How an American Anthropologist Tied to US Regime-Change Proxies Became the MSM’s Man in Nicaragua -By Max Blumenthal @MaxBlumenthal – MINT PRESS

Carl David Goette-Luciak

It might seem cavalier for an academically credentialed anthropologist to assert political influence on the population he is supposed to be studying; however, Goette-Luciak’s activities fit within a long tradition.

MANAGUA, NICARAGUA — (Investigation) The Guardian, The Washington Post, the BBC and NPR have assigned an American anthropologist with no previous journalistic experience to cover the crisis in Nicaragua. The novice reporter, named Carl David Goette-Luciak, has published pieces littered with falsehoods that reinforce the opposition’s narrative promoting regime change while relying almost entirely on anti-Sandinista sources.

An investigation for MintPress reveals that Goette-Luciak has forged intimate ties to the opposition, and has essentially functioned as its publicist under journalistic cover. Having claimed to work in the past as an anthropologist and “human rights defender,” Goette-Luciak operated side-by-side with activists from a U.S.-backed opposition party known as the Sandinista Renovation Movement, or MRS. As we will see in this investigation, U.S. government-funded organizations have supplied the MRS with millions of dollars worth of election assistance, and continue to fund its activists by funding their NGO’s and social media training.

Goette-Luciak now lists himself as “director of investigations” for an obscure outlet called Radio Ciudadana that was founded a month before the chaos erupted last April. That outlet’s founder, Azucena “Chena” Castillo, is an outspoken member of the MRS party who has devoted herself to the government’s overthrow. Goette-Luciak’s social-media profile reveals intimate ties to numerous MRS leaders and, in a recently deleted podcast interview, he has described his own work to encourage indigenous opposition to the Sandinista front.

 

Media outlets like the Guardian, NPR and The Washington Post feign objectivity before their readers, presenting themselves as arbiters of truth in an era of fake news. However, in countries where Washington is pushing regime change, these same outlets have dispatched a corps of writers to embed with U.S.-backed opposition elements, provide them with publicity, and sell their goals back to the American public.

Goette-Luciak is one of clearest embodiments of the disturbing trend.

 

Western media versus the Sandinistas

Goette-Luciak vaulted suddenly into the world of journalism after student-led protests erupted last April 18 in Nicaragua. President Daniel Ortega had announced a set of tax increases to keep the public pension system solvent, triggering mass protests that quickly transformed into a full-scale attempt at regime change.

Within days, violent elements had taken over university campuses and were setting up roadblocks around the country to paralyze its economy.

While American officials condemned killings and abuses by the Nicaraguan government, scores of Sandinista members and national police officers were murdered by opposition gunmen; hundreds more were kidnapped, tortured and abused; and institutions affiliated with the government were destroyed.

Almost as soon as the Sandinista-led government defeated the coup attempt in July, it became the target of a sustained campaign of attacks in Western media. A raft of articles portrayed Ortega, the former guerrilla leader, as a reincarnation of the bloodthirsty, U.S.-backed dictator he had deposed, Anastasio Somoza. The opposition, meanwhile, was painted as a collection of peaceful protesters gunned down for supposedly demanding democracy.

The death and suffering experienced by average Sandinista members was whitewashed across the board, and the role the U.S. played in laying the groundwork for the coup was dismissed as “fake news.” In Washington, the media campaign propelled a push in Congress for crushing sanctions targeting Nicaragua’s previously productive economy.

Many Western reporters have embarked on short regime-change fishing expeditions guided by opposition activists from one anti-Sandinista source to the next. But Goette-Luciak had been in the country all along, and he stayed after the violence subsided. This provided him with special value to publications like the Guardian, which were apparently hungry for more on-the-ground reporting painting the Sandinistas as uniquely evil and unqualified to govern.

 

Misinformation in the service of the opposition

On September 7, Goette-Luciak published an article in the Guardian claiming that the country had been brought to a virtual halt by a general strike by the anti-government Civic Alliance umbrella group. His co-author was Caroline Houck, a staff correspondent for the website Defense One, which leverages ad revenue from the arms industry to “provide news, analysis and ideas for national security leaders and stakeholders.”

The Nicaraguan-born activist Camilo Mejia highlighted several pieces of misinformation contained in the article. Contrary to the claim that the Civic Alliance interrupted the country’s economy with its general strike, Managuan marketplaces were bustling that day and commerce proceeded as usual. As Mejia noted, the opposition had only managed to close the high-end businesses that supported its regime-change agenda.

Carl David Goette-Luciak | Ana Margarita Vijil

Goette-Luciak and Houck published extensive quotes from Ana Margarita Vijil, falsely describing her as “national director of the outlawed Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS).” In fact, the marginal MRS had not been “outlawed;” its candidates had garnered a pitiful 1.3 percent of the popular vote in the last election, which is below the legal threshold to qualify to run as a political party.

The authors then quoted Vijil claiming that, “[w]ith 200 political prisoners and [new] murders every day, this strike is just one more sign that nothing is normal here in Nicaragua.” What Goette-Luciak and his co-author failed to mention was that those recent murders have consisted largely of Sandinista supporters. The recent murder victims include Lenin Mendiola, an FSLN militant and son of two revered Sandinista historical figures, Benigna Mendiola and Bernardino Díaz Ochoa.

But the most striking omission by Goette-Luciak was of his relationship with his source and her party, which has enjoyed direct support from the U.S. government. Below, the two can be seen together at a conference in an image that highlights their mutual affinity.

Vijil is the former president of the MRS, or the Sandinista Renewal Movement. She has served as a fellow of the Central American Leadership Initiative at the Aspen Institute, a hub of neoliberal thought funded by the Ford Foundation and Rockefeller Brothers Fund, among others.

Just before the coup erupted in April, Vijil was in Washington for a “high level executive meeting,” according to Yaser Morazan, an MRS activist whose “Agente de Cambio” initiative and social-media training have been sponsored by USAID — an arm of the U.S. State Department — and the U.S.-funded Instituto de Estudios Estratégicos y Políticas Públicas (IEEPP). Three weeks before the coup, Morazan posted a selfie outside IEEPP’s office promising a series of “surprises” and pledging his secrecy about them.

For his part, Goette-Luciak has been connected with the MRS most directly through Azucena Castillo, a prominent party activist whom he lists as his employer at Radio Ciudadana.

Goette-Luciak did not respond to an emailed request for an interview.

 

The best ex-Sandinistas the U.S. could buy

Goette-Luciak appears to have inherited his affinity for the MRS party from his father, Ilja Luciak, an academic who focused his research on Central America and served for several years as the chair of political science at Virginia Tech.

In an interview with an obscure travel website called the Edge of Adventure, Goette-Luciak credited his father with inspiring his interest in Nicaragua. He described him as a “Marxist” who was inspired by the Sandinista revolution that unfolded during the 1980’s. But according to his academic CV, Luciak’s work on Nicaragua has been backed by European foundations, the European Commission, and USAID.

In his book After the Revolution: Gender and Democracy in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala, Luciak wrote sympathetically about the female former Sandinistas who helped lead the MRS party’s crusade against Ortega.

His son, Goette-Luciak, channeled the purist sensibility of the MRS in his interview with Edge of Adventure:

As a leftist, I was intrigued by where the Sandinista revolution — which to me was a very utopian idealistic revolution and a great example of potential social change for Latin America — where it had gone awry.”

The MRS was established to expose and exacerbate the supposed failings of the Sandinista front. Founded in 1994 by ex-Vice President Sergio Ramirez and a collection of ex-FSLN militants — most of them from more affluent, educated backgrounds than common Sandinistas — the party’s disruptive agenda made it a natural candidate for assistance from Washington.

In 2006, the MRS and the U.S. government plotted to prevent Ortega’s election. A September 6, 2006 U.S. embassy cable — revealingly entitled, “MRS: We Want To Bring Ortega Down” — laid out some of those plans. Authored by U.S. Ambassador Paul Trivelli, the cable described a meeting between the ambassador and Israel Lewites, the nephew of MRS presidential candidate Herty Lewites, who had just died from a heart attack.

Trivelli confirmed direct U.S. government support for the MRS election campaign, noting that 30 percent of its election observers had been trained by the International Republican Institute, a U.S.-funded, Republican Party-run soft-power organization overseen by then-Sen. John McCain.

“The MRS intends to have at least two people per voting table […] on election day, but they need funds to feed and transport the fiscales and other helpers,” Trivelli stated.

In all, the U.S. government contributed a whopping $12 million in 2006 towards “election technical assistance, outreach, and observation” in Nicaragua’s 2006 election. In other words, it spent two dollars for every Nicaraguan citizen to defeat Ortega.

A separate leaked diplomatic cable detailed a meeting during that election campaign between MRS co-founder Dora Maria Tellez and the ambassador, Trivelli. Foreshadowing the coup that unfolded this year, Tellez told U.S. embassy officials that “the MRS will warn the FSLN that if it steals the election, the MRS will ‘take to the streets,’ opining that this is the ‘only kind of message Ortega understands.’”

The MRS ultimately failed to prevent Ortega’s victory and wound up reaching out to the U.S. again as its domestic support base collapsed. In 2016, the MRS’s Vijil joined a delegation to lobby in Washington for the Nica Act, a bill proposing crushing sanctions on her country.

On Capitol Hill, Vigil posed alongside a cast of U.S.-backed activists and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a neoconservative Cuban-American Republican who was the main author of the sanctions bill.

Ana Margarita Vigil

Two years later, MRS activists were at the forefront of the coup attempt that sought Ortega’s removal. Several participants in the protests this April who later turned against the opposition described witnessing MRS leaders providing truck loads of supplies for opposition forces occupying university campuses.

While the MRS performed its historic role as the knife in the FSLN’s back, it supplied Western media with a cast of English-speaking voices demanding regime change in the name of supposedly progressive values. Its most prominent voice was Gioconda Belli, an affluent U.S.-based poet and professional former Sandinista, who took to mainstream U.S. outlets to paint Ortega as a murderous dictator, as she has done for years. (Belli’s brother, Humberto, is a Catholic priest affiliated with the far-right Opus Dei cult and a client of the militantly anti-abortion American tycoon Tom Monaghan).

Carl David Goette-Luciak | Gioconda Belli

Then there was Goette-Luciak (seen above with Belli), who functioned on the ground as the MRS party’s publicist in photo-journalistic attire.

 

A “dual use” anthropologist

Prior to the unrest that swept across Nicaragua last April, there was little record of Goette-Luciak’s presence as a writer or journalist. He had written one piece for NPR on how Nicaraguans were not as happy as the World Happiness Report said they were.

His co-author, Carlos Salinas Maldonado, was a writer for the opposition magazine Confidencial, which is funded by the U.S. government’s regime-change arm, the National Endowment for Democracy, and the Open Society Foundation.

In his byline, Goette-Luciak described himself as “an anthropologist in Managua.” He was listed in conference papers as a graduate student at the University of Virginia around that time, focusing his work on the Rama-Kriol and Miskito populations of Nicaragua’s eastern coast.

These indigenous groups have been at loggerheads with the Sandinista movement since the civil war in the 1980’s, when the CIA cultivated them as U.S. allies. Ronald Reagan made the relationship a centerpiece of his administration’s Cold War crusade when he declared in a 1985 speech, “I am … a Miskito Indian. I too, am a potential victim of totalitarianism.”

The indigenous North Atlantic Autonomous Region of Nicaragua remains a key target for U.S. influence, as Washington seeks to exploit the simmering conflict between its local population and the leftist government in Managua. Leaked diplomatic cables demonstrate efforts by the U.S. embassy to cultivate anti-Sandinista sentiment in the area by working to facilitate human-rights complaints by former CIA-backed Contra fighters against FSLN leadership.

In 2013, the Ortega government announced plans by a Chinese magnate to construct a canal through his country, presenting a direct threat to U.S. control over shipping lines in the western hemisphere and prompting an outcry from the U.S. embassy. Soon, an anti-canal movement emerged in the countryside as one of the main drivers of anti-Sandinista sentiment. The campaign against the canal poured fuel on the fire of the coastal indigenous population’s long-simmering conflict with the government.

Though Goette-Luciak described himself in his bio as an “anthropologist in Managua,” he later revealed that he was working among the Miskito population and with the Rama-Kriol communal government to stimulate opposition to the Sandinistas.

“I worked on informing the indigenous community of their rights at a time of crisis, when the government was attempting to depict to the international audience consent among the indigenous population for the sale of their land,” Goette-Luciak said in an interview this year with The Edge of Adventure.

It might seem cavalier for an academically credentialed anthropologist to assert political influence on the population he is supposed to be studying; however, Goette-Luciak’s activities fit within a long tradition. As author David Price illustrated in several book-length studies on what he called “dual use anthropology,” many American anthropologists were supported during the Cold War by private foundations and even the CIA to conduct activities on behalf of their government. More recently, the Pentagon weaponized the field of study through programs like its Human Terrain System, which lured newly graduated anthropologists with lucrative salaries to assist U.S. military counterinsurgency campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.

There is no evidence that Goette-Luciak is an asset of the CIA or any other U.S. agency. However, his advancement of Washington’s divisive political objectives during the course of his ethnographic fieldwork represented a fairly clear example of dual-use anthropology.

 

Selective stories from the front lines

In his interview with Edge of Adventure, Goette-Luciak cited the killing of Angel Gahona — a reporter he described as his “neighbor” in the city of Bluefields in southeastern Nicaragua — as his inspiration for moving into the field of journalism.

Gahona was killed while delivering a Facebook live report during an anti-government protest. He was shot while filming a bank that had been looted, and unidentified men could be seen in the shadows of the bank moments before Gahona was hit. This prompted some observers to allege that he was killed by professional criminals for filming them while they took advantage of the chaos to rob a bank.

Though the government arrested two suspects in the killing, Gahona’s family blamed the national police for deliberately targeting him in retaliation for his coverage of alleged police abuse. Goette-Luciak presented these allegations and accusing the government of a cover-up in his first article for the Guardian on May 29.

Goette-Luciak also described to the Edge of Adventure having witnessed the so-called Mother’s Day Massacre, where several demonstrators commemorating those who had already died in the unrest were killed on May 30.

The bloodshed that took place that day remains a source of heated contention. Violence had erupted across the country, with the opposition opening fire on a Sandinista caravan in the city of Esteli, killing one and wounding dozens. Opposition vandals burned the leftist Radio Ya station for the third time as well as parts of Managua’s Metrocentro complex. Videos show opposition gunmen opening fire that day on the streets of Managua and toting weapons near the Mother’s Day march. The opposition and Western media placed the blame squarely on Sandinista-affiliated elements for sniping into the crowd of marchers, but have yet to produce clear evidence proving their case.

Speaking to the Edge of Adventure, Goette-Luciak conceded that he had left the march and was several blocks away drinking a beer when the shooting began. He said he returned after he heard shooting and described the deaths as the result of targeting killings by Sandinista paramilitaries.

“I witnessed two deaths…” he told Edge of Adventure. “A young man standing a few yards from me was hit by a bullet in the head, and standing behind him, what I saw was the back of his head explode like a watermelon that got dropped.”

Hours after the violence, a ferociously anti-government network known as “100% Noticias” published a grisly photo of a man supposedly killed by government forces whose brain was spilling out of his skull. The image was soon exposed as a fake and has since been deleted. In fact, it depicted a death from a separate conflict and had been taken years before.

Though Goette-Luciak said he had taken photos of the march, he has yet to publish any of the killings he said he witnessed.

In a separate incident this June, Goette-Luciak appeared momentarily in a highly disturbing video filmed by 100% Noticias. He could be seen taking photos of a mob of opposition thugs in the act of kidnapping and beating an aging Sandinista member they had found squatting on a local oligarch’s abandoned property. Oddly, Goette-Luciak published no photos of the incident and did not report on it.

Goette-Luciak

The Radio La Ciudadana outlet where Goette-Luciak is listed as “director of investigations” contains sparse evidence of journalistic production: a section on the site marked as “investigations” is empty; the photos section contains 15 images Goette-Luciak captured on Mother’s Day, where he claimed to have witnessed two murders: a grand total of three news stories are featured on the site. Radio La Ciudadana was founded by Azucena “Chena” Castillo, an MRS party activist who has also worked as director of the USAID-funded outlet Radio Universidad.

Goette-Luciak | Chena Castillo

The only other record of Goette-Luciak’s photojournalism existed at the Edge of Adventure website, which had published about 20 images he captured — one of which depicted him posing with an opposition gunman. The Edge of Adventure is a little-known media site founded by Adam Asher Wattenbarger, a self-styled travel journalist who is listed as an executive at the right-wing, Christian-oriented Salem Media Group.

This month, Goette-Luciak fell under sustained criticism from Sandinista supporters on Facebook for his one-sided coverage of the country’s political crisis. Many accused him of operating as a U.S. intelligence asset. The Edge of Adventure promptly deleted its podcast interview with him and scrubbed most of his photos from the site.

Goette-Luciak then began cleaning up his own Facebook page, deleting his selfies with MRS party leaders.

 

Objective journalistic promoters of the “resistance”

Earlier this summer, Goette-Luciak was in the thick of the most intense fighting between opposition gunmen and Sandinista-aligned forces. It was in Masaya, a city where the opposition had seized and cordoned off entire neighborhoods in an attempt to declare a junta.

As I found when I visited Masaya a month later, the opposition had waged a campaign of terror against Sandinista supporters, burning their homes, kidnapping, beating, torturing and even killing them, while laying siege to the local police station. In one of the most gruesome incidents, an unarmed community police officer named Gabriel Vado was kidnapped by opposition gunmen, dragged to death from the back of a truck, and torched on camera while slumped before a roadblock.

There was virtually no mention of the opposition’s ongoing campaign of terror in Goette-Luciak’s June 23 report for The Washington Post, which he co-authored with Houck of the arms industry-funded Defense One. Instead, Goette-Luciak painted the gunmen as valiant resistance fighters and promoted their call for the U.S. to send them heavy weapons: “Several asked a reporter whether President Trump would send support to the resistance,” he wrote.

Goette-Luciak Nicaragua

To be sure, Goette-Luciak was far from the only Western media figure to embed with the armed opposition in Masaya and trumpet its gallantry. Some of the most overtly pro-opposition messaging arrived courtesy of a reporter named Tim Rogers. An American who spent years publishing news of interest to the local emigre and tourist population, Rogers emerged this year as a ferocious promoter of the armed opposition.

In Masaya, Rogers seemed to throb with admiration for the masked gunmen manning the barricades.

While characterizing the opposition as “an unarmed population,” Rogers glorified the lethal weaponry they deployed from behind the roadblocks. Goette-Luciak’s now-deleted photo gallery at the Edge of Adventure demonstrated that the gunmen not only toted homemade mortars, but assault weapons and handguns as well.

Like Goette-Luciak, Rogers’ cheerleading for the armed opposition was rewarded with bylines in mainstream publications from Public Radio International and The Atlantic, where he claimed Nicaragua was a “failed state” that was undergoing “democratic renewal” thanks to the push for regime change. He was ultimately hired as the Latin American editor of Fusion, a website owned by the Israel-American oligarch and Democratic Party mega-donor Haim Saban. There, Rogers produced a viral propaganda video likening the Sandinista movement to ISIS.

The out-of-the-blue emergence of figures like Goette-Luciak and Rogers as correspondents for legacy Western publications can not be viewed as an aberration or mistake. In Nicaragua, as in so many other countries targeted with regime-change operations, outlets like the Guardian, New York Times and Washington Post seem to demand on-the-ground coverage that reinforces the regime-change agenda.

And so they credentialed opposition publicists as journalists, instilling in them the illusion of their own professionalism. “I think I’ve come to realize the value of objective and impartial journalism,” Goette-Luciak said in his Edge of Adventure interview, “and I no longer consider myself as an activist for or against any particular cause.”

Top Photo | Carl David Goette-Luciak poses with an opposition gunman in the city of Masaya, Nicaragua. Photo | Edge of Adventure

Max Blumenthal is the founder and editor of GrayzoneProject.com, the co-host of the podcast Moderate Rebels, the author of several books and producer of full-length documentaries including the recently released Killing Gaza. Follow him on Twitter at @MaxBlumenthal.

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Finian Cunnigham: Western collapse… Scapegoating Trump & Putin… The real Pox Americana – Finian Cunnigham (Strategic Culture Foundation)

Trump and PutinFinian Cunnigham
Strategic Culture Foundation

Former US President Barack Obama was in South Africa last week for the centennial anniversary marking the birth of the late Nelson Mandela. Obama delivered a speech warning about encroaching authoritarianism among nations and the “rise of strongman politics”.

Coming on the heels of the summit in Helsinki between Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, media reports assumed that Obama was taking a swipe at these two leaders for supposed growing authoritarianism.

Obama’s casting of the “strongman” as a foreboding enemy to democracy is a variant of the supposed threat of “populism” that Western political establishments also seem concerned about.

Trump, Putin, Turkey’s Erdogan, Italy’s Salvini, Victor Orban in Hungary and Sebastian Kurz in Austria, among many others, are all lumped together as “strongman politics”, “populists” or “authoritarians”.

Here we are not trying to defend the above-mentioned political leaders or to make out that they are all virtuous democrats.

The point rather is to debunk the false narrative that there is some kind of dichotomy in modern politics between those who, on one hand, are supposedly virtuous, liberal, democratic, multilateralists, and on the other hand, the supposedly sinister “strongman”, “authoritarian”, or “populist”.

In Obama’s pompous depiction of world political trends, people like him are supposedly the epitome of a civilized, democratic legacy that is now under threat from Neo-fascists who are darkly rising to destroy an otherwise happy world order. That world order, it is presumed, was up to now guided by the magnificence of American political leadership. In short, the “Pax Americana” that prevailed for nearly seven decades following the Second World War.

Following the Helsinki summit, the Western media went full-tilt in hysterics and hyperbole. Trump was assailed for “embracing a dictator” while repudiating Western democratic allies.

In a Washington Post article, the headline screamed: “Is Trump at war with the West?” It was accompanied by a photograph of Trump and Putin, bearing the caption: “The New Front”.

Meanwhile, a New York Times piece editorialized: “His [Trump’s] embrace of Putin is a victory dance on the Euro-American tomb.”

Another NY Times op-ed writer declared: “Trump and Putin vs. America”.

The Western establishment political and media commentary promulgates the notion that the US-led Western order is breaking down because of “populist”, “strongman” Trump. In this alleged assault on the pillars of democracy and rule of law, Trump is being aided and abetted by supposedly nasty, like-minded authoritarians like Russian leader Vladimir Putin, or other nationalistic European politicians.

The premise of this establishment narrative is that all was seemingly salubrious and convivial in the US-led order until the arrival of various renegade-type politicians, like Trump and Putin.

That premise is an absolute conceit and deception. If we look at Obama’s presidency alone, one can see how the supposed guardians of democracy and international order were the very ones who have actually done the most to decimate that order.

Obama, you will recall, was the US president who notched up seven simultaneous overseas wars conducted by American military, arguably without a shred of international legal mandate. Under international law, Obama and other senior officials in his administration should face prosecution for war crimes. He also greatly expanded the executive use of assassination with aerial drones, reckoned to have killed thousands of innocent civilians in several countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and Somalia, merely on the suspicion of being terrorists.

It was Obama who ramped up the covert war policy of his predecessor GW Bush in Syria, arming and directing terrorist proxies in a failed bid to overthrow the elected government of President Assad. That US-backed covert war in Syria, along with Obama’s overt regime-change war in Libya, largely contributed to the refugee crisis that has destabilized the politics of the European Union.

So here we have the supremely bitter irony. Obama now lectures audiences with his pseudo-gravitas about the specter of strongman politics and xenophobic populism, when in fact it was politicians like Obama who created much of the refugee problems that have given rise to anti-immigrant politics in Europe.

It really is a conceited delusion among US and European establishment politicians, pundits and media that somehow a once virtuous, law-abiding US-led Western order is being eroded by rabble rousers like Trump, Salvini, Orban and so on, all being orchestrated by a “strongman dictator” in the Kremlin.

For the record, Putin, the supposed “strongman” in the Kremlin, warned more than a decade ago in a seminal Munich speech that the international order was being eroded by rampant American unilateralism and disregard for law in its pursuit of illegal wars for US hegemony. That was at the height of US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which killed more than one million civilians and forced millions more into infernal destitution.

In truth, the Pax Americana that is presumed to have prevailed over the past 70 years was never about order, peace or justice in the world. The notion that the US guided the world with its “moral authority” and maintained stability throughout is one of the most fatuous delusions of modern history.

From the atomic holocaust in Japan and during subsequent decades, the US has waged wars non-stop in almost every year, whether from covert operations in Latin America and Africa, to full-on genocidal wars in Indochina. The past quarter-century has seen an acceleration and expansion of these US wars, sometimes with the assistance of its military axis in NATO, largely because Washington viewed that its license to kill for mass murder was unchecked after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

This is the real dynamic underlying why the Western order is now seen to be collapsing. The US and its minions among European allies have destroyed any foundations of international order from their unabated wars and campaigns of mass murder. Their corporate-capitalist plunder has eviscerated the planet.

The chaos from these wars, including economic impacts of gargantuan costs to Western populations, has created social conditions which engender politics of protest, anti-establishment, anti-austerity, anti-war, anti-immigration, and so on.

If the supposed order is shaking for the establishment political class and its flunkies like Barack Obama it is because of their own criminal depredations – depredations which have been going on for decades under the guise of Pax Americana.

The writers at Monthly Review had it so presciently right years ago, when they analyzed the actual Western order as “Pox Americana” – a diseased affliction.

This is the historical context which accounts for why US and European establishments are decrying “strongmen” and “populists”. They are essentially scapegoating others for the historic failure of institutionalized Western criminality led primarily by “democratic” regimes in Washington.

Russian President Vladimir Putin stands out as the one international leader who put a brake on the US-led criminal assault on global peace. Putin’s stand first emerged with his landmark speech in Munich in 2007, and then came into clear expression when he helped put an end to the US-led covert criminal war on Syria.

That is why Putin is so vilified and demonized by the Western establishment. The poachers have been stopped from raiding the globe, and in their exasperation, they have whipped up all sorts of disparaging epithets like “strongman” and “authoritarian”.

No one has practiced more fascist-style criminality and brutality towards law and peace than the polite-sounding pseudo-democrats who have been in office for the past 70 years in the US and Europe.

The Western political establishment and its elite-driven capitalism is rotten to the core. Always has been. Its own erosion and oozing corruption is the source of the putrid smell that it now wishes to waft away by scapegoating others.

Israel Aiding Saudi Arabia In Developing Nuclear Weapons – by Whitney Webb – (MINT PRESS)

israel - saudi arabia
Wahhabis with Nukes?

Saudi interest in developing nuclear weapons dates back to the 1970s, when the kingdom learned of major steps taken by both Israel and India in the development of nuclear armaments.

RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA – The Israeli government has begun selling the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia information on how to develop nuclear weapons, according to a senior official at the Israeli military organization iHLS (Israel’s Homeland Security). Ami Dor-on, a senior nuclear commentator at the organization — which is partially funded by U.S. weapons-giant Raytheon – came forward because of his concern over the emerging nuclear arms race in the region. The cooperation between the two countries in helping the Saudis to develop a nuclear weapons program is just the latest sign of their warming relationship, with Israel recently calling the Saudi crown prince “a partner of Israel.”

Israel has been a nuclear power for decades, though its nuclear arsenal is undeclared and the country has refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Estimates of its arsenal vary, with most suggesting that Israel possesses from 100 to 200 nuclear weapons. Israel was aided in the development of its nuclear program by Western powers, particularly France. Much of the Western “help” Israel received, however, was the result of covert thefts of nuclear material from countries such as the United States and Belgium.

While Dor-On, speaking to news outlet Arabi21, did not elaborate on the details of the information being exchanged, he stated that the sharing of this information was likely to be just the beginning of Israeli involvement in a future Saudi nuclear weapons program, which would likely see Israel “take the initiative to develop Saudi Arabia’s effort to acquire nuclear weapons” as a result of “the growing Saudi-Israeli relations.”

Both Israel and Saudi Arabia have justified their acquisition of nuclear weapons by citing concerns about Iran’s nuclear capabilities. However, Iran — unlike Israel — has never developed any nuclear weapons and its capacity to develop one is virtually nil under the conditions set by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JPCOA). Though the U.S. recently left the deal, Iran has since announced that it would continue to abide by the agreement if the other signatories also agreed to do so.

Dor-On additionally expressed his concern over the Saudis’ acquiring of nuclear weapons and a wider nuclear arms race in the region, stating that “this information should shock us as we see the world is changing for the worse, following the race for the possession of nuclear weapons that pass right over our heads in the Middle East.”

He also noted that Israel’s decision to begin sharing nuclear secrets with Saudi Arabia was motivated by a similar offer recently made by Pakistan to the Saudis — in which Islamabad had announced its ability to transfer nuclear-weapons expertise to the Gulf kingdom “within a month” — stating that the Israeli government did not want to “leave it [the development of a Saudi nuclear program] solely to Pakistan.” Pakistan’s offer was likely related to the fact that the Saudis have long been widely viewed as the chief financier behind Pakistan’s nuclear program.

 

Saudi nuclear weapons progress and status not clear

While the announcement that the Saudis may soon develop nuclear weapons with the help of Israel and other regional players will likely cause concern throughout the international community, it is hardly the first indication of Saudi ambition to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Indeed, Saudi interest in developing nuclear weapons dates back to the 1970s, when the kingdom learned of major steps taken by both Israel and India in the development of nuclear armaments.

Not long after financing the Pakistani program, the Saudis procured a Chinese ballistic missile system capable of carrying nuclear warheads — warheads that Pakistan had made for the Saudis in 2013 and were awaiting delivery, according to a BBC report published at the time. Three years later in 2016, former CIA Operations Officer Duane Clarridge confirmed this to FOX News — stating that, through their financing of the Pakistani nuclear program, the Saudis had access to several nuclear bombs. Clarridge declined to comment on whether those nuclear weapons that had been “sitting ready for delivery” in Pakistan a few years prior had since been delivered to Saudi Arabia.

Watch | Former CIA Officer Duane Clarridge Tell FOX News that the Saudis had several nuclear weapons back in 2016:

More recently, Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman publicly announced this March, during an interview with CBS News, that the country would seek to develop nuclear weapons, were Iran to do so. In that interview, the Crown Prince stated that “Saudi Arabia does not want to acquire any nuclear bomb; but, without a doubt, if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible.” However, he did not make reference to the claim that the Saudis had already acquired access to such weapons years prior.

Furthermore, around the same time as the Crown Prince’s interview, reports surfaced claiming that the Saudis had asked the United States for permission to enrich uranium with the goal of producing a nuclear weapon.

 

Would Saudi nukes find their way into the hands of terrorists? A very real concern

The possibility that the Saudis already have access to nuclear weapons, and hope to soon develop them domestically, has been met with concern by analysts, particularly given the kingdom’s documented history of funneling weapons to terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda, Daesh (ISIS), and Jaish al-Islam, among others. Were the Saudis to domestically produce their own nuclear weapons, it is very much a possibility that the kingdom would include them in its future weapon shipments to the radical Wahhabist groups they actively support.

Another area of concern is the kingdom’s disrespect for civilian life and tendency to wage total war when embroiled in a military conflict. For instance, in Yemen, where the Saudis have been attempting to oust the Houthis from power since 2015, the Saudi-led coalition has repeatedly bombed civilian infrastructure and imposed a blockade of the country that has prevented food, medicine and fuel from reaching the majority of Yemen’s population of around 28 million. As a result, 18.5 million Yemenis are expected to face starvation by this December and a “preventable” cholera epidemic of historic proportions continues to claim innocent life.

The Saudis’ willingness to inflict such misery on a civilian population as part of a military conflict is yet another indication of the danger inherent in their acquiring the ability to manufacture nuclear weapons.

Top Photo | Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman

Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and a contributor to Ben Swann’s Truth in Media. Her work has appeared on Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has also made radio and TV appearances on RT and Sputnik. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.

Republish our stories! MintPress News is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 International License.

Oil and gas geopolitics: No shelter from the coming storm – By Pepe Escobar ( Asia Times) (SOTT)

A man stands at an oil terminal at Fujairah, in the United Arab Emirates

© Karim Sahib / AFP
A man stands at an oil terminal at Fujairah, in the United Arab Emirates.

There could be widespread ramifications from US energy independence and looming US sanctions on Iran and Russia; states in Central Asia could be hit hard, as well as serious possible impacts on global oil production and the West.

Russia and Saudi Arabia are in deep debate on whether to raise OPEC and non-OPEC oil production by 1 million barrels a day to offset the drastic plunge in Venezuela’s production plus possible shortfalls when new US sanctions on Iran kick in in November.

The problem is that even a production raise would not be enough, according to Credit Suisse; only 500,000 barrels a day would be added to the global market.

Oil has spiked as high as $80 a barrel – unheard of since 2014. A production spike could certainly halt the trend. At the same time, key supply players would rather keep crude futures at $70-$80 a barrel. But the price could even hit $100 before the end of the year, depending on the impact that US sanctions have.

Persian Gulf traders told Asia Times the current oil price would be “much higher today if the Gulf States played their usual role at OPEC and cut back production” – to 10% or 15% or 20% of OPEC supply. According to an Abu Dhabi trader, “present OPEC cutbacks only target 1.8 million barrels a day, which is ridiculous, and indicates that the US is still pressuring to hold down the price.”

A Saudi-Russia deal could certainly turn the tables.

And then there’s the further issue of depleting OPEC supplies. There’s a consensus among traders that, “the depletion that has to be replaced is about 8% of total supply, which comes out to approximately 8 million barrels a day per year. Most of this has been made up by pre-2014 drilling but in the next four years will fall short very considerably as drilling has collapsed 50%.”

So, uncertainty seems to be the rule. To add to this, Societe Generale has forecast that US sanctions might remove as much as 500,000 barrels a day of Iranian crude from the global market.

And that leads us to the real big story for the foreseeable future, as Asia Times cross-referenced analyses from Persian Gulf traders with diplomats in the European Union; beyond technical issues, the point is how oil and energy markets are hostage to geopolitical pressure.

The US is in a relatively comfortable position. US oil production has reached 10.7 million barrels per day – enough for domestic needs. And shale oil production is expected to rise to a record 7.18 million barrels a day next month, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

The US imports only 3.7 million barrels a day – three million of them from Canada. As traders in the Persian Gulf confirmed, the US “imports heavy and exports light oil. In three years the country will be essentially totally independent.”

Sanctions or bust

Once again, the heart of the matter concerns the petrodollar. After the Trump administration’s unilateral pull-out from the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), European Union diplomats in Brussels, off the record, and still in shock, admit that they blundered by not “configuring the eurozone as distinct and separate to the dollar hegemony”. Now they may be made to pay the price of their impotence via their “outlawed” trade with Iran.

The EU – at least rhetorically – now wants to pay for Iranian oil in euros. Add to it the Trump administration’s ultimatum to Chancellor Merkel: give up the Nord Stream II gas pipeline from Russia or we will slap you with extra tariffs on steel and aluminum – to gauge the incandescence of current US-EU relations.

This Deutsche Bank Research report has the merit of highlighting the advantages of Nord Stream 2. It hits one of the nerves, when it stresses that, “Russian gas flows through the Ukraine look set to continue following the expiry of the old contracts in 2019”. That “may foster acceptance of Nord Stream 2.”

But that does not tell the whole story.

EU diplomats fear that “the US can strangle Iran by blocking them from SWIFT and CHIPS [payment systems] so that they cannot clear their transactions, and can possibly strangle them with sanctions.” Meanwhile, in the Persian Gulf, it’s no secret among traders that sooner or later it must be factored in that Iran, in the eventuality of a US attack, “has the power to bring down Western economies by destroying 20% of the oil production in the Middle East. And Russia has that power too. Russia is largely self-sufficient for its needs. It can win this as an economic battle rather than a military one”.

The US seems to be extending the proverbial “offer you can’t refuse” to the EU; an elusive, assured delivery of LNG in the (unlikely) event of a cutoff of Russian natural gas to the European Union.

First of all, Gazprom has no intention to ditch its extremely lucrative European market. Moreover, this supposed American LNG capacity “does not exist as yet in the United States. The US cannot replace Russian oil or gas for the EU”, traders said, even as “Russian oil deliveries to the EU have dropped 40% while exports of Russian oil to China have risen about 30%.”

Oblivious to facts, Capitol Hill, through the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), is getting ready to slap Russian defense and energy sectors with devastating secondary sanctions applied to nations doing business with Moscow.

And this sanction double trouble, on both Iran and Russia, is bound to have immense repercussions not only in Europe but all across Central Asia.

Trouble in Kazakhstan

Take Kazakhstan’s massive top three energy projects: Tengiz, Kashagan and Karachaganak. The majority of Kazakhstan’s crude exports flow through the 1,500km-long Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC) – partially owned by Moscow (Transneft owns 24% compared to 15% by Chevron and 7.5% by Exxon Mobil).

The expansion of both Tengiz and Kashagan, which pump roughly 950,000 barrels a day to the Russian Black Sea coast, depends on Russian transit routes.

Karachaganak’s 250,000 barrels a day of condensate go into the CPC, and most of its 18 billion cubic meters of gas a year go to Russia and are marketed by Gazprom.

Chevron and Exxon Mobil have stakes in Tengiz, Exxon in Kashagan and Chevron in Karachaganak.

Russian oil and gas executives have been caught in the US sanctions web. Transneft has been under sanctions since 2014. Now imagine Washington deciding that Chevron and Exxon Mobil cannot continue to do business with Russian companies.

Compound it with the reaction from Russia. A recent law criminalizes Russian companies which abide by US sanctions – and further retaliation may include cutting off US companies from access to Russian infrastructure.

Persian Gulf traders argue that if Russia was finally convinced to “divert their oil and natural gas supplies to China, and the EU becomes totally exposed to the Middle East for their oil supplies based on the grave instability of the Gulf states, then Europe could find itself collapsing in an economic sense by a Gulf states oil cutoff.”

The nuclear option

And that plunges us into the heart of the geopolitical game, as admitted, never on the record, by experts in Brussels; the EU has got to reevaluate its strategic alliance with an essentially energy independent US, as “we are risking all our energy resources over their Halford Mackinder geopolitical analysis that they must break up Russia and China.”

That’s a direct reference to the late Mackinder epigone Zbigniew “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski, who died dreaming of turning China against Russia.

In Brussels, there’s increased recognition that US pressure on Iran, Russia and China is out of geopolitical fear the entire Eurasian land mass, organized as a super-trading bloc via the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), is slipping away from Washington’s influence.

This analysis gets closer to how the three key nodes of 21st century Eurasia integration – Russia, China and Iran – have identified the key issue; both the euro and the yuan must bypass the petrodollar, the ideal means, as the Chinese stress, to “end the oscillation between strong and weak dollar cycles, which has been so profitable for US financial institutions, but lethal to emerging markets.”

And that’s why the Shanghai oil futures experiment is such a game-changer, already deepening China’s sovereign bond market. Persian Gulf traders show a keen interest in how Asian traders are profiting from the fact the petro-yuan may be redeemed for gold. Iranian oil being sold in Shanghai will further expand the process.

It’s also no secret among Persian Gulf traders that in the – hopefully unlikely – event of a US-Saudi-Israeli war in Southwest Asia against Iran, a real scenario war-gamed by the Pentagon would be “the destruction of oil wells in the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council]. The Strait of Hormuz does not have to be blocked as destroying the oil wells would be far more effective.”

And what the potential loss of over 20% of the world’s oil supply would mean is terrifying; the implosion, with unforeseen consequences, of the quadrillion derivatives pyramid, and consequentially of the entire Western financial casino superstructure.

Call it a nuclear financial weapon of mass destruction chain reaction. Compared to that, the 2008 financial crisis would be little more than a walk in an ecologically friendly park.

See Also:

Assad: Israel’s Lackeys Are Losing Syria War – By Jonas E. Alexis (VT)

5
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…by Jonas E. Alexis

We all know by now that Israel has been supporting legions of terrorist organs in Syria. We all know that they want Assad’s head on a silver platter. We all know that the United States has been doing Israel’s dirty work in the region. And we all know that the war itself has caused countless lives and has destroyed much of the country.

But Bashar Assad is still thriving. In fact, he has recently announced that Israel’s multiple puppets and assets in Syria—ISIS, al-Qaeda, al-Nusra, the so-called rebels, etc.[1]—are losing the war.

It is “self-evident,” said Assad, that “we are moving closer to the end of the conflict,” and that “without external interference it won’t take more than a year to settle the situation in Syria.”[2]

The war would have been over long ago, continued Assad, if the US and its supporters were not bringing in “more terrorism.” Certainly no person with an ounce of brain cells knocking together can dispute that statement. We can say with certainty that Israel has been supporting terrorists who even ended up eating people’s hearts! Putin did say something about that. He declared then:

“These are people who don’t just kill their enemies, they open up their bodies, and eat their intestines in front of the public and the cameras. Are these the people you want to… supply with weapons?”[3]

Did the Israeli regime and the US stop supporting those bloodthirsty terrorists? Did they even consider the possibility that supporting terrorism could backfire? Did they revise Shelley’s Frankenstein?

Of course not. They wanted to pursue diabolical activities which always get them into trouble. Assad continued:

“War is the worst choice but sometimes you only have this choice. Factions like Al-Qaeda, like ISIS, like Al-Nusra, and the like-minded groups, they’re not ready for any dialogue… So, the only option to deal with those factions is force.”[4]

Assad moved on to drop the atomic bomb on the United States and indeed the Israeli regime:

“The United States is losing its cards. The main card was Al-Nusra, that was called ‘moderate,’ but when scandals started leaking that they’re not moderate, that they’re Al-Qaeda, which is supposed to be fought by the United States, they started looking for another card. This card is the SDF [Syrian Democratic Forces] now.”[5]

The Israeli regime, said Assad, is panicking because they are losing the war. They have also resorted to threats, which they think would strike fears in the hearts of their enemies. Assad said:

“The Israelis have been assassinating, killing, occupying for decades now, for around seven decades, in this region, but usually they do all this without threatening. Now, why do they threaten in this way? This is panic, this is a kind of hysterical feeling because they are losing the ‘dear ones,’ the dear ones Al-Nusra and ISIS, that’s why Israel is panicking recently, and we understand their feeling.”[6]

Assad meticulously deconstructed the Zionist/Israeli position, which always seeks fresh blood and bodies in the region. One should give much respect to Assad for standing up against a powerful empire.


  • [1] Rory Jones, “Israel Gives Secret Aid to Syrian Rebels,” Wall Street Journal, June 18, 2018; “Israel Reportedly Providing Direct Aid, Funding to Syrian Rebels,” Haaretz, June 19, 2017.
  • [2] “US ‘losing its cards’ in Syria: Highlights of RT’s interview with Bashar Assad,” Russia Today, June 1, 2018.
  • [3] “Face-to-face with Abu Sakkar, Syria’s ‘heart-eating cannibal,’” BBC, July 5, 2013.
  • [4] Ibid.
  • [5] Ibid.
  • [6] Ibid.

Arctic stronghold: Might of Russia’s Northern Fleet shown in anniversary video – By RT

 

Arctic stronghold: Might of Russia’s Northern Fleet shown in anniversary video
The Northern Fleet, which is arguably the most powerful Russian naval force, is celebrating 285 years of operations. Its anniversary video shows state-of-the-art vessels and unique installations in the Russian Arctic region.

Established back in 1733, the Northern Fleet comprises some of Russia’s most remarkable military hardware, with 41 submarines, 37 surface vessels and ground troops making it a “cross-branch strategic force”, as the Russian Defense Ministry puts it in a Twitter post. Its anniversary video shows various military exercises staged by the Northern Fleet forces, including submarines firing cruise and ballistic missiles, Tu-95 strategic bombers flying training sorties and military divers holding underwater firing drills.

The flagship of the fleet is a nuclear-powered battlecruiser the ‘Pyotr Velikiy,’ one of the biggest nuclear-propelled ships in the world. The ‘Admiral Kuznetsov,’ Russia’s only serving aircraft carrier, which took part in the fight against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists in Syria in 2016, is also part of the Northern Fleet.

The naval force also has some of Russia’s most advanced nuclear-powered multipurpose submarines equipped with cruise and ballistic missiles. Two state-of-the-art submarines – a Yasen-M class vessel the Severodvinsk, carrying as many as 32 Onyx and Kalibr supersonic cruise missiles, and a Borei-class submarine the Yury Dolgorukiy, equipped with 16 Bulava nuclear ballistic missiles – are already in service in the fleet, while another Yasen-M class submarine, the Kazan, is currently undergoing sea trials.

The strategic force, which is particularly tasked with “defending Russia’s national interests in the Arctic,” also controls some unique military bases within the Polar circle. Of particular interest is Russia’s northernmost military base, called Arctic Shamrock.

The unique base is the world’s only permanent infrastructure facility built in the area located 80 degrees of latitude north of the Equator. The autonomous complex, which occupies an area of 14,000 square meters, allows up to 150 people to live and work there for as long as 18 months without any external support.

The Russian infrastructure in the Polar region is “unmatched” by any other country, the country’s Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said, in December 2017.

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JOYLESS IN ZION – By Phillip Weiss (MONDOWEISS)

I never went to Israel when I was young, but I had a girlfriend who had been there and she told me that the Israelis were tough. She’d had fun there: she slept on beaches and smoked dope and made a lot of friends. But the Israelis were much tougher than we were, she said both admiringly and wearily. It wasn’t just their famous rudeness but their view of life; it was hard to be around them.

Now I’m back from my 13th trip to Israel and I can say, they are too tough.

I’ve been visiting through a distinct period: Israeli violence against non-state actors, Lebanon 2006 to Gaza 2018. Israel has regularly meted out violent punishment to those who defy or provoke it or shoot rockets or don’t believe in its right to exist, five bouts of punishment, six counting the era of knife attacks. It doesn’t seem that Israel has gained anything from all that violence, the thousands or tens of thousands dead. The Israelis are more insecure than ever. When you travel through occupied territory on Route 443, the Israeli flagwaving doesn’t stop. The Palestinian cabdriver said the flag was a Big Lie: it informs the Palestinians that this is Israel when it’s not. It is the same imposture at the police station in East Jerusalem: a lot of flags and a star of David, symbols that the people who are served by the station all disdain.

Or look at the banners on the Ministry of Justice, again in Palestinian territory in East Jerusalem. The Israelis are not sure themselves that they are going to be around that long. Ahmadinejad got into their heads when he said, they will vanish from the page of time. Netanyahu’s keen desire, Joseph Massad writes in Electronic Intifada, is that Israel will be around another 30 years: “the Hasmonean kingdom survived for only about 80 years[in the second century BC],” and so he is “working to ensure that modern Israel will surpass that mark and reach its 100th birthday.”

That’s not very confident.

 

 

++++++++

The New York Times did a piece suggesting that Israelis have a conscience about the violence they poured forth at the Gaza border, and they hope that it was the right thing to do. But Gideon Levy says they have lost their conscience; and that was my impression too from interviewing Israeli Jews in West Jerusalem. I talked to 20 people. Every one expressed support for the killings. There was simply no dissent, even from a Meretz supporter.

I asked why Israel was getting such bad press over the shootings; and here are some responses:

“On whose head is the blood in Gaza? 100 percent on the leftwing media that hates Israel, and is Arab owned. Hamas used their own population as  a defensive shield.” (Avraham Feld, 65)

“We behaved very, very gentle with them. It doesn’t look gentle. But out of 40,000, 60 [dead] is not many. If it wasn’t gentle, we would kill a few 100s.” (Rami, a shopowner.)

“Our problem in Israel is a very, very small group of Jews. But they have the microphone and they hate themselves. They talk against us. And that’s why those in America– they don’t like Israel. For 1000 years we are used to it– people who are against Israel and the Jews.” (Nehama, 47.)

“I think there was no other option. Just to watch and allow people passing through the fence? The problem [with the headlines]– it’s a question of hasbara.”  (Moshe Ardon, 66, Meretz).

“These are not peaceful people. If 20 percent have a flag, then 10 behind them have a gun.” (A man from Kibbutz Ruhana, not far from Gaza).

“We Israelis have a clear system when someone threatens to come to the fence. First a warning shot, then if he keeps coming, we shoot in the leg. If they do come more, we have to shoot him.” (Shmuel, 14, walking with his mother)

There is no debate. Just like Gaza 2014 and Cast Lead before that nine years ago: 90 percent of Israeli society is behind it. The people all echo the talking points and insulate themselves from world opinion. This is the way a cult works, enclosing its thinking from the outside world, including the large portion of the neighboring population who don’t buy what they say. The world’s condemnation only makes them feel more certain of their own righteousness and, surely too, their superiority to ordinary unenlightened people. They become more hardened, and self-involved.

 

+++++++

The time my girlfriend went out, 40 years ago, Zionism was fun. Not for its victims of course. But it was the time when Israel figured for Americans, and American Jews, like such a good healthy idealistic fulfilling life-charged undertaking. You’ve seen the newsreels of the Zionists dancing in the streets of Tel Aviv, or in the dusty roads of their kibbutzim: that excitement was communicated to us. Bernie Sanders, Noam Chomsky, and Tony Judt all went over to work on kibbutzes in that spirit. People read Amos Oz novels about the Galilee.

Look at these photographs of Zionists celebrating the harvest in Yad Mordechai, a kibbutz not far from Gaza that I visited on Nakba Day. Grapes bow their shoulders. They dance as the combine sucks up grain…

 

That time is over. Now Israel is held in contempt by much of the western world, and Israelis know it even as they get down to the hard business of shooting border-crossers.

 

+++++++

My host at an Airbnb in West Jerusalem confronted me for my views. We’d been friendly for two days, I kept praising her sparkling clean apartment; but she brought up my work and upbraided me– her guest, twice her age–  and told me what I should not write, and accused me of BDS, and called me a self hating Jew. I was upset and wrote a lot of it down:

“So you write bad things about Israel. Like what, you are for BDS?

“What do you want us to do? So–what should we do?

“But we are a democracy. You don’t have the whole picture. You shouldn’t be writing these things about us without knowing what is going on.

“You are going to compare us to the Nazis next, aren’t you? [I’d compared Israeli treatment of Palestinians to her parents’ experience in Russia]

“This is our land. We are a people like any other, not a religion. It is different, and we need a state.

“No, the Palestinians are not happy, but that is their leaders’ fault. They’ve never accepted the Jewish state. Then they bombed us in the second intifada.

“You don’t have the full picture so you should not write about this. I think you are this way because you don’t like being Jewish. There are Jews who are like this.”

 

++++++

My next host was just as tough in his own way. He was in the kitchen after work, guiding religious Zionist tours of the Old City, when I asked him, “What is the strategy in Gaza?” His wife sighed. “Oh the people are suffering there, it is very bad in Gaza.” But he sprawled out in his armchair in a crude manner familiar to me from Israeli men, with one knee up and the other leg extended, and rubbed his scalp in a gesture of thoughtfulness.

“In Gaza you are seeing what we Israelis call – [he says the Hebrew phrase] — conflict management. No one knows how to end it so they manage it. Yesterday was a bloody day as you know [the day of 62 killed] but today was quiet. That is because the message has been sent that if they do more today, then Israel will respond, very hard, and there will be more loss of life, so they pull back. Everyone knows there could be another war, and they don’t want that.”

A young man says that killing 62 people is sending a message…

This is a big reason why American Jewish communal responses are so terrible. Jewish leaders have lots of Israeli friends who hold forth to them in such terms, as though this is a real strategy; and the Americans are at a loss to criticize.

As my mother’s best friend Golda told me when I first came out here, at age 50: Aliyah means to go up. “When we moved here [in 1968], we went up. You in the Diaspora we call yoredim. You are lower.” That is the essential relationship, and all the big American Jewish orgs have no problem with that.

 

+++++++

One of the most striking things about this visit was how naked the apartheid is. Back in the States of course it is still a heresy to say that Israel is an apartheid country. But when you are over there it feels frank and unadorned. Everyone knows there is one sovereign between the river and the sea, and that sovereign must be Jewish. Here’s my list of evidence:

–Arriving at the Tel Aviv airport, I mill about with a couple thousand other arrivals over the 40 minutes it takes to exit, and I see just a handful of Arabs. The Massachusetts-sized country I’m coming into is half Arab, there are Arab lands all around. But these people are obviously not wanted here, are often subject to searches here. And the walls contain messages that exclude them. They avoid the place.

–Israeli forces shut down Damascus Gate on the night before Nakba Day, May 14. They are only letting some people through. A group of women in hijabs waits. I come up and the guards wave me right through. I am the correct race.

–At a demonstration against the new embassy earlier that day, several different protests were sequestered in a free speech area: notably a bunch of young mostly American Jews called All That’s Left, and a lot of Palestinian demonstrators, including legislators, waving Palestinian flags. For more than an hour the police dose out brutality against the Palestinian demonstrators for holding up Palestinian flags and chanting for the liberation of Palestine. They ignore the Jews, whose messages are chiefly about occupation.

–The two principal peoples of the land are segregated, and there is complete separation in consciousness. In the Israeli neighborhoods of West Jerusalem you see very few Palestinians. And of course the opposite goes for Palestine. “If I go into an Arab village, even inside Israel, they will kill me– make me into pieces,” Rami, the storekeeper wearing a kipa, explains earnestly to me. On May 14, the night of 62 slaughtered at the fence in Gaza, I walked to a restaurant in the German Colony on the foot/bike-path on the old train line. I heard an Israeli-American discussing new robotic technology to his son and two men discussing international media. The restaurant was full of chatter and laughter. It goes without saying that the Palestinians I talked to that day and the next were filled with anguish and sorrow, and had one subject.

–The Palestinian taxi drivers I met speak Hebrew. It’s required in schools. One’s son studies at the Hebrew University. No Israeli I met speaks Arabic. I’m told the amount of Arabic in Israeli schools is derisory. Everyone knows what the master tongue is.

–Israelis I interviewed said that they preferred a Jewish state to a democracy where Palestinians could vote. “No, they must not vote. I don’t know how many citizens of Falastin want to kill us. They would make an Arab anti-semitic prime minister. And this is the only Jewish country in the world.”—Rami, who votes Likud. And a middleaged Labor voter from Hadera who’d come to visit the Sderot lookout over Gaza says the same thing. “We can’t have majority Arabs. The problem is Hamas sends people to the fence with an ideology, Palestine is from the river to the sea, and there should be no Jewish state.” Liberal Zionists in America like to say that Israel will face a choice between being Jewish and a democracy. But Israel long ago made that choice, and took the Jewish part, not the democracy.

It is amazing that such a naked system of inequality is so successfully defended in the United States. But it is. I’ve often referred to Wolf Blitzer and Terry Gross shaming Jimmy Carter in 2006 for using the word apartheid in the title of his book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. Carter was ostracized from the Democratic Party, too, for saying that. Then you go there and it’s apartheid without any pretense.

Now and then the truth breaks through back home – when Stephen Robert the former chancellor of Brown wrote in The Nation that Israel is “apartheid on steroids.” Or when Palestinians speak. But it’s still rare. More often it’s David Brooks writing in the New York Times that he gets “gooey eyed” about Israel having been out a dozen times.

That’s the real miracle of Israel: the hasbara, rationalizing this situation to the west.

 

+++++

The American Jews at the anti-embassy rally were much more involved emotionally with Palestinians and the Palestinian story than my Israeli hosts. But those American Jews were nothing like the Palestinian demonstrators. They needed to separate themselves from the Palestinians as the Palestinians chanted “From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will be Free.”

The American have so much less at stake than the Palestinians. Look at this Palestinian woman covering her face as she protests. She has a lot to lose. The American Jews seem very entitled by comparison, and of course: We are.

But the Palestinian suffering this time has had a political effect on American Jews. Natalie Portman acted because of Palestinians being shot at the fence. Jeffrey Goldberg needed to distance himself. Writer/professor Emily Bazelon was moved by her son’s anger at the killings. “Came home and my 15 year old was on the phone with his senators asking them to condemn Israel’s actions. My main feeling: he’s expressing his Jewish values. What a terribly sad day.”

Losing Goldberg (which I’ve predicted) means there will be more defections to come. The firewall doesn’t work if it’s just Bret Stephens and Bari Weiss and Shmuel Rosner, with help from Tom Friedman. You need a powerful center. But Eric Alterman has misgivings about Israel, Eric Goldstein of the Jewish Federations can’t full-throatedly defend it anymore, and J Street is even losing a little faith.

Young Jewish journalists will be emboldened, to follow the Max Blumenthal path. I know how journalists behave. The essence of mainstream journalism (and maybe of all social interaction!) is self-censorship. Now journalists see that there are career points to be made by being critical. Natalie Portman hasn’t turned into fairy dust; and they want to show that they are as smart as a pretty actress. They see Peter Beinart (who is actually halfway honest) being more and more outspoken on the question, maybe because he also wants to keep up with Portman. They see Michelle Goldberg getting more vocal, and more and more American scholars coming out for one state. Because as everyone knows who has been there, it is the reality, one state, with apartheid.

Secretly these journalists have always agreed with Max Blumenthal and Ali Abunimah, there is a problem with a Jewish state, the two-state solution as imagined is a form of apartheid; but they don’t want to be crazy outliers, they want to be sure that the Dershowitz/Oren/Foxman sharks aren’t still in the water. Now they begin to think that they can have a great success by turning against Israel. And that they can express these thoughts without losing work.

Older Jews are surely afraid what will happen when the young turn on Israel entirely and say, Where were you when they were killing unarmed protesters? During the last Israeli slaughter, 2014, Emily Bazelon supported the Israeli actions against Gaza that killed 2200, and acknowledged then that American Jews and Israeli Jews are family, cousins or brothers and sisters, and need to look out for one another. She aligned herself with centrist Zionists, Yossi Klein Halevi, Jonathan Chait, Jeffrey Goldberg. But that Jewish consensus is now shattered, and Bazelon is listening to her son.

 

+++++

Going out there gets harder and harder. The Israelis have a high standard of living, but what are they living for? Ideals that it is hard to justify in this day and age. The Israeli Jews have lost touch with the tender filaments of human connection. Of course their relations with the Palestinians have done this to them. You cannot watch thousands of unarmed young people being shot at the Gaza border and approve it heartily without having blocked off some avenues of the soul.

I worried about my mind when I was there. The rates of depression in Palestine are incredible, pushing 40 percent, four or five times normal rates. But the Israelis are as bad off mentally in their own way as the Palestinians, or worse. They know their indifference to others’ opinions cannot last. On the day I stopped people in West Jerusalem to ask about Gaza, 20 people refused to talk. They frowned and shook their heads. They knew that the world won’t understand them, and they walked hurriedly by.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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US Warns India Not to Buy Russian Weapons – By Peter KORZUN ( Strategic Culture Foundation)

US Warns India Not to Buy Russian WeaponsPeter KORZUN | 01.06.2018 | SECURITY / DEFENSE

The US does not shy away from openly threatening its allies and friends into submission. America’s major defense partners could face tough sanctions for purchases of Russian military equipment. Since January 29, the US has been imposing punitive measures under the CAATSA on foreign entities and individuals who cooperate with Russia in the field of defense or intelligence gathering. Congress is not inclined to give the administration the right of waiver to make an exception from the rule for some close allies. Despite that, many of them remain adamant in their intent to purchase the weapons they need from Russia.

Washington is exerting pressure on Turkey to make it abandon the plans to purchase Russia S-400 Triumf state-of-the-art air defense systems. So far, Ankara stood tall refusing to bow. US Congress is already considering the proposals on halting US arms sales to that country.

Unlike Turkey, India is not a NATO ally but its desire to acquire the Triumf triggers a negative reaction in the US. American lawmakers not only express concern over the planned deal but also issue warnings that sensitive American military technology may be banned from being shared with India in future. According to House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, “There is a lot of concern in the US administration and Congress with the S-400.” India’s decision will be made final before the October Russia-India summit. During the informal talks in Sochi in May 2018, President Putin and Prime Minister Modi discussed the ways to get around the US potential sanctions when the deal goes through. Both countries have pledged to jointly create a plan to keep it out of CAATSA. New Delhi has just concluded price talks on the S-400 deal with Moscow, saying it will go ahead, no matter what the US says or does.

Those who follow the news on arms trade know well that India is interested in purchasing 22 American Predator Guardian drones for its Navy. It’s also willing to acquire the weapon the US has not sold anyone so far: 80-100 Avenger (Predator C) armed drones for the Air Force. The price may be as high as $8 billion. The F-16 production on Indian soil is also in doubt. All these projects are questioned as the US sticks to its guns implementing the “do it or else” policy. But it will hardly work with India, a nation known for its independent foreign policy. It has never bowed to any pressure from outside since its independence.

Iraq, Egypt, the UAE, Qatar, Morocco, Indonesia and Vietnam are among the countries threatened by sanctions if they go on with the plans to purchase Russian weapons. Many of them are particularly interested in the S-400. There is a catch here. If you make an exemption, others will feel humiliated and demand waivers too, but if you punish nobody then what is CAATSA for? Perhaps, the entire policy of punishing others in case of non-compliance with US laws is fundamentally wrong. It may not push Russia out of the international arms market but rather make its products a commercial success. After all, it’s an open secret that the S-400 is much more capable than the US Patriot air-defense system.

Turkey is told that if it buys Russia arms, the US won’t sell it F-35 aircraft. India may not get drones in case it purchases the S-400s. The essence is the same: sovereign countries are to be deprived of their right to have the best. They’d better be satisfied with what the US imposes or face punitive measures for daring not to comply. But many of them will not. For instance, there is little doubt that the pressure will make US-Indian relations hit a rough patch.

Defense Secretary James Mattis sought waivers for allies buying Russian weapons but failed to persuade Congress to give the administration this right. Besides, State Secretary Mike Pompeo holds a different view on the issue.

The “arms twisting” approach is prevalent in US foreign policy and even NATO allies are no exception. According to The Times, President Trump is expected to scale back America’s commitments or even issue an ultimatum over further American involvement in Europe.

No world leaders taking part in the St. Petersburg’s economic forum (SPIEF-2018) in May were happy about the US ultimatums as well as the sanctions against Russia, especially at a time it is leaving recession behind and oil prices are going up. The complains were made heard and concerns voiced at the conference held in the country, which is the prime target of American attacks. Nobody admired the trade wars the US has unleashed. May was the month the US stepped up its attacks on the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline – the project Germany, Austria and some other European countries want to go through so much.

Israel was the only country to greet the US withdrawal from the Iran deal. Nobody endorsed the President Trump’s decision to cancel the meeting in Singapore with the North Korean leader (it may still take place, the talks are underway).

The US and its European allies appear to go separate ways on defense. On May 27, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz called for a European operation in North Africa to stem the immigrants’ flows. Austria will take over the EU Presidency for six months starting in July. The idea has been being floated since a long time ago. Europe’s main security concern is the protection of its borders, not taking part in US ventures in faraway places or provoking Russia by deploying forces near its borders. The EU is gradually moving to its own deterrence and defense posture, which may not necessarily meet US interests.

The US policy of diktat will backlash, bringing together those who are threatened by US sanctions. The EU is about to fight back, Turkey sticks to its guns, India has refused to bow. American allies will have to work out their own approaches to international problems, using quite different instruments to achieve the desired goals. The US global standing will be weakened. By trying to isolate others America will isolate itself. But the addiction to teach, dictate and bark orders is too great to get easily rid of. It takes time to realize that the times have changed. What worked well yesterday has become counterproductive today.

Australian students support June 17 Sydney rally demanding freedom for Julian Assange – BY WSWS

JULIANBURNSIDE

By our reporters
1 June 2018

The International Youth and Students for Social Equality held campaigns at universities across New South Wales (NSW) this week to promote the June 17 demonstration at Sydney Town Hall Square, called by the Socialist Equality Party (SEP) in defence of Julian Assange.

Students enthusiastically supported the SEP’s demand that the Australian government act immediately to secure the WikiLeaks editor’s freedom, with a guarantee against extradition to the United States. They spoke about the impact that WikiLeaks has had on their political knowledge and understanding, through its exposure of wars and diplomatic intrigues.

The IYSSE held speak-outs advertising the rally at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), one of the largest in Sydney, and the University of Newcastle.

Reed Pasara addressing the UNSW speak-out

At the UNSW speak-out, Reed Pasara, the president of the IYSSE club on campus, declared: “Any student or worker that defends democratic rights must take up the struggle to free Julian Assange. The situation he faces is the sharpest expression of a campaign to silence any opposition to war and social inequality.”

At the University of Newcastle, John Davis, the IYSSE club president warned: “The situation with Assange has now reached a critical turning point.” He reviewed Ecuador’s decision to cut-off Assange’s access to the Internet and visitors at its London embassy and the attempts to force him into British and US custody.

Akisha

At the University of Newcastle, Akisha said Assange was under attack because he “threatens the major governments. They want to keep people ignorant. He exposed how the US government tampers with elections all over the world and interferes in other countries.

“Assange showed the war crimes they have carried out in the Middle East and warned us about the new wars they are planning. He is threatening the legitimacy of governments in the eyes of the population.”

Akisha noted: “You hear very little about what’s happening to Assange from the mainstream media. They want us to forget about what he did and stop us from doing something similar. He’s a journalist and he’s telling the truth. What is the mainstream press saying? They aren’t telling the truth. They barely even report that civilians are being gunned down by Israel in Gaza and that hospitals are being bombed.”

Akisha denounced Sweden’s bogus investigation into sexual assault allegations against Assange, which it dropped last year. “The rape allegations were never true,” she said. “It wasn’t the real issue. The most important thing is that Assange’s actions are part of a fight for freedom of speech and democracy. The US, in particular, is against people releasing and distributing the truth.”

Walter

Walter, a PhD student in occupational and environmental health, said: “The focus of the US is on global dominance, not protecting human rights. Their attacks against Edward Snowden for exposing mass spying are similar to what they’re doing to Assange.

“They say America is the most democratic country in the world, but we can still see human rights being violated there. A lot of people now recognise that with elections, it’s just two puppets on a stage. It’s important that people tell the government what they want and speak up against these attacks on democratic rights.”

Kieran

Kieran, a surveying student, said: “Assange is trying to keep the government in check, but the government doesn’t want to be in check, especially in America. He is similar to Goldstein from George Orwell’s 1984. He’s not a dupe. The government is trying to make it seem as though he has done the wrong thing, when he is actually a figure for freedom today. He tries to get the truth to people.”

At UNSW, Shrohith, an IT student originally from India, said: “Assange and WikiLeaks are doing what normal journalists should do. It is a big thing now because governments are trying to trample on it.

“Noam Chomsky said the deadliest weapon the US exports is American democracy. In the name of democracy, they change leaders, subvert elections and invade countries. When WikiLeaks releases information exposing this, they feel that they’re being threatened. The perception of people, which is already changing, shifts even more rapidly.”

Shrohith

Asked about the implications of the attacks on Assange, Shrohith stated: “This can happen to anyone, not just Julian Assange. In India, if someone tweets something critical about the president, like a group of 19-year-old kids recently did, they can be arrested.

“One day, maybe if someone tweets something against the Australian prime minister they could be arrested too. The situation can get to a point where no one can speak out against what the governments and big business are going.”

Wen, a Chinese international student, commented: “I think the Australian, US and the UK governments are doing something very bad. Assange is not doing something for himself. What he is doing is telling people what actually happened.

“I heard that the Ecuadorian government might be negotiating with the US about how to deal with Assange. He is in danger right now. I am worried that the Ecuadorian government is sacrificing Assange for their own interests.

“I think there is a connection between the escalating danger of war and the acceleration of the attacks on Assange. There are more conflicts between the US, Russia and other governments. That is why Assange’s life is in more danger.”

Santiago

At Western Sydney University, Santiago, a business student, said: “I think it’s spineless that Australian governments have joined the attacks on Assange. That’s the kind of thing we’ve come to expect from them. They won’t even support one of their own citizens. It’s because of the nature of what he’s exposed and the links between Australia and the US.

“When it comes to sending Australian troops abroad or bringing US troops here, it always happens. There shouldn’t be any wars. They are all for the pursuit of land, resources and profit.”

Santiago stated: “The governments know that by attacking Assange, it will have a ripple effect. They want every single student who is against war and anyone who wants to expose what governments are doing to be intimidated.”

Declan, a business student, said: “What Assange did required great determination and conviction. There are freedom of information acts in most countries. Under those laws, what he did is right. They’ve tried to turn him into a villain, when all he is doing is exposing the facts.

“Hillary Clinton’s emails, which were published by WikiLeaks in 2016, showed a lot of wrongdoing. They were very incriminating. It was interesting that she had been involved in selling uranium to Russia, and then she claimed she lost the election because Trump colluded with Russia. It was completely hypocritical.

“Clinton also rigged the Democratic Party primary against Bernie Sanders. If they had gone for Bernie, I think he would have won against Trump. He had support from young people. But at the end of the day, they are both war parties. It’s the same in this country. They’re all getting funding from big business and military contractors. That’s where people like Assange are so important.”

Mary, an arts student, said it was “disgraceful that the Australian government has not done anything to bring Julian Assange back.”

She stated: “He’s been stuck in a tiny room at the embassy for almost seven years, knowing that if he leaves, he will be charged. It is inhumane. They are attacking Assange to try and stop people going against their governments. But we will still rally and protest and they won’t stop us.”

Italian Elections: Destroying Democracy to Protect the Globalist Elite – By Federico PIERACCINI (Strategic Cultural Foundation)

Italian Elections: Destroying Democracy to Protect the Globalist Elite

Federico PIERACCINI

 

Recent events in Italy show that the country is getting the same type of treatment meted out to other countries whose election results do not agree with the neoliberal globalist elite and so must be stymied. The attitude shown by this transnational elite towards the winning forces in Italy is the same as that normally reserved for recalcitrant countries like Russia, Venezuela, China and Lebanon following their own elections or constitutional reforms.

European populations are increasingly failing to abide by the electoral wishes of the international oligarchs, with votes being directed to populist parties and the most anti-systemic candidates available. The most credible candidates for the people seem to be those who openly oppose the economic measures (neoliberalism) adopted over the last 20 to 25 years by the financial elite. These measures were specifically adopted to enrich the wealthy and enslave the rest of us through debt. Unsurprisingly, people are voting in candidates who are fighting for greater monetary and military sovereignty.

Without wishing to express a political judgment (often it would be negative), we need to note that events like Brexit, Trump’s victory, the partial success of Le Pen, the exploits of the nationalist fronts in Austria, Belgium, Hungary, Germany and, most recently, the victories of Lega and the Five Star Movement (Movimento 5 Stelle, M5S) in Italy are symptomatic of how the European population feels about 25 years of a reduction in national sovereignty and the worsening of individual economic conditions.

The globalist front, centered around financial speculation and the expropriation of national assets, has built up over the course of three decades its political network consisting of NGOs, think-tanks, journalists, experts, senators and parliamentarians scattered across the United States and Europe. Large financial, economic and business interests have fostered a firm and lasting bond between large industrial groups (medical, agricultural, military, intelligence, IT, industry) and national politicians, often bribed to adopt legislation unfavorable to the country and its people. The type of public donations known as political lobbying in the US is prohibited in Europe, and so should simply be seen as corruption. Politicians elected by the people have often catered to the interests of their donors or financial backers, in spite of laws against this, and have advanced the type of austerity that is contrary to the interests of their constituents. The result has been politicians’ betrayal of their electoral mandates in favor of international finance or powerful lobbies in Washington or Brussels.

Naturally, banks, central banks, large industrial groups and speculators work closely with national governments, and have every interest in pursuing their interests to the detriment of the common citizen. This entails such things as bombing foreign countries for oil, preventing Eurasian integration (from Lisbon to Vladivostok), or beating an independent nation into submission with economic coercion (financial terrorism). Allies and enemies alike suffer the same treatment, being required to share their cake with international elites or face the consequences, which can be as severe as that experienced by Gaddafi in Libya.

In Italy, the Democratic Party (Partito Democratico, PD) and Forza Italia are the elite parties. They have never had to sell out as such, given that their purpose from their very inception had been to serve the interests of the globalist elite. The PD reflects the worldview of the Clinton faction of the American ruling elite, with its preference for humanitarian interventions, as seen in the Arab Spring, and a general inclination towards soft power over the type of hard power that was visited on Iraq in 2003. Having said that, the Democratic Party of the Left (Partito Democratico della Sinistra, PDS), the political father of the current PD, was as the forefront of supporting the bombing campaign against Yugoslavia in 1999.

Forza Italia leans towards America’s neoconservatism (Berlusconi is a great friend of Bush, and Italy invaded Iraq in 2003 alongside the US while Berlusconi was prime minister), and while maintaining good relations with Putin, Berlusconi has always viewed the Atlantic as his political lodestar (quite literally, as he was affiliated with the P2 Masonic lodge linked to Gladio).

M5S and Lega are cut from a different cloth. While Lega originates from Lega Nord, a regional party, M5S stems from the popular refusal to cede further popular sovereignty to Brussels and Washington. In recent months, M5S and Lega have repeatedly stated that the sanctions against Russia are wrong, that the war in Libya was an error of the past not to be repeated again in Syria, and pointed out how these wars served to spur uncontrolled immigration into Europe. M5S and Lega have countered over the last few months the narrative advanced by the media and the elite close to PD-Forza Italia and the European technocracy, explaining to citizens that an alternative is possible and that sovereignty belongs to the people, who are able to reclaim it through the vote.

In the March elections, Italian citizens gave the two parties an overwhelming mandate to implement their electoral promises. What happened next represents what is now becoming a regular routine, whereby popular sovereignty is quashed, especially in Europe. The president, Sergio Mattarella, challenged the appointment of Paolo Savona as economy minister, a person who has expressed mildly anti-euro positions and promises to fight for Italians in Europe. Mattarella did everything possible to protect the interests of the unelected technocracy in Brussels, effectively neutralizing the danger posed by a M5S-Lega government. Mattarella also protected NATO interests, since the new government was strongly opposed to sanctions against Russia (and possibly against Iran as well), and also opposed to new wars, and, above all, to a socio-economic policy based on austerity that particularly hit hard weaker countries in the EU like Italy.

This sabotage undertaken by the European bureaucracy, in league with Berlin, Brussels and Washington, will have the opposite effect and backfire, recounting the results of the West’s foolish efforts to subvert the popular will as seen in places like Syria.

Mattarella has dutifully appointed a favorite of the financial markets, rating agencies, and the central banks of the EU, Italy and Germany. Carlo Cottarelli, ex-IMF director, famously authored the spending review (advocating for all those cuts that have brought the Italian economy to its knees, antagonizing the population to the point of voting two strongly anti-European parties) and is the ideal figure to approve budgetary laws completely running against the interests of Italians. Cottarelli will not even gain confirmation in the senate and the chamber, even though he will still remain in office until the next government is set up. It is a clever way for the elites to neutralize the populist government; for now.

The elites do not seem to realize that in acting this way, M5S and Lega will have all the ammunition they need to attack the new executive over the coming months as it enacts impositions from Brussels and Berlin in direct contravention of the will of the people. Cottarelli, Mattarella, the PD and anyone else supporting the executive will find themselves struggling to survive in the next snap elections for the parliament that could be held as early as this July or October. In the months between now and the upcoming election, M5S and Lega will pound on the fact that Mattarella wanted to support international elites rather than the national interest as expressed by the people through the polls. They will insist that the popular will has been sabotaged by technocrats, big banks, lobbies and powerful groups. In light of recent events, with Cottarelli appointed by Mattarella a few minutes after Giuseppe Conte’s decision to stand down, what else can they be expected to say?

The ramifications will boil into a popular rage fomented by the two leaders, who will be able to blame the new Cottarelli government for any decisions that worsen the conditions in the country. They will blame Mattarella and the EU for preventing them from implementing the measures that would have served to protect the Italian people and reform the European economic prison.

In September, when the Italians will be called on to vote, what will count is the political propaganda that Italians will have been subjected to over the summer months, with threats coming from the financial elite under the form of increases to the financial spread between the Italian BTP and the German Bund and speculation on the stock market. No one should be surprised if Lega and M5S collect more than two-thirds of the total votes as an expression of popular feeling. In this way, the new government will be able to change the constitution and implement the necessary profound changes that, absent Mattarella’s intervention, would have otherwise been unfeasible.

The international elite linked to speculative finance and the NATO military bloc is struggling to accept a change that has been ongoing for years, namely; a change that signifies a transition from a unipolar world order to a multipolar one. This elite has repeatedly used economic and military measures like financial terrorism, coups d’etat, and wars (thanks to the supremacy of the dollar) to subdue foreign countries. This mindset of American exceptionalism, enshrined and promulgated as the neoliberal world order in the early 1990s, has also reduced international institutions into mere executors of the unipolar will. The insistence on a unipolar model actually accelerates a transition to a multipolar one, whereby Washington, London and Brussels represent only a portion, sometimes a small one, of global politics.

The unipolarists visit their opprobrium on countries refusing to bow to their will, scorning Putin’s re-election, Hezbollah’s gathering of support in Lebanon, Xi Jinping’s mandate being prolonged by the party; and now even the victory of two unapproved Italian parties unwilling to align themselves with European diktat.

In three months’ time, the practical consequences of Mattarella’s nefariousness will be made evident, with Lega and M5S now made able decide the fate of the country and probably of the entire eurozone, with a wave goodbye to Mattarella and international finance led by Brussels and Berlin hoping to stymie the consequences of thirty years of degrading laws and budget cuts.

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