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Americans who live abroad -- more than six million of us worldwide (not counting those who work for the U.S. government) -- often face hard questions about our country from people we live among. Europeans, Asians, and Africans ask us to explain everything that baffles them about the increasingly odd and troubling conduct of the United States. Polite people, normally reluctant to risk offending a guest, complain that America’s trigger-happiness, cutthroat free-marketeering, and “exceptionality” have gone on for too long to be considered just an adolescent phase. Which means that we Americans abroad are regularly asked to account for the behavior of our rebranded “homeland,” now conspicuously in decline and increasingly out of step with the rest of the world.
In my long nomadic life, I’ve had the good fortune to live, work, or travel in all but a handful of countries on this planet. I’ve been to both poles and a great many places in between, and nosy as I am, I’ve talked with people all along the way. I still remember a time when to be an American was to be envied. The country where I grew up after World War II seemed to be respected and admired around the world for way too many reasons to go into here.
That’s changed, of course. Even after the invasion of Iraq in 2003, I still met people -- in the Middle East, no less -- willing to withhold judgment on the U.S. Many thought that the Supreme Court’s installation of George W. Bush as president was a blunder American voters would correct in the election of 2004. His return to office truly spelled the end of America as the world had known it. Bush had started a war, opposed by the entire world, because he wanted to and he could. A majority of Americans supported him. And that was when all the uncomfortable questions really began.
Photo credit: Catho Bordeaux
The cycle of violence. When will it be interrupted? The attack on Charlie Hebdo was another incident of “Terror in [fill in the blank]… attackers part of [fill in name of terror network]”. It was an incident of home-grown terror, since the attackers were French-born second-generation immigrants. It is time to shift away from ineffective, reactive tactics and strategies of dealing with this kind of terror toward conflict transformation, by transforming the structures leading to terrorism.
Let’s be clear. The assassins in Paris did not avenge the Prophet and their horrific violence cannot be reconciled with Islam. They were not noble, holy warriors, they were violent criminals. They killed 12 people and in addition to those lives, the lives of their families were destroyed. Their attacks opened space for further destructive cycles of conflict, support for security crackdowns, and virtually endless military campaigns as we still are seeing in the post 9/11/01 global war on terror. If we continue on this path we “condemn the global community to ongoing terror”, as political scientist Lindsay Heger argues in her piece Redrawing our Strategy on Terror.
Here’s the usual:
At the height of conflict several things take place. First, we tend to see generalizations as we hear in the “clash of civilizations”, “us versus them”, or the “battle between Islam and freedom of speech.” Second, there is stereotyping, as we can see in the generalizations and assumptions about all members of a group. In this case a group as large and diverse as the 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. Third, there are knee-jerk reactions like calls for “collective detention” or “nuke them” by many so-called internet trolls. These often come with dehumanization of the other group. Fourth, tit-for-tat tactics are used as we can see in the attacks on Mosques in France. Fifth, the issues are changed deliberatively as we can see in US mainstream media commentators using the attack to promote torture or criticize New York City’s Mayor de Blasio’s politics. Sixth, emotions are exploited, fear is installed, and drastic measures are advocated as we see in far-right National Front political party leader Marine Le Pen’s call for a referendum on reinstating the death penalty. All these are destructive, but very commonly used approaches of dealing with conflict. All these are ways of us participating in the cycle of continuing terror.
Here are some immediate better ways:
First and foremost, national and international law enforcement and judicial processes for individuals and groups involved in acts of terror.
Second, a call for unity from the international community, political, cultural and religious leaders condemning all forms of violent extremism.
Third, a societal response of answering hatred with love and compassion, as we have seen in Norway’s dignified response to the mass murder by islamophobic Anders Breivik.
Here are some long-term responses addressing broader, structural changes:
First, terrorism is a political problem. The colonial history and the current violent western presence in the Middle East as well as the arbitrary support for some dictators are key to providing terrorists with a support base without which they would not be able to operate and even exist. As we see this support base now goes far beyond the Middle East and has reached the suburbs of Paris and inspires other unconnected lone-wolf terrorists. Lindsay Heger argues correctly that we need to create creative governance solutions aimed at de-linking terrorists from societies. This applies just as much to groups like Boko Haram in Nigeria as it applies to the Muslim immigrant population in France.
Second, terrorism is a social problem. The gunmen were French-born descendants of Algerian immigrants. It is nothing new that there are tensions between the predominantly white, Christian, French society and mainly Muslim first and second generation immigrant populations of African origin. The majority of immigrants belong to the economic lower class of society. Poverty, unemployment and crime are common issues the young, male immigrants are facing.
Third, terrorism is a cultural problem. Muslim immigrant populations in Europe need to be able to freely develop and express their sense of self and sense of belonging. The politics of integration must allow for diversity and co-existence without imposed assimilation and inequality.
Some might argue that these suggestions have flaws, that they are not perfect, that they will never work, and so on. Yes, they have flaws, they are not perfect, and sometimes we do not know the outcome. What we know for sure is that more militarized security, sacrificing our rights, and more military campaigns make us participants in terror. And they definitely do not work unless our intent is to recruit more terrorists.
Terrorists will be part of us as long as we don’t address the root causes and as long as we participate in it. Terror ends when we stop creating terrorists and when we stop participating in it.
By Patrick T. Hiller
This commentary was published through PeaceVoice
By John Grant
By all means let’s mourn together; but let’s not be stupid together.
The costly debacle known as the Iraq War put the US government in a tough spot that's now exacerbated by the rise of the Islamic State in Anbar Province and western Syria.
By Dave Lindorff
As shameful a propagandist for Washington’s war machine as the New York Times has been over the years, sometimes I still cannot believe the brazenness of its abandonment of even a pretext of dispassionate journalistic standards. One of those moments came today, when I read the left-column page-one article by Jim Yardley and Jo Becker headlined “How Putin Forged a Pipeline Deal that Derailed.”
The Lay Down your Arms Association was incorporated and registered in Gothenburg, Sweden in 2014. A main project to start with is The Nobel Peace Prize Watch.
Purpose – Lay Down Your Arms Association
Peace is a common wish for all humanity, it must become our common demand. Peace is a binding legal obligation for all nations, it must become their common practice.
Experience tells us that if we prepare for war we get war. To achieve peace we must prepare for peace. Yet all nations continue to spend astronomic sums and incur extreme risks on a flawed concept of peace by military means. What the world most urgently needs is a common, co-operative security system to replace weapons and endless preparations for violence and war.
For centuries peace activists have claimed that peace through disarmament is necessary and, indeed, the only road to real security. Alfred Nobel decided to promote and support this idea when, in his will of 1895, he included “the prize for the champions of peace” and entrusted the Norwegian Parliament with a key role in the promotion and realization of his purpose. The Norwegians proudly undertook the assignment, further described in the will by language on “creating the brotherhood of nations, ”disarmament,” and “peace congresses.”
Nobel´s plan for preventing future wars thus was that nations must cooperate on disarmament and commit to solving all differences through negotiation or compulsory adjudication, a culture of peace that would free the world from its current addiction to violence and war. With today´s military technologies it is a matter of imperative urgency for the world to seriously consider committing to the idea of Alfred Nobel and Bertha von Suttner.
Suttner was the leading champion of peace at the time and it was her entreaties that led Nobel to establish the prize in support of the peace ideas that need a fresh restart. Taking its name from Suttner´s bestselling novel, “Lay down your arms – Die Waffen Nieder” a first goal for the network is to reclaim the Nobel prize for the “champions of peace” and the specific road to peace that Nobel had in mind and intended to support.
- Nobel Peace Prize Watch
A. What is our special role?
All peace movement efforts for reduction or abolition of armaments depend on arguments in a democratic mobilization of public opinion. So also does The Nobel Peace Prize Watch. Our special advantage is that we not only argue that humanity must, for the sake of the survival of life on the planet, find a way to eliminate weapons, warriors and wars. In addition we make a legal argument – Nobel wanted to support a specific approach to peace – certain people have a legal entitlement by his will. Today the prize is in the hands of its political opponents. We wish to use legal means to get back the money that once was given to the cause of peace by demilitarization of international relations.
B. What are our plans?
The association shall seek to induce political decision-makers to address the imperative urgency of a new international system. To this end we will disseminate information and seek to increase public awareness of how all the nations of the world continue to be locked in power games and a never ending race for superiority in military forces and technology. This approach consumes astronomic sums of money, wastes resources that could serve human needs, and the idea that it gives security is an illusion. Modern weapons represent an imminent threat to the survival of life on the planet. We live in a constant emergency.
The answer must lie in a deep change of attitudes and an international system where international law and institutions lay the ground for trust and co-operation in a demilitarized world.
We distribute information by articles, books and lectures or public debates, we introduce proposals and requests in appropriate fora, including submitting issues to adjudication in administrative agencies or courts of law.
The Nobel Peace Prize Watch builds on research into the actual intention of Nobel published in books by Norwegian lawyer and author Fredrik S. Heffermehl. The project welcomes members, co-operation with like-minded organizations, and financial support.
The Association was incorporated and registered in Gothenburg, Sweden in 2014. Founding members and board in intitial phase are Tomas Magnusson (Sweden) and Fredrik S. Heffermehl (Norway).
Fredrik S. Heffermehl, Oslo, Norway, lawyer and author
Former member of the IPB, International Peace Bureau, Steering Committee, 1985 to 2000. Vice president of IALANA, International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms. Former president of the Norwegian Peace Council 1985 to 2000. Published Peace is Possible (English IPB, 2000 – with 16 translations). In 2008 published first known legal analysis of the content of the Nobel peace prize. In a new book two years later, The Nobel Peace Prize. What Nobel Really Wanted included a study of Norwegian politics and the repression of his views (Praeger, 2010. Exists in 4 translations, Chinese, Finnish, Spanish, Swedish).
Phone: +47 917 44 783, e-mail, website: http://www.nobelwill.org
Tomas Magnusson, Gothenburg, Sweden,
After 20 years on the IPB, International Peace Bureau, Steering committee, was President from 2006 to 2013. Earlier President of SPAS, the Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society. A journalist by education, he has spent most of his life by working voluntarily and professionally with peace, development and migration issues.
Phone: +46 708 293197
Richard Falk, USA, Professor (em.) of International law and organization, Princeton University
Bruce Kent, United Kingdom, President MAW, Movement for Abolition of War, ex President IPB
Dennis Kucinich, USA, Member of Congress, campaigns for US President
Mairead Maguire, Northern Ireland, Nobel laureate (1976)
Norman Solomon, USA, Journalist, anti-war activist
Davis Swanson, USA, Director, World Beyond War
Scandinavian Advisory Board
Nils Christie, Norway, professor, University of Oslo
Erik Dammann, Norway, founder “Future in our hands,” Oslo
Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Norway, professor, University of Oslo
Ståle Eskeland, Norway, professor of criminal law, University of Oslo
Erni Friholt, Sweden, Peace movement of Orust
Ola Friholt, Sweden, Peace movement of Orust
Lars-Gunnar Liljestrand, Sweden, Chair of the Association of FiB lawyers
Torild Skard, Norway, Ex President of Parliament, Second chamber (Lagtinget)
Sören Sommelius, Sweden, author and culture journalist
Maj-Britt Theorin, Sweden, ex President, International Peace Bureau
Gunnar Westberg, Sweden, Professor, ex Co-President IPPNW (Nobel peace prize 1985)
Jan Öberg, TFF, Sweden, Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research.
Letter published first in the german newspaper DIE ZEIT on December 5th, 2014
Nobody wants war. But North America, the European Union and Russia are inevitably drifting towards war if they do not finally halt the disastrous spiral of threat and counter-threat. All Europeans, Russia included, jointly hold responsibility for peace and security. Only those who do not lose sight of this goal are avoiding irrational turns.
The Ukraine-conflict shows that the addiction to power and domination has not been overcome. 1990 at the end of the Cold War, we were all hoping for that. But the successes of the policy of detente and the peaceful revolutions have made us sleepy and careless, in the East and the West alike. For US-Americans, Europeans and Russians the guiding principle to banish war permanently from their relations has been lost. Otherwise, the for Russia threatening expansion of the West to the East, without simultaneously deepening cooperation with Moscow, as well as the illegal annexation of the Crimea by Putin, can not be explained.
In this moment of great danger for the continent, Germany has a special responsibility for the maintenance of peace. Without the will for reconciliation from the Russia people, without the foresight of Mikhail Gorbachev, without the support of our Western allies and without the prudent action by the then Federal Government, the division of Europe would not have been overcome. To allow German unification to peacefully evolve was a great gesture, shaped by reason from the victorious powers. It was a decision of historic proportions.
From overcoming the division in Europe a solid European peace and security order from Vancouver to Vladivostok should have developed, as it had been agreed to by all 35 Heads of State and Government of the CSCE Member States in November 1990 in the “Charter of Paris for a New Europe”. On the basis of agreed established principles and through first concrete measures a “Common European Home” was supposed to be established, in which all the States concerned should have equal security. This post-war policy goal has to this day not been redeemed. The people of Europe have to live again in fear.
We, the undersigned, appeal to the federal government of Germany to assume their responsibility for peace in Europe. We need a new policy of détente in Europe. This is only possible on the basis of equal security for all with equal and mutually respected partners. The German government is not following a “unique German path”, if they continue to call, in this stalemated situation, for calm and dialogue with Russia. The Russians’ security requirements are as legitimate and just as important as those of the Germans, the Poles, the Baltic States and Ukraine..
We should not look to push Russia out of Europe. That would be unhistorical, unreasonable and dangerous for peace. Ever since the Congress of Vienna in 1814 Russia has been recognized as one of the global players in Europe. All who have tried to violently change that have failed bloody – the last time it was the megalomaniac Hitler’s Germany that set about a murderous campaign to conquer Russia in 1941.
We call upon the Members of the German Bundestag, delegated by the people to deal appropriately with the seriousness of the situation, to attentively preside over the peace obligation of their government. He, who props up a bogeyman ascribing blame to one side alone, exacerbates tensions at a time when the signals should call for de-escalation. Inclusion instead of exclusion should be the leitmotif for German politicians.
We appeal to the media to comply with their obligations for nonbiased reporting, more convincingly, than they have thus done. Editorialists and commentators demonize whole nations, without crediting their history. Every able foreign policy journalist will understand the fear of the Russians, since NATO members in 2008, invited Georgia and Ukraine to become members of the alliance. It’s not about Putin. State leaders come and go. What is at stake is Europe. It’s about taking away the people’s fear of war. Towards this purpose, a responsible media coverage based on solid research can help a lot.
On October 3, 1990, on the Day to Commemorate German Reunification, German President Richard von Weizsäcker said: “The Cold War is overcome; freedom and democracy will soon be put in place in all countries … Now they can conduct their relationships within a compact and secure institutional framework, from which a common life and peace order can arise. For the people of Europe a completely new chapter in their history begins. The goal is a Pan-
European project. This is a huge challenge. We can archive it, but we can also fail. We face the clear alternative to unite Europe, or in line with painful historical examples, to fall back again into nationalist conflicts in Europe. “
Until the Ukraine conflict we thought we here in Europe were on the right track. Today, a quarter of a century later, Richard von Weizsäcker’s words are more relevant than ever.
Mario Adorf, Actor
Robert Antretter (Former Member of German Parliament)
Prof. Dr. Wilfried Bergmann (Vice-President Alma Mater Europaea)
Luitpold Prinz von Bayern (Königliche Holding und Lizenz KG)
Achim von Borries (Regisseur und Drehbuchautor)
Klaus Maria Brandauer (Schauspieler, Regisseur)
Dr. Eckhard Cordes (Chair of Ost-Ausschuss der Deutschen Wirtschaft)
Prof. Dr. Herta Däubler-Gmelin (Former Federal Minister of Justice)
Eberhard Diepgen (Former Mayor of Berlin)
Dr. Klaus von Dohnanyi (First Mayor der Freien und Hansestadt Hamburg)
Alexander van Dülmen (Vorstand A-Company Filmed Entertainment AG)
Stefan Dürr (Geschäftsführender Gesellschafter und CEO Ekosem-Agrar GmbH)
Dr. Erhard Eppler ( Former Federal Minister for Development)
Prof. Dr. Dr. Heino Falcke (Propst i.R.)
Prof. Hans-Joachim Frey (Vorstandsvorsitzender Semper Opernball Dresden)
Pater Anselm Grün (Pater)
Sibylle Havemann (Berlin)
Dr. Roman Herzog (Former President of Federal Republic Germany)
Christoph Hein (author)
Dr. Dr. h.c. Burkhard Hirsch (Former Vice-President of Federal Parliament)
Volker Hörner (Akademiedirektor i.R.)
Josef Jacobi (Biobauer)
Dr. Sigmund Jähn (Former Astronaut)
Uli Jörges (Journalist)
Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Margot Käßmann (ehemalige EKD Ratsvorsitzende und Bischöfin)
Dr. Andrea von Knoop (Moskau)
Prof. Dr. Gabriele Krone-Schmalz (Former Correspondent ARD in Moskau)
Friedrich Küppersbusch (Journalist)
Vera Gräfin von Lehndorff (artist)
Irina Liebmann (author)
Dr. h.c. Lothar de Maizière (Former Minister-President)
Stephan Märki (Intendant des Theaters Bern)
Prof. Dr. Klaus Mangold (Chairman Mangold Consulting GmbH)
Reinhard und Hella Mey (Liedermacher)
Ruth Misselwitz (evangelische Pfarrerin Pankow)
Klaus Prömpers (Journalist)
Prof. Dr. Konrad Raiser (eh. Generalsekretär des Ökumenischen Weltrates der Kirchen)
Jim Rakete (Fotograf)
Gerhard Rein (Journalist)
Michael Röskau (Ministerialdirigent a.D.)
Eugen Ruge (Schriftsteller)
Dr. h.c. Otto Schily (Former Federal Minister of the Interior)
Dr. h.c. Friedrich Schorlemmer (ev. Theologe, Bürgerrechtler)
Georg Schramm (Kabarettist)
Gerhard Schröder (Former Head of Government, Bundeskanzler a.D.)
Philipp von Schulthess (Schauspieler)
Ingo Schulze (author)
Hanna Schygulla (actor, singer)
Dr. Dieter Spöri (Former Federal Minister of Economy)
Prof. Dr. Fulbert Steffensky (kath. Theologe)
Dr. Wolf-D. Stelzner (geschäftsführender Gesellschafter: WDS-Institut für Analysen in Kulturen mbH)
Dr. Manfred Stolpe (Former Minister-President)
Dr. Ernst-Jörg von Studnitz (Former Ambassador)
Prof. Dr. Walther Stützle (Staatssekretär der Verteidigung a.D.)
Prof. Dr. Christian R. Supthut (Vorstandsmitglied a.D. )
Prof. Dr. h.c. Horst Teltschik (Former Chancellor advisor for Security and Foreign Policy)
Andres Veiel (Regisseur)
Dr. Hans-Jochen Vogel (Former Federal Minister of Justice)
Dr. Antje Vollmer (Former Vice President of the Bunderstag)
Bärbel Wartenberg-Potter (Bischöfin Lübeck a.D.)
Dr. Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker (scientist)
Wim Wenders (Regisseur)
Hans-Eckardt Wenzel (songwriter)
Gerhard Wolf (Schriftsteller, Verleger)
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
DeSmogBlog's Steve Horn and Republic Report's Lee Fang have co-written an in-depth report on the influence the government-industry revolving door has had on Big Oil's ability to obtain four liquefied natural gas (LNG) export permits since 2012 from the Obama Administration.
Photo Credit: DeSmogBlog
Titled "Natural Gas Exports: Washington's Revolving Door Fuels Climate Threat," the report published here on DeSmogBlog and on Republic Report serves as the launching pad of an ongoing investigation. It will act as the prelude of an extensive series of articles by both websites uncovering the LNG exports influence peddling machine.
The report not only exposes the lobbying apparatus that has successfully opened the door for LNG exports, but also the PR professionals paid to sell them to the U.S. public. It also exposes those who have gone through the "reverse revolving door," moving from industry back to government and sometimes back again.
It reveals that many former Obama Administration officials now work as lobbyists or PR professionals on behalf of the LNG exports industry, as do many former Bush Administration officials. So too do those with ties to potential 2016 Democratic Party presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton.
By Nu’man Abd al-Wahid
Whether one is critical of the alliance between the United Kingdom and the United States or in favour of the so-called "Special Relationship" it is perceived to be an amicable, natural and trans-historical partnership between two nations who share the same language and whose global interests are more or less the same. Over the last fifteen years these two nations assumed the lead in their continuing support of the colonialist state of Israel and waging war on Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and calling for more military intervention in Syria and Iran. So it is no surprise that many find it hard to accept that this alliance is a recent advent rooted in geo-political exigencies of the historical moment at hand. British imperialism was animus, if not outright antithetical, in the first 150 years of the Republic.
Writing, if not gloating, in the midst of the American civil war in the nineteenth century, the future British Prime Minister Lord Salisbury (a.k.a. Robert Cecil) heralded not only the end of the United States of America but democracy itself or as he referred to it the "evil of universal suffrage." American democracy and the vaunted republic he gleefully boasted were not only a failed experiment and a busted flush but the "most ignominious failure the world had ever seen." It had become, in our esteemed Lord's eyes, what today would be referred to derogatively and pejoratively, as a 'failed state'.
The main reason for this inevitable failure according to Cecil was that the United States had rejected and overthrown its natural leaders, i.e. the British establishment. As such they are now richly "reaping a harvest that was sown as far back as the time of Jefferson." The Americans had substituted genuine leadership for a dreamer's theory (the works of Thomas Jefferson) and more so, in the present climate, Abraham Lincoln was an "ass", an incompetent and "the most conspicuous cause of the present calamities."
Another British Minister, William Gladstone too had little time for Lincoln and came out in support of the Southern Confederacy. The Gladstone family had become wealthy largely owing to the family's slave camps in Jamaica and William's maiden speech in parliament was a defence of the family business which arose from the slave trading port of Liverpool. Although William Gladstone represented constituents in the family's native parliamentary seat of Midlothian, Scotland, his father had represented Liverpool in Parliament.
Thirteen years ago Denmark joined in U.S. aggressive war making. Immediately and ever since Danes have protested in front of Parliament. More info and photos here.
Veterans For Peace UK
Sunday 9 November 2014
Whitehall Place, London
On Remembrance Sunday, Veterans For Peace UK will walk to The Cenotaph under the banner “NEVER AGAIN”.
We will hold a ceremony at The Cenotaph to remember all of those killed in war.
Supporters of VFP UK are invited and encouraged to follow us to The Cenotaph.
1330 hrs Meet at Whitehall Place
1400 hrs Form up at Whitehall place
1410 hrs Move off from Whitehall Place
1415 hrs Arrive at The Cenotaph and carry out the ceremony.
1430 hrs Depart from The Cenotaph
1435 hrs Arrive back at Whitehall Place
1500 hrs Disperse from Whitehall Place
VFP UK enter the enclosure and line up facing the Cenotaph.
The song “Where Have All The Flowers Gone” will be sung, followers are encouraged to join in.
(Lyrics at the bottom of this page).
The poem “The Cenotaph” will be read
The Wreath will be laid.
The Last Post.
One minutes silence.
VFP will move off out of the enclosure and back towards Whitehall Place.
VFP Members – VFP UK Hoody, Shirt, Black Tie, Dark Trousers, Dark Shoes. Poppy (White / Red / Both / None).
Followers – As if you are attending a funeral.
Never Again Banner – To be carried by two VFP members at the front.
Wreath – To consist of 90% White Poppies and 10% Red to mark the huge proportion of civilians killed in modern warfare.
VFP UK Banner – To be carried by two VFP members at the rear and before the followers.
Only the designated film-makers Shaun Dey and Guy Smallman can enter the enclosure of The Cenotaph.
VFP Members will not be conducting interviews on the day.
Instructions for Followers
All are invited to follow us to The Cenotaph.
Followers are not to enter the enclosure of The Cenotaph.
No banners, placards or megaphones are to be carried by those following VFP UK.
Dress must be smart / sombre as if you are attending a funeral.
All attending agree to conform to the VFP UK Statement of Nonviolence
Where Have All The Flowers Gone?
Where have all the flowers gone, long time passing?
Where have all the flowers gone, long time ago?
Where have all the flowers gone?
Young girls picked them everyone
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?
Where have all the young girls gone, long time passing?
Where have all the young girls gone, long time ago?
Where have all the young girls gone?
Gone to young men everyone
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?
Where have all the young men gone, long time passing?
Where have all the young men gone, long time ago?
Where have all the young men gone?
Gone for soldiers everyone
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?
Where have all the soldiers gone, long time passing?
Where have all the soldiers gone, long time ago?
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards, everyone
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?
Where have all the graveyards gone, long time passing?
Where have all the graveyards gone, long time ago?
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Gone to flowers, everyone
When will we ever learn?
When will we ever learn?
Karmic payback for selfish Americans: Dickensian US Working Conditions Almost Guarantee Ebola Catastrophe
By Dave Lindorff
Ebola is coming! Ebola is coming! America is doomed!
That, in essence, is the message of the US corporate news media, always on the lookout for the next sensational story with which to stir up hysteria among the public in the interest of higher ratings.
In a landmark ruling the High Court in London yesterday ruled that Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa did not have immunity from prosecution in a case against him involving allegations of torture. After two year court battle, the UK’s Director of Public Prosecution has accepted that Nasser is not immune from Prosecution. Lord Justice Laws and Mr Justice Cranston granted a declaration confirming this decision at a divisional court hearing in London’s High Court yesterday. This decision opens the door to an investigation by the metropolitan police War Crimes Team SO15 into allegations that the prince was involved in the torture of political prisoners, and a possible prosecution. The ruling received wide coverage by UK’s main stream media including the BBC, Reuters, the Press Association and others.
Last night a Press Conference was held at The Garden Court Chambers at the heart of the UK’s legal district, to highlight the significance of the case. The title was: “Bahrain, universal jurisdiction and state immunity: What are the implications of the case of FF v DPP (ECCHR intervening) after the final hearing on 7/10/14”. It was chaired by Sue Willman of Deighton Pierce Glynn and addressed by Tom Hickamn, barrister Blackstone Chambers, Stephen Knafler QC, Member of ECCHR’s legal team, Redress: Kevin Laue, Legal Advisor of Redress, Daniel Machover, solicitor Hickman Rose on broader universal jurisdiction issues and Dr Saeed Shehabi of the Bahrain Freedom Movement.
A new report has revealed that Bahrain spends $95 million a year in its crackdown on the country’s pro-democracy protesters. Arabic newspaper Al-Maidan said the regime in Bahrain has hired 21,000 security personnel, which includes Pakistani expats. Bahrain has also spent over $2.5 billion on buying arms since the protests against the Al Khalifa royal family began three years ago.
Amnesty International has issued an Urgent Action about a Bahraini youth who had been sentenced to death by Alkhalifa regime. It said: A Bahraini man under sentence of death has lodged his final appeal and could be at risk of execution. He was sentenced to death in February 2014 and lost his first appeal in August. Death row prisoner Maher Abbas Ahmad (also known as Maher al-Khabbaz) is waiting for a decision from the Court of Cassation to know whether he is to be executed. Amnesty International has called on the regime to acknowledge its responsibility to protect the public and bring to justice those who commit crimes. But insist that this should always be done in accordance with international law and Bahrain’s international human rights obligations, and order a retrial where no evidence obtained under torture is used in court and urge the ruler to commute the death sentence imposed on Maher Abbas Ahmad immediately.
Amnesty International has also issued an Urgent Action on the case of Nabeel Rajab, the President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights for tweeting anti-regime criticism. It said: Amnesty International has reviewed Nabeel Rajab’s statements on Twitter and considers him a prisoner of conscience, jailed solely for peacefully expressing his opinion. He is being investigated under Article 216 of Bahrain’s Penal Code, which criminalizes those who “offend by any method of expression the National Assembly, or other constitutional institutions, the army, law courts, authorities or government agencies”. If convicted, he could face up to three years in prison. It called on the regime to release Nabeel Rajab immediately and unconditionally, as he is a prisoner of conscience, held solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression, to uphold the right to freedom of expression and repeal laws that criminalize the peaceful exercise of the rights to freedo m of expression, association and assembly including Article 216 of the Penal Code.
Under the title “Wave of arbitrary arrests of dissident information providers” Reporters Without Borders issued a statement on 2nd October condemning Bahrain’s crackdown on civil liberties. It said: “Freelance journalist, blogger and activist Ahmed Radhi was freed on 29 September after being held arbitrarily for four days but the Bahraini authorities struck again on 1 October, arresting leading human rights activist Nabeel Rajab for allegedly insulting the government security forces in tweets two days before.” Reporters Without Borders condemns this systematic persecution of human right defenders and the renewed deterioration in the climate for freedom of information in Bahrain. Bahrain is ranked 163rd out of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
8th October 2014
Award-winning investigative reporter Dave Lindorff has been raking the journalistic muck now for 40 years. A regular columnist for Counterpunch, he has also written for BusinessWeek, the Nation, Extra!, Treasury & Risk, and Rolling Stone. Lindorff is the founder of ThisCantBeHappening.net
Total run time: 29:00
Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.
Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.
Syndicated by Pacifica Network.
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Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!
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On Sept 1st 2014 the Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan said “the invasion of Ukraine is against international law & must stop” (RTE News). He made no reference to role of NATO as one of the root causes of the Ukraine conflict.
Making the news fit the politics: NY Times Finds Conclusions Where None Exist in Dutch Flight 17 Downing Report
By Dave Lindorff
The New York Times, which has been misreporting on, and misleading its readers about the downing of Malaysian Flight 17 since the plane was downed last July 17, continues its sorry track record of flogging anti-Russian sentiment in the US and of supporting the post-putsch Ukrainian government in Kiev.
Washington’s seedy propaganda campaign: Satellite Images of Alleged Russian Artillery in Ukraine Come A-Cropper
By Dave Lindorff
In the ongoing propaganda campaign mounted by the Obama administration to claim that Russia has “invaded” Ukraine from the east, it offered up some grainy black-and-white satellite images purporting to show heavy Russian military equipment inside the Ukraine.
Lindsey German is Convenor of the Stop the War Coalition ( http://stopwar.org.uk ) and was part of the protests and counter-summit at the just-completed NATO summit in Wales. We speak with her about NATO and the state of war and peace in the world. German's books include A People's History of London; How a Century of War Changed the Lives of Women: Work, Family, and Liberation; Material Girls: Women, Men, and Work; Sex Class and Socialism; and Stop the War: The Story of Britain's Biggest Mass Movement.
Total run time: 29:00
Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.
Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.
Syndicated by Pacifica Network.
Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!
Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!
Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
Arms companies which provide key components for the drones used by the US to carry out secret strikes in violation of international law bought access to last week's NATO summit, research by legal charity Reprieve has found.
Among the firms which paid up to £300,000 to ‘exhibit’ at the summit in Newport, Wales were:
- General Dynamics, manufacturer of the Hellfire missiles used in the vast majority of drone strikes.
- Raytheon, manufacturer of the targeting system for the ‘Reaper’ drone which, along with the ‘Predator,’ is used by the CIA and other covert agencies to carry out strikes outside of warzones.
- Lockheed Martin, which acts as a contractor to provide support services for the Reaper and Predator.
- MBDA, a European firm which is producing ‘Brimstone,’ a variant of the Hellfire missile which it is promoting for use by Reaper and Predator drones.
Strikes carried out by Predators and Reapers flown by the CIA or Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) have proved controversial as they have been carried out in countries with which or in which the US is not at war – such as Yemen and Pakistan. As a result, they are in violation of both international and domestic law.
Despite having been responsible for hundreds of civilian deaths, they take place with little or no oversight – with President Obama refusing even to formally acknowledge that such strikes are taking place.
Commenting, Reprieve Legal Director, Kat Craig said: “The illegal use of drones to carry out secret bombings is one of the most controversial issues around, so it is deeply worrying to see those firms who may profit most from it able to buy access to such a high-level summit. It is unacceptable that the US’ drone campaign, and the UK’s support for it, has been allowed to remain in the shadows for so long. President Obama must be far more open about it, as must his European allies, especially the UK and Germany, about the support they provide. Allowing drone manufacturers to buy access to our politicians behind closed doors is no way to ensure we get the transparency we need.”
By Dave Lindorff
The separatist rebels of eastern Ukraine and the government in Kiev that controls the Ukrainian army have reached a cease-fire in place that leaves the separatists largely in control of the Russian-majority regions of the eastern part of that country.
this was first published on Shannonwatch.org on the 6th of Sept 2014
It will probably surprise many people to know that at least seven Irish Government officials, including one military officer, attended events related to the NATO Summit in Newport, Wales this week. It didn’t get much coverage in the mainstream Irish media, probably because the government told them not to cover it, but it’s something that should be highlighted and challenged.
In answer to a question from Clare Daly TD, Simon Coveney who is our Minister for Agriculture and other stuff that the government doesn’t think is very important (food, the marine and defence), explained that Ireland was invited to attend two meetings at Newport, one for contributors to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, and one for Defence Ministers from what are called “Partner” countries.
NATO tried to get its members to commit to spending at least 2% of GDP on war preparations. And if a nation got richer it would have to spend more -- not because of any particular supposed need, but just because military spending was to be seen as an end in itself. Well, Canada and Germany blocked the proposal. The U.S., Estonia, the United Kingdom, and Greece already spend over 2% of their GDP, but other NATO nations do not. Read more here.
By Pepe Escobar, http://www.atimes.com/atimes/
First thing we do, let's kill all the myths. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is nothing but the Security Council of the Empire of Chaos.
You don't need to be a neo-Foucault hooked on Orwellian/Panopticon practices to admire the hyper-democratic "ring of steel" crossing average roads, parks and even ringing castle walls to "protect" dozens of NATO heads of state and ministers, 10,000 supporting characters and 2,000 journalists from the real world in Newport, Wales - and beyond.
NATO's summit in Wales also provides outgoing secretary-general Anders "Fogh of War" Rasmussen the chance to display his full attack dog repertoire. It's as if he's auditioning for a starring role in a remake of Tim Burton's epic Mars Attacks!
Fogh of War is all over the place, talking "pre-positioning of supplies, equipment" - euphemism for weapons; boosting bases and headquarters in host countries; and touting a 10,000-strong, rapid reaction "spearhead" force to respond to Russian "aggression" and deployable in a maximum of five days.
Meanwhile, in a bad cop-bad cop routine, outgoing president of the European Commission, outstanding mediocrity Jose Manuel Barroso, leaked that Russian President Vladimir Putin told him over the phone later last week he could take Kiev in a fortnight if he wanted.
Well, Putin could. If he wanted. But he doesn't want it. What matters is what he told Rossiya state TV; that Kiev should promote inclusive talks about the future status of Eastern Ukraine. Once again, the Western spin was that he was advocating the birth of a Novorossiya state. Here, The Saker analyzes in detail the implications of what Russia really wants, and what the Novorossiya forces really want.
With Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaite predictably spinning that Russia is "at war with Europe", and British Prime Minister David Cameron evoking - what else - Munich 1938 (Chamberlain appeasing Hitler), Fogh of War has had all the ammo he needs to sell his Einsatzgruppen. Cynics are excused to believe NATO's spearhead force is actually The Caliph's IS goons raising hell in "Syraq".
Warmongering, though, is not an easy sell in a crisis-hit EU these days. Not only Germany, but also France, Italy, Spain, Romania, Hungary and even Poland have expressed "reluctance" one way or another to back NATO's strategy of a more "robust" presence in Eastern Europe and the Baltic. Moreover, the Empire of Chaos and its Brit junior partner in the "special relationship" want everyone to shell out more cash (a minimum of 2% of GDP). Even as the EU is facing no less than its third recession in five years.
The bottom line is there will be no more rotation on NATO's Eastern front. Legally, the set up cannot be defined as "permanent", because it will go against a 1997 NATO-Russia pact. But it will be permanent. That applies to Szczecin, in Poland, near the Baltic, and the so-called multinational Corps Northeast - land, air and sea. Estonia and Latvia for all practical purposes are being touted as "Putin's next targets". And defending them from "Russian aggression" is NATO's new red line.
Additionally, Finland and Sweden may sign NATO Host Nation agreements. This implies NATO forces may use Swedish and Finnish territory in the future on the way to what's hazily referred to as "operations". At least deployment of foreign troops still needs parliamentary approval - and Swedes and Finns are bound to raise eyebrows.
No R2P for you, buddy
Even with all this Mars Attacks! hysteria, NATO in thesis won't discuss Ukraine in depth in Wales - or an imminent R2P ("responsibility to protect") Ukraine from the remixed "Evil Empire" (copyright Ronnie Reagan). But there will be "military consultations" and a bit of cash shelled out to the Kiev military - who are having their (bankrupt) collective behind solemnly kicked by the federalist/separatist forces in Eastern Ukraine as much as NATO had theirs kicked by a bunch of Pashtuns with Kalashnikovs in Afghanistan.
By the way, the latest US$1.4 billion the International Monetary Fund shelled out to Ukraine - the Mobster-style interest will hit much later - will be used by an already bankrupt Kiev mostly to pay for a bunch of T-72 tanks it bought from Hungary. Money for nothing, tanks for free.
Ukraine, it must be stressed, is not a NATO member. Technically, every NATO bureaucrat in Brussels admits that a candidate country must request membership. And countries with regions mired in an international dispute are not accepted. So Ukraine would only be considered if Kiev gave up Crimea. It's not going to happen.
Still, Washington's obsessive play to annex Ukraine to NATO will keep marching on (in the matter of accession, by the way, the European Union would issue a firm "no"). Outgoing Prime Minister Arseniy “Yats” Yatsenyuk as well as President Poroshenko, are desperate for a NATO intervention, or at least Ukraine being accepted as some form of privileged ally. Yats expects "monumental decisions from our Western partners at the summit". In vain.
NATO somehow is already in Ukraine. A NATO cyber center group has been in Kiev since March, operating in the building of the Council of National Security and Defense. So it is a bunch of NATO bureaucrats who actually determine the news agenda in Ukraine - and the non-stop demonization of all things Russia.
Ukraine is all about Germany now. Berlin wants a political solution. Fast. Berlin wants Russian gas flowing via Ukraine again. Fast. Berlin does not want US missile defense in Eastern Europe - no matter what the Baltic states scream. That's why Poroshenko's latest "Invasion! Invasion! Invasion!" craze is nothing but pure desperation by a lowly, bankrupt vassal of the Empire of Chaos. Of course that does not prevent Fogh of War - who got the NATO job because he was an enthusiastic cheerleader of the rape of Iraq - to keep crying "Invasion!" till all Danish retrievers come home.
And then there's NATO's recent record. An ignominious defeat in Afghanistan. A "humanitarian" bombing that reduced once-stable Libya to a miserable failed state immersed in total anarchy and ravaged by rabid militias. Not exactly fabulous PR for NATO's future as a coalition assembly line with global "vocation", capable of pulling off expeditionary wars all around the world by creating the appearance of a military and political consensus unified by - what else - an Empire of Chaos doctrine: NATO's "strategic concept" approved at the 2010 Lisbon summit. (See US a kid in a NATO candy store, Asia Times Online, November 25, 2010.)
Since those go-go "Bubba" Clinton years; through the "pre-emptive" Dubya era; and now under the R2P dementia of Obama's warring Medusas (Rice, Power, Hillary), the Pentagon dreams of NATO as global Robocop, dominating all the roles embodied by the UN and the EU in terms of security. This has absolutely nothing to do with the original collective defense of NATO signatories against possible territorial attacks. Oh, sorry; we forgot the attacks by those (non-existent) nuclear missiles deployed by evil Iran.
The Ukraine battleground at least has the merit of showing the alliance is naked. For the Full Spectrum Dominance Pentagon, what really matters above all is something that's been actually happening since the fall of the Soviet Union; unlimited NATO expansion to the westernmost borders of Russia.
The real deal this September is not NATO. It's the SCO's summit. Expect the proverbial tectonic shifts of geopolitical plaques in the upcoming meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization - a shift as far-reaching as when the Ottoman empire failed at the gates of Vienna in 1683. On the initiative of Russia and China, at the SCO summit, India, Pakistan, Iran and Mongolia will be invited to become permanent members. Once again, the battle lines are drawn. NATO vs SCO. NATO vs BRICS. NATO vs Global South. Therefore, NATO attacks!
Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).
He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.)