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

Democracy Now! Criminal Cheerleaders for Bloodshed in Syria

Democracy Now! Criminal Cheerleaders for US-NATO-GCC’s Perpetual Conflict and Bloodshed in Syria

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Vanessa Beeley

 

“A closer look at what Goodman’s “Democracy Now” is reporting on Syria shows that the purported critical broadcaster has become a purveyor of Western government propaganda. While the mainstream media’s propaganda function is obvious to the informed public, Goodman’s “Democracy Now” plays a more subtle role. Camouflaged with the trappings of critical, independent journalism, “Democracy Now” serves to sow powerful seeds of misinformation in a way that the “compromised” mainstream media cannot.” ~ Finian Cunningham 2012

“As the United Nations says nearly 1 million Syrians are living under siege and the last remaining hospitals in eastern Aleppo have been destroyed.” ~ Democracy Now! November 2016

Last night, Democracy Now! released a report that was breathtaking in the saturation of NATO aligned propaganda in this one segment out of their almost six year criminal, media campaign against Syria and the sovereign will of its people. In the first line alone, we have the ubiquitous and now hugely discredited description of the “last remaining hospitals in eastern Aleppo”.

The East Aleppo “last hospital” litany has become synonymous with corporate media lies. It’s duplicitous and misleading use is clearly demonstrated by this short video collection of the many mainstream media reports on the “last hospital” rendering these corporate media accounts questionable and far from credible.

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A search on Twitter under the hashtag “last hospital” reveals the extent of the mockery of the mainstream media narrative that has risen to an unprecedented level of outright lies in line with the US coalition frustration at the Syrian Arab Army allied advances towards the full liberation of East Aleppo from the clutches of over 22 brigades of assorted US, UK, EU, Turkish, Gulf State-funded & armed militants and mercenary gangs under the leadership of Nusra Front, the Al Qaeda terrorist affiliate in Syria.last-hospital-collage
Collection of corporate media tweets amplifying the “last hospital” narrative in East Aleppo. (Collage created by @Navsteva)

“Nothing Short of a Slaughter“: 1 Million Syrians in Aleppo Under Siege with No Hospital, Food”

This is the already misleading headline of the Democracy Now! report.  Interviewer, Nermeen Shaikh interviews guests, Bassam Haddad, director of the Middle East and Islamic Studies program at George Mason University, and Dr. Zaher Sahloul, founder of the American Relief Coalition for Syria and senior adviser and former president of the Syrian American Medical Society.

The following are the ten main points put forward by these two guests, points that are questionable, and yet go unchallenged by Shaikh:

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1: East Aleppo contains 300,000 people, of which 100,000 are children

2: These people are under siege, starving & without medicine for the last four and half months, due to the Syrian “regime” and allies.

3: Every 17 hours right now in Aleppo, “health care facilities” are being targeted. In the last 144 days, there were 143 attacks on health care facilities across Syria.  One third of these attacks were in the “city of Aleppo”, so 48 attacks in last four and a half months.

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4: The daily massacre and maiming of Syrian civilians in West Aleppo by the militant factions in East Aleppo pales into “insignificance” when compared to  the “brutal bombardment of eastern Aleppo and the almost total destruction of life

5: The Syrian “regime” is “focused” upon re-conquering the whole of Syria in its entirety.

6: Al Nusra are not in East Aleppo except maybe a “few fighters

7:  The population of East Aleppo was 1.5 million before the crisis.  Now it is 300,000 so majority have fled to Turkey, Europe or elsewhere inside Syria. Any other place in Syria is dangerous. If they go to government controlled areas they risk being “tortured or detained”. So, the civilians in East Aleppo cannot leave because there is nowhere safe for them.

8: The Syrian “regime” is conducting an ethnic cleansing operation by evacuating “rebels” from liberated areas such as East Aleppo, Homs, Daraya.

9: There is a rift between the US think tanks who support the Syrian “revolution” in order to ensure Israel’s security in the region and the true “revolution” supporters who are interested primarily in the well being of all Syrians. “A rift that should have existed from the very beginning for the sake of building a healthier, independent and democratic uprising in Syria against a dictatorial regime.” ~ Bassam Haddad

10: President Elect, Donald Trump’s stated support for Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, is the “final nail in the coffin “of the aspiration of the Syrian people, the young people of Syria, who rose up in the beginning of this five years ago for freedoms and liberties that we enjoy and we all support.” ~ Dr Zaher Sahloul

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Democracy Now!’s Fake Objectivity

Yet again, Democracy Now! give their guests a protected platform to present a very partisan and biased view of events in Syria.  Not once does Shaikh proffer an alternative view to that which is being presented by the show’s guests. On the contrary, she positively reinforces their narrative with the use of her own rhetoric and terms such as “annihilation and war crimes” directed against the Syrian government and allies, in the opening statement of the interview.

“The second implication is that this neutral voice, without a discipline of verification, creates a veneer covering something hollow. Journalists who select sources to express what is really their own point of view, and then use the neutral voice to make it seem objective, are engaged in a form of deception. This damages the credibility of the craft by making it seem unprincipled, dishonest, and biased.” ~ The American Press Institute. (Emphasis added)

Shaikh even fails to question the contradiction of her own introduction by Sahloul. Sahloul states that Al Nusra barely exist in East Aleppo. In her introduction, Shaikh alludes to the UN suggestion that the Syrian government should permit autonomy for East Aleppo provided the “jihadist fighters linked to al-Qaeda (Al Nusra) withdrew and the fighting stopped.”

Shaikh fails in her assumed role as an independent and objective reporter.  She fails to ask the most basic questions that would deconstruct the narrative being projected by her guests. She fails to debate. She succeeds only in giving credibility to an incredible account of the situation in East Aleppo, an account that is flatly denied by recent visitors to Aleppo such as independent journalists & researchers, Eva Bartlett, Tom Duggan and the author of this article,  Vanessa Beeley.

How a Genuinely Objective Journalist should have Responded

1: 300,000 civilians in East Aleppo. 100,000 children.

Where do the figures of 300,000 come from? A very simple Google search reveals that this is another one of those magical figures that runs and runs, the earliest reference to it was July 2016. Given the fluidity of the situation in Aleppo and East Aleppo in particular, continuing to cite this figure, after five months of intense activity, is at best, laziness, at worst, dishonest.

The Aleppo Medical Association, which comprises 4,160 registered doctors in West Aleppo, stated in August 2016 that there were less than 250,000 people remaining in East Aleppo.  Of these the AMA told Vanessa Beeley that over 50,000 were “armed militants and terrorists” and their families. Since August 2016, a steady trickle of civilians have succeeded in escaping to West Aleppo via the humanitarian corridors established by the Syrian Government & Russia.

How does Sahloul arrive at the 100,000 children figure? What is the basis for this claim of these huge numbers, out of alignment with reality according to the Aleppo Medical Association doctors, many of whom, still have family in East Aleppo being held hostage by the Nusra Front-led mercenary brigades.

Of course this narrative aligns perfectly with the majority of corporate media who have consistently acted as nothing more than congressional stenographers in their skewed reporting of the US, UK-led proxy war on Syria.

2: The Syrian “regime” is starving the people of Aleppo:

 What evidence is there of the Syrian Government and Russia “starving civilians” in East Aleppo? Who is responsible for withholding medicines from civilians? Why is there no mention of the NATO and Gulf state funded mercenary siege of West Aleppo.

A four year long, brutal & violent siege of 1.5 million civilians in West Aleppo, which includes depriving them of clean water, food, electricity and medical supplies.

September 2016: “The following is a video made by suspected US alliance media implant in Syria, and extremist sympathizer called Bilal Abdul Kareem of OGN, On the Ground News.  Bilal has been featured multiple times as a ‘Syria-based’ news source for CNN. In this video the US Coalition-backed gangs of mercenaries, otherwise known as the “moderate rebels” are demonstrating against allowing the UN aid into East Aleppo, marching under the flag of Al Nusra Front aka Al Qaeda in Syria.” ~ Channel 4 Joins CNN in Normalizing Terrorism, then Removes Video

Why no mention of Syrian Government and Russian attempts to enter East Aleppo with humanitarian aid, evacuation buses and ambulances in last few weeks? The same humanitarian convoys that were fired upon and refused entry by the so called “moderate rebels” that are being discussed by Democracy Now!

Buses ready to ‘evacuate’ civilians from east – so far no one has crossed. A rebel mortar just landed 50 ft from us. No injuries thank God.

Tom Duggan, an english journalist, who has lived in Syria for the last four years,  reports LIVE from the artificial, US coalition-funded-militant imposed, borders between East and West Aleppo. He reports, at great risk to himself and his crew, on the attempts being made by civilians to flee from East Aleppo into the safety of Syrian government held West Aleppo.  Aleppo: Live Footage from Tom Duggan

27th October 2016: 

“We regret to note that the United Nations has not properly worked out an operation to evacuate the sick and the wounded.” Vitaly Churkin to the UN

“The ambassador added that the UN work with various opposition groups in Aleppo and the local council was “left to take care of itself.” He stressed that the UN personnel did not “exert the necessary pressure” on “sponsors” of illegal armed groups to convince them to cooperate with the aid workers on the ground.

Besides criticizing the UN team, the Russian envoy also accused entities that have influence over fighters in besieged neighborhoods of Aleppo of not applying enough pressure on the militants to make the most of the Russian-Syrian humanitarian pause.” ~ UN failed to organize evacuation of civilians from rebel-held Aleppo – Russian envoy

Why does Shaikh not bring up the fact that the civilians of East Aleppo have been rising up against the “moderate rebel” occupation and protesting the stockpiling of food and humanitarian supplies by the militant factions, or that dozens of civilians were killed and injured by these same factions opening fire on their protests and escape attempts across East Aleppo.

“Meanwhile, Russia said that terrorists have opened fire on civilians protesting against them in al-Haidariyeh neighborhood in Aleppo city, killing 17 civilians, including children, and wounding over three dozen more.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, Major General Igor Konashenkov, said that the terrorists arrested 10 people and took them to an unknown location.They were all executed on the same day,”  he further went onto say.

Some 300 people participated in demonstrations against terrorists in al-Kallaseh neighborhood trying to escape across Bustan al-Qaser corridor but the terrorists sought to disperse the demonstrators by shooting them from a heavy machine gun and then mined all the approaches to a checkpoint and placed snipers on the roofs of nearby houses, Konashenkov said.” ~ Syrian Arab News Agency

Would Democracy Now! please explain how doctors such as Sahloul and his Chicago colleagues are entering East Aleppo from outside Syria. How are citizen journalistsactivists and the NATO & Gulf state funded terrorist support group, the White Helmets able to leave and re-enter East Aleppo to and from Turkey?

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If there is no movement to and from East Aleppo, how did Netflix manage to make an entire documentary, without leaving Turkey, based upon the exploits of this  multi-million NATO & Gulf state-funded, fraudulent, first responder group, embedded inside Nusra Front and ISIS held territory, if they were not able to leave East Aleppo to provide them with the “award winning” film footage?

Not forgetting that Democracy Now! supported the White Helmets without question, despite the daily mounting evidence of their role as a terrorist support group inside Syria, producing the fabricated evidence needed to faciliate greater US coalition intervention and enabling calls for a No Fly Zone, widely recognised as a declaration of war with Russia to be fought on Syrian soil.

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The alleged increase in number of Doctors in East Aleppo in a 24 hour time frame. (Photo @Navsteva)

These are only a few of the counter arguments with which any self-respecting journalists should have been challenging their guests.  A journalist’s job is to provide the public with the facts and to then leave it up to them to decipher the picture based upon the evidence, not to support one-sided narratives that are presented as truth without evidence.

3: Every 17 hours the Syrian “regime” and Russia are targeting hospitals in East Aleppo. 

According to the Aleppo Medical Association ( I spoke with them two days ago) the officially recognised hospitals in East Aleppo are the following – two Syrian Government hospitals, the Childrens Hospital & Eye Hospital and the National Hospital. The Childrens & Eye Hospital have been completely taken over by Nusra Front who have converted them into their headquarters and a Sharia Law courtroom. The National was under construction before the conflict and is therefore non operational.

Then you  have the private hospitals.  Yassin Jaban, Islamic Medical Hospital and Al Daqaq.  Combined, these have less than 50 beds. There is also the Omar Abud Al Aziz hospital which was the cherished project of the Grand Mufti Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun before it was taken over by Nusra Front in 2013 and converted into a Nusra-led militant base.  According to the Grand Mufti Hassoun, the top floor was turned into a sniping tower and civilians are rarely treated, terrorists & militants are given priority.  The hospital was taken by force, the incoming Nusra-led militants murdered doctors, nurses and patients in the process.

Of these private hospitals, only the Omar Abud Al Aziz and Yassin Jaban are still “operational” and run entirely by various militant factions, once again, headed up by the Nusra Front.

So if only two of the officially recognised hospitals are still operational, and wholly occupied by Nusra Front and associates, how does Sahloul explain his claim of “hospitals” being mercilessly targeted 48 times in the last four and a half months or, now, every 17 hours, despite the various prolonged ceasefires adhered to by both Russia and Syria but routinely broken by the US coalition-funded mercenaries and terrorists across Syria.

What hospitals is he talking about and why does Shaikh not ask that question? Why is MSF  (Medecins Sans Frontieres) and its associated outreach workers in the many militant field shelters in Nusra Front and ISIS held territory across Syria not supplying coordinates to the Syrian government in order to avoid the targeting of these armed militant-held temporary structures or buildings, requisitioned as triage centres.

4: The daily maiming and massacre of civilians in West Aleppo, being sniped and targeted by “moderate rebel” hell cannon missiles, grad missiles, shells and explosive bullets, pales into insignificance compared to the bombardment by the Syrian and Russian airforces. 

Perhaps Shaikh should have watched this video of a young man in Aleppo who had just lost his two year old son to the “insignificant missiles” Please note also the fact that Russia and Syria had respected the agreed ceasefire for 21 days while the “moderate rebel” targeting of civilians had never ceased during that time. Warning this video is very distressing. 

There has not been a single Syrian or Russian airstrike on East in 21 days.

Rebel shelling has not stopped for a day.

Why had Shaikh not read this report from Syrian journalist, Jamila Assi, on the massacre of 8 school children, all under the age of 13, on the 20th November, all targeted by the US coalition-funded”moderate rebel” hell cannon mortars and missiles at Al Fourkan school in West Aleppo.

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Images of the 8 school children murdered by US alliance-funded “moderate rebels” while at school in West Aleppo. (Photo: Chretiens de la Syrie pour la Paix Facebook page)

How does Shaikh respond to Haddad’s summary dismissal of the suffering of the people of West Aleppo, under siege for over four years and a constant target for the “moderate rebel” snipers, missiles and explosive bullets? She moves on. She does not even register this familiar dehumanization of 1.5 million civilians in the Syrian government controlled West Aleppo.  She tacitly approves Haddad’s reducing of their armed militant imprisonment and the daily Nusra Front-led slaughter of children and civilians to “pale insignificance”.

5: The Syrian “regime” is focused upon re-conquering Syria in its entirety. 

So the elected government and national army are defending their country & people against an illegal proxy intervention by hostile nations including the US, UK, EU, Gulf States, Turkey, Israel to name a few, and stand “accused” of  focusing upon reclaiming their country from the hordes of hostile nation-funded terrorist factions such as Nusra Front and ISIS and the gangs of so called lesser or “moderate” militants such as Ahrar Al Sham, brutal ethnic cleansing agents, working alongside Nusra Front, or Nour Al Din Zinki, the beheaders of 12 year old Palestinian child, Abdullah Issa.

A “re-conquering” that has the support of the majority of the Syrian people.

6: Al Nusra are no more.

Really?

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October 20th Murad Gazdiev reports in-fighting between hardline militant gangs. 

Pierre Le Corf, French national and humanitarian volunteer working on the East/West Aleppo borders, told Syria TV, on the 12th November, that all he sees on the frontlines are “black flags, nothing but black flags” (the emblem of Nusra Front). First part of the video is in Arabic, but Eva Bartlett and Pierre Le Corf speak in English. Watch 

Finally there is the now famous admission by US Defence Department’s Colonel Steve Warren in April 2016, stating clearly that it is Nusra Front that are the primary occupiers of East Aleppo.

7: The population of East Aleppo was 1.5 million before the “conflict”. Fleeing civilians fear torture and detainment in Government held areas.

It is well documented that West Aleppo covers 75% of the overall surface area of unified Aleppo. There are 1.5 million people living in West Aleppo, including an estimated 600,000 who managed to flee East Aleppo to take refuge in West Aleppo when the various terrorist and militant factions first invaded East Aleppo in 2012.

Sahloul fails to mention the 600,000 who fled to Syrian Government held West Aleppo and Shaikh fails to question his analysis, once again her pseudo neutrality gives credibility to questionable fact.

Sahloul makes the outlandish claim that the Syrian people fear going into Syrian Government held areas. Shaikh allows him to airbrush the 90% of IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) who have fled to precisely, the Syrian Government held areas.

Shaikh’s abject failure to question this narrative is made doubly reprehensible when we consider that even the Carnegie Middle East Centre, with Muslim Brotherhood, hardline Syrian opposition members on its committee, such as Bassma Kodmani, grudgingly admits that:

However, it seems clear that most of the population movement inside the country is headed away from insecure and impoverished rebel-held territory toward more stable and economically functioning government-controlled areas.”

This analysis does not bear out Sahloul’s claims that the displaced civilians avoid Government held areas because they will be detained or tortured.

Neither does this Democracy Now! report or Sahloul’s testimony mention the extensive reconciliation negotiations that are being carried out across Syria, by reconciliation minister, Dr Ali Haider (a Syrian opposition leader of the Syria Social Nationalist Party), in an attempt to broker peace with the various militant or terrorist factions and to restore peace to the region.

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July 2016:A visit to the Syria Trust Development where families of “rebels”and displaced Syrian civilians are being re-educated, rehabilitated and are given help and advice on re-integration or re-settlement into areas liberated by the SAA. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

When in Syria very recently, I personally witnessed the efforts being made by various Syrian state institutions and NGOs to rehabilitate the families of “rebels” back into society and to give them housing, financial support, free education, health care and new skills training to enable them to be self sufficient.

None of this is discussed, Shaikh barely registers the incendiary accusations that are being made by Sahloul and her lack of response ensures that these claims are imprinted on the minds of Democracy Now!‘s audience.  An audience that Democracy Now! has criminally misled for the duration of the almost six year, dirty NATO & Gulf State and Israeli war on Syria.

8: The Syrian Government is conducting an ethnic cleansing operation by removing armed “rebels” from liberated areas.

In response to this point Shaikh could have cited a huge number of cases where the Syrian inhabitants of cities, towns and villages invaded or occupied by US coalition-armed and funded extremist militant factions, have demanded the removal of what are now primarily foreign mercenary forces that have besieged, massacred, tortured, abused and kidnapped many of their family members, particularly children.

There are too many to list so it is mind-blowing that Shaikh could not find one example to counter another nefarious statement from Sahloul.

I would recommend a read of Eva Bartlett’s account of the ancient Christian village, Maaloula. This is a factual account of invasion, occupation and eventual liberation from both local Muslim Brotherhood factions initially known as the FSA (Free Syrian Army) who turned on their own neighbours, before being reinforced by the Nusra Front/Al Qaeda in Syria. This is a story of the subjugation of a Christian community seeped in history and heritage by extremist fanatics who thought nothing of shooting their erstwhile neighbours in the head for refusing to convert to Islam.

Eva Bartlett: Overcoming Savagery, Treachery, Maaloula’s Heroic Defenders Fight for the Future.

9: There is a rift between the US think tanks who support the Syrian “revolution” in order to ensure Israel’s security in the region and the true “revolution” supporters who are interested primarily in the well being of all Syrians.

“The true ‘revolution’ supporters who are interested primarily in the well being of ALL Syrians”.  Really?

Again, here, Shaikh allows the eradication and dehumanization of the majority of the Syrian people who have time and time again rejected the concept of a ‘revolution’ and who support the Syrian State, the Syrian Army and its allies in their resistance against the NATO & Gulf state driven, external, extremist factions that are invading and occupying their country in supreme violation of all International Laws and UN Charters relating to state sovereignty.

Shaikh fails again and again in her role as a journalist.  This is a woeful dereliction of “duty” on the part of Democracy Now!

Why does she not question how the interests of seven year old Haider are served by the true “revolutionaries”? Who among them cared about Haider’s well-being? Haider lives in the village of Al Foua & neighbouring Kafarya, two marooned Shia Muslim villages in Idlib, a region largely occupied by Turkish controlled, Saudi funded, extremist factions such as Nusra Front & Ahrar al Sham. Kafarya and Foua have been under partial siege since 2011 and full siege since March 2015. They are being starved, shelled and sniped by the “revolutionaries” for their “well being”.

In reality, it is clear, their well-being is of no interest to the “revolution”.  The NATO & Gulf state-funded, extremist-led “revolution” is conducting a vicious programme of ethnic cleansing against these villages.

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7 year old Haider, shot by a US-backed “moderate rebel” sniper (Photo: supplied to 21st Century Wire by residents of Al Foua)

“On the 15th September, 7 year old Haider Ammar Al Hamoud, was shot through the stomach by an Ahrar Al Sham sniper, the US backed terrorist group besieging the Idlib villages of Kafarya and Foua. Haider was ignored by western media. 

His life-threatening injury did not merit any outcry from human rights organisations or the NATO-aligned media who ignore the deaths and injuries of tens of thousands of children in Syria because it does not serve their agenda to demonize the Syrian President, Bashar al Assad or the national armed forces.” ~ Syria: No “Dusty Boy” Outrage for 7 yr old Haider, Sniped by NATO Terrorists in Idlib Village of Foua

10: Trumps election and his stated support for President Assad is the final nail in the coffin of Syrian aspirations.

In reality, the majority of Syrian people inside Syria who have withstood almost six years of a proxy, filthy war, waged by NATO & Gulf states and Israel against their country, their resources, their families, their security, their history, their culture, their self-determination and their existence are overjoyed that finally the intervention train has been derailed and Clinton, the ultimate war harpy, did not make it into office.

There are those who believe that WWIII has been averted and perhaps now there is a chance that the US will not go to war with Russia on Syrian soil.

Shaikh does not even broach the alternatives to Sahloul’s statement. Another demonstration of ‘Democracy Now!s collusion with interventionism and the subtle, subliminal beating of war drums, by ommission and obscurantism.

Democracy Now! has been absorbed into corporate media.

Democracy Now! may have started life as an “independent” news source but its absorption into the foundation funded corporate media league happened long ago.

Democracy Now! is funded entirely through contributions from listeners, viewers, and foundations.” ~ Democracy Now!

“Serious questions have arisen about how Democracy Now!, begun and developed with the resources of Pacifica Radio and grants from the Carnegie Corporation, the Ford Foundation, the J.M. Kaplan Fund and others, suddenly became independent and the effective property of Amy Goodman without recompense to Pacifica. This transfer apparently included valuable assets such as trademarks, ownership of years of archived programs, affiliate station access, and more.” ~ Discover the Networks

There are further claims from Discover the Networks of indirect funding from criminal hedge fund manager, George Soros, who has a multitude of NGOs working inside and outside Syria to spin the web of deceit and propaganda against the Syrian government, President Bashar Al Assad and the Syrian Army.

Read 21st Century Wire’s article: George Soros, Anti-Syria Campaign Impresario

A lengthy analysis of the Soros funding of US media by America’s Media Watchdog, the Media Research Center  includes this statement:

“And that’s really just the beginning. That tally takes into account only a few of the bigger Soros-funded media operations. Many numbers simply aren’t available. ”Democracy Now!” – ”a daily TV/radio news program, hosted by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez” – is known for its left-wing take on global news. Its vitriol ranges from attacks on Blackwater founder Erik Prince and supporters of Andrew Breitbart (whom it calls ”Electronic Brownshirts”), to claims the U.S. is opposed to Arab democracy. Just that one Soros-funded operation is heard ”on over 900 stations, pioneering the largest community media collaboration in the United States.” But it posts no formal audience numbers. Phone calls to ”Democracy Now!” were not returned.”

Why did Democracy Now! not return phone calls? 

There are those who argue that Democracy Now! are our allies and our “friends”, that we should collaborate with them and help to awaken them to the reality of the dirty war on Syria. So we did.

When Eva Bartlett and I were in Syria we were contacted by a DN “insider” in the US who was horrified by the Democracy Now! biased coverage of Syria’s externally imposed conflict. They contacted Democracy Now! on our behalf and asked that they interview Eva Bartlett and myself, particularly as we had both just left Syria after a lengthy stay, including time spent in Aleppo.

After some time, we received a reply from a DN producer.

Laura Gottesdiener had just written the following headline for Democracy Now! when our contact had written to her, mentioning my work on the White Helmets and suggesting Democracy Now! should interview me:

Syria: Rescue Workers Say Government Dropped Chlorine Bombs

“In Syria, volunteer rescue workers known as the “White Helmets” have accused the Syrian government of dropping chlorine bombs from helicopters onto a neighborhood of Aleppo. No one died, but a video posted by the White Helmets shows civilians struggling to breathe. The allegations have not been independently verified.”

Gottesdiener’s reply was:

“However, a few questions: I am seeing Vanessa as one of the main people who is accusing the White Helmets of being a US propaganda front, but I’m really not seeing a lot of other coverage of this.

Also, I’m really not seeing, except for Vanessa, anyone linking the White Helmets to Al Qaeda. And when you say Al Qaeda-linked, I’m assuming you’re referring to Al-Nusra, which was AQ linked but has since broken from AQ. Just clarifying here.

If there are more reports/links, can you pls send along? Ditto for Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. I understand it’s based in UK, not on the ground in Syria, but the Observatory almost always has news faster than anyone else. I have heard some murmurs about its anti-Assad slant, but not that it’s information is inaccurate. Pls let me know if you have any reliable sources that say otherwise.” (Emphasis added)

So Democracy Now! acted as an echo chamber for NATO-aligned propaganda.  They supported the rebranding of Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria, Nusra Front, without a murmur of dissent. They dismissed the White Helmet research as the implied work of a lone wolf, conspiracy theorist journalist. They made the very clear statement that SOHR was a good source because of the speed of information received from them, no emphasis on accuracy. They heard “murmurs” regarding the partisan, anti-Assad nature of SOHR reports but were not dissuaded from using them or persuaded to find alternatives in the interest of objecivity.

Murmurs that were very clearly made, even by mainstream media, such as the Guardian, in 2012, ignored by Democracy Now! because speed is more important than accuracy or objectivity.

Needless to say, despite my replying and providing other sources of research on the White Helmets, no interview was forthcoming, for either myself or Eva Bartlett. We can only conclude that an alternative view that does not align with US regime-change-enabling propaganda is not going to be entertained by Democracy Now!

Conclusions

The interview discussed in this article, demonstrates perfectly that Democracy Now! are happy to speak to a Doctor, Sahloul, who has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, (an organisation known & exploited for its compliance with US neo-colonialist objectives), and was a former president of the Mosque Foundation, accused of financing terrorism & promoting extremism.

The following is taken from an article by Tony Cartalucci at New Eastern Outlook, after a previous interview of Dr Sahloul by Democracy Now! in April 2016:

According to its own website SAMS is provided with full support by the US State Department, millions of dollars’ worth of it. The website even includes a video by US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Powers, hailing SAMS as one of her “personal heroes.” Furthermore, Dr. Sahloul is said by those who know him in Chicago to be a member of the Muslim Brotherhood himself.

His alleged medical work would be the perfect cover for providing support to terrorist organisations which seek to divide and destroy Syria. All he has done with his Democracy Now interview is confirm that repeating the State Department’s unfounded narratives regarding “barrel bombs” and the use of “chlorine gas” by the Syrian government is a tactic used by the US to further this end.

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Why do Democracy Now! never interview Dr Nabil Antaki, an eminent gastroenterologist, based in West Aleppo who has fiercely opposed the propaganda being amplified by Dr Sahloul, a US resident and others like him receiving funding from foundations & think tanks focused on regime change in Syria.

Syria: Aleppo Doctor Demolishes Imperialist Propaganda and Media Warmongering

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Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez. (Photo: Democracy Now)

Democracy Now! makes the bold claim in its About section that it provides its audience with “access to people and perspectives rarely heard in the U.S.corporate-sponsored media, including independent and international journalists”.  Why then, did Democracy Now! fail to speak to independent journalists who had just returned from Syria?

“In addition, Democracy Now! hosts real debates–debates between people who substantially disagree”. Really? In this particular interview Democracy Now! fails to question, to verify or to provide an alternative view. It acts as a platform and a megaphone for propaganda.

Democracy Now! may still be considered a “friend” by those who grew up in the early, heady days of Amy Goodman’s much vaunted, independent idealism, but Democracy Now! is no friend to Syria.

Democracy Now! has proven itself the best friend of US neo-colonialism & global, overt or covert intervention and prime time supporters of the US murderous foreign policy in Syria. In the four years since Finian Cunningham first exposed the Democracy Now! alliance with corporate elite globalism and betrayal of its own principles of impartiality and objectivity, nothing has changed.

Democracy Now! continues on its foundation-gold-paved path towards promoting regime change in Syria and the ultimate destruction of Syria’s culture, society and secular state. It will not succeed, but when the the consensus changes as it is in the process of doing right now, Democracy Now! will be remembered for the voice they gave, not to the majority of the Syrian people, but to the extremist minority, funded, armed & expanded by the US, UK, EU, Israel, Turkey and despotic Gulf States that has ensured perpetual conflict, bloodshed and misery for the Syrian people for nigh on six years.

Democracy Now! is not speaking truth to power. Democracy Now! has given power to the lies that have decimated a sovereign nation and its courageous people.

Please watch, instead, a short video from Syrian Students of Aleppo University, supporting their Syrian national army in cleansing East Aleppo of their US coalition-funded & armed foreign mercenary, prison wardens, attackers and murderers of their families. For, anyone who spends time inside Syria, or speaks to the majority of the Syrian people inside Syria, even the unarmed opposition, will tell you that this is not an isolated sentiment or propaganda. It is reality, the Syrian Arab Army is the Syrian people: Watch 

Video Player

00:00
01:20

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SEE ALSO: WHO ARE SYRIA’S WHITE HELMETS?

READ MORE SYRIA NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire Syria Files

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WikiLeaks, the CIA and the sad reality of our world

The release by WikiLeaks of Vault 7, a file with more than eight thousand documents detailing some of the techniques that the CIA uses to access information on iOS or Android devices, on our computers, as well as the use of smart TVs to listen to conversations and other equally chilling practices is undoubtedly worrying and revives tensions between technology companies and government spy agencies… but it is hardly surprising.

In reality, it is simply further evidence that spy agencies adapt to the surrounding ecosystem which now consists of devices permanently connected through networks. Today’s “spy kit” no longer consists of a magnifying glass, a flashlight, a pistol or a fake beard, but a computer and an internet connection.

The role of a government espionage agency is to spy. That this espionage is carried out to guarantee the security of a nation or to preserve a certain tyrannical regime is another question that depends on the concept of politics, liberties or ethics of the government of each country. In other words, being scandalized because there are spies or because the spies are engaged in spying is at best naive and at worst a sign of idiocy, and wondering why these spies adapt their methods to the times we live is absurd: Given that we are supposed to accept — although no one asked us — that governments have to have spies and that we have to pay for them with our taxpayers’ money, would we prefer them to continue using outdated tools and methods? Do you want to fight modern spies with sophisticated online tools from a foreign country with agents equipped with magnifying glasses and fake beards?

Obviously, the answer to that question is a very big “it depends”. In the first place, because we would obviously prefer a world without spies. But since since that isn’t going to happen, we will have to consider the different scenarios. If in a country we understand that spies are used to catch terrorists, drug traffickers, criminals or other threats, we will surely want these spies to have the best tools available, and to possess the expertise to invent any they need. If, on the contrary, we think that spies are used to control us, to detect protests or insurgency, to persecute those who think differently and to ignore our most basic human rights, the idea that these spies have the best tools is deeply worrying. It is not the same to live in a democracy where we expect spies to be able to detect a terrorist cell preparing an attack in the center of the city, as to be a homosexual in an Islamic country, or a pro-human rights activist living in a dictatorship, or a non-believer living in a theocracy.

The only thing that the latest WikiLeaks revelations show is that the world is as complex as it was twenty years ago, or probably even more. Twenty years ago government agencies were eavesdropping on our phones and our conversations with microphones, by reading our lips, our letters or tracking our trips: now they tap into our connected electronic devices, which will soon be all devices. As much as we may be concerned or outraged, this is the reality of our world. Things have moved on since the Cold War, and as technology companies strive to use ever more advanced technologies to protect their users, spies will, in turn, find more and better techniques to keep spying on them. Like it or not, spies gonna spy.

Are these leaks good or evil? On the one hand, they lead us to a more transparent society, to understand much better what happens to our privacy and to our data, to put pressure on both the spies and the tech companies (thus leading to further innovation), and to help clarify if there were any wrongdoings (such as spying on innocent citizens without a warrant, as it clearly seems to be the case). On the other hand, they contribute to generate a collective state of psychosis that could collide with our freedom to do ordinary things, and could serve as an example, even a guide, to spies in less developed countries, with all the consequences to citizens in those countries that this possibility may entail. The leaks are not good or evil: they just happen. But if you ask me, I rather live in a world where WikiLeaks exists and plays a significant role in controlling certain behaviors.

Furthermore, we must appreciate the efforts of technology companies to fix the security holes that have allowed spies to spy, and try to be pragmatic and, above all, see things in perspective: most of us, average Joes or Janes who live in democracies, are probably not spied on. What’s more, despite of what was being implied or said yesterday, the CIA has not been able to crack Signal’s encryption, nor WhatsApp’s, or Telegram’s, nor many others. Instead, what they have found are methods to access the devices that originate or receive messages, which can allow them to read those messages at the point of origin or destination. So we don’t yet have to delete apps we thought were safe, and besides, most of us are using them for things that are of no interest whatsoever for the spies of our governments. If you are being spied on and haven’t done anything wrong, then be worried. But not about the spies… about your government! As ever, the problem lies not in technology, but in who uses it and why.


(En español, aquí)

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.

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

CLINTONS MASSIVE PAY-TO-PLAY SCAMS ON VIDEO SCAMS

CLINTONS MASSIVE PAY-TO-PLAY SCAMS ON VIDEO SCAMS = ROB THE POOR & 98% OF AMERICANS TO SERVE THE SUPER-RICH ZIONIST MAFIA!


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YOU WILL NEVER VOTE CLINTON ONCE YOU WATCH THIS STOMACH WRENCHING VIDEO!

CLINTON @ STATE = CLINTONS FROM ”HORNS TO TAILS PAY-TO-PLAY” SCAMS WITH CLINTON FOUNDATION!

ALMOST A FULL HISTORY OF CLINTON FOUNDATION SCAMS! = VERY HARD TO STOMACH!  — 26 minutes

CLINTONS FROM ”HORNS TO TAILS” IN HAITI AND AROUND WORLD = PROFESSIONAL CRIMINALS

AMAZINGLY WIDE RANGES OF FRAUDS EXPOSED AROUND THE WORLD FOLLOWING ON SIMPLE “PAY-TO-PLAY” MODEL WITH THE AMERICAN TAXPAYER LEFT HOLDING THE BAG ALMOST EVERY TIME!

#NoHillary #NoTrump #NoClinton
#BernieJillGreen

NO MORE MAFIA DNC OR GOP CRIMINALS!

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9abPY8LcYR-bEx6Z1VLOTBxckU/preview?┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈▶

Another CLINTONS “PAY-TO-PLAY” SCAM = Laureate University Scam — 4 minutes

HOW SCAM WORKS = BILL Clinton Gets $16.5 Million + $Millions to Clinton Foundation + Hillary @ State Sends Billionaire Becker $64.2 Million of Taxpayer Funds

SCAM = CIRCLE of Corruption = CLINTONS COLLECT $20 Million + American TAXPAYERS PAYS $Billionaire $64.2 Million = PERFECT “PAY-TO-PLAY” Scam = CLINTONS WIN + BILLIONAIRE WINS + AMERICANS LOSE!

HILLARY & BILL’S UNIVERSITY (LAUREATE) SCAMMED THE POOREST PEOPLE IN LATIN AMERICA AND MADE OFF WITH $20 MILLION IN “PAY-TO-PLAY” SCAM! = Bloomberg says Clintons Largest for-profits, Laureate University, put Bill Clinton on Its Payroll for years and Scored a Jump in Funding with $64.2 Million in grants from Hillary Clinton’s State Dept. When Scheme was Revealed Bill Clinton Quickly Resigned as Hillary Clinton continued to blast for-profit colleges and universities. = Hillary Clinton refused to answer questions the for-profit education company.

HILLARY AND BILL “PAY-TO-PLAY” FOR-PROFIT UNIVERSITY SCAM EXPLOITED UNPREPARED STUDENTS! = Hillary’s University Scandal = Laureate Racket of ROBBING $64.2 Million! + HILLARY stole tax payers’ money to do it! + Bill Clinton = $16.46 million on the “PAY” SIDE with Strong ties to Clinton Global Initiative. + Laureate = “PAY” Side = Donated between $1 Million to $5 million range to Clinton Foundation — George Soros backer in Laureate SCAM that WaPo said “Laureate has stirred controversy throughout Latin America, where it derives two-thirds of its revenue.”

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9abPY8LcYR-cFZxV0E1Zm5tOFU/preview?┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈▶
Click for Next Page (2 of 3) (Some Phone & IPADs cannot process all these videos due to memory limits – sorry)

Police ‘likely to recommend’ indictment of Benjamin Netanyahu on corruption charges

Israeli leader expected to be questioned once more as part of investigation

Police are likely to recommend Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is indicted following an investigation into bribery allegations, national broadcaster Channel 2 has reported.

Multiple investigations into the leader were opened, but Case 1000 – which allegedly involves illegal gifts – was being treated as separate to the other ongoing investigations.

The TV channel reported that Case 1000 was to be closed with a recommendation to indict the Israeli leader in the next six weeks.

Mr Netanyahu was reportedly questioned under police caution three times as part of the inquiry. He is expected to be interviewed once more before the probe closes.

The leader is accused of accepting of tens of thousands of dollars in gifts – including suits and cigars – from wealthy businessmen. He has vigorously denied any wrongdoing.

Details of the probes into Mr Netanyahu have been scarce, and it was reported in June that the Chief of the Israeli Police Roni Alsheikh had demanded they be conducted in total secrecy.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister told Haaretz: “It’s all nonsense.

“Since Netanyahu’s victory in the last elections and even before, hostile elements have used heroic efforts to attempt to bring about his downfall, with false accusations against him and his family.”

Investigators are also reportedly looking into allegations Mr Netanyahu accepted €1 million (£850,000) from Arnaud Mimran, a French businessman currently serving eight years in prison for committing a large-scale carbon-tax fraud.

During his trial, Mimran claimed to have donated the money to Mr Netanyahu during the 2009 Israeli election campaign — something the politician has consistently denied.

Earlier this year a spokesperson for the Israeli Prime Minister said: “Mr Netanyahu received no prohibited contribution from Mimran. Any other claim is a lie.”

The Prime Minister did, however, admit accepting $40,000 (£33,000) from him in 2001.

Mr Netanyahu and his family have been plagued by corruption allegations throughout his time in office.

It was reported in June that the Attorney General, Avichai Mandelblit, was planning to close three cases of fraud against Mr Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, against the recommendation of police.

Investigators had reportedly recommended Ms Netanyahu be charged with three incidents of fraud after allegedly using public money for personal use.

She is accused of spending state funds on patio furniture and gourmet dinners made by private chefs.