Why Russia’s offer to let Mueller come to Russia – in return for interrogations of corrupt Americans – sent Washington into a panic – By Thierry Meyssan/ Voltaire Network (SOTT)

browder

© Reuters
Bill Browder in the US Senate

On 16 November 2009, tax specialist lawyer Sergey Magnitsky died in Matrosskaya Tishina prison (Moscow). Immediately, the US Press claimed that he had been in possession of information concerning a State scandal, and had been tortured by the « régime ».

The Magnitsky Act

The death of Magnitsky shut down the legal procedures that had been launched against him by the Russian Minister of Justice. Billionaire William (“Bill”) Browder declared in Washington that the tax expert possessed proof that Russian Power had stolen 3 billion dollars from him. Despite lobbying by Goldman Sachs, the US Congress believed it had clarified the affair, and in 2012 adopted a law sanctioning the Russian personalities suspected of having murdered the lawyer. Goldman Sachs, which did not believe the information forwarded by the parliamentarians, hired the lobbying firm Duberstein Group in an attempt to block the vote on the law [1].

On this model, in 2016, the Congress extended the « Magnitsky Act » to the whole world, requesting the President to implement sanctions against all people and all states which violate individual property. Presidents Obama and Trump obeyed, placing about twenty personalities on the list, including the President of the Republic of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov.

These two laws were aimed at giving back to the United States the role it had assumed during the Cold War as defender of individual property, even though they had no communist rival.

The two versions of the « Magnitsky affair »

As for the Russian State Duma, it responded to its US counterpart by forbidding the adoption of Russian children by US families, and by denouncing the responsibility of US personalities in the legalisation of torture (the Dima Yakovlev Law, from the name of the Russian child adopted in the USA who died as a result of negligence by the parents). President Putin applied this text in 2013, also forbidding ex-US Vice President Dick Cheney access to Russian territory.

The « Magnitsky affair » could have ended there. It seems to be independent of the « Khodorkovsky affair », exploited by NATO in order to accuse Russia of interference in Western democracies by way of disinformation or « fake news » [2]. However, the Russian Prosecutor General contests the narrative presented by Wiliam Browder to the US Congress.

According to William Browder, his company Hermitage Capital invested in Russia, particularly in Gazprom. He allegedly discovered signs of irregular practices and attempted to warn the Kremlin. However, his resident’s visa was then cancelled. Then his Russian companies were allegedly robbed by Lieutenant-Colonel Artem Kuznetsov, a civil servant from the Financial Brigade of the Russian Ministry of the Interior. Kuznetsov apparently seized the property documents during a search, then used them to register a new owner. Lawyer Sergey Magnitsky, who apparently blew the whistle on the embezzlement, was arrested, tortured and finally died in prison. In the end, Lieutenant-Colonel Artem Kuznetsov and « godfather » Dmitry Klyuev were allegedly able to deposit the 3 billion stolen dollars in a Cypriot bank. This is a classic case of theft by the Russian mafia with the help of the Kremlin [3]. This narrative inspired the seventh season of the Showtime TV series, Homeland.

On the contrary, according to Russian Prosecutor General Yury Chaika, William Browder illegally acquired 133 million shares in Gazprom on behalf of the Ziff brothers, via various straw men. Not only did Browder avoid paying 150 million dollars in taxes, but the acquisition of part of this crown jewel of the Russian economy is in itself illegal. Furthermore, his financial advisor, Sergey Magnitsky, who had developed another scam for the same Browder, was arrested and died of a heart attack in prison [4].

It is obviously impossible to tell the truth from the lies in these two versions. However, it is now recognised that Sergey Magnitsky was not a lawyer working freelance, but was employed by William Browder’s companies. He was not investigating embezzlement, but was tasked by Browder with the creation of financial structures which would avoid him having to pay taxes in Russia. For example, the two men imagined remunerating mentally handicapped people as front men in order to benefit from their tax exempt status. Browder had much experience with tax evasion – which is why he lived for ten years in Russia with a simple tourist visa, then abandoned his US citizenship and became a British citizen.

Comment: Magnitsky wasn’t even a lawyer. He was an accountant.

These last elements prove William Browder wrong, and are compatible with Prosecutor Chaika’s accusations. In these conditions, it seems at the least imprudent for the US Congress to have adopted the Magnitsky Act, unless of course the operation was aimed not at defending individual property, but at hurting Russia [5].

A leader of the Russian opposition paid by Browder

Alongside the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), Browder abundantly finances the work of a young lawyer, Alexeï Navalny. Thanks to the help of US ambassador Michael McFaul, the young man pursued his studies in the USA at Yale in 2010. He created an Anti-Corruption Foundation in order to promote Browden’s version and accuse Putin’s administration.

Having become a leader of the political opposition, Navalny and his Foundation directed a first documentary accusing the family of Prosecutor Chaika of corruption. But although the video is convincing at first look, it presents no proof of the facts it relates.

Simultaneously, Navalny ordered a second documentary from a Russian film director and member of the opposition about the « Magnitsky affair ». But this journalist turned against his employer during the investigation, which was finally broadcast by Russian public television.

A spook and an ambassador paid by Browder

Thereafter, William Browder engaged an ex-agent of MI6 in Moscow (1990-93), Christopher Steele, and the ex-US ambassador to Moscow (2012-14), Michael McFaul.

It so happens that it was Christopher Steele who, in 2006 – while he was with MI6 – accused President Vladimir Putin of having ordered the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko with Polonium. In 2016, he also worked – freelance this time – for the US Democratic Party. That was when he wrote the famous dossier accusing candidate Donald Trump of being under the threat of blackmail by the Russian secret services [6] ; an unwarranted charge which has just resurfaced after the bilateral Summit in Helsinki. We find Steele once again, in 2018, involved in the Novitchok poisoning of Sergueï Skripal – as a « consultant » for MI6, he of course accused the inevitable Vladimir Putin.

The Russian riposte

During the US Presidential campaign of 2016, Russian Prosecutor General Yury Chaika attempted to influence a member of Congress who was open to Russian thinking, Dana Rohrabacher (Republican, California). He sent her a note concerning his version of the Browder-Magnitsky affair. Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya met the son and son-in-law of candidate Donald Trump at Trump Tower, in order to inform them that a part of Browder’s dirty money was being used to finance the candidacy of Hillary Clinton [7].

Thereafter, William Browder became the main source of the enquiry run by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller about possible Russian interference in « US Democracy ». A long time before he became the Director the FBI, Mueller – who officially has no link to the CIA – had been responsible for the enquiry on the Lockerbie attack, which he attributed to Mouammar Kadhafi. Let’s remember that Libya never recognised that it was implicated in this affair, although it accepted to pay a compensation to the victims. Above all, Scottish Justice established the fact that fragments of the detonator found on site were placed there by the CIA in order to accuse Libya. Mueller used the meeting of Trump’s team with Natalia Veselnitskaya as « proof » of the subordination of Donald Trump to the Russian Intelligence services.

In the USA, Natalia Veselnitskaya represents the interests of several of Browder’s Russian victims. She also acted in 2014 on behalf of one of the companies that Browder accused of being connected to « godfather » Dmitry Klyuev. She also raised the question about the manner in which an agent of Homeland Security, Todd Hyman, had transmitted a trial document without proceeding with the usual verifications.

There will be no moment of truth

During the US-Russia summit in Helsinki, President Vladimir Putin proposed that his US counterpart allow US investigators to question those Russian civil servants suspected of interference in the US Presidential campaign, on the condition that Russian investigators would also be allowed to question suspects in the USA. Donald Trump is reserving his answer.

However, when the office of Prosecutor Yury Chaika transmitted the list of witnesses to be questioned, Washington panicked. Not only did Chaika ask to question British subjects William Browder and Christopher Steele if they should travel in the United States, but also ambassador Michael McFaul, lawyer Jonathan Winer, researcher David J. Kramer, and finally, agent Todd Hyman.

Jonathan Winer was in charge of the Lockerbie dossier at the State Department during the 1990’s. He is a personal friend of Christopher Steele, and transmitted his reports to the neo-conservatives for a decade [8].

During Bush Jr.’s first term, David J. Kramer played an important role in the management of the propaganda system for the State Department as well as looking after the stay-behind agents in Eastern Europe and in Russia. After having worked in various think tanks, he became the president of Freedom House, and campaigned on the « Magnitsky affair ». He is today a researcher at the McCain Institute.

Although, so far, nothing enables us to tell which of the Browder and Chaika versions is accurate, the truth will soon emerge. It is possible that Russian interference may be no more than fake news, but US interference (by introduction into the crown piece of the Russian economy as well as via Alexeï Navalny) may in fact be a reality.

In the context of Washington’s unanimous anti-Russian stand, President Trump declines Vladimir Putin’s proposition.

Translation: Pete Kimberley

Sources

  1. Bank of Putin. Goldman Sachs lobbying against human rights legislation“, Adam Kredo, Free Beacon, July 19, 2012.
  2. The NATO campaign against freedom of expression“, by Thierry Meyssan, Translation Pete Kimberley, Voltaire Network, 5 December 2016.
  3. Foreigner’s Investment in Russia Is Derailed by Kremlin’s Might“, Clifford J. Levy, The New York Times, July 24, 2008.
  4. Note from Yury Chaika Office to Dana Rohrabacher, June 2016.
  5. « Intouchable, Mr. Browder ? », par Israël Shamir, Traduction Maria Poumier, Entre la plume et l’enclume (France), The Unz Review (USA), Réseau Voltaire, 22 juin 2016.
  6. The Steele Report“.
  7. Natalia Veselnitskaya Memo on the William Browder & Sergei MagnitskyCase“, by Natalia Veselnitskaya, Voltaire Network, 1 June 2016.
  8. Devin Nunes is investigating me. Here’s the truth“, Jonathan Winer, The Washington Post, February 8, 2018.
Comment: One thing’s for sure: Browder’s version of events is complete BS. See also:

The Truth Perspective: Trump’s Zionist Ball and Chain: The Kushner-AIPAC-Port Authority Connection – By SOTT

Trump Kushner Netanyahu

© Hispan TV

Most Americans probably know Jared Kushner as Ivanka Trump’s husband, and President Trump’s right-hand man working on the Trump administration’s Israel-Palestine ‘deal of the century’. But how many remember his father, Charles? The elder Kushner is a real-estate developer, like Trump. But he’s also a convicted felon who has done jail time for his corrupt ‘business’ practices, various financial crimes and mafia-like antics. He’s also close friends with Benjamin Netanyahu, who once slept in Jared’s bed when Jared was a teenager (don’t worry, Jared slept in the basement).

Scratch below the surface of Kushner’s past and you will uncover the corrupt world of New Jersey and New York politics, the Port Authority, organized crime, and a pay-to-play system that would make Hillary and Bill blush: bribery and blackmail, trysts and affairs, conspiracy and collusion, revolving-door nepotism, backstabbing and lobbying for the interests of a foreign state. As Ryan Dawson of Anti-Neocon Report puts it, “Crooks are using the state to enrich themselves and then using this wealth to further the interest of the Israeli regime and its grip over America money, media, and military power.”

Today on the Truth Perspective we discuss Dawson’s 2017 documentary God Is Not A Real Estate Agent: Trump’s Zionist Ball & Chain, which goes into all these topics in depth.

Running Time: 01:23:54

Download: OGG, MP3

Listen live, chat, and call in to future shows on the SOTT Radio Network!

Articles Cited

‘Losing Military Supremacy’ book review: How the US lost its edge to Russia – By The Saker The Unz Review (SOTT)

maryanov military supremacy

The fact that the USA is facing a profound crisis, possibly the worst one in its history, is accepted by most observers, except maybe the most delusional ones. Most Americans definitely know that. In fact, if there is one thing upon which both those who supported Trump and those who hate him with a passion can agree on, it would be that his election is a clear proof of a profound crisis (I would argue that the election of Obama before also had, as one of its main causes, the very same systemic crisis). When speaking of this crisis, most people will mention the deindustrialization, the drop in real income, the lack of well-paid jobs, healthcare, crime, immigration, pollution, education, and a myriad of other contributing factors. But of all the aspects of the “American dream”, the single most resilient one has been the myth of the US military as “the finest fighting force in history”. In this new book, Andrei Martianov not only comprehensively debunks this myth, he explains step by step how this myth was created and why it is collapsing now. This is no small feat, especially in a relatively short book (225 pages) which is very well written and accessible to everyone, not just military specialists.

Martyanov takes a systematic and step-by-step approach: first, he defines military power, then he explains where the myth of US military superiority came from and how the US rewriting of the history of WWII resulted in a complete misunderstanding, especially at the top political levels, of the nature of modern warfare. He then discusses the role ideology and the Cold War played in further exacerbating the detachment of US leaders from reality. Finally, he demonstrates how a combination of delusional narcissism and outright corruption resulted in a US military capable of wasting truly phenomenal sums of money on “defense” while at the same time resulting in an actual force unable to win a war against anything but a weak and defenseless enemy.

That is not to say that the US military has not fought in many wars and won. It did, but in the words of Martyanov:

Surely when America fought against a third-rate adversary it was possible to rain death from the skies, and then roll over its forces, if any remained by that time, with very little difficulty and casualties. That will work in the future too against that type of adversary – similar in size and flimsiness of Iraqi Forces circa 2003. But Ledeen’s Doctrine had one major flaw – one adult cannot continue to go around the sandbox constantly fighting children and pretend to be good at fighting adults.

The main problem for the USA today is that there are very few of those third-rate adversaries left out there and that those who the USA is trying to bring to submission now are either near-peer or even peer adversaries. Martyanov specifically lists the factors which make that kind of adversary so different from those the USA fought in the past:

  1. Modern adversaries have command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities equal to or better than the US ones.
  2. Modern adversaries have electronic warfare capabilities equal to or better than the US ones
  3. Modern adversaries have weapon systems equal to or better than the US ones.
  4. Modern adversaries have air defenses which greatly limit the effectiveness of US airpower.
  5. Modern adversaries have long-range subsonic, supersonic and hypersonic cruise missiles which present a huge threat to the USN, bases, staging areas and even the entire US mainland.

In the book, all these points are substantiated with numerous and specific examples which I am not repeating here for the sake of brevity.

One could be forgiven for not being aware of any of these facts, at least if one considers the kind of nonsense written by the US corporate media or, for that matter, by the so-called “experts” (another interesting topic Martyanov discusses in some detail). Still, one can live in an imaginary world only as long as reality does not come crashing in, be it in the form of criminally overpriced and useless weapon systems or in the form of painful military defeats. The current hysteria about Russia as the Evil Mordor which is the culprit for everything and anything bad (real or imaginary) happening to the USA is mostly due to the fact that Russia, in total contradiction to all the “expert” opinions, not only did not crash or turn into a “gas station masquerading as a country” with her economy “in tatters”, but succeeded in developing a military which, for a small fraction of the US military budget, successfully developed armed forces which are in reality far more capable than the US forces. I realize that this last statement is quite literally “unthinkable” for many Americans and I submit that the very fact that this is so literally unthinkable greatly contributed to making this possible in the first place: when you are so damn sure that by some kind of miracle of history, or God’s will, or Manifest Destiny or any other supernatural reason, you are inherently and by definition superior and generally “better” than everybody else you are putting yourself in great danger of being defeated. This is as true for Israel as it is for the USA. I would also add that in the course of the West’s history this “crashing in of reality” in the comfy world of narcissistic delusion often came in the form of a Russian soldier defeating the putatively much superior master race of the day (from the Crusaders to the Nazis). Hence the loathing which western ruling elites always had for everything Russian.

In this book, Martyanov explains why, in spite of the absolutely catastrophic 1990s, the Russians succeeded in developing a modern and highly capable combat force in a record time. There are two main reasons for this: first, unlike their US counterparts, Russian weapons are designed to kill, not to make money and, second, Russians understand warfare because they understand what war really is. This latest argument might look circular, but it is not: Russians are all acutely aware of what war really means and, crucially, they are actually willing to make personal sacrifices to either avoid or, at least, win wars. In contrast, US Americans have no experience of real warfare (that is warfare in defense of their own land, family and friends) at all. For US Americans warfare is killing the other guy in his own country, preferably from afar or above, while making a ton of money in the process. For Russians, warfare is simply about surviving at any and all cost. The difference couldn’t be greater.

The difference in weapons systems acquisition is also simple: since US wars never really put the people of the USA at risk, the consequences of developing under-performing weapons systems were never catastrophic. The profits made, however, were immense. Hence the kind of criminally overpriced and useless weapons system like the F-35, the Littoral Combat Ship or, of course, the fantastically expensive and no less fantastically vulnerable aircraft carriers. The Russian force planners had very different priorities: not only did they fully realize that the failure to produce an excellently performing weapons system could result in their country being devastated and occupied (not to mention their families and themselves either enslaved or killed), they also realized that they could never match the Pentagon in terms of spending. So what they did was to design comparatively much cheaper weapons systems which could destroy or render useless the output of the multi-trillion dollar US military-industrial complex. This is how Russian missiles made the entire US ABM program and the US carrier-centric Navy pretty much obsolete as well as how Russian air defenses turned putatively “invisible” US aircraft into targets or how Russian diesel-electric submarines are threatening US nuclear attack subs. All that at a tiny fraction of what the US taxpayer spends on “defense”. Here again, Martyanov gives plenty of detailed examples.

Martyanov’s book will deeply irritate and even outrage those for whom the US narcissistic culture of axiomatic superiority has become an integral part of their identity. But for everybody else this book is an absolute must-have because the future of our entire planet is at stake here: the question is not whether the US Empire is collapsing, but what the consequences of this collapse will be for our planet. Right now, the US military has turned into a “hollow force” which simply cannot perform its mission, especially since that mission is, as defined by US politicians, the control of the entire planet. There is a huge discrepancy between the perceived and the actual capabilities of the US military and the only way to bridge this gap are, of course, nuclear weapons. This is why the last chapter in the book is entitled “The Threat of a Massive American Military Miscalculation”. In this chapter, Martyanov names the real enemy of both the Russian and the American people – the US political elites and, especially, the Neocons: they are destroying the USA as a country and they are putting all of mankind at risk of nuclear annihilation.

The above summary does not do justice to Martyanov’s truly seminal book. I can only say that I consider this book as an absolutely indispensable “must read” for every person in the USA who loves his/her country and for every person who believes that wars, especially nuclear ones, must be avoided at all costs. Just like many others (I think of Paul Craig Roberts), Martyanov is warning us that “the day of reckoning is upon us” and that the risks of war are very real, even if for most of us such an event is also unthinkable. Those in the USA who consider themselves patriots should read this book with special attention, not only because it correctly identifies the main threat to the USA, but also because it explains in detail what circumstances have resulted in the current crisis. Waving (mostly Chinese made) US flags is simply not an option anymore, neither is looking away and pretending that none of this is real. Martynov’s book will also be especially interesting to those in the US armed forces who are observing the tremendous decline of US military power from inside. Who better than a former Soviet officer could not only explain, but also understand the mechanisms which have made such a decline possible?

You can also get both versions of the book (paper & electronic) here.

The book is also available on Amazon as a pre-order here.

It is scheduled to become available on September 1st.

Get at least one copy and give more to your friends!

The Saker

Israel bows to Russia’s will: Battle of South Syria coming to an end – By Elijah J. Magnier (ejmagnier.com)(SOTT)

Convenient timing: Belgium arrests suspects of Iranian origin for plotting terrorist act in Paris ahead of Rouhani’s visit to Europe – By RT

Belgium arrests iranian terror suspects June 30 2018

© Reuters TV
A bomb disposal expert is seen searching a car in the Brussels’ commune of Woluwe St Pierre, June 30, 2018.

Two people were arrested in Belgium for plotting a bomb attack at a conference in Paris, prosecutors announced. The couple allegedly carried 500 grams of explosives reportedly similar to the type used in other major attacks.

The suspects, who have Belgian citizenship and are of Iranian origin, were identified as Amir S., born 1980, and his wife Nasimeh N., born 1984. They were snatched by police in Woluwe-Saint-Pierre municipality in Brussels suburbs on Saturday.

During searches police say they found some 500 grams of TATP (Triacetone Triperoxide) explosives and a detonation device in their car. The notoriously-unstable TATP, sometimes known as the ‘Mother of Satan’, has been used in a number of terrorist attacks, including the November 2015 Paris attacks and the May 2017 Manchester Arena bombing.

The couple, who are residents of the town of Wilrijk – 356 km from the Belgian capital, has already been charged with “attempted terrorist attack and preparation of a terrorist act,” the prosecutor added. The alleged target was a meeting of an Iranian opposition group scheduled in Paris June 30. The event was attended by some 25,000 people.

A number of people, who had allegedly made contact with the two suspects, were also detained in other EU states, according to Belgium prosecutors. A diplomatic worker at Iran’s embassy in Vienna was detained in Germany, while three other people were snatched by French police. Two of them were released after interrogation, while one man remained in police custody.

Tehran has condemned “all violence” and expressed readiness to cooperate in uncovering the “sinister false flag ploy,” with Foreign Minister Javad Zarif taking to Twitter and raising questions over the timing of the arrests.

“How convenient: Just as we embark on a presidential visit to Europe, an alleged Iranian operation and its ‘plotters’ arrested,” Zarif said.

France has been plagued by a series of terrorist attacks over the past few years and has remained in state of emergency since 2015. Apart from smaller-scale terrorism-related incidents, such as stabbings and car rammings, France endured several full-blown attacks, which took a heavy toll on civilians.

The largest one took place in November 2015, when a group of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists attacked several targets in Paris, killing 130 people and injuring over 400. Another major attack occurred in July 2016, when a terrorist plowed a heavy cargo truck though a crowd of people, celebrating the Bastille Day, killing over 80 revelers and injuring hundreds more.

Belgium itself was not spared by the terrorism surge, with an IS-linked group striking Brussels airport and metro station in coordinated suicide bomb attacks in March 2016. The attackers also used the notorious TATP compound, killing 32 and injuring nearly 350 people.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s interview with Channel 4’s Cathy Newman (VIDEO with full transcript) – By Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation (SOTT)

Lavrov channel 4 interview

© Channel 4

On June 29, 2018 Sergey Lavrov gave a wide-ranging interview to Channel 4’s Cathy Newman covering such diverse topics as trade, the unexpected beneficial effect sanctions has had on Russia, the Skripal poisoning case and the inevitable development of a multi-polar world.

Full transcript below:

Question: Foreign Minister, the summit is happening in Helsinki. Russian President V.Putin and US President D.Trump together. Is this the post-West world order that you have talked of in the past? Has it now arrived?

S.Lavrov: Well, I think that we are in the post-West world order, but this order is being shaped and it will take a long time. It is a historical epoch, if you want. Certainly, after five or so centuries of domination of the collective West, as it were, it is not very easy to adjust to new realities that there are other powerhouses economically, financially and politically, China, India, Brazil. African countries are going to be very much on the rise, as soon as they resolve at least some of the conflicts, which are there on the continent. Well, Russia certainly would like to be an independent world player. Independent in the sense that we do not want to violate and international law and norms, but the decisions, which we would be taking on the basis of international law, would not be influenced by pressure, money, sanctions, threats or anything else.

Question: Russia is shaping this world order that is clear.

S.Lavrov: It is not Russia is shaping this world order, it’s history. It’s the development itself. You cannot really hope to contain this new powerful, economically and financially, countries. You cannot really ignore their role in world trade and world economy. Attempts are being made to slow down this process by new tariffs, new sanctions for good or bad reasons in violation of the WTO principles and so on. But I think it is a logical reaction: trying to slow down something, which is objective and does not depend on any single administration in any country.

Question: But Europe has something to fear from that world order that you have just mapped out there.

S.Lavrov: What was that?

Question: Well the world order that you have mapped out involved all sorts of countries. You did not mention whether the EU fits into that. Do they need to worry about that new world order?

S.Lavrov: Well, the EU is of course part of the collective West with the addition of new members from Eastern Europe. But the European Union is certainly a very important pillar of any world order. As for the Russian Federation, it is our biggest trade partner in spite of the fact that after the unfortunate developments and the wrongly understood interpretation of what the coup d’état is. The volume of trade since 2014 between Russia and the European Union went down 50%, but it is still more than $250bn and it is our number one trading partner, as a collective, as a Union. But the European Union certainly is now fighting to make sure that it is not lost in this new world order that is being shaped. It is not easy, because the reliance on the United States is something, which quite a number of the EU members want to keep. There are some other EU members, who believe that they should be a bit more self-sufficient in military matters for example. The initiative of President F.Macron and Germany to consider some kind of European defence capabilities being beefed up is a manifestation of this case.

I am watching the EU summit, which is going on right now, and the discussion on migration brought an interesting thought to my head, namely it is about the relations between NATO and EU. NATO bombed Libya, turned Libya into a black hole through which waves of migrants, illegal migrants, rushed to Europe. Now EU is cleaning the broken china for NATO.

Question: You talk about NATO’s involvement in Libya, but then there is Russia’s involvement in Syria and that has also created millions of refugees.

S.Lavrov: Yes, but I would challenge you that the Russian involvement in Syria on the basis of legitimate request from the legitimate government, recognized by all as the representative of Syria in the United Nations, took place in September 2015, four years and a half into the Arab spring embracing Syria. The bulk of the refugees already was outside Syria by the time that we came to the rescue of the legitimate government.

Question: Well you talk of the legitimate government that is also the government responsible for killing of hundreds of thousands of its own citizens, making millions homeless. “A gas killing animal”, as President D.Trump, your ally, puts it. Do you rest easy being allied with that kind of government?

S.Lavrov: Well, I would not go into the names, which President D.Trump used to describe some of the world leaders. It is not something done in concrete, it might change. What I want to say is: it is a war. It is the war, which was started by mistakes made on the part of everyone, including the Syrian government. I believe these disturbances could have been handled politically at an earlier stage. But we have now on our hands what is the result of outside forces having tried to use the situation in order to reshape the map of the Middle East and Northern Africa by trying to get into Syria without any invitation and trying to promote their own agenda there. So, the efforts, which we are now undertaking together with Turkey and Iran, and both of them are present on the ground, Turkey without invitation, Iran with the invitation from the government, but we managed pragmatically to create what we call Astana Process, Astana Format. The Syrian government, given the fact that Russia, Iran cooperate with Turkey on the basis of decisions, which lead to de-escalation, accepted Astana Process as such. It is part of the process together with the armed opposition, they regularly meet, and try to create conditions for the resolution of UN Security Council 2254 to be implemented.

Question: Let me ask again about Syrian President B.Assad. A lot of people would like to know what is there to like about President B.Assad?

S.Lavrov: We do not like anybody. The diplomacy and politics are not about liking or disliking, it is for human beings as individuals to use this terminology. President Assad is protecting the sovereignty of his country. He is protecting his country and in a broader sense the region from terrorism, which was really about a couple of weeks from taking over Damascus in September 2015.

We did not want the repetition of tragedies, which happened during last couple of decades through the “adventures”. Maybe even more than a couple of decades. It started closer to the end last century in Afghanistan, when the US decided to support militarily, financially and otherwise mujahedeen, who were fighting the Soviet troops. I would not dwell upon why the Soviet troops were there. By the way USSR was also invited legally by the government, which was recognized legitimate. The US decided to use the mujahedeen to fight the Soviet troops, hoping that after the job is done, they could handle those mujahedeen. That is how Al Qaeda appeared and the US lost total control of this beast, whom they had created basically. Then there was an adventure in Iraq on the very false pretence. Now everybody knows this, even Tony Blair admitted that this was a mistake. But the fact of the matter is just like Al Qaeda was born in Afghanistan, ISIL/Daesh was born after the intervention in Iraq. After Libya was invaded in gross violation of the Security Council Resolution, and Syria is now, there is another beast that was born – Jabhat al Nusra, which changes names, but is another terrorist organization. Whatever the civilized West is trying to bring to the Middle East and North Africa turns out to be in favour of terrorists.

Question: That is a very impressive whistle-stop tour of history, but I want to ask about the present though and about President Assad. You said that it is not about liking President Assad. Does that mean that Russia would be prepared to see him go? Do the job, finish the war and then he goes?

S.Lavrov: It is the position, which is not Russian position, it is the position of the Security Council, endorsed by each and every country on Earth, that the future of Syria must be decided by the Syrian people themselves. That there must be a new constitution. On the basis of the new constitution there must be elections. Elections should be free, fair, monitored by the UN and all Syrian citizens, wherever they are, should be eligible to vote.

Question: So, it is irrelevant to you whether he stays or goes, that is for the Syrian people?

S.Lavrov: Yes, that is for them to decide. I believe that this view, which was rejected for quite some time after the Syrian crisis began, is now shared by more and more countries.

Question: When Russia withdraws from Syria? President V.Putin first raised the prospect in March 2016, he said that Russia had largely achieved her objectives there. Again, December 2017. By the end of this year can we expect Russia to be out of Syria?

S.Lavrov: No. I do not think that this is something, which we can intelligently discuss. We do not like artificial deadlines, but we have been consistently reducing our military presence in Syria. The last reduction took place a few days ago. More than 1,000 troops have come back to Russia, some aircraft and other equipment as well. It depends on what is the actual situation on the ground. Yes, we managed together with our colleagues, with Syrian Army, with the help of opposition, which I would call “patriotic opposition” not to allow plans to create a caliphate by ISIL happen. But some remnants of ISIL are very much there. Jabhat al Nusra is still there. They are now preventing the deal on the southern Syrian de-escalation area to be implemented fully. So there are some leftovers. Besides, we do have, not actually full-fledged bases, but two places where our naval ships and our aircraft are located in Syria and they might be usefully kept for quite some time.

Question: Clearly, Syria will be on the agenda at the summit. Just want to talk about some other things that might be. For example, you have mentioned sanctions. Do you think that sanctions will be lifted, given that the EU has just talked about extending them? Do you think you can get President D.Trump to commit to that?

S.Lavrov: Actually, I have mentioned sanctions only in the context of the deterioration of relations. We are not pleading to remove them. It is not our business, it is for those, who introduced sanction, to decide whether they want to continue or whether common sense would prevail.

Question: Well, your President has very recently said that he would like them lifted.

S.Lavrov: Yes, absolutely. We would not mind them lifted, but we would not mind also using the spirit to build up our own capacity in key sectors of economy, security and other areas on which an independent state depends. In the recent years, we have learned a lot, including the fact that in these issues you cannot rely on the West. You cannot rely on Western technologies, because they can be abruptly stopped at any moment. You cannot rely on the items, which are essential for the day-to-day living of the population, coming from the West, because this could also be stopped. So we are certainly drawing lessons. But we certainly would not be against sanctions being lifted and we would reciprocate, because we do have some countermeasures in place.

Question: What are you prepared to give in this summit? For example, if D.Trump says he wants NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden back in the US, is that something that you would consider? Is this something that you can put on the table?

S.Lavrov: I have never discussed Edward Snowden with this Administration. President V.Putin addressed the issue some years ago. When he was asked the question, he said this is for Edward Snowden do decide. We respect his rights, as an individual. That is why we were not in the position to expel him against his will, because he found himself in Russia even without the US passport, which was discontinued as he was flying from Hong Kong.

Question: So that is not going to be up for discussion?

S.Lavrov: I do not know why people would start asking this particular question in relation to the Summit. Edward Snowden is the master of his own destiny.

Question: Given that the US intelligence believes that the presidential elections were meddled with, can Russian President V.Putin give D.Trump any assurances that the upcoming mid-term elections in a few months’ time would not be meddled with by Russia?

S.Lavrov: We would prefer some facts. We cannot intelligently discuss something, which is based on “highly likely”.

Question: Well, it is more than highly likely, is not it?

S.Lavrov: No. The investigation in the US has been going on for how long? A year and a half now?

Question: Well, Robert Mueller indicted the Internet Research Agency, the Russian “troll factory”.

S.Lavrov: Indictment is something, which requires a trial and I understand that they have submitted their own case and they have challenged quite a number of things, which were used for the indictment. So let’s not jump the gun. I love Lewis Carroll, but I do not think that the logic of the queen, who said “sentence first, verdict later”, is going to prevail. So far, you take the presidential election in the US, take Brexit, take the Salisbury case, take the tragedy with the Malaysian Boeing MH17 flight, it is all based on “investigation continues, but you are guilty already”. It cannot work this way.

Question: But is Russia frightened of the truth? Because it just seems whenever the authority whether it is the UN or the chemical weapons watch dog OPCW, whenever they try to get to the facts, Russia objects.

S.Lavrov: No, I believe that the public and respected journalists like you have been misinformed. The OPCW must operate on the basis of the Chemical Weapons Convention, which says bluntly that there is only one procedure when you want to establish facts. First, experts of the OPCW must themselves without delegating this authority to anyone go to the place of the alleged incident. They must themselves with their own hands and with their own equipment take samples. They must continue holding the substances in their hands until they have reached a certified laboratory. In the recent cases, especially in the infamous case of Khan Shaykhun April last year, when the Syrian government was accused of using aerial bombs to deliver chemical weapons to Khan Shaykhun, the OPCW never visited the place, they never took samples themselves. When we asked where did they get samples they said: “the Brits and the French gave it to us”. We asked why do not you go there?

Question: Have you lost faith in the OPCW?

S.Lavrov: Wait a second, that is important information. Let’s not speak slogans, let’s speak facts. So they did not go there. But they said that “we got the samples”. We asked “where from?”. They said “well the British and the French got it for us”. “Why do not you go?”, we asked. “Why it is not very safe.” We told them if the Brits and the French made it there or rather they know people who can get there safely, why do not you ask Paris and London to ensure safety for your own inspectors to get there. We told the same to the French and to the British, they said: “no, it is something, which we cannot share with you, how we got hold of this”. So, no procedures, regarding the taking of the samples, and the chain of custody, meaning that the inspectors themselves cannot delegate to anyone the delivery of samples to laboratory. These procedures, embodied and enshrined in the Convention, were violated. The Report on this Khan Shaykhun case, submitted by this Joint Investigating Mechanism last fall was full of “highly likely”, “by all probability”, “we have good reasons to believe” and so on and so forth. We invited the authors of the Report to the Security Council, trying to get some credible information from them. Impossible, they were stonewalled, they refused to talk. We said: “guys, if you want to work on the basis of violation of the Convention’s procedures, this cannot continue”. We did not extend their mandate, but we suggested a new mechanism, insisting that this new mechanism must not violate the procedures embodied in the Convention.

Question: Do you still have faith in the OPCW?

S.Lavrov: Until recently we did. But the organization was grossly manipulated a couple of days ago, when the Brits and others convened the special sessions of the state parties to the Convention. They passed a decision by vote, which basically violates the Convention in all its provisions, giving the Technical Secretariat the right to establish guilt. I think that this is a step, which was not thought through very thoroughly, because it is very dangerous.

Question: Well, it is dangerous potentially for Russia, because now the chemical weapons watchdog can apportion blame to the likes of Russia. Are you fearful of the truth?

S.Lavrov: No, I am fearful of the future of the OPCW and the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Question: Will you withdraw from the OPCW?

S.Lavrov: Well, if people prefer to violate the Convention, if they say that this is the “will of the majority”. When they convened this conference, all kinds of tricks were used, including mobilizing small countries, who do not have any representation in the Hague, paying for their travel expenses, paying for their hotel bills. We know all this and they know all this. So, when the Convention is grossly violated, I do not think that you can really avoid raising concern. We will try to repair the situation, because this decision will go to the regular conference of the state parties. But if this is not repaired, I believe that the days of the OPCW will be counted, at least it would not remain as a universal organization.

Question: The OPCW has also investigated the case of the Skripals. I wanted to ask you, do you think that using a nerve agent to poison a former spy and his child, a policeman on the streets of a cathedral city in Britain is an act of a rational state?

S.Lavrov: Rational state? Not at all. It is an act of crime. We from the very beginning suggested that we investigate this together, because it is our citizen. At least the daughter is our citizen. The father, I think, has a dual citizenship, he is a Russian citizen and a British subject. From the very beginning we suggested a joint investigation. We asked so many questions, including the questions related to the Chemical Weapons Convention’s procedures. In response, we were told that the British side does not want to listen, because we have to tell them only one thing. “Did V.Putin order this or did V.Putin lose control over the people who did?”. That’s all that the Brits wanted to discuss. The inconsistencies in the situation with the Skripals are very troubling. We never managed to get consular access to our citizen in violation of all international conventions on diplomatic and consular relations. We never got any credible explanation why the cousin of Yulia Skripal has not been given visa, she wants to visit the UK and see her cousin. And many other things related to the act itself.

Question: But why would Britain give consular access to the country suspected of being behind this attack?

S.Lavrov: You know that the investigation continues. The Scotland Yard said that it would take a few more months. UK Foreign Secretary B.Johnson recently mentioned that the place is being disinfected four months after the incident. The policeman became miraculously fine. The Skripals became miraculously fine. People now talk about levelling the house, where they lived, levelling the house of the policeman. It all looks like a consistent physical extermination of the evidence, like the benches of the park were removed immediately and, of course, the video images, when the policemen or special forces in special attire go to take a look at this bench, while people without any protection are moving around. It looks very weird.

S.Lavrov: Mr. Lavrov are accusing the British state of a cover-up of this whole incident?

S.Lavrov: I do not exclude this, as long as they do not give us information. You know that about 10 Russian citizens have died in London during the past years. All 10 cases have been investigated in the secret format. We do not understand why. One of the wise guys said: “who is to benefit?” Certainly, the UK benefited politically from what is going [on]. Come to think of it, it is an interesting situation, thereby the country, which is leaving the European Union, is determining the EU policy on Russia. When they were running through all capitals of the European Union, saying “you must expel the Russian diplomats, you must expel them”. So they did. Most of them, some did not. Then we privately asked those, who decided to join Britain in this action whether any proof was given in addition to what was said publicly. They said no. But they said that “we were promised that later, as investigation proceeds, we would be given more facts”. Do you think it is ok?

Question: But you ask who benefits and there are many in the West, who say that the chaos whether it is Brexit, whether it is the Skripals, whether it is D.Trump in the White House…

S.Lavrov: You forgot Catalonia and you forgot the forthcoming elections in Sweden, as the Prime Minister said. Macedonia, Montenegro…

Question: Ok, we will include that later. But answer me this: does the chaos benefit Russia, as some in the West say?

S.Lavrov: You have to be within the historical and chronological framework. You mean the chaos benefits Russia couple of weeks before the presidential elections and months before the World Cup. What do you think?

Question: I am asking you. Does chaos benefit Russia?

S.Lavrov: I want to clarify the issue. Does chaos benefit Russia couple of days before the presidential elections and couple of days before the World Cup? Is it the question?

Question: Well you talked about the new world order that you are hoping that Russia will help shape. Much easier to shape that world order if the EU is in chaos, you are holding the ring in the Middle East, if you are calling the shots in Syria. Russia potentially benefits.

S.Lavrov: No, this is absolutely wrong. It is misreading what I have said. I did not say that Russia wants to shape the new order. I said that Russia must be one of the players on the equal basis, discussing how the objective reality of multipolarity, being developed in front of our eyes, could be managed the way, which would be acceptable to all. That is what I have said. The interests of those, who determine the Russophobic policy in the West, are absolutely diametrically different. Their interest is to punish Russia, to downgrade Russia.

Question: Why, do you think?

S.Lavrov: Because it is very painful to lose half millennium of domination in the world affairs. In a nutshell this is the answer. This is not the criticism, this is a statement of fact. I understand when people used to call the shots in India, Africa, Asia, elsewhere and now they understand that this time has passed.

Question: Is Brexit good for Britain? Is it good for Russia?

S.Lavrov: This is for the UK subjects to discuss.

Question: Good for Russia, though?

S.Lavrov: I do not understand why we should be thinking in this way. It is something that the Brits decided. It is something, which they still discuss with the EU: the divorce, the problems inside the country. We also know, of course we follow the news, that the Parliament has one position, some public activists want rethinking.

Question: Does it look like chaos to you in Theresa May’s Britain?

S.Lavrov: Look, it is something, which happened by developments inside the UK. We only want clarity. What will be the basis on which we continue to work with the European Union. What will be the basis on which we might someday restore the relations with the UK, when they take some reasonable course and not overly ideologised, “highly likely” attitude. I believe that this must be must be very much understood by those in the West, especially by the liberals, who keep saying that the “rule of law must prevail”. In my view, rule of law means that unless proven guilty you cannot sentence people. That is what is happening with Skripal, MH17, with the OPCW being an instrument of those, who would like to make this “highly likely” the order of the day in Syria.

Question: Just returning to the Summit for a couple of final questions. Does it help Russia in her dealings with D.Trump that so many people think that you have compromising materials, so-called “kompromat”, on him?

S.Lavrov: Look, I hear this for the first time that we have the compromising material on D.Trump. That’s what the Special Counsel R.Mueller is trying to dig. Actually, I stopped reading the news from this investigation. You know that when R. Tillerson was Secretary of State, he once stated publicly that they have an “undeniable proof”. Then, during our contact, I said: “Rex, can you give this undeniable proof to us? Because we want to understand what is going on. Maybe this is something that we can explain”. He said: “well, we cannot give it to you, we cannot compromise our sources and besides, your special services, your security people know everything – ask them”. Is it the way to handle serious things? It is a matter, which is used to ruin the Russian-American relations. To answer the way, in which he did, I believe that it is not mature. It is very childish, I think. I think that the people, who are trying to dig something to prove that we have decided the future of the greatest country on Earth through some Internet agency, are ridiculous. I understand that the Democrats in the US are really quite nervous. I understand that the UK is nervous. There were leaks in the Times, saying that the Cabinet members are nervous that D.Trump and V.Putin might get along.

Question: So you do read the papers?

S.Lavrov: I read the extracts, which my people give me. I love reading papers with a cup of coffee, but do not always have time.

Question: Finally, on that point of kompromat. The ex-FBI Director J.Comey has said and I quote “it is possible that the current President of the United States was with prostitutes, peeing on each other in Moscow in 2013”. Do you think that this is possible?

S.Lavrov: Well, he said that this is possible, ask him.

Question: Do you think that this is possible? It has happened in Moscow allegedly.

S.Lavrov: I do not know what people can invent again. I think that I have read this story a couple of years ago, when all this started. Again, if people base the real policies vis-à-vis a country, state-to-state policies on the basis of “it is “possible”, on the basis of “highly likely”, this is shameful. I believe that what is being done in the context of the Russiagate in the US, as President V.Putin has repeatedly said, is the manifestation of deep domestic controversy, because the losers do not have the guts to accept that they have lost the elections.

Question: Foreign Minister, thank you very much.

S.Lavrov: Thank you.

Comment: What a refreshing dose of common sense.

Match Made in Hell: Bayer-Monsanto Partnership Signals Death Knell for Humanity – By Robert BRIDGE (STRATEGIC CULTURE FOUNDATION)

Match Made in Hell: Bayer-Monsanto Partnership Signals Death Knell for Humanity
Robert BRIDGE | 30.06.2018 | BUSINESS

On what plane of reality is it possible that two of the world’s most morally bankrupt corporations, Bayer and Monsanto, can be permitted to join forces in what promises to be the next stage in the takeover of the world’s agricultural and medicinal supplies?

Warning, plot spoiler: There is no Mr. Hyde side in this horror story of epic proportions; it’s all Dr. Jekyll. Like a script from a David Lynch creeper, Bayer AG of poison gas fame has finalized its $66 billion (£50bn) purchase of Monsanto, the agrochemical corporation that should be pleading the Fifth in the dock on Guantanamo Bay instead of enjoying what amounts to corporate asylum and immunity from crimes against humanity. Such are the special privileges that come from being an above-the-law transnational corporation.

Unsurprisingly, the first thing Bayer did after taking on Monsanto, saddled as it is with the extra baggage of ethic improprieties, was to initiate a rebrand campaign. Like a Hollywood villain falling into a crucible of molten steel only to turn up later in some altered state, Monsanto has been subsumed under the Orwellian-sounding ‘Bayer Crop Science’ division, whose motto is: “Science for a better life.”

Yet Bayer itself provides little protective cover for Monsanto considering its own patchy history of corporate malfeasance. Far beyond its widely known business of peddling pain relief for headaches, the German-based company played a significant role in the introduction of poison gas on the battlefields of World War I. 

Despite a Hague Convention ban on the use of chemical weapons since 1907, Bayer CEO Carl Duisberg, who sat on a special commission set up by the German Ministry of War, knew a business opportunity when he saw one.

Duisberg witnessed early tests of poison gas and had nothing but glowing reports on the horrific new weapon: “The enemy won’t even know when an area has been sprayed with it and will remain quietly in place until the consequences occur.”

Bayer, which built a department specifically for the research and development of gas agents, went on to develop increasingly lethal chemical weapons, such as phosgene and mustard gas. “This phosgene is the meanest weapon I know,” Duisberg remarked with a stunning disregard for life, as if he were speaking about the latest bug spray. “I strongly recommend that we not let the opportunity of this war pass without also testing gas grenades.”

Duisberg got his demonic wish. The opportunity to use the battlefield as a testing ground and soldiers as guinea pigs came in the spring of 1915 as Bayer supplied some 700 tons of chemical weapons to the war front. On April 22, 1915, it has been estimated that around 170 tons of chlorine gas were used for the first time on a battlefield in Ypres, Belgium against French troops. Up to 1,000 soldiers perished in the attack, and many more thousands injured.

In total, an estimated 60,000 people died as a result of the chemical warfare started by Germany in the First World War and supplied by the Leverkusen-based company.

According to Axel Koehler-Schnura from the Coalition against BAYER Dangers: “The name BAYER particularly stands for the development and production of poison gas. Nevertheless the company has not come to terms with its involvement in the atrocities of the First World War. BAYER has not even distanced itself from Carl Duisberg’s crimes.”

The criminal-like behavior has continued right up until modern times. Mike Papantonio, a US attorney and television presenter discussed one of the more heinous acts committed by this chemical company on Thomas Hartmann’s program, The Big Picture: “They produced a clotting agent for hemophiliacs, in the 1980s, called Factor VIII. This blood-clotting agent was tainted with HIV, and then, after the government told them they couldn’t sell it here, they shipped it all over the world, infecting people all over the world. That’s just part of the Bayer story.”

Papantonio, citing Bayer’s 2014 annual report, said the company is facing 32 different liability lawsuits around the world. For the 2018 Bayer liability report, click here.

Before flushing your Bayer products down the toilet, you may want to put aside an aspirin or two because the story gets worse.

One of the direct consequences of the ‘Baysanto’ monster will be a major hike in prices for farmers, already suffering a direct hit to their livelihood from unsustainable prices. “Farmers have already experienced a 300% price increase in recent years, on everything from seeds to fertilizer, all of which are controlled by Monsanto,” Papantonio told Hartmann. “And every forecaster is predicting that these prices are going to climb even higher because of this merger.”

Yet it’s hard to imagine the situation getting any worse for the American farmer, who is now facing the highest suicide rate of any profession in the country. The suicide rate for Americans engaged in the field of farming, fishing and forestry is 84.5 per 100,000 people – more than five times that of the broader population.

This tragic trend echoes that of India, where about a decade ago millions of Indian farmers began switching from farming with traditional farming techniques to using Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds instead. In the past, following a millennia-old tradition, farmers saved seeds from one harvest and replanted them the following year. Those days of wisely following the rhythms and patterns of the natural world are almost over. Today, Monsanto GMO seeds are bred to contain ‘terminator technology’, with the resulting crops ‘programmed’ not to produce seeds of their own. In other words, the seed company is literally playing God with nature and our lives. Thus, Indian farmers are forced to buy a new batch of seeds – together with Monsanto pesticide Round Up – each year and at a very prohibitive cost. Hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers

But should the world have expected anything different from the very same company that was involved in the production of Agent Orange for military use during the Vietnam War (1961-1971)? More than 4.8 million Vietnamese suffered adverse effects from the defoliant, which was sprayed over vast tracts of agricultural land during the war, destroying the fertility of the land and Vietnam’s food supply. About 400,000 Vietnamese died as a result of the US military’s use of Agent Orange, while millions more suffered from hunger, crippling disabilities and birth defects.

This is the company that we have allowed, together with Bayer, to control about one-quarter of the world’s food supply. This begs the question: Who is more nuts? Bayer and Monsanto, or We the People?

It’s important to mention that the Bayer – Monsanto convergence is not occurring in a corporate vacuum. It is all part of a race on the part of the global agrochemical companies to stake off the world’s food supplies. ChemChina has bought out Switzerland’s Syngenta for $43 billion, for example, while Dow and DuPont have forged their own $130 billion empire.

However, none of those companies carry the same bloodstained reputations as Bayer and Monsanto, a match made in hell that threatens all life on earth.

The Myth of Barack Obama as the Great and Noble Nobel Global Statesman – By Martin SIEFF (Strategic Culture Foundation)

The Myth of Barack Obama as the Great and Noble Nobel Global Statesman

It is no coincidence that the Sword, Sorcery and Dragons Fantasy Games of Thrones – filmed in large part on location in my native Northern Ireland – has entranced the American viewing public over the past decade: For the early 21st century has seen US policymakers and opinion-shapers plunging ever deeper into one fantasy after another. But even Game of Thrones pales in incredibility and absurdity next to the fantasy still believed by most Americans — That Barack Obama was a wise and responsible, peace-loving statesman.

In truth, Obama, casually and with evident self-satisfaction, unleashed series of catastrophic foreign national security policies that sent the world careening to the brink of nuclear war and inflicted needless suffering on scores of millions of people. No Game of Thrones villain ever did anything like that damage.

I have no doubt that the ludicrous award of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize to Obama will go down in history as the most ridiculous such award in the entire history of the institution.

What in reality was Obama’s record as President of the United States?

He authorized a totally unnecessary and strategically meaningless $1 trillion nuclear build up over the coming generation that will play a major role in bankrupting the United States. It was also a move guaranteed to set off a ruinous global thermonuclear arms race with Russia, China and other powers who understandably fear being made defenseless before a succession of ever more unilateral and unpredictable US leaders.

Obama claimed to be deeply concerned about nuclear nonproliferation and hosted a Nuclear Safety Summit in Washington whose only real achievement was to feed his already enormous and delusional appreciation of his own self-worth.

However, as analyst Rebecca Heinrichs of the conservative Hudson Institute in Washington concluded, “If one actually looks at the risks of nuclear war as well as the likelihood of proliferation at the start of the President’s term compared to now, the Obama’s nonproliferation record earns a failing grade.”

In 2011, Obama a fecklessly allowed his warmongering, hyper-aggressive secretary of state Hillary Clinton to arrange with Britain and France the use of NATO air power to destroy the state of Libya by giving tactical support and protection to rebels against veteran leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Gaddafi’s previous decade of consistent cooperation with the US and its allies in the struggle against extreme Islamist terror and his monitored compliance with demands to scrap Libya’s nascent nuclear were all for naught. Obama and Clinton’s reckless and even clownish policies ensured the complete disintegration of Libya, creating an infernal anarchy in which Islamist terror groups could thrive and metastasize throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

Far from encouraging nations to scrap their nuclear programs as Gaddafi in fact had done, Obama’s childish approval of the destruction of Libya sent precisely the opposite message to nations around the world: “Scrap your nuclear deterrents and there will be nothing to stop the United States from destroying you in whenever its leaders feel like it.”

It was the same story in Syria where Obama and Clinton eagerly approved the flow of half a billion dollars a year to such groups including, incredibly the Nusrah Front, the Syrian franchise of al-Qaeda, heirs to the conspirators who killed nearly 3,000 Americans on September 11, 2001.  

Obama’s utter ignorance and his clueless ignorance of diplomacy and the conduct of international relations was memorably exposed in his casual approval of the absurd and clownish Michael McFaul as US ambassador to Moscow.

The idea that an accredited ambassador could pass his days in sending out public abusive Twitter messages insulting the head of the state to which he was accredited was ludicrous even if that state was Mauritius, Lichtenstein or Tahiti let alone one of the world’s two thermonuclear superpowers.

McFaul openly worked overtime to give aid and encourage to domestic opposition to the undermine the legitimate government of Russia: His activities would have provoked calls for full-scale war from the US Congress had any Russian envoy to Washington, DC presumed to act in such a way. None of this bothered Obama for a second.

Even worse was to follow: In 2014, US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, the wife of leading neocon ideologue Robert Kagan and also the favored subordinate of Hillary Clinton when she was secretary of state openly paraded in the streets of Kiev, handing out cookies to violent protestors as they overthrew with mob riots and terror the constitutionally democratically elected government of a European nation of 45 million people. Obama fully – albeit, as usual, passively approved.

East-West relations were reduced to a state of chaos and distrust unseen in 52 years since the Cuban Missile Crisis. Obama does not appear to have noticed or even been concerned.

Obama was not totally ignorant and uninterested in international relations. During his casual and ill-attended, poorly documented student years at Columbia University in New York City, he attended only one course in international relations. It was given by none other than Zbigniew Brzezinski, former National Security Adviser to President Jimmy Carter.

Brzezinski was a descendant of the displaced minor Polish aristocracy who through his long career consistently fought to lock the United States into a set policies designed to weaken, disintegrate and encircle Russia with hostile powers and alliances. He was a major foreign policy influence on US Presidents Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

Brzezinski was Obama’s personal guide and guru to what little the 44th US president dimly grasped of strategic orientation and world affairs. Obama’s near-total ignorance of non-American history and diplomacy gave Brzezinski full scope to manipulate him into accepting all his own most virulent anti-Russian prejudices.

Thanks to Obama, superpower diplomatic relations collapsed to their most parlous state in the entire Nuclear Age. When Obama took office in January 2009, the Doomsday Clock of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists journal was set at five minutes to midnight and the journal soberly warned: “The world stands at the brink of a second nuclear age.” 

Yet after eight years in power, when Obama left the White House in January 2017, as ignorant, complacent and filled with unearned self-regard as when he came to Washington, the Doomsday Clock stood at three minutes to midnight. – two minutes closer than when he had taken office.

We do not need to wait to know the Verdict of History on Barack Obama’s eight years as a global statesman. That verdict is in and it is damning: The Nobel committee should rescind his 2009 Peace Prize. Perhaps it can be given instead to a harmless fantasy TV show like Game of Thrones.

Tags: Obama 

The WSWS, Iran’s economy, the Basij & Revolutionary Shi’ism: an 11-part series – by Ramn Mazaheri for The Saker Blog – (WSWS)

GOLDENTRIANGLE-RUSSIAIRANCHINA

by Ramn Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

In February the WSWS published a three-part series in response to my criticism of their inflammatory coverage of the protests last winter in Iran, and also to try and rebut the entire concept of “Iranian Islamic Socialism”.

I have waited a few months to read it and respond, but I present this 11-part series in order to: explain the undeniably socialist nature of Iran’s economy, give the first leftist examination in the West of the Basij, and to explain how the religious-cultural roots of revolutionary Shi’ism ultimately creating modern Iranian Islamic Socialism.

I apologise for not responding sooner. However, may I please defend myself by reminding that I had just published a 5-part series which gave a People-centered re-history of the Russian Revolution, was on the brink of publishing a 3-part series which analyzed the structure of the fascinating leftist project in Northern Syria, was preparing an 8-part series which aimed to totally contradict the Western perspective on Mao, the Cultural Revolution, the Great Leap Forward and much else regarding Communist China, and in between I was in Cuba covering their elections from a decidedly leftist perspective (in short: vote cobblers!).

And I also had to do my usual daily hack journalism for PressTV to support the French working class, the Iranian taxpayer and that extremely selfish part of any social class: me, and my opportunist’s desire to pay my bills! And then Ramadan started…but that’s no excuse for not rolling down my sleeves and getting to work on this series – at least it never has been for working-class Muslims. (And contrary to popular belief: Ramadan never hurts, but always helps.)

I also wanted to wait and see what Washington would do with the JCOPA agreement on Iran’s nuclear energy program, as that would dramatically affect any discussion on Iran. Unsurprisingly, the US has maintained their centuries-old policy of not keeping their policies.

I also waited because I focused on a possible silver lining: the obvious injustice of Washington’s decision has – I hope – increased receptivity towards new ideas which analyse Iran sympathetically, instead of so very antagonistically.

Therefore, this series aims to include four things: a response to the WSWS, and one one which provides new ideas, not a mere back-and-forth arguing over the same points of contention; a historical and structural analysis of the Iranian economy, from it’s unique never-colonised era of the Shahs to the modern era, with its totally unique (revolutionary) economic aspects; an analysis of a cultural phenomenon and institution which cannot be ignored, but about which there is almost total Western ignorance – the Basij; and finally an explanation of the religious, philosophical and cultural roots of revolutionary Shi’ism, the dominant ideology of the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the modern Islamic Republic of Iran.

Iran is in good company: they are unsupported by the WSWS, along with everyone else

When it comes to differences we must start at the end and work backwards, reverse-engineering ourselves into mutual comprehension and cooperation: In the end, the problem is that no revolution exists or has ever existed which was good enough for the WSWS to support, excepting only the Russian Revolution.

So Iran is not alone to be a leftist country which is left hanging at the time of Western “soft war”, as Iran was last winter. In many years of reading the WSWS I have never seen them express genuine support for Iran, Cuba, China, Eritrea, North Korea…anywhere.

What the WSWS does – and what they only do – is condemn capitalism and imperialism. They do it very well, and I’m certainly glad they do it. But we all surely see how such a one-sided approach produces imbalance, and thus a host of subsequent errors.

The WSWS also is politically partisan – they champion the Socialist Equality Party. Iran must be an original sinner to the WSWS, having had their revolution 30 years before this party’s inception. I don’t know what their plans are for starting an Iranian Socialist Equality Party, but they should definitely read this series before launching their recruitment efforts. (And they should be aware that calling for the downfall of the nation is unacceptable and undemocratic sedition which will not be tolerated, much less accepted and then elected.).

“The task of revolutionary socialists is to politically arm the working class in Iran with a socialist and internationalist strategy.”

Daste shoma dar nakoneh – thank you for your troubles (literally: May your hand not hurt). I mean those thanks quite sincerely! But, this series will show how Iranian revolutionaries in the working class – and religious class, and lower class, and other classes – have already shown how very well-armed they are with socialist and international strategies.

The WSWS fails to grasp this.

Their 3-part series also shows that they misunderstand Iran on many fundamental levels. This series hopes to clarify some of their errors.

And since they do not understand it – how can they praise it? Ok, don’t praise us, but I go back to my original complaint in this journalistic back-and-forth: the WSWS was piling on Iran alongside the capitalist-imperialists they swear are not their allies. Never allies…except when it comes to Iran?

However, the WSWS would, in their ivory tower journalism, prefer to see an Iran destroyed in the delusion that destruction from looming imperialists would fantastically result in the world’s first Trotskyist state! It’s not that I begrudge the WSWS their idealist fantasies – I have plenty of my own – but I remain disappointed at their choice of targets, because the fall of Iran would have so many negative ramifications for the anti-imperialist movement in the Middle East, and thus the global anti-imperialist movement, and it certainly would be the cruelest loss for Islamic Socialism, which is taken quite seriously in the Muslim world even if atheistic Trotskyism cannot tolerate the very thought of it.

But those two paragraphs are a boring recap of our old arguments and subjects – I promise new ones from here on out.

The tone readers should expect from this series is one of respect, professionalism & goodwill, and not egoistical sniping or the self-aggrandisement of myself or Iran. The narcissism of small differences is seemingly the biggest obstacle leftists have to overcome, and such tones would be proof of such divisive narcissism. The WSWS, as I said from the very beginning, is on the right side of very many issues in a very brave and admirable fashion.

But if I may permit myself only one snipe in order to show my humanity, much like how every Iranian carpet purposely contains one mistake in order to show that only God is perfect:

I noticed that the WSWS did not fail to reprint and directly quote every single word of praise I gave them, LOL?

That’s not very Iranian of ya, FYI! Maybe you shouldn’t get a big head, because ornately lavishing excessive praise on anything in sight is simply what Iranians are culturally compelled to do, LOL!

However, I do not consider this a very serious snipe at the possible self-aggrandising of the WSWS, because they had the exceptional good manners to acknowledge my compliments as “generous”. And also because I meant every word of praise, and I still do: The WSWS is a real fighter against the imperialist aims of Washington, Paris, London, Tel Aviv and other rabid capitalists.

But the WSWS’s claim, just after kindly acknowledging my inadequate generosity, that they are “the pole of socialist opposition to imperialist aggression and war” is a bit too much – they are only “one pole”.

Despite their fine, informative articles the WSWS has not changed my position nor my support for Iranian Islamic Socialism, which is also one pole of socialist opposition to imperialist aggression and war.

What the WSWS may not realize is that Iranian Islamic Socialism is something which was created entirely without any help from me, but sprang from the Iranian working class. (Or the Iranian 99%, or the Iranian 99% minus the so-called “talented 10th”, or the Iranian People, or the “Iranian proletariat plus their housewives” – as you like, the meaning is clear.)

What the WSWS series has done is mainly this: helped educate people about the role of Iranian communists in the 1979 Islamic Revolution; this series also hopes to educate people about certain uniquely Iranian concepts, structures and facets of history which were greater motivating forces in the 1979 Islamic Revolution than the communist Tudeh Party.

The reason for the first article in their series was to, “…reject their attempts to blackguard opposition to rampant social inequality and capitalist austerity as imperialist subversion.”

The WSWS has taken the reason for opposing the protests which Iran broadcast to other nations as if it was the same reason they broadcast within Iran. That is not the case.

Yes, the government talked about the obvious foreign involvement, but within Iran they also acknowledged repeatedly and loudly that the economic reasons for the protests were justified. Indeed, many politicians made much hay over it. Few Westerners imagine than Iran has a vibrant media, but I can assure everyone that many journalists and politicians had a field day over the protests, raking parts of the government over the coals.

But Iran has been subject to an economic blockade for decades, and thus has been forced to tolerate economic protests since at least way back to 1992. Iran is not like Cuba which (likely due to their closeness to Miami) truly tolerates no protests at all excepting the Ladies in White. I suspect that the WSWS believes that the government actually tried to blame it all on “imperialist subversion” because this is was the main, self-centred, largely-ignorant theme of Western coverage of the protests.

The stated reason for their 2nd article was to remedy my lack of applying class perspective to my already-faulty historical analysis – faulty, because I do not give credit enough credit the communist Tudeh Party for their role in the revolution.

Too much Tudeh from the Trotskyists

Well, I know a little bit about the Tudeh – my uncle was jailed by the Shah in 1954 for protesting on their side!

The bulk of their 3-part series is devoted to describing Tudeh’s involvement, and all I can say is…they have a right to focus on what they wish. I thank them for giving time to present Iran’s history from a sympathetic perspective.

But I am not much interested in retelling the history of the Tudeh Party. Every Iranian knows the role it played; every Iranian sees the impact they made in government policy, even if they lost; and every Iranian knows why they absolutely deserved to lose, democratically, despite the efforts of people like my Amoo (uncle on father’s side).

After World War II, the communists were always confined to two small groups – the students ands the intellectuals. I think I can quite easily hang the WSWS with their own words:

“(Other Stalinist and Maoist parties in Iran) Like the Tudeh Party, they were taken unawares by the explosion of mass opposition to the Shah’s rule in 1978…

How could the communists be so unaware if they were truly a grassroots, mass movement? This quote shows how out of touch with the average Iranian the Iranian communists were, and why democracy forbid their victory.

To compare Tudeh to the the communists in 1917 Russia or 1949 China is absurd – even at the height of the revolution Tudeh had perhaps 5,000 members, after all. The Tudeh’s main influence was informal – by influencing discussion for decades – and not in a real, grassroots, tangible, organisation-driven – and thus truly revolutionary – way.

As far as students: One must know that there were not many universities in Iran until after 1979 – the idea that the students came from a broad cross-section of society, as they do now, is simply not true: middle- and upper-class families were privileged in university selection…clearly not enough to win or deserve democratic support of a nation.

Compare all of this with the mass grassroots presence of Islam and it should be clear how and why Islam was – and continues to be – democratically chosen to be Iran’s primary revolutionary force. It was the mosque which was the grassroots centre of revolutionary activity, and not the Tudeh Party local headquarters.

We should not underestimate the influence intellectuals have in shaping the talking points and water-cooler discussions of a culture, but during the Iranian Islamic Revolution Tudeh was a party for the intellectuals and not the People. That is not stating an opinion, but an obvious fact.

However, considering their much larger postwar role, their decades of political presence, and how they advanced the political modernity of Iranians, it is commendable and natural that the WSWS wants to tell their history. But the facts show that it is easy to exaggerate their influence among the average Iranian who, polls repeatedly show, overwhelmingly reject atheism to the tune of 95%. (Of course, most of the communists in Iran were devoted Muslims – this is a reality many Westerners cannot handle intellectually.)

The communists did not win – Iranian Islamic Socialism did.

(A similar (pro-Iranian yet) nationalist Islamic-communist coalition just won parliamentary elections in Iraq…and I am about as surprised by that as when I saw the sun come up last week during Ramadan. We should expect a very similar Iraqi Islamic Socialism to ensue…assuming Western imperialist meddling is eliminated, as it was in Iran, which is a rather hopeful assumption, I’ll admit.)

Given this fact of the Tudeh Party’s lack of grassroots presence and support, it makes the WSWS’s standard Trotskyist explanation of “when in doubt, blame Stalin” seem woefully inadequate when discussing Iran:

“It was the vacuum of working class political leadership created by the decades of betrayals by the Stalinist Tudeh party that enabled Khomeini to cast himself as the Shah’s most indefatigable opponent, and for he and his clerical followers to develop a mass following, extending from the bazaar to the urban and rural poor, between 1975 and 1979.”

This falsely implies that Khomeini came out of nowhere in 1975 and co-opted the revolution like some sort of political opportunist. That is terribly, terribly inaccurate.

Apart from actually being implanted for decades among the working class, many in Iran’s clergy had long ago abandoned the status-quo quietism which is what the clergy in Western Europe practices today. The two are simply not comparable; the Western tendency to assume a Western-oriented universality is not at all applicable, yet again.

Politically-progressive clergy in Iran were exiled, imprisoned and killed pre-1979, and the failure of Western leftists to acknowledge that the clergy can play a positive role in political liberation dooms, I believe, their chance to successfully implement any of their policies which have nothing to do with religion. Indeed – it is all or nothing with Western leftists, and they want to control God as well.

And this is perhaps the ultimate irony: Iranian socialists have said all this for years: It is possible to be Muslim and socialist!

The WSWS even quotes the marriage between socialism, the Tudeh Party and Islam…and yet they also deny that it happened?

Caught unawares by the revolutionary upsurge of 1978-79, the Tudeh Party emerged, in the aftermath of the February 1979 overthrow of the Shah’s regime, as the staunchest supporters of Khomeini, anointing him the leader of the “national-democratic revolution.” Kianuri, now the Tudeh General Secretary, hailed Shiism as “a revolutionary and progressive ideology which we shall never encounter blocking our road to socialism….”

Strong stuff from Tudeh’s Kianuri, but the WSWS apparently imagines that the Tudeh’s alliance with revolutionary Shi’ism was also one of political opportunism, when it was the loving marriage of socialism and Shi’ism after decades of courtship. Again, this concept breaks the rigid brains of Western leftists.

Iranian Islamic Socialism, unlike Tudeh, is not out of touch with the working class

This ideological marriage is something which has been discussed for decades in Iran already, and obviously formed the basis for the entire 1979 Revolution, but I will address it for modern readers in parts 9 and 10 of this series: Cultural & Permanent Revolution in Revolutionary Shi’ism & Iranian Islamic Socialism, and then ‘Martyrdom and Martyrdom’ & martyrdom, and the Basij. Regular WSWS readers may be especially interested in these concepts.

Why are these ideas largely not new, Ramin? Well, it’s because Iranians think about God, and they also think about socialism! Our brain does not explode by holding these two ideas in our head at the same time, nor are we hypocritical, nor doctrinally unsound – in our context (open-minded people) we even pass for normal!

Iranians for decades had been discussing how to marry socialism with Islam in a manner exactly similar to the historical progression of socialism in pre-1917 Russia. Both revolutions were nearly bloodless, and the reason is because the anti-reactionary forces had worked hard for decades to win over the People. Neither of these were “10 days that shook that world” – mere explosions of violence – both were “many decades of struggle that shook the world”.

Therefore, it should be easy to see: how Iranian Islamic Socialism has been preceded by decades of grassroots preparation, why it has taken such firm root, and why 40 years of near-total global opposition has been unable to dislodge it.

Iranian Islamic Socialism, however, does not pass for normal in modern global politics…and I’m very glad for that, considering what does pass for normal in the neoliberal, neo-imperialist age. This is good for Iran, but quite sad for the rest of the world.

But Iranian Islamic Socialism is not going anywhere, and its failure would be a reactionary-inspired human rights disaster no less lamentable than what befell the people of Russia after the fall of the USSR. And, LOL, not make Iran Trotskyism’s very long-awaited first victory.

Why do I use the phrase ‘Iranian Islamic Socialism’?

This is not haphazard – it is in this particular order for a reason.

“Iranian”: People have this absolutist idea that Iran aims to follow the Koran to the letter in every instance, and that Iranian society aims to be an exact replication of the time of Prophet Mohammed.

What they fail to realize is that Khomeini was unequivocal: the imperatives of the state must take precedence over the needs of Islam.

He made it completely clear: good temporal governance on behalf of the inhabitants of the country must take precedence over Shariah, and may God forgive us. This debate was public and went on for years during and after the Iranian Cultural Revolution (one of only two official cultural revolutions ever) and yet it is still not appreciated by non-Iranians.

In these public and democratic debates over what the new Iran “should be”, what won out was an idea often associated with Abdolkarim Soroush: “religion” and “religious knowledge” are two different things; the former is sacred and immutable, the latter evolves and changes so that societal solutions can be found. Make no mistake: The Islamic Republic of Iran is based on the latter – religious knowledge which is used to promote democracy, pluralism and equality and Islam.

Obviously, many of the more religious did not like making religious injunctions secondary to politics, but the idea of a government designed to promote only Islam simply did not win out, just as the Tudeh did not win out democratically. It does not mean these ideas are not present, however, as Iran is a democracy – religions proponents are well-represented in Iran, of course.

Are there traditionalists who want the former – yes: they want “Islamic Iranian Socialism”. The 7th century Revolution of Islam was a political revolution in large part because Prophet Mohammad ended tribalism, and by extension nationalism. Thus, many want just “Islamic Socialism”. But they have a very tough convincing job to do, considering Khomeini opposed them, and that we have had decades of subsequent hardening of this “Iran is based on religious knowledge and not religion” concept; but they certainly have many of supporters among the Iranian people. I realize that on a global level the idea that Iran is insufficiently Islamic may seem surprising, but on a domestic cultural level it remains a genuine issue. It is also a guaranteed-acceptable method and safety valve for Iranians to criticise their government whenever they are having a bad day, LOL.

Regardless of that, I think many have not taken this long-standing reality into account when they talk about Iran’s government, but it should radically reorient anyone who doesn’t realize what is the top priority of Iran’s Islamic democratic government: the nation.

And, of course, we should remember that those who want “Islamic” first are not anti-Iran in the slightest – they just want more religion in Iran.

Therefore we see that Iran is definitely “nationalist” above all, like China or Cuba, and the opposite of the formerly independent nations of the European Union and especially the Eurozone.

This is all why “Iranian” is the first term.

“Islamic” comes second, because it has clearly and democratically been placed there. We see that Iran’s system is truly not the fundamentalist, everything-is-religion government it is portrayed as – it is clearly a modern system, based on nationalism, is an edifice built upon the most modern ideas of governmental structure available in 1979, and all while being hugely inspired by Islam.

“Socialism” is the final term, and the most contentious, mainly because socialism has yet to shake its original association with destructive, undemocratic, state-enforced atheism.

Socialism is clearly based on two fundamental precepts: empowering the long-oppressed with democratic rights, and massive state-organised economic redistribution, which is anathema in capitalism. Thus, socialism is both a structure of government and an economic policy. Therefore, Iran certainly has socialism.

Calling Iran ‘capitalist’ is misinformed, duplicitous, lazy or all 3

Part Three of the WSWS’s series is dedicated to Trotskyist propaganda – indeed, this is what the final part of every single WSWS article does (and I admire their ideological discipline). But that means deliberately denying realities and subverting the commonly-held definitions of words. This required me to write Part 2: How Iran got economically socialist, and then Islamic socialist.

The reality is that some of the Tudeh Party’s socialist ideas were indeed integrated into policy – the proof is clear from their years of cooperation with other revolutionary groups, but also quite easily found in the pudding which is Iran’s state-run, welfare-state & redistribution-and-not-profit-oriented economy.

Iran’s economy is something which is rarely appreciated properly and not because the WSWS is purposely obscuring accepted definitions: it is because Iran has a unique (revolutionary) structure which is not easily comprehended. This is the impetus for part 3, What privatisation in Iran? or Definitely not THAT privatisation.

I do not believe that Iran – nor China, nor Cuba, nor a few others – can be talked about as “bourgeois” states when they have had and have sustained anti-bourgeois revolutions: new rules regarding discussion of them must therefore apply. I think those nations are revolutionary because they have fundamentally changed their class structures, and thus makes Trotskyism anyone else unable to answer “in advance” which classes will bring democracy and socialism.

This is the reason why I have included something which I think may be unprecedented in a Western language: an objective analysis of the Basij, which is what is discussed in parts 4-7.

While few Westerners know or can explain why or how the 1979 Revolution handed 10-15% of the entire Iranian economy in the hands of charities (the bonyads, or state charity cooperatives, explained in Part 2) I think it is impossible to understand Iran without understanding the 10+ million member organisation the Basij. The WSWS series makes no mention of it. Therefore, I have made a 4-part sub-series on this institution.

In Part 4 I compare them with the only parallel I can find in the modern world: Structural similarities between Iran’s Basij and the Chinese Communist Party. The idea that the Basij is some sort of neo-Nazi Brownshirt militia is total nonsense, and I think readers will be interested to see the many parallels between the CCP and the Basij.

The reason I think it’s important to talk about the Basij now is: because it could reduce the chances of war.

Non-Iranians need to realize that any foreign invasion of in Iran implies the mass, grassroots involvement of the Basij. Certainly not all of them, as only a small percentage of this volunteer group are involved daily in security operations (contrary to popular belief), but very certainly invasion would involve a lot of them. I think that if people learned about the solidity of this group – whether one condones or condemns them, and I remain 100% objectively neutral in my examination and refuse to either condone or condemn them on my part – one must simply accept that they are a huge force to be reckoned with in any war.

However, there is quite nearly zero scholarship of the Basij. What little exists is sensationalist nonsense or based on the decades-ago beginning of the Basij during wartime. Hopefully the four-part sub-series clarifies the Basij, and it is certainly the first leftist analysis of the Basij available in the West.

However, not everyone wants to understand modern Iran via discussing in detail their economy and their socio-political institutions. Therefore, Parts 8-10 attempt to do describe Iranian Islamic Socialism via religion and culture.

Part 8 talks about the “Cultural Revolution” of Imam Ali and Part 9 talks about the “Permanent Revolution” of Imam Hussain, via historical-political examinations of their lives in the Revolution of Islam.

Islam, unlike Christianity, was indeed a sweeping political revolution: therefore, these two religious figures of the early Islamic era can also be viewed in a completely areligious and historical-political fashion; the post-revolutionary culture & era, while having been initiated by Prophet Mohammad, is thus incredibly similar to the post-revolution eras of other global revolutions such as the Russian & Chinese revolutions.

The ideas represented by Ali and Hussain are so firmly lodged in Iran’s collective unconscious and current political reality that, like the Basij, they simply must be understood – and they provide quite superb revolutionary models for non-Muslims, too!

Part 11 explains the Iranian Islamic Revolution via the greatest Iranian movie of all-time – The Death of Yazdgerd – which is also the greatest political movie of all time.

That is a very bold statement, but merited. If I may say so humbly: Iran is widely considered perhaps the greatest pound-for-pound cinema-producing nation; so if we also consider that Iran has produced one of the the greatest political human dramas since the advent of cinema, is it not out of the question that they also produced the greatest political drama within cinema?

This relentless moral machine-gunning of the institution of monarchy – something which every society can relate to, adding to its genius – is truly unparalleled in film, and it is even available with English subtitles for free on Youtube here. For a fascinating and whirlwind two hours – and to see what your ancestors endured (unless you have a royal lineage) – I encourage you to watch it.

The 11th and final part discusses the future of Iranian Islamic Socialism in the context of a (possibly) post-JCPOA world.

I hope readers find this series informative and enjoyable. I also hope it will answer many questions about modern Iran which are shrouded in mystery for non-Iranians.

I did not intend for this series to begin publication on Eid Al-Fitr – the day after the end of Ramadan – but that is an auspicious coincidence!

But as somebody smarter than me once said: We may disagree on what goes on beyond the sky, but here on earth our political choices should be quite morally obvious by now.

Eid Al-Fitr Moborak! Happy End of Ramadan!

***********************************

This is the 1st article in an 11-part series which explains the economics, history, religion and culture of Iran’s Revolutionary Shi’ism, which produced modern Iranian Islamic Socialism.

Here is the list of articles slated to be published, and I hope you will find them useful in your leftist struggle!

The WSWS, Iran’s economy, the Basij & Revolutionary Shi’ism: an 11-part series

How Iran got economically socialist, and then Islamic socialist

What privatisation in Iran? or Definitely not THAT privatisation

Structural similarities between Iran’s Basij and the Chinese Communist Party

Iran’s Basij: The reason why land or civil war inside Iran is impossible

A leftist analysis of Iran’s Basij – likely the first ever in the West

Iran’s Basij: Restructuring society and/or class warfare

Cultural’ & ‘Permanent Revolution’ in Revolutionary Shi’ism & Iranian Islamic Socialism

‘Martyrdom and Martyrdom’ & martyrdom, and the Basij

‘The Death of Yazdgerd’: The greatest political movie ever explains Iran’s revolution

Iran détente after Trump’s JCPOA pull out? We can wait 2 more years, or 6, or…

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television. He can be reached on Facebook.

 

The Essential Saker II: Civilizational Choices and Geopolitics / The Russian challenge to the hegemony of the AngloZionist Empire
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US’ Iran Regime-Change Plan: Hit Economy, Orchestrate Protests, Engage MEK Cult to Chant “Democracy” – By Elliott Gabriel (MINT PRESS)

A group of protesters chant slogans at the old grand bazaar in Tehran, Iran, Monday, June 25, 2018. Protesters in the Iranian capital swarmed its historic Grand Bazaar on Monday, news agencies reported, and forced shopkeepers to close their stalls in apparent anger over the Islamic Republic's troubled economy, months after similar demonstrations rocked the country. (Iranian Labor News Agency via AP)

While the hard-hit Iranian economy is likely to continue reeling, driving more protesters into the streets, one shouldn’t mistake their pain for a desire to subject themselves to a totalitarian cult with hardly a fraction of the support enjoyed by the Shia clergy helming the Islamic Republic.

WASHINGTON — Iran’s latest wave of protests against the suffering state of the economy and the plunging value of the rial appeared to have come and gone by Wednesday, as crowds dissipated and businesses opened up shop following a two-day strike. While clashes between security forces and protesters during the protests were far from widespread, the very fact that the protests broke out hints at the extreme duress Iran is undergoing thanks to President Donald Trump’s renewed economic war on the country.

Judging by the enthusiastic response to the demonstrations in the U.S., Saudi, and Israeli press, anti-Iranian forces are clearly banking on the possibility that the sanctions that will soon be reimposed in the next several months could dislodge the Islamic Republic, clearing the way for a regime friendly to the West.

Thus we have witnessed anti-Iran publications like the Israeli Jerusalem Post frothing over with excitement over scenes of alleged Iranian citizens chanting “Death to Palestine,” “Let go of Syria – think about us,” and the much-beloved anti-Ayatollah Khamenei mainstay “Death to dictator.”

While videos from Iran depict what could very well be an organic groundswell of social protest against government policies, photos published in papers like the Post show a different story: middle-aged Persian men gripping English-language signs and the flags of the toppled Iranian monarchy, along placards bearing the portrait of an unlikely figure: the moustached, mysterious and long-disappeared charismatic cult leader who is considered an outlawed terrorist and traitor to the nation — Massoud Rajavi.

Rajavi was the leader of the group that lies at the center of the anti-Iran alliance’s “regime change” dreams: Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), or the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI). A fanatical militant group whose title translates literally to the “The People’s Holy Warriors,” this eccentric left-nationalist, pseudo-religious cult has been led by Massoud’s wife, Maryam Rajavi, since the 1980s.

Formed in 1965, the group’s tortured history has seen it transformed from a movement of communist-influenced, Islamist-tinged anti-imperialists who carried out attacks on U.S. military officers in Iran into an authoritarian de facto mercenary army serving anyone opposed to the Islamic Republic – be it Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, Israel, or the United States.

The group wields major PR clout and outsized influence in Western capitals through countless front groups like the National Council of Resistance in Iran (NCRI), through which it depicts itself as “a political coalition that represents all of Iran’s religious, ethnic, and political groups proportionately;”  stresses feminist, Islamist, free-speech and pro-free-market values; and is firmly “committed to a secular, democratic, non-nuclear republic” in Iran.

The RAND Corporation described the group as “skilled manipulators of public opinion,” but a cursory look at its publications shows a rather ham-fisted and self-celebratory pile of cultish jargon. Throughout the past week, publications like Iran Focus or Iran News Update – the latter of which bills itself as “Insider News & Analysis in Iran” – have pumped out articles boosting NCRI as “the only viable alternative to the Iranian regime” and claiming:

As protests in Iran continue to multiply and intensify, the regime’s claim to power is looking more and more tenuous. If the people were to overthrow their tyrannical government, the only democratic organization in the position to take over governance would be the NCRI … The regime’s reign of terror is at its close.”

The MEK was one of the first groups to be named a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. State Department, but its extreme opposition to the Islamic Republic of Iran and generous donations to politicians has led to its eventual delisting. The roster of politicians and influential figures tied to the MEK and its fronts spans much of the U.S. political spectrum, from the far right to the left-of-center.

Trump’s White House is a virtual all-star cast of MEK associates – explaining the administration’s frenzied push to scrap the nuclear deal and push to topple Tehran. Among the top supporters of MEK is White House National Security Advisor John Bolton, whose hatred of Iran’s government verges on the pathological.

A congressional foreign-policy aide who attended an Iranian New Year celebration hosted by an MEK front group told Foreign Policy magazine:

Bolton is positively predisposed to the MEK …  they will have some access to this White House, [to say] the least.”

 

From revolutionary anti-imperialists to bizarre mercenary cult

The MEK once enjoyed a decently-sized support base within Iran and even played a role in the 1979 Iranian Revolution that overthrew U.S.-loyal Shah Reza Pahlevi and opened up a new period of national independence for the nation. Following the revolution, the group’s political struggles with the faction led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and failure to secure widespread support led it to deploy its Shah-era “armed struggle,” or terrorist tactics, against officials and clergy loyal to Khomeini, claiming the lives of dozens of key figures in the newly-formed government.

The Mojahedin (jihadists), whom the Islamic Revolution’s leader regularly derided as monafeghin (hypocrites) – an allusion to those in the Quran who conspired against the Prophet while feigning loyalty – became the top enemies of the Islamic Republic.

Faced with the full brunt of the Islamic Republic’s retribution, the group fled to Iraq in the 1980s and became a virtual “Iranian Legion” for Saddam Hussein, who equipped the group with heavy armor, uniforms, and artillery so that it could fight alongside Iraqi forces during the Iran-Iraq war. Following the war, the self-styled “national liberation army” launched a series of cross-border raids against Iranian civilian and military targets, sacrificing nearly all of its remaining support among Iranians.

The drop in Iranian support led to a push to replenish MEK ranks by targeting family members, wealthy potential donors, and expatriate Iranians in Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. True to their form as a cult, the group promised to connect prospective recruits with a lifeline of assistance as the trade-off for their enlisting in the group.

According to the RAND Corporation:

Many were enticed not with promises of an opportunity to fight the IRI, but rather through promises of paid employment as translators, assistance in processing asylum requests, free visits to family members, public-health volunteer opportunities, and even marriage. All ‘recruits’ were brought into Iraq illegally and then required to hand over their identity documents for ‘safekeeping,’ effectively trapping them at MeK compounds. These findings suggest that many MeK recruits since 1986 were not true volunteers and have been kept at MeK camps in Iraq under duress.”

Watch | Cult of the Chameleon 

Tens of thousands of the group’s members remained under the protection of the Iraqi dictator, even participating in the bloody massacres that followed the Shia Arab and Kurdish uprisings of 1991, until the fall of the Ba’athist regime in 2003 when the U.S.-led coalition bombed the Saddam loyalists’ camps.

Seeing continued use for the MEK for their own anti-Iran efforts, however, the U.S. placed 3,800 members of the group under protective custody at Camp Ashraf, the sprawling city-sized base built for them by Saddam. Those who escaped the group had to undergo cult deprogramming.

Watch | Introducing Camp Ashraf

According to RAND, the group – which claims to uphold women’s equality – ensured that lines were “painted down the middle of hallways separating them into men’s and women’s sides” at the camp, prior to their expulsion by Iraqi forces in 2013. Many were shipped by the U.S. to Albania, the only country willing to accept them.

Yet while a major portion of the group’s membership spent over three decades imprisoned in Ba’athist Iraqi camps near the border with Iran, a significant chunk of the group – such as leader Maryam Rajavi – nestled into the Iranian expatriate communities in Paris, Washington, and other capitals. The group spent decades relentlessly lobbying Western governments and lawmakers to support its attempts to bring “reform” to Iran, and has even furnished intelligence to U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies in hopes to provide a casus belli for hostile policies and even military actions versus Tehran.

 

The “Iranian Resistance” wags the dog in Washington

In the U.S. capital, the group was enormously successful in its efforts to recruit an auxiliary brigade of highly influential top politicians to its cause. Even the far-right Washington Times, owned at the time by charismatic cult leader Reverend Sun Myung-Moon, issued glossy “special report” inserts hailing the militaristic group as the bringers of “freedom” to Iran. The publication included words of praise from Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the late Saudi Prince Turki bin Faisal al-Saud, and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), among many, many, others.

A brief list of these MEK supporters in the Republican Party reads like a who’s-who of anti-Iran officials from the neoconservative administrations of Presidents George W. Bush and Donald Trump:

  • In 2000, future Bush administration attorney general and Republican then-Senator John Ashcroft intervened on behalf of MKO military commander Mahnaz Samadi, who has been detained by immigration authorities due to her failure to disclose past terrorist ties — hailing the former anti-Iran combatant as a “highly regarded human-rights activist” and a “powerful voice for democracy.” 
  • Former Pennsylvania Governor and first U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge praised the National Council of Resistance in Iran as “the single most visible, most credible, and most effective democratic movement with a clear and specific program to bring a democratic Iran to existence,” led by the “steady hand and inspiring leadership” of cult leader Maryam Rajavi.
  • Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Miami, Florida, who served as Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has been a major leader in legislation calling for regime-change measures against Cuba, Iran, Syria, and Venezuela, and even called for Fidel Castro’s assassination in 2006. In 2003, she came out in defense of MEK as a group that “loves the United States” and is an ally in the “war on terrorism.”
  • Tea Party leader, Bush confidante and former House Majority Leader Dick Armey promoted the MEK while working for lobbying firm DLA Piper. Armey also represented Saeid Ghaemi, an Iranian expatriate in the U.S. who paid almost $910,000 to the lobbying firm “for Armey’s services bringing issues relating to Iran to the attention of Congress, the State Department, the Department of Defense, the White House, the National Security Council and the Department of Treasury.”

Watch | Giuliani Leads MEK “Regime Change” Chant

And then we have the top luminaries from President Donald Trump’s circle, including:

  • Former New York City Mayor and top White House lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who co-signed a letter along with various bipartisan officials urging a newly-inaugurated Trump to “establish a dialogue” with NCRI, and was revealed to have been a paid advocate for the removal of MEK from the State Department terror group list. Giuliani has been an almost annual guest at MEK functions in Paris and a regular anti-Iranian voice on television.  In 2015, Giuliani stood before a crowd of MEK supporters in Paris and shouted:

The ayatollah must go! Gone! Out! No more! I will not support anyone for president of the United States who isn’t clear on that slogan behind me. What does it say? It says regime change!”

  • Trump adviser and GOP elder Newt Gingrich, who ripped on former President Obama for bowing to the king of Saudi Arabia, but was caught on camera bowing to Maryam Rajavi – whom the conservative ultra-patriot sees as an Iranian version of U.S. founding father George Washington.
  • Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, the elite Taiwanese-American wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has received honoraria in the amounts of $50,000 and $17,500 to speak for MEK front groups like the Iranian-American Cultural Association of Missouri and the NCRI. At the same Paris event attended by Giuliani, Chao sat as guest of honor alongside “president-elect” cult leader Rajavi before delivering a feminist-themed speech slamming Iran’s government.

And then, of course, there’s John Bolton, a ravening ultra-hawk with a nearly obsessive hatred of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Speaking to Foreign Policy magazine, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace senior fellow Karim Sadjadpour commented:

I suspect Bolton’s interactions with the MEK were above all motivated by financial interests … The MEK may be a backward cult with little to offer, but they are the enemy of his enemy. And they pay handsomely.”

The same can likely be said about the rest of the elected “representatives”-for-hire in Washington, whose belief in the MEK’s ability to lead a post-IRI Iranian state is no doubt on par with their trust in the late Rev. Moon’s claims to be the one and only messiah.

While the hard-hit Iranian economy is likely to continue reeling, driving more protesters into the streets, one shouldn’t mistake their social demands or financial pain for a desire to subject themselves to a totalitarian cult with hardly a fraction of the support enjoyed by the Shia clergy helming the Islamic Republic — no matter the extent to which Washington and the Saudis attempt to foist the Rajavi group on the Iranian nation.

Yet despite the group’s dearth of political legitimacy, the congressional aide who spoke to FP understands why they remain a mainstay in the U.S. Capitol:

They’re useful as provocation … They’re useful as a signal to the Iranian government that we’re coming to get you.”

Top Photo | A group of protesters chant slogans at the old grand bazaar in Tehran, Iran, June 25, 2018. Photo | Iranian Labor News via AP

Elliott Gabriel is a former staff writer for teleSUR English and a MintPress News contributor based in Quito, Ecuador. He has taken extensive part in advocacy and organizing in the pro-labor, migrant justice and police accountability movements of Southern California and the state’s Central Coast.

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