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16
For Your Information / Labour Must Not Drop Corbyn's Foreign Policy
« on: September 04, 2018, 06:36:53 PM »
Labour Must Not Drop Corbyn's Foreign Policy

Relinquishing Corbyn's internationalist perspective would ensure foreign policy mistakes were repeated, writes Richard Burgon

Some commentators have recently been suggesting that things would be so much better with a Labour leadership retaining Jeremy Corbyn’s domestic anti-austerity politics but stripped of his internationalist politics.

Such a state of affairs is neither achievable nor desirable.

It’s not achievable because of the international nature of capital and its institutions. For example, tax havens are a key tool that the mega-rich use to protect their privileges. They need to be tackled at the national and international level. A socialist economic strategy requires us to engage with progressives the world over.

And it’s not desirable because socialism is not socialism without the internationalist principles of ending global poverty and exploitation, war and occupation and the financial domination of the IMF and the like.

My interest in politics and socialist politics wasn’t kindled by an international issue but by a domestic issue. Growing up I heard about the 1984-5 miners’ strike and it got me thinking about the unfair and sometimes brutal way society is governed and it also got me thinking about how society could be run in a less unfair and more decent way.

But learning more about the 1984-5 miners’ strike inevitably opened my eyes up to the politics of internationalism.

I heard about the solidarity cheque sent to support striking miners in Britain by the South African National Union of Mineworkers, who were standing up for black workers under the oppression of the apartheid system supported by racists and imperialists in the Conservative Party and the British press.

Britain’s NUM decided to frame the cheque as a symbol of internationalist solidarity rather than cash it. I also heard about the convoys of children’s toys sent over the channel by CGT trade unionists in France in time for Christmas in the British coalfields.

Just as British miners received practical and political support from progressives in other countries, so progressives in other countries also drew inspiration from the miners’ struggle here. Nelson Mandela described Arthur Scargill as “a workers’ hero, respected by progressives of all continents.”

Working-class politics and socialist struggle cannot be divorced from progressive international causes. And this is becoming clearer and clearer to more and more people as the ruinous and exploitative effects of the type of globalisation run by big business and free markets become increasingly apparent.

The first demonstration I attended on an internationalist issue was on February 15 2003, when I caught the coach at the crack of dawn from outside the steps up to Leeds University Library to go down to London to protest against Tony Blair’s plan to back George Bush’s invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Jeremy Corbyn was one of the speakers that day.

In relation to the size of that mobilisation, what was significant to me wasn’t just the fact that it was the biggest demonstration in the history of our country but the fact that up to 30 million people around the world were estimated to have taken part in such anti-war demonstrations that day.

The world made clear its opposition to Bush and Blair’s bloody war.

The international solidarity of the 1984-5 miners’ strike and the anti-war mobilisation of February 15 2003 were two hugely formative factors in the development of my socialist politics. And the truth is, virtually all MPs are interested in international affairs.

Some may carp that “international issues” shouldn’t be something MPs really engage with.

As someone who holds nearly 70 advice sessions for my constituents a year — Boris Johnson publicly boasts that doing 16 a year makes him a highly energetic champion for his constituents — I’m a passionate believer in the importance of “bread and butter” issues and local engagement and I put that into practice.

But the reality is that Members of Parliament want to be part of a government which shares, and puts into practice, their principles.

One of the important functions of government is our relations with other countries and the international community. We can’t ignore that and often the pretence that international issues can be side-lined is cover for backing the status quo. As the great Desmond Tutu rightly explained, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

As with domestic politics, the key question is what your vision for the world is. Some MPs are unwavering and very vocal advocates of bombing, invasion and being a junior partner of each and every US president in each and every foreign war come what may.

Some MPs are intensely relaxed about Britain being a weapons supermarket for the royal family of Saudi Arabia which is inflicting death and misery in Yemen.

Some MPs will defend Netanyahu’s government whatever policies it pursues and whatever human rights it breaches.

Some MPs will revel in the very real hardship caused by the severe economic difficulties in Venezuela because they believe it “proves their point” about socialist movements but have remained studiously silent about the slaughter of trade unionists, human rights lawyers and journalists in Colombia and the murder of progressive students in post-coup Honduras.

Some MPs still believe that British “interventions” in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria are badges of honour — so much so that they’d do the same again elsewhere.

Make no mistake, a socialist Labour leadership relinquishing its internationalist perspective would leave the field clear for all the foreign policy errors of the past, and present, to be repeated again and again, with all the human misery and danger that this entails.

A socialist leadership of the Labour Party dropping its internationalist perspective is not an option. And it’s certainly not an option that someone with Jeremy’s politics would countenance.

A theoretical Labour leadership that jettisoned progressive internationalist politics would be forgoing the chance to play a major and practical role in the push for a world of peace, where poverty is banished to the history books, equality in and between countries and continents is advanced and where almost apocalyptic climate change is avoided.

It would also be forgoing the chance to create a fundamental and irreversible shift in wealth, power and control in favour of working people and their families in this country because both the economic and political forces with whom we must work to achieve this and the economic and political forces who will work against us when we try to achieve this are international.

The truth is that the commentators arguing the Labour leadership drops its internationalist politics are, in reality, in favour of dropping a socialist approach at home and abroad.

Source: MORNING STAR
 

17
South Tyneside Stop the War / A Gangster State
« on: September 03, 2018, 11:08:21 PM »
A Gangster State
Craig Murray, Uncategorized by craig

20 Aug, 2018

   Max Weber defined a key attribute of a state as holding the monopoly on the legitimate exercise of violence within a given territory. For anybody other than the state to use substantive physical force against you or to imprison you is regarded as an extremely serious crime. The state itself may however constrain you, beat you, imprison you and even kill you. That link is on deaths in police custody. I might also quote the state murder of 12 year old British child Jojo Jones, deliberately executed by drone strike by the USA with prior approval from the British government.

That is but one example of the British state's decreasing reticence over the use of extreme violence. The shameless promotion of Cressida Dick to head the Metropolitan Police as reward for orchestrating the cold-blooded murder of an innocent and unresisting Jean Charles de Menezes is another example. So is Savid Javid's positive encouragement of the US to employ the death penalty against British men stripped of citizenship.

There are a class of states where the central government does not have sufficient control over its territories to preserve its monopoly of violence. That may include violence in opposition to the state. But one further aspect of that is state sanctioned violence in pursuit of state aims by non state actors, done with a nod and a wink from the government – death squads and private militias, often CIA supplied, in South America have often acted this way, and so occasionally does the British state, for example in the murder of Pat Finucane. In some instances, a state might properly be described as a gangster state, where violent groups acting for personal gain act in concert with state authorities, with motives of personal financial profit involved on both sides.

It appears to me in this sense it is fair to call Britain a gangster state. It has contracted out the exercise of state violence, including in some instances to the point of death, against prisoners and immigration detainees to companies including G4S, who exercise that violence purely for the making of profit from it. It is a great moral abomination that violence should be exercised against humans for profit – and it should be clear that in even in most "humane" conditions the deprivation of physical liberty of any person is an extreme and chronic exercise of violence against them. I do not deny the necessity of such action on occasion to protect others, but that the state shares out its monopoly of violence, so that business interests with which the political class are closely associated can turn a profit, is a matter of extreme moral repugnance.

Rory Stewart appeared on Sky News this morning and the very first point he saw fit to make was a piece of impassioned shilling on behalf of G4S. That this was the first reaction of the Prisons Minister to a question on the collapse of order at Birmingham Prison due to G4S' abject performance, shows both the Tories' ideological commitment to privatisation in all circumstances, especially where it has demonstrably failed, and shows also the extent to which they are in the pockets of financial interests – and not in the least concerned about the public interest.

I should add to this that Tories here includes Blairites. Blair and Brown were gung-ho for prison privatisation, and even keen to extend the contracting out of state violence for profit to the military sector by the deployment of mercenary soldiers, which New Labour itself consciously rebranded as "private military companies". Iraq was a major exercise in this with British government contracted mercenaries often outnumbering actual British troops.

The reason for the state to have the monopoly of violence in any society is supposed to be in order to ensure that violence is only ever exercised with caution, with regret and in proportion, solely in unavoidable circumstances. It is the most profound duty of a state to ensure that this is so. The contracting out of state violence for private profit ought to be unthinkable to any decent person.

18
For Your Information / NATO: the Unexamined Alliance
« on: August 02, 2018, 02:25:03 PM »
NATO: the Unexamined Alliance
Conn Hallinan, Counterpunch

July 31, 2018


   The outcome of the July11-12 NATO meeting in Brussels got lost amid the media's obsession with President Donald Trump's bombast, but the "Summit Declaration" makes for sober reading. The media reported that the 28-page document "upgraded military readiness," and was "harshly critical of Russia," but there was not much detail beyond that.

But details matter, because that is where the Devil hides.

One such detail is NATO's "Readiness Initiative" that will beef up naval, air and ground forces in "the eastern portion of the Alliance." NATO is moving to base troops in Latvia, Estonia Lithuania, the Czech Republic and Poland. Since Georgia and Ukraine have been invited to join the Alliance, some of those forces could end up deployed on Moscow's western and southern borders.

And that should give us pause.

A recent European Leadership's Network's (ELN) study titled "Envisioning a Russia-NATO Conflict" concludes, "The current Russia-NATO deterrence relationship is unstable and dangerously so." The ELN is an independent think tank of military, diplomatic and political leaders that fosters "collaborative" solutions to defense and security issues.

High on the study's list of dangers is "inadvertent conflict," which ELN concludes "may be the most likely scenario for a breakout" of hostilities. "The close proximity of Russian and NATO forces" is a major concern, argues the study, "but also the fact that Russia and NATO have been adapting their military postures towards early reaction, thus making rapid escalation more likely to happen."

With armed forces nose-to-nose, "a passage from crisis to conflict might be sparked by the actions of regional commanders or military commanders at local levels or come as a consequence of an unexpected incident or accident." According to the European Leadership Council, there have been more than 60 such incidents in the last year.

The NATO document is, indeed, hard on Russia, which it blasts for the "illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea," its "provocative military activities, including near NATO borders," and its "significant investments in the modernization of its strategic [nuclear] forces."

Unpacking all that requires a little history, not the media's strong suit.

The story goes back more than three decades to the fall of the Berlin Wall and eventual re-unification of Germany. At the time, the Soviet Union had some 380,000 troops in what was then the German Democratic Republic. Those forces were there as part of the treaty ending World War II, and the Soviets were concerned that removing them could end up threatening the USSR's borders. The Russians have been invaded—at terrible cost—three times in a little more than a century.

So West German Chancellor Helmet Kohl, U.S. Secretary of State James Baker, and Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev cut a deal. The Soviets agreed to withdraw troops from Eastern Europe as long as NATO did not fill the vacuum, or recruit members of the Soviet-dominated Warsaw Pact. Baker promised Gorbachev that NATO would not move "one inch east."

The agreement was never written down, but it was followed in practice. NATO stayed west of the Oder and Neisse rivers, and Soviet troops returned to Russia. The Warsaw Pact was dissolved in 1991.

But President Bill Clinton blew that all up in 1999 when the U.S. and NATO intervened in the civil war between Serbs and Albanians over the Serbian province of Kosovo. Behind the new American doctrine of "responsibility to protect," NATO opened a massive 11-week bombing campaign against Serbia.

From Moscow's point of view the war was unnecessary. The Serbs were willing to withdraw their troops and restore Kosovo's autonomous status. But NATO demanded a large occupation force that would be immune from Serbian law, something the nationalist-minded Serbs would never agree to. It was virtually the same provocative language the Austrian-Hungarian Empire had presented to the Serbs in 1914, language that set off World War I.

In the end, NATO lopped off part of Serbia to create Kosovo and re-drew the post World War II map of Europe, exactly what the Alliance charges that Russia has done with its seizure of the Crimea.

But NATO did not stop there. In 1999 the Alliance recruited former Warsaw Pact members Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic, adding Bulgaria and Romania four years later. By the end of 2004, Moscow was confronted with NATO in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia to the north, Poland to the west, and Bulgaria and Turkey to the south. Since then, the Alliance has added Slovakia, Slovenia, Albania, Croatia, and Montenegro. It has invited Georgia, Ukraine, Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to apply as well.

When the NATO document chastises Russia for "provocative" military activities near the NATO border, it is referring to maneuvers within its own border or one of its few allies, Belarus.

As author and foreign policy analyst Anatol Lieven points out, "Even a child" can look at a 1988 map of Europe and see "which side has advanced in which direction."

NATO also accuses Russia of "continuing a military buildup in Crimea," without a hint that those actions might be in response to what the Alliance document calls its "substantial increase in NATO's presence and maritime activity in the Black Sea." Russia's largest naval port on the Black Sea is Sevastopol in the Crimea.

One does not expect even-handedness in such a document, but there are disconnects in this one that are worrisome.

Yes, the Russians are modernizing their nuclear forces, but the Obama administration was first out of that gate in 2009 with its $1.5 trillion program to upgrade the U.S.'s nuclear weapons systems. Both programs are a bad idea.

Some of the document's language about Russia is aimed at loosening purse strings at home. NATO members agreed to cough up more money, but that decision preceded Trump's Brussels tantrum on spending.

There is some wishful thinking on Afghanistan—"Our Resolute Support Mission is achieving success"—when in fact things have seldom been worse. There are vague references to the Middle East and North Africa, nothing specific, but a reminder that NATO is no longer confining its mission to what it was supposedly set up to do: Keep the Americans in, the Russians out, and the Germans down.

The Americans are still in—one should take Trump's threat of withdrawal with a boulder size piece of salt—there is no serious evidence the Russians ever planned to come in, and the Germans have been up since they joined NATO in 1955. Indeed, it was the addition of Germany that sparked the formation of the Warsaw Pact.

While Moscow is depicted as an aggressive adversary, NATO surrounds Russia on three sides, has deployed anti-missile systems in Poland, Romania, Spain, Turkey, and the Black Sea, and has a 12 to 1 advantage in military spending. With opposing forces now toe-to-toe, it would not take much to set off a chain reaction that could end in a nuclear exchange.

Yet instead of inviting a dialogue, the document boasts that the Alliance has "suspended all practical civilian and military cooperation between NATO and Russia."

The solution seems obvious. First, a return to the 1998 military deployment. While it is unlikely that former members of the Warsaw Pact would drop their NATO membership, a withdrawal of non-national troops from NATO members that border Russia would cool things off. Second, the removal of anti-missile systems that should never have been deployed in the first place. In turn, Russia could remove the middle range Iskander missiles NATO is complaining about and agree to talks aimed at reducing nuclear stockpiles.

But long range, it is finally time to re-think alliances. NATO was a child of the Cold War, when the West believed that the Soviets were a threat. But Russia today is not the Soviet Union, and there is no way Moscow would be stupid enough to attack a superior military force. It is time NATO went the way of the Warsaw Pact and recognize that the old ways of thinking are not only outdated but also dangerous.

19
Are We Set Up to Relieve the Mind-Numbing Chernobyl and Fukushima Experience?
Grete Mautner, New Eastern Outlook

July 28


   There's a visible pattern amid the European media voicing ever increasing concern over malfunctions and all sorts of emergencies occurring lately at nuclear power plants.

A very real possibility of a second Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster occurring in Europe has recently been reported by Italian news service Gli Occhi Della Guerra. In particular, it reported that the authorities of Germany and the Netherlands made a decision to hand out to the population iodine tablets capable of reducing the effects of radiation poisoning in an the event of a grave nuclear emergency. This panic-provoking move was made by Berlin and Amsterdam reflecting their severe concern over the condition of two nuclear power plants: the Doel Nuclear Power Station and the Tihange Nuclear Power Station, which are technically located on the the territory of Belgium, but are really close the borders of the two above mentioned nations. The last time there was a major malfunction at the third reactor of Belgium's most powerful nuclear power plant, Tihange, it was announced a couple of days ago by Le Soir. However, Doel is no less troublesome, as those two nuclear power stations were built back in the 70s and have been a major headache for nuclear scientists operating them ever since. It is no coincidence, therefore, that the decision to distribute anti-radiation pills in Aachen and The Hague came on the back of a number of scientific publications shedding light on the security conditions at the two of Belgium's nuclear power stations. Basically speaking, both environmental groups and scientists tend to agree that they represent a time bomb ticking right in the heart of Europe.

However, this is hardly the only source of concern for the EU, as analysts from the British magazine Energy Research & Social Science say that Europe is about to face a nuclear incident much more devastating than the Chernobyl disaster, as on top of the poor state of the two Belgian nuclear power stations, there's an 80% probability of a nuclear disaster occurring at one of Ukraine's nuclear power plants before 2020. In the event of such a nuclear disaster, the European Union will be dealing with both the unimaginable environmental damage, but due to the introduction of a visa-free regime between the EU and Ukraine, a mass exodus from the contaminated region of Ukrainians to Western Europe.

Today, Ukraine has four nuclear power plants: Zaporizhzhya (the largest in Europe, with six reactors and a total electricity generation output of 6,000 MW), Rivne (four reactors with a total electricity generation output of 2,880 MW), Khmelnitskaya (two reactors with a total capacity of 2000 MW) and the South-Ukraine (three reactors and a total electricity generation output of 3000 MW). The fifth one, the infamous Chernobyl nuclear power station with four reactors was sealed off completely back in 2000.

Out of the 15 operational nuclear reactors in Ukraine, a total of 12 were introduced into service before 1990, with all of them sharing a maximum operational service life of 30 years. The fact that a total of 10 of these reactors have already exceeded their lifespans sends cold shivers down one's spine. However, those reactors have been used to produce an ever increasing amount of electricity to meet Ukraine's growing demand caused by a sharp decline in the number of operational thermal power plants that have no access to the coal produced in Donbass. This breakaway region has been on the defense ever since Kiev authorities launched military operations against its Russian-speaking population. Now those Soviet age reactors are being run into the ground so that they fulfill more than 60% of Ukraine's total electricity needs, which leads to nuclear scientists operating them being forced to to the limits of these thoroughly worn-out nuclear facilities.

The situation is aggravated by political pressure applied by Washington on the current Kiev government, demanding them to find a quick substitute to the nuclear fuel produced by the Russian company TVEL. Therefore, time and time again reactors are loaded with fuel produced by the American-Japanese corporation Westinghouse Electric Company. It seems that Kiev and Washington are too willing to ignore the traumatizing experience of the Soviet era Czech Temelín Nuclear Power Station, which signed a deal with Westinghouse on the supply of its fuel as early as 1996. But the use of American fuel led to a series of major failures at the power station eventually resulting in severe structural damaged being inflicted upon its reactors. Nuclear scientists operating the Temelín station failed to address the problem, which led to the decision to break the deal with Westinghouse Electric Company after yet another major incident in 2007. Finally, the Czech Republic refused to purchase any other form of fuel other than fuel produced in Russia, resulting in the Temelín Nuclear Power Station being fueled by Russia once again since 2010.

However, Kiev's authorities have gone so far in their Russophobic that they continue playing with fire, testing all sorts of substitutes to Russian fuel formulas produced in America since 2005. One can remember how a series of malfunctions at the South-Ukraine Nuclear Power Station back in 2013 resulted in a number of Ukrainian inspection organizations introducing a complete ban on the use of any form of American-produced nuclear fuel in Ukraine.

However the American sponsored coup d'etat in Kiev reopened the door for the use of American fuel in Ukraine, which has already resulted in a number of failures and emergency reactor shutdowns at various Ukrainian nuclear power plants.

To be more specific, since the 2014 coup, Zaporizhzhya NPP has already experienced a dozen emergency shutdowns. At South-Ukraine NPP, extensive use of American-produced fuel resulted in a 24 hours shutdown of the whole station back in 2016. As a result, only two out of six reactors at Zaporizhzhya NPP remain fully operational. The total amount of nuclear emergencies across Ukraine has increased by 400% since 2010. The Energy Research & Social Science report has repeatedly stressed that an abnormal level of emergency nuclear situations in Ukraine has been deliberately omitted in official international reports for a number of years, even though local media report them on a regular basis.

However, nobody seems to be concerned in Kiev. Last May, the official website of Ukraine's Energoatom reported that a total of four reactors of the Zaporizhzhya NPP in Ukraine will only be fueled by products of Westinghouse Electric Company, with only two remaining reactors still being operated on Russian fuel. In addition to the use of sub-quality fuel, there's yet another reason for the mounting incidents and risk at Ukrainian power plants and that is chronic under-funding of this sector, since there's been not a single Euro invested in the sector since the collapse of the USSR.

Meanwhile, reactors that have worked longer than the planned 30-year service life must either be decommissioned or be modified for their service life to be extended. Both of these options are rather expensive for debt-ridden Kiev, yet the second option looks more favorable from its point of view. Ideally, these reactors have to undergo a major overhaul and modernization, but the estimated cost of such operations is estimated to reach as much as 150 million euros. But neither the state-run Energoatom nor Kiev itself has the resources to go down that route, so Kiev is arbitrarily prolonging the service life of all operational reactors.

Upon doing this it sends reports to neighboring countries and international organizations operating in the field of environmental protection. However, such actions simultaneously violate a total of two UN Conventions that require its signatories to obtain bilateral and international approvals before service life of a reactor is prolonged, but not the other way around. Those are the Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment and the Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters.

As it's been announced by Ukrainian PM Viktoriya Voytsitskaya, as the nuclear industry collapses in Ukraine, nuclear scientists are being laid off or quit work voluntarily to seek employment in other countries. Additionally, the total number of emergency situations at Ukrainian nuclear power plants in 2017 reached a total of 17 cases against 12 cases a year earlier.

All these facts show that Ukraine's remaining nuclear power plants represent a real threat to the security of Europe, but against the backdrop of the current economic situation and political instability in Ukraine, there is no chance to reverse this negative trend. The question of how to address this situation effectively must be a topic of urgent negotiations between Ukraine and the authorities of leading EU states.

Grete Mautner is an independent researcher and journalist from Germany, exclusively for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook."

20
Western States Salvage Terror Assets in Syria
Strategic Culture

July 24, 2018

   Western states made a dramatic intervention in the Syrian war earlier this week to extricate hundreds of terrorist militants. The militants are to be fast-tracked for resettlement in Europe and Canada.

But in saving their terror assets, Western governments are risking future public safety as well as sowing seeds for increasing multicultural strife.

In a stunning revelation of the foreign links to the extremists in Syria, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered his military forces to evacuate up to 800 militants belonging to the so-called White Helmets. They are the propaganda merchants for Nusra Front and other al-Qaeda-linked terror organizations.

Netanyahu announced that the blatant intervention to rescue the jihadists in southwest Syria was made at the personal request of US President Donald Trump and the Canadian premier Justin Trudeau, "among others".

Separately, there were reports of four senior jihadist commanders being given safe passage by Israeli forces out of Syria as the Syrian army closed in on the last-remaining militant strongholds around the southwest city of Daraa and Quneitra province.

Nor was it coincidental that the evacuation operations were accompanied by Israeli air strikes on Syrian government facilities in Hama province.

Damascus condemned the extraction of hundreds of jihadists by Israel and its Western allies as a "criminal operation" and further proof of the foreign sponsoring that has fomented the nearly eight-year war.

Of course, Netanyahu, Western governments and news media sought to portray the evacuation of the "White Helmets" as a "humanitarian gesture". This was at the same time that Israeli warplanes and snipers were stepping up the killing medics and civilians in Gaza.

Britain's newly appointed foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt described the Israeli "rescue" of "White Helmets" as "fantastic news", saying that the militants were the "bravest of the brave".

We won't delay too much here on this fraud. The so-called first responders of the "White Helmets" are a CIA, MI6-backed propaganda outfit working hand-in-hand with the terrorist militia. Their fake videos of chemical weapons attacks and air strikes have been a key propaganda device aided and abetted by the Western news media to demonize the Syrian armed forces and its Russian ally.

The fictitious propaganda stunt alleging a chemical weapon attack in Douma on April 7 this year resulted in a barrage of air strikes by the US, Britain and France.

Created in 2013 by a British MI6 agent and former British army officer James Le Mesurier, the so-called White Helmets have been funded with hundreds of millions of dollars by the governments of the US, Britain and other NATO states.

There is abundant video evidence showing members of this fake rescue group participating in gruesome executions by the al Qaeda-aligned militants with whom they associate. One such video shows an execution of a Syrian army soldier in Daraa, the city from where the latest evacuation of jihadists by Israel took place. Daraa is also, by the way, mendaciously referred to in the Western media as the "cradle of the revolution" or the "birthplace of the uprising" against President Assad's government back in March 2011. The only thing that Daraa was a birthplace of was the US-led foreign covert war for regime change in Syria.

Now here's a curious thing about the latest salvaging of terror assets in Syria. The United States and Israel are not taking any of the 800 militants for resettlement. Independent investigative journalist Vanessa Beeley, who has done much to expose the real macabre nature of the White Helmets and their terror links, says that both the US and Israeli no doubt realize that by taking in such "war refugees" they are inviting terrorists into their own societies.

Which makes you wonder why Britain, Germany and Canada are stepping up to the plate to offer the 800 White Helmets a home?

The case of Germany is particularly odd. Interior minister Horst Seehofer has personally authorized the resettlement of White Helmets spirited out of Syria by Israel. This is the same Seehofer who has mounted such a strong challenge to Chancellor Angela Merkel's "open door" policy towards immigrants.

What we are witnessing is a suicidal ignorance by Western governments to take in these cadres of White Helmets. Perhaps Seehofer and other government ministers like Britain's Jeremy Hunt are simply woefully misinformed. But surely the state security agencies of their respective countries know all too well the criminal, psychotic nature of the people whom they are allowing into their societies.

Such a callous disregard for public safety is not unprecedented. In his well-researched book, My Fight For Syrian Freedom, Irish peace activist Dr Declan Hayes details numerous cases of how jihadist assets were knowingly cultivated by British and French state security services for the purpose of waging the covert war for regime change in Syria and Libya. These assets have been allowed to return to Britain and France under the cover of being "refugees", with the security services turning a blind eye to their true identity.

The nefarious relationship has resulted in these terror assets committing atrocities in Europe. For example, as Hayes points out, the Manchester concert bomb attack that killed 22 people in May last year was carried out by operatives belonging to a Libyan jihad cell that MI5 and MI6 had previously overseen for their objective of prosecuting the regime-change war in Libya against Muammar Gaddafi.

Similar murky connections between jihadists "blooded in Syria" and state secret services have been have uncovered in terror attacks in France and Belgium. It is not clear if these terror assets go rogue or whether they are being used by British, French and other military intelligence as a deliberate provocation in order to promote tighter national security laws and greater surveillance powers over their citizens.

Declan Hayes reckons that the problem of Western-sponsored terrorists returning to Britain and other European countries under the cover of claiming to be "war refugees" is much greater than Western governments or their media are admitting.

Hayes says that in his experience of visiting Syria many times during the war, most families loyal to the government were adamantly defiant about staying in the country and defending their communities. He reckons that there is a legitimate concern that many of the refugees fleeing from formerly militant-held cities like Aleppo and Daraa are jihadists and their families.

This view supports the right of some European governments to be wary about taking in large numbers of refugees from Syria and other war-torn countries. There is a case for rigorous vetting, but such a case is often emotionally blackmailed by naive media commentary as being "heartless" or "racist".

There is no doubt that Western government agencies have fomented terrorist groups in Syria and elsewhere to do their dirty work for destabilizing target governments.

Now that the war in Syria is all but over with the Syrian army, backed by Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, rooting out the last jihadist remnants, we are seeing Western states taking in their terror assets. Maybe as a desperate intervention to stop them from revealing the dirty secrets of Western government collusion.

The repatriation of the White Helmets terrorist propagandists to the UK, Germany and Canada is a classic illustration.

Western authorities are playing with fire. Not only are they running the risk of public safety from future terrorist incidents. They are also stoking the flames of xenophobia, racism and culture wars against many innocent refugees who have been given shelter in Western countries.





21
For Your Information / A New World Order: That Possible Dream
« on: July 30, 2018, 11:19:23 AM »
A New World Order: That Possible Dream
Christopher Black

July 24


   Well, my friends, I started to write an essay about the Brussels Declaration issued by NATO at the end of the American shakedown meeting with its allies on July 11, that, beneath the platitudes about "democracy" and "shared values" "defensive alliance," respect for international law" and layer upon layer of lies about "Russian aggression," is nothing less than a declaration of war. For that is what that document amounts to. Those interested can go to the NATO website and read it for themselves as paragraph after paragraph of fantasy and distortions are set out in that smug tone the war crowd likes to use to fool the rest of us. But be prepared for your mind to be polluted with every word.

So I stopped writing that piece, tore it up, and I stopped because how often can any reasonable person write about the same thing, the same war propaganda dished out with breakfast, lunch and dinner on every TV channel, every radio channel, every newspaper, time after time, without being numbed by it all.

I started to write another piece about the Skripal affair but then news came that the British police claim to have identified two "suspects" in the original incident, and let it be leaked that, of course, they are Russians, no doubt named Boris and Natasha from the Bullwinkle cartoon, though the British government, to draw more attention to the leak, cautioned that the news may not be confirmed. But you can bet it soon will be, maybe by the time you read this. It's difficult to keep up with the propaganda the forces for war are putting out on a daily basis.

I started to write another about the Trump-Putin meeting but once again, only succeeded in making myself depressed as I watched the US news media, from the so called "left" to the right, accusing Trump of treason for talking to president Putin about peace and cooperation instead of war and destruction. All the mass media of the western world, that tragic array of countries led by charlatans, fools, gangsters and crooks that are the real face of capitalism, joined in with their fake gasps of consternation at the antics of the American president, all calling for the head of Vladimir Putin to be put on a spike next to Donald Trump's.

Not since the days of the assassination of President Kennedy have we witnessed such malice and hatred against an American president. Not since the witch hunts of the McCarthy period when American society turned itself inside out has this level of hysteria been generated by the people that control the media and the government machinery. Turn on the news, read a journal, and what you will see is not news but the ravings of secret service officials, interviewed by criminals with the morality of Julius Streicher, the Nazi propagandist hanged at Nuremberg, telling us they are the voice of truth and the rest of us better just shut up and take it. I even heard one of them make the laughable statement that Putin's gift of a soccer ball to Trump at their joint press conference, a mere souvenir of the World Cup, and a reminder to Trump that the Russians presented the best World Cup experience ever, is proof positive that Putin is "playing Trump". I kid you not, and yes, they are that idiotic and that dangerous.

And yet, this same US president, who claims to want to resolve things with Russia, is the same man who bullied the NATO gang members to cough up more money for war preparations against Russia, who supports the on going Neo-Nazi regime in Ukraine slaughtering the people of the Donbass, who increases the build up of NATO forces on Russia's borders, who supports the coup attempt against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, against Maduro in Venezuela, who has slapped the Palestinians in the face, arranged for the White Helmet terrorists to be rescued from Syrian justice by Israel, and now Canada, who is harassing China with his navy and is intent on beggaring the world with a trade war so "America can be great, again." One has to wonder whether Trump is a willing dupe in the anti-Russian hysteria contrived by the war fanatics and willingly plays the foil so the hysteria can be raised to a crisis point. Trying to make sense of it all is a maddening affair, unless one goes back to basic principles of how the world works.

In his First Address of the General Council of the International Working Men's Association on the Franco-Prussian War Marx wrote:

"If the emancipation of the working classes requires their fraternal concurrence, how are they to fulfil that great mission with a foreign policy in pursuit of criminal designs, playing upon national prejudices, and squandering in piratical wars the people's blood and treasure? We defined the foreign policy aimed at by the International in these words: vindicate the simple laws of morals and justice, which ought to govern the relation of private individuals, as the laws paramount of the intercourse of nations."

Yet, where does that exist now? Even president Xi of China recently wrote a letter to Paul Kagame, the mass murderer installed in power in Rwanda by the west, praising him and ignoring the millions of African dead that Kagame, among others, is responsible for. Morality is impaled on expediency and cynical opportunism. The great powers make international agreements and create institutions that temporarily establish how their competition for world plunder will be regulated and the rest of us be damned.

They did it after the First World War. In twenty years that word order resulted in a bigger, more destructive, war. At the end of the Second World War, another world order was established in which the US tried to destroy the socialist movements of the world while the Soviet Union and Red China resisted in war after war after war; until the counter-revolution in the USSR produced the weaker successor state of Russia, China began the slide back towards the rule of capital and the US declared a New World Order in which it planned to dominate and exploit the people of the world. It then attacked Iraq, Rwanda, Somalia, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq again, Libya, Syria and on and on. But their attempt to create this new order has met resistance in every region of the world and as the situation of the people deteriorates, especially in the USA, the reaction becomes more and more irrational and desperate and dangerous to our survival. Even as our industrial civilization brings us all to the edge of extinction, they bang the drums of war.

These successive world orders are continually upset by the very conditions and circumstances they produce as capital searches for ways to increase its exploitation of resources, including human beings who are seen as just another resource to be used and destroyed, for new ways to secure more profit. And so at each new historical phase, a new balance of world forces is established by fresh military conflict, followed by a fresh set of agreements, followed by new conflicts ad infinitum as the dialectic requires in a logic that only a socialist world order can stop.

International relations are a reflection of the contradictions existing in a world economy of competing national state and the class divisions within those states. The economy is global in character and so the struggle for the appropriation of global profit has become acute among the major economic powers with the United States facing a crisis that seems to be so deep that even world war is actively considered as a way out. Capital has problems the world over, proved by the continuous push to squeeze the workers until we are just dry husks the world over. US capital has even bigger problems as its economy and influence weaken. So it is following the logic of war. If the system doesn't favour you and you have the power to change it, change it to your benefit. That's what they are doing, but in the doing they don't care about life, or morality, or us.

Little the war crowd care about the working classes. They are capital. They are the dictatorship. We are the helots who they spit upon with every false word out of their mouths, who steal our money and who steal our lives so they can gorge themselves until they vomit and then gorge themselves the more. So I did not succeed in writing what I intended but you have to forgive me because I'm beyond fed up with that dictatorship, with that system and their gorging while we starve and suffer their wars and decadence. I'm sure you are too. For there is only one world order that I can accept, that can lead us, the working people of the world, out of the cul de sac we find ourselves in, a new world order founded upon morality and justice than can only come with the great emancipation of the working classes of the world, that possible dream, that only struggle can realise.

Christopher Black is an international criminal lawyer based in Toronto. He is known for a number of high-profile war crimes cases and recently published his novel "Beneath the Clouds. He writes essays on international law, politics and world events, especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook."


22
Will Morrow, World Socialist Web Site reprinted in Global Research

April 19, 2018

On Monday, the US and British intelligence agencies released a joint report charging Moscow with unspecified "cyber warfare" against the West. The American media was filled with hysterical warnings that Russia may have hacked "millions" of personal devices as well as critical infrastructure.

The tenor of the media coverage was epitomized by the New York Times, which labelled the intelligence agencies' report a "computer-age version of a Cold War air raid drill, but asking citizens to upgrade their password rather than duck and cover."

The coordinated campaign comes amid the unravelling of the official pretext for Friday night's illegal US-British-French bombing of Russia's ally Syria—the claim that the Assad government carried out a chemical weapons attack in eastern Ghouta on April 7.

On Sunday, the Independent published an on-the-spot report by well-known veteran journalist Robert Fisk, an expert on Middle East policy, who visited Douma, the town in Ghouta where a gas attack supposedly occurred.

Fisk spoke with Dr. Assim Rahaibani, who works at the medical clinic where the widely publicized videos were filmed showing children being hosed down with water, ostensibly to relieve poison gas inhalation. He quotes Rahaibani as follows:

"I was with my family in the basement of my home three hundred metres from here on the night, but all the doctors know what happened. There was a lot of [government] shelling and aircraft were always over Douma at night—but on this night, there was wind and huge dust clouds began to come into the basements and cellars where people lived.

"People began to arrive here suffering from hypoxia, oxygen loss. Then someone at the door, a ‘White Helmet,' shouted ‘Gas!,' and a panic began. People started throwing water over each other. Yes, the video was filmed here, it is genuine, but what you see are people suffering from hypoxia, not gas poisoning."

This account is in line with statements by Russian authorities, who have charged that the White Helmets, the anti-Assad "rebel" organization funded by Britain, staged the gas attack under orders from UK intelligence to provide its Western sponsors with a pretext for intervention. Fisk notes that by the time he arrived in Douma, the White Helmets had already left to join fighters of the Islamic fundamentalist group Jaysh-al Islam, who fled Douma for Idlib under an agreement brokered with Russia.

Fisk's report is a devastating exposure of the lies of the governments of France, Britain and the US, which have provided no evidence to substantiate their charges against the Assad regime. The imperialist governments' narrative was immediately disseminated by a corrupt media that functions shamelessly as a propaganda arm of the state.

As the World Socialist Web Site insisted from the outset, the incident was a CIA-organized provocation to provide a pretext for imperialist intervention, continuing the seven-year-long US regime-change operation against Russia's ally Assad, during which time Washington has armed and funded right-wing Islamist proxies.

Fisk's report is at the same time a damning indictment of the corporate media, along with various pseudo-left organizations, such as the International Socialist Organization, which regurgitated all of the governments' lying pretexts and made no effort to investigate them. The media has responded to Fisk's report by burying it. In the 24 hours since its publication, neither the Washington Post nor the New York Times, which in 2005 called Fisk "probably the most famous foreign correspondent in Britain," has reported on Fisk's on-the-spot story.

The US government responds to each exposure of its lies by concocting new ones. The chemical weapons charge followed directly after the collapse of the unsubstantiated British and US claims that Russia carried out the attempted assassination on British soil of its former agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, using a nerve agent. Both Yulia and Sergei are now on their way to a full recovery despite having supposedly been poisoned with the most fatal military-grade agent in existence.

Yesterday's report by the FBI and the UK's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), "Advisory: Russian State-Sponsored Cyber Actors Targeting Network Infrastructure Devices," is no more credible. Like previous charges levelled by the intelligence agencies against Moscow, there is not a single piece of evidence contained in the document to back them up.

Out of its 21 pages, approximately 15 provide generic information about computer network security flaws commonly exploited by what the report refers to as "cyber actors." They give generic advice for users and network administrators to improve digital security. These include not using "the same password across multiple devices," avoiding unencrypted communication protocols, and replacing outdated hardware and security software.

The first six pages include the only references to Russia, but provide no details, much less evidence, of any specific activities. Every one of the charges against Moscow begin with phrases such as: "FBI and NCSC have high confidence that"; "the US and UK governments assess that"; they "have received information from multiple sources that ," etc.

None of this has prevented the media in both the US and UK from dutifully amplifying the latest charges. A front-page article published by the New York Times, "US-UK Warning on Cyberattacks Includes Private Homes," cites the comments of Rob Joyce, a special assistant to the president and cybersecurity coordinator for the National Security Council, declaring that Russians are "seeking to exploit the increasing popularity of Internet-connected devices" that "you and I have in our homes."

Revealing more than it intended, the article states that the government document "had been in the works for a long period" and was "not a response to any recent events." In other words, the intelligence agencies were awaiting the opportune moment to publish it. Its release serves several purposes.

First, to create a mood of panic in the population so as to facilitate a major escalation of the confrontation with Russia. Second, to counter the popular distrust in the media and disbelief of what is widely seen as the latest pretext for yet another war against a Middle Eastern nation, and, third, to suppress anti-war sentiment and legitimize the crackdown on democratic rights and censorship of the Internet, under the banner of combating Russian cyber warfare and "fake news."

The connection between the drive to war and Internet censorship was made clear by the statements of Pentagon officials following the attack on Syria. US Defence Secretary James Mattis warned Friday that there would be a rise in Russian "disinformation" in response to the US and allied strikes. Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White stated that Russian claims that Syrian air defence missiles had shot down 71 of the 105 missiles fired on Syria were part of a disinformation campaign "that has already begun." She said there had been a "2,000 percent increase in Russian trolls" over 24 hours.

These claims are aimed at identifying any statements that contradict the official narrative of the US government and military as foreign "disinformation" and essentially treasonous.

The FBI report is no doubt also aimed at fuelling the ongoing campaign by the intelligence agencies and the Democratic Party demanding that Trump further escalate the confrontation with Russia. The Times and the other Democratic Party-aligned media denounced the Trump administration's announcement yesterday that the US will not at this time impose further sanctions on Russia, contradicting the statements of Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, over the weekend.

The Times quoted Democrat Eliot Engel of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who said,

"I am outraged that President Trump pulled back sanctions on Russia for its support of the Assad regime."

Times columnist Nikolas Kristof, who has made his career promoting imperialist wars in the name of "human rights," praised the arch-reactionary Haley against Trump in an appearance on MSNBC, declaring that she was "much better regarded than almost any other member of the administration in foreign policy."



23
Syria 'chemical attack' staged to provoke US airstrike, London pushed perpetrators – Russian MoD
RT

The Russian Defense Ministry has presented what it says is proof that the reported chemical weapons attack in Syria was staged. It also accused the British government of pressuring the perpetrators to speed up the “provocation.”


During a briefing on Friday, the ministry showed interviews with two people, who, it said, are medical professionals working in the only hospital operating in Douma, a town near the Syrian capital, Damascus.


In the interviews released to the media, the two men reported how footage was shot of people dousing each other with water and treating children, which was claimed to show the aftermath of the April 7 chemical weapons attack. The patients shown in the video suffered from smoke poisoning and the water was poured on them by their relatives after a false claim that chemical weapons were used, the ministry said.

“Please, notice. These people do not hide their names. These are not some faceless claims on the social media by anonymous activists. They took part in taking that footage,” said ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov.

“The Russian Defense Ministry also has evidence that Britain had a direct involvement in arranging this provocation in Eastern Ghouta,” the general added, referring to the neighborhood of which Douma is part. “We know for certain that between April 3 and April 6 the so-called White Helmets were seriously pressured from London to speed up the provocation that they were preparing.”

According to Konashenkov, the group, which was a primary source of photos and footage of the purported chemical attack, was informed of a large-scale artillery attack on Damascus planned by the Islamist group Army of Islam, which controlled Douma at the time. The White Helmets were ordered to arrange the provocation after retaliatory strikes by the Syrian government forces, which the shelling was certain to lead to, he said.

The UK rejected the accusations, with British UN Ambassador Karen Pierce calling them “grotesque,” “a blatant lie” and “the worst piece of fake news we've yet seen from the Russian propaganda machine.”

One of the interviews published by the ministry showed a man who said his name was Halil Ajij, and who said he was a medical student working at Douma’s only operational hospital. This is how he described the origin of the footage:

“On April 8, a bomb hit a building. The upper floors were damaged and a fire broke at the lower floors. Victims of that bombing were brought to us. People from the upper floors had smoke poisoning. We treated them, based on their suffocation."

Ajij said that a man unknown to him came and said there was a chemical attack and panic ensued. “Relatives of the victims started dousing each other with water. Other people, who didn’t seem to have medical training, started administering anti-asthma medicine to children. We didn’t see any patient with symptoms of a chemical weapons poisoning,” he said.


Read more

Douma, the suburb of Damascus recently recaptured from anti-government forces.‘They can go anywhere they want in Douma’: OPCW team arrives in Syria to investigate alleged attack
The first photos claiming to show the aftermath of the alleged chemical attack on April 7 were published online on the same day, and featured the bodies of many people, including children, some with foam around their mouths and noses. Footage from the hospital was released on Sunday, with the sources behind it claiming that it had been shot on Saturday.

Konashenkov said Russia hoped that international monitors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which is due to investigate the circumstances of the incident, will help establish the truth. He added Eastern Ghouta is currently trying to return to peaceful life after being liberated from militant groups by Syrian government forces. He called on other nations and international organizations to provide humanitarian aid, which is badly needed in the area. Russia is already supplying food, medicine, building materials and other essential supplies to the neighborhood, he said.

Residents of the neighborhood, who previously fled violence, are returning to their homes now that the area is relatively safe, the Russian official said. The latest reports from the ground say about 63,000 people have returned, which is over half of the displaced residents, he added.

The reported chemical weapons attack escalated tensions over Syria, just as Damascus was about to seize full control of Eastern Ghouta. The US and allies such as the UK and France threatened military action in response to what they claim is an atrocity committed by the Syrian government. Russia insists the incident was staged and said it reserves the right to counter any attack on Syria.

RT spoke about the Russian claims with Lord Alan West, a retired officer of the British Royal Navy. He said he had strong reservations about taking allegations against Damascus at face value, because it didn’t make much military sense.

“It seems to be utterly ludicrous for the military that is in the process of taking over an area to go and do something with chemical weapons, which will draw the wrath of the larger enemy down upon them,” he said. “If I was advising the opponents of [Syrian President Bashar] Assad, I would be delighted to kill a few people there. Let’s face it, [the insurgents] don’t care if they kill women and children.”

“I am not willing to accept tweets. We need to see incontrovertible truth about what has happened there and make a decision on that basis,” he added.

24
‘Attack on Syria would be attack on entire UN system’ – Bolivia’s UN envoy

The threat by the US to use force in Syria undermines international law and the entire United Nations system, Bolivian Ambassador to the UN Sacha Llorenti, who called a Security Council meeting over the issue, told RT.

By threatening to act against Damascus with or without the UN’s blessing, Washington is putting itself above all other nations, flaunting international law, the UN Charter, and the UN system as a whole, Llorenti said.

“The problem is that the United States believes and it acts as if it’s above any law. They believe they have their own rules and it’s not the case,” the ambassador said.

READ MORE: 'We're exceptional, Russia is not': Pompeo takes hard line in Senate pitch

On Wednesday, Llorenti asked the UN Security Council (UNSC), of which Bolivia is a non-permanent member, to convene on Thursday to discuss the “escalation of rhetoric regarding Syria and these threats of unilateral military action.”

This follows Monday’s threat by US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley that Washington might go to war in Syria alone if it can’t secure approval in the UN due to what she called “obstructionism” from Russia. “Either way, the United States will respond,” Haley said.

Llorenti argued that while the UNSC faces many problems of its own and is in need of reform, its main priority for now should be “to unite and to create an independent mechanism in order to investigate the alleged chemical attacks.”


Even if countries can’t agree on a mechanism, this does not mean the US is allowed to do whatever it wants in Syria, Llorenti said, and at this point, “there is no conclusive investigation on the chemical attack.”

“So, whatever happens, if the United States takes unilateral action, it will be a violation of international law and the UN system should, of course, not accept that,” Llorenti stressed, noting that a potential military strike “will not be an attack against Syria, but an attack against the whole United Nations System.”

Llorenti echoed an earlier statement by the Russian ambassador to the UN, Vasily Nebenzia, who said that with its threats against Syria, the US is already violating the UN Charter, which prohibits threats to international peace and security. The Russian ambassador also said that the “immediate priority” of the UN should be finding a way to avoid a war.

25
Al-Jaafari: Western threats to attack Syria will not dissuade it from confronting any aggression regardless of its source
 SANA 
April 11, 2018
 
 Syria's Permanent Representative to the UN Dr. Bashar al-Jaafari stressed that the threats by Western states to launch an aggression on Syria and their maneuvers, misdirection, lies, and terrorism will not dissuade Syria from preserving its sovereignty and territorial integrity and from confronting any aggression regardless of its source, adding that Syria will not allow any of the permanent or non-permanent member states to do in Syria what they have done in Iraq or Libya.

Speaking during a session of the Security Council on the situation in Syria on Tuesday, al-Jaafari said "The US representative said that there is a single monster today which stands in the face of the whole world, and it is a monster which has armed and financed terrorists for more than seven years in Syria, and I say that this monster is the US, Britain, and France who sponsored terrorism in Syria and before it in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya."

He clarified that in a response to the campaign of allegations launched by some Western states against the Syrian Arab Republic regarding the alleged chemical attack in Douma city, the Foreign and Expatriates Ministry on Tuesday sent a formal invitation to the OPCW to send a team from the fact-finding mission to visit Douma and to investigate the alleged accident.

Al-Jaafari added that Syria welcomes the visit of a fact-finding team and it asserts its commitment to cooperate fully and its readiness to provide all the required help to allow this mission to do its work and to guarantee the safety of its members, stressing that Syria hopes the mission will perform its work with transparency and professionalism based on credible evidence.

He reiterated that those who proposed the US draft resolution are not seeking to uncover the truth, because the truth will prove that they are guilty along with their terrorist pawns on the ground.

"I affirm that the reality that the US, Britain, and France are the ones who caused the failure of what was called the Joint Investigative Mechanism due to their insistence on politicizing its work and exerting pressure on its leaders," al-Jaafari said, stressing that what is happening in the Council during this session is similar to what happened a year ago when the US used false and fabricated excuses about the use of chemical weapons in Khan Sheikhoun to attack al-Shairat Airbase.

He called on the Security Council's member states to shoulder their responsibilities in supporting the international legitimacy and in protecting international peace and security from the terrorism which is being used by the aforementioned three permanent member states who seek to undermine the stability of the states and to decide the fate of their peoples.

Al-Jaafari reiterated that the Syrian Arab Republic strongly condemns any use of chemical weapons by anyone and under any circumstances, and that it is fully committed to cooperating with the OPCW to uncover the reality of the allegations.

He concluded by saying that the threats of some Western parties to launch an aggression and their maneuvers, misdirection, lies, and terrorism will not dissuade Syria from preserving its sovereignty and territorial integrity and from confronting any aggression regardless of its source.

In a phone call with the Syrian TV al-Jaafari described what took place at the Security Council as "being similar to a play," indicating that the West has suffered successive failures at the Security Council and it can't achieve any progress neither there nor with exploiting terrorism.

He noted that the Western states don't want the OPCW fact-finding mission to reach Douma because they don't want it to reveal the falseness of their allegations.
 

26
US to Launch a Sustained Operation in Syria
 Arkady Savitsky, Strategic Culture Foundation 
April 11, 2018

 The events in Syria are likely to escalate into a regional conflict. USS Donald Cook already deployed in the Mediterranean can deliver a limited missile attack against Syria but a large-scale operation is unlikely to be launched until USS Harry S. Truman carrier strike group (CSG) arrives in roughly 10-14 days. The CSG left the home base in Norfolk on April 11. The land strike-capable USS Porter can reach the Syria's shore pretty soon. USS Laboon and USS Carney, two more Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, as well as USS Georgia and USS John Warner submarines, are in close proximity to add more punch if an order to strike is given.

The composition of the carrier group includes at least five warships (one cruiser and 4 destroyers) capable of cruise missile attacks against land targets. Each US destroyer or cruiser can carry over 50 land attack missiles. It could be more, depending on the mission. USS Georgia is an Ohio class submarine (SSGN) to carry 154 land attack missiles. USS John Warner is a Virginia-class submarine to carry 12 Tomahawks. The USS Iwo Jima amphibious strike group can deploy to Syria in a few days from the Arabian Sea.

The UK, France, perhaps some other NATO and Middle East allies, including Israel, will join a US-led operation in Syria. The British Air Force can operate from Cyprus. A RAF KC2 air tanker is already there. The talks between the US, the UK and France are underway. Syrian armed forces are taking precautionary measures expecting strikes any time now.

US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Hailey, sounds like if a sustained operation, not a one-off strike, is a done deal. The envoy says America will strike with or without a UN resolution. The voices are heard calling for striking Syrian command and control sites as well as "regime's political centers", despite the fact that where Russian advisers could be there. That's something the US military has not done before.

A proposal to invoke Article 5 of the Washington Treaty to contain Moscow without military actions has been floated. No actual war, but Russia will be considered an enemy. John Bolton's warnings that an Islamic State ouster would allow Syrian President Assad to remain in power, with Iranian influence intact in Iraq are remembered to bolster the calls for action. In 2015, the newly appointed national security adviser called for carving out an independent Sunni Muslim state in northeastern Syria and western Iraq. He has his chance now.

A US-led multinational operation in Syria has become a predominant idea in Washington. On April 10, President Trump postponed his visit to Latin America because of the events in Syria. One can assume that the provocation in Douma was staged to make President Trump reconsider the decision to pull forces out in favor of confronting Russia, Syria and Iran. Those who did it hoped the US president would bite it. And bite he did.

There is no way to get rid of Assad but launch an international invasion. Washington's global standing has received a strong blow after the unimpressive operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. A US-led intervention could boost it if it were a success. America would present itself as a defender of Syrians suffering from the "atrocities of Assad's dictatorship". Heading an international coalition would help restore America's image as the world leader. This is the way to make Washington a friend of Sunni Muslims who allegedly need protection from Tehran.

Invading Syria is the way to weaken Iran's influence in Iraq. Such an operation would meet the goals of the Russia containment policy. An intervention could bring the US-led force and Turkey together in their desire to oust Assad. That would distance Ankara from Moscow, which will not leave its Syrian ally in lurch. From Washington's view, these are the pros to bolster the plan to invade.

And now about the cons. After the failures in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, you name it, the US would once again get tied up in the messy situation in the region. It may need to go beyond the Syria's borders. For instance, the US-led coalition would have to strike Hezbollah in Lebanon. There is a big chance the US and its allies would get involved in another protracted bloody war with no final victory in sight.

Suppose, the intervention ends up as a quick, victorious operation in purely military terms, what about the prospects of winning war to lose peace, like in Iraq? Washington will be responsible for the outcome of nation building in a country divided along religious and ethnical lines. The US will be rebuked for failure and accused of depriving Syria of the chance provided by the Astana peace process. Invading Syria means fighting Iranians. The Washington's goal is to incite them to rebellion. An invasion of Syria could backlash to make all Iranian people united behind the ayatollahs' regime.

Finally, invading Syria is a great risk as Russia would not stand idly if the lives of its servicemen were threatened there. The possibility of clash will grow immensely. But if the US-coalition applies de-confliction efforts, there will be no containment. To the contrary, the world will see that Moscow cannot be ignored. It isn't now. Despite all the tensions souring, Russia's Chief of General Staff will meet the NATO Supreme Commander in a few days. No doubt, they will discuss Syria.

If Iran gets united and stronger, Russia remains to be an actor to reckon with, nation building fails and Assad keeps on fighting back to make the coalition suffer casualties, then there will be only cons with no pros. And that will take place against the background of failures in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Risks are too great to ask the question – why should the US get involved in the faraway Syria's conflict at all? By no stretch of imagination could such an operation be considered a move to enhance US and West's security and meet the goals of "America First" policy.
 

27
Douma Chemical Attack: Another Link in the Chain of Staged Provocations
Peter Korzun, Strategic Culture Foundation

April 9, 2018


   What happened in Syria on April 7 had been expected. While raising hue and cry over the alleged chemical attack in Douma, a rebel-held suburb of the capital, Western officials and media wasted no time to put the blame on the Assad government.

The US State Department issued a statement saying that by shielding Damascus Moscow has breached its international commitments. The administration immediately called on Russia to cease its support of Syria's government. President Trump wants an international action. As usual, few people in the West raised their voices to emphasize the need to investigate first and make conclusions afterwards.

It strikes the eye that Moscow's warnings about a CW provocation being prepared to dash the rising hopes for peaceful settlement in Syria appear to be forgotten! The Defense Ministry shared the information that the ringleaders of Jabhat al-Nusra and the Free Syrian Army were plotting false flag chemical attacks in areas under their control. Moscow warned but the West did not listen.

It's the same old song and dance. Last year, the Syrian government was blamed for a sarin gas attack on Khan Sheikhun that prompted a US cruise missile strike on a Syrian air base. The American president's approval ratings went up as a result. This time, the alleged attack occurred right after the Russia-Turkey-Iran summit that took place in Ankara on April 4 to promote the Syria conflict settlement.

As before, all "evidence" boils down to White Helmets' report and a video going viral that does not look or sound very convincing. There was no independent verification. The White Helmets have iffy reputation, to put it mildly. The organization is known to pursue political interests of outside actors.

No explanation was given to a simple question: what does Syria's government need this attack for? It is victorious everywhere and the operation in Eastern Ghouta has been a success. Douma is the last remaining stronghold still controlled by rebels in the area and will be liberated soon. It's a matter of a few days. The army's combat actions are supported by Russian aviation. What does Syria's government stand to gain by using CW? Nothing.

Syria army units are operating in Douma. By launching an attack, the Syrian government would hit its own troops, This argument appears to be largely missing in Western media reports. President Trump has recently promised to withdraw American forces from Syria. Why would President Assad give him a pretext to renege on his word?

But the world "indignation" against Russia-supported President Assad benefits the extremists a lot. They are cornered and need time to take a breath and receive support. Actually, the ballyhoo raised in the West is their only chance to at least slow down the offensive. A government forces' victory in Douma would deal a heavy blow to terrorist groups, sounding the death knell for the rebellion. Sounds simple but that's what it is. There is each and every reason to believe the incident was staged by terrorists.

Right after the alleged attack, they asked for talks. The ringleaders believe that this is their chance for a negotiated truce. The militants keep their fingers crossed hoping that NATO member states which clandestinely support them will get involved one way or another. Just last February, Secretary of Defense James Mattis warned Syria of "dire consequences" if it executed chemical strikes. French President Macron said he would order strikes if CW were used. It's worth noting that today the US president's National Security Team is led by a person known as a trigger happy hawk advocating the use of force as a foreign policy tool.

The US and France have been harboring plans to launch a joint operation in Syria for some time. Only a few days ago, a contingent of French forces arrived in Manbij to join American allies there. Actually, a NATO operation has been launched leaving Turkey, a bloc's member, out in the cold. It's an open secret that the US-led coalition pursues the goal of partitioning Syria to "contain" Russia, roll back Iran, win the support of rich Persian Gulf Arab states to boost lucrative arms trade and bolster the US and France's clout in the Middle East.

It would be naïve to think that the chemical attack in Syria and the Skripal scandal are two separate events. They are links in the same chain. With the spy poisoning case leading nowhere, the anti-Russia campaign needs a new impetus. The alleged CW attack is a good pretext to spur the efforts. But any strike in Syria would pose a risk to the lives of Russian servicemen. It could make Moscow respond. The US-led coalition is playing with fire. And as in the Skripal case, the reaction is the same – blame first, wait for the results of investigation second. It just shows that the West is not interested in the truth. It's looking for new pretexts to damage Russia's reputation and thus reduce its global clout.

28
For Your Information / The West's New Front-Line State
« on: March 26, 2018, 05:38:45 PM »
The West's New Front-Line State
German Foreign Policy
https://www.german-foreign-policy.com/en/news/detail/7572/
03/22/2018


   LONDON/BERLIN/BRUSSELS (Own report) - Fierce power struggles over EU foreign policy orientation and leadership accompany western threats against Russia following the Salisbury poison assassination attempt. With its accusations of Russia, London has succeeded in imposing "a united western foreign policy approach under British leadership," a leading German daily has noted. Great Britain has become the "West's new front-line state." After leaving the EU, the UK is presently setting course for its ensuing European policy, by focusing not only on a military treaty with France, but also another with Poland, aimed against Russia. Berlin is maneuvering: On the one hand, it is closing ranks against Moscow and, on the other, it is not willing to cede leadership of EU foreign policy. "Good and close collaboration between Russia and Germany" is very "important," the German president declared, thus marking a first counterpoint to British policy.

German-British Military Cooperation

Shortly after the Brexit referendum, the UK government began restructuring its future foreign and military relations with the EU27. London is, to some extent, seeking military policy cooperation with Berlin. This is met with approval in Germany, because it is well aware that future European military forces can hardly do without the UK, which - alongside France - is currently Western Europe's strongest military power. Already in February 2017, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen declared that also in the future, Berlin and London "want to maintain very close ties" in the field of armament and military policy.[1] In July 2017, Britain's defense ministry announced that an agreement had been reached on a "Joint Vision Statement" for future cooperation, which will be signed officially by the German side after the new government is formed.[2] Following her meeting with her British counterpart Gavin Williamson, in late February this year, von der Leyen confirmed Berlin's desire to continue cooperation.[3]

The New Entente Cordiale

On the European continent, however, UK military policy is relying primarily on cooperation with France, rather than with Germany, also because, for many years, Berlin has strictly followed the plan to establish an EU-Army demanding military deployments in regions of Germany's interests - the first being in contradiction to British, the latter to French strategy. Due to the conflicting interests with Germany, London and Paris were seeking to open alternative options for military policy and military cooperation and signed the Lancaster House Treaties on November 2, 2010, initiating a close bilateral cooperation in armament and military policy. This cooperation was put to a test in the aggression against Libya, mainly led by France and Great Britain. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[4]) The new British-French cooperation soon began to worry Berlin. The German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP), for example, wrote in an analysis that "a new Entente Cordiale" is obviously being formed in the West - alluding to the 1904 British-French alliance during World War I.[5] Since then, Germany attached increasing importance to close ties with France. In mid January 2018, however, the UK and France consolidated their armament and military policy cooperation with a new agreement. In their joint communiqué they alluded to the First World War, "when our troops fought side by side in defense of our shared belief in freedom and resistance against aggression."[6]

World War Allies

Alongside the bilateral cooperation agreement with France - hitherto the only one with an EU country - Great Britain has concluded a bilateral treaty on military cooperation with Poland in December 2017. This treaty not only includes defense industry cooperation but also cooperation in areas such as joint military training and intensive information sharing.[7] It also includes cooperation in enhancing cyber security and to launch a joint propaganda war against Russia, which will also be directed against Belarus: London and Warsaw announced their support for the improvement of Belsat, a Polish-funded TV channel, providing pro-Western orientation for the Belarusians. London is placing its treaty with Poland also in a historical context: "We will never forget the Polish soldiers who fought with our troops in North Africa and on mainland Europe in World War II, nor the Polish pilots who braved the skies alongside us, standing up for freedom and democracy in Europe," Prime Minister Theresa May said in a statement on the signing of the treaty.[8]

Old Strategies

The new military agreements also reflect old basic elements of British strategy. On the one hand, Great Britain has always sought to prevent the emergence of an integrated continental power, which could pose a basic threat to the British Islands. On the other, London has always sought to prevent a close German-Russian cooperation that could also pose a threat to the UK.

Under British Leadership

The Salisbury poison assassination attempt offers London the possibility of rallying the support of EU powers behind its foreign and military policy, in spite of the impending Brexit. Immediately following the attack, the British government called on its EU and NATO partners to declare their solidarity and systematically intensified the pressure with unprecedented accusations against Moscow. "The allies' reaction" has been perhaps "the most important (side-?)effect of Britain's resolute stance," according to an editorial of a leading German daily. Berlin, Paris, the EU and Washington quickly backed the government in London. "A joint foreign policy approach of the West under British leadership," that is more than London could have dreamed of in Brexit times."[9] Great Britain has thus become the "West's new front-line state."

The First Counterpoint

Berlin is maneuvering: On the one hand, it is closing Western ranks against Moscow and, on the other, it is unwilling to cede leadership of EU foreign policy. Whereas London is escalating its accusations against the Russian government - regardless of the fact that the Salisbury poison attack has not yet been solved - German heads of state and government are already again signaling to Russia the possibility of some extent of cooperation. German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier was the first western head of state to congratulate Vladimir Putin on his electoral victory. "The bilateral relations between our countries have traditionally been close, relying on a solid foundation," he wrote. "We have always seen close cooperation between Russia and Germany ... as an important pillar for common European efforts to establish and strengthen a long-term common world order on our continent."[10] He "hopes and wishes," Steinmeier writes, "that we will be able to counter alienation on our continent." This marks the first counterpoint to the current, presumably only short-term, British leadership in EU foreign policy.

Please read also: More Aggressive.

[1] Patrick Donahue, Matthew Miller: Germany Forging Post-Brexit Defense 'Road Map' With the U.K. www.bloomberg.com 19.02.2017. See also A Dangerous Game.

[2] Andrew Chuter, Sebastian Sprenger: Amid Brexit, Germany and UK to expand defense cooperation. defensenews.com 21.07.2017.

[3] George Allison: Germany seeks 'stronger defence relationship' with UK amid German armed forces crisis. ukdefencejournal.org.uk 28.02.2018.

[4] See also The New Entente Cordiale.

[5] Ronja Kempin, Jocelyn Mawdsley, Stefan Steinicke: Entente Cordiale. Eine erste Bilanz französisch-britischer Zusammenarbeit in der Sicherheits- und Verteidigungspolitik. DGAPanalyse No. 10. August 2012. See also The New Entente Cordiale.

[6] United Kingdom-France Summit Communique. Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, 18 January 2018.

[7] PM announces landmark new package of defence and security cooperation with Poland. gov.uk 21.12.2017.

[8] PM press statement in Poland: 21 December 2017.

[9] Jochen Buchsteiner: Die Würde der Demokratie. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 21.03.2018.

[10] Bundespräsident Steinmeier gratuliert Wladimir Putin. bundespraesident.de 19.03.2018.


29
For Your Information / Teetering on the Edge of Nuclear War
« on: March 20, 2018, 01:19:20 PM »

Teetering on the Edge of Nuclear War
 
Column: Politics

Region: Middle East


This isn’t the first time. As this is written, the US, according to the Russian Ministry of Defense, is bringing carrier battle groups into both the Red Sea and Mediterranean to attack both Syrian and Russian Forces inside Syria.

According to a March 16, 2018 article in Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, Israel is preparing for Russia as well and expecting mass casualties.

Russia has warned the US and Israel that it will retaliate on any platform that launches attacks on Syrian Arab Army or Damascus government defense centers which are all shared with Russian personnel. This simply means that American ships are subject to obliteration and Russia is more than capable of doing so. Why have we come to this point.

From Israel’s Haaretz, dated March 16, 2018:


“The army conducted an exercise this week which simulated a multi-front war in which Russia intervened to prevent Israel from attacking Syria.

‘Throughout the exercise, we examined various implications of the Russian presence’ in Syria, a senior Israel Defense Forces officer said. “We practiced everything that could be coordinated with the Russians and also what couldn’t be, how we would operate without harming their interests in the region, and on the flip side, scenarios in which the Russians made trouble’ for instance, by sending a message that Israel was undermining their regional interests”.

To understand, we can go to news stories from March16, 2018 and statements made by the Russian government. From Sputnik News:


“Jabhat al-Nusra militants along with the White Helmets are preparing a staged chemical attack in the Alghabit and Kalbb Lusa communities situated 25 km (15 miles) to the North-West of Idlib. There are 20 chlorine containers in their possession,” said the Russian General Staff.

The American and British press refused to carry this statement or any of the others though the general public has every right to know their lives are being played with. Many of us who work in journalism or the intelligence and security sectors say it is “about time” that someone called out the White Helmets and their role in killing civilians on behalf of Western intelligence agencies.

Then these statements came from Russia Today, same date:


“Russia’s Defense Ministry says “US instructors” are training militants to stage false flag chemical attacks in south Syria. The incidents are said to be a pretext for airstrikes on Syrian government troops and infrastructure.

‘We have reliable information at our disposal that US instructors have trained a number of militant groups in the vicinity of the town of At-Tanf, to stage provocations involving chemical warfare agents in southern Syria,’ Russian General Staff spokesman General Sergey Rudskoy said at a news briefing on Saturday.

‘Early in March, the saboteur groups were deployed to the southern de-escalation zone to the city of Deraa, where the units of the so-called Free Syrian Army are stationed’

‘They are preparing a series of chemical munitions explosions. This fact will be used to blame the government forces. The components to produce chemical munitions have been already delivered to the southern de-escalation zone under the guise of humanitarian convoys of a number of NGOs.’”

Russia has warned that the US media is part of this ploy, fully complicit and that media assets working with the CIA but mostly under control of the Israel lobby, which seems to be the driving force behind Trump’s foreign policy.

Further complicating the situation and showing the depth of what is clearly a plan to provoke war is the situation with Britain over the alleged killing, and there is no evidence presented of any kind, of a former Russia agent, that British Prime Minister Theresa May blames on Russia.

Veterans Today editor, Gene Khrushchev, a former Colonel in the Soviet and Russian military and Russian diplomat had the following to say on this in a May 16 article in Veterans Today, in particular tying Ukraine and a desire to fight Russia over Crimea to the situation in Syria:


“The revelation of UK-OUN unsavory liaison was helpfully revealed by British prime-minister during her harangue, when she connected the dots between perpetrators’ joint motives with oh-so-sincere concern about Crimea reunification, which had been, mind you, a deep cover deal in the works before 2014 to sell out the true-blue Russian peninsula – with 90% plus of deep-rooted Russian population – for NATO entrance ticket. Read my lips –no more and will never be at stake again, fat chance, the hell or high water!

If I may to paraphrase Theresa May, I’d say it’s “highly likely” that Mother of all poisonous provocations against Moscow, English style, has been upstaged this time by London in cahoots with Lvov extremists in Kiev:

• Age-old tradition of Perfidious Albion anti-Russian paranoia.

• Decades of clandestine partnership in crime, sealed by Waffen-SS genocide legacy and Cold War subversive collaboration against the USSR.”

It is not unreasonable to see the Mueller investigation of alleged Russian interference in the US elections as part and parcel of a broader smear campaign against Russia and that, rather than being an attack on Trump, is actually an oblique attack on Russia by forces willing to push the US and Russia to war on behalf of a yet unnamed “third force.”

Will the East Ghouta offense in Syria lead to war? A major US built chemical weapons facility has already been discovered and filmed but those films are censored in the West and censored from the internet by Google Corporation and Facebook.

Similarly, evidence that the White Helmets and news agencies like Reuters, Fox and CNN fabricate reports of chemical attacks as well are censored.

Now Russia is offering evidence that US backed NGO’s using the pretext of “aid convoys” is smuggling chemical weapons to terrorists. Such evidence has existed since 2012 and has been offered to investigative agencies under UN control repeatedly to no avail.

It is known, however, that former US Secretary of State Kerry personally viewed evidence of US complicity in gas attacks on Syria and stopped a Pentagon attack, this was 2013.

This postulates that within the US there is a divergence of command, where rogue operators, allegedly under Israeli or “other” command, are able to stage provocations, even influence policy, outside of normal procedures.

Veterans Today editor, Colonel James Hanke, former Military/Diplomatic liaison to Israel and former chief intelligence officer of the US nuclear command in Europe, has stated repeatedly that that US Army is largely infiltrated with “rogue operators” and that several top commanders have been “off the reservation” for years. Hanke has cited that the Pentagon has seized policy initiative from both the State Department and Presidency on several occasions.

This leaves us with some broader questions:
•Is Israel provoking a war between the US and Russia?
•Is the Kiev cabal working with them?
•What is their agenda?
•What roles to Saudi Arabia, India and other nations, such as Britain, nations with compromised governmental operations, play in this threat scenario?

Beyond this, does the public have the right to know what is really going on and that the term “fake news” in itself is a deception. We have been well beyond “fake” for some time and too many, it seems, even those capable of starting wars that can kill us all, no longer know what is real and what is not.

Gordon Duff is a Marine combat veteran of the Vietnam War that has worked on veterans and POW issues for decades and consulted with governments challenged by security issues. He’s a senior editor and chairman of the board of  Veterans Today, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”
https://journal-neo.org/2018/03/18/teetering-on-the-edge-of-nuclear-war/

30
Gibraltar – The Real Reason For Brexit Finally Revealed
Seth Ferris, new Eastern Outlook

17 March


   Once again the naked truth has shown itself while everyone was looking the other way. Analysts have been giving all sorts of reasons as to why the Brexit scenario has developed as it has. But the truth has been staring us in the face, all the time – which is exactly why these debates have been encouraged.

Whichever way they voted, British people are no longer primarily arguing about the EU itself. The issue is whether the consequences of leaving, which are becoming increasingly burdensome, are a price worth paying. The pound has tanked and the promised quick fixes on immigration, employment and opportunity have not materialised. Problems no one ever expected have also arisen, such as the impact on the Irish border, the possible grounding of flights and significant employers in Brexit-voting areas threatening to relocate to the EU.

The Brexit camp have gone from crowing about their victory to telling everyone they will survive somehow, and worrying that the government might not deliver Brexit after all. The Remain supporters believe they are being proved right, gaining traction by presenting Brexit as a con imposed on the electorate by newspaper magnates and politicians wanting to protect themselves from tax demands.

But all of a sudden, the real reason Brexit is being pursued in the face of political logic has come out. The media owners may have facilitated Brexit, but it is another dimension of a very familiar story. If we had understood this before we might have seen who all those tax dodgers are really working for – and what the consequences will be for a rich, developed country which has sold itself into Third World-type slavery.

As bad as our friends

Great powers, whether countries or individuals, are always tempted to behave badly simply to show they are different. Absolute monarchs often had a succession of mistresses just to show they were special people, above the moral codes of ordinary mortals. Powerful nations do whatever they can get away with just to show they are part of the club, as the centuries of walking into other countries to create empires testified.

We have all seen how the same process works nowadays. The great powers exert control through military partnerships and energy dependence. If these methods don't work, first propaganda and then brute force are used to force recalcitrant countries to obey their master's will. When it gets to that stage, there is no way out for those poor countries. All the "wars of liberation" we have experienced since World War Two have left their supposed beneficiaries even more dependent than before, with only the oppressors changing, if they even do.

So it is no surprise to now find that there was a military dimension to Brexit few had noticed. Brexit should not affect the UK's membership of NATO or its network of operational agreements with other countries, as the Common European Defence Force is not yet a reality. But it does change the status of Gibraltar, that isolated bit of rock which is a British Overseas Territory due to a long-forgotten dispute of little relevance today – and this presents both a problem and an opportunity for its notorious fairweather friend, the US, which it is now seeking to exploit.

Your future not ours

Gibraltarians were given a vote in the EU referendum, and 96% of them supported remaining a member. Only 823 voted to leave. But this is hardly surprising, given the abundant benefits EU membership has given this tiny enclave of around 30,000 people.

Though a strategic military location guarding the narrowest stretch of the Mediterranean, Gibraltar has prospered more from the open border with its former owner, Spain, than it ever did from being a prominent Royal Navy and Royal Air Force station. The people may be famous for being "more English than the English", but the local economy, and that of southern Spain, benefits greatly from the open border between the two. This is a situation the UK and Spain's common EU membership made possible, as Spain, which joined the EU later, was only allowed to do so on condition the border was opened.

Madrid has never got over losing this rocky outcrop in 1704, during the War of Spanish Succession, the contemporary equivalent of the Yemen conflict. It still claims it as its own, and closed the border between the two in 1969 when Gibraltarians voted to remain under British rule. The British invested further in the Rock's military dimension, and promoted it as a tourist destination, but with military cutbacks and the rise of more exotic holiday destinations it faced an uncertain future. Only the reopening of the border, and the rise of online gaming, have given the locals a reason to have a more than sentimental attachment to the British state.

Brexit will close that border again. It will also give Spain 27 allies in its claim to sovereignty over the Rock. Spain is demanding that Gibraltar remains with the Customs Union if the UK does leave the EU, and is apparently winning that battle. As Gibraltarians support this step, this creates a division between the UK and Europe in which the British subjects on Gibraltar support the other side.

This is taking place against a backdrop of the US trying to reduce its commitment to NATO, despite its ongoing involvement in expensive foreign conflicts. Despite this, it has always objected to the creation of a European Defence Force controlled by Europe itself, more independently of the US. With Europe increasingly united and belligerent in the face of Brexit, contrary to expectations, this creates a military division between the US and EU which has not existed since the EU was founded.

So the US has to bypass the EU to retain military control of Gibraltar via an ally. Brexit achieves this, provided the UK can be brought on board.

With few other friends who prefer it to the EU, the UK is desperate to recreate its old "Special Relationship" with the US to try and limit the economic impact of its own decision, though with limited results. It will have little choice but to sell itself to the White House in the bleak world it is now offering its people, who are realising they can't all be fooled, all of the time.

When the US takes control of a country it builds military bases there. The British still have a sizeable military presence on Gibraltar, but have scaled its back in recent years because the Rock's strategic significance is more commercial, as the gateway to a major maritime trading route, than military. But now it is intending to establish a new base there, bigger and better than anything seen before, even as its trade declines as a result of leaving the EU.

Why? Who is the UK at war with? Who does the Gibraltar base protect the UK from? It is hard to see the answers to these questions until you substitute "US" for "UK". Then the importance of Gibraltar looms as large as the Rock itself, as it would have done long before had we not been encouraged to look in other directions.

One boot on one foot

Gibraltar has gained a new military dimension thanks to US actions in Libya, Syria, Egypt and other countries with a Mediterranean coastline. The US, and particularly the Trump White House which has always supported Brexit, doesn't want those pussies in Europe remaining in charge of it.

The biggest obstacle to creating a European Defence Force is the reasonable unwillingness of national parliaments to abandon their sovereignty over the troops they are sending to their deaths. They may support the idea of a European force in principle, but in practice they make it difficult to achieve by insisting on local control of decisions affecting their own citizens. This is understandable, as fighting for your own country makes a lot more sense to potential recruits than fighting for somebody else's, as the US itself found in a place called South Vietnam.

The US doesn't have that problem. It doesn't even have local control in practice – while presidents and congressmen come and go, the US military-industrial complex remains, with most of its senior personnel serving longer at their levels than any politician. It does pretty much what it wants, but for political reasons tries to present everything as "allied action", a joint response to a crisis recognised by all "right thinking" nations.

If the EU can no longer be trusted to be right-thinking, or agree to support the unilateral actions of unaccountable US military or intelligence brass, the US has to have Gibraltar to keep the naval supply route going. It can't do that if the UK, which owns it at the express request of the natives, is part of the EU.

Leaving the EU is causing the UK hardship which no politician wants to be held responsible for – even senior Brexiteers can see what is happening, despite their public bluster. But the British government is insisting it has to respect the "Will of the People", even though those people never voted for the consequences they now see daily.

More than the monkeys we don't give

Gibraltar might be considered an insignificant issue, a smaller piece of a much bigger puzzle. Until you look at the power relations between the US and UK. Who offers what to whom, exactly?

When the UK joined the EU in 1973 its Prime Minister, Edward Heath, specifically stated that it was doing so because the UK could no longer rely on its special relationship with its former colonies to ensure prosperity. As his government was later driven to introduce the notorious "Three Day Week", in which a three day working week was effectively imposed to conserve energy, this idea resonated at the time.

However it also upset former empire nations such as New Zealand, whose own agricultural industry relied on this special relationship, as the UK is being reminded now it runs to these countries looking for trade deals and signing none.

The US, the great superpower, was one of these former colonies the UK could no longer rely on for its welfare. The UK was consciously preferring the EU to it. As long as the Western alliance was still a reality this didn't matter so much. Now it is increasingly a verbal construct that changes things dramatically.

The US doesn't need anything from the UK it can't make at home, in the industries Trump keeps saying he wants to revive, or get from other countries it takes more seriously. The UK desperately needs US patronage however, as leaving the EU will leave it with no trade deals at all, with anyone, for a period and few countries are interested in the UK on its own rather than a member of the EU. The only thing the UK does have is Gibraltar, and that is the one thing the US wants.

It would be politically impossible to tell the British public that the future of the UK now depends on letting the US effectively take over Gibraltar via its UK "partners". But unless the UK can find other significant countries who prefer it to the EU, that is the reality. The UK can't survive at the back of the queue when its wage levels and social infrastructure are designed for a nation at the front. It's giving the US what it wants or nothing, and that is a reality any future administrations in both countries will have to face.

Taking back control

British people are generally pro-American, and even more pro-Western. But the US-UK relationship has long been a source of irritation to many of them. The US claims to speak England's language and gained all its institutions from the UK. Yet the former colony now sets the international standard in everything, and its old masters don't see why they should change their ways and standards to fit in with the US, even if non-English speaking countries are more willing to do so.

During the Iraq War there were frequent complaints that Tony Blair and George W. Bush, who was widely regarded in the UK as an embarrassment to the US, were working so closely together that Blair had his tongue lodged in a certain part of Bush's anatomy. US commentators often felt it was the other way round. But it was ultimately that perception which fuelled public interest in how that war had started, and ultimately to the Chilcot Report, which effectively stated that Blair had misled parliament to involve the UK in a US scheme.

It will therefore be interesting to see what the declassified government papers tell us, 30 years from now, about who first raised the Gibraltar issue with whom, and how this related to the timeline of the EU Referendum and the Brexit campaign. Particularly as this decision may make those government papers a historical relic, as the long-suspected US plan to make the UK its 51st state may be much nearer fruition by that time, in fact if not in name.

Seth Ferris, investigative journalist and political scientist, expert on Middle Eastern affairs, exclusively for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook". https://journal-neo.org/2018/03/17/gibraltar-the-real-reason-for-brexit-finally-revealed/



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