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.

Friday, 7 May 2021

Hartlepool: Labour's landcrush

‘Obsessed with the flag’: Labour recriminations begin in Hartlepool

A union jack hangs limply from Labour’s campaign headquarters in Hartlepool. The flag has flown for six weeks over the former vape shop, next to an outlet called We Sell Owt, in the town where Labour fought its most bruising byelection campaign in decades.

As Hartlepool woke up on Friday as the seat of a Conservative MP for the first time in 57 years, Labour figures pointed to the flag as being emblematic of the deep identity crisis behind the party’s shattering loss.

Labour head office was “obsessed with us getting a flag”, said one organiser, bemoaning what they felt was a lack of substance to justify it. “There was no fleshing out what the flag means, or what policies have changed because we’re now patriotic. It was just: bung a flag up.”

A fortnight before polling day, party activists were told to hand out St George’s flag leaflets urging voters to “display this poster with pride in your window”. Labour, a party searching for direction after 11 years out of power, wrapped itself in the flag to try to win back voters who deserted it over Brexit and Jeremy Corbyn. The plan failed.

Labour’s share of the vote plunged to 29% on Thursday, its lowest in almost 100 years, while the Conservatives won a nearly 7,000-strong majority in a north-east England town they recently thought unwinnable. “It’s seismic,” beamed Mike Young, the Conservative deputy leader of Hartlepool borough council, as the ballots piled up for its candidate on Friday morning.

Source: Grauniad.


No sympathy from me, Labour. The assassins of Jeremy Corbyn have no clothes on and it shows!

Zionist Ethnostate: "No Dogs, No Black Jews"

African migrants in limbo as Israel seeks Uganda deportation deal

TEL AVIV (Reuters) - Israel is finalizing a deal to deport thousands of African migrants to Uganda under a new scheme after agreements with Rwanda and the U.N.’s refugee agency to find homes for those expelled fell through.

About 4,000 migrants have left Israel for Rwanda and Uganda since 2013 under a voluntary program but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has come under pressure from his right-wing voter base to expel thousands more.

In January, Israel started handing out notices to male migrants from Eritrea and Sudan giving them three months to take the voluntary deal with a plane ticket and $3,500 or risk being thrown in jail.

The government said from April it would start forced deportations but rights groups challenged the move and Israel’s Supreme Court has issued a temporary injunction to give more time for the petitioners to argue against the plan.

Government representatives told the court on Tuesday that an envoy was in an African country finalizing a deportation deal after an arrangement with Rwanda to take migrants expelled under the new measures fell through.

The representatives did not name the country in court sessions open to the public though Israeli lawmakers have previously said the two countries it was planning to deport migrants to were Rwanda and Uganda.

More & Source: Reuters

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Who was Bartolomé de las Casas?

Bartolomé de las Casas and 500 Years of Racial Injustice

This year marks the 500-year anniversary of the pricking of one man's conscience. Bartolomé de las Casas, sickened by the exploitation and physical degradation of the indigenous peoples in the Spanish colonies of the Caribbean, gave up his extensive land holdings and slaves and traveled to his homeland in Spain in 1515 to petition the Spanish Crown to stop the abuses that European colonists were inflicting upon the natives of the New World.

Las Casas (right) rose to become one of the most influential thinkers of his day. He elaborated his views on slavery and the rights of indigenous peoples in numerous tracts including the extremely popular Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies, which was published during his lifetime (c. 1484–1566). Through his actions and writings, Las Casas became an important figure in the development of ideas of what we would now call human rights.

In sixteenth-century Spain, slavery was a widely accepted practice, although increasingly questioned. Spanish law of the time considered all captives of war as potential slaves, yet there were some provisos.

Theologians and philosophers in the School of Salamanca, including the incredibly influential Luis de Vitoria, father of modern international law, restricted this only to include captives of war who were not Catholic. This category included Lutherans, Muslim Turks, Orthodox Slavs, non-Catholic Africans, and native peoples of the New World. In addition, there existed the legal idea, modeled on Muslim laws regarding captured peoples, which allowed non-Catholics to convert instead of becoming slaves.

Despite these legal caveats, Spanish conquerors enslaved large groups of the newly encountered indigenous peoples in the Americas, working many of them to death.

Las Casas arrived in Hispaniola (now Haiti and the Dominican Republic) in 1502, and soon became a land and slave owner, joining military expeditions against the native peoples and becoming a priest in 1510. However, after Las Casas' participation in the violent and destructive Spanish invasion of Cuba in 1513, he began to view European interference in native affairs as illegal and amoral.

Though his petitions began in May of 1515, they would continue until his death in 1566 as he cajoled, shamed, and begged the Spanish crown to end its practices of violent invasion and enslavement. The Spanish government in return treated Las Casas' pleas with ambivalence, in part because indigenous enslavement was so profitable.

The government was not the only ambivalent actor. Las Casas himself changed his rhetoric over time as he and his argument matured. For instance, he originally advocated the use of African slaves instead of indigenous Americans because Spaniards considered them to be hardier than natives.

In fact, African slaves often did have higher survival rates in the early years of invasion because of their tolerance to European diseases due to Old World exposure. Indigenous peoples died quickly of such Old World illnesses as malaria and smallpox, having no exposure immunity. Europeans in the 16th century had no understanding of inoculation or immunity and assumed that Africans were just naturally better suited for labor, assigning this trait to their race.

In making this argument, Las Casas may have inadvertently provided the Spanish government endorsement of the new idea of slavery based on race, rather than the medieval concept of slavery as the result of war and conquest. Las Casas later advocated that all slavery be abolished, but the burgeoning European empires paid little attention to this moral idea when so much wealth and power was at stake.

Las Casas also later advocated that indigenous groups be allowed self-governance under the Spanish crown. His argument drew upon theologians and moral philosophers such as Thomas Aquinas and Aristotle. The Spanish bureaucracy again viewed this through an understanding of Muslim law, which granted non-Muslims the use of their own courts and legal justice system (the protected status known as dhimmi).

Las Casas’ ideas percolated throughout the Spanish legal system, and indigenous peoples were ultimately allowed to adjudicate in inter-indigenous matters. In cases that involved the Spanish government, they could use the court systems with an advocate known as a "protector" who would represent their interests and offer judgements based on traditional indigenous customs, as long as those customs were not deemed "heretical" or against the Catholic faith. Las Casas himself was appointed the first protector.

Until his death, Bartolomé de las Casas, worked tirelessly to prevent the enslavement of all native people and later regretted wholeheartedly his advocacy of African slavery. Indigenous and black activists and protestors for 500 years have taken up his arguments to push for changes to the systems that have made them second-class citizens.

As we look around the world today at the legal and economic situation of many indigenous communities, one wonders what Las Casas would make of it all and how much further we need to go.

Source: Origins.edu

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Exterminate All the Brutes

Exterminate All the Brutes | Raoul Peck’s Statement of Intent | HBO

(For British viewers the series is currently being aired on Sky Documentaries)

Part personal essay, part investigation, the docuseries “Exterminate All the Brutes” is a striking piece of nonfiction work that has the intellectual rigor of an advanced history course, and asks that viewers keep up with its many ideas and horrors over the course of its four hours. Raoul Peck picks and pulls at every connecting fiber throughout history, finding several lines through the ages of how hateful dogma begat public policy, systemic murder, and cultural genocide. If you finish “Exterminate All the Brutes” without re-examining the hundreds of hours spent in history classes, then you didn’t pay attention to Peck’s lesson.

But Peck is not just concerned with the past. Like his dynamic James Baldwin documentary “I Am Not Your Negro,” Peck is interested in how our past has come to inform our present. In “Exterminate All the Brutes,” he overlays images of the past over our present to find uncomfortable truths and the stories buried under hundreds of years of colonialism. In shots of gorgeous European architectural wonders that were made possible by brutalizing Black and brown subjects in far-flung colonies, Peck overlays photos of these people to obscure the obscene displays of wealth made possible by their exploitation. He traces back decade and century-long struggles between peoples to old shipping routes, the power over which determined the victor. It’s as if Peck’s taken the New York Times’ "1619 Project," which centers the story of Black people in the U.S. and the ramifications of slavery, and stretched it to a global scale—with largely a focus on western civilization like Europe and its colonies—and a lens that also includes the plight of indigenous people on different continents.

However, using these ideas and tools to reexamine our history are not a recent invention. In both the series’ opening credits and throughout, Peck acknowledges the elders who taught him to question the official story and to look beyond the whitewashed version of what we think we know. He especially draws attention to the works of Sven Lindqvist, Michel-Rolph Trouillot, and Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. Some of those mentioned in the series he befriended, like Lindqvist, whose book gives the series its name and overall premise. But the personal anecdotes don't stop with Peck’s version of a class reading list. He gets deeply personal about his own experiences and career. He has benefitted from traveling the world and affording a European education, and the experience has allowed him to see the results of past atrocities up close: when going to film school in Berlin and thinking about how Germany systemized the killing of Jews in the Holocaust just decades prior, losing friends in his home country of Haiti to CIA-backed militaries, traveling to Africa as a child and taking photos with statues honoring white conquerors, and profiling world leaders and watching them be betrayed or commit betrayal for the sake of power. These ruminations appear in line with world events, like when Peck switches from a scathing critique of modern-day world leaders to the inspiration behind his 2013 film “Murder in Pacot” and thinking about what drives oppressed people to take desperate actions.

Visually, “Exterminate All the Brutes” is just as powerful as Peck’s reading of semi-hidden chapters of history. With his deep, raspy voice, Peck leads audiences through one historic event after another, breaking down how the dehumanization of a perceived other led to their attempted destruction. He uses every tool in the documentary handbook to make history leap off the page, including animated sequences and historical recreations, which often have a metatextual component that compares the past to the present. One such device is the series’ use of Josh Hartnett, who appears in every episode as a white Everyman whose role changes depending on the story Peck is retelling. Hartnett morphs from an U.S. Army sergeant who exterminates members of a Seminole tribe in 19th century Florida in one scene to a colonizer in the Belgian Congo, taking advantage of his power to enact cruelty. He is the forefather of Charlottesville protestors with tiki torches and of the police whose professional lineage can be traced to slave catchers and who benefits from criminalizing others. Basically, he’s anyone who’s benefitted from a few genetic differences and refuses to see his part in the larger scheme of imperialism, colonization and racial oppression.

As a filmmaker, Peck is well-acquainted with how pop culture can be weaponized against marginalized groups. He points to the mythologized story of the Alamo as a lesson taught by John Wayne and highlights the coded racism in works like H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine and the Gene Kelly musical “On the Town.” He details cultural figures like The Wizard of Oz writer L. Frank Baum, who once extolled the need to exterminate indigenous tribes for settlers’ safety, and numerous scientists who used their profession to call for the persecution and subjugation of various groups. The title of Lindqvist's book and the series “Exterminate All the Brutes” comes from Heart of Darkness writer Joseph Conrad, who makes numerous appearances throughout the series for his writing on colonialism in Africa. Essentially, there are few corners of western culture that are exempt from colonialism’s legacy. That HBO, part of one of this nation’s bigger media conglomerates, is airing such an uncompromising look at history feels something like a fluke.

Peck also uses music to cast a new light on well-worn images, like layering in Maurice Jarre’s score to “Lawrence of Arabia” over a devastating siege in the Middle East that showcased Europe’s fatal firepower. Instead of valorizing the white conquerors, the music now underscores the narrative with a sense of tragedy. Throughout the series, Peck also utilizes music cues to contrast against expectations. There’s dance music added to archival footage, like the upbeat number that accompanies Eva Braun’s home movies, giving the evil posing for pictures within every frame an eerie sense of banality. While Peck is unafraid to show the harrowing results of genocide, he's not interested in further sexualizing oppressed people, creating a sense that he is restoring some of their dignity taken by force. It is also part of how Peck makes “Exterminate All the Brutes” a work of his own. There’s so much of the director in the series, from his previous films to his childhood home movies, that they are inseparable from the history lessons.

In examining the past, Peck finds that history repeats itself with disgusting regularity. His outrage that humanity has not learned from its past is palpable. With each diagram, flicker of old footage, or modern-day anecdote, Peck underlines the connections between ideologies and its consequences, like how the banner of Manifest Destiny rebranded the act of stealing land and resources from perceived enemies as a kind of God-given right dictated by the color of one’s skin and origins. The docuseries includes a look at Donald Trump and fascism, but Peck finds the brutality of American presidents all throughout the ages, back when this country was still a colony. The way the government treated the indigenous people back then still shapes how our military today treats our perceived enemies abroad, all while co-opting the names of tribes for our weapons.

Peck asks about America, “When exactly was it really great and for whom?” He answers his own question with stacks of evidence against the idea that America could ever consider itself great after all it has done to destroy human life in and out of its borders. The director ends with a sobering thought, that it’s comforting to think that genocide somehow began and ended with Nazi Germany. But Peck isn’t interested in comfort. He dispels that notion, one hour after another, chiseling away at the polite lies passed from generation to generation, in the hopes that we may finally learn something about ourselves and our past.

Source: rogerebert

Friday, 30 April 2021

The Biden Jobs and Infrastructure 'FDR plus' Plan: not-so-Obama-Lite now...

The president began selling his proposal on Wednesday, saying it would fix 20,000 miles of roads and 10,000 bridges, while also addressing climate change and racial inequities and raising corporate taxes.

WASHINGTON — President Biden introduced a $2 trillion plan on Wednesday to overhaul and upgrade the nation’s infrastructure, calling it a transformational effort that could create the “most resilient, innovative economy in the world.”

“It is not a plan that tinkers around the edges,” Mr. Biden said in a speech outside Pittsburgh. “It is a once-in-a-generation investment in America.”

White House officials said the proposal’s combination of spending and tax credits would translate into 20,000 miles of rebuilt roads, repairs to the 10 most economically important bridges in the country, the elimination of lead pipes from the nation’s water supplies and a long list of other projects intended to create millions of jobs in the short run and strengthen American competitiveness in the long run.

They said the plan would also accelerate the fight against climate change by hastening the shift to new, cleaner energy sources, and would help promote racial equality in the economy.

The provisions would improve wages, internet service, drinking water and commute times, Mr. Biden said.

The costs would be offset by increased corporate tax revenues raised over 15 years, particularly from multinationals that earn and book profits overseas. The president cast those increases as a means to prod companies into investing and producing more in the United States.

With Republicans already signaling skepticism or outright opposition, Mr. Biden appealed for support from both parties in Congress, saying the program would be “unlike anything we have seen or done since we built the interstate highway system and the space race decades ago” and calling it “the largest American jobs investment since World War II.”

The spending in the plan would take place over eight years, the president said, and the tax increases would more than offset that spending in 15 years, leading to an eventual reduction of the budget deficit. Unlike the economic stimulus passed under President Barack Obama in 2009, when Mr. Biden was vice president, officials will not in every case prioritize so-called shovel-ready projects that could quickly bolster growth.

But even spread over years, the scale of the proposal underscores how fully Mr. Biden has embraced the opportunity to use federal spending to address longstanding social and economic challenges in a way not seen in a half-century.

Officials said that, if approved, the spending in the plan would end decades of stagnation in federal investment in research and infrastructure — and would return government investment in those areas, as a share of the economy, to its highest levels since the 1960s.

The proposal is the first half of what will be a two-step release of the president’s ambitious agenda to overhaul the economy and remake American capitalism, which could carry a total cost of as much as $4 trillion over a decade. Mr. Biden’s administration has named it the “American Jobs Plan,” echoing the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill that Mr. Biden signed into law this month, the “American Rescue Plan.”

On Wednesday, Mr. Biden said the next phase, which he will seek to pay for in part through tax increases on wealthy individuals, would come in a matter of weeks and be known as the “American Family Plan.”

While spending on roads, bridges and other physical improvements to the nation’s economic foundations has always had bipartisan appeal, the plan Mr. Biden rolled out on Wednesday drew quick opposition from the right for its size and its reliance on corporate tax increases.

Republicans and business groups criticized those tax proposals, calling them nonstarters for bipartisan negotiations. Mr. Biden acknowledged the criticism, even as he defended asking companies to pay more in taxes. And he said he would continue to work on winning Republican support for his proposal.

He said he had already spoken with Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, about the bill and planned to invite other Republicans to the White House as Congress turns to translating his proposal into detailed legislation.

Source: NYT.

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Is the US a Paper Tiger?

As the antagonism between China and the US gets worse by the day, the international community is watching to see if the two countries will slide into a new Cold War. I continue to hold the view that both sides will not enter a “hot war” or start a new Cold War. Instead, they will remain in a “non-war”, that is, where there is no outright war but a state of discord and hostile relations persist. Nonetheless, for some time to come, the possibility of relations getting worse and the accidental sparking of a conflict remain quite real. In view of various factors such as the presidential election campaign, populist sentiments, and the tendency to shift blame to divert attention from internal conflicts, we can only expect that the US will take tougher containment measures against China, regardless of whether a Democrat or a Republican candidate eventually becomes the next president.

US set to contain China further

Already, the US is ramping up its efforts to contain China. From US military planes gathering intelligence near the Chinese coastline to the US health and human services secretary’s visit to Taiwan — there is just no lack of high-risk manoeuvres that raise worries of sparking off a major China-US showdown. During former President Barack Obama’s time, America tried to take advantage of China’s precarious geographical situation by getting the Philippines, Vietnam and India to help contain the Asian colossus in its stead. When these countries did not fall for the trick, the US took up arms itself and sent military vessels directly to China’s doorstep. Today, the US has progressed to showing a total disregard for decorum, and discarding any guise of democracy, freedom and rule of law: it put a barefaced blockade on Huawei, plundered China-backed enterprises like TikTok, and openly articulated its China policy in Cold War language. We can say that Uncle Sam is getting increasingly desperate, its intent to strike down its rival more and more blatantly evident.

China’s former leader Mao Zedong once asserted that “imperialism and all reactionaries are paper tigers”. He maintained that one should “despise the enemy strategically and take full account of him tactically”. Perhaps that is why commentators in China’s academic circles and among the public have largely dismissed these actions, saying that despite the viciousness of these moves and America’s enormous strength, there is nothing to be afraid of.

Chinese taking US offensive calmly

A look at different factors tells us why. Politically, the US is currently embroiled in a heated bipartisan struggle and a chaotic situation, whereas China is showing a growing stability. No wonder when US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sought in his speech to spur the Chinese people to turn their backs on the Chinese Communist Party, his efforts at instigation were scorned as ignorant by scholars.

Diplomatically, the American attempt to get other countries to join in a global coalition against China still sees limited success. Not only has it failed to drive a wedge between China and Russia, even European allies like Germany and France are reluctant to follow America’s call blindly. Economically, China’s economic aggregate now amounts to more than half of America’s. The two countries are even neck and neck in terms of purchasing power parity. Furthermore, in the midst of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, China has taken the lead in resuming work and production. Being ahead on the road to recovery puts China in a better position than the US.

As for public opinion, the Trump administration’s unilateralism is much criticised internationally, and the US has already lost the moral authority to rally the world, thanks to what it has done in the recent years. Militarily, the US holds the absolute advantage, but since it has to deploy forces everywhere to maintain its global hegemony, its strength is as divided as its armaments are abundant. And let’s not forget: China is a nuclear power too. Although nowhere near the size of America’s, its nuclear arsenal still suffices to snuff out any thought on the Western superpower’s part of taking risks with an incursion.

In view of the foregoing, even if America’s containment measures continue to escalate, going from straightforward trade friction to all-out suppression, China will still be able to remain calm and deal with every single attack thrown at it. The more America lunges forward aggressively and rushes to the frontlines of containing China, the more it will show itself to be unpopular, running out of ideas, and indeed, a “paper tiger” in Mao Zedong’s book. Even in America, there is public criticism of the government’s China policy. The critics understand that, by abandoning the policy of engagement with China and opting for all-out containment instead, the US is only exhausting itself in fruitless labour, and possibly even dragging both countries into the trap of mutual antagonism. They can see that this does not serve America’s fundamental interests.

Malicious intent behind containment measures will still prove lethal

Well, then, does this mean that America’s China containment policy will really all be ineffectual and totally not dangerous?

The truth is, the danger of such a policy lies not only in the superficial aggressiveness and hostility or in the specific moves made, but in the malicious intent hidden within. It is clear that from the political to the military realms, concrete steps taken by the US towards containment and picking a fight may all be successfully neutralised by China. Even when some of them cannot be neutralised for the time being, the harm done to a major power like China would be very limited. The recent series of punitive actions taken by the US against Hong Kong, for example, is seen to have very limited effect.

Having said that, the true danger that America’s moves present is really much more complicated. The US’s containment measures are set to create a strong atmosphere of enmity towards China, which would profoundly affect the Chinese social psyche. The idea is to cause the Chinese society to constantly raise its level of wariness, possibly leading to the emergence of what is known as “involution”. The term originated from American anthropologist Clifford Geertz’s book Agricultural Involution: The Processes of Ecological Change in Indonesia. It refers to the phenomenon whereby a social or cultural pattern, having taken on an established form at a certain stage of development, stagnates or fails to transform into a new, advanced pattern.Such a roundabout psychological assault is what constitutes the deadliest aspect of America’s China containment policy.

In his book Culture, Power and the State: Rural Society in North China, 1900-1942, Prasenjit Duara, a professor emeritus at the University of Chicago, put forth the idea of “state involution”. State involution happens when the machinery of the state relies not on elevating the effectiveness of existing (or newly added) agencies, but on replicating or expanding an inherited pattern of state-society relations to expand its administrative functions. In a nutshell, it means there is no increase of effectiveness in any true sense but just a regression into conservatism and self-isolation.

China has to guard against ‘state involution’

Historically, at the end of the US-Soviet struggle for hegemony, the USSR was arguably brought to its end by involution to a certain extent. Along the clearly drawn lines of the Cold War, the Soviet Union and its followers heightened their wariness of the West without limit, erecting “Berlin Walls” of all sorts, tangible and intangible, to block off incoming flows from the other side. The result was self-isolation, a state of stagnant adherence to the old ways. Through lapsing into involution, many of the problems arising from internal governance failed to be solved for a long time and got worse over the years.

By the time Gorbachev sought to break the impasse, there could only be a blind grasping at straws, which only sped up the fall of the colossal Union. Gorbachev himself was a product of the Soviet regime’s involution. When we look further back in time, we see that China’s Qing dynasty had also succumbed to involution. Out of its fear of the West, the Qing chose to close itself off from foreign access, hoping to sustain the rule of the “celestial empire” this way. And the end result, as we know, was progressive ossification, falling behind the rest of the world and getting beaten.

Presently, as the US increases its containment measures against China and strives to recreate an external environment similar to what the USSR had to deal with, China needs to prevent itself from making the same mistake as the Union. It must not allow the trend of involution to emerge in the social psyche. The trend may manifest in the following two ways: firstly, due to a deteriorating external environment and rising nationalistic sentiments within the country, the Chinese people gradually lose their enthusiasm and optimism towards the world outside. They may become overly wary and blind to various aspects of the US and other Western countries that are still ahead of their country, and cease to keep an open mind and learn from them with humility.

Secondly, out of the need to counter America’s suppression and instigation, the Chinese people may become more inclined to acknowledge the superiority of their own country’s social governance, and to be more tolerant to the many imperfections and problematic conflicts that still exist therein, or even turn a blind eye to such negative aspects. In doing so, they would weaken their own courage and passion for reform. In other words, the zest and initiative of the general populace towards reform and opening up would be bruised. And that, I fear, would be the greatest achievement of America’s China containment policy.

China must not be swayed from its path of reform and opening up

We have to understand this: just as China is good at handling issues on the strategic and tactical level, America’s China containment policy may also be driven by malicious intent on the same two levels, one strategic and the other tactical. Specific measures on the political, economic, diplomatic and military fronts actually function only on the tactical level, meant to cause short-term, superficial interference. Creating an atmosphere of all-round China-containment, causing the Chinese to become suspicious of and hostile towards the world outside and thereby move towards involution — perhaps it is this that is the deep strategy behind America’s China containment policy.

After all, reform and opening up constituted the critical choice that enabled contemporary China to come into its own so quickly. We may say this is the necessary path for China to revive itself and fulfil its dream of becoming a powerful nation. For this reason, should America’s containment policy manage to entice or compel the Chinese to lose their faith in and passion for reform and opening up, it would be tantamount to fundamentally blocking off China’s pathway of peaceful development. In other words, the Asian powerhouse’s way to sustenance and vitality would be cut off. It is this that spells the deadliest strike being delivered to China!

Therefore, in the face of America’s all-out containment policy, China must not only counter every specific attack thrown at it, but also maintain a strong strategic forbearance across its entire society – that is to say, stick firmly to the course of reform and opening up without wavering. The more the US imposes blockades, the more China needs to speed up the expansion of its opening-up to break through. The more the US hems it in, the more China needs to quicken the deepening of its reform to strengthen itself.

Fundamentally speaking, China’s path of reform and opening up is good for everyone. They not only help to enhance and protect the interests of the Chinese people’s livelihoods, but also facilitate the achievement of mutual benefits and win-win outcomes with other countries around the world. They represent a course of action that truly draws much support for being in the right and in step with the times. As long as China keeps at its reform and opening up efforts, the US can never start a new Cold War. In the long run, as the game between the two great powers continues, time and advantage are certainly on China’s side.

Source: Is the US just a ‘paper tiger’ or is she able to derail China’s progress?