Monday, 18 October 2021

Back! The unmissable 'The Lost Pirate Kingdom'!!!

The Lost Pirate Kingdom

“They rob the poor under the cover of law, forsooth, and we plunder the rich under the protection of our own courage.”

Black Sam

Friday, 15 October 2021

CyberSocialism (Allende - Chile)

April 28: U.S. troops land in the Dominican Republic in attempt to forestall a “communist dictatorship”

In an effort to forestall what he claims will be a “communist dictatorship” in the Dominican Republic, President Lyndon B. Johnson sends more than 22,000 U.S. troops to the island nation. Johnson’s action provoked protests in Latin America and skepticism among many in the United States.

Troubles in the Dominican Republic began in 1961, when long-time dictator Rafael Trujillo was assassinated. Trujillo had been a brutal leader, but his strong anticommunist stance helped him retain the support of the United States. His death led to the rise of a reformist government headed by Juan Bosch, who was elected president in 1962. The Dominican military, however, despised Bosch and his liberal policies. Bosch was overthrown in 1963. Political chaos gripped the Dominican Republic as various groups, including the increasingly splintered military, struggled for power. By 1965, forces demanding the reinstatement of Bosch began attacks against the military-controlled government.

In the United States government, fear spread that “another Cuba” was in the making in the Dominican Republic; in fact, many officials strongly suspected that Cuban leader Fidel Castro was behind the violence. On April 28, more than 22,000 U.S. troops, supported by forces provided by some of the member states of the Organization of American States (a United Nations-like institution for the Western Hemisphere, dominated by the United States) landed in the Dominican Republic. Over the next few weeks they brought an end to the fighting and helped install a conservative, non-military government.

President Johnson declared that he had taken action to forestall the establishment of a “communist dictatorship” in the Dominican Republic. As evidence, he provided American reporters with lists of suspected communists in that nation. Even cursory reviews of the list revealed that the evidence was extremely flimsy–some of the people on the list were dead and others could not be considered communists by any stretch of the imagination.

Many Latin American governments and private individuals and organizations condemned the U.S. invasion of the Dominican Republic as a return to the “gunboat diplomacy” of the early-20th century, when U.S. Marines invaded and occupied a number of Latin American nations on the slightest pretexts. In the United States, politicians and citizens who were already skeptical of Johnson’s policy in Vietnam heaped scorn on Johnson’s statements about the “communist danger” in the Dominican Republic. Such criticism would become more and more familiar to the Johnson administration as the U.S. became more deeply involved in the war in Vietnam.

History.com.

Thursday, 14 October 2021

Yo! Kick'em in the Bananas!

The true story about a Swedish filmmaker and a banana corporation. Dirty tricks, lawsuits, manipulation, and the price of free speech.

What is a big corporation capable of in order to protect its brand? Swedish filmmaker Fredrik Gertten's experienced this recently. His previous film BANANAS!* (2009) recounts the lawsuit that 12 Nicaraguan plantation workers brought against the fruit giant Dole Food Company.

The film was selected for competition by the Los Angeles Film Festival. Nothing wrong so far, right? But then Gertten gets a strange message: the festival removes BANANAS!* from competition. Then a scathing article appears in the Los Angeles Business Journal about the film, and Gertten subsequently receives a letter from Dole's attorney threatening him with legal action. What follows is an unparalleled thriller that has Gertten capturing the entire process - from DOLE attacking the producers with a defamation lawsuit, bullying scaretactics, to media-control and PR-spin. This personal film reveals precisely how a multinational will stop at nothing to get its way - freedom of speech is at stake. As Dole's PR company puts it, "It is easier to cope with a bad conscience than a bad reputation". (from the IDFA catalogue)

Big Boys Gone Bananas!.

On Netflix, as well as the original documentary.

Monday, 11 October 2021

If it looks to good to be true: Quantum AI scam

Quantum AI Review, Fake Quantum AI SCAM By Elon Musk Exposed!

Quantum AI review by Elon Musk. Quantum AI (not to be confused with Open AI, Google AI Quantum, or Quantum Artificial Intelligence) is advertised as a smart investing system which “makes you €1,320 in 5 Hours and cures poverty”. Are you asking yourself right about now, is Quantum AI SCAM or legit trading software? Well, if something doesn’t feel right about Quantum AI, and you you feel that you are being mislead or deceived then your suspicions are well-founded. We checked, and this time the greedy scammers have raised the bar. It seems these cheaters used real footage where viewers can actually see Elon Musk talk about his companies, and planted a different audio file where someone else lies about the fake Quantum AI investment platform and automated trading app. The crooks responsible for orchestrating this scam are affiliate networks who specialize in social media advertising on venues such as Facebook and Twitter. These networks are operating in tandem with rogue offshore brokers who are paying referral money for investing clients (that’s you). When we signed up our broker was Crypto Kartal which is owned and operated by Elmond Enterprise Ltd. This company has a registered business address in St. Vincent and the Grenadines as well as in Estonia where it is named Fukazawa Partnership OU. The Quantum AI scam is particularly sleazy because it uses a combination of 2 highly effective baiting methods. The first is the fake Elon Musk presentation which is highly deceptive, and the second is fake news which is being disseminated via social media channels. All of this will be discussed in detail in our Quantum AI review and scam investigation, along with the massive amount of complaints we received. So if you are keen on signing up or believe that the Quantum AI trading software is a legit system, then we highly recommend you keep reading our Quantum AI review because we exposed this latest get-rich-quick scheme so stay alert and on your toes.

Official Website, Login Page, and Members Area: Spoofed Website (Keeps Changing). Our staff also found a few versions of the Quantum AI website, and they all claim to be “official”. We have added a separate section in our review about why this is happening.

Scam Evidence:

Below is the Quantum AI main registration and membership area. You can very easily see that they are saying you can make €1,320 in 5 Hours. Oh yes, you will also help cure poverty (nice touch).

Quantum scam (more)

Monday, 27 September 2021

Caitlin Johnstone: Now it's been proved it considered assassinating or kidnapping Julian Assange, how is the CIA still a thing?

Citing “conversations with more than 30 former U.S. officials,” a Yahoo News report has confirmed that the CIA not only spied on the WikiLeaks founder, but also discussed seizing, renditioning and killing him. These plans were reportedly made in coordination with the Trump White House as then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo and then-Deputy CIA Director Gina Haspel raged over WikiLeaks’ 2017 Vault 7 release which revealed that the CIA had lost control of an enormous digital arsenal of hacking tools. These included tools which enabled the surveillance of smartphones, smart TVs and web browsers, the hacking of computerized vehicle control systems, and the ability to frame foreign governments for cyber attacks by inserting the digital “fingerprints” of the hacking methods they employ for investigators to find. It was the single largest data leak in CIA history.

Normally we have to wait decades for confirmation that the CIA did something nefarious, and then people absurdly assume that such things no longer occur because it was so long ago, and because changing your worldview is uncomfortable. But here we are with an extensively sourced report that the agency plotted to kidnap, rendition and assassinate a journalist for publishing authentic documents in the public interest, just four years after the fact.

Which is about as spectacular a violation of virtually every value that western society claims to uphold. Particularly the assassination bit.

The authors of the story (who for the record insert their own flimsy spin insinuating ties between Russia and WikiLeaks) say it’s not known just how serious the assassination plans were taken at Langley. But they make it abundantly clear that such plans were made: “[A]gency executives requested and received ‘sketches’ of plans for killing Assange and other Europe-based WikiLeaks members who had access to Vault 7 materials, said a former intelligence official. There were discussions ‘on whether killing Assange was possible and whether it was legal,’ the former official said.”

And that, right there, just by itself, should be reason enough to completely abolish the Central Intelligence Agency. Just the fact that this is an institution where such conversations even happen and such plans even get made, to say nothing of the obvious implication that they wouldn’t have such conversations and make such plans if they did not act on them from time to time.

I just can’t get over how this claim was openly confirmed by a mainstream journalism investigation and the public response has been “Oh wow what an alarming news story,” instead of, “Okay well the CIA doesn’t get to exist then.”

I mean, is it not out-of-this-world bizarre that we just found out the CIA recently drew up plans to assassinate a journalist for journalistic activity, and yet we’re not all unanimously demanding that the CIA be completely dismantled and flushed down the toilet forever?

This would after all be the same lying, drug-running, warmongering, propagandizing, psychological terrorizing Central Intelligence Agency that has been viciously smashing the world into compliance with its agendas for generations. It is surely one of the most depraved institutions ever to have existed, comparable in terms of sheer psychopathy to the worst of the worst in history.

So why does it exist? Why is there still an institution whose extensive use of torture has reportedly included “Rape, gang rape, rape using eels, snakes, or hard objects, and rape followed by murder; electric shock (‘the Bell Telephone Hour’) rendered by attaching wires to the genitals or other sensitive parts of the body, like the tongue; the ‘water treatment’; the ‘airplane’ in which the prisoner’s arms were tied behind the back, and the rope looped over a hook on the ceiling, suspending the prisoner in midair, after which he or she was beaten; beatings with rubber hoses and whips; the use of police dogs to maul prisoners”?

I am of course being rhetorical. We all know why the CIA still exists. An agency which exerts control over the news media with ever-increasing brazenness is not about to start helping the public become more well-informed about its unbroken track record of horrific abuses, and if anyone in power ever even thinks about crossing them they have “six ways from Sunday of getting back at you.”

The date of the absolute last time the CIA ever did anything evil keeps getting moved forward. The CIA just casually had plans drawn up for the assassination of Julian Assange in case they decided that was something they wanted to do, but you’re a crazy conspiracy theorist if you think they might be doing other bad things right now.

The reason the latest Assange story isn’t getting more traction and causing more people to think critically about the CIA is because the US government making plans to kidnap, rendition and assassinate a journalist for telling the truth is so incomprehensibly evil that it causes too much cognitive dissonance for people to really take in. Our minds are wired to reject information which disrupts our worldview, and people who’ve spent their lives marinating in the belief that they live in a free democracy will have worldviews that are resistant to information which shows we are actually ruled by secretive power structures who laugh at our votes.

So to recap, the CIA made plans to kidnap and rendition Julian Assange and to assassinate him and his associates. The CIA also spied on Assange and his legal team, and a notoriously untrustworthy key witness for the prosecution in his case has admitted to fabricating evidence. And yet the CIA is not being burnt to the ground and its ashes scattered to the Langley winds, and the UK is still somehow proceeding right along with the US appeal to extradite Assange.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: as much light as WikiLeaks has shone on the dark inner workings of the powerful over the years, the persecution of Julian Assange by those very same power structures has revealed far, far more. The more they seek to persecute him the brighter that light shines on them, making it easier and easier for us to see who they are, what they do, and how they do it.

RT.com

Saturday, 11 September 2021

Chris Hedges: We Americans kill with an inchoate fury. The evil we do is the evil we get

The hijackers who carried out the attacks on 9/11, like all radical jihadist groups in the Middle East, spoke to us in the murderous language we taught them.

I was in Times Square in New York City shortly after the second plane banked and plowed into the South Tower. The crowd looking up at the Jumbotron gasped in dismay at the billowing black smoke and the fireball that erupted from the tower. There was no question now that the two attacks on the Twin Towers were acts of terrorism. The earlier supposition, that perhaps the pilot had a heart attack or lost control of the plane when it struck the North Tower seventeen minutes earlier, vanished with the second attack. The city fell into a collective state of shock. Fear palpitated throughout the streets. Would they strike again? Where? Was my family safe? Should I go to work? Should I go home? What did it mean? Who would do this? Why?

The explosions and collapse of the towers, however, were, to me, intimately familiar. I had seen it before. This was the familiar language of empire. I had watched these incendiary messages dropped on southern Kuwait and Iraq during the first Persian Gulf War and descend with thundering concussions in Gaza and Bosnia. The calling card of empire, as was true in Vietnam, is tons of lethal ordnance dropped from the sky. The hijackers spoke to America in the idiom we taught them.

The ignorance, masquerading as innocence, of Americans, mostly white Americans, was nauseating. It was the worst attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor. It was the greatest act of terrorism in American history. It was an incomprehensible act of barbarity. The stunningly naive rhetoric, which saturated the media, saw the blues artist Willie King sit up all night and write his song “Terrorized”.

“Now you talk ‘bout terror,” he sang. “I been terrorized all my days.”

But it was not only Black Americans who were familiar with the endemic terror built into the machinery of white supremacy, capitalism, and empire, but those overseas who the empire for decades sought to subdue, dominate, and destroy. They knew there is no moral difference between those who fire Hellfire and cruise missiles or pilot militarized drones, obliterating wedding parties, village gatherings or families, and suicide bombers.

They knew there is no moral difference between those who carpet-bomb North Vietnam or southern Iraq and those who fly planes into buildings. In short, they knew the evil that spawned evil. America was not attacked because the hijackers hated us for our values. America was not attacked because the hijackers followed the Quran – which forbids suicide and the murder of women and children. America was not attacked because of a clash of civilizations.

America was attacked because the virtues we espouse are a lie. We were attacked for our hypocrisy. We were attacked for the campaigns of industrial slaughter that are our primary way of speaking with the rest of the planet. Robert McNamara, the Secretary of Defense in the summer of 1965, called the bombing raids, which would eventually kill hundreds of thousands of civilians north of Saigon, a form of communication with the communist government in Hanoi.

The lives of Iraqis, Afghanis, Syrians, Libyans, and Yemenis are as precious as the lives of those killed in the Twin Towers. But this understanding, this ability to see the world as the world saw us, eluded Americans who, refusing to acknowledge the blood on their own hands, instantly bifurcated the world into good and evil, us and them, the blessed and the damned. The country drank deep of the dark elixir of nationalism, the heady elevation of us as a noble and wronged people. The flip side of nationalism is always racism. And the poisons of racism and hate infected the American nation to propel it into the greatest strategic blunder in its history, one from which it will never recover.

We did not, and do not, grasp that we are the mirror image of those we seek to destroy. We too kill with an inchoate fury. Over the past two decades, we have extinguished the lives of hundreds of thousands of people who never sought to harm the United States or were involved in the attacks on American soil. We too use religion, in our case the Christian faith, to mount a jihad or crusade. We too go to war to fight phantoms of our own creation.

I walked down the West Side Highway that morning to the moonscape the Twin Towers had become after they collapsed. Climbing over the rubble, hacking and coughing because of the toxic fumes from the burning asbestos, jet fuel, lead, mercury, cellulose, and construction debris, I saw the tiny bits of human flesh and body parts that were all that remained from the towers’ nearly 3,000 victims. It was obvious no one in the towers when they collapsed survived.

The manipulation of the images, however, had already begun. The scores of “jumpers,” those who leapt to their deaths before the collapses, were censored from the live broadcasts. They seemed to wait for turns. They often fell singly or in pairs, sometimes with improvised parachutes made from drapes, sometimes replicating the motions of swimmers. They reached speeds of 150 miles an hour during the 10 seconds it took before they hit the pavement. The bodies made a sickening thud on impact. All who saw them fall spoke of this sound.

The mass suicide was one of the pivotal events of 9/11. But it was immediately expunged from public consciousness. The jumpers did not fit into the myth the nation demanded. The hopelessness and despair were too disturbing. It exposed our smallness and fragility. It illustrated that there are levels of suffering and fear that lead us to willingly embrace death. The “jumpers” reminded us that one day we will all face only one choice and that is how we will die, not how we will live.

The story being fabricated out of the ashes of the Twin Towers was a story of resilience, heroism, courage and self-sacrifice, not collective suicide. So, the mass murder and mass suicide were replaced with an encomium to the virtues and prowess of the American spirit.

The nation, fed this narrative, soon parroted back the clichés about terror. We became what we abhorred. The 9/11 deaths were used to justify the invasion of Afghanistan, “Shock and Awe”, targeted assassinations, torture, offshore penal colonies, gunning down families at checkpoints, airstrikes, drone attacks, missile strikes and the killing of dozens and soon hundreds and then thousands and later tens of thousands and finally hundreds of thousands of innocent people. The corpses piled up in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, and Pakistan, justified by our beatified dead. Twenty years later these dead haunt us like Banquo’s ghost.

The intoxication of violence, the anodyne of war, is a poison. It condemns critical thought as treason. Its call to patriotism is little more than collective self-worship. It imparts a god-like power and license to destroy, not only things, but other human beings. But war is, ultimately, about betrayal, as the defeat in Afghanistan elucidates. Betrayal of the young by the old. Betrayal of idealists by cynics. Betrayal of soldiers and marines by war profiteers and politicians.

War, like all idols, begins by demanding the sacrifice of others but ends with the demand for self-sacrifice. The Greeks, like Sigmund Freud, grasped that war is the purist expression of the death instinct, the desire to exterminate all systems of life, including, ultimately, our own. Ares, the Greek god of war, was frequently drunk, quarrelsome, impetuous, and a lover of violence for its own sake. He was hated by nearly all the other gods, except the god of the underworld, Hades, to whom he delivered a steady stream of new souls. Ares’s sister, Eris, the goddess of chaos and strife, spread rumor and jealousy to fan the flames of war.

The defeat in Afghanistan has not forced a reckoning. The media coverage does not acknowledge the defeat, replacing it with the absurd idea that, by withdrawing, we defeated ourselves. The plight of women under Taliban rule and the frantic effort of the elites and those who collaborated with the foreign occupation forces to flee are myopically used to ignore the two decades of unmitigated terror and death we perpetrated on the Afghan people.

This moral fragmentation, where we define ourselves by tangential and often fictitious acts of goodness, is a psychological escape hatch. It allows us to avoid looking at who we are and what we have done. This willful blindness is what the psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton calls “doubling,” the “division of the self into two functioning wholes, so that the part-self acts as an entire self.” This doubling, Lifton noted, is often done “outside of awareness.” And it is an essential ingredient to carrying out evil. If we refuse to see ourselves as we are, if we cannot shatter the lie perpetuated by our moral fragmentation, there is no hope of redemption. The gravest danger we face is the danger of alienation, not only from the world around us, but from ourselves.

Chris Hedges @ RT.com

Saturday, 28 August 2021

Huxit Hurray?

As so many members of the EU (the largest trading block in the world) Hungary joined the European behemoth because having access to to its fleshpots is highly lucrative. Now it appears Viktor Orbán's 'traditionalist nationalist' gang might go for broke and try to leave the bloc.

Well, if you have such a problem with universal values then good riddance, as far as I'm concerned!


BUDAPEST, HUNGARY – An opinion piece by Tamás Fricz, titled “It is time to talk about Huxit,” began a frantic dialogue about the likelihood of Viktor Orbán’s leading Hungary out of the European Union in order to avoid any constraints on his dictatorial, undemocratic leadership.

Foreigners might find this terrified reaction of politically savvy, intelligent people to the words of a government propagandist masquerading as a political scientist bizarre. Anyone can sit down and write an opinion piece on any crazy subject. The fellow got carried away. We certainly don’t assume that what every op-ed writer in The New York Times, The Guardian, or Die Welt suggests is God’s honest truth.

Is it time to talk about Huxit?

But this is not the case in Hungary, especially if that opinion piece appears in the government’s flagship paper, Magyar Nemzet. Within a few hours the news spread in opposition circles, among politicians as well as sympathizers, that Fricz’s piece was a message straight from Viktor Orbán.

For example, Klára Dobrev, one of the opposition candidates for the premiership, declared that “the article on leaving the EU was written at Orbán’s behest and in Orbán’s interests.” The country should be ready for such an eventuality, even if the latest Medián opinion poll reaffirmed all of the earlier ones, that the overwhelming majority of the Hungarian people (83%), including 79% of Fidesz voters, are committed supporters of the EU.

Those who are convinced that without Orbán’s approval no such opinion piece could have appeared in Magyar Nemzet are not naïve political rookies. They know that Viktor Orbán is an extremely talented politician who would not rush into a move so fraught with danger, which might end up being a huge defeat for him. He must have something up his sleeve. Given the seemingly pointless insistence on the “child protection law,” Huxit may well be an issue he hopes to employ as an election weapon, especially if he loses too many battles with the bureaucrats of Brussels.

While the EU, as a source of financial benefits, enjoys wide support, Hungarian society is much more divided on the issue of the “child protection” law. The ratio of those who approve to those who disapprove is almost even: 47% to 42%. If the government can successfully convince the electorate that it is the European Union that is punishing Hungary for a law against pedophiles and the spreading of homosexual propaganda among children, it can, through the kind of massive propaganda at which it excels, turn them away from support of the European Union.

Majority of Hungarians remains attached to the EU

Moreover, as Gábor Bojár, a thoughtful businessman who is politically engaged, put it, Orbán needs to convince only about 50% of the electorate that Hungary is being unfairly punished by the European Commission. That number would be enough to trigger a referendum, where, given the Orbán regime’s propaganda machine, Hungarians might turn out to be the victims of the Hungarian equivalent of Nigel Farage.

This is a real possibility, especially since Hungarians’ attachment to the EU is based on monetary considerations. At least this was the case in 2019, when Policy Solutions published a study titled “After 15 years: The European Union and Hungarian Society.” At that time, it was the EU subsidies that 50.8% of Hungarians saw as the greatest advantage of membership. That was followed by Schengen (15.5%) and foreign employment (14.4%). The best article on the dangers of a possible Huxit appeared in Válasz today.

I should point out that there have been several occasions on which Fidesz politicians suddenly began talking about leaving the European Union. The first such moment was in October 2014 when László Kövér, president of the Hungarian parliament, in an interview on Echo TV, complained about diktats coming from the EU, which reminded him of Soviet Russia. “If this is the future of the EU, then it would be worth thinking about how we should slowly and carefully get out of this.” However he added that “I’m convinced that this is not the future of the European Union, it’s a nightmare.”

Two years later, in July 2016, János Lázár, who at that time was the second most important man in the government, at one of his weekly press conferences, while discussing Brexit, said that he could not “in good conscience vote to stay in the EU.” That inspired Index to take a survey. It published an article titled “A narrow pro-EU majority in government.” At that time, the most enthusiastic supporters were Péter Szijjártó, Zoltán Balog, and Gergely Gulyás. Zoltán Kovács was less firm. “If the EU’s handling of illegal migration were the only basis for a decision, I would not be in favor of staying in.” Orbán, as usual, didn’t answer. His communications director told the journalist that “on this topic, please consider Viktor Orbán’s 70-minute press conference after the EU summit as a reference point,” which didn’t deal with the topic in any forthright way. It concentrated on migration as an issue which, if not resolved, will be troublesome.

Hungary’s EU membership at stake

In December 2020, during the Polish-Hungarian threat of a veto of the EU budget, several opposition politicians, among them Tamás Mellár, were certain that, as a result of the EU-Hungarian conflict, Orbán was planning a possible exit from the European Union. Péter Márki-Zaj, one of candidates for the position of prime minister, is convinced that if joining the European Public Prosecutor’s Office were made compulsory, Orbán “would rather drive the country out of the EU than stop stealing.” István Ujhelyi, an MSZP MEP, believed way before Fricz’s article appeared that “Orbán is preparing for the final battle, which could end—tragically—with Hungary’s exit from the EU.”

So, the topic is not new. It emerges whenever Hungary is in sharp disagreement with the European Union. Until now, these disagreements have never had serious consequences for Viktor Orbán as prime minister of Hungary or as a member of the European Council. The Hungarian government’s attack on the homosexual community, however, has changed Orbán’s certainty of never experiencing any substantial consequences of his flagrant disregard of EU laws.

Now that money has been withheld, the threat seems real. Norway’s decision not to release its usual funds to the Hungarian government infuriated him to such an extent that by now he has lost all sense of rationality. In this mood, what else remains? To threaten to bring down the whole edifice. Maybe out of fear the EU will apologize and continue to keep him and his clan fat for a few more years.

With the notion firmly planted in the heads of Hungarians that everything Orbán decides sooner or later becomes reality, it is no surprise that a Fidesz propagandist’s urgent call for Huxit sounds like a threat. But instead of panicking, the opposition parties must organize themselves into one unified group as soon as possible and make clear to the Hungarian public that at stake in the election is membership in the European Union.

Kafkadesk.

Tuesday, 17 August 2021

Marie A-Toilette: "Let Them go Hungry!"

THURSDAY NIGHT on Fox News, Laura Ingraham straightforwardly expressed the key challenge for capitalism: How can bosses get people to do awful, degrading jobs for little pay in order to make other people rich?
“The government is literally putting anvils, in many ways, on people’s shoulders, either through the mandates, regulations, and now through free money,” Ingraham said to her guest, reality TV host Jon Taffer. “If we are not causing people to be hungry to work, then we’re providing them with all the meals they need sitting at home,” Taffer agreed. “These benefits make absolutely no sense to us.”
Ingraham’s cri de cœur has been sounded innumerable times over the past few centuries. After the passage of the U.K.’s Slavery Abolition Act of 1833, British officials openly debated what they were going to do once the people they’d enslaved were free to just leave the plantations. One key issue, particularly in the West Indies, was that there was a great deal of public land that could be claimed and farmed by anyone.
“Where there is land enough to yield an abundant subsistence to the whole population in return for slight labour,” wrote Lord Glenelg, the U.K. secretary of state for war and the colonies, “they will probably have no sufficient inducement to prefer the more toilsome existence of a regular labourer.”

@TI.

Friday, 6 August 2021

Tzipi Hotovely: Zionista Revisionista

Israeli envoy and UK Jewish group slammed for 'racist' Nakba comments

Activists condemn Board of Deputies for inviting Tzipi Hotovely to event, after she calls the expulsion of 700,000 Palestinians a 'very popular Arab lie'

Activists have criticised the UK's main Jewish community organisation for hosting Israeli ambassador Tzipi Hotovely, who at its event last week denied the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from what is now Israel in 1948.

Last week, Hotovely appeared at a Board of Deputies (BoD) online event where she described the expulsion of 700,000 Palestinians in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war - known as the Nakba or "catastrophe" in Arabic - as a "very popular Arab lie".

Hotovely, who was made ambassador to the UK in August, is set to appear at another event hosted by the BoD on 15 December, along with the UAE and Bahrain's ambassadors, highlighting the normalisation deals signed by the latter two countries with Israel in September.

The pro-Palestinian Jewish organisation Na'amond said in a tweet that Hotovely was a racist and her invitation should be withdrawn.

"We cannot allow Hotovely's views to be normalised in our community with invites to celebratory events," said the group.

"She is a racist who supports a single state where Palestinians don't have equal rights."

MEE

Sunday, 1 August 2021

Craig Murray’s jailing is the national security state’s latest assault on independent journalism

JONATHAN COOK·JULY 31, 2021

Craig Murray, a former ambassador to Uzbekistan, the father of a newborn child, a man in very poor health and one who has no prior convictions, will have to hand himself over to the Scottish police on Sunday morning. He becomes the first person ever to be imprisoned on the obscure and vaguely defined charge of “jigsaw identification”.

Murray is also the first person to be jailed in Britain for contempt of court in half a century – a period when such different legal and moral values prevailed that the British establishment had only just ended the prosecution of “homosexuals” and the jailing of women for having abortions.

Murray’s imprisonment for eight months by Lady Dorrian, Scotland’s second most senior judge, is of course based entirely on a keen reading of Scottish law rather than evidence of the Scottish and London political establishments seeking revenge on the former diplomat. And the UK supreme court’s refusal on Thursday to hear Murray’s appeal despite many glaring legal anomalies in the case, thereby paving his path to jail, is equally rooted in a strict application of the law, and not influenced in any way by political considerations.

Murray’s jailing has nothing to do with the fact that he embarrassed the British state in the early 2000s by becoming that rarest of things: a whistleblowing diplomat. He exposed the British government’s collusion, along with the US, in Uzbekistan’s torture regime.

His jailing also has nothing to do with the fact that Murray has embarrassed the British state more recently by reporting the woeful and continuing legal abuses in a London courtroom as Washington seeks to extradite Wikileaks’ founder, Julian Assange, and lock him away for life in a maximum security prison. The US wants to make an example of Assange for exposing its war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan and for publishing leaked diplomatic cables that pulled the mask off Washington’s ugly foreign policy.

Mucho Moar Sarcasm here.

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Our Tenuous Grip on the Truth

If you repeat something enough times, it comes to feel good and true.

Wednesday, 14 July 2021

Broader Crises

Indian border-crossers illuminate the interconnectedness of mass migration

BEFORE AN EXCRUCIATING SECOND WAVE of Covid-19 drowned it out, my hometown in India was the site of one of the largest protests in history. I witnessed glimpses of it through the digital portal in my hands: elderly men with frosty beards kneading dough for parathas. Women in green dupattas, raising fists against the concrete horizon of the interstate highway. Young men securing each other’s turbans. And kids—swinging from tractors, waving flags. These families had thronged to Delhi from neighboring agricultural states to oppose new laws that the ruling party had rammed through parliament.

The measures, they argued, would decimate the little economic security they had left. Waves of economic liberalization in the decades since India’s independence have exposed its farming communities to exploitative multinational agri-corporations and climate injustices, plunging them into a perennial state of crisis. Spikes in suicide, high cancer rates, and destructive opioid epidemics have thus besieged their home states. These new laws were the last straw, they said.

When the farmers’ rallying cries reached a crescendo on the streets of Delhi this January, America was occupied with the political crisis unfolding in its own capital. But even in the absence of proximal distractions, for many Americans, a crisis on the other side of the world would have remained abstract no matter what.

Ripples created by far-off crises can come to lick familiar shores, however. And in this case, they have been doing so for a long time. The underlying circumstances compelling Indians to take to the streets in recent months have caused others to flee the country in recent years. Many travel all the way to the United States, where the number of Indians apprehended at the U.S. border climbed by almost 5,000 percent between 2007 and 2018, from 188 to 9,234. These migrants are often young Sikh or Muslim men; often from agricultural states of Punjab and Haryana; and often poor. The “root causes” of unauthorized Indian mass migration are intimately related to the same ills driving the mass mobilization we saw earlier this year.

India is the world’s biggest source of migrants, with the highest numbers going to the United Arab Emirates, the United States, and Saudi Arabia, according to the United Nations. Thousands of Indians come to America each year on work, college, and family sponsored visas. The ones who cross this country’s borders without authorization, however, are less visible. While their apprehensions are still much lower in absolute terms compared to migrants from Central America and Mexico, the increase over the last several years is remarkable.

The arrival of these migrants has been taken by many as another dimension of the United States’ never-ending “border crisis.” But, in reality, it represents a cross current of migration that author and activist Harsha Walia describes as the “outcome of the actual crises of capitalism, conquest, and climate change,” in Border & Rule: Global Migration, Capitalism, and the Rise of Racist Nationalism. In the book, Walia provides a necessary global lens through which to understand migration, drawing connections between systemic forces in a variety of contexts. She asks: What role do countries like the United States play—what ideologies and institutions do they support—that create crises elsewhere around the world that force people to leave? How do these countries administer their borders as places where these myriad crises coalesce—where global inequities and harms reproduce? Is the result a “border crisis,” or a crisis of borders—that is, is the movement of people inherently a problem, or is it how they are restricted and contained?

The word “mob,” Walia writes, “is often used to link large groups of poor, racialized people to social disorder.” It derives from the word “mobility.” To the powerful, a collective of marginalized people at the boundaries of their kingdom, be it a nation or a neighborhood, is an obvious threat. In the United States, a common belief espoused by conservatives and liberals alike is that such “mobs” need to be actively discouraged through rhetoric or policy. So they constantly send migrants the message “do not come,” and then show them exactly what they will lose if they do.

Nativist groups drive this narrative, and often succeed in shaming others into toeing the line as well by accusing them of being too permissive. It’s within this context that some have painted the latest wave of Indian migration to the southern U.S. border as a new phenomenon—lamenting that the Biden administration’s yet to-be-realized promise of a more humane border is drawing “mobs” from around the world.

What they don’t know, or choose to leave out, is that the arrival of Indians to the United States predates the creation of the southern border. As early as 1820, people from India were disembarking at American ports to work as farm laborers, according to the Migration Policy Institute. At the time, much of the Indian subcontinent was a British colony, and young men from rural districts in Punjab (present-day Pakistan-India border) or East-Bengal (present-day Bangladesh) would board British trade vessels for the United States. Upon arrival, some jumped ship, hoping to escape the crush of exploitative British taxation policies back home. As author and filmmaker Vivek Bald has extensively detailed in his research, this migration continued well into the twentieth century under the radar, even as all Asians were banned from entering the country between 1917 and 1965.

Today, the limited legal pathways to the United States are expensive and uncertain. Indians who cannot afford to take them often rely on smugglers. A common route is to fly to the Americas and travel north with other migrant groups. Once at the U.S.-Mexico border, migrants have increasingly taken dangerous paths into the country, as a result of years of intentional U.S. policy. Some don’t make it. In 2019, the body of a six-year-old Indian girl named Gurupreet Kaur was found near the border, seventeen miles west of Lukeville, Arizona. She and her mother had been on their way to join the young girl’s father in New York City, where he had a pending asylum application. They were separated trying to cross a remote part of the Arizona desert where temperatures rise well above 100 degrees. Gurupreet died of a heat stroke all alone.

Border agents, asylum officers, and immigration judges don’t usually regard Indian border crossers sympathetically, I have often been told in the course of my reporting. It is a common belief that many are trying to game the system; that they don’t really face persecution but come to America for economic reasons, and therefore are not eligible to apply for asylum. Indian migrants who do make it inside therefore often languish in detention. Over the years, dozens have launched hunger strikes against the dehumanizing conditions of confinement and been met with brutal responses. According to a new American Civil Liberties Union report based on internal government documents, detainees engaging in this kind of protest have been subject to force-feedings, solitary confinement, excessive force, and retaliatory deportations.

It’s not clear to me that the research U.S. officials rely on to make asylum decisions captures the complexity of the circumstances on the ground some Indians are fleeing. It likely does not capture the extent of India’s current identity crisis or the crisis that is its borders.

As a baseline, in India, access to food, water, jobs, and justice is controlled by the powerful. From the local mafia and the beat cop, to city politicians, religious leaders, and business entities, each power player stakes a claim on the land—and every person on what they claim as their turf becomes subject to their whims and prejudices. Extra judicial police killings are common, and even celebrated; as are arbitrary stops, seizures, and disappearances in regions like Kashmir, where the Indian military has special powers. It can therefore be difficult to untangle political persecution, religious oppression, caste violence, and economic exploitation in the experiences of people at the bottom of this food chain. This internal social hierarchy sits, like a Russian doll, within the larger hierarchy of nations. Local marginalization is compounded by global disparity.

In the United States, immigration lawyers have noted an uptick in Indian migrants seeking refuge, citing persecution under the right wing government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The erosion of Indian democracy has accelerated under the current regime. As human rights monitors and news reports have extensively documented, state and vigilante violence against marginalized groups has worsened; police brutality and arrests of protesters and dissidents have increased. Inequality has climbed, thanks to misguided economic policies. This year, a preventable second surge of Covid-19 killed thousands and left low-wage laborers with no means to fend for themselves. As funeral pyres burned en masse, citizens scrambled to organize aid, and scores of impoverished workers in informal sectors left for their villages. Data on how the pandemic and international travel restrictions may have further affected this migration is not yet available, but anecdotally, all the “push factors” that drive migration have only intensified.

In Border & Rule, Walia unpacks at length the parallels between Modi’s far-right hyper capitalist ideology and those of leaders around the world: Modi is “one of the world’s most business-friendly politicians with a ruthless agenda of deregulation, private investment in the manufacturing and agricultural sectors, corporate subsidies, and regressive taxation.” His Hindu supremacist, or “Hindutva” ideology, finds “common cause” with white supremacist and Nazi ideologies in the West, she adds.

Those Indians who embrace Modi’s ideology, or who otherwise draw power from caste, class, and religious hierarchies at home, often migrate abroad with relative ease. They also often back the same, or similar, politics abroad. Groups such as “Hindus for Trump,” Walia writes, are therefore “best explained through the prism of Hindutva’s brahminical supremacy and adjoining Islamophobia, rather than the typical explanations of white-washed, model minorities or upward class mobility.” Indians who fit this bill will often ignore the existence of their countrymen coming to the Southern border because acknowledging it would mean acknowledging their own complicity in oppression; in creating, and then criminalizing, migration.

Despite the truly global context underpinning migration to the United States, Americans hold a narrow view of the situation at the southern border, associating it almost exclusively with illegal migration from Mexico and Central America. This makes sense to some extent: because of their proximity, and because they are driven by conditions to which the United States has directly or indirectly contributed, migrants from these regions arrive in the highest numbers, either to work or request asylum. (Per the law, it is legal to request asylum no matter how a person enters this country, and you have to be on U.S. soil to do it.)

Central Americans are fleeing political instability stemming from regime changes the United States helped facilitate decades ago; or from the economic fallout of coffee crop failures due to climate change the United States has been slow—and at times, unwilling—to address. Mexicans come as a result of a longstanding push-and-pull created by twentieth century labor and tariff agreements, such as the Bracero program, between their country and the United States. With the rise of maquiladoras—export-focused border factories, often U.S.-owned—in the latter half of the twentieth century, the two nations together abolished the border for goods and capital, but not for people. Since migration cycles had already been established, people kept coming. In response, U.S. immigration policies increased deportations, creating a permanent underclass of laborers on both sides of the border with Mexico.

The figure of the “illegal immigrant,” created through U.S. policies and propped up to justify harsher policing of the borderlands, was seen as Mexican. The “illegal immigrant” wasn’t just a legal category, but also a racial one, as historian Mae Ngai has argued.

This construct persists today despite consistent declines in Mexican arrivals. Among other things, it helps obscure the complexity and scope of human migration—and the United States’ role in enabling it. And not just in Mexico and the Northern Triangle. For instance: American agribusiness has worked hand-in-hand with successive Indian governments to sideline India’s farmers. Its leaders have exported high-carbon fuels to India, even as they tout the perils of climate change at home; hoarded life-saving vaccines during a pandemic; and normalized, even celebrated, Modi, for years.

“Border crises are not merely domestic issues to be managed through policy reform,” Walia writes. “They must, instead, be placed within the globalized asymmetries of power—inscribed by race, caste, gender, sexuality, ability, and nationality—creating migration and restricting mobility.”

Viewing the world’s migration crises in silos and slivers hides from view the real reasons why certain groups of people are unable to stay in their homes, but equally unable to move elsewhere to survive—and discourages us from understanding that their world and ours, as separate as they may seem, are one and the same.

TheBaffler.

Sunday, 4 July 2021

Could this be end of the case against Assange?

Snowden declares 'end of case against Julian Assange' after newspaper reveals LIES by key witness in US extradition case

Key accusations in the case against WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange, who faces up to 175 years in prison if extradited to the US, are reportedly based on testimony from a convicted fraudster who admitted to media he was lying.

Sigurdur Ingi Thordarson, an Icelandic citizen and former WikiLeaks volunteer who became an FBI informant for $5,000, has admitted to Icelandic newspaper Stundin that he fabricated important parts of the accusations in the indictment.

In an article published on Saturday, Stundin details several parts of his testimony that he now denies, claiming that Assange never instructed him to carry out any hacking.

The newspaper points out that even though a court in London has refused to extradite Assange to the US on humanitarian grounds, it still sided with the US when it came to claims based on Thordarson's now-denied testimony. For instance, the ruling says that “Mr. Assange and Teenager failed a joint attempt to decrypt a file stolen from a 'NATO country 1' bank,” where "NATO country 1" is believed to refer to Iceland, while "Teenager" referred to Thordarson himself.

However, he now reportedly claims that the file in question can't exactly be considered "stolen" since it was assumed to have been distributed and leaked by whistleblowers inside the bank and many people online were attempting to decrypt it at the time. That's because it allegedly contained information about defaulted loans provided by Icelandic Landsbanki, the fall of which in 2008 led to a major economic crisis in the country.

Thordarson also provided the publication with chat logs from his time volunteering for WikiLeaks in 2010 and 2011, showing his frequent requests for hackers to either attack or get information from Icelandic entities and websites. But, according to Stundin, none of the logs show that Thordarson was asked to do that by anyone inside WikiLeaks. What they do show, according to the newspaper, are constant attempts by the organization's volunteer to inflate his position, describing himself as chief of staff or head of communications.

In 2012, WikiLeaks filed criminal charges against Thordarson over embezzlement and financial fraud. He was later sentenced for both in Iceland.

Stundin also cites Ogmundur Jonasson, then-Icelandic interior minister, who says US authorities were going out of their way to get Assange.

The newspaper claims that Thordarson's testimony is key for the prosecution's line portraying Assange as a criminal, rather than a journalist publishing material protected by the First Amendment, like the New York Times or other media that shared the same documents as WikiLeaks.

Reacting to the bombshell article by Stundin, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden tweeted: "This is the end of the case against Julian Assange." Investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald agreed, saying: "It should be."

Assange has spent more than two years behind bars at Belmarsh Prison in the UK. The US government has charged the Australian journalist under the Espionage Act, accusing him of leaking classified information in 2010. At the time, WikiLeaks published documents detailing abuses, including possible war crimes, carried out by the US military in Afghanistan and Iraq. Washington is currently seeking his extradition, and Assange could be jailed for up to 175 years if found guilty.

At the beginning of June, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer called on the UK government to release the journalist, condemning his incarceration as “one of the biggest judicial scandals in history.”

RT.com.

Thursday, 24 June 2021

Ilhan Omar’s Critics Want Impunity for US and Israeli War Crimes

Democratic Party leaders have accused Ilhan Omar of “moral equivalency” because she rejected the brazen double standard underpinning US foreign policy. But Omar is right: murderous violence against civilians is no less criminal when Israel or the United States are the perpetrators.

Senior Democrats on Capitol Hill are once again engaged in one of their favorite activities: bashing Ilhan Omar and setting her up for abuse by the American right. Two years ago, they denounced the Minnesota congresswoman and bullied her into apologizing for an innocuous tweet about the influence of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on public debate. Now they’ve issued a statement condemning Omar “for drawing false equivalencies between democracies like the US and Israel and groups that engage in terrorism like Hamas and the Taliban.”

In a repeat of the pattern from 2019, Nancy Pelosi and her colleagues present the results of their harassment as a justification for it: “We welcome the clarification by Congresswoman Omar that there is no moral equivalency between the US and Israel and Hamas and the Taliban.” The most telling phrase in the statement was “moral equivalency.” It has a long and ignoble history as a tool for whitewashing crimes against humanity.

When the likes of Pelosi complain about “moral equivalency,” what they really mean is this: Under no circumstances can you judge the United States and its allies by the things that they do. You must judge them by their rhetorical claims to support peace, democracy, and goodwill among men. No matter how many innocent people they kill, you can never accuse them of terrorism or criminality. Such labels are the exclusive property of designated “bad guys” like Hamas, the Taliban, and Vladimir Putin.

The high-sounding rhetoric about “moral equivalency” conceals an ugly truth: the guardians of the US foreign-policy consensus know perfectly well that it can’t be justified by reference to ethical principles. If we applied a consistent set of moral standards to all states and nonstate actors, that consensus would soon crumble into dust.

Their Dictatorships and Ours

The term “moral equivalency” (or “moral equivalence”) has a blood-soaked history. The person who did most to popularize it was Ronald Reagan’s UN ambassador, Jeane Kirkpatrick. She even published a long essay on the subject, “The Myth of Moral Equivalence,” in 1986.

Kirkpatrick should have ended her life as a pariah figure. In her most notorious public intervention, after soldiers from the military junta in El Salvador kidnapped, raped, and murdered four US churchwomen in 1980, Kirkpatrick told a reporter from the Tampa Tribune that the victims had it coming:

The nuns were not just nuns. They were political activists. We ought to be a little more clear about this than we actually are.

Kirkpatrick later realized that it might be wise to conceal her enthusiastic support for Central American death squads, at least in public. When the story appeared in print, she claimed that she had never uttered those words, but the reporter had a tape recording to back it up.

In the early 1980s, the Reagan administration was pumping $2 billion a year into the Salvadorean military regime, without which it would soon have collapsed. The dictatorship was waging a ruthless war against ordinary Salvadorans. State security forces killed over 75,000 civilians in a country that had a population of less than five million people in 1980. Kirkpatrick and her allies fully supported this campaign of mass murder and worked tirelessly to ensure that it would continue without any outside interference.

The death of four US citizens posed a problem for Kirkpatrick because it revealed the true nature of her chosen allies in Central America. When she issued an “unequivocal” denial that the junta was responsible for the killings, she was lying through her teeth. The US ambassador to El Salvador, Robert White, left his political bosses with no room for doubt about what had really happened.

Kirkpatrick’s colleague, secretary of state Alexander Haig, suggested to Congress that government soldiers might have killed the women in a fit of absentmindedness because they ran a roadblock or were “perceived to have been doing so.” He ordered White to give the junta a clean bill of health and praise its investigation of the murders. White explained to Haig that he would be unable to carry out this demand: “The Salvadoran military killed those women, and the idea that they’re going to investigate in a serious way their own crimes is simply an illusion.” After White wrote in a cable to Washington that he would have “no part of any cover-up,” Reagan’s government fired him.

Combined with the public statements from Kirkpatrick and Haig, White’s sacking was the clearest possible green light to the Salvadorean military. If they could murder US citizens with impunity and have senior government officials run interference on their behalf, they could certainly let their soldiers loose on the people of El Salvador. In December 1981, the army butchered eight hundred men, women, and children at El Mozote — one of the worst atrocities in the history of the Americas.

Declassified cables later made it crystal clear that Kirkpatrick and her colleagues had the full picture available of what the Salvadorean regime was doing throughout the bloodbath. As New Jersey Congressman Robert Torricelli noted in 1993:

It is now clear that while the Reagan Administration was certifying human rights progress in El Salvador, they knew the terrible truth that the Salvadoran military was engaged in a widespread campaign of terror and torture.

Defending the Indefensible

This was the backdrop against which Kirkpatrick composed her essay “The Myth of Moral Equivalence.” The association of the term “moral equivalence” with this shameful diatribe should be enough to see it expunged from the political lexicon for good.

After railing against “totalitarian ideologies” that were “anti-empirical” and “deny that there is any sort of objective truth,” Kirkpatrick mocked “an earnest young man” who had told her at a public meeting that the regime in El Salvador was responsible for “gross violations of human rights” and therefore “unworthy of US support”: “The fact is, of course, that approximately 50,000 people have died in El Salvador as a consequence of a guerrilla war.” The junta, she claimed, was simply “responding to terrorist assault,” “maintaining order,” and “protecting its citizens.”

Kirkpatrick had the brass neck to refer to George Orwell’s 1984 as depicting a world in which “history is continually rewritten” while brazenly lying about the present. Her own comments were a perfect example of what Orwell had in mind when he wrote the famous article “Politics and the English Language” in 1946:

In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible. Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of political parties. Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Defenceless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification. Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called transfer of population or rectification of frontiers. People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber camps: this is called elimination of unreliable elements. Such phraseology is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them.

We could add some phrases to the list in the wake of the Salvadorean horror show that Kirkpatrick endorsed. A government systematically murders tens of thousands of people: this is called responding to terrorist assault or maintaining order. Critics of the government suggest that cold-blooded murder is equally reprehensible no matter who the perpetrator is: this is called moral equivalence.

The Salvador Option

The subsequent history of the phrase “moral equivalence” has been every bit as shabby as you’d expect in light of its origins. Whenever you hear a politician or a commentator using it, it’s safe to assume they’re trying to whitewash atrocities committed by their own government or its client states.

The statement from Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic leadership is no exception. The signatories express their fury at the very idea that Israel and the US could be held to the same moral standards as official enemies like Hamas or the Taliban. They have to maintain an iron conceptual wall between “democracies” and “groups that engage in terrorism,” because the United States and its allies have killed far more innocent civilians than the “terrorists” against whom they rail. As soon as we descend from the level of grand concepts to that of empirical reality, the foreign-policy consensus is bound to disintegrate.

After eight days of fighting last month, there was already a vast disproportion between Israeli and Palestinian casualties: Hamas rockets claimed the lives of 10 people, while the Israeli assault on Gaza killed 212, including 61 children. This is exactly what you would expect considering the imbalance of power between the two sides. As the Israeli historian Avi Shlaim wrote at the time of the last major onslaught in 2014:

The death toll in the current round of hostilities is a grim reflection of the asymmetry of power between the fourth-strongest army in the world and a virtually defenceless civilian population. In the first ten days of aerial bombardment, the “score” was 260 Palestinian dead, mostly civilians, and one Israeli. By launching a ground offensive on July 17, Israel sharply escalated the death toll to over 300; destroyed many more houses, hospitals, and water plants; and displaced some 50,000 people out of their homes. “Operation Protective Edge” has thus turned the densely populated Palestinian enclave on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean into a living hell.

Shlaim also noted that Israel, as the occupying power ruling over an oppressed, stateless people, cannot claim to be acting in self-defense: “The chain of action and reaction is endless. But the underlying cause of the violence is the Israeli colonialism.”

The US military inflicted similar carnage on the people of Iraq from 2003 onward, but on an even grander scale. The most comprehensive survey of Iraqi mortality rates between 2003 and 2011 estimates that there were almost half a million deaths as a result of the war, with approximately 60 percent of that figure directly caused by violence. The United States and its allies were the leading cause of violent death among Iraqis:

US-led coalition forces were reported to be responsible for the largest proportion of war-related violent deaths (35 percent), followed by militia (32 percent). While militia were reportedly responsible for the most adult male deaths in the sibling survey, coalition forces were reportedly responsible for killing the most women.

Not that militia violence in Iraq was unrelated to the US-led occupation. As things began to come unstuck for the Bush administration, US officials started briefing reporters about their plan to foster sectarian paramilitary groups, which they called “the Salvador Option.” The US ambassador to Baghdad, John Negroponte, was a veteran of the dirty wars in Central America. Within a couple of years, Shia death squads were routinely abducting Sunni civilians and torturing them to death with power drills.

Jim Steele, a US officer who had served as an adviser to the Salvadorean army in the 1980s, played a central role in organizing these paramilitary gangs. Steele was a close associate of future CIA chief David Petraeus. A New York Times photographer, Gilles Peress, recalled an interview with Steele at an interrogation center in Samarra:

We were in a room in the library interviewing Steele and I look around and I see blood everywhere, you know. He hears the scream from the other guy who’s being tortured as we speak, there’s the blood stains in the corner of the desk in front of him.

When US politicians denounce the idea of “moral equivalence,” this is the kind of behavior they’re trying to brush under the carpet.

The attacks on Ilhan Omar betray a profound feeling of insecurity. Her critics have to enforce a rigid taboo against speaking plainly, because they know their ideological nostrums will not hold up under sustained scrutiny. Omar’s widely publicized confrontation with Elliot Abrams over his track record in Central America was clear proof of that.

The supposedly offensive tweet from Omar began with the following words: “We must have the same level of accountability and justice for all victims of crimes against humanity.” Few people are willing to state their opposition to this principle, but if the Beltway foreign-policy establishment had to apply it consistently, it would cut through their most cherished assumptions and alliances. They’ll fight like hell to stop that from happening, with slogans like “moral equivalence” inscribed on their banner.

Jacobin.

Sunday, 6 June 2021

Beware of Michael R. Gordon

Author of Wall Street Journal “Wuhan lab” story wrote lies about Iraqi “Weapons of Mass Destruction”

On May 23, the Wall Street Journal published an article titled “Intelligence on Sick Staff at Wuhan Lab Fuels Debate on Covid-19 Origin.” Citing unnamed “current and former officials,” it claimed that researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology “went to hospital in November 2019, shortly before confirmed outbreak” of COVID-19.

Two days later, on May 25, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, speaking at the United Nations World Health Assembly, demanded a “transparent” investigation into the origins of COVID-19.

The next day, on May 26, US President Joe Biden called on the “Intelligence Community” to investigate whether COVID-19 arose “from a laboratory accident” and “report back to me in 90 days.”

Media reports by NBC, CNN, and the New York Times followed. All of them claimed that the Biden Administration’s actions were triggered by the “new evidence” presented in the Wall Street Journal article. Within 24 hours of publication of the Journal’s report, all of these publications declared that the Wuhan Lab conspiracy theory was “credible.”

But the article published by the Wall Street Journal—beyond being totally unsubstantiated and presenting nothing fundamentally new in terms of “intelligence”—is presented by a lead author who happens to have helped fabricate the most lethal lie of the 21st century.

The lead author of the Journal piece, Michael R. Gordon, was the same man who, along with Judith Miller, wrote the September 8, 2002 article falsely asserting that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was seeking to build a nuclear weapon.

That article, entitled “U.S. says Hussein intensifies quest for a-bomb parts,” claimed that “In the last 14 months, Iraq has sought to buy thousands of specially designed aluminum tubes, which American officials believe were intended as components of centrifuges to enrich uranium.”

The claim was a lie, funneled to the Times by the office of US Vice President Dick Cheney.

On May 26, 2004, the Times published a letter from its editors entitled “FROM THE EDITORS; The Times and Iraq,” acknowledging that the Times repeatedly “fell for misinformation.” The letter notes,

But we have found a number of instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been…
On Sept. 8, 2002, the lead article of the paper was headlined “'U.S. Says Hussein Intensified Quest for A-Bomb Parts.'” That report concerned the aluminum tubes that the administration advertised insistently as components for the manufacture of nuclear weapons fuel. … it should have been presented more cautiously… Administration officials were allowed to hold forth at length on why this evidence of Iraq’s nuclear intentions demanded that Saddam Hussein be dislodged from power: “'The first sign of a ‘smoking gun,’ they argued, may be a mushroom cloud.''

In a 2005 article by its public editor, the New York Times acknowledged in relation to the coverage by Miller, including the article co-authored by Gordon:

Miller may still be best known for her role in a series of Times articles in 2002 and 2003 that strongly suggested Saddam Hussein already had or was acquiring an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. Howell Raines was then the executive editor of The Times, and several articles about weapons of mass destruction were displayed prominently in the paper. Many of those articles turned out to be inaccurate.

Polk award-winning journalist Robert Parry subsequently commented on Gordon’s role in the story:

The infamous aluminum tube story of Sept. 8, 2002, which Gordon co-wrote with Judith Miller, relied on U.S. intelligence sources and Iraqi defectors to frighten Americans with images of “mushroom clouds” if they didn’t support President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq. The timing played perfectly into the administration’s advertising “rollout” for the Iraq War.
Of course, the story turned out to be false and to have unfairly downplayed skeptics of the nuclear-centrifuge scenario. The aluminum tubes actually were meant for artillery, not for centrifuges. But the article provided a great impetus toward the Iraq War, which ended up killing nearly 4,500 U.S. soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.
Gordon’s co-author, Judith Miller, became the only U.S. journalist known to have lost a job over the reckless and shoddy reporting that contributed to the Iraq disaster. For his part, Gordon continued serving as a respected Pentagon correspondent.

Over the subsequent decade and a half Gordon continued to serve as a conduit for fabricated “intelligence” emanating from the White House, the Pentagon and the CIA.

On April 20, 2014, Gordon co-authored an article entitled “Photos Link Masked Men in East Ukraine to Russia,” which claimed to identify masked men operating in eastern Ukraine in opposition to the US-backed coup regime as active-duty Russian soldiers.

Gordon wrote,

Now, photographs and descriptions from eastern Ukraine endorsed by the Obama administration on Sunday suggest that many of the green men are indeed Russian military and intelligence forces — equipped in the same fashion as Russian special operations troops involved in annexing the Crimea region in February.

Four days later, the Times Public editor was again compelled to retract the claims in Gordon’s reporting, calling them “discredited.”

The Times led its print edition Monday with an article based in part on photographs that the State Department said were evidence of Russian military presence in popular uprisings in Ukraine. The headline read: “Photos Link Masked Men in East Ukraine to Russia.”
More recently, some of those grainy photographs have been discredited. The Times has published a second article backing off from the original and airing questions about what the photographs are said to depict, but hardly addressing how the newspaper may have been misled.
It all feels rather familiar – the rushed publication of something exciting, often based on an executive branch leak. And then, afterward, with a kind of “morning after” feeling, here comes a more sober, less prominently displayed follow-up story, to deal with objections while not clarifying much of anything …
And the reporter Robert Parry (formerly of Newsweek and The Associated Press) on Consortiumnews.com sees a pattern in Times articles, often based on administration leaks, that “draw hard conclusions from very murky evidence while ignoring or brushing aside alternative explanations.”

Summing up the role played by the media in the run-up to the Iraq war, WSWS editorial board chairman David North wrote in War, oligarchy and the political lie:

It must be stressed that the mass media was not duped by the Bush administration, but functioned as its willing accomplice in the deliberate deception of the American people. There was nothing that was particularly sophisticated in the government’s propaganda campaign. Much of what it said was contradicted by both established facts and elementary logic. Even when it was established that the administration’s claim that Iraq had sought to obtain nuclear material was based on crudely forged documents, the media chose not to make a major issue of this devastating exposure.
Now the war is over at the cost of countless thousands of Iraqi lives. The country lies in ruins. Much of its industrial, social, and cultural infrastructure has been destroyed. During the past three weeks, US military forces have combed Iraq in search of the weapons of mass destruction that could be seized upon by the administration and media to justify the war. And what has been found? Nothing.

The same kind of “deliberate deception” by the media in relation to “weapons of mass destruction” used to prepare the Iraq war is being reprised in the ongoing campaign by the Biden administration and the media to promote the claim that COVID-19 emerged from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Just as the lies of 2002 led to the destruction of Iraq and the deaths of over a million people, the current US propaganda campaign against China risks provoking a military conflict on a far more devastating scale.

Source: WSWS.org.

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

What's the difference between Roman Protasevich and Julian Assange?

Roman Protasevich is a dissident hated by a regime close to the Kremlin. Roman is a hero to the West.

Julian Assange is a publicist hated by Washington. Julian is a villain to the West.

Simples really, if you want to explain the West's latest Moral Outrage du jour. Meanwhile Assange rots in a British high security gaol, convicted of nairy more than a breach of bail.

Friday, 14 May 2021

The IfNotNow Movement

IfNotNow is building a movement of Jews to end Israel’s occupation and transform the American Jewish community.

We are organizing every day to expose the occupation as a moral crisis to American Jews, end the weaponization of antisemitism in our political debate over Israel, and create political space for leaders to stand up for the freedom and dignity for all Israelis and Palestinians.

We are building a vibrant and inclusive movement within the American Jewish community, across generations and organizational affiliations. This movement is open to any who seek to shift the American Jewish public and our political leaders towards a hopeful vision for Israelis and Palestinians.

As we were dehumanized by the oppression we faced, we are now dehumanized by that which we are inflicting. The occupation is a daily nightmare for those who live under it and a moral disaster for those who support and administer it. As a movement, we understand the Occupation as Israel’s military rule over Palestinians in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza. We also know that the discrimination and displacement inside Israel's 1948 borders are connected to its rule in those Occupied Territories. This system of violence deprives all Palestinians of civil, political, and economic rights.

Get involved (click here)

Monday, 10 May 2021

We didn't start the fire. Chubby Checker, Psycho, Neonazis in the Ukraine...

Five years ago, Ukraine’s Maidan uprising ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, to the cheers and support of the West. Politicians and analysts in the United States and Europe not only celebrated the uprising as a triumph of democracy, but denied reports of Maidan’s ultranationalism, smearing those who warned about the dark side of the uprising as Moscow puppets and useful idiots. Freedom was on the march in Ukraine.

Today, increasing reports of far-right violence, ultranationalism, and erosion of basic freedoms are giving the lie to the West’s initial euphoria. There are neo-Nazi pogroms against the Roma, rampant attacks on feminists and LGBT groups, book bans, and state-sponsored glorification of Nazi collaborators.

These stories of Ukraine’s dark nationalism aren’t coming out of Moscow; they’re being filed by Western media, including US-funded Radio Free Europe (RFE); Jewish organizations such as the World Jewish Congress and the Simon Wiesenthal Center; and watchdogs like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Freedom House, which issued a joint report warning that Kiev is losing the monopoly on the use of force in the country as far-right gangs operate with impunity.

Five years after Maidan, the beacon of democracy is looking more like a torchlight march.

A NEO-NAZI BATTALION IN THE HEART OF EUROPE

“Volunteer Ukrainian Unit Includes Nazis.”—USA Today, March 10, 2015

The DC establishment’s standard defense of Kiev is to point out that Ukraine’s far right has a smaller percentage of seats in the parliament than their counterparts in places like France. That’s a spurious argument: What Ukraine’s far right lacks in polls numbers, it makes up for with things Marine Le Pen could only dream of—paramilitary units and free rein on the streets.

Post-Maidan Ukraine is the world’s only nation to have a neo-Nazi formation in its armed forces. The Azov Battalion was initially formed out of the neo-Nazi gang Patriot of Ukraine. Andriy Biletsky, the gang’s leader who became Azov’s commander, once wrote that Ukraine’s mission is to “lead the White Races of the world in a final crusade…against the Semite-led Untermenschen.” Biletsky is now a deputy in Ukraine’s parliament.

In the fall of 2014, Azov—which is accused of human-rights abuses, including torture, by Human Rights Watch and the United Nations—was incorporated into Ukraine’s National Guard.

While the group officially denies any neo-Nazi connections, Azov’s nature has been confirmed by multiple Western outlets: The New York Times called the battalion “openly neo-Nazi,” while USA Today, The Daily Beast, The Telegraph, and Haaretz documented group members’ proclivity for swastikas, salutes, and other Nazi symbols, and individual fighters have also acknowledged being neo-Nazis.

In January 2018, Azov rolled out its National Druzhina street patrol unit whose members swore personal fealty to Biletsky and pledged to “restore Ukrainian order” to the streets. The Druzhina quickly distinguished itself by carrying out pogroms against the Roma and LGBT organizations and storming a municipal council. Earlier this year, Kiev announced the neo-Nazi unit will be monitoring polls in next month’s presidential election.

In 2017, Congressman Ro Khanna led the effort to ban Azov from receiving U.S. arms and training. But the damage has already been done: The research group Bellingcat proved that Azov had already received access to American grenade launchers, while a Daily Beast investigation showed that US trainers are unable to prevent aid from reaching white supremacists. And Azov itself had proudly posted a video of the unit welcoming NATO representatives.

(Azov isn’t the only far-right formation to get Western affirmation. In December 2014, Amnesty International accused the Dnipro-1 battalion of potential war crimes, including “using starvation of civilians as a method of warfare.” Six months later, Senator John McCain visited and praised the battalion.)

Particularly concerning is Azov’s campaign to transform Ukraine into a hub for transnational white supremacy. The unit has recruited neo-Nazis from Germany, the UK, Brazil, Sweden, and America; last October, the FBI arrested four California white supremacists who had allegedly received training from Azov. This is a classic example of blowback: US support of radicals abroad ricocheting to hit America.

FAR RIGHT TIES TO GOVERNMENT

“Ukrainian police declare admiration for Nazi collaborators”—RFE, February 13, 2019

Speaker of Parliament Andriy Parubiy cofounded and led two neo-Nazi organizations: the Social-National Party of Ukraine (later renamed Svoboda), and Patriot of Ukraine, whose members would eventually form the core of Azov.

Although Parubiy left the far right in the early 2000’s, he hasn’t rejected his past. When asked about it in a 2016 interview, Parubiy replied that his “values” haven’t changed. Parubiy, whose autobiography shows him marching with the neo-Nazi wolfsangel symbol used by Aryan Nations, regularly meets with Washington think tanks and politicians; his neo-Nazi background is ignored or outright denied.

Even more disturbing is the far right’s penetration of law enforcement. Shortly after Maidan, the US equipped and trained the newly founded National Police, in what was intended to be a hallmark program buttressing Ukrainian democracy.

The deputy minister of the Interior—which controls the National Police—is Vadim Troyan, a veteran of Azov and Patriot of Ukraine. In 2014, when Troyan was being considered for police chief of Kiev, Ukrainian Jewish leaders were appalled by his neo-Nazi background. Today, he’s deputy of the department running US-trained law enforcement in the entire nation.

Earlier this month, RFE reported on National Police leadership admiring Stepan Bandera—a Nazi collaborator and Fascist whose troops participated in the Holocaust—on social media.

The fact that Ukraine’s police is peppered with far-right supporters explains why neo-Nazis operate with impunity on the streets.

STATE-SPONSORED GLORIFICATION OF NAZI COLLABORATORS

“Ukrainian extremists celebrate Ukrainian Nazi SS divisions…in the middle of a major Ukrainian city”—Anti-Defamation League Director of European Affairs, April 28, 2018

It’s not just the military and street gangs: Ukraine’s far right has successfully hijacked the post-Maidan government to impose an intolerant and ultranationalist culture over the land.

In 2015, the Ukrainian parliament passed legislation making two WWII paramilitaries—the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA)—heroes of Ukraine, and made it a criminal offense to deny their heroism. The OUN had collaborated with the Nazis and participated in the Holocaust, while the UPA slaughtered thousands of Jews and 70,000-100,000 Poles on their own volition.

The government-funded Ukrainian Institute of National Memory is institutionalizing the whitewashing of Nazi collaborators. Last summer, the Ukrainian parliament featured an exhibit commemorating the OUN’s 1941 proclamation of cooperation with the Third Reich (imagine the French government installing an exhibit celebrating the Vichy state!).

Torchlight marches in honor of OUN/UPA leaders like Roman Shukhevych (a commander in a Third Reich auxiliary battalion) are a regular feature of the new Ukraine. The recuperation even extends to SS Galichina, a Ukrainian division of the Waffen-SS; the director of the Institute of National Memory proclaimed that the SS fighters were “war victims.” The government’s embrace of Bandera is not only deplorable, but also extremely divisive, considering the OUN/UPA are reviled in eastern Ukraine.

Predictably, the celebration of Nazi collaborators has accompanied a rise in outright anti-Semitism.

“Jews Out!” chanted thousands during a January 2017 march honoring OUN leader Bandera. (The next day the police denied hearing anything anti-Semitic.) That summer, a three-day festival celebrating the Nazi collaborator Shukhevych capped off with the firebombing of a synagogue. In November 2017, RFE reported Nazi salutes as 20,000 marched in honor of the UPA. And last April, hundreds marched in L’viv with coordinated Nazi salutes honoring SS Galichina; the march was promoted by the L’viv regional government.

The Holocaust revisionism is a multi-pronged effort, ranging from government-funded seminars, brochures, and board games, to the proliferation of plaques, statues, and streets renamed after butchers of Jews, to far-right children camps, where youth are inculcated with ultranationalist ideology.

Within several years, an entire generation will be indoctrinated to worship Holocaust perpetrators as national heroes.

BOOK BANS

“No state should be allowed to interfere in the writing of history.”—British historian Antony Beevor, after his award-winning book was banned in Ukraine, The Telegraph, January 23, 2018

Ukraine’s State Committee for Television and Radio Broadcasting is enforcing the glorification of Ukraine’s new heroes by banning “anti-Ukrainian” literature that goes against the government narrative. This ideological censorship includes acclaimed books by Western authors.

In January 2018, Ukraine made international headlines by banning Stalingrad by award-winning British historian Antony Beevor because of a single paragraph about a Ukrainian unit massacring 90 Jewish children during World War II. In December, Kiev banned The Book Thieves by Swedish author Anders Rydell (which, ironically, is about the Nazis’ suppression of literature) because he mentioned troops loyal to Symon Petliura (an early 20th-century nationalist leader) had slaughtered Jews.

This month, the Ukrainian embassy in Washington exported this intolerance to America by brazenly demanding the United States ban a Russian movie from American theaters. Apparently, the billions Washington invested in promoting democracy in Ukraine have failed to teach Kiev basic concepts of free speech.

ANTI-SEMITISM

“I’m telling you one more time—go to hell, kikes. The Ukrainian people have had it to here with you.”—Security services reserve general Vasily Vovk, May 11, 2017

Unsurprisingly, government-led glorification of Holocaust perpetrators was a green light for other forms of anti-Semitism. The past three years saw an explosion of swastikas and SS runes on city streets, death threats, and vandalism of Holocaust memorials, Jewish centers, cemeteries, tombs, and places of worship, all of which led Israel to take the unusual step of publicly urging Kiev to address the epidemic.

Public officials make anti-Semitic threats with no repercussions. These include: a security services general promising to eliminate the zhidi (a slur equivalent to ‘kikes’); a parliament deputy going off on an anti-Semitic rant on television; a far-right politician lamenting Hitler didn’t finish off the Jews; and an ultranationalist leader vowing to cleanse Odessa of zhidi.

For the first few years after Maidan, Jewish organizations largely refrained from criticizing Ukraine, perhaps in the hope Kiev would address the issue on its own. But by 2018, the increasing frequency of anti-Semitic incidents led Jewish groups to break their silence.

Last year, the Israeli government’s annual report on anti-Semitism heavily featured Ukraine, which had more incidents than all post-Soviet states combined. The World Jewish Congress, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, and 57 members of the US Congress all vociferously condemned Kiev’s Nazi glorification and the concomitant anti-Semitism.

Ukrainian Jewish leaders are also speaking out. In 2017, the director of one of Ukraine’s largest Jewish organizations published a New York Times op-ed urging the West to address Kiev’s whitewashing. Last year, 41 Ukrainian Jewish leaders denounced the growth of anti-Semitism. That’s especially telling, given that many Ukrainian Jewish leaders supported the Maidan uprising.

None of these concerns have been addressed in any meaningful way.

ROMA POGROMS

“‘They wanted to kill us’: masked neo-fascists strike fear into Ukraine’s Roma.” —The Guardian, August 27, 2018

Ukraine’s far right has resisted carrying out outright attacks on Jews; other vulnerable groups haven’t been so lucky.

Last spring, a lethal wave of anti-Roma pogroms swept through Ukraine, with at least six attacks in two months. Footage from the pogroms evokes the 1930s: Armed thugs attack women and children while razing their camps. At least one man was killed, while others, including a child, were stabbed.

Two gangs behind the attacks—C14 and the National Druzhina—felt comfortable enough to proudly post pogrom videos on social media. That’s not surprising, considering that the National Druzhina is part of Azov, while the neo-Nazi C14 receives government funding for “educational” programs. Last October, C14 leader Serhiy Bondar was welcomed at America House Kyiv, a center run by the US government.

Appeals from international organizations and the US embassy fell on deaf ears: Months after the United Nations demanded Kiev end “systematic persecution” of the Roma, a human-rights group reported C14 were allegedly intimidating Roma in a joint patrol with the Kiev police.

LGBT AND WOMEN’S-RIGHTS GROUPS

“‘It’s even worse than before’: How the ‘Revolution of Dignity’ Failed LGBT Ukrainians.”—RFE, November 21, 2018

In 2016, after pressure from the US Congress, the Kiev government began providing security for the annual Kiev Pride parade. However, this increasingly looks like a Potemkin affair: two hours of protection, with widespread attacks on LGBT individuals and gatherings during the rest of the year. Nationalist groups have targeted LGBT meetings with impunity, going so far as to shut down an event hosted by Amnesty International as well as assault a Western journalist at a transgender rights rally. Women’s-rights marches have also been targeted, including brazen attacks in March.

ATTACKS ON PRESS

“The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns a Ukrainian law enforcement raid at the Kiev offices of Media Holding Vesti…more than a dozen masked officers ripped open doors with crowbars, seized property, and fired tear gas in the offices.”—The Committee to Protect Journalists, February 9, 2018

In May 2016, Myrotvorets, an ultranationalist website with links to the government, published the personal data of thousands of journalists who had obtained accreditation from Russia-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine. Myrotvorets labeled the journalists “terrorist collaborators.”

A government-tied website declaring open season on journalists would be dangerous anywhere, but it is especially so in Ukraine, which has a disturbing track record of journalist assassinations. This includes Oles Buzina, gunned down in 2015, and Pavel Sheremet, assassinated by car bomb a year later.

The Myrotvorets doxing was denounced by Western reporters, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and ambassadors from the G7 nations. In response, Kiev officials, including Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, praised the site: “This is your choice to cooperate with occupying forces,” Avakov told journalists, while posting “I Support Myrotvorets” on Facebook. Myrotvorets remains operational today.

Last fall brought another attack on the media, this time using the courts. The Prosecutor General’s office was granted a warrant to seize records of RFE anti-corruption reporter Natalie Sedletska. An RFE spokeswoman warned that Kiev’s actions created “a chilling atmosphere for journalists,” while parliament deputy Mustafa Nayyem called it “an example of creeping dictatorship.”

LANGUAGE LAWS

“[Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk] also made a personal appeal to Russian-speaking Ukrainians, pledging to support…a special status to the Russian language.”—US Secretary of State John Kerry, April 24, 2014

Ukraine is extraordinarily multilingual: In addition to the millions of Russian-speaking eastern Ukrainians, there are areas where Hungarian, Romanian, and other tongues are prevalent. These languages were protected by a 2012 regional-language law.

The post-Maidan government alarmed Russian-speaking Ukrainians by attempting to annul that law. The US State Department and Secretary of State John Kerry sought to assuage fears in 2014 by pledging that Kiev would protect the status of Russian. Those promises came to naught.

A 2017 law mandated that secondary education be conducted strictly in Ukrainian, which infuriated Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, and Greece. Several regions passed legislation banning the use of Russian in public life. Quotas enforce Ukrainian usage on TV and radio. (This would be akin to Washington forcing Spanish-language media to broadcast mostly in English.)

And in February 2018, Ukraine’s supreme court struck down the 2012 regional language law—the one Kerry promised eastern Ukrainians would stay in effect.

Currently, Kiev is preparing to pass a draconian law that would mandate the use of Ukrainian in most aspects of public life. It’s another example of Kiev alienating millions of its own citizens, while claiming to embrace Western values.

THE PRICE OF WILLFUL BLINDNESS

These examples are only a tiny fraction of Ukraine’s slide toward intolerance, but they should be enough to point out the obvious: Washington’s decision to ignore the proliferation of armed neo-Nazi groups in a highly unstable nation only led to them gaining more power.

This easily predictable outcome is in marked contrast to Washington’s enthusiasm over the “Revolution of Dignity.” “Nationalism is exactly what Ukraine needs,” proclaimed a New Republic article by historian Anne Applebaum, whose celebration of nationalism came out right around the time that Ukraine green-lighted the formation of white-supremacist paramilitaries. A mere four months after Applebaum’s essay, Newsweek ran an article titled “Ukrainian nationalist volunteers committing ‘ISIS-style’ war crimes.”

In essay after essay, DC foreign-policy heads have denied or celebrated the influence of Ukraine’s far right. (Curiously, the same analysts vociferously denounce rising nationalism in Hungary, Poland, and Italy as highly dangerous.) Perhaps think-tankers deluded themselves into thinking Kiev’s far-right phase would tucker itself out. More likely, they simply embraced DC’s go-to strategy of “my enemy’s enemy is my friend.” Either way, the ramifications stretch far beyond Ukraine.

America’s backing of the Maidan uprising, along with the billions DC sinks into post-Maidan Kiev, make it clear: Starting February 2014, Ukraine became Washington’s latest democracy-spreading project. What we permit in Ukraine sends a green light to others.

By tolerating neo-Nazi gangs and battalions, state-led Holocaust distortion, and attacks on LGBT and the Roma, the United States is telling the rest of Europe: “We’re fine with this.” The implications—especially at a time of a global far-right revival—are profoundly disturbing.

Source: The Nation.