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.

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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)

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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.”

 

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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.

North Korea Has Good Reason to Be Wary of a Trump Deal – by James Carey (MINT PRESS)

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watches parade participants from a balcony at the Kim Il Sung Square on Tuesday, May 10, 2016, in Pyongyang, North Korea. Hundreds of thousands of North Koreans celebrated the country's newly completed ruling-party congress with a massive parade featuring floats bearing patriotic slogans and marchers with flags and pompoms. Wong Maye-E | AP

Though Trump’s threats against North Korea have lacked some of the grace with which his predecessors operated, to Pyongyang, U.S diplomacy has been marked by 65 years of broken promises and outright aggression.

PYONGYANG — Is lasting peace possible on the Korean Peninsula? The answer to that question may depend on whether Donald Trump follows the well-worn path of his predecessors.

If the president’s latest stunt — temporarily calling off talks with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) over an insult Kim Jong Un slung at Vice-President Mike Pence — is any indication of what could happen moving forward, Trump could easily sabotage future talks with Pyongyang.

While it may seem merely a characteristically clumsy move by Trump, there is more to this story. The president is not breaking new ground in Korea and instead is following a one-sided strategy employed by the U.S. since the Cold War, albeit in a less graceful manner typical of Trump’s approach to “negotiations.”

Yet the president’s strategy of threats, hypocrisy, economic warfare and military posturing is fully consistent with the history of U.S.-North Korean relations. While media narrative most often lays blame solely at the feet of North Korea and its irrational leaders, as U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley referred to them; what role has the U.S played over the last 65 years of U.S.-North Korea relations?

U.S. aggression against North Korea began the day U.S. troops first set foot on the Korean Peninsula, and it has yet to wane.

 

The hot and Cold War

The Korean War, known aptly as The Forgotten War, remains one of the most brutal the U.S. has fought. Not only did Washington drop more bombs in Korea than in the Pacific Theater during World War II (635,000 tons compared to 503,000 tons) — and more napalm than during the Vietnam War (32,557 tons) — but it also wiped out up to 20 percent of the total population and leveled almost every building in the DPRK, leading the government to advise its citizens to dig into the earth for shelter.

On the rare occasion the issue surfaces in the U.S., it is often met with half-hearted attempts to vindicate Washington, played off with proclamations that the deadly bombing campaign was a necessity and typical of the horrors that accompany every war. Yet this explanation is woefully inadequate, as it leaves out the fact that the scorched-earth policies were intentional. This was admitted by senior officials at the time, including then-State Department employee and future Secretary of State Dean Rusk, who said the order of the day was to bomb “everything that moved in North Korea, every brick standing on top of another.”  The famed General Douglas MacArthur even proposed using nuclear weapons on Korea to create a “dead-zone” between the peninsula and China.

U.S. troopers move through burning shacks in the Sunchon/Sukchon area of North Korea, Oct. 20, 1950. (AP/Max Desfor)

This policy of all-out aggression was applied in both the North and in the U.S.-allied South, where U.S. bombers received orders from the Rusk-designed military dictatorship to strike groups of “eight or more” North Korean refugees seeking shelter in South Korea.

U.S. domination of the peninsula continued after the armistice agreement in July of 1953 and U.S. posturing on the peninsula continued throughout the Cold War. In the South, America’s domination during the Cold War was manifest in various U.S.-backed right-wing puppet governments, who participated in joint U.S. military drills meant to intimidate Pyongyang. South Korean governments also allowed Washington to nuclearize the peninsula from 1958 until 1991. The U.S. further aided the South in building a military that today spends $40 billion a year, compared to North Korea’s budget of between $6-10 billion (ranking them 46th globally).

Washington also continuously violated the North Korean airspace and territorial waters, often in violation of international law — resulting in several high-profile incidents throughout the Cold War, including the capture of the Pueblo, a U.S. spy ship that was captured in North Korea’s territorial waters on a mission to locate the country’s military facilities.

The Pueblo –– and the 80 sailors and intelligence personnel on board — was captured in January 1968 and almost sparked a war between North Korea and the U.S., at the time under the leadership of President Lyndon Johnson. Threats of war came primarily from the U.S., which moved several aircraft carriers and other ships into waters off of North Korea. Washington finally ended the standoff with an apology for violating North Korea’s territorial integrity and the Pueblo’s crew members were returned. (the ship was kept and now functions as a museum in Pyongyang).

Crew members of the USS Pueblo are led into captivity after the vessel was seized by North Korean patrol boats in the Sea of Japan on Jan. 23, 1968. | AP

The capture of the Pueblo failed to serve as a deterrent to the U.S., as a series of botched U.S. spy operations throughout the Cold War would follow. In fact, the next major incident took place only a few months after the Pueblo’s crew was returned. In  April of 1969, an EC-121 spy plane was shot down, killing 31 Americans, in an incident dubbed the “flying pueblo.”

According to the Korean People’s Army (KPA, North Korea’s military), the plane had often violated North Korean airspace — although, at the time, the Nixon administration claimed the plane was hit over international waters on a “legal reconnaissance mission.”  This would later prove to be untrue but that didn’t stop then-President Nixon from threatening war again and mobilizing a large contingent of bombers and troops to the Korean Peninsula. The standoff ended with Nixon drawing down just like Johnson had done before him, and ultimately ordering much of the U.S.’ military personnel to leave the peninsula.

The spate of dangerous escalations continued under nearly every U.S. President during the Cold War. President Ford continued the pattern with the Panmunjom incident when UN troops — possibly under orders from President Ford himself — cut down a tree in the Demilitarized Zone (the armistice line from the end of the Korean War, administered by Pyongyang and Seoul) between the two Koreas without first consulting North Korea. This led to clashes at the border between UN troops and the North Korean military personnel and likely played a role in a United Nations decision later that year to end its command of forces still stationed in South Korea.

Then, in 1981, when North Korea launched a missile within 100 meters of an SR-71 Blackbird U.S. spy plane, then-President Ronald Reagan responded with an increase in scale of the Team Spirit U.S.-South Korean military exercises, transforming South Korea into what the North refers to as a “semi-war state,” a designation Pyongyang maintains to this day.

 

27 years of deception: Korean peace after the Cold War

Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, North Korea suddenly found itself in a new geopolitical environment. Realizing that times had changed and that the world now had a “sole superpower,” North Korea’s leaders decided the time was right to start discussing peace and self-determination and sought in earnest to initiate dialogue with the United States.

Efforts began when North Korea signed onto the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1985 — this despite the fact that the country had never made a public proclamation that it was seeking nuclear weapons. Then, in 1991, while the embers of the Soviet Union were still warm, the U.S. began what would become a long-standing policy of aggression towards North Korea over a nuclear program that, at the time, likely did not exist.

Regardless, North Korea sought to allay U.S. concerns, and in 1992 signed an additional agreement known as the South-North Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The agreement was signed without direct U.S. involvement, as Washington continued to refuse to negotiate directly with Pyongyang, and not only committed both North and South Korea to keep the peninsula nuclear weapons-free, but also opened the door for International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors to tour facilities in the North and South to assure compliance. Despite the assurances, in March of 1992, the U.S. slapped North Korea with sanctions to punish the country for a nuclear weapons program Washington wasn’t even sure it had — and all this before North Korea even had a chance to ratify or enact its agreement with the IAEA.

North Korea's foreign Minister Kang Sok Ju arrives at the U.S. Mission to the UN in New York, June 2, 1993, to discuss opening North Korea to IAEA inspectors. Ed Bailey | AP

Even after being hit with sanctions, North Korea decided to ratify the agreement with the IAEA and began the process of declaring any nuclear material in its possession. This amounted to a insignificant 90 grams of extremely low-grade plutonium salvaged from 89 reprocessed fuel rods, falling far short of the 14 pounds that would be necessary to construct a simple implosion weapon according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. This declared nuclear material was continuously monitored by the IAEA until early 1993, during which time the U.S. continued to place new sanctions on North Korea.

In early 1993, tension on the Korean Peninsula began to build anew after the IAEA accused North Korea of possessing undeclared nuclear material storage facilities and declared Pyongyang in violation of the arms treaties, although this claim was never proven or disproven completely and never led to any other actions than more calls for inspections. North Korea denied the existence of the sites, leading to yet another standoff centered around the U.S.-led Team Spirit military drills, which led then-leader Kim Jong Il to place his entire population on full alert for a conflict, and ultimately to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. U.S. and North Korean leaders barely averted another war on the Korean Peninsula when they met for talks in New York in which North Korea suspended its decision to leave the NPT in exchange for U.S. security guarantees following IAEA inspections.

North Korea continued to agree to a seemingly endless list of demands from Washington after rejoining the NPT, including replacing its graphite nuclear reactors with light-water reactors (LWRs), which are proliferation-resistant. Yet none of this was enough to stem the tide of U.S. accusations over North Korea’s nuclear proliferation. In 1993, the CIA accused Pyongyang of having enough plutonium for one or two bombs — this while the North was signing agreements allowing for new IAEA inspections.

The new agreements fell apart later that year as the U.S. continued to pressure other countries to impose more extensive limitations and inspection regimes on North Korea, pushing a frustrated Pyongyang to finally opt out of IAEA inspections (but not the NPT).  Predictably, the move sparked renewed threats of war from Washington and a mobilization of U.S. forces in the Pacific by then-President Bill Clinton.

Clinton continued the by then well-entrenched American tradition of trading threats with Pyongyang — bringing tensions to a dangerous high while simultaneously leading an unsuccessful campaign at the UN for new, stricter sanctions, a campaign met by North Korean promises of war if new sanctions were imposed.  With the world on edge and only a misstep away from war, former President Jimmy Carter, against the wishes of Clinton, set off to Pyongyang to broker peace.

Carter managed to convince Kim Jong Il to agree to a new freeze of North Korea’s weapons program in exchange for sanctions relief and a promised push toward normalization, temporarily ending the standoff. Despite North Korean compliance, the U.S. never eased the sanctions, leaving the country’s population in dire economic straits. In 1996, amid a deadly famine, the U.S. did send aid to the North, but with that rare exception, the standoff remained.

Former president Jimmy Carter visits a Pyongyang school in North Korea. Korea News Service | AP

Tensions soon reached new levels with the election of George W. Bush, who, while drumming up public support for the invasion of Iraq, listed North Korea with Iran as a member of the Axis of Evil’ –– in a speech written by latter-day never-Trump neoconservative, David Frum, now praised in the liberal media — leaving both North Korea and Iran wondering when their number would be called.

North Korean and Iranian leaders understood the message Bush was sending: they were next in line for “regime change,” leaving both countries scrambling to shore up their defense capabilities, and Pyongyang to restart its weapons program.

Tensions continued to escalate between the U.S. and North Korea until 2003 when China convened multi-party talks in an attempt to de-escalate the situation on the peninsula. The talks eventually led to another agreement in 2005, in which North Korea would receive limited sanctions-relief in exchange for verified steps towards disarmament.

Unfortunately, we may never know whether North Korea intended to abide by the terms of the agreement, as the Bush administration, along with Japan, imposed new banking sanctions on North Korea the day after the deal was set to go into effect, accusing Pyongyang of counterfeiting U.S. currency. Not long after, North Korea, clearly frustrated with U.S. efforts to sabotage any attempts at normalization, conducted its first nuclear test.

From a North Korean perspective, the test was a success and prompted the Bush administration to back off the counterfeiting charges and again promise sanctions-relief in exchange for a freeze on Pyongyang’s nuclear program. North Korea agreed; but, yet again, the sanctions-relief never came and instead new criteria were demanded for a deal, including human-rights demands and an end to North Korea’s legal non-nuclear missile program. The demands sunk the peninsula back to a standstill until the next nuclear test in 2009, under President Barack Obama.

Obama approached North Korea with what he called “strategic patience,” a strategy similar to Bill Clinton’s 1990’s Iraq strategy: starve your opponent to the table through sanctions. The Obama administration slapped even more sanctions on North Korea for the 2009 nuclear test. In fact, Obama was so pro-sanctions that he began to punish Pyongyang for completely legal activities, such as two satellite launches in 2012, both perfectly within North Korea’s right to build communication infrastructure. Pyongyang responded with another nuclear test in 2013, following up with an official declaration that it was now a nuclear power.

The U.S. now faced a North Korea unwilling in principle to surrender its nuclear weapons but still willing to talk to Washington at any time — even agreeing to suspend nuclear weapons testing in exchange for a freeze on U.S. joint military drills.

The cycle of threats and escalation has remained the status quo since the end of the Cold War and, although Trump’s threats against North Korea have lacked some of the grace with which his predecessors operated, it is important to realize that, to Pyongyang, chronic unwillingness to negotiate in good faith has been part and parcel of U.S diplomacy. Trump’s sporadic ill will towards North Korea is nothing new, and, if he does manage to derail a historic opportunity for reconciliation, escalation on the peninsula will return to a well-traveled status quo.

Top Photo | North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watches parade participants from a balcony at the Kim Il Sung Square on Tuesday, May 10, 2016, in Pyongyang, North Korea. Wong Maye-E | AP

James Carey is journalist and editor at Geopolitics Alert. He specializes in Middle East and Asian affairs.

 

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Sinister Choreography of the MH17 Probe to Smear Russia – By Finian CUNNINGHAM – (Strategic Culture Foundation )

Sinister Choreography of the MH17 Probe to Smear Russia

The Dutch-led probe into the 2014 Malaysian airliner disaster has the hallmarks of a psychological operation to frame-up Russia and to justify further sanctions and aggression from the NATO powers.

The so-called Joint Investigation Team (JIT) released an update last Thursday on its ongoing probe into the MH17 air disaster over Eastern Ukraine, in which all 298 people onboard were killed. The JIT’s latest release moves the accusation of culpability closer to Russia, with the team claiming that an anti-aircraft Buk missile, which allegedly shot down the plane, was brought into Ukraine by Russia’s 53rd Brigade based in Kursk, southwest Russia.

Then on Friday, the day after the high-profile JIT presentation, a news report compiled by US-based McClatchy News and UK-based self-styled online investigative website Bellingcat was published claiming to have identified a senior Russian military intelligence (GRU) officer as being involved in the transport of the missile system.

The Russian GRU officer is named as Oleg Vladimirovich Ivannikov. The report includes a photograph of the named man, who is said to have at least one residential address in Moscow and who used the call sign “Orion”. Tellingly, the McClatchy report claims that news of identifying the Russian military officer was not known by the JIT when it made its presentation the day before. But McClatchy reported that the Dutch-led investigators now want to arraign “Orion”.

Over the weekend, the Dutch, Australian and British governments upped the ante by formally accusing Russia, and demanding that Moscow pay financial compensation to families of the crash victims. Most of those onboard the doomed MH17 were Dutch, Malaysian and Australian nationals.

What we are seeing here is a choreographed sequence trying to give the public impression that developments in the probe are taking a natural course based on “evidence” imputing blame to Russia. The same technique of media psychological operation can be seen in the Skripal poisoning affair in which Moscow is blamed for trying to assassinate a former spy in England. Allegations, purported evidence, and then sanctions (expulsion of Russian diplomats) all follow a choreographed sequence.

On the MH17 incident, Russia has vehemently denied any involvement in the passenger plane’s downing. Moscow says its own investigation into the incident points to the Kiev regime’s armed forces as being responsible, possibly using their stock of Soviet-era Buk anti-aircraft missiles. Significantly, Russia’s investigative results have been spurned by the JIT, while Moscow’s offers of contributing to the probe have been rebuffed. As in the Skripal affair, where the British authorities have also refused Russia’s offers of joint investigation, or Russia’s ability to independently verify the supposedly incriminating data.

In a dramatic twist, Russia’s Ministry of Defense said that the missile casing displayed by the Dutch investigators bore features dating the weapon to 1986 when Ukraine was a Soviet Republic. The Russian military said that all such Buk models were replaced by its forces in 2011. Therefore, the alleged offensive weapon presented by the JIT last week could not have come from Russian forces. Besides, Moscow denies that any of its brigades crossed into Ukrainian territory.

The JIT, which includes investigators from Holland, Belgium, Australia, Malaysia and – invidiously – Ukrainian secret services, openly acknowledged in its presentation last week that it is cooperating with the Britain-based Bellingcat website. The latter is cited for its analysis of videos purporting to show the transport of a Russian military Buk convoy through Eastern Ukraine at around the time of the airliner being shot down. Those videos have already been exposed as fabrications.

Now it seems rather strange that the JIT was reported by McClatchy as not knowing of Bellingcat’s next “scoop” published the following day in which it claims to identify a Russian military officer, named as Oleg Ivannikov or Orion, for being involved in coordinating the transport of the Buk convoy, which the JIT says came from the 53rd Brigade in Russia’s Kursk.

The JIT and Bellingcat have collaborated in a previous update to its MH17 probe, in 2016, when the dubious videos were presented as purportedly showing the Buk convoy traversing Eastern Ukraine back to Russia. Bellingcat was cited again in the JIT’s update last Thursday.

That raises the question of why the information claiming to identify the Russian military officer was not available to JIT, even though the latter has worked closely with Bellingcat before? It was the next day when the McClatchy-Bellingcat news report came out, seemingly separate to the JIT presentation.

The sequence suggests a concerted effort to “build” a public perception that “clues” into the cause of the air crash and the incrimination of Russia are being assembled in an independent manner. When, in reality, the sequence is actually a deliberately orchestrated media campaign, to more effectively smear Russia.

Bellingcat’s media activities indicate that it is not the supposed “independent online investigative website” it claims to be. During the Syrian war, it has helped to peddle claims that videos sourced from the White Helmets are “authentic” when in fact there is strong evidence that the White Helmets have been fabricating videos of atrocities on behalf of NATO-sponsored terrorists in order to smear the Syrian government and its Russian ally.

For the Dutch-led JIT to associate with Bellingcat as a source of “evidence” is a matter of grave concern as to the probe’s professional credibility.

Moreover, what is also fatally damaging to the MH17 probe is that the Ukrainian secret services (SBU) under the control of the Western-backed Kiev regime, which came to power in the NATO-backed February 2014 coup d’état, is the source for much of the so-called evidence implicating Russia or the pro-Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine for shooting down the MH17 airliner.

The dubious videos cited by the JIT and Bellingcat were sourced from the SBU. Those videos were purportedly posted on social media at the time of the plane crash by anonymous members of the public. The Russian government has dismissed those videos as fake.

The latest claims by McClatchy and Bellingcat of identifying a Russian military officer are based on allegations that mobile phone intercepts are attributable to the man named as Orion. Bellingcat appears to have expended a lot of effort trawling through digital phone books to identify the individual. The report also relies on embellishment of Orion’s alleged secret military career in Ukraine and South Ossetia by way of lending a sense of credibility and sinister innuendo.

However, the bottomline is that McClatchy and Bellingcat both admit that they are relying on the Ukrainian secret services for their phone intercepts, as they had previously for the videos of the alleged Russian Buk convoy.

The SBU and its Kiev masters have an obvious axe to grind against Moscow. Their partisan position, not to say potential liability for the air crash, thus makes the JIT and subsequent Western media reporting highly suspect.

Such close involvement of a Western media outlet (McClatchy) with a fake news engine (Bellingcat) and Ukrainian state intelligence is indicative of coordinated public psychological operation to smear Russia.

The prompt responses from Western governments calling for criminal proceedings against Moscow are further indication that the whole effort is an orchestrated campaign to frame-up Russia.

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