Why Territory? By Ian Klinke

Why Territory?

By Ian Klinke

Territory is increasingly presented as the only response to the world’s problems. But if territory is the answer, then what exactly is the question?


Inthe 1990s, it was common for us to hear and read about the end of territory. The Berlin Wall had fallen and the remaining pockets of real existing socialism were crumbling fast under the forces of liberal capitalism. As the European Union dissolved its internal borders, the spread of the internet seemed to further de-territorialise our lives. Two decades on, the picture seems to be a rather different one.

From the United Kingdom’s decision to retreat into the nation-state to the construction of border fences and walls in Israel, Hungary, the United States and elsewhere, the control of geographical areas seems to have returned to haunt us. Even cyberspace is now increasingly policed, both by authoritarian and more democratic states alike. Many of those who valorise a territorial world will argue that there is something inherently natural about this return of territory. Indeed, as a way of demarcating power in space, the question of territory may seem as old as mankind — but it is not.

Today, territory is commonly assumed to be a portion of the Earth’s surface, including its subsoil, airspace and adjacent waters, that is controlled by a state. Territory defines the geographical area over which a state has jurisdiction and it allows the state to filter the movement of people and goods into and out of this area. As an attempt to say “this far and no further”, territory may seem inherent to the human condition. But if territory was of natural rather than of cultural origin, we should be able to observe attempts to territorialise politics in all societies throughout history. Divided cities like Belfast, Jerusalem or Nicosia would be the rule rather than the exception. In fact, the logic of territory has its origins only in the 17th century.

“As a way of demarcating power in space, the question of territory may seem as old as mankind — but it is not.”

Rather than an answer to the question of migration, territory was originally a response to the problem of religious warfare. Indeed, it first emerged as a solution to the Thirty Years’ War, a conflict that had wiped out millions of Central Europeans between 1618 and 1648 in the name of both Protestantism and Catholicism. In order to ban such wars in the future, rulers should choose their territory’s denomination without interference from others. Those amongst the population who felt they would prefer to inhabit a territory with a different denomination to their ruler’s could simply leave. From this arose the principles of territorial sovereignty and non-intervention, which remain crucial to the functioning of contemporary world politics.

States have not always been interested in making exact maps of their territories. Feudal states, city states and empires did not govern through territory. The Romans, for instance, may have used the term ‘territory’, but it referred mainly to the land associated with a city. They did not imagine their world to be made up of territorial states. Instead of being governed by hard external borders, their empire was ruled through fuzzy boundaries. Medieval states were systems of rule that were based on inter-personal relations rather than the idea of territory. It was only in the 17th and 18th centuries that the world witnessed an explosion in cartographic activity. For in order to govern their territories, states also had to survey, calculate, and map their boundaries.

If we want to understand why so many of us have come to think of territory as a basic instinct rather than a political institution, we have to travel to the late 19th century, to a time when European colonialism was at its peak and the age of exploration had come to an end. It was in this political climate that the German zoologist-turned-geographer Friedrich Ratzel would come to write about territory as the target of a biological urge that was inherent in all species and nations. He argued that, much like caterpillars and primroses, nations were organisms that needed living space if they wanted to ensure their survival. A nation’s health could be judged only by its territory. This idea of the need for living space would develop a powerful traction in the early 20th century, as a whole range of political movements and regimes started to fetishise territory and sought to expand their living space by force.

“If we want to understand why so many of us have come to think of territory as a basic instinct rather than a political institution, we have to travel to the late 19th century.”

Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 aside, straightforward territorial conquest is comparatively rare in today’s world. And yet, borders and territorial questions still seem to structure the way in which our world works. We encounter this territorial world in border crossings, airports, and, if unlucky, in refugee camps and detention centres. In a biometric age, we even have our citizenship imprinted on our bodies — through our iris and fingerprints. And yet it is important to remember that this world of increasingly fortified borders is in fact rather new. Until WWI, it would have been possible to travel through Europe without a passport.

It is similarly vital not to forget that the territorial border remains only one way in which power is exerted over populations through space. There are others. Indeed, the prevention of motion by barbed wire in the 20th century was always accompanied by attempts to channel motion in particular directions. Much of this was — and continues to be — done through the built environment. Think of the forces unleashed by the Autobahn, or the invisible hand that lures us into the temples of consumer capitalism on a Sunday. Territory is never the only game in town. It has to coexist with other perhaps more consensual forms of control.

Territory is also hardly the smoothest form of power. Everyone who has tried to change the behaviour of a child or even a pet by assigning them a territory will know of the resistance that this can provoke. If we look at the responses of European states to the current refugee crisis, the problem soon becomes apparent. Barbed wire, the attempt to control migration by piercing human flesh, is not only imperfect (for the human body will eventually find a way around it), but it is also a powerful symbol of oppression; we only have to think of the iconic barbed wire fences of Auschwitz or Amnesty International’s logo. During the Cold War, the anti-nuclear movement often congregated precisely around NATO’s razor-wired military bases from which a nuclear war was to be waged on the world. So when states put up fences and walls today, this always also exposes the fundamental violence at the heart of the modern state.

Territory can also be an obstacle in other ways. It can limit what can be said and done. It is difficult, for instance, to wage a war without having a territorial state as an enemy. When the United States and its allies first embarked on the war against the shady forces of international terrorism in 2001, they saw themselves forced to find a territorial state that could be targeted by the Anglo-American war machine — Afghanistan.

The relationship between terror and territory is a crucial one in other ways, too. Think of the recent mass killings that have been carried out by young men — and they are nearly all men — in places like Brussels, Paris, Orlando and Berlin. Even before the blood has dried, there will be speculation about the perpetrator’s nationality. If he holds a passport from a predominantly Muslim nation or was born in such a nation, then the act is usually declared a terrorist act, no matter how weak his religiosity or his links to terrorist networks. The man may drink and have girlfriends, but he will be branded a terrorist. His motives will be assumed to be public and thus political.

If, however, he is from Western Europe — like the Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, who killed 150 in 2015 by downing his plane in the French Alps — then the motive is usually assumed to be private and we will hear about his psychology rather than his politics. If it is terror, then we can see all kinds of exceptional measures brought into force, from detention without trial to the bombing of Islamic State in Syria, as carried out by France after the Paris attacks. If it is “simply” a mass killing, then nothing much happens at all. One of the key differences is the passport.

“This vision of a world in which your passport defines your politics is of course a dangerous one — but it is also one that will likely provoke opposition.”

As xenophobic and nationalist movements and politicians are increasingly swept into power in the global North, we increasingly hear that territory is the solution to our problems. But if territory is the answer, then what precisely is the question? In the early 21st century, the question is perhaps not so much ‘migration’ or ‘identity’, as it is often claimed, but the failures of Western liberalism with its fantasy of a borderless globe of free trade and commerce. Financial deregulation, privatisation, and globalisation have created a world that radiates a sense of insecurity amongst the majority of the population. Since the global financial crisis of 2008, it has become increasingly clear that prosperity and financial security are no longer attainable for large segments of the population, even in developed economies. If we add to this the threat of climate change, then we can even say that the belief in ‘progress’, a notion that has stood at the heart of ‘The West’ since the Enlightenment, itself has been shattered. Suddenly it makes more sense why the timeless truths of a territorial world seem so appealing to many.

If we accept that the recent rise of the new right in the United States and Europe is not so much a response to the so-called refugee crisis, but, much like the rise of fascism in the 1930s, an answer to this fundamental disillusionment and insecurity, then we can see much more clearly that territory is in fact a trick. It tricks us into believing that there is a way to collapse our planetary complexities back into a world of parcelled-up territories. This is nothing less than the fantasy of creating a world in which there are only people who identify with the territorial state, people who desire and fear the same things. This vision of a world in which your passport defines your politics is of course a dangerous one — but it is also one that will likely provoke opposition.


This is an extract from Weapons of Reason’s fourth issue: Power, available to order now.

Illustrations by Koivo

President Trump has changed nothing for the good of America…(cont.)

The FBI’s Secret Rules

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President Trump has inherited a vast domestic intelligence agency with extraordinary secret powers. A cache of documents offers a rare window into the FBI’s quiet expansion since 9/11.

terrorists-won

Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide

The rulebook governing all FBI agents’ activities, in unredacted form for the first time. This is the 2011 edition, which remains the baseline document today, although the FBI recently released some updates from 2013.

SEE DOCUMENT

Hidden Loopholes Allow FBI Agents to Infiltrate Political and Religious Groups

Cora Currier
Beneath the FBI’s redaction marks are exceptions to rules on “undisclosed participation.”

National Security Letters Demand Data Companies Aren’t Obligated to Provide

Jenna McLaughlin, and Cora Currier
Internal documents suggest the FBI uses the secret orders to pursue sensitive customer data like internet browsing records.

Despite Anti-Profiling Rules, the FBI Uses Race and Religion When Deciding Who to Target

Cora Currier
The bureau still claims considerable latitude to use race, ethnicity, nationality, and religion in deciding which people and communities to investigate.

In Secret Battle, Surveillance Court Reined in FBI Use of Information Obtained From Phone Calls

Jenna McLaughlin

Secret Rules Make It Pretty Easy for the FBI to Spy on Journalists

Cora Currier
Rules governing the use of national security letters allow the FBI to obtain information about journalists’ calls without going to a judge or informing the targeted news organization.

Annotation Sets

  • Bureau Hid Doubts About Reliability of Stingray Evidence Behind Redaction Marks


  • CIA and NSA Dossiers Are Available to the FBI in the Absence of Any Crime, Raising Privacy Questions


  • FBI Spy Planes Must Abide Rules When Looking Into Homes


  • On Campus, the FBI Sometimes Operates Outside Restrictions


  • To Probe the Digital Defenses of Targets, the FBI Turns To a Special Program


Confidential Human Source Policy Guide

Detailed rules for how the FBI handles informants. Classified secret. This unreleased September 2015 document is a major expansion and update of a manual from 2007 on the same topic.

SEE DOCUMENT

The FBI Gives Itself Lots of Rope to Pull in Informants

Trevor Aaronson
Agents have the authority to aggressively investigate anyone they believe could be a valuable source for the bureau.

When Informants Are No Longer Useful, the FBI Can Help Deport Them

Trevor Aaronson
The FBI coordinates with immigration authorities to locate informants who are no longer of value to the bureau.

How the FBI Conceals Its Payments to Confidential Sources

Trevor Aaronson
A classified policy guide creates opportunities for agents to disguise payments as reimbursements or offer informants a cut of seized assets.

Annotation Sets

  • How the FBI Recruits and Handles Its Army of Informants


Counterterrorism Policy Guide

Excerpts from a guide for agents working on counterterrorism cases, which functions as a supplement to the FBI’s main rulebook, the Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide. Classified secret. Not previously released. Dates to April 2015.

SEE DOCUMENT

Undercover FBI Agents Swarm the Internet Seeking Contact With Terrorists

Cora Currier
The FBI’s online activities are so pervasive that the bureau sometimes finds itself investigating its own people.

Based on a Vague Tip, the Feds Can Surveil Anyone

Cora Currier
Low-level “assessments” allow the FBI to follow people with planes, examine travel records, and run subjects’ names through the CIA and NSA.

The FBI Has Quietly Investigated White Supremacist Infiltration of Law Enforcement

Alice Speri
Bureau policies have been crafted to take into account the active presence of domestic extremists in U.S. police departments.

Annotation Sets

  • Disruptions: How the FBI Handles People Without Bringing Them To Court


Confidential Human Source Assessing Aid

A document bearing the seal of the FBI’s Anchorage field office that gives tips for agents cultivating informants. It is classified secret, and dates from 2011.

SEE DOCUMENT

DIOG Profiling Rules 2016

A 2016 update to the Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide’s policy on profiling by race, gender, and other factors.

SEE DOCUMENT

Guidance on Guardian Assessments 2013

A 2013 unclassified communique from the FBI’s counterterrorism division explaining the database checks and other steps to be taken as part of low-level investigations.

SEE DOCUMENT

National Security Letters Redacted

An unclassified internal FBI document explaining the rules for national security letters, orders that the bureau uses to obtain certain information without a warrant. The document is undated but contains references to another document from November 2015.

SEE DOCUMENT

AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER DRAGS FOOT, TRIPS UP UKRAINIAN COURT CLAIM OF MH17 TERRORISM

By John Helmer, Moscow

The Australian Government refuses to declare the destruction of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 a terrorist act, and is withholding state payments of $75,000 to each of the families of the 38 Australian nationals or residents killed when the plane was shot down in eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014.

The Australian Attorney-General, George Brandis, has written to advise Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (lead image, left; right image, Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko) there is insufficient evidence of what and who caused the MH17 crash to meet the Australian statutory test of a terrorist act.  Because the Attorney-General’s legal opinion flatly contradicts Turnbull’s public opinions, Brandis’s advice is top-secret; he refuses to answer questions about the analysis of the MH17 incident which he and his subordinates, along with Australian intelligence agencies and the Australian Federal Police,  have been conducting for more than two years.

In public Turnbull said on Monday:  “Vladimir Putin’s Russia is subject to international sanctions, to which Australia is a part, because of his conduct in shooting down the MH17 airliner in which 38 Australians were killed. Let’s not forget that. That was a shocking international crime.”

On Wednesday Turnbull was asked to explain why, after so long, the Prime Minister, on the advice of the Attorney-General, refuses to designate the MH17 incident as criminal terrorism according to the provisions of the Supporting Australian Victims of Terrorism Overseas Act. Turnbull replied through a spokesman that he is still investigating. “The criminal investigation of MH17 is ongoing. The outcomes of this investigation could be relevant in determining whether this incident should be declared for the purposes of the Australian Victims of Terrorism Overseas Payment scheme.”

Brandis (right) was asked to explain the reason for the legal opinion Canberra sources confirm he has sent to the prime ministry denying the MH17 incident was terrorism.  That he has provided the advice on AVTOP  is confirmed by a source in Turnbull’s office.

AVTOP is the Canberra acronym for Australian Victims of Terrorism Overseas Payment. This is how the AVTOP scheme operates, and how eligibility is decided, according to the Australian social security  ministry. It records that the last terrorism incident for which Australians qualify for AVTOP compensation was the Westgate shopping mall killings in Nairobi on September 21, 2013. There were 67 fatal casualties in that incident, and more than double that number of wounded. One Australian was killed.  On October 6, 2013, two weeks after the incident, the Australian prime minister issued a formal designation of the terrorist incident for AVTOP compensation.  That commenced on October 21, one month after the incident, according to the statutory filing in the Australian parliament.


Source: https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2013L01799/Explanatory%20Statement/Text

The prime minister then was Tony Abbott; his attorney-general was Eric Abetz.

In March 2016 Turnbull had replaced Abbott as prime minister; the attorney-general was Brandis. They agreed to designate three bombing attacks in Brussels, at the airport and at a city train station, as  terrorist incidents for AVTOP. The date of the incidents was March 22 (pictured below). The date of the Turnbull-Landis designation was May 6 – 45 days later.

There are press reports that Australians were in Brussels, and were anxious; there are no reports of Australians being killed or wounded in the attacks.

Why were successive Australian officials so quick to designate the Nairobi and Brussels incidents as terrorism, before the local police and courts had time to investigate and prosecute,  and why have the Australian officials spent two years and eight months refusing to designate the Ukrainian incident? Canberra sources believe the answer is that there is no legal basis in the Australian Criminal Code for doing so because the evidence of terrorism in the MH17 case isn’t there.

The 2013 and 2016 designations, along with the Canberra sources, identify a terrorist incident according to the Australian Criminal Code.  Officials working under Brandis and Turnbull must satisfy the Attorney-General and Prime Minister that the incident comes under the Code’s sub-section 100.1(1).  This says a terrorist act “means an action or threat of action where: …(b)  the action is done or the threat is made with the intention of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause; and (c)  the action is done or the threat is made with the intention of:  (i)  coercing, or influencing by intimidation, the government of the Commonwealth or a State, Territory or foreign country, or of part of a State, Territory or foreign country; or (ii)  intimidating the public or a section of the public.”

For background on the debate among government officials, police and lawyers about the impact of Australian law on the MH17 incident, read this.

Canberra sources explain that even if Brandis had told Turnbull there was enough evidence to certify the MH17 shoot-down as a terrorist incident, according to the criminal code provisions,  the prime minister still has a broad discretion in deciding whether or not to make a declaration regarding a particular incident.

That Turnbull hasn’t done so for the MH17 carnage means he doesn’t want to do so —  and not only because of his attorney-general’s advice. Turnbull was also behind press leaks that as a cabinet minister under Prime Minister Abbott in August 2014, he opposed a scheme of Abbott’s to send 3,000 Australian troops to join Dutch and other NATO forces in  a US-backed military operation in eastern Ukraine. Abbott and NATO had prepared the justification for the military operation as Russian state terrorism in downing the MH17. Turnbull arranged for his son-in-law to reveal the cabinet papers and intelligence reports from the time, and to record his assessment that Abbott was foolhardy.  For that story, click here.

Australian sources who know Turnbull don’t agree in their interpretation of what he is now saying and doing.  Some sources believe that with his political mouth Turnbull is backing the US position against Russia and protecting himself from opposition party attacks that he is “soft” on the Kremlin.  With his legal mind Turnbull knows there is no admissible evidence and no prospect of prosecuting terrorism in the MH17 case.

The Australians haven’t realized that their decision that the MH17 is not a terrorist act undermines this month’s proceedings in The Netherlands, where the Ukrainian government has applied to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to convict Russia of financing, arming and aiding terrorist acts, including the destruction of MH17. The lawyers engaged this week at The Hague haven’t realized either.

The 45-page Ukrainian claim against Moscow to the ICJ is dated January 16, 2017, and can be read here.  The US law firm Covington & Burling is defending the Kiev government; the advocates for the Russian side include British and French lawyers.


Advocates for Kiev at the ICJ this week:  left US lawyer Marney Cheek; right, Olena Zerkal, Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine

According to the Ukrainian claim, the destruction of MH17 was an act of terrorism. “When the Russian Federation delivered this deadly surface-to-air missile system to the DPR, it knew precisely the type of organization it was aiding… The Russian government knew or should have known that their proxies would use these powerful antiaircraft weapons in a manner consistent with their previous pattern of disregard for civilian life.”

“By the early summer of 2014, the Russian Federation was well aware that its proxies operating on Ukrainian territory were engaged in a pattern and practice of terrorizing civilians. Yet rather than intervening to abate those actions, the Russian Federation’s response was to substantially increase these groups’ firepower by supplying them with powerful weapons. An early result of this decision was the attack on Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17.  In July 2014, as part of this escalation of arms supplies and other support, the Russian Federation delivered a Buk surface-to-air missile system to DPR-associated forces. Those illegal armed groups used the Buk system to commit a devastating surface-to-air attack, destroying a civilian airliner transiting Ukrainian airspace and murdering the 298 individuals on board…These perpetrators committed this terrorist attack with the direct support of the Russian government… There is no evidence that the Russian Federation has taken any responsibility before the peoples of the world for supporting this horrific terrorist act.”

“Ukraine respectfully requests the Court to adjudge and declare that the Russian Federation bears international responsibility, by virtue of its sponsorship of terrorism and failure to prevent the financing of terrorism under the Convention, for the acts of terrorism committed by its proxies in Ukraine, including: a.The shoot-down of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17.”

The Russian presentations in open court so far can be read here. Ilya Rogachev, Director of the Department of New Challenges and Threats at the Russian Foreign Ministry, testified in front of 16 judges of the court on March 7.  Rogachev (below left) was followed for the Russian side by London Queens Counsel, Samuel Wordsworth (right).

According to Rogachev, “it should be noted that during the summer of 2014 the Ukrainian Army’s anti-aircraft missile regiment No. 156, equipped with ‘BUK-M1’ missile systems, was stationed in the zone of conflict. The regiment’s headquarters and its first division were located in Avdiivka near Donestk, its second division in Mariupol and its third in Lugansk. In total the regiment was armed with 17 BUK-M1 SAMs, identical to the one identified by the JIT.”

He went on to argue that whether the Ukrainian forces fired the BUK missile, or whether the separatists did, there is no evidence that either force intended to do so. “It is enough to note,” said Rogachev, “that neither the DSB [Dutch Safety Board]  nor the JIT [Joint Investigation Team] appear to be concluding that the civil airliner was shot down with malicious intent or, which is what matters most for today, that the equipment allegedly used was provided for that specific purpose.”

The JIT, according to Turnbull’s spokesman in Canberra this week,  includes Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine. The spokesman said they “remain committed to ensuring those responsible for the downing of MH17 are held to account.” On the other hand, the evidence so far produced by the JIT hasn’t satisfied the admissibility and prosecution tests of  the Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers on the JIT staff. The AFP’s Commissioner Andrew Colvin (right, with Turnbull and Brandis in October 2014) reports to the Australian Justice Minister and he, as well as the AFP, are part of the portfolio of Attorney- General Brandis.

In two Australian coroners court hearings, the AFP has revealed serious reservations about the Dutch evidence and Ukrainian claims in the MH17 investigation; for details read this  and this.

Turnbull adds through his spokesman an additional qualification. “The outcomes of this investigation could be relevant” in determining whether the downing of MH17 was a terrorist act. In Australian law and in the Prime Minister’s judgement, could means not now – and not at the International Court.

“For the action to fall under the Montreal Convention,” Rogachev testified this week in The Hague, referring to the principal international treaty covering compensation for aircraft incidents, “the intention must have been to shoot down a civilian aircraft…”

Wordsworth told the ICJ judges that for every act alleged in the court papers by the Kiev regime, “there is a separate requirement of specific intent. So far as concerns Ukraine’s allegations with respect to Flight MH17, Article 2.1 (a) incorporates the offences under the Montreal Convention, which comprise the unlawful and intentional destruction of a civilian aircraft. So far as concerns the other allegations of Ukraine, there is a requirement of both specific intent and purpose. Article 2 (1) (b) refers to: “(b) Any other act intended to cause death or serious bodily injury to a civilian, or to any other person not taking an active part in the hostilities in a situation of armed conflict, when the purpose of such act, by its nature or context, is to intimidate a population, or to compel a government or an international organization to do or to abstain from doing any act.”

Wordsworth was repeating in open court what the Australian Attorney-General has already advised the Australian Prime Minister. Because the Australians have decided there is no case for a terrorist act to justify compensating their own citizens, the Ukrainians have already lost their case.

This Week at Trump’s Zionist Owned U.S. State Dept: March 17, 2017

Trump is the Now Officially the New Obama Succubent in his 1st 100 days

 

 criticism-of-israel-and-israelis-policies-nothing-to-do-with-anti-semitism

Missed key foreign policy coverage over the last week? We’ve got you covered. Each week, DipNote will recap the latest U.S. Department of State highlights covering a wide range of global issues, events, and initiatives in one easy to read post.

Here are the highlights from This Week at State:

Secretary Tillerson Makes First Visit to the East Asia and Pacific Region

Secretary Tillerson Addresses Reporters at Joint Press Conference With South Korean Foreign Minister Yun in Seoul. (State Department Photo)

On March 17, Secretary Tillerson traveled to the Republic of Korea for meetings with senior officials to discuss bilateral and multilateral issues, including the United States’ continued “ironclad” support of the U.S.-Republic of Korea alliance and the growing threat presented by Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). While in Seoul, the Secretary held meetings with the acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn and Foreign Minister Yun.

“The U.S. commitment to our allies is unwavering. In the face of North Korea’s grave and escalating global threat, it is important for me to consult with our friends, and chart a path that secures the peace. Let me be very clear: the policy of strategic patience has ended. We are exploring a new range of diplomatic, security, and economic measures. All options are on the table. North Korea must understand that the only path to a secure, economically-prosperous future is to abandon its development of nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, and other weapons of mass destruction.” — Secretary of State Tillerson, Seoul, Korea March 17, 2017

The day prior, Secretary Tillerson traveled to Tokyo, Japan. While in Japan, the Secretary underscored the Administration’s commitment to broaden U.S. economic and security interests in the Asia-Pacific region and reaffirmed the importance of cooperation within the U.S.-Japan alliance during discussions with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo.

Secretary Tillerson travels to Beijing on March 18 for the final leg of his Asia trip. Follow the State Department on Twitter and Facebook and visit www.state.gov for more information.

The United States Reaffirmed Commitment to a Sovereign Ukraine

On the third anniversary of Russia’s Crimean “Referendum,” the United States reaffirmed its commitment to a sovereign and whole Ukraine.

“The United States does not recognize Russia’s “referendum” of March 16, 2014, nor its attempted annexation of Crimea and continued violation of international law. We once again reaffirm our commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity…Crimea is a part of Ukraine. The United States again condemns the Russian occupation of Crimea and calls for its immediate end. Our Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns control of the peninsula to Ukraine.” — Press Statement by State Department Acting Spokesperson Mark Toner

Ambassador Nikki Haley Addresses the 61st Commission on the Status of Women

U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, delivered remarks during the 61st UN Commission on the Status of Women, an annual two-week session that brings together more than 40 UN member government representatives and civil society to discuss ways to improve the lives of women around the globe. The theme of this year’s session was “Women in the Changing World of Work.” In her remarks, Ambassador Haley shared her mother’s story and emphasized the importance of ensuring fair, equal opportunities for women and girls around the world.

And now, a look ahead to what is happening next week at State:

Secretary Tillerson to Host Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS Ministerial

On March 22, Secretary Tillerson will host the foreign ministers and senior leaders of the Global Coalition working to defeat ISIS. This meeting will take place at the Department of State in Washington D.C., and will be the first meeting of the full Coalition, now at 68 members, since December 2014.

The ministerial will include a detailed discussion of priorities for the Coalition’s multiple lines of effort, including military, foreign terrorist fighters, counterterrorist financing, counter-messaging, and stabilization of liberated areas, to increase the momentum of the campaign. Additionally, Ministers will discuss the ongoing humanitarian crises in Iraq and Syria that are affecting the region.

Follow the State Department on Twitter and Facebook for additional information and updates.

Catch up on previous This Week at State blogs on DipNote and Medium.com.


This entry originally appeared on DipNote, the U.S. State Department’s Official blog.

The Deep State’s Hatred of Trump Is Not the Same as Yours

Posted on Mar 2, 2017

By Paul Street

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Last October, three weeks before the presidential election, I wrote an essay for left progressives titled “The Ruling Class’s Hatred of Trump is Different Than Yours.” People on the left, I noted, loathed the white-nationalist, quasi-fascist Donald Trump because of his sexism, racism, nativism, authoritarianism, militarism, “law and order” police-state-ism, anti-intellectualism, his regressive arch-plutocracy, fake populism, climate denialism and promise to “deregulate energy” and thereby escalate the petro-capitalist, greenhouse gassing-to-death of life on earth.

The establishment’s contempt for the orange-haired beast, I noted, was different. The nation’s unelected and interrelated dictatorships of money and empire were perfectly willing to live with most, if not all, of what the left hated about Trump. After all, I reasoned, they’d been backing or tolerating most or all of those terrible things under presidents from both major United States parties for decades.

Trump, I wrote, faced ruling-class disdain because he was considered bad for transnational capital and the American empire. For the most part, the “deep state” masters who backed Hillary Clinton did not appreciate The Donald’s blustering promises to roll back the neoliberal “free trade” agenda in the name of the forgotten working class. The foreign policy and “national security” establishment especially hated his criticism of Washington’s long march toward war with Russia.

They did not relish the related threat Trump posed to Brand America. It is longstanding, bipartisan, U.S. ruling-class doctrine that this country is the world’s great beacon and agent of democracy, human rights, justice and freedom. American reality has never matched the doctrine, but smart rulers knew that it would be especially difficult to align those claims with a president like Trump.

As a presidential candidate, Trump openly exhibited racist, nativist, sexist, arch-authoritarian, police-state-ist, Islamophobic, pro-torture, and even neofascist sentiments and values. “If our system of government is an oligarchy with a façade of democratic and constitutional process,” the veteran congressional staffer Mike Lofgren wrote last summer in the preface to his book “The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government,” “Trump would not only rip that façade away for the entire world to behold; he would take our system’s ugliest features and intensify them.” They also had policy differences with Trump’s “isolationist” and “anti-trade” rhetoric. That is why the nation’s economic and foreign-policy elites preferred Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio over Trump in the Republican primaries and Hillary Clinton in the general election.

Flash forward to the present. Horrified at the rise of an Insane Clown President who evokes chilling echoes of classic fascism, millions have taken to the streets. The issues that concern the swirling, record-setting crowds that have arisen from coast to coast are evident on their homemade signs.They include women’s and civil rights, climate change, social justice, racism, nativism, the police state, mass incarceration, plutocracy, authoritarianism, immigrant rights, low wages, economic inequality (the top tenth of the upper U.S. 1 percent now owns more wealth than the nation’s bottom 90 percent), hyper-militarism and the devaluation of science and education. The marches and protests are about the threats Trump poses to peace, social justice, the rule of law, livable ecology and democracy.

Meanwhile, the national corporate media and the U.S. intelligence community have been attacking Trump for a very different and strange reason. They have claimed, with no serious or credible evidence, that Trump is, for some bizarre reason, a tool of the Russian state. The charge is as wacky as anything Glenn Beck or, for that matter, Trump (former leader of the preposterous “birther movement”), used to say about President Obama. Citing vague and unsubstantiated CIA reports, The New York Times, The Washington Post and many other forces in the establishment media want Americans to believe that, in Glenn Greenwald’s properly mocking words, “Donald Trump is some kind of an agent or a spy of Russia, or that he is being blackmailed by Russia and is going to pass secret information to the Kremlin and endanger American agents on purpose.”

Beneath the wild and unsubstantiated charge that Trump is some kind of Moscow-controlled Manchurian president is a determination to cripple and perhaps remove Trump because he wants to normalize U.S. relations with Russia. Why, you might ask, would smoothing things over between Washington and Moscow be a terrible thing? It wouldn’t be for everyday Americans who don’t want to see themselves, their children and their grandchildren blown up in a nuclear war over, say, Ukraine (where the Obama administration provocatively helped create a fascist, NATO-affiliated regime on Russia’s western border) or Crimea (where the vast majority of the population welcomed reversion to Russia).

The U.S. power elite—rooted in key deep-state institutions like the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the Atlantic Council, the Brookings Institution, The Washington Post and The New York Times—thinks differently. As Mike Whitney recently explained on Counterpunch, Trump’s failure to grasp the necessity of the New Cold War with Russia “threat[ens] … Washington’s broader imperial strategy to control China’s growth, topple Putin, spread military bases across Central Asia, implement trade agreements that maintain the dominant role of western-owned mega-corporations, and derail attempts by Russia and China to link the wealthy EU to Asia by expanding the web of pipeline corridors and high-speed rail that will draw the continents closer together creating the largest and most populous free trade zone the world has ever seen. … The economic integration of Asia and Europe must be blocked to preserve Washington’s hegemonic grip on world power.”

This is CFR-led, U.S. “Open Door” Imperialism 101.

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Don’t be fooled by how much CNN’s anchors enjoy broadcasting images of mass anti-Trump popular protests. The U.S. imperial, financial and corporate establishment doesn’t care about the plight of the Standing Rock water and climate protectors, livable ecology, Muslim communities, Latino immigrants, Black Lives Matter activists, poor blacks, civil liberties, the working class (white and nonwhite) or Trump’s recent, insane, budget-busting call for a 10 percent increase in the U.S. military budget.

The Trump presidency is a problem for the American establishment for some very different reasons. He’s a public relations and marketing disaster for Brand USA. How do you sell the United States as a great model and agent of freedom, democracy and cultural diversity when its visible state is captained by vicious, white-nationalist authoritarians like the Twitter-addicted “thin-skinned megalomaniac” Trump and his quasi-fascist “alt-right” Svengali, Steve Bannon?

Trump is seen by many American elites as too stupid, narcissistic and crude to head the world’s most powerful nation. It’s an understandable concern. As The New York Times noted, Trump “spent the first 48 hours of his presidency bickering about the size of the inauguration crowd.”

We’ve never heard a U.S. president say anything as dangerously idiotic as what Trump proclaimed to the nation’s governors on Monday while calling for an over-the-top and dead-in-the-water increase in the Pentagon budget. “We have to start winning wars again. … We never win,” said the new commander in chief, who stands atop a giant nuclear stockpile (the U.S. owns more than 5,100 nuclear warheads) with the capacity to blow the world up many times over. “When I was young, in high school and in college,” the Vietnam-era draft dodger added, “everybody used to say we never lost a war. America never lost. Now, we never win a war.”

Talking so flippantly and childishly about wars and the nation’s need to “win” them—this without even referring to any purportedly legitimate war aims in the nuclear era—is beyond the ruling-class pale. It’s not that the establishment is pacifist or squeamish about killing people. Far from it. The American empire’s body count runs into the many millions over the last half-century alone. But Trump’s juvenile language makes the U.S. look all too transparently like a recklessly daft rogue state, not the wise and “indispensable nation” it has long been purported to be.

Recall Trump’s talk to the CIA on his first full day in office. In a rambling speech broadcast on CNN and other cable news outlets, he complained like a petulant junior high student about the media’s supposed underestimation of the number of people at his inauguration. Then he told stone-faced senior intelligence officials that the U.S. might get another chance to go into Iraq and “get the oil.”

The world shuddered two weeks ago when a U.S. Army officer posed for a photograph with a wealthy patron at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago golf resort while carrying the “nuclear football”—the suitcase that carries the launch codes for the U.S. nuclear arsenal. The new president is going to spend many of his presidential weekends at his opulent Mar-a-Lago resort, where the membership fee doubled to $200,000 after he was elected, and members now have new rules to follow.

George W. Bush also was over his head in the White House. Still, with his longstanding, ruling-class, establishment pedigree and his history as a graduate of Yale’s secret Skull and Bones society, he had the decency and, well, the class, to know his limits and place. He subjected himself to certain rules of conduct imposed by his vice president and other more competent and knowledgeable handlers.

The malignant narcissist and Twitter-addicted Trump is a different breed. He might be able to clean himself up enough to read a semicivilized and half-conciliatory speech to Congress (earning thereby a fantastic description as “presidential” from the noted sycophant Van Jones). Still, he seems unable to stop himself from doing and saying things that shred the veneer of a wise, far-seeing and benevolent American empire.

Then there’s been his related failure to grasp the necessity of focusing his dangerous imperial energies on Russia.

Has Trump and/or the people around him gotten the message on Russia? Perhaps. He agreed to get rid of his incompetent and insufficiently anti-Russian national security adviser, Michael Flynn, under establishment pressure. Flynn’s replacement is Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, who views Russia as a “hostile revisionist power” that “annex(es) territory, intimidates our allies, develops nuclear weapons, and uses proxies under the cover of modernized conventional militaries.” Two weeks ago, the White House said Russia needs to return Crimea to Ukraine—a preposterous statement that may reflect a newfound willingness for play along with New Cold War rhetoric. In his first annual address to Congress on Tuesday, Trump signaled strong support for Russia’s great antagonist, NATO.

Still, don’t expect the Trump-as-a-tool-of-Russia talk to go away. It’s too irresistible for Democrats to drop. Besides working to delegitimize Trump (something Democrats hope to turn to their advantage in 2018 and 2020), the blame-the-Kremlin narrative helps New Cold Warriors atop both reigning parties keep the heat on Moscow. It helps them hedge in Trump’s lingering promise of rapprochement with Russia.

At the same time, the Russia card helps the corporatists atop the Democratic Party avoid responsibility for blowing the election. After defeating the progressive Democrat Bernie Sanders (who would have defeated Trump) in dubious ways, the neoliberal Democrats ran a hopelessly wooden, Wall Street-captive and corruption-tainted candidate (Hillary Clinton) who couldn’t mobilize enough working- and lower-class voters to defeat the hypernoxious and widely hated Trump. The “Moscow stole it” story line is a fancy version of “the dog ate my homework” for a dismal, dollar-drenched Democratic Party that abandoned the working class and the causes of peace, social justice and environmental sustainability long ago.

The moneyed masters in charge of the “inauthentic opposition” party (the late, left-liberal political scientist Sheldon Wolin’s all-too-accurate description of the Democrats nine years ago) would rather not take a long, hard and honest look at what that political organization has become. It does not want to concede anything to those who dream of turning it into an authentically progressive opposition party. The “Russia did it” imputation works for establishment Democrats hoping to stave off demands from more progressive and populist types (who recently came close to claiming the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee) in their own party. So much better to blame external others for the richly deserved near-collapse of their party at all levels.

The Russia card also has proved tempting to U.S. progressives who should and may know better. Their understandable passion for seeing Herr Trump humiliated and removed from office has led some of them down a disturbing path. As Gareth Porter has noted, “Many people who oppose Trump for other valid reasons have seized on the shaky Russian accusations because they represent the best possibility for ousting Trump from power.” It’s a big mistake. Porter reflects and warns:

But ignoring the motives and the dishonesty behind the campaign of leaks has far-reaching political implications. Not only does it help to establish a precedent for U.S. intelligence agencies to intervene in domestic politics, as happens in authoritarian regimes all over the world, it also strengthens the hand of the military and intelligence bureaucracies who are determined to maintain the New Cold War with Russia.

Those war bureaucracies view the conflict with Russia as key to the continuation of higher levels of military spending and the more aggressive NATO policy in Europe that has already generated a gusher of arms sales that benefits the Pentagon and its self-dealing officials.

Progressives in the anti-Trump movement are in danger of becoming an unwitting ally of those military and intelligence bureaucracies despite the fundamental conflict between their economic and political interests and the desires of people who care about peace, social justice and the environment.

Do serious progressives committed to democracy, peace and social justice really want to lie down in the same warmongering and pro-surveillance bed as the CIA and the Pentagon? Doing so is bad for their souls and moral integrity. It’s also bad for democracy and for peace to help empower and legitimize the imperial system’s unelected and infamously nefarious deep state “intelligence” bureaucracy, “maybe the only [Washington] faction worse than Donald Trump,” according to Greenwald. As Whitney wisely counsels, “Leftists should avoid the temptation of aligning themselves with groups and agencies that might help them achieve their short-term goal of removing Trump, but ultimately move them closer to a de facto 1984 lock-down police state. Misplaced support for the deep state Russophobes will only strengthen the national security state’s stranglehold on power. That’s not a path to victory, it’s a path to annihilation.”

Take to the streets (and highways, town plazas, fossil-fuel extraction sites, shop floors, assembly halls, airwaves and airports, etc.) against Trump, by all means. But also take to the streets against the grim neoliberal Democrats who opened the barn door for his dangerous presidency and against the unelected “deep state” interests working always to increase the ever-upward concentration of global capitalist wealth and power. We don’t want to bring Trump down just to help install an administration more properly suited to selling and otherwise advancing American empire, inequality and ecocide.

The United States has been losing the war in Afghanistan, Trump will continue to lose as well

Still No Victory in Sight

The United States has been losing the war in Afghanistan. Whether or not Trump delivers a “surge” of new troops there, he will continue to lose that war.

DVIDSHUB / Flickr

America’s war in Afghanistan is now in its sixteenth year, the longest foreign war in our history. The phrase “no end in sight” barely covers the situation.

Prospects of victory — if victory is defined as eliminating that country as a haven for Islamist terrorists while creating a representative government in Kabul — are arguably more tenuous today than at any point since the US military invaded in 2001 and routed the Taliban. Such “progress” has, over the years, invariably proven “fragile” and “reversible,” to use the weasel words of General David Petraeus who oversaw the Afghan “surge” of 2010-2011 under President Obama. To cite just one recent data point: the Taliban now controls 15 percent more territory than it did in 2015.

That statistic came up in recent Senate testimony by the US commanding general in Afghanistan, John “Mick” Nicholson Jr, who is (to give no-end-in-sight further context) the twelfth US commander since the war began. Appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, he called for several thousand more US troops to break what he optimistically described as a “stalemate.” Those troops would, he added, serve mainly as advisers and trainers to Afghan forces, facilitating what he labeled “hold-fight-disrupt” operations.

As to how long they would be needed, the general was vague indeed. He spoke of the necessity of sustaining “an enduring counter-terrorism (CT) platform” in Afghanistan to bottle up terrorist forces, so they wouldn’t, as he put it, hit us in the “homeland.” Indeed, the US military considers what it has begun to speak of as a “generational” war in that country “successful” because no major attacks on the United States have had their roots in Afghanistan since September 11, 2001.

And that certainly qualifies as one of the stranger definitions of success in a perpetual war that lacks a sound strategy.

Of Stalemates and Petri Dishes

You know America is losing a war when its officials resort to bad metaphors to describe its progress and prospects.

A classic case was the infamous “light at the end of the tunnel” metaphor from the Vietnam War years. It implied that, although prospects might appear dark — that “tunnel” of war — progress was indeed being made and, in the distance, victory (that “light”) could be glimpsed. Contrast this with World War II, when progress was measured not by empty words (or misleading metrics like body counts or truck counts) but by land masses invaded and cities and islands wrested from the enemy. Normandy and Berlin, Iwo Jima and Okinawa are place names that still resonate with Allied heroism and sacrifice. That kind of progress could be seen on a map and was felt in the gut; metaphors were superfluous.

Afghanistan, US military theorists claim, is a different kind of war, a fourth-generation war fought in a “gray zone”; a mish-mash, that is, of low-intensity and asymmetric conflicts, involving non-state actors, worsened by the meddling of foreign powers like Pakistan, Iran, and Russia — all mentioned in General Nicholson’s testimony. (It goes without saying that the United States doesn’t see its military presence there as foreign.) A skeptic might be excused for concluding that, to the US military, fourth-generation warfare really means a conflict that will last four generations.

Long and losing wars seem to encourage face-saving analogies and butt-covering metaphors. For General Nicholson, Afghanistan is actually a “petri dish” that, as in a laboratory of terror, has cultivated no fewer than twenty “DNA strands” of terrorist bad guys joined by three violent extremist organizations — VEOs in military-speak. To prevent a “convergence” of all these strands and outfits and so, assumedly, the creation of a super terror bug of some sort, Nicholson suggested, America and its thirty-nine-member coalition in Afghanistan must stand tall and send in yet more troops.

As it turns out, our twelfth commanding general there isn’t the first to resort to biology and a “petri dish” to explain a war that just won’t end. In 2010, during the Afghan surge, General Stanley McChrystal referred to the community of Nawa in southern Afghanistan as his “number one petri dish.” As the Washington Post reported at the time, McChrystal “had hoped the antibodies generated there [during its pacification] could be harnessed and replicated [elsewhere in Afghanistan]. But that hasn’t yet happened.”

Nor has it happened in the intervening seven years. McChrystal’s petri dish experiment failed, yet his metaphor lives on, even if now used in a somewhat different way, with the entire country (including parts of Pakistan) serving as that “dish” and terrorists, not American troops and friendly Afghans, multiplying in it.

It may not be the most appetizing metaphor, but you can at least understand why American leaders might prefer it to the classic one applied to foreign attempts to pacify Afghanistan back in the ancient days of European colonial experiments: “graveyard of empires.”

To summarize Nicholson mixed-metaphorically: Afghanistan is a “petri dish” in which terrorist “strands” are “converging” to create a “stalemate” that is weakening America’s “enduring CT platform,” which could lead to terrorist attacks on the “homeland.” Let’s take that one apart, piece by piece. Is the Afghan War truly a stalemate, as in a game of chess? That hardly seems to fit a situation in which the end game is — as the Pentagon with its generational thinking and Nicholson with his request for more troops suggest — hardly in sight.

In fact, at a time when the Afghan government may control less than 60 percent of its territory and its security forces are taking staggering, possibly unsustainable casualties, other players, not the US-led coalition, seem to have the momentum.

What about that “enduring CT platform” — the presence, that is, of those US and NATO troops (together with private military contractors), all showing “resolute support” for the Afghan people so as to keep us safe at home? What if, in fact, their presence is perpetuating the very war they say they are seeking to end? Can Afghanistan of the present moment truly be described as an experiment in terrorist biology, and if so are US-led “kinetic” efforts to kill those strands of terror working instead to create an even nastier virus?

Above all, are such metaphors just a way of avoiding the absurdity of suggesting that a few thousand (or even a surge-worthy thirty thousand) more US troops could possibly turn a never-ending, losing war into a victorious one almost sixteen years later?

Grim Honesty Among the Ground-Pounders

For grim honesty, skip those metaphor-wielding commanding generals so deeply invested in a war that they can neither admit to losing nor contemplate leaving. Look instead to the ground-pounders, the plain-speaking corporals and captains who have met that war face to face, up close and personal.

Consider, for instance, a 2010 HBO documentary, The Battle for Marjah. Seven years ago, in a much larger military effort than the one presently being contemplated, US troops joined with Afghan forces to secure the town of Marjah in Helmand Province in the opium-growing heart of the country.

The documentary followed a US Marine unit, which fought valiantly to clear that town of the Taliban in accordance with the counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine then experiencing a revival under Petraeus and McChrystal. The goal was to rebuild its institutions and infrastructure so US troops could ultimately leave. As usual, the Marines kicked ass: they cleared the town. But the price of holding it proved dear, while efforts to build a local Afghan government to replace them failed. Today, as much as 80 percent of Helmand Province is under Taliban control.

The documentary’s harshest lessons come almost as visual asides. While Taliban insurgents fought with spirit, Afghan government forces, then as now, fought reluctantly. US troops had to force them to enter and clear buildings. In one case, a Marine takes a rifle away from an Afghan soldier because the latter keeps pointing the muzzle at “friendly” forces.

We witness Afghan troops holding a half-hearted ceremony to salute their government’s flag after Marjah is “liberated.” Meanwhile, the faces of ordinary Afghans alternate between beleaguered stoicism and thinly veiled hostility. Few appear to welcome their foreign liberators, whether US or Afghan. (The Afghan government units, hailing from the north, were ethnically different and spoke another language.) An Afghan shown working with the Marines was assassinated soon after the US withdrawal.

A tired Marine corporal put it all in perspective: for him, the Afghan War was a “mind-fuck.” At least he rotated out sooner or later. The Afghan people have had no such luck. To mix metaphors and wars, they were stuck in the big muddy of their “petri dish.”

Let’s turn to another ground-pounding Marine of more recent vintage, Captain Joshua Waddell. A decorated combat veteran of the war, he penned an article for this month’s Marine Corps Gazette in which he lambasts the US military for its “self-delusion.” He writes:

It is time that we, as professional military officers, accept the fact that we lost the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Objective analysis of the US military’s effectiveness in these wars can only conclude that we were unable to translate tactical victory into operational and strategic success.

Supporting Waddell’s “lost war” conclusion is General Nicholson’s own testimony, which cited the same old problems in the Afghan military: too many “ghost” (fake) soldiers — others, often commanders, pocket their salaries — indicating widespread and endemic corruption; unmotivated leadership, made worse by crippling shortages of skilled junior officers and noncommissioned officers; and too many unmanned Afghan checkpoints. (Those “ghost” soldiers, so good at funneling money to their creators, turn out to be bad indeed at securing checkpoints.)

Seeing Only What We Want to See

Given such a grim assessment, what difference, you might wonder, would just a few thousand more American troops make, when it comes to tipping the Afghan “stalemate” in Washington’s favor? In fact, General Nicholson’s humble request is undoubtedly only an opening wedge in the Trumpian door through which future, far higher troop requests are then likely to enter.

Asked by Senator Lindsey Graham whether he could do the job in Afghanistan with fifty thousand troops, which would quadruple coalition forces there, Nicholson answered with a “yes”; when asked about thirty thousand US and other NATO troops, he was less sure.

With that number of fifty thousand now out there in Washington, does anyone doubt that Nicholson or his successor(s) will sooner or later press the president to launch the next Afghan surge? How else to counter all those terrorist strands in that petri dish? (This, of course, represents déjà vu all over again, given the Obama surge that added thirty thousand troops to seventy thousand already in Afghanistan and yet failed to yield sustainable results.)

That a few thousand troops could somehow reverse the present situation and ensure progress toward victory is obviously a fantasy of the first order, one that barely papers over the reality of these last years: that Washington has been losing the war in Afghanistan and will continue to do so, no matter how it fiddles with troop levels.

Whether Soviet or American, whether touting communism or democracy, outside troops to Afghan eyes are certainly just that: outsiders, foreigners. They represent an invasive presence. For many Afghans, the “terrorist strands” in the petri dish are not only the Taliban or other Islamist sects; they are us. We are among those who must be avoided or placated in the struggle to stay alive — along with government forces, seen by some Afghans as collaborators to the occupiers (that’s us again). In short, we and our putative Afghan allies are in that same petri dish, thrashing about and causing harm, driving the very convergence of terrorist forces we say we are seeking to avoid.

All the metaphors and images do, however, suggest one thing — that Afghanistan isn’t real to American leaders, much as Vietnam wasn’t to an earlier generation of them. It’s not grasped as a sophisticated culture with a long and rich history. Those in charge see it and its people only through the reductive and distorting lens of their never-ending war and then reduce what little they see to terms that play well to politicians and the public back home.

Stalemate? We can break it. Platform? We can firm it up and launch attacks from it. Petri dish? We can contain it, then control it, and finally eradicate it with our lethal medicines. What they refuse to do, however, is widen that lens, deepen their vision, and see the Afghan people as a richly complex society that Washington will never (and should never try to) dominate and reshape into our image of a country.

The question now is what President Donald Trump will do. If past is prologue, he will end up approving Nicholson’s request, in part because his leading generals, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, National Security Adviser HR McMaster, and Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, are so psychically and professionally linked to the Afghan War. (Mattis oversaw that war while serving as head of US Central Command, McMaster held a command post in Kabul, and Kelly’s son was killed there while on patrol.)

Yet if Trump gives Nicholson the troops he wants — and then more of the same — he will merely be echoing the failed policies of his predecessors, while prolonging a war that will prove endless as long as foreign forces continue to meddle in Afghan affairs. His will then be a fate foretold in a war in which Washington’s greatest foe has always been self-deception.

First published at TomDispatch.

NATO — PRIVATE CLUB OF WAR CRIMINALS WHO DESTROY HUMANITY

 

By: Adeyinka Makinde

Writer, independent thinker

 

What has happened is that NATO provides cover for these transgressions of the United States government’s policy. In other words, it absolutely legitimizes what effectively is NATO aggression. Moreover, what one needs to bear in mind and what one needs to be mindful about is the fact that in Western Europe you no longer have rulers with the independence of Charles de Gaulle.

It seems that Washington, and we can use Washington, America and NATO interchangeably because NATO is dominated by the United States. It is a command structure, which ultimately is based on American military power and American military precedence.  Everybody else is effectively a vassal. Or, if the word vassal is too hard, they are certainly juniors in rank to what the Americans do.

America has used NATO and it has used the European Union as the means, in which it can have these designs implemented. By designs, I mean the overthrow of Gaddafi in Libya, the attempt to overthrow Assad in Syria. These are actually illegal. Russia and China were duped when they came to the UN position on Libya. Effectively, now we can see what it was.

It was right from the beginning a deceptive arrangement, based on overthrowing Gaddafi. On these occasions, they have been wholeheartedly supported by European leaders. During that campaign, Italian bases were used to bomb Libya and British Special Forces participated in training these Islamist rebels, who were eventually successful in overthrowing Gaddafi. French planes also were very instrumental in the bombing of Libya, the actual tracking down of Muammar Gaddafi and his lynching.

These are effectively war crimes. There are no two ways about it. Waging an aggressive war and assassinating foreign leaders. Therefore, this lack of spine in the European leadership is particularly regretful in the sense that the Americans are forcing them to do things against their interests.

We saw this after the coup in Kiev, which was sponsored by American intelligence, with the illegal overthrow of the legitimate government of Viktor Yanukovych. That was a situation in which the EU was complicit. In doing that, they have been forced by the United States to impose sanctions against Russia, which are against their economic interests.

So, absolutely, I would agree with that interpretation that NATO and the European Union don’t want Britain to break away from the EU. They have used that sufficient cover to give the validation of legality to what are illegal actions on the part of the United States and NATO.

 

Related Links:
Another NATO footprint in the Turkish coup


EMBRACING THE US-NATO WAR CRIMINALS WHO DESTROYED OUR COUNTRY

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Seventeen years have passed and many people have already forgotten that the U. S. and a number of other NATO countries collectively waged one of the most destructive wars on the European continent since the end of World War II–the modern aerial bombing campaign against the Serbian people. In the tradition of the New World Order, this “intervention” wasn’t called “war.” It was argued by various Western politicians and the corporate media that the bombing campaign was directed against the late Serbian President Milošević and his “propaganda machine.”[i] In fact, the NATO bombs loaded with depleted uranium[ii] were falling on bridges, maternity hospitals, private residences of ordinary people, a moving train, a Serbian TV station, the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, as well as water plants, schools, electrical power plants, and many other objects that were crucial for the society to function.

Even in 2016, there are still several ruined buildings in downtown Belgrade. These sites have not been cleaned up nor repaired. Medical doctors are finally speaking up and emphasizing that the skyrocketing rates of cancer and other deadly diseases will only continue to rise because it takes 10-15 years for the accumulated environmental toxicity to also build up in people’s bodies.[iii] In other words, more than two thousand five hundred killed[iv] and several thousand wounded people were only immediate victims of the NATO’s “humanitarian intervention.” This military action will continue to take its toll affecting multiple generations as time passes. It is worth mentioning that NATO forces also bombed bridges, refugee centers, busses, hospitals and other important objects in Kosovo–then Serbia’s autonomous province–and now self-proclaimed country. Kosovo was the territory that NATO allegedly wanted to protect in 1999. Soon after the military intervention, NATO seized control over the province, making it a de facto U. S. protectorate, even though it was legally a U. N. protectorate[v]. The United States created its largest military base in Europe and took control over Kosovo’s population and its natural resources.[vi]

One would think that under these circumstances, no Serbian government would be allowed to become too friendly with NATO and to de facto accept the loss of Kosovo—a significant part of its territory that is also considered its cultural cradle. The reality has proven otherwise. In spite of significant opposition expressed by a great majority of the Serbian population,[vii] several governments have actually approved NATO’s plans for controlling the Balkan Peninsula and hosted NATO summits and leaders. While the most recent poll conducted in April 2016 revealed that 71.6% of the survey respondents[viii] didn’t want Serbia to join NATO, these governments signed agreements that gave NATO full access to Serbia’s territory and a promise of so-called military partnership. Such uneven partnership that requires Serbia to commit to making immense changes in its socio-economic and political system, while hardly mentioning any NATO obligations, is in the tradition of a post-Orwellian world called “Partnership for Peace.”

In this article I provide a brief background on the impacts of the 1999 NATO bombing campaign that devastated the whole society, followed by a detailed analysis of recent agreements between Serbia and NATO. These recent agreements were also accompanied with a local Serbian law ratifying the 2015 agreement on “logistical support.” In the concluding remarks I include some reflections on future developments that could possibly lead to Serbia’s full membership in the North Atlantic organization.

Background: Effects of the 1999 NATO Aerial Bombardment

In the last report issued by the “Dr. Milan Jovanović Batut” Institute for Public Health, Serbian health professionals provided alarming data for the period ending in 2012. According to this report, in Central Serbia and the northern province of Vojvodina, cancer rates, including leukemia and lymphoma grew 80% following the NATO bombing[ix]. Professor Slobodan Čikarić, who is a medical doctor and the President of the Serbian Cancer Society, emphasized that Serbia had the highest cancer mortality rates in Europe. Even the Kosovo Public Health Institute registered a 57% increase in cancer rates for the years 2013 and 2014. [x]

Earlier reports were equally disturbing. Michel Chossudovsky wrote in the fall of 1999:

Amply documented, the radioactive fall-out causes cancer potentially affecting millions of people for generations to come. According to a recent scientific report, “the first signs of radiation on children including herpes on the mouth and skin rashes on the back and ankles” have been observed in Yugoslavia since the beginning of the bombings. [xi]

In 2005, it was reported that between 1999 and 2001, 140,000 people were suffering from cancer in Serbia. On average, 25,000 new cases were registered per year. This data was reported by the Serbian Public Health Ministry during a press conference. Some Serbian media and the general public started calling this phenomenon, a “cancer epidemic.” [xii]

A team of scientists from Serbia and the Serbian diaspora organized an international conference in 2001 in Belgrade to inform the international community about the horrible truth about health effects and environmental devastation that followed the NATO bombing. Professor Jasmina Vujić, who teaches at the U. C. Berkley Nuclear Science Department, was one of the primary organizers of this conference. Vujić published an article with Dragoljub Antic in the New Serbian Political Thought (NSPM) in 2015, and provided references to some attempts to decontaminate the environment[xiii].

Some media and research institutions informed the public that there had been a media blockade and that many politicians had remained silent about depleted uranium for a long time. Such media outlets recognized that NATO had unleashed a “silent killer, low level nuclear war waged on the Serbian population[xiv]. Their realization that everything becomes even more serious if depleted uranium enters the waterways and food chain is consistent with the depleted uranium science that examines various effects of depleted uranium[xv]. This kind of examination is included in the basic documents published by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency[xvi]. While there could be disagreements about the lifespan of depleted uranium and there are different opinions about the effectiveness of clean up technologies, it should be also noted that the Serbian government hasn’t invested in any consistent cleanup efforts. While some clean-up is mentioned in several sources[xvii], it is most likely that Serbia has not had enough funds, equipment, and trained personnel to invest in a consistent decontamination process.

NATO bombings specifically targeted civilian populations and objects. Michael Parenti documented multiple examples of NATO war crimes and comprehensively analyzed the underlining motives of U. S. and NATO decision makers.

Sometimes, the NATO attackers defended their atrocities by claiming that a civilian target was really a military one, as when NATO mouthpiece Jamie Shea unblushingly announced that the bombing of Surdulica hospital was deliberate because the hospital was really a military barracks. This was a blatant fabrication. [xviii]

Some people still remember the media campaign during the bombing. Those images traumatized the majority of the Serbian population and disturbed many around the world.

We have seen those endlessly repeated snippets of footage of bomb explosions lighting up the night sky over Belgrade. We’ve even seen pictures of that burned train at the Grdelica gorge where fifty five Serb passengers were blown to bits or burned alive and another sixteen wounded.[xix]

Gregory Elich documented multiple examples of devastation caused by the NATO bombing throughout Serbia. One of the most striking examples was the destruction of Niš–the third largest Serbian city that was shelled with cluster bombs on multiple occasions, including hospitals, private homes and the DIN cigarette factory which was bombed on four occasions. [xx]

According to experts, exposure to depleted uranium is more dangerous for young people whose bodies are developing, as organs and cells that reproduce faster become more sensitive to the effects of radiation. [xxi] Millions of people, animals and plants were exposed to depleted uranium. However, deadly diseases and environmental devastation were not the only effects of NATO’s “intervention.”

In addition to displacement and ethnic cleansing of Serbs, Roma, dissident Kosovars and others, NATO’s occupation of Kosovo and its subsequent secession from Serbia became a reality. There is no secret that human and organ trafficking[xxii], trafficking in narcotics[xxiii], Israeli-like strategies to expand settlements to include the lands previously belonging to Serbian residents, and general desperation of the entire population have become Kosovo’s unfortunate reality.[xxiv] Even in June of 1999, right after the NATO war was concluded, it was evident that very little would be improved in Kosovo. On the contrary, the situation became graver over the years.

Under NATO occupation, the rate of killing was about the same as before the bombings, thirty or so a week. The very level of killing that was detected as a human catastrophe and used to justify an eleven-week bombardment, continued after the bombardment. [xxv]

Here is how Diana Johnstone describes additional goals and effects of NATO’s war on Serbia:

In addition to “inflicting hardships in the daily lives of more Serbs”, bombing the country’s infrastructure also was seen as having a long-term political impact by destroying Serbia’s economic self-sufficiency. As an anonymous German official explained that the “kind of money that will be needed to rebuild bridges or even dredge the wrecks out of the Danube” was expected to provide “major leverage for Western countries.” The destroyed country would have to follow the dictates of the destroyers[xxvi].

The Serbia-NATO agreements analyzed in this article certainly resemble a situation in which the destroyed country has to follow the dictates of the destroyers. Johnstone added that:

In his first wartime interview, NATO’s air commander Lieutenant General Michael Short acknowledged that bombing was intended to cause distress among civilians. [xxvii]

In the passage included below Andrej Grubačiċ emphasized that NATO supervised the ethnic cleansing of Roma and Serbian population in Kosovo.

Before 1999 there was about 120,000 Roma in Kosovo. After the bombing in November of 1999, only 30,000[xxviii]. In March of 2000, former UN special investigator for the former Yugoslavia Jiri Dienstbier reported to the UN Commission on Human Rights that “330,000 Serbs, Roma, Montenegrins, Slavic Muslims, pro-Serb Albanians and Turks had been displaced in Kosovo.” [xxix]

Another immediate impact was that the bombing put approximately 500,000 people out of work[xxx]. Over the years Serbia’s rates of unemployment have remained among the highest in Europe. [xxxi]

A number of other prominent intellectuals also wrote about the NATO intervention and dismantling of Yugoslavia, providing data and theoretical frameworks to understand original goals and permanent consequences. Noam Chomsky often addressed multiple myths and ironies utilized by politicians and the media. Below is an example provided in one of his articles.

The sole purpose of the bombing was to demonstrate to Serbia and to the world NATO’s capacity to bomb, thus killing nearly 2,000 civilians, destroying much of Serbia’s infrastructure, prompting expulsion and flight of around a million Kosovars. The vast crimes took place after the bombing began: they were not a cause but a consequence. It requires considerable audacity, therefore, to take the crimes to provide retrospective justification for the actions that contributed to inciting them. [xxxii]

Tariq Ali said that the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia was a war for U. S. hegemony in Europe. [xxxiii] This is consistent with conclusions that were eloquently articulated by Michael Parenti, Diana Johnstone, Michel Colon, Michel Chossudovsky, Andrej Grubačić, Gregory Elich, Sara Flounders, and others. In Johnstone’s words: “As a result of intervention in Yugoslavia it was concluded that “the presence of U. S. conventional and nuclear forces in Europe remains vital for the security of Europe.”[xxxiv]

NATO’s Continuous Dominance and Serbia – NATO Agreements

The U. S. and NATO leaders knew that they couldn’t expect complete acceptance by the Serbian population right after they inflicted so much devastation and suffering. Consequently, Serbian authorities had concealed their talks with NATO officials[xxxv] and had to wait until 2005 and 2006 to enter into specific agreements. Serbian President Boris Tadić and Foreign Minister Vuk Drašković signed agreements regarding the use of information and communication systems. Tadić’s government paved the road for future governments to give even more access to NATO leaders. Behind closed doors, Serbian politicians have discussed “modernization” of the Serbian military, acquisitions of NATO technology and future support of NATO missions. At the same time, Serbia’s parliamentary resolution of 2007, asserting military neutrality still remains in effect.[xxxvi]

On May 25, 2010, the Serbian Ministry of Defense signed an agreement with NATO in Edinburgh, accepting NATO’s codification system[xxxvii]. This agreement was ratified by the Serbian Law that confirmed the formation of the Serbian National Codification Bureau. The codification agreement ensured that the Serbian Ministry of Defense accepted standardization of data, rules and procedures, as outlined in the NATO Codification Brochure. This also means that there would be an exchange of commercial and state codes of so called type S, internal Serbian codification and advertisement of such data in the NATO Master Catalogue of References for Logistics. In other words, the NATO Automated Business System will be used as the main source for the official state (and military) documents. It is not explicitly stated, but by using the NATO technology and data systems, Serbia is adjusting to NATO’s standards and also making its systems open to the oversight of the Conference of National Armaments Directors (CNAD). So this was the first step of opening the door to “collaboration” with NATO. The parties to this agreement–Serbian Ministry of Defense and CNAD–committed to resolving any possible disputes by themselves, without taking them to international courts or third parties. Anyone familiar with dispute resolution principles might wonder how this can work in practice, especially between parties with such power imbalance.

According to the Individual Partnership Action Plan that was signed by Serbia and NATO in December of 2014, this agreement was connected to Serbia’s request to join the European Union (E. U.). Even though this plan was supposed to be a military type of “partnership,” there were numerous non-military reforms and conditions outlined within it. Serbia committed to specific standards imposed by the E. U. and NATO regarding human rights, the rule of law, global security, terrorism, cybercrimes, restructuring its economy and media, in addition to boosting its military power, and “managing crises.”

In the introduction to this agreement it is highlighted that since 2006, when Serbia joined the so-called “Partnership for Peace,” this collaboration has been continually advanced and a work group was formed to coordinate all activities. Composition and roles of this work group were not specified in detail. However, it was emphasized that comprehensive social reforms were expected from Serbia. Serbia’s previous collaboration in the areas of diplomacy, security, destruction and storage of excess ammunition, and implementation of UN Resolution 1325 (on Women, Peace and Security) was acknowledged.

When it comes to economic reforms, it is expected from Serbia to continue and soon conclude the process of privatization and otherwise reform its economy in order to attract foreign capital. This was not specified in the agreement, but we know from multiple sources that the phrase “attracting foreign capital investments” means destruction of labor rights, as well as selling natural and human resources for bargain prices[xxxviii]. What was specified includes negotiations about Serbia’s membership in the World Trade Organization, and the expectation of Serbia’s greater participation in the E.U. and global markets. Serbia is expected to conclude negotiations, join the World Trade Organization and invite foreign investment. Tax reform is a part of this strategy to attract foreign capital by reducing taxes on foreign investments in Serbia. Completion of the privatization process is also a goal outlined in this agreement, implying that Serbia still has important resources that are not privatized. For example, there were recent attempts to privatize Serbian Telecom and remarkable displays of public resistance.

So called liberalization of financial services and domestic markets was also emphasized. At that time, the destiny of the South Stream pipeline was not known and Serbia’s possible participation in this project was mentioned, along with a diverse array of other possibilities to ensure “security” of energy resources.

By signing this agreement Serbia also accepted the responsibility and commitments to develop its military capabilities in order to make them available for possible participation in multinational operations overseen by the U.N. and E.U. Even though it was mentioned that Serbia could take advantage of the resources provided to all members through the Partnership for Peace, NATO’s obligations were not spelled out in the text of the agreement. However, Serbia committed to improve education, training and readiness of its military personnel. Furthermore, it was noted that Serbia was ready to improve its military equipment. Financial plans for this kind of modernization/improvement were not specified.

According to this agreement signed in 2014, Serbia also committed to conduct a media campaign to promote military reforms, including the extent and benefits of its collaboration with NATO within the Partnership for Peace framework. This comprehensive media strategy would include print and digital resources, and support given to academic, NGO, and research centers to organize round tables to promote NATO. The strategy would also encourage Serbian scientists, university professors and research institutions to collaborate with NATO and participate in joint projects. Support provided by NATO public diplomacy groups (it is not clear from the text of the agreement what these groups are and how they operate), other members of the Partnership for Peace, the taskforce for cooperation with NATO, as well as NATO’s Military Office located in Belgrade, was seen as crucial in the implementation of this strategy. It was not clearly defined why all of these resources were needed. However, knowing that less than 12% of Serbia’s population approves any kind of collaboration with NATO[xxxix], these clauses are better understood.

The section of this agreement that outlines specific individual actions also includes a timeframe for implementation. For example, continuation and further improvement of political dialogue with NATO was marked as “ongoing;” coordination and corresponding processes of “E.U. integration” as a “continuous process;” improvement of public opinion regarding global security and NATO as being “implemented in 2014,” etc. Another important goal outlined in the agreement was Serbia’s continued cooperation through the Serbian Mission at NATO. The so-called European integration processes were connected with Serbia joining an agreement for Stabilization and Association with the E. U. Negotiations about E. U. membership were connected with changing laws to correspond to the E. U. legal system, and to build positive relationships with neighbors, including Kosovo. Furthermore, this plan includes preparation and implementation of the National Program for Acceptance of E. U. Values and Traditions. These values and traditions are not listed in the agreement. Serbia committed to supporting various organizations for regional stability, the E. U. Strategic Partnership for the Danube River, and the continuation of negotiations with Priština regarding the Brussels’ Agreement, in collaboration with NATO’s Kosovo Force (KFOR) in the context of U. N. Security Council Resolution 1244. Collaboration and work with the U. N., Organization for European Security and Cooperation—OEBS (Serbian acronym), and the European Council also became logical parts of this agreement, as Serbia has a long history of cooperation with these organizations.

When it comes to multiculturalism and human rights, Serbia committed to “anti-discriminatory practices,” inclusion of Roma, and to improve the social status of other marginalized groups. Serbia also has to reform its legal system according to an already accepted strategy for 2013-2018 and must harmonize its legal standards with international laws and the E. U.’s legal traditions. It is not specified what laws and legal traditions need to be incorporated.

In terms of international obligations and the “global fight against terrorism,” Serbia has special responsibilities to respond to the U. N. Security Council Resolution 1373, and to improve its readiness for this fight. By 2015 Serbia also needed to ratify an additional protocol to accompany its agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Training of personnel employed in the business and governmental sectors to improve their skills in the detection, control and prevention of controlled substances is yet another obligation that Serbia accepted by signing this agreement with NATO. Somewhat connected to that is the improved training regarding the transmission of sensitive information and protection of data from cyber-attacks.

Reforms of the military and intelligence agencies are also a demand put on Serbia. While it is stated that the Serbian Parliament has oversight role in this area, it is also emphasized that the members of Parliament needed to be trained in order to make informed decisions.

Military Aspects of the 2014 Agreement with NATO

It is stated in the agreement that, in order to expand its contributions to attaining global security, Serbia has to increase its participation in multinational military actions. Serbia should explore possibilities for participation in E. U. combat operations. This is an aspect of Serbia’s obligation to work closely with NATO’s Office in Belgrade in order to improve its military technology and defense system. In addition to Partnership for Peace, Serbia will also participate in NATO’s Building of Integrity program, particularly adapted for application in Southeast Europe.

Serbia’s obligations are numerous and include development of a NATO fund that will be given to the Serbian Ministry of Defense for the purposes of secure storage and demilitarization of excess ammunition. These weapons and ammunition need to be safely stored by using the full capacity of the Technical and Overhaul Center located in Kragujevac. Another important activity is the collaboration with OEBS and UNDP towards expanding capacity for management of conventional ammunition supplies.

Serbia also committed to continue to work on its own defense strategy, develop new military doctrines, create new laws and regulations, and implement the long term strategic plan developed by the Serbian Government in 2011. In order to participate in multinational military operations, Serbia is obligated to develop a national codification system that is compatible with NATO’s codification standards. This includes national laws in the area of defense, transportation of military personnel, equipment and weapons. Serbia has to work towards establishing new models of supporting its own troops once they are ready to participate in multinational military operations and also support the host country where these operations occur. In preparation for this kind of readiness, Serbia is obligated to develop new types of military education and training, in accordance with NATO and Boulogne standards. It also has to exchange information with partners about its military. Serbia’s military personnel will join trainings and multinational military exercises conducted by its partners. A regional center for the training of Serbian military was supposed to be open by the end of 2015 within the “South NATO Base.” It is unclear from this agreement if the base is located in Kosovo or elsewhere.

Modernization of Serbia’s military is already in progress, based on this agreement. This kind of modernization includes acquisition of more complex weaponry and military equipment, including drones, ground vehicles, airplanes, communications controls, and information technology. Serbia also has to complete reports on these acquisitions and negotiations with contractors. Serbia’s Military-Technological Institute is obligated to conduct research on the possibilities for better international cooperation, modernization of its own defense systems and connections with NATO. To that end Serbia will participate in numerous activities of the Conference of National Armaments Directors (CNAD) and coordinate its regulations with European regulations that control export of weapons.

Information Campaign

When the Serbian government signed the 2014 agreement with NATO’s Partnership for Peace, it also accepted an obligation to develop a public information strategy for collaboration with the Partnership for Peace in order to ensure public support. This public support should be displayed for both Serbia’s participation in NATO and Serbia’s own military force. Serbia is committed to participating in the NATO program called “Science for Peace and Security” and will inform the general public about it. For this purpose, informational events will be organized on a regular basis, and information will be posted on the Serbian Military Defense website. [xl] There will be a positive institutional atmosphere created for Serbia’s participation in this program by supporting development of infrastructure and tax-free acquisition of research technology. It is implicitly suggested that it is NATO’s obligation to provide tax-free scientific equipment and research technology.

Serbia also accepted the obligation to improve its relationships with other countries in the region. Some of these countries are partners or members of NATO. It is not specified what countries the agreement refers to. By the end of 2015, all documents and plans for emergency situations and crisis management were supposed to be completed and accepted by the Serbian government. Serbia also participated in regional multinational military training in 2014 and 2015, according to this Agreement.

Serbia’s Agreement with NATO Regarding Logistical Support

Serbia signed another agreement with NATO’s Support and Procurement Organization (NSPO) in the area of logistical support. This agreement was completed in Copenhagen in September, 2015. At the beginning of 2016 the Serbian Parliament passed a law that ensures implementation of this agreement.

In the preamble of the Agreement it is emphasized that as a participating member of NATO’s Partnership for Peace Serbia expressed interest in services provided by NSPO in order to establish cooperation in the areas of logistics, operations and systems support. It is also noted that Serbia signed an Agreement on the Security of Information and the Code of Conduct with NATO in 2008. In 2015, NATO consented to provide the Republic of Serbia with support services. These services include, but are not restricted to, supplies, maintenance, procurement of good and services, transportation, configuration control and technical assistance. The Government of Serbia will pay for the cost of these services provided by NSPO.

Article 4 of the Agreement also reads: “Under no circumstance shall this Agreement lead to any liabilities for NSPO or NSPA.” The Serbian Government waived all claims for injury, death or damages resulting in normal use or operation of materials and services. Shipments are insured by NSPO. In terms of security requirements any exchange of classified information must comply with requirements outlined in NATO’s Security Policy. Both parties committed to treat information belonging to the other Party as classified information and avoid disclosure, dissemination or transfer.

NSPO, its assets, income and other property are exempt from all taxes and other duties, customs and quantitative restrictions on imports and exports. NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) personnel shall be integrated with the personnel of NATO’s Military Liaison Office (MLO), located in Belgrade. It is not specified where exactly this Office is located in Belgrade. It would be enlightening to conduct a survey among Belgraders to discover how many of them are aware that this MLO exists. This agreement gives NSPA personnel and their vehicles the right to free passage and access throughout the Republic of Serbia. NSPA personnel is also exempt from taxation by Serbia on salaries received from NSPA, movable property, or any income received outside Serbia. NSPA is allowed to contract directly for acquisition of goods, services and construction within or outside Serbia and such contracts are also exempt from duties taxes or other charges.

This agreement also has a settlement of dispute clause. As was the case with previous agreements, this one also determines that any possible disputes should be settled between the two parties without recourse to any national or international court or tribunal, including third party mediation. In other words, if Serbia is not satisfied with implementation of any of the provisions of this agreement, it will have to rely on the much more powerful NATO to examine any sources of disagreements. Since the Serbian government accepted all provisions by signing the agreement it would be fair to conclude that those government and military representatives either believed that NATO dispute resolution teams would be truly impartial, or that it was highly unlikely that any disputes would arise in the future.

Serbia’s Future With NATO?

Many questions can be posed about Serbia’s collaboration with NATO and future developments in the entire region. While Serbian Prime Minister Vučić and President Nikoliċ both stated multiple times that Serbia had no plans to become a NATO member, it is reasonable to conclude that the country has, nevertheless, accepted many obligations that are typically expected from NATO countries.

While Serbia needs to remain neutral based on its own laws, it is difficult to understand the constitutionality of the Serbia – NATO agreements. Additionally, we can ask ourselves whether various sets of Serbian government and military leaders believed that by collaborating with NATO they had a greater chance to be accepted by the European Union. Perhaps they were also hoping that NATO countries would in return pay for at least some of the damage that resulted from the 1999 bombing campaign. Have they have also hoped that NATO would commit to decontaminate certain areas affected by depleted uranium? Or was it all about their own preservation of power and control? Some researchers and political scientists have testified that nothing positive has come forward as a result of Serbia’s cooperation with NATO. The Director of The Serbian Center for Geostrategic Studies, Dragana Trifković, expressed her views recently, highlighting that it wasn’t in Serbia’s best interest to collaborate with NATO, adding that this could even hurt its regional interests.[xli]

Serbia’s politicians often repeat that, in accordance with their country’s main values, they continue to promote military neutrality by working closely with both NATO and Russia. Yet, many have observed that such “neutrality” remains quite asymmetric. Sergej Belous noted that Serbia had only two military exercises with Russia in 2015, while twenty two were performed with NATO. At the same time, it signed only two military agreements with Russia and twenty four with NATO. For that reason he added that this neutrality is “quite lame.”[xlii] Reuters also published an article by Aleksandar Vasović on July 3, 2016 entitled With Russia as an ally, Serbia edges towards NATO. The Serbian news agencies Tanjug and B92 reported just recently that Russia expected Serbia’s support for its efforts in Aleppo[xliii].

Maria Zakharova, spokesperson of the Russian Foreign Ministry, said that it was a special humiliation to be dragged into NATO after fatal U. S. bombings. [xliv] The president of the Srebrenica Historical Project, Stephen Karganović had a similar idea and wrote about “Serbia’s march into NATO servitude.” He added that even though Serbia has laws on the books that prevent the government from joining any military block and require neutrality, government officials receive marching orders from their Western masters[xlv]. Tanjug reported on June 25, 2016 that Serbia already gave information about its security and military forces to NATO. This would be, indeed, consistent with the provisions of the above analyzed agreements to share data and relevant information. Regardless of different ways to approach this consistent cooperation with NATO, all of the agreements that Serbia signed with NATO can only be interpreted as heavily imbalanced, with one side—the Serbian side—accepting 90% of the obligations. It is often not clear what kinds of benefits stem from such agreements. In other words, it could be interpreted that Serbia accepted most obligations that stem from NATO membership, but since it is formally not a member, it cannot be given any rights exclusively given to members. At the same time, these deals seemprofitable for NATO because they provide a platform for tax-free sale of data collection systems, military technology, and much more. They also provide additional avenues for NATO to be present on the ground in Belgrade and entire country.

The Serbian population doesn’t have a favorable opinion about their country’s relationship with NATO—the organization that waged a full scale war against them only seventeen years ago. In March of this year, the people’s voices were the loudest, demanding a referendum about NATO membership. Some local alternative and foreign media reported that as many as 10,000 people protested in downtown Belgrade on March 24, 2016, the anniversary of the beginning of NATO bombing[xlvi]. In the late 1990s Sara Flounders expected that the angry demonstrations against NATO would spread across the region, but over the years they have remained for the most part relatively small and easy to contain[xlvii]. The Serbian population is still struggling with economic, health, and social devastation, which makes it difficult to uncover concealed information and find time to organize. Additionally, it remains to be seen if the information campaign aimed at improving the image of NATO will become effective in the near future. The upcoming months and years might become critically important for the future of Serbia and the entire region.

Notes

[i] The corporate media and politicians often used this phrase throughout the 1990s: before, during and after the NATO war against Serbia. See: Barry Lituchy. Media Deception and the Yugoslav Civil War. In: NATO in the Balkans. 1998. New York: International Action Center. p. 205; also, Inside Milosevic’s Propaganda Machine, July 4, 1999 TIME magazine. http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,27726,00.html

[ii] The use of depleted uranium was confirmed by multiple sources including U. S. and NATO officials. See: http://educate-yourself.org/cn/depleteduraniumlegacyyugoslavia28aug13.shtml

http://www.globalresearch.ca/15-years-on-looking-back-at-natos-humanitarian-bombing-of-yugoslavia/5375577

Michele Chossudovsky. 2003. NATO’s War of Aggression Against Yugoslavia. ahttp://www.globalresearch.ca/natos-war-of-aggression-against-yugoslavia-2/5517027

http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-u-s-nato-military-intervention-in-kosovo/1666

Shay Lafontaine. NATO and the Humanitarian Dismemberment of Yugoslavia. Counterpunch, May 17, 2016. http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/05/17/nato-the-humanitarian-dismemberment-of-yugoslavia/

Also see: Michael Parenti. 2000. The Rational Destruction of Yugoslavia. http://www.michaelparenti.org/yugoslavia.html

and Robert Fisk. 2000. Amnesty Internations: NATO Deliberately Attacked Civilians in Serbia. Independent, June 7, 2000. http://www.commondreams.org/headlines/060700-02.htm

[iii] This article was based on the report published by the Serbian News Agency SRNA. http://www.blic.rs/vesti/drustvo/posledice-nato-bombi-srbija-je-prva-u-evropi-po-smrtnosti-od-tumora/1c0wce1

[iv] NATO casualties are documented by multiple sources and they differ substantially. According to the Serbian officials, they are still confirming the exact civilian deaths, but the numbers that they published in 2013 include 2,500 dead and 12,500 injured civilians along with 631 members of Serbian armed forces in addition to 28 missing.

http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/number-of-victims-of-nato-bombing-still-unknown

[vi] Check out 2 documentaries by Boris Malagurski: The Weight of Chains and The Weight of Chains 2. http://weightofchains.ca/

[vii] The majority of Serbian population opposes any collaboration with NATO, as well as E. U. membership http://inserbia.info/today/201604/serbs-want-russia-do-not-want-eu-and-nato-poll/

[ix] This article was based on the report published by the Serbian News Agency SRNA; http://www.blic.rs/vesti/drustvo/posledice-nato-bombi-srbija-je-prva-u-evropi-po-smrtnosti-od-tumora/1c0wce1

[x] This article was based on the report published by the Serbian News Agency SRNA; http://www.blic.rs/vesti/drustvo/posledice-nato-bombi-srbija-je-prva-u-evropi-po-smrtnosti-od-tumora/1c0wce1

[xi] Michel Chossudovsky. NATO’s War of Aggression in Yugoslavia: Who are the War Criminals? Global Research, March 21, 2006. (reprinted the 1999 article) p. 2 http://www.globalresearch.ca/nato-s-war-of-aggression-in-yugoslavia-who-are-the-war-criminals/2144

[xii] Posledice upotrebe municije sa osiromasenim uranijumom: epidemija kanceroznih oboljenja:

http://www.mycity-military.com/Opste-vojne-teme/Posledice-upotrebe-municije-sa-osiromasenim-uranijumom.html

[xiii] Jasmina Vujić and Dragoljub Antic. March 31, 2015. Ekološke i zdravstvene posledice NATO bombardovanja 1999, sa akcentom na osiromaseni uranijum. http://www.nspm.rs/srbija-i-nato/ekoloske-i-zdravstvene-posledice-nato-bombardovanja-1999-s-akcentom-na-osiromaseni-uranijum.html

[xv] Irving Wesley Hall. Depleted Uranium for Dummies. Global Research, April 17, 2006. http://www.globalresearch.ca/depleted-uranium-for-dummies/2269

[xvi] Depleted Uranium Technical Brief: EPA 402-R-06-011. December 2006 https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-05/documents/402-r-06-011.pdf

[xvii] Example: Jasmina Vujić and Dragoljub Antic. March 31, 2015. Ekoloske i zdravstvene posledice NATO bombardovanja 1999, sa akcentom na osiromaseni uranijum. http://www.nspm.rs/srbija-i-nato/ekoloske-i-zdravstvene-posledice-nato-bombardovanja-1999-s-akcentom-na-osiromaseni-uranijum.html, p.

[xviii] Michael Parenti. 2000. To Kill a Nation: The Attack on Yugoslavia. New York: Verso. p. 121

[xix] A. Cockburn and Jeffery St. Clair. 2004. Imperial Crusades: Iraq, Afghanistan, and Yugoslavia. New York: Verso. p. 17

[xx] Gregory Elich. 2015. No War Crimes Here. Counterpunch, April 22, 2015. http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/04/22/no-war-crimes-here/ and Gregory Elich. 2006. Strange Liberators: Militarism, Mayhem, and the Pursuit of Profit. Llumina Press. Pp.

[xxi] Rade Biočanin and Mirsada Badić. The mystery of depleted uranium in NATO projectiles, p. 7 www.cqm.rs/2010/pdf/5/22.pdf

[xxii] Organ trafficking in Kosovo:

http://www.justiceinfo.net/en/tribunals/mixed-tribunals/2509-european-court-in-view-on-kosovo-organ-trafficking.html

http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/appeal-court-acquitted-two-in-medicus-case-03-03-2016

Clint Williamson, chief prosecutor of the Special Investigative Task Force (SITF), released a statement last year accusing KLA leaders of murdering a “handful” of people. The report follows the investigation of an earlier Council of Europe inquiry led by Dick Marty, a Swiss politician, in 2010. According to the investigation, senior officials led a “campaign of persecution” toward Serbs, Roma, other minority groups in Kosovo, as well as Albanians who either worked with Serbs or opposed the KLA.

Border kidnappings mentioned here: https://news.vice.com/article/kosovo-rejects-special-court-to-prosecute-organ-harvesting-and-other-alleged-war-crimes

[xxiv] Economic Desperation Forces Kosovars to Flee. Financial Times, March 26, 2015. https://www.ft.com/content/4a5b7426-d2cf-11e4-a792-00144feab7de

[xxv] Parenti, Ibid, p. 163

[xxvi] Diana Johnstone. 2002. Fools Crusade. Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions. NY: Monthly Review. P. 250

[xxvii] Ibid, p. 249

[xxviii] Andrej Grubaċić. 2010. Don’t Mourn, Balkanize! Oakland: PM Press. P. p. 146

[xxix] Ibid, p. 155

[xxx] Ibid, p. 38

[xxxii] Noam Chomsky. 2001. A Review of NATO’s War over Kosovo. Z Magazine, April-May, 2001 and Chomsky.info

[xxxiii] Gray Carter. 2014. Why did NATO bomb Serbia? There Must be Justice, May 30, 2014, p. 1

[xxxiv] Johnstone, Ibid., p. 266

[xxxv] Serbian authorities conceal agreements with NATO, Pravda.Ru, February 26, 2016, p. 2; http://www.pravdareport.com/news/world/europe/24-02-2016/133627-serbia-0/

[xxxvi]Ibid, p. 1; Resolution of the National Assembly on the protection of sovereignty, territorial integrity and constitutional order of the Republic of Serbia: http://www.parlament.gov.rs/Seventh_Sitting_of_the_Second_Regular_Session_of_the_National_Assembly_of_the_Republic_of_Serbia_in_2007.6537.537.html

[xxxvii] I received copies of all Serbia – NATO agreements analyzed in this article from a Serbian friend. I am not sure how easy or difficult it would be for “ordinary Serbian residents” to obtain any of these copies.

[xxxviii] Check out 2 documentaries by Boris Malagurski: The Weight of Chains and The Weight of Chains 2. http://weightofchains.ca/ in these two documentaries Malagurski interviewed numerous experts who provided data on the destruction of the Serbian economy and impacts on the working people and compared the case of Yugoslavia with examples from other countries.

[xl] However, at earlier this year, the public support for any collaboration with NATO stayed as low as 11%. http://inserbia.info/today/201604/serbs-want-russia-do-not-want-eu-and-nato-poll/

[xlii] Serbia’s Asymmetric Neutrality: Teetering Between NATO and Russia. Nyatider.nu https://www.nyatider.nu/serbias-asymmetric-neutrality-teetering-between-nato-and-russia/

[xliv] Rt.com news article about Serbia being dragged into NATO, February 22, 2016. https://www.rt.com/news/333218-serbia-joining-nato-humiliating/>

[xlv] Stephen Karganović. Serbia’s march into NATO servitude. The Saker, July 11, 2016. http://thesaker.is/serbias-march-into-nato-servitude/

[xlvii] Sara Flounders. 1998. NATO in the Balkans. New York: International Action Center. p. 9

By Milina Jovanović

04-09-2016