Australia & China on Pacific Ocean collision course & no one’s talking about it – By RT

Australia & China on Pacific Ocean collision course & no one’s talking about it
Australia has ramped up anti-Chinese rhetoric, challenging Beijing over its growing influence in the Pacific. Trump’s pick for ambassador to Australia, stalwart anti-Chinese Adm. Harris, paints a clear picture of what’s to come.

In 1900, then-Senator Albert Beveridge famously said to lawmakers in Washington that “the power that rules the Pacific, is therefore the power that rules the world.

As recent developments will demonstrate, this imperialist sentiment continues over 100 years later to the present day. The battle for control over the Pacific is taking place right before our very eyes and is placing both Australia and China in a precariously confrontational position, though the mainstream media refuses to pay due focus to the issue.

Australia’s recent attacks on China

It all went downhill at the end of last year when Australia went out of its way to accuse China of “foreign interference,” with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull stating that Australia would “stand up” to China against meddling in its national affairs. 

Later, Australia strained its relationship with China even further, after Australia’s Minister of International Development Concetta Fierravanti-Wells accused China of building “roads to nowhere” in the Pacific. She also claimed that China was constructing “useless buildings” throughout the region, and berated it for allegedly loading Pacific Island countries with mounting debt that they cannot afford to pay.

Not surprisingly, these verbal attacks were not necessarily received well by the countries that matter the most. Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele found Australia’s critical remarks against China “insulting,” saying he did “not really know that Australia is able to finance the kind of assistance provided by China.

At the end of last year, China signed a series  of infrastructure deals with Papua New Guinea (PNG), as part of China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative. Australia immediately responded negatively to this development, with opposition MPs voicing their concern that Australia had lost its “leadership role” throughout the Pacific – whatever that means.

In a pre-emptive attempt to stifle China’s relationship with PNG, Australia agreed to sponsor PNG’s ambitious plan to host the APEC summit set to take place this year. In other words, Australia’s only real desire to involve itself further in the region is to combat China’s expanding influence in the region. As of right now, Australia still maintains its position as the region’s largest donor.

China’s growing friendships in the Pacific has rattled Australia in more ways than one. In September 2016, Fiji’s Prime Minister Bainimarama called for New Zealand and Australia to be kicked out of the Pacific Islands Forum as “they are not Pacific Islanders,” with strong indications that Fiji would rather they be replaced by China instead.

Australia’s close friend and ally, New Zealand, for its part, just this past week went on a tour of the Pacific as well, pledging money left, right and center. As noted by the Samoan Observer, it was no secret that New Zealand, too, is equally concerned by China’s growing role in the region.

Prior to their arrival on Sunday evening, the New Zealand government had been talking about re-sharpening their focus on the Pacific amidst concerns about China’s growing dominance,” the paper said.

China’s Belt-Road initiative

The US has long had a containment strategy specifically targeting China, famously dubbed the ‘Pivot to Asia’ strategy under the Obama administration. As a key ally of Washington, it makes sense that Australia holds similar views as to the perceived threat of China’s rise on the global stage.

Make no mistake, however, that Washington’s issue with China’s mounting influence in the region is purely economic. In fact, the Transpacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) was undoubtedly an attempt for the US to unite its transpacific allies against China, so it makes little sense that Trump wanted to discontinue it, given his known animosity towards China prior to his election.

Right now, China is in the process of uniting much of the world under its One Belt, One Road initiative, a monumental project which will endeavor to connect China, Asia, Africa, Europe and the Pacific and largely leave the United States out of its profit-sharing completely.

As it stands, all that is left blocking China from injecting itself into the rest of the global sphere is a chain of islands known as the ‘first island chain’, a term that refers to the Kuril Islands of Russia, the Japanese archipelago, Taiwan, the northern Philippines and Borneo. China has traditionally been blocked from injecting its military influence eastward into the Pacific Ocean by America’s strong control of this chain, but this control is already being challenged.

Just recently, China flew an intelligence aircraft near these southern outlying islands of Japan. Russia is also reportedly looking to build a naval base in the area, which will further complicate Washington’s ability to exert its control over the islands.

China has also allegedly been exercising its air force around Taiwan at least 16 times in the last year or so, demonstrating its intent to one day bring Taiwan to heel and bring it under the control of the “motherland.”

Role of the US

The extent of America’s direct role in this particular debacle is less obvious. Writing in the Asia-Pacific Journal, Andre Vitchek explains that the reason America’s role is less forceful in some Pacific Island nations is because New Zealand, Australia and the US have divided the Pacific between themselves, with New Zealand controlling Polynesia, Australia in charge of Melanesia and the US charged with maintaining Micronesia.

However, in early February, US President Donald Trump said he planned to nominate Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr., the commander of the US Pacific Command and an outspoken critic of China, as ambassador to Australia. This is a man who described China’s artificial island project as “a Great Wall of sand,” and has repeatedly called China’s policy in the South China Sea “provocative and expansionist.” He also openly stated in 2014 that he believes the most volatile and dangerous threat facing the world to be North Korea, a current ally of China. According to the New York Times, Chinese media has already labeled Harris a US hawk.

Unsurprisingly, Harris celebrated Trump’s nomination by immediately advising the United States Congress that Washington should prepare for the possibility of a war with China in the South China Sea, adding that “China’s impressive military build-up could soon challenge the United States across almost every domain.

“Australia is one of the keys to a rules-based international order,” Harris also said. “I look to my Australian counterparts for their assistance, I admire their leadership in the battlefield and in the corridors of power in the world… a key ally of the United States and they have been with us in every major conflict since World War I.

Just over a week ago, Harris met with Australia’s defense minister in Canberra to discuss the two countries’ “amazing alliance.”

Australia “sleep-walking into confrontation with China”

Speaking in regard to Harris’ appointment, Euan Graham, director of the international security program at the Lowy Institute said what Harris “needs to be aware of is the sensitivity around looking like Australia is doing America’s bidding.” 

Unsurprisingly, Australia is viewed as the “right hand of the United States” in the part of the Pacific region under discussion, and it seems overtly likely that Australia is acting in its capacity as an American client state, carrying out America’s interests by vehemently confronting China’s expanding influence.

Perhaps Australia’s recent demeaning remarks towards China are a mark of a change in posture in the Asia-Pacific region and go far beyond that of mere verbal saber-rattling. Former colonial overlord Britain will send a warship from Australia through the South China Sea this month, a direct attempt to provoke and let China know that Australia and its allies will not go down without a fight.

She’ll be sailing through the South China Sea … and making it clear our navy has a right to do that,” British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson reportedly told the Australian.

Whether or not the mainstream media pays this issue the respect it so desperately demands, the reality is that Australia is “sleepwalking into a confrontation with China,” as acclaimed journalist John Pilger described the current conundrum. There’s a reason Australia is playing an increasingly militaristic role in the region, joining in navy and military drills with the United States and its close Asia-Pacific allies. Aside from the fact that Australia has joined in almost every US-led military adventure from Vietnam to Iraq; in 2016, Australian warplanes assisted the US-led coalition in Syria to strike and kill over 60 Syrian troops in direct contravention of international law. Australia is far from a passive player in US-led conflicts, and the pending appointment of the hawkish Harris as ambassador to Australia should be a horrifying sign of things to come.

Darius Shahtahmasebi for RT

Darius Shahtahmasebi is a New Zealand based legal and political analyst. Follow him on Twitter @TVsLeaking

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

US smooths Israel’s path to annexing West Bank Israel/Palestine – By Jonathan Cook (MONDOWEISS)

Seemingly unrelated events all point to a tectonic shift in which Israel has begun preparing the ground to annex the occupied Palestinian territories.

Last week, during an address to students in New York, Israel’s education minister Naftali Bennett publicly disavowed even the notion of a Palestinian state. “We are done with that,” he said. “They have a Palestinian state in Gaza.”

Later in Washington, Bennett, who heads Israel’s settler movement, said Israel would manage the fallout from annexing the West Bank, just as it had with its annexation of the Syrian Golan in 1980.

International opposition would dissipate, he said. “After two months it fades away and 20 years later and 40 years later, [the territory is] still ours.”

Back home, Israel has proven such words are not hollow.

The parliament passed a law last month that brings three academic institutions, including Ariel University, all located in illegal West Bank settlements, under the authority of Israel’s Higher Education Council. Until now, they were overseen by a military body.

The move marks a symbolic and legal sea change. Israel has effectively expanded its civilian sovereignty into the West Bank. It is a covert but tangible first step towards annexation.

In a sign of how the idea of annexation is now entirely mainstream, Israeli university heads mutely accepted the change, even though it exposes them both to intensified action from the growing international boycott (BDS) movement and potentially to European sanctions on scientific co-operation.

Additional bills extending Israeli law to the settlements are in the pipeline. In fact, far-right justice minister Ayelet Shaked has insisted that those drafting new legislation indicate how it can also be applied in the West Bank.

According to Peace Now, she and Israeli law chiefs are devising new pretexts to seize Palestinian territory. She has called the separation between Israel and the occupied territories required by international law “an injustice that has lasted 50 years”.

After the higher education law passed, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his party Israel would “act intelligently” to extend unnoticed its sovereignty into the West Bank. “This is a process with historic consequences,” he said.

That accords with a vote by his Likud party’s central committee in December that unanimously backed annexation.

The government is already working on legislation to bring some West Bank settlements under Jerusalem municipal control – annexation via the back door. This month officials gave themselves additional powers to expel Palestinians from Jerusalem for “disloyalty”.

Yousef Jabareen, a Palestinian member of the Israeli parliament, warned that Israel had accelerated its annexation programme from “creeping to running”.

Notably, Netanyahu has said the government’s plans are being co-ordinated with the Trump administration. It was a statement he later retracted under pressure.

But all evidence suggests that Washington is fully on board, so long as annexation is done by stealth.

The US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, a long-time donor to the settlements, told Israel’s Channel 10 TV recently: “The settlers aren’t going anywhere”.

Settler leader Yaakov Katz, meanwhile, thanked Donald Trump for a dramatic surge in settlement growth over the past year. Figures show one in 10 Israeli Jews is now a settler. He called the White House team “people who really like us, love us”, adding that the settlers were “changing the map”.

The US is preparing to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May, not only pre-empting a final-status issue but tearing out the beating heart from a Palestinian state.

The thrust of US strategy is so well-known to Palestinian leaders – and in lockstep with Israel – that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is said to have refused to even look at the peace plan recently submitted to him.

Reports suggest it will award Israel all of Jerusalem as its capital. The Palestinians will be forced to accept outlying villages as their own capital, as well as a land “corridor” to let them pray at Al Aqsa and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

As the stronger side, Israel will be left to determine the fate of the settlements and its borders – a recipe for it to carry on with slow-motion annexation.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat has warned that Trump’s “ultimate deal” will limit a Palestinian state to Gaza and scraps of the West Bank – much as Bennett prophesied in New York.

Which explains why last week the White House hosted a meeting of European and Arab states to discuss the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

US officials have warned the Palestinian leadership, who stayed away, that a final deal will be settled over their heads if necessary. This time the US peace plan is not up for negotiation; it is primed for implementation.

With a Palestinian “state” effectively restricted to Gaza, the humanitarian catastrophe there – one the United Nations has warned will make the enclave uninhabitable in a few years – needs to be urgently addressed.

But the White House summit also sidelined the UN refugee agency UNRWA, which deals with Gaza’s humanitarian situation. The Israeli right hates UNRWA because its presence complicates annexation of the West Bank. And with Fatah and Hamas still at loggerheads, it alone serves to unify the West Bank and Gaza.

That is why the Trump administration recently cut US funding to UNRWA – the bulk of its budget. The White House’s implicit goal is to find a new means to manage Gaza’s misery.

What is needed now is someone to arm-twist the Palestinians. Mike Pompeo’s move from the CIA to State Department, Trump may hope, will produce the strongman needed to bulldoze the Palestinians into submission.

A version of this article first appeared in the National, Abu Dhabi.

About Jonathan Cook

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His new website is

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Oops! US government’s ‘global nuclear report’ forgets to mention 6 of 9 nuclear powers By RT

Oops! US government’s ‘global nuclear report’ forgets to mention 6 of 9 nuclear powers
A report on the ‘Global Nuclear Landscape’ published by the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) has focused entirely on Russia, China and North Korea, leaving out six of the world’s nine nuclear-armed states.

The 36-page report is divided into three sections; one focusing on Russia, one on China and the third on North Korea. The first page of the strangely selective report features a photograph of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. 

Throughout the report, there are no significant mentions of the other six nuclear powers: Israel, the United Kingdom, the United States, India, France and Pakistan. The glaring omission was noticed by Hans Kristensen, Federation of American Scientists (FAS) researcher and director of the Nuclear Information Project.  

Kristensen tweeted a link to a report by FAS, which provides a more thorough overview of the activities of the world’s nine nuclear-armed powers. 

The DIA report also makes mention of Iran, Libya and Syria and their nuclear programs and capabilities, while noting that none of those countries currently possesses nuclear weapons. 

The report states that since the end of the Cold War and the reductions of Russian and American stockpiles, the number of nuclear-armed states has increased, that their stockpiles have grown and that new weapons have been built while older ones have been improved. The “threshold for use” has also potentially lowered, it said. 

READ MORE: White House staffer left encrypted email passwords at bus stop – report

Any future use of nuclear weapons would likely bring “significant geopolitical changes” as states sought to reinforce their security alliances while others would push more strongly for global nuclear disarmament.

A Log in Your Own Eye: Decades of US Meddling in Foreign Elections – By Sputnik

The obsessive condemnation of still unconfirmed Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election is a classic case of “do as I say, not as I do,” where the US politicians and media seem to have developed both long and short-term memory loss when it comes to American meddling in foreign elections.
Photo: US President Bill Clinton (R) laughing with Russian President Boris Yeltsin during a press conference after their meeting at Hyde Park 23 October 1995. AFP, Don Emmert
With Russia’s presidential election coming up on Sunday, March 18, all eyes are on Moscow where eight candidates will be on the ballot this year. In turn, the Russian Central Election Commission (CEC) is busy in its preparation to administer the vote, ensuring fair and free procedure, as well as prevention of illegal interference in the election process.

Concerns regarding foreign meddling in the nation’s pivotal vote shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering it was not that long ago when the US interfered in Russia’s internal matters, influencing the outcome of the 1996 presidential election.

Spinning Boris
The popularity rating of then incumbent president Boris Yeltsin plunged to 6% and his chances of winning were next to nothing. In what later was released as Hollywood’s depiction of events, characters of the Spinning Boris film described the president’s standing:

“Stalin is dead. Not as dead as Yeltsin.”

2003 American comedy starred Jeff Goldblum, Anthony LaPaglia and Liev Schreiber, who portrayed a team of US spin doctors sent to salvage Yeltsin’s image and secure him another four-year term in the office.

The whole ‘rescue effort’ was reportedly orchestrated by Felix Bryanin, a Russian-American businessman who did not relish the prospects of Yeltsin’s chief rivals – the Communist party – winning the election and steering the country back to socialism.

The US didn’t bother covering its tracks, as political consultants Joe Shumate, George Gorton, Richard Dresner and Steven Moore detailed their exploits in an exclusive interview to Time magazine. The article was published on July 15, 1996 under the headline “Yanks to the Rescue – the secret story of how American advisers helped Yeltsin win.”

Photo: Former Russian president Boris Yeltsin. Sputnik, Alexander Makarov
According to the Guardian, in 2003 Yeltsin’s former head of staff Sergei Filatov denied the involvement of US spin doctors in the election, claiming that he “never saw them” but “as they had been paid we decided to let them sit quietly in the President Hotel and not interfere.”
‘In the Interests of Democracy’
To some the fact of US interference in foreign politics may come as an eye-opening revelation but definitely not to former CIA director James Woolsey, who just recently admitted that American meddles in other countries “only for a very good cause in the interests of democracy.”
The majority of the Russian public are not dumbfounded by the practise either, as new poll revealed that in 2016 almost eighty percent of Russians thought the United States meddled “a great deal” or “a fair amount” in Russian politics.
Photo: Viewers during a holiday concert devoted to Russia Day on Red Square. Sputnik, Ramil Sitdikov
The US attempts at steering the political processes abroad were neither limited to Russia alone nor did they begin in the 1990s. Moreover, it won’t come as a surprise if the US “policy of interference” continues in the future, considering the rich history of such activity by Washington in the past.

The “impressive” record of forcing their political agenda on foreign governments by the US reveals a list of numerous cases, which include but are not limited to the following.

In their effort to support non-Communist forces in post-war Italy, the US administration under Harry Truman flexed its political and financial muscle to influence the outcome of Italian elections in 1948.

The US threw their weight behind the Christian Democracy party, who defeated the left-wing coalition of the Popular Democratic Front, through generous monetary support, which former CIA officer F. Mark Wyatt simply described as “bags of money that we delivered to selected politicians.”

Photo: Italy’s Premier Alcide de Gasperi, at microphone, addresses a huge crowd from the balcony of the Christian Democrat Party Headquarters in Rome, Italy, on April 21, 1948. AP
“And, we did many things to assist those selected Christian Democrats, Republicans and… and the other parties… that could keep the secret of where their funds came from,” Wyatt said in a 1996 interview.
“Stay out of this hemisphere and don’t try to start your plans and your conspiracies over here,” Henry Cabot Lodge, US ambassador to the UN, warned his Soviet counterpart during a UN emergency session on June 18, 1954.
But US activity didn’t stop at finger-wagging and in 1954 the democratically elected leader of Guatemala Jacobo Arbenz Guzman was overthrown by the CIA-backed coup and forced into exile. The Eisenhower administration portrayed the coup as a revolt meant to clear the region of a perceived Communist threat – something that was facilitated by the US corporation the United Fruit Company (UFC).
“Once he took power, he was implanting this policy. The UFC didn’t like that very much and they hired a PR firm to convince the US that Arbenz was a Soviet puppet… Out of this PR campaign came a commitment by the CIA and the military to take this man out and in fact we did,” the author of the book Confessions of an Economic Hitman, John Perkins explained.
The fire of impending unrest in 1958 Lebanon, fuelled by confrontation between Maronite Christians and Muslims, was put out by Washington’s ‘helping hand’, which backed the pro-western Christian President Camille Chamoun against perceived threats posed by Syria and Egypt.
Photo: Former Lebanese President Camille Chamoun conducts business over the telephone at his National Liberty Party headquarters in Beirut, Lebanon, July 9, 1963. Chamoun stated: “If Lebanon’s independence were threatened as in 1958, I would certainly appeal to any Nation”. AP
Around the same time the CIA used the US government money and donations by American oil companies to help Christian politicians in Lebanon win the elections.
Throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s the US secretly supported the Japanese Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), providing covert financial support to its candidates without hesitation. The LDP have been in power in Japan since 1995 till modern days with minor gaps in between.
Photo: Socialist party members rough up a plain-clothes policeman during a scuffle between left wingers and riot police near the parliament building in Tokyo, Nov. 6, 1965. The demonstrators, supporting the Socialist and Communist parties, opposed the normalization pact which they contended is aimed at a Japan-South Korea-U.S. military alliance, after ruling Liberal-Democratic party rammed the ratification bill for the treaty through the special ad hoc committee of parliament’s Lower House. AP Photo, Nobuyuki Masaki
In 1950s their main opposition were the left-wingers – the Japan Socialist Party and the Japanese Communist Party. Interested in preserving LDP’s authority, the CIA provided financial backing to the party to ensure its dominance over its Communist counterparts.
In 1999, the US and their NATO allies have intensified their efforts in ‘fighting for democracy’ – this time in then Yugoslavia. Thanks to their considerate assistance, the democratically-elected Yugoslav government had been toppled and millions of US dollars were poured into what Washington called “democratic opposition.”
Photo: Still from Serbian TV from April 4, 1999 showing a bridge over the Danube in Novi Sad, northern Serbia, some 70 km (40 miles) north of Belgrade, which was destroyed a day earlier by NATO warplanes. AFP, Serbian TV
“In post-cold war Europe no place remained for a large, independent-minded socialist state that resisted globalisation,” George Kenney of the US state department kindly explained.
Manuel Zelaya was ousted as Honduras’ president in a military coup on June 28, 2009. His post was taken over by parliament Speaker Roberto Micheletti. Hillary Clinton who held the post of the US Secretary of State at the time cemented Micheletti’s position, according to an article citing inquiry conducted by Robert Naiman, Mark Weisbrot and Alexander Main, following the release of Hillary Clinton’s emails by the Department of State in March 2015.
Photo: A masked supporter of Honduras’ ousted President Manuel Zelaya demonstrates as soldiers stand guard outside Congress in Tegucigalpa, Friday, July 31, 2009. AP, Arnulfo Franco
It is further alleged that she deliberately delayed the suspension of US non-humanitarian aid to Honduras, under the excuse that the situation in the country was “still unclear.” Clinton’s action reportedly ensured that Zelaya wouldn’t be restored, despite the fact that the coup was officially opposed by the Obama administration and the UN.
Photo: Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. AP, Patrick Semansky
A number of questions arise around America’s role in the 2014 coup in Ukraine, when the democratically elected president Viktor Yanukovych was ousted, following a series of violent protests.

The US Senator John McCain was in Kiev during the start of the unrest. A leading Republican voice on US foreign policy, McCain told thousands of Ukrainian protesters camped on Kiev’s main square in December 2013:

“We are here to support your just cause, the sovereign right of Ukraine to determine its own destiny freely and independently. And the destiny you seek lies in Europe.”

Photo: US Senators Chris Murphy and John McCain cheer up the supporters of Ukraine’s European integration at Maidan square in Kiev, Ukraine, Dec 12, 2013. Sputnik, Ilya Pitalev
Later, a leaked phone conversation between then US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt and US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland hinted at extensive involvement.

They spoke about the need to “midwife this thing” and said Ukrainian politician Arseniy Yatsenyuk was “the guy”, shortly before he became prime minister.

Commenting on Washington’s attitude towards foreign meddling, Frederick A. O. Schwarz Jr., former staff director of the US Senate’s Church committee told the New York Times in 1997 “the United States has certainly engaged in these things, but we get all up in arms when someone else does.”

”The things the CIA cited as successes really weren’t successes. ‘They were an arrogant exercise of our power to intervene in domestic affairs,” he added.

Moscow expels 23 UK diplomats & shuts British Council in response to ‘provocative moves’ – By RT

Moscow expels 23 UK diplomats & shuts British Council in response to ‘provocative moves’
The Russian Foreign Ministry said 23 UK diplomats must leave Russia in response to Britain’s “provocative actions and groundless accusations” over ex-double agent Sergei Skripal’s poisoning. The British Council will also be shut.

Britain’s ambassador to Russia, Laurie Bristow, was summoned to the Foreign Ministry on Saturday morning, where he was informed of Moscow’s response to London’s claims that Russia is behind the poisoning of Sergei Skripal, a former double agent, and his daughter, Yulia, on March 4 in Salisbury, UK.

The ministry issued a statement saying 23 employees of the British embassy in Moscow have been declared personae non gratae. The diplomats must leave within a week. It also announced the operation of the British Council in Russia will be ceased given its “unregulated status.”

In addition, Russia is revoking its agreement on the opening and operation of the UK Consulate General in St. Petersburg due to “disparity in the number of consulate facilities of the two countries.”

“The British side has been warned that in case further moves of an unfriendly nature towards Russia are implemented, the Russian side reserves the right to take other response measures,” the statement added.

London earlier ordered 23 Russian diplomats to leave the UK by March 20. Including family members, around 80 people will be uprooted from the country, according to Russia’s ambassador to the UK, Alexander Yakovenko.

Bristow told reporters upon leaving the ministry that “this crisis has arisen as a result of an appalling attack in the UK,” again linking Skripal’s murder attempt to a “chemical weapon developed in Russia.” He added that London’s steps were not directed against the “Russian people.”

On Friday, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson suggested that Russian President Vladimir Putin had personally ordered the suspected nerve agent attack – a claim Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called “shocking and unforgivable.”

“Sooner or later the British side would have to present some kind of comprehensive evidence [of Russia’s involvement], at least, to their partners [France, the US, Germany], who declared solidarity with London in this situation,” Peskov added.

Moscow has repeatedly offered its full cooperation in investigating the incident, which London claims involved a Soviet-era nerve agent called Novichok. Both nations are members of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which means that London is obliged to include Moscow in the investigation.

READ MORE: Russian ambassador to UK confirms expelled diplomats will leave on March 20


UK, Slovakia, Sweden, Czech Republic among most probable source of ‘Novichok’ – Moscow – By RT

UK, Slovakia, Sweden, Czech Republic among most probable source of ‘Novichok’ – Moscow
The substance used in the poisoning of Sergei Skripal may have originated from the countries studying the “Novichok” nerve agent, including the UK, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Sweden, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

“The most likely source of origin of the toxin are the countries which have been carrying out intense research on the substances from the ‘Novichok’ program, approximately since the end of the 1990s until the present time, and this project is not the creation of Russia or the Soviet Union,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Saturday. She listed the UK, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Sweden among the countries involved.

The US should also “be put under question,” Zakharova said in an interview with the state broadcaster VGTRK.

“How did they come to the conclusion about a Russian ‘footprint’ if they didn’t give us those samples? Logically they shouldn’t have this substance. Which samples have they compared with to draw such a conclusion?” she went on. “Questions arise: then, they should have samples, which they conceal, or it is a lie from start to finish.”

“If the UK prime minister and other British experts give the formula, then it will be clear which countries have been developing these agents,” Zakharova said.

Zakharova’s remarks echo those of Russia’s representative at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Aleksandr Shulgin, who said the ‘Novichok’ research was taken out of the Soviet Union following its collapse. While Shulgin didn’t name where the program was smuggled, he said the source of the substance used in Salisbury is “concealed in one of the countries where this research continued and achieved certain success.”

Earlier, the OPCW said none of its member states has declared possession of the Novichok group of nerve agents.

The Russian-UK double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned on March 4. Prime Minister Theresa May has accused Russia of being responsible, with a major diplomatic row deepening.

Who is Undermining the Authority of the UN Security Council? – By Vladimir Odintsov ( New Eastern Outlook )

Author: Vladimir Odintsov




One can still remember the days when the power of the UN Security Council was unparalleled, while rapidly expanding its power well beyond the limits of the UN Charter through the use of a number of international law loopholes. The UN Security Council addopted the decision on the establishment of internationaltribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda, while taking under its control the entire territories of Kosovo and East Timor. Some of the decisions addopted by the Security Council were so different from the traditional resolutions that some started arguing that it might be in possession of some law making attributes.

However, quite a number of political figures didn’t find those activities of the UN Security Council helpful or pleasing, especially in the West. Among them one can most certainly find the sitting US president, Donald Trump who has recently described it as a club where people gather, talk and have a good time.

This resulted in the UN Security Council being transformed from a forum where most pressing matters are being discussed by the leading powers in a bid to provide a prompt crisis resolution, into a site of information warfare, where unfounded accusations are being sound against certain states that have angered Washington by one step or another. This gives way for double standards being introduced in the geopolitical agenda of the world on the weekly basis.

As a result, lately the UN Security Council there has been regularly subjected to harsh criticism, in spite of the fact that it remains the main body of the United Nations. As its authority crumbles, the legitimacy of the resolutions adopted by its members comes under excessive scrutiny. As a result, crises and armed conflicts are being dragged on for years, which allows American military contractors to saw super-profits without any formal interference. The aggressive posture of Washington in the Middle East, which have resulted in a massive death toll keeps Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen and other countries trampled. Yet, instead of providing the necessary assistance for the destroyed cities to be rebuilt, thus providing the much need relief to the civil population of the above mentioned states, the United States and its allies chose to unleash information wars against Iran, Russia, China and a number of other states that disagree with Washington’s policies from the international tribune of the United Nations. In the meantime, civilian body count keeps rising drastically.

Out of the 4.4 billion dollars that the United Nations needed to assist Africa in fighting hunger it has received no more than 10%. Some states are now refusing to pay membership fees to the United Nations, while the US wants to cut down the funds it allocates to the UN.

For instance, last June the US Congress introduced a bill on the need to decrease the amount of funds allocated to the UN by Washington. According to the authors behind this initiative, the UN is a “corrupt and incompetent” organization. At the same time, the draft proposed that America takes a number of steps to establish harsh financial control over UN, in particular, in a bid to establish where the allocated funds were and how they allowed the US to promote its interests. Thus, the Trump administration tries to make a pocket organization out of the once internationally controlled institution.

Under Trump Washington and its closest allies adopted Russophobia as their modus operandi, choosing to voice groundless accusations within the walls of the UN against Moscow, instead of cooperating with it in a bid to improve the situation that the world has found itself in. Against this backdrop, violations of internationally established norms and agreements started to occur increasingly more often. Unscrupulous diplomatic provocations have recently become an instrument of choice for Washington, since they allow it to shape the public opinion in the West. However, when accusations are deprived of any evidence, they undermine the very core of international law, which has been the sole effective mechanism of conflict prevent for decades.

This short-sighted approach has recently acquired catastrophic proportions, especially against the backdrop of reports about repeated violations of specific resolutions of the UN Security Council by Western countries themselves.

One can recall that in December 2017, the UN Security Council would strengthen the sanctions regime against North Korea in response to its continuous ballistic missiles tests, while putting a particular emphasis on the prohibition of labor export from the DPRK. However, even with this decision came in effect, Washington and a number of European capitals were deliberately hiding the fact that a number of NATO states were non-compliant with the terms of this resolutions against the DPRK, while simultaneously unleashing accusations against China and Russia on allegations that their actions were violating the adopted standard of behavoir. In particular, the US Secretary of State would go as far as to announce that China was supplying oil to North Korea, while Russia was allegedly using North Korean labor force.

However, as it was revealed through an investigation of the Danish state-owned TV and radio company Danmarks Radio, in September 2017 it was discovered Polish shipbuilders that were building Lauge Koch patrol ship for the the Danish navy would employ more than 400 workers from North Korea. The Danes were taken aback by the fact that the Polish Christ S.S. Shipyard would allowe North Korean company Rungrado to hire employeers for the project.

According to the conclusion of the group of experts of the UN Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1718 to monitor compliance with the sanctions regime against North Korea, these circumstances are regarded as a clear violation of Article 9 of the UN Security Council Resolution 1874 on the introduction of a full arms embargo against the DPRK. According to the Committee, North Korean workers were found at yet another Polish shipyard Nauta SA, which, together with Christ S.S., has been certified by NATO to fulfill a large volume of orders for the construction and repair of naval military vessels of the United Kingdom, Denmark, Spain, the Netherlands, Norway, France and Germany.

Copenhagen has every reason to suspect that the funds allocated to Poland on the fulfillment of its military contracts, which are reaching 100 million US dollars, could be used to finance the North Korean nuclear and ballistic missiles programs.

This fact is not just undermining the authority of the UN Security Council, but consititutes a direct threat to international security as this international body is tasked with upholding it.

The Polish authorities are now trying to pretend that they were building a civilian ship for the Royal Danish Navy, making every step to avert a massive political scandal in the run-up to the non-permanent membership of Poland in the UN Security Council in 2018-2019. At the same time, Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz announced in an interview with the Polish Press Agency (RAP) in New York, that its involvement in global challenges, espcecially in the situation around the DPRK, will be among top priorities of Poland’s membership in the UN Security Council. Speaking about the permanent members of the UN Security Council, he announced that they would pursue their own interests on the intrantional stage, while enjoying the privilege of the right of veto. Yet, he continued, in spite of its much smaller potential, Poland would have a much more global ambition. Moreover, he supported the idea of his predecessor, suggested using the Polish Embassy in Pyongyang as “a convenient channel for establishing a dialogue between the EU and the DPRK”.

In these conditions, no doubt, the UN Security Council and the European Union should have thought about the possible reputational losses that may occure should this idea be implemented in practice, against the backrdop of the above listed facts. And Warsaw should not forget that “global ambitions” can only go hand in hand with one’s respect to the international law.

Vladimir Odintsov, expert politologist, exclusively for the online magazine ‘New Eastern Outlook’.

Ansarullah Leader Explains How US and UN Sandbagged Yemen Peace Talks – By Randi Nord

Mohammed Ali al-Houthi

udi-led war against Yemen is entering its fourth year. This war has killed over 13,000 people, injured over 21,000, devastated civilian infrastructure, triggered a famine, and created one of the worst man-made (and very preventable) humanitarian disasters on the planet.

British govt actions over Skripal case are unacceptable & provocation – Russian envoy – By RT

British govt actions over Skripal case are unacceptable & provocation – Russian envoy
The Russian ambassador to the UK has dismissed the accusations against Moscow by Prime Minister Theresa May in the poisoning incident involving an ex-spy, calling them “absolutely unacceptable” and “a provocation.”

READ MORE: Russia will respond over Skripal case only after official request from UK – Lavrov

“Everything done today by the British government is absolutely unacceptable and we consider this a provocation,” Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko said.

He reiterated Moscow’s position on the issue that any complaints about a suspected use of chemical weapons should be handled through the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which has rules on how to deal with such allegations. The UK instead chose to issue a public ultimatum to Russia.

“We believe that the measures which are taken by the British government have nothing to do with the situation that we have in Salisbury,” he added. “Of course, we are not ready to talk in the way of ultimatums.”

On Monday, Prime Minister May told the British parliament that the alleged poisoning of Sergei Skripal involved a nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union. She reasoned that either the Russian government was responsible for the attack or that Russia had lost possession of some of the toxin. May gave Russia until Wednesday to respond to the accusations, saying that Britain would otherwise consider Moscow responsible for the incident.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov responded on Tuesday, saying the OPCW should be handling the allegations against Russia, and that Moscow would have 10 days to respond to a request sent through the organization. He added that Britain had yet to provide Russia with a sample of the agent used in the alleged attack, which it was obliged to do under the OPCW rules.

The Kremlin said it would not accept groundless threats and ultimatums from London.

On Wednesday, the British prime minister delivered on her threat and announced a number of measures in response to what London now considers an unlawful use of force by Russia. These include the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats, additional sanctions, and the freezing of assets that may pose a threat to Britain’s security.

The situation is to be discussed later at a UN Security Council session in New York.

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Overthrow: 100 Years of U.S. Meddling and Regime Change, From Iran to Nicaragua to Hawaii to Cuba – By Amy Goodman, Juan González / Democracy Now!

News & Politics
America committed a variety of human rights abuses, all under cover of “spreading democracy.”

Photo Credit: Przemek Tokar

As special counsel Robert Mueller continues his probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, we take a look back at Washington’s record of meddling in elections across the globe. By one count, the United States has interfered in more than 80 foreign elections between 1946 and 2000. And that doesn’t count U.S.-backed coups and invasions. We speak to former New York Times reporter Stephen Kinzer, author of “Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq.”



This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: As special counsel Robert Mueller continues his probe into Russian meddling into the 2016 election, we take a look back at Washington’s record of meddling in elections across the globe. By one count, the United States has interfered in more than 80 foreign elections between 1946 and 2000. And that doesn’t count U.S.-backed coups and invasions. Former CIA Director James Woolsey recently joked about the U.S. record of meddling overseas, during an interview with Laura Ingraham on Fox News.

LAURA INGRAHAM: Have we ever tried to meddle in other countries’ elections?

JAMES WOOLSEY: Oh, probably. But it was for the good of the system, in order to avoid the communists from taking over.


JAMES WOOLSEY: For example, in Europe in ’47, ’48, ’49, the Greeks and the Italians, we—CIA—

LAURA INGRAHAM: We don’t do that now, though? We don’t mess around in other people’s elections, Jim?

JAMES WOOLSEY: Well, mmm, yum, yum, yum, never mind. Only for a very good cause.

LAURA INGRAHAM: Can you do that—let’s do a vine video and—as former CIAdirector. I love it.

JAMES WOOLSEY: Only for very good cause—


JAMES WOOLSEY: —in the interests of democracy.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: The list of countries where the U.S. has interfered is long. In 1893, the U.S. helped overthrow the kingdom of Hawaii. Five years later, in 1898, the U.S. invaded and occupied Cuba and Puerto Rico. A year later, it was the Philippines. Early 20th century interventions included Nicaragua, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, all in the 1910s.

AMY GOODMAN: In 1953, the U.S. helped overthrow the Iranian government. A year later, in 1954, U.S.-backed coup in Guatemala, overthrowing the democratically elected leader of Guatemala, Jacobo Árbenz. Then, in the ’60s, the list grew to include, once again, the Dominican Republic, Indonesia and the Congo. And that’s just a partial list. Even with the end of the Cold War, U.S. interference overseas did not end. Next week marks the 15th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq to topple the government of Saddam Hussein.

We now go to Stephen Kinzer, former New York Times foreign correspondent, who writes about world affairs for The Boston Globe. He’s the author of a number of books, including Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to IraqAll the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror. He’s written the book Bitter Fruit about the coup in Guatemala. And his latest book is The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and the Birth of American Empire.

Stephen Kinzer, we welcome you back to Democracy Now! to talk, sadly, about the very same issue. I’m not quite sure where to begin, whether to go back to the beginning, but let’s start, since it was 65 years ago, in Iran, in 1953, in March of 1953. The U.S. was in full swing making plans for overthrowing the government of the democratically elected leader, Mohammad Mosaddegh. Can you talk about what the U.S. did in Iran then? So well known throughout Iran, but most people in this country have no idea.

STEPHEN KINZER: Early in the 20th century, the people of Iran began moving towards democracy. It was a very difficult struggle. It was back and forth. But finally, after the Second World War, democracy did emerge in Iran. It was the one parenthesis, the one period of real democracy that we’ve had in Iran over the last hundred years. So, the problem came when the Iranians chose the wrong leader. They did something that the United States never likes: They chose a leader who wanted to put the interests of his own country ahead of the interests of the United States. And that alarmed the West, and particularly the United States.

Mosaddegh’s first move was to nationalize Iranian oil. We thought this would be a terrible example for the rest of the world. We didn’t want to start this process going in other countries. So, in order to set an example, the United States decided we would work with the British to overthrow the elected democratic government of Iran. We sent a senior CIA officer, who worked in the basement of the American Embassy in Iran organizing the coup. The coup finally succeeded in the summer of 1953. Mosaddegh was overthrown.

And, more important, the democratic system in Iran was destroyed forever. This was not just an attack on one person, but an attack on democracy. And the reason why we attacked that democracy is the democracy produced the wrong person. So, we like elections and democratic processes, but they have to produce the candidates we like; otherwise, our approval disappears.

AMY GOODMAN: And the person he sent—that the U.S., the Dulles brothers, sent in to Iran with the suitcases of money to begin the process, Teddy Roosevelt’s grandson?

STEPHEN KINZER: That’s right. Sometimes I wonder if there’s something genetic in the Roosevelt family that predisposes them toward regime change. It is a kind of a quirk of history that the person who effectively projected the United States into the regime change era at the beginning of the 20th century, Teddy Roosevelt, had a grandson who went to Iran in the 1950s and carried out a regime change operation there. And there were similarities—

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to go—

STEPHEN KINZER: —between the operations that they carried out.

AMY GOODMAN: Before you go on, Stephen, I wanted to go to a part of a trailer from an upcoming documentary titled Coup 53 about the 1953 British-American coup in Iran and the overthrow of Mohammad Mosaddegh, directed by the Iranian physicist-turned-award-winning-documentary-filmmaker Taghi Amirani.

TAGHI AMIRANI: This man, Dr. Mohammad Mosaddegh, he was our first democratically elected prime minister.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Nobody knows who Mosaddegh was. Democratically elected prime minister of Iran.

TAGHI AMIRANI: In 1952, Time magazine named him Man of the Year, because he had nationalized Iranian oil and kicked the British out.

UNIDENTIFIED: [translated] Mosaddegh came along and threw them out. They were gone. Gone! Gone!!

UNIDENTIFIED: [translated] The Iranian people had rejected the Shah’s rule with blood, with blood, and bare hands in front of tanks.

INTERVIEWER: You had a million dollars in cash to run the coup, right?


DAVID TALBOT: Kermit Roosevelt was prepared to do whatever he had to do, when he was given this mission by Allen Dulles to overthrow the democratic government of Iran.

ALLEN DULLES: But may I say this? At no time has the CIA engaged in any political activity or any intelligence activity that was not approved at the highest level.

AMY GOODMAN: That last voice, Allen Dulles, head of the CIA from 1952 to 1961. At the time, his brother—his brother, Secretary of State Dulles, was secretary of state. We’re talking about the overthrow of Iran for the British oil company that would later become British Petroleum. Is that right, Stephen Kinzer?

STEPHEN KINZER: Yes. That company is now called BP. So, you’re seeing long-term effects of these interventions, and what you’re seeing in Iran today 100 percent ties back to what we did in 1953. We like to have this idea that these operations are discreet, they’re not going to have any long-term effects. We’ll remove one government, place another favorable government in power, and anything will go fine. Everybody will forget it, and it won’t have any long-term effects. But if you look around the world, you can see that these kinds of operations to interfere in other countries’ politics, what the CIA calls “influence operations,” actually not only often wind up devastating the target country, but, in the end, undermine the security of the United States.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Stephen Kinzer, I’d like to move to another part of the world: Nicaragua. Most people are familiar, obviously, with the Reagan-era attempts to overthrow the Sandinista government or the period during the Roosevelt era of the attempts to get rid of Sandino as a force in Nicaragua. But, further back, José Santos Zelaya, at the beginning of the 20 century, could you talk about the efforts of the U.S. government to overthrow Zelaya?

STEPHEN KINZER: Zelaya was a fascinating figure, certainly the most formidable leader Nicaragua ever had. He was a slashing reformer. He was a liberal, a progressive. He built ports and roads, tried to build up a middle class in Nicaragua. He brought the first automobile into Nicaragua, the first streetlights. He organized the first baseball league. He was a true modernizer.

But he had one characteristic the United States really didn’t like. And that is, he wanted Nicaragua to have an independent foreign policy. When he needed to raise money for a planned railroad across Nicaragua, rather than seek loans from the Morgan bank in the United States as we wanted him to do, he floated the loan offers in London and in Paris. The United States tried to get those governments to forbid the offering of those loan agreements, but they refused. Sure enough, the money was raised. And America became very alarmed. Nicaragua was trying to diversify its international relations. It didn’t want to be just under the power of the United States. And that was a fatal decision by Zelaya.

Once he decided that he wanted to pull Nicaragua out from under the thumb of the United States, he became a target. And we did overthrow him in 1909. That was the beginning of a century of American interference in Nicaragua. I think you can argue that there’s no country in the world where the cycle of American intervention—imposition of a dictator, rebellion, repression, and a return of American power to impose another leader—is so clear, over such a long period of time, the way it is in Nicaragua.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Stephen Kinzer, former New York Times foreign correspondent, now writes the world affairs column for The Boston Globe.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And I wanted to ask you about another invasion that is rarely talked about these days: the invasion of the Dominican Republic in 1965 by Lyndon Johnson and the efforts of the United States, again, to control the affairs of the Dominican Republic over many, many years, because, obviously, there were two invasions of the Dominican Republic. There was one at the early part of the century that led to the rise of Trujillo, and then there was one after the fall of Trujillo to attempt regime change against President Juan Bosch, who had been elected into office.

STEPHEN KINZER: You have placed it very well, because if we remember this operation at all, we remember the American Marines landing on the beaches in the Dominican Republic. But the cause of that intervention was the foolish mistake of the Dominican people of electing a leader who was unpalatable to the United States. Juan Bosch was a figure a little bit like Zelaya had been half a century earlier in Nicaragua. He didn’t want the Dominican Republic to be under the thumb of the United States. He wanted it to be an independent country. And this was something the U.S. couldn’t tolerate.

All these movements in the Caribbean Basin have been—have had, as a fundamental part of their political program, measures to limit the power of foreign corporations in their countries, and often measures to limit the amount of land that foreigners can own in their country. These are the kinds of measures that are hateful to the American corporations that have gotten so rich from taking the resources of the Caribbean Basin, and leaders who promote those policies always find themselves in Washington’s crosshairs.

This is not just ancient history. We had an episode in Honduras in 2009 where a president who was very much in this line, trying to pull Honduras away from subservience to the United States, was overthrown in a coup by the military, dragged out of his house in the middle of the night in his pajamas, sent into exile. The U.S. was so happy, members of Congress even went to Honduras to congratulate the leader of the coup. And then, just last year, a new election was held to ratify the results of the coup. The election was so fraudulent that for the first time in the history of the Organization of American States, the OAS called for a new election. And the leader of the OAS, Almagro, had to do it, because he had been denouncing attacks on democracy in Venezuela and figured he couldn’t just stand by while something even worse was done in Honduras. Unfortunately, the United States doesn’t have that kind of shame, and we cheered that election. We refused the call for a new election. And Honduras today is under the rule of a regime that is the product of a coup, supported by the United States, against an elected government.

So, this is not something that we used to do in ancient history. This is something that’s happening right now. And that’s why those of us familiar with this history roll our eyes a little bit when we hear these outraged allegations that Russia has been doing something so dastardly as to try to influence our politics.

AMY GOODMAN: Stephen Kinzer, can you take us on a brief, kind of thumbnail journey from the overthrow of Hawaii, the Spanish-American War, Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines—all before the turn of the 20th century?

STEPHEN KINZER: This was a fascinating period, and it really was the moment when the United States went from being what you could call a continental empire—that is, inside North America—to being an overseas empire, a crucial moment of decision for the United States. That was not inevitable, but that was the choice we made.

So, in 1893, at the behest of sugar growers in Hawaii, the United States promoted the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy. The idea was that Hawaii would then immediately become part of the United States. That didn’t happen, because there was a change of presidency in Washington, and the new president, Grover Cleveland, hated that intervention and didn’t want to take Hawaii in. Then, five years later, in 1898, when Grover Cleveland was gone, the Spanish-American War broke out. The United States became interested in the Pacific, because we destroyed the Spanish fleet in the Philippines. Then we decided we should take the Philippines for ourselves. We became interested in the China market. This was a real, fantastic Fata Morgana out there for American business. The American press was full of stories about how many nails we could sell in China, if we could get the Chinese to use nails; how much cotton we could sell there; how much beef we could sell there, if we could get the Chinese to eat beef. So, we decided we needed stepping stones to China. And that was the moment when we decided, “Let’s take Hawaii as we’ve taken the Philippines.”

So, that happened at the same time the United States was consolidating its rule over Cuba and Puerto Rico. In Cuba, we staged a presidential election, after we consolidated our power there in 1898. We found a candidate that we liked. We found him in upstate New York. He spoke good English, which is always essential for the people that we promote. We brought him back to Cuba. As soon as it became clear that the campaign was rigged, the other candidate dropped out. He became president of Cuba. Sure enough, six years later, the United States had to send troops back to Cuba to suppress protests against him. They occupied Cuba for three more years. Then they left. They had to come back again about six or seven years later, in 1917, because again the Cuban people had had the temerity to elect a leader who was unpalatable to the United States. So, this was a great model for an idea, a concept, that has reverberated through the whole period since then, which is: Have your elections, but you must elect someone we like; otherwise, we’re going to go to Plan B.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to go to break, and then we’re going to come back with Stephen Kinzer and talk about James Woolsey’s latest comment. When asked on Fox if the U.S. is still interfering with people’s elections, he chuckles and says, “Only for a good cause.” Yes, we’re talking with Stephen Kinzer, former New York Times foreign correspondent, now writing a world affairs column for The Boston Globe, has written many books, one on the coup, U.S. overthrow of Guatemalan democratically elected government, called Bitter Fruit, one called Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq, one specifically on Iran, All the Shah’s Men, and his latest book, The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and the Birth of American Empire. This is Democracy Now! Back in a minute.


AMY GOODMAN: “Nicaragua” by Bruce Cockburn, here on Democracy Now!. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González. Our guest is Stephen Kinzer, former New York Times foreign correspondent, now writes for The Boston Globe. He’s author of a number of books, his latest, The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and the Birth of American Empire. Juan?

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Yeah, I’d like to ask you, in terms of the Spanish-American War and, of course, of the bitter guerrilla war that developed in the Philippines in the 1899, 1900, the birth of the Anti-Imperialist League in the United States—it was a widespread movement of Americans opposed to this overseas empire. Could you talk about some of the figures and the impact of the Anti-Imperialist League? Because we don’t see that kind of organization these days, even though the U.S. empire continues to grow and make itself felt around the world.

STEPHEN KINZER: The story of the Anti-Imperialist League is a central part of my new book, The True Flag. And I like my books always to be voyages of discovery. I’m always looking for some really big story that shaped the world but that we don’t know about. And this really is one. Here’s a story that has almost completely dropped out of our history books.

But the Anti-Imperialist League was a major force in American life in the period around 1898, 1900. It was based in Boston, later moved to Washington, had chapters all over the United States. Some of the leading figures in the United States were members. The leaders of the Anti-Imperialist League included billionaires like Andrew Carnegie and social activists like Jane Addams and Samuel Gompers, Booker T. Washington. Grover Cleveland was a member. It was really a remarkable group. It staged hundreds of rallies, published thousands of leaflets, intensely lobbied in Washington, and actually had quite an impact.

This was a debate that seized the attention of the entire American people: Should we begin taking territories outside North America? Or should we now stop, now that we’ve consolidated our North American empire? Everybody in the United States realized this was a huge decision. It dominated newspaper coverage. When the treaty by which the United States took the Philippines and Guam and Puerto Rico was brought before the Senate, there was a 34-day debate. That’s the center of my book. In this debate, you will see every argument, on both sides, that has ever been used, for the last 120 years. Every argument about why intervention is a good idea or a bad idea starts there. And the Anti-Imperialist League played a great role in that debate. And interestingly enough, that treaty, that set us off on the path of global empire, was passed in the Senate by a margin of one vote more than the required two-thirds majority.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, of course, the—

STEPHEN KINZER: And when it was challenged in the Supreme Court, it was five to four.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, of course, the most eloquent spokesman—the most elegant spokesman for the Anti-Imperialist League was none other than Mark Twain, no?

STEPHEN KINZER: This is another discovery I made while I was writing my book. I grew up with what I now realize was a partial, a kind of false, image of Mark Twain. I always thought of him as Mr. Nice Guy. He’s a sweetheart. He’s everybody’s favorite old uncle, who has nice curly white hair and rocks on his porch and tells nice, funny stories that everybody laughs at. This is not correct! This is not the real Mark Twain.

Mark Twain was an eviscerating anti-imperialist. He was militant. He was intent. He used to write that Americans fighting in foreign wars were carrying a polluted musket under a bandit’s flag. And he even wanted to change the flag of the United States, to change the stars to skull-and-crossbones symbols. So, I now realize that we have sort of sanctified and bleached Mark Twain for public consumption. Many of the quotes I use from Twain in my book do not appear in many biographies or anthologies. That part of Twain has been dropped out of his legacy, and I’m trying to recover it, because he speaks to us today.

AMY GOODMAN: Makes me wonder if his books will start to be taken out of libraries around the country.



Amy Goodman is the host of Democracy Now!, a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 1,200 stations in North America. She is the co-author of The Silenced Majority, a New York Times best-seller.

Juan González is the co-host of the nationally syndicated radio news program, Democracy Now!.