http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/rss.aspx?blogid=3 Sat, 16 Feb 2019 15:35:13 GMT Sat, 16 Feb 2019 15:35:13 GMT Hate-Fest in Warsaw Eric Margolis http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/16/hate-fest-in-warsaw/

Warsaw, Poland is not a fun place to visit in darkest February, but that is where the US just staged an anti-Iranian jamboree of 60 client states that brought derision and scorn from Europeans and much of the Mideast.

The point of this cynical exercise was to lay the diplomatic groundwork for an anti-Iranian coalition to act as a fig-leaf for an upcoming attack on Iran planned by President Donald Trump and his close ally, Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu.

The real question is who is calling the shots in bleak Warsaw, Trump or Bibi Netanyahu?  It seems to many that the Israeli tail is again wagging the American dog.

This is thanks to the power of America’s born-again evangelicals, hoodwinked into believing that a Greater Israel is somehow a key part of the Second Coming of Christ.

A Fox News poll this week finds that a quarter of these credulous folks believe that God actually summoned Donald Trump to become president.  This may even be more than the number of Americans who believe that Elvis is still alive. More proof that the Republicans have pretty much become a theological party.

The three horseman of the hard right Republican Apocalypse, Vice president Mike Pence, Insecurity advisor John Bolton, and State Secretary Mike Pompeo (who reportedly keeps an open bible on his desk) joined their voices to the Warsaw jamboree to excoriate Iran for being a "sponsor of terrorism," and a danger to world peace and stability.

The never understated Bibi Netanyahu, whose nation has at least 100 nuclear weapons, claimed Iran, which has no nukes and feeble armed forces, was planning a "second Holocaust" for Israel.

An over-excited Netanyahu even tweeted that the Warsaw meeting was preparing for "war with Iran."  He was forced to retract his tweet.  But he did get to sit next to the delegate from war-torn Yemen, a stooge put into place by the Saudis and Emiratis whose aggression against Yemen has so far cost hundreds of thousands of lives, mass starvation and epidemics.

This week a newly energized US House of Representatives voted for an end to their nation’s support for the Saudi-led war in the Mideast’s poorest nation. The Senate, still controlled by Republican Crusaders, will be likely to vote down the sensible House proposal.

Another participant at Warsaw was the largest Arab nation, Egypt. This nation just extended the rule of its military dictator, Field Marshall al-Sisi, to 2034. It was Sisi, backed by Saudi money, who overthrew Egypt’s first democratic government in history, killing and jailing thousands.

In a slap in the face to Washington, Europe’s leaders, France, Germany and the European Union government, either refused to attend the Warsaw hate-fest against Iran or sent low-level paper-passers.

Ironically, while Trump’s people were fulminating against Iranian "terrorism," it was Iran that was the victim of terrorist attacks. An attack from a Pakistan-based Sunni Jaish al-Adl extremist group linked to the CIA killed 27 soldiers and wounded a similar number. Iran has been the target of constant attacks since its 1979 revolution by groups linked to the US, and from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other US regional vassals.

Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, is even a long-term lobbyist for the hyper-violent Marxist Iranian extremist group, the MEK which was even branded a "terrorist group" by the US government.

The Warsaw jamboree was also supposed to set the stage for Trump’s much ballyhooed Mideast "peace" plan.  Run by son-in-law Jared Kushner, the full plan is expected to be released in April, right after Israeli elections. It will likely consist of trying to buy off Palestinian land claims with US taxpayer money and some cash from the Saudis. America’s Arab client states in the region will all provide polite applause.

The Warsaw jamboree produced no evident results and left the US even more isolated than before. Europe is moving ahead with a financial mechanism to permit trade with Iran that circumvents US sanctions. US intelligence itself reports that Iran is not working in nuclear weapons. Europe wants to trade with Iran.

America’s anti-Iran campaign has just suffered another blow. This after Washington badly damaged relations with China and Canada over the arrest of the daughter in Vancouver of the founder of Huawei over charges it traded with Iran. Most non-Americans view this as an outrage. But the later-day Crusaders around Trump don’t seem to care that they are damaging America’s reputation and making a mess of its foreign policy.

Reprinted with permission from EricMargolis.com.]]>
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Real ‘Obscene Masquerade’: How BBC Depicted Staged Hospital Scenes as Proof of Douma Chemical Attack Vanessa Beeley http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/16/real-obscene-masquerade-how-bbc-depicted-staged-hospital-scenes-as-proof-of-douma-chemical-attack/

In an extraordinary turn of events, corporate media appears to have been exposed again as an extension of state foreign policy, by a member of the establishment media cabal, manufacturing consent for regime change in Syria.

Riam Dalati is on the BBC production team based in Beirut and describes himself, on his Twitter page, as an “esteemed colleague” of Quentin Sommerville, the BBC’s Middle East correspondent. Dalati broke ranks with his UK Government-aligned media, on Twitter, to announce that “after almost 6 months of investigation, I can prove, without a doubt, that the Douma hospital scene was staged.”

The scenes in question are those manufactured by the White Helmet pseudo-humanitarian group and activists affiliated to Jaish al-Islam, the extremist armed group in charge of Douma at the time of the alleged chemical weapon attack on April 7, 2018. The scenes of children being hosed down, following a “chemical attack” were immediately accepted as credible and appeared alongside sensationalist headlines in most Western media outlets, including the BBC, CNN and Channel 4. Simon Tisdall of the Guardian wrote an opinion piece, with the headline ‘After Douma the West’s response to Syria regime must be military’ – only two days after Douma, effectively calling for all out war.

While Dalati’s tweets have clearly distressed some notables in the establishment camp, Dalati is no stranger to such controversy. Almost immediately after the alleged incident in Douma, he tweeted out his frustration that “activists and rebels” had used “corpses of dead children to stage emotive scenes for Western consumption.” The emotive wording of Dalati’s tweet, he was “sick and tired” of such manipulation of events, suggested that this was not the first time children had been used as props in a macabre war theatre designed to elicit public sympathy for escalated military intervention in Syria disguised as a necessary “humanitarian” crack down on “Assad’s gassing of his own people.”

Dalati had been referring to the arranging of two children’s corpses into a “last hug” still life composition, a photo that went viral, rocketed into the social media sphere by activists who had collaborated with the brutal Jaish al-Islam regime while it tortured and abused the Syrian civilians under its control.

Perhaps Dalati’s apparent outburst could be explained by his participation in the production of the controversial September 2013 BBC Panorama documentary, ‘Saving Syria’s Children’. An independent researcher, Robert Stuart, has made it his life’s work to present a compelling argument that “sequences filmed by BBC personnel and others at Atareb Hospital, Aleppo on August 26, 2013 purporting to show the aftermath of an incendiary bomb attack on a nearby school are largely, if not entirely, staged.” Perhaps Dalati had witnessed one too many stagings of events that would precipitate the potential for war in Syria between the US and Russia.

Whatever the reason for Dalati’s exasperation, the tweet was deleted before a watered down version appeared. Dalati claimed that a “breach of editorial policy” and lack of context was behind this alteration. Apparently BBC employees are not allowed to be “sick and tired” of the exploitation of children to promote a war that will inevitably kill more children. Simultaneously, Dalati’s account was protected, making tweets visible only to approved followers.

On two significant occasions to date, Dalati appears to deviate from the BBC narrative road map in Syria. However, Dalati had participated in the corporate media lynching of journalists and academics who had dared to question the dominant“chemical attack” narrative, at the time of the alleged incident in Douma, dismissing them as conspiracy theorists. These“conspiracy theorists” included acclaimed journalist, Robert Fisk and Uli Gack, an experienced war correspondent with ZDF, a German public media outlet. Independent journalist, Eva Bartlett, and Pearson Sharpe of One American News Network also reported evidence of staging and mainstream media distortion of events in Douma.

I visited Douma shortly after the alleged attack. I interviewed medical staff and civilians who were adamant that a chemical attack had not taken place. Doctors and nurses, some of whom were on duty on the night in question, told me that adults and children were suffering the effects of smoke inhalation. They described the panic generated by the activists and White Helmet operatives who arrived crying “chemical attack” before they hosed down the traumatised patients.

20-year-old Suleiman Saour told me: “At 7pm we had been receiving wounded people all day long. At 7pm someone came in carrying a little boy, he laid him on a bed and said he had been hit with chemical weapons. Basically I checked the boy [...] he was suffering from smoke inhalation [..] we washed his face, used a spray and Ventolin. Later on we found out the child had asthma and it got worse because of the smoke.”

Academics, Professors Piers Robinson and Tim Hayward, came under concerted attack as did other members of the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media when they analysed the events and questioned the veracity of it being a chemical attack. In the UK, the Times published no less than four articles labeling myself and the “rogue”academics as “Assad’s useful idiots,” timed to perfection on the day that the UK, US and France launched their unlawful bombing campaign against Syria. A bombing campaign that was fully enabled by the ignominious rush to judgement by corporate media in the West.

It has taken Dalati six months to arrive at the same conclusion as those he condemned as compromised “conspiracy theorists,” therefore we must question his motives for suddenly releasing these conclusions. Peter Ford, former UK Ambassador to Syria, gave me his opinion on Dalati’s revelations.

“The UK joined Trump and Macron in illegally bombing Syria largely on the basis of a video clip shown ad nauseam on the BBC, which a BBC Syria producer has now said he has evidence was staged. The BBC in their statement are not denying the claim. The implications are shattering: firstly that the state broadcaster effectively connived at a manipulation of public opinion, and secondly that the British government launched its attack on Syria on a false and fabricated premise. This demands a public enquiry.”

Ford’s statement highlights the seriousness of Dalati’s statement which must surely raise questions about the possibility of previous “chemical attack” narratives also being manipulated, staged or fabricated. Swedish Doctors for Human Rights investigated the alleged chlorine gas attack in Sarmin, March 2015 and found the medical procedures conducted by doctors at the scene to be extremely questionable.

Dr Leif Elinder, a Swedish medical doctor and paediatric specialist, found that “after examination of the video material, I found that the measures inflicted upon those children, some of them lifeless, are bizarre, non-medical, non-lifesaving, and even counterproductive in terms of life-saving purposes of children.” This video, produced and presented by the White Helmets and their colleagues at the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), was shown during a UN Security Council “closed door” session to promote a no-fly zone which translates to protection for the US coalition-backed terrorist forces on the ground in Syria.

As BBC producer has stated publicly that the hospital scenes during the Douma “attack” are staged, the BBC has distanced itself by stating that these are the personal claims of an employee which do not mean an attack did not take place. The July 2018 OPCW interim report has already discredited the early sensationalism of western media reporting. “No organophosphorus nerve agents or their degradation products were detected, either in the environmental samples or in plasma samples from the alleged casualties,” it stated. No Sarin.

The OPCW Fact Finding Mission (FFM) has not yet reached a conclusion that a chemical attack of any kind took place in Douma. The environmental samples were reported to contain chlorinated organic molecules such as trichloroacetic acid and chloral hydrate, which could be attributed to something as basic as chlorinated drinking water. Despite this ambiguity, the BBC initially ran with the headline that ‘Chlorine was used’ in the Douma attack before altering to ‘Possible Chlorine at Douma Attack Site’. Another mistake? Or another deliberate attempt to mislead and shore up the UK FCO regime change storyline in Syria?

Dalati’s revelations must also be viewed in context. They follow similar conclusions arrived at by corporate media colleague and journalist, James Harkin, a Guardian contributor who published a long-winded Douma investigation in the Intercept. Harkin also conceded that the Douma hospital scenes were likely staged and that the Sarin canard was a non-starter.

It is very unlikely, despite the BBC protestation, that Dalati would risk publishing his claims without approval from BBC hierarchy. Timing is always crucial when examining events that have the potential to expose colonial media, particularly the BBC, as the refined state PR agencies they are in reality.

Based on an informed and intelligent interpretation of events with historical context, we could speculate that the OPCW is about to release its final findings on the Douma attack. A report which has the potential to lay bare the full extent of the BBC’s deception and falsification of facts in Douma. A report which could raise unpleasant questions about corporate media reporting, particularly on alleged chemical weapon use by the Syrian government, throughout the 8 year conflict in Syria. Was Dalati’s shock information release nothing more than a damage limitation tactic by the BBC or is Dalati genuinely a rogue truth-teller? Only time will tell.

What Dalati has done is highlight the hypocrisy and bias of Western media and government officials. The BBC report on the Russian “production” of Douma-chemical-attack-denying witnesses at the HQ of the OPCW in the Hague emphasises the dismissal of the event as a “despicable stunt” by the UK, US and France who boycotted the proceedings. French ambassador to the Netherlands described the Syrian civilian testimonies as an “obscene masquerade.” The Guardian ran with this statement as its headline, reducing Russia’s attempt to bring some clarity to the Douma attack to the unveiling of “supposed witnesses” in order to discredit such attempts to derail their preferred narrative.

Now, it appears that the real obscene masquerade took place in the Medical Point in Douma, was constructed by the UK FCO-financed White Helmets, and was adopted by the BBC and other state stenographers as gospel in order to further criminalise the Syrian Arab Army just as the final liberation of Douma from Jaish al-Islam brutal rule was fast approaching. This obscene masquerade resulted in the unlawful bombing of Syria by the US, France and the UK. As Peter Ford stated, “this demands a public enquiry.”

Reprinted with permission from RT.]]>
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Goodbye My Friend, Walter Jones John J. Duncan, Jr. http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/16/goodbye-my-friend-walter-jones/

I just retired after serving 30 years in the US House of Representatives and 16 years before that as a lawyer and Judge. I have to say, of all the great men and women with whom I have worked during my career, Walter Jones was one of the best.

There is greater turnover in elective office than ever before, and I served with almost 1500 other Members of the House during my years there. Walter was once rated as the kindest man in Congress, and he certainly was that to me.

He and I often sat together on the Floor of the House and talked over our votes. And many times we were among only three or four other Republicans voting the way we did. But make no mistake about it: Walter had not become a liberal by any stretch. It was really because he and I were more conservative than our leadership.

Once when Rep. Tom Delay of Texas was the most powerful Republican in Washington, he told me I shouldn’t vote against any of the appropriations bills, because, he said, “These are Republican bills now.” I said, “Yes, Tom, but you’re spending more than the Democrats did.” We disappointed our base by not doing more to curb federal spending.

But Walter was the ultimate fiscal conservative. He was the only Republican who voted against the Trump tax cut because he knew it was going to increase our deficits. And he was horrified by the trillions we have wasted on very unnecessary wars in the Middle East.

I was one of six Republicans who voted against going to war in Iraq and the only one left in the House when I retired. Walter told me many times how much he regretted voting for that war. But he more than made up for it by sending thousands of letters of condolence to family members who lost loved ones in Iraq and becoming the leader and most outspoken member of the very small band of anti-war Republicans.

Once again, it was not because he had gone Left. It was simply that he did not believe the US should be the policeman of the world, or that we should keep giving mega billions to defense contractors. He was a conservative.

He never forgot where he came from and loved Farmville and Eastern North Carolina. He never became part of the Washington social set. Most people want to be liked and be popular with the “in group.” I know that it was personally very difficult for Walter to be as independent as he was.

But words written about a fictitious Congressman Zimmer in a 1930 novel called The Lion’s Den perfectly describe Walter better than anything I could write:
No matter how the espousal of a lost cause might hurt his prestige in the House, Zimmer had never hesitated to identify himself with it if it seemed to him to be right. He knew only two ways: the right one and the wrong, and if he made a mistake, it was never one of honor; he voted as he believed he should, and although his voice was raised alone on one side of a question, it was never stilled.
Walter Jones was a good and kind man, and he was my friend. This nation has lost one of the greatest men who ever served in the US Congress.

Former US Rep. John Duncan (R-TN) is a Member of the Ron Paul Institute Board of Advisors.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/16/goodbye-my-friend-walter-jones/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/16/goodbye-my-friend-walter-jones/ Sat, 16 Feb 2019 14:54:39 GMT
Medium Is The Message: Ilhan Omar, Social Media, And Making News Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/14/medium-is-the-message-ilhan-omar-social-media-and-making-news/ Ludwig von Mises Institute President Jeff Deist joins the discussion...in today's Liberty Report:

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Ilhan Omar Smacks Down Elliott Abrams In Front Of Everybody Caitlin Johnstone http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/14/ilhan-omar-smacks-down-elliott-abrams-in-front-of-everybody/

Days after being smashed with a vicious establishment smear campaign to paint her as an antisemite for accurately criticizing AIPAC, Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar is already back on the horse aggressively disrupting the establishment narrative matrix that our rulers have worked so hard to construct for us.

Elliott Abrams is a monster. The atrocities that he has facilitated, covered up and whitewashed in Panama, El Salvador, Gaza, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Iraq are utterly unforgivable, and the fact that he has been appointed as special envoy to Venezuela by the Trump administration completely invalidates the US government’s Venezuela narrative all by itself. Even without the blatant lies, the known oil agendas, the CIA ops, the mounting evidence of US arms smuggling to right-wing militias, and America’s extensive history of utterly disastrous regime change interventionism, the fact that this administration would appoint such a ghoulish individual to spearhead its Venezuela interventionism alone is enough to show you that the US government has nothing but malevolent intentions for that nation.

So it was nice to see someone in that government calling him what he is right to his face in front of everybody.



At a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on US Venezuela policy, Abrams was presented with the only line of questioning that is appropriate for such a beast by the very congresswoman the Democrats threw to the wolves just two days ago. Someone had to do it, and they left it to Ilhan Omar.

“In 1991, you pleaded guilty to two counts of withholding information from Congress regarding your involvement in the Iran-Contra affair, for which you were later pardoned by President George H.W. Bush,” Omar accurately stated. “I fail to understand why members of this committee, or the American people should find any testimony that you give today to be truthful.”

“If I could respond to that-” Abrams began.

“That wasn’t a question,” Omar responded, cutting him off.

“It was an attack! It was an attack!” Abrams exclaimed, visibly upset.

“I reserve the right to my time,” said Omar.

“It is not right that members of this Committee can attack a witness who is not permitted to reply,” Abrams said, talking over Omar.

“That was not a question; thank you for your participation,” Omar continued. “On February 8th, 1982, you testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about US foreign policy in El Salvador. In that hearing, you dismissed as communist propaganda a report about the massacre of El Mozote of which more than 800 civilians, including children as young as two years old, were brutally murdered by US-trained troops. During that massacre, some of those troops bragged about raping 12 year-old girls before they killed them. You later said that the US policy in El Salvador was a ‘fabulous achievement.’ Yes or no, do you still think so?”

“From the day that President Duarte was elected in a free election, to this day, El Salvador has been a democracy,” Abrams said angrily. “That’s a fabulous achievement.”

“Yes or no, do you think that massacre was a fabulous achievement that happened under our watch?” Omar asked.

“That is a ridiculous question and I will not respond to it,” Abrams replied. “I’m sorry Mr. Chairman, I am not going to respond to that kind of personal attack which is not a question.”

“I will take that as a yes,” Omar said. “Yes or no, would you support an armed faction within Venezuela that engages in war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide if you believe they were serving US interests as you did in Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua?”

“I’m not going to respond to that question,” Abrams again answered. “I’m sorry, I don’t think this entire line of questioning is meant to be real questions, and so I will not reply.”

“Whether under your watch a genocide will take place, and you will look the other way because American interests were being upheld is a fair question,” Omar said. “Because the American people want to know that any time we engage a country that we think about what our actions could be and how we believe our values are being furthered. That is my question: Will you make sure that human rights are not violated and that we uphold international and human rights?”

“I suppose there is a question in there, and the answer is that the entire thrust of American policy in Venezuela is to support the Venezuelan people’s effort to restore democracy to their country,” Abrams responded. “That’s our policy.”

“I don’t think anybody disputes that,” Omar said. “The question I had for you is that does the interests of the United States include protecting human rights and include protecting people against genocide?”

“That is always the position of the United States,” Abrams lied.

“Thank you,” concluded Omar. “I yield back the rest of my time.”
There is no legitimate reason for Elliott Abrams to ever find himself before a group of people who are ostensibly concerned with accountability and responsibility without being asked such questions. But that didn’t stop all the world’s worst people from crawling out of the woodwork to his defense.

“Disgraceful ad hominem attacks by @IlhanMN on my @CFR_org colleague Elliott Abrams,” tweeted Iraq-raping neocon Max Boot. “She doesn’t seem to realize he is a leading advocate of human rights and democracy — not a promoter of genocide! More evidence of the loony left I caution Democrats about.”

“I worked for Elliott Abrams as a civil servant,” tweeted Kelly Magsamen, Vice President of National Security for the plutocrat-backed liberal think tankCenter for American Progress. “He is a fierce advocate for human rights and democracy. Yes, he made serious professional mistakes and was held accountable. I’m a liberal but I’m also fair. We all have a lot of work to do together in Venezuela. We share goals.”

“I am not greatly sympathetic to Rep. Omar (surprise surprise),” tweetedNational Review senior editor and former George W Bush speech writer Jay Nordlinger. “But really, someone ought to have given her a clue who Elliott Abrams is. The guy has been championing freedom and human rights his entire life (and taking unholy sh** for it from the illiberal Left and Right).”

Conservative pundit Michael Knowles tossed his two cents into the campaign to purge the concept of antisemitism of any meaning by tweeting, “One wonders why @IlhanMN seems to harbor such particular contempt for Elliott¹ Abrams² (¹ from the Hebrew ‘Elijah,’ meaning ‘My God is Yahweh’ ² the father of the Jewish people).”
This is the bipartisan establishment orthodoxy that is guiding your foreign policy, America. One which claims Elliott Abrams is a saint, which claims criticism of US warmongering is antisemitic, and which throws a bold Somali-American woman under the bus for speaking the truth after years of paying lip service to the need to get more women of color elected to the leadership of the Democratic Party. This whole Abrams incident happened, by the way, at the same time Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu deleted a tweet in which he accidentally acknowledged the agenda to start a war with Iran, but you probably won’t see Omar commenting on this because she knows she’ll be smeared as an antisemite for it.

US warmongering is the most aggressively protected part of the establishment narrative matrix, because US warmongering is the glue that holds the unipolar empire together. Without it, our rulers cannot rule, so you’ll see imperial lackeys fiercely attacking anyone who draws attention to America’s bloodbaths around the world, even if they are good servants of the empire in other areas.

The difficulty for our rulers, though, is that warmongering is a very difficult thing to paint a pretty picture of, especially with our newfound ability to quickly share ideas and information around the globe. I mean, look at Elliott Abrams. Seriously, just watch him talk. That demonic grimace is the prettiest face they could find to put on their Venezuela agenda. I find that very encouraging.

The reason they work so hard to manufacture our consent for warmongering agendas is because they need that consent. They wouldn’t propagandize us so aggressively if they didn’t need us all trusting them and believing their stories, so the best way to fight establishment warmongering is to circulate disbelief in their stories. Whenever you see someone like Ilhan Omar drawing attention to the gaping plot holes in agendas like regime change interventionism in Venezuela, go ahead and help draw attention to it.

Things are only shitty because a few extremely powerful people do very shitty things. The only reason powerful people get away with doing very shitty things is because the majority allows them to. The majority only allows them to because they’ve been propagandized to. The weakest link in this chain is the propaganda. Attack there.

Reprinted with permission from Medium.com.

Support Ms. Johnstone's work on Patreon or Paypal.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/14/ilhan-omar-smacks-down-elliott-abrams-in-front-of-everybody/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/14/ilhan-omar-smacks-down-elliott-abrams-in-front-of-everybody/ Thu, 14 Feb 2019 05:44:09 GMT
In Libya, ‘We Came. We Saw. He Died.’ Will There Be a Repeat in Venezuela? Brian Cloughley http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/14/in-libya-we-came-we-saw-he-died-will-there-be-a-repeat-in-venezuela/

Libya is in a state of anarchic turmoil, with various groups fighting each other for control of the country, and as the Wall Street Journal reported last September, “Islamic State is staging a resurgence in chaotic Libya, claiming more than a dozen attacks in the North African country this year and threatening to disrupt the flow of oil from one of the world’s most significant suppliers.” To such mainstream media outlets as the Wall Street Journalthe fact that oil supplies are being disrupted is much more important than the savage IS attacks that result in slaughter of so many innocent people who are only foreigners, anyway.

The UN Security Council said it deplored the Islamic State’s “heinous and cowardly terrorist attack... in Tripoli on 25 December 2018” and expressed “deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims, as well as to the Libyan people and Government of National Accord, and wished a speedy and full recovery to those who were injured.”

It is laudable that the Security Council should express such sentiments, but if Libya was not “fractured by a six-year civil war”, there would be no need for sympathy from anyone.

The cause of the catastrophe in Libya in Libya was the seven month US-NATO blitzkrieg from March to October 2011 in which thousands of bombs and rockets rained down on that unfortunate land which was governed by President Muammar Ghaddafi whom the West was determined to overthrow by assisting a rebel movement. In Ghaddafi’s Libya, as detailed by the World Health Organisation the government provided “comprehensive health care including promotive, preventive, curative and rehabilitative services to all citizens free of charge through primary health care units, health centres and district hospitals.” Life expectancy was 75 years (as against 66 in India; 71 in Egypt; 59 in South Africa), and the CIA World Factbook noted that there was a literacy rate of 94.2% which was higher than in Malaysia, Mexico and Saudi Arabia.

Ghaddafi was far from being a saint. He dealt with his enemies in the most brutal fashion and was guilty of numerous offences against humanity. But so were (and are) many others like that around the world whose countries are not subject to US sanctions or seven months of strikes by US-NATO planes and missiles.

The US-NATO blitz was successful, and Gaddafi was overthrown and captured by rebel forces, whereupon, as reported, “the increasingly desperate and terrified 69-year-old Gaddafi was thrown on to the front of a white car bonnet, his blood-soaked head locked between the knees of a militiaman... He slipped off the bonnet, his ravaged body unable to cope with the constant battering.” Then, as can be seen in a particularly horrible video, he was beaten mercilessly, sodomised with a bayonet, and murdered.

When she was informed of this, the news caused the United States Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, to giggle and announce with a laugh that “We came. We saw. He died.”

Trump is the worst president in US history, but at least we have been spared the global ascendancy of a person who cackles with mirth when being told that someone had been murdered.

In any event, Libya was reduced to chaos amid the Clinton cackles, just as is happening in Venezuela at the moment. Its leader, Maduro, is not unlike Gaddafi in many ways, being ruthless and arrogant, and there is no doubt the country has suffered under his regime — but it has suffered a great deal more because of vicious sanctions imposed by Washington, just as happened in Libya.

The United Nations Human Rights Council is not regarded favourably by Washington’s sanctioneers, simply because it points out the negative side of sanctions, in that it is always ordinary people who suffer — and especially the poor, the deprived, the sick, the lame, all those whom Trump says he loves. At a Prayer Breakfast in the White House on 7 February he declared that “America is a nation that believes in redemption” and that religious faith “transforms lives, heals communities and lifts up the forgotten,” which, as with almost everything he says, was a load of hypocritical garbage.

These US sanctions have caused untold suffering. As Al Jazeera reported on 8 February, “a hospital... has said 14 children have died this week following an outbreak of amoebiasis, a form of dysentery transmitted by contaminated food or water. Dozens of other children infected by the disease cannot receive adequate treatment due to a lack of medical supplies.” And on it goes, just as it did in Libya and pre-invasion Iraq which had suffered similarly evil sanctions for so many years.

The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, has urged everyone involved in the Venezuela crisis to “lower tensions” and begin speaking to each other, but there was no possibility that anyone would listen to him, least of all those intent on the overthrow of Maduro. The UN Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures as affecting human rights, Idriss Jazairy (an admirable and highly intelligent person), stated on 31 January that “coercion” by the US (without naming it) is a “violation of all norms of international law.” He said flatly that “Sanctions which can lead to starvation and medical shortages are not the answer to the crisis in Venezuela... precipitating an economic and humanitarian crisis . . . is not a foundation for the peaceful settlement of disputes.”

But Washington doesn’t want a peaceful settlement of disputes, least of all, at the moment, in Venezuela. It wants to ensure that there is suffering, in order that Maduro can be overthrown by those whom it has deprived of the basic necessities of life. Further, it wants its own man to be at the Top.

So — enter Mr Juan Guaidó, a minor politician in Venezuela’s parliament.

According to the Wall Street Journal on 25 January, “The night before Juan Guaidó declared himself interim president of Venezuela, the opposition leader received a phone call from Vice President Mike Pence. Mr Pence pledged that the US would back Mr. Guaidó if he seized the reins of government from Nicolás Maduro by invoking a clause in the South American country’s constitution, a senior administration official said.”

As the New York Times noted on 8 February, “Mr. Trump said the oil sanctions were meant to punish Mr. Maduro for human rights violations and force him to cede power to Juan Guaidó, the opposition leader whom the United States has recognized as the rightful Venezuelan president.”

The entire “revolution” has been engineered from Washington, but at least, this time, they haven’t gone in with rockets and bombs. There is no doubt that Washington will win, and that Maduro will leave in one way or another.

And my advice to him is : don’t wait too long before you give up and get out. Otherwise, Maduro, baby, They’ll Come. They’ll See. And You’ll Die.

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/14/in-libya-we-came-we-saw-he-died-will-there-be-a-repeat-in-venezuela/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/14/in-libya-we-came-we-saw-he-died-will-there-be-a-repeat-in-venezuela/ Thu, 14 Feb 2019 05:02:39 GMT
Netanyahu Asks Arabs to 'Advance The Common Interest Of War With Iran' Moon of Alabama http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/13/netanyahu-asks-arabs-to-advance-the-common-interest-of-war-with-iran/

The U.S. had called for a high level anti-Iran meeting in Poland. The purpose of the meeting was to bring with its allies and poodles into line with the U.S. agenda on Iran, to press them at least into issuing harsher sanctions. But the Europeans rejected that.

The State Department then changed the agenda:
“The idea was to have a conference, a ministerial, and basically break our diplomatic isolation on Iran,” said a person familiar with the planning of the event. “It started out as an Iran conference in disguise but has probably actually been forced to take on more actual broader Middle East content now."

The person added: “They changed some of the focus and were forced to pony up with content on Syria and Yemen particularly."

The meeting took place today but the European powers did not fall for the trick. They want keep the nuclear agreement with Iran:

Even Poland on Tuesday said it disagreed with the U.S. approach to Iran. Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz told reporters the nuclear pact was valuable and expressed hope the conference could help participants find common ground.

While the U.S. delegation includes Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, other major players have either refused to attend or are sending low-level delegations. The EU’s foreign-policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said she had other commitments.

Germany and France only sent lower level staff. The British foreign minister will only attend a side session on Yemen.

The State Department went to some length to obfuscate the real purpose of the conference. Its press statement today says:

The agenda is wide-ranging, and will include a discussion of the Administration’s efforts to promote a comprehensive and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as a conversation on how to address ongoing regional humanitarian crises. The Secretary will provide an update on the situation in Syria and discuss other U.S. priorities in the region, including concerns regarding Iran’s destructive activities.

Smaller breakout sessions will provide ministers the opportunity to focus on specific areas of concern such as missile development and proliferation, cyber security and emerging threats, and terrorism and illicit finance.

That State Department effort to somewhat hide the real agenda was sabotaged when the Prime Minister of Israel arrived and made it clear what the meeting is all about:

I am going to a meeting with 60 foreign ministers and envoys of countries from around the world against Iran. What is important about this meeting – and this meeting is not in secret, because there are many of those – is that this is an open meeting with representatives of leading Arab countries, that are sitting down together with Israel in order to advance the common interest of war with Iran."

undefined

[Update 3:40pm]

The statement has now been changed into "combating Iran". But that is not what Netanyahoo said in Warsaw and there is video to prove it. There were also witnesses:

Aron Heller @aronhellerap 18:44 utc - 13 Feb 2019

Did @netanyahu really say “war” with Iran? I was there and the word was ”milchama” = war.

[End Update]

Why is Netanyahoo doing this?

No other country, except maybe the U.S.,  has any interest in waging war on Iran. Certainly not the Arab countries near the Persian Gulf. In case of a war they are all extremely vulnerable to Iranian retaliation. Their oil and gas installations would be in serious danger. The desalination plants which provide their drinking water are all within easy reach of Iranian missiles.

By claiming that the conference is about waging war on Iran Netanyahoo is not only embarrassing the State Department and Secretary Mike Pompeo. He also makes it extremely difficult for other attendees to justify their presence. The Arabs will be especially furious that they are shown in such an open alliance with Israel and its hostility against Iran. Scheming with Israel in the dark is fine. But being publicly associated with a war mongering Israel is difficult to sell to their people. It would be unsurprising to see some of them leave.

The whole conference is an own goal for the Trump administration. Instead of showing unity with its allies it now only demonstrates the depth or their disagreement. Netanyahoo's statement may help him to win some votes in the upcoming election in Israel. But the hoped for alliance with the Gulf Arabs is now as far off as it has ever been.

Reprinted with permission from MoonOfAlabama.

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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/13/netanyahu-asks-arabs-to-advance-the-common-interest-of-war-with-iran/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/13/netanyahu-asks-arabs-to-advance-the-common-interest-of-war-with-iran/ Wed, 13 Feb 2019 22:20:45 GMT
Understanding Why Iranians Bash the US Government Jacob G. Hornberger http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/13/understanding-why-iranians-bash-the-us-government/

Two days ago, the New York Times carried an article by Times’ journalist Thomas Erdbrink entitled, “For Iran, a Grand Occasion to Bash the US,” which was about Iran’s celebration of the 40th anniversary of its revolution in 1979. The article included the following sentence, “And like some evil doppelgänger, the United States was omnipresent, despite having broken all ties with Iran in 1981.”

Unfortunately, Erdbrink failed to point out two things: One, it is understandable why the Iranian people bash the US government, and, two, while the US government may have broken diplomatic ties with Iran, it has nonetheless continued to use economic sanctions to target the Iranian people with impoverishment and death as a way of hopefully effecting another regime change within the country.

First things first though. When the Times refers to “bashing the US,” it makes a common mistake by conflating the US government and our nation. Actually, they are two separate and distinct entities, a phenomenon best reflected by the Bill of Rights, which expressly protects the citizenry (i.e., our country) from the US government.

The distinction is important because the Iranian people love Americans. They just hate the US government. And when one considers what the US government has done to Iranians and continues to do to Iranians, which, unfortunately, many Americans don’t like to think about, it is not difficult to understand the deep enmity that Iranians have toward the US government.

In 1953, the CIA, which is one of three principal parts of the national-security branch of the federal government, secretly initiated a regime-change coup in Iran, one that not only ousted from power the democratically elected prime minister of the country, Mohammed Mossadegh, but also destroyed Iran’s experiment with democracy. That’s ironic, of course, given that US officials are always reminding people how enamored they are with “democracy.”

Why did the CIA initiate this regime-change operation? Because the US national-security establishment was convinced that there was a worldwide communist conspiracy to take over the United States and the rest of the world, a conspiracy that was supposedly based in Moscow, Russia. (Yes, that Russia!)

What did that supposed worldwide conspiracy have to do with Mossadegh? The CIA was convinced that Mossadegh was leaning left because he had nationalized British oil interests, which, needless to say, had not sat well with British oil companies. Therefore, the CIA concluded, Mossadegh could conceivably be a secret agent for this supposed worldwide communist conspiracy that was supposedly based in Russia.

Upon ousting Mossadegh from power, the CIA made the Shah of Iran its supreme dictator in Iran. He turned out to be one of the most cruel and brutal tyrants in the world, with the full support of the CIA and the rest of the US national-security establishment. In fact, the CIA helped organize and train the Shah’s tyrannical enforcement agency, the SAVAK, which was a combination Gestapo, KGB, Pentagon, NSA, and CIA.

For the next 25 years, the Shah and the CIA-trained and CIA-supported SAVAK ruled Iran with a brutal and oppressive iron fist. Indefinite detention, brutal torture, kangaroo trials, and executions were hallmarks of the Shah’s regime. Of course, from the standpoint of the US government, the Shah was a kind and friendly ruler, one who was a loyal partner and ally of the US government. From the standpoint of US officials, the Shah and his SAVAK were just displaying the “law and order” mentality within the country that characterized all US-supported foreign dictators.

In 1979, the Iranian people had had enough of the Shah’s, the SAVAK’s, and the CIA’s brutal tyranny and oppression. That’s when they decided to revolt, violently. If their revolution had failed, there would have been a horrific backlash involving mass arrests, incarceration, torture, kangaroo trials, and executions at the hands of the Shah and his CIA-trained and CIA-supported SAVAK.

But the revolution succeeded, much to the chagrin of US officials, who have never forgiven the Iranian people for ousting the CIA’s man from power. Unfortunately, however, the Iranian people were unable to restore the democratic experiment that the CIA had destroyed some 26 years before. Iranians ended up with another brutal dictatorship, this one a religious theocracy.

Ever since the Iranian revolution, US officials have never ceased their efforts to effect another regime change in Iran, one that would bring another pro-US dictator into power, one who would be permitted to wield totalitarian power over the Iranian people in return for loyal support of the US Empire in foreign affairs.

That’s what the US sanctions against Iran are all about. The sanctions target the Iranian people with impoverishment, suffering, and even death in the hopes that they will initiate a violent revolution against their government or, alternatively, in the hope of bringing a collapse of the Iranian government, or, alternatively, in the hope of inciting a pro-US coup within the regime, or, alternatively, in the hope of provoking a regime-change war between Iran and the United States.

The Iranian people are obviously the pawns in this process. Like with other US regime-change operations (e.g., Iraq, Chile, Guatemala, Libya, Afghanistan, etc.), no amount of death, suffering, and impoverishment among the Iranian people is considered too high. When asked in 1996 whether the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children (yes, children!) from the US sanctions were worth US regime-change efforts in Iraq, the response of US Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright reflects the current mindset towards the massive suffering and death of the Iranian people from US sanctions: “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it.”

Is it any surprise why Iranians are bashing the US government and President Trump as Iranians celebrate the 40th anniversary of the ouster of the cruel and brutal tyrant that the CIA installed and trained in their country?

Reprinted with permission from the Future of Freedom Foundation.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/13/understanding-why-iranians-bash-the-us-government/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/13/understanding-why-iranians-bash-the-us-government/ Wed, 13 Feb 2019 18:05:29 GMT
House Yemen Vote Today: What's Pelosi's Goal? Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/13/house-yemen-vote-today-whats-pelosis-goal/
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/13/house-yemen-vote-today-whats-pelosis-goal/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/13/house-yemen-vote-today-whats-pelosis-goal/ Wed, 13 Feb 2019 17:48:19 GMT
How the Media Manufactures Consent for Regime Change in Venezuela Alan MacLeod http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/12/how-the-media-manufactures-consent-for-regime-change-in-venezuela/

The latest extraordinary chapter in the bizarre world of Venezuelan politics is playing out before our eyes. After winning the 2018 presidential elections, Nicolás Maduro was inaugurated in January, only for the head of the National Assembly, Juan Guaidó -- a man whom, at the time, less than 20 percent of the country had even heard of -- to declare himself President.

Guaidó was immediately backed by the governments of the US and UK, with Vice President Mike Pence stating, "Nicolás Maduro is a dictator with no legitimate claim to power. He has never won the presidency in a free and fair election, and has maintained his grip of power by imprisoning anyone who dares to oppose him."

I've previously cataloged how the media has been quick to echo the idea that Maduro is completely illegitimate and has been eager to position America's stance towards Venezuelan politics as one of a neutral arbiter.

Why do mainstream media outlets, who resist Trump at home, neatly align themselves with his administration's Venezuela policy? And why has there so little criticism of what is essentially an ongoing US-backed coup attempt?

In a recent study, I analyzed how the media presented the 2018 elections in Colombia and Venezuela. Looking at how these two elections were covered can help us understand why there's so little nuance in the media coverage of US-Venezuela relations.

A seminal study inspires

To study the 2018 elections, I used the propaganda model media scholars Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky outlined in their book Manufacturing Consent. Their propaganda model contends that mainstream, corporate media is not a neutral venue for truth. Instead, it is a vehicle that advances the interests of media owners and their advertisers.

The authors argue that, in contrast to the top-down censorship of authoritarian states, these outlets achieve uniform opinions through the pre-selection of "right-thinking" editors and reporters who have been trained at the "right" schools. They then disseminate information – or, at the very least, self-censor – in a way that protects or advances the ideology of ownership, advertisers and official sources.

Herman and Chomsky highlight this phenomenon through coverage of elections in three countries: Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

The Guatemalan presidential election of 1982 and the Honduran presidential election of 1984 to 1985 were held under what Herman and Chomsky describe as "conditions of severe, ongoing state terror against the civilian population." They show how the US media ignored the enormous waves of violence inundating these two elections. CBS' Dan Rather, for example, described the events in Guatemala as "heartening."

Meanwhile, Herman and Chomsky explain that the 1984 Nicaraguan elections were won by the Marxist sandinistas in a "model of probity and fairness by Latin American standards." Yet American media coverage portrayed this election with a relentless tone of negativity. Time Magazine reported that the election mood was "one of indifference," with voters "too apathetic to go to the polls" and that "the outcome was never in doubt," suggesting a rigged system, while many articles discussed the "fear" of Nicaraguan voters.

Mainstream media coverage, they concluded, manufactured a reality that was conducive to the interests of the US government – which sought to prop up their client states and demonize Nicaragua – and multinational corporations, who were eager to work with sympathetic right-wing governments to increase their foothold in Central America.

Coverage of two elections: A case study

Using this paired example method to test the propaganda model I studied Western media coverage of the 2018 elections in Colombia – a key US ally – and Venezuela, a sworn enemy. In Colombia, the conservative Ivan Duque triumphed; in Venezuela, the socialist Maduro won.

The elections in Colombia took place under a heightened state of terror, with the left-wing candidate Gustavo Petro narrowly surviving an assassination attempt and right-wing paramilitaries issuing generalized threats to those who tried to vote for him. The incumbent conservative party under President Alvaro Uribe had massacred over 10,000 civilians, while American election observers, such as University of Pittsburgh law professor Daniel Kovalik, were mistaken for voters and offered bribes to vote for Duque. There were over 250 official electoral fraud complaints.

The mainstream media, however, overwhelmingly endorsed the elections in the US-ally state, presenting it as a moment of hope for the country and downplaying any negative aspects, especially violence. CNN reported that"though there have been isolated incidents of violence related to the election, they have been minimal." The Associated Press went further, claiming the real danger facing Colombia was that Petro would push the country "dangerously to the left" while NPR described Alvaro Uribe as "immensely popular," and failed to mention any connection to the massacres his government had implemented.

In contrast, the mainstream media virtually unanimously presented the simultaneously occurring elections in Venezuela as a travesty, the "coronation of a dictator," according to The Independent. Other major outlets described them as "heavily rigged," "the fortification of a dictatorship" and a "farce cementing autocracy." The Miami Herald called them "fraudulent," a "sham," a "charade" and a "joke" in one column alone.

There were certainly some questionable aspects to the Venezuelan election. However, the idea of a full-blown "sham election" was flatly contradicted by every international election observation organizationmonitoring the elections, many of whom produced detailed reports attesting to their exemplary organization and implementation. There were a number of prominent international observers monitoring the 2018 elections, including former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Zapatero, who saidhe "did not have any doubt about the voting process" and the ex-President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, who declared the “impeccably organized” elections proceeded with "absolute normalcy."

But you would have been hard pressed to find any acknowledgment of this in Western media outlets.

The administration shows its true hand

Instead, since Maduro's swearing-in, many seem to have been openly championing regime change in the country. One of the few positive things about the Trump administration is that it does not try to conceal its true intentions behind misleading, flowery words. John Bolton, Trump’s National Security Advisor, has openly described Venezuela as a business opportunity.

"It will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies really invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela," he said.

With clear parallels to the build-up to the Iraq War, he also labeled Venezuela as belonging to a "troika of tyranny" and recently suggested sending Maduro to Guantanamo Bay. The UK government has blocked the transfer of Venezuela's gold out of the Bank of England after it declared Guaidó its legitimate leader. At the same time, the US has ramped up its sanctions on the beleaguered nation, in spite of pleas from the UN to do the opposite. The Human Rights Council formally condemned them, noting they made the crisis far worse. One Special Rapporteur declared them a possible "crime against humanity".

And yet the press overwhelmingly abets the pretense of "democracy promotion" and protection of human rights. The Washington Post, for example, applauded the administration's actions, urging it to work with the body to tighten the sanctions while claiming Guaido had given hope to the people of Venezuela.

The mainstream media seems to ignore the opinions of everyday Venezuelans. Eighty-six percent are against military intervention and 81 percent disagree with the current sanctions, according to a recent local poll. Perhaps there's a ulterior motive to the mainstream media's uniform approach in delegitimatizing Maduro's regime: to undermine and attack the rise of socialist-inspired ideas back home.

When it comes to key issues such as foreign policy, the charade that the media cares about impartiality and truth withers away to reveal its true role in serving the powerful.

Alan MacLeod (@AlanRMacLeod) is an academic and writer for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. His book, Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting was published in April.

Reprinted with permission from Venezuelanalysis.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/12/how-the-media-manufactures-consent-for-regime-change-in-venezuela/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/12/how-the-media-manufactures-consent-for-regime-change-in-venezuela/ Tue, 12 Feb 2019 18:01:08 GMT
From Berlin To Baghdad, Trump Foreign Policy In Tatters Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/12/from-berlin-to-baghdad-trump-foreign-policy-in-tatters/
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/12/from-berlin-to-baghdad-trump-foreign-policy-in-tatters/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/12/from-berlin-to-baghdad-trump-foreign-policy-in-tatters/ Tue, 12 Feb 2019 17:30:04 GMT
Walter Jones - Hero Of Peace Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/11/walter-jones-hero-of-peace/
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/11/walter-jones-hero-of-peace/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/11/walter-jones-hero-of-peace/ Mon, 11 Feb 2019 17:28:58 GMT
Afghan Civilians Fear CIA-Backed Death Squads that Can Call In Airstrikes Alexander Rubinstein http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/11/afghan-civilians-fear-cia-backed-death-squads-that-can-call-in-airstrikes/

Elite CIA-backed special forces in Afghanistan are leaving a trail of carnage in the country. As such units do not operate under the umbrella of the Department of Defense, they have been given near-impunity despite standing accused of war crimes.

Last month, the New York Times cited “senior Afghan and international officials” who said that while most strike forces in Afghanistan have been put under the purview of Afghan intelligence since 2012, two of the most “ruthless” units are “still sponsored mainly by the CIA.”

On Friday, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism revealed that at least one of these units has the capability of calling in air strikes.

Of the two special forces units that remain primarily influenced by the CIA, the name of only one was revealed: a group called “02” in the Nangarhar Province. The name of the unit in the Khost Province was not revealed. The units are trained and equipped by CIA agents and CIA contractors, and their fighters make three times the salary of a regular Afghan soldier. The unit in Khost is believed to have between 3,000 and 10,000 fighters while 02 is believed to be about 1,000 fighters strong.

A former senior Afghan security official told the Times that the strike forces were guilty of war crimes, while the United Nations has “expressed concern” about “consistent, credible accounts of intentional destruction of civilian property, illegal detention, and other abuses.” The unnamed unit in Khost was even singled out by the UN, which said it operates “with an absence of transparency and ongoing impunity.”

Brutality worthy of ISIS

In September, elders from the three Nangarhar districts gathered for a press conference in which they claimed that 100 civilians were killed by 02 in August. Elders are putting the number of civilians slain by 02 in the following two months, September and October, at 260.

One man who spoke at the conference said he and his two brothers were detained for three months as 02 tried to force video confessions of Taliban affiliation from him with threats of driving over him with a tank. He said he was placed in handcuffs and that they used needles to puncture holes in his veins.

In one case investigated by the Times, two brothers were killed as they watered their fields. In another case, a unit pursuing an alleged Taliban member entered the wrong home and killed a dozen civilians. In yet another case, 02 placed two brothers in handcuffs and spit hoods and interrogated them in front of their wives and children. After they were done being questioned, 02 dragged the brothers away and executed them in the corner of a bedroom, and then detonated the building.

According to “several current and former Afghan officials,” Americans help the unit find targets and guide operations. Those detained by such units frequently claim they have been tortured and Afghan officials say that Americans have been present at bases during such abuses. In the Nangarhar province alone, human-rights workers registered 15 complaints of torture by 02, according to the Times.

One medical worker who lives in the Bati Kot district in Nangarhar said he initially mistook 02 for ISIS when they showed up at his village surrounded by orange orchards.

“I ran and got my weapon — I thought it was the caliphate people. I didn’t know it was the government,” Khoshal Khan said. “Then they started firing, and I heard the gate blown up. They were speaking English, also.”

First, one man in the village, Mohamed Taher, was shot. According to his 16-year-old grandson, Sekander, one of Taher’s sons was also shot while following orders to come out of the building with his hands up. Then, 02 shot one of the grandsons in the head. And then another one of Taher’s sons.

“The women started crying. They called to be quiet, then they blew up the gates and came in,” Sekandar told the Times.

As his father bled to death in the yard after being shot while following orders, Adel, Taher’s 10-year-old grandson, was forced to take shelter inside. “They said, ‘Don’t come out — if the airstrikes hit you, then don’t complain.’” Adel still has shrapnel wounds on his face from the raid.

A relative of some of the people killed in the raid, Mohibullah, said that he sees little difference between the Islamic State and 02, since they both attack civilians without warning.

More killing power than the Caliphate

But, as it turns out, the 02 group is far better equipped than the Caliphate ever was. That’s because they have something Daesh lacked: air support. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism found instances in which 02 raids were quickly followed by airstrikes. One man they spoke to said 16 civilians were killed in an 02 raid on his village, five of whom were family members.

“When my family members heard shots being fired outside, they went out to see what was going on and were hit by an airstrike that killed the five of them. The airstrike also destroyed part of our house,” he said. The outlet claims that 02 called in the strike.

“Numerous residents and relatives” said that one month later 02 killed 13 civilians, including four children, in a raid that included airstrikes. The Interior Ministry claimed that Islamic State fighters were killed, not civilians.

“First, they attacked us with bombs. Then they entered the living room and started to shoot around,” said one witness. “They didn’t care about who they were killing. They killed my uncle and his 9-year-old son. His wife and his other child were injured.” Another man told the outlet he lost seven family members in the raid.

Bombing and death squads a strange approach to nation-building

The CIA’s training, equipping, and support of 02 is reportedly stoking resentment of America’s 18-year occupation of the country, which has little to show in regard to net gains against the Taliban. Near the end of 2018 the Afghan government controlled the smallest amount of territory since a US military watchdog — the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) — started keeping track in 2015. Meanwhile, the US dropped more bombs in 2018 on Afghanistan than during any other year on SIGAR record, which goes back to 2009.

While the US continues to conduct its mission of nation-building and “democracy promotion” in Afghanistan and attempts broker a peace deal between the Taliban and the government, bombing the country at unprecedented levels and being associated with de facto death squads on the ground could fuel distrust of the Americans.

“When the US also takes on the mission of state-building, then the contradictions between the two approaches — stealth, black ops, and non-transparency vs. institution building, rule of law, and accountability — become extraordinarily difficult to resolve, and our standing as a nation suffers,” bemoaned Karl Eikenberry, a former US commander in Afghanistan who later became a diplomat to the country.

Already, Afghans are beginning to suspect that the US sought to prolong its occupation of their country as means of securing a position to spy on Russia, China and Iran.

Reprinted with permission from MintPressNews.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/11/afghan-civilians-fear-cia-backed-death-squads-that-can-call-in-airstrikes/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/11/afghan-civilians-fear-cia-backed-death-squads-that-can-call-in-airstrikes/ Mon, 11 Feb 2019 14:04:44 GMT
Understanding State Propaganda From The USSR to The USA Adam Garrie http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/11/understanding-state-propaganda-from-the-ussr-to-the-usa/

While the de jure role of state sponsored propaganda is to convince a population to adopt a certain line of thinking on the issues of the day, the de facto function of state sponsored propaganda is rather different. In a society in which even a sizeable minority of the public are capable of critical thinking, few will immediately believe everything they are told, even if they can’t quite put their figure on a specific point of contention.

Because of that, in educated societies as the Soviet Union’s was, state propaganda serves a purpose of alerting people as to what they are forbidden to disagree with in public. In other words, if the official state line as delivered through state sanctioned newspapers, radio and television is that the economy is booming, people are being paid well and on time and that the new housing stock is superior to any other in the world – the authors of such propaganda do not expect those who are under-paid, living in mediocre housing and unable to elevate themselves into a higher living standard, to believe the self-evident nonsense that forms the core of the propaganda.

Instead, as part of the political requirement for society not to fall apart, it is expected that in private, people will complain to their friends and family about the fact that the economy is poor, people are stuck in dead end jobs and that housing is substandard, but that in public one will refrain from voicing these thoughts, because if they did, they would lose their job at a state owned factory, lose their state pension and if they took their message of opposition to greater heights, they could even receive a visit from the police.

Against this background, one could imagine a mild political dissident in early 1980s Moscow who enjoys poking fun at authority, but who nevertheless does not want to lose his day job or see his family harassed. Such an individual might look closely at the daily state propaganda that he does not for a moment take seriously, if for no other reason than to see if the satirical poem he is about to write regarding the Cuban fishing industry might get him into trouble back home in Moscow.

Thus, when the evening’s propaganda (aka “news”) bulletin indicates that one cannot criticise Soviet foreign policy (“because the war in Afghanistan is going great”), cannot criticise Moscow-Warsaw relations (“because both countries will forever be ruled by communist parties”) and cannot criticise timber production methods (“because worker productivity is at its highest in history”), the dissident in question will breathe a sigh of relief because there is no story indicating an official position on the fishing industry in brotherly Cuba.

But that was the Soviet Union, a now long gone state that has given way to a modern Russia whose biggest problem is not a lack of free speech but a lack of truly free markets. 

But while the USSR’s old adversary, the United States is having its own problems with a less and less free market that is overly taxed, overly regulated, back in love with tariffs and all at the mercy of an inflation happy yet unaccountable Federal Reserve, there is alas a giant free speech problem, one that is all the worse in America’s European allied states who don’t even bother to pretend to have something akin to America’s constitutional first amendment.

First, one must examine the propaganda business model of the US and the EU, as it is somewhat more complicated that the old propaganda model in the USSR. In the USSR, it was the state that owned the factories, your apartment and the media you were subjected to. Thus, the state looked after its own interests by telling people what they could not say in order to keep up the illusion that the state run industry and infrastructure was in far better shape than it was.

But while Soviet propaganda worked on a linear business model, today’s American and European propaganda machine works on a triangular model. At the top of the triangle is big business. At the bottom two points of the triangle are government and media – both of which want the help of big businesses in order to enrich themselves.

In order to accomplish this, big business will donate vast sums of money to all major political parties so that in spite of who is in putative control, they’ll generally get what they want out of government. To keep the people unaware of this scheme, big business will invest in the shares of media outlets in order for stories favourable to their business interests getting air time. Likewise, because government does not want its own complicity with the desires of big business to be exposed, it too will offer media corporations carrots and sticks so that they never step out of line. Some of the most popular carrots include everything from generous tax breaks, the ignoring of unethical business practices by media regulators, to invitations for so-called “journalists” to attend elite government events. The sticks are merely the opposite of the carrots and more often than not, everyone does what they are told so long as the increasingly worthless paper currency keeps being handed out to the good soldiers of the media-industrial complex.

The result is the same as it was in the USSR. Every day major western media outlets (the largest of which are American) tell the masses what they cannot say if they want to keep their job, get a credit card, a mortgage, maintain a position of high social standing and stay on the right side of the law. The only difference is that because the western business model is one that pretends to be open, while the Soviet model did not hide that it was all controlled by the state, some in the west are actually still stupid enough to believe that the propaganda they see is either the truth or an attempt to tell the truth, when the reality is that it is merely guidance about what one cannot disagree with in public unless one is willing to take a major risk to one’s economic and social welfare.

Thus, the American and European media constantly send messages that it is impermissible to have an opinion contrary to the standard line on the following issues: invading other people’s nations in the name of “human rights”, climate change being the fault of anyone with a car, the wonders of narcotics and pornography, why strict education is somehow evil and why fiat currencies are just swell.

Thus, just as Soviet propaganda had slogans that insulted the intelligence of the ordinary person like “brotherhood of nations” in order to keep people from questioning why certain investments were going to far off hinterlands while Russia’s heartlands were being economically destroyed, so too do western propagandists use terms like “fact checking” to imply that anyone who disagrees with a corporate (and hence government) sanctioned “fact” is a deceitful liar that should be shunned, shamed and insulted as such. While terms like “fact checking” are mostly used by social elites who author the propaganda, ordinary people tend to use the phrase “politically incorrect” to signal to their fellow man what cannot be said under fear of social and economic punishment.

This is why in the search for real news, one ought to look first at those proclaiming to be little more than entertainers, rather than official purveyors of “fact”. In societies whose official news outlets have vested interests in giving people nothing but guidance on what cannot be said, the best way to amuse the masses is by telling the truth that they are otherwise not only allowed to hear but more importantly, are not allowed say in the open with a straight face.

Reprinted with permission from Eurasia Future.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/11/understanding-state-propaganda-from-the-ussr-to-the-usa/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/11/understanding-state-propaganda-from-the-ussr-to-the-usa/ Mon, 11 Feb 2019 13:50:54 GMT
President Starts a War? Congress Yawns. Threatens to End One? Condemnation! Ron Paul http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/11/president-starts-a-war-congress-yawns-threatens-to-end-one-condemnation/

Last week’s bipartisan Senate vote to rebuke President Trump for his decision to remove troops from Syria and Afghanistan unfortunately tells us a lot about what is wrong with Washington, DC. While the two parties loudly bicker about minor issues, when it comes to matters like endless wars overseas they enthusiastically join together. With few exceptions, Republicans and Democrats lined up to admonish the president for even suggesting that it’s time for US troops to come home from Afghanistan and Syria.

The amendment, proposed by the Senate Majority Leader and passed overwhelmingly by both parties, warns that a “precipitous withdrawal of United States forces from the on-going fight…in Syria and Afghanistan, could allow terrorists to regroup.” As one opponent of the amendment correctly pointed out, a withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan is hardly “precipitous” since they’ve been there for nearly 18 years! And with al-Qaeda and ISIS largely defeated in Syria a withdrawal from that country would hardly be “precipitous” after almost five years of unauthorized US military action.

Senators supporting the rebuke claim that US troops cannot leave until every last ISIS fighter is killed or captured. This is obviously a false argument. Al-Qaeda and ISIS did not emerge in Iraq because US troops left the country – they emerged because the US was in the country in the first place. Where was al-Qaeda in Iraq before the 2003 US invasion the neocons lied us into? There weren't any.

US troops occupying Iraqi territory was, however, a huge incentive for Iraqis to join a resistance movement. Similarly, US intervention in Syria beginning under the Obama Administration contributed to the growth of terrorist groups in that country.

We know that US invasion and occupation provides the best recruiting tools for terrorists, including suicide terrorists. So how does it make sense that keeping troops in these countries in any way contributes to the elimination of terrorism? As to the “vacuum” created in Syria when US troops pull out, how about allowing the government of Syria to take care of the problem? After all, it’s their country and they’ve been fighting ISIS and al-Qaeda since the US helped launch the “regime change” in 2011. Despite what you might hear in the US mainstream media, it’s Syria along with its allies that has done most of the fighting against these groups and it makes no sense that they would allow them to return.

Congress has the Constitutional responsibility and obligation to declare war, but this has been ignored for decades. The president bombs far-off lands and even sends troops to fight in and occupy foreign territory and Congress doesn’t say a word. But if a president dares seek to end a war suddenly the sleeping Congressional giant awakens!

I’ve spent many years opposing Executive branch over-reach in matters where the president has no Constitutional authority, but when it comes to decisions on where to deploy or re-deploy troops once in battle it is clear that the Constitution grants that authority to the commander-in-chief. The real question we need to ask is why is Congress so quick to anger when the president finally seeks to end the longest war in US history? ]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/11/president-starts-a-war-congress-yawns-threatens-to-end-one-condemnation/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/11/president-starts-a-war-congress-yawns-threatens-to-end-one-condemnation/ Mon, 11 Feb 2019 13:33:39 GMT
The Cynicism of Empire: Sen. Rubio Tells Venezuelans to Overthrow Their Government...or Starve! Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/10/the-cynicism-of-empire-sen-rubio-tells-venezuelans-to-overthrow-their-governmentor-starve/

(This is from RPI's weekly newsletter offered free to subscribers. Are you signed up yet?)

There is a sad disregard for human life among the neocon regime-changers. The devastation of Iraq, with its million dead, was a mere stepping stone to a "re-making" of the Middle East. A Libya turned into a modern day slave market after neocon-backed "liberation" is off the radar screen. Who cares, right?

Syria suffered a half million dead after a US backed jihadist insurgency - strongly backed by the neocons - and not a word of remorse.

In fact, in a remarkable act of chutzpah, neocons have taken to blaming the victims in Syria, with the Washington Post's Josh Rogin branding Assad, who fought and ultimately defeated US-backed terrorists (and in so doing saved Syria's ancient Christian community) an "enemy of humanity." One need not join the Assad fan club to come to the easy conclusion that an al-Qaeda-controlled Aleppo, for example, was a living hell while an Aleppo liberated by Assad very soon was on its feet again as a multi-confessional and multi-cultural center of Syria.

The sick disregard for human life as Washington gins up the regime change machine is on display again, bolder and more sadistic than ever. Witness the neoconservative Senator from Florida, shown above, who Tweeted this week that as hunger is growing in Venezuela, that country's military must make a choice whether to support the US-backed overthrow of its government or allow the people to starve. Clearly threatening war, Rubio wrote, "military leaders should make a choice, before a choice is made for them."

MintPressNews writer Whitney Webb put it best: "Marco Rubio is openly saying that if Venezuela's military doesn't turn on Maduro soon, 'a choice will made for them' by the United States. Scariest threat for an imminent invasion of Venezuela I have yet to see."

Other neocons behind this regime change operation are showing signs of desperation as after more than a week of their backing the US-selected "interim president" - who had never run for the office - there are not yet any major signs of the Maduro government crumbling under the pressure.

National Security Advisor John Bolton, who has spearheaded this idiotic operation (as he helped spearhead the idiotic 2003 invasion of Iraq), is almost begging the Venezuelan military to change sides. He is no doubt frustrated that the "cake walk" he likely promised Trump is to this point looking like no such thing.

Bolton Tweeted on Wednesday:
The U.S. will consider sanctions off-ramps for any Venezuelan senior military officer that stands for democracy and recognizes the constitutional government of President Juan Guaido. If not, the international financial circle will be closed off completely. Make the right choice!
Translation: "Want some money? Help us overthrow your government!"

The cynicism goes even deeper than that, however. After supporting the most brutal and aggressive sanctions against Venezuela for years - a policy that no doubt contributed to the misery they now pretend to seek to ameliorate - the regime changers are now dangling US "humanitarian" aid in front of Venezuelans if only they come over to the pro-rebel side and help overthrow their government.

A US convoy of "humanitarian" relief trucks has set out in Colombia all the way to the Venezuelan border. After trying to starve Venezuelans for years, suddenly the US government dangles food in front of them. For a price.

That's not humanitarianism, it's inhumanitarianism.

But the US "aid" convoy to Venezuela was so obviously a political move to use food as a weapon that even the UN and other NGOs refused to take part in the charade. Unsurprisingly, the Venezuelan government did not allow the US convoy to enter its territory and deliver aid to any rebels that might be eager to receive it. 

Another example of how paranoid and unstable the Venezuelan government really is? No, actually just a couple of days earlier another "aid" shipment was found to contain a cache of weapons slated for delivery to the rebels.

Maybe they were just "moderate" rebels"?

You don't believe the US government would make such a dishonest and dangerous move as to hide a cache of weapons inside a "humanitarian" aid shipment? Ha! For Bolton and his new/old comrade in charge of regime change in Venezuela, Elliot Abrams, this was a return to the "good old days" where such practice was all in a day's work. 

As an article in the 1987 Los Angeles Times informs us:
Oliver L. North and other Reagan Administration aides deliberately used a 1986 program of "humanitarian aid" for Nicaraguan rebels to help support the secret effort to deliver military aid to the contras , U.S. officials said Monday.
...
The aid was administered by the State Department's Nicaraguan Humanitarian Assistance Office, but officials said that all significant decisions were made by a "Restricted Inter-Agency Group," consisting of North, Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams and Alan D. Fiers, chief of the CIA's Central America Task Force. (emphasis added)
Boltlon, Abrams, and the rest of Trump's neocons aren't even trying to make this original. They have pulled the old 1980s "support Latin American dictators" playbook off the shelf and are blatantly plagiarizing themselves! And the tens of thousands of innocent dead littering the scorched earth of their murderous policies? Don't expect an apology: they are panting for more death and destruction!

The US "aid" convoy to Venezuela was a farce from the beginning. Delivering humanitarian aid was the last thing on the neocon mind. Much more important was to deliver a message. And thanks to the slavishly compliant mainstream media in the US and among its allies, that message was amplified to all corners of the globe. As German government mouthpiece Deutsche Welle put it, "Maduro rejects humanitarian aid as nation starves."

Score that headline a major win for the CIA and other psy-op masters.

Except unlike in Yemen, where the Germans and other "allies" back the US and Saudi genocide of the population amidst plenty of concrete evidence of horrific starvation, there is no evidence of anything remotely resembling a Yemen-like starvation nightmare in Venezuela. If there was, we'd see it in full livid detail. And again, Yemen doesn't count because it's the US and its allies doing the starving and blocking the humanitarian relief.

The neocons still have not broken up the Venezuelan government but they are not out of weapons. Secretary of State and top neocon dog Mike Pompeo may be about to go nuclear. In the face of a stalled regime change Pompeo came out yesterday with the outlandish claim that the Venezuela is now a central battle ground in the "War on Terror"! He told FoxNews' Trish Regan that Venezuela is full of "active Hezbollah cells." And that, "The Iranians are impacting the people of Venezuela and throughout South America." 

He added, ominously: "We have an obligation to take down that risk for America.”

Having over decades established Hezbollah as the ultimate bogeyman (despite their not targeting Americans or the US and in fact being primarily focused against Israeli expansionism and aggression), the neocons are now doing their best to use raw fear of terrorism to motivate Americans to support a US invasion of Venezuela. 

And if Americans are not sufficiently propagandized that the Venezuelan government is the new Hitler and must be deposed before it throws more babies from incubators and distributes more Viagra to its troops? Breitbart is always good for a few low-IQ chunks of red meat to the feverish masses. Today they breathlessly report - PROOF of the depravity of Maduro - that..."Nicholas Maduro Threatens to Kill American Troops if They Invade Venezuela."

What a revelation! Has there been country in history that actually welcomed a hostile invasion? 

What is next for Venezuela and the neocon regime change plan? Well it is not going to plan at present, but as with all of these operations it is the neocons holding the cards (and the cash). The "correlation of forces" are definitely on their side. The neocon regime changers must only hit the target once, while the legitimate government of Venezuela must parry each blow.

As for the obligatory disclaimer (this is getting tedious): No, we do not "support" Maduro or socialism or all the really bad things he is accused of in Venezuela. Our opposition is as American patriots: We do not want a global US empire that arrogates to itself the authority to decide who is and who is not acceptable to govern a foreign country. No sanctions, no meddling, no "regime change". A sound defense of this country and a passionate dedication to leading not by force or subterfuge, but by example.

The neocons have been given carte blanche by a seemingly lazy or uninterested President Trump. Will we rise to the occasion and defend real American values against their obsessive, failed attempts to conquer the globe? Will we hold our representatives in Congress accountable to real American values? There is some wavering in Congress about an implied authorization for the use of force in Venezuela. It is a unique opportunity for us to make our preferences known in a way that might make a difference. What do you say? It's not that hard.

Your continued support for our efforts to get the real news out to the American people is so much appreciated. Now more than ever!]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/10/the-cynicism-of-empire-sen-rubio-tells-venezuelans-to-overthrow-their-governmentor-starve/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/10/the-cynicism-of-empire-sen-rubio-tells-venezuelans-to-overthrow-their-governmentor-starve/ Sun, 10 Feb 2019 16:43:33 GMT
The Tienditas Bridge 'Blockade' Justin Emery http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/10/the-tienditas-bridge-blockade/

Over the last couple of days, you may have seen an image the one above in the news.

This is Tienditas International Bridge (Spanish: Puente Binacional Tienditas) on the border between Colombia and Venezuela. I have a feeling that we will be seeing much more of this bridge in the news over the coming days.

Venezuela is a country in crisis. More specifically, a presidential crisis. The president since 2013, Nicolás Maduro, was re-elected in 2018, but the election is disputed by the opposition. An opposition politician, Juan Guaidó, declared himself as interim president on January 23rd 2019 (despite not having stood in the 2018 election). The US and allies (including my country, the UK) have recognised Guaidó as president. Other countries continue to recognise Maduro as president. It appears that Maduro holds more power within the country, particularly as the military still support him.

The presidential crisis is a symptom of ongoing economic and political difficulties within Venezuela. I won’t comment on which side is right or who is to blame for the situation, but I do understand that a lot of people are struggling and suffering.

What I want to cover here is not the situation in Venezuela itself, but the state of media reporting on the situation, and the lack of any scrutiny of US propaganda regarding Venezuela. Let’s return to Tienditas Bridge.

On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo posted on Twitter:
The Venezuelan people desperately need humanitarian aid. The US & other countries are trying to help, but #Venezuela’s military under Maduro’s orders is blocking aid with trucks and shipping tankers. The Maduro regime must LET THE AID REACH THE STARVING PEOPLE.
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The photo depicts Tienditas International Bridge, blocked by a fence, a few concrete blocks, two containers and an oil tanker. This photo along with Pompeo’s words paint an image of Maduro as a mad dictator who does not care about the people of his country, and is willing to shut down and blockade a huge six-lane highway in order to stop them eating.

In the day or so following Pompeo’s tweet, every mainstream news outlet reported on this story, but it appears none of the writers bothered to question the narrative put out by Mike Pompeo. Most of the stories were incorrect and omitted key facts, as I will show.

Here are a selection of the reports. I’ve highlighted the inaccuracies.

BBC News reported:
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has demanded Venezuela reopen a bridge on the Colombian border for an aid shipment organised by the opposition.
The Independent reported:
Nicolas Maduro‘s regime blocked the Tienditas International Bridge with a giant orange tanker, two large blue containers and makeshift fencing.
CNN reported:
The Venezuelan government, led by embattled President Nicolas Maduro, has blocked a bridge connecting Venezuela to Colombia, according to Colombian officials and a CNN photojournalist at the scene.
What is wrong with these reports? What have they left out?

Let’s look again at that image again with a little scepticism…

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(larger)

Let’s assume that Venezuela did indeed place the containers where they are. The photo was taken from Colombia, looking into Venezuela.

There’s something that doesn’t add up. It looks like the fence, in front of the containers, was erected by Colombia. The fence supports are on the Colombian side, and four concrete blocks also sit on the Colombian side of the fence. So was the bridge really blocked by Venezuela, or was it actually blocked by Colombia?

Luckily, we can view Tienditas bridge on Google Maps:

undefined
(larger)

Does the photo look familiar? A fence with concrete blocks, blocking the bridge.

Let’s take a closer look at the photo:

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(larger)

The photo was uploaded in June 2017. Tienditas Bridge, reported throughout the media as blocked by Venezuela this week, has in fact been blocked for at least 18 months!

There is also a Wikipedia article on Tienditas Bridge (in Spanish). It says of the bridge (translated to English with Google Translate):
It was concluded in early 2016, but due to the crisis between Venezuela and Colombia in 2015 and the border closure of Venezuela the bridge has not been officially opened.
This is backed up by a reference to an article from La Opinion, a local news site of Cúcuta in Colombia (also in Spanish), which states:
Sheltered by an old rusty gate and a guard, this binational work is still useless because of the border situation, despite the fact that the Invias has already completed 100 percent of the route.
The Google translation may not be perfect, but it seems that Tienditas Bridge has never opened even though it was finished three years ago, due to a dispute between Colombia and Venezuela. And the now familiar “rusty gate” has been there all this time. It’s a complete falsehood to say that Maduro “blocked” the bridge this week, that it must “reopen”, or that Venezuela erected “makeshift fencing” this week.

So is the media lying to us? Is there not one mainstream journalist who bothers to do research any more? I suspect a combination of the two:

- Every news organisation takes a journalistic position which is in some way biased, but mostly aligned with the propaganda the US government is putting out.

-The 24-hour news cycle leaves little time for the journalists to put in the necessary research to verify the facts they are publishing.

It’s a sad state of affairs. I feel I can no longer trust anything I read in the media, and have to verify everything myself. In this case, there was enough information available online to do that and find the errors and omissions, but that usually isn’t feasible. It’s certainly not how I want to spend my time. I’m not a journalist.

An alternative narrative

I would like to suggest a different narrative to that provided by Mike Pompeo and repeated by the media, a narrative which more closely corresponds to the facts.

The US has stated that it will be sending humanitarian aid to Venezuela, at the request of Juan Guaidó whom they recognise as president.

The Venezuelan government led by the elected president, Nicolás Maduro, is concerned that this will be a cover for shipping weapons into the country which may be used to start a civil war. This is not an unreasonable concern given the US’s history of interventionism, and the Venezuelan authorities claim to discovered an illegal shipment of rifles and ammunition from Miami just this week. Faced with such a threat, it seems quite rational to secure the points of entry through which arms could enter the country.

Since Tienditas Bridge is not in use and has never been, it makes sense to reinforce the existing barrier on the bridge (which may be have been erected by Colombia).

How can we improve coverage in the media?

The quality of output in the media feels lower than I remember it ever being. I felt despair today as I realised how deceptive this coverage of Tienditas Bridge has been. I don’t know whether the authors intend to deceive or are unaware of the role they play as puppets of the US government’s propaganda.

I will be making a complaint to the BBC, and perhaps other organisations as time allows. I hope others will do the same.

Reprinted with permission from Medium.com.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/10/the-tienditas-bridge-blockade/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/10/the-tienditas-bridge-blockade/ Sun, 10 Feb 2019 15:38:18 GMT
Trump’s Syria ‘Pullout’ Aimed at Aggressing Iran Finian Cunningham http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/10/trump-s-syria-pullout-aimed-at-aggressing-iran/

US President Donald Trump again this week portrayed his plan to pull troops out of Syria as a “victory homecoming” and “an end to endless wars”. Then, in stepped Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to clarify what’s really going on: it’s a “tactical change” to put Iran in the crosshairs.

The purported pullout is not a return of US military from the Middle East, as Trump has been trumpeting with self-congratulations. It’s more a reconfiguration of American military power in the strategically vital region, and in particular for greater aggressive leverage on Iran.

In his State of the Union speech to Congress this week, Trump talked about giving a “warm welcome home to our brave warriors” from Syria. Supposedly it was “mission accomplished” for the US in defeating the ISIS terror group in that country.

It should be pointed out that ISIS would not have been in Syria or Iraq if it were not for criminal American military interventions, covert and overt, in those countries.

In any case, Trump was proclaiming America “victorious”, and so it was time, he said, to follow up on his order given in December for the 2,000 or so troops (illegally present) in Syria to withdraw.

The day after his nationwide address, Trump reiterated the theme of glorious homecoming at a forum of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, held in Washington DC. This was a two-day gathering of dozens of US allies who have been attacking Syrian territory in the name of fighting terrorists (terrorists that many of these same coalition members, such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey, have been covertly sponsoring.)

“We look forward to giving our warriors a warm welcome home,” Trump again told delegates after informing them that the ISIS caliphate had been virtually destroyed by US forces and partners.

His top diplomat Mike Pompeo, however, assured the gathering that the US was still “leading the fight against terror” and that the planned troop withdrawal from Syria was only a “tactical maneuver”. He said that what Washington wanted was for more regional partners to take over military operations from the US.

When Trump first made the announcement of a troop withdrawal from Syria on December 19, there was immediate pushback from military figures in the Pentagon and politicians in Washington. Together with a proposed drawdown of US forces in Afghanistan by Trump, it was construed that the president was signaling a wholesale retreat from the region.

Since the “surprise” announcement by Trump, lawmakers within his Republican party have been doubling down to prevent any pullout from Syria or Afghanistan. This week, the US Senate voted through legislation to block any abrupt withdrawal, claiming that, contrary to Trump’s assertions, ISIS has not been defeated and still poses a national security threat.

The Pentagon has also been warning of a “resurgence” of ISIS in Syria and Iraq if US forces were to pull out. A Department of Defense document published this week quoted Pompeo. “Following the president’s announcement in December 2018 to withdraw troops from Syria, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated that the policy objectives of defeating ISIS and deterring Iran had not changed.”

In other words, the Pentagon is busily rationalizing for entrenchment in the region, not for a retreat.

Last month, while on a nine-nation tour of the Middle East, Pompeo was at pains to emphasize to America’s Arab client regimes that Trump’s pullout from Syria was a reorganization of military forces, not an overall withdrawal. During his tour, Pompeo renewed Washington’s project to create an “Arab NATO” for the region, with the top priority being to contain Iran. According to Radio Free Europe, he said, “the United States is redoubling efforts to put pressure on Iran.”

Next week, the US has organized a conference to be held in Poland which is dedicated to intensifying international pressure on Iran. The indications are that senior European Union officials will not attend the summit as it is stoking tensions with Tehran at a time when the EU is striving to save the nuclear accord with Iran.

However, the conference in Poland testifies to ramped up efforts by Washington to isolate Iran internationally and provoke instability in the country for regime change. Since Trump walked away from the internationally-backed nuclear accord last year, his administration has been piling on the aggressive rhetoric towards Iran, in particular from his national security advisor John Bolton, as well as Pompeo.

This obsession to confront Iran would explain the real significance of Trump’s supposed pullout plans in Syria and Afghanistan. Both countries have been utter failures for US imperialism. They are a dead loss, despite the self-congratulatory nonsense spouted by Trump.

What the White House is intent on doing, it seems, is redirecting its military forces in the region away from dead-end causes for a more aggressive stance towards Iran. Pompeo’s “clarifications” about Trump’s troop withdrawal makes it clear that what is going on is not a scaling down of American military power in the region, but a reconfiguration.

Trump himself has indicated that too. In a recent interview with the CBS channel, Trump said that US forces would be reassigned from Syria to Iraq where the Pentagon has several large military bases. He explicitly said that the US forces in Iraq would be used to “keep a watch on Iran” and the wider region.

Trump’s braggadocio immediately got him into hot water with the Iraqis. Iraqi President Barham Salih fulminated that the 5,000 or so US troops in his country were there strictly for the purpose of combating terrorism, not for “watching Iran” or any other neighboring country. Other Iraqi lawmakers have been so incensed by Trump’s comments that they are calling for the presence of US forces to be terminated.

Thus, the apprehensions among the bipartisan War Party in Washington and some at the Pentagon regarding Trump’s purported troop pullout from Syria and Afghanistan are misplaced. Trump is not “ending the endless wars” that feed American imperialism and its war-machine economy.

Far from it. The Condo King is simply moving the Pentagon’s real estate around the region in order to get a better view of the planned aggression towards Iran.

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/10/trump-s-syria-pullout-aimed-at-aggressing-iran/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/10/trump-s-syria-pullout-aimed-at-aggressing-iran/ Sun, 10 Feb 2019 15:12:17 GMT
How Chrystia Freeland Organized Donald Trump’s Coup in Venezuela Eric Zuesse http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/09/how-chrystia-freeland-organized-donald-trump-s-coup-in-venezuela/

On Monday, February 5th, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland announced that the 14 countries of the Lima Group — who had actually formed themselves under her direction into this new group on 8 August 2017 in order to overthrow and replace Venezuela’s current President Nicholas Maduro — have now been joined (though she didn’t say to what extent) by the EU, and by 8 other individual countries. She stated:
Today, we have been joined by our Lima Group partners, from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Saint Lucia. We have also been joined in our conversations with our partners from other countries, for this Lima Group ministerial meeting. These include Ecuador, the European Union, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
She, along with US President Donald Trump, had, all along, been the actual leaders of this international diplomatic effort, to violate the Venezuelan Constitution blatantly, so as to perpetrate the coup in Venezuela.

Her active effort to replace Venezuela’s Government began with her formation of the Lima Group, nearly two years ago.

Canada’s Ottawa Citizen headlined on 19 August 2017, “Choosing Danger”, and their reporter Peter Hum interviewed Canada’s Ambassador to Venezuela, Ben Rowswell, who was then retiring from the post. Rowswell said that Venezuelans who wanted an overthrow of their Government would continue to have the full support of Canada’s Government: “‘I think that some of them were sort of anx­ious that it (the em­bassy’s support for hu­man rights and democ­racy in Venezuela) might not con­tinue after I left,’ Rowswell said. ‘I don’t think they have any­thing to worry about be­cause Minister (of For­eign Af­fairs Chrys­tia) Free­land has Venezuela way at the top of her pri­or­ity list.’”

Maybe it wasn’t yet at the top of Trump’s list, but it was at the top of hers. And she and Trump together chose whom to replace Venezuela’s President, Nicholas Maduro, by: Juan Guaido. Guaido had secretly courted other Latin American leaders for this, just as Freeland had already done, by means of her secretly forming the Lima Group.

On 25 January 2019, the AP bannered “AP Exclusive: Anti-Maduro coalition grew from secret talks” and reported that the man who now claims to be Venezuela’s legitimate President (though he had never even run for that post), Juan Guaido, had secretly visited foreign countries in order to win their blessings for what he was planning:
In mid-December, Guaido quietly traveled to Washington, Colombia and Brazil to brief officials on the opposition’s strategy of mass demonstrations to coincide with Maduro’s expected swearing-in for a second term on Jan. 10 in the face of widespread international condemnation, according to exiled former Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma, an ally.

Playing a key role behind the scenes was Lima Group member Canada, whose Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland spoke to Guaido [9 January 2019] the night before Maduro’s swearing-in ceremony [on 10 January 2019] to offer her government’s support should he confront the socialist leader [Maduro], the Canadian official said. Also active was Colombia, which shares a border with Venezuela and has received more than two million migrants fleeing economic chaos, along with Peru and Brazil’s new far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.

To leave Venezuela, he sneaked across the lawless border with Colombia, so as not to raise suspicions among immigration officials who sometimes harass opposition figures at the airport and bar them from traveling abroad, said a different anti-government leader, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss security arrangements.
During the last days in office of Canada’s Ambassador to Venezuela Rowswell, US President Donald Trump went public with his overt threat to invade Venezuela. On 11 August 2017, McClatchy’s Miami Herald bannered "Trump was making friends in Latin America — before he raised Venezuela ‘military option’”, and Patricia Mazzei reported that “President Donald Trump’s unexpected suggestion Friday that he might rely on military force to deal with Venezuela’s pressing political crisis was an astonishing statement that strained not only credulity but also the White House’s hard-won new friendships in Latin America.” Even a spokesperson from the Atlantic Council (which is the main PR agency for NATO) was quoted as saying that “US diplomats, after weeks of carefully building the groundwork for a collective international response, suddenly find their efforts completely undercut by a ridiculously over the top and anachronistic assertion. It makes us look imperialistic and old-time. This is not how the US has behaved in decades!” However, Peru’s Foreign Minister, Ricardo Luna, was just as eager for a coup in Venezuela as were Trump and Freeland.

On 26 October 2017, Peru’s Gestion TV reported that Luna was the co-Chair of the meeting of the Lima Group in Toronto, which Freeland chaired, and that (as translated into English here) “Luna added that the objective of the meeting of the Group of Lima ‘is to create a propitious situation’ so that the regime of Nicolás Maduro ‘feels obligated to negotiate' not only an exit to the crisis, ‘but also an exit to his own regime’.” This gang were going to make Maduro an offer that he couldn’t refuse.

So, the Lima Group, which was founded by Luna and by Freeland, was taking the initiative as much and as boldly as Trump was, regardless of what NATO might think about it.

The topic of that news-report, and its headline, was “Peru proposes Grupo de Lima to involve the UN to face the Venezuelan crisis.” Four days later, Freeland and Luna met privately at the UN, in New York, with the Secretary General, Antonio Guterres. Inner City Press reported that “The title of the meeting is ‘the situation in Venezuela and efforts by regional organizations to resolve the crisis per Chapter VIII of the UN Charter’ [see it here] and the briefer will be not USG [Under Secretary General] Jeffrey Feltman but his Assistant, ASG [Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs] Miroslav Jenca.”

Jeffrey Feltman was the person who, in the secretly recorded 27 January 2014 phone-conversation in which US President Barack Obama’s agent, Victoria Nuland — planning and overseeing the February 2014 coup that overthrew Ukraine’s democratically elected President — instructed the US Ambassador to Ukraine, that, after Ukraine’s President is ousted, Arseniy “Yats” Yatsenyuk was to be appointed as Ukraine’s ‘interim’ leader as the new Prime Minister, to replace the President.

She also said: “I talked to Jeff Feltman this morning; he had a new name for the UN guy Robert Serry. … He’s now gotten both Serry and Ban ki-Moon to agree that Serry could come in Monday or Tuesday. That would be great, I think, to help glue this thing, and to have the UN help glue it, and, you know, fu*k the EU.” So, the still Under Secretary General of the U.N, Mr. Feltman, is still America’s fixer there, who “glues” whatever the US President orders the UN to do, and his Assistant was filling in for him that day. Therefore, if Trump and Freeland turn out to be as successful as Obama was, then the UN will “glue” the outcome. Chrystia Freeland happens also to be a friend of Victoria Nuland, and a passionate supporter of her coup in Ukraine.

Freeland’s grandparents were Ukrainian and supported the Nazis during World War II. Cameron Pike headlined about Freeland at The Saker, on 2 February 2019, "Canada’s Nazi Problem” and opened:
In the 1960’s the Polish government, still reeling from their role as the main course of the European ‘meat-sandwich’ that was the second world war, went on the hunt for Nazi aiders and abettors who destroyed their people. Contrary to what mainstream readers are allowed to know, WWII Nazi and Waffen SS leaders, Goebbels’s publishers and editors (otherwise known as propagandists), willing and outright Nazi collaborators and vicious killers, made their way out of conquered Germany to the United States [under CIA direction] and to Canada, under MI-6 direction, [and Canada] took in 2000 of them. Most of them ‘made their way’ to Ontario and Alberta. One of them even became the President of the University of Alberta. I repeat, one of them EVEN BECAME THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNIVERSITY OF ALBERTA. … It was this former Waffen SS soldier-turned University President who created the Ukrainian Studies department at the U of A. … Michael Chomiak, another of these significant Nazis who were never caught, lived out his days after the war as a farmer in Alberta. His Nazi identification documents were uncovered by the Polish Government in the 1960’s. “Chomiak’s records show he was trained in Vienna for German espionage and propaganda operations, then promoted to run the German press machine for the Galician region of Ukraine and Poland during the 4-year occupation. So high-ranking and active in the Nazi cause was Chomiak that the Polish intelligence services were actively hunting for Chomiak until the 1980s – without knowing he had fled for safety to an Alberta farm in Canada.” [Editing note: Please see link for John Helmer’s extensive work on uncovering Freeland’s Nazi family history.] Poland was on the hunt but lost the trail because he was well hidden by their WWII ‘ally’, the British, unbeknownst to my fellow peaceful Canadians.
Chomiac was Chrystia Freeland’s grandfather. Chrystia Freeland loves him very much and is unshakably loyal to his memory and to his far-right beliefs, which she proudly supports. She also is a close friend of George Soros, who likewise is entirely unembarrassed at, and unapologetic about, his having, as a supposed Christian child in Hungary, helped the Nazis take the property of other Jews, before they were sent off to the concentration camps. He chose to do that — help the Nazi regime — rather than die as a Jew himself. Of course, subsequently, he founded the rabidly anti-Russian Open Society Foundation and other political ‘charities’ to tax-exempt his global political donations. Soros, too, is a passionate supporter of the US coup in Ukraine and of Ukraine’s far-right, and helped to finance (tax-exempt via his International Renaissance Fund) Obama’s Ukrainian coup by being one of the three top donors to Hromadske TV, which propagandized for slaughtering at least one and a half million of the people in the far eastern region of Ukraine, where Obama’s imposed far-right Ukrainian government was totally rejected. It’s the region that had voted over 90% for the Ukrainian President whom Obama-Nuland overthrew, and George Soros was a top funder of such exterminationist propaganda. So, it’s reasonable that his fellow anti-Russian fanatic, Freeland, is a friend of his.

That’s the “liberal” side of fascism. The “conservative” side of it is represented by such people as John Bolton and the Koch brothers.

Of course, the man whom the US and Canadian regimes and the Lima Group are trying to install as Venezuela’s President, Juan Guaido, had been well groomed for that job, but not by political and electoral experience, of which he has almost none, but by his foreign sponsors. On 29 January 2019 the Gray Zone Project bannered “The Making of Juan Guaidó: How the US Regime Change Laboratory Created Venezuela’s Coup Leader”, and their two star investigative journalists, Dan Cohen and Max Blumenthal, opened:
Juan Guaidó is the product of a decade-long project overseen by Washington’s elite regime change trainers. While posing as a champion of democracy, he has spent years at the forefront of a violent campaign of destabilization.
This report also noted that
“The 'real work' began two years later, in 2007, when Guaidó graduated from Andrés Bello Catholic University of Caracas. He moved to Washington, DC to enroll in the Governance and Political Management Program at George Washington University, under the tutelage of Venezuelan economist Luis Enrique Berrizbeitia, one of the top Latin American neoliberal economists. Berrizbeitia is a former executive director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) [and the IMF is a central part the operation that’s described in John Perkins’s now-classic Confessions of an Economic Hit Man] who spent more than a decade working in the Venezuelan energy sector, under the old oligarchic regime that was ousted by Chávez.”
Moreover, ”Stratfor and CANVAS – key advisors of Guaidó and his anti-government cadre – devised a shockingly cynical plan to drive a dagger through the heart of the Bolivarian revolution. The scheme hinged on a 70% collapse of the country’s electrical system by as early as April 2010.” Etc. This is how ‘democracy’ now functions. It’s not democracy — it is fascism. The euphemisms for it are “neoliberalism” and “neoconservatism.”

Regardless of whether or not the Trump-Freeland-Luna program for Venezuela succeeds, democracy and human rights won’t be advanced by it; but, if it succeeds, the fortunes of US-and-allied billionaires will be. It’s part of their global privatization program.

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/09/how-chrystia-freeland-organized-donald-trump-s-coup-in-venezuela/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/09/how-chrystia-freeland-organized-donald-trump-s-coup-in-venezuela/ Sat, 09 Feb 2019 14:13:43 GMT
Why I Hope Maduro Wins And North Korea Keeps Its Nukes Caitlin Johnstone http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/09/why-i-hope-maduro-wins-and-north-korea-keeps-its-nukes/

A second summit meeting for the US and North Korea is reportedly scheduled to take place in Vietnam at the end of the month. Expert opinions on where these negotiations are headed range from the insightful to the incredibly naive, with mainstream media consumers consistently finding themselves in the latter category. Trump supporters believe their president is going to pull off some Art of the Deal wizardry and convince Pyongyang to completely denuclearize, and mainstream Democrats believe Trump is being foolish, facilitating the nefarious agendas of an evil dictator. As happens with pretty much all US foreign policy issues these days, the picture is completely obscured by the mass media’s obsessive fixation on Trump.

People who are well-informed tend to say that North Korea will never denuclearize, mainly because its government has no meaningful incentive to do so in a world where Muammar Gaddafi was murdered in the streets as a direct result of US regime change interventionism shortly after relinquishing Libya’s nuclear program. As bad as western sanctions are, they’re nothing compared to what happened to Libya.

I agree that Pyongyang as we have known it will never denuclearize, no matter how charming or threatening Moon and Trump get. There can certainly be peace between the Koreas, but the notion that Pyongyang as we know it will just give up the DPRK’s nuclear weapons is a fairy tale for children and mental midgets. Those words “Pyongyang as we know it” are key, though. There are circumstances under which North Korea could voluntarily give up its nukes, be relieved of sanctions, and be treated like a normal nation by the unipolar world order in the near term. They’re just not circumstances any of us should want.

The way I see it there are approximately three possibilities:

1) North Korea keeps its nukes as an effective deterrent against regime change interventionism,

2) North Korea relinquishes its nukes because the US and all rivals have relinquished their nukes, or

3) North Korea relinquishes its nukes because it entered into the US-centralized power alliance.

The only way North Korea will be treated normally by the unipolar world order is if it joins that unipolar world order. If it allows itself to be absorbed into the blob of the US-centralized empire. If North Korea denuclearizes, that is what will have happened, and that has always been the ultimate goal of the pressures that have been stacked upon it. If Kim Jong-Un is sufficiently different from his predecessors, and if he is presented with the right combination of carrots and sticks, who knows? North Korea has $10 trillion worth of natural resources that it can’t access or sell due to sanctions, and you may be sure there are powerful people in both the east and the west courting Pyongyang to get that wealth into their pockets. Maybe Kim’s power base could be persuaded to consent to relinquishing the DPRK’s sovereignty like so many nations before (including my own) and join the blob to relieve the pressure.

But what would that mean, exactly? It would mean that one more nation which tried to insist on its national sovereignty was bullied and starved into joining the US-centralized empire to survive. The empire would be one nation more, and the remaining unabsorbed multipolarist governments would be one nation less.

The reality is that it is impossible to be truly anti-war without opposing the unipolar global dominance of the United States and its tight network of allies which operates functionally as an empire. It is impossible for this empire to remain dominant without the threat and enforcement of military violence; the carrot of military alliance and the stick of military assault are the glue which holds the empire together. The world can never know peace while this is happening. If you support the continued world dominance of the United States, you can perhaps claim to be against some wars on a case-by-case basis, but you cannot claim to be anti-war or anti-interventionist.

With Venezuela it’s the same as with North Korea: the US-centralized power alliance is bullying a noncompliant nation in a key strategic region into allowing itself to be absorbed into the blob of an empire that is held in place with endless violence. Of course I fully support the sovereign right of the people of Venezuela to shape their nation in accordance with their will, but the Trump administration’s regime change interventionism there has nothing whatsoever to do with the will of the Venezuelan people. The Guaido pretend government that the US is working to install has been built by the engineers of imperialism from the ground up to ensure a Venezuela that is loyal to US interests, which John Bolton himself acknowledges have a lot to do with oil.

If the US succeeds in disrupting the lives of Venezuelans so much that the military shifts alignment and ousts Maduro in desperation, sure the sanctions will end, and maybe things will be better for some (mostly white, wealthier) Venezuelans, but ultimately what will have happened is the empire succeeded in bullying another sovereign nation into relinquishing its sovereignty.

Same with Iran. If Bolton’s crew succeeds in securing regime change in Tehran, the mainstream narrative is that it will mean freedom and democracy and the wind in women’s hair, but what it will primarily mean in reality is that the US-centralized empire succeeded in toppling yet another government of yet another oil-rich nation and installing a puppet regime to complement its Israeli and Gulf state allies, thereby shoring up regional dominance in the Middle East. From there we may be certain that Syria will suffer the same fate.

Anyone who sees that war is wrong should oppose this tooth and claw. The continued growth of the unipolar blob is a movement away from a world of peace and national sovereignty and towards a world of endless military violence enforcing the depraved will of the same thugs who inflicted unforgivable horrors on Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and so many other nations.

The way to prevent nuclear war with North Korea is to leave North Korea alone, stop sanctioning them and stop threatening them. The way to help the people of Venezuela is to end the sanctions which are starving them. The way to help the people of Iran is to end the CIA covert ops and starvation sanctions and stay the hell out of their country. The way to help Syrians is to stop arming and protecting the extremist militias who tried to topple Damascus, end the sanctions, end the illegal occupation, and respect the nation’s sovereignty. The way to advance peace is to oppose the institution that has done more to undermine peace than anyone else in the world, namely the US empire.

Of course we should want everyone to be free from oppression, and of course we should want the world to be free of nuclear weapons. But we shouldn’t support the toppling of foreign governments by a power whose consistent record of disastrous regime change interventionism is established beyond a doubt, and we shouldn’t support that power in bullying sovereign nations into relinquishing their sovereignty to escape brutalization. That is not the kind of world we’re trying to create here. The bigger the warmongering imperial blob grows, the more powerful it gets. If you want a world full of peace and harmony, put your emphasis on opposing the toxic activities of the power most responsible for preventing it.

Reprinted with permission from Medium.com.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/09/why-i-hope-maduro-wins-and-north-korea-keeps-its-nukes/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/february/09/why-i-hope-maduro-wins-and-north-korea-keeps-its-nukes/ Sat, 09 Feb 2019 05:50:40 GMT