Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Target Tehran? Israel, US 'prepare to attack Iran'

(Thanks to F. for the pointer to this report! VS)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Chomsky and Castro warn about the upcoming war on Iran

Chomsky quotes Dan Plesch, director of the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy at the University of London:

"They are gearing up totally for the destruction of Iran, US bombers and long range missiles are ready today to destroy 10,000 targets in Iran in a few hours, the firepower of US forces has quadrupled since 2003"

Castro outlines the pretext for war:

I do not harbor the slightest doubt that as soon as the warships of the United States and Israel take up their positions – together with the rest of the U.S. military vessels located in the vicinity of the Iranian coasts – and attempt to inspect that country’s first merchant ship, a rain of missiles will be unleashed in both directions. That will be the precise moment when that terrible war will begin. It is not possible to foresee how many ships will be sunk nor of what ensign.

They are correct. The purpose of the war will not be to do anything about a non-existing Iranian nuclear weapons program (which everybody in power knows does not exist), but to destroy as much of Iran as possible to punish it for its anti-Zionist stance.

After fake terrorists, now fake spies?!

I am reading the official affidavit of the FBI (see here and here) and I can't believe the nonsense I am reading.

First, the "super-dooper secret agents" are charged with a) not registering as agents of a foreign government and b) money laundering. Yep, no charges of spying.

Then, it get better. According to the affidavit, the FBI decrypted a "super-dooper secret message" from Moscow explaining to the apparently clueless spies what they were supposed to do in the USA:

Good thing that these poor spies were told what they are supposed to be doing, right?

The FBI affidavit then describe how the "super-dooper spies" set up a basic wifi network to communicate between two laptops (click on the image below for the super secret "wifi for dummies" techniques):

Then one of the super-dooper secret spies is recorded talking to an FBI undercover officer posing as a Russian diplomat and the two talk in Russian!

Now, nevermind the fact that illegal agents ("no-cover" spies) do not operate in networks, and nevermind that they never ever meet with representatives of the nation their working for unless it is with their handler, it is simply insane to imagine that a Russian "illegal" would be chatting in Russian while trying to impersonate an American.

It is absolutely clear to me that all this nonsense has nothing to do at all with the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR). At best, the FBI caught some shady Russian businesspeople with contacts in Russia and Cyprus. At worst, this entire fairytale is yet another lame attempt by the FBI to prove its utility.

Either way, it is without doubt an insult to our intelligence.

The Saker

USS Carrier Harry Truman Now Officially Just Off Iran, As Israel Allegedly Plotting An Imminent Tehran Raid

(many thanks to J. for pointing out this source to me! VS)

As we first reported last week, in an article that was met with much original skepticism, the Pentagon has now confirmed that a fleet of 12 warships has passed the Suez Canal, and is now likely awaiting orders to support the escalation in the Persian Gulf. The attached image from Stratfor shows the latest positioning of US aircraft carrier groups as of June 23: the USS Harry Truman (CVN-75) is now right next to USS Eisenhower (CVN 69), both of which are waiting patiently just off Iran.

Report republished with permission of STRATFOR

As for the catalyst the two carriers may be anticipating, we provide the following update from the Gulf Daily News where we read that Israel may be on the verge of an attack of Iran, with an incursion originating from military bases in Azerbaijan and Georgia.

Israel is massing warplanes in the Caucasus for an attack on Iran, it was revealed yesterday.

Preparations are underway to launch the military attack from Azerbaijan and Georgia, reports our sister paper Akhbar Al Khaleej, quoting military sources.

Israel was, in fact, training pilots in Turkey to launch the strike and was smuggling planes into Georgia using Turkish airspace, they said.

However, Turkey was unaware of Israel's intention of transferring the planes to Georgia, the sources said.

The unexpected crisis between Israel and Turkey following an Israeli commando raid on an aid flotilla bound for Gaza Strip hit Israeli calculations.

Azerbaijan-based intelligence units, working under the cover of technicians, trainers and consultants, have helped with the preparations, the sources said.

Military equipment, mostly supplied by the US, was transported to a Georgian port via the Black Sea.

Georgian coastguard and Israeli controllers are co-operating to hide the operations from Russian vessels, said the sources.

They point out that according to Israel, it will not be in a position to launch a strike on Iran without using bases in Georgia and Azerbaijan due to the limited capabilities of its nuclear submarines stationed near the Iranian coast.

Meanwhile, Iran's Press TV reported that a very large contingent of US ground forces had massed in Azerbaijan, near the Iranian border. The independent Azerbaijani news website Trend confirmed the report.

Those reports came just days after the Pentagon confirmed that an unusually large fleet of US warships had indeed passed through Egypt's Suez Canal en route to the Gulf. At least one Israeli warship reportedly joined the American armada.

Press TV also quoted Iranian Revolultionary Guard Brigadier General Mehdi Moini as saying that the country's forces are mobilised and ready to face Israelli and American "misadventures" near its borders.

* Iran last night said it has cancelled plans to send an aid ship to the Gaza Strip as Israel "had sent a letter to the UN saying that the presence of Iranian and Lebanese ships in the Gaza area will be considered a declaration of war on that regime and it will confront it," Irna said.

We caution readers to take this news with a grain of salt as the Gulf Daily News' sister publication, Akhbar Al Khaleej, has a slightly less than stellar credibility rating. Then again, this is what some, Breaking News Online most notably, said about last week's carrier news, urging readers to ignore it.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Touching Left, Islam, Israeli Lobby, Chomsky and Many other Hot Topics

Discussion with Gilad Atzmon by Miriam Cotton

Introduction by Miriam Cotton

Gilad Atzmon is a world renowned saxophonist and musician with a deep political passion for humanist issues and concern for the fate of the Palestinian people. He has written extensively about the issue and been published widely. As a self-exiled, former Jewish Israeli and IDF soldier, Atzmon’s perspective within the raging public discourse on Palestine is relatively unique. His views are bitterly opposed by some among anti-Zionist Jewish groups, who accuse him of anti-Semitism and of being a ‘self-hater’.

Atzmon fiercely resists the charge of anti-Semitism and insists that he is concerned with a proper and thorough examination of the ideology of what it is to be Jewish – in particular about how the notion of the Jews as ‘a chosen people’ has led, as he sees it, inexorably to the rise of Zionism and its present disproportionate influence on world affairs.

Atzmon also takes issue with the Western Left which he believes has failed either to recognize the true extent of Zionist influence (he singles Noam Chomsky out for criticism) and of not understanding how western Marxist/socialist ideologies are incompatible with Islamic societies and therefore can be of no use to them. These and other issues are discussed with him below. There are many things in what Atzmon says below that beg further question and comment but hopefully the exchange has served to illustrate his interpretation of the Palestinian situation and to provide an insight on a less frequently aired or understood perspective.

Miriam Cotton

MediaBite (Ireland)

June 21st 2010

MC: Following the murder and kidnap of unarmed aid activists in international waters by Israel, General Petraeus has said the situation [in Gaza] is no longer sustainable. Though he was in no sense condemning what Israel had done, do you think there may be a beginning of an end to unconditional US support for Israel?

GA: It is actually the other way around. It is Israel that ditches America. Israeli leadership realises that with America in the background the Jewish state won't be able to pursue its next two lethal plans: Nakaba 2 and dismantling Iranian nuclear capacity. Israel realises that if it wants to maintain its Jews only state as a regional power, it must ethnically cleanse the rest of the Palestinians. Israel is also convinced that its only chance of surviving in the region is if it maintains a nuclear hegemony. The USA makes things difficult for the Jewish State at the moment; it tries to slow Israel down. I believe that it is Israel that is leading the conflict rather than being subject to it.

MC: But surely that assessment overlooks some important factors. Nobody can seriously doubt that the US obsession with the region is entirely to do with oil, gas and geo-strategic matters such as Russian and Chinese proximity to these resources, in particular.

GA: This is a good way to put it. However you may also wonder what American interests are, who defines these interests and who shapes them. As it happens, AIPAC (American Israeli Public Affairs Committee) has been pretty effective in shaping American interests; we also know that the Wolfowitz doctrine made it into Bush’s doctrine. For the last three decades Americans failed to see the clear discrepancy between cheap oil and alliance with Israel. They might start to understand it now.

MC: But the Bush family was/is an oil dynasty too - with ties to as many if not more Arabic vested interests as to the Israelis - there are many more non-AIPAC, US vested interests like these than are in AIPAC. Everything the US has done there since the beginning of its so-called 'war on terror' - and long beforehand - has been aimed at securing the Middle East and about energy and other resources.

GA: This is all true. It is also true that AIPAC won’t necessarily interfere with unrelated political matters unless it involves Zionist, Israeli or Jewish interests. However, the Jewish lobby in America and in the UK has managed to shape the English speaking Empire’s vision of its needs and interests. From an American perspective, instead of admitting that American soldiers were actually sent to fight war for Israel, they were told instead that they were sent to die in the name of moral interventionism and democracy. They were actually told that they were ‘liberating the Iraqi people’. How wonderful! The oil and Israeli interests were presented as side issues. As we know, oil prices didn’t drop after 2003. And yet, Sadam Hussein, the bitterest enemy of Israel was removed. In the long run this plan didn’t work for Israel either. Iran had become the unchallenged Muslim leading power. Inshalah it also becomes a nuclear super power soon. This would obviously deter the Israelis from accomplishing its endless imperial aspirations.

MC: There is no other country in the Middle East in which the US and its allies could position the vast military threat that Israel has been made into if they are to achieve their ambitions for the region. The realisation of Zionist ambitions for Israel was and still is a secondary consideration for the US, despite the relatively powerful Israeli lobby.

GA: I am not so sure at all. I actually think that the Zionist Lobby has managed to destroy the American empire. I argue that the Credit Crunch is in fact a Zio-Punch. I argue that Greenspan created an economy boom to divert attention from Wolfowitz’ wars. The Zionists in fact have managed to bring down every super power they cling to. Britain, France and now America. You have to allow yourself to admit that the ‘War on Terror’ was actually a Zionist led war against Islam, a battle that was there to serve Israeli interests.

MC: Israel has been funded and encouraged to develop a nuclear arsenal of several hundred warheads, while the Iranians who do not even have one, but who control a lot of oil, are deemed to be a threat to world peace. Frankly, in these circumstances the Iranians and others would be justified in thinking they need some means of defending themselves against the only real threat at present- and against those who are in fact being the most provocative as well as doing the vast majority of the killing: US-Israel.

GA: This is indeed a very valid point. From an Iranian perspective, nuclear military capacity is a defensive means. The Iranians are constantly under a nuclear threat and so are the rest of the countries in the region and beyond.

MC: Britain and America don't fight any wars that they don't want to fight - not even justifiable wars, unless there is a percentage in it for them.

GA: Are you sure about this, or is that something we all prefer to believe? As it happens both in Britain and America the political parties are funded heavily by Jewish pro Israeli lobbies. Haim Saban, the multi-billionaire Israeli fund raiser for the American Democratic Party said last year that the best way to influence America is through political funding, the media and think tanks. There you go. Even the vision of ‘American interests’ can be no more than false interests when they have been manipulated into an alignment with what are really Israeli interests. At the end of the day, it is far cheaper to by a western politician than buying a tank. It is far cheaper to recruit a ‘new friend of Israel’ than flying an F15 for one hour.

MC: Israel is essentially a creation of the British and other European powers - and the oil was firmly at the front of their minds even way back then.

GA: This is another myth that people like Chomsky want us to believe in. In fact the Balfour Declaration was there to pull America into the war. It was there to push Jewish German and Russian bankers to change their allegiance from Germany to Britain so they could fund the new American war. Amos Alon presents an embarrassing chapter in Jewish history in his monumental book The Pity of It All. In fact it worked for the British. Two months after the Declaration, America was in the war. This wasn’t about oil. It was another war funded by a Jewish political lobby.

MC: As with many other violent regimes that the US has propped up, the US doesn't care one jot what Israel gets up to with its own people so long as the commercial plan is proceeding towards its goal. The ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians is just one of the incidental costs that has to be paid to keep the US's bulldog in the region onside. Official US and UK statements after the attack on the aid flotilla were deplorable, with Obama for example declaring the deaths merely 'regrettable'. This was a clear signal to Turkey: do that again and this is what we will give you. Get in line.

GA: America is talking in many voices at the moment. It is confused or may even be lost in terms of foreign policy. Partially because there is a conflict between the American interests and the lobbies that gave the democrats the keys to the white house, namely AIPAC.

MC: US-Israel can no longer get away so easily as it once did with propagandising the Palestinians’ cause as a nation consisting entirely of terrorists nor cover up the increasingly blatant horrors that are being visited on them. What General Petraeus was signaling, it seems, is that a new strategy is needed - one that is less horrifying to world opinion so that they can all get on with business without attracting so much negative attention to the details.

GA: I think that General Petraeus together with his military advisers are realising that America is about to lose its grip in the Arab and Muslim world. At the end of the day, if I need your oil, I had better make friends with you rather than being caught in bed with your biggest enemy.

MC: They obviously didn’t feel that way about Iraq. They have secured what they wanted there so far and next up is Iran. At the same time, it's clear that the US has created a monster, Israel, in the Middle East that will prove much more difficult to rein in than was wanted or even envisaged in some respects.

GA: I agree with most of what you say. However, contemporary liberal democracy decisions are made by elected politicians that are bought by different kinds of ‘friends of Israel’. In America it is AIPAC and major Jewish fund-raisers such as Haim Saban whom I mentioned before, in Britain we had Lord ‘cash machine’ Levy and now the CFI (Conservative Friends of Israel). These pressure groups and individuals are there to suppress ethical reaction within the political system and beyond. However, following the last massacres in Gaza and on the Mavi Marmara, we saw a tidal wave of mass resentment towards Israel and its supportive Jewish lobbies. This is something that could lead eventually towards a cosmic shift also within politics.

MC: A different question - in the Irish version of the Sunday Times on the 6th of June there was an extraordinary article by one of Ireland's foremost journalists, Matt Cooper, which was headlined 'Israel presents a test of diplomatic skills', I kid you not. Cooper begins the piece by acknowledging the atrocity committed by Israel on the Mavi Marmara but subsequently works his way around to recommending what he calls a 'nuanced' way forward that is devoid of morality or of even basic humanity. The murders and all the previous Israeli slaughters that he has just condemned are benched - presumably in the interest of what he calls 'balanced' opinion later on in the same piece. 'Diplomacy' and Ireland’s ‘economic interests’ are invoked so as to finesse the horrific truths of what is really happening to the Palestinians out of the equation or at least into the margins. We are invited to understand the feelings of successive Israeli governments and by implication to compromise with their murderous intransigence after all. He rehearses the same jaded myth that Israel is surrounded by hostility, while ignoring the terror that it has since its incarnation routinely threatened and inflicted on its neighbours and on the Palestinians with all the might of the US military at its disposal - and says nothing at all of the huge cache of nuclear weapons which it has threatened to use against Iran, which has no nuclear weapons.

GA: It is indeed very interesting. Today we learned that Israel insists to probe its own crime. This is maybe the latest phase in Israeli manifested lunacy, arrogance or ignorance. The murderer tells the authorities, it is ok I can look into my own acts, leave it with me. ‘My parents and my cousin can review my acts.’ This is indeed a way to challenge world diplomacy. Will Israel get away with it this time? I hope not. But if it does, it is there to prove to us all again that kosher lobbies are corrupting our ethical perspectives. Considering the fatal danger of a total war invoked by Israel, our leaders do not have much time at their disposal. Israel is the ultimate danger to world peace. It must be confronted with the ultimate measures now.

MC: I don't agree that any sort of preemptive physical attack on Israel would be justified, if that is what you are referring to.

GA: I obviously do not refer to violence here but to some extreme measures of economic embargo, sanctions and cultural boycotts.

MC: To get back to the media, I'm asking what you think about the role the mainstream media has played in promoting the Israeli perspective. Senior journalists throughout the West especially, mostly talk in a register of language and from within a frame of reference that is essentially back to front on this and many other issues: the victims of outrageous Israeli aggression and illegality are described as terrorists for resisting while the most outrageous pronouncements and behaviours are 'nuanced' into an Orwellian inversion of meaning and truth – Matt Cooper-style. Unprovoked aggression is redefined as defensive action to protect ‘economic interests’ above all.

GA: As I mentioned before, Haim Saban states that influence is achieved through ‘political funding, media and think tanks’. You are concerned with media and ideology here. There is no doubt that in the English speaking empire we are facing a battle against a foreign ideology that was very successful in defining our needs, desires and notion of justice. It was also very successful in setting our notion of fear and terror. The neo-cons that were spreading the deceitful ideology of ‘moral interventionism’ via politics and media were largely Zionists with leftist roots. It is actually this ideology that signifies the horrifying shift of Zionism from the limited discourse of ‘promised land’ into global politics - namely ‘promised planet’.

You may want to ask yourself why their ideology was successful for a while, why did we let these people drag us into an illegal war and make us complicit in the murder of more than one million Iraqis. You may want to ask yourself how did the Wolfowitz Doctrine make it into American policy? I guess that ‘moral interventionism’ and ‘war against terror’ look nice on paper. It means that ‘we’ are kosher and the ‘other’ is evil. It took the West and humanity some time to realise that, in fact, we were serving an evil ideology and Zionist interests. It may also take us some time to realise that it is us who have become the darkest force around.

MC: Would you agree, that the complicit mainstream media narrative – which, as Chomsky has so clearly identified always runs in tandem with powerful economic perspectives - has been more powerful on Israel's behalf than ten AIPACs could ever have been?

GA: Not at all because as Saban makes it plainly clear, there is a continuum between the fund raiser, the think tank and the media. In terms of British politics there is an obvious ideological continuum between the Political Friend of Israel (Lord cash machine Levy) the advocates for the war within the media (Aaronovitch, Cohen) and the British neo-con think tank ( Euston Manifesto ).

MC: One of the major reasons the mainstream orthodoxy is being challenged now is because of the advent of the far more democratic, alternative media?

GA: I don’t think so. It is challenged because there is a growing fatigue for Zionist politics, a growing realisation that tribal politics left a deadly stain on British and American foreign affairs. Also, following the second Lebanon war, the Gaza massacre and the latest assault on the Mavi Marmara, there is a greater realisation that Israel is a murderous state driven by morbid enthusiasm. But there is another reason that must be stated. For very many years, the Left blocked any attempt of elaboration on global Zionism and Jewish power. As it happens, aside from the recent weakening of the Zionist cause, the Left lost power within the solidarity discourse. To a certain extent the two political phenomena are linked. As we know, The Left has unfortunately failed to garner the emerging power of Islam and its immense power within the discourse of liberation.

As a result, the Left has been left behind. It is pretty much irrelevant to the discourse. For the Left to bounce back it must learn to think ethically and make a political bond with Islamic movements and migrant communities in the West.

MC: There are a number of things in what you are saying that I would challenge. Firstly, and ironically, somewhat like the Zionists themselves, you place them front and centre of everything that is happening. To disregard the motives and influence of the many other non-Zionist groups who are equally involved with them is similar to the disregard the Zionists show for others.

GA: There is actually again a continuum that you fail to detect between the sense of chosensess that is inherent to Zionism and any other Jewish political discourse and the Zionist political practice which is relentlessly exercised around the world. Zionists do not try to control everything, I guess that they do not care much about tobacco for the time being (this is probably why we cannot smoke freely anymore) but they do care about Western foreign affairs and would use any possible means to shape them. Look at the pressure Zionist groups mount on the American administration with regard to Turkey, Iran, sanctions, attacking the Mavi Marmara and so on.

MC: Not to defend what the US/UK/EU are doing, but to define their role as you do is almost to infantilise them - it is seriously to underestimate how powerful, dangerous and manipulative they are in their own right.

GA: To be honest, they are not as clever as people seem to think.

MC: Nobody sensible thinks they are being clever about any of this, but that they are capable of uncontrolled greed backed up with equally uncontrolled violence.

GA: Actually Israeli violence is far from being ‘uncontrolled’. It is deadly and premeditated. This is the true notion of Israel’s power of deterrence. Back to your question. In fact they do it all in the open. David Miliband, who is also listed as an Israeli propaganda author, was acting against British universal jurisdiction just to allow Israeli war criminals to visit the UK. How do you explain it? Was it very clever of him? Was it very clever of David Aaronovitch and Nick Cohen to advocate an illegal war while being also Jewish Chronicle (a UK Zionist outlet) writers? Was it a clever move to support a war that led to 1.5 million dead Iraqis? Is it very clever of Haim Saban to tell the American people ‘we the Jews influence your life through political funding, media, and think tanks’? The answer is no, it is not clever at all. It is an infantile arrogance that is inherent to the chauvinist identity. The success of the Zionist agenda so far has a lot to do with the fact that they operate within tolerant discourses and people like yourself and Chomsky would go out of your way to defend them with foggy ideology. Unfortunately, this ideology doesn’t hold water anymore. As you may know Chomsky is totally discredited. His lame argument against Walt and Mearsheimer, which is similar to yours, puts a big question mark over his entire life time project. This may be a shame but the good news is that the resentment towards Zionism, Israel and relentless Jewish lobbying is becoming a mass phenomenon. It exceeds the political discourse. It is a spirit, it is public and it is refreshing. This may be good news because we always wanted to be there, the only concern is that no one really controls it anymore.

MC: Where have these questions implied a defense of Zionists or Zionism? Merely to say that they are not alone in this or that they do not control what is happening in the Middle East on their own is in no way a defense either of their ideology or of their actions.

GA: To start with it is not a personal debate but and ideological one. However, I guess that failing to confront extensive Jewish lobbying is to provide Zionism with a body shield. You are talking about other American interests. What is so unique about AIPAC, David Miliband and CFI is the fact that right out in the open they promote the interests of a foreign government. Would a Muslim lobby get away with it? Could Iran or Pakistan get away with it? Would Chomsky rush to defend them as well? I really wonder.

MC: Chomsky has been a forthright critic of Israel's - was only recently prevented by the Israeli government from attending an engagement. He has made some puzzling statements but again, I think you ignore overwhelming evidence that contradicts what you say about him.

GA: I have a lot of respect for what Chomsky did along the years. However, as American activist Jeff Blankfort pointed out recently, Chomsky has been dismissing the power of the pro-Israel lobby. He opposed the BDS movement and made some efforts to “dissuade people from using the term ‘apartheid’ to describe Israel's control over Palestinian society”. Chomsky also opposes the Palestinian right of return and a one-state solution. Chomsky is in fact a liberal Zionist as well as a kibbutz enthusiast. This is enough to explain why his voice has been pushed to the margin within the Palestinian solidarity discourse. Considering his contribution on other fields of thought, it is a shame indeed.

MC: There is a lot that could and should be said in response to that but this discussion is not about Chomsky. AIPAC may be feted in Washington and London for now but it will go the way of all those who collaborate with the US in due course. As has been noted many times, US foreign policy makers think nothing of caricaturing former friends as villains when they stop being useful. The Israel-as-lone-defender-of-democracy-in- the-Middle-East myth has been forcefully sold for a long time, it's true, but seldom if ever have the economic and strategic spoils of war been so great.

GA: Why was it useful? Is it because it is true? Not really. Israel has never been a democracy - it is a racially exclusive society that managed to set up a ‘Jews only democracy’. Americans are clever enough to understand it. They went through a civil rights struggle not that long ago and in fact they still do. The deceitful image of Jewish democracy was there to create a phantasmic continuum between the USA and the Jewish State. It is obviously far more complicated to explain to the masses how exactly supporting a hawkish Jewish state in a sea of oil would make oil cheaper.

MC: Isn’t your fundamental mistake in this respect that you are confusing or ignoring much of the quite independent and equally violent avarice of the other vested interests with the extent of AIPAC’s influence, which everyone knows is undoubtedly strong.

GA: With due respect and without claiming to be free of errors, I do not think that you are pointing to any mistake in my reading of the situation. If anything, all I can see is you being reluctant to admit that we had been pulled by an extensive institutional and very dangerous lobby for more than a while. In fact, I know that you and others are holding this position because you want to believe that you are true humanists. I respect it. Indeed one of the most crucial questions we have to confront here is how to say what we think about Israel and its Jewish lobbies and still be humanists. I believe that the answer is to admit that we are confronted with an ideology that dismisses our notion of humanism, kindness and compassion. To a certain degree we are confronted here with a deep challenge: ‘how shall we perform kindness to the unkind.

This is why it is so important for me to maintain that the massacre on the Mavi Marmara was no less than killing Christ again. Regardless of the historicity of Jesus and regardless of the fact that there is NO continuum between the ancient Israelites and the contemporary Israelis, we see here a broad daylight assault on goodness and kindness. This deadly attempt was supported by the Israeli people, it was committed by their popular army and it is still supported by world Jewry except some sporadic Jews such as the Torah Jews who oppose it and obviously are highly respected for it. How do we confront it? Call for what it is. This must be our approach because as far as I can see, the Israelis and their lobbyists interpret your silence or reluctance to use the right language as weakness. If we want to help Israelis we may as well make it clear to them that we actually see through them.

MC: It is important to understand Zionist ideology and to challenge and expose what is inhumane in it. Mainstream western media has been criminally complicit in its refusal to do that. But if the Zionists never existed, the US and its EU allies would be in the Middle East right now, or at some other time, doing exactly what they are doing - as they have done for centuries in many other parts of the world that the Zionists had nothing to do with. Also there are many Jewish people in Israel who have been courageously protesting the treatment of the Palestinians by their own government for a long time and who were very vocal after the Mavi Marmara.

GA: “Many” is just slightly over the top. A Palestinian spokeswomen in London was asked in the late 1990’s what she thought of all those ‘good Jews’, those who support the Palestinians. Her answer was shockingly simple yet revealing. She said, “I admire all these beautiful and kind people, all fifteen of them”. In fact I follow their discourse and I cannot count more than eight of them. I am far from being impressed by the ‘Jews for this’ and ‘Jews for that’. I regard it as a Zionist fig leaf operation. Especially when it comes from Marxist Jews. If they are indeed Marxist, why don’t they just join the working class and fight Zionism along side the rest of us?

I will now go back to your question. What would have happened if Israel didn’t exist? Since we are dealing here with a hypothetical assumption you may have to agree that USA/UK/EU could have also used very different tactics. Britain and America in the past used diplomacy also. If you read the history of Zionism, from the very beginning Herzl was capitalizing on super- power interests in the region. This is even before oil was an issue. So you can equally argue that the way things evolved was inevitable due to the nature of Zionist political philosophy of bonding with influential powers. Israel Shahak would argue that this is the heritage of the Talmud. I argue that this is the exact meaning of the Biblical Story of Esther. In my paper From Purim to AIPAC I explore the continuum between the Bible and contemporary Jewish political lobbying.

MC: At the crudest level of all, Israel may have 500 nukes courtesy of the US, but the US arsenal and its overall military capability is many multiples of Israel’s. No contest.

GA: This is pretty irrelevant, I am afraid. America is or at least was a super power. It was engaged in a cold war. This may explain rather than justify why it has so many bombs. However Israel engaged in a territorial battle with its so called ‘enemies’. One must wonder why it needs atomic bombs at all. If Israel cares about Sderot and Ashkelon as much as it says, it would never nuke Gaza. The answer is pretty devastating. Israel possesses all those bombs because it insists on keeping the rest of the world in a constant threat. In case anyone fails to see it, the rest of the world is what we call humanity. And this is the crux of the matter. We are dealing here with a lethal collective that is driven by deadly psychosis against humanity and humanism.

MC: The Zionists have no monopoly on deadly psychosis towards other groups of people. The native American Indians have told the world a thing or two about the centuries-long psychosis of the Christian settlers there - the misery that led to mass suicides among many other horrors. It's surely fundamentally anti humanist – racist/discriminatory even - to single any one group of people out as being uniquely evil?

GA: To start with we both agree that the Zionists didn’t invent evil. In fact Zionism is an attempt to exercise some colonial barbarism in a world that has moved on from that kind of political philosophy. In short Zionists are guilty of committing colonial crimes 100 years too late. However, you make one crucial mistake here. You say “It's surely fundamentally anti humanist to single any one group of people out as being uniquely evil.” You maybe right, but Zionism is not at all a group of people, it is actually an ideology. In fact it is a racist, anti humanist ideology that must be confronted. Similarly, those who follow this ideology are succumbing to an inhuman philosophy and must be exposed, named and shamed. As you will notice in my writing, I never criticize Jews as Jews or Judaism as a religion. I concentrate on Jewish ideology, namely Jewishness that has a very particular supremacist interpretation of the Judaic core. In my writing I have managed to trace Jewishness in every modern Jewish political setting whether it is right wing Zionism, the pseudo- socialist Bund or the radical Matzpen. However, I must mention that Torah Jews are free of that fault. They draw their inspiration from the Torah and present a very unique form of tribal humanism.

MC: You say the left has failed to embrace the 'emerging power of Islam'. Left wing groups within Islam itself do not seem to be meeting with a good reception by and large.

GA: I don’t understand what you mean by Left groups within Islam. Islam is in itself a philosophy that promotes equality; it doesn’t need Left ideology and cannot integrate such an atheist precept. I guess that what you are referring to is Left groups within the Arab or Muslim world. Indeed, the entire left philosophy is Euro-centric and related to the industrial revolution. These ideas are completely irrelevant to the Near East and its understanding of struggle for liberation.

MC: Outside of Islam, the left can only offer solidarity and encouragement.

GA: I guess that what you are taking about is producing badges, scarves and caps with Palestinian flags. This is indeed nice. I always quote Lacan in that reference. Lacan says that making love is in practice making love to yourself through the other. In that sense, the Left’s notion of solidarity is in practice ‘making love to yourself at the expense of the oppressed’. I am not impressed with this concept at all.

MC: That may be true of certain types of activism but it is unfair to caricature much Left solidarity with the Palestinians like that. The Freedom Flotilla was about a lot more than producing badges and scarves. There are many journalists and activists who have made serious and effective efforts to support the Palestinians from within the left – some who have even given their lives to keeping up vital communication. And besides, the badges and scarves have served a purpose too by making sure we are not allowed to forget.

GA: As it happens I was in Athens and in Nicosia when the Flotilla left. I was working closely with the Freedom Mission, I gave talks and interviews. I was also in touch with activists in Istanbul. I can tell you that the Freedom Mission to Gaza is indeed a very refreshing move within the solidarity movement. The so-called Leftists within this movement certainly are not frightened by Islam or Hamas. They certainly respect the Palestinian democratic choice. I admire them for that and wish I could have been with them on board.

MC: To return to the Left and Islam, however justified Iran may be to perceive Israel as the real Middle Eastern threat; trade unionists are having a pretty hard time in Iran right now, for example. What is it that you think the left can or should be doing?

GA: To start with I do not talk about the Left in Iran, Iraq or Palestine. I am talking about the Left here, in Europe. The first thing to do is to accept the notion of otherness. For instance: to stand up for Hamas as a democratically elected body; to stand up for Hezbullah which presents Israel with fierce resistance; to support an Iranian nuclear project as a necessary defensive means; to support the Muslim right to love their Allah and to fight for freedom in his name. These things are rather basic and elementary. The left must also realise that Muslim migrant communities in the West are the first sufferers of cultural, social, racial and political oppression. If the Left wants to maintain ideological and ethical relevance it must join forces with these ethnic groups. It is also possible that the Western Left has already missed the train; this would mean that it belongs to history.

MC: I really cannot agree with some of what you say here. The Left is generally very aware of the need to respect cultural differences in Islam and has done more than any political grouping on either the centre or right to forge links and to challenge the discrimination suffered by migrant groups. As with Christianity, Judaism and other religions Islam has its faults.

GA: If this is the case, how do you explain the fact that the Left was so slow to accept Hamas? How many leftists support the Iraqi resistance? And what about the Taliban? Do you support any of those? I cannot agree with your statement about Islam and other religions.. You are here employing a typical liberal supremacist approach. You set yourself in an imaginary elitist position above and beyond your subject of criticism. If you want to criticize a body of thought you can only do it by means of deconstruction, by tracing inconsistency within. In order to do it you must first achieve a reasonable familiarity. This is by the way, what I try to do with Zionism and Jewish identity. I am obviously familiar enough to deconstruct different form of Jewish discourses. I am less familiar with the Judaic discourse and leave it out.

MC: There is nothing supremacist in the question – I explicitly say that all religions have their faults – but let me be clearer: women and homosexuals have been oppressed by most if not all religions to a greater or lesser extent. To criticize Islam for the same oppression in no way implies either that the problem is unique to it or that matters are perfect elsewhere.

GA: Miriam you are implying here that while Christianity and Jewish identity ‘moved on’, Islam was ‘left behind’. To be honest with you, I must admit that the dichotomy between the ‘Progressive’ and the ‘Reactionary’ is another symptom of Judaic binary opposition within the left discourse. Progressiveness is just another word for Choseness.

MC: Oppression is oppression the same as occupation is occupation.

GA: I obviously do not agree. Oppression is very complicated to define. Occupation, on the other hand, can be defined in positive terms such as territorial and legal.

MC: There is still much oppression of women and of homosexuals which cannot be explained away as mere cultural difference. Criticisng these things should not be a cultural taboo any more than criticising Zionism should be an anti-Semitic taboo.

GA: Sorry, I do not agree with you at all. There is a clear differentiation between the liberal Western discourse that celebrates individualism and the Eastern tribal discourse that values family, the community and culture. You tend to believe that you uphold some higher ethical system that allows you to pass judgment on other cultural assets that are foreign to you. You are obviously not alone. This is the nature of popular culture within the post Enlightenment discourse. I would argue instead that true tolerance is the capacity to accept even when you fail to understand. I myself obviously treat women and gays with total respect and fight for their equality within my environment. However, rather than criticising certain Islamic cultures I try to grasp its political and religious attitude towards different groups. I suggest everyone who claims to care about solidarity should do the same.

But before we move on, please let me address your last point.

As long as you argue that ‘X attitude towards Y is oppressive from a liberal perspective’, you may be correct, your argument could be valid and consistent. However, once you claim that ‘X attitude towards Y is oppressive categorically’ you produce an argument that is no different from a Neocon or moral interventionist. You basically claim to be better and more ethical than X.

These Issues are not simple. I can provide a solution but I guess that I have managed to formulate the complexity.

MC: How then is this different to your intolerance for what Zionists too would argue is their culture and belief in choseness and all that that has led to?

GA: This is very simple indeed. Zionist crimes are committed on the expense of others.

MC: You say you are a humanist. There is no humanist argument to justify the mutilation of girls’ genitalia and the lifelong misery that it causes to women.

GA: How do you know? Can’t you see that in order to make such a statement valid you have to set yourself beyond and above the human discourse? However, I obviously understand your point of view from a Western perspective. I am very suspicious of any call for moral interventionism. And just let me correct you. I do not carry the humanist flag. I am looking for the notion of humanism. As far as I can tell it is a dynamic notion. Like ethics it must be reshaped and revised all the time.

MC: I realise that not all Muslims endorse FGM. But these things are as sick as each other. Again, there are comparable evils in most if not all religions, societies and cultures – this is not to single Islam out.

GA: I am happy that you mentioned it because as far as I am aware, and I am not exactly an expert on the subject, FGM is not at all prescribed by Islam. However, just to mention that I do not remember coming across Left or Liberal criticism of similar Jewish ancient blood ritual that involves blood sucking and chopping of male infant sexual organ (Brit Mila). As it happens Jewish parents, both secular religious let a Rabbi circumcise and suck the blood of their sons when they are just 8 days old. How do you explain the fact that such a barbarian ritual takes place in our midst? Why doesn’t it provoke outrage? Why you yourself do not protest against it?

MC: It is not possible for a genuine humanist to look the other way wherever inhumanity is occurring, whoever is responsible for it. You are applying a double standard in this, I think. You defend FGM on cultural grounds but describe a comparable Jewish ritual as barbaric.

GA: It is rather obvious that when I refer to a Jewish blood ritual, I am criticising it from a western point of view by means of deconstruction. I live in the West, I tend to understand western ideology and culture and I am capable of pointing to a clear discrepancy between the human rights of a child and blood ritual. However, I am far less convinced that Western liberals possess the capacity to pass an ethical judgment regarding cultures that are remote to Western values and way of life. And yet one question remains – why is the liberal mind so concerned with FGM that is carried out in Africa, and not all troubled by a similar Jewish blood ritual that is practiced in our midst.

MC: To move on to the next question, however. That Muslims – or anyone anywhere - should be free to fight for freedom from violent invasion and occupation is axiomatic for most people, though not for pacifists of course. Invoking God for the purpose has never been anything other than a disaster, has it?

GA: Really? Here is where you tend to express your intolerance towards other’s belief. The greatest symphonies and architecture were actually created in the context of a dialogue with God. Islamic resistance that defeats Israel and Western imperialism whether it is in Iraq, Afghanistan, Gaza or South Lebanon is inspired by Allah. Why are you so disrespectful to God? In fact, I believe that you are failing to detect the importance of Islam within the context of Arabic and international resistance. It is peculiar but tragically rather common amongst leftists. As I said earlier on, this explains why left lost its relevance.

MC: There are a lot of unfounded assumptions in what you say but we will have to leave it there. This has been an interesting debate. We will have to agree to differ on a number of things. Thank you for the conversation.

GA: I too enjoyed it enormously and I really hope that the difference between us will lead to a further debate and many more realizations.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Friday, June 25, 2010

Obama Can Shut Down Internet For 4 Months Under New Emergency Powers

by Paul Joseph Watson for Prison Planet

President Obama will be handed the power to shut down the Internet for at least four months without Congressional oversight if the Senate votes for the infamous Internet ‘kill switch’ bill, which was approved by a key Senate committee yesterday and now moves to the floor.

The Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act, which is being pushed hard by Senator Joe Lieberman, would hand absolute power to the federal government to close down networks, and block incoming Internet traffic from certain countries under a declared national emergency.

Despite the Center for Democracy and Technology and 23 other privacy and technology organizations sending letters to Lieberman and other backers of the bill expressing concerns that the legislation could be used to stifle free speech, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee passed in the bill in advance of a vote on the Senate floor.

In response to widespread criticism of the bill, language was added that would force the government to seek congressional approval to extend emergency measures beyond 120 days. Still, this would hand Obama the authority to shut down the Internet on a whim without Congressional oversight or approval for a period of no less than four months.

The Senators pushing the bill rejected the claim that the bill was a ‘kill switch’ for the Internet, not by denying that Obama would be given the authority to shut down the Internet as part of this legislation, but by arguing that he already had the power to do so.

They argued “That the President already had authority under the Communications Act to “cause the closing of any facility or station for wire communication” when there is a “state or threat of war”, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

Fears that the legislation is aimed at bringing the Internet under the regulatory power of the U.S. government in an offensive against free speech were heightened further on Sunday, when Lieberman revealed that the plan was to mimic China’s policies of policing the web with censorship and coercion.

“Right now China, the government, can disconnect parts of its Internet in case of war and we need to have that here too,” Lieberman told CNN’s Candy Crowley.

While media and public attention is overwhelmingly focused on the BP oil spill, the establishment is quietly preparing the framework that will allow Obama, or indeed any President who follows him, to bring down a technological iron curtain that will give the government a foot in the door on seizing complete control over the Internet.

As we have illustrated, fears surrounding cybersecurity have been hyped to mask the real agenda behind the bill, which is to strangle the runaway growth of alternative and independent media outlets which are exposing government atrocities, cover-ups and cronyism like never before.

Indeed, China uses similar rhetoric about the need to maintain “security” and combating cyber warfare by regulating the web, when in reality their entire program is focused around silencing anyone who criticizes the state.

The real agenda behind government control of the Internet has always been to strangle and suffocate independent media outlets who are now competing with and even displacing establishment press organs, with websites like the Drudge Report now attracting more traffic than many large newspapers combined. As part of this war against independent media, the FTC recently proposing a “Drudge Tax” that would force independent media organizations to pay fees that would be used to fund mainstream newspapers.

Commentary: Joe Lieberman. "Evil Joe". Lieberman has this almost satanic ability to radiate evil and to always, always, be right in the middle of most, if not all, the really ugly and evil plans the Empire is cooking up for the rest of us. In the same vein as Kissinger, Perle or Dershowitz, Lieberman is a living caricature of the "evil Jew" of the Nazi propaganda. Why is that? Why do these guys go out of their way to match the most extreme anti-Jewish stereotypes? I just don't get it...

The Saker

Explosive Evidence at WTC Cited by Former CDI Employee

Written by Darcy Wearing and Richard Gage, AIA

Having had the privilege of speaking with Tom Sullivan, an actual explosive-charge placement technician, we have some new insights to pass along as to how controlled demolition works, where it started, and the effect that 9/11 had on the demolition industry. Sullivan gained his experience as an employee of the leading firm in this field, Controlled Demolition, Inc. (CDI). Sullivan stresses though “I do not in anyway represent CDI and what I have to say is based on my own experience and training,”

Sullivan attended high school with Doug Loizeaux of the Loizeaux family. The Loizeaux family, through the father Jack, independently started the whole controlled-demolition industry and turned it into a highly profitable business. Sullivan, before he became connected to CDI, was an independent photographer during his early years in Maryland. He would be sent to CD sites and take still pictures of the jobs. He became infatuated with the CD industry. The time came when he would do both, being the placer of the “cutter charges” on the primary joints, and photographing the jobs for promoting the business. Soon he would switch to full-time employee status of CDI -- as verified by AE911Truth’s verification team.

"It was very interesting, but also very hard work, long hours, especially in the cold weather," Sullivan reflects. He stated that the days began early, around 6 a.m., and they would work until the sun was down. Sullivan had the experience of preparing a building by placing the cutter charges throughout the primary joints, and then, of course, watching it all come down.

Sullivan notes that many weeks are required to “prep,” or weaken the buildings before demolitions. Steel frame buildings don’t just fall into their footprints at free-fall without major work throughout the building – even some before the placement of explosives. Sullivan emphasized as an aside, “Fire cannot bring down steel-framed high rises -- period.”

One of Sullivan’s most exciting jobs was the colossal Kingdome in whose reinforced concrete structure he personally placed hundreds of deadly explosive charges.

Working for CDI was, Sullivan stated, “a very unique experience.” He also said, "they were a close-knit family -- referring to the familial values of the Loizeauxs." “I learned from watching," said Sullivan. "There is no school that will teach you this, just hands on hard work." Sullivan took hundreds of project photos, through which he developed a deep passion for the trade.

When asked, what made CDI the best in the business, he commented, “their family had all the experience because they ’invented’ the art of CD. They spent years traveling around the world, showing and educating people how this art form works.”

Unfortunately, the business came to a screeching halt after 9/11. "People were scared -- if they were to hear a loud bang it was probably some kind of terrorist attack," says Sullivan in frustration. "Fear took over and there was no more business." Even Mark Loizeaux (CDI’s President) has been quoted as saying 9/11 ruined him. Sullivan had no choice but to leave CDI. Curiously, CDI had a role in the WTC cleanup through a subcontract under Tully Construction. On September 22, 2001, CDI submitted a 25-page "preliminary" document to New York City's Department of Design and Construction, a plan related to the removal and recycling of the steel.[¹]

Sullivan stated that he knew from the first day that the destruction of World Trade Center Building 7 on 9/11 was a classic controlled implosion. Asked how he thought it might have been done he posited, “looking at the building it wouldn’t be a problem -- once you gain access to the elevator shafts…then a team of expert loaders would have hidden access to the core columns and beams. The rest can be accomplished with just the right kind of explosives for the job. Thermite can be used as well.”

Brent Blanchard, the photographer from the controlled demolition company Protec, has said, in criticism of the CD theory, that there would have had to been detonation cords strung all over the place and casings left in the rubble pile from the cutter charges. So we asked for a response from Sullivan. He noted that:

Remote wireless detonators have been available for years. Look at any action movie -- and of course the military has them. The reason most contractors don’t use them is that they are too expensive -- but in a project with a huge budget it would be no problem. As for the casings -- everyone in the industry, including Blanchard, would know that RDX explosive cutter charges are completely consumed when they go off -- nothing is left. And in the case of Thermite cutter charges, that may also be the case. Thermite self-consuming cutter charge casings have been around since first patented back in 1984.

We asked Sullivan if all the floors in WTC 7 would have to be loaded with explosives in order for a successful controlled demolition. He responded,

No, with steel framed buildings you really need only to load the bottom third to bring the building down. While at CDI we had a job in Hartford Conn, the CNG building, where we did just that. And it worked out beautifully.

Recalling that Ron Craig, a Hollywood movie explosions expert claimed in a debate with us, that there would have been many blocks of broken windows if it were a controlled demolition. Sullivan reflected,

The key word here is controlled demolition – in other words careful placement of charges -- always focused and precise. We are not talking about setting off a bomb here. The amount and type of explosives is an art and collateral damage can often be completely avoided.

We asked about Shyam Sunder, the lead investigator of NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) who claimed publically in his infamous press conference at the “unveiling” of the Final Report on the Collapse of World Trade Center Building 7 that there would have been a loud boom coming from a massive explosion if this had been a controlled demolition, and asked him about that. Sullivan said, “With any implosion there is never just one big explosion but rather waves of smaller explosions -- not unlike the percussion section in a symphony -- as each loaded floor is progressively set off.”

And as Sullivan watched the towers collapse that day, like so many did, he pondered at how fast it all took place, and how suddenly and symmetrically they were brought down. "I knew it was an explosive event as soon as I saw it, there was no question in my mind," said Sullivan. Most of us agree -- it's not by chance that the first tower just happened to collapse -- then the second in the same manner. What convinced him completely is when he watched Tower 7 fall that day, "I mean, come on, it was complete destruction. I've seen buildings fall like that for years -- that was the end game for me." Keep in mind that Sullivan did this for a living for several years -- it is like second nature for him to see this type of demolition. If anybody would know, it should be him. But we went ahead and asked him, “Is there any chance that normal office fires (the official cause of the ’collapse’) could have been responsible for the smooth, symmetrical, free-fall acceleration of building 7? “Not a chance,” he retorted. We just wanted to be sure.

When we asked him if he followed any of the 9/11 Commission hearings or that of the NIST reporting, he had the same answer for both "I have no tolerance for people who lie to me about what I know to be true. I threw my hands up in disgust and never watched another hearing after the first. As for NIST, I didn't even watch because I knew what to expect." He did however follow the final report on the collapse of Tower 7 and said it angered him that they could actually convince so many of their fraudulent claims.

Sullivan first came into contact with AE911Truth through a friend that sent him the 9/11: Blueprint for Truth DVD. He watched it and was very excited that there was actually an organization out there trying to inform people of what he was trying to say since that fateful day. “AE911Truth is the most focused and organized group there is today in the 9/11 truth movement. There is no speculation," he said. "Blueprint for Truth is factual and impressive information based on science and physics, and was clear and concise." When asked if he agreed with the evidence the DVD brings forth, Sullivan responded, "It contains extremely compelling evidence."

The final question we asked in this interview was, "How many architects and engineers does it take speaking in unison until people hear that there is a problem?" His response, "As the number grows it will be harder and harder to deny them -- but deny them they will."

Note: 1) Sullivan came out from the East Coast to deliver a short but electrifying presentation on Friday and Saturday night, May 7th & 8th at the joint presentation of Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth and Firefighters for 9/11 Truth. He joined Richard Gage, AIA, and Erik Lawyer on stage for 10 minutes and answered some key questions about the demolition industry, the CDI family of Loizeauxs, and the way the 3 WTC skyscrapers were destroyed. Prior to these milestone events he appeared with Gage and Lawyer on KPFA radio Berkeley on the program “Guns & Butter” with host Bonnie Faulkner who had a number of great questions for him.

2) "DO NOT COPY" watermarks on images were added by Tom Sullivan. These images may not be copied other than in the context of this article, or with his specific approval.


Hugo Chavez makes fun of Hillary Clinton :-)

(sorry guys, I only found a version with French subtitles)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Kyrgyzstan: Picking up the pieces

Kill the victim and go to his funeral. Is NATO poised to move into the heart of Central Asia, even as its war in Afghanistan implodes, marvels Eric Walberg

Kyrgyzstan joined the rank of failed states this month: its central government lacks legitimacy and depends heavily on external aid, with the US base looming large, while the people are largely destitute, harassed by local thugs and drug barons, and looking to Moscow for a way out.

Clashes in the south are worse than earlier reported, responsible for more than 300 killed, mostly Uzbeks, and setting off a massive wave of refugees, with 100,000 people crammed in camps on Kyrgyzstan’s border with Uzbekistan and tens of thousands more displaced. The clashes are almost certainly the result of a provocation organised by the clan of ousted president Kurmanbek Bakiyev.

The issues at stake are the referendum next Sunday to legitimise the interim government, and the drug trade, which Bakiyev’s clan still controls and is loathe to give up. Heroin comes from Afghanistan via Tajikistan and is repackaged in Osh before being transported west to Uzbekistan and north to Kazakhstan and Russia, according to the UN. The killing two weeks ago of Aibek Mirsidikov, one of the drug kingpins in the area, threatened the Bakiyev clan’s control. The rest is history.

Jalalabad province commandant and first Deputy Chairman of the Kyrgyz State National Security Service Kubatbek Baibolov charged that a group of Tajik citizens, hired by the Bakiyev clan, opened fire indiscriminately on both Kyrgyz and Uzbeks sparking the riots. Former Kyrgyz president Askar Akayev told that Bakiyev’s brothers Ahmad and Janysh paid criminals and unemployed youths “in suitcases of cash to start bashing people up and set everything on fire.” Bakiyev had cleaned out the banks and the Finance Ministry when he was ousted in April. Days before the current uprising unemployed youth were suddenly flush with cash, said Akayev.

The ex-president’s son Maxim’s indictment by Italian investigators is what sparked his father’s overthrow in April. That the US was not the culprit this time (as opposed to the Tulip Revolution in 2005) is suggested by the fact that the new government continues to threaten to close down the US airbase -- this time, if Britain refuses to hand over Maxim, who was arrested Sunday at Farnborough airport when he arrived by private plane, fleeing an Interpol arrest warrant on charges of corruption and misusing state funds. He is of course seeking political asylum in Britain. “England never gives up people who arrive on its territory. But since England and the US fight terrorism, and the arrangement with the airbase is one of the elements of that fight, then they must give over Maxim Bakiyev,” warned Azimbek Beknazarov, deputy leader of the interim government.

This is not just a tragedy for the normally peaceful Uzbeks and Kyrgyz, but also an alarming development for the entire ex-Soviet space. Russia is now faced with the worst post-Soviet political crisis in its “near abroad”, where it insists -- rightly -- that it has special claims, having millions of Russians scattered throughout those countries, with intimate economic and cultural links from centuries of both imperial and state socialist development. But where there are claims, there are also responsibilities.

This is no better illustrated than the call by both sides, Uzbeks and Kyrgyz alike, for Russian peacekeeping troops to be deployed as disinterested mediators who understand the region and can communicate with locals, unlike NATO forces in Afghanistan. The spectre of Russians policing the streets of Osh raises none of the loathing and fear that US and NATO troops patrolling, say, Marja, prompts. The peoples of virtually all the ex-Soviet quasi-states (except the Baltics) would rejoin a Soviet-type union in a flash as opinion polls continue to confirm two decades after its ignominious “collapse”. When Kyrgyzstan twitches, Russia feels it, and vice versa.

Trying to put Humpty-Dumpty together again is impossible at this point. Instead, the Russian strategy since Yeltsin has been to do everything possible to keep these quasi-states stable, whatever their political leanings. Even the Georgian bete noire Saakashvili was left in place during his war with Russia in 2008. But this hands-off approach has left a vacuum that the US has been filling, with its “democracy building”, colour revolutions and bases, oblivious to the fact that the new states it helped give birth to in the first place are more like premmies -- fragile and needing careful nurturing, always in danger of dying.

Russia’s approach amounts to propping up dictators no matter how ruthless or bloodthirsty, as long as they acknowledge Moscow’s interests. The nicest of the lot, Kyrgyzstan’s ex-president Askar Akayev, was overthrown in the US-inspired 2005 coup, which the US now surely regrets, leaving one tolerable one -- Nursultan Nazarbayev in Kazakhstan, with Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan frozen in a very nasty timewarp.

Can Russia act as “an agent of change, as a force for genuine modernisation, cautiously nudging the local authoritarian regimes to transform, democratise and broaden their socio-political base?” asks Igor Torbakov of the Finnish Institute of International Affairs. If Russia keeps referring to this crisis as merely an “internal conflict,” it risks losing face, prestige and the right to claim the leading role in the post-Soviet Eurasia.

Recent weeks have witnessed several other signs of a Russian retreat in foreign policy. It failed to respond to the Brazil-Turkey proposal to defuse the Iranian crisis, voted for sanctions, and cancelled the S-300 missile deal with Iran, admitting to US pressure.

The Arabs have a saying about the rascal who kills the victim and then goes to his funeral. US involvement in Kyrgyz affairs exemplifies this well: destabilise the state and now, like former US ambassador to Russia James Collins and Carnegie Russia and Eurasia Programme deputy director Matthew Rojansky, call for NATO and the US to “immediately engage with regional partners to help restore security.” There are no lines to read between here: NATO should expand even further eastward through its Partners for Peace. Collins/Rojansky magnanimously acknowledge that this is “a responsibility NATO must share with the CSTO and the OSCE”. They blandly call for “the United States and Russia to put aside outdated stereotypes and focus on their fundamentally shared interests in Eurasian security”.

Considering the disarray of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), it is hard to fault the US for using this window of opportunity to move further into the region. This crisis has shown that the CSTO is not a serious regional organisation. The squabbling and suspicious “stan” dictators, Russia, and China have little in common other than their proximity. The CSTO’s response, according to its General Secretary Nikolai Burdyuzha, is to send “specialists who know how to plan and organise an operation to prevent mass disorder, which would unmask its instigators and localise bandit groups who provoke the situation.”

Is the OSCE an intermediate option, with its 56 member states, including both NATO and CSTO members? Hardly. Russia is the main actor here, with the other Central Asian states also having a pressing need to try to salvage a viable statelet from this tragedy. The NATO quagmire in Afghanistan needs no farcical replay. So the Collins/Rojansky call is really just a call for NATO expansion, pure and simple.

Another possibility is for Turkey to step in. Kyrgyz and Kazakh are both Turkic peoples, whose languages are mutually intelligible. Kyrgyz territory was, in the khanate past, once one with that of the Kazakhs -- the entire region was known as Turkestan. During a visit to Kazakhstan this week, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and the Kazakh president supported Kyrgyz plans to proceed with the referendum next Sunday. Davutoglu said, “Immediately after the referendum, we plan together with Kazakhstan to prepare joint actions to show our assistance to Kyrgyzstan.”

If all else fails, there is China, though its presence is problematic, given its suppression of the Uighurs across the border in Xinjiang. But Beijing’s self-confidence and massive economy inevitably give it an outsize influence, especially if Russia and the West continue to flounder.

Eric Walberg writes for Al-Ahram Weekly You can reach him at

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Surviving in a world of zombies: using news aggregators

Not too long ago a wrote a short piece entitled "Take revenge on the bastards now!" in which I recommended a total boycott of the Zionist corporate media. I also provided the URLs of some websites which provide streams of alternative TV and radio stations. If all you have is 10-15 mins a day, listening to Russia Today, Press TV, Telesur or al-Jazeera is not the worst option. Listening to shows like DemocracyNow! or Guns and Butter is another excellent option. Lastly, you might want to sign up for one of the many excellent mailing lists out there (too numerous to list here). But for some of you this might not be enough.

When the purpose is to research a topic, or to get hard to find information or analysis, you need to canvass the Internet much wider and deeper. One option is to use Google or another search engine, but those rely on popularity ranking: what if what you are interested in is not popular at all, or the popular slant on your story is the "official" one? You can also visit your favorite websites, but what if there are too many such sites? There is a far better and effective solution: use a "news aggregator", sometimes also called a "news reader".

A news aggregator is a special program which makes use of something called "real simple syndication". You can think of it as a "headlines collector" (check out the Wikipedia entry on RSS for mode details). Depending on how it is configured, it will tell you what items have been added to a website, give you a headline/title, and possibly a short blurb. This information will then be combined into a single interface which you can conveniently consult and, in most cases, which can you search for specific keywords.

There are plenty of good and free news aggregators out there. Check out the website RSS Readers for a list. Personally, I use Liferea, an excellent news aggregator for GNU/Linux and UNIX. If you are still one of the most unfortunate users of Windoze or Mac OSX, you can try RSSowl: it's free software and multi-system.

Both Liferea and RSSowl are easy to use with an intuitive interface. Basically, here is how they work: you go to your favorite website and see if they provide RSS feeds. This will be indicated with with "rss" or "atom" and, sometimes, "syndication" or even "subscribe". Look for the RSS logo (shown here). You will need to find a special URL which will point to this feed. It will look like something like this: (I took the one of RSSowl as an example). You copy this unique URL and add it to your news aggregator. Repeat that with all your favorite websites and, voila!, you have a single place where to read all your news. By the way, Goggle offers a very good newsreader online. Check it out here.

Keep in mind that, unfortunately, not all websites offer rss feeds. And some do offer them, but they do not work. So trial and error is the way to go, but it is well worth the effort.

The beauty of it all is that once it is installed and configured, your news aggregator runs in the background. You can tell it to refresh all the subscriptions as often as you want (I set mine for every 3 hours), and it does so automatically. I leave my main computer on 24/7 so it also does it overnight, and once I wake up in the morning I find all the news updated within the last 3 hours ready to be parsed with a minimal amount of time and effort.

To save you some time, I would like to share with you the OPML file I am personally using (you can think of the OPML file as a list of websites with rss feeds). You can download mine by clicking here. What you will need to do is download this short text file to your computer and import it into your rss reader. Then you will automatically have the full list of websites I use to do my research. Currently, I have 29 personal blogs listed, and 124 websites. Combined, they are currently showing 7887 unread news stories! I have setup Liferea to keep 100 stories per subscription. So if I search for the word "Gaza" 616 hits; that is 616 news items. And the search only takes a few seconds (depending on the power of your computer).

Now, if you take a look at my list, you will see that it contains a real hodge-podge of websites, including some major corporate news sources (Asia Times), to personal blogs, to some really specialized ones, all this is 5 languages. Please do not think that I endorse or "trust" these information sources. The only reason why I have included them is because I have found interesting news items or analyses on them, that is all. At the end, caveat emptor and the rest of the usual disclaimers apply: you need to decide for yourself which sources you trust and which you don't. My personal main criteria of selection was "news sources which the Empire would not want me to access". Naturally, my sources are skewed towards topics and regions which I know more about, YMMV. And, of course, many are missing.

In this context, I would like to ask you all for your help:

Please share with me, and the rest of us, all the websites which you turn to for info or which you can recommend. In particular, I would like to identify websites with rss feeds from Turkey, India, Far East Asia and Africa. I would be interested in news sources not only in English but also French, German, Russian, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese or Dutch. I would also be interested in personal blogs, of course, as I find that often they have much better analyses than regular news sites.

I hope that you find news aggregators as useful as I do and that you will share your experience with them with the rest of us.

Many thanks in advance!

The Saker

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Israeli ship prevented from off-loading in Oakland

"Quand le bateau coule, les rats quittent le navire"

Amazing article on the BBC website this morning:

The top US commander in Afghanistan has apologised for a magazine article that mocks senior Obama administration officials and diplomats. Gen Stanley McChrystal said the article in Rolling Stone showed "poor judgement" and a lack of integrity.

In the article Gen McChrystal said he felt betrayed by US ambassador to Kabul, Karl Eikenberry. The general's aides mock Vice-President Joe Biden and say Gen McChrystal was "disappointed" in President Obama.

The Rolling Stone article - The Runaway General - is due out on Friday but Gen McChrystal has quickly sought to limit the damage. He said in a statement on Tuesday: "I extend my sincerest apology for this profile it was a mistake reflecting poor judgment and should never happened."

He adds: "Throughout my career, I have lived by the principles of personal honour and professional integrity. What is reflected in this article falls far short of that standard.

"I have enormous respect and admiration for President Obama and his national security team and for the civilian leaders and troops fighting this war and I remain committed to ensuring its successful outcome."

One of the main targets of the article appears to be Mr Eikenberry. Gen McChrystal says he felt "betrayed" by the ambassador during the White House debate on troop requests for Afghanistan.

Gen McChrystal suggests Mr Eikenberry was using a leaked internal memo that questioned the troop requests as a way to protect himself from future criticism over the deployment.

The general says: "I like Karl, I've known him for years, but they'd never said anything like that to us before. "Here's one that covers his flank for the history books. Now if we fail, they can say, 'I told you so'."

Gen McChrystal also appears to joke in response to a question about the vice-president.

"Are you asking about Vice-President Biden?" McChrystal asks. 'Who's that?" An aide then says: "Biden? Did you say: Bite Me?"

Another aide refers to a key Oval Office meeting with the president a year ago. The aide says it was "a 10-minute photo op", adding: "Obama clearly didn't know anything about him, who he was... he didn't seem very engaged. The boss was pretty disappointed."

Gen McChrystal himself says: "I found that time painful. I was selling an unsellable position."

Another aide refers to national security adviser, James Jones, as a "clown stuck in 1985".

Of an e-mail from US special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke, Gen McChrystal says: "Oh, not another e-mail from Holbrooke... I don't even want to open it."

Last year's Afghan strategy review by the new president was detailed and drawn out, with Gen McChrystal finally getting an additional 30,000 US troops from Mr Obama. Analysts say Gen McChrystal disagreed with the pledge to start bringing troops home in July 2011.
Commentary: The war in Afghanistan is the longest war in US history and a decade into this war, the best McChrystal recently had to say about it was that it was "a draw". The world's only global superpower fights to a decade and ends up in a "draw"?! Needless to say, that is an admission of DEFEAT and, as we all know from time immemorial, "Victory has a hundred fathers but defeat is an orphan" and now the war in Afghanistan is clearly entering its last phase: the "CYOA phase".