non-aligned.
No arms exports into the region !
Create trust : for example, by convening a European Security Conference and the strict respect of the prohibition of force enshrined in international law.
Common security rather than confrontation!
Demonstrations, rallies and other actions will be held on Saturday, May 31 throughout Germany, at 11:55 am with the common signal to Ukraine : LAY DOWN YOUR WEAPONS !
Federal Friedensratschlag: http://www.ag-
No justice at the US DOJ: AG Holder’s Big News about Prosecuting Chinese Spying and a Crooked Swiss Bank are a Joke
By Dave Lindorff
The Justice Department is really pumping out the pointless prosecutions these days.
By T., a teacher from Odessa -- submitted by Bruce Gagnon
I have lived in Odessa since my early childhood and adore this sunny south city with its hospitable and witty people. Odessa is a multinational city which is reflected in the names of its streets: French and Italian Boulevards, Greek and Bulgarian Streets, Moldavian district, etc. Odessa was built according to a decree issued by the Russian empress Catherine the Great over 200 years ago as a Russian port city on the Black Sea. And it was constructed by French and Italian architects and engineers invited by Catherine. That is why it is said to resemble Paris …
During the Soviet period Odessa was a part of the Ukrainian SSR – one of the 15 republics comprising the USSR at the time, though it was Russian, both by its population and the language it spoke. But it was not of principal importance for the numerous nations and nationalities living there, as all of them had equal rights and comprised one and the same Soviet people. When I studied at school there were Russians, Ukrainians, Jews and Bulgarians in my class, and it didn’t matter – we were the citizens of one and the same country.
After the USSR collapsed, the Ukrainian Republic became Ukraine and started building its own independent state seeking to prove its self-sufficiency and ability to become a powerful and prosperous state. But it failed. Instead the state succeeded in splitting and embroiling the two people inhabiting it – Ukrainians and Russians. Being a teacher I can definitely state that in 23 years of independence there appeared a generation of young people brought up in a Russophobic spirit. It was made possible due to the anti-Russian policy of the state which tried to shift the discontent of its citizens from itself onto its external neighbour-state – Russia (the so-called “younger-brother syndrome”). But to make hatred to one’s fraternal people a country’s national idea is, to my mind, absurd and a crime against its own people.
Ukraine could be called “an artificial state”. If one takes interest in its history, it will turn out that the state has existed in its present form not so long ago, and consists of heterogeneous parts. One of the major reasons of the present crisis in Ukraine is that the neo-nazi and Russophobic ideology of one of these parts, Galicia, is imposed upon the entire Ukraine. The slogans of the Kiev “Maidan” like “Glory to Ukraine! – Glory to heroes!”, “Nation is above all!”, “Death to enemies!” are the slogan of the nationalists and Bandera-followers from the west of Ukraine. Their enemies are Russians, and their heroes are Bandera, Shukhevich and the like, who were fascists’ henchmen during the last war, and who became notorious for their flagrant atrocities against peaceful population in the west of Ukraine.
And for Odessa, which heroically fought with [against Hitler] the fascist invaders, for Crimea (which “returned back home to Russia”), as well as for the whole southern and eastern Ukraine, such an ideology is unacceptable and arouses rebuff. There are lots of ethnic Russian and Russian-speaking people here who are traditionally strongly attached by Russia. So in many cities, Odessa inclusive, people started participating in peaceful protest marches demanding, in particular, a referendum as to the future state structure arrangement.
They do not want to be second-rate people, they want to stay on the land where they belong, to speak their native tongue, and to live in peace with their Russian neighbours-brothers, as well as with the whole world. But the Western-backed (US first and foremost) unelected fascist regime in Kiev does not want to take into account their inalienable right to their culture and national identity, so confrontation and repressions started. The propaganda of the Ukrainian media is stirring up the information war, the journalists trying to tell the truth have to leave the country. The Russian TV channels are cut off. A parliamentary deputy, Oleg Tsaryov, the only presidential candidate who tried to inform the government and the world public about the opinion of the people living in the south-east, is now subject to criminal prosecution and is being relieved from inviolability of a deputy.
On the Internet there has recently been promulgated the telephone talk between Tsaryov and the second-richest Ukrainian oligarch Kolomoysky (the latter is said to stay behind and pay for organizing the flagrant provocation and massacre in Odessa, as well as for organizing punitive squads for fighting the people’s volunteer corps in the eastern regions of Ukraine), in which Kolomoysky was threatening Tsaryov and his family.(ref) As a result, millions of people in the south-east do not feel themselves protected, fear about their future and seek protection and salvation from their brothers-Slavs living in Russia. That’s why the slogans “Russia!”, “No to junta”, “No to fascism!” and “Putin!” were sounding during their peaceful protest marches. These thousands of people are neither "separatists", nor "terrorists" as they are often called by the pro-Kiev media, they are just peaceful citizens wishing to be heard.
Now the split in Ukraine has turned into a real war against its own people, with a great number of victims. The horrible massacre and the succeeding burning of dozens of people in Odessa is, to my mind, a peak in the fratricidal war. I am neither a politician, an expert, nor an investigator, so I am not to judge exactly what forces are behind these events. But having read lots of information and opinions on the Internet I understand that it is definitely a provocation in the dirty game of big politicians and oligarchs in their struggle for redivision of the world, power and money. Now only children do not understand that the West does not want to see the truth about the events in Ukraine because the stakes in this game are geopolitical. The fight is for hegemony in the world between Russia and the USA, and Ukraine just happens to be the battlefield between these two “great powers”. It is quite natural that Russia does not want to have NATO “at its door”, and a US naval base deployed in Odessa. Neither do the Russians living here.
Whether the crime in Odessa will be investigated or not, is a big question. I personally am not at all sure of it. But it is impossible to put up with the fact that 48 Odessites (and, by the grapevine, much more) have been burned alive, as in Byelorussian village of Khatyn. We have been seeing their charred bodies while sleeping and have cried our eyes out imagining their sufferings. There has never been such a horrible crime against humanity in Odessa since the war of 1941-1945. My parents were fighting then against Hitler invaders, my father was awarded to many orders and medals, my mother had two medals too – one “For the Defense of Stalingrad”, and another one “For the Victory over Germany in the Great Patriotic War”. So I cannot accept the fact that neo-nazism and fascism as represented by the current junta (and there is no other name for this unlawful and criminal government) is established in Ukraine. After the Odessa Khatyn there will never be a single and united Ukraine. Fascism/nazism is a terrible evil, and if it is not immediately stopped, it will keep growing and sprawling like cancer.
I was so glad when, thanks to Olga, I got an opportunity to contact you: now we have some hope to bring the truth about Odessa and Ukraine to the people all over the world. I would be happy if my letter could at least a little helpful for you in your noble and important activity, that of struggle for peace.
The international criminal court's decision to investigate allegations of war crimes places the UK in the company of countries such as the Central African Republic, Colombia and Afghanistan.
Allegations that British troops were responsible for a series of war crimes following the invasion of Iraq are to be examined by the international criminal court (ICC) at the Hague, officials have announced.
The court is to conduct a preliminary examination of around 60 alleged cases of unlawful killing and claims that more than 170 Iraqis were mistreated while in British military custody.
British defence officials are confident that the ICC will not move to the next stage and announce a formal investigation, largely because the UK has the capacity to investigate the allegations itself.
However, the announcement is a blow to the prestige of the armed forces, as the UK is the only western state that has faced a preliminary investigation at the ICC. The court's decision places the UK in the company of countries such as the Central African Republic, Colombia and Afghanistan.
In a statement, the ICC said: "The new information received by the office alleges the responsibility of officials of the United Kingdom for war crimes involving systematic detainee abuse in Iraq from 2003 until 2008.
"The re-opened preliminary examination will analyse, in particular, alleged crimes attributed to the armed forces of the United Kingdom deployed in Iraq between 2003 and 2008.
Responding to the decision, the attorney general, Dominic Grieve, said the government rejected any allegation that there was systematic abuse carried out by the British armed forces in Iraq.
"British troops are some of the best in the world and we expect them to operate to the highest standards, in line with both domestic and international law," he said. "In my experience the vast majority of our armed forces meet those expectations."
Grieve added that although the allegations are already being "comprehensively investigated" in the UK "the UK government has been, and remains a strong supporter of the ICC and I will provide the office of the prosecutor with whatever is necessary to demonstrate that British justice is following its proper course".
The investigation also means that the British police team responsible for investigating the allegations, as well as the Service Prosecuting Authority (SPA), which is responsible for bringing courts martial cases, and Grieve, who must make the final decision on war crimes prosecutions in the UK, can all expect to face a degree of scrutiny from The Hague.
Coming just days before a European election in which the UK Independence party (Ukip) is widely expected to perform well – in part because of its scepticism about European institutions such as the ICC – the court's decision is also likely to trigger considerable political turmoil.
The decision by the ICC chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, was made after a complaint was lodged in January by Berlin-based human rights NGO the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights, and Birmingham law firm Public Interest Lawyers (PIL), which represented the family of Baha Mousa, the Iraqi hotel receptionist tortured to death by British troops in 2003, and which has since represented scores of other men and women who were detained and allegedly mistreated.
The process of a preliminary examination can take several years.
The newly-appointed head of the SPA, Andrew Cayley QC – who has 20 years experience of prosecuting at war crimes tribunals in Cambodia and at The Hague – said he was confident that the ICC would eventually conclude that the UK should continue to investigate the allegations.
Cayley said the SPA "will not flinch" from bringing prosecutions, if the evidence justifies it. He added that he did not anticipate any civilians – officials or ministers – facing prosecution.
Any war crime committed by British servicemen or servicewomen is an offence under English law by virtue of the International Criminal Court Act 2001.
The ICC has already seen evidence suggesting that British troops did commit war crimes in Iraq, concluding after receiving a previous complaint in 2006: "There was a reasonable basis to believe that crimes within the jurisdiction of the court had been committed, namely wilful killing and inhuman treatment." At that point, the court concluded that it should take no action, as there were fewer than 20 allegations.
Many more cases have emerged in recent years. Currently, the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT), the body set up by the Ministry of Defence to investigate complaints arising from the five-year British military occupation of the south-east of the country, is examining 52 complaints of unlawful killing involving 63 deaths and 93 allegations of mistreatment involving 179 people. The alleged unlawful killings include a number of deaths in custody and the complaints of mistreatment range from relatively minor abuse to torture.
PIL withdrew allegations of unlawful killings arising out of one incident, a firefight in May 2004 known as the battle of Danny Boy, although an inquiry continues to examine allegations that a number of insurgents taken prisoner at that time were mistreated.
The ICC will examine separate allegations, mostly from former detainees held in Iraq.
Following the death of Baha Mousa, one soldier, corporal Donald Payne, admitted being guilty of inhumane treatment of detainees and was jailed for one year. He became the first and only British soldier to admit a war crime.
Six other soldiers were acquitted. The judge found that Mousa and several other men had been subjected to a series of assaults over 36 hours, but a number of charges had been dropped because of "a more or less obvious closing of ranks".
The MoD admitted to the Guardian four years ago that at least seven further Iraqi civilians had died in UK military custody. Since then, nobody has been charged or prosecuted.
Source: The Guardian
"5. (C) Ukraine and Georgia's NATO aspirations not only touch a raw nerve in Russia, they engender serious concerns about the consequences for stability in the region. Not only does Russia perceive encirclement, and efforts to undermine Russia's influence in the region, but it also fears unpredictable and uncontrolled consequences which would seriously affect Russian security interests. Experts tell us that Russia is particularly worried that the strong divisions in Ukraine over NATO membership, with much of the ethnic-Russian community against membership, could lead to a major split, involving violence or at worst, civil war. In that eventuality, Russia would have to decide whether to intervene; a decision Russia does not want to have to face."