All posts by Angie Tibbs

Dissident Voice 2020-08-02 07:25:58

In Mental Health Court (for Tatiana)

If you are competent
you are criminal,
if you cannot distinguish
an inkblot from a summons,
the doctors will pronounce
you are a psychotic.

If you lie,
you will be thrown to the lions,
if you tell the truth,
you will be thrown to the crocodiles.

We are all hoping for treatment
which means
we are all hoping
we are sick.

The sheriffs will transport you
at the expense of the state
unless
there is a sister and a cousin
who volunteer
to feed, house and clothe you
against medical advice.

They ask
if you can be ready
as soon as they can find a bed.

There was an old man
with a silly smile and a gray wool beard
who only mouthed the words
in response to any question.
His prison pants were falling down,
weighted by the chains around his waist
to hold his arms at his sides
in shackles.
He did not seem a danger to anyone
or to himself.
He seemed he had surrendered
many years ago
to the authorities,
and the system,
and the brutal grind
of trying to make his weary way through the world.

The bailiff was not scary,
even in his bulletproof vest
beneath his perfect uniform.
He had lost his sarcasm in the paperwork,
lost with the voices of the detainees,
and the lost faces staring back at him
from the gallery,
like opposite families at a wedding,
across the aisle,
every working day,
and every night
as the bailiff dreamed.

The judge, the public defender and the DA,
the judicial assistant, and the stenographer
were seasoned friends.
They worked the daily conveyor belt
of justice,
separating sane from lunatic.

They check the calendar.
Come back in November for another hearing.

The First Circle

Probably everyone in the West at least has seen some version of a famous figure by the late 19th century French sculptor Auguste Rodin, called in English, The Thinker. It is a nude man seated in a position we have all learned to understand as contemplative, as thinking. Several years ago, although I actually hate visiting museums, I took a few hours while in Paris to visit the Rodin museum. I confess a very good friend who knows more about the plastic arts than I do gave me the hint. He said this figure is actually only a tiny part of a much bigger sculpture. You need to see it, he said, in its context.

When I was still an adolescent, having heard about the release of Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago, I asked my grandmother to buy me a copy. I was staying with her at the time. This was my first contact with Russian writers. Solzhenitsyn’s book so fascinated me that I asked for and got a box set of his novels. One of them which I found very curious and at first reading very difficult was called The First Circle. It was about scientists, if I recall correctly, in the Soviet Union during the Second World War. I could check and refresh my memory but that is not the point. There are some things in one’s life or education, which are more important for how one feels at a certain time than the actual content, which may be quite trivial. The significance of the content, his story, only occurred to me when some years later I became familiar with Dante’s Divine Comedy.

Although I still appreciate Solzhenitsyn’s work, what I most appreciate was his refusal to become a public instrument of US anti-Soviet foreign policy while in his Vermont exile. Although by all reasonable measures he was an archconservative and intense opponent of the Soviet Union, he was such a Russian patriot that he could not accept the “American way of life” and refused to promote it. However, that is not my main concern here.

Since events exploded in Wuhan, China in 2019, I have wavered between resignation and the compulsion to react to events in the way I always have since I learned to hold a pencil—by writing.

In 2016 I spent nine hours watching a dramatic presentation of Karl Kraus’ Die letzten Tagen der Menschheit,  an amazing piece of drama about the conditions of the Great War (1915-1918).1 Prior to that Kraus was only known to me by means of an epithet my university mentor was fond of citing: “Why does a man write? Because he does not have enough courage not to”.  I found the original quote in German later, which could be given a slightly different interpretation. However, the point is essentially the same: while writing is a rational act, the decision to write is not necessarily rational.

At the end of nearly 20 weeks since the first barrage of news from Wuhan, China, and the first month of the state of siege proclaimed through most of the European Union, I have addressed myself2 to the current condition some nine times in prose and verse to the so-called corona virus pandemic. As I follow the published and broadcast traces in the West, which describe and/or define the present very unsatisfactory conditions, I keep asking myself if there is really any point to saying more.

My focus has been on the character of the response, its proportionality, but also its legitimacy. From the beginning I have argued that the origin of the virus known as SARS-CoV-2 and the immediate mechanisms of the outbreak are positively deniable and therefore ought not to be the focus of too much debate. It is hard but not impossible to argue that this was a natural catastrophe, perhaps caused by “global warming”. However, I believed and still believe that the focus on the origin of the outbreak and even the details of the disease, known as covid-2019, while in a microcosmic way relevant, on the whole are minor issues. The reason is simple: what needs to be addressed is the global context in which the phenomenon of the “corona virus” has become the key public policy and health issue worldwide—apparently to the exclusion of all else—and the means by which this issue is handled and not least of which by whom?

I have also argued that there is a fundamental difference between the events in China and those in the EU and the US. Therefore simple comparisons between the action of the Chinese government and the reactions of the Western governments, singularly or collectively, do not add much to understanding the crisis. Finally I have argued that this is not a medical crisis but a political crisis.

There is no need to repeat those arguments and why I made them here.

However, in the context of the Easter holiday, a feast which for centuries was the core religious festival of Christendom, not only were the celebrations virtually prohibited, a campaign was apparently begun, or to use the corporate jargon for such an event “kicked-off”.

Prior to the near universal proclamation of the state of siege throughout the EU, there were intimations that the closures—especially of schools and universities—would probably only continue until the end of the Easter recess. In other words, one to two weeks after the Easter holiday. I say intimated because I know of no official pronouncements that the closures would end on any particular day. Since there was no public parliamentary debate and no other conventional public procedure for deciding the terms of the state of siege; e.g., according to what criteria it would lapse or be raised, the credibility of such conjecture was based wholly on a common sense approach. No later than the end of Easter recess people would have to return to work because there are simply no alternatives

The first week after Easter has come to an end and there is little sign of any end to the closures, although some EU members have announced limited and tentative returns to ordinary business and in Sweden, for example, the regime has already been superficially relaxed.

China, where this virus was first detected and the illnesses first reported, has begun to re-open its business and public institutions if in a guarded way.

Meanwhile if reports from the US are to be believed the pandemic has hit very hard in a country that has virtually no concept of public health worthy of the name.

This has given the permanent anti-Trump faction in the US another reason to continue their campaign after the attempt to ram an impeachment and removal through the US Congress failed last year. Now the man who is Vladimir Putin’s right hand in the W**** House is also the cause of a virtually hopeless corona crisis in the Land of Opportunity.

Throughout the great cataclysm, all sorts of questions are asked about the disease, the symptoms, the treatments, the risks, and the responses. Accusations and counter-accusations are fired among those who claim authority over the battlefield/battlespace and us. Those authorities claim the exclusive right to define what actions or omissions caused our current condition and what should be done to change it—presumably by ending the crisis.

Yet careful attention to those with the most access to the public, via mass media and its derivatives, shows that there is no policy for ending the crisis either.

Public debate is staged to focus on the following topics:

  1. Blame for the outbreak and its pandemic quality
  2. The putative risks, including lethality of the virus
  3. Measures to restrain or prevent spread of the virus
  4. Responsibility for formulating, promulgating and enforcing measures
  5. What will happen to the economy in the short-term and long-term?

Leaving aside the dispute between the Americans or the British about China’s liability for the pandemic, there are those who, having failed to impeach Donald Trump, now blame him either for the virus or for its apparent catastrophic spread in the USA. There has also been an on-going debate about the competency or the adequacy of the actions taken by government agencies, either to detect and warn or to communicate and organise and implement counter-measures.

Very slowly but hardly at a volume that would threaten the present regimes, some people are even discussing the failure to respond to previous warnings about the general state of the healthcare system. Yet much of this critique is only directed toward the emergency management capabilities. A fundamental challenge to thirty-plus years of anti-social privatisation and commercialisation of the public health sector for private profit is still largely suppressed, to the extent it has been made at all.

Beyond the conventional mass media; i.e., television, radio, print, which constitutes an amplifier for official government and corporate opinion, there are debates, which range from repetitions of the mass media gossip to name-calling and, of course, the dreaded field of “conspiracy” chatter.

Before going any further let us be clear about one thing.

Contrary to what is often preached in conventional mass media and taught half-heartedly in schools, virtually all serious decision-making is secretive; i.e., conducted out of public view. Naturally almost all business (corporate) decisions are taken secretly by management and announced once they have been taken. The same is generally true for all governmental operations, especially in a society that values business practices more than democratic ones. The government in a parliamentary system may occasionally lose a division or plenary vote. However, the plenary session is not where the bills are drafted or chosen for decision. All of these “democratic” preparations are taken in meetings from which the general public is excluded, but those with a special interest in the acts to be adopted are explicitly included.

This is no more clearly the case than now when most of the European Union is subject to siege regulations that were never debated in public and for which no democratic regulation is provided, especially to provide an end to it all.

Hence those who read further and feel their knee tensions rising, waiting to jerk at any moment with the expletive “conspiracy theory” should bear the foregoing in mind. The controversies found on all sorts of websites and in chat groups are not about whether there are conspiracies (those who do not use the word avoid it out of cowardice or ignorance) but what is the nature and content of the conspiracy or conspiracies that substitute for public health policy and democratic decision-making in the current crisis?

Civil affairs and civic action

We are given two excuses for tolerating an abrogation or suspension of what few democratic processes and civil privileges the citizenry enjoys. These are war and natural disaster. The reason for these exceptions is supposed to be that urgency requires speedy and concentrated action and democratic processes would be too slow or civil privileges would impede efficient action. A banal example but appropriate given the view our rulers have of us is that if a child is about to run into the street where an oncoming truck would hit and injure or kill the child, then it is unreasonable to expect that a discussion precede the command, stop! and the action to restrain the child. So our governments tell us that when an emergency is declared we revert to childhood and therefore forfeit our civil privileges and democratic processes until those governments have declared the emergency or the armed hostilities to be ended.

When the outbreak of the corona virus was announced in the Western mass media with suspicious immediacy in December last, the initial message was simply: yellow peril. China has generated another disease and the world must protect itself from the Chinese infection. Actions around the world were directed at the enemy virus from Asia and its known and secret (unknown) carriers. The UN World Health Organisation (WHO) first announced a cautious warning, reiterated by mouthpieces of the European Union.

However, by mid-January cases began to appear that could not be obviously linked to the Wuhan outbreak, in Europe and then in North America.3 Once infections had been announced in Italy, Spain, Germany, and more or less throughout the EU—with Italy apparently most affected—one head of state or government after another proclaimed a state of emergency. The WHO changed its designation of the virus to a “pandemic”. From that point on the remaining trappings of democratic processes were aborted throughout the European Union and decrees were issued of various severity confining the population to barracks or house arrest, closing small and medium-sized enterprises, schools and universities, cultural and sports venues, in short any place larger than a toilet cubicle. The basis for these decrees was not any legislation adopted in plenary session. Instead it has been asserted that these measures are justified on the basis of public health or medical expertise.

In fact, the dominant narrative is that the entire state of siege/emergency is governed by the scientific imperatives prescribed by public health or medical experts.

Thus much of the debate in the secondary media—the web—has focused on the reliability, accuracy, and completeness of the medical/public health expertise.

More radical debate actually questions the integrity of the expertise and the decisions taken based on it. These debates are obstructed not only in the web but also in the conventional mass media by apparent facticity of the disease as the “frontline” physicians confront it. In other words, attempts to examine the public health and medical expertise upon which government decisions are ostensibly based are answered by the rigorous insistence that all the hospitals and all the doctors and all the deaths reported verify the fundamental seriousness of the situation. Hence any detailed examination of government policy and action is secondary to “stopping the enemy advance!”

However, the information from the “frontline” only appears more factual than the statements made by high officials. No doubt there is hard work being done in all sorts of hospitals and clinics confronting cases of illness. It would be a mistake, however, to take reports from the front at face value. The modern medical profession, despite traditional imagery, is largely an industrial process organised by personnel whose training is more akin to that of soldiers than healers. Beginning with the selection process and proceeding through every stage of medical education, the modern physician is drilled and exercised like an infantry recruit. The modern hospital is a factory and factory organisation and management prevail: more or less strict hierarchies from overworked, underpaid and abused nursing staff to slightly better paid junior physicians whose status as subalterns makes them sacrificial labour until they are promoted or escape to private practice, where they become distributors for the pharmaceutical or medical engineering industries. It can be no wonder then that anonymous reports circulate by hospital physicians that they have essentially forged death certificates to inflate the mortality statistics for corona virus. Moreover there can be no doubt that an employed physician, like the employee in every other factory, is constrained to see what his company teaches or tells him to see. Even without such reports, however, the details from the “front” are filtered through every level of command before they reach the public. Since the medical profession is also governed by a number of overlapping regulations, including patient privacy, disciplinary and departmental guidelines and catalogued diagnostic and therapeutic rules, the raw data is useless until analysed taking all those filters into account. Therein lies the capacity for deception—not necessarily by the practitioner, but by the medical organisation itself with its claims to exclusive jurisdiction over human healthcare.

Beyond that, however, the active agencies and their mouthpieces could be called paramedical or even paramilitary. These are the bureaucratic departments and agencies at local, national and international level where public health or medical policy is made and implemented. Once one leaves the frontline, where doctor, nurse, and patient are engaged, the route back to the population at large is through a huge command structure, each with its own peculiar interest and perspective of the war being fought. There are many but the most important ones in this global war on the virus or GWOV have become the WHO and the US CDC.

Both of these organisations are presented in the mass media, and by the government officials in charge of the war effort, as if they were healthcare or medical institutions. The WHO is a United Nations body. The World Health Assembly, a kind of General Assembly of world health ministers, representing individual countries—like the General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York City—meets regularly to consider the health issues on a worldwide basis. The WHO is the equivalent of the Secretariat of the UN. Hence the head of the WHO secretariat is something like the Secretary-General of the UN—in other words, a member of the international civil service bureaucracy. Like the UN Secretary-General, the head of the WHO secretariat is a politician raised by those who have the most power in the World Health Assembly to this high office, often enough as a reward for (political) services rendered. The World Health Organisation is an ordinary bureaucracy that just happens to administer programs defined within the agenda of the World Health Assembly. But like the UN Secretariat it is dependent on the member contributions and donations for its budget. And like the UN Secretariat, especially since 1980, the WHO only implements the programs for which it receives funding.4 In line with contemporary economic orthodoxy this has meant that the UN organisations, including the WHO, are encouraged to accept private (corporate/foundation) funding in lieu of appropriations from member-states.

The US CDC, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, were originally founded as the Office of National Defence Malaria Control in 1946. The control of malaria was essentially an element of US imperial operations since malaria was not a major health problem in the continental US. Malaria infection became a chronic problem for the Panama Canal Zone, US invasions or occupations in Central America, the US Pacific protectorates, like the Commonwealth of the Philippines and the expansion of imperial operations in the Pacific basin, especially Asia.

Since the US devoted most of its World War II military effort to conquering the Pacific and suborning Japan, malaria became a serious problem exceeding the relatively small number of cases from Western hemisphere operations. In 1992 the activities and programs that had accumulated over the years were consolidated in the present organisation, located near Atlanta, Georgia.

The CDC is presented as a healthcare agency and is even assigned within the US Department of Health and Human Services. This maintains the general impression that it is a civilian public health service.5

As the drama of corona virus unfolded, the CDC, together with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), claimed the authority over the crisis, at least on the technical side. Soon controversy arose about whether the CDC recognised the crisis, reacted properly or rapidly enough; communicated to the responsible authorities; e.g., the POTUS, true and accurate information. As already mentioned Trump opponents try to exploit this controversy to show somehow that Trump is to blame for any failures. All of this controversy is really distraction. It presumes that the agencies involved actually are responding as public health services in the interest of public health; e.g., stopping the spread of the virus and/or remedying its consequences.

Epidemic Prevention and Water Purification

The CDC is still part of the military establishment, despite the fact that it is formally under the US Department of Health and Human Services. It is not unusual to place military organisations within civilian hierarchies for cover. Its military mission is to provide protection to the war fighters against communicable diseases and biological agents that could impair their fighting capacity. It is also charged with research into biological weapons, ostensibly for defensive purposes. However, given that the US regime has been the world’s leader in the offensive use of biological weapons, it is safe to say that the research is at best to protect the US from damage by its own weaponry.6  The same can be said for the National Institutes of Health. In fact, all of the so-called public health institutions created by the US regime originated in the military. The US Public Health Service is a part of the national defence establishment and one of the uniformed services (the technical term for the armed forces in the US).

When officers of the CDC or NIH pose as disease prevention agents one has to engage in mental imaging and picture a guy like Fauci in the uniform of USA Special Forces at Fort Bragg, talking to the Press about “civic action”, surrounded by people who by night command death squads. Then one can get an approximate emotional reaction to what CDC’s true function is and always has been.

Recruiting health experts for overseas

The CDC especially is a civil affairs activity engaged in what the military calls “civic action”. “Civil affairs” means in US Army doctrine the means by which the army competes to win the population. Civil affairs personnel are trained in special operations because civil affairs and civic action involve psychological warfare as well as the implementation of programs with ostensibly civilian benefits. As a civil affairs activity, the CDC conducts civic action programs that look like disease prevention or other public health work but are based on military objectives—control over the population. Civil affairs operations are intimately linked to counter-insurgency—the military conduct of unconventional warfare (aka terror) against potential threats or enemies among the civilian population.

Another important aspect of the CDC mission is vaccination. Vaccination is the industrial process for immunization. If one thinks of vaccination as a civilian activity it seems quite a conventional act. Most of us can recall getting our shots at school as children. However, in a military context vaccination is also ideological. In Vietnam the US deployed vaccination as a means to immunize the population against communism. There were two kinds of vaccination. One was the injection given to the arm by a medical officer or an enlisted man from the medical corps. The other was the vaccination administered at night by death squads who went into villages to capture or kill the communists infecting the villages.

Civil affairs campaigns comprise the organisation and conduct of civic action operations intended to immunize the population from the enemy and thus win it for the friendly forces. This process is also known as pacification.

In Southeast Asia, quarantine was also applied for pacification. The quarantine program was called the strategic hamlet system. The military deployed to an area with several villages and relocated the villagers in compounds which they helped build and equip. Villagers were trained and equipped to defend them from the enemy; i.e., the communists. The villages were concentrated—but one did not want to call them concentration camps—so that surveillance would be easier and to facilitate the use of free fire zones. All healthy villagers were located in a strategic hamlet; therefore, anyone else must be a communist pathogen to be neutralised. Since the villagers were deprived of their normal means of income and support, the civil affairs authorities had to provide benefits for the hamlet inhabitants.

If careful consideration is given to the policies recommended through the CDC and WHO the similarities to the underlying strategy of pacification will become apparent. It should not surprise anyone that people whose primary activity is the support of civil-military operations should direct governments to implement policies and programs based on those doctrines.

This is a major source of deception by the governments of the EU and the US. Medical or public health cover is given to what is essentially a global pacification campaign. The so-called “lockdown”, despite the penitentiary origin of the term, is much better understood as a huge, modified strategic hamlet program. Even the recent decision to give immediate subsidies to Europe’s “displaced peasantry” is part of the pacification strategy.

This, of course, raises the most emotional question: what is the strategic objective of the accelerated pacification against the corona virus?

In the mainstream, that is to say conventional mass media, official pronouncements and the vast majority of commentary detectable, the strategy is just to stop the virus spreading and prevent deaths due to the virus. On its face that would seem like a plausible and attainable if as yet unscheduled objective. To reach this objective the accelerated pacification campaign is supposed to isolate the population from the virus, leaving the field clear for counter-virus operations. At some point the public health services will only have some mopping up operations to perform and then we will be able to return to our villages with no corona around.

In fact, that is a ridiculous plan on its face as more critical and more sinister people have already observed.

It is ridiculous because there is simply no way to assure that another virus will not come along and cause a similar outbreak. Or just as bad, the virus could be defeated and purged from one part of the world but re-enter from some part of the world not sufficiently pacified.

Of course, there has been speculation about this problem. Slowly people are being told—if they did not notice—that pacification creates a new environment in which vigilance will enjoy higher priority than in the past.

The conventional mass media and all the mouthpieces for our governments have as if in chorus begun to advise us all: “the world has changed since corona”. Where have we heard that before? Wasn’t that in September many years ago?

Again we appear to be standing before the entry to a new era, the era after corona. Will we be able to discuss this within our old democratic processes and using our traditional civil privileges? Will the siege or emergency be lifted before we enter this new era?

Easter is traditionally a festival of renewal. It is the feast of the resurrection in Christian mythology. Many people in Europe wished that Easter also had brought an end to the state of siege. Some countries like Sweden and Austria have indeed announced a relaxation of the hamlet rules, to allow the peasantry back in their fields so to speak (if only because subsidising them under arrest is prohibitively expensive).

Instead Easter was the kick-off of a campaign by the founder of the Microsoft monopoly and co-founder with his spouse of one of the world’s richest corporate tax shelters, also called a foundation. The principal shareholder and one of the richest individuals on the planet appeared in Germany and in Britain in televised interviews conducted by the state broadcasters, ARD in Germany and BBC in the Great Britain. The interviewers provided a platform for the funder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to discuss his plans for the world after corona.

In the BBC Breakfast interview Mr Gates made some interesting points:

1) He called himself a health expert.

2) He described the process by which the vaccines will have to be approved faster than normal and distributed to everyone.

3) He also assumes that there will be insufficient quantities of whatever vaccine is developed.

4) He explained that he believes that there is really no end to the risk. Although developed countries may succeed in controlling and eliminating the virus with their superior infrastructure, the developing countries, which lack all that capacity, could remain sources from which the virus could re-enter the virus-free countries.

What is one to make of these assertions?

  1. a) By any conventional understanding of the term he is not a health expert—although he may employ people who are.
  2. b) Now that is a fairly common observation by those who have heard him speak. However, what he explained in the interview was, for example, that factories producing the vaccine will be in one place and the science will be in another place. What this reveals is the extent to which the corporate structure and intellectual property rights are already established for this vaccine monopoly. Such a structure would make no sense in a public service or genuinely public health-oriented approach. It only makes sense in terms of maximising corporate income streams — which after all is Mr Gates primary interest in life.

What is rather difficult to grasp from the public statements is just how some of this fits together. Robert Kennedy Jr. has gone very far toward showing that the Gates foundation has been conducting illegal and unethical testing in poor parts of the world where the authorities can be bought or where testing can be performed under cover of various activities that appear legitimate or legal.

  1. c) Scarcity, of course, is another factor in monopoly pricing.
  2. d) Therefore it will be necessary to maintain pacification measures in the core and intervene in poor countries to help them defeat the enemy or prevent the enemy from spreading from their countries to other parts of the world.

However, if Mr Gates is not really a health expert and actually has no capacity to produce vaccinations why is he speaking as if he were going to guide us all to the resurrection?

Mr Gates proposes that the way into the future beyond corona is vaccination. In other words he follows and promotes the strategy for which the CDC and the other elements of civil-military operations were created.

Robert Kennedy Jr., a vocal critic of vaccination policies and a critic of the Gates Foundation, has given some hints as to why. Namely, the CDC — a military organisation exempt from most FDA regulation — has become the main agency for vaccination and the vaccination business. The CDC does not have to perform as much testing for safety as is normally required by law. Its exemptions for military expediency make it a wonderful conduit for experimental substances; vaccines are not considered medicine within the scope of US law. Many of CDC’s high officers are directly tied to the vaccination industry. Mr Kennedy is not alone is producing evidence that the Gates Foundation actively promoted and participated in vaccination testing schemes in India and throughout Africa which were condemned as war crimes when performed by German authorities during WWII.7 The revolving door at the Pentagon, where high-ranking military officers become agents and directors for the major arms manufacturers while civilian offices are given to people who worked in those companies that make the weapons the regime buys, is infamous. If the weapons manufacturers own the conventional military, then the chemical and drug companies own the biological warfare divisions. Past directors of CDC sat or sit on the boards of major vaccination manufacturers.8

We sell problems, not solutions

That is one reason why there is a pandemic– this gives the CDC a role it would not otherwise have to obtain vaccinations and order their use.

Now permit a slight diversion: When automobile production in the US started to become a mass market, Standard Oil began to search for ways to strengthen its control over the automobile fuel market. The gasoline engine was promoted over the diesel engine also because gasoline could be sold at a higher price than diesel fuel. However, DuPont and Standard came up with an idea, which for many years gave Standard an edge in the gasoline market. Gasoline could not be patented which would have increased Rockefeller’s monopoly income. So DuPont developed tetraethyl lead as a fuel additive. This lead compound was sold as a so-called “anti-knocking” compound that would make fuel burn more evenly in gasoline engines. DuPont and Standard Oil had already combined to buy most of the small car and truck manufacturers and create General Motors (mergers underwritten by Morgan, like US Steel or General Electric etc.) GM became the single-biggest maker of automobile engines and it prescribed ethyl gasoline for its cars and trucks. DuPont made profits on the poisonous lead compound — prohibited some 60 years later in the US — Standard had an exclusive license to the lead compound and advertised heavily (with the help of GM) — to convince the public that gasoline without lead was inferior. The fact that the lead actually damaged the motors was ignored because damaged motors meant buying new cars. So GM profited from the deal too.

Now let us look at the vaccination business. For decades vaccinations were produced using an ethyl mercury compound patented by Ely Lilly.9  This compound was eventually prohibited in most medicinal uses because the ethyl mercury was found to be a very poisonous neurotoxin. However, it continued to be used in vaccines because the responsible agency for vaccines was none other than the CDC. Allegedly this ethyl mercury compound is a valuable preservative enhancing the shelf life of the vaccine. One can assume, however, that due to the patent and the expense of producing the additive, it makes vaccines more expensive but also more exclusive since competitors have to produce a vaccine with this patented additive (either paying license fees for the right or buying the technology to produce something like it for their own vaccine preparations).

In short a key element in making a chemical or biological product suitable for monopoly is to introduce something, which need not be relevant at all to the active agent, but in combination makes the product subject to patent or cost-intensive protection for the manufacturer.

Mr Gates will participate in a couple or triangle with a pharmaceutical producer, a biotech or even distribution oligopolist and himself as the interface. Years later it was revealed that in more than a few cases GM bribed officials and bought public transport infrastructure to demolish it in favour of roads for cars and trucks. Today there is lots of money to buy officials worldwide and destroy alternatives to the vaccination industry.

Much of the groundwork has already been done. The Gates road show after Easter advocates continuation of the siege until his business model is positioned for launch.

The “corona virus” did not appear with a China incident in Wuhan. This kind of special operation was certainly at least 24 months in the planning — very likely already under Obama in his “Pivot to Asia” programme. In fact, Mr Gates is proud to admit that he gave a speech in 2015 warning that there is risk of a global pandemic. In his BBC interview he alluded to a series of exercises leading up to what could be called the rollout in October last.10

Body count and anti-c and counter-insurgency doctrine

To understand the subtext of the Easter road show, I believe it is helpful to remember some immortal truths held by the US elite to be self-evident. One of these is white supremacy. That is the legal and social construction of a racial myth, which combines what is actually a very diverse population into a fictive unity usually called “white” but often only detectable by minimal yet socially and politically enforced caste distinctions. The origins of this white supremacy —as opposed to vulgar racism have been elaborated elsewhere.11

The other self-evident truth is better called anti-communism than capitalism. American anti-communism is an empty category into which all organised challenges to the ruling oligarchy are put. That is why it has always been senseless to deny being a communist in the US; e.g., a member of a communist party. To be accused of communism is sufficient proof that one is a communist.12 The only choice one has is to recant and be vaccinated. Anti-communism also means a constant campaign of vigilance and vaccination. People who come to the US to live have to declare that they “are not, nor ever have been” infected by communism.

In the war against communism, whether in the Philippines, Vietnam, or Central America, the supreme objective was to eradicate communism, kill the virus. When the patrols returned they had to prove they were doing their job.

During the US war against Vietnam one of the “key performance indicators” was the “body count”: how many communists had been killed. One must understand that the overall US strategy for establishing an independent Republic of Vietnam (RVN) was Vietnamese minus communists — number of South Vietnamese. The concept of Vietnamese in terms of the Geneva accords was not recognised by the US. So the CIA — capitalism’s invisible army — created a number of programs for “making RVN by purging it of anyone not RVN; i.e., communist.

Anti-C: Taking care of “Charlie”

I think we can better understand Mr Gates if we think of anti-corona and anti-communism as the same kind of business. Let’s call it anti-c. It does not matter that communism is not a biological agent. The concept for fighting both is the same. In fact, when he tells the BBC interviewer of the risk that the underdeveloped countries could re-infect the rich countries he is using the same template as all those counter-insurgency warriors before him: the poor have to be defended from contamination by communism. Only now they have to be protected from corona. But is corona really just a virus?

Why are the people who are running the anti-c operations all paramilitary or military bureaucrats? (Mr Trump’s behaviour seems incoherent because he is not a soldier or a career bureaucrat like every other POTUS before him).13 Is this because as a small segment of the vocal and literate public has been saying for years: that the most profitable medical product line is vaccination (just as heroin is the most profitable sister business)? There are already indications that the anti- c campaign has led to “strings of ears” being delivered to the high command as evidence of the numbers of c-targets neutralised. Just as in Vietnam, numbers count. The company and field grade officers are expected to show progress and joint chiefs want to hear “that there is light at the end of the tunnel”.

Keeping people healthy, by means of pure food and drinks, safe working conditions, clean air and water, time for rest and recreation and—when needed affordable health care—are even by Mr Gates admission, not profitable activities for business. Profits lie in producing cheaply (with tax subsidies or inferior inputs) and selling at the highest possible price. This has always been the philosophy of Mr Gates as it was for his idol John D. Rockefeller. That means selling problems, not solutions.

Until recently several counter-insurgency programs had been in place; e.g., GWOT was the main one. At the same time there were continued programs against Cuba, Venezuela, rest of South America, operation in Africa against China, Ukraine (where Germany took the point using US money). The 2008 crash tightened control over financial markets. The war against Syria and the much earlier war to destroy Yugoslavia are all cut from the same anti-c cloth.

However, for a variety of reasons mainly focused in the exhaustion of the NATO internal reserves (both financial and military), there was finally the need for reintroducing a systems approach to coordinate and optimize the massive number of programs.

Aside from the personal and corporate profit streams that are the aim of any aggressive war (whether against states or peoples), there is the organisational problem for a small elite to impose power on numerically superior forces.

What led to the lockdown in the West? After several attacks on the Chinese economy, particularly targeting health and food supplies, failed (Just as they have failed in Cuba!! where there is no doubt that attacks took place), it was necessary not only to cover US tracks but also to systematise the management of all anti-c programs. At the same time these are not just anti-c but anti-p, anti-population, that is. The portion of the population that is not needed for the 1% is surplus. The economic consequences for the vast majority of people in Europe and North America cannot be a surprise. It is impossible that the decisions were prepared and implemented without knowing the short-term and long-term results. This is all the more reason for a counter-insurgency strategy of the sort described here. Population control will be essential for those who own most of the wealth in the West. Of course, there have to be systems to guard that 1% from internal and external threats.

For many readers this may seem quite extreme but there is a precedent. In 1945, Dwight Eisenhower, the liberal-left’s favourite US general, organised the mass incarceration of thousands of Germans, POWs and civilians in camps within the US zone of occupation. Thousands died of starvation, disease and exposure in US prison camps. One explanation offered was Ike’s supposed hatred of Germans. However, there is a far more damning and systematic reason for his actions. After the massive defeat of Germany by the Red Army, there was real fear among the leaders of the US regime and its military that a revolution of the left could occur like in 1918 at the end of the Great War. Then it had been possible for elements of the German army (with Allied financing) to suppress the 1918 revolution. However, in 1945 the Red Army was in Berlin. The US had every reason to fear that a communist-led revolution would have Red Army support and succeed. Taking no chances, Eisenhower fenced in as many Germans as he could, declared them “disarmed enemy” and thus removed them from PoW protection under international law, and let them die. This was very successfully concealed until a Canadian journalist exposed the administrative mass murder.14

The lockdown is really the outward condition for purging the West of any obstacles to its war against Russia and China. In Vietnam this was called “accelerated pacification”. The so-called Phoenix program was a plan to integrate all the anti-c measures into a single program—which was then computerised to become what Jeff Stein called “computerised assassination”.15 The technology was not as developed as it is now nor was the concept fully ripe. In fact, it has taken several mutations before the anti-c virus was ripe for deployment. In 2015 the concept mutated from GWOT to GWOV. If we are to believe him, the global vaccination is the culmination of Mr Gates thought, the jewel in the crown of his philanthropy. Mr Gates got his big business break cooperating with IBM, whose German subsidiary supplied data processing machines for concentration camps. Wearing this crown he and his kind will guide us all into the future. As we are surrounded by the panic in the last days of humanity, we can trust this man who appears quite thoughtful (yet seems to have difficulty holding a coffee mug) to lead us.

The Thinker is usually seen in isolation. Alone his meditative posture suggests something positive. It elicits our sympathy for calm reflection, if not intellect. But the naked man seated in contemplation must be seen in the context of Auguste Rodin’s entire work, a massive set of doors. Rodin was inspired by Dante Alighieri’s monumental poem. The Divine Comedy is composed of three parts, Paradiso, Purgatorio and, of course, Inferno; i.e., Hell. The massive work into which Rodin put his Thinker was just over the entrance to the first circle. He called his sculpture The Gates of Hell.

  1. Karl Kraus, The Last Days of Humanity  (1926).
  2. Part 1: “I am not a Journalist: Against journalistic privilege and for Mr Julian Assange“,  March 12, 2020; Part 2: “Viruses, Real and Virtual“, March 15th, 2020; and  Part 3: “I am not a war correspondent either“, April 11, 2020.
  3. See Larry Romanoff, for example.
  4. Although the USA, as the primary contributor to the United Nations since its founding, has always pressed the organisation to act in accordance with US regime policy. When Ronald Reagan was made POTUS in 1980, the US government announced a strict, public policy of only funding the UN activities that conform to US policies and actively refusing or eliminating funding for programs that did not conform to US policies. This principle has been maintained by the US regime for all its United Nations contributions since then. That principle has also been applied to the WHO.
  5. J. Edgar Hoover liked to portray the FBI as a crime-fighting organisation and was very successful at constructing this myth. The fact, however, is that Hoover was a US “Gestapo” chief and the FBI was founded as a political warfare force under Justice Department cover. People who do not know the history of the NSDAP regime may be surprised to know that the German Geheime Staatspolizei also had a criminal investigation division that pursued undercover what would normally be called “crime”; e.g., theft, murder, embezzlement, fraud, assault etc. However, its main job– like that of the FBI– was to pursue the regime’s opponents or dissidents and enforce the covert policies of the regime.
  6. Names are also forms of deception. The official name for the Harbin, China laboratories and prison compound used by Imperial Japanese Army Detachment 731 for its biological and chemical warfare experiments was the “Epidemic Prevention and Water Purification Department”.
  7. However, in the Pacific, the Japanese military who conducted biological and chemical tests on prisoners (e.g. Detachment 731) were given immunity and secretly employed by the US regime to help create its post-war biological weapons capabilities.
  8. CDC Website, past directors. A biography check going back at least 40 years shows that nearly all the CDC directors worked for or sat on the boards of major pharmaceutical manufacturers. The connection between CDC and Emory University is particularly pernicious. The university’s Rollins School of Public Health was endowed by the Rollins family—who made their fortune in pest control. One could be forgiven for thinking of Zykon B. Emory University runs one of the largest healthcare/hospital systems in Georgia, offering lots of research potential as well as throughput for CDC work product.
  9. Ely Lilly was an active producer of agents used by the CIA during the course of its MKUltra program. There is at least circumstantial evidence that this cooperation was at high level in the agency since GHW Bush became a member of the company’s board when he left his post as head of the CIA. Ely Lilly also launched one of the first commercial anti-depressant medications, PROZAC, developed about the same time that Bush was CIA director. The CIA and DEA have both been intricately involved in support of corporate pharmaceutical interests worldwide. See Douglas Valentine, The Strength of the Pack (2010) and The Strength of the Wolf (2004).
  10. Event 201 held at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security in the Bloomberg School of Public Health.
  11. Gerald Horne, The Apocalypse of Settler Colonialism (2018).
  12. This is a principle common with the Roman Catholic Inquisition. The only guideline the Holy Inquisition had to follow was anything was permitted “in the interest of the Faith”, anti-communism follows a similar rule but “in the interest of national security”.
  13. In fact, most people react negatively to Trump because they are already subconsciously trained to accept fascist bureaucrats as legitimate managers. They also have “herd immunity” to democracy in any form. This is regardless of whether one agrees with Trump’s actions or not. His personal behaviour in office is actually trivial.
  14. James Bacque, Other Losses (1989).
  15. In Michael McClear, Spooks and Cowboys, Gooks and Grunts (1975).

The Fed’s Baffling Response to the Coronavirus Explained

When the World Health Organization announced on February 24th that it was time to prepare for a global pandemic, the stock market plummeted. Over the following week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped by more than 3,500 points or over 10%. In an attempt to contain the damage, on March 3rd the Federal Reserve slashed the fed funds rate from 1.5% to 1.0%, in their first emergency rate move and biggest one-time cut since the 2008 financial crisis. But rather than reassuring investors, the move fueled another panic sell-off.

Exasperated commentators on CNBC wondered what the Fed was thinking. They said a half point rate cut would not stop the spread of the coronavirus or fix the broken Chinese supply chains that are driving US companies to the brink. A new report by corporate data analytics firm Dun & Bradstreet calculates that some 51,000 companies around the world have one or more direct suppliers in Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus. At least 5 million companies globally have one or more tier-two suppliers in the region, meaning their suppliers get their supplies there; and 938 of the Fortune 1000 companies have tier-one or tier-two suppliers there. Moreover, fully 80% of US pharmaceuticals are made in China. A break in the supply chain can grind businesses to a halt.

So what was the Fed’s reasoning in lowering the fed funds rate? According to some financial analysts, the fire it was trying to put out was actually in the repo market, where the Fed has lost control despite its emergency measures of the last six months. Repo market transactions come to $1 trillion to $2.2 trillion per day and keep our modern-day financial system afloat. But before getting into developments there, here is a recap of the repo action since 2008.

Repos and the Fed

Before the 2008 banking crisis, banks in need of liquidity borrowed excess reserves from each other in the fed funds market. But after 2008, banks were reluctant to lend in that unsecured market, because they did not trust their counterparties to have the money to pay up. Banks desperate for funds could borrow at the Fed’s discount window, but it carried a stigma. It signaled that the bank must be in distress, since other banks were not willing to lend to it at a reasonable rate. So banks turned instead to the private repo market, which is anonymous and is secured with collateral (Treasuries and other acceptable securities). Repo trades, although technically “sales and repurchases” of collateral, are in effect secured short-term loans, usually repayable the next day or in two weeks.

The risky element of these apparently-secure trades is that the collateral itself may not be reliable, since it may be subject to more than one claim. For example, it may have been acquired in a swap with another party for securitized auto loans or other shaky assets – a swap that will have to be reversed at maturity. As explained in an earlier article here, the private repo market has been invaded by hedge funds, which are highly leveraged and risky; so risk-averse money market funds and other institutional lenders have been withdrawing from that market.

When the normally low repo interest rate shot up to 10 percent in September, the Fed therefore felt compelled to step in. The action it took was to restart its former practice of injecting money short-term through its own repo agreements with its primary dealers, which then lent to banks and other players. On March 3rd, however, even that central bank facility was oversubscribed, with far more demand for loans than the subscription limit.

The Fed’s March 3rd emergency rate cut was in response to that crisis. Lowering the fed funds rate by half a percentage point was supposed to relieve the pressure on the central bank’s repo facility by encouraging banks to lend to each other. But the rate cut had virtually no effect, and the central bank’s repo facility continued to be oversubscribed the next day and the next. As observed in a March 5th article on Zero Hedge:

This continuing liquidity crunch is bizarre, as it means that not only did the rate cut not unlock additional funding, it actually made the problem worse, and now banks and dealers are telegraphing that they need not only more repo buffer but likely an expansion of QE…

The Collateral Problem

As financial analyst George Gammon explains, the crunch in the private repo market is not actually due to a shortage of liquidity. Banks still have $1.5 trillion in excess reserves in their accounts with the Fed, stockpiled after multiple rounds of quantitative easing. The problem is in the collateral, which lenders no longer trust. Lowering the fed funds rate did not relieve the pressure on the Fed’s repo facility for obvious reasons: banks that are not willing to take the risk of lending to each other unsecured at 1.5 percent in the fed funds market are going to be even less willing to lend at 1 percent. They can earn that much just by leaving their excess reserves at the safe, secure Fed, drawing on the Interest on Excess Reserves it has been doling out ever since the 2008 crisis.

But surely the Fed knew that. So why lower the fed funds rate? Perhaps because they had to do something to maintain the façade of being in control, and lowering the interest rate was the most acceptable tool they had. The alternative would be another round of quantitative easing, but the Fed has so far denied entertaining that controversial alternative. Those protests aside, QE is probably next on the agenda after the Fed’s orthodox tools fail, as the Zero Hedge author notes.

The central bank has become the only game in town, and its hammer keeps missing the nail. A recession caused by a massive disruption in supply chains cannot be fixed through central-bank monetary easing alone. Monetary policy is a tool designed to deal with “demand” – the amount of money competing for goods and services, driving prices up. To fix a supply-side problem, monetary policy needs to be combined with fiscal policy, which means Congress and the Fed need to work together. There are successful contemporary models for this, and the best are in China and Japan.

The Chinese Stock Market Has Held Its Ground

While US markets were crashing, the Chinese stock market actually went up by 10 percent in February. How could that be? China is the country hardest hit by the disruptive COVID-19 virus, yet investors are evidently confident that it will prevail against the virus and market threats.

In 2008, China beat the global financial crisis by pouring massive amounts of money into infrastructure, and that is apparently the policy it is pursuing now. Five hundred billion dollars in infrastructure projects have already been proposed for 2020 – nearly as much as was invested in the country’s huge stimulus program after 2008. The newly injected money will go into the pockets of laborers and suppliers, who will spend it on consumer goods, prompting producers to produce more goods and services, increasing productivity and jobs.

How will all this stimulus be funded? In the past China has simply borrowed from its own state-owned banks, which can create money as deposits on their books, just as all depository banks can today. (See here and here.) Most of the loans will be repaid with the profits from the infrastructure they create; and those that are not can be written off or carried on the books or moved off balance sheet. The Chinese government is the regulator of its banks, and rather than putting its insolvent banks and businesses into bankruptcy, its usual practice is to let non-performing loans just pile up on bank balance sheets. The newly-created money that was not repaid adds to the money supply, but no harm is done to the consumer economy, which actually needs regular injections of new money to fill the gap between debt and the money available to repay it. As in all systems in which banks create the principal but not the interest due on loans, this gap continually widens, requiring continual infusions of new money to fill the breach. (See my earlier article here.) In the last 20 years, China’s money supply has increased by 2,000 percent without driving up the consumer price index, which has averaged around 2 percent during those two decades. Supply has gone up with demand, keeping prices stable.

The Japanese Model

China’s experiences are instructive, but borrowing from the government’s own banks cannot be done in the US, since our banks have not been nationalized and our central bank is considered to be independent of government control. The Fed cannot pour money directly into infrastructure but is limited to buying bonds from its primary dealers on the open market.

At least, that is the Fed’s argument; but the Federal Reserve Act allows it to make three-month infrastructure loans to states, and these could be rolled over for extended periods thereafter. The repo market itself consists of short-term loans continually rolled over. If hedge funds can borrow at 1.5 percent in the private repo market, which is now backstopped by the Fed, states should get those low rates as well.

Alternatively, Congress could amend the Federal Reserve Act to allow it to work with the central bank in funding infrastructure and other national projects, following the path successfully blazed by Japan. Under Japanese banking law, the central bank must cooperate closely with the Ministry of Finance in setting policy. Unlike in the US, Japan’s prime minister can negotiate with the head of its central bank to buy the government’s bonds, ensuring that the bonds will be turned into new money that will stimulate domestic economic growth; and if the bonds are continually rolled over, this debt need never be repaid.

The Bank of Japan has already “monetized” nearly 50% of the government’s debt in this way, and it has pulled this feat off without driving up consumer prices. In fact, Japan’s inflation rate remains stubbornly below the BOJ’s 2% target. Deflation continues to be a greater concern than inflation in Japan, despite unprecedented debt monetization by its central bank.     

 The “Independent” Federal Reserve Is Obsolete

 In the face of a recession caused by massive supply-chain disruption, the US central bank has shown itself to be impotent. Congress needs to take a lesson from Japan and modify US banking law to allow it to work with the central bank in getting the wheels of production turning again. The next time the country’s largest banks become insolvent, rather than bailing them out it should nationalize them. The banks could then be used to fund infrastructure and other government projects to stimulate the economy, following the model of China.

•  This article was first posted on Truthdig.com.

Indian Adventures: Policing, Facial Recognition and Targeting Privacy

The chances for those seeking a world of solitude are rapidly run out.  A good case can be made that this has already happened.  Aldous Huxley’s Savage, made famous in Brave New World, is out of options, having lost to the Mustapha Monds of the world.  State and corporate regulation of life, surveillance and monitoring, are reviled only in the breach.  And, like Mond, we are told that it is all for the better.

Facial recognition is one such form, celebrated by the corporate suits and the screws of the prison system alike.  Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is a keen devotee, and it is telling that his company has now reached a level of influence that it can actually write the legislation on its own facial surveillance technology.  Whether Congress or other parliaments pass it is another thing, but political representatives are always up for rent when required.  What matters is selling them the right template of faux protections and safeguards that will enable them to sleep more soundly at night.

The critics come across as Cassandras and killjoys but they are trenchant and convincing.  Artificial intelligence expert Luke Stark argues that, at a technical level, facial recognition systems possess “insurmountable flaws connected to the way they schematize human faces.”  Gender and race categorisations are not only created but re-enforced, a point highlighted by Amazon’s own Rekognition system.  The risks of using such technology, Stark expounds, is “reminiscent of hazardous nuclear technologies.”

Evan Greer continues in the same vein, looking at a world of saturation surveillance with some despair.  “The use of computer algorithms to analyse massive databases of footage and photographs could render human privacy extinct.”  Greer has no need for the qualifier there.

Such concerns keep falling on the stubbornly deaf ears of those in power.  Those like Bezos have software and systems to sell, coated in save-the-world gloss; authorities are seeking products to purchase that are affordable and supposedly effective.  The Federal Bureau of Investigation, for instance, uses Rekognition on some level.  On January 15, 2019, a sternly worded letter from a coalition of 85 different groups and organisations took issue with this tendency, rebuking Bezos and the buccaneering tendencies in the facial recognition market.  “By continuing to sell your face surveillance product to government entities, Amazon is gravely threatening the safety of community members, ignoring the protests of its own workers, and undermining public trust in its business.”

This tendency became all too real this year, with an announcement by the Indian government that plans to install a national facial recognition system were being implemented.  The inspiration behind such a measure is characteristic.  Authorities find themselves stretched.  There are few hands to achieve their objectives.  In this case, law enforcement authorities claim to be starved of resources, funding and foot soldiers.  Technological options which stress speed, data compilation and comparisons are being sought as a remedy.

The country’s National Crime Records Bureau, operating within the purview of the Home Ministry, expressed interest in tenders for what would be the world’s first central facial recognition surveillance system.  The NCRB is matter fact and businesslike in describing the intentions of the program.  “This is an effort in the direction of modernising the police force, information gathering, criminal identification, verification and dissemination among various police forces and units across the country.”

There is no shortage of contenders for such a system, though indigenous variants were a bit slow in coming.  Indian homeland security, like other markets, is thriving.  Atul Rai, who features in a BuzzFeed contribution, is one such exponent. He is CEO of Staqu Technologies, which specialises in data analysis and facial recognition.  His company have been happy to work with the police to digitize musty, filed records lost in papered chaos.  But his approach is sinister in its confidence.  “America had Palantir. China had SenseTime.  India didn’t have a single brand like that in this space.  So we wanted to be that.”  To be that involved training “our model on the Indian facial ecosystem.”

Problematically, the NCRB never saw fit to raise the issue with policy makers, a point deemed more significant for the finding by the Indian Supreme Court in 2017 that privacy is a fundamental right.  (The jurisprudence prior to this decision had been divided on this point.)  The case of Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd) vs Union of India dealt with a petition concerning the constitutional validity of Aadhaar, an Indian biometric identity scheme.  The nine judges found that, “The right to privacy is protected as an intrinsic part of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 and as part of the freedoms guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution.”

As Raman Jit Singh Chima, Asia policy director at the open-internet advocacy group Access Now warns, “It is deeply concerning that [the NCRB] have done this without any policy consultation and there’s not even a policy document.  There’s no clarity on what problems they are trying to solve”.  Vidushi Marda, lawyer and researcher at Article 19 and Carnegie India, has been wise to the language being used in selling the program; “safety”, “security” and “crime prevention” pepper the platform with arresting confidence.  But according to Marda, it is even more threatening than Aadhaar. “Unless we get plastic surgery at the same time, there’s nothing we can do about it.”

Even then, the confident types in government are convinced that plastic surgery modifications can be defeated with the assistance of sketches, pictures published in newspapers, CCTV camera footage, and images from public and private video feeds.

The Indian context is particularly important, given the nationalist ambitions of Narenda Modi’s government, and those of his Bharatiya Janata Party.  Social and military control is central to their politics, with minorities high up the list of targets.  The quasi-autonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir has been rescinded; detention camps are being built with the intention of keeping 2 million people in the north-eastern state of Assam under watchful eye.

While the options for solitude may be thinning at a goggling rate, pockets of resistance against biometric technologies can be found.  There are those within the mother ship that is Amazon who fear abuse.  There are legislatures and local councils in the United States digging in against the adoption of such technologies.  The European Parliament has been showing concern; Sweden found itself falling foul of the Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation in using facial recognition in schools.  But the Indian move suggests that facial recognition continues to hold cash strapped bureaucrats and corporate technologists in thrall.

Zombie NATO Is Obsolete; Militarists Try To Revive It Through Expanded Targets

NATO leaders’ meeting at The Grove hotel and resort in Watford, north of London, on December 4, 2019 (Al Drago for The New York Times)

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) held an abbreviated two-day meeting this week in London on its 70th anniversary. On display was a zombie alliance that is bitterly divided on multiple issues and has lost its purpose for existing. Rather than recognizing it is time to end this obsolete military alliance, they decided to expand their activities, search for a purpose and conduct a study to determine their strategy.

NATO is a cold war relic, an anti-Soviet tool continuing to exist 40 years after the Soviet Union ended. NATO was created one month after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in September 1945, with 12 members. This was ten years before the formation of the Warsaw Pact, which was founded on May 14, 1955.  NATO was not formed to combat the Soviet Union’s Warsaw Pact, although that was the previous excuse used for its existence.

When President Trump campaigned for office he correctly declared NATO was obsolete, but then he reversed course in April 2017. As president, he has pressured the 29 member-countries to increase their military spending. Between 2016 and 2020, NATO’s budget increased by $130 billion – twice as much as Russia’s total annual military spending. NATO members are expected to contribute two percent of their gross domestic product to the military.  NATO’s total budget is 20 times that of Russia and five times that of China.

It is time for the US to withdraw from NATO and for the alliance to disband. It serves no useful purpose and is a cause of global conflicts and militarism.

NATO meeting, President Donald Trump, right, and President Emmanuel Macron on March 3, 2019. (Credit: Al Drago for The New York Times)

Internal Conflicts: An Alliance That Cannot Agree On The Definition Of Terrorism

NATO shortened its summit because internal divisions threatened to blow up the meeting.

On December 3, before the meeting, Trump and French President Emanuel Macron held a testy joint press conference. Macron told The Economist last month that NATO was suffering “brain death” because of the poor US leadership under Trump. Trump called Macron’s comments “very insulting” and “very, very nasty.” Macron and Trump are also at odds over Trump’s handling of the military conflict between Turkey and Syria, what to do with captured foreign Islamic State fighters and a trade dispute.

A late Tuesday video showed world leaders ridiculing Trump at the summit. Trump abandoned plans for a Wednesday news conference and branded the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, “two-faced.” He cut short his attendance at the summit avoiding the final press conference.

While combating terrorism is one of NATO’s supposed tasks, Macron said: “I’m sorry to say that we don’t have the same definition of terrorism around the table.” Macron warned that “not all clarifications were obtained and not all ambiguities were resolved”. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to hold up efforts to protect the Baltics against Russia unless the alliance branded the Kurdish militias as “terrorists.” He later backed off and allowed NATO to go forward with increasing battalions on Russia’s borders to “protect Poland and the Baltic region” against fanciful threats from Russia.

NATO is facing four crisis areas. First, a deep political crisis including quarrels among the leading military members, accusations, and substantial differences of strategy and purpose. There is also a legal crisis as it consistently operates outside – indeed in violation of – its own goals and purposes and in violation of the United Nations Charter. Third, a moral crisis resulting from its wars against Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria…all catastrophes that caused unspeakable suffering, death, and destruction to millions. And, finally, an intellectual crisis, as an echo chamber alliance that sings only one tune: There are new threats, we must arm more, we need new and better weapons and we must increase military expenditures.

NATO protest in Washington, DC, April 2019

NATO’s Search For A Purpose

Rather than facing the fact that they are no longer serving a useful purpose, and despite their internal conflicts, NATO leaders did manage to pull together a final declaration.

Their declaration pointed the way to NATO expanding its military forces on a global scale that will result in creating instability and military conflicts to justify their existence. NATO has a history of brutal military attacks, including the brutal bombing and destruction of the former Yugoslavia and the Balkans in the late 1990s, regime-change wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, where it still has troops. And, the destruction of Libya that has left the country in chaos. NATO also worked with the United States in the violent coup in Ukraine in 2014.

NATO is playing its role as a military force that supports the US national security agenda. It continues to target Russia as “a threat to Euro-Atlantic security.” In reality, NATO creates that conflict by expanding eastward and putting weapons, bases, and troops along the Russian border. This violated a promise made by Secretary of State James Baker to the final Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev. In a February 1990 meeting, Baker said three times that NATO would not expand, “not one inch eastward.”  NATO’s expansion has been a major provocation in generating the New Cold War with Russia.

NATO is planning Defender 2020 the third-largest military exercise in Europe since the Cold War ended. Some 37,000 troops from 15 NATO nations will be involved including some 20,000 US troops who will be flown from their bases in the United States. Scott Ritter points out the costs associated with these exercises against Russia are considerable, along with the cost of raising, training, equipping and maintaining forces in the high state of readiness needed for short-notice response to an imagined attack by Russia. This is part of increasing confrontations along Russia’s borders, where a total of 102 NATO exercises were held in 2019.

Earlier this month, NATO said they’d formally rejected a Russian request to prohibit installing missiles previously banned under the now-defunct Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in Europe. The Russian request was made directly by President Putin, who fears “a new arms race” following both Moscow and Washington pulling out of the landmark 1988 INF treaty. Despite the facts, NATO blames Russia for the demise of the INF treaty. The French president brought out the reality: “Today would everyone around the table define Russia as an enemy? I do not think so.”

At this year’s summit, the NATO leaders “for the first time” discussed China as a collective security challenge. Prior to the meeting, CNN reported that NATO was falling in line with the anti-China strategy of the United States as NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance needed to start taking into account that China is coming closer to us.’” He pointed to China “‘in the Arctic, … Africa, … investing heavily in European infrastructure and of course investing in cyberspace.”

Despite Stollenberg’s push to make China a target of NATO, their members could only agree on a  declaration that said: “China’s growing influence and international policies present both opportunities and challenges.” NATO members know that China is a benefit to the economy of their nations and that the Belt and Road Initiative connecting China to Europe through the Middle East and Africa is likely to be the defining source of economic growth this century.

NATO has also joined President Trump’s call for the militarization of space, declaring “space an operational domain for NATO” in their declaration.  Related to this, they also pledged to increase their “tools to respond to cyber attacks.”

In April we reported that NATO seeks to expand to Georgia, Macedonia and Ukraine as well as spreading into Latin America with Colombia joining as a partner and Brazil considering participation (not coincidentally, these two nations border Venezuela).

NATO is also bringing nuclear weapons to the Russian border. The Washington Post reported, “A recently released — and subsequently deleted — document published by a NATO-affiliated body has sparked headlines in Europe with an apparent confirmation of a long-held open secret: some 150 US nuclear weapons are being stored in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey.” Raising questions: Under whose control are these weapons held? Are host countries permitted access to US nuclear weapons? Are the host nations informed? Do NATO’s practice deployments involve nuclear bombs and missiles? The Brussels Times reported this summer that  “In the context of NATO, the United States [has deployed] around 150 nuclear weapons in Europe.”

NATO’s search for a purpose has led to a fundamental strategic review of the alliance’s purpose. Members know their mission is unclear and their purpose is questionable.

NATO protest in Italy

70 Years Of Destruction Is Enough, Time To End NATO

The 70th anniversary of NATO is an opportunity to honestly examine the history of NATO destabilization, wasteful military spending, and destructive military attacks. It is also an opportunity for people to urge the end of NATO. On April 4, 2019, NATO foreign ministers met in Washington, DC to celebrate its 70th anniversary, peace and justice activists held a week of actions in protest, disrupting meetings, shutting down an entrance to the State Department and taking the streets. This past week there was a large anti-NATO protest in London.

Scott Ritter believes NATO is as good as dead writing “NATO is on life-support, and Europe is being asked to foot the bill to keep breathing life into an increasingly moribund alliance whose brain death is readily recognized, but rarely acknowledged.”

Ajamu Baraka of Black Alliance for Peace declares: “Today [NATO] is the militarized arm of the declining but still dangerous Pan- European Colonial/capitalist project, a project that has concluded that the stabilization of the world capitalist system and continued dominance of U.S. and Western capital can only be realized through the use of force.”

It is time to demand an end to this destructive alliance as a step toward ending white supremacy, colonization, the destructive military-industrial complex, and the exploitative capitalist economy.

“A Suffocating Groupthink”: Sampling The Corporate Media On Israel, Iran, Syria And Russia

The gaping chasm between reality and unreality is exemplified by recent contrasting statements about journalism from two veteran reporters. On the one side we have Jeremy Bowen, the BBC’s Middle East editor, who enjoys a public image of principled honesty and a supposedly fierce commitment to news balance and impartiality. But, when he was challenged recently on Twitter about the blatant bias in BBC News reporting, he responded just as one would expect of a well-rewarded, high-profile employee of the national broadcaster:

We are the best source of decent, impartial reportage anywhere in the world.

As Noam Chomsky has observed of elite power and allied corporate journalists:

Heaven must be full to overflowing, if the masters of self-adulation are to be taken at their word.1

In reality, as hundreds of media alerts, and several of our books attest, and also the work of many others, Bowen’s assertion could not be further from the truth.

By contrast, consider a recent interview with renowned journalist and documentary filmmaker John Pilger on ‘mainstream’ media coverage of Syria, Salisbury, Yemen and Korea. He said:

I’ve never known journalism to be so distorted in order to serve this propaganda […] What we’re seeing is the most intense campaign of propaganda at least since the build-up to the Iraq war in 2003.

Pilger often makes a specific point of including BBC News in his scathing criticism:

Why has so much journalism succumbed to propaganda? Why are censorship and distortion standard practice? Why is the BBC so often a mouthpiece of rapacious power?

In what follows, we itemise a range of important issues where current ‘mainstream’ reporting is not simply poor or weak; but systematically skewed in the interests of Western state-corporate power.

It is important to grasp that this is not about the so-called ‘failure’ of corporate journalism. Rather, this is a reminder that corporate journalism is performing exactly as it should. As Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky noted when introducing their propaganda model of the media in ‘Manufacturing Consent’, published thirty years ago:

The mass media serve as a system for communicating messages and symbols to the general populace. It is their function to amuse, entertain, and inform, and to inculcate individuals with the values, beliefs, and codes of behavior that will integrate them into the institutional structures of the larger society. In a world of concentrated wealth and major conflicts of class interest, to fulfill this role requires systematic propaganda.2 Our emphasis.

1. Israelis Deliberately Killing Palestinians, Including Children

A recent media alert highlighted the mass killing and wounding of Palestinians in Gaza, including children, by Israeli armed forces in what the media often describe as ‘clashes’. Before the latest major massacre on May 14 (see below), Israeli forces had already killed over 50 Palestinian protesters and injured over 5000, including 1700 by live fire, during Great March of Return protests that began on March 30. UN Special Rapporteur Michael Lynk condemned Israel’s actions as violations of international law.

On April 21, an Israeli general confirmed in a radio interview that even children have been shot deliberately under clear and specific orders. United Nations peace process envoy Nickolay Mladenov declared the targeting of children ‘outrageous.’

In a sane world, such an appalling Israeli policy would be major headline news. Our searches revealed not a single ‘mainstream’ report about it in the days following the Israeli general’s comments. We asked senior BBC News editors and journalists to point us to the BBC News headlines and follow-up coverage on this revelation. BBC chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet was the only one to respond. And that was after we observed that she had previously reported in 2013 that Syrian children had been ‘targeted by snipers’. What about Palestinian children targeted by Israeli forces? She replied:

Thank you for message. Am involved in another story now but will forward to colleagues working in the region now.

Predictably, there was no follow-up on BBC News, as far as we could see. We need only imagine the global outrage if Palestinian snipers were found to be deliberately targeting Israeli children to gauge the current level of media silence.

Even more mass killings of Palestinians by Israeli soldiers have occurred since. On May 14, on the day that the US controversially opened its new embassy in Jerusalem, Israeli soldiers killed and wounded huge numbers of Palestinians. By the evening, the UN noted that 55 had been killed, including six children. 2,771 people were reported injured, including 1,359 by live ammunition, with 130 people in a critical condition. By the following day, the death toll had risen to 61, including an eight-month-old baby who died from tear gas inhalation.

All day long, BBC News disgraced itself with headline after headline on the top page of its website masking the truth. Despite weeks of public outrage at previous biased reporting of Gaza protests, BBC News was still using the Israeli-approved word ‘clashes’ to describe the deliberate mass killing of Palestinians.

Compare with the Guardian website which, for once, did not mince its words about Israel’s crimes: ‘Israeli troops kill dozens of Palestinians’. Would that really have been too difficult for someone at BBC News to type out? Clearly so, and no surprise given that the BBC routinely trembles in fear before the pro-Israel lobby. Why else would BBC News choose ‘Dozens die as US opens Jerusalem embassy’ as a headline, masking the fact that Israeli troops had massacred civilians? To be fair to the BBC, the Guardian print edition of May 15 was equally as bad, featuring the headline, ‘Israel: Trump’s new embassy opens – and dozens are killed’.

By the end of the day, the top headline on the BBC News website was: ‘Israel defends Gaza action as 55 killed’. As ever, the Israeli perspective is given prominence, even as it commits abhorrent crimes against civilians. The massacre of unarmed civilians was merely an ‘action’, and the identity of the people murdered by the Israeli army was obscured – perhaps a mix of Israelis and Palestinians had been killed? In fact, there were no Israeli casualties.

On the flagship BBC News at Ten, graphics and headlines proclaimed, ‘Gaza Clashes’, an abomination used by the BBC instead of ‘Gaza Massacre’. The heart-breaking reality behind the lie of ‘clashes’ could be seen in the anguish of a Palestinian father crying in farewell to his little boy:

Oh people, my son

The following day (May 15), the BBC’s truth-mangling headline read:

Gaza braced for further violent protests

A more honest headline would have been:

Gaza civilians braced for a further Israeli massacre

A glimmer of hope for sanity was seen when, following public outrage, The New York Times changed its headline on an article from ‘Palestinians died in protest’ to ‘Israeli soldiers killed dozens of Palestinians’. As Twitter user @FalafelDad observed:

media accountability is NECESSARY and can be achieved.

2. Fact-Checking Trump’s Iran Deal Speech

When Donald Trump announced last week that the US was withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal, analysis by Now This News website revealed in a short video that, in his speech:

Trump averaged one false claim every 83 seconds.

For example, Trump claimed:

The deal allowed Iran to continue enriching uranium and – over time – reach the brink of a nuclear breakout.

As the video pointed out:

False. The deal forced Iran to give up all weapons-grade uranium and barred it from producing more.

Trump continued:

The deal lifted crippling economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for very weak limits on the regime’s nuclear activity.

And in the real world?

Wrong. The deal gave inspectors unrestricted access to all Iranian nuclear sites and suspicious facilities.

And so on.

In contrast, BBC News at Ten essentially took Trump’s speech at face value. Our challenge to senior BBC editors and correspondents to actually fact-check Trump’s assertions was met with the usual silence.

In an online piece, Jonathan Marcus, BBC defence and diplomatic correspondent, did go so far as to say:

The inconvenient truth for Donald Trump is that, as far as it goes, the nuclear deal was working.

Despite this, Mr Trump presented it in stark and frankly erroneous terms – for leaving out things that it was never supposed to cover in the first place.

But two lines couched in rather vague and non-specific terms is scant compensation for flagship BBC News television reporting that is little more than stenography. Senior editors and journalists seem to believe that their job is to tell the public what ‘our’ leaders say, and not to scrutinise claims made. This is galling; all the more so when dangerous rhetoric, making war more likely, goes unchallenged. But then, as John Pilger once wrote, corporate journalists are:

the essential foot soldiers in any network devoted to power and propaganda.

3. Douma And The Salisbury Attack

There is so much that could be said on Douma following our recent two-part media alert. Note, for instance, the corporate media’s response to a press conference at the headquarters of the global chemical weapons watchdog OPCW in the Hague on April 26. A number of Syrians, including children, gave their version of events in Douma, casting serious doubt on the official Western narrative of a chemical weapons attack that provided the pretext for missile attacks by the US, the UK and France on April 14. ‘Mainstream’ media dutifully headlined the scathing dismissal by Western powers of the Russia-organised press conference as ‘nothing more than a crude propaganda exercise‘ and an ‘obscene masquerade.’

Meanwhile, the corporate media blanked the assessment of Scott Ritter, the UN weapons inspector vindicated in his detailed appraisal that Iraq had been fundamentally disarmed of ‘WMD’ before the 2003 war. Last month, interviewer Dennis Bernstein of Flashpoints Radio asked Ritter:

Isn’t it also the case that there were problems with the allegations concerning Syria using chemical weapons in 2013 and then again in 2015? I believe The New York Times had to retract their 2013 story.

Ritter replied:

They put out a story about thousands of people dying, claiming that it was definitely done by the Syrian government. It turned out later that the number of deaths was far lower and that the weapons systems used were probably in the possession of the rebels. It was a case of the rebels staging a chemical attack in order to get the world to intervene on their behalf.

He continued:

A similar scenario unfolded last year when the Syrian government dropped two or three bombs on a village and suddenly there were reports that there was sarin nerve agent and chlorine gas wafting through the village, killing scores of people. Videotapes were taken of dead and dying and suffering people which prompted Trump to intervene. Inspectors never went to the site. Instead they relied upon evidence collected by the rebels.

Ritter expanded on this vital point:

As a weapons inspector, I can tell you that chain of custody of any samples that are to be used in the investigation is an absolute. You have to be at the site when it is collected, it has to be certified to be in your possession until the laboratory. Any break in the chain of custody makes that evidence useless for a legitimate investigation. So we have evidence collected by the rebels. They videotaped themselves carrying out the inspection, wearing training suits that would not have protected them at all from chemical weapons! Like almost everything having to do with these rebels, this was a staged event, an act of theater.

Ritter then turned to the US/UK/France missile attack on Syria on April 14:

We bombed three targets, a research facility in Damascus and two bunker facilities in western Syria. It was claimed that all three targets were involved with a Syrian chemical weapons program. But the Syria weapons program was verified to be disarmed. So what chemical weapons program are we talking about? Then US officials said that one of these sites stored sarin nerve agent and chemical production equipment. That is a very specific statement. Now, if Syria was verified to be disarmed last year, with all this material eliminated, what are they talking about? What evidence do they have that any of this material exists? They just make it up. [Emphasis in original]’

Serious questions also remain regarding the official story on the Skripal poison attack in Salisbury; not least, why the rebranded D-Notice committee has issued not just one, but two notices in an attempt to shut down aspects of media coverage.

As ever, the views of ‘experts’ and witnesses whose testimony accords with the Western narrative are given heavy coverage in the corporate media; while those whose testimony runs counter to that narrative tend to be either dismissed or simply ignored. As Noam Chomsky once observed:

Under what’s sometimes been called “brainwashing under freedom,” the critics, or at least, the “responsible critics” make a major contribution to the cause by bounding the debate within certain acceptable limits – that’s why they’re tolerated, and in fact even honored.3

4. Today’s McCarthyism

As noted earlier, the ‘intense campaign of propaganda’ described by John Pilger is severely distorting what passes for journalism. A constant target of this distortion is Russia, in a grotesque echo of Cold War propaganda. From Moscow, the BBC’s Steve Rosenberg plays the required role, recently commenting on the inauguration ceremony following Russian president Putin’s re-election:

The symbolism and the message couldn’t be clearer. Putin, the modern tsar. Loved by his people.

Putin and Russia are forever portrayed as flexing their military muscles and representing a threat to the West, not least by BBC News. It is notable that a similar snooty, doom-mongering tone is absent when UK state occasions, or military exercises, are reported.

Alex Thomson of Channel 4 News responded to us on Twitter:

You will find Putin has a little more power than the Queen by the way. Just a tad…

We replied:

UK churnalism endlessly drools over “our” dear leaders. Remember the Blair adulation? And Obama? But that’s okay, because they’re “good guys”, not like Putin.

Thomson followed up with:

I don’t see much drooling. And neither Blair nor Obama routinely liquidate opposition/journalists as happens under Putin’s Kremlin, unarguably.

Our response:

Because you don’t want to see it. But you can see Putin’s crimes. Can you also see that Blair and Obama destroyed entire countries [Iraq, Libya], also unarguably? Can you see that the state-corporate system they served is ferociously violent, exploitative and criminal?

Thomson did not answer, other than to request to be ‘untagged’ from an exchange he had initiated, following a further critical response from another tweeter.

Meanwhile, the increasingly neocon Guardian plastered on its front page, not just one, but three, pieces of anti-Russia propaganda:

Revealed: UK’s push to strengthen anti-Russia alliance
‘Deny, distract and blame’: how Russia fights propaganda war
Clickbait and Skripal jokes: Russia’s RT thrives online

The Guardian, once regarded by many on the left as the vanguard of power-challenging journalism, was clearly pushing the ‘red scare’ agenda hard, in line with UK government priorities.

The big ‘Revealed’ piece was written by Patrick Wintour, the paper’s diplomatic editor. The main message, which could have come straight from a government press release, was this:

The UK will use a series of international summits this year to call for a comprehensive strategy to combat Russian disinformation and urge a rethink over traditional diplomatic dialogue with Moscow, following the Kremlin’s aggressive campaign of denials over the use of chemical weapons in the UK and Syria.

Former Guardian journalist Jonathan Cook was rightly critical in a blog piece:

When I trained as a journalist, we reserved a “Revealed” or an “Exposed” for those special occasions when we were able to bring to the reader information those in power did not want known. These were the rare moments when as journalists we could hold our heads high and claim to be monitoring the centres of power, to be fulfilling our sacred duty as the fourth estate.

Cook continued:

But today’s Guardian’s “exclusive” story “Revealed: UK’s push to strengthen anti-Russia alliance” is doing none of this. Nothing the powerful would want hidden from us is being “revealed”. No one had to seek out classified documents or speak to a whistleblower to bring us this “revelation”. Everyone in this story – the journalist Patrick Wintour, an anonymous “Whitehall official”, and the named politicians and think-tank wonks – is safely in the same self-congratulatory club, promoting a barely veiled government policy: to renew the Cold War against Russia.

The author of the second piece on ‘how Russia fights propaganda war’ was, ironically, Luke Harding, the paper’s former Moscow-based correspondent who regularly churned out pro-West propaganda in that role. Former UK diplomat Craig Murray describes Harding as ‘MI6’s most important media conduit (after [BBC security correspondent] Frank Gardner)’. The pinpoint demolition of Harding by Aaron Maté of The Real News Network last year is a must-watch.

A later Guardian piece by Amanda Meade, Guardian Australia’s media correspondent, actually contained this line:

RT is a powerful PR arm of the Russian government which is used as a weapon in the global information war.

When did the Guardian ever write the following line?

The BBC is a powerful PR arm of the British government which is used as a weapon in the global information war.

As Caitlin Johnstone rightly notes, any discussion of ‘Russian disinformation’ is invalid if it sweeps under the carpet previous massive Western propaganda campaigns; not least that leading up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Those questioning the official Western narratives on Russia and Syria have been subjected to an appalling McCarthyite campaign of vilification and intimidation; in large part initiated by The Times and followed up by others, including Guardian columnist George Monbiot and Huffington Post. This has led to the late rearrangement of a planned conference in Leeds, titled ‘Media on Trial,’ after the city council pulled the plug on allowing Leeds City Museum to be used as the venue. A report on the event’s cancellation, written by Chris York, a senior editor at HuffPost UK, smeared the speakers, including Professors Tim Hayward and Piers Robinson, as ‘pro-Assad’. Indeed, York has been relentless in attacking the academics as ‘pro-Assad’.

As for George Monbiot, the Guardian’s long-time resident ‘dissident’, his subservience to the official narrative on Russia and Syria was starkly exposed by journalist Peter Hitchens in recent exchanges on Twitter. Hitchens had previously published a detailed piece on his blog titled, ‘Who Gassed Whom in Syria? We don’t Know. Please Don’t be Rushed into War.’

The Twitter exchange is lengthy and not archived in a single thread, as far as we are aware. But as an indicator of Monbiot’s inability to respond to Hitchens, consider this discussion on the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons(OPCW):

Monbiot:

The OPCW/JIM report on Khan Shaykhun [in 2017] presented a mountain of evidence for a chemical weapons attack by the Assad government

Hitchens:

1. The report is based on a study that breaks the OPCW’s own stated 2013 rule: No assessment without visiting the site. But the OPCW never visited the site. It is full of anonymous judgements of likelihood, phrases such as “appeared to be” and “highly likely”

Followed up by:

2. Sorry to put it like this George (but not very) but any proper journalist knows that “appears to be;” and “highly likely” are phrases used by people who would have loved to say “is”, but haven’t the facts which would allow them to do so.

And:

3. I’d also say that in a long career I have learned to be sceptical of opinions convenient to the person presenting them, originating from unnamed and unidentified sources, and of people with firm views about events they did not themselves witness.

After Monbiot had ‘liked’ a tweet smearing Hitchens as ‘a chemical weapons denier/Assad-Putin stooge’, together with Monbiot’s clear inability to properly respond to reasonable questions from Hitchens about supposed incontrovertible evidence of Assad’s guilt, Hitchens concluded:

I have been dismayed and disappointed by the behaviour of @GeorgeMonbiot on this issue, where he has preferred smear to rational, fact-based debate. What has happened to radicalism in the west, when prominent left-wingers behave like this?

Indeed. Although, when it comes to UK foreign policy, far from being a ‘left-winger’, Monbiot has consistently aligned himself with dubious neocon and ‘interventionist’ voices for some considerable time.

Concluding Remarks

It may have taken several years, but Guardian columnist Owen Jones has come to realise something vital about the ‘mainstream’ media which, to his credit, he has been willing to share:

The main thing I’ve learned from working in the British media is that much of it is a cult. Afflicted by a suffocating groupthink, intolerant of critics, hounds internal dissenters, full of people who made it because of connections and/or personal background rather than merit.

As Ian Sinclair pointed out in the Morning Star:

the indignant responses [from corporate journalists] — perfectly illustrating Jones’s argument — came thick and fast.

The response from Deborah Haynes, Times defence editor, was typical when she proudly declared:

No-one tells me what to think

US writer and media critic Michael Parenti had the perfect response for this recurring facile boast from corporate journalists:

You say what you like because they like what you say.

In other words, journalists are filtered for ‘reliability’; only those who say, write and even think the right things are able to reach senior positions in journalism. The consequences for genuine truth-telling journalism are horrendous, as the above examples show.

  1. Chomsky, Year 501, Verso, 1993, p.20.
  2. Herman and Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent, Vintage, 1988/1994, p. 1.
  3. Quoted, Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky, edited by Peter R. Mitchell and John Schoeffel, The New Press, New York, 2002, p. 13.