Tag Archives: Imperialism

Tony Blair and the Self-Exalting Mindset of the West: in Two Paragraphs

By Glenn Greenwald
July 8, 2015
The Intercept

 

Featured photo - Tony Blair and the Self-Exalting Mindset of the West: in Two ParagraphsTony Blair today took a little time off from serving the world’s despots in order to exploit the 10th anniversary of the July 7 London train bombing. He did so by casting blame on “radical Islam” for the world’s violence while exempting himself, pronouncing:

This is a global problem … we’re not going to allow anyone to excuse themselves by saying that the slaughter of totally innocent people is somehow a response to any decision by any government.

The proposition Blair just decreed invalid — “the slaughter of totally innocent people is somehow a response to any decision by any government” — is exactly the rationale that he himself repeatedly invoked, and to this day still invokes, to justify the invasion and destruction of Iraq, as in this example from December 2009:

Tony Blair has said he would have invaded Iraq even without evidence of weapons of mass destruction and would have found a way to justify the war to parliament and the public. . . . “If you had known then that there were no WMDs, would you still have gone on?” Blair was asked. He replied: “I would still have thought it right to remove him [Saddam Hussein]”. . . . He explained it was “the notion of him as a threat to the region” because Saddam Hussein had used chemical weapons against his own people.

“Excusing the slaughter of totally innocent people” — whether in Fallujah or Gaza or Yemen — is a staple of Western elite discourse to justify the militarism of the U.S., the U.K. and their most special allies. It only suddenly becomes inexcusable when carried out by Muslims against the West. It is a stunning testament to Western self-delusion that one of the prime architects and salesmen of the most destructive political crime of this generation — the invasion of Iraq — can stand up with a straight face and to applause and declare: “we’re not going to allow anyone to excuse themselves by saying that the slaughter of totally innocent people is somehow a response to any decision by any government.”

There will undoubtedly be all sorts of self-loving jingoists in the West, along with those whose overriding political priority is the demonization of Islam, who will find this comparison invalid and even obscene. After all, their own governments’ violence, aggression and slaughter of innocents is kind-hearted, civilized and justified, whereas the violence, aggression and slaughter of innocents by Muslims is savage and barbaric. But that’s precisely the point.

While the leading lights of the West love to celebrate themselves as beacons of civilized, progressive rationality, their overriding mentality is just the crassest and most primitive form of tribalism: when Our Side does it, it is right, and when Their Side does it, it is wrong. No matter the esoteric finery in which it drapes itself, that is the primitive, banal formulation that lies at the heart of the vast, vast majority of foreign policy discourse in the West. So often, those who fancy themselves brave warriors for rationality and advancement by demonizing Islam are just rank tribalists whose own national, religious and cultural loyalties are served by doing so.

One last point while we’re on this topic: the notion that radical Muslims commit violence in response to violence by the West is often characterized as an attempt to deny that they possess agency or autonomy. That claim is just bizarre, the opposite of the truth. Those who deny that Muslims act with agency are, in fact, those who try to claim that they are manipulated by religious dogma into committing violence without any rationale or purpose. To point out that there’s an actual, rational causal relationship between their violence and the West’s — to acknowledge that they choose violence as a calculated course of action they believe to be justified just as the West does — is not a denial of their agency, but rather an affirmation of it.

This causal relationship is the point that Tony Blair and his like-minded comrades are, above all else, most desperate to deny. Blair thus expressly denies that the July 7 bombing in London was largely motivated by his war in Iraq even though his own government’s secret report reached exactly that conclusion; a Pentagon-commissioned report years ago acknowledged the same causal motive for “terrorism” generally. They’re desperate to deny this causation because to recognize it is necessarily to acknowledge that their professed moral superiority is the ultimate delusion, that they in fact are the embodiment of what they love to hear themselves condemning.

It’s always comforting to believe that one’s own tribe is morally superior yet perpetually victimized, so it’s an easy sell. But as Blair’s remarkably self-unaware comments today illustrate, this mentality centrally depends upon a steadfast commitment to blinding oneself to one’s own actions and failings. Nobody is more resolute in that commitment than Tony Blair.

Photo: Ron Edmonds/AP

Canada’s media attacks Truth and Reconciliation report

By Carl Bronski
June 21, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

In the face of the evidence collected by Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), the mainstream, corporate-controlled media has had to acknowledge that the Canadian state’s Indian Residential School program subjected generations of Indian, Inuit and Metis children to horrific, systematic abuse.

But the Commission’s finding that the residential schools were a key element in a more than century-long government Aboriginal policy that aimed at “cultural genocide”—at destroying aboriginal society and the structures that supported it so as to “divest” Canada of its “legal and financial obligations to Aboriginal people and gain control over their land and resources”—has provoked a storm of protest.

An objective examination of the historical record shows that what was perpetrated by the Canadian state against the Aboriginal peoples was genocide plain and simple, not just “cultural genocide.” Moreover, this crime was not accidental or incidental to the consolidation of the Canadian nation state and Canadian “democracy”. On the contrary it arose from the very nature of Canadian capitalism, from the clash between capitalist private property and the communal social relations of indigenous society. (See Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Report and the crimes against the native people and Canada’s aboriginal Truth and Reconciliation Report—the class issues.)

Yet even the qualified claim of “cultural genocide” that the government-appointed TRC put forth with the aim of “reconciling” the indigenous population to Canadian capitalism has produced a backlash from columnists in the country’s newspapers. Taking their cue from Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s refusal to endorse the TRC’s conclusion, right-wing and liberal commentators alike have accused the TRC of rhetorical overkill and, horror of horrors, impugning Canada’s “good name.”

Leading the charge was a particularly odious op-ed piece in the neo-conservative National Post written by Rodney E. Clifton, professor emeritus of education at the University of Manitoba and retired anthropology professor Hymie Rubenstein from the same institution. In an article headlined “Debunking the half-truths and exaggerations in the TRC Report,” the authors argue that the Indian Residential Schools program was simply aimed at teaching “mainstream norms and practices” by providing a formal education in a “complex multi-ethnic society.” What the TRC characterizes as “cultural genocide” was in fact only the standard “acculturation” process “that has occurred around the world since the origins of human beings.”

Certainly, the authors concede, there was strict discipline, but strapping and caning (and even the “vile act of child abuse”) were the “order-of-the day” in parochial schools right up to the 1960s. Indeed, write Clifton and Rubenstein, similar traumas and indignities “have been reported by the children of wealthy parents forced to attend boarding schools throughout the former British Empire.”

One needs to rub one’s eyes, not once but twice, after reading such a statement. The Canadian state’s Residential School policy forced aboriginal parents, sometimes at the point of an RCMP gun, to surrender their children. They would then be taken to church-run schools hundreds and even thousands of miles away from their homes.

There they were subjected to humiliating and de-humanizing treatment so as to eradicate the influence of native culture and inculcate obedience. Children were routinely beaten for speaking their native language and berated for being “stupid Indians.”

The system was designed by the government to be self-sustaining, i.e., to cost it no money. While they were called schools, the church-run institutions that were attended by 150,000 native children functioned far more like prisons. Much of the “school day” was given over to backbreaking chores, including working in the fields. Yet food and schoolbooks were scarce and rationed. In addition to an official regime of harsh corporal punishment, the native children were the victims of wholesale sexual abuse.

As the WSWS reported in summarizing the findings of the TRC, between “5,000 and 7,000 children died whilst in the custody of these residential schools from disease, malnutrition, fires, suicide and physical abuse. Many were buried even without a name recorded. Parents were not notified as a matter of course. …. Healthy children were consciously placed in dormitories with children suffering from tuberculosis. Sick and dying children were forced to attend class and sit up in church. Malnutrition was rampant. Testimony from school survivors recounted how hungry children would raid the slop-buckets of livestock for additional sustenance.”

Government legislation in Alberta (1928) and British Columbia (1933) authorized the forcible sterilization of residential school children. In the 1940s and 1950s aboriginal children in some residential schools were deliberately kept malnourished at the government’s order so that researchers could “scientifically” measure the impact of a starvation diet.

Clifton and Rubenstein take particular umbrage with the TRC’s statement that the aboriginal population was treated as “sub-human.” There are numerous survivor accounts and historical documents that back the TRC’s assertion. The 1876 Indian Act—the framework for ongoing aboriginal policy in Canada which legalized the First Nations as an inferior group—stated the “aborigines must be kept in a state of tutelage and treated as wards or children of the state”. Well into the 20th century, speeches from the floors of parliament and the provincial legislatures referred to natives as an “inferior race.”

The residential school system was only a part of a broad-based policy to repress and dispossess the aboriginal peoples. An overt policy of starvation was used to drive First Nations from their ancestral lands on the Prairies. Treaty rights were unilaterally abrogated by the Canadian government. “Pass Laws” were enacted that made it illegal for First Nations people to leave the reserve without the approval of the government’s Indian agent. Authorities from South Africa tasked with framing their own system of apartheid were so impressed by Canadian policy towards the aboriginal peoples that they based elements of their own racist system on it. Only in 1960 were “status Indians” granted the right to vote and other basic citizenship rights.

But for our Manitoba college professors, this particular survivor testimony from Elder Irene Favel might be more directly edifying on the question of sub-human treatment in the residential schools:

“I went to residential school in Muscowequan from 1944 to 1949, and I had a rough life. I was mistreated in every way. There was a young girl, and she was pregnant from a priest there. And what they did, she had her baby, and they took the baby, and wrapped it up in a nice pink outfit, and they took it downstairs where I was cooking dinner with the nun. And they took the baby into the furnace room, and they threw that little baby in there and burned it alive. All you could hear was this little cry, like ‘Uuh!’ and that was it. You could smell that flesh cooking.”

Other prominent columnists in Canadian newspapers have also decried, with more circumspection than the National Post, the conclusion of the TRC’s report. Jeffrey Simpson of the Globe and Mail just wishes Canadians would simply move on from a “relentless fixation on the past”. “Cultural genocide … was practiced for a long time throughout much of the world, often more violently than in Canada, to the point where the word has lost much of its meaning except as a rhetorical debating point.” Richard Gwyn of the Toronto Star wonders, “Did Canada really commit cultural genocide?” For Gwyn the history detailed by the TRC report is incongruent with Canadians’ self-image and the world’s view of Canada as a land of democracy, tolerance and fair play. After all, he opines, in comparison to Australia and the United States, in the 19th century, “our native policies were widely praised.”

But this is not all “just history.”

The legacy from the genocidal policies of the Canadian state reverberates through native communities up to the present time. Life spans for native people fall far below the national average. More than half of all native children live in poverty. HIV and AIDS rates are higher on some western reserves than in the most vulnerable of African countries. In the far north, diseases such as tuberculosis are rampant in some communities. Overcrowding in dilapidated homes is endemic. Almost half of all residences on native reserves require urgent, major repairs.

Education opportunities are deplorable—fewer than 50 percent of students on reserves graduate from high school. The federally funded schools on native reserves receive on average 30 percent less funding than other Canadian schools. Numerous native communities don’t have access to potable water, with boil water advisories in effect, on average, at over a hundred of the 631 native reserves at any given time.

Incarceration rates for aboriginals are nine times the national average. A native youth is more likely to go to prison than get a high school diploma. Although they make up just 4 percent of Canada’s population, 25 percent of those held in federal prisons are aboriginal.

Poverty conditions are not restricted to those living on reserves. Natives in urban centres, which comprise about half of the rapidly growing 1.2 million native population, have the country’s highest unemployment rates, second only to the rates for native reserves. Nationwide, about 50 percent of First Nations people and Inuit are unemployed.

Happy Birthday Magna Carta

By Dr. Paul Craig Roberts
June 15, 2015
Global Research

 

A-Chronicle-of-England-Page-226-John-Signs-the-Great-CharterMonday, June 15, 2015, is the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta.  In his book, Magna Carta, J.C. Holt, professor of medieval history, University of Cambridge, notes that three of the chapters of this ancient document still stand on the English Stature Book and that so much of what survives of the Great Charter is “concerned with individual liberty,” which “is a reflexion of the quality of the original act of 1215.”

In the 17th century Sir Edward Coke used the Great Charter of the Liberties to establish the supremacy of Parliament, the representative of the people, as the origin of law.

A number of legal scholars have made the irrelevant point that the Magna Carter protected rights of the Church, nobles, and free men who were not enserfed, a small percentage of the population in the early 13th century.  We hear the same about the US Constitution–it was something the rich did for themselves. I have no sympathy for debunking human achievements that, in the end, gave ordinary people liberty.

At Runnymede in 1215 no one but the armed barons had the power and audacity to make King John submit to law.  The rule of law, not the rule of the sovereign or of the executive branch in Washington acceded to by a cowardly and corrupt Congress and Supreme Court, is a human achievement that grew out of the Magna Carta over the centuries, with ups and downs of course.

Blackstone’s Commentaries in 1759 fed into the American Revolution and gave us the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

The Geneva Conventions extended the rule of law to the international arena.

Beginning with the Clinton Administration and rapidly accelerating with the

George W. Bush and Obama regimes and Tony Blair in England, the US and UK governments have run roughshod over their accountability to law.

Both the US and UK in the 21st century have gone to numerous wars illegally under the Nuremberg Standard established by the US and UK following Germany’s defeat in WWII and used to execute Germans for war crimes.  The US and UK claim that unlike Germany they are immune to the very international law that they themselves established in order to punish the defeated Germans. Washington and London can bomb and murder at will, but not Germany.

Both governments illegally and unconstitutionally (the UK Constitution is unwritten) spy on their citizens, and the Bush and Obama executive branches, have eviscerated, with the complicity of Congress and the federal courts, the entirely of the US Constitution except for the Second Amendment, which is protected by the strong lobby of the National Rifle Association. If the gun control “progressives” have their way, nothing will be left of the US Constitution.

Washington and its European satellites have subordinated law to a political and economic hegemonic agenda.  Just as under the heyday of colonialism when the West looted the non-white world, today the West loots its own.  Greece is being looted as was Ireland, and Italy and Spain will not escape looting unless they renege on their debts and leave the EU.

Western capitalism is a looting mechanism.  It loots labor.  It loots the environment, and with the transpacific and transatlantic “partnerships” it will loot the sovereign law of countries.  For example, France’s laws against

GMOs become “restraints on trade” and subjects France to punitive law suits by Monsanto. If France doesn’t pay Monsanto the damages Monsanto claims, France is subject to punitive sanctions like Washington applies to Russia when Russia doesn’t do what Washington wants.

A new slave existence is being created in front of our eyes as law ceases to be a shield of peoples and becomes a weapon in the hands of government.  Eight hundred years of reform is being overturned as Washington and its vassals invade, bomb, and overthrow governments that are out of step with Washington’s agenda.  Formerly self-sufficient agricultural communities are becoming wage slaves for international agribusiness corporations.  Everywhere privilege is rising above law and justice is being lost.

The concentration of wealth and power is reminiscent of the aristocratic era and of Rome under the Caesars.  The demise of the rule of law has stripped ordinary people of security and dignity.  Peoples of the world must protect themselves by acting in defense of the Great Charter’s principle that governments are accountable to law.  Governments unaccountable to law are tyrannies whatever they might call themselves, no matter how exceptional and indispensable they declare themselves to be.

Monday in Westminster in London, the International Tribunal for Natural Justice is forming. If my understanding of this work of Humanitad is correct, we have a cause for hope.  Perhaps the Tribunal will try the criminals of our time, almost all of which are “leaders” of Western governments, on the Internet with juries and prosecutors so that populations everywhere can witness  the evil that every Western government represents.

Once the West is perceived as the evil force that it is, it will have to reform and again embrace Edward Coke’s vision of the Great Charter or become an unimportant backwater while the rest of the world goes on to better things.  The world is saved once the world ceases to bow down to the American Caesar.

 

 

Terror Trial Collapses: Suspect Accused of Supporting Syria Fighting Groups Backed by British Intelligence MI6

By Stuart J. Hooper
June 7, 2015
21st Century Wire

 

SyriaRaidThis may very well be the biggest news story of the year so far, yet hardly anyone is talking about it.

A terror trial taking aim at a Swedish national named Bherlin Gildo, has suddenly collapsed at the Old Bailey British court.

The suspect’s defence argued that British intelligence service MI6 was supporting the same groups that the suspect was supposedly fighting for, including the not-so-moderate ‘Free Syrian Army’ by providing them with both weapons and “non-lethal aid.”

 Watch a video of this report here:

The Guardian reports that Gildo was accused of attending a terrorist training camp and receiving weapons training between 31 August 2012 and 1 March 2013 as well as possessing information likely to be useful to a terrorist.

On the 8th March 2013 The Guardian published an article stating that the West was training rebel fighters in Jordan to fight against the Assad regime in Syria, which was even cited by the defence team.

What an embarrassment it would have been to have this come out during a trial, where hard evidence would have been presented truly exposing the British operation for all to see.

old bailey No terror exposé here! (Jimmy Harris)

Henry Blaxland QC for the defence of Gildo stated that “if it is the case that HM government was actively involved in supporting armed resistance to the Assad regime at a time when the defendant was present in Syria and himself participating in such resistance it would be unconscionable to allow the prosecution to continue”. He even went as far to say that the continuation of the trial would be an ‘affront to justice‘.

Gildo’s personal attorney Gareth Peirce said: “Given that there is a reasonable basis for believing that the British were themselves involved in the supply of arms, if that’s so, it would be an utter hypocrisy to prosecute someone who has been involved in the armed resistance”.

iraq1
So are these fighters friends or foes of the British government? (Photo)

Despite being ‘photographed standing over dead bodies with his finger pointing to the sky’, the British government did not feel comfortable pursuing a trial against Gildo and the case subsequently collapsed. Along with citations from The Guardian, the defence team also cited theNew York Times and London Review of Books, all of which must then be rooted in factual reality or the British government, with its near endless legal resources, would have had no problem challenging the claims.

Despite some claims that climate change caused the conflict in Syria (seriously), this tangible, Western support for rebel fighters is far more likely the true cause. The British, however, are not alone in providing this support, as numerous reports now document both American and Israelisupport and coordination with these terrorist groups.

How would the wider public react to the knowledge, backed by hard and irrefutable evidence, that their government has been responsible for the support and rise of terrorist groups like ISIS? We are likely never to know the answer to that question, as long as these trials continue to collapse.

In a world of hegemonic international relations, those on top continue to quite literally get away with murder: .

The prosecution of a Swedish national accused of terrorist activities in Syria has collapsed at the Old Bailey after it became clear Britain’s security and intelligence agencies would have been deeply embarrassed had a trial gone ahead, the Guardian can reveal.

His lawyers argued that British intelligence agencies were supporting the same Syrian opposition groups as he was, and were party to a secret operation providing weapons and non-lethal help to the groups, including the Free Syrian Army.

Bherlin Gildo, 37, who was arrested last October on his way from Copenhagen to Manila, was accused of attending a terrorist training camp and receiving weapons training between 31 August 2012 and 1 March 2013 as well as possessing information likely to be useful to a terrorist… (The Guardian, emphasis added)

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EU migrant crisis: WikiLeaked docs outline naval op, reputation risk management

By RT
May 27, 2015
RT

 

5dbff8607cce8544a71882ff21758d75-051WikiLeaks has published two classified documents revealing details of a EU plan for military intervention to curb the influx of migrants from Libya, and an information strategy to “facilitate expectation management” and avert reputation risks.

The European Union foreign ministers agreed to form a naval mission in the Mediterranean Sea targeting gangs smuggling refugees from Libya to Europe on May 18.

One of the classified documents published by WikiLeaks on Monday reveals details of the planned year-long military operation against human traffickers. The 11-page document, drafted by the EU defense chiefs, outlines plans to destroy vessels along the Libyan coast as well as target transport networks and infrastructure within Libya’s borders.

The second, 6-page EU Politico-Military Group advice paper on the military intervention lists recommendations on tackling human trafficking networks in the Mediterranean and outlines propaganda initiatives to sell the military option to the public.

The EU military chiefs’ advice centers on the notion of drawing a “full range of surveillance” and other intelligence data from EU member states and making “systematic efforts to identify, capture and destroy vessels before they are used by traffickers.”

In this context, the European Union Military Committee (EUMC) highlights the need to create an information exchange and the “coordination of the use of military assets” between partners supported by Brussels (inter alia EEAS [European External Action Service] Single Intelligence Analysis Capacity – SIAC).

With regards to the use of force, the EUMC highlighted the need to layout Rules of Engagement, especially when it comes to the “seizure of vessels in a non-compliant situation, for the neutralization of smugglers’ vessels and assets, for specific situations such as hostage rescue and for the temporary detention of those posing a threat to the force or suspected of crimes.”

The plan also envisions possible engagement with Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) fighters “within the Libyan sovereign area.”

“The threat to the force should be acknowledged, especially during activities such as boarding and when operating on land or in proximity to an unsecured coastline, or during interaction with non-seaworthy vessels. The potential presence of hostile forces, extremists or terrorists such as Da’esh [ISIS] should also be taken into consideration,” the document highlights.

The authors of the leaked document admit that the operation should be backed by a clear information strategy that would “avoid suggesting that the focus is to rescue migrants at sea but emphasize that the aim of the operation is to disrupt the migrants smuggling business model.”

While the plan lists Libya and North African regional neighbors among the areas to be targeted by the information campaign, it also acknowledges the risks of negative international publicity “should loss of life be attributed, correctly or incorrectly, to action or inaction by the EU force.”

Consequently, PMG stressed the need for a public messaging campaign to “avoid misperception on the operation’s mandate and to manage expectations.”

To protect individual operation commanders from being held “personally responsible for an action executed under their command” as well as to avoid damaging “EU reputation,” the document noted the need to have “clear legal frameworks and protocols in place prior to Operation launch, ideally with a UNSCR under Chapter VII and a complementary invitation by a legitimate LBY government.”

At the same time the authors acknowledge that “the political End State [of the military intervention] is not clearly defined” and recommend that the European Commission issue further guidance. The document emphasizes the need to avoid destabilizing the political process or causing “collateral damage” in Libya that might result in disrupting “legitimate economic activity.”

While the classified material acknowledges the main goal of the operation is fighting traffickers, and not preventing the loss of human life, the EU Politico-Military Group advice (PMG) paper recognized that search and rescue, “while not part of the core mandate of the operation”, should be administered according to international law.

At the same time, the 6-page document notes that a visible EU naval force along the coast of North Africa could have a “counterproductive effect” in preventing human smuggling, noting that the “smugglers’ business model will invariably adapt.”

Israel Moves to Cover-up its Alliance with Al Qaeda in Syria

By Asa Winstanley
Global Research, April 14, 2015
Middle East Monitor

 

israel-nukeSedqi al-Maqet, a Syrian activist who lives in the Israeli-occupied part of Syria known as the Golan Heights was interned after a dawn raid on his home by Israeli secret police at the end of February. Until quite recently, the Israeli media was absolutely banned from mentioning his case at all, even from referring or linking to foreign press reports on the issue. 

Al-Maqet is a Syrian Druze from Majdal Shams known for his media activism and support of the Bashar al-Assad regime. He had published information online (including via his Facebook account) about contacts he said he had witnessed between Israeli armed forces in the Golan and what he termed terrorists active in the Syrian-controlled sector of the Golan.

As I have noted in this column before, Israeli military spokespeople have now admitted to what the reports of UN peace-keeping forces in the Golan have been implying for some time: Israel has an active alliance with the Nusra Front, al-Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria.

Although al-Qaeda as a movement has a history of making hostile statements against Israel (and statements of an anti-Semitic nature) it has never been involved in much in the way of military confrontations against the Zionist state. Al-Qaeda has historically had two main focuses: US military and civilian targets, and military and civilian targets within Arab states (often specialising in brutal sectarian attacks against those it considers false Muslims).

Since the Nusra Front took over a key checkpoint in the Golan in the summer, it has not gone unnoticed by Arabs that Nusra has completely avoided attacking Israeli military targets in the region. The Qunaitra crossing stands between the Israeli-occupied and the Syrian-controlled sectors of the Golan – Nusra has held it since August.

UN peacekeepers have observed regular contacts between Nusra forces in the area and the Israeli troops stationed on the other side of the ceasefire line (Israel has illegally occupied part of the Golan since 1967). They also observed cargo of an unknown nature passing between the two sides from the Israelis.

More recently, when an army spokesperson talking to the Wall Street Journal confirmed Israel’s aid to al-Qaeda, it was shown that it also took the form of treating Nusra fighters in Israeli field hospitals near the ceasefire line and then sending them back to fight against the government of Syria. (Some defenders of Israel have claimed this is no different from how it supposedly treats any enemy fighter in its hospitals. But there is a crucial difference: fighters from Hamas or Hizballah captured by Israel would be sent straight to jail after hospital discharge.)

Now, thanks to the extreme risks al-Maqet took, we know a little more about this secret Israeli war in Syria. Its tactical alliance with al-Qaeda in Syria has been exposed, and the Shabak, Israel’ secret police force, is none too happy about it.

Al-Maqet posted a video online, which was later aired on Syrian TV, containing his commentary to camera on what he said he had seen in the Golan: a meeting taking place between the Israeli occupation forces and the terrorists, as he put it.

Although the Israeli media was at first banned by military decree from covering the story, the Hebrew-literate American blogger Richard Silverstein has covered the story in detail. He was the first journalist to report al-Maqet’s arrest. It was likely in part thanks to his work that the gag order was partly lifted (it did little to stop the story getting out onto the internet in any case).

Silverstein has seen a copy of part of the indictment against al-Maqet. Although some of the charges remain secret, most of the ones we know of relate to posting comments and videos to Facebook and YouTube. As Silverstein put it in a detailed summary of the case for Middle East Eye this week: “Al-Maket may be the first individual accused of spying through social media. Along with a description of the content of the posts, the clerks in the Shabak or prosecutor’s office have taken the trouble to compile the number of Likes, Shares and YouTube clicks his posts obtained.”

Al-Maqet was detained without access to a lawyer for ten days, and the military court eventually ruled that he must use a lawyer with a high-level security clearance (in other words he has to use a former Israeli military officer as a lawyer … as his defender in a military court).

The amount of trouble that Israel’s Deep State is going to in order to shut this man up is deeply emblematic of the state’s fundamentally anti-democractic nature. It also shows that, the more press coverage there is of Israel’s alliance with al-Qaeda in Syria (it has been pretty much ignored by mainstream media to date) the more Israel is sensitive to the facts being exposed.

After all, by aiding al-Qaeda in Syria, Israel is by providing material support to a group that it itself defines as a terrorist organization, as do the US and British governments.

Scouring Hebrew media, Silverstein also found last year that Israel established “a Camp Ashraf-style Syrian rebel encampment just inside Israeli[-occupied] territory” in the Golan Heights. Israeli media have even filmed the camp, as video on Silverstein’s blog shows. (Camp Ashraf was the former base of the MEK, an Iraq-based group that was backed by the US and Israel and used as a proxy force in a terrorist war against Iran).

With ISIS, the so-called “Islamic State,” currently battling it out for control of Yarmouk, the Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus, this issue has become even more important. The Nusra Front has reportedly put aside some of its differences with ISIS, and allied with the group in Yarmouk, allowing it to take over much of the camp.

Israel. Nusra. ISIS. The capture of Yarmouk. The alliances in the war in Syria grow ever more strange and complicated.

The internment of al-Maqet likely shows that Israel is beginning to get a little worried that the reality of its alliance with al-Qaeda in Syria may eventually start to break through to mainstream media in the west. So far, the media has shown little interest in the story, but that is not guaranteed to hold true.

An associate editor with The Electronic Intifada, Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist who lives in London.

The 2015 British General Election: Capitalism’s One-Horse Race

By Colin Todhunter
April 10, 2015
Global Research

 

british empireBritain is currently in the grip of a general election campaign. Voting takes place on 7 May and election fever in the media is building as various commentators and politicians engage in empty rhetoric about British values and democratic principles. Due to the nature of the ‘first past the post’ voting system, the only two parties with a realistic hope of achieving a majority of seats in parliament are Labour and the Conservatives. As in the outgoing parliament, the party most likely to achieve third place, the Liberal Democrats, might hold the balance of power in a hung parliament.

On TV last week there was a ‘leaders’ debate’. The issues debated revolved around the economy, the National Health Service and immigration. Leaders of the three main parties embraced a cosy consensus based on the need to continue with ‘austerity’ but quibbled over the nature or speed of cuts to the public sector and public services. The debate has set the tone for the unfolding campaign.

All three main parties are pro-big business and are aligned with the neoliberal economic agenda set by the financial cartel based in the City of London and on Wall Street and by the major transnational corporations. The likes of Chatham House, Centre for Policy Studies, Foreign Policy Centre, Reform, Institute of Economic Affairs and the International Institute for Strategic Studies (most of which the British public have never heard of) have already determined the pro-corporate and generally pro-Washington policies that the parties will sell to the public. Pressure tactics at the top level of politics, massively funded lobbying groups and the revolving door between private corporations and the machinery of state have also helped shape the policy agenda.

As if to underline this, in 2012 Labour MP Austin Mitchell described the UK’s big four accountancy firms as being “more powerful than government.” He said the companies’ financial success allows them privileged access to government policy makers. Of course, similar sentiments concerning ‘privileged access’ could also be forwarded about many other sectors, not least the arms industry and global agritech companies which armed with their poisons, unsustainable model of industrial agriculture and bogus claims have been working hand in glove with government to force GMO’s into the UK despite most people who hold a view on the matter not wanting them.

The impact and power of think tanks, lobbying and cronyism means that the major parties merely provide the illusion of choice and democracy to a public that is easily manipulated courtesy of a toothless and supine corporate media. The knockabout point-scoring of party politics serves as entertainment for a public that is increasingly disillusioned with politics.

The upshot is that the main parties have all accepted economic neoliberalism and the financialisation of the British economy and all that it has entailed: weak or non-existent trade unions, an ideological assault on the public sector, the offshoring of manufacturing, deregulation, privatisation and an economy dominated by financial services.

In Britain, long gone are the relatively well-paid manufacturing jobs that helped build and sustain the economy. In its place, the country has witnessed the imposition of a low taxation regime, low-paid and insecure ‘service sector’ jobs (no-contract work, macjobs, call centre jobs – much of which soon went abroad), a real estate bubble, credit card debt and student debt, which all helped to keep the economy afloat and maintain demand during the so-called boom years under Tony Blair. Levels of public debt spiraled, personal debt became unsustainable and the deregulated financial sector demanded the public must write down its own gambling debts.

The economy is now based on (held to ransom by) a banking and finance-sector cartel that specialises in rigging markets, debt creation, money laundering  and salting away profits in various City of London satellite tax havens and beyond. The banking industry applies huge pressure on governments and has significant influence over policies to ensure things remain this way.

If you follow the election campaign, you will see no talk from the main parties about bringing the railway and energy and water facilities back into public ownership. Instead, privatisation will continue and massive profits will be raked in as the public forks out for private-sector subsidies and the increasingly costly ‘services’ provided.

There will be no talk of nationalising the major banks or even properly regulating or taxing them (and other large multinationals) to gain access to funds that could build decent infrastructure for the public benefit.

Although the economy will be glibly discussed throughout the campaign, little will be mentioned about why or how the top one percent in the UK increased their wealth substantially in 2008 alone when the economic crisis hit. Little will be said about why levels of inequality have sky rocketed over the past three decades.

When manufacturing industry was decimated (along with the union movement) and offshored, people were told that finance was to be the backbone of the ‘new’ economy. And to be sure it has become the backbone. A spineless one based on bubbles, derivatives trading, speculation and all manner of dodgy transactions and practices. Margaret Thatcher in the eighties sold the economy to bankers and transnational corporations and they have never looked back. It was similar in the US.

Now Britain stands shoulder to shoulder with Washington’s militaristic agenda as the US desperately seeks to maintain global hegemony – not by rejecting the financialisation of its economy, rebuilding a manufacturing base with decent jobs and thus boosting consumer demand or ensuring the state takes responsibility for developing infrastructure to improve people’s quality of life – but by attacking Russia and China which are doing some of those very things and as a result are rising to challenge the US as the dominant global economic power.

The election campaign instead of focusing on ‘austerity’, immigrants or welfare recipients, who are depicted by certain politicians and commentators as bleeding the country dry, should concern itself with the tax-evading corporate dole-scrounging super rich, the neoliberal agenda they have forced on people and their pushing for policies that would guarantee further plunder, most notably the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

However, with a rigged media and all major parties representing the interests of an unaccountable financial-corporate-state elite, we can expect Britain to continue to fall in line behind Washington’s militarism and a further hollowing out of what remains of the economy and civil society.

No matter who wins on 7 May, the public is destined for more of the same. The real outcome of the election has already been decided by the interlocking directorate of think tanks, big business and its lobby groups and the higher echelons of the civil service. The election will be akin to rearranging the deckchairs on a sinking ship.

Netanyahu Insists Iran Deal Includes His Demands

By Stephen Lendman
April 05, 2015
Global Research

 

NetanyahuThey want final say over any future agreement. Ideally, they want none at all. They want Iran isolated and weakened. They want its government ousted.

They want Israel’s main regional rival eliminated. They’re willing to wage war to achieve their objectives.

Netanyahu said any deal with Iran must include “a clear and unambiguous Iranian recognition of Israel’s right to exist.”

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf dismissed his demand out of hand saying:

Agreement with Iran “is only about the nuclear issue…(It) doesn’t deal with any other(s), nor should it.”

On April 3, The New York Times headlined “With Iran Deal in Hand, White House Makes Sales Pitch to Preserve It.”

Saying Obama briefed Republican and Democrat leaders by phone before agreement was announced.

He promised more updates as talks continue. Senior administration officials began promoting the deal.

“The intensity of the campaign reflects the steep challenge Mr. Obama faces in building support among lawmakers…skeptic(al about” any deal with Iran.

Fierce anti-Iranian sentiment may kill any eventual agreement. Congressional opposition could undermine months of administration efforts to achieve something it considers successful – true or false.

The Wall Street Journal reported cracks in the Democrat/Jewish alliance over any Iran deal and Obama’s dispute with Netanyahu.

Saying “(m)any US Jewish leaders are unnerved both by the new Iran nuclear agreement and the public falling out between President Barack Obama and his Israeli counterpart, developments that are creating a rift in the durable alliance between Jews and the Democratic Party in the run-up to the 2016 elections.”

They continue warning about a nonexistent Iranian threat to Israel. They want Obama’s relationship with Netanyahu softened.

They want US/Israeli relations strengthened – regardless of its permanent war on Palestine and outrageous human rights violations.

Some want Iran held hostage to Israeli demands. Expect Tehran to face enormous obstacles ahead to achieve any kind of fairness.

Expect Israeli and US-controlled IAEA chief Yukiya Amano to invent fake claims of Iranian backtracking to obstruct lifting sanctions.

Expect things Washington accepted to be reinterpreted otherwise. Expect Iran to face an uphill battle ahead achieving much less than it deserves, including:

  • lifting all sanctions straightaway on completing a final deal with no triggering mechanism for reinstating them based on likely bogus backtracking claims;
  • ending the charade once and for all about an Iranian nuclear weapons program the whole world knows doesn’t exist – stating publicly there’s none now, earlier or likely ahead;
  • normalizing ties with Washington and other Western countries – including reestablishing diplomatic relations; and
  • recognition of Iran’s sovereign independence and right to be accepted like Western nations treat other countries.

It’s hard imagining any deal ending 36 years of intense US anti-Iranian sentiment.

Not as long as Congress, Israel and its Lobby maintain strong opposition to dealing with Iran fairly.

Or Obama demanding much more than he’ll give – on top of America’s duplicitous history of violating treaties, conventions and deals it agreed to.

It remains to be seen if business as usual continues. Odds strongly favor it.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network. It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

Urgent ‘Musts’ Needed for Palestinians

Defeating Apartheid

By Ramzy Baroud
April 2, 2015
Counter Punch

 

Waiting on Israeli society to change from within is a colossal waste of time, during which the suffering of an entire nation – torn between an occupied home and a harsh diaspora – will not cease. But what are Palestinians and the supporters of a just peace in Palestine and Israel to do? Plenty.

Those who counted on some sort of a miracle to emerge from the outcome of the recent Israeli elections have only themselves to blame. Neither logic nor numbers were on their side, nor the long history laden with disappointing experiences of “leftist” Israelis unleashing wars and cementing occupation. Despite a few differences between Israel’s right and the so-called left on internal matters, their positions are almost identical regarding all major issues related to Palestine. These include the Right of Return and the status of occupied Jerusalem to the illegal settlements.

But Palestinians are not without options. Sure, the odds against them are great, but such is the fate of the oppressed as they are left between two options: either a perpetual fight for justice or unending humiliation and servitude.

First, the most difficult obstacle to overcome is the stronghold of Mahmoud Abbas and his corrupt circle on Palestine’s political discourse at home. This is not an outcome of Abbas’s particular savvy or the genius of his class. The post-Oslo circle only exists to maintain the status quo: US interests and involvement as a mediator in the conflict, Israel’s security – thus the constant crackdown on Palestinian opposition and resistance – and ensuring that the Palestinian Authority (PA) has a reason to exist for the sake of ensuring the many privileges that come with the job.

Second, for that to take place, the very ailments that have afflicted Palestinian society for years, leading to the creation of the ineffectual PA in the first place, would have to be confronted heads on. One such condition is factionalism, which has to be overpowered by a collective that defines itself first and foremost as Palestinian.

Factionalism, in its current form, has destroyed much of the social fabric of Palestine. It has divided the already divided people into fragments making them easy to be controlled, manipulated, suppressed – and when necessary – besieged. 67 years are just too long a period for a nation that lives mostly in exile, trapped or confined behind walls, to sustain its political identity and remain unified around the same “constants” without proper leadership.

Third, such seismic change cannot come easily. It must be gradual and part of a national initiative. It must be a conversation that brings friends and rivals not to divide material perks, useless “ministries” and worthless “government” posts, but rather to mend the broken unanimity that once existed. In fact, once upon a time, Palestinians were not united or disjointed around the frivolous “peace process,” but instead around “national constants,” where the Right of Return took central stage.

The transition from disunity and chaos into something visionary and not confined by short-term political interests, must be smooth, calculated and led by respected Palestinian figures, not those with hands soiled by blood and corruption.

Fourth, one major issue that must dominate the new political discourse is the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees, guaranteed by international law. The issue is not only essential in its centrality in the lives of millions of Palestinians suffering in Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere, but is also essential to any sensible understanding of the conflict and its resolution.

The struggle in Palestine doesn’t date back to the war of 1967, but the Zionist takeover of Palestine between 1947-48 that resulted in nearly a million refugees, the expropriation of their land, homes, rights and the attempt at erasing any evidence of their existence.

By marginalizing the Right of Return, one diminishes the very roots of the conflict, and any serious attempt at reconciling the painful past with the equally agonizing present.

Fifth, Palestine 48 must be fully incorporated into national agenda. The Palestinians of 1948 have always, and will remain a major component of the Palestine question and the Palestinian struggle for freedom and human rights. The fragmentation between the communities were imposed by calculated political realities, enforced by Israel or circumstances. That said, the issues have never been truly separated: the plight of Palestinians in Israel, those under military occupation in the occupied territories, and refugees in the diaspora all go back to the same historical point of reference – the Nakba of 48. These common struggles continue to be sustained by Israel, its racist laws, its military occupation and its refusal to adhere to international law.

Without the Palestinians of 48, the Palestinian national identity will remain politically fragmented and scarred. The persistence and collective strength of that population is an important asset, and their struggles are part and parcel of the struggle and resistance of Palestinians in the occupied territories and those in the diaspora.

Sixth, resistance must be respected.

The term “resistance” once dominated references made by Palestinian leaders in yesteryears, but was purposely marginalized following the signing of Oslo in 1993. That was driven by two subtle understandings that resistance was ineffective, and that to achieve a degree of validity and stateliness in the eyes of their US benefactors, the new rulers of Palestine needed to abandon seemingly unsophisticated references to a bygone era.

Yet without resistance there is only submission and defeat, which is precisely what took place. Only popular resistance in the West Bank and Jerusalem, the steadfastness of 48 Palestinians, crowned by the legendary resistance of Palestinians in Gaza under a harsh siege and repeated wars, continue to frustrate Israel. Yet, the harsher Israel tries to destroy Palestinian resistance, the more emboldened Palestinians become, for resistance is a culture, not a political choice.

Seventh, BDS must continue to grow, bridge gaps. Resistance is part and parcel of the ongoing global campaign, to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel. The outcome of the Israeli elections, and the rise of a more self-assertive Palestinian political collective by 48 Palestinians, would mean that BDS must enlarge its mission, not just rhetorically by practically as well.

The BDS movement had already emphasized equality for 48 Palestinians as a main objective that is as vital as all other objectives. The Joint List Arab party which won 13 seats in the Knesset solidified the relationship between Palestinian Arab communities within Israel as the BDS movement has to a large extent solidified the rapport between Palestinian communities across political and geographical divides. But more is needed. The new self-assertive Palestinian community in Israel deserves greater engagement.

Finally, one State must become the rally cry for equality and freedom.

The more empowered and racist Israel becomes, and the deeper it digs into the roots of its Apartheid and racist institutions and walls, the more obvious the answer becomes: a state for two peoples with equal rights. Both Palestinians and Jews exist in that very space, but they are governed by two sets of laws that make peaceful co-existence impossible. In order to speed up the achievement of that moment and lessen suffering, Palestinians have some urgent work to do.

It is time for Palestinian communities everywhere to surmount ideological, factional and political divides, reach out to one another, unite their ranks, and harness their energies, for no matter how deep the divide, Palestine is, should and will always be one.

Ramzy Baroudwww.ramzybaroud.net – is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. He is currently completing his PhD studies at the University of Exeter. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London).

 

Canada’s Political Mainstream Backs War in Ukraine

The Threats Against Russia

By Roger Annis
March 31, 2015
Counter Punch

 

Canadians will go to the polls next October in the first national election since the Conservative Party won a majority government in 2011. There is intense concern among progressive people in the country about the prospects of the Conservatives winning another term in office.

The government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper is moving further and further to the right. It has aligned itself tightly with U.S. foreign policy, including being ‘holier than thou’ in its unconditional support of Israel. It joined the U.S.-led air war in Iraq six months ago and now it is joining the U.S. in expanding that to Syria. It has cemented Canada’s role as a leading climate vandal in the world. It has attacked civil and social rights across the board and is now deepening that attack with the proposed, ‘police-state Canada’ Bill C-51.

This leaves many Canadians favorable to the idea of an electoral and governing alliance between the two, large opposition parties in Parliament—the Liberal and New Democratic parties—in order to defeat the Conservatives. NDP leader Tom Mulcair says he is open to a governing coalition with the Liberals if neither party wins an electoral majority.

But on the increasingly dangerous issue in world politics—the war in eastern Ukraine and accompanying military threats and expansion of NATO in eastern Europe—there is an astonishing unanimity in the Canadian political and media establishment. NATO is embarked on a drive to weaken Russia, with all the risk and folly that entails—including a nuclear danger. The people and territory of Ukraine are being used as war proxies to get at Russia. Yet, there is nary a peep of disagreement in the Parliament in Ottawa.

Liberals in lock-step with Conservatives over Ukraine/Russia

Is it possible for opposition parties in Ottawa to promise big change from Conservative rule when they share the Conservative–and NATO–ambition for a ‘long war’ with Russia? It is not. Canadians are seriously mistaken if we believe that a country embarked on confrontation with the peoples of Russia and elsewhere in eastern Europe can simultaneously tackle the important issues of our times such as climate change, political rights and social justice (particularly as concerns Indigenous peoples).

The website The New Cold War: Ukraine and beyond is writing and publishing extensively about the ‘blame Russia’ group think in government and mainstream media in Canada and other NATO countries over the war in Ukraine. With few exceptions, mainstream media in the NATO countries is acting as an echo chamber of government policy. The ‘blame Russia’ narrative says that the governing coalition in Ukraine of billionaire neo-conservatives and right-wing extremists are brave defenders of Ukraine worthy of support against ‘Russian aggression’, end of discussion.

It gets worse in Canada. Two of the country’s leading newspapers—the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail—have been publishing articles promoting the fundraising efforts in Canada of Ukraine’s extreme-right paramilitaries for the purchase of weapons and other military equipment.

The Liberal Party, supposedly a party of the mainstream center, is proving every bit as hawkish and warlike as the Conservatives. A key voice of the party on Ukraine and Russia is Chrystia Freeland. She is an author, former editor of the Globe and Mail, and the star candidate of the Liberals who won the hotly contested by-election race in 2013 for the Parliamentary seat of Toronto Centre , narrowly defeating the candidate of the NDP, Linda McQuaig, a left-wing journalist.

One of Freeland’s parents was Ukrainian and she is fluent in the language.

Freeland spoke bluntly to a gathering of Ukrainian Canadian women on March 8 at an event in Toronto marking International Womens Day. A brief portion of her remarks (in English) was broadcast in a Ukrainian language news program here (at the 7′ mark).

She told the gathering, “This conflict with Russia is not going to end in one day. Our community, our country, the entire Western world needs to really be prepared for a new environment. This is not something that can end quickly, and we need to adjust the way we think. We need to understand this is a very profound ideological battle going on.

She went on, “It’s actually a conflict even bigger than Ukraine. This is about the rule of law and democracy in Europe and the Western world. That’s why it is being fought so fiercely.”

She gave an interview to a Ukrainian-Canadian publication at the same event in which she said, “Having said that [the West has been valiantly aiding Ukraine], I think we need to be prepared that right now this Minsk-2 [ceasefire] moment is a pause, not the end. And we need to be prepared for this conflict to be a very, very long conflict.”

Yvan Baker, the Liberal member for Etobicoke Center (Toronto) in the Ontario Legislature (an electoral district with a large number of Ukrainian-Canadians), is another of the Liberal hawks on Ukraine. He gave a statement to the Legislature on March 11 in which he said, “Today, Ukraine is at war and the situation is dire. Russian-backed forces have occupied part of Eastern Ukraine and continue to advance. The soldiers I met [while visiting Ukraine in November 2014] are fighting against state-of-the-art equipment with outdated weapons, some from World War II.”

“The invasion is a global threat. It is a violation of international law and order established at such great cost during WWII.”

“Efforts at peace have failed. For months, Ukraine’s president has been asking for defensive [sic] weapons so that his nation stands a chance against the larger and more advanced Russian military. Others such as [U.S. Senator] John McCain and John Boehner [Republican Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives] have echoed his call and the U.S. Congress has passed authorization for the U.S. to arm Ukraine.

“I urge our federal government to act on the Ukrainian Canadian Congress’s Feb. 21st statement which calls for Canada to, and I quote: ‘dramatically increase sectoral sanctions’, ‘increase the provision of communications and intelligence capabilities’ and ‘provide Ukraine with the defensive weapons, equipment and training it needs to defend its territorial integrity’.”

Liberal Party Premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne joined the pro-war chorus last August when she appeared at a Ukraine Independence Day event in Toronto. It was organized by the extremist Ukrainian Canadian Congress and it featured a fundraising booth of the fascist Right Sector party of Ukraine. Funds were directed to the purchase of military equipment.

Wynne’s speech was a vigorous call to continue Kyiv’s war in eastern Ukraine. At the time, the war was at one of its bloodiest stages. Rockets and mortars were raining down relentlessly on civilian targets, including school and hospitals, while residents, including children, were living months on end in makeshift bomb shelters.

Wynne told the gathering that Ukraine armed forces “are defending the very independence that we are here to commemorate”. She declined to speak to journalists afterward.

It is unusual, to say the least, for a provincial premier in Canada to pronounce vigorously on a foreign policy issue, particularly so when it concerns a brutal war against a civilian population. But such is the group-think support for Kyiv’s war that Wynne’s call to arms raised little attention or controversy.

A Liberal member of Parliament in Montreal, Irwin Cotler, succeeded on March 25 in gaining unanimous support for a motion in Parliament to extend sanctions against Russian officials deemed to be involved in the death in prison custody of a Russia lawyer more than five years ago.

The official opposition party, the NDP, has not been as vigorously outspoken as the Liberals (excepting an appearance by MP Peggy Nash at an event in Toronto last November where she shared a stage with a Right Sector guest speaker). But it supports the government/NATO drive.

The one Green Party member in Parliament has been in lock-step on Ukraine, notwithstanding her divergence from the government on the bombings in Iraq and on civil liberties issues. Elizabeth May put an innocuous question to the government in the House of Commons on March 25 in which she assured, “We all join the Prime Minister in condemning Putin’s aggression [sic]…”

Police-state laws

Ironically, the opposition parties in Ottawa are voicing discomfort and even some opposition to a new set of police-state laws in Canada which resemble an awful lot those which have come into force in Ukraine during the past year. Bill C-51 contains several new “national security” provisions which will make it easier for Canada’s political police and other police agencies to spy on, disrupt and pre-emptively arrest people deemed to be a threat to vaguely denied “national interests” and “national security” in Canada. The bill has been condemned by human rights lawyers and advocates, environmentalists and trade union leaders, among many others, who say its provisions are aimed squarely at critics of government and industry such as them. (See a full explanation of Bill C-51 here.)

Indeed, the political policing to which Bill C-51 gives further legitimacy has been on full display in the streets of Montreal and Quebec City in the past ten days as tens of thousands of post-secondary students have gone on strike in Quebec against hikes to tuition fees and other antisocial, austerity policies. Last week, police in Montreal and Quebec City assaulted several large student demonstrations and arrested hundreds. In Quebec City on March 24, 274 protesters were arrested and detained by police during an evening protest and street march. Two days later during another evening march, some students were shot point-blank in the face by Quebec City police with tear gas canisters.

The police actions in Quebec should concern every Canadian and they raise the obvious spectre of the cruel, war policies in Ukraine coming home to roost in Canada. And in an eerie replication of the pattern of mainstream news reporting of Ukraine, the news of police actions in Quebec has largely gone unreported elsewhere in the country.

Illegal war in the Middle East

Another taste of the new, Ukraine-inspired law and order in Canada is the federal government’s decision to extend to Syria the aerial bombing campaign it has been conducting in Iraq alongside its U.S. big brother. The bombings are purportedly targeting “terrorists”. On what legal basis is Canada going to war in Syrian territory? Roughly the same as in Iraq, namely, ‘the U.S. is doing it, so we should join them’.

Harper told Parliament that Canada is “pursuing this action on exactly the same legal basis as its allies”. But he did not answer what, exactly, is that basis.

Foreign affairs minister Rob Nicholson told the chamber, “The Americans have operated in there [Syria] for six months without resistance from the Syrian government.”

Minister of Defense Jason Kenny says Canada is acting at the behest of the discredited and U.S. puppet government in Iraq. He said, Iraq has asked Canada and allied countries to help them defend their innocent civilians from terror attacks being launched out of eastern Syria in a part of that country the Syrian government either is unwilling or unable to control.”

When pressed by opposition parties and journalists, the Conservatives agreed to send a letter to the United Nations to inform it of its plans.

The Liberals and the NDP agreed to the bombings in Iraq when they were launched six months ago but are uneasy over extending this to Syria. Both voted against the Syria adventure, though a section of the Liberals disagrees with party leader Justin Trudeau.

There is an atmosphere of intellectual intimidation prevailing in Canada whereby criticism of the war and of NATO is said to amount to uncritical support of the Russian government (or what they call “Putin’s regime”). As a consequence, some alternative media is silent. Academia and antiwar groups are largely quiescent. In 2003, the advocates of war against Iraq did not get very far with accusations against antiwar forces of “appeasing” Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein. Today, a parallel argument against Russia has been effective in quieting voices that would otherwise be expected to be critical.

The NATO confrontation with Russia is a reckless and dangerous course that is corroding politics in Canada. It threatens the capacity to forge a progressive alternative to the governing warmakers if it is not challenged. That’s why it is important to speak and act against the war in Ukraine and its wider implications.

Roger Annis is an editor of the website The New Cold War: Ukraine and beyond.