em·pire
ˈemˌpī(ə)r/
noun
an extensive operation or sphere of activity controlled by one person or group

One group today has more foreign military bases than any other in world history, spends more on violence and domination than the rest of the world combined, and has overthrown or attempted to overthrow some 60 governments, most of them democracies.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Why Would Bloomberg News Completely Disappear the February, 2014 Ukraine Coup?


Bloomberg says in a post today that the "confrontation between Russia and the US" over Ukraine was "provok[ed]" by Putin's annexation of Crimea:

"...Putin annexed the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea last March, provoking the biggest confrontation between Russia and the U.S. and Europe since the Cold War." 

That's odd, though, because the reintegration of Crimea into Russia (after a vote in favor - but remember democracy is what we say it is) happened, as Bloomberg says and BBC confirms, in March, 2014, about five months after violent, US-backed protests began in November 2013, and ended in the the elected Ukrainian president, Victor Yanukovych, being driven out of the country by, as BBC put it, "radical groups", including neo-Nazis: see BBC's "Neo-Nazi Threat in Ukraine", Feb. 28, 2014.  ("BBC Newsnight's Gabriel Gatehouse investigates the links between the new Ukrainian government and Neo-nazis."  Later articles covering the topic were published by, among many others, Glenn Greenwald, Robert Parry, and even, albeit 8 or 9 months too late to make a difference, NBC)

It's also strange that BBC would say the following (even in a piece rife with the British state-run outlet's typical pro-Western spin):

Pro-Russian forces [ie the Russian troops already stationed in Crimea by agreement] took control of Crimea in February.  They moved in after Ukraine's pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych was ousted after street protests.

So, they reacted to the US-backed overthrow of elected Yanukovych.  To be precise, Russian troops began the process of, in US political-speak, liberating and securing Crimea on "February 23rd, 2014".

Yet, again oddly, here is Time on February 22nd, 2014:

"Ukraine protesters seize Kiev as President flees"
"Yanukovych fled to the eastern city of Kharkiv where he traditionally has a more solid base of support..."

It is noted in Wikipedia that Yanukovych had "won election in 2010 with strong support in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and southern and eastern Ukraine."

Here is US historian William Blum, March 7, 2014, on these events:

The Ukrainian insurgents and their Western-power supporters didn’t care who their Ukrainian allies were in carrying out their coup against President Viktor Yanukovych last month … thugs who set policemen on fire head to toe … all manner of extreme right-wingers, including Chechnyan Islamic militants … a deputy of the ultra-right Svoboda Party, part of the new government, who threatens to rebuild Ukraine’s nukes in three to six months. … the snipers firing on the protestors who apparently were not what they appeared to be – A bugged phone conversation between Urmas Paet, the Estonian foreign minister, and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, reveals Paet saying: “There is now stronger and stronger understanding that behind the snipers it was not Yanukovych, but it was somebody from the new coalition.” … neo-Nazi protestors in Kiev who have openly denounced Jews, hoisting a banner honoring Stepan Bandera, the infamous Ukrainian nationalist who collaborated with the German Nazis during World War II and whose militias participated in atrocities against Jews and Poles.

And who could forget the pictures of Victoria Nuland and John McCain meeting with Ukrainian neo-Nazi and extremist leaders who use terms like "cleanse" and "kike", or Nuland's bragging to Chevron that the US had put billions and billions of dollars into these events, highly reminiscent of the US investment in overthrowing Iran's democracy in 1953 after Iran nationalized its oil.

To the untrained eye, it would certainly seem that, in "liberating" Crimea, Russia was, very understandably, reacting to the above-mentioned series of events (not to mention the encroachment of a hostile, US-led, nuclear military alliance, NATO...).

So why would Bloomberg publish a piece that says the confrontation between Russia and the US was provoked by the annexation of Crimea, when it was provoked by a US-backed overthrow (one of about 60) of an elected president, who had strong ties to the highly ethnic-Russian east (including Crimea)?

We cannot credibly postulate that the Bloomberg author is unaware of the events prior to the "annexation of Crimea", so we are forced to assume that he has a desire to paint Russia as the aggressor in the West/East standoff, as do so many working for the Western information systems.

This time, he has taken the easy way out by just pretending that nothing happened before Crimea, but other Western outlets have risen to the challenge, with impressive results.  

When forced to acknowledge events that show the West as current aggressor in the (now perhaps winding down) West/East conflict, Western outlets have done what they do best: spin crackpot conspiracy theories about how everyone is trying to destroy the "free world" (the US happens to imprison more of its own people than any country in history, but in the free world we are smart enough to know that doesn't count).

The New York Times, for example, attempted to explain the events that provoked Russia's actions in Crimea (the US-backed protests and violent overthrow of an elected leader), by claiming Putin orchestrated all of that, too.

Robert Parry reports on the Times' fanciful effort:

Is the New York Times really suggesting that Putin pulled the strings on the likes of Merkel and Nuland, secretly organized neo-Nazi brigades, and ruthlessly deployed these thugs to Kiev to provoke violence and overthrow Yanukovych, all while pretending to try to save Yanukovych’s government – all so Putin could advance some dastardly plot to conquer Europe?

...the Times’ narrative is something that would make even the most dedicated “conspiracy theorist” blush. Yet, the Times not only asserts this crazy conspiracy theory but calls it “incontrovertible.”

True to form, another times article recently proclaimed:

In all likelihood no one in the Kremlin actually ordered the killing [of Nemtsov]... The Kremlin has recently created a loose army of avengers who believe they are acting in the country’s best interests, without receiving any explicit instructions.

If someone in the US were to insist that Obama or Bush created a "loose army of avengers" who went around killing people "without receiving any explicit instructions", he or she would be told to take off the tinfoil hat, leave mom's basement, and get a job.

But when discussing the dark, ruthless, senseless forces of pure evil outside of our huddling "free world", we are *free* to boldly rewrite history in our favor, concoct wild-eyed conspiracy theories to our hearts' content, and use our new and improved histories and our nut-job theories to promote mass-violence against the bad people conspiring against "our freedoms", and then kill millions of them.

@_DirtyTruths

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Point by Point Analysis of Declassified DIA Docs re Western-Backed Syrian Insurgency

Here, I wrote that these documents "may" say the US/West wanted/want a Salafist Principality in Eastern Syria, because the declassified docs 1) say "Salafist, Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria"; 2) in the next sentence, the doc defines the "The West, Gulf Countries, and Turkey" as the countries that "support the opposition"; 3) they later say the "opposition forces are trying to control the Eastern areas", where Syria borders Iraq, and, specifically of this control of Eastern areas, say the "Western Countries, the Gulf States, and Turkey are supporting these efforts". 4) In a section about "effects on Iraq" the docs say that "there is a possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist Principality in Eastern Syria...", then say "this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran)."

However, while the document begins by stating that "The West, Gulf Countries, and Turkey support the opposition", the document, as noted, also defines other groups, which could be considered "powers", as either components of or supporters of the opposition: Salafists, Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI. The report states: "AQI supported the opposition from the beginning..."

While the FSA is defined as "opposition", Salafists, Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI are initially described as "the major forces driving the insurgency", not as "the opposition". It could be that the document means that the FSA is "the opposition" and the West, its allies, and the Islamic groups are simply all supporting them, but with different individual goals. However, AQI is also directly described as "opposition" to Assad: "AQI declared its opposition of Assad's government because it considered it a sectarian regime targeting Sunnis."

In the section that says "there is a possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist Principality in Eastern Syria...", then that "this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want", this section of the doc defines the opposition forces controlling the Iraq/Syria border as "Syrian Free Army", the FSA, and says the FSA will try to take "advantage of the sympathy of the Iraqi border population".

It then says that "If the situation [likely meaning FSA control of the border] unravels there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist Principality in Eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran)." (The US obviously opposes Iranian expansion and sides with the Sunnis, but the last part of this sentence, as it is framed in terms of Shia expansion, may suggest that here the "supporting powers to the opposition" may be referring not the sentence stating "The West, Gulf Countries, and Turkey support the opposition", but to earlier sentences stating "AQI supported the opposition from the beginning..." and "AQI declared its opposition of Assad's government because it considered it a sectarian regime targeting Sunnis."

Thus, perhaps this is simply unclear writing, or too much is censored, and what this really means is that while both AQI and "The West, Gulf Countries, and Turkey" support the "opposition" (and AQI also comprises the opposition), only the AQI part of that support for the opposition would want a "Salafist Principality" to be established. This is clearly stated regarding the effect on Iraq. However, the US/West do strongly support existing Salafist Principalities, as noted above, including the most ideologically expansionist one, Saudi Arabia. Thus, supporting a Salafist Principality, and annexation of territory (Israel, Cuba, Diego Garcia, etc.), is something the US already does currently. International relations scholar Dr. Nafeez Ahmed notes that a RAND corp report previously advised the US “to capitalise on the Shia-Sunni conflict by taking the side of the conservative Sunni regimes in a decisive fashion and working with them against all Shiite empowerment movements in the Muslim world.”)

The doc says the above-noted "deterioration", likely referring to the 'unravels' term above, "has dire consequences on the Iraq situation." It continues that this "deterioration" would give more momentum to terrorist groups and could allow them to declare an "Islamic state", "which will create grave danger in regards to unifying Iraq and the protection of its territory." (A study out of British universities noted that US government/media did not report on ISIS publicly until it began to seize oil fields. Then, the study shows, the US sent drones to try to stop ISIS.)

The last uncensored sentence of the doc says that the third consequence of the "deterioration of the situation" ('the situation' likely meaning the FSA control of the border region) would be terrorist elements from all over the Arab world "entering into Iraqi arena."

The rest of the document is censored, as are some sections before this.

Overall, what we can see in the document clearly states that a Salafist Principality is not desired by the West in terms of the Iraqi situation, but may or may not suggest that this principality is desired in terms of isolating Assad, which is a stated goal of the West and its allies (not just isolating, but removing). However, it is also a goal of AQI and its allies, which are defined both as supporting "the opposition" and having "declared its opposition of Assad's government". While this group and its affiliates could be viewed as a strategic asset for isolating Assad, they could also be viewed as a third party outside the wider global contest between West and East, which is opposed to either. However, a group in Syria opposed to both sides could be seen as preferable to having a group allied with the East and opposed to the West.

International security scholar Dr. Nafeez Ahmed analyzes these documents and concludes the US practices a policy of “sponsoring Islamist terrorism for dubious geopolitical purposes.”

“According to the newly declassified US document, the Pentagon foresaw the likely rise of the ‘Islamic State’ as a direct consequence of this strategy, and warned that it could destabilize Iraq. Despite anticipating that Western, Gulf state and Turkish support for the “Syrian opposition” — which included al-Qaeda in Iraq — could lead to the emergence of an ‘Islamic State’ in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the document provides no indication of any decision to reverse the policy of support to the Syrian rebels. On the contrary, the emergence of an al-Qaeda affiliated “Salafist Principality” as a result is described as a strategic opportunity to isolate Assad.”

“The secret Pentagon document thus provides extraordinary confirmation that the US-led coalition currently fighting ISIS, had three years ago welcomed the emergence of an extremist “Salafist Principality” in the region as a way to undermine Assad, and block off the strategic expansion of Iran.”

“The establishment of such a “Salafist Principality” in eastern Syria, the DIA document asserts, is “exactly” what the “supporting powers to the [Syrian] opposition want.” Earlier on, the document repeatedly describes those “supporting powers” as “the West, Gulf countries, and Turkey.”

Charles Shoebridge, a former British Army and Metropolitan Police counter-terrorism intelligence officer, said (noted by Ahmed) that the documents “raise vitally important questions of the West’s governments and media in their support of Syria’s rebellion.”

“Throughout the early years of the Syria crisis, the US and UK governments, and almost universally the West’s mainstream media, promoted Syria’s rebels as moderate, liberal, secular, democratic, and therefore deserving of the West’s support. Given that these documents wholly undermine this assessment, it’s significant that the West’s media has now, despite their immense significance, almost entirely ignored them.”

Ahmed quotes a former US Marine: ““US intelligence predicted the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS), but instead of clearly delineating the group as an enemy, the report envisions the terror group as a US strategic asset.”

Ahmed concludes:

“The rise of a Salafist quasi-state entity that might expand into Iraq, and fracture that country, was therefore clearly foreseen by US intelligence as likely — but nevertheless strategically useful — blowback from the West’s commitment to “isolating Syria.”

What the docs establish beyond doubt is that, in 2012, when they were written, the US saw the likelihood of a "Salafist Principality" or "Islamic State" being established, and was fully aware the insurgency in Syria was mainly driven by Islamic groups, who were fighting Assad and also supporting the FSA, which itself has been shown to have Islamic tendencies. For example, an FSA commander is on video saying he would want to implement Sharia law. But the West and its allies continued their support, as FSA members openly shared their US supplies with the ISIS-related groups, and even converted to ISIS.

As Ahmed puts it, “the Pentagon continued to support the Islamist insurgency, even while anticipating the probability that doing so would establish an extremist Salafi stronghold in Syria and Iraq.

This “entire covert strategy was sanctioned and supervised by the US, Britain, France, Israel and other Western powers.”

“As Shoebridge told me, “The documents show that not only did the US government at the latest by August 2012 know the true extremist nature and likely outcome of Syria’s rebellion” — namely, the emergence of ISIS — “but that this was considered an advantage for US foreign policy. This also suggests a decision to spend years in an effort to deliberately mislead the West’s public, via a compliant media, into believing that Syria’s rebellion was overwhelmingly ‘moderate.’”

Ahmed quotes a former MI5 officer explaining that after Libya and other such projects by the West, we see in this behavior towards Syria “part of an established pattern. And they remain indifferent to the sheer scale of human suffering that is unleashed as a result of such game-playing.”

What we already knew before these docs is that the US and West strongly support extremist Salafist states as part of their strategy of eating away at the parts of the world not under the US thumb, the “East”: Syria, Iran, Russia, and China. The US and West themselves are built on and continue to support and commit theft and annexation of territory, and support, commit, or ignore (if they are not politically helpful) all kinds of mass killings, including by groups worse than ISIS; these have included the Khmer Rouge, the Suharto Regime, and the US itself: the establishment of the USA and the building of it into a superpower was a process that involved crimes worse than anything ISIS will ever accomplish.

Further, ISIS, as pointed out by Kofi Annan and many others, arose as a consequence of the illegal US invasion of Iraq, motivated largely by Bush Jr.'s religious fanaticism, an invasion the international community tried and failed to prevent, which, the most recent and comprehensive report finds, has killed about 1 to 2 million or more people, another feat ISIS will never accomplish.

While studies and many official statements make clear, and it is obvious to any minimally non-US-brainwashed individual, that the invasion was largely about oil, even if we disregard that, ignore the rest of US history, and declare the US had/has "good intentions" regarding Iraq, that puts us at the level of of Japanese fascists, who believed in their "good intentions" regarding their invasions of China and elsewhere.

People with too much power always declare good intentions, and are often sincere, as they get god-complexes and view themselves as humanity's benevolent saviors. But the reason war (including supporting warring proxies) is outlawed as an instrument of policy is that it has disastrous consequences, as we are seeing, even for the sincerely well-intentioned.

5/25/15 Update

It should be stressed that clearly admitting the West would "want" a Salafist principality in Eastern Syria is not generally the kind of statement people in governments would make of themselves, even in private, hence makes it less likely here that the West is being referred to specifically by that statement, as does the inclusion of the phrase "if the situation unravels" (meaning FSA control of the East) an Islamic state could result.  However, it is noteworthy that the West and the Islamists are so easily conflated in this document (this conflation may well be intentional as a way of discussing benefits without clearly stating that they might be desired), as they are clearly delineated as both being opposed to the Assad government, and for similar reasons - opposing Iran and the Shia, backed by Russia and China, the latter part being of greater import to the West.  The doc also makes very clear that the FSA was/is being supported by AQI and its Islamist affiliates, and that those Islamists were known to be "the major forces driving the insurgency".  It has long been known that FSA shares its US/Western/Gulf/Turkish supplies with and converts to Islamist groups, and AQI, the ISIS precursor, has always been known as particularly aggressive.  And as Dr. Ahmed points out, the document nowhere suggests ending aid to the opposition due to its being driven by AQI and affiliates, and only frames the potential creation of the "Islamic state" as a bad thing in relation to Iraq.  In relation to Syria/Assad, it is not framed as a bad thing, but as something that would be seen to "isolate" Assad, a goal shared by the West and the Islamist groups.  So, these documents may well be an example of discussing a strategy while attempting to maintain some degree of "plausible deniability". 

It must also be remembered that the US and West not only support extremist Salafi/Wahhabi/Sharia established states, but have on numerous occasions worked with, backed, aided and/or paralleled some of the goals of non-state groups such as the Mujahedin and al Qaeda (in Afghanistan - see Brzezinski, Bob Gates; Bosnia, Kosovo - on these see Fulton in scholarly journal Global Security Studies), including under Obama in relation to Libya.  In US support for the Mujahedin in Afghanistan and then the Taliban, the support was not even seen as a means to an end, but a completely acceptable end in itself: the US was fine with the Taliban taking power and staying in power, as long as it cooperated with the US.  That is the bottom line.  As soon as it proved uncooperative, the US "discovered" the Taliban human rights violations that non-governmental US monitors had been decrying for years, while the US was supporting the Taliban (here).  And, as noted, abhorrent behavior is not a deterrent to US support.  The US has committed far worse crimes than ISIS and supported groups far worse than ISIS.  Only those unfamiliar with history and glued to US TV can think ISIS is some new level of evil in the world, or at least one not seen for a long time.  The only qualifier for US support is whether the group in question is willing to cater to US business and strategic interests.    

@_DirtyTruths

How West’s Native People Largely View the US

Bolivian President Evo Morales is “widely described as Bolivia’s first indigenous leader, at a time when around 62% of the population identified as indigenous; political analysts therefore drew comparisons with the election of Nelson Mandela to the South African Presidency in 1994. This resulted in widespread excitement among the approximately 40 million indigenous people in the Americas, particularly those of Bolivia. However, his election caused concern among the country’s wealthy and landowning classes, who feared state expropriation and nationalisation of their property, as well as far-right groups, who claimed it would spark a race war.”

Here are some excerpts from one of the president’s latest speeches:

Our Latin American memory is full of episodes of armed intervention from the United States, invasions, dominating impositions and constant aggression.

For example, let us never forget the annexation of the territory of Mexico by the United States, nor armed invasions against several countries in Latin America and the Caribbean: Nicaragua, Panama, Grenada, El Salvador, Guatemala and others.

…the world’s chief promoter of military dictatorships and coups is the United States. The colonializing imperial view of the United States towards our Latin America and the Caribbean is one of contempt and belittlement, a view of superiority, political, military, technological and economic superiority. It is the gaze of the colonizer over the colonized, the invader over the invaded, the ruler over their vassals, it is the eagle eyeing its helpless prey.

More than 200 years have passed since US independence and the country not only continues to see our region as its backyard, but as its patrimony that belongs to it by divine right. By means of its imperial power, the United States through the imposing of neoliberal economics, with a colonial mentality or using the talk of international security, this dominating boss has classified us as either good or evil, ‘stick for the bad and carrot for the good.’

The bad countries are those of us who respond with ideas, with dignity, the bad ones are those who nationalize our natural resources and basic services, those put a brake on the political arrogance of US ambassadors who have been converted into viceroys.

We are the bad guys because we defend our political and economic sovereignty.

[we are] treated as if we were slaves in our own territory…

We never declared war on the United States, never tried to annex a part of their territory, we never armed ourselves to threaten their safety. Under no circumstances did we interfere in their internal affairs, we never violated their sovereignty…

Obama … listen to your people who must be tired of so much war, having buried many dead and have so many invalids.

Leave in the past the speeches full of double standards, put aside the threats, blackmail and pressures that the U.S. Capitol or the White House envelop our governments.

Stop using fear, the politics of terror and conditions of any kind. Stop behaving like an empire and let’s conduct ourselves as democratic and sovereign states. All empires perish, democracies are eternal.

Our people are recovering their identity and the dignity of their States.

We want no more Monroes on our continent, no Truman’s doctrine, no more Reagan doctrine, no more Bush doctrine.

We want no more presidential decrees, no executive orders declaring us threats to their country, we do not want them to watch over us, monitor our cell phones, spy on us or kidnap our presidential aircraft.

President Obama, stop turning the world into a battlefield…

Avoid wars that you have produced so far, wars that only benefit the financial tyranny, that benefit the large armaments industry, stop destroying entire civilizations, stop chasing ghosts…

What democracy and freedom can the government of the United States speak of, if everyday they violate the human rights of millions of citizens worldwide, through electronic surveillance, undercover operations and persecution?

What human rights can the US government speak of if torture is a common method used by its intelligence agencies and the death penalty is still in force?

…they want to be the champions of human rights when they do not even meet the basic requirement to ratify [UN] agreements…

What democracy can the Government of the United States speak of if it is sponsoring terrorist acts in various parts of the world?

It is not exporting democracy when it produces the greatest quantity of weapons for the destruction of humanity. No democracy can sustain itself by spying on the world, violating the privacy of millions of citizens.

What democracy can President Obama speak of when he sends thousands of armed marines to our continent to indoctrinate soldiers to fight against our peoples?

What a strange democracy that installs military bases in our countries, when it applies extraterritorial laws, when it has unresolved territorial issues with Cuba and Puerto Rico.

What democracy can it speak of as it cruelly blockades [Cuba] for 50 years…

What you need to do is repay it for all the damages you have caused to Cuba for 50 years. (Applause)

Everyone knows that the supposed war on drugs was merely a pretext to impose your economic policies.

The wars against communism, against drug trafficking and terrorism have become a pretext to impose policies of fear and intervene in strategic areas to plunder our natural resources.

President Obama, stop making war, and turn your country into a democratic republic, instead of maintaining an anti-democratic and unsustainable empire.

I respectfully ask you to concern yourself with the millions of Americans living in extreme poverty in your own country…

President Obama, I ask you to expel the criminals from your territory, from your country.

It is not right for your country to become a home for confessed terrorists, corrupt ones, of murderers, of separatists who have escaped. Expel those who have escaped so that they can be judged by their peoples.

President Obama, if you feel that you are the leader of a world power, I ask you take the lead in saving Mother Earth, in saving life, of humanity.

The Western hemisphere’s indigenous people are not alone. A Swiss poll conducted at the end of 2014 asked 65 countries around the world which country they viewed as the greatest obstacle blocking the path to world peace.

Rogue nuclear state Pakistan got 8% of the vote, taking the #2 slot. Way out beyond every other country, with three times more votes than Pakistan and twelve times more votes than Russia, was the US at 24%, running away with the award for greatest threat to world peace.

@_DirtyTruths