Category Archives: EU

New US Sanctions on Iran and their Impact

(PressTV referring to the New Sanctions regime imposed by the US, as of 7 August 2018.)

PressTV:  How do you see this?

Peter Koenig: First off, this is just another flagrant violation of international law, even of US law, after having ratified the Nuclear Deal. Any interference in another country’s economic affairs, including in a country’s trade sovereignty, is an international crime. That’s precisely what Trump, under the leadership of those who command him, is doing. For example, Netanyahu, is largely calling the shots in Washington.

The idea is weakening Iran to the point that a war would be easier. Although, I really do not believe that the US is daring to go to war with Iran. They know too well what’s at stake with Russia and China firmly behind Iran.

They may send Israel as a forerunner to attack Iran and wait for Iran’s reaction. But even that, I believe will be a losing proposition. The empire knows it’s on a descending course. This is fearmongering and warmongering, which will allow the war industrial complex to increase its profits as a last-ditch effort.

But Iran, in fact, has nothing to fear if she plays her cards according to what she knows is best: Applying the principles of resistance economy, meaning foremost de-linking from the dollar economy and becoming quickly food self-sufficient, with increased trading with the East; i.e., the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) countries.

PressTV: What are Iranian options to counter this?

PK: Well, as indicated before, Iran should gradually but ever so fast detach from the dollar economy. As a matter of fact, one of the sanctions prohibits Iran from dealing in dollars. All the better. Iran has other resources, or it must now look for other resources, like the Yuan and the Ruble – and other SCO currencies – and definitely do whatever is needed to hasten the pace towards full integration into the eastern economy. And, realize her plan of creating her own crypto-currency, similar to Venezuela’s Petro, based on and backed by Iran’s immense reserves of hydrocarbon.

Let’s not forget, and I have said this many time before – the future is in the East.

Always remember what President Putin has come to tell The Ayatollah last November, namely, that sanctions were the best thing that ever happened to Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union. It forced Russia to rebuild its economy towards self-sufficiency, especially agriculture where in the 90s everything was imported from the EU. Now Russia is fully food self-sufficient. Actually Russia has become the world’s largest exporter of wheat by far, for the last two years, and this year also promises to be a record year.

Similar, with renewing Russia’s industrial park, Russia today has a cutting-edge technology industry, and can compete everywhere in the world. Russia is immune to sanctions.

Iran can do the same. Mr. Rouhani, a few weeks ago, said something to this effect, namely, that the course of moving away from the west – meaning also the EU/Europe and the Euro – may hurt at the beginning for a short while, but once that hurdle is overcome, they will be independent, gained new political and economic sovereignty. And that’s the way to go.

However, Iran has a strong Fifth Column which will not shy away from starting internal protests and upheavals against the government. These are people trained by the US/CIA, NATO to do exactly that – bringing an internal conflict about – that the US and its vassals hope will eventually lead to Regime Change, forced from within.

This, I believe is the biggest challenge, confronting and combating the Iranian Fifth Column.

Mind you Fifth Columns are everywhere. They are also in Russia, China, Venezuela, North Korea…

This is the means the empire uses.

Fifth Columnists were largely responsible for the Arabs Spring and for what was eventually called the ‘civil war’ (sic) in Syria.

PressTV: How will EU, Russia and China hold up to their side of the deal?

PK:  Surely Russia and China will stand up for Iran. They are true allies.

I would not trust Brussels; i.e., the EU – not for an inch.

They say now they will stand up to the Nuclear Deal, respect it. But when it comes down to it, they will abandon it all the same.

I think their saying so now is maybe just a ruse to incite Iran to trust them and to continue doing business with them. But you know, doing business with the EU, meaning with euro as trading currency, is the same as doing business in dollars. The euro is but a foster child of the US dollar, and therefore Iran would still be bound and linked to the US dollar hegemony.  And, worse, would continue being vulnerable to US sanctions.

Kosovo at Delicate Crossroads Between East and West

The people of Kosovo were and still are cheering for joy. The European Commission (EC) recently decided that Kosovars won’t need visas any more to visit EU countries. Up to now, getting such visas was a horrendously complicated and bureaucratic procedure, especially hurtful, since Kosovo, with a population of about 1.8 million Kosovars living in Kosovo, has a diaspora estimated at 800,000 to a million, most of them in western Europe. For Kosovars, with close-knit families, 90+ percent Albanian Muslims, being able to visit their relatives and friends is a priority. So, this sudden EU opening up, was a great “gift” and a tremendous relief. But, at what price? What happened? Why did it happen this turnabout by the treacherous EU?

Let’s go back to a bit of history.

Kosovo, a strategic pivot in the center of the Balkans; a landlocked country surrounded by Montenegro, Albania, Serbia and Macedonia. Kosovo, carved out from Serbia during or after the Clinton Administration invoked war – the infamous 69 days of bombing Serbian troops in Kosovo, following a ten-year period of systematic US-NATO- European vassals’ destruction of Yugoslavia, arguably the most prosperous country in Europe at the time.

You may want to recall, the dismemberment of Yugoslavia, started with the “Ten Days War” on Slovenia in 1991, followed by the Croatian War (1991-95); then the Bosnia War (1992-95); and the Kosovo War (1998-99), culminating with the Clinton induced 69-day NATO bombing of Kosovo, under the leadership of Wesley Clark, head of NATO in Europe. The latter under the pretext of freeing the Kosovo Albanians from Serbian Milosevic’s atrocities.

Of course, how Milosevic was used by the West to literally slaughter his neighbors, so far hardly anybody has dared to analyze and write about. He was on trial by the UN International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague. He was actually awaiting a court decision on his request to subpoena former President Clinton, as a witness, when he was suddenly found dead in his cell on 11 March 2006. The Dutch court coroner immediately certified that Milosevic died a natural death. Strangely, his death came less than a week after the star witness in his trial, former Croatian Serb leader, Milan Babic, was found dead in the same prison. Babic’s testimony in 2002 described a behind the scene political and military command structure headed by Milosevic. Babic served a 13-year prison sentence. His sudden death was said to be a suicide.

Too many Serbs die suddenly in The Hague to be called ‘coincidences’. In October 2015, Dusan Dunjic, a forensic pathologist, was found dead in his hotel room, just hours before he was due to testify as a key defense witness in the trial of the Bosnian Serb and genocidal general Ratko Mladic, who was on trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity during the 1992-95 Bosnian war. Dutch police said, “we have no reason to suspect that a crime had been committed”. They gave no further detail. Case closed.

This is just to make the point that the murderous and atrocious Balkan wars were western instigated from the very preparation – including through decades long Fifth Column type – infiltration in Yugoslavia’s institutions.

Today, Kosovo lacks recognition from sufficient countries to be considered a “real country”. Kosovo is not a member of the UN, because she has only been recognized by 114 of the current 193 UN members. It needs two thirds of UN members recognition to apply for UN membership. Kosovo, of course, is not a member of the EU either, only 23 of the 28 EU countries recognize her as a country. The reasons for it are multiple and complex. But Kosovo, with a surface of 10,900 km2, and less than 2 million inhabitants, prides herself with having already two military bases, one US – a huge one, and a “subordinate” NATO base – what else.

Like all the Balkans, Kosovo wants to get into the EU as fast as possible. But, they are far from even getting onto the “accession” path – which is like the runway to fly into the EU. When you get to accession status, you have pretty much fulfilled all or most of the EU conditions and are now accepted to negotiate. And ‘accession’ is a privilege that, aside from some rather ridiculous EU conditions, depends pretty much on Washington’s use for a country, once it has become part of the overall EU vassalage. Kosovo is no priority. The US military is already there and NATO has a base – so what more is needed for right now? The EU today in many countries is considered identical with NATO.

Kosovo is hungry though, to get into the EU, so hungry, it can be easily blackmailed – and bribed – into accepting almost anything, in order to gain kudos with Brussels. The best blackmail object is visas, or the waiver of visas, particularly to western Europe, where most of the Kosovar diaspora lives – an estimated 800,000 to one million people.

Montenegro, an EU candidate on fast track, NATO member since 2017, is building or expanding a NATO base right at the border to Kosovo. In fact, it requires Kosovo to give up some 8,200 ha of her land to Montenegro, the new ‘demarcation line’ (see map – red areas are Kosovo concessions to Montenegro). According to “Prishtina Insight”, the Kosovo Parliament ratified a few weeks ago the “land concession”, also called the “Demarcation Deal with Montenegro” with 80 votes against 11 opposition. And this amidst several teargas canister explosion episodes initiated by the opposition in Parliament.

This was the deal: Kosovo give up a stretch of 8,200 ha of your land to Montenegro and you will get visa-free entry to all of Europe. Blackmail only the west in its greed and hegemonic drive is capable of exercising over countries. Identifying their weak spots – in the case of Kosovo, the desire to get easy access to their relatives and friends living in Europe, and then hitting them with an “offer” they can’t refuse.

In fact, going by the strict rules of the EU, which can only slightly be bent to accelerate access, lest more ‘honest’ EU members might protest, none of the Balkan countries are complying with the EU access regulation. Most of them are far from doing so, for multiple reasons; i.e., drug dealing, high crimes in human and organ trafficking, as well as more down-to-earth environmental conditions.

However, the EU and Washington are pushing for the pretty arbitrary target of 2025, simply because they are afraid that the Balkans may drift eastwards into the realm of Russia and on a larger scale, China. Most educated Kosovars are much more “awake” than the average European. While intellectually they may know that east is where the future lays, their trauma of being persecuted and killed by the Serbs under Milosevic, is still strong and they are leaning towards the west. Ideally, though, what they want is full independence, being able to choose their allies that best suit them, as every sovereign nation should be able to do. Not having to confront the dilemma, ‘you are either our friend or our enemy’ – which is how the west attempts to buy the Balkans’ politicians.

The western push to prepare and forge these former Yugoslav republics into EU-NATO vassals is enormous. Every military base the Balkans allow to be built in return for being integrated into Europe, is for the west a step closer to Moscow – an increased threat for the Kremlin, so the western empire believes. If these new Balkan nations play their cards right, they may have it both ways – becoming EU members, benefitting from EU subsidies and trade advantages, while leaning eastwards to Russia and China, and eventually the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the new Silk Road, China’s One Belt Initiative (OBI), the multi-trillion-dollar equivalent economic development plan, on course to span the world.

This article was first published by New Eastern Outlook (NEO)

Trump: The De-Globalizer?

Looks like Trump is running amok with his “trading policies”. Not only has he upset the European Union, which doesn’t deserve any better, frankly, for having been and still being submissive vassals against the will of by now 90% of Europeans; but he has also managed to get China into a fury. Well, for China it is really not that important, because China has plenty of other markets, including basically all of Asia and probably increasingly also Europe, as Europe increasingly feels the need for detaching from the US.

What is striking, though, is that even at the outset of the G20 Summit now ongoing in Buenos Aires, Argentina,Trump’s Ministers have made it clear that unless Europe cancels all subsidies – referring primarily to agricultural subsidies – and eliminates the newly imposed retaliatory import duties, new trade deals are not going to be discussed. Never mind that the US has the world’s highest farm subsidies.

From afar this looks like the most wicked and non-sensical trade war the US via Trump is waging against the rest of the world – à la “Make America Great Again”. Will it work? Maybe. One can never predict dynamics, especially not in a neoliberal western world that is used to live on linearism, which by definition is always wrong. Knowingly and deliberately the west and its financial key institutions, IMF, World Bank, FED, European Central Bank – trick the public at large into believing their statistics and predictions – which, if one goes back in history, have always been off, way off.

All life is dynamic. But to understand this it takes independent thinking which the west has long given up, unfortunately. So, in response to the latest Trump-promoted trade fiasco at the G20 in Argentina, the IMF is up in arms, saying this might lower world GDP by at least 0.5%. Even if true, so what?

In reality, there is a totally different scenario that nobody dares talk about. Namely, what renewed local production and monetary sovereignty can bring to the world economy; precisely what Mr. Trump says he wants to propagate for the US of A – local production for local markets and for trade with countries that respect mutual benefits. The latter is, of course, a question not easily achieved by any trade deal with the US. But the former is an enormous economic power keg. The stimulation of local economies through internal credit is the most commanding means to boost local employment and GDP.

Then there is the sanctions game. It’s getting ever more aggressive. New sanctions on Russia, new sanctions on Venezuela, and new heavy-heavy sanctions on Iran. And the European puppets still follow suit, although they are the ones that most suffer from US sanctions imposed on others, especially because out of ‘stupidity’ or fear, they cannot let go of the destructive empire, hobbling away on its last breath. Or is it perhaps, that those fake leaders of the Brussels construct are bought?  Yes, I mean bought with money or with favors? It’s not out of this world, since those of the European Commission who call the shots are not elected, thus, responsible to no one.

Take the case of Iran.  Trump and his peons, Bolton and Pompeo, have threatened every oil company around the globe with heavy sanctions if they keep buying hydrocarbons from Iran beyond November 2018. Particularly concerned are the European Petrol giants, like Total, ENI, Repsol and others. As a consequence, they have canceled their literally of billions of euros worth of contracts with Iran to protect themselves, and, of course, their shareholders. Just recently I talked to a high executive from Total. He said, we have no choice, as we cannot trust our people in Brussels to shield us from Washington’s sanctions. So, we have to look elsewhere to fulfill our contractual obligations vis-à-vis our clients. But, he added, we did not buy the American fracking stuff; we are negotiating with Russia. There you go.

The European market for Iran’s hydrocarbon is estimated at about 20% of Iran’s total production. An amount easily taken over by China and others which are too big (and too bold) to be sanctioned by the empire. Some may actually resell Iranian hydrocarbons through their backdoor to the otherwise sanctioned European oil corporations.

Iran has another strong weapon which they already made clear they will use, if the US attempts seriously to block anyone from buying Iranian oil and gas. Iran can block the Gulf of Hormuz, where daily about 30% of all hydrocarbon used by the world is being shipped, including about half to the United states. This might increase the price of petrol exponentially and ruining many countries’ economies. However, higher prices would also benefit Russia, China and Venezuela, precisely the countries that Washington wants to punish.

Would such a move by Iran provoke a direct US aggression?  One never knows with the war profiteers of the US. What’s for sure, such an intervention would not pass without a commensurate response from China and Russia.

On the other side of the scenario – imagine – countries mired in this global mess, made in the US of A, start looking for their own internal interests again, seeking their own sovereignty, independence from the globalist dependency. They are embarking on economic policies furthering self-sufficiency, self-reliance; first foodwise, then focusing on their scientific research to build their own cutting-edge technology industrial parks. A vivid example is Russia. Since sanctions were imposed, Russia has moved from a totally import-dependent country since the collapse of the Soviet Union, to a food and industry self-sufficient nation. According to Mr. Putin, the sanctions were the best thing that happened to Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union. Russia has been the world’s largest wheat exporter for the last two years.

Europeans have started quietly to reorient their business activities towards the east. Europeans may finally have noticed – not the elitist puppets from Brussels, but Big Business and the public at large – that the transatlantic partner cannot be trusted, nor their self-imposed EU central administration of Brussels. They are seeking their own ways, each one of these nations are seeking gradually to detach from the fangs of Washington, eventually detaching from the dollar dominion, because they notice businesswise the dollar-based economy is a losing proposition.

There is BREXIT, the most open move away from the ‘freedom limiting’ European dictate which is nothing else but a carbon copy of the economic dictate of the dollar. As practiced in the United States and everywhere the dollar is still the main international contract and reserve currency.

The Five Star Movement in Italy was created on similar premises – breaking out from Brussels, from the Euro-policy handcuffs. In a first attempt towards sidelining the Euro, they received a spanking from the euro-friendly Italian President, Sergio Mattarella, when he refused to accept the 5-Stars coalition partner’s, Lega Norte, proposed Eurosceptic Minister of Finance, Paolo Savona, who called Italy’s entry into the eurozone a “historic mistake”. This thrive by Italy to regain monetary sovereignty has by no means ended. To the contrary, it has taken strength and more determination. Germany moves in the same direction – quietly opening doors to Moscow and Beijing.

Unfortunately, these moves have little to do with a new more human and peace-loving consciousness, but rather with business interests. But perhaps conscious awareness – the reconnecting with the original spark of a humanity solidified in solidarity is a step-by-step process.

What if, considering the motion towards peoples’ new self-determination, Trump’s amok run, his jumping from chaos to more chaos, to the sanction game no end – punishing, or threatening friends and foes alike, will lead to a genuine de-globalization of the world?

If this were to happen then, we the 90% of the globe’s population, should be very grateful to Mr. Trump who has shown and created the path to enlightening – the enlightening of de-globalization.

Jewish Nation-state Law: Why Israel Was Never a Democracy

The head of the Arab Joint List Alliance at the Israeli Knesset (Parliament), Aymen Odeh, described the passing of the racist Jewish Nation-state Law as “the death of our democracy.”

Did Odeh truly believe that, prior to this law, he had lived in a true democracy? 70 years of Israeli Jewish supremacy, genocide, ethnic cleansing, wars, sieges, mass incarceration, numerous discriminatory laws, all aimed at the very destruction of the Palestinian people should have given enough clues that Israel was never a democracy, to begin with.

The Jewish Nation-state Law is merely the icing on the cake. It simply gave those who argued, all along, that Israel’s attempt at combining democracy with ethnic supremacy was racism masquerading as democracy, the munition they needed to further illustrate the point.

There is no escaping the moral imperative now. Those who insist on supporting Israel must know that they are supporting an unabashed Apartheid regime.

The new law, which was passed after some wrangling on January 19, has divorced Israel from any claim, however untrue, to being a democratic state.

In fact, the law does not mention the word ‘democracy’ in its wording, not even once. References to the Jewish identity of the state, however, are ample and dominant, with the clear exclusion of the Palestinian people from their rights in their historic homeland:

– “The state of Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people …

– “The actualization of the right of national self-determination in the state of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.

– “The state will labor to ensure the safety of sons of the Jewish people …

– “The state will act to preserve the cultural, historical and religious legacy of the Jewish people among the Jewish diaspora,” and so on.

But most dangerous of all is the stipulation that “the state views Jewish settlement as a national value and will labor to encourage and promote its establishment and development.”

True, illegal Jewish settlements already dot the Palestinian land in the West Bank and Jerusalem; and a de facto segregation already exists in Israel itself. In fact, segregation is so deep and entrenched, even maternity wards in Israeli hospitals separate between mothers, based on their race.

The above stipulation, however, will further accelerate segregation and cement Apartheid, making the harm not merely intellectual and political, but physical as well.

The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, Adalah, has documented in its ‘Discriminatory Laws Database’ a list of over 65 Israeli laws that “discriminate directly or indirectly against Palestinian citizens in Israel and/or Palestinian residents of the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) on the basis of their national belonging.”

According to Adalah, “These laws limit the rights of Palestinians in all areas of life, from citizenship rights to the right to political participation, land and housing rights, education rights, cultural and language rights, religious rights, and due process rights during detention.”

While it would be accurate to argue that the Jewish Nations-state bill is the officiation of Apartheid in Israel, this realization should not dismiss the previous reality upon which Israel was founded 70 years ago.

Apartheid is not a single law, but a slow, agonizing build-up of an intricate legal regime that is motivated by the belief that one racial group is superior to all others.

Not only does the new law elevate Israel’s Jewish identity and erase any commitment to democracy, it also downgrades the status of all others. Palestinian Arabs, the natives of the land of historic Palestine upon which Israel was established, did not feature prominently in the new law at all. There was a mere stipulation made to the Arabic language, but only to downgrade it from being an official language, to a ‘special one.’

Israel’s decision to refrain from formulating a written constitution when it was founded in 1948 was not a haphazard one. Since then, it has been following a predicable model where it would alter reality on the ground to the advantage of Jews at the expense of Palestinian Arabs.

Instead of a constitution, Israel resorted to what it termed ‘Basic Laws’, which allowed for the constant formulation of new laws guided by the ‘Jewish State’s’ commitment to racial supremacy rather than to democracy, international law, human rights or any other ethnical value.

The Jewish Nation-state Law is itself a ‘Basic Law.’ And with that law, Israel has dropped the meaningless claim to being both Jewish and democratic. This impossible task was often left to the Supreme Court which tried, but failed, to strike any convincing balance.

This new reality should, once and for all, end the protracted debate on the supposed uniqueness of Israel’s political system.

And since Israel has chosen racial supremacy over any claim, however faint, to real democracy, western countries that have often shielded Israel must also make a choice as to whether they wish to support an Apartheid regime or fight against it.

The initial statement by EU foreign affairs chief, Federica Mogherini was lackluster and feeble. “We are concerned, we have expressed this concern and we will continue to engage with Israeli authorities in this context,” she said, while renewing her commitment to the ‘two-state solution.’

This is hardly the proper statement in response to a country that had just announced its membership in the Apartheid club.

The EU must end its wishy-washy political discourse and disengage from Apartheid Israel, or it has to accept the moral, ethical and legal consequences of being an accomplice in Israeli crimes against Palestinians.

Israel has made its choice and it is, unmistakably, the wrong one. The rest of the world must now make its choice as well, hopefully the right one: standing on the right side of history – against Israeli Jewish Apartheid and for Palestinian rights.

Helsinki: Trump and Putin

The Helsinki Summit – or the Treason Summit, as some call it – of the 16th of July, has come and gone.  It left a smell of burning hot air behind.

President Trump opened the meeting by saying that up to now relations between the United States and Russia were bad, and confessing that the US was to blame for it. He wanted them to improve and hoped that this meeting – he indicated that others of similar nature may follow – may be a first step towards normalizing relations between the two atomic super-powers which together, he said, control 90% of the world’s nuclear destructive force. A timely admission, but ignoring the most dangerous and unpredictable atomic power, the rogue nation of Israel.

If ever the promising dream-like sounds of Donald Trump of denuclearizing the globe were to see the light of day, Israel would have to be among the first countries to be de-nuclearized, which would be a real step towards world security and peace in the Middle East.

During the later Press Conference, Trump though voicing his appreciation for the ‘fine’ secret services of his country, admitted that he trusted more Putin’s word on Russia’s non-interference than that of his secret service —  “why would they interfere?” — for which he was trashed at home by his adversaries, the MSM, the democrats and even the Republicans. Now, back home, Trump has to accommodate the public, telling them he mispronounced ‘would’; he really meant “wouldn’t”… a first rate spectacle of idiocy that, surely, after a while will go away, as everything does that has no solution, but gambles with dishonesty.

There is no winning in the indoctrinated and brainwashed to the bones American public. It couldn’t be more obvious how the media are rallying the American people for war with Russia. The greedy military needs war and the economy of the US of A also needs war to boost her GDP, or rather for sheer economic survival. The topic of Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential Elections will just not be dropped. After a zillion of proven false accusations, in a reasonable world it would fade away. Not in the US. It is a clear sign of the decline of the empire. It’s the desperate hopelessness of the naked emperor that speaks.

So, they call Trump treacherous towards his country – a President who dares saying the truth publicly is called by the slimy Democrats and the yet slimier Republicans and foremost by the mainstream media – a case for impeachment.

There is an internal battle raging in the United States. It pulls the country apart. It’s the want of making America Great Again, by concentrating on internal production for local markets, versus the globalized aspirations – the drive for a dollar world hegemony and the full and total subjugation of the peoples and their resources of this globe. The latter will not be possible without an all-out war – and the elite doesn’t really want to live underground perhaps for years in protection of a nuclear fallout nobody knows how long it may last. Trump’s handlers are aware of the alternative, ‘building from within’. Is what Trump is propagating, “America First”, the right approach? Maybe not, but the concept might be right, given the destitute state of the world, where sanctions and trade wars, also initiated by Trump, are creating havoc among former partners.

A regrouping of nations, aiming at self-sufficiency and selective trading partners according to cultural and political similarities might bring back national sovereignties, abolishing the corporate globalized approach that has been doing harm to 90% of the people. WTO, the monster made by the west to further advance corporate power over the weak, should and would become obsolete.

Trump’s contradictions are what defeats his credibility. He admonishes Madame Merkel for being enslaved by Russia for buying Russian gas instead of the US’s environmentally destructive fracking gas. “We put NATO in Europe to protect you from the enemy, Russia, yet you prefer buying Russian gas than dealing with those who protect you”.

It didn’t occur to any of the European NATO halfwits to tell Trump that all that NATO has done so far is destroying countries throughout the Middle East and the world, and that they, the Europeans, have supported the US in their senseless destruction, creating a flood of refugees which now threatens to suffocate Europe. There was nothing, but nothing about protection by NATO. If anything, NATO was an aggressive force, moving ever closer to Russia and flanking China on the eastern front. None of this was said, though, by the European NATO puppets.

Trump then goes to Helsinki, meets Putin and says he likes him and he wants to be friends and make peace with Russia. Of course. We all want peace. But who can believe him, when a few days before he accused Germany of playing into the hands of the enemy, Russia?

Remember, a year ago at the G7 summit in Hamburg, Trump was shaking Putin’s hand and said ‘I like him’. At the recent disastrous G7 conference in Canada, which turned out to be a G6+1 summit, before running off to Singapore to meet North Koreas Kim Jong-Un, Trump dropped a little bomb, “why not converting the G7 again to the G8 and include Russia?”  He left the group stunned and speechless. So, his drive towards improved relations with Russia is nothing new. It’s just not accepted by the warriors in Washington.

The Helsinki summit looked and sounded like a summer show just to continue the attention deviation maneuvers of the World Cup that ended the day before in Russia. What’s going on behind the scenes? It’s one of those hot summers when nobody wants to think, just to be entertained, never mind the farces and lies.  Like during Roman Empire times it’s the modernized Colosseum, adopted to the age of cell phones, tablets and micro-chips. The Colosseum is the all-so transparent veil that should shield the world’s eyes from the empire’s auto-destruction.

Today’s gladiators are the peoples of entire countries, continents, slaughtered or made homeless by the millions, by teleguided missiles and bombs, causing the largest migration streams – by far – in modern history; 70 million worldwide and upwards are on the move. Generations without homes, education; generations without a future, drifting across the seas in desperate hope of survival.

Mr. Putin’s words in Helsinki were words of wisdom, propagating peace as a good thing and dismissing Russian interference in the American elections. Not even discussing the re-inclusion of Crimea. Period. He could have mentioned, instead, the hundreds of elections and regime changes that Washington initiated, manipulated and manufactured around the globe within the last 70 years alone, but he didn’t. Wise man; non-aggression. It is obvious, the “muttonized” world of Americans and European vassals don’t even think that far anymore. For them it’s natural that the ‘exceptional nation’ does what she wants with impunity but the same rights wouldn’t apply to others.

President Putin handed Trump a list of steps and actions to consider to embark on a denuclearization process. Trump and those of the deep state elite whose love for life is too great to risk a nuclear war, may just take advantage and do something about it.

The enigma Trump is perfect for the Deep Dark state. He is a roller-coaster of confusion and contradictions. To the NATO members, at the recent Brussels NATO summit, he ordered “pay up, or else’’ which could mean or we pull out of NATO. Though that is the desire of a large majority of Europeans, for Trump it’s a contradiction as he pretends that NATO is supposed to defend Europe against her arch-enemy, Russia. But, then, in turn, Mr. Trump moves on, courting this very “arch-enemy’’, by responding to the peace bells Mr. Putin has been offering ever since he came to power, never a negative word against Washington, calmly calling the demonizers ‘our partners’.

Confused people can easily be taken off-guard and manipulated.

Who knows what the real agenda of the Trump handlers has in store. Trump’s bold statements on the side of President Putin will make his demonization at home easier. Though the people at large clearly want peaceful relations between the two nations, everybody fears war, but they will continue to be indoctrinated by the CNN-NBC-BBC’s of this world. Let’s face it, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, there was and is no reason to make Putin and Russia America’s enemy. But Putin’s assertiveness in bringing Russia to the fore and onto the world stage again, was a good reason to upset the self-appointed Uni-Power, US of A.

The US super-power lives of wars, and this lifestyle requires enemies. Russia and China are ideal, as they control huge land masses with almost unlimited natural resources.  They have done nothing of what the mainstream accuses them of. And if the President of the United States annuls the key enemy, turning him from foe to friend, such a President becomes a liability for the swamp of Washington – a liability, indeed – “or else”.

A Time of Hope for Ethiopia

As a result of the protest campaign that started in 2015, political change is at last underway in Ethiopia, and a feeling of optimism is beginning to pervade the country. The new Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, deserves much credit, but it was the actions of thousands of people who took to the streets calling for change that has forced the government to act. All those who marched in defiance of the ruling party displayed great courage and relentless determination. They risked their lives and liberty in standing up to tyranny; they are the heroes of the day, and we should salute them all.

Despite the government’s repeated claims to the contrary, Ethiopia has never known democracy. Under the ruling EPRDF a democratic farce took place every five years when the pretence of a general election was staged, primarily for the benefit of the regime’s main donors, America, Britain and the European Union. The ruling party has been in office for 27 painful years; they control the judiciary as well as the media and the Internet, and have virtually outlawed political dissent; the regime has murdered, intimidated and tortured, ruling the country through fear.

There are positive signs that those dark days are now coming to an end and that the changes longed for by so many, for so long, are now a real possibility. The time of tyrants is over, and despite the fact that repressive regimes continue to exist, their days are numbered. A new energy is sweeping the world engendering Principles of Goodness and strengthening the will of the people. The values of the time are unifying ideals: cooperation, tolerance and understanding, sharing, freedom and justice, and with every day that passes these values grow in strength.

Over the last 40 years of so an unprecedented worldwide protest movement has evolved; throughout the world people have been taking to the streets demanding freedom and an end to injustice and suppression. The people of Ethiopia have responded whole-heartedly to this global movement and the country now stands at the beginning of a new chapter in its history.

The seed of democracy is being firmly planted; justice and the observation of universally enshrined freedoms are the cry of the people: Freedom from fear, freedom of expression, freedom of the media and freedom of assembly. Political and cultural pluralism, a politically independent judiciary, police and security services that protect the people rather than terrorizing them, and the repealing of unjust laws, such as The Anti Terrorism Proclamation and the Charities and Societies Proclamation. These steps are fundamental and, if the government is serious about initiating reforms, should be taken without delay.

Democracy, though, is not simply a means of governance and the observance of universally agreed human rights; democracy is a social contract of action between the people and their elected representatives. At the heart of democracy sits participation and social responsibility: participation in how the place in which we live, work and study functions; participation founded on a recognition that we are all responsible for society and the stewardship of the natural environment. Social justice, tolerance and mutual understanding are also inherent in the democratic ideal and constitute its primary colours.

The responsibility of the politicians is to create an environment in which people can freely express their views and aspirations. To listen to those voices, and work in collaboration with community representatives to initiate policies and design systems that work for the population as a whole, not simply a privileged few (something politicians in many countries fail to recognize) or those belonging to certain ethnic groups, as was the case with the ruling TPLF, who favoured people from Tigray, discriminated against others and initiated policies designed to inflame historical differences and divide ethnic groups.

Without the vibrant expression of these ideals, the efficacy of democracy is reduced; likewise, without a well-educated, engaged population that demands their rights and holds politicians to account, democracy remains little more than an ideological construct of the elite.

The way towards lasting social cohesion and harmony in Ethiopia is the way of unity, this is so for the world as a whole, but is particularly the case in Ethiopia, which is such a diverse nation with many tribal groups and ancient feuds. Under the EPRDF, ethnic anger and frustration was inflamed, leading to some within the Ogaden region and Oromia to call for self-determination. Perhaps such demands can now be laid aside, and a rallying call for national unity issued.

Expressions of unity nourish the dual principles of social responsibility and participation, and with every action rooted in these democratic principles the communal sense of unity is strengthened. This in turn gives rise to wider acts of responsibility and participation and so the spiral of brotherhood expands and deepens, giving rise to the recognition of humanities essential unity.

A strong and vibrant civil society is a cornerstone of democracy, and this will need to be built in Ethiopia. Civil society is an organized form of social responsibility, offering opportunities for community participation. Within the new dispensation existing institutions need to be strengthened and new forms allowed to come into being to support those in need and to champion human rights.

All this is new to Ethiopia and all will need to be lovingly nurtured. As the country begins to move forward, those working for change need to be encouraged and supported in their efforts. To this end Ethiopia’s principle benefactors (America, Britain and the European Union), who to their utter shame have remained largely silent in the face of regime brutality and the widespread abuse of human rights, should offer assistance to the Ethiopian government during this transitional time.

In the months ahead there will inevitably be those who try to delay change and hinder progress; some within the TPLF faction of the ruling party will no doubt try to foment division and conflict. Any such actions and words should be met with calm resolve and not allowed to have any impact on the extraordinary movement that has gripped the nation and is carrying the people of Ethiopia out of the shadow of fear into the clear light of unity and freedom.

Trump Marches Onward and Downward

Journalists, academics, pundits and experts have ignored the complexity of President Trump’s impact on the state of the US Empire.

To properly assess the geopolitical configuration of power, we will consider the military, economic, political and diplomatic advances and setbacks of the Trump regime in Latin America, the European Union and Asia (including the Middle East).

Secondly, we will examine the time frame – the shifting direction of the present configuration of forces.

We will conclude by discussing how the influence and results of foreign policy shape domestic political power.

Background to President Trump’s Empire Building

First and foremost, we must take account of the fact that much of Trump’s policies build on and reflect the policies of his predecessors, namely Presidents Bush and Obama.

The US wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria were started by Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama, The US bombings of Libya and the destruction and uprooting of millions of Africans was inaugurated by Obama.

The expulsion of millions of Central American and Mexican immigrants from the US was common practice prior to Trump.

In brief President Trump continued, and in some cases exacerbated, the socio-economic and military policies, of his predecessors. In a few areas Trump reversed policies, as was the case with Obama’s Nuclear Agreement with Iran.

The successes and failures of Trump’s empire building policies cannot be attributed solely to his regime. Nevertheless, President Trump must be held responsible for the current state of the empire and its direction.

President Trump Marches Forward in Latin America

President Trump has built upon and extended US imperial victories throughout most of Latin America. Satellite regimes are in place in Brazil thanks largely to judicial-legislative coup which overthrew President elect Dilma Rousseff. The puppet regime of Michel Temer has privatized the economy, embraced Trump’s dominance and aligned with efforts to overthrow Venezuela’s government.

Similarly, Trump inherited from Obama the present client regimes in Argentina (President Mauricio Macri), Peru (President Martin Vizcarra) ,Honduras (President Hernandez) Paraguay (President Cartes), Chile (President Piñera), Ecuador (President Moreno), and most of the ruling elites in Central America and the Caribbean. Trump has added to the list current efforts to overthrow the Daniel Ortega regime in Nicaragua.

Under President Trump, Washington succeeded in reversing relations with Cuba and the so-called peace accord in Colombia between the guerrillas and the Juan Manuel Santos regime. In July 2018, Trump succeeded in backing the accession to power of Ivan Duque a protégé of the far-right party of Alvaro Uribe in Colombia. President Obama’s reversal of center-left regimes via coups have been consolidated and expanded by Trump with the important exception of Mexico.

Trump partially reversed Obama’s opening of relations with Cuba and threatens to militarily invade Venezuela.

Trump’s imperial empire in Latin America is, for the most part, inherited and largely sustained . . . for now.

But there are several crucial caveats.

Mexico’s new President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) is likely to pursue independent and progressive foreign and domestic policies, renegotiating NAFTA, oil contracts and border disputes.

Secondly, Brazil and Argentina’s neo-liberal economic policies are in deep crises and the incumbent puppet regimes are economically unstable, face mass social opposition and likely will suffer electoral defeats in 2018.

Thirdly, Venezuela and Cuba have successfully resisted economic and diplomatic sanctions.

Militarily, President Trump retains US military bases in Colombia and has incorporated Bogata into NATO and he has secured military operations in Argentina and Ecuador.

The biggest challenge to Trump’s empire building in Latin America is in the all-important economic realm.

Trump has failed to gain ground in trade, investment and raw materials in the face of competition with China.

Despite the political and military subordination of Latin American regimes to Washington, the bulk of their trade ties are with China. Moreover, Brazil and Argentina will increase their agro-exports to China in line with Beijing’s trade tariffs on US exports. In the so-called trade war not a single Latin American client state has sided with the US. On the contrary, all are taking advantage of Washington’s loss of the China market to enhance their exports.

Clearly the US does not exercise ‘hegemony’ over Latin America’s trading relations.

Worse still, Trump’s dumping of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and threats to withdraw from NAFTA have reduced Washington’s leverage over Latin America and Asia.

Trump’s boasts and claims of dominance over Latin America is largely a product of his predecessors’ imperial policies.

At most, Trump’s policies have hardened the far right, which however, is weakening politically and economically and has provoked the rise of the left to power in Mexico and increased opposition in Colombia, Brazil and Argentina.

In sum the Trump regime’s empire building retain decided influence in Latin America but faces major challenges – and reversals.

Trump in Asia: One Step Forward, Two Step Backward

Washington has gained prestige for its diplomatic overtures to North Korea but is losing the trade war with the world’s second greatest power, China.

China,faced with Trump’s economic war, has diversified its trading partners thus undermining key US agro-business enterprises.

China has implemented tariffs on: canola, soybeans, corn, cotton, pork and beef.

Moreover, China has replaced the US as the main trading partner throughout Asia.

While Japan, South Korea and Australia provide military bases for the US they are eager to replace Washington’s export to China.

Moreover, China’s multi-billion dollar, Belt and Road Initiative has secured sixty-eight nations as partners, with the prominent absence of the self-excluded USA.

US economic sanctions against Iran have failed to undermine the governments’ oil exports, while banking transactions and imports of manufacturing and service products are replaced by China, Russia , India and most of Asia. All of whom will increase their trade with Teheran.

In the Middle East and South Asia, the US can no longer count on clients or allies except for Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Moreover, the Saudi’s rejected Trump’s demand to increase oil production to lower oil prices for US consumers.

Israel is a ‘loyal ally’ to Washington when it suits their own economic advantages and hegemonic aspirations. For example, Israel has continued to expand ties with Russia even in violation of US sanctions.

Pakistan, Myanmar and Cambodia have moved closer to China as a result of increasing financial and infrastructure aid.

In balance, the US continues to exercise military dominance in Asia via its bases in South Korea, Japan and Australia. However, it is losing economic influence and presence in the rest of Asia. If history is any precedent, imperial empires without economic foundations, sooner or later crumble, especially when rising regional powers are capable of replacing them.

The European Union and Trump’s Empire: Partner, Client or Rival?

The European Union (EU) is the largest market in the world and yet remains a political and military dependency of Washington.

The EU has suffered from its lack of an independent foreign policy – its reliance on NATO, a US subsidiary is one of the main reasons.

President Trump has exploited the EU’s weakness to defy its policies on several strategic issues, ranging from the Paris Agreement on climate change, to the nuclear agreement with Iran, to Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. Trump’s tariff on EU exports is the latest and most provocative effort to defy and dominate the region.

Moreover, the EU is increasingly divided over immigration, the UK departure (Brexit), as well as the economic and political and economic split between Germany , Italy and Poland.

In effect the Trump regime can no longer count on a powerful unified alliance at its behest,in its quest for a global empire.

Rather, under Trump, the US seeks to secure economic supremacy and supreme political-military dominance.

President Trump demands that the EU countries double their military budgets in order to increase the Pentagon’s arms spending.

As a result of the divisions and hostilities between the US and EU, President’ Trump’s imperial policies have adopted a contradictory strategy of enhancing economic protectionism with overtures to ‘enemy’ Russia. By adopting the nationalist slogan, “Making America Strong” by ‘Making the EU Weak’ it appears Trump pursues nationalist slogans to promote imperial goals.

Domestic Growth and Imperial Decline

To date, mid 2018, Trump is riding a wave of domestic growth of the economy, trade and employment.

Critics claim that this is a short-lived conjuncture which faces powerful counter-currents. They argue that the trade war and decline of the overseas markets of China, the EU, Mexico, Canada and elsewhere will provoke a decline of the US.

Trump’s strategic gamble is that the US trade war will succeed in opening China’s market while reducing China’s exports. Trump hopes US MNC will relocate to the US and increase jobs and exports. So far this is a pipe dream.

Moreover, the corporate tax windfall has not been accompanied with a decrease in inequalities and increases in wages.

The result is that Trump faces the real prospects of a decline in exports and popular electoral support – especially from those adversely affected by declining markets and deep cuts in health, education and the environment.

Political Consequences of “America First” in a Corporate Setting

Trump’s nationalist economic policies are highly unlikely to enhance empire building ; on the contrary, the trade war will force the major corporate tax beneficiaries to turn against Trump. Their overseas trade links with the EU, North America and China will cause them to turn against Trump.

Empire building trumps America First. Without an economic empire the US will lack the means to secure the markets necessary to stimulate local exports and production.

Conclusion

President Trump has benefited, and to some extent, succeeded in temporarily gaining dominance in Latin America, expanding the domestic economy and imposing demands on China, the EU and North America.

Nevertheless, his policies have undermined allies, antagonized competitors and provoked retaliation. All of which increases the economic cost of running an empire.

Trump has failed to provide viable substitutes for the EU and China markets. Nor has he secured the markets of his remaining clients in Latin America. The notion that Trump can build ‘national capitalism in one country’ is a chimera. At most it would require intensive exploitation of US labor and high rates of investment, sacrificing profits and salaries. The electoral oligarchy and the mass media will force him to retreat from the trade wars and surrender to the globalizing elites.

Bolton, MEK and Trump Iran Strategy

There are growing indications that the Trump administration plans to use the Mojahedin-e Khalq (People’s Mojahedin of Iran, or MEK) as a key element in its strategy to destabilize Iran preparatory to regime change.

On June 30 Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph Giuliani told the group in Paris: “We are now realistically being able to see an end to the regime in Iran. Trump doesn’t turn his back on freedom fighters.”

On July 1, 2017 John Bolton, former State Department official and Trump supporter, addressed a large gathering of MEK supporters in Paris.

There is a viable opposition to the rule of the ayatollahs,” he told the enraptured crowd, “and that opposition is centered in this room today…I have said for over 10 years since coming to these events that the declared policy of the United States should be the overthrow of the regime in Tehran. The behavior and the objectives of the regime are not going to change. And therefore the only solution is to change the regime itself. And that’s why before 2019 we here will celebrate in Tehran!

Yes, the man who has been U.S. National Security Advisor since April 9 predicted to MEK that he would celebrate with them the downfall of the Iranian regime by next year. On May 8 of this year Bolton’s boss withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

So it’s virtually official. MEK freedom fighters will be chief U.S. proxy in the coming confrontation, or rather the ongoing confrontation renewed when Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Iran deal, threatening all countries with sanctions if they so much as buy Iranian oil. They are comparable to the peshmerga of Syria, or the Northern Alliance warlords in Afghanistan, or the motley array of militia that overthrew Gaddafi in Libya with U.S.-NATO support—willing accomplices in a regime-change effort directed from Washington.

Who are these people? MEK was founded in Iran in 1965 as a revolutionary anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist organization dedicated to the violent overthrow of the U.S.-backed regime of the Shah. It sought to produce a synthesis of Shiite Islam and Marxism, an inherently problematic project that has been more or less abandoned, especially as MEK has in recent years courted U.S. officials like Bolton. (A huge number of prominent U.S. officials and former officials have spoken in recent years, often for large fees, at MEK events. They include Howard Dean. Gen. Wesley Clark, Rudolph Giuliani, Porter Goss, Gen. Michael Hayden, Gen. Richard Myers, Bill Richardson, and Gen. Anthony Zinni.)

Embracing urban guerrilla warfare tactics in the 1970s, MEK targeted the regime and the U.S. military presence, conducting many attacks on U.S. personnel and gunning down Lt. Col. Louis Lee Hawkins, a U.S. Army comptroller, in 1973. Its members trained with the PLO and al-Fateh and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Oman.

During the revolution of 1979 that toppled the Shah, MEK was the largest of the radical left parties (if we exclude the Tudeh or Communist Party founded in 1941, dismissed by MEK as “revisionist”). It worked with smaller communist groups, notably Sardedaran (Union of Iranian Communists) founded in the U.S. by Iranian students in 1976 under the strong influence of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA.

Initially, MEK aligned itself with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, whose triumphant return from French exile had met with a rapturous response. They perceived him as a popular nationalist leader. But when he denied its leaders input into the writing of a constitution, and forbade them from running for political office, they revolted. Results of their uprising were disastrous; about 10,000 perished and thousands of its members including the leadership fled to Iraq or France. Hosted by Saddam Hussein, they fought alongside the Iraqi Army against their countrymen throughout the 1980s. This is one reason they are generally, according to plausible reports, despised in Iran even by those who chafe under the mullah’s rule.

Camp Ashraf in Iraq was created by the MEK to accommodate its 3500 soldiers in the country. This camp was taken over by the U.S. following the 2003 invasion. Indeed the U.S. protected MEK from the Iraqis’ intention to deport them and indeed housed them at Camp Fallujah and arranged for some to be relocated to Albania.

In 1975 MEK split into its component parts; that is, a faction arguing rather simply that Marxism, not Islam, is the revolutionary path, and the dominant faction arguing the opposite. This is the MEK that hosts the most reactionary U.S. officials and—after inveighing against Zionism for decades—now cultivates ties with Israeli intelligence. In 1997 it was listed as a “terrorist” organization by the U.S. State Department. The UK and EU soon followed suite. But MEK was delisted as terrorist by Britain in 2008, the EU in 2009, and the U.S. in 2012.

Why? Hillary Clinton determined that MEK had changed its ways and given up terrorism. Plus, MEK was so useful, cooperating as it was and is with U.S. and Israeli intelligence, smuggling intelligence out of Iran, abetting U.S.-Israeli disinformation schemes, maintaining an underground presence in Iran that will be useful (some suppose) when the regime-change moment comes.

Analysts agree that MEK is a very unusual organization. Led by a married couple, Massoud Rajavi and his wife Maryam Rajavi, it imposes strict discipline including life-long celibacy on its members. It forbids them to entertain sexual thoughts. It punishes rules infractions with public shaming and sleep deprivation. It is often termed a cult.

That this group should become a key U.S. ally—as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo virtually declares war on Iran—is truly perplexing. Surely U.S. officials know that MEK is hated in Iran, and that its tactics in Iran have not produced mass support. Other underground opposition parties, such as the National Front of Iran, founded by Mohammed Mossadegh (toppled by the CIA in 1953), will not likely cooperate with them in producing a second regime change. The idea is as wild as Bolton’s idea that Cuba’s pharmaceutical plants are producing biological weapons.

Can it be that Pompeo does not understand the enduring outrage felt among Iranians about that 1953 coup? The U.S. didn’t just “interfere” in somebody else’s election, it toppled a democratically elected prime minister because he had the temerity to try to nationalize the nation’s petroleum industry. The world knows the U.S. interferes in other nations’ politics and electoral processes habitually, and that the “bi-partisan” National Endowment for Democracy “NGO” funnels billions into pro-U.S. forces in countries targeted for “color revolutions.” Only the cable anchors on CNN, MSNBC and Fox seem clueless, wide-eyed, indignant and outraged at the thought that “Russia interfered in OUR election!” As though we, as a people, ever had a real election in 2016.)

Bolton resembles his boss in that he cares nothing for the truth; lies boldly with angry, smug confidence, daring his audience to differ; is a loud bully with an ego and an agenda to which he hopes to commit the president. His main project is the Iranian regime change, much as Iraqi regime was Paul Wolfowitz’s preoccupation from 9/11/2001 to March 2003 when the plot to conduct a war-based-on-lies was finally consummated. (Bolton continues to say: “I still think the decision to overthrow Saddam was correct,” and that the U.S. has the right to overthrow sovereign states at will.)

Bolton has told reporters (who note his changing stance on war with North Korea) that anything he may have said in print or on television in the past is irrelevant now since he is in the service of the president and committed to his policies. But he happily realizes his boss is an air-head, ignorant and impressionable, generally Islamophobic, committed to a hawkish anti-Iran policy because (1) he wants to reverse any Obama policy; (2) he made a campaign promise; (3) he’s slavishly deferential to Binyamin Netanyahu, who wants the U.S. to bomb Iran; and (4) hostility towards Iran invites little opposition in Netanyahu’s fan club, Congress. Bolton has lots to work with there.

Congressional attitudes could change if U.S. secondary sanctions applied on European allied nations further strain the Atlantic Alliance already stressed by the trade wars Trump has unleashed. The EU, Russia and China all need to unite in demanding that the U.S. not only end its threats to attack Iran but respect other nations’ rights to trade with that great, large, relatively wealthy nation. (The IMF ranks Iran as 27th of 191 nations in terms of GDP; that is, it’s among the world’s top 15%. China, UAE, Germany and India are main trade partners.)

As U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo provokes Iran with his arrogant demands—“preconditions” for a U.S. return to the deal, which essentially demand that it grovel at America’s feet—the U.S. provokes the rest of the world too, for multiple reasons. Its demand for allies’ cooperation in its efforts to undermine Tehran conflict with their efforts to improve both diplomatic and trade relations, to say nothing of their hopes for more stability in the region flooding Europe with refugees.

Thus Trump chooses the re-designated terrorist group MEK over Paris; Israel over Europe; Saudi Arabia and its anti-Iran Arab coalition against Russia and China. It demands that Japan (once Iran’s largest oil purchaser, now the sixth largest) and South Korea (currently the third largest, after China and India) end imports to abet regime-change efforts. These demands are outrageous, especially spouted by mouths that the whole world knows routinely spew lies without shame.

So it’s Trump, Bolton, Pompeo, Netanyahu, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and the Rajavis—-versus Iran and the world which, while it may not be terribly fond of Iran, are becoming even less fond of Trump’s U.S.A.

Oh, and now Pompeo comes back from Pyongyang boasting of “progress” while the Koreans call the visit “regrettable.” The whole world is hoping that the U.S. work methodically with the DPRK to achieve the denuclearization goal. That will take time and require a schedule of coordinated steps, like the Iran deal that Pompeo has been trying to sabotage since 2015, as Kansas congressman, CIA director, and in his present post, required.

One should not suppose Pompeo more predisposed to promote peace with North Korea than peace with Iran. Imagine the DPRK rapprochement collapsing just as the joint U.S.-Saudi-U.S. missile barrage strikes Iran. There are sober people in Washington thinking carefully about multiple scenarios, amorally planning for all contingencies.

One of these might be a general Manichaean apocalypse in which the issue is not Good versus Evil (which would have been the case under George W. Bush) but Trump and His Base versus the World.

The latter he attacks by trade policy, a diplomacy of irrational insults, an almost impish desire to undermine existing international agreements and institutions (not so much to the objective advantage of U.S. imperialism so much as the advantage of his own frozen prepubescent ego), missile strikes at his generals’ discretion, and shameless voicing of racist, bigoted, uneducated views. The former he pleases by such policies and bombast. The U.S. mainstream media and the bulk of the political class deplore Trump in favor of the world, or at least criticize Trump’s “America First” populist nationalism as threatening to the postwar international order which has hitherto been very good to the imperialist U.S.A. They look askance at MEK and, to the extent they engage the issue, they question the wisdom an alliance with it.

Still, Trump proceeds on a confrontational course with Iran, and with any having deals with Iran, joining in the process with the most unsavory henchmen from the Saudis to the Likudists to these Iranian cultists. One hopes this strategy will only further isolate the U.S. from its allies and unintentionally help produce a more multi-polar world.

How Israel helped to revive Europe’s Ugly Ethnic Nationalism

Polarisation within western societies on issues relating to migration and human rights has been intensifying over recent weeks and months. To many observers, it looks suspiciously as if an international order in place since the end of the second world war – one that emphasised universal rights as a way to prevent dehumanisation and conflict – is rapidly unravelling in Europe and the United States.

In the past few weeks in Donald Trump’s America, it has emerged that thousands of migrant children have been snatched from their parents while trying to enter at the southern border, with some held in cages; the US Supreme Court has upheld the right of border officials to bar entry to Muslims from proscribed countries; and the Trump administration has quit the United Nations’ Human Rights Council, a key institution for monitoring human rights violations.

Meanwhile, far-right parties across Europe have ridden to electoral success on the back of mounting fears at a wave of migrants displaced from North Africa and the Middle East by wars and famines. Joining the trenchant anti-immigration stances of governments in Hungary and Poland, Italy’s interior minister Matteo Salvini has turned away boatloads of migrants from his country’s ports. He called last month for the European Union to “defend its border” and deny access to human rights groups, while also threatening to cut his country’s budget to Europe unless action was taken against migrants. Salvini is among the Italian politicians demanding the expulsion of the Roma minority.

Other European governments led by Germany, fearful of internal political instability that might undermine their continuing rule, called a hasty summit to consider options for dealing with the “migrant crisis”.

And casting a long shadow over the proceedings is Britain’s efforts to negotiate its exit from the EU, a blow that might eventually lead to the whole edifice of the European project crumbling.

Two ideas of citizenship

These are not random events. They are part of a quickening trend, and one that signals how an international order built up over the past 70 years and represented by pan-national institutions like the United Nations and the EU is gradually breaking down.

While the evidence suggests that there is no particular migration crisis at the moment, there are long-term factors that readily provoke populist fears and can be readily exploited, especially over the depletion of key global resources like oil, and environmental changes caused by climate breakdown. Together they have stoked resource conflicts and begun to shrink world economies. The effects are ideological and political shockwaves that have put a system of long-standing international agreements and norms under unprecedented strain.

The emerging struggle faced today is one that was fought out a century ago in western Europe, and relates to differing conceptions of citizenship. In the early 20th century, Europe was riven by ethnic nationalisms: each state was seen as representing a separate biological people – or in the terminology of the time, a race or Volk. And each believed it needed territory in which to express its distinct heritage, identity, language and culture. In the space of a few decades, these antagonistic nationalisms tore Europe apart in two “world wars”.

At the time, ethnic nationalism was pitted against an alternative vision of citizenship: civic nationalism. It is worth briefly outlining how the two differed.

Civic nationalists draw on long-standing liberal ideas that prioritise a shared political identity based on citizenship inside the stable territorial unit of a democratic state. The state should aspire – at least in theory – to be neutral towards ethnic minorities, and their languages and cultures.

Civic nationalism is premised on individual rights, social equality and tolerance. Its downside is an inherent tendency to atomise societies into individuals, and cultivate consumption over other social values. That has made it easier for powerful corporations to capture the political system, leading to the emergence of neoliberal capitalist economies.

Minorities scapegoated

Ethnic nationalists, by contrast, believe in distinct peoples, with a shared heritage and ancestry. Such nationalists not only resist the idea that other groups can integrate or assimilate, but fear that they might weaken or dissolve the ties binding the nation together.

Ethnic nationalists therefore accentuate an imagined collective will belonging to the dominant ethnic group that guides its destiny; emphasise threats from external enemies and subversion from within by those opposed to the values of the core group; encourage the militarisation of the society to cope with such threats; and anxiously guard existing territory and aggressively seek to expand borders to increase the nation’s resilience.

Even before Europe’s two great wars, most western states were a hybrid of civic and ethnic nationalist impulses. But in a political climate of competition over resources and paranoid vigilance against rivals that prevailed before the second world war, especially fears among western elites about how best to counter the growing threat of Soviet Communism, ideas associated with ethnic nationalism tended to dominate.

It was for this reason that ethnic minorities – especially those such as Jews and Roma whose loyalties to the core nation were considered suspect – found themselves scapegoated and faced rampant discrimination. This took different forms.

In Britain, ethnic nationalism contributed to the Balfour Declaration of 1917, a document proposing that British Jews be transplanted to the Middle East. In part this was a colonial project to create an outpost of Jews in the Middle East dependent on British favour for their security. But as noted by Edwin Montagu, the only Jew in the British cabinet at the time, the Balfour Declaration had strong anti-semitic overtones, reinforcing the idea that Jews did not belong and should be relocated elsewhere.

Ethnic nationalism in France was evidenced by the notorious Dreyfus Affair. A Jewish captain in the French army, Alfred Dreyfus, was convicted of treason in 1894 for leaking military secrets to Germany. In fact, as it later emerged, another French officer was responsible for the leak, but the military preferred to falsify documents to ensure that blame rested with Dreyfus.

And in Germany, racism towards minorities like Jews and Roma culminated in the Nazi concentration camps of the 1930s and a short time later a policy of mass extermination that claimed the lives of many millions.

Rebuilding a post-war Europe

After the devastation of the second world war, western Europe had to be rebuilt, both physically and ideologically. With the dangers of ethnic nationalisms now apparent, greater emphasis was placed on civic nationalism.

This trend was encouraged by the US through its Marshall Plan, an economic recovery programme to reconstruct western Europe. The US wanted a united, peaceful Europe – its ethnic antagonisms a thing of the past – so that a culture of individualism and consumerism could be fostered, guaranteeing an export market for American goods. A US-dependent Europe could also be relied on as a bulwark against Washington’s chief ideological rival, Soviet communism.

By the end of the 20th century, these developments would lead to the emergence of a common market, later the European Union, a single currency and the dropping of border controls.

At the same time, in the immediate post-war period, it was decided to put safeguards in place against the recent slaughter. The Nuremberg Trials helped to define the rules of war, and classed their violations as war crimes, while the UN’s 1948 Declaration of Human Rights and the Geneva Conventions began the process of formalising international law and the concept of universal human rights.

All of that post-war order is now unravelling.

Bucking the trend

Israel was established in 1948, the year of the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights, which was itself intended to prevent any return to the horrors of the Holocaust. Israel was presented as a sanctuary for Jews from a depraved Europe that had been overrun by aggressive racial ideologies. And Israel was extolled as a “light unto the nations”, the political fruit of the new international legal order to promote the rights of minorities.

But paradoxically, the “western” state that most visibly bucked the trend towards civic nationalism in the post-war period was Israel. It stuck rigidly with a political model of ethnic nationalism that had just been discredited in Europe. Today Israel embodies a political alternative to civic nationalism – one that is slowly and increasingly helping to rehabilitate ethnic nationalism.

From the outset, Israel was not what it appeared to most outsiders. It had been sponsored as a colonial settler project by western patrons that variously included Britain, the Soviet Union, France and, latterly, the US. Set up to be an explicitly “Jewish state”, it was built on the ruins of the native Palestinian people’s homeland after a campaign of expulsions historians have characterised as “ethnic cleansing”.

Israel was not the liberal democracy claimed in its campaigns of self-promotion, known as hasbara. In fact, far from being an antidote to ethnic nationalism, Israel was decisively a product – or more specifically, a mirroring – of this form of nationalism.

Israel’s tribal ideology

Its founding ideology, Zionism, was deeply opposed to civic nationalism and attendant ideas of a common political identity. Rather, it was a tribal ideology – one based on blood ties and religious heritage – that spoke the same language as Europe’s earlier ethnic nationalisms. It agreed with the racists of Europe that “the Jews” could not be assimilated or integrated because they were a people apart.

It was this shared ground with the ethnic nationalists that made the Zionist movement deeply unpopular among the vast majority of European Jews until the rise of Hitler in the 1930s. After the horrors of the Nazis, however, growing numbers of Jews concluded that, if you could not beat the ethnic nationalists, it was better to join them. A highly militarised, nuclear-armed Israel – sponsored by Europe and belligerent towards its new, relatively weak Arab neighbours – appeared the best solution available.

It is that shared ground that today makes Israel an ally and friend to Trump and his political constituency in the US and to Europe’s far-right parties.

In fact, Israel is revered by a new breed of white supremacists and anti-semites in the US known as the alt-right. Their leader, Richard Spencer, has termed himself a “white Zionist”, saying he wants the US to become a “secure homeland” to prevent “the demographic dispossession of white people in the United States and around the world” in the same way Israel achieved for Jews.

Making racism respectable

Israel preserved the model of ethnic nationalism and is now seeking to help make it respectable again among sections of western public opinion.

Just as historically there were different varieties of ethnic nationalisms in Europe, so there are among the popular and political movements in Israel.

At the most disturbing extreme of the spectrum are the religious settlers who have actively taken up the task of once again uprooting the native Palestinian population, this time in the occupied territories. Such settlers now dominate the middle ranks of the Israeli army.

In a handbook for further dispossession known as the King’s Torah, influential settler rabbis have justified the pre-emptive killing of Palestinians as terrorists, and their babies as “future terrorists”. This worldview explains why settlers massed outside a court in Israel last month taunting a Palestinian, Hussein Dawabshe, whose 18-month-old grandson, Ali, was among family members burnt alive by settlers in 2015. As the grandfather arrived, the settlers jeered “Where is Ali, Ali’s dead” and “Ali’s on the grill.”

Even more common, to the extent that it passes almost unnoticed in Israel, is the structural racism that keeps the fifth of the population belonging to a Palestinian minority apart from the Jewish majority. For decades, for example, Israeli hospitals have been separating women in maternity wards based on their ethnicity.  Last month, in a familiar pattern, it was revealed that a municipal swimming pool in the Negev was quietly segregating Jewish and Palestinian bathers – all citizens of the same state – by offering different hours.

At least the pool accepted Palestinian citizens. Almost all communities in Israel are segregated, with many hundreds using admissions committees to ensure they bar Palestinian citizens and remain exclusively Jewish.

There have been weeks of angry protests among Jewish residents of the northern city of Afula, after the first Palestinian family managed to buy a home in a neighbourhood. Deputy mayor Shlomo Malihi observed: “I hope that the house sale will be cancelled so that this city won’t begin to be mixed.”

The ‘danger’ of intermarriage

Last month Miki Zohar, a legislator in the ruling Likud party, observed not only that there is a “Jewish race”, but that it represents “the highest human capital, the smartest, the most comprehending”.

At the same time, the government’s education minister, Naftali Bennett, noted that the future of the Jewish people in countries like the US kept him awake at night. “If we don’t act urgently, we’re going to be losing millions of Jews to assimilation,” he told a conference in Jerusalem.

This is a common refrain on the Israeli left too. Isaac Herzog, the former leader of the supposedly socialist Labour party and the new chair of the Jewish Agency, shares Bennett’s tribal impulse. Last month he warned that Jews outside Israel were falling victim to a “plague” of intermarriage with non-Jews. He bewailed that on a visit to the US last year: “I saw the children of my friends marrying or living with non-Jewish partners”. He concluded: “We have to rack our brains over how to solve this great challenge.”

An ethnic fortress

But the problem is not restricted to the prejudices of individuals and communities. It has state sanction, just as in Europe a century ago.

That can be seen not only in rampant institutional racism in Israel – some 70 laws that explicitly discriminate based on ethnic belonging – but in Israel’s obsession with wall-building. There are walls sealing off Gaza, and the densely Palestinian-populated parts of occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

In another indication of the ethnic fortress mentality, Israel has built a wall to block the entry of African asylum seekers through the Sinai peninsula as they flee wars. Israel has been deporting these refugees back to Africa – in violation of international conventions it has ratified – putting their lives in danger.

And while western liberals have grown exercised at the separation of children from their parents by the Trump administration, they have ignored decades of similarly brutal Israeli policies. In that time, thousands of Palestinian children have been seized from their homes, often in night-time raids, and jailed in trials with a near-100 per cent conviction rate.

Extrajudicial violence

Throughout its history, Israel has glorified in its military prowess and brazenly celebrated a tradition of extrajudicial violence against opponents. That has included practices such as torture and political assassinations that international law seeks to prohibit. The sophistry used by Israel to defend these actions has been enthusiastically taken up in Washington – in particular, when the US began its own programmes of torture and extrajudicial murder after the Iraq invasion of 2003.

Israel has ready-made rationalisations and specious soundbites that have made it much easier to sell to western publics the dismantling of international norms.

The upending of international law – and, with it, a reversal of the trend towards civic nationalism – has intensified with Israel’s repeated attacks on Gaza over the past decade. Israel has subverted the key principles of international law – proportionality, distinction and necessity – by hugely widening the circle of potential targets of military action to include swaths of civilians, and using massive force beyond any possible justification.

That has been graphically illustrated of late in its maiming and killing of thousands of unarmed Palestinian protesters for being supposedly too close to the perimeter fence Israel has built to encage Gaza. That fence simply delimits the Palestinian land occupied by Israel. But in another success for Israeli hasbara, western reporting has almost universally suggested that the fence is a border Israel is entitled to defend.

Israeli expertise in demand

Israel’s expertise is increasingly in demand in a west where ethnic nationalisms are again taking root. Israel’s weapons have been tested on the battlefield, against Palestinians. Its homeland security systems have proven they can surveill and control Palestinian populations, just as western elites think about their own protection inside gated communities.

Israel’s paramilitary police train and militarise western police forces needed to repress internal dissent. Israel has developed sophisticated cyberwarfare techniques based on its efforts to remain a regional superpower that now satisfy the west’s politically paranoid atmosphere.

With an abiding aversion to the Communist ideology of their former Soviet rulers, central and east European states have led the move towards a renewal of ethnic nationalism. Civic nationalism, by contrast, is seen as dangerously exposing the nation to outside influences.

Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban, is among the new brand of eastern European leader brazenly stoking an ethnic politics at home through anti-semitism. He has targeted the Hungarian Jewish billionaire and philanthropist George Soros for promoting a civic nationalism, suggesting Soros represents a wider Jewish threat to Hungary. Under a recent law, popularly known as “STOP Soros”, anyone helping migrants enter Hungary risks a prison sentence. Orban has lauded Miklos Horthy, a long-time Hungarian leader, who was a close ally of Hitler’s.

Nonetheless, Orban is being feted by Benjamin Netanyahu, in the same way the Israeli prime minister has closely identified with Trump. Netanyahu called to congratulate Orban shortly after he was re-elected in April, and will welcome him in a state visit this month. Ultimately, Netanyahu is angling to host the next meeting of the Visegrad group, four central European countries in the grip of far-right ethnic politics Israel wishes to develop closer ties with.

For leaders like Orban, Israel has led the way. It has shown that ethnic politics is not discredited after all, that it can work. For Europe and America’s new ethnic nationalists, Israel has proven that some peoples are destined for greatness, if they are allowed to triumph over those who stand in their way.

It will be a darker, far more divided and frightening world if this logic prevails. It is time to recognise what Israel represents, and how it does not offer solutions – only far greater problems.

• First published in Middle East Eye

Stomping in Britain: Donald Trump and May’s Brexit

What a rotten guest, but then again, that was to be expected.  Ahead of his visit to Britain, there was some indignation that US President Donald Trump should even be visiting in the first place.  Protesters were readying their assortment of paraphernalia in anticipation.  Walls of noise were promised.  Trump, on the other hand, was bullish after his NATO performance, which did a good deal to stir and unsettle partners and leaders.  On leaving Brussels, his singular account was that all partners had, in fact, agreed to a marked rise in defence spending.

Having settled into dinner with British Prime Minister Theresa May at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, there was a whirring buzz that the president had been busy, having given an interview to that infamous rag of reaction The Sun newspaper.  It was spectacularly poor form, featuring a series of pot shots against his host on how she had handled Brexit negotiations so far.  Not that May’s handling has been brilliantly smooth. Characterised by Tory saboteurs, confusion and ill-expertise, the British tangle with the European Union has persisted with barnacle tenacity.

This did not inspire confidence from Trump, and the Chequers agreement that May had reached with cabinet members was deemed “very unfortunate”.  For the president, a Brexit softened and defanged to keep it bound up in some form in the EU could well spell an end to a separate, post-separation trade pact with the United States.  “If they do a deal like that, we would be dealing with the European Union instead of dealing with the UK, so it will probably kill the deal.”

The sting was greater for the fact that May was using the dinner to pitch her case for a separate trade arrangement.  “As we prepare to leave the European Union, we have an unprecedented opportunity to do more.”  Any free trade agreement between the countries, she asserted, would create “jobs and growth here is in the UK and right across the United States.” Bureaucracy would be defeated in the transatlantic venture.

Trump, as he tends to, was operating on a different frequency, claiming that he, brilliant chap that he is, had the formula for how May might best get a workable Brexit through. If only the prime minister had listened instead of chasing her own flight of fancy.

May was not the only British politician rostered for a tongue lashing. London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who reached some prominence criticising Trump’s election promise to temporarily suspend Muslim immigration to the United States, also came in for special mention.  “I think allowing millions and millions of people to come into Europe is very, very sad.”  Reflecting on the problems facing European cities as a result, he told The Sun that London had “a mayor who has done a terrible job in London.  He has done a terrible job.”  The mayor had blotted his copybook by doing “a very terrible job on terrorism” and, just for good measure, crime in general.

Not content at leaving it at that, Trump revealed that childish vulnerability typical in unstoppable, and encouraged egomaniacs. This had undoubtedly been spurred on by Khan’s refusal to ban the flying of a 20ft blimp depicting Trump as an indignant, orange infant, nappy and all.  “I think [Khan] has not been hospitable to a government that is very important.  Now he might not like the current President, but I represent the United States.”

Having said earlier in the week that the issue of whether May should continue as British prime minister was “up to the people”, Trump was less judicious in his liberating interview. In what could be construed as an act of direct meddling (foreign interference for the US imperium is genetic, programmed and inevitable), Trump had his own views about who would make a suitable replacement.  The blundering, now ex-foreign secretary Boris Johnson, a person with his own conditioning of Trumpism, would “make a great prime minister.”

For those incensed by Trump’s say in the matter, it is worth noting that his predecessor was no less terse in warning, not just the Cameron government, but the British people, that leaving the EU would banish Britain to the end of any trade agreement queue.  Britain was far better being part of a collective voice generated by the EU, rather than a single power going its own way.  At “some point down the line,” President Barack Obama explained at a press conference held at the Foreign Office on a visit in April 2016, “there might be a UK-US trade agreement, but it’s not going to happen any time soon because our focus is in negotiating with a big bloc, the European Union, to get a trade agreement done.”

Perhaps the most striking delusion that runs so deeply through the Brexit pathology is the idea the Britannia’s flag will again fly high, and that power shall, mysteriously, be reclaimed by a nation made anew.  Other powers will heed that; respect shall be observed.  What Presidents Obama and Trump have shown from different sides of the coin is that such hopes might be terribly misplaced.