Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Hoodwinked by the Strangelove effect by John Pilger



JOHN PILGER
Hoodwinked by the Strangelove effect

I watched Dr Strangelove the other day. I have seen it perhaps a dozen times; it makes sense of senseless news. When Major TJ "King" Kong goes "toe to toe with the Rooskies" and flies his rogue B52 nuclear bomber to a target in Russia, it's left to General "Buck" Turgidson to reassure the president. Strike first, says the general, and "you got no more than 10 to 20 million killed, tops".

President Merkin Muffley: "I will not go down in history as the greatest mass-murderer since Adolf Hitler."

General Turgidson: "Perhaps it might be better, Mr President, if you were more concerned with the American people than with
your image in the history books."

The genius of Stanley Kubrick's film is that it accurately represents the Cold War's lunacy and dangers. Most of the characters are based on real people and real maniacs. There is no equivalent to Strangelove today, because popular culture is directed almost entirely at our interior lives, as if identity is the moral zeitgeist and true satire is redundant; yet the dangers are the same. The nuclear clock has remained at five minutes to midnight; the same false flags are hoisted above the same targets by the same "invisible government", as Edward Bernays, the inventor of public relations, described modern propaganda.

In 1964, the year Strangelove was made, "the missile gap" was the false flag. In order to build more and bigger nuclear weapons and pursue an undeclared policy of domination, president John F Kennedy approved the CIA's propaganda that the Soviet Union was well ahead of the US in the production of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles. This filled front pages as the "Russian threat". In fact, the Americans were so far ahead in the production of ICBMs, the Russians never approached them. The Cold War was based largely on this lie.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the US has ringed Russia with military bases, nuclear warplanes and missiles as part of its "NATO Enlargement Project". Reneging a US promise to Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990 that NATO would not expand "one inch to the east", the organization has all but taken over eastern Europe. In the former Soviet Caucuses, NATO's military build-up is the most extensive since the second world war.

In February, the United States mounted one of its proxy "color" coups against the elected government of Ukraine; the shock troops were fascists. For the first time since 1945, a pro-Nazi, openly anti-Semitic party controls key areas of state power in a European capital. No Western European leader has condemned this revival of fascism on the border of Russia. Some 30 million Russians died in the invasion of their country by Hitler's Nazis, who were supported by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, the UPA, responsible for numerous Jewish and Polish massacres. The UPA was the military wing, inspiring today's Svoboda party.

Since Washington's putsch in Kiev - and Moscow's inevitable response in Russian Crimea, to protect its Black Sea Fleet - the provocation and isolation of Russia have been inverted in the news to the "Russian threat". This is fossilized propaganda. The US Air Force general who runs NATO forces in Europe - General Breedlove, no less - claimed more than two weeks ago to have pictures showing 40,000 Russian troops "massing" on the border with Ukraine. So did Colin Powell claim to have pictures of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. What is certain is that Obama's rapacious, reckless coup in Ukraine has ignited a civil war and Vladimir Putin is being lured into a trap.

Following a 13-year rampage that began in stricken Afghanistan well after Osama bin Laden had fled, then destroyed Iraq beneath a false flag, then invented a "nuclear rogue" in Iran, dispatched Libya to a Hobbesian anarchy and backed jihadists in Syria, the US finally has a new cold war to supplement its worldwide campaign of murder and terror by drone.

A NATO Membership Action Plan or MAP - straight from the war room of Strangelove - is General Breedlove's gift to the new dictatorship in Ukraine. "Rapid Trident" will put US troops on Ukraine's Russian border and "Sea Breeze" will put US warships within sight of Russian ports. At the same time, NATO war games throughout Eastern Europe are designed to intimidate Russia. Imagine the response if this madness was reversed and happened on America's borders. Cue General "Buck" Turgidson.

And there is China. On April 24, President Obama will begin a tour of Asia to promote his "Pivot to China". The aim is to convince his "allies" in the region, principally Japan, to re-arm and prepare for the eventual possibility of war with China. By 2020, almost two-thirds of all US naval forces in the world will be transferred to the Asia-Pacific area. This is the greatest military concentration in that vast region since the Second World War.

In an arc extending from Australia to Japan, China will face US missiles and nuclear-armed bombers. A strategic naval base is being built on the Korean island of Jeju less than 640 kilometers from the Chinese metropolis of Shanghai and the industrial heartland of the only country whose economic power is likely to surpass that of the US. Obama's "pivot" is designed to undermine China's influence in its region. It is as if world war has begun by other means.

This is not a Strangelove fantasy. Obama's defense secretary, Charles "Chuck" Hagel, was in Beijing this month to deliver a menacing warning that China, like Russia, could face isolation and war if it did not bow to US demands. He compared the annexation of Crimea with China's complex territorial dispute with Japan over uninhabited islands in the East China Sea. "You cannot go around the world," said Hagel with a straight face, "and violate the sovereignty of nations by force, coercion or intimidation". As for America's massive movement of naval forces and nuclear weapons to Asia, that is "a sign of the humanitarian assistance the US military can provide".

Obama is currently seeking a greater budget for nuclear weapons than the historical peak during the cold war, the era ofStrangelove. The United States is pursuing its longstanding ambition to dominate the Eurasian landmass, stretching from China to Europe: a "manifest destiny" made right by might.

(Published with permission www.johnpilger.com. Follow John Pilger on twitter @johnpilger )

(Copyright 2014 John Pilger) 

How the Ukrainian crisis will eventually bring down the AngloZionist Empire




There are many theories out there about what exactly caused the collapse of the Soviet Union.  Some say that it is Ronald Reagan with his Star Wars program.  Others say that this is the war in Afghanistan or the Polish union Solidarnosc.  Other popular theories include the failure of the Soviet economy, the drop in oil prices, the inability to produce consumer goods, the yearning of many Soviets for western-style freedoms and incomes, national/ethnic problems, a hypertrophic military-industrial complex, a massive and corrupt bureaucracy, the corruption of the CPSU and its nomenklatura, the personal treason of Mikhail Gorbachev and many other theories.  While all of these factors did contribute to weaken the Soviet system, I do not believe that they brought it down, not even combined together.  What really brought down the Soviet Union was something entirely different: an unbearable cognitive dissonance or, to put it more simply, an all-prevailing sense of total hypocrisy.

But before I make my case about the role of hypocrisy, let me first clarify why I don't believe that any other of the theories I listed above make sense: simply because the USSR survived much, much, harder times.  Frankly, the entire period from 1917 through 1946 was much worse than anything which happened during Brezhnev's "stagnation" or after.  And yet, not only did the Soviet Union survive, it almost single-handedly defeated the biggest military machine Europe ever created - Hitler's Wehrmacht - it also deterred the Anglosphere from its plans to attack it at the end of the war.  Then it more or less won the "space race" (with the very notable exception of the race to the moon which the USSR lost on 24th of October 1960), built what was arguably the most powerful conventional military force on the planet while enjoying an internal economic boom. By any measurement, the USSR was a formidable power during a very long period.

But then something went very, very wrong.

Personally, I am inclined to blame Nikita Khrushchev who, in my opinion, was by far the worst leader the Soviet Union ever had.

Though this is controversial, but I believe that Khrushchev and a clique of supporters murdered Stalin by poisoning him, and then engaged in a massive propaganda campaign to justify their action and legitimize their rule.  It all began with Khrushchev's (in)famous "secret speech" at the 20th CPSU Congress and it continued throughout most of Khrushchev's rule.  Khrushchev, who personally hated Stalin, used every truth and untruth possible to literally demonize Stalin.  Worse, Khrushchev objectively joined forces with the many Trotskists worldwide who had been spreading the "Stalinism" myth for decades.

Let me immediately clarify that I am not at all an admirer of Stalin whom I consider to be a bloody tyrant and a absolutely ruthless, if personally charming, dictator.  But I will say that Stalin was most definitely no worse then Lenin, Trotsky or Khrushchev and that as a statesman his was far more skilled then any other Soviet leader.  As for Khrushchev himself, he was the protégé of Lazar Kaganovich, one of the worst scumbags in Soviet history, he was also an eager participant in many bloody repressions, and generally a comprehensively immoral, unprincipled and outright evil person.

Anyway, with his anti-Stalin campaign Khrushchev basically told the Soviet people that what used to be white yesterday is henceforth to be considered black and that what was black is now white.  On a deeper level, that also showed that the Soviet Union was ruled by complete hypocrites who had no personal beliefs and who stood for nothing except for their own power.

The poison of disillusionment and cynicism injected by Khrushchev and his clique acted slowly, but surely, and by the time Leonid Brezhnev came to power (1964) it had already discreetly permeated all of Soviet society.  By the 1980 it was omnipresent at all the levels of society, from the lowest and poorest to the top party officials.  I don't want to go into all the details, but I will say that the fact that almost nobody stood up to defend the Soviet system in 1991 and in 1993 is a direct result of that poison's erosion of the Soviet society.  By the 1990s everybody knew that even if the ideals of Communism were good (which some still did believe while some did not), the modern Soviet society was built on a gigantic lie which nobody was willing to fight for, nevermind die for it.

That rot of disillusionment and cynicism is also what defined the 1990s and the "democratic nightmare" of the Eltsin years. People now say that this was the time when "every young Russian boy wanted to become a Mafia Don and every Russian girl a prostitute" - not quite literally true, of course, but generally true nonetheless.   It is only with the coming to power of Putin that this poison began to weaken and that the Russian society began to re-discover true ideals and a belief in values worth standing up for.

How does that all apply to the AngloZionist Empire and the Ukraine?

It is quite obvious, really.  I tend to agree with Alexander Mercouris, Mark Sleboda and Mark Hackard when they say that the USA, ruled by incompetent and poorly educated politicians (rather than by professional diplomats or real statemen) probably expected Russia to roll-over and accept a Banderastani regime in power in the Ukraine.  And when Russia refused to accept that and pushed back, the AngloZionists made their initial miscalculation even worse by dramatically increasing their rhetoric and by insisting that black was white and white was black.

For the AngloZionist a neo-Nazi armed insurgency which seizes power in contradiction with an agreement it had signed less than 24 hours before is a "legitimate representative of the Ukrainian people".  The Baderists are philosemites and democrats, while the people in the eastern Ukraine are either Jew-hating extremists or Russian agents.  When the folks in the western Ukraine engage in a campaign of terror, murder and looting, that is an expression of democracy, when the people in the east seize SBU buildings it is terrorism.  When Yanukovich was faced by protesters the US demanded that he not use any force at all, not even cops with sidearms, when the junta leader Iatseniuk faces protesters, he is acting with praiseworthy restraint when he sends in tanks, artillery pieces and combat aircraft.  The referendum in Crimea is illegitimate because it was allegedly conducted at the point of a gun, while the proposed upcoming Presidential election will be legitimate even though they will be organized and conducted by bone fide neo-Nazis and even though two candidates get assaulted and cannot campaign.  I could continue to multiply the example here ad nauseam, but you get the point: what the AngloZionists are declaring urbi et orbi is basically that black is white, the earth is flat, 2+2=3, up is down, etc.  They are doing exactly the same than what Khrushchev did in the USSR: they are showing their own people that they believe in nothing and stand for nothing except their own power.

Not that the American people need much convincing, I would add.

In my admittedly subjective opinion the level of disgust of most American people with the Federal government is already sky high.  Sure, most people feel impotent and believe that there is nothing they can do about it.  When they vote for peace, they get more war.  When they vote for less taxes, they get more.  When they vote for more civil rights, they get less.  There is an entire generation of Americans out there which is as disillusioned and as disgusted with their own rulers as the Soviets were with their rulers in  the 1970s and 1980s.
Interestingly, there is definitely a strong anti-regime movement of American patriots out there.  These are folks who have the wisdom to differentiate between, on one hand, their country, their people, the ideals upon which the US society was originally built, and, on the other hand, regime in DC and the 1% of the population whose interests this regime works for.  Amazing, no?  The Soviet Union had its formal nomenklatura while the USA has it own, informal, one.  About 1% of the population in each case.

You want more uncanny parallels?  Sure!  How about

1)   A bloated military budget resulting in an ineffective military
2)   A huge and ineffective intelligence community
3)   A crumbling public infrastructure
4)   A world record in the per-capita ratio of incarcerated people (US GULag)
5)   A propaganda machine which nobody trusts any more
6)   An internal dissident movement which the regime tries to keep silent
7)   A systematic use of violence against the citizens
8)   An increase in tensions between Federal and local authorities
9)   An industry whose main exports are weapons and energy
10) A population fearful of being spied on by the internal security services
11) A systematic assimilation of dissent with espionage and terrorism
12) A all-prevailing paranoia about internal and external enemies
13) A financially catastrophic over-reach of the empire across the planet
14) An awareness that the entire planet hates you
15) A subservient press-corps of presstitutes who never dare to ask the real questions
16) A sky-high rate of substance abuse
17) A young generation which believes in nothing at all
18) An educational system in free-fall (the Soviet one was much better, btw)
19) A disgust with politics by the general public
20) A massive and prevailing amount corruption on all levels of power

These are just a few examples which apply as much to the USSR of the 1980 as it does to the 2014 USA.  There are also plenty of differences, of course, no need to list them here as they are quite obvious.

My main point is not that the USSR and USA are the exact same, but only that the similarities between the two are becoming uncanny and numerous.

In conclusion and to put things simply: what the AngloZionist are openly and publicly defending in the Ukraine is thepolar opposite of what they are supposed to stand for.  That is an extremely dangerous thing to do for any regime and the AngloZionist Empire is no exception to that rule.  Empire often crumble when their own people become disillusioned and disgusted with massive discrepancy between what the ruling elites say and what they do and as a result, it is not so much that the Empire is faced with formidable enemies as it is the fact that nobody is willing to stand up - nevermind die - in defense of it.  Just look at the following sentence:

(in the Ukraine) "Barack Obama and the Democratic Party stand for racism and Fascism"

Amazing, no?  But it is true, even though this short sentence has enough tensions inside it to explode the brain of many Americans, especially Democrats.  I put the "in the Ukraine" in brackets to provide the context but, of course, the context does not matter one bit.  You cannot be for liberal policies at home and for Fascism abroad.  Nor can you be an anti-racist who supports racism, it don't matter one bit were that racism is located.  Values truly held are applicable to all and everywhere.  You cannot oppose torture in country 'x' but favor it in country 'y'.  That is plain ridiculous.  So let me restate the sentence above this time without the context in brackets:


"Barack Obama and the Democratic Party stand for racism and Fascism"

Blows your mind, doesn't it?

And, of course, the very same can be said of McCain and his party:


"John McCain and the Republican Party stand for racism and Fascism"

Still painful, no?

How about this one:

"The EU stands for racism and Fascism"
Or, even better:


"The ADL and the Weisenthal Center stand for racism and Fascism"

Or this one:

"Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch stand for racism and Fascism"

Pretty amazing, no?

Now try combining any of the above with this one:


"Putin and Russia stand for democracy, freedom and human right"

Ouch!  That one would really hurt a lot of American and Europeans.
Of course, this is not how the events in the Ukraine, or any other event, is presented in the official public media and the zombified public discourse.  But neither was that the case in the USSR.  Still, not all people are stupidified zombies - though some, of course, are - and they do their own, quiet, little thinking in their own heads.  Sometimes they toss ideas around with their friends.  In the Soviet Union the "Petri dish" for politically incorrect discussion was usually the kitchen.  In the USA it might be near the barbecue.

Of course, we are not going to see mass demonstrations in the streets of Washington DC, most people are going to keep this kind of "crime thoughts" private or for a small circle of trusted friends, but let me remind you all that since we are making comparisons between the USSR and the USA, there was no "occupy the Kremlin" movement in the USSR while the Occupy Wall Street movement in the USA was very large and widely spread across this huge country.  Nor has there ever been a Soviet equivalent of the huge 1990 anti-WTO protests in Seattle.  So the American public is nowhere nearly as passive as some think.

The Ukraine is far away from the USA, and only 1/6th of Americans can place it on a map.  But the consequences of the very high visibility involvement of the US regime and the AngloZionist Empire will be dramatic, if delayed in time.  Already nobody in his/her right might would give Obama his Nobel Peace Prize again.  So even though the formidable western propaganda machine is way more capable and sophisticated than anything Goebbels or Suslov could have dreamed about, it cannot hide reality forever.

This is why the Empire is so desperate for some kind of victory in the Ukraine.  If it cannot be respected any more, it needs to be at least feared.  But if the Ukraine explodes and Russia gets Crimea and the East (which appears increasingly likely) then the AngloZionist won't even be feared anymore.  Once that happens, the life expectancy of the Empire will become very, very short.

So yes, knowing the truth does make one free, and the truth is the most powerful empire-buster ever invented.  It brought down the USSR and it will bring down the AngloZionists too.  It is just a matter of time now.

The Saker

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Ukraine and the grand chessboard By Pepe Escobar



THE ROVING EYE
Ukraine and the grand chessboard
By Pepe Escobar

The US State Department, via spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki, said that reports of CIA Director John Brennan telling regime changers in Kiev to "conduct tactical operations" - or an "anti-terrorist" offensive - in eastern Ukraine are "completely false". This means Brennan did issue his marching orders. And by now the "anti-terrorist" campaign - with its nice little Dubya rhetorical touch - has degenerated into farce.

Now couple that with NATO secretary general, Danish retriever Anders Fogh Rasmussen, yapping about the strengthening of military footprint along NATO's eastern border: "We will have more planes in the air, mores ships on the water and more readiness on the land."

Welcome to the Two Stooges doctrine of post-modern warfare.

Pay up or freeze to death
Ukraine is for all practical purposes broke. The Kremlin's consistent position for the past three months has been to encourage the European Union to find a solution to Ukraine's dire economic mess. Brussels did nothing. It was betting on regime change to the benefit of Germany's heavyweight puppet Vladimir Klitschko, aka Klitsch The Boxer.

Regime change did happen, but orchestrated by the Khaganate of Nulands - a neo-con cell of the State Department and its assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nulands. And now the presidential option is between - what else - two US puppets, choco-billionaire Petro Poroshenko and "Saint Yulia" Timoshenko, Ukraine's former prime minister, ex-convict and prospective president. The EU is left to pick up the (unpayable) bill. Enter the International Monetary Fund - via a nasty, upcoming "structural adjustment" that will send Ukrainians to a hellhole even grimmer than the one they are already familiar with.

Once again, for all the hysteria propagated by the US Ministry of Truth and its franchises across the Western corporate media, the Kremlin does not need to "invade" anything. If Gazprom does not get paid all it needs to do is to shut down the Ukrainian stretch of Pipelineistan. Kiev will then have no option but to use part of the gas supply destined for some EU countries so Ukrainians won't run out of fuel to keep themselves and the country's industries alive. And the EU - whose "energy policy" overall is already a joke - will find itself with yet another self-inflicted problem.

The EU will be mired in a perennial lose-lose situation if Brussels does not talk seriously with Moscow. There's only one explanation for the refusal: hardcore Washington pressure, mounted via the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Again, to counterpunch the current hysteria - the EU remains Gazprom's top client, with 61% of its overall exports. It's a complex relationship based on interdependence. The capitalization of Nord Stream, Blue Stream and the to-be-completed South Stream includes German, Dutch, French and Italian companies.

So yes, Gazprom does need the EU market. But up to a point, considering the mega-deal of Siberian gas delivery to China which most probably will be signed next month in Beijing when Russian President Vladimir Putin visits President Xi Jinping.

The crucial spanner in the works
Last month, while the tortuous Ukraine sideshow was in progress, President Xi was in Europe clinching deals and promoting yet another branch of the New Silk Road all the way to Germany.

In a sane, non-Hobbesian environment, a neutral Ukraine would only have to gain by positioning itself as a privileged crossroads between the EU and the proposed Eurasian Union - as well as becoming a key node of the Chinese New Silk Road offensive. Instead, the Kiev regime changers are betting on acceptance into the EU (it simply won't happen) and becoming a NATO forward base (the key Pentagon aim).

As for the possibility of a common market from Lisbon to Vladivostok - which both Moscow and Beijing are aiming at, and would be also a boon for the EU - the Ukraine disaster is a real spanner in the works.

And a spanner in the works that, crucially, suits only one player: the US government.

The Obama administration may - and "may" is the operative word here - have realized the US government has lost the battle to control Pipelineistan from Asia to Europe, despite all the efforts of the Dick Cheney regime. What energy experts call the Asian Energy Security Grid is progressively evolving - as well as its myriad links to Europe.

So what's left for the Obama administration is this spanner in the works - still trying to scotch the full economic integration of Eurasia.

The Obama administration is predictably obsessed with the EU's increasing dependency on Russian gas. Thus its grandiose plan to position US shale gas for the EU as an alternative to Gazprom. Even assuming this might happen, it would take at least a decade - with no guarantee of success. In fact, the real alternative would be Iranian gas - after a comprehensive nuclear deal and the end of Western sanctions (the whole package, not surprisingly, being sabotaged en masse by various Beltway factions.)

Just to start with, the US cannot export shale gas to countries with which it has not signed a free trade agreement. That's a "problem" which might be solved to a great extent by the secretly negotiated Trans-Atlantic Partnership between Washington and Brussels (see Breaking bad in southern NATOstan, Asia Times Online, April 15, 2014.)

In parallel, the Obama administration keeps applying instances of "divide and rule" to scare minor players, as in spinning to the max the specter of an evil, militaristic China to reinforce the still crawling "pivoting to Asia". The whole game harks back to what Dr Zbig Brzezinski conceptualized way back in his 1997 opus The Grand Chessboard - and fine-tuned for his disciple Obama: the US ruling over Eurasia.

Still the Kremlin won't be dragged into a military quagmire. It's fair to argue Putin has identified the Big Picture in the whole chessboard, which spells out an increasing Russia-China strategic partnership as crucial as an energy-manufacturing synergy with Europe; and most of all the titanic fear of US financial elites of the inevitable, ongoing process centered on the BRICS-conducted (and spreading to key Group of 20 members) drive to bypass the petrodollar.

Ultimately, this all spells out the progressive demise of the petrodollar in parallel to the ascent of a basket to currencies as the reserve currency in the international system. The BRICS are already at work on their alternative to the IMF and the World Bank, investing in a currency reserve pool and the BRICS development bank. While a tentative new world order slouches towards all points Global South to be born, Robocop NATO dreams of war.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com.
 

Breaking bad in southern NATOstan By Pepe Escobar




THE ROVING EYE 
Breaking bad in southern NATOstan 
By Pepe Escobar 

ON THE ROAD IN PROVENCE - To quote Lenin, what is to be done? Back to Brussels and Berlin? A close encounter with dreary Northern NATOstan, consumed by its paranoid anti-Russia obsession and enslaved by the infinitely expandable Pentagon euro-scam? Perhaps a jaunt to Syria war junkie Erdogastan? 

Talk about a no contest. Joie de vivre settled it; thus The Roving Eye hooked up with Nick, The Roving Son, in Catalonia, and armed with La Piccolina - Nick's vintage, go-go '80s Peugeot caravan powered by a Citroen engine - we hit the road in Provence, prime southern NATOstan real estate. Instead of breaking crystal meth, non-stop breaking of fine infidel liquids and choice Provencal gastronomy. 

Call it a subterranean, non-homesick, non-bluesy investigation into the economic malaise of Club Med nations; the pauperization of the European middle class; the advance of the extreme right; and the looming prospect of an economic NATO. All within the framework of exceedingly cool family quality time. And subversively enough, with both laptop and mobile turned off. 

Does God drink Bandol? 
We were fortunate enough to catch the inaugural week of the Van Gogh Foundation in Arles - with its remarkable entrance portal inscribed with Van Gogh's enlarged signature; its suspended garden of colored mirrors; and a crack exhibition on the master's chromatic evolution up to the frenetic 15 months he lived in Arles. A few minutes contemplating La Maison Jaune (1888) is an intimation of immortality, revealing what exceptionalism is really all about. 

Aesthetic illuminations were a given - from Baux castle at sunset to sipping a Perrier mint on a terrace overlooking the countryside around hilltop Gordes; from a starry night in the open at the Colorado Provencal (intriguingly trespassed by a military helicopter flying low, Baghdad surge-style) to debating the merits of each variation of chevre de Banon - that Epicurean "cheese of exception" wrapped up in chestnut leaves. 

And then the crossing to the Grand Canyon of Verdon - the most American of European canyons, attacked on different angles from both the north and south rim, including a trek along the old Roman trail and a close encounter with the jagged, chaotic, ghostly rock silhouettes of Les Cadieres (chairs, in Provencal) - the Verdon's answer to the Twin Towers. Call it a quirky Provencal take on Osama and al-Zawahiri trekking the Hindu Kush. 

As we descended from the Col de Leques, the owner of a mountainside cafe told us he had just opened for the whole season, lasting until mid-September. But here, in early April, the Verdon was bathed in silent glory, except for the occasional badass biker. 

Then - as in Godard's Pierrot Le Fou - a dash towards La Mediterrane. First stop in Front National-controlled Toulon - so proper, so regimented, so fearful even of non-immigrant skateboarders, yet displaying a monster NATO cargo ship in full regalia. 

It's impossible to have a plateau de moules in mid-afternoon at the port, but at the Ah-Ha Chinese restaurant there are Verdon canyons of food are available around the clock, which once again goes to show how Asia's entrepreneurial drive has left Europe in the dust. 

Cue to a Platonic banquet at the venerable Auberge Du Port in Bandol - orgiastic bouillabaisse paired with the best local wine, which would be a close match between Bastide de la Ciselette and Domaine de Terrebrune. None of these infidel liquid marvels, by the way, have been touched by globalization. 

There's hardly a single millimeter of free land space in the coast around Marseille - that's part of a well-known dossier, the environmental destruction of southern NATOstan. Still we managed to find a relatively secluded grove for the appropriate Rimbaud mood (la mer, la mer, toujours recommence). 

Then the dreaded moment reared its ugly head - at Sanary-sur-Mer, where Huxley wrote Brave New World at his Villa Huley and Thomas Mann held court in the Chemin de la Colline. Brecht in fact might have sung anti-Hitler songs out of a table at Le Nautique; so after debating with Nick the comparative merits of Beneteau sailing boats, I finally decided to stop with all that Brechtian distancing and walked to the nearby kiosk to buy the papers, order a cafe au lait, and turn on the mobile. 

Not impressed is an understatement. One week off the grid, and the same sarabande of paranoia, frenetic pivoting and monochromatic exceptionalism. Yet, there it was, like a pearl at the bottom of the turquoise Mediterranean, buried in the info-avalanche: the definitive news of the week, perhaps the year, perhaps the decade. 

Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller had met with China National Petroleum Corporation chairman Zhou Jiping in Beijing on Wednesday. They were on their way to sign the 30-year, mega-contract deal to supply China with Siberian natural gas "as soon as possible". Probably on May 20, when Putin goes to Beijing. 

Now this is the genuine article. Pipelineistan meets the strategic partnership Russia-China, as solidified in the BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, with the tantalizing prospect of pricing/payment bypassing the petrodollar, otherwise known as the "thermonuclear option". Ukraine, compared to this, is a mere sideshow. 

Welcome to the Brussels rat-o-drome
It was on the road from the Mediterranean back to Arles via Aix-en-Provence that it hit me like an Obama drone. This whole trip was after all about the sublime chevre wrapped up in chestnut leaves in Banon, those "rose petal" bottles of wine; in Bandol, artisan producers and season mountain folks spelling out their fears in village markets and unpretentious chateaux. This was all about economic NATO. 

The Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement is a top priority of the Obama administration. Tariffs are already almost negligible across most products between the US and the European Union. So a deal is essentially about a power grab over continental markets by Big American Agro-Business (as in an invasion of genetically modified products), as well as American media giants. Call it a nice add-on to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) - which in a nutshell means an American takeover of the heavily protected Japanese economy. 

Southern NATOstan does offer glimpses of a European post-historical paradise - a Kantian rose garden protected from a nasty Hobbesian world by the "benign" Empire (the new denomination of choice, coined by - who else - neo-cons of the Robert Kagan variety). Yet the main emotion enveloping southern NATOstan, as I witnessed since the start of 2014 successively in Italy, Spain and France, is fear. Fear of The Other - as in the poor interloper, black or brown; fear of perennial unemployment; fear for the end of middle-class privileges until recently taken for granted; and fear of economic NATO - as virtually no average European trusts those hordes of Brussels bureaucrats. 

For nine months now, the European Commission has been negotiating a so-called Trade and Investment Partnership. The "transparency" surrounding what will be the largest free-trade agreement ever, encompassing more than 800 million consumers, would put North Korea's King Jong-eun to shame. 

The whole secret blah blah blah revolves around the euphemistic "non-tariff obstacles" - as in a web of ethical, environmental, juridical and sanitary norms that protect consumers, not giant multinationals. What the behemoths aim for, on the other hand, is a very profitable free-for-all - implying, just as an example, the indiscriminate use of ractopamine, an energy-booster for pork that is even outlawed in Russia and China. 

So why is the Obama administration suddenly so enamored of a free-trade agreement with Europe? Because US Big Business has finally found out that the Holy Grail of an economic pivoting to China won't be so holy after all; the whole thing will be conducted under Chinese terms, as in major Chinese brands progressively upgrading to control most of the Chinese market. 

Thus Plan B as a transatlantic market submitting 40% of international trade to the same big business-friendly norms. Obama has been heavily spinning the agreement will create "millions of well-paid American jobs". That's highly debatable, to say the least. But make no mistake about the American drive; Obama himself is personally implicated. 

As for the Europeans, it's more like rats scurrying in a secret casino. As much as the National Security Agency monitors every phone call in Brussels, average Europeans remain clueless about what they will be slapped with. Public debate over the agreement is for all practical purposes verboten for European civil society. 

European Commission negotiators meet only with lobbyists and multinational CEOs. In case of "price volatility" down the road, European farmers will be the big losers, not Americans, now protected by a new Farm Bill. No wonder the direct and indirect message I received from virtually everyone in the Provencal countryside is that "Brussels is selling us out"; in the end, what will disappear, in a death by a thousand cuts manner, is top-quality agriculture, scores of artisan producers with a savoir-faireaccumulated over centuries. 

So long live hormones, antibiotics, chlorine and GMOs. And off with their heads in the terroir! NATO issuing threats to Russia is such a lame, convenient diversionary tactic. As La Piccolina left Provence carrying its share of sublime artisan goods, I could not but understand why the locals see an economic NATO future with such Van Goghian apprehension. 

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com.
 

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

USAID: a history of front companies acting on behalf of the CIA




USAID: a history of front companies acting on behalf of the CIA

The recent disclosure by the Associated Press that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), a notorious nexus for contract fraud within the State Department, contracted out a project to develop a rival to Twitter in order to foment rebellion in Cuba has refocused attention on USAID's long history of acting as a contract vehicle for various CIA covert activities.

The setting up of the Cuban Twitter-like system, called ZunZuneo, was contracted to Creative Associates, Inc. (CAI), which conducted most of its out-of-Cuba operations in Costa Rica. The contract to CAI was awarded as part of the State Department's "Civil Society Support Program," the same program that has been used by the CIA to foment rebellions in Ukraine, Syria, Libya, Egypt, Iran, and other countries.

Some 40,000 ZunZuneo users in Cuba mistakenly believed their messages were private, when, in fact, they were recorded by USAID, which likely turned them over to the National Security Agency (NSA) for analysis and database archival.

CAI was not the only entity awarded USAID 
Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) money to help foment dissension and rebellion in Cuba as part of USAID's "civil society program." Other recipients included the International Republican Institute (IRI), a branch of the Republican Party; the National Democratic Institute, a branch of the Democratic Party; the Pan American Development Foundation, on whose board of trustees are found lobbyists for Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Caterpillar, Greenberg Traurig, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Citibank, Unibank of Haiti, Educational Testing Service (ETS),and Occidental Petroleum; Loyola University of Chicago; Center for a Free Cuba (which was caught embezzling $570,000 from USAID in 2008); the neo-conservative non-profit Freedom House; the Christian evangelical group Echo Cuba; Cuba On-Line; the Miami-based Plantados Until Freedom and Democracy in Cuba; and Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI)/Nathan Group.

ZunZuneo was created just after the December 2009 arrest in Cuba of DAI sub-contractor for USAID Alan Gross who was allegedly setting up satellite equipment and computer networks in Cuba to provide greater Internet access to Cuba's Jewish community. Cuba's Jewish community leaders denied any knowledge of the project or even knowing Gross, who was sentenced by Cuba to 15 years in prison for espionage. Gross's firm, JBDC, was subcontracted to DAI for the "civil society" work in Cuba.

In addition, USAID funding documents for the ZunZuneo (a Cuban slang word for a hummingbird's tweet) and other "civil society" projects state that USAID money went to "miscellaneous foreign contractors" and domestic contractors (undisclosed)" to support the Cuban initiatives. ZunZuneo was a pet project of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who, according to AP, had her social media chief Suzanne Hall, contact Twitter founder Jack Dorsey to take over ZunZuneo. Dorsey has refused comment on the report.

DAI has a long history in supporting CIA operations. President Obama's mother, Ann Dunham Sutoro, worked for DAI in Java. DAI was also accused of supporting the April 2002 coup against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. In 2005, right-wing Colombian President Alvaro Uribe stunned his audience by announcing that former Venezuelan military officers planned their coup against Chavez from Colombia. USAID and its contractors were heavily involved with anti-Chavez-activities in Colombia at the time of the 2002 coup.



CAI also used Mobile Accord, Inc. and a front company in the Cayman Islands called MovilChat possessing a bank account at 
Bank of N.T. Butterfield & Son Ltd. in Grand Cayman, as well as another "folding tent" firm based in the United Kingdom with a "subsidiary" in Barcelona, Spain to hide USAID as a funding source for ZunZuneo. Mobile Accord's web site states, "The heart of the Mobile Accord system is the proprietary high-volume EVO2 mobile platform that processes SMS, PSMS, and MMS. The EVO2 messaging system currently operates on four continents and is adaptable to any mobile network operator in the world. Mobile Accord uses our proprietary technology to offer one of the fastest, most reliable, and most secure messaging system available in the world."

The history of USAID is replete with examples of contractor companies and other front groups working for USAID but also doing the bidding of the CIA. WMR has reported on many such cases over the years:

  • Obama's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, worked on micro-financing projects for the USAID and Ford Foundation, both linked to the CIA, that helped prop up dictatorships in Indonesia and Pakistan. After Suharto seized power in 1965, USAID returned to Indonesia, with Stanley Ann Dunham Soetoro as one of its chief employees, to help Suharto create the New Order (Orde Baru) that would usher in decades of fascist and kleptocratic rule. Suharto established the Bureau of Logistics (BULOG) that steered USAID-provided rice and other food staples to Suharto's business cronies. Suharto also relied on a group of U.S. economists, including Obama's mother, to re-engineer Indonesia's socialist economy. The group was called the "Berkeley mafia" and it ensured that Indonesia was compliant with dictates of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and large Western commercial banks. It is a family history that Obama refuses to comment on and one that is certainly nothing to be proud of.
    While USAID was moving into Indonesia in 1965, USAID contractors flying for the CIA airline, Air America, were dropping off weapons and picking up drugs in Laos and dropping off the contraband in Thailand and South Vietnam.
  • USAID has long been involved in trying to oust the Castro government in Cuba, funneling money through the Cuban-American National Foundation, the Center for a Free Cuba, and even a German foundation, the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, an adjunct of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Party.
  • In Haiti, USAID, acting at the behest of the CIA, funded political opposition to President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, ousted in CIA-backed coups in 1991 and 2004. After Aristide's return to power in 1994, USAID money used to oppose Aristide was funneled through a "Project Democracy." Today, USAID is providing dubious small and micro-financing loans to small businesses in Haiti.
  • Bolivian President Evo Morales tossed USAID out of his country, charging it with acting with the CIA to destabilize Bolivia and bring about a coup. To this day, USAID is providing hundreds of thousands of dollars in aid to groups trying to undermine Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega.
  • During his ten-year rule, Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori and his intelligence chief, Vladimiro Montesinos, thought to be a CIA asset, reportedly received USAID funds to put down the Shining Path and Tupac Amaru guerrilla movements.
  • In 2009, the Pakistani press reported that USAID was bypassing the Pakistan ministries of Education and Information and providing direct educational assistance to Pakistani students. One USAID program in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan resulted in some $45 million disappearing down a virtual black hole.
  • In the 1980s, when Stanley Ann Dunham and Barack Obama, Jr. spent time in Pakistan, USAID opened up a major office in Islamabad that distributed "non-lethal aid" to Afghan mujaheddin refugees in Pakistan, particularly in Peshawar. Some of the USAID assistance was also reportedly used to buy weapons for the Afghan mujaheddin but some of the weapons ended up in the hands of Pakistani Muslim radicals intent on ousting Pakistani dictator Muhammad Zia-ul Haq. Other USAID money ended up paying for expensive automobiles for leading Afghan mujaheddin commanders in Pakistan.
  • The June 18, 1998 Jakarta Post reported that USAID programs in Indonesia continued to be fronts for CIA activity. Specifically, the paper said two Indonesian NGOs, the Indonesian Environmental Forum and the Indonesian Biodiversity Foundation, were charged with accepting money from USAID but should have known that the aid did not come "free of charge" and was linked to the CIA.
  • In 2002, USAID in Palestine, where DAI is also active, demanded detailed personal information on all the members of NGOs that received American funding. The Palestinian press reported that the information, including personal political opinions of NGO members, was to be turned over to the CIA and eventually, Mossad, to apply pressure on the NGOs to comply with U.S. and Israeli policies.
  • For years, USAID operated in Manila from the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency building at the Ramon Magsaysay Center on Roxas Boulevard in the Malate district of the city. In 2000, the offices moved to the Makati district of the city but the building that housed USAID was always known to locals as the "CIA building." The building, owned by the Ramon Magsaysay Foundation, in honor of the Philippines President who died in a 1955 plane crash, was built in 1959 with a loan from the Rockefeller family. The Rockefellers also provided grants to the Magsaysay Foundation.
  • In 2004, USAID was charged by Philippines opposition parties of using CIA agents to "monitor" elections in the country. The deal to permit USAID observers was signed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The head of the Anakpawis Party, Crispin Beltran, told the  Philippine Daily Inquirer, "So much for independence when foreign intelligence agents can broker an official agreement with the Comelec (election commission) allowing them to interfere in the polls."
  • The CIA-linked Asia Foundation, which worked closely with the CIA-funded East-West Center at the University of Hawaii in Manoa, where Obama's mother met her second husband, General Suharto's colonel, Lolo Soetoro, was linked closely to USAID covert programs in Laos, Indonesia, the Philippines, South Vietnam, Thailand, Palau, Malaysia, and other Asian-Pacific nations. In Laos and Thailand, USAID officials provided counter-insurgency military training to Laotian and Thai special forces. In 1970, Dan Mitrione, a USAID official who was working for the CIA training Uruguyan special police on torture tactics, was kidnapped and killed by Tupamaro guerrillas.
  • The dubious International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP), a program with CIA fingerprints all over it, used anti-trafficking funds from the pedophile-plagued State Department, as well as USAID, to conduct training boondoggles in Albania, Kazakhstan, Senegal, Nigeria, Gabon, Gambia, Madagascar, Uganda, Tanzania, the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra, and Malaysia.
  • When Honduran President Manuel Zelaya raised the minimum wage in his country, the CIA and Southern Command arranged for a military coup to remove him. Obama decided to place the Southern Command, headquartered in the right-wing Latin American exilee rat's nest of Miami, to coordinate humanitarian relief in Haiti along with the head of USAID.
  • A favorite USAID contractor, Chemonics International, started in 1976 by conservative Republican Gerald Murphy, in part, because as he told The New York Times in 1993, 'I've always wanted a way to do two things: one, have my own C.I.A., and two, be helpful to people,' received $500,000 to support USAID field missions in Nepal. OTI and Soros' Open Society Institute (OSI) are also linked through a contract awarded to Chemonics in Nepal to provide for U.S.-funded propaganda to be broadcast on FM stations in Nepal.The Soros/USAID/Chemonics media blitz in Nepal is also funding Radio Kailash, targeting thr Humla district of Nepal and Nepal Chautari (a national live radio call-in show).
  • In 1988, USAID opened a huge compound in a suburb of San Jose, Costa Rica that many Costa Ricans charged was the CIA headquarters for the "parallel state" established by the CIA in Costa Rica to support the contra-led civil war in neighboring Nicaragua. USAID also pumped millions of dollars in loans, some at zero percent, to private banks in Costa Rica to undermine the state banking system.
  • In 1995, Representative Mel Reynolds (D-IL), who was convicted of having sex with an underage female campaign worker, was also revealed as working for U.S. intelligence in the 1980s, via employment with the U.S. Information Agency (USIA) and USAID in Africa, particularly in Sudan. Reynolds, an African-American, also spent time in Israel under USIA cover. Recently, Reynolds was arrested in Zimbabwe for allegedly making pornographic movies with underage performers. Reynolds was subsequently expelled from Zimbabwe.
  • Obama has continued USAID's involvement in CIA-directed programs in former Soviet states, including Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan. In so doing, USAID complements the destabilization efforts of George Soros and his network of NGOs. Soros  was a major financial backer of Obama's presidential campaign. In 1999, Croatian media reported that USAID was working through various NGOs, some connected to Soros, to oust the ailing Croatian President Franjo Tudjman. The paper Vjesnik charged that USAID, as well as the U.S. Information Service (USIS), were used as ''tampons between the American non-governmental agencies and American state bodies." The paper said the USAID program to aid Tudjman's opposition was run by the CIA and coordinated by the U.S. ambassador in Zagreb, William Montgomery.
  • In a 2008 Russian documentary film, "Technology of Modern Coup," Bermet Akayeva, the daughter of ousted Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev, ousted in the 2005 Tulip Revolution, stated, "USAID is very actively financed by the Soros Foundation, by the National Democratic Institute and some kind of training is carried out constantly. However, it is difficult to describe USAID as an NGO given that it is under the U.S. Department of State. They work very actively." Akayeva said there were rumors in Kyrgyzstan that the U.S.-backed coup plotters distributed narcotics to rioters who participated in the coup.
  • In the north Caucasus, NGOs supported by USAID, have been accused by Russian authorities of having links to Chechen terrorists.
  • In 2002, Eritrea expelled USAID from the country, accusing it of working with the CIA to overthrow the government and assisting Ethiopia, which had engaged in a border war with Eritrea.
  • In 2009, Susan Tsvangirai, the wife of Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, was killed in an automobile accident in which the Prime Minister was injured. The truck that struck their automobile was bought with USAID funds and bore a U.S. embassy license plate. USAID denied it had anything to do with the truck. Public Works Minister Theresa Mokone, a friend of Mrs. Tsvangirai, likened the crash to the mysterious auto accident that killed popular and incorruptible Tanzanian Prime Minister Edward Sokoine in 1984. Sokoine was the designated successor to President Julius Nyerere, who antagonized the CIA by his close ties with the Soviet Union and China. Sokoine created a number of enemies among the elite class when he ordered the assets of embezzlers and smugglers seized. USAID, at the time of Sokoine's possible assassination, was heavily-involved in Tanzania.
  • In Zaire, millions of dollars in USAID money was diverted by CIA-backed dictator Mobutu Sese Seko to amass his personal fortune making him one of the world's wealthiest leaders. Other USAID funds for Zaire were diverted to help the Angolan rebel forces of UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi, in violation of U.S. law prohibiting aid to Angolan rebel groups. The covert aid program to UNITA was started in 1976 by Gerald Ford's Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. Similarly, during the Reagan administration, USAID money was funneled through the National Endowment for Democracy to the Nicaraguan contras, again in violation of a specific law prohibiting such assistance.
  • During the late 1970s and 80s, USAID-funded "researchers" established links with African liberation movements, particularly the African National Congress of South Africa and the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) of Zimbabwe. Actually, these programs were CIA activities using "leftist" academics to spy on the nationalist movements. The operations were concentrated in Harare, Zimbabwe and Cape Town, South Africa, and cities that had a large expatriate African student community, including London and Melbourne and Perth, Australia.
  • In 1998, USAID participated in a closed-door meeting between major oil companies and the CIA, National Security Council, and three State Department officials, Stuart Eisenstat, Thomas Pickering, and Susan Rice (now Obama's National Security Adviser) . The topic was exploitation of Africa's oil resources and the senior executives of Exxon, Mobil, Chevron (where Condoleezza Rice was a board member), and Texaco were present along with Department of Energy and Petroleum Finance Corporation officials.
  • In 2000, the CIA and USAID worked jointly through a private military company, Military Professional Resources, Inc. (MPRI) to train the Nigerian army in tactics to combat secessionists in Nigeria's oil-rich Niger Delta region. The CIA also commissioned the services of a private business intelligence and risk firm, Evidence-Based Research (EBR) of Vienna, Virginia, which appears to be a very similar operation to the CIA front, Business International Corporation, for which Obama worked in 1984, to conduct an assessment of the tribal revolt in the Niger Delta region, referred to by the CIA as a "semi-riot zone." EBR was formed in 1987, a year after Business International was sold to the Economist Intelligence Unit in London.
  • In 1990, the one-time administrator of USAID under the Bush-Cheney administration, Roger Winter, met international weapons smuggler Viktor Bout, now imprisoned in the United States after being arrested in a February 2008 U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) sting operation in Thailand. The meeting coordinated arms smuggling activities that would mushroom into Bout's full-scale smuggling empire after the collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991.
  • The U.S.-flagged container ship MV Global Patriot fired on an Egyptian barge vessel on March 24, 2008, in the Suez Canal near the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea. One Egyptian seaman, Mohammed Fouad, was killed and three others wounded on the Egyptian vessel that approached the Global Patriot to sell Egyptian products and cigarettes, a customary practice in the canal. The U.S. vessel was en route from Dubai with "used military equipment" and was stationary when approached by the Egyptian vending vessel. At first, the US Embassy in Cairo denied that anyone was killed in the incident.The Global Patriot is chartered by the Military Sealift Command from Global Container Lines of Garden City, New York. The firm operates in the Red Sea, including Sudan, East Africa, the Indian Ocean (including the Comoros -- where an African Union invasion of secessionist Anjouan has just occurred --and Seychelles, the Persian Gulf, and South Asia. Global Container Lines is a major contractor for USAID. The shipping line has been involved in shipments of "relief" supplies to Iraq and Afghanistan. One April 3, 2003, USAID "food" shipment to Iraq from Galveston, Texas, worth $500,000, is not recorded by USAID as a valid contract. The shipment was consigned to the MV Free Atlas.
  • Obama named as his director of USAID Rajiv Shah, as his overall coordinator for Haiti relief operations. Shah was sworn into office on January 8. Obama could not have made a worse choice. USAID, which is a cipher for the CIA, has largely been responsible for Haiti remaining the poorest nation in the western hemisphere. Shah's previous work for the dubious Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Health Organization, as well as his being a political hack for Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, who is imbued in corruption in Harrisburg, should not give the beleaguered people of Haiti any hope.
  • Custer Battles, Inc., a USAID contractor, was formed by former US Army Ranger Mike Battles and Scott Custer from a firm called Blue Sky. The firm soon became enmeshed in major contracting fraud in Iraq. Custer included former Lebanese Shia Amal official Mohammed Darwish, the owner of Cyprus-based Laru, Ltd., into the Custer Battles organization and decision making process. In January 2004, Darwish and Michel Mukattaf, a son-in-law of former Lebanese President Amin Gemayel and owner of a Lebanese currency exchange company, and Richard Jreisati, a former Lebanese military officer, were arrested by Lebanese authorities for attempting to smuggle a cache of 164 million in 25,000 Iraqi dinar notes into Lebanon from Baghdad Airport. Custer Battles had the Iraqi Currency Exchange (ICE) contract with the Coalition Provisional Authority and a major security contract for Baghdad Airport.
  • Former Eli Lilly chief Randall (Randy) Tobias, while  George W. Bush's Administrator of USAID, was exposed as a client of the Washington escort firm, Pamela Martin & Associates, run by Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the so-called "DC Madam."

Monday, April 07, 2014

Seymour Hersh Unearths More Lies on Syria By Jonathan Cook






Seymour Hersh Unearths More Lies on Syria
By Jonathan Cook
April 07, 2014 "ICH" - Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh has a second fascinating essay that rewrites the official record of the sarin gas attack on Ghouta, near Damascus, in August last year. As usual, Hersh uses his sources in the US security establishment to throw light on what really took place. The bottom line: Turkey was almost certainly the party responsible for the attack, hoping it would force Obama to honour his threatened “red line” if Assad used chemical weapons. Was the Assad regime to be brought down by a US military campaign, Turkey assumed it would be able to turn Syria into a client state.

Like the earlier article, this one will probably gain very little attention. It is published in the obscure UK literary publication the London Review of Books. Presumably like last time, Hersh could not find a mainstream publication willing to take it – and I’m guessing that, like last time, these stunningly important revelations will be shunned by the liberal media. Instead, it will be consigned to the memory hole, along with so much other evidence of western crimes against humanity. Pundits and analysts will continue to tell us confidently that Assad carried out the Ghouta attack, oblivious to Hersh’s findings.

The reason the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Guardian have been studiously ignoring Hersh’s investigations on this, it seems to me, is that they show the Obama administration’s foreign policy is just as criminal as the previous Bush White House’s.

Here is a summary of Hersh’s main findings:
* Obama’s sudden climbdown on his threatened military strike against Assad was in part forced on him by a chemical analysis of samples of the sarin used in Ghouta, which showed that its signature did not match that of the stockpiles held by the Assad regime.

* Despite US claims, the White House knew that the Syrian rebels had developed chemical weapons production facilities. UN investigators thought the Syrian opposition were the most likely culprits behind earlier chemical weapons attacks, in April and May 2013.
The American and British intelligence communities had been aware since the spring of 2013 that some rebel units in Syria were developing chemical weapons. On 20 June analysts for the US Defense Intelligence Agency issued a highly classified five-page ‘talking points’ briefing for the DIA’s deputy director, David Shedd, which stated that al-Nusra maintained a sarin production cell.
* The military strike being prepared by the White House after the Ghouta attack was, far from small-scale, as secretary of state John Kerry intimated, modelled on the shock and awe campaign against Saddam Hussein.
Under White House pressure, the US attack plan evolved into ‘a monster strike’: two wings of B-52 bombers were shifted to airbases close to Syria, and navy submarines and ships equipped with Tomahawk missiles were deployed. ‘Every day the target list was getting longer,’ the former intelligence official told me. … The new target list was meant to ‘completely eradicate any military capabilities Assad had’, the former intelligence official said. The core targets included electric power grids, oil and gas depots, all known logistic and weapons depots, all known command and control facilities, and all known military and intelligence buildings.
* The US developed a back channel of weapons-smuggling to the Syrian rebels, known as the rat line, in cooperation with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, using the “liberated” arsenals from Libya following the west’s ousting of Gaddafi.
The rat line, authorised in early 2012, was used to funnel weapons and ammunition from Libya via southern Turkey and across the Syrian border to the opposition. Many of those in Syria who ultimately received the weapons were jihadists, some of them affiliated with al-Qaida. … By the terms of the agreement, funding came from Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar; the CIA, with the support of MI6, was responsible for getting arms from Gaddafi’s arsenals into Syria. … The operation was run by David Petraeus, the CIA director who would soon resign when it became known he was having an affair with his biographer.
* The job of the US consulate in Libya – the one where ambassador Christopher Stevens was killed – was to provide logistical assistance with the rat line. That was the reason the consulate was attacked.
‘The consulate’s only mission was to provide cover for the moving of arms,’ the former intelligence official, who has read the annex, said. ‘It had no real political role.’ … Washington abruptly ended the CIA’s role in the transfer of arms from Libya after the attack on the consulate, but the rat line kept going. ‘The United States was no longer in control of what the Turks were relaying to the jihadists,’ the former intelligence official said. Within weeks, as many as forty portable surface-to-air missile launchers, commonly known as manpads, were in the hands of Syrian rebels. On 28 November 2012, Joby Warrick of the Washington Post reported that the previous day rebels near Aleppo had used what was almost certainly a manpad to shoot down a Syrian transport helicopter. ‘The Obama administration,’ Warrick wrote, ‘has steadfastly opposed arming Syrian opposition forces with such missiles, warning that the weapons could fall into the hands of terrorists and be used to shoot down commercial aircraft.’
* By late 2012 the US had assessed that the rebels were losing the civil war, and started to downgrade their involvement in the rat line. That left Turkey’s Recep Erdogan the main loser.
The American decision to end CIA support of the weapons shipments into Syria left Erdoğan exposed politically and militarily. ‘One of the issues at that May summit was the fact that Turkey is the only avenue to supply the rebels in Syria,’ the former intelligence official said. … Without US military support for the rebels, the former intelligence official said, ‘Erdoğan’s dream of having a client state in Syria is evaporating and he thinks we’re the reason why. When Syria wins the war, he knows the rebels are just as likely to turn on him – where else can they go? So now he will have thousands of radicals in his backyard.’
* Erdogan therefore became focused on exploiting the “red line” Obama had set on Assad’s use of chemical weapons to force the US to attack Syria.
Erdoğan knew that if he stopped his support of the jihadists it would be all over. The Saudis could not support the war because of logistics – the distances involved and the difficulty of moving weapons and supplies. Erdoğan’s hope was to instigate an event that would force the US to cross the red line. But Obama didn’t respond [to the previous chemical weapons attacks] in March and April.’ … We now know it was a covert action planned by Erdoğan’s people to push Obama over the red line,’ the former intelligence official said. ‘They had to escalate to a gas attack in or near Damascus when the UN inspectors’ – who arrived in Damascus on 18 August to investigate the earlier use of gas – ‘were there. The deal was to do something spectacular. … Barring a major change in policy by Obama, Turkey’s meddling in the Syrian civil war is likely to go on.
Jonathan Cook is an award-winning British journalist based in Nazareth, Israel, since 2001.http://www.jonathan-cook.net

Indoctrinating a new generation - The Anti-Empire Report #127 - By William Blum




Indoctrinating a new generation

Is there anyone out there who still believes that Barack Obama, when he’s speaking about American foreign policy, is capable of being anything like an honest man? In a March 26 talk in Belgium to “European youth”, the president fed his audience one falsehood, half-truth, blatant omission, or hypocrisy after another. If George W. Bush had made some of these statements, Obama supporters would not hesitate to shake their head, roll their eyes, or smirk. Here’s a sample:
– “In defending its actions, Russian leaders have further claimed Kosovo as a precedent – an example they say of the West interfering in the affairs of a smaller country, just as they’re doing now. But NATO only intervened after the people of Kosovo were systematically brutalized and killed for years.”
Most people who follow such things are convinced that the 1999 US/NATO bombing of the Serbian province of Kosovo took place only after the Serbian-forced deportation of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo was well underway; which is to say that the bombing was launched to stop this “ethnic cleansing”. In actuality, the systematic deportations of large numbers of people did not begin until a few days after the bombing began, and was clearly a reaction to it, born of Serbia’s extreme anger and powerlessness over the bombing. This is easily verified by looking at a daily newspaper for the few days before the bombing began the night of March 23/24, 1999, and the few days following. Or simply look at the New York Times of March 26, page 1, which reads:
… with the NATO bombing already begun, a deepening sense of fear took hold in Pristina [the main city of Kosovo] that the Serbs would now vent their rage against ethnic Albanian civilians in retaliation. [emphasis added]
On March 27, we find the first reference to a “forced march” or anything of that nature.
But the propaganda version is already set in marble.
– “And Kosovo only left Serbia after a referendum was organized, not outside the boundaries of international law, but in careful cooperation with the United Nations and with Kosovo’s neighbors. None of that even came close to happening in Crimea.”
None of that even came close to happening in Kosovo either. The story is false. The referendum the president speaks of never happened. Did the mainstream media pick up on this or on the previous example? If any reader comes across such I’d appreciate being informed.
Crimea, by the way, did have a referendum. A real one.
– “Workers and engineers gave life to the Marshall Plan … As the Iron Curtain fell here in Europe, the iron fist of apartheid was unclenched, and Nelson Mandela emerged upright, proud, from prison to lead a multiracial democracy. Latin American nations rejected dictatorship and built new democracies … “
The president might have mentioned that the main beneficiary of the Marshall Plan was US corporations  , that the United States played an indispensable role in Mandela being caught and imprisoned, and that virtually all the Latin American dictatorships owed their very existence to Washington. Instead, the European youth were fed the same party line that their parents were fed, as were all Americans.
– “Yes, we believe in democracy – with elections that are free and fair.”
In this talk, the main purpose of which was to lambaste the Russians for their actions concerning Ukraine, there was no mention that the government overthrown in that country with the clear support of the United States had been democratically elected.
– “Moreover, Russia has pointed to America’s decision to go into Iraq as an example of Western hypocrisy. … But even in Iraq, America sought to work within the international system. We did not claim or annex Iraq’s territory. We did not grab its resources for our own gain. Instead, we ended our war and left Iraq to its people and a fully sovereign Iraqi state that could make decisions about its own future.”
The US did not get UN Security Council approval for its invasion, the only approval that could legitimize the action. It occupied Iraq from one end of the country to the other for 8 years, forcing the government to privatize the oil industry and accept multinational – largely U.S.-based, oil companies’ – ownership. This endeavor was less than successful because of the violence unleashed by the invasion. The US military finally was forced to leave because the Iraqi government refused to give immunity to American soldiers for their many crimes.
Here is a brief summary of what Barack Obama is attempting to present as America’s moral superiority to the Russians:
The modern, educated, advanced nation of Iraq was reduced to a quasi failed state … the Americans, beginning in 1991, bombed for 12 years, with one dubious excuse or another; then invaded, then occupied, overthrew the government, tortured without inhibition, killed wantonly … the people of that unhappy land lost everything – their homes, their schools, their electricity, their clean water, their environment, their neighborhoods, their mosques, their archaeology, their jobs, their careers, their professionals, their state-run enterprises, their physical health, their mental health, their health care, their welfare state, their women’s rights, their religious tolerance, their safety, their security, their children, their parents, their past, their present, their future, their lives … More than half the population either dead, wounded, traumatized, in prison, internally displaced, or in foreign exile … The air, soil, water, blood, and genes drenched with depleted uranium … the most awful birth defects … unexploded cluster bombs lying in wait for children to pick them up … a river of blood running alongside the Euphrates and Tigris … through a country that may never be put back together again. … “It is a common refrain among war-weary Iraqis that things were better before the U.S.-led invasion in 2003,” reported the Washington Post. (May 5, 2007)
How can all these mistakes, such arrogance, hypocrisy and absurdity find their way into a single international speech by the president of the United States? Is the White House budget not sufficient to hire a decent fact checker? Someone with an intellect and a social conscience? Or does the desire to score propaganda points trump everything else? Is this another symptom of the Banana-Republicization of America?

Long live the Cold War

In 1933 US President Franklin D. Roosevelt recognized the Soviet Union after some 15 years of severed relations following the Bolshevik Revolution. On a day in December of that year, a train was passing through Poland carrying the first American diplomats dispatched to Moscow. Amongst their number was a 29 year-old Foreign Service Officer, later to become famous as a diplomat and scholar, George Kennan. Though he was already deemed a government expert on Russia, the train provided Kennan’s first actual exposure to the Soviet Union. As he listened to his group’s escort, Russian Foreign Minister Maxim Litvinov, reminisce about growing up in a village the train was passing close by, and his dreams of becoming a librarian, the Princeton-educated Kennan was astonished: “We suddenly realized, or at least I did, that these people we were dealing with were human beings like ourselves, that they had been born somewhere, that they had their childhood ambitions as we had. It seemed for a brief moment we could break through and embrace these people.” 
It hasn’t happened yet.
One would think that the absence in Russia of communism, of socialism, of the basic threat or challenge to the capitalist system, would be sufficient to write finis to the 70-year Cold War mentality. But the United States is virtually as hostile to 21st-century Russia as it was to 20th-century Soviet Union, surrounding Moscow with military bases, missile sites, and NATO members. Why should that be? Ideology is no longer a factor. But power remains one, specifically America’s perpetual lust for world hegemony. Russia is the only nation that (a) is a military powerhouse, and (b) doesn’t believe that the United States has a god-given-American-exceptionalism right to rule the world, and says so. By these criteria, China might qualify as a poor second. But there are no others.
Washington pretends that it doesn’t understand why Moscow should be upset by Western military encroachment, but it has no such problem when roles are reversed. Secretary of State John Kerry recently stated that Russian troops poised near eastern Ukraine are “creating a climate of fear and intimidation in Ukraine” and raising questions about Russia’s next moves and its commitment to diplomacy. 
NATO – ever in need of finding a raison d’être – has now issued a declaration of [cold] war, which reads in part:
“NATO foreign ministers on Tuesday [April 1, 2014] reaffirmed their commitment to enhance the Alliance’s collective defence, agreed to further support Ukraine and to suspend NATO’s practical cooperation with Russia. ‘NATO’s greatest responsibility is to protect and defend our territory and our people. And make no mistake, this is what we will do,’ NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said. … Ministers directed Allied military authorities to develop additional measures to strengthen collective defence and deterrence against any threat of aggression against the Alliance, Mr. Fogh Rasmussen said. ‘We will make sure we have updated military plans, enhanced exercises and appropriate deployments,’ he said. NATO has already reinforced its presence on the eastern border of the Alliance, including surveillance patrols over Poland and Romania and increased numbers of fighter aircraft allocated to the NATO air policing mission in the Baltic States. … NATO Foreign Ministers also agreed to suspend all of NATO’s practical cooperation with Russia.” 
Does anyone recall what NATO said in 2003 when the United States bombed and invaded Iraq with “shock and awe”, compared to the Russians now not firing a single known shot at anyone? And neither Russia nor Ukraine is even a member of NATO. Does NATO have a word to say about the right-wing coup in Ukraine, openly supported by the United States, overthrowing the elected government? Did the hypocrisy get any worse during the Cold War? Imagine that NATO had not been created in 1949. Imagine that it has never existed. What reason could one give today for its creation? Other than to provide a multi-national cover for Washington’s interventions.
One of the main differences between now and the Cold War period is that Americans at home are (not yet) persecuted or prosecuted for supporting Russia or things Russian.
But don’t worry, folks, there won’t be a big US-Russian war. For the same reason there wasn’t one during the Cold War. The United States doesn’t pick on any country which can defend itself.

Cuba … Again … Still … Forever

Is there actually a limit? Will the United States ever stop trying to overthrow the Cuban government? Entire books have been written documenting the unrelenting ways Washington has tried to get rid of tiny Cuba’s horrid socialism – from military invasion to repeated assassination attempts to an embargo that President Clinton’s National Security Advisor called “the most pervasive sanctions ever imposed on a nation in the history of mankind”.  But nothing has ever come even close to succeeding. The horrid socialism keeps on inspiring people all over the world. It’s the darnedest thing. Can providing people free or remarkably affordable health care, education, housing, food and culture be all that important?
And now it’s “Cuban Twitter” – an elaborately complex system set up by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to disguise its American origins and financing, aiming to bring about a “Cuban Spring” uprising. USAID sought to first “build a Cuban audience, mostly young people; then the plan was to push them toward dissent”, hoping the messaging network “would reach critical mass so that dissidents could organize ‘smart mobs’ – mass gatherings called at a moment’s notice – that might trigger political demonstrations or ‘renegotiate the balance of power between the state and society’.”  It’s too bad it’s now been exposed, because we all know how wonderful the Egyptian, Syrian, Libyan, and other “Arab Springs” have turned out.
Here’s USAID speaking after their scheme was revealed on April 3: “Cubans were able to talk among themselves, and we are proud of that.”  We are thus asked to believe that normally the poor downtrodden Cubans have no good or safe way to communicate with each other. Is the US National Security Agency working for the Cuban government now?
The Associated Press, which broke the story, asks us further to believe that the “truth” about most things important in the world is being kept from the Cuban people by the Castro regime, and that the “Cuban Twitter” would have opened people’s eyes. But what information might a Cuban citizen discover online that the government would not want him to know about? I can’t imagine. Cubans are in constant touch with relatives in the US, by mail and in person. They get US television programs from Miami and other southern cities; both CNN and Telesur (Venezuela, covering Latin America) are seen regularly on Cuban television”; international conferences on all manner of political, economic and social issues are held regularly in Cuba. I’ve spoken at more than one myself. What – it must be asked – does USAID, as well as the American media, think are the great dark secrets being kept from the Cuban people by the nasty commie government?
Those who push this line sometimes point to the serious difficulty of using the Internet in Cuba. The problem is that it’s extremely slow, making certain desired usages often impractical. From an American friend living in Havana: “It’s not a question of getting or not getting internet. I get internet here. The problem is downloading something or connecting to a link takes too long on the very slow connection that exists here, so usually I/we get ‘timed out’.” But the USAID’s “Cuban Twitter”, after all, could not have functioned at all without the Internet.
Places like universities, upscale hotels, and Internet cafés get better connections, at least some of the time; however, it’s rather expensive to use at the hotels and cafés.
In any event, this isn’t a government plot to hide dangerous information. It’s a matter of technical availability and prohibitive cost, both things at least partly in the hands of the United States and American corporations. Microsoft, for example, at one point, if not at present, barred Cuba from using its Messenger instant messaging service. 
Cuba and Venezuela have jointly built a fiber optic underwater cable connection that they hope will make them less reliant on the gringos; the outcome of this has not yet been reported in much detail.
The grandly named Agency for International Development does not have an honorable history; this can perhaps be captured by a couple of examples: In 1981, the agency’s director, John Gilligan, stated: “At one time, many AID field offices were infiltrated from top to bottom with CIA people. The idea was to plant operatives in every kind of activity we had overseas, government, volunteer, religious, every kind.” 
On June 21, 2012, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) issued a resolution calling for the immediate expulsion of USAID from their nine member countries, “due to the fact that we consider their presence and actions to constitute an interference which threatens the sovereignty and stability of our nations.”
USAID, the CIA, the National Endowment for Democracy (and the latter’s subsidiaries), together or singly, continue to be present at regime changes, or attempts at same, favorable to Washington, from “color revolutions” to “spring” uprisings, producing a large measure of chaos and suffering for our tired old world.

Notes

  1. William Blum, America’s Deadliest Export – Democracy: The Truth About US Foreign Policy and Everything Else, p.22-5
  2. Walter Isaacson & Evan Thomas, The Wise Men (1986), p.158
  3. Washington Post, March 31, 2014
  4. NATO takes measures to reinforce collective defence, agrees on support for Ukraine”, NATO website, April 1, 2014
  5. Sandy Berger, White House press briefing, November 14, 1997, US Newswire transcript
  6. Associated Press, April 3 & 4, 2014
  7. Washington Post, April 4, 2014
  8. Associated Press, June 2, 2009
  9. George Cotter, “Spies, strings and missionaries”, The Christian Century (Chicago), March 25, 1981, p.321
Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission, provided attribution to William Blum as author and a link to this website are given.