Category Archives: Fake News

The West Really Hates China

It appears that the Western public, both relatively ‘educated’ and thoroughly ignorant, could, after some persuasion, agree on certain very basic facts – for instance that Russia has historically been a victim of countless European aggressions, or that countries like Venezuela, Cuba, Iran or North Korea (DPRK) have never in modern history crossed the borders of foreign nations in order to attack, plunder or to overthrow governments.

OK, certainly, it would take some ‘persuasion’, but at least in specific circles of the otherwise hopelessly indoctrinated Western society, certain limited dialogue is still occasionally possible.

China is different. There is no ‘mercy’ for China in the West. By many standards, the greatest and one of the oldest cultures on Earth, has been systematically smeared, insulted, ridiculed and arrogantly judged by the opinion-makers, propagandists, ‘academia’ and mainstream press with seats in London, New York, Paris and many other places which the West itself calls the centers of ‘erudition’ and ‘freedom of information’.

Anti-Chinese messages are sometimes overt, but mostly thinly veiled. They are almost always racist and based on ignorance. And the horrifying reality is: they work!

They work for many reasons. One of them is that while the North Asians in general, and the Chinese people in particular, have been learning with zeal all about the rest of the world, the West is thoroughly ignorant about almost everything Asian and Chinese.

I personally conducted a series of simple but revealing ‘experiments’ in China, Korea and Japan, as well as in several countries of the West: while almost every North Asian child can easily identify at least a few basic ‘icons’ of Western culture, including Shakespeare and Mozart, most of the European university professors with PhDs could not name one single Korean film director, Chinese classical music composer, or a Japanese poet.

Westerners know nothing about Asia! Not 50% of them, now even 90%, but most likely somewhere in the area of 99.9%.

And it goes without saying, that Korea is producing some of the best art films in the world, while China and Japan are renowned for their exquisite classical art, as well as modern masterpieces.

In the West, the same ignorance extends to Chinese philosophy, its political system and history. In both Europe and North America, there is absolute darkness, withering ignorance, regarding the Chinese vision of the world. In Paris or Berlin, China is being judged exclusively by Western logic, by Western ‘analysts’, with unsurpassable arrogance.

Racism is the only fundamental explanation, although there are many other, secondary reasons for this state of affairs.

Western racism, which used to humiliate, attack and ruin China for centuries, has gradually changed its tactics and strategies. From the openly and colorfully insulting and vulgar, it has steadily evolved into something much more ‘refined’ but consistently manipulative.

The spiteful nature of the Western lexicon of superiority has not disappeared.

In the past, the West used to depict Chinese people as dirty animals. Gradually, it began depicting the Chinese Revolution as animalistic, as well as the entire Chinese system, throwing into the battle against the PRC and the Communist Party of China, such concepts and slogans as “human rights”.

We are not talking about human rights that could and should be applicable and respected in all parts of the world (like the right to life) protection for all the people of the Planet. That’s because it is clear that the most blatant violators of such rights have been, for many centuries, the Western countries.

If all humans were to be respected as equal beings, all countries of the West would have to be tried and indicted, then occupied and harshly punished for countless genocides and holocausts committed in the past and present. The charges would be clear: barbarity, theft, torture as well as the slaughter of hundreds of millions of people in Africa, the Middle East, what is now called Latin America, and, of course, almost everywhere in Asia. Some of the most heinous crimes of the West were committed against China and its people.

The ‘human rights’ concept, which the West is constantly using against China is ‘targeted’. Most of the accusations and ‘facts’ have been taken out of the context of what has been occurring on the global scale (now and in the history). Exclusively, Eurocentric views and ‘analyses’ have been applied. Chinese philosophy and logic have been fully ignored; never taken seriously. No one in the West asks the Chinese people what they really want (only the so-called ‘dissidents’ are allowed to speak through the mass media to the Western public). Such an approach is not supposed to defend or to help anybody; instead it is degrading, designed to cause maximum damage to the most populous country on Earth, to its unique system, and increasingly, to its important global standing.

It is obvious that the Western academia and mass media are funded by hundreds of millions and billions of dollars to censor the mainstream Chinese voices, and to promote dark anticommunist and anti-PRC nihilism.

I know one Irish academic based in North Asia, who used to teach in China. He told me, with pride, that he used to provoke Chinese students: “Do you know that Mao was a pedophile?” And he ridiculed those who challenged him and found his discourses distasteful.

But such an approach is quite acceptable for the Western academia based in Asia. Reverse the tables and imagine a Chinese academic who comes to London to teach Chinese language and culture, beginning his classes by asking the students whether they know that Churchill used to have sex with animals? What would happen? Would he get fired right away or at the end of the day?

*****

The West has no shame, and it is time for the entire world to understand this simple fact.

In the past, I have often compared this situation to some medieval village, attacked and plundered by brigands (The West). Food stores were ransacked, houses burned, women raped and children forced into slavery, then subjected to thorough brainwashing.

Any resistance was crushed, brutally. People were told to spy on each other, to expose “terrorists” and “dangerous elements” in society, in order to protect the occupation regime.

Only two “economic systems” were allowed – feudalism and capitalism.

If the villagers elected a mayor who was ready to defend their interests, the brigands would murder him, unceremoniously. Murder or overthrow him, so there would always be a status quo.

But there had to be some notion of justice, right?

Once in a while, the council of the brigands would catch a thief who had stolen few cucumbers or tomatoes. And they would then brag that they protect the people and the village. While everything had already been burned to ashes by them

Given the history and present of China, given the horrid and genocidal nature of the Western past, ancient and modern, given the fact that China is by all definitions, the most peaceful large nation on Earth, how can anybody in the West even pronounce the words like ‘human rights’, let alone criticize China, Russia, Cuba or any other country that it put on its hit-list?

Of course, China, Russia or Cuba are not “perfect countries” (there are no perfect countries on Earth, and there never will be), but should a thief and mass murderer be allowed to judge anybody?

Obviously yes! It is happening, constantly.

The West is unapologetic. It is because it is ignorant, thoroughly uninformed about its own past and present deeds, or conditioned to be uninformed. It is also because the West is truly a fundamentalist society, unable to analyze and to compare. It cannot see anymore.

What is being offered by its politicians and replicated by the servile academia and mass media, is totally twisted.

Almost the entire world is in the same condition as the village that I just described.

But it is China (and also Russia, Cuba, Venezuela, Syria, Iran, and other nations) that is being portrayed as villains and tormentors of the people. Black becomes white. War is peace. Slavery is freedom. A mass rapist is a peacemaker and a cop.

*****

Once again: The West hates China. Let us be totally honest.

China has to understand it, and act accordingly. Sooner rather than later.

As we have already determined, the hatred towards China is irrational, illogical, purely racist; mainly based to the superiority complex of Western “thinkers”.

But also, it is based on the subconscious fear of the Westerners that Chinese culture and its socialist system (with all its ‘imperfections’) are greatly superior to the culture of terror and thuggery spread throughout our Planet by both Europeans and then North Americans.

Several years ago, I was interviewed by various Chinese media outlets, including the legendary People’s Daily, China Radio International and CCTV (now CGTN).

They all wanted to know why, despite all those great efforts of China to befriend the world, there is so much Sino phobia in Western countries. I had to face the same question, again and again: “What else could we do? We tried everything… What else?”

Because of its tremendous hereditary optimism, the Chinese nation could not grasp one simple but essential fact: the more China does for the world, the less aggressively it behaves, the more it will be hated and demonized in the West. It is precisely because China is, unlike the West, trying to improve the lives of the entire planet Earth, that it will never be left in peace, it will never be prized, admired or learned from in such places like London, Paris or New York.

I replied to those who were interviewing me:

“They hate you, therefore you are doing something right!”

My answer, perhaps, sounded too cynical to the Chinese people. However, I wasn’t trying to be cynical. I was just trying to answer, honestly, a question about the psyche of Western culture, which has already murdered hundreds of millions of human beings, worldwide. It was, after all, the greatest European psychologist of all time, Carl Gustav Jung, who diagnosed Western culture as “pathology”.

But Who Really Hates China and How Much?

But let’s get numbers: who hates China and how much? Mainly, the Westerners – Europeans and North Americans. And Japan, which actually murdered tens of millions of Chinese people, plus China’s main regional rival, Vietnam.

Only 13% of the Japanese see China favorably, according to a Pew Research Center Poll conducted in 2017. 83% of the Japanese, a country which is the main ally of the West in Asia, see China “unfavorably”. In Italy which is hysterically anti-Chinese and scandalously racist at that, the ratio is 31% favorably, 59% unfavorably. Shocking? Of course, it is. But Germany does not fare much better, with 34% – 53%. The United States – 44% – 47%. France 44% – 52%. Entire half of Spanish nation sees China unfavorably – 43% – 43%.

Now something really shocking: the “rest of the world”. The numbers are totally the opposite! South Africa: 45% see China favorably, 32% unfavorably. Argentina 41% – 26%. Even the Philippines which is being pushed constantly by the West into confrontation with China: 55% favorably – 40% unfavorably. Indonesia that perpetrated several anti-Chinese pogroms and even banned the Chinese language after the US-sponsored coup in 1965: 55% favorably – 36% unfavorably. Mexico 43% – 23%. Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela: 52% – 29%. Chile 51% – 28%.

Then it gets even more interesting: Lebanon: 63% – 33%. Kenya: 54% – 21%. Brazil 52% – 25%. Tunisia 63% – 22%. Russia: 70% – 24%. Tanzania 63% – 15%. Senegal 64% – 10%. And the most populous country in Sub Saharan Africa, Nigeria – 72% – 13%.

The 2017 BBC World Service poll, Views of China’s influence by country, gives even more shocking results:

At the two extremes, in Spain, only 15% see China’s influence as positive, while 68% see it as negative. In Nigeria, 83% as positive and only 9% as negative.

Now, think for a while what these numbers really say.

Who is really benefiting from China’s growing importance on the world scene? Of course – the wretched of the Earth; the majority of our Planet! Who are those who are trying to stop China from helping the colonized and oppressed people? The old and new colonialist powers!

China is predominantly hated by Western imperialist countries (and by their client states, like Japan and South Korea), while it is loved by the Africans), most Asians and Latin Americans, as well as Russians.

Tell an African what is being said to the Europeans – about the negative or even “neo-imperialist”, influence of China on the African continent – and he or she will die laughing.

Just before submitting this essay, I received a comment from Kenya, from my comrade Booker Ngesa Omole, National Organizing Secretary, SDP-Kenya (Socialist):

The relationship of China and Kenya particularly and Africa generally has not only led to tremendous development both in infrastructure but also a genuine cultural exchange among the Chinese and African people, it has also made African people understand the Chinese people firsthand, away from the daily half-truths and lies generated against China and the Chinese people and transmitted en masse globally through the lie factories like CNN. It’s has also shown that there is a different way to relate to the so called development partners and the international capital, the Chinese have developed a policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign country as opposed to USA and Western Countries through IMF and World Bank who have imposed destructive policies on the continent that has led to the suffering and death of many African people, like that infamous Structural Adjustment Plan, that was a killer plan, after its implementation Kenyans unemployment skyrocketed, our country also became bankrupt .

Another comparison is the speed at which the projects are done, in the past we had a gruesome bureaucratic expensive process, which could take several years before any work could start on the ground. This has changed with the coming in of Chinese capital, we see the projects are being effected just in time, we see very high quality work contrary to what the western media want to portray that everything from China and Russia are fake before arrival.

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The Chinese system (Communism or socialism with Chinese characteristics), is in its essence truly internationalist.

As Chairman Mao Tse Tung wrote in his “Patriotism and Internationalism”:

Can a Communist, who is an internationalist, at the same time be a patriot? We hold that he not only can be but also must be… The victory of China and defeat of the invading imperialists will help the people of other countries…

Chairman Mao wrote this during the China’s liberation struggle against Japanese invaders. However, not much has really changed since then.

China is definitely willing and capable of putting much of the world devastated by Western imperialism, back onto its feet. It is big enough to do it, it is strong enough, it is determined and full of optimism.

The West produces, directly manufactures, crises and confrontations, like the one that took place in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989, or the one that never really managed to ‘take off’ (mainly due to the disgust of the majority of the local people with the selfish and pro-Western protesters) in Hong Kong, in 2014.

However, those Western implants and proxies are all that most Europeans and North Americans know about China (PRC): ‘Human Rights’, Falun Gong, Tibet, Dalai Lama, ‘Northwest of the Country’ (here, they don’t remember, or cannot pronounce the names, but they were told in the mainstream Western media that China is doing ‘something sinister’ there, so that’s what they are repeating), Tiananmen Square, Ai Wei-Wei and few other disconnected barks, ‘events’, and names.

This is how this colossus with thousands of years of history, culture and philosophy, is perceived, judged, and how it is (mis-) understood.

The entire situation would be laughable, if it were not so tragic, so thoroughly appalling and dangerous.

It is becoming clear who really hates China: it is not the “world”, and it is not those countries on all the continents that have been brutalized and enslaved by the Western imperialists. There, China is loved.

Those who hate China are the nations which are not ready to let go of their de facto colonies. The nations who are used to a good, too good and too easy life at the expense of others. To them, historically egalitarian and now for many decades socialist/Communist (with Chinese characteristics) China poses a truly great threat. Threat – not to their survival or peaceful existence, but threat to their looting and raping of the world.

China’s internationalist attitude towards the world, its egalitarianism and humanism, its emphasis on hard work and the tremendous optimism of its people, may soon, very soon, break the horrid inertia and the lethargy injected by Europe and the United States into the veins of all raped, plundered and humiliated nations.

China Has Already Suffered Enough!

In his ground-breaking book “China Is Communist, Damn It!” a prominent China expert, Jeff Brown (who is presently based in Shenzhen) writes about the dehumanizing treatment, which the Chinese people had been receiving from Westerners, for centuries:

…untold numbers in the 19th century… were pressganged and kidnapped, to be sent to the New World to work as coolie slaves.

The racism conducted on these Chinese coolies was instructive. On the ocean voyage from China to Vancouver, Canada, they were tightly packed and kept in dark, poorly ventilated holds for the three-week trip, so they would not have any contact with the Whites traveling aboveboard. No sunlight, no fresh air. The crew on the ships routinely talked about these Chinese allies in terms of “livestock” and they were handled and treated as such. Actually, they were treated worse than cattle, pigs, sheep and horses, as there are laws that require animals get so much open air and exercise per day, while in transit…

This kind of inhumane treatment of Chinese citizens is dispassionately captured in the diaries of a British officer, charged with overseeing them,

‘As children, we were taught that Cain and Coolies were murderers from the beginning; no Coolie was to be trusted; he was a yellow dog… The task of stowing away Coolies is a tiresome one. In orders, it is alluded to as “embarkation”. By those experienced in the job, it is known more as “packing”. The Coolies are not passengers capable of finding each his cabin. The Coolies are so much cargo, livestock, which has to be packed away. While experiences are ceaselessly pressing upon him, his attitude towards existence is the attitude of a domesticated animal.’

British 2nd Lieutenant Daryl Klein, from his memoir, “With the Chinks”, spoken like a true Western imperial racist. Of course, chinks is the worst slur word to be used against the Chinese. It’s the equivalent of yellow nigger. The term Coolie is not any better. It’s like calling someone from Latin America a wetback. At least Lt. Klein was honest in his total dehumanization of the Dreaded Other.

There are countless examples of discrimination against, and humiliation of, the Chinese people by the Western colonialists, on the territory of China. The Chinese were literally butchered and enslaved in their own territory, by the Westerners and the Japanese.

However, there were also despicable crimes committed against Chinese people on the territory of the United States, including lynching, and other types of killing.

Hard working, many Chinese men were brought as slave laborers to the United States and to Europe, where they were often treated worse than animals. For no other reason but for just being Chinese. No apologies or compensation were ever offered for such acts of barbarity; not even decades and centuries later. Until now, there is a silence surrounding the topic, although one has to wonder whether it is really simple ‘silence’ that grows from ignorance, or whether it is something much more sinister; perhaps defiance and conscious or subconscious refusal to condemn the fruits of Western culture, which are imperialism, racism and consequently – fascism.

Gwen Sharp, PhD, wrote on June 20, 2014 for Sociological Images in his essay ‘Old “Yellow-Peril” Anti-Chinese Propaganda’:

Chinese men were stereotyped as degenerate heroin addicts whose presence encouraged prostitution, gambling, and other immoral activities.  A number of cities on the West Coast experienced riots in which Whites attacked Asians and destroyed Chinese sections of town. Riots in Seattle in 1886 resulted in practically the entire Chinese population being rounded up and forcibly sent to San Francisco. Similar situations in other towns encouraged Chinese workers scattered throughout the West to relocate, leading to the growth of Chinatowns in a few larger cities on the West Coast.

Throughout history, China and its people have suffered at the hands of Westerners, both Europeans and North Americans alike.

According to several academic and other sources, including a publication “History And Headlines” (History: October 9, 1740: Chinezenmoord, The Batavia Massacre):

On October 9, 1740, Dutch colonial overlords on the Island of Java (now a main island in Indonesia) in the port city of Batavia (now Jakarta, capital of Indonesia) went on a mad killing spree of ethnic cleansing and murdered about 10,000 ethnic Chinese. The Dutch word, “Chinezenmoord,” literally means “Chinese Murder.

Anti-Chinese massacres were also repeatedly committed by the Spanish occupiers of the Philippines, and there were countless other cases of anti-Chinese ethnic cleansing and massacres committed by the European colonialist administrations, in various parts of the world.

The ransacking of Beijing’s Summer Palace by French and British forces was one of the most atrocious crimes committed by Westerners on the territory of China. An outraged French novelist, Victor Hugo, then wrote:

We call ourselves civilized and them barbarians. Here is what Civilization has done to Barbarity.

*****

The West cannot treat Chinese people this way, anymore, but if it could get away with it, it definitely still would.

The superiority complex in both Europe and North America is powerful and unapologetic. There is real great danger that if unchecked and unopposed, it may soon terminate all life on our Planet. The final holocaust would be accompanied by self-righteous speeches, unrestrained arrogance, gasping ignorance of the state of the world, and generally no regrets.

Chinese people cannot be beaten on the streets of Europe or North America, anymore; they cannot be, at least theoretically, insulted directly in the face just for being Chinese (although that is still happening).

But there are many different ways to hurt and deeply injure a human being or the country.

My close friend, a brilliant Chinese concert pianist, Yuan Sheng, once told me, right after he left a well-paid teaching position in New York, and moved permanently back to Beijing:

In the United States, I used to cry late into the night, almost every night… I felt so helpless. Things they were saying about my country… And it was impossible to convince them that they were totally wrong!

Several years later, at the “First World Cultural Forum” held in Beijing, an Egyptian-French fellow thinker Amin Said argued that we are all victims of capitalism. I strongly disagreed, and confronted him there, in Beijing, and later in Moscow where we spoke, again, side by side.

Western bigotry, brutality and imperialism are much older than capitalism. I believe that the things are precisely the opposite: Western violent culture is the core of the savage capitalism.

Recently, while addressing students and teachers at one of old alternative and officially progressive schools in Scandinavia, I finally understood the scope of the creeping anti-Chinese sentiments in Europe.

During my presentation about the global conflicts being fueled by the United States and Europe, the audience was silent and attentive. I spoke at a huge hall, addressing some 2 – 3 hundred people, most of them future educators.

There was some sort of standing ovation. Then questions. Then discussion over coffee. There, precisely then, things got very wrong.

A girl came and with an angelic smiled uttered: “Sorry, I know nothing about China…. But what about the Northwest of the country?”

The northwest of China is a few times bigger than Scandinavia. Could she be more specific? No, she couldn’t: “You know, the human rights… Minorities…”

An Italian girl approached me, saying she is studying philosophy. The same line of questions: “I don’t know much about China, but…” Then her questions got aggressive: “What do you mean when you talk about ‘China’s humanism?’”

She was not asking, she was attacking. I snapped at her: “You don’t want to listen, you simply want to hear yourself repeating what they brainwashed you with.”

One of the organizers of the conference hated my interaction with her spoiled, rude, self-centered and uneducated brats. I could not care less. I told her directly to her face.

“Then why did you accept the invitation to be a keynote speaker?” she asked. I answered, honestly: “To study the Europeans, anthropologically. To face your racism and ignorance.”

Next day, the same. I showed my shocking documentary film Rwanda Gambit about how the West created the totally false Rwanda narrative, and how it triggered real genocide, that in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

But all that the audience wanted to discuss was China!

One said: “I saw a Chinese government company building two sports stadiums in Zambia. Isn’t it strange?”

Really? Strange? The Chinese health system is mainly based on prevention and it is successful. Building stadiums is a crime?

Another one recalled that in West Africa, “China was planting cashew nuts.” That was supposed to match centuries of horrors of Western colonialism, the mass murder and slavery of hundreds of millions of Africans at the hands of the Brits, French, Germans, Belgians and others.

At the airport, leaving back for Asia, I wanted to throw up and simultaneously, to shout from joy. I was going home, leaving this brainwashed continent – this intellectual bordello behind.

The West was beyond salvation. It will not stop or repent.

It can only be stopped, and it has to be stopped.

*****

Jeff Brown in his book China Is Communist, Damn It! pointed out one essential difference between the Chinese and Western mindset:

China and the West could not be more different. Western civilization is founded on Greek philosophy, culture, politics and economy. Ancient Greece was composed of hundreds of relatively small, independent city-states, which on a daily basis, were comparatively isolated from each other. They were separated by water or mountain ranges, ensconced in bays and valleys. Each city-state’s population could usually be counted in the thousands, not millions. There were a number of different dialects, with varying degrees of mutual comprehension, from familiar to total misunderstanding. Contact with each other was based on commerce and trade, grounding Western economy in the precepts of capitalism. The notion of personal agency in the West is founded in this economic system, where farmers, landowners, merchants and craftsmen were able to work and make business decisions individually, between themselves. Each city-state had its own independent government and over the centuries, there were phases of monarchy, oligarchy, tyranny and democracy. Local wars were frequent, to settle disagreements. These battles happened steadily, as ancient Greece’s agricultural production was not abundant, due to poor soils and limited tillable land. When food became scarce with droughts, agricultural trade could be interrupted, due to shortages, thus stoking the need for war, to reclaim the lost purchases of food.

Ancient and modern China could not be more radically different. Life, the economy and development all revolved around a large central government, headed by the emperor. Instead of being based on trade and commerce, China’s economy has always been founded on agricultural production and the harvests were and still are largely sold to the state. Why? Because the government is expected to maintain the Heavenly Mandate, which means making sure that all of the citizens have enough to eat. Therefore, farmers always knew that the grain they grew could very easily end up in another part of China, because of distant droughts. This whole idea of central planning extended to flood control. Communities in one area of China would be tasked to build dams or canals, not to help reduce flood risk for themselves, but for other citizens far away, downstream, all for the collective good.

The idea of independent city-states is anathema in China, as it always signaled a breakdown in the central power’s cohesion and governance, from border to border, leading to warlordism, strife and hunger.

Chinese socialist (or call it Communist) system has clearly roots in China’s ancient history.

It is based on sharing and cooperation, on solidarity and harmony.

It is a much more suitable system for humanity, than what the West spread by force to all corners of the world.

When the West succeeds in something, it feels that it has “won”. It drives the banner pole into the earth, gets some fermented drink to celebrate, and feels superior, unique.

China thinks differently: “if our neighbors are doing well and are at peace, then China will prosper too, and will enjoy peace. We can trade, we can visit each other, exchange ideas.”

In the ancient days Chinese ships used to visit Africa, what is now Somalia and Kenya. The ships were huge. In those days, Europe had nothing so enormous at its disposal. Chinese ships were armed against the pirates, but they mainly travelled with scribes, scholars, doctors and researchers.

When they reached the African shore, they made contacts with the locals. They studied each other, exchanged gifts (some Chinese pottery and ceramics are still being found near the island of Lamu).

There was not much common ground between those two cultures, at that time. The Chinese scribes recorded: “This is not yet right time for permanent contact”. They left gifts on the shore, and sailed home. Nobody died. Nobody was “converted”. No one was raped. African land still belonged to Africans. African people were free to do what they chose.

A century or two later, the Westerners arrived…

*****

I know China, but even better, I know the world in which China operates.

The more I see, the more I am impressed – I actually want China to be everywhere, and as soon as possible!

I have worked in all the tiny and large nations of Oceania (Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia), except in Niue and Nauru. There, the West divided this gorgeous and once proud part of the world, created bizarre borders, literally forced people to eat shit (dumping animal food in local stores), burdened them with foreign loans and introduced a culture of dependency and destruction (nuclear experiments, and military bases). Due to global warming, RMI, Kiribati and Tuwalu began “sinking” (in reality, the water is rising).

China came, with real internationalist determination. It began doing everything right – planting mangroves, building sport facilities for people in countries where over half of the population has to often live with diabetes. It constructed government buildings, hospitals, schools. The response of the West? They encouraged Taiwan to come, bribe the local governments and to make them recognize Taipei as the capital of an independent country, forcing China to break diplomatic relationships.

In Africa, I saw Chinese people building roads, railroads, even city trams, schools, hospitals, fighting malaria. This continent was only plundered by the West. Europeans and North Americans built nothing there. China did, and still does, miracles. Out of solidarity, out of internationalist principles so clearly defined decades ago by Chairman Mao.

And I don’t really care what the Western propagandists and ideologues think about the Chinese Communist Party, about Mao and about President Xi Jinping. I see results! I see China, huge, compassionate and confident, rising, and with its close allies like Russia, ready to defend the world.

China saved Cuba. The Western “left-wing” intellectuals said nothing about it. I did. I was attacked. Then, Fidel personally confirmed that I was correct.

China helped Venezuela and it helped Syria. Not for profit, but because it was its internationalist duty.

Saw China in action in East Timor, (Timor Leste), a tiny poor country that the West sacrificed, delivering it on a silver platter to the murderous Indonesian dictator Suharto and his military cronies. 30% of the people were brutally massacred. After independence, Australia began robbing the weak new government of the natural gas in a disputed area. China came in, built the energy sector and an excellent modern hospital (public), staffed with top Chinese surgeons (while Cuba sent field doctors).

Afghanistan? After 16 years of monstrous NATO occupation, this once proud and progressive (before the West manufactured terrorist movements there, to fight socialism) country is one of the poorest on Earth. The West built walls, barbed wire fences, military bases and total misery. China? China built a huge modern hospital wing, actually the only decent and functioning public medical facility in the country.

These are just some of many examples that I have been witnessing during my work, all over the world.

When I lived in Africa (I was based in Nairobi for several years), across the floor was a flat housing four Chinese engineers.

While the Westerners in Africa are almost always secretive, snobbish and arrogant, this group of Chinese builders was loud, enthusiastic and always in a great mood. They power-walked downstairs, in the garden, they ate, joked together. They looked like a good old “socialist realism” poster. They were clearly on a mission. They were building, trying to save the continent. And it was so clear how confident they were.

They were building, and I was making documentary films about what the West did to Africa, including my above-mentioned Rwanda Gambit.

It was clear where I stood. It was clear where the Chinese engineers stood. We stood with the people of Africa. Firmly. No matter what the Western propaganda, academia and mass media keep inventing, that is where we stood, and that is where we are standing right now, although geographically far apart. Once comrades, always comrades. And if we fall, that is how we fall – with no regrets, building a much better world.

And the people of Africa, of Oceania, Latin America and increasingly of Asia, are beginning to realize, to understand.

They are learning what The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is. They are learning about “Ecological Civilization“. They are slowly learning that not everyone is the same; that each country has a different culture and goals. They are learning that not everything in life is a lie or for profit. Yes, of course, resources are not unlimited and expenses have to be sometimes covered, but there is much more to life than just cold calculations.

The West and its client states cannot understand this. Or they can, but do not want to. As a moral entity, they are finished. They can only fight for their own interests, as their workers in Paris are only fighting for their own benefits; definitely not for the world.

The West tries to smear everything that is pure and it repeats that “everyone in this world is essentially the same” (a thief).

Their (mainly Western, but also South Korean, Taiwanese, Hong Kong and Japanese) academia is deeply involved. It has already infiltrated the entire world, particularly Asia, including China itself. It teaches young Chinese people that their country is actually not what they think it is! At some point, Chinese students were travelling to the West, in order to study… about China!

North American and European universities are spreading funding and trying to manipulate the best Chinese minds.

In other parts of Asia, again through funding and scholarships, the local academics “get matched” with the anti-Communist and pro-Western counterparts that operate at the universities inside the PRC.

This problem has been, fortunately, identified in the PRC, and the shameless attacks against the Chinese education system are being dealt with.

Mass media and bookstores are not far behind. Anti-Chinese propaganda is everywhere. Anti-Communist propaganda is everywhere.

Yet, China is rising. It is rising despite racism, the lies, and fake news.

Socialist, internationalist China is slowly but confidently marching forward, without confronting anyone, without making too much noise about the unfair, aggressive treatment it receives in the West and from countries like Japan.

It appears that its leadership has nerves of steel. Or perhaps those long thousands of years of great culture are simply allowed to speak for themselves.

When a great Dragon flies, you can bark, shout insults, even shoot at it. It is too big, too ancient, too wise and determined: it will not stop, turn back or fall from the sky. And when the people on Earth have enough time to observe it in its full glory and in full flight, they may, just finally may understand that the creature is not only mighty, but also tremendously beautiful and kind.

*****

• Originally published by New Eastern Outlook (NEO)

Open Letter to Amnesty International by a Former Amnesty International Prisoner of Conscience

Through this letter I express my unequivocal condemnation of Amnesty International with regards to the destabilizing role it has played in Nicaragua, my country of birth.

I open this letter quoting Donatella Rovera, who at the time this quote was made, had been one of Amnesty International’s field investigators for more than 20 years:

Conflict situations create highly politicized and polarized environments (…). Players and interested parties go to extraordinary lengths to manipulate or manufacture “evidence” for both internal and external consumption. A recent, though by no means the only, example is provided by the Syrian conflict in what is often referred to as the “YouTube war,” with a myriad techniques employed to manipulate video footage of incidents which occurred at other times in other places – including in other countries – and present them as “proof” of atrocities committed by one or the other parties to the conflict in Syria.

Ms. Rovera’s remarks, made in 2014, properly describe the situation of Nicaragua today, where even the preamble of the crisis was manipulated to generate rejection of the Nicaraguan government. Amnesty International’s maliciously titled report, Shoot to Kill: Nicaragua’s Strategy to Repress Protest, could be dismantled point by point, but doing so requires precious time that the Nicaraguan people don’t have, therefore I will concentrate on two main points:

(a) The report completely lacks neutrality; and,
(b) Amnesty International’s role is contributing to the chaos in which the nation finds itself.

The operating narrative, agreed-upon by the local opposition and the corporate western media, is as follows: That president Ortega sought to cut 5 percent from retirees’ monthly retirement checks, and that he was going to increase contributions, made by employees and employers, into the social security system. The reforms sparked protests, the response to which was a government-ordered genocide of peaceful protestors, more than 60, mostly students. A day or two after that, the Nicaraguan government would wait until nightfall to send its police force out in order to decimate the Nicaraguan population, night after night, city by city, in the process destroying its own public buildings and killing its own police force, to then culminate its murderous rampage with a Mothers’ Day massacre, and so on.

While the above narrative is not uniformly expressed by all anti-government actors, the unifying elements are that the government is committing genocide, and that the president and vice-president must go.

Amnesty International’s assertions are mostly based on either testimony by anti-government witnesses and victims, or the uncorroborated and highly manipulated information emitted by U.S.-financed anti-government media outlets, and non-profit organizations, collectively known as “civil society.”

The three main media organizations cited by the report: Confidencial, 100% Noticias, and La Prensa, are sworn enemies of the Ortega government; most of these opposition news media organizations, along with some, if not all, of the main non-profits cited by the report, are funded by the United States, through organizations like the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which has been characterized by retired U.S. Congressman, Ron Paul, as:

… an organization that uses US tax money to actually subvert democracy, by showering funding on favored political parties or movements overseas. It underwrites color-coded ‘people’s revolutions’ overseas that look more like pages out of Lenin’s writings on stealing power than genuine indigenous democratic movements.

Amnesty’s report heavily relies on 100% Noticias, an anti-government news outlet that has aired manipulated and inflammatory material to generate hatred against the Nicaraguan government, including footage of peaceful protesters, unaware of the fact that the protesters were carrying pistols, rifles, and were shooting at police officers during incidents reported by the network as acts of police repression of opposition marches. On Mothers’ Day, 100% Noticias reported the purported shooting of unarmed protesters by police shooters, including an incident in which a young man’s brains were spilling out of his skull. The network followed the report with a photograph that Ms. Rovera would refer to as an incident “…which occurred at other times in other places.” The picture included in the report was quickly met on social media by links to past online articles depicting the same image.

One of the sources (footnote #77) cited to corroborate the alleged denial of medical care at state hospitals to patients injured at opposition events –one of the main accusations repeated and reaffirmed by Amnesty International- is a press conference published by La Prensa, in which the Chief of Surgery denies claims that he had been fired, or that hospital officials had denied care to protesters at the beginning of the conflict. “I repeat,” he is heard saying, “as the chief of surgery, I repeat [the] order: to take care of, I will be clear, to take care of the entire population that comes here, without investigating anything at all.” In other words, one of Amnesty International’s own sources contradicts one of its report’s main claims.

The above-mentioned examples of manipulated and manufactured evidence, to borrow the words of Amnesty’s own investigator, are just a small sample, but they capture the essence of this modality of U.S.-sponsored regime change. The report feeds on claims from those on one side of the conflict, and relies on deeply corrupted evidence; it ultimately helps create the mirage of a genocidal state, in turn generating more anti-government sentiment locally and abroad, and paving the way for ever more aggressive foreign intervention.

A different narrative

The original reforms to social security were not proposed by the Sandinista government, but by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and they were supported by an influential business group, known as COSEP. They included raising the retirement age from 60 to 65 and doubling the number of quotas necessary to get full social security from 750 to 1500. Among the impacted retirees, approximately 53,000, are the families of combatants who died in the armed conflict of the 1980s, from both the Sandinista army and the “Contras,” the mercenary army financed by the United States government in the 1980s, around the same time the NED was created, in part, to stop the spread of Sandinismo in Latin America.

The Nicaraguan government countered the IMF’s reforms by rejecting the cutting out of any retirees, with a proposed 5% cut to all retirement checks, an increase in all contributions to the social security system, and with fiscal reform that removed a tax-ceiling that protected Nicaragua’s biggest salaries from higher taxation. The business sector was furious, and together with nongovernmental organizations, organized the first marches, using the pretext of the reforms in the same manipulative way Amnesty International’s report explains them: “… the reform increased social security contributions by both employers and employees and imposed an additional 5% contribution on pensioners.”

The continuing narrative, repeated and validated by Amnesty International, is that the protesters are peaceful and the genocidal government is irrationally bent on committing atrocities in plain sight. Meanwhile, the number of dead among Sandinista supporters and police officers continues to rise. The report states that ballistic investigations suggest that those shooting at protesters are likely trained snipers, pointing to government involvement, but fails to mention that many of the victims are Sandinistas, regular citizens, and police officers. It also does not mention that the “peaceful protesters” have burned down and destroyed more than 60 public buildings, among them many City Halls, Sandinista houses, markets, artisan shops, radio stations, and more; nor does it mention that the protesters have established “tranques,” or roadblocks, in order to debilitate the economy as a tactic to oust the government. Such “tranques” have become extremely dangerous scenes where murder, robbery, kidnapping, and the rape of at least one child have taken place; a young pregnant woman whose ambulance wasn’t let through also died on May 17th. All of these crimes occur daily and are highly documented, but aren’t included in Amnesty International’s report.

While the organization is right to criticize the government’s belittling response to the initial protests, such response was not entirely untrue. According to the report, Vice-President Murillo said, among other things, that “…they [the protesters] had made up the reports of fatalities (…) as part of an anti-government strategy.” What Amnesty leaves out is that several of the reported dead students did turn up alive, one of them all the way in Spain, while others had not been killed at rallies, nor were they students or activists, including one who died from a scattered bullet, and another who died from a heart attack in his bed.

Amnesty’s report also leaves out that many of the students have deserted the movement, alleging that there are criminals entrenched at universities as well as at the various “tranques,” who are only interested in destabilizing the nation. Those criminals have created a state of sustained fear among the population, imposing “taxes” on those who want passage, persecuting those who refuse to be detained, kidnapping them, beating them, torturing them, and setting their cars on fire. In a common practice, they undress their victims, paint their naked bodies in public with the blue and white of the Nicaraguan flag, and then set them free, prompting them to run right before shooting them with homemade mortar weapons. All of this information, which did not make the report, is available in numerous videos and other sources.

Why Nicaragua?

The most basic review of the history between Nicaragua and the United States will show a clear rivalry. Beginning in the mid-1800s, Nicaragua has been resisting U.S. intervention into the country’s affairs, a resistance that continued through the 20th century, first with General August C. Sandino’s fight in the 1920s and 30s, and then with the Sandinistas, organized as the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), which overthrew the U.S.-supported, 40-year Somoza family dictatorship in 1979. The FSLN, despite having gained power through armed struggle, called for elections shortly after its triumph in 1984, and eventually lost to yet another U.S.-supported coalition of right-wing political parties in 1990. The FSLN once again managed, aided by pacts made with the church and the opposition, to win the election of 2006, and has remained in power since.

In addition to Nicaragua’s close ties with Venezuela, Cuba, Russia, and especially China, with whom the country signed a contract to build a canal, the other main reason the United States is after the Sandinistas, is Nicaragua’s highly successful economic model, which represents an existential threat to the neoliberal economic order imposed by the U.S. and its allies.

Despite always being among the poorest nations in the American continent and the world, Nicaragua has managed, since Ortega returned to power in 2007, to cut poverty by three quarters. Prior to the protests in April, the country’s economy sustained a steady annual economic growth of about 5% for several years, and the country had the third fastest-growing economy in Latin America, and was one of the safest nations in the region.

The government’s infrastructural upgrades have facilitated trade among Nicaragua’s poorest citizens; they have created universal access to education: primary, secondary, and university; there are programs on land, housing, nutrition, and more; the healthcare system, while modest, is not only excellent, but accessible to everyone. Approximately 90% of the food consumed by Nicaraguans is produced in Nicaragua, and about 70% of jobs come from the grassroots economy –rather than from transnational corporations- including from small investors from the United States and Europe, who have moved to the country and are a driving force behind the tourism industry.

The audacity of success, of giving its poorest citizens a life with dignity, of being an example of sovereignty to wealthier, more powerful nations, all in direct contradiction to the neoliberal model and its emphasis on privatization and austerity, has once again placed Nicaragua in the crosshairs of U.S. intervention. Imagine the example to other nations -their economies already strangled by neoliberal policies- becoming aware of one of the poorest countries on earth being able to feed its people and grow its economy without throwing its poorest citizens under the iron boot of capitalism. The United States will never tolerate such a dangerous example.

In closing

The Nicaraguan government has deficiencies and contradictions to work on, like all governments, and as a Sandinista myself I would like to see the party transformed in various important ways, both internally and externally. I have refrained from writing of those deficiencies and contradictions, however, because the violent protests and ensuing chaos we have seen are not the result of the Nicaraguan government’s shortcomings, but rather, of its many successes; that inconvenient truth is the reason the United States and its allies, including Amnesty International, have chosen to “…create highly politicized and polarized environments (…). [And to] go to extraordinary lengths to manipulate or manufacture “evidence” for both internal and external consumption.”

At a time when even the Organization of American States, the United Nations, and the Vatican have called for peaceful and constitutional reforms as the only way out of the conflict, Amnesty International has continued to beseech the international community to not “abandon the Nicaraguan people.” Such biased stance, obscenely bloated on highly manipulated, distorted, and one-sided information, has made the terrible situation in Nicaragua even worse. The loss of Nicaraguan lives, including the blood of those ignored by Amnesty International, has been used to manufacture the “evidence” used in the organization’s report, which makes the organization complicit in what future foreign intervention might fall upon the Nicaraguan people. It is now up to the organization to correct that wrong, and to do so in a way that reflects a firm commitment first and foremost to the truth, wherever it might fall, and to neutrality, peace, democracy, and always, to the sovereignty of every nation on earth.

Sincerely,

Camilo E. Mejia

Social Networks as Dead Ends for Activists

There was a time when the internet was an experiment in anarchy, but it is increasingly becoming an experiment in “stateness”, meaning police-order. Social networks are in crisis. Our governments are losing patience with them, grilling geek after geek to demand they be more loyal to the nation-state and take a more active role suppressing apparently foreign points of view.

The unplugging of the entire internet by NATO countries to stop vaguely defined “Russian trolls” – a nationalistic smear for rebellious social media users living not in Russia but our own countries – cannot be ruled out. As laughable as this possibility may seem to internet users, Western leaders are dead serious about the issue. They consider users who mock them online as existential threats. That they may eventually give up and unplug everything will be touched on here, but it also needs more consideration at a later date.

For now, the focus must be on what might happen to the major social networks. If they are profoundly reshaped by geopolitical tension and paranoia, will they be of any continued use for publishing anti-establishment slogans and views? How will the new Cold War affect the freedom of writers and independent creators to express themselves through social networks?

Lawmakers in the US, the UK, the EU, and other NATO-aligned political structures are wrathful towards social networks due to the influence they indiscriminately offer anyone who signs up to them. Since the US election of 2016, we have watched staff from Twitter, Facebook and Google get grilled by screaming American and British lawmakers. The ageing lawmakers, not willing to take any chances in the “neuland” of the internet (so described by Angela Merkel) treat social networks with the utmost disdain and hostility. For them, the internet is a war-fighting domain, a battlefield of states with fixed front lines, a red zone where insurgents snipe at them. For them, the objective must be to silence anyone who disagrees with them and glorify anyone who does agree with them.

According to the traditional paranoid geopolitical mindset, social networks have to even be regarded as unwitting hostile actors. By offering people the chance to choose their own sources of information and even reproduce those sources and share those sources to others, social networks undermine loyalty to the nation-state, making it harder to spread Nineteenth Century ideas of loyalty and incite new petty wars with other nation-states. Our fossilized politicians, longing for the day when every young man had to complete mandatory military service and longed to die for the flag, seek to lobotomize the youth and restore nation-state loyalty to execute warlike aims against geopolitical foes Russia and China.

While hostility of ageing politicians towards social networks may be worrying, their complete intellectual failure and lack of understanding of what they are dealing with is encouraging. Their obsession with the current major social networks – Twitter and Facebook – suggests that they regard social media in the same way that they view news media. In their view, social networks are just some other big companies that need to be reined in. Just one or two big actors need to be forced to conform to the regime’s ideology, like the well-behaved top news journalists broadcasters, and the politicians’ authority will be restored. The “trolls” will be defeated. The youth will start to respect the bleary-eyed generals and politicians who were kept awake at night by them.

Unfortunately for every internet creator, the reactions of Twitter, Facebook and Google have been cowed. All are eager to prove their nationalist loyalty, particularly to the US state, because their websites’ physical infrastructure is based on the territory of the US state. They have the American regime’s gun to their heads, just like the television stations. Google serves the Pentagon loyally, but may be incapable of preventing its platform’s exploitation by the Pentagon’s enemies and critics due to the sheer number of targets flooding their scopes.

It is possible that the frail politicians so concerned about “trolls” will be able to cower in safety very soon behind a wall of new media enforcement, but it will not last forever. If the power of individuals to express themselves freely at major social networks, chiefly Twitter and Facebook, is sabotaged, communities will move gradually to other social networks and continue their activity there. The centre of media attention will shift away from dullness and conformity to somewhere more interesting once again.

A major consideration for alternate media when selecting social networks has likely been the presence of third party applications that can amplify one’s views across social media by providing automated posting services. These upset the traditional dominance of the wealthy and the powerful over the press. Very low overhead is required to establish a publication using various automation and aggregation tools to create feeds that offer a wide different spectrum of news and commentary than the mainstream. Attacks against automation under the guise of fighting “fake news” and “bots” are therefore an excuse to hamper small and independent media projects that lack the staff to manually post every item of content to the social networks. This assumes that the social networks are really going to fight automation.  The BBC and its supporters are mindless bots, if we look seriously at Twitter’s rules, and yet the people whose accounts get suppressed by Twitter are not bots but real people targeted by the British regime for holding dissident views.

Perhaps the flight of dissenting users to some future alternative social network should settle the battle between politicians and trolls. But it would probably only anger Western politicians even more, as they regard all alternative media as extremist, so the counterinsurgency would rage on. Not able to pressure the alternate social networks, politicians may resort to the brute force of the law, seeking court orders to block every app or social network being used to hurt political egos or express disloyalty to the state. But websites can be cloned and mirrored, and insurgent networks would be continuously made available again, as is the case with the various “putlockers” endlessly springing up to avoid the court orders that are always too slow and ineffective to counter free streaming.

There is every reason to think that many of the most effective anti-government critics would still be able to thrive even on the mainstream social networks, merely by altering their choice of language and modifying aspects of their behavior to evade the automated tools being used to remove them. Resistance can vary between passive and active forms, and rejection of national loyalty and lack of support for war will always be possible in any forum even if everyone else is a bloodthirsty and rabid nationalist. Advocacy for the removal of censorship and the destruction of the yokes used to enforce conformity and faith on a social network would always be considered a moderate and neutral view, making it possible to support more rebellious creators without joining them.

The inevitable failures of an online counterinsurgency described above could eventually prove too much for some governments to bear, and the result would be the complete destruction of the internet – something states will always be able to do. They might first attempt “balkanization”, forcing users to only register for accounts at social networks if they reside in the country where the social network is based. If that occurs, websites like Twitter and Facebook would fall into the geopolitical space of NATO, and support of NATO war aims and propaganda would become a compulsory requirement of all users, with everyone lobotomized to be docile supporters.

Balkanization would fail to achieve anything. As recent hunts for “trolls” have demonstrated, they are not actually foreign, nor are they automated. The alleged Russian enemies, “trolls” and “bots” are real people. They are not hackers from Russian spy agencies, but independent authors, journalists and creative people – civilians located inside our own countries who hold anti-war and anti-colonial views on foreign policy. Such innocent people look like they will be the new targets in the next “accidental” rampage by our incompetent regimes against perceived anti-state threats.

If they pursue and yet fail to achieve anything against trolls through political pressure, court orders, and geopolitical militarization of the social networks, politicians who view trolls as a true threat to the state will inevitably advocate a total ban on the internet. It is for this final contingency that independent writers and serious activists must prepare themselves.

It is not enough to have a collection of friends and followers on some top social networks, and even a robust email list may not be enough to sustain one’s writing. Real contacts and a real publishing history outside the social networks, even in print, are a requirement to sustain anti-establishment momentum and the propagation of balanced views. Anything less, and the paranoid regime can delete you and all its other critics with the push of a button. The conservation of social media-based activists on lists and their transformation into published authors is one way for them to save themselves from simple bans, at the same time amplifying their voices ever more.

The development of the Mont Order society to connect and preserve dissenting influencers on social networks can only help. It may be that teaming up to use a variety of applications, technologies and email clients based under different geopolitical poles of influence (the US, the EU, Russia and China) may be the only route towards independent political writing and advocacy under the suffocating conditions of the new Cold War. Such a strategy, pursued early on before it is even necessary, would allow dissident gatherings on social networks to survive purges, hostility, court orders, balkanization and even the plug being pulled completely by these paranoid regimes we have tolerated.

Much of what is forecasted here is dark, and perhaps too dark. Perhaps the internet isn’t really doomed to die at the hands of paranoid and vain politicians trying to defoliate it to fight their critics. Perhaps police-order is not achievable across the internet. It could be that many of the stages of counter-insurgency would require so much legal reform and such a high budget that most of the politicians concerned will die of old age and be replaced by a more tech-savvy and relaxed generation before their aims are even close to being achieved. Nevertheless, it is prudent to seek out and imagine counter-strategies to survive even the most heavy-handed actions by politicians against critics.

Palestinian Courage Should Spur International Action

After 70 years, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is still unresolved. The conflict simmers for a few years, then erupts again with new massacres and violence. This article describes recent events, the failure of the “two state solution” and need for a different approach.

In the past couple months, Israeli Defence Force (IDF) soldiers have killed 118 Palestinian protesters and seriously wounded many thousands more. The protesters were unarmed and no threat to the soldiers. Gaza hospitals overflow with victims.

In the wake of this violence, human rights groups filed a legal petition to make it unlawful for Israeli soldiers to fire on unarmed protesters. Last week the Israeli Supreme Court rejected the petition.

Israeli violence is usually portrayed as a “response” to Palestinian violence, but the reality is the opposite. The sequence of recent events is as follows:

– From the end of March til May 25, Palestinians in Gaza protested against their oppression as close as they could get to the border fences. About 118 were killed and many thousands seriously injured by Israeli snipers. They were all shot inside Gaza.

– On May 27 – 28, the Israeli military launched tank mortars at Palestinian military outposts inside Gaza, killing four.

– Next day, on May 29, Palestinian militants launched unguided mortars into nearby Israel. Most of them fell harmlessly and there were no Israeli casualties.

– Next day, on May 30, Israeli jets and helicopters launched guided missiles and bombs on 65 different locations within Gaza.

Clearly, the violence started with Israelis killing protesters and then militants inside Gaza, but it’s not portrayed that way. Time magazine began its article with, “Palestinian militants bombarded southern Israel….”

Pro Israel advocates wish to prevent people from seeing what is really happening. They know the potential damage if people see video such as Israeli snipers celebrating the shooting of unarmed protesters. To prevent this, a proposed law will make it illegal to photograph or video record Israeli soldiers. Palestinian journalists have condemned this attempt to criminalize journalism.

The Reality of the Israeli Occupation

Israel calls itself the “Startup Nation” because of the economic and technological achievements. But in Gaza and the West Bank, Israeli policies and actions strangle the economies and worsen living conditions.

Palestinians in Gaza are kept separate from Palestinians in the West Bank. There is no trade, travel or inter-family visitation. This is in violation of international agreements including the Oslo Accords.

The claim that Israel “departed” Gaza is false. Israel controls the borders, sky and waters around Gaza, a coastal strip just 5 miles wide by 25 miles in length. Unemployment in Gaza is approaching 50%, the highest unemployment in the world. Fisherman are prevented from going out into deeper waters and shot at when they go beyond Israel’s imposed zone. Gazan farmers cannot export independently. Israel frequently blocks the import and export of crops and products. It is almost impossible to leave Gaza. Even outstanding students winning international scholarships may have their exit denied. The electrical and water treatment facilities have been bombed and destroyed by Israel. Nearly all the drinking water is contaminated. Israel restricts the amount of food permitted to enter Gaza so there is continual shortage leading to nutritional deprivation, stunted growth and anemia.

This situation is not new. Eighteen years ago, Israeli journalist Amira Hass described the history, the facts and statistics as well as her personal experience living in Gaza in the profound book Drinking the Seat at Gaza: Days and Nights in a Land Under Siege. The situation was extremely grim then but keeps getting worse.

At the northern Gaza border, Israel is now building a sea barrier extending far out into the Mediterranean. It will be above and below the water line. A major reason for this expensive project is to block sewage and pollution from the waters in front of Gaza. Because of Israeli attacks on sewage treatment and electrical infrastructure, sewage flows into the sea. Last summer, Zikim Beach in southern Israel had to be closed due to the inflow of sewage from Gaza. The ‘sea barrier’ now in construction will block the sea currents. This will keep the Israeli beach clean and greatly compound the problem in Gaza.

The strangulation, impoverishment and oppression is not confined to Gaza. In the West Bank, Israeli settlements continue to expand. This increases the number of check points, restrictions and repression. Travel from Bethlehem to Jerusalem is impossible for most Palestinians. The majority of West Bank water from the aquifers is transferred to Israel or provided cheaply to settlers while Palestinians must buy water and store it in tanks on their rooftops. In the last few years, Israel has made it increasingly difficult or impossible for humanitarian groups to provide medical support including breast cancer screening. A compelling new book titled The Other Side of the Wall describes the daily struggle in the West Bank where Palestinians and international allies protest against the theft of land, abuses, random killings and imprisonments.

Defiant Courage

There seems to be a trend toward greater Palestinian unity and strategic agreement. The tens of thousands of Palestinians protesting in Gaza were unarmed and united behind the Palestinian flag rather than separate party or movement flags of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, PFLP, DFLP, etc..    

The Palestinian protesters in Gaza show remarkable courage. Beginning on Friday March 30, they have returned week after week despite seeing thousands of their fellows shot and wounded or killed.

In an article titled “The Gaza Fence that Separates the Brave from the Cowardly“, Amira Hass wrote:

The desperate courage demonstrated by tens of thousands of citizens of Gaza over the past few weeks in general and on Monday in particular hints at the energies, the talents, the dreams, the creativity and the vitality of the inhabitants of this strip of land – who have been subjected to a 27 year policy of closure and siege aimed at suffocating and crushing them.

Steadfast and Persistent

Palestinian resistance continues despite Israeli violence and bloodshed. Seven years ago Palestinian refugees in Syria and Lebanon held “March of Return” protests at the northern borders. Israeli soldiers killed 13 and wounded many more.

In recent days, Gazans have again challenged the Israeli port blockade which prevents ships from departing or arriving. International solidarity with the Palestinian cause is also persistent. Three ships (two Swedish and one Norwegian) recently departed Scandinavia heading for the Mediterranean Sea and Gaza. Named the 2018 Freedom Flotilla, the ships are carrying dozens of international citizens to again demand that Israel stop its blockade of Gaza.

Despite the huge imbalance today, time may be on the side of the Palestinian cause. Systemic apartheid in South Africa existed for a long time and seemed strong. But ultimately it collapsed quickly. The same may unfold in Israel/Palestine.

Today, South Africa is an important supporter of the Palestinian cause. South Africa was the first nation to recall its ambassador to protest the “indiscriminate and grave Israeli attack” in Gaza.

Israel has the military might but Palestinian resistance and courage persists. The Palestinian population is steadfast, persistent and growing. They have increasing number of allies who support their cause. Young American Jews are unlike their parents and increasingly critical of Israeli policies. Some courageous Israelis, such as Miko Peled, speak out unequivocally that Israeli apartheid must end and be replaced by one state with democracy and equality for all. A million registered Palestinian refugees live in Lebanon and Syria, patiently waiting. They have not forgotten their legal claim and right to return.

The recent bloodshed and massacres underscore the fact that there is no solution on the current path. It only leads to increasingly unlivable conditions in Gaza plus more illegal settlements and oppression in the West Bank. The so-called “two state solution” has been dead for many years and should be forgotten. As happened in South Africa, the international community can and should help. It is time to increase international pressure and expand BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) against Israel to help bring a peaceful end to this conflict with its constant oppression and recurring massacres.

The alternative is very grim. As described by Israeli journalist Gideon Levy:

The truth is that Israel is well prepared to massacre hundreds and thousands, and to expel tens of thousands. Nothing will stop it. This is the end of conscience, the show of morality is over. The last few days’ events have proved it decisively. The tracks have been laid, the infrastructure for the horror has been cast. Dozens of years of brainwashing, demonization and dehumanization have borne fruit. The alliance between the politicians and the media to suppress reality and deny it has succeeded. Israel is set to commit horrors. Nobody will stand in its way any longer. Not from within or from without.

Palestinian courage should spur international action.

The The Boston Globe’s Hit Piece on the Assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy

The counterattack on those, including Senator Robert Kennedy’s children, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, claiming that Senator Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated as a result of a conspiracy involving at least a second gunman, has commenced.  The Boston Globe, the traditional hometown newspaper of the Kennedy family, published a clearly misleading piece on May 31, 2018 by Nik DeCosta-Klipa, with the curiously long and loaded title “Bobby Kennedy’s son thinks he was killed by a second shooter. Is there anything to it? Or has RFK, Jr. “launched a whole new generation of conspiracy nuts 50 years later.”

Whether DeCosta-Klipa was acting on orders from above to produce such a specious piece or is ignorant of the fundamental research in a case that shouts out conspiracy is a question I cannot answer, although based on his go-to “expert” in his article – Daniel Moldea, whose contradictory disinformation on the case is well known to serious researchers – I would guess the former to be correct.

Let me begin with the title, which is marvelously propagandistic and sets the naïve reader’s mind on the intended trajectory.  RFK Jr.’s recent claim in The Washington Post of a second shooter and his call therefore for a re-investigation (a redundancy since no genuine official investigation was done; it was a cover-up from the start) is followed by a question: Is there anything to it?  This is followed by a headlined quote from Moldea, repeating the CIA created meme about conspiracy nuts: Or has RFK Jr “launched a whole new generation of conspiracy nuts 50 years later.” A question mark for RFK, Jr., while Moldea is allowed an assertion in the title that is not followed by a question mark.  Language is the key to effective propaganda, including punctuation.  It is a very subtle art, at which our mainstream corporate media are adept.

But if you think I am being picky, let me explain further

DeCosta-Klipa begins by asserting that “conspiracy theories concerning President John F. Kennedy’s death may be most widely circulated.”  Thus the reader is led into this article with the insinuation that, of course, Lee Harvey Oswald killed JFK and anyone who questions that is a conspiracy nut.  So what about RFK’s murder?

As the night follows day, we meet conspiracy nuts here too, courtesy of DeCosta-Klipa who allows Moldea a free hand to spout nonsense.  A person not familiar with the research done on this case by the great researcher Lisa Pease and others would assume that Moldea was the expert par excellence on RFK’s assassination, when nothing could be further from the truth.  James DiEugenio, Pease’s colleague and an equally brilliant researcher, has surgically dismembered Moldea’s work on the case.

So why has DeCosta-Klipa shined the spotlight on Moldea and given him so much space?

It is unlikely that he has read Moldea’s 1995 book, The Killing of Robert F. Kennedy, a book about which DiEugenio rightly says: its “every major tenet is highly suspect, whose sourcing is not explicit, whose fairness is, to say the least, one-sided, whose completeness is just not there, whose use of witnesses-like Kaiser and McCowan-is rather lenient….it is a ‘bookshelf’ book that has no intellectual content or substance.”  He suggests it was commissioned by the government forces responsible for RFK’s death and the ongoing cover-up.

Moldea is allowed full leeway to rant:

To claim absurdly that the LAPD messed up and was not involved in the sinister plot and cover-up.

To rip Robert Kennedy Jr. with the words “What Bobby Kennedy Jr. has done, he’s launched a whole new generation of conspiracy nuts who are going to believe that Sirhan didn’t do it and somebody else did.”

To utter the word conspiracy and conspiracy nuts constantly and to have that word repeated throughout by DeCosta-Klipa, as if he were Moldea’s echo.  The word conspiracy is used nine times in a highly pejorative sense.

(The conspiracy label was created by the CIA in 1967 to besmirch the name and reputation of anyone questioning the assassination of President Kennedy.  CIA agents and assets throughout the mass media were encouraged to use it constantly.  Of course, they have.)

To preposterously claim that all the eyewitnesses were wrong and that since the autopsy definitively showed Kennedy was shot from the rear at point blank range that he must have turned around so Sirhan, who was standing feet away to the front could shoot him in his back and head.  To which, of course, DeCosta-Klipa has no reply, as if it weren’t ridiculous.

To falsely claim – lie – that Paul Schrade, an aide to the senator, who was walking behind him and was the first person shot, fell into RFK, pushing him toward Sirhan, when, in fact, Schrade fell backwards feet behind RFK.

To absurdly claim that the many bullet holes found in the door frames and wall weren’t bullet holes at all, but in DeCosta-Kipa’s words, paraphrasing Moldea, “were most likely the result of any number of kitchen carts banging into the wall.”

Don’t laugh; there’s more.

To claim that the man highly suspected of having shot Kennedy from the rear, the security guard Thane Eugene Cesar, is innocent since he told him so.  But he doesn’t say that Cesar fled the country and is living somewhere in Asia under Moldea’s protection.

To claim the highly suspect police investigator of the shooting, Sirhan, who also falsely asserts that no extra bullets were ever found, is a reliable source, despite extensive evidence to the contrary.

And to top it off, DeCosta-Klipa grants Moldea the final words:  “I think [RFK Jr.] has been misled, conned, and corrupted by the conspiracy crowd to believe this garbage that the man that murdered his father is innocent.”

The truth is the readers of The Boston Globe have been misled, conned, and corrupted by a classic piece of propaganda.

It is a disgrace.

The Syrian Observatory: Funded By The Foreign Office

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, journalist Peter Hitchens commented last month on the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR):

Talking of war, and Syria, many of you may have noticed frequent references in the media to a body called the “Syrian Observatory for Human Rights”, often quoted as if it is an impartial source of information about that complicated conflict, in which the British government clearly takes sides. The “Observatory” says on its website that it is “not associated or linked to any political body”

To which I reply: Is Boris Johnson’s Foreign Office not a political body? Because the FO just confirmed to me that “the UK funded a project worth £194,769.60 to provide the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights with communications equipment and cameras.” That’s quite a lot, isn’t it? I love the precision of that 60p. Your taxes, impartially, at work.

This figure was confirmed in communication with the Foreign Office by independent political journalist Ian Sinclair.1

In 2011, Reuters reported that Rami Abdulrahman is ‘the fast-talking director of arguably Syria’s most high-profile human rights group’, SOHR:

When he isn’t fielding calls from international media, Abdulrahman is a few minutes down the road at his clothes shop, which he runs with his wife.

Given the tinpot nature of the organisation, SOHR’s influence is astonishing:

Cited by virtually every major news outlet since an uprising against the iron rule of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began in March, the observatory has been a key source of news on the events in Syria.

Described by Reuters as an ‘opposition group’, SOHR is openly pro-regime change:

After three short spells in prison in Syria for pro-democracy activism, Abdulrahman came to Britain in 2000 fearing a longer, fourth jail term.

“I came to Britain the day Hafez al-Assad died, and I’ll return when Bashar al-Assad goes”.

In December 2011, Stratfor, an influential research institute formed of former US security officials, cautioned:

Most of the [Syrian] opposition’s more serious claims have turned out to be grossly exaggerated or simply untrue … revealing more about the opposition’s weaknesses than the level of instability inside the Syrian regime.

Reports from SOHR and other opposition groups, ‘like those from the regime, should be viewed with skepticism’, Stratfor argued: ‘the opposition understands that it needs external support, specifically financial support, if it is to be a more robust movement than it is now. To that end, it has every reason to present the facts on the ground in a way that makes the case for foreign backing.’

The Los Angeles Times described SOHR as ‘a pro-opposition watchdog’. And yet, as Reuters reported, Abdulrahman claims neutrality:

“I’m between two fires. But it shows I’m being neutral if both sides complain,” he said, insisting he accepts no funding and runs the observatory on a voluntary basis.

Two years later, the New York Times described a modified funding model:

Money from two dress shops covers his minimal needs for reporting on the conflict, along with small subsidies from the European Union and one European country that he declines to identify.

Thanks to Hitchens, we now know that the country in question is Britain and the funding in 2012 was £194,769.60.

In 2013, we compared the reflexive respect afforded SOHR with the earlier casual rejection of reports on the death toll in Iraq published in 2004 and 2006 by the Lancet, the world’s leading medical journal:

Figures supplied by SOHR, an organisation openly biased in favour of the Syrian “rebels” and Western intervention is presented as sober fact by… the world’s leading news agencies. No concerns here about methodology, sample sizes, “main street bias” and other alleged concerns thrown at the Lancet studies by critics.

In 2004, one of the Lancet co-authors, Gilbert Burnham of the prestigious Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, told us:

Our data have been back and forth between many reviewers at the Lancet and here in the school (chair of Biostatistics Dept), so we have the scientific strength to say what we have said with great certainty. I doubt any Lancet paper has gotten as much close inspection in recent years as this one has!2

Despite this, the Lancet reports were subjected to ceaseless attacks from the US and UK governments, and dismissal by corporate journalists. David Aaronovitch wrote in The Times:

And Harold Pinter invents a statistic. “At least 100,000 Iraqis were killed by American bombs and missiles before the Iraqi insurgency began.” This is probably some mangling of a controversial estimate of Iraqi civilian fatalities published in The Lancet in 2004 and based, it was claimed, on standard epidemiological methods.3

An op-ed in the Washington Times commented in December 2004:

Or how about the constantly cited figure of 100,000 Iraqis killed by Americans since the war began, a statistic that is thrown about with total and irresponsible abandon by opponents of the war.4

As we described at the time, the ‘mainstream’ hosted all manner of confused and baseless criticisms of this kind.

By contrast, a recent BBC article noted of the Syrian war:

Over seven years of war, more than 400,000 people have been killed or reported missing, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

No-one, it seems, would dream of challenging such a high figure supplied by a clothes shop owner supporting regime change in Syria from Coventry. Nobody challenges SOHR’s methodology, or complains of statistics being thrown about with irresponsible abandon. Why? Because the 2004 and 2006 Lancet reports seriously undermined the US-UK case for conquering Iraq, whereas a high Syria death toll is used to damn the Assad government and to make the case for Western ‘intervention’.

In a 2015 interview with RT, Abdulrahman was asked how he could trust the hundreds of ‘activists’ supplying information from Syria. Claiming that ‘I know all of the activists working for the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights’, Abdulrahman said that he had last visited Syria in 2000. He added: ‘But I know some of the Observatory activists through common friends.’

Innumerable ‘mainstream’ reports of atrocities blamed on Syrian government and Russian forces have used SOHR as a key source. One of the highest profile claims concerned an alleged massacre of 108 people, including 49 children, in Houla, Syria on May 27, 2012. The claim dominated the Independent on Sunday‘s front cover, which read:

SYRIA: THE WORLD LOOKS THE OTHER WAY. WILL YOU?

The text beneath read:

There is, of course, supposed to be a ceasefire, which the brutal Assad regime simply ignores. And the international community? It just averts its gaze. Will you do the same? Or will the sickening fate of these innocent children make you very, very angry?

As so often, SOHR loomed large in these accusations. The BBC reported:

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said more than 90 people had died in the 24 hours since midday on Friday.

The Guardian described how SOHR was condemning Western ‘silence’:

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights issued an unusually harsh statement in the wake of the deaths, accusing Arab nations and the international community of being “partners” in the killing “because of their silence about the massacres that the Syrian regime has committed”.

But the picture was not quite so clear cut. Two weeks later, the BBC reported the head of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria, Major General Robert Mood, as saying of Houla: ‘the circumstances that led to these tragic killings are still unclear’. Mood commented significantly:

Whatever I learned on the ground in Syria… is that I should not jump to conclusions.

On June 27, a UN Commission of Inquiry said that in apportioning blame, it ‘could not rule out any of these possibilities’: local militia possibly operating together with, or with the acquiescence of, government security forces; anti-government forces seeking to escalate the conflict; or foreign groups with unknown affiliation. In August of the same year, UN investigators released a further report which stated that they had ‘a reasonable basis to believe that the perpetrators… were aligned to the Government’. (Our emphasis)

SOHR is omnipresent in the great Syrian atrocity claims that have gripped our media for years. On April 14, Donald Trump bombed Syria in response to an alleged Syrian government chemical weapons attack on Douma one week earlier. Reuters reported:

Heavy air strikes on the Syrian rebel-held town of Douma killed 27 people including five children, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

On April 7, 2017, Trump launched a missile assault on Syria just 72 hours after an alleged chemical weapons attack on Khan Sheikhoun. Reuters reported:

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the attack killed at least 58 people and was believed to have been carried out by Syrian government jets. It caused many people to choke and some to foam at the mouth.

Director Rami Abdulrahman told Reuters the assessment that Syrian government warplanes were to blame was based on several factors such as the type of aircraft, including Sukhoi 22 jets, that carried out the raid.

In August 2013, Barack Obama came close to launching a massive attack on Syria in response to an alleged Syrian government chemical weapons attack on Ghouta. The BBC reported:

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a UK-based group that gets its information from a network of activists across Syria, later said it had confirmed at least 502 deaths.

The Los Angeles Times reported:

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, generally regarded as one of the most reliable sources of information on casualty figures in Syria, says it has confirmed 502 deaths, including 80 children and 137 women.

Last February, the BBC reported:

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, said at least 250 people had been killed in [Syrian government and Russian] air strikes and artillery fire since then.

It said it was the highest 48-hour death toll since a 2013 chemical attack on the besieged enclave.

The power of these claims lies in the fact that Western journalists have been unable to report from ‘rebel’-held areas in Syria. Veteran Middle East correspondent Patrick Cockburn made the point:

All wars always produce phony atrocity stories – along with real atrocities. But in the Syrian case fabricated news and one-sided reporting have taken over the news agenda to a degree probably not seen since the First World War… The real reason that reporting of the Syrian conflict has been so inadequate is that Western news organisations have almost entirely outsourced their coverage to the rebel side.

‘Rebel’ claims relayed by SOHR and others have been uncontested because they originated from ‘areas controlled by people so dangerous no foreign journalist dare set foot among them’.

Many atrocity claims relayed by SOHR and others have been sourced from the White Helmets group in Syria. Former Guardian journalist Jonathan Cook commented:

In the western corporate media narrative, the White Helmets are a group of dedicated and selfless rescue workers. They are supposedly the humanitarians on whose behalf a western intervention in Syria would have been justified – before, that is, Syrian leader Bashar Assad queered their pitch by inviting in Russia.

However, there are problems with the White Helmets. They operate only in rebel – read: mainly al-Qaeda and ISIS-held – areas of Syria, and plenty of evidence shows that they are funded by the UK and US to advance both countries’ far-from-humanitarian policy objectives in Syria.

In 2016, political analyst Max Blumenthal wrote:

The White Helmets were founded in collaboration with USAID’s Office of Transitional Initiatives—the wing that has promoted regime change around the world—and have been provided with $23 million in funding from the department.

Liberal corporate journalists and politicians have been impressed by the fact that SOHR and White Helmets claims have been supported by ostensibly forensic analysis supplied by the Bellingcat website, which publishes ‘citizen journalist’ investigations. As we noted in a recent alert, Bellingcat is funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which is funded by the US government and is ‘a notorious vehicle for US soft power’.

We could link to thousands of corporate media articles citing SOHR as a source. As in the above examples, the vast majority of these claims are directed at the same targets – the Syrian government and its Russian ally. To monitor the BBC website in 2013, for example, was to witness what appeared to be a relentless propaganda campaign promoting yet one more Western ‘humanitarian intervention’.

This would seem to be an extraordinary scandal, not just for the BBC, not just for British corporate media and democracy, but for media and democracy globally. And yet, our media database search finds exactly one national UK newspaper article containing the terms ‘Peter Hitchens’ and ‘Syrian Observatory’. That, of course, was the original May 13 piece in the Mail on Sunday in which Hitchens reported the UK government’s £194,769.60 funding of SOHR. His report has been ignored.

  1. Email to Media Lens, May 17, 2018.
  2. Dr. Gilbert Burnham, email to Media Lens, October 30, 2004.
  3. Aaronovitch, ‘The great war of words,’ The Times, March 18, 2006.
  4. Helle Dale, ‘Biased coverage in Iraq,’ Washington Times, December 1, 2004.

Peace is a Cliché: When the West cannot Control the World Unopposed it Means War

The West likes to think of itself as a truly “peace-loving part of the world”. But is it? You hear it everywhere, from Europe to North America, then to Australia, and back to Europe: “Peace, peace, peace!”

It has become a cliché, a catchphrase, a recipe to get funding and sympathy and support. You say peace and you really cannot go wrong. It means that you are a compassionate and reasonable human being.

After addressing East African left wing opposition at Venezuelan embassy

Every year, there are “peace conferences” taking place everywhere where peace is worshipped, and even demanded. I recently attended one, as a keynote speaker, on the west coast of Denmark.

If a heavy-duty war correspondent like myself attends them, he or she gets shocked. What is usually discussed are superficial, feel-good topics.

At best, ‘how bad capitalism is’, and how ‘everything is about oil’. Nothing about the genocidal culture of the West. Nothing about continuous, centuries-long plunders and benefits that virtually all Westerners have been getting from it.

At worst, it is all about how bad the world is – “all people are the same” cliché. And, also, there are increasingly, bizarre, uninformed outbursts against China and Russia which are often labeled by Western neo-cons as “threat” and “rival powers”.

Participants of these gatherings agree “Peace is Good”, and “War is Bad”. This is followed by standing ovations and patting each other on the back. Few heartfelt tears are dropped.

However, reasons behind these displays are rarely questioned. After all, who would be asking for war? Who’d crave for violence, terrible injuries and death? Who’d want to see leveled, charred cities and abandoned, crying infants? It all appears to be very simple, and very logical.

A three year old Iraqi child with cancer, Mohammed, in Kos, Greece

But then, why do we not hear too often that “peace speech” pouring from the devastated and still de facto colonized African or the Middle Eastern countries? Aren’t they suffering the most? Shouldn’t they be dreaming about the peace? Or are all of us, perhaps, missing the main point?

My friend, a great Indian writer and thinker, Arundhati Roy wrote, in 2001, reacting to the Western “War on Terror”:

When he announced the air strikes, President George Bush said, “We’re a peaceful nation.” America’s favourite ambassador, Tony Blair, (who also holds the portfolio of Prime Minister of the UK), echoed him: “We’re a peaceful people.” So now we know. Pigs are horses. Girls are boys. War is Peace.

When it comes from the lips of the Westerners, is ‘peace’ really peace, is ‘war’ really a war?

Are people in that ‘free and democratic West’, still allowed to ask such questions? Or is the war and peace perception just a part of the dogma that is not allowed to be questioned and is ‘protected’ by both the Western culture and its laws?

Afghan kid from slums

I’m not in the West, and I don’t want to be. Therefore, I’m not sure what they are allowed to say or to question there. But we, those lucky people who are ‘outside’ and therefore not fully conditioned, controlled and indoctrinated, will definitely not stop asking these questions anytime soon; or to be precise, never!

*****

Recently, through Whatsapp, I received a simple chain of messages from my East African friends and Comrades – mostly young left-wing, revolutionary opposition leaders, thinkers and activists:

Free Africa is a socialist Africa! We are ready for war! The young Africans are on fire! Death to the imperialist forces! Viva Bolivarian revolution! South-South Cooperation! Today we take the battle to the streets! Africa Must Unite!

Such statements would sound almost ‘violent’ and therefore could be even be classified as ‘illegal’, if pronounced openly in the West. Someone could end up in Guantanamo for this, or in a ‘secret CIA prison’. A few weeks ago, I directly addressed these young people – leaders of the left-wing East African opposition – at the Venezuelan Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. Yes, they were boiling, they were outraged, determined and ready.

For those who are not too familiar with the continent, Kenya has been, for years and decades, an outpost of the British, US and even Israeli imperialism in East Africa. It was playing the same role that West Germany used to play during the Cold War – a window shopping paradise, stuffed with luxury goods and services.

In the past, Kenya was supposed to dwarf the socialist experiment of Tanzania under the leadership of Nyerere.

Kibera Slum in Nairobi with over 1 million inhabitants

Today, some 60 percent of Kenyans live in slums; some of the toughest in Africa. Some of these ‘settlements’, like Mathare and Kibera are housing at least one million people, in the most despicable, terrible conditions. Four years ago, when I was making my documentary film, in these slums, for South American network TeleSUR, I wrote:

…Officially, there is peace in Kenya. For decades, Kenya functioned as a client state of the West, implementing a savage market regime, hosting foreign military bases. Billions of dollars were made here. But almost nowhere on earth is the misery more brutal than here.

Two years earlier, while filming my “Tumaini” near Kisumu city and the Uganda border, I saw entire hamlets standing empty like ghosts. The people had vanished, died – from AIDS and hunger. But it was still called peace.

US med experiments in Haiti

Peace it was when the US military medics were operating under the open sky, on desperately poor and sick Haitians, in the notorious slum of Cité Soleil. I saw and photographed a woman, laid on a makeshift table, having her tumor removed using only local anesthetics. I asked the North American doctors, why is it like this? I knew there was a top-notch military facility two minutes away.

“This is as close as we get to real combat situation”, one doctor replied, frankly. “For us, this is great training.”

After the surgery was over, the woman got up, and supported by her frightened husband, walked away towards the bus stop.”

Yes, all this is, officially, peace.

*****

In Beirut, Lebanon, I recently participated in discussion about “Ecology of War”, a scientific and philosophical concept created by several AUB Medical Center doctors from the Middle East. Doctor Ghassan ‘Gus’ Abu-Sitta, the head of the Plastic Surgery Department at the AUB Medical Center in Lebanon, explained:

The misery is war. The destruction of the strong state leads to conflict. A great number of people on our Planet actually live in some conflict or war, without even realizing it: in slums, in thoroughly collapsed states, or in refugee camps.

During my work, in almost all devastated corners of the world, I saw much worse things than what I described above. Perhaps I saw too much – all that ‘peace’ which has been tearing limbs from the victims, all those burning huts and howling women, or children dying from diseases and hunger before they reach their teens.

I wrote about war and peace at length, in my 840-page book Exposing Lies Of The Empire”.

When you do what I do, you become like a doctor: you can only stand all those horrors and suffering, because you are here to help, to expose reality, and to shame the world. You have no right to decompose, to collapse, to fall and to cry.

But what you cannot stand is hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is ‘bulletproof’. It cannot be illuminated by correct arguments, by logic and by examples. Hypocrisy in the West is often ignorant, but mostly it is just self-serving.

So, what is real peace for the people in Europe and North America? The answer is simple: It is a state of things in which as few Western people as possible are killed or injured. A state of things in which the flow of resources from the poor, plundered and colonized countries is pouring, uninterrupted, predominantly to Europe and North America.

The price for such peace? How many African, Latin American or Asian people die as a result of such arrangement of the world, is thoroughly irrelevant.

Peru – Lima:  Is it really peace?

Peace is when the business interests of the West are not endangered, even if tens of millions of non-white human beings would vanish in the process.

Peace is when the West can, unopposed, control the world, politically, economically, ideologically and ‘culturally’.

“War” is when there is rebellion. War is when the people of plundered countries say “No!”. War is when they suddenly refuse to be raped, robbed, indoctrinated and murdered.

When such a scenario takes place the West’s immediate reaction ‘to restore peace’ is to overthrow the government in the country which is trying to take care of its people. To bomb schools and hospitals, to destroy supply of fresh water and electricity and to throw millions into total misery and agony.

As the West may soon do to North Korea (DPRK), to Cuba, Venezuela, Iran – some of the countries that are being, for now, ‘only’ tormented by sanctions and, foreign -sponsored, deadly “opposition”. In the Western lexicon, “peace” is synonymous to “submission”. To a total, unconditional submission. Anything else is war or could potentially lead to war.

For the oppressed, devastated countries, including those in Africa, to call for resistance, would be, at least in the Western lexicon, synonymous with the “call for violence”, therefore illegal. As ‘illegal’ as the calls were for resistance in the countries occupied by German Nazi forces during the WWII. It would be, therefore, logical to call the Western approach and state of mind, “fundamentalist”, and thoroughly aggressive.

{Originally, in a slightly shorter version, published by RT ]

• Photos by Andre Vltchek

Peace is a Cliché: When the West cannot Control the World Unopposed it Means War

The West likes to think of itself as a truly “peace-loving part of the world”. But is it? You hear it everywhere, from Europe to North America, then to Australia, and back to Europe: “Peace, peace, peace!”

It has become a cliché, a catchphrase, a recipe to get funding and sympathy and support. You say peace and you really cannot go wrong. It means that you are a compassionate and reasonable human being.

After addressing East African left wing opposition at Venezuelan embassy

Every year, there are “peace conferences” taking place everywhere where peace is worshipped, and even demanded. I recently attended one, as a keynote speaker, on the west coast of Denmark.

If a heavy-duty war correspondent like myself attends them, he or she gets shocked. What is usually discussed are superficial, feel-good topics.

At best, ‘how bad capitalism is’, and how ‘everything is about oil’. Nothing about the genocidal culture of the West. Nothing about continuous, centuries-long plunders and benefits that virtually all Westerners have been getting from it.

At worst, it is all about how bad the world is – “all people are the same” cliché. And, also, there are increasingly, bizarre, uninformed outbursts against China and Russia which are often labeled by Western neo-cons as “threat” and “rival powers”.

Participants of these gatherings agree “Peace is Good”, and “War is Bad”. This is followed by standing ovations and patting each other on the back. Few heartfelt tears are dropped.

However, reasons behind these displays are rarely questioned. After all, who would be asking for war? Who’d crave for violence, terrible injuries and death? Who’d want to see leveled, charred cities and abandoned, crying infants? It all appears to be very simple, and very logical.

A three year old Iraqi child with cancer, Mohammed, in Kos, Greece

But then, why do we not hear too often that “peace speech” pouring from the devastated and still de facto colonized African or the Middle Eastern countries? Aren’t they suffering the most? Shouldn’t they be dreaming about the peace? Or are all of us, perhaps, missing the main point?

My friend, a great Indian writer and thinker, Arundhati Roy wrote, in 2001, reacting to the Western “War on Terror”:

When he announced the air strikes, President George Bush said, “We’re a peaceful nation.” America’s favourite ambassador, Tony Blair, (who also holds the portfolio of Prime Minister of the UK), echoed him: “We’re a peaceful people.” So now we know. Pigs are horses. Girls are boys. War is Peace.

When it comes from the lips of the Westerners, is ‘peace’ really peace, is ‘war’ really a war?

Are people in that ‘free and democratic West’, still allowed to ask such questions? Or is the war and peace perception just a part of the dogma that is not allowed to be questioned and is ‘protected’ by both the Western culture and its laws?

Afghan kid from slums

I’m not in the West, and I don’t want to be. Therefore, I’m not sure what they are allowed to say or to question there. But we, those lucky people who are ‘outside’ and therefore not fully conditioned, controlled and indoctrinated, will definitely not stop asking these questions anytime soon; or to be precise, never!

*****

Recently, through Whatsapp, I received a simple chain of messages from my East African friends and Comrades – mostly young left-wing, revolutionary opposition leaders, thinkers and activists:

Free Africa is a socialist Africa! We are ready for war! The young Africans are on fire! Death to the imperialist forces! Viva Bolivarian revolution! South-South Cooperation! Today we take the battle to the streets! Africa Must Unite!

Such statements would sound almost ‘violent’ and therefore could be even be classified as ‘illegal’, if pronounced openly in the West. Someone could end up in Guantanamo for this, or in a ‘secret CIA prison’. A few weeks ago, I directly addressed these young people – leaders of the left-wing East African opposition – at the Venezuelan Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. Yes, they were boiling, they were outraged, determined and ready.

For those who are not too familiar with the continent, Kenya has been, for years and decades, an outpost of the British, US and even Israeli imperialism in East Africa. It was playing the same role that West Germany used to play during the Cold War – a window shopping paradise, stuffed with luxury goods and services.

In the past, Kenya was supposed to dwarf the socialist experiment of Tanzania under the leadership of Nyerere.

Kibera Slum in Nairobi with over 1 million inhabitants

Today, some 60 percent of Kenyans live in slums; some of the toughest in Africa. Some of these ‘settlements’, like Mathare and Kibera are housing at least one million people, in the most despicable, terrible conditions. Four years ago, when I was making my documentary film, in these slums, for South American network TeleSUR, I wrote:

…Officially, there is peace in Kenya. For decades, Kenya functioned as a client state of the West, implementing a savage market regime, hosting foreign military bases. Billions of dollars were made here. But almost nowhere on earth is the misery more brutal than here.

Two years earlier, while filming my “Tumaini” near Kisumu city and the Uganda border, I saw entire hamlets standing empty like ghosts. The people had vanished, died – from AIDS and hunger. But it was still called peace.

US med experiments in Haiti

Peace it was when the US military medics were operating under the open sky, on desperately poor and sick Haitians, in the notorious slum of Cité Soleil. I saw and photographed a woman, laid on a makeshift table, having her tumor removed using only local anesthetics. I asked the North American doctors, why is it like this? I knew there was a top-notch military facility two minutes away.

“This is as close as we get to real combat situation”, one doctor replied, frankly. “For us, this is great training.”

After the surgery was over, the woman got up, and supported by her frightened husband, walked away towards the bus stop.”

Yes, all this is, officially, peace.

*****

In Beirut, Lebanon, I recently participated in discussion about “Ecology of War”, a scientific and philosophical concept created by several AUB Medical Center doctors from the Middle East. Doctor Ghassan ‘Gus’ Abu-Sitta, the head of the Plastic Surgery Department at the AUB Medical Center in Lebanon, explained:

The misery is war. The destruction of the strong state leads to conflict. A great number of people on our Planet actually live in some conflict or war, without even realizing it: in slums, in thoroughly collapsed states, or in refugee camps.

During my work, in almost all devastated corners of the world, I saw much worse things than what I described above. Perhaps I saw too much – all that ‘peace’ which has been tearing limbs from the victims, all those burning huts and howling women, or children dying from diseases and hunger before they reach their teens.

I wrote about war and peace at length, in my 840-page book Exposing Lies Of The Empire”.

When you do what I do, you become like a doctor: you can only stand all those horrors and suffering, because you are here to help, to expose reality, and to shame the world. You have no right to decompose, to collapse, to fall and to cry.

But what you cannot stand is hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is ‘bulletproof’. It cannot be illuminated by correct arguments, by logic and by examples. Hypocrisy in the West is often ignorant, but mostly it is just self-serving.

So, what is real peace for the people in Europe and North America? The answer is simple: It is a state of things in which as few Western people as possible are killed or injured. A state of things in which the flow of resources from the poor, plundered and colonized countries is pouring, uninterrupted, predominantly to Europe and North America.

The price for such peace? How many African, Latin American or Asian people die as a result of such arrangement of the world, is thoroughly irrelevant.

Peru – Lima:  Is it really peace?

Peace is when the business interests of the West are not endangered, even if tens of millions of non-white human beings would vanish in the process.

Peace is when the West can, unopposed, control the world, politically, economically, ideologically and ‘culturally’.

“War” is when there is rebellion. War is when the people of plundered countries say “No!”. War is when they suddenly refuse to be raped, robbed, indoctrinated and murdered.

When such a scenario takes place the West’s immediate reaction ‘to restore peace’ is to overthrow the government in the country which is trying to take care of its people. To bomb schools and hospitals, to destroy supply of fresh water and electricity and to throw millions into total misery and agony.

As the West may soon do to North Korea (DPRK), to Cuba, Venezuela, Iran – some of the countries that are being, for now, ‘only’ tormented by sanctions and, foreign -sponsored, deadly “opposition”. In the Western lexicon, “peace” is synonymous to “submission”. To a total, unconditional submission. Anything else is war or could potentially lead to war.

For the oppressed, devastated countries, including those in Africa, to call for resistance, would be, at least in the Western lexicon, synonymous with the “call for violence”, therefore illegal. As ‘illegal’ as the calls were for resistance in the countries occupied by German Nazi forces during the WWII. It would be, therefore, logical to call the Western approach and state of mind, “fundamentalist”, and thoroughly aggressive.

{Originally, in a slightly shorter version, published by RT ]

• Photos by Andre Vltchek

Of Fake News and History Suborned (In War and Peace)

We have blind men, one-eyed men, squint-eyed men, men with long sight, short sight, clear sight, dim sight, [and] weak sight. All that is a faithful enough image of our understanding; but we are barely acquainted with [men of] false sight.

— Voltaire, The Philosophical Dictionary, 1924. Knopf, NY.

[M]ost establishment…journalists tend to be like their writing, and so, duly warned by the tinkle of so many leper-bells, one avoids their company.

— Gore Vidal, The Last Empire: Essays 1992-2001, Abacus, 2001.

I heard the news today, oh boy…!

— John Lennon and Paul McCartney, “A Day in the Life”, 1968.

Brief: The gulf dividing established institutions—governments, political parties, academia, the judiciary, legislature, bureaucracies, the national security state, think-tanks, lobby groups, and especially the mainstream media—and those within and across the broader body politic, particularly those who’d challenge the chokehold such institutions seek to impose on the information and knowledge that forms the foundation of our political discourse as well as that of the official historical record, is expanding at a rate of knots. With a focus on one man who saw it all coming, it’s time to reflect on the backstory of this bourgeoning, perilous impasse, and what the implications might be for geopolitical stability and security, and indeed, the future of humanity.

Living in a Fog of Historical Myth

With an attendant lack of transparency and accountability, the Fourth Estate routinely subordinates the basic tenets of ethical reportage in the public interest to the interests, demands, and expectations of what we now refer to as the ‘deep state’. This is largely driven by the failure or refusal of the corporate media to live up to its basic remit in holding the ‘deep staters’ in turn responsible for their decisions and actions. This palpable, vicious circle, downward spiral reality is especially evident in matters of war and peace. Sadly, as we’ll see it was ever thus.

Trump going all wobbly on America

To underscore such sentiments and prepare the ground as it were, accounts of two recent newspaper pieces should do the trick. A Washington Examiner report by one Tom Rogan called on the Kiev regime to bomb the just completed Crimean Bridge. Even given the anti-Russian fervour in the West at present, the unreserved call by any purportedly responsible media outlet of what is after all an unprovoked act of war against that nuclear-armed country might’ve once been unthinkable.

In the Salem-like milieu that beclouds the Beltway, though, for British analyst Neil Clark such hate-filled incitement, masquerading as “commentary”’ is now evidently ‘thinkable’. More to the point, it perfectly showcases one of our key premises: the propensity for the MSM to act as cheerleaders for the war mongering ‘deep staters’.

We’ll return to the theme of the warmongering press in due course. But a quite different report—as surreal as that of the Examiner, but which also serves to highlight another of the motifs reflected in the opening—appeared via the New York Times. The erstwhile Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was quoted expressing deep distress on behalf of America’s democracy, saying amongst things there was a ‘crisis of ethics and integrity’ therein.

Let’s place to one side the fact he was using the occasion to have a none-too-subtle dig or three at his old boss Donald Trump over the Oval One’s obvious shortcomings in this respect. Ditto for the reality that as the former CEO of Exxon-Mobil, he was presumably never troubled by shareholder anxiety over him prioritising corporate social responsibility (“ethics” and “integrity” being key components thereof) ahead of their pecuniary interests. We might then marvel at why it took Tillerson so long to imbibe this reality and then share such disquiet with his fellow Americans.

After advancing a scenario wherein we ‘allow our leaders to conceal the truth’, and/or ‘become accepting of alternative realities that are no longer grounded in facts’, Tillerson went on to say, ‘we as American citizens are on a pathway to relinquishing our freedom.’ For the ex-oilman, ‘even small falsehoods and exaggerations are problematic…[W]hen we…as a free people, go wobbly on the truth even on what may seem the most trivial matters, we go wobbly on America’.

Now space herein limits a thorough unpacking of Tillerson’s profound insights. Suffice to say all manner of pundits would have a field day if invited to do so. Judging by what Tillerson himself doubtless views are heart-felt ruminations on the body politic, he sees this as a recent development. Yet contrary to his remarks, this scenario did not arise with Trump; as Chris Hedges and many others have noted, Number 45 is more a product of the malaise Tillerson described than he is a precursor.

As it is, said “malaise” has been a work in progress for some time, with British historian David Andress observing that its roots run ‘deep into our history’. Declares Andress in his recent book Cultural Amnesia: How the West has Lost its History, and Risks losing everything Else, there’s now ‘a crippling void at the core of politics’, most notably in the historically leading nations in the West [Britain, France, the US]. He further says of this “void”: ‘[There is] an absence of reflection so profound it is hard for conventional commentary even to perceive it…[P]olitical perceptions are breaking dangerously free from a mooring in history.’ [My emphasis].

Central to that “malaise” or “void”, of course, is the corporate media, and herein we include the increasingly powerful—and insidious—social media forums such as Facebook, Twitter and the like. We might for good measure throw in Hollywood, Amazon, and the public relations industry as well.

In juxtaposing dichotomous themes of trust and suspicion, truth and lies, facts and propaganda, reality and perception, acceptance and denial, reason and unreason, justice and injustice, democracy and autocracy, and to no lesser extent, war and peace, amongst our literary icons it was perhaps George Orwell who captured all this best. This is strikingly evident with regard to the mindset we as ‘consumers’ receive, process, and act on, knowledge about our history and from there, do same with information regarding the more contemporary events propelled by our political, media and bureaucratic elites and their paymasters.

Of course, Orwell has been name checked to within an inch of his not insubstantial repute. But to paraphrase one of the English language’s other great wordsmiths Samuel Johnson, the man’s observations about the core rationale behind modern political psychopathy have touched little that haven’t adorned our day-to-day reality. These embrace the hidden motives that propel it into the public sphere, the ‘substance’ of the discourse that frames it, along with the amount of people reached and thus influenced by it. The outcome of this rationale as it’s applied doesn’t just suborn our history; by extension, it dilutes our memory and devalues our understanding of it. That it continues to do so is self-evident. At least it is if we allow the ‘evidence’ some ‘breathing space’.

As for Orwell’s insights, what’s not to like about the following, each of which is pertinent in some way to our narrative and authored over 75 years ago?: ‘Who controls the past controls the future…Who controls the present controls the past’; ‘In our time political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible’; ‘Such concepts as justice, liberty and objective truth are still believed in….[T]hey may be illusions, but they are very powerful illusions’; ‘Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations’;…and last but not least, that perennial family favourite, ‘Big Brother is Watching You!’ There are many others on Orwell’s menu to be sure, but this will do for starters.

From there, Orwell also sought to reveal how “Big Brother” and his siblings endeavour to disparage, marginalise, and then disenfranchise (or worse) those who might offer conflicting analyses outside their own tightly scripted ‘Newspeak’, ‘doublethink’ purview. A diverse range of folks from William Binney, Julian Assange, Coleen Rowley, John Kiriakou, Jesselyn Radack, Jeffrey Sterling, Karen Kwiatkowski, Chelsea Manning, and Edward Snowden amongst others would, one suspects, provide ample testament to that reality.

One of the most (ahem) memorable of plot devices in his novel 1984 was the concept of the memory hole. This was a process allowing for the modification or destruction of troublesome or awkward information in order to alter history and people’s memory of it or create the impression that something never happened. Two recent examples of the memory hole in action are worth mentioning briefly, both involving incidentally the West’s current bete noir Russia.

The first is the recent documentary film Remembrance – Rewriting history: Red Army’s role in liberating Europe censored in the West, the title leaving one with no uncertainty as to what the narrative is all about. Suffice to say: Much of today’s generation is of the belief it was the US who did most of the heavy lifting in World War II, as ‘that’s what their textbooks tell them’. Yet as the historical record tells it, compared to American deaths in the European theatre (around 300,000), the Soviets suffered around 27 million or more including millions of massacred civilians; further their country was trashed, whilst America and its inhabitants remained largely untouched by the conflict. Put simply, the US got off light!

Moreover, the Red Army fighting on its own turf killed over four times as many Germans as the US and its allies did on the Western Front. In fact, the D-Day invasion, belatedly opened the second front in Europe in June 1944 after being delayed several times over two years prior largely due to prevarications by the then UK PM Winston Churchill, much to Soviet leader Joseph Stalin’s justifiable chagrin.

By this time, it was clear the Soviets could accomplish complete victory over the Nazis on their own, but by no means did this mean the allies were going to let them claim bragging rights to such an outcome. In any event, it appears this narrative has been quietly ‘memory-holed’. One is tempted to ask: To what end is this being done? It is straight out of the Orwell playbook.

(The recent revival of the long dormant accusation the Russians were responsible for the downing of the MH-17 passenger plane over eastern Ukraine in 2014 is no coincidence. Again it provides further evidence that the West’s march to war with Russia remains very much on the agenda, with my own country Australia being amongst the most vocal in pointing the finger, sans it would appear anything resembling convincing new evidence.)

And the second “memory hole” exemplar was an extraordinary interview with Mikhail Poltoranin, former Head of the Government Committee on the Declassification of KGB Archives. He revealed that in 1950, the U.S. Air Force actually attacked Soviet bases just outside Vladivostok and destroyed over 100 aircraft. Poltoranin further disclosed that Stalin himself was poisoned; ‘Uncle Joe’ didn’t die of natural causes! This assassination operation was carried out on Churchill’s instructions by British intelligence, themselves assisted by ‘some internal forces’ of the Soviet ruling elite, of which Stalin’s later successor Nikita Khrushchev was ‘certainly one’.

On any number of levels this latter revelation is highly credible. Churchill himself was one of the earliest cheerleaders of the as yet unnamed Cold War with his hysterical 1946 “Iron Curtain” tirade thereby inaugurating one of history’s most consequential of self-fulfilling of prophecies. As well there was no love lost between these two former WWII allies, a reality laid bare in Susan Butler’s masterful 2015 book Roosevelt and Stalin: Portrait of a Partnership. It is further noteworthy that when, during the course of this astonishing exchange, the interviewer expressed disbelief at his revelations, Poltoranin responded with a comment very pertinent to our narrative: ‘We hid a lot of things. Actually, we live in a fog of historical myth…’ The “we” here doubtless included the West!

All Wars are Media Wars (Lest we Forget)

To be sure if Orwell were to be somehow resurrected today and allowed at his leisure to take in the zeitgeist, even he’d be at pains to appreciate how insightful his prognosis was; how much he’d misjudged the power elites predisposition for orchestrated groupthink, perfidy, malevolence, disinformation, thought control, surveillance, censorship, manipulation, and oppression; and the degree to which the mass of ‘proles’ (that’s us cupcakes!) seem all too willing as it were, to ‘suck it all up’. This is despite the knowledge and information we supposedly have available today via the internet and especially social media, not least ironically the author’s own prescient admonitions via his writing or vicariously through others in the alternative media who are clued up on what’s happening! We might easily imagine the T-shirt cum bumper-sticker adage doing the rounds at present, to wit: ‘Memo to power elites: 1984 was not an instruction manual!’ would likely leave the fabled wordsmith at a loss for, well, words!

You’ve read the book, seen the movie, now get the T-Shirt!

All of the above insights into the psychopathologies of the human condition (to say little about the societies and polities that emerge from the way in which they’re permitted to manifest themselves over time), are interconnected, of course. Some of these will become evident throughout. Many others are self-evident.

Let’s continue with another Orwellian maxim not included above, but still nonetheless crucial to our main leitmotif: ‘War against a foreign country only happens when the moneyed classes think they are going to profit from it’. With this in mind, in my own study and experience of history and the human drama and utterly avoidable tragedy at its core, I cannot recall a more precipitously dangerous time for humanity than the here and now. More to the point, when any of us spend time thinking about those who previously served, suffered or died for the noble cause (or the ‘noble lie’ whichever one prefers), even if they’d done so fighting for freedom, democracy, peace, love, understanding and the pursuit of happiness against the oppression, tyranny, and evil intent of the ‘bad guys’ (the de rigueur cover story for the “noble cause”/“noble lie”), they’d be, one imagines, furiously spinning in their eternally designated plots of terra firma at what is now unfolding.

Put another way, what would they think of us allowing it all to happen déjà vu like all over again, especially given what we now know about how previous conflagrations unfolded and the real reasons why? To be sure, for its part “fake news” is now the new “conspiracy theory”: It is the political, economic, business, and financial power elites’ and assorted ruling classes’ preferred weapon of choice in their defence against those ‘heretics’ who challenge the official narratives of western capitalist governments and all those who seek via a range of tools (from cognitive infiltration, false consciousness to cultural hegemony and so many others not excluding plain old school, garden variety bullshit), to perpetuate the status quo. In the final analysis, fake or real, so much of today’s news becomes tomorrow’s history. For their part, the mainstream media mavens and their assorted paymasters cum patrons have adopted this ‘best form of defence is attack’ modus operandi for any number of reasons, not least of which is aimed to claw back the public’s trust and rebuild their credibility.

With the more recent being those in the former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, and Ukraine, so many conflicts have been feverishly championed by the major media outlets with few, if any, mea culpas forthcoming in the pear-shaped aftermath. Indeed, if anything, they have doubled down. It is largely because of this they’ve squandered whatever trust, integrity, and credibility upon which they might’ve once claimed bragging rights. The very things, of course, that animated Tillerson’s earlier comments.

Yet whilst the road back up on to the high moral ground is invariably a rocky one even for the most redemptively minded, any attempt by the MSM to return there is likely to be little more than a ‘one-step forward, two steps back’ endeavour. And there’d be nothing remotely “moral” about the mission; its end-game will be all about perception management (their stock-in-trade after all), and rehabilitating their generic brand.

Which is to say, their fundamental goal is the same as it ever was:

a) to create and sustain believable, acceptable establishment narratives by which its elites might justify its policy decisions and thereby solicit public support for their often hidden, self-serving, progressively more dangerous, irrational agendas;

b) to provide crucial camouflage for those individuals and institutions (including their very own) they seek to safeguard from public scrutiny regarding their true motives and [thereafter] impunity from legal accountability, and/or ethical and moral responsibility for their actions;

c) to preserve and bolster these illusory narratives as well as to burnish the reputations, then solidify the legacies, of those who fashioned the mythologies and deceits that underpin the narratives in the first instance; and lastly,

d) to establish an unassailable, yet still bogus, frame of reference (historical, political, educational, economic, psychological, social, intellectual, cultural) allowing for successive generations of elites to perpetuate then ‘recycle’ these “mythologies and deceits” to their own ends.

If all this sounds like a purpose built, vicious-cycle, ‘keep ’em in the dark and feed ’em on bullshit’, perpetual motion construct for history repeating itself, then that’s possibly because it is difficult to view it as anything but. With the possible exception of wealth and poverty (issues themselves which I hope to similarly address in a follow-up, companion essay), in few other matters concerning the human condition and its oft presumed progressive betterment, the history of human endeavour, and the contemporary body politic is this more evident—or of greater import—than those to do with war and peace. For most reasonably informed observers of history and how the media works, if attended by an appreciation of the contemporary political landscape in general, they will immediately recognise it for what it is.

Pope Gregory XV (1554-1623). ‘La Papa’ recognised the importance of a good PR arm.

It’s worth noting here that the origin of the word “propaganda”—a concept that in its variant forms is a recurring motif herein—derives from the era of Pope Gregory XV. In 1622, the then Vatican (ahem) ‘commander-in-chief’ directed his cardinals responsible for foreign evangelical missions to establish the congregatio de propaganda fide, aka ‘congregation for propagation of the faith’, an organisation whose raison d’être should be self-explanatory. For some this is perhaps fitting if not surprising. Viewed another way, it’s the Catholic Church (the original “deep state” perhaps?), which might lay claim to having conceived the first ‘psy-ops’ gambit, a Holy See enterprise that around 400 years later is apparently still ‘Johnny Walker’!

It is further notable that British philosopher John Gray in his compelling Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia, opened with the following:

Modern politics is a chapter in the history of religion. The greatest of the revolutionary upheavals that have shaped so much of the history of the past two centuries were episodes in the history of faith—moments in the long dissolution of Christianity and the rise of modern political religion.

And when it comes to the subject of propaganda, per se, although he deserves a ‘chapter’ all on his ‘Pat Malone’, we cannot, of course, not at least name-check Edward Bernays—Sigmund Freud’s nephew—the man generally acknowledged as the father of modern public relations. Which brings us once again back to fake news. The descriptor might have only recently entered into political discourse and popular vernacular; but as the Scottish authors and bloggers Gerry Docherty and Jim Macgregor observe, it has ‘a long history’. It’s propaganda frocked up in a different guise.

Gerry Docherty and Jim Macgregor

Via their website and their two published books (see here and here), Docherty and Macgregor’s excursions into the historical terrain of the most consequential event of the twentieth century—that being the Great War—have not just provided us with possibly the most compelling, far-reaching insight into the causes and conduct of this catastrophic inferno, but its, well, consequences.

They’ve also delivered us a crucial understanding of how perfidious Albion (i.e. Great Britain) inveigled the rest of the world into fighting this war. With the ancien regime doing everything in its power to provoke Russia into war at present, this observation should not go unnoticed. (Those who think the British Empire as such had passed its UBD by 1945 haven’t been paying attention, need to get out more, or require a check up from the neck-up.)

Now doubtless many folks will be having a “say wha?” moment at this point, to wit: Wasn’t it the Germans who provoked the First World War? Not so, according to Docherty and Macgregor. Even more than that, for our purposes herein, they’ve provided us with a telling insight into the key role the media mavens of the era knowingly played in facilitating the grand schemes of the ruling classes (termed the Secret Elites by the authors).

The campaign to ‘sell the war’ to the British public and to the rest of the world began in earnest at least ten years prior to its outbreak. Although many abound, one example will suffice. This was the dogged manner in which various members of the Secret Elites coerced, cajoled and curried favour in the pre-war years with the various dominions and colonies specifically amongst their respective media outlets and leading politicians of the day—Australia, India, New Zealand, Canada to name the obvious ones—to ensure that once war began, there would be unstinting loyalty from all and sundry to the noble cause.

It was all up, of course, an astonishing political, diplomatic and propaganda achievement, yet one we can now safely say, came at great cost for all those dominions and colonies, with little or nothing to show for it. To be sure, one of history’s greatest snow jobs perpetrated in the cause of perpetuating empire. This was Great Britain’s great propaganda machine at work, ‘an ‘infernal engine created in war…’ as described by author Richard Milton in his Best of Enemies: Britain and Germany: 100 years of Truth and Lies….‘…[b]ut impossible to switch off in peace….The indelible memory of atrocity stories that had taken place only in the imaginations of British propaganda agents proved to be stronger and more persistent than any facts. This curious discovery, the power of myths over facts, was the real legacy of the First World War.’ [My emphasis].

History Down the Memory Hole

Now although it’s been rightly noted that “all wars are bankers’ wars” (underscored by the preceding Orwellian maxim about the “moneyed classes”), few could argue that the “bankers” would’ve had great difficulty selling their wars on their own; a pliant, subservient, gung-ho media is by definition crucial at the outset in mobilising the populace at large and from there manufacturing the collective consent needed to do so.

Docherty and Macgregor’s follow-up tome—Prolonging the Agony: How International Bankers and their Political Partners Deliberately Extended World War 1, the title clearly underscoring what we’ve just observed—drives home the point. Which is to say, the war against Germany wasn’t just ‘sold’ to the world, with the establishment media at the time leading the charge and indispensible to this propaganda effort. The same media then played their own part in prolonging the war by ensuring the public did not lose their patriotic fervour.

Moreover, the British political establishment—incestuously intertwined with not just each other, but with the press of the era, academia, business and finance, and the broader Western intellectual diaspora as well—ensured that through their control over the higher learning and research institutions and the education bureaucracy, they gave enduring, inviolable substance to Winston Churchill’s infamous maxim, ‘history is written by the victors’. (Along with being one of official history’s most acclaimed authors—whose genre specialty we might now say was historical fiction—Churchill himself, of course, was a ‘Secret Elitist’.)

So effective was this propaganda exercise that the false narrative still stands today as the official version. It’s embraced by just about everyone from our politicians, our mainstream media, our academics, our military leaders, our veterans’ associations, and [to] our school curriculum writers and even those folks who end up teaching the fake history. Those rare folk who’d question this let alone decry it find themselves at best on the outside looking in. Herein, Docherty and Macgregor unambiguously lay out their stall:

Lies masquerading as news are as old as news itself, with royalty, governments, public figures and the mainstream media purveying it to manipulate public opinion. In an Orwellian twist those very same groups now employ it as a pejorative term against the alternative media, truth writers and bloggers as a way of dismissing inconvenient truths and crushing dissent. We should all be aware of the state as keeper of ‘the truth’. “Fake History” is another powerful weapon that has long been used by those in authority to retain that power and keep the masses in the dark.

Of course, we can travel further back in time to the Boer War (1899-1902) and the “splendid” Spanish American War (1898) to find examples of Western MSM perfidy in sounding the battle cry for freedom as a cover for highly dubious state-sponsored wars of aggression, conquest, dominion, plunder and oppression. Docherty and Macgregor cite the former as primarily a dress rehearsal for the Big One to follow, a war championed by the British establishment press of the era, whose prime objective was laying claim to the huge Transvaal gold mines. Less ‘White Man’s Burden’ then than ‘White Man’s Booty’ then!’ As they note: ‘Their ambition overrode humanity, and the consequences of their actions have been minimised, ignored or denied in official histories.’

Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst in their heyday.

And though opinion remains divided as to the impact the media played in the US declaring war on Spain, there can be little doubt it was decisive. The ensuing conflict has since been classified as the first “Media War”, with the two most notable press barons of the era William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer going toe to toe and above and beyond the call of journalistic duty in their efforts to inflame U.S. public sentiment against the Spanish and incite an otherwise indifferent populace to man the barricades. The propaganda onslaught included dodgy stories of atrocities allegedly committed by the Spanish against the Cubans—fortified by a conveniently timed false flag attack on the U.S. Navy ship the USS Maine anchored in Havana harbor thereby providing the pretext for the subsequent declaration of war—with then Assistant Secretary of the Navy, budding imperialist, and future POTUS Teddy “the Rough Rider” Roosevelt being amongst the most hot-to-trot of the leading politicians.

If the U.S. emerged from the nineteenth century as a leading world power after this war there can be little doubt Hearst and Pulitzer had done their bit to bring this about as great American patriots might’ve been expected to. As a consequence the centuries-old blood-soaked Spanish empire was finally ‘deep-sixed’ for good with the U.S. taking control of Cuba and full possession of the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Guam, themselves the first baby steps towards expanding its own already considerably “blood-soaked” empire outside of its own territory. For any aspiring hegemonist, this had to be seen as both a good start and an excellent return on their piddling investment, which doubtless contributed in no small measure to its fabled designation as that “splendid little war”.

That Hearst and Pulitzer sold a shit load of newspapers into the bargain—in an age when doing so actually meant something—and cemented their reputations as media monopolists and political power players to be reckoned with was, of course, neither here nor there. But they had in a sense pioneered a prototype of the more au courant phenomenon of fake news, in those days called “yellow journalism”. It is perhaps one of the supreme Orwellian ironies permeating the polity that the most sought after award in journalism, the Pulitzer Prize, is named after one of its most ruthless, opportunistic, and unethical of practitioners.

Whether by accident or design, they’d moreover done their bit to inculcate firmly into the collective psycho-pathology and historical memory of the ruling classes and power elites in America an incipient, and from there an abiding, sense of ‘exceptionalism’ and manifest destiny, the essence of which has been sustained by and large through propaganda. With only occasional lapses, this has framed and underpinned political discourse in U.S. foreign policy, and been a key driver of its interventionist approach ever since. It set the template for the future manner in which the Western media mavens embraced their responsibilities insofar as they were expected to act in the public interest or guide civic opinion for the common good.

Another example that is instructive herein, of course—one which Docherty and Macgregor again provide key insights into—is the way in which the British government, once it found the pretext to declare war on Germany in 1914, then persuaded the U.S. to join in the melee. Here again, the media’s role herein was decisive. The First World War was a pivotal point in the way in which news and information began to be more formally and precisely, albeit covertly, manipulated—and indeed frequently contrived—to serve the interests of those seeking to mould public opinion towards a certain consensual view. In this it is instructive to note it was the Great War that, if it did not quite give provenance to one of the great truisms in the history of conflict, that being, ‘Truth is the first casualty of war’, it facilitated from there its popular usage.

Thus was the age of public relations born, and it was from there that Bernays and his ilk never looked back. At its most basic “public relations” was/is “fake news”; indeed PR became the new terminology designed to replace the increasingly repellent phrase “propaganda”. Such was the decisive impact of this new mode of communication, it’s difficult to see how Americans might’ve been convinced to enter the war on the side of Britain, and by extrapolation, how Britain and its allies could have avoided defeat at the hands of the Germans.

Fake News Good, Real News Bad

As the mainstream media—as deservedly much-maligned as it is malignant—descends further and further into deceptive arrogance and dangerous incoherence, it increasingly seeks, in indirect proportion it seems and with an equal mix of hubris, dishonesty, chutzpah, and hypocrisy, to double down in its attempts to preserve and maintain its façade of credibility and integrity. Western political, intellectual and media elites are veritably hyperventilating at the prospect that their own “fake news” is being viewed for what it is: a desperate attempt to paper over the cracks in the wall of a crumbling Anglo-American-Zionist empire.

It’s instructive here to consider a few of the recent, most preposterous narratives that have been—or are being—breathlessly promulgated. These stories are ones amongst many that no serious media outlet claiming a modicum of integrity or credibility should be touching with the proverbial forty-foot barge pole. That is, of course, unless it’s to refute the generally always evidence-free claims that frequently attend them and ridicule then discredit the person(s) making them. Here are just three of the ‘greatest hits’ as it were, currently topping the MSM charts:

a) the farcical, transparently duplicitous anti-Russian propaganda onslaught emanating from Britain and America that seeks amongst countless other high crimes and dastardly deeds to blame that country and its leader for constant interference in the affairs of other countries, whilst ignoring their own respective, and destructive track records in this regard;

b) the illegal seven-year old, seemingly endless war currently being waged by Britain, America, and Israel against Syria and president Bashar al-Assad, one which he’s successfully fought with all the resources at his disposal despite the combined forces of the empire pulling out all stops to malign him and then terminate him with extreme prejudice; and, last but not least,

c) the increasingly deranged Israeli despot Benjamin Netanyahu reprising once again his tried and true dog and pony show to sell-out audiences advocating war on Iran because he claims they’ve not adhered to the 2016 agreement not to build any nukes, whilst refusing point-blank to answer questions about his own country’s nuclear program.

Whether in the U.S., Britain, Australia or anywhere else in the West for that matter, few of us should be under any illusions that the monolithic Fourth Estate remains steadfastly devoted to the ongoing betrayal of its purported brief by supporting the hidden—and not so hidden—agendas of those to whom it is, and indeed has always been, beholden.

It’s notable that one of the U.S. establishment media’s flagship marques the ‘venerable’ Washington Post—whose high-minded, yet pedestrian positioning statement, “Democracy Dies in Darkness” is so positively Orwellian one suspects its authors were wearing ‘Freudian slips’ at its moment of conception—was given a deliciously outsized serve of ridicule recently by the media watch organisation Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR).

And rightly so we might opine. The article, by Adam Johnson, chronicles the Wash-Post’s ‘top ten’ columns that he’s characterised as “sociopathic” in tone and temper. For ‘casually threatening economic ruin, inciting violence against entire populations, pushing for bombing faceless Muslims, or downplaying racism and child rape, there’s no better outlet’ Johnson says of the Post, ‘than [this] long-time echo chamber of power-serving conventional wisdom...’

‘In the pages of the Post’s opinion section, you can say the most sociopathic things and get away with it, because you are, by definition, Serious People offering Serious Solutions in a Serious Paper. The human cost of these extreme, reactionary opinions is of little matter; what matters is packaging calls for violence, sexism and racism in a nice, official-sounding tone.’

Along with ‘pointing the bone’ at the paper’s editorial board itself for its own track record of sociopathic sensibilities when opining about the Big Issues, Johnson name-checks several of their high profile ‘by-liners’ past and present for special attention. These include Joshua Muravchik, John Bolton (now the White House’s Chief Chicken-hawk-in-Residence), and Richard Cohen amongst others. For Johnson, if there’s “one thing” the Post opinion editors love—and which is highly pertinent to the here and now along with being instructive in respect of our narrative—‘it’s columns threatening, plotting and advocating war against Iran. It’s the little black dress of foreign policy punditry—[it] never goes out of style’.

To bolster his assertion, Johnson showcases a piece written in 2015 by Muravchik, a fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. Muravchik’s op-ed piece was titled “War With Iran Is Probably Our Best Option”. Johnson responded with the following:

[Muravchik]…argued nonchalantly that launching a war of aggression against Iran was “probably” “our” best “option.” He doesn’t explain who “our” refers to, or why a military attack was even an “option” to begin with….He [Muravchik] then asserts that Iran is uniquely irrational and cannot be compelled with material needs, asserting that “ideology is the raison d’etre of Iran’s regime” and concluding, as if he were settling on a Thai food order, that a bombing campaign that would kill tens of thousands is the “best option.”

From this above ‘catalogue’ of dodgy Post reportage we might draw the following conclusion: It is in matters of war and peace that perhaps the MSM is most at conflict with the now decidedly old school journalistic canons, these being, of course: accuracy, fairness, accountability, objectivity, truthfulness, and impartiality. The current state of geopolitical affairs and international relationsas existentially precarious as it isshould be ample testament to this reality. The mainstream mastheads are notand have never been known for beingbastions for the promotion of peace, love and understanding amongst nations, anymore than they have been known for their adherence to truthfulness, accuracy or any of the other “canons” cited earlier.

As anyone who’s delved into the real (unofficial) backstory behind virtually all of the major wars and conflicts over the years knows, the “noble cause” is never, ever the real reason, the “noble lie” never, ever justified. And the “cause” will never be the real reason—or the “lie” rationally justified—whilst we as a species continue to tolerate those within our midst whose congenital and moral defects push them towards these ends.

It’s critical for this reason alone then we all disabuse ourselves of the notion that what’s happening now has anything to do with making the world safe for democracy and freedom; enforcing the tenets of international law in the cause of human rights; ridding the world of evil men with evil ambitions as if inspired by some vague quasi-Manichean apocalyptically-minded desire to make the world a better place; or some other such transparently fatuous nonsense. The only thing we’re making the world safe (or better) for is an entrenched, ruthless plutocracy.

The reality, though, is this: We should all try to open our eyes to how we as ordinary people allow our political, financial, intellectual, media, and corporate ‘elites’ hoodwink then railroad us into supporting—mostly without question as if collectively driven by some inner, yet inexplicable, Pavlovian suicidal impulse—their grandiose, self-serving, and wholly disastrous schemes.

Such “schemes”—political, military, financial, economic, psychological, social, cultural, educational—are engineered entirely for the preservation of their own personal material fiefdoms and the collective fiefdoms that were then, and remain, those of power, ambition, wealth, control, dominion, and above all, empire. And in this “empire”, as in all, the benefits are few for the many and many for the few, with “power” (as noted again by Orwell) an end in itself, not a means. In the process, this ‘deep state’ cabal—whom Voltaire might’ve referred to as “tyrants of the soul”—have embraced ever more cunning, manipulative and (in every sense of the word) violent intrigues—and let’s not shy away from it, out and out gambits of the conspiratorial kind to cover their respective and collective asses—making them increasingly less transparent in their motives and therefore increasingly less accountable, before, during, or even well after the fact, for their actions.

As a distinct corollary to this, they’ve sought—ever so successfully and as noted, with our increasing acquiescence—to exercise ever-greater control, influence and power over us, at the expense of not just our privacy, but our social, economic, and political security. This is evident not least in the backlash that is taking place against those folks and groups who dare to challenge the conventional wisdom, or more aptly, the conventional lunacy!

*****

In order to bring things to a close, it is both prudent and relevant to name check the esteemed and courageous Israeli historian Ilan Pappe. As he frames it in his tellingly titled book Ten Myths about Israelthe nation that arguably best embodies and reflects the Orwellian verities we’ve visited herein along with being the one nation to which the deference of the mainstream media seems to recognise few limits:

…history lies at the core of every conflict. A true, unbiased understanding of the past offers the possibility of peace…[T]he distortion or manipulation of history…will only sow disaster….

Of course, Pappe herein is referring to Israel’s occupation of Palestine, along with the subjugationand what amounts to the ethnic cleansingof its original, long-time inhabitants.

‘Historical disinformation’ he continues, ‘even of the most recent past, can do tremendous harm. This wilful misunderstanding of history can promote oppression…’

It is not surprising, therefore, that policies of disinformation and distortion continue to the present and play an important part in perpetuating [the occupation of Palestine], leaving very little hope for the future. Constructed fallacies about the past and the present…hinder us from understanding the origins of the conflict. Meanwhile, the constant manipulation of the relevant facts works against the interests of all those victimized by the ongoing bloodshed and violence. [My emphasis].

Pappe could, of course, be referencing any current ‘work-in-progress’ conflict, such as that which is brewing now, for example, between Israel, the U.S. and Iran; the U.S., Great Britain, and Russia; or the never-ending Anglo-American-Zionist campaign of regime change against Syria, whose allies are, of course, Russia and Iran. Anyone of these ‘hotspots’ could trigger a larger geopolitical conflict, and if it so happens this way, it will be largely because of “policies of disinformation and distortion”, especially those which have been facilitated by the Fourth Estate.

In his seminal book Voltaire’s Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West, Canadian author John Ralston Saul noted that ‘[R]eason is a narrow system swollen into an ideology. With time and power it has become a dogma, devoid of direction and disguised as disinterested inquiry. Like most religions, [it] presents itself as the solution to the problems it has created.’

Now whilst it’s reasonable (no pun intended) to assume our corporate media elites and those to whom they are most beholden would be reluctant to view themselves in any such light, from this writer’s vantage point, it seems like a pretty good ‘fit’ to me. Put another way, if this is truly what defines “reason” today, then we are ‘mos def’ in big trouble!

Venezuelan Elections: Chavismo Still in Power, US Still Belligerent, Media Still Dishonest

Voters waiting in line in Catia, a popular neighbourhood in Western Caracas (Photo: Ricardo Vaz)

In a climate of dire economic war/crisis and foreign aggression, Venezuelans took to the polls to elect their president and regional legislative councils. Chavismo won big in both contests, with president Maduro securing a second term until 2025. The international reaction from the US and its allies was already pre-scripted, and the dishonest coverage from the mainstream media was also to be expected. We take a look at the election, how the electoral system works, these reactions, and also share some observations after witnessing events on the ground.

*****

Incumbent president Nicolás Maduro won in a landslide, taking nearly 68% of the vote, while his closest rival Henry Falcón could only muster 21%. With all the votes tallied, Maduro totalled a little over 6.2M votes. Amidst a devastating economic crisis and increasing imperialist aggression this is a very significant victory, but it nevertheless falls very short of previous totals in chavista victories, and very short of the 10M votes that Maduro “demanded” during the campaign.1 Falcón had distinguished himself by defying the mainstream opposition’s call for boycotting the elections, only to fall back to the familiar tune of not recognising the results after losing.

Participation in these elections was just 46%. This number was historically low… for Venezuela! In the most recent presidential elections in Chile and Colombia, to name just two examples, participation was respectively of 49 and 48%, and nobody even floated the possibility of questioning their legitimacy. So if the low turnout is going to be mentioned, it should only be because Venezuela is (rightly) held to a higher standard than the regional US allies.

We had the chance to witness the electoral process on the ground as a member of the international accompaniment mission (acompañante electoral), alongside the Venezuelanalysis team. Our observations pretty much mirrored what the results would later show. Popular and working-class neighbourhoods (barrios), such as Catia, El Valle or Petare, had a very decent turnout, starting from the early morning hours. By contrast, voting centres in middle- and upper-class neighbourhoods such as El Paraiso and Chacao, traditional opposition strongholds, had very few people.

Maduro giving his victory speech in Miraflores palace (Photo: Prensa Presidencial)

The electoral system

Given the amount of attention dedicated to Venezuela’s voting system, you would think that the media would be compelled to at least explain how it works, but, of course, that would undermine all the half-truths and outright lies that are published. So, for the umpteenth time, here is how it works:

  • The voter goes into the polling station (each voting centre can have several polling stations (mesas electorales)) and hands their ID to the station president, who enters it into the authentication system. The voter then introduces their fingerprint to verify. Should they be at the wrong voting centre, or have already voted, an error message will appear and they cannot proceed. (Step 1, lower left corner, in the picture below)
  • The next step is the voting booth. The voter will pick their preference on a touchscreen display, and the choice will appear on the voting machine screen. If this is correct, they confirm the vote. The machine then prints a paper receipt with the vote, and if this matches the vote just entered, the voter deposits it in a box. (Steps 2 and 3 in the picture)
  • Finally the voter goes to another member of the polling station who hands them back their ID, and then signs and introduces their fingerprint in the appropriate spot in the electoral roll. (Step 4 in the picture)
  • Once the voting closes the voting machine prints an act (acta) with the final tally of results, to be signed by all members of the polling station and electoral witnesses. The number of voters, for example, can be immediately checked against the number of signatures in the electoral roll or the number of fingerprints registered in the authentication machine. Then 54% of polling stations are randomly chosen for a “hot audit”, which is open to the public and members of the international accompaniment mission (acompañantes electorales), whereby the paper ballots are manually checked against the electronic result. And once all this is done, the data is transmitted to the CNE headquarters.

Depiction of the voting process, called the “electoral horseshoe” in the CNE logistics and production centre in Mariches. See above for a detailed description. Step 5 (indeleble ink) is no longer used since the authentication system prevents multiple voting. (Photo: Ricardo Vaz)

This is not the whole story, as there are also plenty of audits (14 in this case) done before the elections, with members of all political parties of the international accompaniment mission present, and after the election. But just this short explanation shows you why you cannot just stuff ballots (the vote is electronic), you cannot vote more than once (authentication system will not let you and the electoral roll total will not match), you cannot just enter more votes into the machine remotely (the machines are offline except for the final transmission of results, plus the match against the paper ballots would fail), etc.

More than that, members of the hundreds-strong international accompaniment mission on the ground have praised the Venezuelan electoral process as free and fair. Nicanor Moncoso, president of the Council of Electoral Experts of Latin America (Ceela), insisted that the results must be recognised because they reflect the will of the people.

Ridiculous claims of fraud and irregularities

The existence of all these checks and audits is the reason why in over 20 elections, with constant cries of fraud whenever the opposition loses, no one has produced a single shred of evidence of fraud2,3, although that has not stopped the media from repeating these claims uncritically over and over. Given that in each of the thousands of voting centres the polling station members are chosen randomly and opposition witnesses are present, and they all sign an act at the end confirming that everything is in order, to claim there was fraud without anything to back it up is to take your supporters/listeners/readers for idiots.

One of the most widespread allegations meant to undermine the legitimacy of the process was that someone from the CNE told Reuters that by 6 PM participation was just 32.3%. This is a pure fabrication, as any of the hundreds of acompañantes who were on the ground could have told any of these outlets if asked. Simply put, the CNE does not publish preliminary data because it does not have access to it. Only when when all the audits (to 54% of voting centres) have been completed and a sizeable number of voting centres have transmitted their numbers, so as to make the results irreversible, are the figures made available.

So this claim might as well have been made by the Queen of England. It is akin to writing a headline “caveman source claims that the Earth is flat” when the Earth’s curvature has been measured. It is giving credence to random allegations about a number that has actually been measured and audited. And going back to what we said before, given such a large discrepancy and the large number of people involved, surely there would be ONE piece of evidence about ONE voting centre where the final tally had supposedly been inflated.

In the absence of hard evidence to back up fraud claims, the discourse is shifted towards other “irregularities”. While this is just small sample hearsay, opposition electoral witnesses did not report any irregularities when talking to us, although they did expect a low turnout from opposition voters. Some did complain that the puntos rojos were closer than the stipulated 200m, but laughed at the notion that voters would change their mind or be turned into zombies by the sight of red canopies. In fact, these puntos rojos have been present in elections for the past 20 years, and used to have their opposition-coloured counterparts across the street.

These places mostly serve as gathering points as people wait for the voting to unfold, and more importantly to track participation from their ranks, to see if further mobilising is necessary or not. The notion that these were a factor in the results, embraced hysterically by Falcón and his team and then echoed by the media, reeks of desperation. Other complaints, such as assisted voting (people helping elderly voters) irregularities were also insignificant in terms of their relevance for the final numbers.

A menacing punto rojo/red point in Petare! (Photo: Ricardo Vaz)

International reaction

The international reaction was no surprise because it was already pre-determined before the elections. Such is the absurdity and dishonesty when it comes to Venezuela. And at this point it makes no sense to distinguish the reaction of the US State Department and the ones from its multiple echo chambers, be they spineless allies like the self-appointed Lima Group and the EU or the propaganda outlets of the mainstream media.

After the opposition MUD delegation walked away from the negotiating table with a deal already hammered out (according to former Spanish PM and mediator Zapatero), allegedly under US orders, the US quickly moved to announce that the elections would be fraudulent and illegitimate, its results not recognised, and all the usual suspects followed suit. And that is precisely what happened after Maduro’s victory, with people who claim to be champions of democracy vowing to punish Venezuela for the unforgivable crime of holding elections.

We have dedicated plenty of efforts to deconstructing the mainstream media propaganda surrounding Venezuela, and elections in particular, but it feels more and more like a waste of time. People that truly want to be informed about Venezuela should simply look for sources that do more than repeat the State Department talking points or uncritically echo the allegations of the Venezuelan opposition. FAIR did an excellent job of pointing out how even the MSM headlines have become unanimous, with “amid” their new favourite preposition. It is fair to say that amid so much propaganda, there is very little actual journalism left.

It would serve us well to go back a few months to the Honduran elections. Here there was actually plenty of evidence of fraud, which allowed for an irreversible trend to be reversed in order for the US-backed incumbent Juan Orlando Hernández to secure victory. Despite a few protests and some tame calls for holding new elections, the fraudulent winner was eventually recognised and it is now business as usual. Believe it or not, Honduras is part of this Lima Group that has the nerve to question the legitimacy of the Venezuelan elections.

Had the reaction been just this shameful bombast it would not be much of a problem. But it came followed by the tightening of the economic noose around Venezuela; i.e., new sanctions. The latest round of sanctions imposed by the Trump administration again fell short of an oil embargo, which has been increasingly floated by US officials, but targeted Venezuela’s and PDVSA’s ability to collect and re-finance debt.

After the sanctions and all the meddling, Maduro reacted by expelling the two top US diplomats in Caracas. Nevertheless we can expect the screws to be further tightened as the US and its followers show no signs of backing down from their regime-change crusade, and imposing as much suffering on the Venezuelan people as possible is their way to go. For all the sanctimonious claims that sanctions are only meant to hurt those-corrupt-officials-who-have-hijacked-democracy, we can thank British FM Boris Johnson for his clumsy honesty:

The feeling I get from talking to my counterparts is that they see no alternative to economic pressure – and it’s very sad because obviously the downside of sanctions is that they can affect the population that you don’t want to suffer.

So from an international perspective the elections did not change much, perhaps accelerating the aggression we had been seeing. But on the inside the picture is different. There were very clear signs, whether the loud cries from those who voted or the loud silence from those who did not, that the current economic situation needs to be dealt with, and fast. We already know what the solution would be if the right-wing returned to power, electorally or otherwise. The question is whether amidst this international siege the Bolivarian government has enough resources and political will to radicalise their path.

  1. We hope to go into a more detailed analysis of the political situation and the challenges ahead in an upcoming article.
  2. Perhaps we should clarify that no credible evidence has been produced. After the 2013 elections defeated candidate Capriles produced a dossier of “evidence” that was mercilessly torn to shreds, because none of it held any water.
  3. A possible notable exception was the gubernatorial election in the State of Bolívar this past October. Defeated candidate Andrés Velázquez published alleged acts that differed from the results on the CNE website, but this matter was not pressed further, perhaps because it undermined all the other unproven fraud claims.