Sunday, July 27, 2014

Cynthia McKinney - Veterans for Peace 2014 Convention - Asheville, North Carolina

Cynthia McKinney
Veterans for Peace 2014 Convention
Asheville, North Carolina
July 26, 2014

Thank you so much for inviting me to be with you this evening. I don’t know whose idea it was, but I thank you from the bottom of my heart for building this bridge to me.
I awoke this morning to the sounds of nature: birds chirping and I looked outside to this beautiful natural environment and thought to myself, no matter how hard humans try to replicate what is natural, only Mother Nature can do what I see now and what I saw yesterday as my plane arrived near dusk into Asheville.

My thoughts then went to movements around the world that have successfully guaranteed, in national constitutions, the rights of nature, itself. And the right of humans to live in a clean environment. And then I lamented that we seem to not be able to sustain many victories in the many movements that we have for justice and peace in this country. I lament because when our movements for justice are weak at home, then people suffer—not only at home, but also abroad. And I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired of war, oppression, and suffering--when there need not be any. We are in this predicament in the U.S. because of deliberate actions that some people take and that other people allow. Either we are actively engaged in the struggle for justice and peace, or we are on the sidelines watching as events unfold, or even worse, we take the side--knowingly or unknowingly--of the perpetrators of war and injustice.

And now, because of U.S. policies from the Clinton Administration to the Obama Administration, we know that all people are potential do-gooders and that too many people choose to go the other way. The perpetrators of injustice and war can be White men and women, Asian men and women, Latino men and women, and African descendant men and women. By now, we should have learned that blindly voting for a Barack Obama was not going to give us the policies of a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Therefore, let us be clear, that blindly voting for any candidate that is popularly portrayed in the media—so-called mainstream or progressive—is not going to give us the change that all of us want and need. There is no substitute for each of us doing personal research on the candidates that step forward--from the school board, to judges, to Congress, to the White House--to make sure that the candidates for whom we vote actually align with our values.

The time is out for settling for the lesser of two evils, because as Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report likes to say, you end up with a more effective evil: A more effective evil that we the voters are responsible for putting in power.

So, the first theme I’d like to explore with you as I ruminate aloud is the idea that arsonists are at work all over our world.

I find it interesting that we have been called together at a time when the world is literally on fire. And the arsonists who are setting these fires are still not happy. They want every corner of the world to be aglow—either with nuclear radiation of one sort or another: a la Fukushima or as a result of what this President calls “high or low kinetic activity” that includes the use of Depleted Uranium munitions, or with this human species being alit with hatred. Institutions in the U.S. have trained everyone since the beginning of this country to be especially afraid of Black males. And with that now so permanently seared into the psyches of Blacks, Whites, and all newcomers to the U.S., it was time to move on to the next group to hate: Latinos from what Hugo Chavez called Nuestra America, Our America, where the straightness and thickness of the hair reveal too much Indigenous heritage and the darkness of the skin or the roundness of the lips or the frizziness of the hair reveal too much African heritage. Latinos from Nuestra America, leave their family, homes, communities, and countries because U.S. foreign policy has made life unbearable there, come to the U.S. and are abused for their labor and our programmed hatred of them makes it easier for us to support policies that abuse and mistreat them.

Today, the U.S. is supposedly negotiating with Hondurans, a way to deal with the influx of underage asylum seekers arriving on the U.S. border with Mexico; but just imagine if the United States had not interfered with two Honduran elections, regime changing the Presidency of Manuel Zelaya when he dared to support land reform and a new Constitution for all the Honduran people and then the U.S. interfered in Honduras’s most recent, 2013, Presidential election, preventing the election of Zelaya’s wife, Xiomara Castro. Without that foreign policy of the U.S., President Obama’s first coup after he came to office, Hondurans would be building their nation instead of fleeing it.

If truth is the first casualty of war, then it could also be said that hatred is one of the spoils of war.
Not satisfied with lighting the fire of hatred of Blacks and the Indigenous, and “Nuestra America” Latinos, in the last decade or so, we have been told that Muslims are worthy of our hatred. So, many of the new generation of young people in the U.S. believe that Muslims want to kill us or kill them them because Muslims hate our freedoms and so we had better kill them before they kill us. But, interestingly, while we are taught to hate Muslims, from what I’ve seen of the arsonists’ successful work, Muslims are doing a pretty good job of killing each other; but we are supposed to hate and fear them.

Now, not even satisfied with the carnage thus produced: Colombia is on fire, Venezuela is on fire, Syria is on fire, North Africa is on fire, West Asia is on fire, the arsonists have added China and Russia to the menu, and have set Eurasia afire on their path to these countries. For the moment, that is Ukraine. But, for the arsonists, Iran and Turkey are mere stepping stones toward setting Russia and China afire. And they’ve already firing up the kindling inside these countries—that includes the Chechens for the Russians and the Uighurs for the Chinese. So, today, in a highly calculated move to overthrow the government of Ukraine and set the wheels in motion, the chariots of fire have begun their roll through Asia. It just dawns on me to ask, is this what our President meant when he announced U.S. policy as a “pivot” to Asia?

Interestingly, we have been called together to this beautiful hamlet tucked away in the heart of the Cherokee nation; a plateau where two Cherokee trails crossed is now the town of Asheville. And even as we gather in this idyllic setting, the arsonists are still at work. While here, it might even be easy to forget what is happening in the rest of the world. But I can’t. Because I know that what is wrought abroad, comes home and what is made at home is exported abroad. And I have evidence for what I say.
Medea was with me in Georgia when the pro-Israel Lobby struck me the first time. We had waged a valiant struggle, and Medea and all of you who were with me then, at that very difficult time, I say “thank you” to you now. I have been quoted as saying that the moment I refused the AIPAC pledge of loyalty to Israel as a candidate in 1992, I became engaged in hand-to-hand combat and staying in Congress was trench warfare. And sadly, very few people understood or even cared what I was going through, because as other victims, I was made to appear in public as if I “deserved” what I got.

Media demonization is purposeful in that it leads the public to believe that the demonized person deserved what they got. I can point to the example of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. whose murder I have studied extensively —both as a Congressperson and as a Ph.D. student. According to Sheldon Appleton’s research, nearly one third of respondents to a poll taken after the murder of Dr. King felt strongest that Dr. King had brought his assassination on himself. That’s why whole countries are now personified in the media by the likeness of one individual whom we are actually being directed to hate. So, seven million people in Libya are reduced to Muammar Qaddafi; one hundred forty three million Russians are reduced to Vladimir Putin; one point four billion Chinese will be reduced to Xi Jinping—if he stands up for the Chinese people and their national interest and fights foreign domination. It works that way whether the arsonists are lighting the kindling underneath a foreign leader or a domestic one. Not only have I been through this firsthand and have my own personal experiences, and can watch and understand what is happening when this template is being applied in other situations to other leaders, but I now understand the mechanisms of oppression and repression because Antioch University has allowed me to study this particular phenomenon as a part of my Ph.D. studies. And so that’s where I want to go next in this moment of what I hope is mutual sharing: what we struggle against are the tactics and orchestrations that prevent us from experiencing peace at home as well as peace abroad.

Your theme for this 2014 Convention is “Peace at Home, Peace Abroad.” One thing we should know by now is that the arsonists will prevent peace abroad by lighting up, for example, Congo in the 1960s with regime change that brings about untold suffering on the African Continent and then will spark fire again by executing regime change in the 1990s in Rwanda, Burundi, and then Congo again that brings about even more suffering in Africa. From these two examples in Africa, we now know that the United States will have targeted assassination as a policy and will lie about it for as long as it can get away with the lie.

In December of 2013, the United States finally admitted that President Eisenhower authorized the murder of Patrice Lumumba and set aside dollars for the deed to be carried out. On my Facebook page, I asked my subscribers, “How do we as a country make up for something like that?” The murders of the democratically elected Presidents of Burundi and Rwanda during the Clinton Administration, with regime change as its objective, unleashed what the world knows now as the Rwanda genocide and exposes the lie to those willing to do the research that Africans just like to kill each other. The arsonists have succeeded in keeping Africa on fire.

John Perkins, in his many interviews after publication of his book, Confessions of an Economic Hitman, exposes the targeted assassinations carried out by the U.S. of Omar Torrijos of Panama and Jaime Roldos of Ecuador because they dared to care more about the people of their own countries and less about the interests of the cartel of bankers that wanted to indebt them and U.S. corporations that wanted to rape them. Declassified documents from U.S. Operation Condor show the establishment of kill teams whose function was to go around the world–-wherever needed—to kill public officials who, like us, only wanted justice and peace.

The Frank Church Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Activities specifically found that policies and behaviors that were honed overseas were brought back home and used against U.S. citizens. That was the point of COINTELPRO, the U.S. government’s organized and total effort to wipe out dissent at home for its policies abroad. The purpose of the Church Committee was to examine U.S. intelligence policies and found that they included targeted assassination, illegal employment by the CIA of university professors, members of the clergy, journalists, publishing houses, and media outlets; the Church Committee found that anti-war activists were subjected to illegal break-ins into their homes, illegal wiretaps, blacklisting so that they could not earn a living, and a broad range of activities to smear them in the press so that whatever happened to them would appear as if they “deserved” what they got. When the FBI’s COINTELPRO program used the word “neutralize” in reference to Black groups, it meant bad jacketing that sent innocent people to prison (like recently passed Geronimo Pratt, later known as Geronimo Ji Jaga), and even targeted assassination, like Malcolm X and Dr. King. For the Puerto Rican independence movement, Filiberto Ojeda Rios was “neutralized” when he bled to death at his home after the FBI surrounded his home and shot through his front door, wounding him, and then prevented an ambulance from coming to save him. Anna Mae Pictou Aquash was neutralized when she was bad jacketed and then murdered and dismembered, with the autopsy being performed by a “company coroner” thereby preventing her immediate identification. Anna Mae was a budding leader in the American Indian Movement who was neutralized as a result of affirmative U.S. government policy to do so.

Now, what I want to leave you with is this: If these arsonists would light a fire in Africa, Asia, Latin America, even Eurasia if they have to to preserve their freedoms over us, why wouldn’t they light fires at home? I hope I’ve demonstrated that they will just do that.

My final admonition is this. I have lent extensive study to the assassinations in the U.S. during the decade of the 1960s. These are assassinations that mattered: they changed U.S. policy from a peace and justice orientation to what we have today. I believe that the antecedents to the struggles in which we are engaged today can be found in what happened in the U.S. in the 1960s when we the people who struggle for peace were on the verge of winning.

The torch of leadership in the U.S. was about to be passed to a new generation that thought differently. President John Kennedy said the word peace over 30 times in his graduation address to American University just weeks before he was killed; in one of my Congressional Conferences on COINTELPRO, we learned from one researcher that Bobby Kennedy had shortlisted Martin Luther King, Jr. as a Vice Presidential possibility. And so, instead of the torch being passed to a new generation that was willing to struggle with the meaning of U.S. patriotism in a multipolar world, and what we ask our soldiers to do for us; and what we expect our police to do to us; and what we do for them in return, every one of you in this room knows what we have, instead.

At this conference you have covered important issues like conscientious objection—my son is one and I insisted that he learn about that as an option; ways to heal PTSD; serving homeless veterans; the legacy of Agent Orange; the battle for justice in Palestine; and new forms of resistance. I’ve been underneath U.S. bombs in Libya; I’ve tasted the grit and had to flush it from my uncovered eyes; I’ve been in prison in Israel, but nothing I have done for peace can ever give me an experience like what you all have had. I have long said let’s end U.S. wars and create not one more generation of veterans who will in the future be neglected by their own government.

I salute you for leading for peace and I hope that this Convention has been all that its planners and attendees hoped it would be.

Make my funk the peace funk and bring the troops back home!

Thank you.

THE ROVING EYE - A chessboard drenched in blood By Pepe Escobar

A chessboard drenched in blood
By Pepe Escobar

"The intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." Everyone remembers the Downing Street Memo, which unveiled the Bush/Blair "policy" in the run-up to the 2003 bombing/invasion/occupation of Iraq. The "policy" was to get rid of Saddam Hussein via a lightning war. The justification was "terrorism" and (non-existent) weapons of mass destruction (WMD), which had "disappeared", mounted in trucks, deep into Syria. Forget about intelligence and facts.

The tragedy of MH17 - turned, incidentally, into a WMD - might be seen as a warped rerun of imperial policy in Iraq. No need for a memo this time. The "policy" of the Empire of Chaos is clear, and multi-pronged; diversify the "pivot to Asia" by establishing a beachhead in Ukraine to sabotage trade between Europe and Russia; expand the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to Ukraine; break the Russia-China strategic partnership; prevent by all means the trade/economic integration of Eurasia, from the Russia-Germany partnership to the New Silk Roads converging from China to the Ruhr; keep Europe under US hegemony.

The key reason why Russian President Vladimir Putin did not "invade" Eastern Ukraine - as much as he's been enticed to by Washington/NATO - to stop a US military adviser-facilitated running slaughter of civilians is that he does not want to antagonize the European Union, Russia's top trading partner.

Crucially, Washington's intervention in Kosovo invoking R2P - Responsibility to Protect - was justified at the time for exactly the same reasons a Russian intervention in Donetsk and Luhansk could be totally justified now. Except that Moscow won't do it - because the Kremlin is playing a very long game.

The MH17 tragedy may have been a horrendous mistake. But it may also have been a desperate gambit by the Kiev minions of the Empire of Chaos. By now, Russian intel may have already mastered the key facts. Washington's predictable modus operandi was to shoot from the hip, igniting and in theory winning the spin war, and doubling down by releasing the proverbial army of "top officials" brimming with social media evidence. Moscow will take time to build a meticulous case, and only then lay it out in detail.

Hegemony lost
The Big Picture spells out the Empire of Chaos elites as extremely uneasy. Take Dr Zbigniew "The Grand Chessboard" Brzezinski, who as a former foreign policy mentor has the ears of the increasingly dejected White House paperboy. Dr Zbig was on CNN this Sunday challenging Europe's leaders to "stand up to Putin". He wonders if "Europe wants to become a satellite" and worries about "a moment of decisive significance for the future of the system - of the world system".

And it's all Putin's fault, of course: "We're not starting the Cold War. He [Putin] has started it. But he has gotten himself into a horrendous jam. I strongly suspect that a lot of people in Russia, even not far away from him who are worried that Russia's status in the world is dramatically being undermined, that Russia's economically beginning to fail, that Russia's threatened by the prospect of becoming a satellite to China, that Russia's becoming self-isolated and discredited."

Obviously Dr Zbig is blissfully unaware of the finer points of the Russia-China strategic partnership, as well as their concerted voice inside the BRICS, the G-20 and myriad other mechanisms. His trademark Russophobia in the end always gets the better of him. And to think that in his latest book, Strategic Vision (2012), Dr Zbig was in favor of an enlarged "West" annexing Turkey and Russia, with the Empire of Chaos posing as "promoter" and "guarantor" of broader unity in the West, and a "balancer" and "conciliator" between the major powers in the East. A quick look at the record since 2012 - Libya, Syria, Ukraine, encirclement of China - reveals the Empire of Chaos only as fomenter of, what else, chaos.

Now compare a fearful Dr Zbig with Immanuel Wallerstein - who was a huge influence in my 2007 warped geopolitical travel bookGlobalistan. In this piece (in Spanish) Wallerstein argues that the Empire of Chaos simply can't accept its geopolitical decadence - and that's why it has become so dangerous. Restoring its hegemony in the world-system has become the supreme obsession; and that's where the whole "policy" that is an essential background to the MH17 tragedy reveals Ukraine as the definitive do or die battleground.

In Europe, everything hinges on Germany. Especially after the National Security Agency scandal and its ramifications, the key debate raging in Berlin is how to position itself geopolitically bypassing the US. And the answer, as pressed by large swathes of German big business, lies in a strategic partnership with Russia.

Show me the missile
Slowly, with no hype and no spin, the Russian military are starting to deliver the goods. Here, courtesy of the Vineyard of The Saker blog, is their key presentation so far. As The Saker put it, Russia had - and has - a "20/20 radar vision", or full spectrum surveillance, on everything going on in Ukraine. And so, arguably, does NATO. What the Russian Ministry of Defense is saying is as important as the clues it is laying out for experts to follow.

The damaged MH17 starboard jet engine suggests a shape charge from an air-to-air missile - and not a Buk; that's consistent with the Russian Ministry of Defense presentation graphically highlighting an Ukrainian SU-25 shadowing MH17. Increasingly, the Buk scenario - hysterically peddled by the Empire of Chaos - is being discarded. Not to mention, again, that not a single eyewitness saw the very graphic, thick missile trace that would have been clearly visible had a Buk been used.

Way beyond the established fact of a Ukrainian SU-25 trailing MH17, plenty of unanswered questions remain, some involving a murky security procedure at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport - where security is operated by ICTS, an Israeli company based in The Netherlands and founded by former officers from the Israeli Shin Bet intel agency. And then there is the unexplained presence of "foreign" advisors in Kiev's control tower. 

As much as Bashar al-Assad in Syria had absolutely no motive to "gas his own people" - as the hysterical narrative went at the time - the Eastern Ukraine federalists have no motive to down a civilian airliner. And as much as Washington doesn't give a damn about the current civilian slaughter in Gaza, it doesn't give a damn about the MH17 civilian deaths; the one and only obsession is to force Europeans to sanction Russia to death. Translation: break up Europe-Russia commercial and geopolitical integration.

One week before the MH17 tragedy, the Russian Institute of Strategic Studies was already sounding the alarm concerning the Empire of Chaos's "policy" and its refusal to "adhere to the principles and norms of international law and the rules and spirit of the existing system of international relations".

Moscow, in building its case on the MH17 tragedy, will bide its time to debunk Kiev's claims and maximize its own credibility. The game now moves to the black boxes and the cockpit voice recorder. Still Ukraine will remain the do or die battlefield - a chessboard drenched in blood.

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

Saturday, July 19, 2014

THE ROVING EYE It was Putin's missile! (they claim) By Pepe Escobar

It was Putin's missile!
By Pepe Escobar

And here's the spin war verdict: the current Malaysia Airlines tragedy - the second in four months - is "terrorism" perpetrated by "pro-Russian separatists", armed by Russia, and Vladimir Putin is the main culprit. End of story. Anyone who believes otherwise, shut up.

Why? Because the CIA said so. Because Hillary "We came, we saw, he died" Clinton said so. Because batshit crazy Samantha "R2P" Power said so - thundering at the UN, everything duly printed by the neo-con infested Washington Post. [1]

Because Anglo-American corporate media - from CNN to Fox (who tried to buy Time Warner, which owns CNN) - said so. Because the President of the United States (POTUS) said so. And mostly because Kiev had vociferously said so in the first place.

Right off the bat they were all lined up - the invariably hysterical reams of "experts" of the "US intelligence community" literally foaming at their palatial mouths at "evil" Russia and "evil" Putin; intel "experts" who could not identify a convoy of gleaming white Toyotas crossing the Iraqi desert to take Mosul. And yet they have already sentenced they don't need to look any further, instantly solving the MH17 riddle.

It doesn't matter that President Putin has stressed the MH17 tragedy must be investigated objectively. And "objectively" certainly does not mean that fictional "international community" notion construed by Washington - the usual congregation of pliable vassals/patsies.

And what about Carlos? 
simple search at reveals that MH17 was in fact diverted 200 kilometers north from the usual flight path taken by Malaysia Airlines in the previous days - and plunged right in the middle of a war zone. Why? What sort of communication MH17 received from Kiev air control tower?

Kiev has been mute about it. Yet the answer would be simple, had Kiev released the Air Traffic Control recording of the tower talking to flight MH17; Malaysia did it after flight MH370 disappeared forever.

It won't happen; SBU security confiscated it. So much for getting an undoctored explanation on why MH17 was off its path, and what the pilots saw and said before the explosion.

The Russian Defense Ministry, for its part, has confirmed that a Kiev-controlled Buk anti-aircraft missile battery was operational near the MH17's crash. Kiev has deployed several batteries of Buk surface-to-air missile systems with at least 27 launchers; these are all perfectly capable of bringing down jets flying at 33,000 ft.

Radiation from a battery's Kupol radar, deployed as part of a Buk-M1 battery near Styla (a village some 30km south of Donetsk) was detected by the Russian military. According to the ministry, the radar could be providing tracking information to another battery which was at a firing distance from MH17's flight path. The tracking radar range on the Buk system is a maximum of 50 miles. MH17 was flying at 500 mph. So assuming the "rebels" had an operational Buk and did it, they would have had not more than five minutes to scan all the skies above, all possible altitudes, and then lock on. By then they would have known that a cargo plane could not possibly be flying that high. For evidence supporting the possibility of a false flag, check here.

And then there's the curiouser and curiouser story of Carlos, the Spanish air traffic controller working at Kiev's tower, who was following MH17 in real time. For some Carlos is legit - not a cipher; for others, he's never even worked in Ukraine. Anyway he tweeted like mad. His account - not accidentally - has been shut down, and he has disappeared; his friends are now desperately looking for him. I managed to read all his tweets in Spanish when the account was still online - and now copies and an English translation are available.

These are some of his crucial tweets:
  • "The B777 was escorted by 2 Ukrainian fighter jets minutes before disappearing from radar (5.48 pm)"
  • "If the Kiev authorities want to admit the truth 2 fighter jets were flying very close a few minutes before the incident but did not shoot down the airliner (5.54)"
  • "As soon as the Malaysia Airlines B777 disappeared the Kiev military authority informed us of the shooting down. How did they know? (6.00)"
  • "Everything has been recorded on radar. For those that don't believe it, it was taken down by Kiev; we know that here (in traffic control) and the military air traffic control know it too (7.14)"
  • "The Ministry of the Interior did know that there were fighter aircraft in the area, but the Ministry of Defense didn't. (7.15)"
  • "The military confirm that it was Ukraine, but it is not known where the order came from. (7.31)"

    Carlos's assessment (a partial compilation of his tweets is collected here ): the missile was fired by the Ukraine military under orders of the Ministry of Interior - NOT the Ministry of Defense. Security matters at the Ministry of the Interior happen to be under Andriy Parubiy, who was closely working alongside US neo-cons and Banderastan neo-nazis on Maidan.

    Assuming Carlos is legit, the assessment makes sense. The Ukrainian military are divided between Chocolate king President Petro Poroshenko - who would like a d?tente with Russia essentially to advance his shady business interests - and Saint Yulia Timoshenko, who's on the record advocating genocide of ethnic Russians in Eastern Ukraine. US neo-cons and US "military advisers" on the ground are proverbially hedging their bets, supporting both the Poroshenko and Timoshenko factions.

    So who profits? 
    The key question remains, of course, cui bono? Only the terminally brain dead believe shooting a passenger jet benefits the federalists in Eastern Ukraine, not to mention the Kremlin.

    As for Kiev, they'd have the means, the motive and the window of opportunity to pull it off - especially after Kiev's militias have been effectively routed, and were in retreat, in the Donbass; and this after Kiev remained dead set on attacking and bombing the population of Eastern Ukraine even from above. No wonder the federalists had to defend themselves.

    And then there's the suspicious timing. The MH17 tragedy happened two days after the BRICS announced an antidote to the IMF and the World Bank, bypassing the US dollar. And just as Israel "cautiously" advances its new invasion/slow motion ethnic cleansing of Gaza. Malaysia, by the way, is the seat of the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission, which has found Israel guilty of crimes against humanity.

    Washington, of course, does profit. What the Empire of Chaos gets in this case is a ceasefire (so the disorganized, battered Kiev militias may be resupplied); the branding of Eastern Ukrainians as de facto "terrorists" (as Kiev, Dick Cheney-style, always wanted); and unlimited mud thrown over Russia and Putin in particular until Kingdom Come. Not bad for a few minutes' work. As for NATO, that's Christmas in July.

    From now on, it all depends on Russian intelligence. They have been surveying/tracking everything that happens in Ukraine 24/7. In the next 72 hours, after poring over a lot of tracking data, using telemetry, radar and satellite tracking, they will know which type of missile was launched, where from, and even produce communications from the battery that launched it. And they will have access to forensic evidence.

    Unlike Washington - who already knows everything, with no evidence whatsoever (remember 9/11?) - Moscow will take its time to know the basic journalistic facts of what, where, and who, and engage on proving the truth and/or disproving Washington's spin.

    The historical record shows Washington simply won't release data if it points to a missile coming from its Kiev vassals. The data may even point to a bomb planted on MH17, or mechanical failure - although that's unlikely. If this was a terrible mistake by the Novorossiya rebels, Moscow will have to reluctantly admit it. If Kiev did it, the revelation will be instantaneous. Anyway we already know the hysterical Western response, no matter what; Russia is to blame.

    Putin is more than correct when he stressed this tragedy would not have happened if Poroshenko had agreed to extend a cease-fire, as Merkel, Hollande and Putin tried to convince him in late June. At a minimum, Kiev is already guilty because they are responsible for safe passage of flights in the airspace they - theoretically - control.

    But all that is already forgotten in the fog of war, tragedy and hype. As for Washington's hysterical claims of credibility, I leave you with just one number: Iran Air 655.

    1. Missile Downs Malaysia Airlines Plane Over Ukraine Killing 298, Kiew Blames Rebels, Washington Post, July 18, 2014.

    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
  • Tuesday, July 15, 2014

    THE ROVING EYE BRICS against Washington consensus By Pepe Escobar

    BRICS against Washington consensus
    By Pepe Escobar

    The headline news is that this Tuesday in Fortaleza, northeast Brazil, the BRICS group of emerging powers (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) fights the (Neoliberal) World (Dis)Order via a new development bank and a reserve fund set up to offset financial crises.

    The devil, of course, is in the details of how they'll do it. 

    It's been a long and winding road since Yekaterinburg in 2009, at their first summit, up to the BRICS's long-awaited counterpunch against the Bretton Woods consensus - the IMF and the World Bank - as well as the Japan-dominated (but largely responding to US priorities) Asian Development Bank (ADB).

    The BRICS Development Bank - with an initial US$50 billion in capital - will be not only BRICS-oriented, but invest in infrastructure projects and sustainable development on a global scale. The model is the Brazilian BNDES, which supports Brazilian companies investing across Latin America. In a few years, it will reach a financing capacity of up to $350 billion. With extra funding especially from Beijing and Moscow, the new institution could leave the World Bank in the dust. Compare access to real capital savings to US government's printed green paper with no collateral.

    And then there's the agreement establishing a $100 billion pool of reserve currencies - the Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA), described by Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov as "a kind of mini-IMF". That's a non-Washington consensus mechanism to counterpunch capital flight. For the pool, China will contribute with $41 billion, Brazil, India and Russia with $18 billion each, and South Africa with $5 billion.

    The development bank should be headquartered in Shanghai - although Mumbai has forcefully tried to make its case (for an Indian take on the BRICS strategy, see here )

    Way beyond economy and finance, this is essentially about geopolitics - as in emerging powers offering an alternative to the failed Washington consensus. Or, as consensus apologists say, the BRICS may be able to "alleviate challenges" they face from the "international financial system". The strategy also happens to be one of the key nodes of the progressively solidified China-Russia alliance, recently featured via the gas "deal of the century" and at the St. Petersburg economic forum.

    Let's play geopolitical ball 
    Just as Brazil managed, against plenty of odds, to stage an unforgettable World Cup - the melting of the national team notwithstanding - Vladimir Putin and Xi Xinping now come to the neighborhood to play top class geopolitical ball.

    The Kremlin views the bilateral relation with Brasilia as highly strategic. Putin not only watched the World Cup final in Rio; apart from Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, he also met German chancellor Angela Merkel (they discussed Ukraine in detail). Yet arguably the key member of Putin's traveling party is Elvira Nabiulin, president of Russia's Central Bank; she is pressing in South America the concept that all negotiations with the BRICS should bypass the US dollar.

    Putin's extremely powerful, symbolic meeting with Fidel Castro in Havana, as well as writing off $36 billion in Cuban debt could not have had a more meaningful impact all across Latin America. Compare it with the perennial embargo imposed by a vengeful Empire of Chaos.

    In South America, Putin is meeting not only with Uruguay's President Pepe Mujica - discussing, among other items, the construction of a deepwater port - but also with Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro and Bolivia's Evo Morales.

    Xi Jinping is also on tour, visiting, apart from Brazil, Argentina, Cuba and Venezuela. What Beijing is saying (and doing) complements Moscow; Latin America is viewed as highly strategic. That should translate into more Chinese investment and increased South-South integration.

    This Russia-China commercial/diplomatic offensive fits the concerted push towards a multipolar world - side by side with political/economic South American leaders. Argentina is a sterling example. While Buenos Aires, already mired in recession, fights American vulture funds - the epitome of financial speculation - in New York courthouses, Putin and Xi come offering investment in everything from railways to the energy industry.

    Russia's energy industry of course needs investment and technology from private Western multinationals, just as Made in China developed out of Western investment profiting from a cheap workforce. What the BRICS are trying to present to the Global South now is a choice; on one side, financial speculation, vulture funds and the hegemony of the Masters of the Universe; on the other side, productive capitalism - an alternative strategy of capitalist development compared to the Triad (US, EU, Japan).

    Still, it will be a long way for the BRICS to project a productive model independent of the casino capitalism speculation "model", by the way still recovering from the massive 2007/2008 crisis (the financial bubble has not burst for good.)

    One might view the BRICS's strategy as a sort of running, constructive critique of capitalism; how to purge the system from perennially financing the US fiscal deficit as well as a global militarization syndrome - related to the Orwellian/Panopticon complex - subordinated to Washington. As Argentine economist Julio Gambina put it, the key question is not being emergent, but independent.

    In this piece, La Stampa's Claudio Gallo introduces what could be the defining issue of the times: how neoliberalism - ruling directly or indirectly most of the world - is producing a disastrous anthropological mutation that is plunging us all into global totalitarianism (while everyone swears by their "freedoms").

    It's always instructive to come back to Argentina. Argentina is imprisoned by a chronic foreign debt crisis essentially unleashed by the IMF over 40 years ago - and now perpetuated by vulture funds. The BRICS bank and the reserve pool as an alternative to the IMF and World Bank offer the possibility for dozens of other nations to escape the Argentine plight. Not to mention the possibility that other emerging nations such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Iran and Turkey may soon contribute to both institutions.

    No wonder the hegemonic Masters of the Universe gang is uneasy in their leather chairs. This Financial Times piece neatly summarizes the view from the City of London - a notorious casino capitalism paradise.

    These are heady days in South America in more ways than one. Atlanticist hegemony will remain part of the picture, of course, but it's the BRICS's strategy that is pointing the way further on down the road. And still the multipolar wheel keeps rolling along.

    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

    Monday, July 14, 2014

    Blood for gas: Why Bibi is punishing Gaza by Pepe Escobar

    Blood for gas: Why Bibi is punishing Gaza

    Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times/Hong Kong, an analyst for RT and TomDispatch, and a frequent contributor to websites and radio shows ranging from the US to East Asia.
    Published time: July 14, 2014 08:50
    Smoke billowing from buildings following an Israeli air strike as a projectile falls in the background in Gaza City.(AFP Photo / Jack Guez)
    Smoke billowing from buildings following an Israeli air strike as a projectile falls in the background in Gaza City.(AFP Photo / Jack Guez)
    So Bibi’s got his brand new war. Operation Protective Edge, the current slow motion ethnic cleansing super production conducted in Gaza by the Israeli Attack, sorry, Defense Forces (IDF), is Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu’s wet dream.
    A quick recap is essential. US Secretary of State John “Bullhorn” Kerry was conducting a sham exercise known as “peace talks” between Israel and Palestine. As expected, it failed miserably. Hamas and the PLO in Palestine then formed a technocratic unity government. Bibi was, predictably, furious.
    Then two Palestinians – not Hamas – kidnapped three Israeli teenager settlers hitchhiking at night near Hebron. One of the hitchhikers somehow managed to call an Israeli police emergency number on his mobile. The kidnappers freaked out and shot the hitchhikers on the spot, dumping their bodies.
    Then all of Israel freaked out. For three weeks, tens of thousands of soldiers were involved in search parties. The media went berserk – immolating Palestinians in a racist funeral pyre.
    There’s wild speculation all across the Arab street this has been an Israeli false flag. Evidence, though, seems to point to the 10,000-strong Qawasmeh tribe in the Hebron region – which is known historically to openly antagonize Hamas and attack Israeli settlers. There’s also the possibility the kidnappers wanted to use the hitchhikers for an exchange with Palestinian prisoners.
    Bibi and Shin Bet military intelligence knew from the start the three settlers were dead – and who was responsible. But Bibi simply could not pass up the opportunity to use the incident – during the frenzied three-week search – as a build-up to go after Hamas in both West Bank and Gaza, an operation planned way in advance.
    This past Tuesday, the Israeli military spelled it all out: “We have been instructed by the political echelon to hit Hamas hard.” And in perfect Newspeak, the operation was branded a “just war.” (A detailed background to the conflict can be seen here.)
    Palestinians gather around the remains of a house which police said was destroyed in an Israeli air strike in Gaza City July 14, 2014.(Reuters / Mohammed Salem )
    Palestinians gather around the remains of a house which police said was destroyed in an Israeli air strike in Gaza City July 14, 2014.(Reuters / Mohammed Salem )

    Israel wants it all

    The numbers don’t do justice to the appalling carnage. By Monday, over northern Gaza, after Israel warned residents to leave the area to avoid airstrikes, at least 167 people were killed – the majority of them women, children and elderly civilians, 30 by Israeli rockets – and over 1,000 injured. Two hundred houses, not military installations, were totally destroyed and over 1,500 houses partially damaged.
    Compare it to zero deaths in Israel. An IDF spokesperson gruesomely boasted that Gaza – a de facto slum/concentration camp – was being bombed every 4 1/2 minutes.
    Each homemade rocket fired by the Palestinians cost less than $1,000. Meanwhile, a single Israeli Iron Dome missile supposed to intercept them costs up to $100,000 (without including the launching and control systems). On top of this, since Thursday a ground invasion has been dubbed “imminent.”
    That Bibi is able to get away with this is all the Arab street – and most of the Global South – needs to know about America’s battleship/aircraft carrier in the Middle East. What most people don’t know about is those 1.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, worth at least $4 billion, discovered 14 years ago off the Gaza coast.
    It’s easy to forget that at the time of Israel’s previous invasion of Gaza – Operation Cast Lead – gas fields in Palestine were outright confiscated by Israel. This “operation” was already an energy war, as Nafeez Ahmed analyzed here.
    Then there is the Bigger Picture - the 122 trillion cubic feet of gas plus the potential 1.6 billion barrels of oil in the Levant Basin spread over the territorial waters of Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus and – of course – Gaza. These waters are as incandescently disputed as rocks and shoals in the South China Sea. Needless to say, Tel Aviv wants it all.
    And to complement the picture, Israel faces an upcoming energy security nightmare, detailed here.
    Even Tony Blair, the Phantom of the Opera, is involved. As the (failed) Quartet Middle East envoy, Blair came up with the brilliant plan of “developing” the Gaza gas fields via an agreement between British Gas and the Palestinian Authority, totally excluding Hamas and the people of Gaza.
    The way Gaza is kept as a concentration camp, subjected to non-stop collective punishment, may be revolting enough. But then it must be added the key economic component: by all available means Gazans must be prevented from accessing the Marine-1 and Marine-2 gas fields. These will be gobbled up by Israel. From every angle, and for all practical purposes, Israel lords over all Palestinian natural resources – land, water and energy.
    So here’s the “secret” of Operation Protect the Zionists, sorry, Protective Edge: without smashing Hamas, which controls Gaza, Israel cannot drill off the Gaza coast. For Bibi as well as the Knesset, the possibility that the Palestinians could have access to their own gas-generated wealth is an absolute red line.
    And the EU may be on it as well. No one in Brussels will admit it, but it’s easy to conceive “strategists”regarding this takeover of Palestinian gas fields opening the door in the future for the EU being less dependent on Gazprom, and a substantial importer of (stolen) Israeli gas.
    Israel’s Newspeak is old news; after all they are masters of fooling no one but themselves. Expanding on what Michael Klare has brilliantly detailed, the new, open-ended, collective punishment inflicted on Gaza is most of all a blood-for-gas energy war.

    Israel Is Captive to Its ‘Destructive Process’ By Chris Hedges

    Israel Is Captive to Its ‘Destructive Process’

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    Posted on Jul 14, 2014
    By Chris Hedges

      Palestinians try to salvage what they can of their belongings from the rubble of a house destroyed by an overnight Israeli airstrike in Gaza City. AP Photo/Khalil Hamra
    Raul Hilberg in his monumental work “The Destruction of the European Jews” chronicled a process of repression that at first was “relatively mild” but led, step by step, to the Holocaust. It started with legal discrimination and ended with mass murder. “The destructive process was a development that was begun with caution and ended without restraint,” Hilberg wrote.
    The Palestinians over the past few decades have endured a similar “destructive process.” They have gradually been stripped of basic civil liberties, robbed of assets including much of their land and often their homes, have suffered from mounting restrictions on their physical movements, been blocked from trading and business, especially the selling of produce, and found themselves increasingly impoverished and finally trapped behind walls and security fences erected around Gaza and the West Bank.

    “The process of destruction [of the European Jews] unfolded in a definite pattern,” Hilberg wrote. “It did not, however, proceed from a basic plan. No bureaucrat in 1933 could have predicted what kind of measures would be taken in 1938, nor was it possible in 1938 to foretell the configuration of the undertaking in 1942. The destructive process was a step-by-step operation, and the administrator could seldom see more than one step ahead.”
    There will never be transports or extermination camps for the Palestinians, but amid increasing violence against Palestinians larger and larger numbers of them will die, in airstrikes, targeted assassinations and other armed attacks. Hunger and misery will expand. Israeli demands for “transfer”—the forced expulsion of Palestinians from occupied territory to neighboring countries—will grow.

    The Palestinians in Gaza live in conditions that now replicate those first imposed on Jews by the Nazis in the ghettos set up throughout Eastern Europe. Palestinians cannot enter or leave Gaza. They are chronically short of food—the World Health Organization estimates that more than 50 percent of children in Gaza and the West Bank under 2 years old have iron deficiency anemia and reports that malnutrition and stunting in children under 5 are “not improving” and could actually be worsening. Palestinians often lack clean water. They are crammed into unsanitary hovels. They do not have access to basic medical care. They are stateless and lack passports or travel documents. There is massive unemployment. They are daily dehumanized in racist diatribes by their occupiers as criminals, terrorists and mortal enemies of the Jewish people.
    “A deep and wide moral abyss separates us from our enemies,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said recently of the Palestinians. “They sanctify death while we sanctify life. They sanctify cruelty while we sanctify compassion.”

    Ayelet Shaked, a member of the right-wing Jewish Home Party, on her Facebook page June 30 posted an article written 12 years ago by the late Uri Elitzur, a leader in the settler movement and a onetime adviser to Netanyahu, saying the essay is as “relevant today as it was then.” The article said in part: “They [the Palestinians] are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads. Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.”

    The belief that a race or class of people is contaminated is used by ruling elites to justify quarantining the people of that group. But quarantine is only the first step. The despised group can never be redeemed or cured—Hannah Arendt noted that all racists see such contamination as something that can never be eradicated. The fear of the other is stoked by racist leaders such as Netanyahu to create a permanent instability. This instability is exploited by a corrupt power elite that is also seeking the destruction of democratic civil society for all citizens—the goal of the Israeli government (as well as the goal of a U.S. government intent on stripping its own citizens of rights). Max Blumenthal in his book “Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel” does a masterful job of capturing and dissecting this frightening devolution within Israel.
    The last time Israel mounted a Gaza military assault as severe as the current series of attacks was in 2008, with Operation Cast Lead, which lasted from Dec. 27 of that year to Jan. 18, 2009. That attack saw 1,455 Palestinians killed, including 333 children. Roughly 5,000 more Palestinians were injured. A new major ground incursion, which would be designed to punish the Palestinians with even greater ferocity, would cause a far bigger death toll than Operation Cast Lead did. The cycle of escalating violence, this “destructive process,” as the history of the conflict has illustrated, would continue at an accelerating rate.

    The late Yeshayahu Leibowitz, one of Israel’s most brilliant scholars, warned that, followed to its logical conclusion, the occupation of the Palestinians would mean “concentration camps would be erected by the Israeli rulers” and “Israel would not deserve to exist, and it will not be worthwhile to preserve it.” He feared the ascendancy of right-wing, religious Jewish nationalists and warned that “religious nationalism is to religion what National Socialism was to socialism.” Leibowitz laid out what occupation would finally bring for Israel:
    The Arabs would be the working people and the Jews the administrators, inspectors, officials, and police—mainly secret police. A state ruling a hostile population of 1.5 to 2 million foreigners would necessarily become a secret-police state, with all that this implies for education, free speech and democratic institutions. The corruption characteristic of every colonial regime would also prevail in the State of Israel. The administration would suppress Arab insurgency on the one hand and acquire Arab Quislings on the other. There is also good reason to fear that the Israel Defense Force, which has been until now a people’s army, would, as a result of being transformed into an army of occupation, degenerate, and its commanders, who will have become military governors, resemble their colleagues in other nations.
    Israel is currently attacking a population of 1.8 million that has no army, no navy, no air force, no mechanized military units, no command and control and no heavy artillery. Israel pretends that this indiscriminate slaughter is a war. But only the most self-deluded supporter of Israel is fooled. The rockets fired at Israel by Hamas—which is committing a war crime by launching those missiles against the Israeli population—are not remotely comparable to the 1,000-pound iron fragmentation bombs that have been dropped in large numbers on crowded Palestinian neighborhoods; the forced removal of some 300,000 Palestinians from their homes; the more than 160 reported dead—the U.N. estimates that 77 percent of those killed in Gaza have been civilians; the destruction of the basic infrastructure; the growing food and water shortages; and the massing of military forces for a possible major ground assault.

    When all this does not work, when it becomes clear that the Palestinians once again have not become dormant and passive, Israel will take another step, more radical than the last. The “process of destruction” will be stopped only from outside Israel. Israel, captive to the process, is incapable of imposing self-restraint. 

    A mass movement demanding boycotts, divestment and sanctions is the only hope now for the Palestinian people. Such a movement must work for imposition of an arms embargo on Israel; this is especially important for Americans because weapons systems and attack aircraft provided by the U.S. are being used to carry out the assault. It must press within the United States for cutoff of the $3.1 billion in military aid that the U.S. gives to Israel each year. It must organize to demand suspension of all free trade and other agreements between the U.S. and Israel. Only when these props are knocked out from under Israel will the Israeli leadership be forced, as was the apartheid regime in South Africa, to halt its “destructive process.” As long as these props remain, the Palestinians are doomed. If we fail to act we are complicit in the slaughter.

    Friday, July 11, 2014

    THE ROVING EYE Watch this caliph rip By Pepe Escobar

    Watch this caliph rip
    By Pepe Escobar

    So The Caliph is now a global superstar. Ever since Dr Ibrahim al-Badri of Samarra, a minor Sunni cleric who impersonates neo-medieval Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, showed up in the stone pulpit of a Mosul mosque at the start of Ramadan, he's been on a roll.

    He fully advertised his piece of transnational real estate - from the suburbs of Aleppo to Mosul (and promised more takeovers). He cut his own video - essentially his own, a monotone rap, dressed in trademark Men in Black regalia. He eliminated the competition, essentially by killing them all. He exalted the mujahid, inviting them to follow jihad in the name of Allah. He condemned miscreants and hypocrites, exalting the "victory of Muslims" from "the West to the East".

    Modestly sporting a US$7,000 watch (or Chinese replica) and asking for "corrections" in his behavior, The Caliph announced that his Islamic State (IS) business, former ISIS, is not only about the Levant. Want an IS passport? Just ask The Caliph.

    He firmly set his sights on conquering Rome (Saracens sacked St Peter's in 846); "You will conquer Rome and will be masters of the world." It won't happen before Sunday though, so Pope Francis can watch Argentina against Germany in peace without fear of decapitation.

    But first, The Caliph seems to be ready to ride his holy camel shouting "Allahu Akbar!" all the way to Baghdad and then Mecca. After all, he also proclaimed that the 1916 Sykes-Picot colonial racket, sorry, agreement between Britain and France is now null and void. No wonder the House of Saud, that pristine fountain of courage, has already massed 30,000 mercenaries, sorry, troops, on their border with Iraq (until six months ago the Saudis were facilitating an Air and Bus Jihad all the way to both Syria and Iraq; now they dread the boomerang effect.)

    Notorious French orientalist Olivier Roy is not impressed with all this thunder. He brands The Caliph as "delirious" without dismissing his cunning; "... as cautious and invisible as Mullah Omar, as ambitious and megalomaniac as Osama bin Laden". Which prompts the inevitable question; how come he's not on Double O Bama's license-to-kill list and has not been droned into Mesopotamian sand?

    The Caliph has remained mum on Operation Protect the Zionists, sorry, Protective Edge, the latest Israeli slow motion ethnic cleansing/collective punishment super-production currently starring in Gaza in over 400 targets and featuring substantial "collateral damage". That's a bum PR move by The Caliph, inviting double ridicule by the Arab Street for his dubious religious credentials coupled with his utter disregard for the Palestinian plight.

    No more nice jihadis
    Still, The Caliph is all over the place. His Salafi-jihadi Declaration of Independence - not only from historic al-Qaeda but mostly from those jaded/corrupt Arab monarchies and the Western intel apparatus which has nurtured International Jihad for decades - is indeed groundbreaking. Which explains the perplexity of the Empire of Chaos. That good ol' "strategy" of projecting imperial/NATO power by proxy - via jihadis for rent - now lies in shambles. The Caliph is the ultimate jihadi Frankenstein.

    No wonder the Obama lame-duck dinner, sorry, administration, is contemplating, at least in Syria, the usual plan A, which is to weaponize both sides (let Arabs kill Arabs). In Iraq, the plan still being discussed in the Beltway might be to drone IS convoys. It won't be a walk in the park because the IS military leadership is composed of battlefield-experienced former Iraqi guerrillas. And they are not foolish to start parading those gleaming white Toyotas in open desert all over again now they have become instant celebrities.

    On the political front, there are insistent rumors of an imminent military coup in Baghdad, planned by the city's military commander, Abdulamir al-Shumanni. The coup-in-the-wings' leaders claim they are supported by both Washington and Tehran (fabulous job; they should be summoned to help in the P5+1 nuclear negotiations). As for the Return of the Living (Neo-con) Dead brigade in the US, they bet on the only tainted horse they know: Ahmed Chalabi.

    No matter his raw ambition, The Caliph will have to get his act together. A lot of Syrian jihadi outfits have turned against IS. The same thing is happening in Iraq; Sunni militias are turning against them in Nineveh province.

    Enter tribal Sunni sheikhs - the ghosts in this infernal machine. The Caliph must have enough trusted moles to tell him that once the sheikhs have finished using IS as a tool to "destabilize" the al-Maliki administration in Baghdad, they will definitely advance to smash the caliphate. This is an extremely temporary alliance of interests - a sort of remix of the previous Islamic State in Iraq having its emirate smashed because of the American cash-propelled Anbar Awakening.

    The Caliph will also have to face Athel al-Nujaifi, the governor of Nineveh province; he wants a different Sunnistan with a high degree of autonomy (and lots of still unexplored oil) but still inside Iraq. Al-Nujaifi is the most influential Sunni politician in Iraq and head of the largest Sunni political party. For the moment, The Caliph seems to be taking no chances. IS operatives have arrested scores of former Iraqi army officers and Ba'athists around Mosul.

    So, once again, what is the Obama administration to do? Probably a remix of Bush II; shower the sheikhs with cash so they turn against The Caliph a.s.a.p. Tehran, meanwhile, is also active, via small Special Ops contingents - such as the one that saved the beautiful Shi'ite shrine in Samarra from being captured by IS. They are aiming for a repeat of their Syrian strategy: creating a parallel Iraqi army out of militias.

    The notion that The Caliph will soon attack "the West" or the US is bogus. IS terror incursions have happened so far in Irbil (in Iraq Kurdistan), Basra and Damascus. All of these cities are relatively close to IS's operational command. IS's reach does not extend to the West. Even attacking Baghdad is a major challenge. They are not competent enough to attack the Vatican-sized US embassy. Not to mention that Sadrists militias in Sadr City, for instance, would reduce them to dust. The most they can aspire to is to keep destroying Sunni, Sufi and Shi'ite shrines.

    In parallel, the really juicy story to be followed is that IS can develop as the ideal, proxy weapon of choice for the Empire of Chaos - and the House of Saud - to fight what could be described as the Iran-Hezbollah-Syria-Iraq alliance. Exactly the opposite peddled by this prodigy of wishful thinking.

    Realistically, in geopolitical terms, The Caliph's hypothetical journey to Rome is also a joke. IS is surrounded by hostile powers, from Iran and Turkey to Egypt. If the Men in Black decided to cross 300 kilometers of desert to attack King Playstation's realm, also known as Jordan, they would be all droned to death.

    So now that he's announced himself as the new Osama, The Caliph had better watch his back. Most probably he's a one-trick camel. He might realize he's got a better shot at stardom by branding himself as the second coming of Michael Jackson and start doing the Moonwalk (the jihadi remix). What he will certain realize is that Bashar al-Assad's Syrian Arab Army is the only game in town on the Syrian side in terms of attacking and inflicting serious pain on IS. And on the Iraq side there are even more options.

    All coup rumors notwithstanding, al-Maliki will most likely remain in power in Baghdad. And he will be fully weaponized not only by Tehran but also Moscow. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps is already involved in helping to build what could be described as National Guard brigades. They will go after IS big time. In a pincer movement, attacks from Syria and from Iraq could destroy most of IS six months from now.

    The Caliph, apart from his mighty watch, may now hold a lot of weapons and make money by selling oil, but his Caliphate is a mirage. Only one thing is certain. Before it vanishes into the sands of time, there will be blood. A lot of blood.

    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