Tag Archives: American imperialism

The East Ukraine Bus Disaster. The Propaganda War Goes Ballistic. Testimony of Bus Driver points to Kiev Regime

By George Eliason
January 22, 2015
Global Research, January 21, 2015

 

Ukraine-Air-Force-bombed-LuganskOn January 13th in Volnovaha, Donetsk 11 people were killed in what looked like a spectacular rocket attack. Video footage from the scene showed how deadly a Grad rocket (Hail) attack can be. The spread of the rocket attack left small craters on both sides of a highway running through Vonovaha. The camera then turned and showed a medium sized yellow bus that looked like it was hit in the attack.

The governments of Ukraine and the United States immediately called for an investigation while at the same time concluding that the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics were behind the attacks.

“Attacks on the airport of Donetsk and the shelling of the bus, which killed 10 people and injured 13 more, constitute gross violations of the Minsk agreements”, – said Harf.

The OSCE investigated concluded that the GRAD (HAIL) rocket attack came from north north east of the city. According to the OSCE both sides are still accusing each other. In the meantime Ukraine has cleaned up the attack scene and most of the evidence is now moved. Social propagandists are weighing in where ever they will be heard to try to sway opinion.

What’s at Stake

If the propaganda is starting to sound like the Boeing MH-17 attack all over again its because the stakes are that high. If Poroshenko’s government did this, the entire government is discredited. The Ukrainian army attacked its own people on video. Marie Harf placed the moral, political, and diplomatic weight of Barrack Obama’s presidency behind Kiev’s version of events.

The MH-17 Bus- Kiev’s New Opportunity to Justify a Massive Attack

What would have happened if the pilot of Malaysian flight MH-17 had miraculously survived and said exactly what he saw that day? Would anything Russia, Ukraine, or the USA have to say counter that? If he said he saw fighter jets would it matter? If he said it was a BUK missile could anyone argue?

This time the pilot survived. Sergei Cherenko was the bus driver when that bus was attacked in Volnovaha. He not only survived, he tried to help his passengers. Yesterday he gave an interview with Korrespondent.net and told exactly what happened, and the direction he saw the rockets come from. Mr. Cherenko who has worked for 21 years as a bus driver is still working the same route today with no time off in between.

He was driving to Donetsk when they stopped at the checkpoint. On his left was Volonavaha. He stated clearly if a Grad landed near the bus no one would have survived. He saw the Grad rockets coming from his left which was north toward the city. According to his testimony which is in line with other survivors, the Grad attack came from Ukrainian controlled territory.

The passengers were killed by the mine. This time the pilot survived. Will anyone believe him?

Blowback

Will the Ukrainian government admit its guilt in this apparent attack?

Can the US government muster any moral outrage at the thought that Kiev is spending all the good will America may have left in the world for a long time?

Kiev is using the incident as a pretext to level the city of Gorlovka. The Ukrainian military have dropped 250 lb bombs on the city. Shelling, rocket, and missile strikes are leveling portions of it. Across Donbass this is going on. In the small town of Slavanosbersk over 140 homes have been destroyed and the town has no military targets.

Across Donetsk artillery and missile strikes have not ceased and are at levels higher than the last time the war was hot. The attacks on civilian populations is now non stop in the front line cities.

What Game is the House of Saud Playing?

By Pepe Escobar
January 21, 2015
RT

 

Reuters / Lucy Nicholson

The House of Saud now finds itself in times of extreme trouble. Their risky oil price war may eventually backfire. The succession of King Abdullah may turn into a bloodbath. And the American protector may be musing a change of heart.

Let’s start with oil – and some background. As much as US supply has increased by a couple of million barrels a day, enough oil from Iran, Kirkuk in Iraq, Libya and Syria has gone out of production; and that offsets extra US oil on the market. Essentially, the global economy – at least for the moment – is not searching for more oil because of European stagnation/recession and the relative China slowdown.

Since 2011, Saudi Arabia has been flooding the market to offset the decrease in Iran exports caused by the US economic war, a.k.a. sanctions. Riyadh, moreover, prevented OPEC from reducing country production quotas. The House of Saud believes it can play the waiting game – as fracked oil, mostly American, is inexorably driven out of the market because it is too expensive. After that, the Saudis believe they will regain market share.

In parallel, the House of Saud is obviously enjoying “punishing” Iran and Russia for their support of Bashar Assad in Damascus. Moreover, the House of Saud is absolutely terrified of a nuclear deal essentially between the US and Iran (although that’s still a major “if”) – leading to a long-term détente.

Tehran, though, remains defiant. Russia brushed off the attack because the lower ruble meant state revenues remained unchanged – so there will be no budget deficit. As for oil-thirsty East Asia – including top Saudi customer China – it’s enjoying the bonanza while it lasts.

Oil prices will remain very low for the time being. This week Goldman Sachs lowered their 2015 WTI and Brent Crude forecasts; Brent was slashed from $83.75 a barrel to $50.40, WTI was cut from $73.75 to $47.15 a barrel. Prices per barrel could soon drop as low as $42 and $40.50. But then, there will be an inevitable “U-shaped recovery.”

Nomura bets that oil will be back to $80 a barrel by the end of 2015.

Reuters / Lucas Jackson

Punish Russia or bust

US President Barack Obama, in this interview, openly admitted that he wanted “disruptions” in the“price of oil” because he figured Russian President Vladimir Putin would have “enormous difficulty managing it.” So that settles the argument about hurting Russia and US-Saudi collusion, after US Secretary of State John Kerry allowed/endorsed King Abdullah in Jeddah to simultaneously raise oil production and embark on a cut price strategy.

Whether Kerry sold out the US shale gas industry out of ignorance or incompetence – probably both – is irrelevant. What matters is if the House of Saud were ordered to back off, they would have to do it in a flash; the ‘Empire of Chaos’ dominates the Persian Gulf vassals, who can’t even breathe without at least an implicit US green light.

What is way more troubling is that the current bunch in Washington does not seem to be defending US national and industrial interests. If humongous trade deficits based on currency rigging were not enough, now virtually the entire US oil industry runs the risk of being destroyed by an oil price racket. Any sane analyst would interpret it as contrary to US national interests.

Anyway, the Riyadh deal was music for the House of Saud’s ears. Their official policy has always been to slash the development of all potential substitutes for oil, including US shale gas. So why not depress oil prices and keep them there long enough to make investments in shale gas a lunatic proposal?

But there’s a huge problem. The House of Saud simply won’t get enough in oil revenues to support their annual budget with oil at below $90 a barrel. So as much as hurting Iran and Russia may be appealing, hurting their own golden pocketbooks is not.

The long-term outlook spells out higher oil prices. Oil may be replaced in many instances; but there isn’t a replacement – yet – for the internal combustion engine. So whatever OPEC is doing, it is actually preserving demand for oil vs. oil substitutes, and maximizing the return on a limited resource. The bottom-line: yes, this is predatory pricing.

Once again, there’s an immense, crucial, complicating vector. We may have the House of Saud and other Persian Gulf producers flooding the market – but its Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Citigroup who are doing the shadow, nasty work via leveraged derivative short futures.

Oil prices are such an opaque racket that only major oil trading banks such as Goldman Sachs or Morgan Stanley have some idea who is buying and who is selling oil futures or derivative contracts – what is called “paper oil.” The non-rules of this multi-billion casino spell out “speculative bubble” – with a little help from those friends at the Gulf oil pumps. With oil futures trading and the two major London and New York exchanges monopolizing oil futures contracts, OPEC really does not control oil prices anymore; Wall Street does. This is the big secret. The House of Saud may entertain the illusion they are in control. They’re not.

U.S. President Barack Obam.(Reuters / Kevin Lamarque)

That dysfunctional marriage

As if this was not messy enough, the crucial succession of the House of Saud is propelled to the forefront. King Abdullah, 91, was diagnosed with pneumonia, hospitalized in Riyadh on New Year’s Eve, and was breathing with a tube. He may – or may not, this being the secretive House of Saud – have lung cancer. He won’t last long. The fact that he is hailed as a “progressive reformer” tells everything one needs to know about Saudi Arabia. “Freedom of expression”? You must be joking.

So who’ll be next? The first in the line of succession should be Crown Prince Salman, 79, also defense minister. He was governor of Riyadh province for a hefty 48 years. It was this certified falcon who supervised the wealth of private “donations” to the Afghan mujahedeen in the 1980s jihad, in tandem with hardcore Wahhabi preachers. Salman’s sons include the governor of Medina, Prince Faisal. Needless to add, the Salman family controls virtually all of Saudi media.

To get to the Holy Grail Salman must be proven fit. That’s not a given; and on top of it Abdullah, a tough nut to crack, already survived two of his crown princes, Sultan and Nayef. Salman’s prospects look bleak; he has had spinal surgery, a stroke and may be suffering from – how appropriate – dementia.

It also does not bode well that when Salman was promoted to Deputy Defense Minister, soon enough he was shown the door – as he got himself mixed up with Bandar Bush’s atrocious jihadi game in Syria.

Anyway, Salman already has a successor; second Deputy Prime Minister Prince Muqrin, former governor of Medina province and then head of Saudi intelligence. Muqrin is very, very close to Abdullah. Muqrin seems to be the last “capable” son of Ibn Saud; “capable” here is a figure of speech. The real problem though starts when Muqrin becomes Crown Prince. Because then the next in line will be picked from the grandsons of Ibn Saud.

Enter the so-called third generation princes – a pretty nasty bunch. Chief among them is none other than Mitab bin Abdullah, 62, the son of the king; cries of nepotism do proceed. Like a warlord, Mitab controls his own posse in the National Guard. Sources told me Riyadh is awash in rumors that Abdullah and Muqrin have made a deal: Abdullah gets Muqrin to become king, and Muqrin makes Mitab crown prince. Once again, this being the “secretive” House of Saud, the Hollywood mantra applies: no one knows anything.

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal.(Reuters / Brendan Smialowski)

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal.(Reuters / Brendan Smialowski)

 

Abdullah’s sons are all over the place; governor of Mecca, deputy governor of Riyadh, deputy foreign minister, president of the Saudi Red Crescent. Same for Salman’s sons. But then there’s Muhammad bin Nayif, son of the late Crown Prince Nayif, who became Interior Minister in 2012, in charge of ultra-sensitive internal security, as in cracking down on virtually anything. He is the top competitor against Mitab among the third-generation princes.

So forget about family “unity” when such juicy loot as an oil hacienda impersonating a whole country is in play. And yet whoever inherits the loot will have to face the abyss, and the same litany of distress; rising unemployment; abysmal inequality; horrendous sectarian divide; jihadism in all its forms – not least the fake Ibrahim Caliphate in “Syraq”, already threatening to march towards Mecca and Medina; the unspeakably medieval Council of Ulemas (the lashing/amputating/beheading-loving bunch); total dependency on oil; unbounded paranoia towards Iran; and a wobbly relationship with His Masters Voice, the US.

When will they call the cavalry?

And it so happens that the real ‘Masters of the Universe’ in the Washington-New York axis are debating exactly the erosion of this relationship; as in the House of Saud having no one to talk to but the“puppets”, from Bush Two minions to Kerry at most on occasion. This analysis contends that any promises made by Kerry over the House of Saud “cooperation” to damage Russia’s economy really mean nothing.

Rumbles from ‘Masters of the Universe’ territory indicate that the CIA sooner or later might move against the House of Saud. In this case the only way for the House of Saud to secure its survival would be to become friendly with none other than Moscow. This exposes once more the House of Saud’s suicidal present course of trying to hurt Russia’s economy.

As everyone is inexorably an outsider when faced with the totally opaque House of Saud, there’s an analytical current that swears they know what they’re doing. Not necessarily. The House of Saud seems to believe that pleasing US neocons will improve their status in Washington. That simply won’t happen. The neocons remain obsessed about the House of Saud helping Pakistan to develop its nuclear missiles; some of them – once again, that’s open to speculation – might even be deployed inside Saudi Arabia for “defensive purposes” against that mythical Iranian “threat.”

Messy? That doesn’t even begin to describe it. But one thing is certain; whatever game Riyadh thinks it’s playing, they’d better start seriously talking to Moscow. But please, don’t send Bandar Bush on another Russian mission.

Pepe Escobar’s latest book is Empire of Chaos. Follow him on Facebook.

Beyond Vietghanistan

By David Swanson
January 20, 2015
Washington’s Blog

 

By Martin Luther Obama Jr., as dictated to David Swanson

Text of “Beyond Vietghanistan: A Time To Break Treaties”
By Rev. Martin Luther Obama Jr. – January 19, 2015
Speech delivered at a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church in New York City.

I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because the Republican Congress leaves me no other choice. I join you in this meeting because I am in partial yet profound agreement with the aims and work of the organization which has brought us together: Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietghanistan. The recent statement of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart, if not my brain, and I found myself in sympathy with your desires when I read its opening lines: “A time comes when silence is betrayal.” That time has not come for us in relation to Vietghanistan. The solemn duty of our brave troops in that troubled nation is to carry out the orders sent by their commanders, and the solemn duty of those in Washington making critical decisions is silence.

Let me be clear, the beauty of the words I’ve quoted is beyond doubt but the mission to which they call us is an impossibly difficult one. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men and women do not have the right to assume the task of opposing their government’s policy, especially in time of war. Nor should the human spirit move without great difficulty, if at all, against all the apathy of conformist thought within one’s own bosom and in the surrounding Democratic Party. Moreover when the issues at hand seem as perplexed as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty; but we must cherish that uncertainty, wallow in it, treasure it, shed tears over it, and then do what the military and its profiteers want done.

Some, like Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, Jeffrey Sterling, and dozens more have already begun to break the silence of the night. They have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must intensify their suffering as a lesson to others. We must crush them with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must crush them. And we must rejoice as well, for surely this is the first time in our nation’s history that a significant number of its religious leaders have chosen to move beyond the prophesying of peace and justice to the high ground of humanitarian war and liberal imperialism with a permanent footing unlimited in time or space. Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movement well and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its guidance, for we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around during the never-to-be-looked-back-upon era of those great Americans, George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney.

Over the past two years, as I have moved to break the last promises of my campaigns and the last pretenses of legislative or legal checks on warmaking, as I have called for routine normalization and renaming of the destruction of Vietghanistan, many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. At the heart of their concerns this query has often loomed large and loud: Why are you speaking for more war, Dr. Obama? Why are you joining the voices of those who have never been given a Nobel Peace Prize? War and civil rights don’t mix, they say. Aren’t you hurting the cause of your people, they ask? And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live, a world in which evil foreigners must be confronted by the most profitable racket ever devised, or we must abandon all future elections to the domination of the Republican Party which will do exactly these same things without my eloquence.

In the light of such tragic misunderstandings, I deem it of signal importance to try to state clearly, and I trust concisely, why I believe that the path from Chicago, Illinois, — the place where I began my political career — leads clearly to this sanctuary tonight.

I come to this platform tonight to make a passionate plea to my beloved nation. This speech is not addressed to Kabul or to the Taliban. It is not addressed to Syria or to Russia.

Nor is it an attempt to overlook the ambiguity of the total situation and the need for a collective solution to the tragedy of Vietghanistan. Neither is it an attempt to make the new government of Vietghanistan a paragon of virtue, nor to overlook the role it can play in a successful resolution of the problem. While the Vietghanistanese may have justifiable reason to be suspicious of the good faith of the United States, life and history give eloquent testimony to the fact that conflicts are never resolved without massive and relentless force beyond anyone’s estimation of the limits of sanity.

Tonight, however, I wish not to speak with Kabul, but rather to my fellow Americans, who, with me, bear the greatest responsibility in extending a conflict that has exacted a heavy price on both continents, especially our own. Let me tell you how we have suffered from these wars of President Bush’s and how we must continue to suffer for decades to come.

For in the words of that old agency spiritual, this war will last, this war will last, thank god almighty, this war will last.

The New York Times Sinks to a New Journalistic Low in its Reporting on Ukraine

By Walter C. Uhler
January 20, 2015
Dissident Voice, January 19, 2015

 

Primer ministro ucraniano, Arseniy Yatsenyuk.Foto: Reuters

Primer ministro ucraniano, Arseniy Yatsenyuk. Foto: Reuters

On 8 January 2015, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk demonstrated once again that he is either a liar or an ignoramus (inspired by Russophobia) when he told a German TV channel, “I will not allow the Russians to march across Ukraine and Germany, as they did in WWII.” Putting aside his ludicrous bravado – analogous to a crazed, dying gnat promising to stop a bull elephant — only the untaught do not know that it was Hitler’s Nazi Germany that invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. Moreover, while most military historians specializing in the history of the Eastern Front (including this writer) know that the Red Army played by far the greatest role in saving Europe from prolonged Nazi rule, only an ignoramus or liar like Mr. Yatsenyuk would say, “We all very well remember the Soviet invasion of Ukraine and Germany, and we have to avoid it.”

Mr. Yatsenyuk, you’ll recall, was the darling of Victoria Nuland and Geoffrey Pyatt; two U.S. officials who plotted to place him into Ukraine’s government as Prime Minister. Coincidently, Mr. Yatsenyuk became Prime Minister. Imagine that! Yet, he clearly is in over his head as a leader of what historian J. Arch Getty has labeled the “erratic state” of Ukraine.

But, “erratic” is far too mild a word to use when describing a statement made by Prime Minister Yatsenyuk in June 2014. It was then that Mr. Yatsenyuk pandered to all of his neo-Nazi supporters fighting for his regime in eastern Ukraine by asserting – on the homepage of the Embassy of Ukraine in the United States of America, no less — that Russians in eastern Ukraine were “subhumans.” (Check the widely available screenshot.) Hitler would have been proud.

But, if Yatsenyuk is either a Russophobic ignoramus or liar who spreads filthy propaganda about Russians and Russian history to people who have no sense of history, what are we to call the editors, columnists and reporters at the New York Times, who do the very same thing?

The Times commenced its latest propaganda campaign against Russia on 28 November 2013, when it published an overwrought editorial titled, “Ukraine Backs Down.” Clearly, some Russophobe’s head must have exploded. Who, but an outraged Russophobe, would conclude that President Vladimir Putin’s “strong-arm tactics” against Ukraine would cost Russia its chance “to find its place in the democratic and civilized world.”

“Civilized World?” Seriously? “According to data recently released by the Organization for Co-operation and Development (OECD),” the Russians are the most educated people in the world. “More than half of Russian adults held tertiary degrees in 2012 — the equivalent of college degree in the United States — more than in any other country reviewed” (USA Today, September 13, 2014). Moreover, given the resounding contributions to the civilized world by Pushkin, Karamzin, Gogol, Dostoevsky, Mendeleev, Prokofiev, Tolstoy, Chekov, Nureyev, Akhmatova, Bakhtin, Pasternak, Lomonosov, Tchaikovsky, Solzenitsyn, Berdyaev, Rublev, Chagall, Euler, Balanchine, Zoschenko, Rachmaninov, Bulgakov, Chaliapin, Gorbachev, Diaghilev, Kliuchevsky, Sholokhov, Mussorgsky, Eisenstein, Glinka, Shostakovich, Kapitsa, Lermontov, Kantorovich, Repin, Herzen, Nabokov, Gagarin, Kandinsky, Mayakovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Nijinsky, Kalashnikov, Zamyatin, Tarkovsky, Sakharov, Bely, Gurevich, Faberge, Alekhine, Stravinsky and my beloved mentor, the polymath Utechin (who wrote A Concise Encylopaedia of Russia) – just to name a few — doesn’t the editorial board at the Times sound almost as ignorant or deceitful as Mr. Yatsenyuk?

More to the point, just four days before Mr. Yatsenyuk issued his deceitful or ignorant Russophobic rant, the Times reached a new Russophobic low when it published propaganda designed to whitewash evidence that President Yanukovych was overthrown in a violent and illegal coup.

Its propaganda piece was titled: “Ukraine Leader Was Defeated Even Before He Was Ousted.” It was written by the same reporters, Andrew Higgins and Andrew E. Kramer, who performed similar hatchet jobs for the Times, when reporting on the actual events in Kiev during the period February 18-21, 2014 — which led to the coup of February 22.

Then, the Times was quick to blame the Yanukovych regime for the sniper fire that sparked regime change. Consider the February 20, 2014, article written by Mr. Higgins and Mr. Kramer, titled: “Converts Join With Militants in Kiev Clash.” Although the article mentions snipers only once, they are mentioned in the context of “thousands of riot police officers, volleys of live ammunition…and the looming threat of martial law.” In addition, Mr. Higgins and Mr. Kramer claimed, “few antigovernment protesters could be seen carrying weapons.” (Their observation would be refuted months later by a scholarly paper that identified snipers, fighting on the side of the protesters, who fired on police, news reporters and fellow protesters. These snipers were located in or on the Conservatory Building, the Hotel Ukraina, Kinoplats, Kozatsky Hotel, Zhovtnevyi Palace, Arkada Bank building, Muzeinyi Lane building, the Main Post Office, and Trade Union building, among others.) Thus, when Mr. Higgins and Mr. Kramer heard “reports” that “the police had killed more than 70 demonstrators,” they automatically concluded that “most of the gunfire clearly came from the other side of the barricades.”

Buried within another article written by these reporters that same day was an admission that they did not know “which side” the snipers were on. But the article was titled “Ukraine’s Forces Escalate Attacks Against Protesters,” and it began with the following inflammatory opening sentence: “Security forces fired on masses of antigovernment demonstrators in Kiev on Thursday in a drastic escalation of the three-month-old crisis that left dozens dead and Ukraine reeling…”

Predictably, Mr. Kramer and Mr. Higgins failed to substantiate the “reports” that the police killed more than 70 demonstrators. Even worse, however, was their failure to identify the ideological affiliations of those persons who formed the militant groups — called the “hundreds” (sotni) — that did much to transform a previously peaceful demonstration into a violent confrontation.

Although Mr. Higgins and Mr. Kramer correctly acknowledged that the sotni “provided the tip of the spear in the violent showdown with government security forces,” they failed (or refused) to report that many leaders and members of the sotni were self-declared fascists and neo-Nazis from Pravyi Sektor (Right Sector) and Svoboda (Freedom).

Andriy Parubiy, for example, was one of the founders of the neo-Nazi “Svoboda” party. Mr. Parubiy was “the man controlling the so-called ‘Euromaidan security forces’ that fought government forces in Kiev” (Flashpoint in Ukraine, p. 91). Immediately after the coup, he served as Kiev’s secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine.

Mr. Higgins and Mr. Kramer repeatedly misled their readers by calling members of Svoboda and Pravyi Sektor “nationalists;” as if these violent goons were indistinguishable from the thousands of “nationalists” who had been conducting a largely peaceful protest. Thus, readers of the Times — like readers of most other newspapers in the West — would not learn that fascists and neo-Nazis highjacked a largely peaceful protest and steered it toward a coup.

Continuing their propaganda in their whitewash piece of January 4, 2015, Mr. Higgins and Mr. Kramer attempted to persuade their readers that President Yanukovych “was not so much overthrown as cast adrift by his own allies.” Supposedly, political allies deserted him because they had been spooked by a rumor that the so-called protesters were now heavily armed by weapons seized from an arsenal in L’viv. Supposedly, those guns never reached Kiev.

Supposedly, Yanukovych’s allies were shocked and repulsed by the bloodshed resulting from the massacre of protesters by government snipers on February 20. Supposedly, security forces began deserting Yanukovych after: (1) Parliament issued a resolution on the evening of the 20th ordering all Interior Ministry Troops and police to return to their barracks and (2) Yanukovych entered negotiations on the 21st in which the matter of investigating the sniper massacre was put on the table. Supposedly, the government snipers were not about to wait around for such an investigation.

Mr. Higgins and Mr. Kramer assert that their conclusions were based upon ‘interviews with prominent players, including former commanders of the Berkut riot police and other security units. Yet, they apparently did not interview the former commandant of Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU), Major-General Oleksandr Yakymenko.

Why? Presumably, because, during a 12 March 2014 interview with Eugenie Popov on Rossiya 1 TV, Mr. Yakymenko claimed that his “counter-intelligence forces were monitoring the CIA in Ukraine during the protests… [T]he CIA was active on the ground in Kiev and collaborating with a small circle of opposition figures” (Flashpoint in Ukraine, p. 93).

Mr. Higgins and Mr. Kramer have nothing to say about CIA involvement. But, as James Carden recently asked in the pages of The National Interest, “Can anyone imagine, for an instant, that the Times would publish a purported piece of news analysis of, say, the last hours of the Allende and Mossadegh regimes, without so much as a mention of possible CIA involvement? Of course not.”

Mr. Yakymenko also said that “it was not the police or government forces that fired on protesters, but snipers from the Philharmonic Building [Music Conservatory Building?] that was controlled by opposition leader Andriy Parubiy,” who was “interacting with the CIA.” He said that “twenty men wearing ‘special combat clothes’ and carrying ‘sniper rifle cases, as well as AKMs with scopes’ ran out of the opposition-controlled Philharmonic Building [Music Conservatory Building?] and split into two groups of ten people, with one taking position at the Ukraine hotel” (Nazemroaya, Flashpoint in Ukraine, pp. 93-94). The other half moved in the direction of the Dnipro hotel near Muzeinyi Lane. (Katchanovski)

This is the same Mr. Parubiy who Mr. Higgins and Mr. Kramer found credible, when he asserted that the guns stolen from L’viv were not used by protesters in Kiev. Had they been more competent, Mr. Higgins and Mr. Kramer would have recalled an earlier article in the Times by Alison Smale — titled “Tending Their Wounds, Vowing to Fight On” – that would have cast suspicion on Parubiy’s assertion.

On April 6, 2014, Ms. Smale quoted one wounded protester who asserted: “I knew this time we would need force and that there would be blood if we wanted to break free.”

Another wounded protester, Yuri Kravchuk, was the leader of a sotni and a close friend of the leader of the neo-Nazi Svoboda party. According to Ms. Smale, he carefully skirted “questions about the arrival of guns stolen from a government depot in the western Ukraine city of L’viv,” but did assert that fresh new arrivals from L’viv and two other cities in western Ukraine were able to carry the fight to the police on that fateful February 20.

Thus, in order to buy into the whitewash propagated by Mr. Higgins and Mr. Kramer, a reader must believe that the men came from L’viv, but not the guns. Yet, according to another source, “Maidan eyewitnesses among the protesters said that organized groups from L’viv and Ivano-Frankivsk regions in Western Ukraine arrived on the Maidan and moved into the Music Conservatory at the night of the February 20th massacre, and that some of them were armed with rifles” (Katchanovski, p. 24).

The inclusion of Parubiy’s lie is simply part of their whitewash sob story about the poor protesters who, on the morning of February 20, were “bedraggled” and occupying but a “few hundred square yards, at best, of scorched and soot-smeared pavement in central Kiev,” before many were cut down by “a hail of gunfire,” from Yanukovych’s forces.

One of the few assertions that Mr. Higgins and Mr. Kramer get “right” about February 20 is: “[T]he shock created by the bloodshed, the worst in the Ukrainian capital since World War II, had prompted a mass defection by the president’s allies in Parliament and prodded Mr. Yanukovych to join negotiations with a trio of opposition politicians.” Yet, logically, if the sniper fire created the bloodshed that prompted a mass defection by Yanukovych’s allies, whether Yanukovych “was not so much overthrown as cast adrift” or whether he was indeed overthrown in a slow-moving, multi-stage, violent coup, largely depends upon which side caused the sniper massacre.

One of the major flaws in the whitewash perpetrated by Mr. Higgins and Mr. Kramer on January 4th is their failure to explain who killed the policemen. “At least 17 of them were killed and 196 wounded from gunshots on February 18-20, including three killed and more than 20 wounded on February 20” (Katchanovski, p. 22).

Is it a coincidence that Kiev’s coup regime also has failed to investigate the killing of the police? After all, “A parliament member from the Maidan opposition stated that he had received a phone call from a Berkut commander shortly after 7:00 AM that 11 members of his police unit were wounded by shooters from the Music Conservatory building.” After the parliament member notified Mr. Parubiy, a Maidan Self-Defense search was conducted, but no shooters were found. However, within 30 minutes after Parubiy’s supposed inspection, the Berkut commander called again to report that his casualties had increased to 21 wounded and three killed” (Katchanovski p. 21).

Actually, there is plenty of evidence that Mr. Higgins and Mr. Kramer might have considered, were they competent and unbiased journalists. First, on March 5, 2014, the world learned of the first unbiased suggestion that the snipers who shot people on the Maidan were not government snipers, but came from the ranks of the protesters. EUBusiness.com reported that “Estonia’s top diplomat told EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in an audio leaked Wednesday about allegations that Ukraine’s pro-Western leaders may have had a hand in the February 20-21 bloodbath in Kiev.”

“‘There is now a stronger and stronger understanding (in Kiev) that behind the snipers, it was not (ousted president Viktor) Yanukovych, but it was somebody from the new coalition,’ Urmas Paet tells Ashton in the audio leaked on YouTube.”

The EUBusiness article notes: “Dozens of protesters and around 15 police officers were killed, and parliament impeached Yanukovych the next day.” According to the audio, “Paet told Ashton he was informed in Kiev that ‘they were the same snipers killing people from both sides.’” He appears to have received that information from a Maidan leader, physician Olga Bogomolets, who supposedly claimed that people on both sides were killed by the same type of bullets.

Then Paet added: “It’s really disturbing that now the new coalition, they don’t want to investigate exactly what happened.” (The authenticity of the audio has been confirmed by Estonia.)

Then, there’s the matter of a 10 April 2014 investigation into the sniper fire, conducted by German TV’s “ARD Monitor,” that Mr. Higgins and Mr. Kramer appear to have ignored. According to ARD Monitor, “there is this video that appears to show, that the demonstrators were hit from the back. The man in yellow on this recording goes even further. He was among the protesters who were on Institute Road for several hours that day. His name is Mikola, we met up with him at the scene of the events. He tells us that members of the opposition demonstrators were repeatedly shot in the back.

Mikola: “Yes, on the twentieth, we were shot at from behind, from the Hotel Ukraina, from the 8th or 9th floor.”

According to ARD’s report, “[T]he hotel on the morning of February 20 was firmly in the hands of the opposition. We talk to eyewitnesses from the Hotel Ukraina, journalists, and opposition figures. They all confirm to us on February 20 the hotel held by the opposition was heavily guarded. It would therefore have been very difficult to sneak in a government sniper.”

ARD then tracked down a radio amateur who had recorded Yanukovych’s snipers talking to each other that day. Their radio traffic shows them discussing the fact that someone is shooting at unarmed people – someone they do not know.

1st government sniper: “Hey guys, you over there, to the right from the Hotel Ukraina.”

2nd government sniper: “Who shot? Our people do not shoot at unarmed people. ”

1st sniper: “Guys, there sits a spotter aiming at me. Who is he aiming at there – in the corner? Look! ”

2nd sniper: “On the roof of the yellow building. On top of the cinema, on top of the cinema. ”

1st sniper:” Someone has shot him. But it wasn’t us. ”

2nd sniper:” Miron, Miron, there are even more snipers? And who are they? ”

ARD then interviewed Oleksandr Lisowoi, a doctor from Hospital No. 6 in Kiev, who confirmed that both protesters and government militia forces were shot by the same type of bullet. According to Dr. Lisowoi, “The wounded we treated had the same type of bullet wounds, I am now speaking of the type of bullets that we have surgically removed from the bodies – they were identical” Thus, Dr. Lisowoi confirmed what Estonia’s Foreign Minister, Urmas Paet, had told EU Foreign Policy and Security Policy chief, Catherine Ashton.

But, the failures by Mr. Higgins and Mr. Kramer to examine these reports, even if to dismiss them, pale in significance, when compared with their failure to deal with the most comprehensive and compelling examination of the sniper fire to date, Professor Ivan Katchanovski’s 29-page scholarly paper titled, “The Snipers Massacre on the Maidan in Ukraine.”

Professor Katchanovski presented his paper to a seminar in Ottawa, Canada on 1 October 2014. Thus, Mr. Higgins and Mr. Kramer had plenty of time to digest its contents before writing the slop that the Times published on January 4th.

Like Mr. Higgins and Mr. Kramer, Professor Katchanovski emphasizes the significance of the sniper fire on February 20. “The massacre of several dozen Maidan protesters on February 20, 2014 was a turning point in Ukrainian politics and a tipping point in the escalating conflict between the West and Russia over Ukraine” (p. 2).

Unlike Mr. Kramer and Mr. Higgins, however, Professor Katchanovski brings tons of evidence to his investigation. “Evidence used in this study includes publicly available but unreported, suppressed, or misrepresented videos and photos of suspected shooters, live statements by the Maidan announcers, radio intercepts of the Maidan snipers, and snipers and commanders from the special Alfa unit of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), ballistic trajectories, eyewitness reports by both Maidan protesters and government special unit commanders, public statements by both former and current government officials, bullets and weapons used, types of wounds among both protesters and the police, and the track record of politically motivated misrepresentations by the Maidan politicians of other cases of violence during and after the Euromaidan and historical conflicts. In particular, this study examines about 30 gigabytes of intercepted radio exchanges of the Security Service of Ukraine Alfa unit, Berkut, the Internal Troops, Omega, and other government agencies during the entire Maidan protests. These files were posted by a pro-Maidan Ukrainian radio amateur on a radio scanners forum, but they never were reported by the media or acknowledged by the Ukrainian government” (pp. 2-3).

“The timeline of the massacre with precision to minutes and locations of both the shooters and the government snipers are established in this study with great certainty based upon the synchronization of the sound on the main Maidan stage, images, and other sources of information that independently corroborate each other” (p. 3). For example, although the current Ukrainian government announced on November 19, 2014, that its extensive investigation produced no evidence of “snipers” in Hotel Ukraina, Professor Katchanovski has produced evidence of “an announcer on the Maidan stage [who] publicly warned the protesters about two to three snipers on the pendulum (second from top) floor of the Hotel Ukraina” (p. 5).

“[A] BBC video shows a sniper firing at the BBC television crew and the Maidan protesters from an open window on the pendulum floor of the hotel at 10:17 AM, and the BBC correspondent identifies the shooter as having a green helmet worn by Maidan protesters” (p. 7). And, “In the late afternoon, a speaker on the Maidan stage threatened to burn the Hotel Ukraina…because of constant reports of snipers in the hotel” (p. 8).

Although Professor Katchanovski admits, “a possibility that some protesters, specifically armed ones, including ‘snipers,’ were wounded or killed by the police fire cannot be ruled out” (p. 10), unlike Mr. Higgins and Mr. Kramer, he concludes: “Analysis of a large amount of evidence in this study suggests that certain elements of the Maidan opposition, including its extremist far right wing, were involved in the massacre in order to seize power and that the government investigation was falsified for this reason.” (p. 2)

He adds, “the [Ukrainian] government deliberately denies or ignores evidence of shooters and spotters in at least 12 buildings occupied by the Maiden side or located in the general territory held by them during the massacre.” (p. 5) So, too, do Mr. Higgins, Mr. Kramer and the Times.

Outraged by the Times whitewash of January 4, I immediately emailed the following letter to the editor:

To the editor:

In their extremely incomplete “investigation by the New York Times into the final hours of Mr. Yanukovych’s rule,” Andrew Higgins and Andrew E. Kramer do correctly assert that “the shock created by the bloodshed” caused by sniper fire on the morning of February 20, 2014 “prompted a mass defection by the president’s allies in Parliament and prodded Mr. Yanukovych to join negotiations with a trio of opposition politicians.”

Unfortunately, this latest Times investigation — like all its reporting since last February –assumes that Yanukovych’s police killed the protesters (and police!) on the morning of February 20. Moreover, the Times fails to mention, let alone rebut, a well-known, well-researched, and comprehensive analysis by Ivan Katchanovski, which concludes: “Analysis of a large amount of evidence in this study suggests that certain elements of the Maidan opposition, including its extremist far right wing were involved in the massacre in order to seize power…”

Yet, if Professor Katchanovski is correct, then the entire Times investigation is misdirected.

Consequently, until the Times seriously addresses the issue of the snipers, its reporting on regime change in Kiev should be viewed with the same skepticism that Times reporters derisively give to the so-called “Russian propaganda bubble.”

Walter C. Uhler

Needless to say, the Times failed to publish my letter.

Walter C. Uhler is an independent scholar and freelance writer whose work has been published in numerous publications, including Dissident Voice, The Nation, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Journal of Military History, the Moscow Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. He also is President of the Russian-American International Studies Association (RAISA). He can be reached at: waltuhler@aol.com. Read other articles by Walter C., or visit Walter C.’s website.

Surveillance Is Just First Phase as NSA Plans ‘Guerilla’ Tactics for Global Cyberwar

Surveillance Is Just First Phase as NSA Plans ‘Guerilla’ Tactics for Global Cyberwar

By Jon Queally
January 20, 2015
Common Dreams

 

The National Security Agency intelligence service isn’t just trying to achieve mass surveillance of Internet communication. The digital spies of the Five Eyes alliance want more. Documents from the archive of Edward Snowden indicate they are planning for wars of the future in which the Internet will play a critical role, with the aim of being able to use the net to paralyze computer networks and, by doing so, potentially all the infrastructure they control. This slide is from an NSA presentation on its Quantumtheory program.

 

New revelations eminating from the documents leaked to journalists by Edward Snowden reveal that the NSA has a far more developed and sinister approach to cyberwarfare than previously known.

Based on new and separate reporting from the New York Times and Germany’s Der Spiegel, the National Security Agency is engaged in what amounts to “guerilla warfare” in which its clandestine hacking operations are designed to be undetectable, untraceable, and therefore, totally unaccountable.

As the team of journalists reporting for Der Spiegel describe it, “the US government is currently undertaking a massive effort to digitally arm itself for network warfare.” And, they report, the NSA—along with its intelligence partners around the world—”have adopted ‘plausible deniability’ as their guiding principle for Internet operations.”

NYT: The Story of North Korea

In North Korea, before there was ‘The Interview’—the recent film that had its destiny changed from a Hollywood flop to an international incident—there was the NSA.

According to new reporting by the New York Times, the incidents surrounding the alleged hacking by the North Korean government on Sony Pictures Entertainment last year must be seen through the context of earlier attempts, dating back to 2010, when the U.S. National Security Agency made complex efforts to digitally-infiltrate North Korea.

The Times reports:

Spurred by growing concern about North Korea’s maturing capabilities, the American spy agency drilled into the Chinese networks that connect North Korea to the outside world, picked through connections in Malaysia favored by North Korean hackers and penetrated directly into the North with the help of South Korea and other American allies, according to former United States and foreign officials, computer experts later briefed on the operations and a newly disclosed N.S.A. document.

A classified security agency program expanded into an ambitious effort, officials said, to place malware that could track the internal workings of many of the computers and networks used by the North’s hackers, a force that South Korea’s military recently said numbers roughly 6,000 people. Most are commanded by the country’s main intelligence service, called the Reconnaissance General Bureau, and Bureau 121, its secretive hacking unit, with a large outpost in China.

Der Spiegel: The Digital Arms Race: NSA Preps America for Future Battle

And as Der Speigel reported on Sunday, the NSA has been building and expanding its offensive cyberwarfare capabilities for years:

According to top secret documents from the archive of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden seen exclusively by SPIEGEL, they are planning for wars of the future in which the Internet will play a critical role, with the aim of being able to use the net to paralyze computer networks and, by doing so, potentially all the infrastructure they control, including power and water supplies, factories, airports or the flow of money.

During the 20th century, scientists developed so-called ABC weapons — atomic, biological and chemical. It took decades before their deployment could be regulated and, at least partly, outlawed. New digital weapons have now been developed for the war on the Internet. But there are almost no international conventions or supervisory authorities for these D weapons, and the only law that applies is the survival of the fittest.

Canadian media theorist Marshall McLuhan foresaw these developments decades ago. In 1970, he wrote, “World War III is a guerrilla information war with no division between military and civilian participation.” That’s precisely the reality that spies are preparing for today.

The US Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force have already established their own cyber forces, but it is the NSA, also officially a military agency, that is taking the lead.

Later in the report, Der Spiegel describes how a new document from the Snowden archive reveals that NSA operatives saw internet surveillance to be only a first step in their desire to “control it all”—a phrase used to describe near total digital awareness of global communication networks. According to their review of the document:

From a military perspective, surveillance of the Internet is merely “Phase 0” in the US digital war strategy. Internal NSA documents indicate that it is the prerequisite for everything that follows. They show that the aim of the surveillance is to detect vulnerabilities in enemy systems. Once “stealthy implants” have been placed to infiltrate enemy systems, thus allowing “permanent accesses,” then Phase Three has been achieved — a phase headed by the word “dominate” in the documents. This enables them to “control/destroy critical systems & networks at will through pre-positioned accesses (laid in Phase 0).” Critical infrastructure is considered by the agency to be anything that is important in keeping a society running: energy, communications and transportation. The internal documents state that the ultimate goal is “real time controlled escalation”.

One NSA presentation proclaims that “the next major conflict will start in cyberspace.” To that end, the US government is currently undertaking a massive effort to digitally arm itself for network warfare. For the 2013 secret intelligence budget, the NSA projected it would need around $1 billion in order to increase the strength of its computer network attack operations. The budget included an increase of some $32 million for “unconventional solutions” alone.

The Der Spiegel journalists described the NSA’s tactics as a kind of digital “guerilla warfare” in which “little differentiation is made between soldiers and civilians.”

“It’s a stunning approach,” they write, “with which the digital spies deliberately undermine the very foundations of the rule of law around the globe. This approach threatens to transform the Internet into a lawless zone in which superpowers and their secret services operate according to their own whims with very few ways to hold them accountable for their actions.”

 

Noam Chomsky: Obama’s Drone Program ‘The Most Extreme Terrorist Campaign of Modern Times’

Famed linguist takes aim at western hypocrisy on terrorism.

By Andrea Germanos
January 20, 2015
Common Dreams

 

Noam Chomsky speaking in May, 2014. (Photo: Chatham House/fickr/cc)

 

World-renowned linguist and scholar Noam Chomsky has criticized what he sees as Western hypocrisy following the recent terror attacks in Paris and the idea that there are two kinds of terrorism: “theirs versus ours.”

In an op-ed published Monday at CNN.com, Chomsky notes how the deadly attacks on Charlie Hebdo and a supermarket last week sparked millions to demonstrate under the banner “I am Charlie” and prompted inquiries “into the roots of these shocking assaults in Islamic culture and exploring ways to counter the murderous wave of Islamic terrorism without sacrificing our values.”

No such inquiry into western culture and Christianity came from Anders Breivik’s 2011 attack in Norway that killed scores of people.

Nor did NATO’s 1999 missile strike on Serbian state television headquarters that killed 16 journalists spark “Je Suis Charlie”-like demonstrations. In fact, Chomsky writes, that attack was lauded by U.S. officials.

That civil rights lawyer Floyd Abrams described the Charlie Hebdo attack as “the most threatening assault on journalism in living memory,” is not surprising, Chomsky writes, when one understands “‘living memory,’ a category carefully constructed to include Their crimes against us while scrupulously excluding Our crimes against them—the latter not crimes but noble defense of the highest values, sometimes inadvertently flawed.”

Other omissions of attacks on journalists noted by Chomsky: Israel’s assault on Gaza this summer whose casualties included many journalists, and the dozens of journalists in Honduras that have been killed since the coup in 2009.

Offering further proof of what he describes as western hypocrisy towards terrorism, Chomsky takes at aim at Obama’s drone program, which he describes as “the most extreme terrorist campaign of modern times.”

It “target[s] people suspected of perhaps intending to harm us some day, and any unfortunates who happen to be nearby,” he writes.

Ukraine opens offensive against pro-Russian separatists in the east

By Niles Williamson
January 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

The Ukrainian regime opened a renewed offensive against pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Donbass region over the weekend in an effort to solidify control over the Donetsk International Airport, which has been the site of months of intense fighting between government forces and pro-Russian separatists.

At a rally in Kiev on Sunday, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko delivered a speech in which he declared that the government “will not give away one scrap of Ukrainian land.” The same day his government authorized the military “to unleash a massive assault” on rebel positions, according to presidential adviser Yuriy Biryukov.

Prior to the opening of this weekend’s offensive, the Secretary of the Ukrainian National Defense Council, Oleksandr Turchynov, warned in speech delivered to the Verkhovna Rada that the situation in the country could develop into a full-scale war involving all of Europe.

He laid out two possible scenarios for the conflict, one in which “the enemy turning to full-scale military actions and advancing with the active participation of Russian armed forces.” This, Turchynov said, would lead to a “full-scale continental war.”

In the second scenario he warned of the “activation of terrorist activity, and turning the confrontation into a longstanding military conflict [aimed at] exhausting economic, military, moral and psychological potential of Ukraine to create the grounds to realize their goal – to destroy Ukraine’s nationhood and independence.”

Ukrainian authorities claimed on Monday that the operation in Donetsk had succeeded in reclaiming nearly all of the territory in and around the strategically important airfield.

Despite these reported gains by government forces, fighting continued through Monday. Presidential adviser Biryukov stated that the separatists had blown up a portion of the airport terminal, injuring a number of Ukrainian troops. Ukrainian military spokesman Yuriy Lysenko reported that 66 soldiers had been wounded and three killed since Sunday.

Separatist leaders denied that Kiev-backed forces have succeeded in retaking the airport. Alexander Zakharchenko, prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), told reporters on Monday, “All attempts of the Ukrainian army to take the airport and to get revenge for the defeat of the last year…have failed.”

The Ukrainian regime launched the attack after members of a pro-Russia Donetsk People’s Republic militia seized control of a portion of the airport on Friday. Despite these gains, members of the Ukrainian Army were reportedly still entrenched in key positions of the airport’s terminal with underground communication tunnels used as a means of resupplying these forces.

Photos and video released by the BBC showed that months of fighting have left the airport in ruins. The grounds surrounding the airport have been pockmarked by unrelenting mortar fire, the main terminal has been completely wrecked and is reportedly riddled with booby traps, while the air traffic control tower has been reduced to rubble. The Putilovsky Bridge, which connected the airport and the city, was destroyed by heavy shelling.

The Donetsk airport is a strategic foothold in the ongoing fighting between the Kiev regime and separatist forces. The regime in Kiev and the leaders of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic both fear that the airport could be used to fly in supplies and reinforcements if either side is able to solidify control. The airstrip is reportedly still in good enough condition to support military supply flights.

At the end of last week, the DPR’s Zakharchenko had outlined plans for an offensive to recapture territory lost as a result of the government’s offensive last year. “They are on territory which they do not control and will never be under their control,” Zakharchenko stated in remarks posted online. “We will go further, to Slovyansk, to Kramatorsk, and so on,” he said, referring to cities the separatists had lost control of in July.

There were also reports over the weekend of the most intense shelling since the peak of hostilities last summer in areas around the separatist-held city of Donetsk. Students throughout the area were told to stay home from classes on Monday to avoid being caught in the fighting.

On Monday, Zakharchenko told the press that Kiev had broken the Minsk ceasefire agreement and added, “At no point over the course of this conflict have we had to withstand such massive heavy artillery strikes the likes of which Donetsk and the surrounding regions, as well as Gorlovka, have survived over the past 24 hours.”

Ukrainian military forces shelled Donetsk with mortars and Grad rockets, damaging residential buildings, a bus station and a shop, and killing at least five civilians over the weekend. On Monday a mortar shell hit Donetsk’s Central Clinical Hospital No. 3, blowing out the windows. While there were no reported casualties, all of the patients had to be evacuated to other hospitals.

Eduard Basurin, a senior separatist commander, told Sputnik News that air strikes by Ukrainian fighter jets on Horlivka killed more than 30 civilians, including children, on Sunday. This seemingly marked the first time since last summer that the Kiev regime had deployed fighter jets in the east. The town of Makiivka canceled all public gatherings as it was also subjected to shelling and attacks by the Ukrainian air force.

Ukrainian officials claimed that at least 10 civilians had been wounded and three killed by separatist shelling in the government-controlled city of Debaltseve, 70 kilometers northeast of Donetsk.

The ceasefire deal signed in Minsk, Belarus in November, while still formally in place, has been repeatedly breached leading to numerous casualties on both sides in the last several months.

Officially, more than 4,800 people have been killed since the beginning of the Kiev regime’s assault on pro-Russian separatists opposed to the US- and EU-supported fascist-backed coup which ousted democratically elected President Victor Yanukovych in February last year. The UN estimates that more than a million people have so far been displaced by the conflict.

American Sniper: Nation’s Pride – Slaying Savages and the Importance of Education

By Robert Barsocchini
January 19, 2015
Washington’s Blog

 

The above is a parody “making-of” film for Nation’s Pride, the feature made by Nazi propagandists in Quentin Tarantino’s dark comedy, Inglourious Basterds.  Nation’s Pride dramatizes the achievements of the deadliest sniper of the Third Reich.  It is an expression of overflowing German patriotism for their champion, who assists in the German invasion of a neighboring country by killing hundreds of soldiers resisting the German occupation.

The actor who plays the sniper, while heroically picking off the savages trying to kill him, gives the sense that the psychological toll of killing is far outweighed by his satisfaction in knowing that he is serving a just cause; serving his country; doing “good”.

Like all invasions and acts of violence, from states down to neighborhood gangs, Germany’s were justified on the grounds of responsibility to protect.  Germans were saving helpless people from imminent massacre at the hands of terrorists and brutal, criminal dictators and regimes – a pretext for which evidence can always be found, in any country.  Analyst John Glaser points out that “Hitler justified his invasion of Czechoslovakia by invoking ‘the security of more than 3,000,000 human beings’ who ‘have been maltreated in the unworthiest manner, tortured … [and denied] the right of self-determination.’”  The Germans had the ability, so they had to “do something” to help those poor people (and maybe, just incidentally, look after German interests a bit along the way).

Standing on thousands of years of European history, the Nazis used all the stock terms to dehumanize the “bad” people, the targets, in the countries they invaded, making sure to separate them from the “good” people they, the self-appointed (and, for years, US-backed) “exceptional” guardians of world peace, were protecting.

Jews were among the “savages” from whom Germany was protecting everyone.  Germany’s plan was to confine the Jewish savages to “reservations”, for forced labor and as a solution to the “territorial issue”, as was done by Europeans to the indigenous people of the Americas and often admired by Hitler himself.   Had things turned out differently, perhaps today in Germany there would be Jews living on reservations like native Americans do in the US, but in 1942 with major pressure mounting against Germany, the Nazi scheme morphed, as the preeminent Holocaust scholar Raul Hilberg documents, into an attempt at outright extermination of the Jews, resulting in approximately two thirds of Europe’s “savage” Jewish population being wiped out through disease, starvation, over-work, and “direct” murder.

The image of the “savage”, Robert F. Berkhofer notes, was originally created to “rationalize European conquest” (24).  While the main goal of the Spanish genocide against and enslavement of the indigenous of the Americas, corralling them into forced death-labor camps, was profit, the main goal of the British/US colonial forces towards the indigenous peoples, as John Quincy Adams and many others noted, was “exterminating [them] with … merciless and perfidious cruelty” for the sake of stealing their land by force and replacing them.  Thus tens of millions of native people in the territories gradually deemed “USA” (hundreds of millions in the Americas overall) were reduced by approximately 95%, with (happily) introduced disease and inflicted conditions, as in the Jewish Holocaust, killing most, and genocide picking up the slack.

On both the Nazi and European/US genocide campaigns, David E. Stannard thus notes, citing Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, that the buildup of the forces of evil that led to the Jewish Holocaust began thousands of years ago in Europe, then, expanding outwards, marched through and set up camp in the “Americas” before returning to Germany, after which they would continue to visit many other locales, from Kenya to Korea to Vietnam, Middle East, and more, the people in every location continuing to be referred to as “savages”, “Indians”, and the like, by US/European forces (253).

“Deadliest sniper in US history” Chris Kyle, the “legend” who performed “miracles” during the invasion in which he partook, uses the word “savage” over and over again throughout his autobiography, American Sniper, specifying that he and his fellows used the term to describe the “bad” and “evil” people in Iraq – those resisting the US invaders.  “Savage” for Kyle refers to both resisters in general (he describes “slaying” large numbers of the “savages”) and individuals Kyle, from his obvious moral pedestal, finds particularly odious.  Mysteriously, the choice term is not used to describe a single European/American invader, whether as hoards (many Iraqis drew unfavorable comparisons between US and previous Mongol invaders) or individual invaders who, in addition to the highest crime, aggression, famously committed such saintly acts as torture, terrorism, murder, and raping and killing Iraqi children (2, 3).  With the breezy assurance of a devout Christian raised in one of the rare countries on earth that, with clinical calculation and personal approval from the president, still implements the archaic “death penalty”, Kyle’s “savages” are strictly those his criminal commanders instructed him to kill, illegal death sentences he carried out with cheerful efficiency and purported “love”, calling to mind the self-described feelings of the Saudi holy executioner about his sacred work.

As Wiesel noted of the Holocaust inflicted on Jewish and other savages, and Stannard documents of both it and the European holocaust inflicted on indigenous “American” savages, the roots of these unfathomable campaigns of evil are one and the same with the roots of Christianity and European “civilization”.

Kyle, one of thousands of true-believing US “mujahideen”, holy warriors, who eagerly and enthusiastically carried out the illegal orders of fundamentalist Christian militant George Bush Jr., uses the word “God” dozens and dozens of times in his autobiography, over and over and over again insisting upon his deep belief in the Christian deity and its earthly incarnation, Jesus, while at the same time, even on the same page, noting that mass murder, for him, was incredibly easy.  The inter-weaving of casual notes about 1) the ease and, indeed, “love” of “slaying” hundreds of people, 2) his unquestionable judgments about his victims as evil-doers whom he needed to kill, and 3) his deep, profound love for God, Jesus, and guns, illustrates his self-conception as a holy warrior.  He drives home his self-image by explaining that, while he, like everyone, will be judged before being admitted to Heaven or condemned to Hell, killing will not be one of the acts for which God judges him; he already knows God put him on earth to be the best savage-sniper in American history.

Kyle, and, for that matter, Bush Jr. and many of his adherents/apologists, are examples of the dire need for education (yes, Bush went to an ivy league school – look where that led).  These people, largely because of communications they thought they had with a glowing man hovering above planet Earth and his deceased son, carried out or participated in the killing and ravaging of millions of people – the worst crime of the 21st century, from which many other evils continue to flow, which is one of the main, specific reasons why war of aggression was outlawed in the Nuremberg proceedings.

Evil flourished and found expression in Kyle and Bush Jr., but are people inherently evil?  Hitler, had he been raised by wolves, would have turned out at least somewhat different, wouldn’t he?  (Or would he be out in the woods exterminating squirrels, or something?)  Is there some universe in which, due to different circumstances, Hitler turned out to be an ice cream man?  Abe Lincoln thought so, arguing that slave owners were simply abolitionists born into different circumstances.  If there is some chance that education – altering our circumstances – can prevent evil from taking hold, shouldn’t it be pursued and encouraged by everyone?

Had people like Kyle, Bush Jr., and their contemporaries/predecessors been effectively reached, early and often, by information and logic, millions of people might still be alive and safe – that is, safer.  There is no such thing as total safety, but once the US invaded Iraq again in 2003, it dragged Iraq further and further down, further and further into chaos, until finally it was reduced to its current status as home of the “world’s worst city”, as a UK research company put it.

Education could, potentially, have led Kyle and Bush Jr. away from the trappings of illogic and evil supremacist ideology that, as Wiesel and Stannard note, have for thousands of years been enmeshed in their religion and culture, taking on religious but also secular-religious/faith-based forms, as exhibited by people like Sam Harris and his cadre, who purport to reject religion but are religious fanatics, devout followers of the religions of nationalism and supremacy.  These fundamentalists call perhaps even more often and with deadlier results for the implementation of the murder of lesser peoples that their supreme, elevated position, like that of their openly religious counterparts, mandates.

Perhaps Kyle and Bush Jr. could have read, in addition to what we all read and are exposed to growing up and in daily life, the works of historians and philosophers cited above, and others such as Johnson, Parenti, Chomsky, and learned that the USA, starting in the late 1950s, not only helped install Saddam Hussein into power in Iraq through a mass murder campaign, but teamed up with him, openly, from 1982 into 1990, calling him a “moderate” (sound familiar?), giving him diplomatic, political, material, and intelligence support to help him torture and kill millions of Iraqis, Iranians, and Kurds, many with gas and other illegal weapons provided by US and European governments and companies, then coordinated with Hussein again in the mid-90s, killing hundreds of thousands of children, to crush an uprising that may well have overthrown him.

Perhaps the prize sniper and his chief commander could have discovered at a young age – there is nothing complicated about it once the information is found – that humanitarian motives are simply cancelled out as reasons for US invasions/violence when one allows into the equation that the US continually and happily perpetrates or acts as an accomplice in the same and worse crimes, usually at the same time, as the ones it, in the style of the Nazis and all aggressors, pretends to intervene to save people from.  The US can’t really have been going after Hussein for the stated reason, crimes he committed in 1982, otherwise the US would first have arrested Saddam’s American government and corporate accomplices and sponsors of the crimes he committed in 1982.  Or, for another example, if the true US motive was actually to “save” people in Yugoslavia from ethnic cleansing in the 1990s, the US wouldn’t have been 1) the principal (and almost sole) supporter of the far worse ethnic cleansing being carried out by Turkey at the same time against the Kurds, or 2) an even bigger supporter of the even worse mass murder campaign, arguably genocide, being carried out, also through the 90s, by Indonesia against East Timorese peasants.

But perhaps, like many of their peers, Kyle and Bush Jr. were aware of all of this (or would have been unaffected by it), and were simply predators seeking loot, pillage, pleasure, approval of a deity, or some combination thereof, in which case education must reach enough people to reign in these criminals and bring them to justice when and if they manage to kill and ruin; to deal with “evil” in professor emeritus of psychology Phillip Zimbardo’s structural, non-religious sense of the word.

Or, we can keep doing what Scottish comedian Frankie Boyle pointed out when he said the USA will invade your country, kill all your people, then make a movie about how tough the experience was for US soldiers (while large segments of US society laud and idolize them, and their commanders, as the Nation’s Pride).

Robert Barsocchini focuses on global force dynamics and writes professionally for the film industry.  He is a regular contributor to  Washington’s Blog, and is published in Counter Currents, Global Research, State of Globe, Blacklisted News, LewRockwell.com, DanSanchez.me, Information Clearing House, Press TV, and other outlets.  Also see: Hillary Clinton’s Record of Support for War and other Depravities.  Follow Robert and his UK-based colleague, Dean Robinson, on Twitter.

Local Syria ceasefires: The way out of a US policy dead end?

Local ceasefires can be successful, but first the United States must free itself from entangling regional alliances

By Gareth Porter
January 18, 2015
Middle East Eye, January 16, 2015

 

Photo: Even Islamic State fighters concluded a local ceasefire deal – with a civil society organisation in Aleppo (AFP)

US contradictions between the Obama administration’s policy in Syria and realities on the ground have become so acute that US officials began last November discussing a proposal calling for support of local ceasefires between opposition forces and the Assad regime in dozens of locations across Syria.

The proposal surfaced in two articles in Foreign Policy magazine and in a column by the Washington Post’s David Ignatius. Their appearance indicated that the idea was under serious consideration by administration officials. In fact, the proposal may even have played a role in a series of four White House meetings during the week of 6-13 November to discuss Syria policy, one of which Obama himself presided over.

Ignatius, who usually reflects the views of senior national security officials, suggested that the administration has nothing better to offer than the proposal. And Robert Ford, who served as US ambassador to Syria until last May and is now a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute, told David Kenner of Foreign Policy that he believes the White House “is likely to latch onto” the idea of local ceasefires “in the absence of any other plan they’ve been able to develop”.

The proposal also appears to parallel the thinking behind the efforts of new United Nations peace envoy Steffan de Mistura, who has called for the creation of what he calls “freeze zones” – meaning local ceasefires that would allow humanitarian aid to reach civilian populations.

The fact that the proposal is being taken seriously is especially notable, because it does not promise to achieve the aims of existing policy. Instead, it offers a way out of a policy that could not possibly deliver on the results it promised.

But the implication of such a policy shift would be a tacit acknowledgement that the US cannot achieve its previous stated goal of unseating the Assad regime in Syria. The Obama administration would certainly deny any such implication, at least initially, for domestic political as well as foreign policy reasons, but the policy would refocus on the immediate need of saving lives and promoting peace, rather than on unrealistic political or military ambitions.

US Syrian policy lurched from Obama’s abortive plan to launch an air war against the Assad regime in September 2013 to the idea that the US would help train thousands of “moderate” Syrian opposition fighters to resist the threat from Islamic State (IS) in September 2014.  But the “moderate” forces have no interest in fighting IS. And in any case, they have long-ceased to be a serious rival of IS and other jihadi forces in Syria.

It was no accident that the alternative policy surfaced in November, just as the Free Syrian Army (FSA) had been completely routed from its bases in the north by IS forces. Post columnist Ignatius, whose writing is almost always informed by access to senior national security officials, not only mentioned that rout as the context in which a proposal was presented in Washington, but quoted from three messages the desperate FSA commander under attack sent to the US military, requesting air support.

The author of the paper that appears to have struck a chord in Washington, Nir Rosen, is a journalist whose depth of knowledge of human realities on the ground in conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon, is unmatched. His personal encounters with the people and organisations that fought in those conflicts, recounted in his 2010 book, Aftermath, reveal nuances of motives and calculations that can be found nowhere else in the literature.

Rosen now works for the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue in Geneva, which was active in bringing about the local ceasefire in Homs, considered the most significant such achievement so far. Rosen gave Robert Malley, the senior NSC official responsible for Syria, a 55-page, single-spaced report, making the case for a policy of supporting the negotiation of local ceasefires, which also calls for “freezing the war as it is”.  The report is based on the twin premises that neither side can defeat the other militarily, and that the resulting stalemate strengthens the Islamic State and its jihadi allies in Syria, according to James Traub’s story in Foreign Policy.

Negotiating local deals under the conditions of the Syrian war is devilishly difficult, as an examination of 35 different local deals by researchers at the London School of Economics and the Syrian NGO Madani shows. Most of the deals were prompted by the Syrian regime’s strategy of besieging opposition enclaves, which meant the regime’s forces were hoping to impose terms that were nothing less than surrender. Sometimes local pro-government militias frustrated potential deals, because of a combination sectarian score-settling and because they were gaining corrupt economic advantages from the sieges they were imposing. (In other cases, however, the pro-government NDF militias lent their support to local deals.)

The Syrian regime ultimately recognised that its interests lay in a successful deal in Homs, but the researchers found that the farther military commanders were from the location of fighting, the more they clung to the idea that military victory was still possible. The primary source of pressure for ceasefire, not surprisingly, was from the civilians, who suffered the consequences of the conflict most heavily. The study observes that the larger the ratio of civilians to fighters in the opposition enclave the stronger the commitment to a ceasefire.

Both the LSE-Madani study and the Integrity Research paper say that international support in the form of both mediators and truce monitors would help establish both clearer arrangements and legal commitments for ceasefire, safe passage and opening routes of humanitarian assistance. Homs is an example of a deal where the UN actually plays a positive role in influencing the implementation of the truce, according to Integrity.

The small steps toward peace and reconciliation that the local truces represent are highly vulnerable unless they lead to a comprehensive process. Even though the challenge from IS is a shadow over the entire process, it is an approach that is likely to be more effective than escalating foreign military involvement. And surprising as it may seem, the LSE-Madani study reveals that even IS concluded a ceasefire deal with a civil society organisation in Aleppo.

But even if the Obama administration recognises the advantages of the proposal of the local ceasefire approach for Syria, it cannot be assumed that it will actually carry out the policy. The reason is the heavy influence of its relations with its main regional allies on Washington. Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar would all reject a policy that would allow a regime they regard as an Iranian ally to persist in Syria. Unless and until the United States can figure out a way to free its Middle East policy from its entangling regional alliances, its policy in Syria will be confused, contradictory and feckless.

– Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist and historian writing on US national security policy.  His latest book, “Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare,” was published in February 2014.

Assassination Nation

By Ron Jacobs
January 17, 2015
Dissident Voice, January 16, 2015

 

drone_strikeImagine living in a town or neighborhood where a serial killer is on the loose. The killer’s primary weapon is a pipe bomb filled with small metal projectiles like BBs and nails. The bombs are designed to kill and maim those in the vicinity of the explosion. The killer’s weapons are usually aimed at male targets, but quite often several others in the vicinity are also killed, including women and children. Oftentimes, a note is sent to the media after the attacks warning of future attacks unless the people being targeted give in to the killer or killers’ demands. The fact of the attacks’ unpredictability has created a perennial fear in the region, leaving every resident uncertain of their future and their family’s safety.

Now imagine the killer is the United States military and CIA. The pipe bombs are armed drones packing explosives powerful enough to kill everyone within a few hundred meters. Although the drones are not randomly aimed, the appearance to those targeted on the ground is that they are. In other words, nobody in the targeted vicinity knows when or exactly where the drone will hit and who it is intended to kill. In response, the local residents of the targeted area stay inside, not sending their children to school or going to work all the while hoping their families will not be murdered in the next attack. Then the drone strikes, killing at first a man and his fellow tea drinkers. The screams of the wounded and dying attract his neighbors, who go to retrieve the wounded. Some approach quickly while others much more tentatively, knowing of the likelihood of a second drone strike designed to kill the rescuers. Then, the silence.

Since the use of killer drones by the United States began, more than 3500 people have been killed. Many of those killed were civilians. The number of civilians killed depends on how one counts civilians. The US government tends to consider every male in a targeted area over the age of fourteen to be a militant (itself a rather ambiguous term) and does not count their deaths as civilian deaths even when it is clear they were not involved in hostilities. If we were to apply this metric to the deaths that occurred when the planes flew into the WTC on September 11, 2001, then it seems safe to assume that the number of civilian deaths in that event would drop quite a bit. I am not suggesting that we do this, merely pointing out that the statistics regarding deaths by drone published by the US government (and related corporations) are self-serving and, at best, only somewhat truthful when it comes to the numbers of civilian dead.

drones_DVMarjorie Cohn is an attorney who teaches both international human rights law and criminal law. She is a former head of the National Lawyers Guild and the editor of the recently released book Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues. This text includes entries written by attorneys, religious leaders, antiwar activists and others. The writers, while predominantly from the United States, also include (among others) Bishop Desmond Tutu from South Africa and human rights activist Ishai Menuchin from Israel. As the title indicates, the essays cover the topic of assassination by drone and Special Forces hit squads through a variety of prisms. However, the primary prism is the prism of international law. The unanimous consensus of every writer is that these killings are illegal by virtually every measure and precedent that exists in the field of international law.

From Richard Falk’s academic destruction of the US government’s rationale for its policy to activist Medea Benjamin’s much more personal and emotionally wrenching tale of the murder of Karim Khan’s children in a drone strike on December 31, 2009 in northwestern Pakistan, Drones and Targeted Killing makes a cogent and powerful argument demanding an end to this most recent tactic in Washington’s war on the world. Investigative reporter Alice K. Ross expands on the proposition put forth by other writers challenging not just the lack of official documentation but also the criterion used to determine casualties in the documentation that does exist. Other writers compare the killings point-by-point with established just war causa bellis and international law only to find the drone assassination policy sadly lacking. Begin with description of Israeli assassination and us opposition.

In short, this book is a rapid-fire attack on the US policy of targeted assassination by drone or other means. It is also a look at the origins of this policy in Tel Aviv’s onslaught against the Palestinians and its assassination of Palestinian leaders by missile strike and commando. Most importantly it is a reasoned and legalistic addition to the demand that this policy end now and forever. After reading this book, the best words I could come up with to describe the nature of the US policy of targeted killing and assassination by drone or other means are the same words spoken by Barack Obama in the wake of the recent murders of twelve journalists in Paris by men quickly labeled terrorists. To quote the US president, these killings are “cowardly, evil attacks.”

Ron Jacobs is the author of The Way The Wind Blew: A History of the Weather Underground and Tripping Through the American Night, and the novels Short Order Frame Up and The Co-Conspirator’s Tale. His third novel All the Sinners, Saints is a companion to the previous two and was published early in 2013. Read other articles by Ron.