Category Archives: Colour Revolutions

Open Letter to Congress: Why the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019 Must Be Opposed

Note: Congress is currently considering the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019.  If this bill becomes law it will increase conflict between the US and China and increase US meddling in Hong Kong. It will become an excuse for unilateral coercive measures (sanctions) against China and Hong Kong. In the Open Letter below we explain in detail why this letter should be opposed. We urge you to share it with your representatives in Washington and urge them to oppose the Act.

You can download the letter as a pdf here.
hong-kong-bill-critique-noh-zeese-flowers

Thanks for taking action. KZ

HR 3289, the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019, was referred to the committee on Foreign affairs on June 13th, 2019. The bill “directs various departments to assess whether political developments in Hong Kong justify changing Hong Kong’s unique [i.e. preferential economic and trade] treatment under U.S. law and to determine whether China has eroded Hong Kong’s civil liberties and rule of law as protected by Hong Kong’s Basic Law.”

Currently, 16 senators and 25 House members from both parties have signed on as co-sponsors.  The bill also directs the government to impose sanctions to those who suppress “freedom” in the territory.

Currently, the leaders of the “leaderless movement” of the Hong Kong protests are touring the capital, urging the US congress to pass this bill.  Despite claims of extreme obstruction and human rights oppression, it’s clear that they are traveling freely out of Hong Kong, speaking their minds freely while urging a foreign power to assess and impose sanctions on their own state.  These contradictions indicate that all their claims should be critically analyzed.  Some of these will be directly addressed below.

The bill itself should be opposed on the following grounds:

This bill would not serve the purposes for which it is written, namely, to reaffirm the objectives and principles set forth in the United States-Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992.

Nor would it affirm, support, or further Human Rights in Hong Kong.

The bill accomplishes little except to draw attention to US influence on the Hong Kong protests and highlights US officiousness in Hong Kong politics.  This is within a toxic atmosphere of violence, chaos, and intrigue — engendered and engineered by the protestors — where the US is already credibly accused of fomenting, supporting, and encouraging this violence: by lending it moral support, meeting with its leaders, having high-level political and diplomatic meetings, threatening consequences if suppressed, and funding the lead organizations through the NED.

This bill is an act of moral hazard, and implicates the US congress in violence, destruction, mayhem, injury, potential loss of life, and the degradation of civic processes.  It will validate the current perception of the violent protests as US gray zone aggression in search of a pretext for further sanctions and aggression.

Furthermore, it will also degrade currently antagonistic China-US relations even further, pushing relations towards overt hostility and direct conflict, and setting the preconditions for war.

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The key arguments against this bill are as follows:

The PRC has upheld its commitments to Hong Kong in the Basic Agreement and Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992.

As the British returned the colony of Hong Kong to China in 1997, they negotiated the conditions of return and political statehood in the Basic Agreement, and the Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992.  The PRC has upheld all its commitments to Hong Kong SAR elucidated in the Basic Agreement and the Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992:  the fundamental letter and the law of the Joint agreement and the Basic Law have all been upheld, as listed below:

  • The chief executive has been appointed by the Central People’s Government on the basis of the results of elections or consultations held locally.

Although the British never allowed elections of the Hong Kong governor, as they left, they instituted provisions for the election of the chief executive by universal suffrage.  However, there is no clause committing Hong Kong to direct democracy, nor is there a specified timeline for this suffrage to be achieved.

Specifically: The method for selecting the Chief Executive shall be specified in the light of the actual situation in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and in accordance with the principle of gradual and orderly progress. The ultimate aim is the selection of the Chief Executive by universal suffrage upon nomination by a broadly representative nominating committee in accordance with democratic procedures.

  • Chinese and foreign nationals previously working in the public and police services in the government departments of Hong Kong remain in employment.British and other foreign nationals are employed in public posts in government departments.

High ranking members of the Hong Kong police force are British. The current Chief Executive, Carrie Lam,was a British citizen (who renounced her citizenship). Key members of the Legislative council are or have been British citizens

Currently there is a large roster of British and Commonwealth judges in the Judicial system: two thirds  (16 out of 22 judges) on the Court of Final Appeals (Hong Kong’s Supreme Court) are British Nationals or Commonwealth members.  Eight of these are Peers (Lords and Ladies of the British nobility).

  • The current social and economic systems in Hong Kong have remained unchanged.

The Basic Law committed Hong Kong to a free-market capitalism, and prevented the institution of socialist measures. Hong Kong is still a free-market capitalist state, and it can be strongly argued the underlying cause of these protests is its unregulated, laissez-faire, corporate, finance and real estate-driven capitalism.

  • Economic Law and practices have been maintained as originally agreed upon.

These laws have not been abrogated or changed, even though these economic policies have created tremendous hardship to the working classes, in particular in regards to unaffordable housing and poor prospects for work, and run counter to the PRC’s widely acknowledged practices of lifting up society as a whole and eradicating poverty.

  • Hong Kong Special Administrative Region has retained the status of an international financial center

Its markets for foreign exchange, gold, securities and futures have continued, along with free flow of capital, and the independent Hong Kong dollar continues to circulate and remain freely convertible.

  • The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region has maintained independent finances.

The Central People’s Government does not levy taxes on the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

  • The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region has established mutually beneficial economic and cultural relations with other countries; and establishes independent agreements with states, regions and relevant international organisations.

This includes its own extradition agreements with the US, UK, and 18 other countries.

  • The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region issues its own travel documents for entry into and exit from Hong Kong.

Last but not least:

  • Rights and freedoms, including those of the person, of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association…of movement, of strike, of academic research and of religious belief have all been ensured by law.

Private property, ownership of enterprises, legitimate right of inheritance and foreign investment all have been protected by law. All of these enumerated rights have been protected and defended by Hong Kong law. In particular, during 15 weeks of some of the most violent protests that the region has seen in recent years, the Hong Kong authorities have treated these with extreme attention to Human Rights and due process. No law abrogating the right to protest was passed, nor were there any restrictive measures passed: no curfews, no general bans on assembly or protest, no bans on masks, bans on signs, or any such law.  No measures were passed abrogating freedom of expression.  Nor has there been any arbitrary arrest or detention. Although 1200 protestors have been arrested, almost all of them have been released.

To date, a single violent protestor has been sentenced to 80 hours of community service.  (A single individual has an eye injury, but is recovering, and there is no proof that the police were responsible, and contrary to all logic, the individual in question is using all possible legal means to prevent investigation and the gathering of evidence).

No other violent civil protest in recent memory—not in France (Yellow Vests), not in Spain (Catalan Independence), not in India (Kashmir), in Indonesia (Papua and West Papua), in the US (Standing Rock, Ferguson, Baltimore)– has there been such extended restraint demonstrated by the forces of order against such extreme rioting and violence. Over a period of 15 weeks of violent rioting, infrastructure attacks, road blockades and attacks, subway arson and sabotage, airport occupation, mass beatings of civilian bystanders, no protestors have been killed or suffered serious injury. However, bystanders and people criticizing the protestors have been violently attacked and seriously injured: they have been mobbed, assaulted, and beaten unconscious with pipes, baseball bats, sticks; attacked with caustic lye (drain cleaner), or in the case of police, burned with Molotov cocktails, and stabbed. Police stations, Legislative Chambers, Political offices have been surrounded and attacked and set fire to, and even graves have been desecrated. Contrary to the claims of protestors, it is inconceivable the US or any other country would have tolerated such massive violence and insurrection.

To summarize:  Hong Kong and China have been, and are clearly following, the accords signed and agreed to.

  • There has been no interference with elections, electoral outcomes, domestic politics, or domestic legislation.
  • Hong Kong has an independent judiciary — considered one of the most independent in the world.
  • Hong Kong has a vibrantly independent media, unions, corporations, and electoral bodies.
  • Hong Kong exercises independent executive, legislative, and judicial power, including that of final adjudication.

Global analysis bears this out: the Cato Institute’s Human Freedom Index evaluates the countries of the world across 79 distinct indicators of personal and economic freedom including:  Rule of Law, Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Association, Assembly, and Civil Society, Freedom of Expression, Legal System and Property Rights.  It’s understood that it is “a broad measure of human freedom, understood as the absence of coercive constraint”.

On this basis, the Human Freedom Index currently ranks Hong Kong as the third freest country in the world (2018), with only New Zealand and Switzerland ahead of it.  Hong Kong currently ranks 14 rankings above the United States in Freedom (17th), and 114 rankings ahead of Ukraine, where the US recently intervened with support for “democracy and human rights”.  For over a decade — under so-called “Chinese encroachment” — it has ranked consistently in the top 3 countries of the HFI, making it one of the freest states in the world, according to conservative analysis.

This renders allegations of “loss of freedom” or “human rights” to be without substance or evidence.

The leaders of the protests, now touring the United States urging sanctions against Hong Kong on these grounds, are themselves the purest refutation of their own claims.

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Misinformation on Hong Kong

There is, however, a constant drum beat of misinformation. These includes allegations that:

Beijing was behind the extradition bill:

This is untrue.  The extradition bill was drafted, after extensive public consultation, in response to a heinous murder of a pregnant woman that was not extraditable under the current regime.  A long overdue bill for case-by-case extradition was written to plug this loophole, while explicitly excluding extradition for political crimes.  The bill fits all the requirements of a well-crafted extradition bill, and has multiple safeguards and checks to protect human rights and political abuse.  It is a well-crafted piece of legislation that would pass muster in any democratic, sovereign state. Furthermore, it includes 8 layers of review, including 2 stages of administrative review, and 6 layers of judicial review by Hong Kong’s fiercely independent judiciary (see above).

The bill was designed to render people to mainland China:

This was a general bill with guidelines and processes for extradition to any country. The framing of “extradition to China” was by the Anti-China protestors, and bears no relation to the actual bill or its intent.

Almost all sovereign countries have extradition agreements.  Hong Kong is part of China, and the very notion that Hong Kong is some sort of extraterritorial criminal sanctuary outside the reach of Chinese law is a concept without legal merit.

Note also that the bill itself has been completely withdrawn.

Note also, that one of the most vociferous opponents of the bill, Martin Lee — one of the unspoken leaders and lobbyists for the protests — himself urged for a comparable extradition bill, giving the lie to the assertion that the extradition process is problematic.

This is part of Beijing’s encroachment on Hong Kong’s autonomy:

The object facts show that this has not been the case, as enumerated and elaborated above (see “key arguments”) , and below. Hong Kong has a fiercely independent judiciary, and it’s inconceivable that it would extradite someone on Beijing’s political whim.  Furthermore, the notion that having an extradition treaty with another country renders an autonomous state less free or sovereign is ridiculous on its face: extradition treaties do not constitute an infringement on sovereignty.

But Beijing has been resisting a demand for universal suffrage since the British left and still does. Hong Kong citizens became accustomed to freedom under the British, and rightfully claim it against Chinese encroachment.

It’s important to emphasize that the British never gave universal suffrage to the Hong Kong people.  It ran a brutal, demeaning, colonial apartheid state, where Chinese were second class people, where segregated Jim Crow policies were the norm, and during Anti-British protests, Hong Kong citizens were often shot dead in the streets or disappeared. The British colonial administration put suffrage on the bill after never having allowed a meaningful vote during its control of Hong Kong, as a final act of challenge to the Chinese for reclaiming its own territory.  Nevertheless, the Chinese, accepted this because they wanted a peaceful return of Hong Kong to China, and they did not want to derail the process or encourage capital flight.

Regarding the actual state of affairs within Hong Kong, Beijing does not decide what Hong Kong does internally but allows a “high degree of autonomy”. This is the essence of “two systems”, which the Chinese have upheld (see “key arguments” above).  Hong Kong legislates, implements, and arbitrates its own laws, and they are following the guidelines for “orderly development” of universal suffrage that were outlined in the Basic Law.  Although constituencies currently elect the Chief Executive and Legislators, these can be legitimately acknowledged as accepted political practices in part of an evolving democratic process.  They certainly do not constitute proof of Beijing’s control.

But aren’t the “functional constituencies” that elect legislative members under the influence of Beijing?

These constituencies are diverse and reflect many groups, including business, labor, trade and professional groups.  They, themselves, represent a large number of individual members who represent a wide range of views.  A constituency is not a single platform party.  Many have members who are anti-Beijing, as shown in the diversity of election results and party seats, many of whom are opposed to Beijing, or are outright nativist/secessionist.

But didn’t Beijing interfere in the elections by disqualifying the election of six members elected to the Legislative Council in July of 2017?

Sixtus Leung, Yau Wai-ching, Leung Kwok-hung, Nathan Law, Yiu Chung-yim and Lau Sil-lai were elected to the Legislative Council on 14 July 2017.  According to Article 104 of the Hong Kong Basic Law, elected members of the Legislative Council must swear an oath to uphold the law and swear allegiance to the Hong Kong SAR.  This is basic legal practice in all political bodies, and an oath incorrectly delivered can be cause for disqualification. An oath deliberately abused, incorrectly spoken, insincerely delivered, or with obscenities added, or otherwise edited or lengthened would result in invalidation across most legal bodies.

The secretary general of the Hong Kong Legislative Council invalidated their oaths because phrases were added, protests statements made, and obscenities deliberately spoken: “the People’s Republic of China” was referred to as the “People’s re-f*cking of Chee-na” (a derogatory term comparable to the N-word).  Multiple independent judicial reviews by the Hong Kong Judiciary upheld these decisions. This is an action that would have happened in any reasonable legislative or political body.

The working and middle classes are demanding democracy, not the business class, which is doing fine colluding with mainland Chinese state and private capitalists.  They deserve democracy.

The working classes want — and deserve — better representation, and better conditions of living or working, which the current political system cannot deliver (and which Beijing cannot change until 2047).  This is not a fault with Beijing, but is a fault written into the Hong Kong basic law, as scripted, designed, and negotiated by the British, which allocated disproportionate power to business interests in order to conserve Hong Kong’s freewheeling capitalist system, diminish popular will, and maintain its status as a haven for wealthy capitalists.  This basic law absolutely bans the implementation of socialism or socialist practices; and guarantees capitalism until 2047.

In particular, Real Estate interests and the Anti-China Pan Democrats (currently prominent in the protests) in the legislature were instrumental in opposing the large scale creation of social/public housing as China has done on the mainland. As a result, currently there are only about 150,000 units of public housing–a pittance relative to the actual demand and need.  These groups have created the extreme housing pressures they claim to deplore and seek to blame China for.

But there were large rallies.  This is an undeniable expression of the Hong Kong people opposing the Chinese.

Large rallies have been noted, but police counts claim about 1/10 of what is claimed.  Major western news agencies, using facial recognition technology, state that only a fraction of the claimed numbers can be verified. As noted elsewhere, it’s also important to note that there were large rallies against the protestors, and in support of the administrations, although these were largely erased from the western press and have been de-ranked on google.

Note also that the large rallies have tapered off.  As of the current moment protests seem to number only the hundreds, occasionally, thousands. This is a small percentage of a metropolis of 7.4 Million.

Note also that these protests have turned incredibly violent and ugly. For example, a reporter for a Chinese mainland newspaper was attacked, bound, tortured and beaten by protesters during their takeover of the Hong Kong International Airport. When police and rescuers tried to free him, the protesters blocked them and also attempted to block the ambulance that eventually bore him off to the hospital, and beat the unconscious individual with a US Flag. Since then, countless Hong Kong citizens have also been mobbed, and attacked and beaten — sometimes to the point of unconsciousness — for simply opposing the views of protestors.  They have also been doxed, threatened, and had their businesses or homes vandalized or firebombed.  The ugliness, violence, and terrorism of these protestors is a far cry from what any civilized society could tolerate as reasonable expression of dissent, nor do these protests adhere to any of the touted values of free speech for those who disagree with them.

The pro-democracy movement is a threat to Beijing’s control of Hong Kong’s government and its corrupt protection of the business elite’s banking, real estate, corporate cartels. Big finance capitalism and Chinese state capitalism work hand in hand.

Large sectors of the pro-“democracy” movement are actually bankrolled by certain wealthy anti-China business leaders, media barons, corporations, and receive extensive support — moral, political, financial — from the US and the NED.  This gives the lie to the assertion that this is a “David and Goliath” fight.

This is also why the movement does not have a single articulated demand relative to business, business practices, real estate, or even capitalism, state, or financial, or otherwise.  Instead it focuses on opaque demands that are both abstract, unattainable, or demand extra-institutional measures that go against the separation of powers, for example, that demand the Chief executive dismiss all charges against protestors.   The single actionable demand — the retraction of the bill — has already happened.

Unplanned capitalist economies trend towards a bloated corporate finance sector, and this leads to the dysfunction of an extractive rentier economy.  No amount of American or British flag waving or appeal to a deluded colonial nostalgia will paper over this fundamental contradiction.

What are the problems in Hong Kong then, if not Beijing?

Economic factors: Unrestrained FIRE (Finance, Insurance, Real Estate) destabilizes society.

Hong Kong is one of the most unequal places on the planet — a dystopian neoliberal state and tax haven that boasts of 93 Billionaires, 14% poverty (over 20% child poverty) and the most unaffordable real estate in the world.  Up to 200,000 people live in literal cages — some as small as 16 square feet — and the majority of working class families live in tiny partitioned apartments that are smaller than a parking space. This inequality, extreme inequality of income, shortage of housing fit for human habitation, and lack of hope is the basic tinderbox.  This has to do with the failure of the Hong Kong’s model of political economy: a laissez-faire capitalist economy lacking basic taxation, captured by FIRE.

Institutional factors: Unresolved Issues of Colonization.

Anti-Chinese secessionists, nativists, and independence activists in Hong Kong have monopoly of several powerful key institutions which bolster their power and aggravate the conflict: in particular, an extreme right-wing media empire, an educational system strongly influenced by colonial values and nostalgia, and which reproduces its values among the young, and certain sectors of the  business/managerial classes allied with Western colonial values.

Cultural factors: Internalized Colonization.

Hong Kong residents also have cultural antagonisms dating from the colonial period.

At the time of the handover, Hong Kong was 30% of China’s GDP, and Hong Kong citizens were entrained to believe they were semi-British — being the recipients of British culture and administration — and disdained the mainland Chinese. Many groups in Hong Kong were also refugees from Communism. Having copied and taken on, for decades, British class mannerisms and colonial values, as a sort of cultural surplus value, and being valorized as the financial hub of Asia, Hong Kong citizens now find themselves at a lower rung of the global hierarchy: Hong Kong, itself, is now less than 3% of GDP.  When it served as a gateway to China, Hong Kong was essential — everything passed through Hong Kong: trade, ports, financing/investment, logistics, etc. It is now on a downward trajectory, a city-state whose prime has passed. At the same time, it is also dependent on China for basic survival: it gets its water, electricity, and most of its food from China.  It also relies on trade and tourism from China.  This fundamental contradiction: that Hong Kong cannot survive without China, but it disdains and rejects it based on implanted colonial values is a large part of the antagonism. (An analogy would be a foster child raised in a privileged family that has been reunited with its “lower-status” biological parent).

These are fundamental issues and contradictions around culture, values, and identity, that must be resolved over the long term, but will not yield to shibboleths around “freedom”, nor will they be transformed through violent shock therapy or foreign intervention.

Geopolitical Factors:

Hong Kong and its protests are being used to attack, harass, and delegitimate China, as the US has designated China a “revisionist power” (i.e. national enemy) of the 21st Century in its National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy.

China’s key threat is the threat of a viable, non-western, non-imperialist, model of development.

Hong Kong is one of a series of attempts by Anti-China Hawks in Washington to maintain a “global unipolar US hegemony” by interfering and manipulating the geostrategic chessboard, in particular by stoking violent dissent and separatism within China.

These extreme factions of the body politic, including key current and former members of the current administration, are openly, vociferously anti-China, blaming China for all the ills of the US, and openly agitating for direct confrontation with China.

The US people and congress should avoid involving itself in this ugly partisan battle, making common cause with US hawks, Neocons, White Supremacists, and Hong Kong nativists and colonialists.  It should avoid ineffectual grandstanding, that can have no good outcomes for the Hong Kong people, US-China relations, the US, or the World.

The US Congress should base its legislative decisions on facts and discernment, not emotions or directed media campaigns

And above all, it must oppose this legislation, as do the vast majority of peaceful and freedom loving people in Hong Kong, the US, and the world.

Empires Are a Secret until They Start Falling

In the past, we have written about the 2020s as a decade when the United States Empire will end. This is based on Alfred McCoy’s predictions (listen to our interview with him on Clearing the FOG). Sociologist and peace scholar John Galtung believes US Empire will fall much faster, losing world dominance by 2020. Much of what he predicted when he said this in 2016 is happening now. In particular, there is a rise in “reactionary fascism” or a desire to go back to the “good old days,” the cost of maintaining the empire is taking an increasing economic toll and other countries are starting to rebuke the US, both its requests for military assistance and its unfair economic demands.

What this means for people in the United States and around the world depends on whether we can build a mass popular movement with the clarity of vision, skills, and solidarity necessary to navigate what is and will surely be a turbulent period. There are no guarantees as to the outcome. Failure to act could result in a disastrous scenario – at best, that the US will continue to try to hold on to power by waging economic and military warfare abroad, weakening the economy at home, and undermining necessities such as housing, healthcare, education and the transition to a Green economy. At worst, as Galtung describes, there could be “an inevitable and final war” involving nuclear weapons.

The People’s Mobilization to Stop the US War Machine and Save the Planet is next weekend. CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS. You must register in advance for the Monday night solidarity event. RSVP at bit.ly/RSVPapathtopeace. And sign the Global Appeal for Peace here.

When Empire Is In Decline

Alfred McCoy says that it is only when empires are in decline that people begin to recognize they live in an empire and start to talk about it. While discussion of empire hasn’t broken into the corporate media, it is certainly happening in the independent media. A concerted effort by a popular movement could bring it to the fore, just as Occupy changed the political dialogue about wealth inequality and the power of money. People in the US need to face some stark realities when it comes to declining US global power.

For starters, the United States does not currently have the capacity to wage a “Great Power Conflict” even though that is the goal of the national security strategy. The loss of its manufacturing base and lack of access to minerals necessary for producing weapons and electronics means the US does not have the resources to fight a great war. Much of the US’ manufacturing has been outsourced to other countries, including those targeted by US foreign policy. Resources necessary for weapons and electronics are in China, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Venezuela. It’s no surprise that the US is maintaining a military presence in Afghanistan, has increased its presence in Africa through AFRICOM and is struggling to wrest control of Venezuela.

Despite these attempts, the US is not having success. There is no military solution for the US in Afghanistan. As Moon of Alabama explains, the Taliban has taken control of more territory than it has had since the US started the war and has no reason to negotiate with the US. He advises, “The U.S. should just leave as long as it can. There will come a point when the only way out will be by helicopter from the embassy roof.”

Alexander Rubinstein writes the failures in Afghanistan can be attributed to Zalmay Khalilzad, currently the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation. Khalilzad has led US foreign policy in Afganistan and Iraq since the presidency of George W. Bush, and before that worked with Carter’s National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, who provided crucial support for the Mujahideen to draw the Soviet Union into a quagmire. The writing is on the wall that the US must leave Afghanistan, but that is unlikely to happen as long as people such as Khalilzad and Elliott Abrams, who has a similar ideology, are in charge.

As the US-led coup in Venezuela continues to fail due to a lack of support for it within the country, resilience to the effects of the unilateral coercive economic measures (sanctions) and exposure of attempts to create chaos and terror by paramilitary mercenaries, the US grows increasingly desperate in its tactics. There has already been a failed assassination attempt against President Maduro, a US freight company tied to the CIA has been caught smuggling weapons and the US and its Puppet Guaido have been implicated in a terrorist plot as the failed coup enters a more dangerous phase. This week, the Organization of American States voted to invoke a treaty, the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR), which would allow military intervention. Mexico strongly opposed that possibility. This comes as Venezuela has strengthened troops at the Colombian border after discovering terrorist training camps on the Colombian side. With allies such as Russia and China, an attack on Venezuela would not only hurt the region but could go global.

Despite the Asian Pivot under President Obama during his first administration and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper’s comment this week that the US is directing a lot of energy toward China, analysts predict the US will fail to achieve dominance in the Asia-Pacific. China is purchasing weapons from Russia that are superior to US systems, is strengthening its military coordination with Russia through drills and is expanding its global ties through the Belt and Road Initiative. Matthew Ehret writes in Strategic Culture, “Those American military officials promoting the obsolete doctrine of Full Spectrum dominance are dancing to the tune of a song that stopped playing some time ago. Both Russia and China have changed the rules of the game on a multitude of levels….”

Protests in Hong Kong, as we described in a recent newsletter, are being used to stoke greater anti-China sentiment in the US. As often occurs, the sophisticated propaganda arm of US-backed color revolutions excites leftist activists, but each day it becomes clearer just how deep the US’ influence is. K. J. Noh provides a helpful guide – a list of seven signs a protest is not a popular progressive uprising. One sign is Hong Kong protesters are supporting a bill in the US Congress, the so-called “Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act.” The bill would allow the United States to sanction Hong Kong officials.

Andre Vltchek attended a recent protest and interviewed some of the participants. He found the democracy protesters have little grasp on the oppression Hong Kongers faced under British colonization, they attack anyone who disagrees with them and they are destroying public infrastructure. One of the protest leaders, Joshua Wong, is openly meeting with figures connected to US regime change efforts, and NED-backed organizations are planning an anti-China protest in Washington, DC on September 29. Their new propaganda symbol is a Chinese flag with a Swastika on it. No surprise that was evident at the protests in Hong Kong this weekend.

The US is already at war with China with battlefronts on trade and the Asian Pacific. The propaganda around Hong Kong showing prejudice against China is part of manufacturing consent for the conflict between the US and China, which will define the 21st Century. US militarism is also escalating to involve space. This week, the US conducted its first space war game and Putin warned of a space arms race.

Our Tasks as Activists

It was good news this past week that President Trump asked John Bolton, a white supremacist neocon who disrupted any attempts at negotiation, to resign from his position as National Security Adviser. Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report writes, “Every sane person on the planet should be glad to see Bolton go.” But, even with Bolton gone, the US War Machine will rage on with bi-partisan support. Whether Trump starts to live up to his campaign rhetoric of non-intervention remains to be seen. The appointment of Michael Kozak as the new US envoy to Latin America is a bad sign.

Almost two centuries of Manifest Destiny that went beyond North America to spread US Empire across the globe will not end overnight. It will take a concerted effort to build a national consensus against the dominant ideologies of white supremacy and US exceptionalism to change the course of US foreign policy. Fundamental tasks of that effort include education, organizing and mobilizing. Below are some examples of each.

Education:

The Palestinian Great March of Return, a weekly nonviolent protest in Gaza demanding the right of return granted by the United Nations, continues and each week Israelis injure and murder unarmed Palestinians. Abby Martin and Mike Prysner of The Empire Files produced an excellent documentary about it, “Gaza Fights For Freedom,” and are touring the country to raise awareness. Listen to our interview with Abby Martin on Clearing the FOG. Find a showing near you or organize one.

The United States uses unilateral coercive measures (sanctions) that are illegal under international law to wage war on other countries. The Treasury Department currently lists 20 countries sanctioned by the US, but the US also uses threats of sanctions to wield power. Sanctions are warfare, even though they are not commonly viewed that way. They result in the suffering and death of mostly civilians. Kevin Cashman and Cavan Kharrazian explain how sanctions work, why they violate international law and how they threaten global stability.

Organizing:

Alison Bodine and Ali Yerevani encourage activists to avoid the organizing pitfall of getting caught up in debates about the internal politics of countries targeted by US imperialism. Our tasks, as citizens of imperialist countries, are to stop our governments from intervening in the affairs of other countries and demand they respect international law. We also have a task of building solidarity with civilians of other countries. It will require a global mass movement to address major issues such as the climate crisis, wealth inequality, colonization, and violence.

Citizen to citizen diplomacy is critical in building this mass movement and solidarity. Ann Wright, retired from the military and State Department, writes about the challenges of citizen to citizen diplomacy as she tours Russia. Ajamu Baraka, national organizer of Black Alliance for Peace, reminds us that war and militarism are class issues in his address to an international meeting of trade unions held in Syria.

We are strong believers in breaking out of the confines of the narrative presented by corporate media about countries outside the US. Our trips to Iran and Venezuela this year were invaluable learning experiences. We hope to visit more targeted countries. An effort that came out of these trips is the new Global Appeal for Peace, first steps toward creating an international network to complement the more than 120 non-aligned movement countries that are resolved to respect international law and sovereignty and take action to create peace and prevent the catastrophic climate crisis. Sign on to this effort at GlobalAppeal4Peace.net.

Mobilizing:

The People’s Mobilization to Stop the US War Machine and Save the Planet starts next weekend. On Saturday night, Black Alliance for Peace is sponsoring a discussion, “Race, Militarism and Black Resistance in the ‘Americas’” in the Bronx. On Sunday we will rally and march to the UN with Embassy Protectors, Roger Waters and many more. On Monday night, we have a special solidarity night at Community Church of New York. Registration is required as there will be high-level representatives of impacted countries speaking about the challenges they face. Click here to register.

Rage Against the US War Machine will take place October 11 and 12 in Washington, DC. This is the second annual event organized by March on the Pentagon. Click here for details.

We also ask you to join the Embassy Protectors Defense Committee. Sign the petition to drop the Trump administration’s charges against us for protecting the Venezuelan Embassy this spring. We are facing up to a year in prison and exorbitant fines even though it was the US State Department that violated the Vienna Convention by raiding the embassy in May. We will tour Northern California in October and are planning more tours to raise awareness that the struggle to end the US  coup and interventions in Venezuela continues.

John Galtung predicts that the fall of the US Empire could have a devastating impact on domestic cohesion in the United States. As the US loses its position of global supremacy, we have an opportunity to fundamentally reshape what we as a nation represent. We can become cooperative global citizens in a world free of oppression, violence, and poverty if we do the work of joining in international solidarity for these goals.

Western “Progressives” Support Yet Another Color Revolution in Hong Kong

Misinformed “progressive” western “activists” and pundits are putting down their remote controls and organic smoothies just long enough to tweet out that Hong Kong protesters need to be supported as paragons of virtue and justice. Some have even blogged and bloviated about the importance of these protests as a struggle for freedom against “dictatorship.”

Most of these individuals never question why, out of the thousands of daily protests, or the 200-plus ongoing global independence movements, or the 50-plus ongoing violent conflicts, why this particular struggle has been curated to penetrate the thick fog of their ignorance and their flashbulb-short attention span.

Most of these individuals wouldn’t be able to distinguish Hong Kong from Hokkaido, and couldn’t tell Putonghua from Toisanhua from Cantonese. Most have never seen or spent a day in China. In fact, you know it’s not a real color revolution until the stupid section of the western “progressive” blogosphere gets to cheerleading.

This is what they are willfully missing:

1.      It’s not a progressive popular uprising if the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is involved. The NED is the soft-power coup arm of the US government, doing what the CIA used to do–regime change and dirty tricks–by other means.  The NED is crawling all over this.  This is an off-the-rack NED project.

2.      It’s not a progressive popular uprising if the key funder and fluffer is a fascist media billionaire with close ties to the most reactionary elements of Western right-wing reaction: Hong Kong’s Rupert Murdoch, Jimmy Lai, the owner of the misogynist, racist, xenophobic, Next Media/Next Digital Corporation/Apple Daily is the driver of this.

3.      It’s not a progressive popular uprising if the key leaders are racist, anti-immigrant, secessionists that court and consort with powerful rightwing extremists and regime change ideologues in the US (John Bolton, Paul Wolfowitz, Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo, Marco Rubio, Eliot Engel, Larry Diamond, etc). John Bolton, for God’s sake?

4.      You know it’s not a progressive popular uprising when foreign powers (US Congress, State Dept) proclaim their ardent support for the protestors, write bills, make threats, and threaten consequences if the protests are not allowed by the government.  When was the last time the US government actually supported a real populist movement?

5.      You know it’s not a popular progressive uprising—or one with a shred of sense—when the protesters make appeals for US intervention or want to go back to being a colony: a shamelessly white supremacist, colonial Apartheid state without a hint of democracy or representation.

6.      Popular progressive uprisings don’t wave US flags, UK flags, chant colonial slogans, use swastikas and alt-right symbols, terrorize children, spew hate speech (“Chee Na”), or beat unconscious people with US flags.  Fascists do.

7.      Popular progressive movements for democracy and free speech don’t try to shut down free speech and terrorize all who disagree with them.

Let’s say you missed all of these.  Here are some other things to note:

1.Protest-in-a-box, for free: There has been incredible preparation, logistics, organization, and funding.  Apologies to dear Rosa Luxembourg, revolutions in this era don’t just happen by themselves, and they certainly don’t fund themselves.  Tens of thousands of protestors, prepared with a flush kit of hardhats, gas masks, filters, goggles, zip ties, staves, lasers, gloves, and body armor don’t just appear spontaneously. They don’t just improvisationally start creating complex logistics lines using predetermined hand signals while brandishing slick, corporate-designed banners, logos, animation, and soundbite-catchphrases in English. That requires incredible organization, training, and funding. See 1 & 2 above.

2. The Sudden Color of Violence: Note the Blitzkrieg-fast turn to violence. The Modus Operandi for color revolutions is to first instigate mass protests over a minor pretext (here, a carefully crafted extradition bill, already suspended), followed by a very quick, prepared escalation to violence: US supported color revolutions need to escalate to violence quickly, the better to crowd out critical reflection, drown the mediascape with emotional images and riot porn, the better to “catapult the propaganda,” the better to create chaos and confusion, the better to bring down, paralyze, render impotent the government by shock; or to trigger a crackdown, thereby bringing down global censure.  Above all, they need and rely on disruptive terror to intimidate and paralyze: to create confusion for ongoing sabotage–to throw sand in the gears–and to create structural friction in the conditions of living that render ordinary existence intolerable and unbearable.

In other words, this is not about making demands for creating change: this is shock therapy designed to create a legitimation crisis for a state: render the state impotent or ungovernable, or morally untouchable.

These are well-honed NED/CIA regime change tactics, practiced and documented all over the world, designed to inflame discontent, outrage, and protests. These tactics of geometric escalation, designed to instigate an overreaction by the authorities, the better to use in propaganda and to trigger more agitation are happening as we speak. (The NY Times’ disingenuous “Marginal Violence theory” is a red herring to distract you as the violence assaults the core, moves asymptotically towards unrestrained urban warfare).

Here are some of the specific tactics, right out of the color revolution template:

Mass Violence: including attacking police, cars, and bystanders with Molotovs, blinding lasers, air guns, grenade launchers, sling shots, bricks, steel pipes, sharpened steel bars, baseball bats, sledge hammers, knives, and caustic lye, etc. Bombs, automatic weapons, and axes have also been found and confiscated.

Mass Terror Tactics: violent bullying and intimidation, of passers-by, Krystallnacht-style trashing of stores, Rodney King-type beat downs, “Pulp Fiction”-style torture (kidnapping, lynching, and torture of journalist [mass beatings/revival with water/further beatings]); Terrorizing of “opponents” and “non-sympathizers” through leaks, doxing, threats, cyberthreats, and boycotts, and attacking families and their residences (the dorms where the children and wives of the police live).  Open incitement on how to kill police and attempted murder through ambush attacks.

Infrastructure Attacks: attacks on buildings (police stations, legislative chambers, government buildings, dorms), mass disruption of traffic, transportation, and logistics (airports, subway and subway infrastructure, tollbooths, violent roadblocks, setting fires to barricade in police, massive street fires, coordinated sabotage of traffic lights (to create accidents), cameras, and streetlights.

If a tiny fraction of these types of actions had been unleashed in New York, DC, or London, “democratic” western authorities would have seen fit to let loose with lethal force 13 weeks ago. In fact, as a point of reference, in France, police have killed protestors, blinded 24, and injured 2200 in the Gilets Jaunes/Yellow Vest protests.

3. Fetishistic Demands: These are demands that don’t address the actual conditions that have created the legitimate discontent—rampant inequality and the festering structural violence of a financialized neoliberal state–but rather uncritical, rhetorical, virtue-signaling ad-campaign slogans that can’t or won’t be met, all the better to justify continued chaos, outrage, and violence.

This is not to say that the working classes of Hong Kong don’t have legitimate grievances to protest. One of the most unequal states in the world–a paradise for billionaires–Hong Kong is a case study in the nihilistic despair of a neoliberal Capitalist state dominated by corporations, high finance and real estate. Due to its history as a capitalist tax haven, with no capital gains, dividend, estate, or value-added taxes, the government derives much of its revenue from selling land to real estate barons, colluding to render housing beyond the reach of most Hong Kong residents and relegating the vast majority of dwellers to claustrophobic subdivided apartments that are the residential equivalent of a subway car at rush hour. The Chinese government, if they are to be blamed, should be blamed for not immediately shutting down this parasitic legacy system of the colonial era—and demonstrating that another way is possible as they have all over the mainland. This legitimate anger at structural Capitalist violence is the outrage and despair that has been diverted and harnessed into anti-immigrant, pro-colonial, anti-Chinese sentiment, serving the color revolution agenda of the West.

4. Intense, Hyper-coordinated Information Warfare: coordinated, directed, saturated messaging and censorship in the western press and media:

  • One-sided blasting of protest porn or decontextualized police violence, with non-stop pro-protestor commentary and editing;
  • Endless, mindless, China-bashing echo-chambering in the media;
  • Coordinated, mass white-washing, justification, and erasure of the protestors’ over-the-top violence;
  • Censorship and mass erasure of almost all voices critical of the protests on the MSM, YouTube,  FB, and Twitter: over 200,000 twitter accounts pre-emptively and instantaneously suspended on grounds of supposed “coordination” and undermining legitimacy and political positions of the protest movement on the ground”. This coordinated, mass censorship happened the exact moment some glimmers of truth started to come out and started to discredit the protests (as the gruesome airport torture images started to circulate). Note that grassroots protest movements don’t have direct access to the Silicon Valley kill switch if unfavorable information comes out.  If there was any doubt as to whether US social media companies function as the subcontracted perception management arm and gatekeepers of the globalized US security-surveillance state, you have here your proof.

Compare this saturated, single-message, biased coverage also with the minimal coverage of the current or recent situations in:

  • Kashmir, which Indian troops are currently blockading and violently occupying (where the special autonomous status of the region has been already revoked),
  • France’s Gilets Jaunes, an ongoing popular protest, where 24 people have been blinded, 2200 injured, and 11 have died,
  • West Papua & Papua, Indonesia, where Indonesian troops are currently on a murderous rampage,
  • Catalonia, where an independence movement successful at the ballots was violently put down,
  • South Korea’s Candlelight revolution, a massive populist uprising in South Korea, almost completely ignored until the government was brought down,
  • Almost any other popular protest around the world.

To ask sincerely why Hong Kong is receiving saturation coverage, “moral” support, and an unprecedented media platform–out of all the other movements and struggles—gives you a framework for understanding the scale, scope, and stakes of what this is about. This is a geostrategic, geopolitical information warfare, no longer—if ever–grassroots popular agitation.

Full Spectrum Resistance

In the post-Soviet era, the Pentagon and its allies came up with the doctrine of “Full Spectrum Dominance.” This is a war doctrine that aims for total domination in all spheres and battle spaces: dominance, not just in kinetic military conflict, but also in the domains of civil disturbance, information warfare, and social perception, in particular network-centric “operational narrative dominance.” This is what’s going on here.

Progressives–if you actually are that–you need to keep your eyes open, your minds alert, and think sharply, critically, objectively as you wander into this battlespace.

Color revolutions and regime change operations simply can’t happen without you: they need you to become the blind chorus, the vapid echo chamber, the ditzy cheerleaders, and the jaundiced, prejudiced, ignorant umpires in this dirty game of information warfare. If you don’t want to become a vector of propaganda and a host of disinformation in this ugly viral warfare, you need to think critically, reflexively, dialectically when you tweet, blog, agitate, or speak out. Lives and nations rest in the balance.

Hong Kong and the Audacity of the United States

People often ask and hint at the similarities between the Hong Kong protests and the French Yellow Vests. The former started on 31 March and are approaching their 19th week. The Yellow Vests (YV) have celebrated last weekend their 40th week of protests. As of recently some voices of Macron-infiltrates into the YV movement – or Fifth Columnists – have suggested that the YVs may support the Hong Kong protesters in solidarity for freedom….

Well, that didn’t go down well with the highly educated and well informed YV. Many of them actually felt insulted by the Macronites – ‘for whom does this guy [Macron] take us?’  And right they are. There is not a shred of comparison between the two movements, except that they are protests but for widely different reasons, and serving widely different agendas. The YV can in no way be associated with the Hong Kong “protests” which are equal to US funded Color Revolutions.

We, the YV leaders said, are fighting against an ever more totalitarian French government that is ever more stealing our legitimate income in the form of all sorts of taxes and keeps a minimum wage on which ever more French families cannot survive. Life is unaffordable on a regular workers pension. The Macron Government is creating poverty, by shifting the financial resources, the few that are left, from the bottom to the top. That’s what we are fighting and protesting against. We want a fundamental change in the French economic structure and the French leadership. You see, all of this has nothing to do with the Washington funded Hong Protests that are directed on Washington’s behalf by Hong Kongers against the Government of Mainland China.

It couldn’t be clearer. The French Yellow Vests know what they are fighting for. The Hong Kong protesters, most of them, follow a few leaders under false pretenses against their country, against Beijing. Granted, many of the protesters are pro-westerners, they sing the US National Anthem, and wave the British flag – the flag of their former colonialists.

Actually, funding to destabilize Hong Kong in the future has already started at the latest in 1994, three years before the official Handover of Hong Kong by the UK to the Beijing Government. Way before the official date of returning Hong Kong in 1997 to the Peoples Republic of China (PRC), the US built up a network of Fifth Columnists in Hong Kong.

Washington pours millions into creating unrest in Hong Kong, similarly as in Ukraine, when the US State Department financed the preparation of the 2014 coup at least 5 years ahead at the tune of US$ 5 billion, according to Victoria Nuland’s, Deputy Secretary of State, own admission, directly and through NED, the National Endowment for Democracy, an “NGO” which it isn’t. It is rather the extended or soft arm of the CIA, receiving hundreds of millions of dollars from the State Department for their ‘regime changing’ activities around the globe.

In 1991, The Washington Post quoted a NED founder, Allen Weinstein, as saying “a lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA”.  Couldn’t have been said better. We see the results all over the world.

Precisely this has happened in Hong Kong and is going on until this day and probably way beyond. The US will not let go. Especially now that most people who have at least a limited understanding on how these western manipulations work, comprehend and see for themselves who is sowing the unrests. Take the 22-year-old student and western hero of the 2014 Umbrella Revolution, Joshua Wong, trained. programmed and funded by the US State Department / NED / CIA. He is again a main player in the current protest movement. Wong is the on-the-ground boy for the local media tycoon, Jimmy Lai, who has spent millions of his own money in the 2014 “Occupy Central” protests (Umbrella Revolution).

The oligarch uses his funds widely to finance protest leaders and protest groups. He also created his own National Party, with significant xenophobic connotations. Yet Mr. Lai is very close to the Trump Administration and met, along with many of his protest leaders, with the US envoy in Hong Kong, as well as with National Security Advisor John Bolton and other US officials. On July 8, Mr. Jimmy Lai met US Vice President Mike Pence at the White House.

Lai has full support of the US Government to fire on and promote these protest groups. Yet, if asked, the protesters have no precise plan or strategy of what they want. The island is largely divided. By far not all protesters want to separate from the mainland. They feel Chinese and express their disgust with Jimmy Lai’s radical anti-Beijing propaganda. They call him a traitor.

Mr. Lai was born in 1948 in mainland China, in an impoverished family in Canton. He was educated to fifth grade level and smuggled to Hong Kong in a small boat at age 13. In HK he worked as a child laborer in a garment factory at about the equivalent of US$ 8 per month. In 1975 he bought a bankrupt garment factory for a pittance and created Giordano, producing sweaters and other clothing for mostly US clients, like J.C. Penny, Montgomery Ward and others. Mr. Lai today is openly criticized even by his own people as a conspirator behind the violence of the HK riots, or protests, as he prefers to call them.

The protests started with a ‘controversial’ extradition law – which, by the way, exists between most States in the United States, as well as between nations in Europe and to a large extent internationally. Therefore, this is nothing unusual. Yet, its importance was blown out of proportion by the western media and by Mr. Lai’s own local media to distort the picture. A minority, of course, would like their full independence from China which is totally against the agreement signed between the UK and Beijing at the so-called 1997 Handover.

A few days ago, the US sent a couple of war ships into China waters at Hong Kong. They had the audacity to ask Beijing to grant them the right to dock at Hong Kong harbor. Beijing, of course, refused and warned Washington – do not meddle in our internal affairs. Of course, Washington has no intention to heed China’s advice – they never do. They have been inoculated with the view that the exceptional nation calls the shots. Always. Nobody else should even dare to contradict them. Period.

On July 3, The China Daily pointedly reported:

The ideologues in Western governments never cease in their efforts to engineer unrest against governments that are not to their liking, even though their actions have caused misery and chaos in country after country in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Now they are trying the same trick in China.

The US tactics in Hong Kong, may be combined with Trump’s trade war, with the Pentagon’s greater presence – mainly new military bases and navy presence in the Indo-Pacific region – Obama’s (in)famous Pivot to Asia which prompted Obama to order 60% of the US Navy fleet to the South China Sea.

All of this and more are part of a destabilization war with China. Washington is afraid of China’s rising economic power in the world, of China’s monetary system, that is based on economic output and on gold, not fiat money like the US Dollar and the Euro and other currencies following the western turbo-capitalist system; and Washington is afraid of losing its dollar hegemony, as the Chinese yuan is gradually taking over the dollar’s role as world reserve currency.

Hong Kong was basically stolen by the Brits in 1842 at the heights of the Opium Wars. Under pressure of the British military might, China ceded Hong Kong under the Treaty of Nanking, signed on 29 August 1842. Hong Kong became, thus, a Crown Colony of the British Empire.  Under a convention of 1898, Hong Kong was leased to Britain for 99 years.

After 155 years of British colonial oppression of the people of Hong Kong, it was time to normalize the status of Hong Kong as what it always should have been, namely an integral territory of China. The “One Country, Two Systems” agreement of 1997, returned Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China, but the parties agreed to leave the capitalist system in place for 50 years. The agreement also stipulated that all intervention and colonial claims on Hong Kong were supposed to end. Full sovereignty was to return to China. What’s happening now – US-UK fomented riots to seek independence of the island, is in total disregard of the 1997 Handover Treaty.

The US inspired and funded protests are destined to challenge the HK-China sovereignty clause, by mobilizing public opinion that wants full “freedom”; i.e., independence from China.

The 50 years of the usual abusive capitalist continuation would allow the imperialist US and UK to maintain economic control over Hong Kong and thereby exert economic influence over the PRC. How wrong they were!  In 1997 Hong Kong’s GDP constituted 27% of the PRC’s GDP.  Today that proportion shrunk to a mere 3%. China’s rapidly growing level of development, especially the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which the west chose to literally ignore until about a year ago, has become a vital threat to the US corporate world.

What the US and UK – and the rest of the West – is particularly interested in is HK’s special banking position in the world. Through Singapore and Hong Kong, Wall Street and key European banks, in cohorts with their not so ‘ethically-clean’ and often fraudulent HSBC partner, pretend to control and influence Asian economics and especially attempt to prevent China to take over the Asian financial markets. Hong Kong has the most liberal banking laws, possibly worldwide, where illegal money transactions, money laundering, shady investments in the billions can be carried out and nobody watches. Maintaining HK as long as possible with this special nation status and wielding influence and control over PRC’s financial markets is one of the western goals.

But little does the West understand that China and other eastern countries, plus Russia, India, Pakistan, have already largely detached, or are in the process of detaching, from the dollar economy and are members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Let’s face it, the SCO comprises about half of the world’s population and controls about one third of the globe’s economic output.

Therefore, the SCO members do no longer depend on the western financial markets and monetary manipulations. In fact, Shanghai has in the last decades grown to become China’s financial hub with way more importance for China than Hong Kong. So, it is very unlikely that China will crack down on Hong Kong for the protests. There is too much political capital to be lost by interfering. The West and Hong Kong protesters may as well riot themselves into rot.

But if China gets tired of these incessant western provocations and really wants to put an end to them, the PRC could take over Hong Kong in less than 48 hours, abridge the 50 years of western capitalism and make HK a full-fledged province of China, no privileges, no special status, just a part of sovereign China. End of story.

• First published in New Eastern Outlook – NEO

Thirty Years After Tiananmen Square, the U.S. is Still Trying to destabilize China

Last month marked three decades since the conclusion of the 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstrations in China. The anniversary is opportune for Washington and its Western partners to ramp-up their Sinophobic smear campaign while recycling the hoax they have propagated ever since the June Fourth incident occurred. Coverage of the commemoration has been wedded with the ongoing propaganda and wild accusation that the People’s Republic has currently detained up to 1 million Turkic Uyghur Muslims from the autonomous Xinjiang province in “concentration camps.” Simultaneously, opposition marches have erupted in the former British colony of Hong Kong with the financial backing of astro-turfing NGOs against a controversial extradition bill with the mainland. Like Tiananmen Square thirty years ago, the “pro-democracy” gatherings in the self-governing territory have become increasingly violent as rioters have stormed legislative buildings while hoisting the colonial-era dragon and lion flag as their emblem. The adoption of the Union Jack is reminiscent of the Syrian opposition’s appropriation of the French Mandate-era flag as its ensign — and we all know how “peaceful” those protests turned out to be.

In August of last year, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) performed a routine analysis of China’s accordance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The only member to include the charge of Uyghur ‘internment camps’ was the committee’s American vice-chair, Gay McDougall, who did so based on allegations made by a shadowy opposition group located in Washington, D.C., known as the Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD). In other words, the UN did not officially make this determination but was only the interpretation of one American representative based on the conjecture of a dubious and biased “human rights” organization. Nevertheless, Western corporate media reported this unquestioningly second-hand under the assumption that the CERD committee consisted of UN internal sources when it is actually comprised of “independent experts” like McDougall.

Unsurprisingly, CHRD is directly tied to the highly politicized Human Rights Watch (HRW) NGO, which despite its name could not be more at odds with its declared vocation given its shared personnel and history of policies in lock-step with the world’s greatest violator of human rights, especially against Muslim countries, in the United States government. A Turkish scholar recently claimed that as many as 12.5 million Muslims have died in wars in the past 25 years, the vast majority a result of American foreign policy. Not to mention the fact that the U.S. still operates a very real concentration camp for Muslims in its naval base on the coast of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which President Donald Trump has signed an executive order to keep open indefinitely. For seventeen years, GITMO prisoners have been held and tortured without trial in total violation of international law. At the end of the day, “human rights” is a weapon to manipulate credulous liberals into supporting hawkish foreign policy whereby minority groups like China’s Tibetans and Uyghurs become pawns on the geopolitical chess board to undermine Washington’s adversaries.

An investigation showed that CHRD gets most of its sums from government grants which is safe to assume comes from the U.S.-government bankrolled National Endowment for Democracy (NED) NGO that is also subsidizing the Hong Kong protests. The paradoxically named CIA slush fund was created in 1983 as a front for the intelligence service to conceal its operations after the agency’s standing was disgraced following the revelations of illicit crimes in the prior decades sabotaging democracies around the world to install U.S. puppet regimes. Founded by Ronald Reagan, the NED has poured money into programs related to Xinjiang such as the World Uyghur Congress. In March, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with four Uyghur representatives, though it turned out that at least one of those he convened with was a reporter for the U.S. government-owned Radio Free Asia which is the equivalent of the CIA’s Radio Free Europe in the continent. Just two months later, Pompeo would make a clean breast of his previous tenure as CIA director in a speech at Texas A&M University:

Having said that, not all tough places are the same. They each present a different set of challenges. I — it reminds me, you would know this as — it’s a bit of an aside. But in terms of how you think about problem sets, I — when I was a cadet, what’s the first — what’s the cadet motto at West Point? You will not lie, cheat, or steal, or tolerate those who do. I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, we stole. It’s — it was like — we had entire training courses. It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment.

The fact that Pompeo admitted spinning the CIA’s yarn just a short time after meeting with the Uyghurs hasn’t prevented many on the left from lining up behind mainstream media in spreading the West’s disinformation without verification of the camp’s existence. The Intercept, a popular progressive news publication known for its coverage of leaks by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, published an article calling for “global outrage” in response. The piece was written by Mehdi Hasan, a journalist who also works for Al-Jazeera, the state news network of Qatar’s ruling emirs whose government co-sponsors much of the Islamic terrorism plaguing Xinjiang that has been the basis for China’s policies regarding its Uyghur question. The Intercept is also owned by First Look Media, established by e-Bay co-founder Pierre Omidyar, whose investment firm financed many of the NGOs in Ukraine which organized the Euromaidan protests which ousted Kiev’s democratically-elected government in 2014. It is possible the billionaire has a similar conflict of interest in China.

A Reuters journalist who gained rare access to the facilities was interviewed and his on-the-ground observations were rather banal in comparison to such sensationalized vicarious reporting. The Chinese government acknowledges that what does exist in the energy-rich Northwestern province are re-education centers training and rehabilitating individuals with links to Turkic separatism, Uyghur nationalism and ISIS/Daesh to combat the spread of jihadism into the Uyghur community by U.S. ally Saudi Arabia. For fifty years, the Gulf State kingdom has propagated an intolerant and ultra-conservative strain of Islam while evading any consequences as the source of international terrorism. This long believed association was confirmed in a leaked Hillary Clinton email from 2014 published by WikiLeaks:

While this military/para-military operation is moving forward, we need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region.

The embattled Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman admitted that the previously obscure and fundamentalist Wahhabi sect of Islam was deliberately exported at the West’s encouragement during the Cold War to undermine Soviet influence in Muslim countries. ​Today, Saudi-trained imams around the world are preaching the supremacy of Sharia law and waging jihad, from Kosovo to the Philippines. The Turkic-speaking Sunni minority concentrated in Xinjiang have not avoided this contamination as the region has been infested with terrorism since the 1990s with violence committed overwhelmingly by radicalized Uyghurs, from suicide bombings to knife attacks. It is notable that China’s dozens of other Muslim ethno-religious groups such as the Hui people are relatively well assimilated into Chinese society and have been immune to such ills, casting doubt on the West’s characterization of China as anti-Islam.

Meanwhile, the Uyghur extremism problem is so abundant that many were recruited in Syria to fight alongside al-Qaeda in the U.S.-Saudi proxy army rebranded as “moderate rebels” that unsuccessfully sought to overthrow the secular government of Bashar al-Assad. As only American exceptionalism permits, Washington is now simulating outrage at the PRC’s crackdown on the very religious fanaticism its allies have instigated, in the hopes that a separatist uprising could balkanize Xinjiang and halt China’s development of its new silk road, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), through the region connecting its trade routes with Africa and Europe. The feigned outcry of the West toward any unsubstantiated human rights abuses rings hollow given that which is taking place in GITMO and numerous U.S. black sites around the world.

The American “human rights expert” who made the assertion, Gay McDougall, is an advisory board member of the Open Society Foundation NGO founded by the controversial international financier George Soros. It is ironic that Soros has become so hated on the political right in the West when it was his “philanthropic” agencies that were instrumental in the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and attempted the same in China. During the 1980s, his nonprofits partnered with other CIA soft-power intermediaries to destabilize the Eastern bloc and foment “pro-democracy” movements behind the Iron Curtain, from Poland’s Solidarity to Czechoslovakia’s Velvet Revolution. Later, Soros would invest heavily in Serbia’s Otpor! movement which ousted the last bastion of semi-socialism in Eurasia in the government of Slobodan Milosevic following the breakup of the former Yugoslavia after the end of the Cold War.

The success of Otpor! became the formulaic blueprint for the Western-engineered Color Revolutions in Eastern Europe against Moscow-backed states in the years to come, even after the reinstatement of the free market. Otpor! (“Resistance!”) became Georgia’s Kmara (“Enough!”) in the Rose Revolution, Kyrgystan’s KelKel (Pink or Tulip Revolution), Ukraine’s Pora (“It’s time”) in the Orange Revolution and many others which used the same protest tactics, slogans, and vexillography to transform peaceful protests into regime change operations. The anti-war movement should be deeply suspicious of Soros’ recent reported venture in an unlikely partnership with right-wing billionaire Charles Koch to establish a think tank whose aim is to “end America’s forever wars”, considering the Hungarian-born hedge fund tycoon has played an enormous role in US foreign policy for decades.

The methodology behind Color Revolutions takes inspiration from the writings of Gene Sharp, aka the “Machiavelli of non-violence”, a little known political scientist whose doctrine on strategies of non-violent resistance became useful to the Western establishment in training activists to incite unrest in order to topple governments in countries it seeks to dominate. Sharp’s work, From Dictatorship to Democracy, was used as a training manual in Otpor! and later became pivotal in the Arab Spring uprisings, another instance where what were presented as authentic, spontaneous protests quickly transformed into U.S.-friendly insurrections. Sharp’s theories became the modus operandi in depersonalizing political movements in order to manipulate them to suit the ends of regime change puppet masters in the Anglosphere.

What a coincidence that Gene Sharp himself was reportedly present in Tiananmen Square, aka the Gate of Heavenly Peace, back in 1989. Meanwhile, Soros was busy establishing the Fund for the Reform and Opening of China, aka the China Fund, which was shut down by the PRC after it suspected the foundation of connections with the CIA in the ensuing months that year. There is little doubt that the China Fund was attempting the same as what was done in Soros’s native Hungary, as well as Czechoslovakia and Poland. In hindsight, Tiananmen Square was one of the first attempts of what would become known as Color Revolutions, albeit a failed one. While Washington was successful in unseating communism in the Eastern Bloc it was unable to do in Beijing, though it was an enormous victory in the propaganda war of forever cementing the Chinese government as synonymous with authoritarianism in the impressionable minds of Westerners.

To this day the story according to the yellow press is that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) opened fire indiscriminately and massacred “thousands” of “non-violent” demonstrators when it finally cleared the city square after nearly 2 months of student-led protests. This was accepted as orthodoxy even on much of the left until this version of events was revealed to be contradicted by the U.S.’s own embassy cables published in 2011 by Wikileaks which divulged that the U.S. government had knowingly been allowing to the media to recount a fictitious narrative for decades. The confidential telegrams summarized the eyewitness account of Carlos Gallo, a Chilean diplomat, who was present during the June Fourth incident and told a very different story.

“8. GALLO EVENTUALLY ENDED UP AT THE RED CROSS STATION, AGAIN HOPING THAT TROOPS WOULD NOT FIRE ON THE MEDICAL PERSONNEL THERE. HE WATCHED THE MILITARY ENTER THE SQUARE AND DID NOT OBSERVE ANY MASS FIRING OF WEAPONS INTO THE CROWDS, ALTHOUGH SPORADIC GUNFIRE WAS HEARD. HE SAID THAT MOST OF THE TROOPS WHICH ENTERED THE SQUARE WERE ACTUALLY ARMED ONLY WITH ANTI-RIOT GEAR — TRUNCHEONS AND WOODEN CLUBS; THEY WERE BACKED UP BY ARMED SOLDIERS. AS THE MILITARY CONSOLIDATED ITS CONTROL OF THE SQUARE’S PERIMETER, STUDENTS AND CIVILIANS GATHERED AROUND THE MONUMENT TO THE PEOPLE’S HEROES. GALLO SAID WOUNDED, INCLUDING SOME SOLDIERS, CONTINUED TO BE BROUGHT TO THE RED CROSS STATION.”

“10. ALTHOUGH GUNFIRE COULD BE HEARD, GALLO SAID THAT APART FROM SOME BEATING OF STUDENTS, THERE WAS NO MASS FIRING INTO THE CROWD OF STUDENTS AT THE MONUMENT. WHEN POLOFF MENTIONED SOME REPORTEDLY EYEWITNESS ACCOUNTS OF MASSACRES AT THE MONUMENT WITH AUTOMATIC WEAPONS, GALLO SAID THAT THERE WAS NO SUCH SLAUGHTER. ONCE AGREEMENT WAS REACHED FOR THE STUDENTS TO WITHDRAW, LINKING HANDS TO FORM A COLUMN, THE STUDENTS LEFT THE SQUARE THROUGH THE SOUTHEAST CORNER. ESSENTIALLY EVERYONE, INCLUDING GALLO, LEFT. THE FEW THAT ATTEMPTED TO REMAIN BEHIND WERE BEATEN AND DRIVEN TO JOIN THE END OF THE DEPARTING PROCESSION. ONCE OUTSIDE THE SQUARE, THE STUDENTS HEADED WEST ON QIANMEN DAJIE WHILE GALLO HEADED EAST TO HIS CAR. THEREFORE, HE COULD NOT COMMENT ON REPORTS THAT STUDENTS WERE AMBUSHED AND SLAUGHTERED IN THE ALLEY JUST WEST OF THE SQUARE NEAR THE BEIJING CONCERT HALL.”

The communique corroborates the account of the Chinese government that the injured and deceased included many unarmed soldiers and police. While there is no evidence or footage of the “thousands” of alleged corpses of CIA-trained student demonstrators, there is ample documentation of the armed thug participants setting fire to and even lynching PLA troops from buses during the confrontation. It was only on the final day that some police and soldiers were equipped with weapons as during the weeks prior the government had unsuccessfully attempted to put down the gatherings sending in defenseless PLA troops who were then attacked by the mobs. Not only were the riots brought under control mostly without lethal force, Gallo’s testimony upheld much of the PRC’s side of the story. The truth seems to be much closer to the Chinese government figures of around a few hundred fatalities, not thousands, during what were violent clashes and not any one-sided massacre.

It’s no wonder the anonymous ‘tank man’ in the internationally circulated iconic footage isn’t surrounded by the “thousands” of presumed corpses in the streets of what was then the largest public space in the world. Then again, the infamous stand-off between the unidentified protester and the tanks didn’t actually occur until June 5th, the following day after the protests concluded, a significant detail that has been curiously suppressed. That is to say, the image associated by most people around the world with the events — and one of the most universally recognizable of the 20th century — did not even occur during it. Not to mention that the unknown man was actually preventing the tanks from leaving, not entering, the city square. Nevertheless, the mysterious incident became the perfect extract for Western propaganda to put its spin on the crisis. If only the tanks had not exercised such restraint and run him over like the Israeli Defense Forces when they crushed the body of activist Rachel Corrie with a Caterpillar bulldozer in the Gaza Strip — then China would be considered a ‘democracy.’

Recently, former President Jimmy Carter reportedly phoned Trump to discuss China about their mutual concern that it will soon exceed the U.S. as a superpower on the world stage. While Trump nixed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal which excluded China and could have kickstarted WWIII, he has launched a protectionist trade war with tariffs on Chinese imports in an ill-fated attempt at stimulating domestic manufacturing and industry. Carter noted that while the U.S. is spending hundreds of billions on defense instead of redeveloping its crumbling infrastructure, China is using its productive power to help its people and leading the way in constructing high-speed railroads. He contrasted the wasteful Pentagon budget with the PRC “which has not wasted a penny on war” which he attributed to his own credit in “normalizing diplomatic relations with China in 1979.”

While these days Carter seems to lean towards social democracy, his critique is ironic considering a path can be traced from today’s obscene military budget back to his administration’s decision in 1979 to arm the mujahideen in Afghanistan to undermine the Soviet Union and divide Eurasia at the direction of his National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski. So too can the Uyghurs falling prey to the spread of Wahhabism during the 1980s when China relaxed its policies and radical Islamist groups from neighboring Central Asia and Pakistan infiltrated the region. Meanwhile, the breakup of the Soviet Union resulting in the independence of former Soviet and Muslim-majority Central Asian republics like Kazakhstan bordering Xinjiang only increased the resurgence of Uyghur separatism. While the PRC may not be squandering on endless war, an enormous portion of the U.S. defense budget in recent years has been in the Pacific with the deployment of naval and missile systems in close proximity to China which was part of the Obama administration’s ‘Pivot to Asia’ foreign policy shift, a regional strategy akin to Imperial Japan’s encirclement of the mainland in the lead-up to WWII.

The strategy of the empire’s information warfare is to invert reality and depict China as a regional tyrant and surveillance state persecuting its religious minorities while seeking colonial dominance and polluting the environment. It’s hard to imagine a clearer case of imperial projection, where the U.S.’s own signature wrongdoings are being displaced onto its chief rival. Leaving aside the obvious in regards to American hegemony militarily, within its own borders the U.S. has more people incarcerated despite the fact that China has a population three times as large. Even more startling, China has less people living in poverty despite its exponentially bigger populace. Then there is the hysteria over Apple’s tech rival Huawei and the completely baseless espionage allegations by the CIA against its 5G technology. The irony that Washington is trying to bully Germany for installing the cellular network when it was the U.S intelligence services that were caught red-handed tapping the personal phone of Chancellor Angela Merkel. It is is clear that the U.S. is in pathological denial of its own sins while attributing them to China.

The demonization of China has been so successful that it has become commonplace on the Western ‘left’ which characterizes Beijing and Washington as an ‘inter-imperial rivalry’ of equal footing. Yet China’s development and aid in the continents like Africa is regarded by their leaders as one of mutual benefit, not plunder like its debt crisis manufactured by Western financial institutions. Unfortunately, this hasn’t stopped much of the left from agreeing with the likes of John Bolton in characterizing China’s assistance as ‘neocolonial.’ Liberalism is supplanting internationalism and anti-imperialism in many ‘leftist’ circles and it is especially disappointing to observe many who may be innately skeptical of corporate media narratives of a crisis in the Middle East or Latin America suddenly abandon their suspicions to rely on the very same sources as dependable in their coverage of China.

This failure shows the residual effects of post-WWII reinterpretations of Marxism in the West that is institutionalized in the academic canon, such as the Frankfurt School hybrid that prioritizes using Marxism only as a theoretical lens in their corresponding disciplines of examining culture and critiquing the arts. While there is no denying that ‘socialism’ is ascendant since the 2008 financial crisis which a recent Gallup poll shows that 40% of Americans support in some form, the version budding leftists are encountering is a variety that strongly demonizes all previous historical attempts at putting Marx’s theories into practice whereby the first requisite is to denounce all existing revolutions and achievements by socialism in the last century as totalitarian failures. For this reason, China is dismissed as a “state capitalist” or ‘Stalinist’ deformation. Michael Parenti warned of this in Blackshirts & Reds:

[R]eal socialism, it is argued, would be controlled by the workers themselves through direct participation instead of being run by Leninists, Stalinists, Castroites, or other ill-willed, power-hungry, bureaucratic, cabals of evil men who betray revolutions. Unfortunately, this ‘pure socialism’ view is ahistorical and nonfalsifiable; it cannot be tested against the actualities of history. It compares an ideal against an imperfect reality, and the reality comes off a poor second. It imagines what socialism would be like in a world far better than this one, where no strong state structure or security force is required, where none of the value produced by workers needs to be expropriated to rebuild society and defend it from invasion and internal sabotage.

The hesitancy to defend China can also be ascribed to the widespread misconception that because of its market-oriented reforms, the People’s Republic is no longer socialist. The truth is much more complicated. The Tiananmen Square protests occurred at a time when China was undergoing economic liberalization not unlike glasnost and perestroika in the USSR under Mikhail Gorbachev. The demonstrations themselves even consisted of many Maoists who opposed the reforms under Deng Xiaoping such as the privatization of agribusiness and the social safety net, as the participants were not all united under the same demands or political tendencies. Still, Deng was no Gorbachev as he oversaw the ratification of the most recent constitution which maintained much of the socialist system. Through all its many significant faults, the People’s Republic has lifted nearly a billon people out of poverty since 1949 and while it is true there are still tens of millions who are poor, the Communist Party continues to organize the economy to eventually raise those remaining to a higher standard of living under the guide of its self-professed ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics.’

Despite its market economy and the adoption of some outward capitalist features, its public and state-owned enterprises are of much greater prevalence. The state sector has a bigger share in everything from transit to energy while virtually all land and property is still owned by collectivities or the state. There is not a single private bank in China which includes the world’s largest that is state-controlled, as are virtually all major media outlets from television to newspapers. Fundamentally, its advances on the world stage are more attributable to a planned economy than the free market. That Beijing is increasingly in the crosshairs of imperialism is only a further sign of the inevitable decline of the American empire. As for the fact that China is not only producing more cars than the West but many of the world’s billionaires is indeed an internal contradiction — but only an inherent one to those who have been duped into believing that socialism is about making everyone equally poor. If you believe that, there is a proverbial bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

All Fire and Fury in Ukraine

A Shabby Deck of Political Cards

For those folks who haven’t seen Ukraine on Fire (UOF), the Oliver Stone-produced documentary on the on-going Ukrainian crisis, it is not overstating the case to say it’s an essential historical document and one of the most important, insightful political documentaries of recent times. It may also be one of the most portentous.

Quite apart from the illuminating history lesson the film delivers as a backdrop to the current situation in one of Europe’s most pivotal of battlegrounds, there are many takeaways from the film. To begin, it stands as a vital corrective of the disinformation, misinformation, evangelistic doublespeak, ersatz analysis, unadulterated agitprop, and plain old garden-variety groupthink that attended the public discourse on the events and developments in the country, and which ultimately framed most people’s views of the situation. Needless to say, the messages and impressions conveyed by this ongoing, relentless ‘psy-op’ cum fake news onslaught still ‘rules the roost’ in most people’s minds.

Further, the film’s narrative is highly revealing in the manner in which the Western mainstream media (MSM) reported on the events surrounding the turmoil and conflict. In the process it showcases how much the perfidious thought contagion spread by the ever-nefarious neoconservatives and their fellow travelers the liberal interventionists infects U.S. foreign policy, along with the foreign policies of America’s assorted vassal states. It underscores moreover Russia’s seemingly inexhaustible forbearance with the U.S., which, sans any rational, coherent geopolitical basis for doing so, has been tested beyond reasonable endurance or expectation. This point is rendered especially palpable during the interviews Stone conducts with Russian president Vladimir Putin for UOF. (This is not to mention the actual The Putin Interviews).

At the same time UOF reveals again for those looking at America’s recidivistic predisposition for interfering in the affairs of other countries; this is an observation that’s always been evident save for the most preternaturally ignorant, ideologically myopic, or imperially inclined. Given the present zeitgeist as reflected by the headline-hogging “soap-saga” of “Russia-gate” – buttressed by former CIA chief James Woolsey’s whimsically smug concession recently that America interferes in other countries’ affairs “only for a very good cause [and] in the interests of democracy” – this is a reality that cannot be overstated. This is especially so when there are all too few examples where anyone might point to America’s interference actually serving the democratic interests (by any way that might be objectively measured) of any given country one might care to name.

The narrative encompassed by UOF is by extension a serious indictment on President Barack Obama’s handling of the Ukraine situation and his role in the creation of this singularly unholy mess — a prime exemplar of just how chaotic, dysfunctional, indeed war-like, were in large part the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner’s foreign policies. Ukraine on Fire attests unequivocally just how far removed the reality of Obama’s tenure was from his campaign rhetoric.

More broadly, the disaster in Ukraine – as we’ll see is still a work in progress even now under his successor, someone who pledged to curtail this direction in U.S. policy making, a promise which in no small measure propelled him into the Oval Office — is one of many that will forever inform people’s views of Number 44’s shop-soiled legacy. As Eric Zuesse noted a year after the coup, Obama employed a tactic of:

…attacking Russia by using fundamentalist and other conservative extremists in a given Russia-allied nation, so as to turn that…nation away from Russia, and toward America, and then of trying to crush these same right-wing extremists who’ve been so effective in defeating (or at least weakening) the pro-Russian leader in that Russia-allied country. This tactic leaves civil war and enormous bloodshed in the given formerly (or still) Russia-allied nation.

Three years after Zuesse made this comment, and over one year after the Great Black Hope left office, that situation to all intents prevails, with few harboring any optimism things are going to get better anytime soon. In fact, ominously, quite the opposite scenario is unfolding. Earlier this year, Gilbert Doctorow reported that a new draft law adopted by the Ukrainian Parliament and awaiting president Petro Poroshenko’s signature, threatens to escalate the Ukrainian conflict into a full-blown war, pitting nuclear-armed Russia against the United States and NATO. “Due to dire economic conditions,” Doctorow says, “Poroshenko and other government officials in Kiev have become deeply unpopular, and with diminished chances for electoral success may see war as politically advantageous.”

As history indelibly reminds us, this is an all too frequently recurring scenario in the conduct of international affairs. In a statement that undercuts much of the furor over the Russia-gate imbroglio, Doctorow observes that in contrast to the image of Trump administration policies being dictated by Moscow as portrayed by proponents of Russia-gate conspiracy theories, “the United States is moving towards deeper confrontation with the Kremlin in the geopolitical hot spot of Ukraine. For its part, the Kremlin has very little to gain and a great deal to lose economically and diplomatically from a campaign now against Kiev. If successful, as likely would be the case, given the vast disparity in military potential of the two sides, it could easily become a Pyrrhic victory.”

Just as ominous is the following. As noted in an Oriental Review op-ed earlier this year, a new neo-Nazi revival is clearly in the offing. This is in a country where fascist/Nazi/extreme right sentiment, especially in the western regions, has a long, storied, and ugly history, one that rarely bubbles far from the surface.

Again, this “ugly history” was laid bare in Ukraine on Fire. After concluding that the current situation in Ukraine is ‘painfully reminiscent’ of Germany in the 1920s, the OR op-ed attributes:

… poor governance on the heels of a lost war, which – added to the sense of betrayed hopes and the sharp decline in average incomes coupled with rising prices – is all driving a critical mass of the Ukrainian population toward an overwhelming feeling of desperation. [My emphasis]

In an observation attended by a profound sense of déjà vu for even casual students of history, the op-ed goes on to say that “[A] demand from the public for a ‘strong hand’ – a new, authoritarian ruler – is rapidly coalescing, due to their dissatisfaction with President Poroshenko and all the other jokers they’ve been dealt from that shabby deck of political cards.” According to the op-ed, a man like that already exists in this ‘destitute and disintegrating’ country. Known as the “White Führer” to his comrades-in-arms, this man is Andriy Biletsky, the commander of the Azov Battalion who is making an ever-bigger name for himself in the Ukrainian parliament and across the broader political arena.

Open Season on Russia

Of course, all this only serves to highlight the pressures being brought to bear within the country itself; it is also those from without (not entirely unrelated to be sure) that are – or should be — of equal concern. Herein Doctorow again provides an alarming reveal. Although there are indications Washington is ‘fed up’ with the Kiev regime (and as Ukraine on Fire demonstrates conclusively, one it was responsible for installing in the first instance in 2014), he says:

…the United States has doubled down in its support for a military solution to the conflict. With military trainers now on the ground (does this development itself not have an ominously familiar ring to it?), and the U.S. budgeting $350m for security assistance to Ukraine, Washington has also recently started delivering lethal weapons, including the Javelin anti-tank missile system, free of charge to Kiev. [My emphasis].

In a Strategic Culture report, Robert Bridge recently offered an additional reality check on those external pressures. Instead of opting for a more balanced and cooperative foreign policy in its conduct of affairs in Eastern Europe, and specifically in its bilateral relationship with Russia, in his view, it was via the furphy of “Russia[n] aggression” – an allegation he says was “peddled to the unsuspecting masses based on fake news of a Russian ‘invasion’ of Ukraine and Crimea” – [that] the U.S. and NATO “dropped all pretensions [to cooperation] and declared open season on Russia.” [My emphasis]

This was, he notes, further compounded by assertions Russia manipulated the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election and along with Donald Trump’s “empty threat” to pull the pin on NATO if member states did not pony up on additional defense spending, “Eastern Europe has [now] become a veritable hothouse of paranoia-driven militarization.”

We’ll return to this point later, but some backstory is essential here. Whether one has already seen Ukraine on Fire or not, it now comes complete with a hitherto unexpected layer of revelation and significance, given that the late Consortium News founder and editor Robert Parry is interviewed at length therein. Parry’s appearance in the film, poignantly as it turns out, underscores the man’s trailblazing achievements and his unimpeachable stature within the alternative, independent media cosmos.

For those folks constantly on the lookout for exemplars of journalism’s fundamental values, his input into the film’s narrative is a reminder to us all just how much his political insight and measured analysis will be missed. It goes without saying that those values have themselves been missing in action for some time in our mainstream media, as Parry himself – to his eternal chagrin – was all too aware. This is a state of affairs to which he spent the last two decades of his life exposing via the Consortium News masthead. So much so it seems, there was even some hint (by the man himself as it turns out) that the stress and pressure of being a media outlier had taken its toll and may have been the catalyst for the strokes he had in the weeks before his untimely death.

Yet Parry’s voluminous, in-depth commentary on Ukraine – including his many pieces on the controversy surrounding the still unresolved mystery of the downing of Malaysian Airlines MH-17 in eastern Ukraine in June 2014 (with 38 of my fellow Aussies on board) – was arguably second to none. His fierce, fearless criticism of those engaging in the aforementioned ‘groupthink’ – not just those in and around the Beltway but in the West in general (with as we’ll see my own country being a noteworthy example) — was insightful, along with his own reporting on events and developments as they unfolded over the months and years that followed 2014’s color revolution which culminated in the coup d’état.

Many of Parry’s observations in the film are reflective of, and derived from, that commentary, as those who followed his reporting closely on the Ukraine situation over the years will appreciate. He was acutely aware that one could not have a discussion of the key geopolitical events and developments of our time without some serious examination of the manner in which the corporate media manages (read: “massages”) the narratives that frame the Big Issues therein. As noted, in this Parry was unremitting in his disdain for those of his fellow “investigative journalists” who had sold their souls for the filthy lucre, the celebrity status, and/or the comfortable, secure tenure at one of the “premium” corporate media marques. To him, at best, they were perception managers; at worst glorified stenographers. (For others perhaps less tactful or more scornful than Parry, they were/are simply “presstitutes”!)

Yet for all that disdain, Parry possibly reserved even greater contempt for the “marques” that employed the “presstitutes”, with the New York Times and the Washington Post being singled out for frequently justified, laser-like reproach. To be sure, that was just with the print media. In this the reporting on the Ukraine crisis provides an exemplar – albeit by no means the only one – of just how self-serving, venal, hypocritical, supercilious, irresponsible, and manifestly dishonest the corporate media were. And, of course, they still are, each day sliding further and further into irrelevance as they blithely betray both the hallowed U.S. Constitution and the citizens of the country whose individual and collective interests they are increasingly at pains to validly claim to represent, and whose democratic institutions – along with the rights that are purportedly underwritten by said “institutions” – [they] are supposed to protect.

‘Shirt-fronting’ the Mainstream Fakery

Such a damning indictment of Western media was brought home in spades in the aftermath of the MH-17 disaster. It was a 60 Minutes Australia report on the tragedy that really got his gander up, and in this writer’s view, rightly so. At the time I was preparing my own take on MH-17, when the 60 Minutes segment aired.

I immediately alerted Bob to the report, knowing full well that given his earlier commentary on the tragedy and his views on MSM reporting in general, he’d be less than impressed with the conclusions they arrived at from their “investigation.” Much of this commentary by 60 Minutes was based on the dubious findings of Bellingcat (aka Eliot Higgins), a self-styled open source ‘citizen journalist’ who claimed to have the ‘skinny’ on who was responsible for the disaster.

Now space prohibits herein a full account of the circumstances surrounding the shoot-down, nor does it lend itself to a ‘blow by blow’ of the ‘argy-bargy’ between the 60 Minutes crew and their much touted source Higgins, and Parry himself. Suffice to say there seemed to be few limits to the indignation the former all managed to muster when the intrepid Consortium Newsman had the temerity to meticulously and relentlessly challenge their account of the tragedy.

(Those unfamiliar with this dust-up – one that perfectly case studies the vast gulf that exists between MSM reportage on MH-17 and that of a respected alternative news outlet – can see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here for some of the commentary the ‘stoush’ elicited and examples of the ‘he said, she said’ exchanges between the respective antagonists.)

It needs be noted that there was much political capital to be gained by those in Washington and most of America’s allies in the West by blaming Russia for the MH-17 tragedy. The U.S. and said allies had already blamed the crisis in Ukraine that derived from the February 2014 coup on Russian “aggression” and Putin’s purported ambitions to resurrect the Soviet Union. So in one sense it was to be expected they’d seek to capitalize on this disaster by blaming the Russians.

Western leaders to this end began tripping over themselves in singling out ‘Vlad the Derailer’ as the bad guy du jour, all the while doing so unencumbered by anything approximating solid evidence to support this stance. As we might expect with the Russia-gate saga, to this day, no definitive proof of the hard-core forensic kind has been presented to identify exactly how the plane was shot down (was the missile launched from the air or from the ground?), much less who actually perpetrated the act (was it the anti-Russian Ukrainian military, the pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine, or the Russians themselves?) Again, to this day, the questions as to whether the plane was deliberately targeted (was it a false-flag attack?, or did it just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time), also remain unanswered.

As noted, the downing of MH-17 cost the lives of 38 Aussies, and the fallout from the tragedy – to say nothing of the way the disaster was politicized in order to serve the broader geopolitical objectives of the Beltway Bedlamites and their apparatchiks at home along with their counterparts in other Western nations – was especially pronounced Down Under. Our then Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who took to sculling the Washington Kool-Aid by asserting it was Putin himself who was “personally responsible” for the disaster, was especially bolshie in his reaction. Ahead of Putin’s visit to this country in November 2014 for the G20 meeting in Brisbane that year, Abbott threatened to “shirt-front” the Russian president over the issue when they officially met up. Whilst this made for great headlines here and abroad, it did nothing to arrest his slide in the opinion polls, which one can reasonably surmise was at the time in the back of his mind. All in all, coming from a national leader on the world stage, this unprecedented, petulant outburst was something to behold.

But such was the fervor of the times regarding MH-17, and more broadly, the anti-Russian sentiment that prevailed earlier in the year over Russia’s “invasion” of Ukraine in the aftermath of America’s bespoke coup d’état. Clearly Abbott’s desire to leverage the public outrage here in Australia that accompanied the tragedy and to ingratiate himself with the Bedlamites far outweighed any obligation that might’ve routinely accompanied a more measured diplomatic response. (It was after all to no avail; Abbott’s hold on the Aussie ‘premiership’ was itself ‘shirt-fronted’ about a year after making this comment, being successfully challenged for the leadership by the present PM Malcolm Turnbull.)

It should further be noted that many folks – mostly after the fact – justified the removal of the then Ukrainian government because it was irredeemably corrupt. This, of course, is a specious and convenient argument – a ‘justification’ that makes frequent cameos in the annals of regime change – partly so in this case because there’s little evidence the replacement regime has been any less corrupt.

But this raises an altogether different, arguably more important, consideration: If Uncle Sam had removed every last one of the countless client tyrants he’s had on his imperial dance card over the decades on the sole basis of their ethical, moral and/or legal standards of governance, adherence to democratic principles, and/or general political probity, it’s fair to surmise the geopolitical terrain might look as different today as the lunar landscape does to an as yet still pristine portion of the Amazonian rainforest. And the U.S. might still retain – and be able to credibly lay claim to – some of the moral capital it had accrued by war’s end in 1945, which few would argue it has now all but frittered away.

Of course, if we really want to push the envelope herein invoking moral relativism, we only need consider that – notwithstanding what it says on the box – America itself is hardly a bastion of “ethical, moral and/or legal standards of governance, [adherence to] democratic principles, and/or general political propriety.” Its ‘unblemished’ track record of thuggery and skullduggery implementing regime change on every continent except the Great White Patch on the “backside” of the Big Blue Ball is ample evidence of that. This is without even referencing its performance closer to home drawing on such benchmarks! It’s a “practice what you preach” thing!

Further, there was and remains no smoking gun evidence linking Russia or the Eastern Ukrainian, pro-Russian separatists to the MH-17 shoot-down, and therefore no sound rationale for Washington accusing either of complicity in this crime without ponying up with said evidence. If anything, the longer the dog-not-barking question of why the U.S. refused to release all of the forensic evidence and ‘intel’ related to the shoot-down remains unanswered, the more we should rightfully suspect any findings by the MH-17 investigation team (if they ever see the light of day) – one it has to be emphasized, suspiciously included representatives from the at least equally suspect Kiev regime.

Moreover, for the U.S. to have imposed a further regimen of economic sanctions as a consequence without at least awaiting the outcome of the official investigation spoke further volumes about Washington’s deeper game-plan vis-à-vis Ukraine and ultimately, Russia itself. And it would appear we are now seeing that “game-plan” come to a fruition of sorts. Again, to underscore all of this, in one of Parry’s last substantive analyses of the Ukraine situation back in June last year, he summed a decidedly more coherent reality for us all.

‘As the New York Times instructed us’ he observed in 2015, ‘there was no coup in Ukraine….no U.S. interference…and there weren’t even that many neo-Nazis. And the ensuing conflict wasn’t a resistance [movement] among Yanukovych’s supporters to his illegal ouster; no, it was “Russian aggression” or a “Russian invasion.”’ Parry didn’t spare the horses:

If you deviate from this groupthink – if you point out how U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland talked about the U.S. spending $5 billion on Ukraine; mention her pre-coup intercepted phone call with [Ukrainian] U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt discussing who the new leaders would be and how “to glue” or [how to] “midwife this thing”; note how Nuland and Senator John McCain urged on the violent anti-Yanukovych protesters; recognize that snipers firing from far-right-controlled buildings killed both police and protesters to provoke the climactic ouster of Yanukovych; [and if] you think all that indeed looks like a coup – you obviously are the victim of “Russian propaganda and disinformation.”

But as Parry glumly observed, thanks to the mainstream U.S. media, most Americans didn’t get to hear about any of that as, “[I]t has essentially banned those deviant facts from the public discourse. If they are mentioned at all, they’re lumped together with ‘fake news’ amid the reassuring hope that soon there’ll be algorithms to purge such troublesome information from the Internet.”

And for anyone whose “blowback antennae” are attuned to such matters, we cannot escape one abiding reality regarding the MH-17 disaster: If the putsch-meisters of the Potomac had minded their own business from the off and left well enough alone in Ukraine, irrespective of the cause of the shoot-down and who was responsible, we do know around three hundred innocent people would still be going about their business, and we wouldn’t be having this ‘conversation’. Four years later this is a reality I’ve yet to hear voiced by anyone in the MSM or in the upper echelons of Western governments. [My emphasis].

From Nobel Peace Prize to Imperial Warmonger

Last but not least, consider the following. For this writer, it remains incomprehensible that a U.S. State Department official – in this case the aforementioned Ms Nuland (aka The Maidan Cookie Monster) – would seemingly act in such a brazenly undiplomatic manner in bringing about this coup, a reality that as we’ve seen independent media folks like Robert Parry were at pains to bring to wider attention. It is in this instance particularly that the “he who lies first, lies best” maxim really comes to the fore.

Yet there can be no doubt that Nuland initiated this action with Obama’s full knowledge, with it being as much, if not moreso, Obama’s mess as it is Nuland’s and her neo-con cronies. Well might we say, “cue Harry Truman’s “the buck stops here!”

Of equal or greater concern herein is this. I’m sure I’m not the only one who noted with considerable bewilderment and dismay, the Kiev regime’s deployment – again with the full knowledge, approval indeed encouragement of the regime renovators in Washington – of extreme neo-Nazi forces in facilitating its rise to power from the off, and enforcing since the coup its brutal, illegitimate rule. As noted earlier, they are again getting their second wind.

Given the neoconservatives well-documented vise-grip on U.S. foreign policy in general, and their role in engineering said coup in particular – especially that of the Nuland/Kagan/ex-PNAC factions and their fellow travelers in the U.S. Congress such as McCain, who number amongst them some of the most prominent, so-called “American friends of Israel” – I’m at something of a loss as to how best to explain the glaring disconnect herein.

Of course, America’s foreign policy “initiatives” over the decades have always embraced an “end justifies the means” precept; only the most naïve or ill informed would deny this. But for most objective observers – even those of us all too familiar with the CIA’s notorious Operation Paperclip, (or its equally infamous ‘cousin’ Operation Gladio), wherein the U.S. actively recruited under-the-radar not-so-rehabbed former Nazis and extreme right wing elements to fight on any number of fronts the Cold War against the Soviets – this is breaking new ground in its embrace of the precept. Prima facie, this has to represent another glaring WTF ‘mo’ in the conduct of U.S. foreign policy. Geopolitics makes strange bedfellows one might reasonably conclude! And transforms Nobel Peace Prize winners into imperial warmongers!

Or is it possible I’m once again missing something obvious here? How are all these “American friends of Israel”, either inside or outside of the Capitol ‘tent’, able to reconcile their on-going support of a regime utilizing such forces – whose pernicious ideology being synonymous with rabid anti-Semitism would one imagines, be totally abhorrent to Jewish folks and right-thinking non-Jews alike – under any circumstances? As it turns out, the so-called “friends” have been bending butt over backwards since the coup denying, playing down, or completely ignoring this “disconnect”. It is only begrudgingly and belatedly they – along with their hacks, flacks and lackeys in the MSM – were able to bring themselves to concede there has been and remains any such neo-Nazi involvement in Ukraine, much less acknowledge any such “disconnect”.

Another key question here is this. How does the all powerful AIPAC and various Jewish/Israel lobby groups and affiliated bodies feel about their “American friends” precipitating and engaging in regime change missions that involve the use and on-going embrace of neo-Nazi forces? Is this just some fuzzy ‘post-modern’ perversion of realpolitik at work here, and I’m simply too naive or stupid to understand what the hell is going on and what the end-game might be? And now that the neo-Nazi ‘natives’ are becoming increasingly restless as noted — their frustration with their nominal patrons within the present regime’s hierarchy reaching boiling points — it’ll doubtless make for interesting times ahead.

All this, of course, without considering the added reality of these extreme right-wing factions possibly combining forces and cozying up in a Nazi/fascist/white supremacist group hug cum love-fest with radical jihadist/Islamic militant groups in what could likely shape up to be an exceedingly bloody counter-coup, along with the equally likely prospects of the Ukrainian economy imploding in the interim, or at least in the wake of the turmoil induced by any such coup!

On these matters alone, I’m prepped nonetheless to be enlightened as to how/when anything good is likely to come out of America’s color revolution and regime renovation experiment in this part of the geopolitical landscape. And when it comes to the situation in Ukraine, one that has emanated directly from America’s interference in its political affairs in 2014 (after, it has to be said, an unsuccessful one there ten years earlier, well might we ask of the aforementioned, former CIA chief spook Woolsey: How’s that ‘[we] only [do it] for a very good cause [and] in the interests of democracy’ thing workin’ out for ya Jimbo?’

Yet whilst these are just some of the reality checks needed in order to assemble a measure of veracity and insight regarding all things Ukraine, such “checks” one imagines are, and will remain for sometime, asynchronous with the narratives disseminated via Washington’s anti-Putin, anti-Russian ‘brochure.’

And one final point if I may. If Putin and his Kremlin gremlins did indeed do some kind of a dodgy deal with Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election in order to get him across the line ahead of Hillary Clinton – the only story that seems to capture the attention of the MSM mavens these days – it would be fair to say that the otherwise estimable Russian president and his beloved Motherland are getting well and truly shafted. Maybe Putin isn’t as clever as we give him credit for? To be so artfully duped by a dope like The Trumpster? Oh, the ignominy of it all!

Yet, all that aside, wouldn’t many of us just love to hear what the estimable and dutifully righteous Mr Parry might’ve had to say about more recent and possible developments in the country that interestingly – according to German historian Kees Boterbloem — was affectionately known back in the day as “Little Russia”?

But, of course, that’s not going to happen. I can only hope this missive in some small – if not (ahem) short – measure, passes for the next best thing!

The Six “Secret” Tactics of Empire

The 6 ‘secret’ tactics of empire are strategies of change used by governments, usually covertly, to attain political or military ends through means not normally acceptable to the populace as a whole. The strategies are as follows:

1. False Flag Attacks
2. Coercive Engineered Migration
3. Colour Revolutions
4. Humanitarian Intervention
5. Proxy Armies
6. Fake News

The relationship of the state or a political force to the various strategies depends on the political aim. Sometimes there is a direct and openly admitted relationship to the strategy and sometimes it is fervently denied. The outcome of any such strategy is never guaranteed and, indeed, may even have the opposite effect to that intended. This makes the strategies of change high-risk ventures for the participants as well as those for whom the strategy is hoped to benefit. In some cases these strategies of change seem to be perceived as the only way to change a situation, or at least the most expedient. Their role is to manipulate public opinion on a particular government, state or upcoming political movement to suit the actions, thoughts or desires of another internal or external political force. Like a good magician, the perpetrator of the strategy must make people conscious of the ends but not the means. If the people support a changed environment brought about by strategies of change without realizing or understanding why, then the result can be seen as ‘successful’.

1. False Flag Attacks

​​​False Flag Attack

False flag attacks are actions carried out covertly to look like another group, nation or state were responsible. While in theory false flags are secret, some public individuals have openly called for false flag operations to be implemented to serve as a basis for initiating war against another country perceived to be an enemy. The history of false flags, however, is not secret and information about many past successful and proposed attacks is freely available on the internet.

2. Coercive Engineered Migration

Blue Skies, Blue Seas, Blue Gloves​

Coercive engineered migration is a strategy which acts to overwhelm another country’s capacity to cope with a large influx of refugees or migrants. This pressure can affect competing political interests and thereby change the behavior of the target country.

3. Colour Revolutions

Colour Blind:
Orange Revolution – Ukraine, Green Revolution – Iran, Jeans Revolution – Belarus

Colour revolutions are a form of nonviolent resistance utilizing social media, demonstrations and strikes as a protest against governments especially in changing their geopolitical outlook from one radically different in their past. Many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and students have been involved organizing creative non-violent resistance and usually pick a color or a flower as a symbol of their movement.

4. Fake News

​​Green Screen

Fake news is a type of news that often uses disinformation to propagate ideas for political advantage through the broadcast media or social media via the internet. It is used to discredit serious media coverage of an event. For example, video footage of riots in one city were used on the news by one network to portray a city in a completely different country in a negative light.

5. Humanitarian Intervention

Humanitarian Warfare

​​Humanitarian warfare is an ironic term describing military interventions which give human rights reasons such as protecting a population from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity as the basis for their actions.

6. Proxy Armies

​Proxy Army

A proxy army is an army funded and armed by a foreign opposing power who cannot for political or social sensitivities at home fight directly with the country at war.