Category Archives: France

Pompeo Spells Out the New Normal: All Criticism of Israel is “antisemitic”

It is tempting to dismiss last week’s statements by Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, equating anti-Zionism with antisemitism and suggesting the global movement to boycott Israel is driven by hatred of Jews, as the last gasp of a dying administration. But that would be foolhardy.

Pompeo’s decision to label all but the most tepid criticism of Israel as antisemitism is fully in line with the current redrawing of the limits of western political debate about Israel.

To underscore his message, Pompeo issued his statement as he headed to an illegal Jewish settlement in the West Bank – the first such official visit by a US secretary of state. New guidelines announced that in future the US would mark settlement goods as “Made in Israel”, concealing the fact that they are produced in the occupied Palestinian territories.

For good measure, Pompeo described the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS), widely supported by Palestinians, as a “cancer”. “We will regard the global, anti-Israel BDS campaign as antisemitic,” he added. The state department would identify any individual or group opposed to “doing business in Israel or in any territory controlled by Israel” – that is, in the settlements – “and withdraw US government support”.

‘Made in Israel’

The settlement visit was doubtless intended as affirmation by the departing Trump administration of its recognition of Israel’s right to annex swaths of the West Bank seized by settlers. That position was cemented into a so-called “peace plan” earlier in the year.

Hanan Ashrawi, a veteran Palestinian peace negotiator, warned that Pompeo’s declarations would be hard for the new Democratic administration under Joe Biden to reverse, either rhetorically or substantively, when it takes office in January. “Such malicious measures are intended to corner the incoming US administration with layers of legal and administrative measures that maintain the destructive Trump legacy beyond his disruptive term,” she said.

To change course, Biden will have to declare the settlements illegal and come to the defence of the BDS movement – incurring the wrath of Israel’s lobbyists in Washington and opposition from the overwhelming majority of his own lawmakers in Congress.

It is fanciful to imagine he will do either.

The reality is that Israel’s endless facts on the ground, all ultimately pushing towards annexation, will continue as before, whether Biden or Trump is in charge. More significantly still, however, Pompeo’s statement marks the logical endpoint of a new foreign policy consensus on Israel that has rapidly taken shape in the US and Europe.

By this stage, only concerted action from western states to penalise Israel can alter the cost-benefit calculus that has so far made expanding the settlement enterprise pain-free. But trenchant criticism of Israel – of the kind so urgently necessary – is now increasingly off-limits. Instead western states are actually defaming and outlawing even the most limited forms of grassroots, non-violent action against Israel, like the BDS movement.

Topsy-turvy view

Pompeo’s statement, in fact, marks a complete inversion of the United Nations’ decision in 1975 to declare Zionism “a form of racism and racial discrimination”. At the time, supporters of Resolution 3379 made a self-evident case: any state is structurally racist if its founding ideology, as with Zionism, accords superior rights to citizens based on their ethnicity or religion.

An international convention further makes clear that such a political arrangement amounts to apartheid.

While in the 1970s Israel made efforts to obscure its ideological character, it has long since abandoned such pretence. In 2018 Israel passed the Nation-State Law making its apartheid explicit. The law affirmed superior legal rights for Jewish citizens over a large minority of Palestinian citizens.

In late 1991, however, the UN was browbeaten into revoking the “Zionism is racism” resolution after the Soviet Union fell and the US, Israel’s patron, emerged as the sole global superpower. We have now reached the point where, as Pompeo’s statement underscores, it is criticism of Israel and Zionism that is viewed as racism.

In this topsy-turvy worldview, nuclear-armed Israel is the victim, not the Palestinians who have been dispossessed and ethnically cleansed by Israel for decades. This derangement is so entrenched that last year the House of Representatives passed a near-unanimous resolution – pushed by the Israel lobby group AIPAC – denouncing any boycott of Israel as antisemitic.

Some 32 US states have passed legislation uniquely denying First Amendment rights to those who support a boycott of Israel in solidarity with oppressed Palestinians. Other states have similar legislation in the pipeline.

Criminal offence

The absurdity extends beyond the US.

The German parliament passed a resolution last year that declared boycotting Israel – a state occupying Palestinians for more than five decades – comparable to the Nazi slogan “Don’t buy from Jews”. Bonn has the power to deny public funds to any group that supports, however tangentially, such a boycott.

Last month, Israeli Jewish academics in Berlin became the latest group targeted. Their art school removed their web page and cut funding for a series of workshops critical of Zionism after an outcry from German anti-racism groups and the media.

A similar inversion of reality is taking place in the UK, where the government has ruled that local authorities are not allowed to divest pension funds from Israel. These investments, some in illegal Jewish settlements, are assessed at nearly £3.5bn ($4.7bn), meaning ordinary Britons heavily subsidise Israel’s occupation.

The decision by Boris Johnson’s government was struck down by Britain’s highest court in April, but the government has vowed to bring in new anti-BDS legislation that would nullify that ruling.

In France, meanwhile, support for boycotting Israel has long been treated as a criminal offence under anti-discrimination legislation. A group of 12 Palestinian solidarity activists lost a series of court battles in France after they were convicted a decade ago of calling for a boycott outside a supermarket. The activists received a reprieve in June only after the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ruled that their convictions violated Europe’s human rights convention.

Growing chasm

That judgment serves only to highlight the growing chasm between, on one side, the political and legal environments being shaped by lobbyists in individual western states and, on the other, the principles of international law and human rights established in the wake of the Second World War.

Pompeo’s claim that opposition to Zionism – the ideology oppressing Palestinians – is antisemitic has taken widespread root because pro-Israel activists have managed to advance an entirely novel definition of antisemitism. In 2016 the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance adopted a highly contentious and politicised “working definition” of antisemitism – one promoted by Israel. The definition is illustrated with 11 examples, seven of which refer to various criticisms of Israel, including that it is a “racist endeavour”.

A conclusion reached by the UN 45 years ago – that it is racist for a state to promote rights based not on our shared humanity but on ethnic or religious difference – is now defined as antisemitic. Donald Trump used an executive order to incorporate this weaponised definition into the Civil Rights Act last year, thereby chilling speech about Israel, especially on US campuses.

The IHRA definition is now widely accepted in the West, making it all but impossible to mount a defence against the malicious characterisation of support for Palestinian rights as equivalent to hatred of Jews. Pompeo is simply echoing a discourse that has rapidly become entrenched.

This became obvious when the British Labour party found itself plunged into a manufactured controversy in early 2016 that, overnight, it had become uniquely and institutionally antisemitic. The campaign began shortly after the membership elected as leader Jeremy Corbyn, one of a handful of socialist MPs in Labour and a vocal advocate of Palestinian rights.

Fear of backlash

The degree to which Israel has become untouchable – even when criticisms accord with international law – was highlighted when the United Nations compiled a list of businesses colluding with Israel’s illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land.

Publication of the database was repeatedly delayed for fear of the backlash the UN would receive for offending Israel and its lobbyists. The list finally saw daylight last February.

But the firms identified in the list have not come under any significant pressure to pull out of the settlements. In fact, what pressure they have faced has been for them to stay put, or otherwise face accusations of unfairly discriminating against Israel.

Countervailing pressure on them could come through the actions of popular, grassroots groups calling for a boycott. But western states now characterise the BDS movement that organises such boycotts as antisemitic too.

Quiescence and inaction are the only options allowed, if one wishes to avoid being labelled antisemitic.

Human rights ‘racist’?

Pompeo’s remarks in support of the settlements last week were foreshadowed by reports last month that the State Department is considering a mechanism for labelling the world’s most prominent human rights groups as antisemitic. The US would then urge other states not to deal with organisations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Oxfam.

Pompeo’s approach – ridiculous as it might have seemed a decade ago – does not stray far from the current logic in western capitals. Their officials have ridden roughshod over international law for some time – especially with their “interventions” in Arab states such as Iraq, Libya and Syria.

As the Palestinian cause is progressively sidelined by both western states and Arab states, groups like Amnesty and Human Rights Watch have found themselves solitary critical voices on Israel. They are almost alone in continuing to articulate concerns about Israel’s egregious violations of international law, especially in relation to the settlements.

As a result, Pompeo’s moves to silence them may face much less resistance than many observers might assume.

Might makes right

Sadly, there is a self-fulfilling logic to these moves by the Trump administration. From Corbyn to Amnesty International and the BDS movement, those trying to uphold human rights and international law are being forced on to the defensive.

They have been strong-armed into the dock and must prove to their accusers the impossible: their innocence, measured not in concrete, public positions but in what supposedly lies behind them, in the form of private and unprovable motives.

This is safe ground for right-wing politicians and lobby groups.

Antisemitism is the insidious charge that sticks to anything it touches. The stain is all but impossible to remove. Which is why those standing up for human rights – and against racism and oppression – are going to find themselves ever more aggressively condemned as antisemitic.

This is a path not towards peace and reconciliation but towards greater tribalism, confrontation and violence. It strips out the tools of argument and persuasion, as well as non-violent forms of pressure like boycotts, and ensures a world ruled by “might makes right”.

• First published in Middle East Eye

The post Pompeo Spells Out the New Normal: All Criticism of Israel is "antisemitic" first appeared on Dissident Voice.

As Israel Destroys EU Projects in Palestine, European Foreign Policy Remains Impotent

Belgium is furious. On November 6, the Belgian government condemned Israel’s destruction of Belgian-funded homes in the Occupied Palestinian West Bank. Understandably, Brussels wants the Israeli government to pay compensation for the unwarranted destruction. The Israeli response was swift: a resounding ‘no’.

The diplomatic row is likely to fizzle out soon; neither will Israel cease its illegal demolitions of Palestinian homes and structures in the West Bank nor will Belgium, or any other EU country, receive a dime from Tel Aviv.

Welcome to the bizarre world of European foreign policy in Palestine and Israel.

The EU still champions a two-state solution and advocates international law regarding the legality of the Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian territories. To make that possible, the EU has, for nearly four decades, funded Palestinian infrastructure as part of a state-building scheme. It is common knowledge that Israel rejects international law, the two-state solution and any kind of outside ‘pressure’ regarding its military occupation.

To back its position with action, Israel has been actively and systematically destroying EU-funded projects in Palestine. In doing so, it aims to send a message to the Europeans that their role in supporting the Palestinian quest for statehood is vehemently rejected. Indeed, in 2019 alone, 204 Palestinian structures were demolished just in Occupied East Jerusalem, according to the Euro-Med Monitor. Included in this destruction – in addition to similar demolition in the West Bank Area C – are 127 structures that were funded mostly by EU member states.

Yet, despite the fact that Israel has been on a crash course with the EU for years, Europe remains Israel’s number one trade partner. Worse, Europe is one of Israel’s largest weapons suppliers and also main market for Israel’s own weapons – often touted for being ‘combat-proven’, as in successfully used against Palestinians.

The contradiction does not end here.

In November 2019, the European Court of Justice ruled that EU countries must identify on their labels the specific products that are made in illegal Jewish settlements, a decision that was seen as an important first step to hold Israel accountable for its occupation. Yet, bizarrely, European activists who promote the boycott of Israeli products are often tried and indicted in European courts, based on the flimsy claim that such boycotts fall into the category of ‘anti-Semitism’. France, Germany and others have repeatedly utilized their judicial system to criminalize the legitimate boycott of the Israeli occupation.

And here, again, European contradictions and confused policies are evident with total clarity. Indeed, last September, Germany, France, Belgium and other EU members spoke firmly at the United Nations against Israel’s policy of demolition, which largely targeted EU-funded infrastructure. In their statement, the EU countries noted that “the period from March to August 2020 saw the highest average destruction rate in four years.”

Because of the absence of any meaningful European action on the Palestinian front, Israel no longer finds the European position, however rhetorically strong, worrisome. Just consider the defensible Belgian position on the destruction of Palestinian homes that were funded by the Belgian government in the village of Al-Rakeez, near Hebron (Al-Khalil).

“This essential infrastructure was built with Belgian funding, as part of humanitarian aid implemented by the West Bank Protection Consortium. Our country asks Israel for compensation or restitution for these destructions,” the Belgian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on November 6.

Now, marvel at the Israeli response, as communicated in a statement issued by Israel’s foreign ministry. “Donor states should utilize their tax payer’s (sic) money towards the funding of legal constructions and projects in territories that are controlled by Israel, and make sure those are planned and executed in accordance with the law and in coordination with the relevant Israeli authorities.”

But are Europeans violating any law by helping the Palestinians build schools, hospitals and homes in the Occupied Territories? And what ‘law’ is Israel following when it is systematically destroying hundreds of EU-funded Palestinian infrastructures?

Needless to say, the EU support for Palestinians is consistent with international law that recognizes the responsibility of all UN member states in helping an occupied nation achieve its independence. It is, rather, Israel that stands in violation of numerous UN resolutions, which have repeatedly demanded an immediate halt to Israel’s illegal settlement activities, home demolition and military occupation altogether.

Israel, however, has never been held accountable for its obligations under international law. So, when the Israeli foreign ministry speaks of ‘law’, it refers only to the unwarranted decisions made by the Israeli government and Knesset (parliament), such as the decision to illegally annex nearly a third of the West Bank, a massive swathe of Palestinian land that is located in Area C – this is where most of the destruction is taking place.

Israel considers that, by funding Palestinian projects in Area C, the EU is deliberately attempting to thwart Israel’s annexation plans in this region. The Israeli message to Europe is very clear: cease and desist, or the demolition will go on. Israeli arrogance has reached the point that, according to Euro-Med Monitor, in September 2014, Israel destroyed a Belgian-funded electrification project in the village of Khirbet Al Tawil, even though the project was, in fact, installed in coordination with Israel’s civil administration in the area.

Alas, despite the occasional protest, EU members are getting the message. The total number of internationally-funded projects in Area C for 2019 has shrunk to 12, several folds lower than previous years. Projects for 2020 are likely to be even lower.

The EU may continue to condemn and protest the Israeli destruction. However, angry statements and demands for compensation will fall on deaf Israeli ears if not backed by action.

The EU has much leverage over Israel. Not only is it refusing to leverage its high trade numbers and military hardware, but it is also punishing European civil society organizations for daring to challenge Israel.

The problem, then, is not typical Israeli obstinacy alone but Europe’s own foreign policy miscalculation – if not an all-out failure – as well.

The post As Israel Destroys EU Projects in Palestine, European Foreign Policy Remains Impotent first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Macron’s Incitement: “Crisis in Islam” or French Politics? 

There is no moral or ethical justification for the killing of innocent people, anywhere. Therefore, the murder of three people in the French city of Nice on October 29 must be wholly and unconditionally rejected as a hate crime, especially as it was carried out in a holy place, the Notre Dame Basilica.

However, we would be remiss to ignore the political context that led a 21-year-old Tunisian refugee to allegedly stage a knife attack against peaceful worshippers in Nice. While it is fairly easy to recognize the individual culprit behind such a violent event, it takes much introspection, let alone honesty, to identify the true culprits, who, often for political reasons, fan the flames of hate and violence.

Since his advent to the Elysée Palace, in May 2017, French President Emmanuel Macron, has led an aggressive foreign policy abroad and an equally contentious domestic agenda. These choices were not random, as Macron was dogged by numerous domestic challenges: rising inequality and unemployment, mass protests led largely by the ‘Gilets Jaunes’ – Yellow Vests –  Movement and the unhindered rise of right-wing, anti-immigrant populist movements, such as the National Front (FN) of Marine Le Pen.

It is important that we recall the political atmosphere through which Macron was elected, for the man was meant to be the sensible choice propelled forward by the once-ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP).

The latter’s candidate, François Fillon, failed to acquire the necessary votes to decisively win the elections on April 23, 2017. Instead, it was Macron, a relative political ‘outsider’ from the one-year-old En Marche (EM) Party that had the chance to stop the progress of Marine Le Pen’s racist and chauvinistic FN. Indeed, Macron won the second runoff elections on May 7. His victory was decisive.

Judging by the mass protests that soon followed Macron’s election, later exacerbated by the economic crisis that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic (which, thus far, has killed over 36,000 people in France alone), Macron is no longer popular among his people.

With new elections scheduled for early 2022, Macron and France’s ruling elites are quite nervous. The French economy is unlikely to recover anytime soon, not only because of the coronavirus pandemic – the destructive impact of which is expected to persist over the coming months and years – but also because, in the last three years, there has been no serious structural overhauling of the French economy with the stated aim of sting the pandemics of inequality, unemployment, racism, and political corruption.

As is often the case with inept leaders, Macron has invested in creating political distractions at home and abroad, manufacturing crises and provoking unnecessary confrontations.

The French leader has seized on the opportunity presented to him as a result of the American retreat from various Mediterranean conflicts, namely Libya, Syria, Lebanon, and the East Mediterranean gas dispute. The shift in US foreign policy priorities, coupled with the British abandonment of the European Union – scheduled to go into full effect at the end of this year – led Macron to behave as if the de facto leader of Europe.

Racism in France is rife, and the electoral successes of the various right-wing nationalistic parties are a testament to this assertion. Instead of confronting this protracted disease which has afflicted the French body politic for far too long, Macron has labored to find some kind of a balance, where he continues to appeal to the liberal forces in his country without fully alienating the right-wing chauvinistic constituency. To achieve this delicate balance, Macron has opted for the most politically – and, to state bluntly,  cowardly –  convenient option: targeting France’s most marginalized and impoverished French Arab and African communities in the name of fighting for the ‘values’ of the Republic against ‘Islamic terrorism’ and the dark forces that are lurking within his country.

This is not to argue that domestic terrorism is not a major problem deserving attention and counter-strategies. However, judging by recurring statements made by French officials and media – which tend to demonize entire groups of mostly immigrant populations and their religious values – it seems as if the French government is leading a crusade of sorts against its own Muslim population. It appears as if Macron, himself, is leading a populist march against Islam and Muslims in France and elsewhere. This pathetic display of bad, opportunistic leadership was the true catalyst of today’s crisis.

This brief timeline is sufficient to link Macron to France’s latest violence:

On October 2, Macron assumed the role of the scholarly theologian lecturing his countrymen on Islam. “Islam is a religion which is experiencing a crisis today, all over the world,” he said, laying out a plan to combat Islamic “separatism” in France. This provocative statement had an international dimension which, expectedly, raised the ire of Muslim governments and populations the world over. The domestic component of his comments was even more dangerous, as he practically declared French Muslims a fifth column, whose ultimate aim is to destabilize and to break up the French Republic.

More provocations followed, once more the berating of Islam and the mocking of Prophet Mohammed, African and Arab immigrants and so on, in the name of French values, democracy and freedom of expression. Judging by the bloody attack on the Charlie Hebdo’s magazine in January 2015 and the violence and mosque burning of over 30 mosques in its wake (though the latter received little or no media attention), it should have taken no particular genius to deduce that the latest government-led provocations and anti-Muslim incitement were also doomed to result in violence and counter-violence.

Indeed, on October 16, a French teacher, who displayed images that mocked Prophet Mohammed, was reportedly killed by an 18-year-old Chechen Muslim refugee. The teacher was later declared a French hero and celebrated for his supposed sacrifice for French values.

More mockery and insults of Islam and Muslims continued, this time on a much larger scale. The anti-Muslim incitement was accompanied by acts of violence against French Muslims, particularly women. Again, this kind of violence received little attention in the international media and was hardly seen in France as an expression of a mass movement reflecting religious or nationalistic ideas.

With Turkey, Pakistan and political movements representing every Muslim-majority country in the world jumping into the fray, Macron has managed to make himself the center of international attention as the indefatigable fighter for Western values and democratic ideals – with a subtle emphasis on being the champion of Christianity, as well.

The true crisis is not a crisis in Islam, but in French politics. If anyone deserves mockery, it is not Prophet Mohammed – whose message of nearly 1,500 years ago was that of peace, justice and equality – but, rather, Macron himself, who continues to distract from his unmitigated failure as a politician by pitting the French people, religious or otherwise, against each other. Hopefully, Charlie Hebdo will be satirizing that reality sometime soon.

The post Macron’s Incitement: "Crisis in Islam" or French Politics?  first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Terrorism and French Values

There have been some horrendous, despicable killings by Muslim extremists in France. Such killings must be condemned.

French president Emmanuel Macron played the victim card, saying that France “will not give into terrorism.” Yet when 21st century France engages in overseas militarism, otherwise known as state terrorism, in places with large Muslim populations – places that never attacked France — such as Afghanistan, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Chad, Somalia, Libya, North Mali, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen then what is to be expected? Is it okay for France to engage in militarism abroad and expect no blowback on French soil? Must not the French terrorism be condemned?

The embattled, unpopular French president has seized upon the gruesome killings to denounce terrorism and champion “French values,” such as freedom of speech.1

Once again the controversial publication Charlie Hebdo has provoked a lethal response.

The publication of cartoons defaming the prophet Mohammed, as any clued-in person could easily have predicted, have stirred heated Muslim protests. These provocative cartoons are defended as free speech. I am all for defending the right to free speech. I am not in favor of stupid speech, speech designed to belittle and incur the wrath of a particular group. I would certainly caution against the freedom to say what one wants knowing that it will result in violence and deaths.

But the French, especially its politicians, are hypocrites. If free speech allows one to impugn one religion, then then that right to impugn must be allowed for all religions. Take the case of French comedian Dieudonné. He has been convicted in court eight times for upsetting Jewish sentiment and has consequently been embargoed by many venues where he would normally ply his trade.

Many years earlier, professor Robert Faurisson, an extreme skeptic of the typical Holocaust narrative, was hit with judicial proceedings, was fined, and lost his job. Is this respect for free speech? Professor Noam Chomsky experienced blowback for supporting free speech in the case of Faurisson. Chomsky held, “… it has been a truism for years, indeed centuries, that it is precisely in the case of horrendous ideas that the right of free expression must be most vigorously defended; it is easy enough to defend free expression for those who require no such defense.”2

As for France defending freedoms, The Times of Britain notes,

French authorities have been accused of “judicial harassment” in a damning Amnesty report that claims more than 40,000 people were convicted during the gilet jaune (yellow vest) and pension reform protests in 2018 and 2019 “on the basis of vague laws” aimed at restricting their rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.


The controversial media outlet Charlie Hebdo is not about either free expression or speech. It fired a cartoonist for alleged anti-Semitism.3 On its face, Charlie Hebdo signals that Islamophobia is kosher, but Judeophobia is haram.

Macron said “France is under attack.”4 Were Afghanistan, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Chad, Somalia, Libya, North Mali, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen not under attack when the French sent their guns to these countries?5

  1. Agence France-Presse,“‘Nous ne cèderons rien’ sur les valeurs françaises, assure MacronTVA Nouvelles, 29 October 2020.
  2. Noam Chomsky, “Some Elementary Comments on The Rights of Freedom of Expression,” Appeared as a Preface to Robert Faurisson, Mémoire en défense, 11 October 1980.
  3. See “‘Charlie Hebdo’ condamné pour le licenciement abusif du dessinateur Siné,” Le Monde, 10 December 2009.
  4. “Attentat de Nice – ‘La France est attaquée’, 7 000 militaires déployés, les églises et les écoles sous surveillance : ce qu’il faut retenir des annonces d’Emmanuel Macron” L’Indépendant, 29 October 2020.
  5. Note some of these 21st century conflicts are still ongoing.

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“Democracy” vs. Covid:  A No-Go

Brussels (EU and European NATO Headquarters) – On 21 October 2020, the German Press Agency (dpa) reports that Germany pledges NATO soldiers for possible Covid-19 operations:

German soldiers could be sent on crisis missions to other NATO and partner countries during the second wave of the Corona pandemic. As a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense confirmed, the German government has promised NATO support for its “Allied Hand” emergency plan. According to this plan, medical personnel, pioneers and experts from the force would be made available for foreign missions to counter nuclear, biological or chemical hazards as required. The contingency plan is to be activated, for example, if a collapse of the health care system is imminent in allied or NATO partner countries due to very high infection rates and the affected state asks for support.

In clear text, this means that German soldiers may be deployed on covid-related “crisis missions” to other NATO partners. Covid-restrictions and related government oppression and tyranny may lead to massive civil unrest, and German soldiers, alias German NATO soldiers, along with soldiers from other NATO countries, could help the local governments suffocate such potential people upheavals, applying military force. Live bullets and killing, if “necessary”.

In some European countries, covid-unrests already clearly visible; i.e., Slovenia, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Spain, and, of course, in the very Germany. Civil and societal unrest is also boiling hot in France, currently one of the most repressive regimes in the western world.

Worldwide people of these 15 countries staged this weekend a coordinated Global Resistance mass demonstration against their governments covid-related health tyranny: Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Uruguay, Italy, Germany, Poland, Belgium, Netherlands, UK, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, France, Austria.

All these countries were told and brainwashed into believing they live in a “democracy”, and in a democracy what is happening to them could and should never happen. They were never asked. Their governments didn’t even bother telling them that these “measures” were for their own good. Now, they are even being told by people like Boris Johnson, British PM, not to hope to go back to “normal”. There will be no more normal as we knew it, he literally said. Instead, there will be a Great Reset.

Thereby he is aping the words of Klaus Schwab, the founder and CEO of the World Economic Forum (WEF), who just published (July 2020) a book, called “Covid-19 – The Great Reset”. The book is available on Amazon (where else!), and I highly recommend reading it, not for Schwab to get richer, but for you and us the people to know what “their” plan is. Only if we know what the plan is, we may stop it if we organize in solidarity and resist.

There is no “democracy”, there has never been. The EU is one of the least democratic institutions there is. But, yet, we are being indoctrinated with this huge lie, we are living in a democracy. It is covid that finally brings this abject global deceit to light.

And our lie-prone politicians and their bought mainstream media, continue to praise our western beautiful democracy, while deviating our attention from the truth, by bashing western-made enemies, like China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, Syria, North Korea, and others just so we are blinded at home, but are told with false-propaganda that all these other countries are evil. They are evil, because they do not believe in our western greed-economy. The media does a very successful firing up of “cognitive dissonance’.  We know something is not right, but our feverish want for remaining in our comfort zone makes us believe that we are well protected by our “elected” masters, and those, for example, in the east, who may follow another life philosophy than is ours which is made up of greed and violence, are evil.

An interesting Pew poll, made public today in Switzerland, shows that on average more than two-thirds of the EU population thinks negatively about China and Russia. Why? China and Russia have never done anything harmful to Europe, to the contrary.  They have offered truthful cooperation against coerced collaboration US-style. So, the question “Why?” is answered with the corporate paid brainwashed media.

Is this “democracy”?  Is this democratic thinking? Do these people realize that their brains have been captured years ago by a consumer-comfort propaganda and gradually converted into a submissive slave-behavior that still believes in “democracy”?

The German people have not been asked whether they agree to sending German troops to other countries, nor whether they should participate in NATO exercises. The truce that is in force for Germany since the end of WWII allows no foreign intervention by German military. In fact, no formal Peace Agreement has (yet) been signed between Germany and the winning powers. The armistice accord contains a clause that dictates that Germany ought to never undertake any actions that go against the interests of the United States. This would explain, at least in part, why the German Government bends over backwards  to please Washington.

But most of the Germans are oblivious to this fact.  On purpose. Because “democracy” would dictate the ethical: Let the public know. Get a public debate going about the autonomy and sovereignty that Germany currently has and that she – and her people – deserve.

The decision of using German troops as NATO soldiers in other countries has nothing to do with “democracy”. It goes against the grains of democracy. Is Germany under a “covid emergency law”, which would be similar to Martial Law? As is France, Switzerland, Spain, the UK? If so, have the people been properly informed?

Switzerland has just recently extended her Covid Emergency Law until the end of 2021 – and then what? It could easily be extended again, as it was now. The law was rammed through a right-wing congress, regardless of political parties, congress men and women largely agreed. No questions asked. The people were never consulted.

Now a People’s Referendum (a privilege the Swiss still have) that would ban this so-called “Notrecht” (emergency Law), is under way. But by the time enough signatures will be assembled and the referendum will be “allowed” by the Government to be presented to the public for a vote, it may be too late to change the drastic measures that were implemented under the quasi-Martial Law.

That’s “democracy”?  Or is it?

France, under Mr. Macron, a Rothschild gnome, has reimposed a State of Health Emergency and introduced curfews, a ban on weddings and being out in the streets is permitted only with special permits. This as the result of a “sudden and spectacular acceleration” in the spread of the coronavirus, Jean Castex, the Prime Minister said, justifying this audacious draconian measure. He added that the national COVID-19 incidence rate over the past ten days had jumped from 107 to 190 cases per 100,000 population with “particularly alarming levels” in some large cities. But who checks the figures, the statistics, how they are assembled? Nobody.

That’s “democracy”?  For disobedience fines are €135 for first offenders, rising to as much as €7,500 and a six-month prison term. Well, is this dictatorship or what?

It is far away from “democracy”, that’s for sure. Especially if we know what covid really is; namely, nothing more than closely similar to a regular flu. This is according to Anthony Fauci, chief of NIAID/NIH of the US, when he writes peer-reviewed articles in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), like “Covid-19 – Navigating the Uncharted”  …. “the overall clinical consequences of Covid-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%) or a pandemic influenza (similar to those in 1957 and 1968) rather than a disease similar to SARS or MERS, which have had case fatality rates of 9 to 10% and 36%, respectively.

When Fauci speaks to the media in countless interviews to mainstream TV he uses the usual fear-mongering narrative of the deadliness of the corona virus.

This shows that there is clearly a different agenda behind covid than controlling the “Pandemic”, but rather controlling the people. We ought to wake up. It’s too late to talk about reinstating “democracy”. Truth is, we never had democracy. And now we have to fight for our sheer survival as human beings. Trust me.

“Democracy” is but a wishful slogan. Democracy in today’s world certainly doesn’t exist. It never did. Not even in ancient Greece it worked, where the term was invented some 2500 years ago by well-off, but admittedly well-thinking philosophers. Democracy was always for the educated, for the fortunate and wealthy, but it never played out in truth to all of the people to what the term in its original translation meant and means. As soon as the term “democracy” is given to politicians as a concept to be applied to ruling a nation, the meaning of “democracy” is vandalized into “the people choose, but the elite decides”. It is the same as of this day. Democracy is derived from the ancient Greek “demokratia,” literally meaning that power belongs to the people. It never did, and even less so today.

“The power belonging to the people” was and is conceded to the people, always to the extent that the controlling elite deems appropriate. If the people want to take over what’s theirs, the controlling elite brings out controlling forces and plays the propaganda game, misinformation, manipulated truth and outright lies. This was the case then and is practiced today in even more sophisticated ways.

Today, deceit is not just applied as the ruling elite sees fit and for personal gains, it is manufactured by algorithms, actually by Artificial Intelligence. Today’s elections, particularly in the west, are decided by oligarch or deep state-controlled algorithms. The voters play an alibi role. Not more. There is hardly any election in the (western) world which is not ultimately controlled and decided by the United States.

Back to the non-democratic European Union. It is using NATO troops for urban warfare, if you will. There is a not-much-talked about German/NATO military base in the small “Land” (State) of Saxony-Anhalt, not far from Hamburg. According to the German online journal “Pivot Area”, the urban warfare military base in Schnöggersburg is being built since 2012. It should be finished by the end of 2020. By then it will consist of more than 500 buildings stretched over 6.25 square kilometers. The so called “urban agglomeration“, as the Bundeswehr (German Armed Forces) labeled its training ground, has a whole city infrastructure; i.e., a canalization (water supply and sewerage), an underground (metro) line, a train station, an industrial park, as well as a sport stadium, slums, residential areas and a high-rise district. The German MoD (Ministry of Defense) planned to invest 140 million Euros into the project (by completion, it will likely be considerably more). According to lieutenant-general Frank Leidenberger, head of the land forces innovation-department, the last decade shows the clear trend, that “warfare moves from the field to the cities.“ Therefore Schnöggersburg should give the German armed forces a supreme training ground for state of the art operations in urban scenarios. Leidenberger says also that the Bundeswehr considers its new high training city as a strategic resource to push the framework of nation concept with partner armies.”

The key phrase is “the framework of nation concept with partner armies.”  That’s where NATO comes in.

How many Germans have been democratically informed about this Monster Project? It clearly indicates that urban social unrest, on massive scale, was already foreseen way before 2012 – probably around the time that the Global Great Reset started taking form, decades ago, in the criminal heads of the all-controlling Deep Dark State; those that started this new phase of societal digitization with 9/11 in 2001, curiously also the beginning of a new western calendar landmark, the Third Millennium. Starting with 9/11, the western empire and its minions went downhill. And the East started rising.

The downhill slide will undoubtedly mean the end of the empire. But on the way there, all the most mischievous powers will be used to enslave the population, digitally and with AI algorithms. Since this Deep Dark State has also eugenicists in its core, a massive population reduction is also part of the plan.

Monetary digitization is likewise part of the plan. In fact, it is already well under preparation, as an element of WEF’s Great Reset, or as the IMF calls it, “The Great Reformation”. The IMF (and the World Bank), both controlled by the US Treasury, are planning a so-called Bretton Woods 2.0, a Reset of the monetary system, where eventually the western dollar economy would be replaced by a digital crypto-currency, in which selected western currency may partake. The role of gold in it is not clear, nor is the role of the de facto strongest currency, the Chinese Yuan.

If this as of yet hypothetical new IMF-BIS controlled crypto-currency materializes, it would most likely wipe out all US debt and make lines of credit available – perhaps in the hundreds of trillions of dollars equivalent – to help bail-out small central banks of poorer, highly indebted countries. See:

Would these countries’ debt base just balloon out of proportion with the new IMF-BIS bail-outs, or would they simply (have to) concede their national asset base to the IMF-BIS managed Global monster fund to be able to limp along in “lockstep” and poverty, according to the Masters’ rules, is not clear.

In any case be prepared.  There is much to come, if, We, the People, allow the Covid-19 induced Great Reset to move forward. It is increasingly clear that covid is nothing more than an instrument for a much grander plan, The Great Reset. The Great Reset is the antidote to “democracy”. It is a further demolition of any hope towards a “democracy”.

Fortunately, there is China, also with a new digital (crypto?) currency, in test phase, under preparation, eventually to be rolled out for international payment use, as an alternative to the dollar economy, or the new IMF-BIS treacherous US Treasury controlled crypto-currency. In contrast, the digital yuan is meant as a peaceful means of trading among equals in view of a more balanced multi-polar world. Yes, this despite the negative wester thinking about China.  The Tao life philosophy that the west doesn’t want to know or understand, is not confrontational, not even when constantly confronted by the aggressive west.

In the meantime, to escape the new monetary tyranny (from fiat dollars to fiat-fiat crypto), countries could simply retake their sovereignty, take back their national central banks, their national currencies and start producing for local markets with local public banks and with local debt as much as possible towards a state of self-sufficiency, with cross-border trading in local currencies. If this happens, the IMF-BIS controlled crypto currency will bite the dust.

The post “Democracy” vs. Covid:  A No-Go first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Fight over the Mediterranean: France’s Proxy War and the Budding Turkish-Russian Alliance

Overwhelmed by uncontrollable circumstances, the Greek government is bracing for another financial crisis that promises to be as terrible as the last one in 2015.

Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, announced on September 12 that Athens has made a “robust” arms deal that will “reinforce the armed forces” and create a “national shield”.

However, beyond Mitsotakis’ mask of confidence, there is a nightmare brewing that is likely to haunt Greece for years to come. Five years ago, when Athens defaulted on its debt,  largely to European countries and institutions, France and Germany rushed to further strangle the humbled country by selling it yet more military hardware.

History is repeating itself; this time, the crisis involves the country’s enduring dispute with Turkey over territorial waters. Invoking European solidarity, the French are, once again, pushing their military hardware on embattled and economically weak Greece. Consequently, the latter is set to purchase 18 French-made Rafale warplanes, four navy helicopters, new anti-tank weapons, navy torpedoes and air force missiles.

While the Greek government is presenting the move as a show of force in case of a future military conflict with neighboring Turkey, the French arms will intensify Greece’s vulnerability to French political diktats, now and in the future.

This is part of a larger pattern for France. French President, Emmanuel Macron, is, again, assuming the role of savior. Lately, he has taken on the role of rebuilding devastated Beirut following the massive explosion in August. In return, he expects — in fact, demands — political acquiescence from all of Lebanon’s political forces.

The crisis in Greece, however, is different. The Turkish-Greek East Mediterranean conflict is multifaceted as it involves many regional players, all vying for the same prize: some dividends in the massive deposits of newly discovered natural gas. While the conflict is presented as a continuation of the protracted hostilities between Turkey and Greece, in actuality the latter is but a small facet of a new great game, the outcome of which could change the dynamics in the Mediterranean altogether.

While NATO is falling apart at the seams, due partly to the current US administration’s isolationist policies, European countries, like France and Italy, are acting independently from the once-unified Western military alliance.

Europe is losing its once strategically dominant position in the Mediterranean region. After years of investing in the decade-long Libyan conflict, European countries are likely to go home empty-handed.

For years, France has backed the Eastern-based forces of Libyan General, Khalifa Haftar, while Italy supported the Government of National Accord (GNA) in the West. The two NATO members, openly clashing politically, had hoped that the outcome of the Libyan war would provide them with much military, political and economic leverage.

Nevertheless, the news emerging from the region is clearly contrary, in that Turkey and Russia, which staked their claims over Libya only recently, are the ones who are now controlling the fate of this country. Not only are Ankara and Moscow the main power brokers in Libya – Russia supporting Haftar, while Istanbul backing the GNA – it is likely that they will shape Libya’s future, as well.  In their second rounds of negotiations in Ankara on September 16, the two countries have endorsed a ceasefire in Libya as part of a political process that should eventually stabilize the warring country.

The irony is that, until fairly recent, there was discord between Turkey and Russia. The conflict in Syria had reached a point where war in 2015 seemed imminent. This has changed as both countries saw an unprecedented opportunity arising from the relative absence of Washington as a direct player in the region’s conflicts, coupled with European/NATO disunity and internal conflict.

With time, more opportunities arose in Libya and, eventually, in the Eastern Mediterranean. When France and Italy showed enthusiasm in an emerging alliance between Israel, Greece and Cyprus around the EastMed gas pipeline project, Turkey swooped in to counter-balance this with an alliance of its own. In November 2019, Turkey and Libya’s GNA signed a Memorandum of Understanding that expanded Turkey’s areas of influence in the Mediterranean and forced France to contend with yet another challenge to its leadership in the region.

Moreover, emboldened Turkey widened its search for natural gas in the Mediterranean to cover a massive area that extends from the Turkish southern coast to Libya’s north-east coast. With NATO being unable to present a unified front, France advanced alone, hoping to sustain a geopolitical status quo that has governed the Mediterranean for decades.

That status quo is no longer sustainable as a new political contract is sure to be written, especially as the nature of the Turkish-Russian alliance is becoming clearer and promises to be a lasting one.

The mutual interests between Turkey and Russia are likely to culminate into an actual alliance should their ongoing negotiations pay lasting dividends. On the other side of that possible coalition, there are reluctant and fractious European powers, led by self-serving France, whose strategic vision has suffered a major blow in Libya as it did in Syria, years earlier.

Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, is now leading Russian diplomacy to find a non-military resolution to the Turkish-Greek conflict. This, in itself, is an indication of Russia’s growing prowess in a region that, until very recently, was dominated solely by NATO.

The post Fight over the Mediterranean: France’s Proxy War and the Budding Turkish-Russian Alliance first appeared on Dissident Voice.

America’s “Good” Wars

Germany

On December 11, 1941, four days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Germany declared war on the United States.

Even within the most avowed Leftist anti-war activist there exists a belief that the Second World War was fully justified in stopping Hitler’s Nazis. They claim it was a just war for freedom and to halt the Holocaust. The position of the World Socialist Party was that we considered it little different from any other war for capitalist interests and as such deserving our condemnation and opposition. Over the years ample evidence has been produced vindicating the stance taken by the WSPUS although not widely disseminated by the media or academia. In recent years America has been engaged in a number of unpopular military conflicts, Vietnam and Iraq being just two, and those wars are compared to America’s archetypal “just war,” World War II, in which Good Ol’ Uncle Sam supposedly went to war for no other reason than to fight dictatorship and injustice.

The reality was that for the United States the war in Europe and then its own entry provided the capitalist class with magnificent booty. It was not because Roosevelt’s New Deal that the Great Depression ended but by the literal blood sacrifice of workers. The usual manner of correcting economic slumps is through wide-spread unemployment that lowers wages, causes bankruptcies of the less competitive companies, and facilitates the take-over of devalued plant and equipment by larger corporations. This reorganization of capitalist production on the basis of cheaper labor and cheaper materials all around, allows the surviving, enlarged and more “efficient” capitalists to renew production at rates of profit, productivity and growth even greater than before the downward dive in the “business cycle.” Prior to the “war effort,” this process was underway but had not gotten the economy going again. However, the riches plundered in times of war—the take-over and re-organization of conquered nations’ entire material wealth, equipment, cheap labor, factories, and infrastructure—are vastly more profitable than is the process of domestic bankruptcies and economic rebuilding at home.

As FDR said, the model he followed had already been proven effective in Communist Russia, Fascist Italy, and Nazi Germany under those “command economies”. Throughout the 1930’s and prior to US entry into World War Two, American corporations largely increased production in Nazi Germany. Coca-Cola, GM, Ford, Standard Oil of NJ/Exxon, Du Pont, Union Carbide, Westinghouse, General Electric, Goodrich, Stinger, Eastman Kodak, IBM, ITT, and several other Capitalist enterprises expanded their operations in Germany, becoming extremely profitable thanks to the economic boom caused by Hitler’s rearmament program. Other US corporations invested hundreds of millions of dollars in fascist Italy. American law firms, investment companies, and banks were also actively and profitably involved in America’s investment expansion in fascist countries, among them the banks J. P. Morgan and Dillon, Read and Co., as well as the renowned Wall Street law firm Sullivan & Cromwell.

Coca-Cola’s German subsidiary, for example, increased its sales from 243,000 cases in 1934 to 4.5 million cases by 1939. This success had a lot to do with the fact that, as the Hitler-admiring and -imitating national manager Max Keith explained, the caffeinated soft drink revealed itself to be a functional alternative to beer as a refreshment for Germany’s workers, who were being driven ‘to work harder [and] faster.’ In Hitler’s Third Reich, where labour unions and working-class political parties had been banned, the workers “were little more than serfs forbidden not only to strike, but to change jobs,’ and their wages ‘were deliberately set quite low.” Hence the higher profits in general for all American capitalists in Germany. IBM’s hugely profitable German subsidiary supplied the Nazi’s with the new technology necessary to automate production as well as to identify and track Jews. When in 1939 war in Europe came it provided further new opportunities for the American capitalist class to profit through production and sale of armaments and military equipment for the warring nations. Programs FDR set up to finance the purchase of American weapons and ammunition by the cash-strapped British provided London with virtually unlimited credits. In fact, American workers paid off much of the resulting accumulated national debt by means of direct and indirect regressive taxes such as the ”Victory Tax.” Again, the Capitalists pulled in huge “publicly financed” profits, while low-income workers paid the price through reduction of their personal consumption (remember “Spam”), and reduction of their war-taxed real income.

America’s ruling class was divided with respect to the handling of foreign affairs. In the 1930s, the US military had no plans, and did not prepare plans, to fight a war against Nazi Germany. On the other hand, they did have plans for war against Great Britain, Canada, Mexico – and Japan. As late as the 1930s, the US military still had plans for war against Britain and an invasion of the Canadian Dominion, the latter including plans for the bombing of cities and the use of poison gas.

The owners and top managers of many American corporations – including Ford, General Motors, IBM, ITT, and Rockefeller’s Standard Oil of New Jersey, now known as Exxon – liked Hitler a lot; one of them – William Knudsen of General Motors – even glorified the German Führer as “the miracle of the 20th century.” The reason: in preparation for war, the Führer had been arming Germany to the teeth, and the numerous German branch plants of US corporations had profited handsomely from that country’s “armament boom” by producing trucks, tanks and planes in sites such as GM’s Opel factory in Rüsselsheim and Ford’s big plant in Cologne, the Ford-Werke; and the likes of Exxon and Texaco had been making plenty of money by supplying the fuel Hitler’s panzers would need to roll all the way to Warsaw in 1939, to Paris in 1940, and (almost) to Moscow in 1941. No wonder the managers and owners of these corporations helped to celebrate Germany’s victories against Poland and France at a big party in the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York on June 26, 1940!

America’s “captains of industry” like Henry Ford also appreciated the way Hitler repressed the German unions, outlawing the Communist and Social Democratic Parties, and imprisoning their members. Dachau, Germany’s first concentration camp, was set up in 1933 to cage political prisoners. The American right-wing  wished they could mete out the same kind of treatment to America’s own union leaders and “reds,” still numerous and influential in the 1930s and early 1940s.

American companies eagerly took advantage of Hitler’s dismemberment of workers organisations’ and cut labour costs drastically. In Nazi Germany, real wages indeed declined rapidly, while profits increased correspondingly, but there were no labour problems worth mentioning, for any attempt to organize a strike immediately triggered an armed response by the Gestapo, resulting in arrests and dismissals. The Ford-Werke, for example, reduced labour costs from fifteen percent of business volume in 1933 to only eleven per cent in 1938. GM’s Opel factory in Rüsselsheim near Mainz fared even better. Its share of the German automobile market grew from 35 per cent in 1933 to more than 50 per cent in 1935, and the GM subsidiary, which had lost money in the early 1930s, became extremely profitable thanks to the economic boom caused by Hitler’s rearmament program. The chairman of GM, Alfred P. Sloan, publicly justified doing business in Hitler’s Germany by pointing to the highly profitable nature of GM’s operations under the Third Reich. IBM’s German subsidiary, Dehomag, provided the Nazis with the punch-card machine — forerunner of the computer — required to automate production in the country, and in doing so IBM-Germany made plenty of money. In 1933, the year Hitler came to power, Dehomag made a profit of one million dollars, and during the early Hitler years the German branch plant paid IBM in the US some 4.5 million dollars in dividends. By 1938, still in “full Depression”, annual earnings were about 2.3 million ReichMarks, a 16 per cent return on net assets. In 1939 Dehomag’s profits increased spectacularly again to about four million RM. Texaco profited greatly from sales to Nazi Germany, and not surprisingly its chairman, Torkild Rieber, became yet another powerful American entrepreneur who admired Hitler. A member of the German secret service reported that he was “absolutely pro-German” and “a sincere admirer of the Führer.” Rieber also became a personal friend of Göring. Texaco helped the Nazis stockpile fuel. In addition, as the war in Europe got underway, large quantities of diesel fuel, lubricating oil, and other petroleum products were shipped to Germany not only by Texaco but also by Standard Oil, mostly via Spanish ports. (The German Navy, incidentally, was provided with fuel by the Texas oilman William Rhodes Davis.) In the 1930s Standard Oil had helped IG Farben develop synthetic fuel as an alternative to regular oil, of which Germany had to import every single drop.

The last thing those men wanted was for Roosevelt to involve the US in the war on the side of Germany’s enemies. They were “isolationists” (or “non-interventionists”) and so, in the summer of 1940, was the majority of the American public: a Gallup Poll, taken in September 1940, showed that 88 percent of Americans wanted to stay out of the war that was raging in Europe. Not surprisingly, then, there was no sign whatsoever that Roosevelt might want to restrict trade with Germany, let alone embark on an anti-Hitler crusade. In fact, during the presidential election campaign in the fall 1940, he solemnly promised that “[our] boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.”

That Hitler has crushed France and other democratic countries was of no concern to the US corporate types who did business with Hitler; in fact, they felt that Europe’s future belonged to fascism, especially Germany’s variety of fascism, Nazism, rather than to democracy. The chairman of General Motors, Alfred P. Sloan, declared at that time that it was a good thing that in Europe the democracies were giving way “to an alternative [i.e. fascist] system with strong, intelligent, and aggressive leaders who made the people work longer and harder and who had the instinct of gangsters – all of them good qualities”.

While many big corporations were engaged in profitable business with Nazi Germany, others happened to be making plenty of profit by doing business with Great Britain.  Britain was desperately in need of all sorts of equipment to continue its struggle against Nazi Germany, and needed to purchase much of it in the US, but was unable to make the cash payments required by America’s existing “Cash-and-Carry” legislation. However, Roosevelt made it possible for US corporations to take advantage of this enormous “window of opportunity” when, on March 11, 1941, he introduced his famous Lend-Lease program, providing Britain with virtually unlimited credit to purchase trucks, planes, and other martial hardware in the US. The Lend-Lease exports to Britain were to generate windfall profits, not only on account of the huge volume of business involved but also because these exports featured inflated prices and fraudulent practices such as double billing.

A segment of Corporate America thus began to sympathize with Great Britain. Some started to favour a US entry into the war on the side of the British; they became known as the “interventionists.” Of course, many, if not most, big American corporations made money through business with both Nazi Germany and Britain and, as the Roosevelt administration itself was henceforth preparing for possible war, multiplying military expenditures and ordering all sorts of equipment, they also started to make more and more money by supplying America’s own armed forces with all sorts of martial material.

But one thing that all the capitalists in the United States could agree on, regardless of where their sympathies and interests lay was this: the war in Europe was wonderful for business. They also agreed that the longer this war lasted, the better it would be for all of them. Corporate America neither wanted Hitler to lose this war nor to win it. With the exception of the most fervent pro-British interventionists, they further agreed that there was no pressing need for the US to become actively involved in this war, and certainly not to go to war against Germany. Most hoped that the war in Europe would drag on as long as possible, so that the big corporations could continue to profit from supplying equipment to the Germans, the British and to America herself. Henry Ford thus “expressed the hope that neither the Allies nor the Axis would win [the war],” and suggested that the United States should supply both sides with “the tools to keep on fighting until they both collapse.” Ford practised what he preached, and arranged for his factories in the US, in Britain, in Germany, and in occupied France to crank out equipment for all belligerents.The war may have been hell for most people, but for American capitalists such as Henry Ford it was heaven. Ford-France, for example — not a flourishing firm before the war — became very profitable after 1940 thanks to its unconditional collaboration with the Germans; in 1941 it registered earnings of 58 million francs. Ford’s subsidiary in France used its profits in 1941 to build a tank factory in Oran, Algeria; this plant allegedly provided Rommel’s Africa Corps with the hardware needed to advance all the way to El Alamein.

It cannot be denied that on account of Lend-Lease exports to Britain, relations between America and Germany were definitely deteriorating, and a series of incidents between German submarines and US Navy destroyers escorting freighters bound for Britain lead to a crisis that has become known as the “undeclared naval war.” But even that episode did not lead to active American involvement in the war in Europe. America was profiting handsomely from the status quo, and was simply not interested in a crusade against Nazi Germany. Although the Japanese  attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 wasn’t such a big surprise,  a few days later, on December 11, Hitler declared war on the United States and that was completely unexpected. Germany had nothing to do with the attack in Hawaii and had not even been aware of the Japanese plans, so FDR did not consider asking Congress to declare war on Nazi Germany at the same time as Japan. Why declare war on America? Thwarted in the Eastern Front Hitler anticipated that a German declaration of war on the American enemy of his Japanese friends, even though not required under the terms of the Tripartite Treaty, (under the terms of the Tripartite Treaty Japan, Germany, and Italy undertook to assist each other when one of the three contracting powers was attacked by another country, but not when one of them attacked another country) would induce Tokyo to reciprocate with a declaration of war on the Soviet enemy of Germany. Japan had already previously invaded the Soviet Union and been repulsed but the bulk of its army was stationed in northern China. Hitler wanted to draw the Russians into a two-front war. The Japanese, however, proved less accommodating to Hitler’s grand plans. The US did not voluntarily go to war against Germany, but were forced into that war because of Hitler’s own actions. Humanitarian considerations played no role whatsoever in the decision which led to America’s participation in World War II against Germany.

Japan

Ask most Americans why the United States got into World War II, and they will talk about Pearl Harbor. December 7, 1941. Ask why the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and many Americans will struggle for an answer, perhaps suggesting that the Japanese people were aggressive militarists who wanted to take over the world. Ask if the United States provoked the Japanese, and they will probably say that the Americans did nothing: we were just minding our own business when those crazy Japanese, completely without justification, mounted a sneak attack, catching us totally by surprise at Pearl Harbour. Don’t bother to ask the typical American what U.S. economic warfare had to do with provoking the Japanese to mount their attack, because they simply won’t know.

In the 1930s the US, as one of the world’s leading industrial powers, was constantly looking out for sources of inexpensive raw materials such as rubber and oil, as well as for markets for its finished products. Already at the end of the nineteenth century, America had consistently pursued its interests in this respect by extending its economic and sometimes even direct political influence across oceans and continents. This aggressive, “imperialist” policy – pursued ruthlessly by presidents such as Theodore Roosevelt, a cousin of FDR – had led to American control over former Spanish colonies such as Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Philippines, and also over the hitherto independent island nation of Hawaii.  America had thus also developed into a major power in the Pacific Ocean and in the Far East.

However, the US faced the competition there of an aggressive rival industrial power, one that was even more needy for oil and similar raw materials, and also for markets for its finished products. That competitor was Japan which sought to realize its own imperialist ambitions in China and in resource-rich Southeast Asia and, like the US, did not hesitate to use violence in the process, for example, waging ruthless war on China. Japan, as an expanding industrial nation, required access to raw materials and energy. In the Great Depression, as trade dried up and unemployment grew, an ultra-nationalist clique within the Japanese military sought to secure the markets and raw materials Japan so desperately wanted. For a time there were two competing strategies to capture oil: the Strike North route to acquire the USSR’s and the Strike South route to capture the Dutch East Indies, one being mainly land-based and army-dominated, the other mostly naval. 1938 saw the defeat of an attempted Japanese invasion of the USSR, (which brought General Zhukov to prominence). Therefore Japanese diplomacy became centred upon the views of the naval commanders.

What bothered the United States was not how the Japanese treated the Chinese or Koreans but that the Japanese intention was to turn that part of the world into what they called the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere; i.e., an exclusive economic zone with no room for the American to trade (albeit Japan was prepared to make major concessions, such as “sharing” China with the US.) America was to be squeezed out of the lucrative Far Eastern market. By the summer of 1941, Japan had further increased its zone of influence in the Far East; e.g., by occupying the rubber-rich French colony of Indochina and, desperate above all for oil, was obviously vying to occupy the oil-rich Dutch East Indies. The American capitalist class was virtually unanimous in favour of a war against Japan but public opinion was strongly against American involvement in any foreign war. Roosevelt’s solution was to provoke Japan into an overt act of war against the United States to rally behind the Stars and Stripes. FDR’s Secretary of War Henry Stimson’s noted: “The question was how we should maneuver them [the Japanese] into … firing the first shot without allowing too much danger to ourselves.”  In 1939 the United States terminated the 1911 commercial treaty with Japan. July 2, 1940, Roosevelt signed the Export Control Act, authorizing the President to license or prohibit the export of essential defense materials. Under this authority,  exports of aviation motor fuels and lubricants were restricted. The  Roosevelt administration froze all Japanese assets in the United States. In collaboration with the British and the Dutch, the US imposed severe economic sanctions on Japan, including an embargo on vital oil products and steel. Washington demanded Japan’s withdrawal from China. Roosevelt obligingly arranged for such a war, not because of Tokyo’s unprovoked aggression and horrible war crimes in China, but because American corporations wanted a share of the luscious big “pie” of Far Eastern resources and markets.

Japan was certainly not averse to attacking others and had been busy creating an Asian empire. And the United States and Japan were certainly not living in harmonious friendship. But what could bring the Japanese to launch an attack on America? Foreign Minister Teijiro Toyoda in a communication to Ambassador Kichisaburo Nomura on July 31: 

Commercial and economic relations between Japan and third countries, led by England and the United States, are gradually becoming so horribly strained that we cannot endure it much longer. Consequently, our Empire, to save its very life, must take measures to secure the raw materials of the South Seas.

PM Konoe set about arranging a meeting with Roosevelt in a last ditch attempt to restore trade relations and avoid war in the Pacific. While FDR initially welcomed Konoe’s planned visit, his inner circle, as they had for decades, viewed Japan as untrustworthy and vulnerable, and steadfastly opposed the idea of a Pacific summit. Hull, Hornbeck, Stimson and others shared the view of senior military officials that a successful summit could have disastrous consequences for America’s strategic position in Asia. A negotiated end to the war in China and the prompt withdrawal of Japanese forces would be the core of any agreement and this, military officials argued, America must avoid. In October 1941, Hayes Kroner, chief of the British Empire Section for the War Department General Staff, informed Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall, as follows “At this stage in the execution of our national strategic plan, cessation of hostilities in China…would be highly detrimental to our interests.” By early November, Tojo and Togo overcame substantial cabinet opposition to continued negotiations and won approval for talks based on two proposal. In Proposal “A” Tokyo pledged to immediately withdraw forces from Indochina, remove troops from all of China except Hainan Islans and the far north and respect the Open Door. Japan also agreed to not automatically support Berlin in the event of a German-American war. Proposal “B” sought only a limited agreement in which Japan pledged to refrain from further offensive operations in return for normalized trade relations and a US promise not to take such actions as may hinder efforts for peace by both Japan and China.

When President Franklin Roosevelt visited Pearl Harbor on July 28, 1934, seven years before the Japanese attack, the Japanese military expressed apprehension. General Kunishiga Tanaka wrote in the Japan Advertiser, objecting to the build-up of the American fleet in Hawaii and the creation of additional bases in Alaska and the Aleutian Islands. “It makes us think a major disturbance is purposely being encouraged in the Pacific.” In March 1935, Roosevelt gave Pan Am Airways a permit to build runways on Wake Island, Midway Island, and Guam. Japanese military commanders announced that they were disturbed and viewed these runways as a threat. The U.S. Navy spent the next few years working up plans for war with Japan, the March 8, 1939, version of which described “an offensive war of long duration” that would destroy the military and disrupt the economic life of Japan.

As early as 1932 the United States had been talking with China about providing airplanes, pilots, and training for its war with Japan. In November 1940, Roosevelt loaned China one hundred million dollars for war with Japan, and after consulting with the British, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau made plans to send the Chinese bombers with U.S. crews to use in bombing Tokyo and other Japanese cities. On December 21, 1940, two weeks shy of a year before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, China’s Minister of Finance T.V. Soong and Colonel Claire Chennault, a retired U.S. Army flier who was working for the Chinese and had been urging them to use American pilots to bomb Tokyo since at least 1937, met in Henry Morgenthau’s dining room to plan the firebombing of Japan. Morgenthau said he could get men released from duty in the U.S. Army Air Corps if the Chinese could pay them $1,000 per month. Soong agreed. On May 24, 1941, the New York Times reported on U.S. training of the Chinese air force, and the provision of “numerous fighting and bombing planes” to China by the United States. “Bombing of Japanese Cities is Expected” read the sub-headline. By July, the Joint Army-Navy Board had approved a plan called JB 355 to firebomb Japan. A front corporation would buy American planes to be flown by American volunteers trained. Roosevelt approved, and his China expert Lauchlin Currie, in the words of Nicholson Baker, “wired Madame Chaing Kai-Shek and Claire Chennault a letter that fairly begged for interception by Japanese spies.” Whether or not that was the entire point, this was the letter: “I am very happy to be able to report today the President directed that sixty-six bombers be made available to China this year with twenty-four to be delivered immediately. He also approved a Chinese pilot training program here. Details through normal channels. Warm regards.”

In the eyes of the Japanese press they were being corralled:  “First there was the creation of a superbase at Singapore, heavily reinforced by British and Empire troops. From this hub a great wheel was built up and linked with American bases to form a great ring sweeping in a great area southwards and westwards from the Philippines through Malaya and Burma…” 

On November 15th, Army Chief of Staff George Marshall briefed the media on something we do not remember as “the Marshall Plan.” In fact, we don’t remember it at all. “We are preparing an offensive war against Japan,” Marshall said.

The idea that it was a defensive war because an innocent imperial outpost in the middle of the Pacific was attacked out of the clear blue sky is a myth that deserves to be buried.

Conclusion

There is no such thing as an ideal foreign policy. In international politics there is no policy which will suit all times and all circumstances. There is none which can be carried out to give a guarantee of enduring peace. After every outbreak of war historians and journalists look back to this or that turning point, and say that if only a certain government had acted differently, with more foresight, the war would not have happened. This kind of reasoning rests on assumptions that are not justified. It assumes that a government is a free agent, able to follow any policy that the international situation may seem to call for. It ignores the forces behind the government which determine the government’s attitude and limit its freedom of action; the electorates that have to be considered, but more importantly commercial, industrial and financial groups whose demands on foreign policy are coloured by their trading and other interests, such as the so-called “isolationists” versus the “interventionists” in American relations. The view taken by the “wise-after-the-event” historians assumes, too, that if one government gave a certain lead in international affairs other governments would react in a simple practicable way, determined either by fear of opposing a strong group of super-powers or by mutual desire to maintain world peace. Another problem is also that political leaders all too often ignore their own intelligence reports when they don’t fit with their political goals. Those goals reflect ideological and electoral concerns such as the need to appear to be acting in strong and determined ways – to be more assertive protectors of “freedom” than their competitors in the opposition party. This works to make presidents and prime ministers prone to opportunism and short-sightedness.

Capitalism forces all governments to compete in the world market and to strive for aims which cannot be satisfied. The rivalry between Japan and the US was unavoidable. In order to solve the insoluble problems of its own industries and financial organisations every nation, great or small, is demanding something which the other nations cannot afford to yield. And the whole problem is complicated by the sectional interests within each country, each trying to influence foreign policy. Alongside all this is the fact that the propertied class in all countries fears “subversive” influences and leans towards other governments which look like firm bulwarks for the defence of property; hence the readiness of influential circles in Britain and America to make an accommodation with the Nazis.

Those who talk as if the only problem of the British government was to prevent the German capitalists from re-establishing German power, also forget that in the 1920s the problem appeared to be that of preventing the French capitalists from dominating Europe and the Mediterranean. The policy of helping to re-establish Germany was at that time supported by British and American business interests, whose markets were in Germany and by bankers who had loaned millions of pounds to Germany. For American capitalists the British Empire was also a perceived threat, not Germany (even in 1923 the Scottish radical John McLean anticipated an Anglo-American war, “The war with America is rapidly rushing upon us”.)

When the Stalin-Hitler Pact was signed the Socialist Party pointed out at the time  “it seems certain that now Russia and Germany are neighbours, both intent on dominating Eastern Europe and the Balkans, they will find each other dangerous friends, liable to turn into enemies at any moment.”  and by 1941 that view was proven. Germany’s growing need of war materials and, perhaps, the assumption that a war against “Godless Bolshevism” might appeal to right-wing circles in Britain as it most definitely did in the U.S.A. justified Barbarossa in Nazi eyes.

Two recent books about Second World War have been published. In Unpatriotic History of the Second World War James Heartfield rejects the view of World War II as a supposed struggle against evil dictatorships. Instead Heartfield amasses evidence to demonstrate that the real underlying concerns of the elites who directed the war on both sides related much more to their economic, strategic, and imperial interests. What had formerly been trading wars had by 1939-1945 turned into armed competition over the spoils of exploitation on a world scale. Churchill openly declared his admiration for Mussolini and that he was fighting to defend the British Empire. This was a war over markets and access to raw materials as the post-war settlement over spheres of influence made clear. The plight of German Jews was never an issue nor was Poland, demonstrated by the fact that Britain and France had ignored the simultaneous invasion by Russian troops of Poland’s eastern flank. Once the fighting was over, Stalin held 52 per cent of Polish territory, and Hitler 48 per cent. This was not a People’s War but a war against people.

This contrasts with A People’s History of the Second World War by Donny Gluckstein who argues that the Second World War was an inter-imperialist conflict to re-divide the world amongst imperialist powers, but that unlike ,the First World War, it was still “a war worth fighting” as a means ” to end the scourge of fascism and Nazism” thus  concluding that workers were right to die supporting it.

The lesson of all this is that, while the forces driving to international conflict and war remain, there are no means of making the world safe for peace. Pacts and alliances, Leagues of Nations, United Nations, International Courts and so on, may possibly control minor disputes and delay the major ones, but they have not succeeded and will not succeed in preventing war. World peace, like the abolition of property, is something only to be achieved through socialism.

Former US president Jimmy Carter referred to the US as “the most warlike nation in the history of the world,” a result of the US forcing other countries to “adopt our American principles.” Carter then said the US has been at peace for only 16 of its 242 years as a nation. Counting wars, military attacks and military occupations, there have actually only been five years of peace in US history—1976, the last year of the Gerald Ford administration and 1977-80, the entirety of Carter’s presidency. The US has also invaded or bombed dozens of countries and supported nearly every single right wing dictatorship in the world since the end of World War II. It has overthrown — or attempted to overthrow — dozens of foreign governments since 1949 and has actively sought to crush nearly every single people’s liberation movement over that same period. It has also meddled in scores of elections, in countries that are allies and adversaries alike.

When things are no longer produced for profit, but for the use of those who make them, then there will no longer be any necessity for a capitalist army. When millions of workers are set free from making munitions and provisions of warfare, then they will be able to turn their attention to building themselves better houses, producing more and better food for their families, and they will enjoy the leisure, the comfort, the culture and the education which are now the privileges of the exploiters. The continuous struggle for socialism is the World Socialist Party’s peace policy.

Many support the concept of a “good war” and the Second World War is often cited as a case in point. The United States fought that war against Nazi racial theories with a racially segregated army. It fought the war for freedom and democracy having passed Executive Order 9066 interning more than 100,000 Japanese-Americans without due process. Before the war the United States regularly turned away Jewish refugees to face certain death in Europe.

The World Socialist Party has a most clear and positive attitude to war. We are opposed to all wars, whether they be major and world-wide, or minor and localized. Our opposition to all war has been consistent from the time of our origin. Our opposition to war is an opposition distinct from all others. It is not an opposition based upon religious beliefs; and although we are opposed to war on social and humanitarian grounds, our opposition is not limited to a humanitarian approach — it goes much further. The socialist opposition to war results from our analysis and opposition to capitalism; the realization that this system is the cause of war; further, that the working class are living under a system that can never be made to operate in their interests; that war is inevitable under capitalism, and that the two go hand in hand and should be completely opposed by the workers at all times until they are both finally eliminated, one with the other.

The World Socialist Party’s answer is that we can uproot the cause of war by organizing to uproot the capitalist system. Workers have more than the necessary numbers to vote capitalism out and socialism in, as proposed by the World Socialist Party. This new social system, the working people alone can bring into being, thus forever putting an end to wars, and establishing the society of human solidarity based on freedom, peace and abundance.

To conclude: Sentiment and emotion for a fine cause are laudable. But without a sound premise and defined goal, they can only end in failure and despair. The crying need of our time is not marches and demonstrations for limited and impossible to attain objectives, but determined, unrelenting action to awaken the working class to the imperative need for a socialist reconstruction of society, and to enlighten them on the principles and program for accomplishing that social change in a peaceful manner.

To quote scripture, Isaiah saw in prophetic vision a time when nations should war no more—when swords should be transformed into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks. The fulfillment of the prophecy only awaits socialism and the solution of the economic problems we all face. All else is futile and hopeless.

Sources:1

  1. Mickey Z. June 6 Is D(isinformation) Day: The “Good War” Lie, June 3, 2013.

    The Socialist Party, Great Britain.  How can Hitlerism be destroyed? February 1940.

    Dr.  Jacques R. Pauwels.  “Fall 1941: Pearl Harbor and The Wars of Corporate America“, December 11, 2011; and “Profits über Alles! American Corporations and Hitler“, June 7, 2019.

    David Swanson. Pearl Harbour:  A Successful War Lie, December 7, 2010.

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As Washington Retreats, Eastern Mediterranean Conflict Further Marginalizes NATO

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is an alliance in name alone. Recent events notwithstanding, the brewing conflict over territorial waters in the Eastern Mediterranean indicates that the military union between mostly Western countries is faltering.

The current Turkish-Greek tension is only one facet of a much larger conflict involving, aside from the two Mediterranean countries, Israel, Egypt, Cyprus, France, Libya and other Mediterranean and European countries. Notably absent from the list are the United States and Russia; the latter, in particular, stands to gain or lose much economic leverage, depending on the outcome of the conflict.

Conflicts of this nature tend to have historic roots – Turkey and Greece fought a brief but consequential war in 1974. Of relevance to the current conflagration is an agreement signed by Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu and his Greek and Cypriot counterparts, Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Nicos Anastasiades, respectively, on January 2. The agreement envisages the establishment of the EastMed pipeline which, once finalized, is projected to flood Europe with Israeli natural gas, pumped mostly from the Leviathan Basin.

Several European countries are keen on being part of, and profiting from, the project. But Europe’s gain is not just economic but also geostrategic. Cheap Israeli gas will lessen Europe’s reliance on Russia’s natural gas which arrives in Europe through two pipelines, Nord Stream and Gazprom, the latter extending through Turkey.

Gazprom alone supplies Europe with an estimated 40% of its natural gas needs, thus giving Russia significant economic and political leverage. Some European countries, especially France, have labored to liberate themselves from what they see as a Russian economic chokehold on their economies.

Indeed, the French and Italian rivalry currently under way in Libya is tantamount to colonial expeditions aimed at balancing out the over-reliance on Russian and Turkish supplies of gas and other sources of energy.

Fully aware of France’s and Italy’s intentions in Libya, the Russians and Turks are wholly involved in Libya’s military showdown between the Government of National Accord (GNA) and forces in the East, loyal to General Khalifa Haftar.

While the conflict in Libya has been under way for years, the Israel-et al EastMed pipeline has added fuel to the fire: infuriating Turkey, which is excluded from the agreement; worrying Russia, whose gas arrives in Europe partially via Turkey, and empowering Israel, which may now cement its economic integration with the European continent.

Anticipating the Israel-led alliance, on November 28, 2019, Turkey and Libya signed a Maritime Boundary Treaty, an agreement that gave Ankara access to Libya’s territorial waters. The bold maneuver allows Turkey to claim territorial rights for gas exploration in a massive region that extends from the Turkish southern coast to Libya’s north-east coast.

The ‘Exclusive Economic Zone’ (EEZ) is unacceptable in Europe because, if it remains in effect, it will cancel out the ambitious EastMed project and fundamentally alter the geopolitics – largely dictated by Europe and guaranteed by NATO – of this region.

However, NATO is no longer the once formidable and unified power. Since its inception in 1949, NATO has been on the rise. NATO members have fought major wars in the name of defending one another and also to protect ‘the West’ from the ‘Soviet menace’.

NATO remained strong and relatively unified even after the dismantlement of the Soviet Union and the abrupt collapse, in 1991, of its Warsaw Pact. NATO managed to sustain a degree of unity, despite its raison d’être – defeating the Soviets – being no longer a factor, because Washington wished to maintain its military hegemony, especially in the Middle East.

While the Iraq war of 1991 was the first powerful expression of NATO’s new mission, the Iraq war of 2003 was NATO’s undoing. After failing to achieve any of its goals in Iraq, the US adopted an ‘exit strategy’ that foresaw a gradual American retreat from Iraq while, simultaneously, ‘pivoting to Asia’ in the desperate hope of slowing down China’s military encroachment in the Pacific.

The best expression of the American decision to divest militarily from the Middle East was NATO’s war on Libya in March 2011. Military strategists had to devise a bewildering term, ‘leading from behind’, to describe the role of the US in the Libya conflict. For the first time since the establishment of NATO, the US was part of a conflict that was largely controlled by comparatively smaller and weaker NATO members – Italy, France, Britain and others.

While former US President, Barack Obama, insisted on the centrality of NATO in US military strategies, it was evident that the once-powerful alliance had outweighed its usefulness for Washington.

France, in particular, continues to fight for NATO with the same ferocity it fought to keep the European Union intact. It is this French faith in European and Western ideals that has compelled Paris to fill the gap left by the gradual American withdrawal. France is currently playing the role of the military hegemon and political leader in many of the Middle East’s ongoing crises, including the flaring East Mediterranean conflict.

On December 3, 2019, France’s Emmanuel Macron stood up to US President Donald Trump, at the NATO summit in London. Here, Trump chastised NATO for its reliance on American defense and threatened to pull out of the alliance altogether if NATO members did not compensate Washington for its protection.

It’s a strange and unprecedented spectacle when countries like Israel, Greece, Egypt, Libya, Turkey and others lay claims over the Mediterranean, while NATO scrambles to stave off an outright war, among its own members. Even stranger, to see France and Germany taking over the leadership of NATO while the US remains, thus far, almost completely absent.

It is hard to imagine the reinvention of NATO, at least a NATO that caters to Washington’s interests and diktats. Judging by France’s recent behavior, the future may hold irreversible paradigm shifts. In November 2018, Macron made what then seemed as a baffling suggestion, a ‘true, European army’. Considering the rapid regional developments and the incremental collapse of NATO, Macron may one day get his army, after all.

The post As Washington Retreats, Eastern Mediterranean Conflict Further Marginalizes NATO first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Hands off Lebanon: Macron’s Self-serving ‘New Pact’ Must Be Shunned  

French President, Emmanuel Macron, is in no position to pontificate to Lebanon about the need for political and economic reforms. Just as thousands of Lebanese took to the streets of Beirut demanding “revenge” against the ruling classes, the French people have relentlessly been doing the same; both peoples have been met with police violence and arrests.

Following the August 4 blast which killed over 200 people and wounded thousands more, the irony was inescapable when Macron showed up in a bizarre display of “solidarity” on the streets of Beirut. Macron should have taken his roadshow to the streets of Paris, not Beirut, to reassure his own people, burdened by growing inequality, rising unemployment and socio-economic hardship.

However, the French show went on, but in the Middle East. It was a perfectly choreographed scene, engineered to be reminiscent of France’s bygone colonial grandeur. On August 6, Macron stood imperiously amidst the ruins of a massive Beirut explosion, promising aid, accountability and vowing to never abandon France’s former colony.

A young Lebanese woman approached the French President, tearfully imploring him “Mr. President, you’re on General Gouraud Street; he freed us from the Ottomans. Free us from the current authorities.”

It is unconvincing that all of this: the sudden visit, the pleas for help, the emotional crowd surrounding Macron, were all impromptu events to reflect Lebanon’s undying love and unconditional trust of France.

Macron could have easily assessed the damage caused by the devastating explosion at the Beirut port. If the thousands of images and endless video streams were insufficient to convey the unprecedented ruin created by the Hiroshima-like blast, satellite and aerial footage certainly would have.

But Macron did not come to Lebanon to offer sincere solidarity. He came, like a ‘good’ French politician would to exploit the shock, panic and fear of a dumbstruck nation, while it is feeling betrayed by its own government, bewildered and alone.

I will talk to all political forces to ask them for a new pact. I am here today to propose a new political pact to them,” Macron said.

Certainly, Lebanon is in urgent need of a new pact, but not one that is engineered by France. Indeed, France was never a source of stability in Lebanon. Even the end of the formal French colonialism in 1946 did not truly liberate Lebanon from Paris’ toxic influence and constant meddling.

Alas, devastated Lebanon is now receptive to another bout of ‘disaster capitalism’:  the notion that a country must be on its knees as a prerequisite to foreign economic takeover, political and, if necessary, military intervention.

If the words of the woman who beseeched Macron to ‘liberate’ Lebanon from its current leadership were not scripted by some clever French writer, they would represent one of the saddest displays of Lebanon’s modern politics — this woman, representing a nation, calling on its former colonizer to subjugate it once more, in order to save it from itself.

This is the crux of ‘disaster capitalism’.

“In moments of crisis, people are willing to hand over a great deal of power to anyone who claims to have a magic cure – whether the crisis is a financial meltdown or … a terrorist attack,” wrote the acclaimed Canadian author, Naomi Klein, in her seminal book “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism”.

The political fallout of the explosion — whatever its causes — were triggered perfectly from the perspective of those who want to ensure Lebanon never achieves its coveted moment of stability and sectarian harmony. Unprecedented in modern history, the country’s current economic crisis has dragged on interminably, while the ruling classes either seem to have no answers or are, largely, not keen on finding any.

On August 7, a United Nations-backed tribunal was scheduled to issue its final verdict regarding the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister, Rafic Hariri. Hariri’s killing, also by a massive blast in Beirut on February 14, 2005, has torn the country apart and somewhat placed Lebanon at the hands of foreign entities.

Whether the now postponed verdict was going to further divide Lebanese society or help it achieve closure, is moot. The port explosion will surely renew the French-led Western mandate over the country.

On August 6, four former Lebanese prime ministers called for an ‘international investigation’ into the causes of the blast, hoping to win political leverage against their political opponents, setting the stage for another sectarian and political crisis.

Local forces are quickly scrambling to position themselves behind a winning political strategy. “We have no trust at all in this ruling gang,” leading Lebanese Druze politician, Walid Jumblatt, said. He, too, is demanding an international investigation.

Times of national crisis often lead to unity, however temporary, among various communities, since mass tragedies often harm all sectors of society. In Lebanon, however, unity remains elusive, as most political camps have allegiances that transcend the people and nation. People often hold onto their clans and sects due to their lack of trust in the central government. Politicians, instead, are beholden to regional and international powers — as in Macron’s France.

But France should not be the last lifeline for the Lebanese people, despite their desperation, anger and betrayal. France is currently involved in two of the ugliest and protracted conflicts in the Middle East and West Africa: Libya and Mali. Predictably, in both cases, Paris had also promised to be a force for good. While Libya has essentially been turned into a failed state, Mali persists under total French subjugation. It is no exaggeration to argue that France is currently involved in an active military occupation of Mali, one of the poorest countries in the world.

Lebanon should be aware that its current tragedy is the perfect opportunity for its former colonial masters to stage a comeback, which would hardly save Lebanon and her people from their persisting calamity.

Macron’s bizarre and dangerous political act in the streets of Beirut should worry all Lebanese, at least those who truly care about their country.

Foiled in the Security Council: The United States, Extending Arms Embargoes and Iran

There are no official policing authorities as such when it comes to international relations.  Realists imagine a jungle of states, the preyed upon and the predators, a grim state of affairs moderated by alliances, agreements and understandings. But there is one body whose resolutions are recognised as having binding force: the Security Council, that most powerful of creatures in that jumble known as the United Nations.

To convince the permanent five on the Security Council to reach agreement is no easy feat.  There are the occasional humiliations in the failure to get resolutions passed, but whether it be the US, Russia, China, France or the UK, wise heads tend to prevail.  Best put forth resolutions with at least some chance of garnering support.  Rejection will be hard to take.

On August 14, a degree of humiliation was heaped upon the US delegation.  Washington seemed to have read the situation through fogged goggles, assuming that it would get the nine votes needed to extend arms restrictions on Iran due to expire in October under Resolution 2231.  Of the 15 members, only two – the United States and Dominican Republic – felt the need to vote for it.  Russia and China strongly opposed it; the rest were abstentions.  Previous warnings that any such quixotic effort was bound to fail had been ignored.

The body most shown up in all of this was the US State Department and, it followed, its indignant chief Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.  “The UN Security Council failed today to hold Iran accountable,” he raged on Twitter.  “It enabled the world’s top state sponsor of terrorism to buy and sell deadly weapons and ignored the demands of countries in the Middle East.  America will continue to work to correct this mistake.”  He also called the position taken by Britain and France “unfortunate”, as it had only been the US view to “keep the same rules that have been in place since 2007.”

US ambassador to the UN, Kelly Craft, took it personally, giving the impression that she saw it coming in the diplomatic tangle.  “The United States is sickened but not surprised by the outcome of today’s UNSC vote.  The Council’s failure to extend the Iran’s arm embargo is a devastating blow to the Council’s credibility.” She also promised that the US would “not abandon the region to Iranian terror and intimidation, and when we look for partners in that effort, we will look beyond the UN Security Council.”

The humiliation gave Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi much room to gloat.  “In the 75 years of United Nations history, America has never been so isolated,” he confidently asserted.  “Despite all the trips, pressure, and the hawking, the United States could only mobilize a small country [to vote] with them.”

There was much that sat oddly in this enterprise.  It showed a US effort strongly driven by the anti-Iranian Middle East coven of Arab Gulf states, along with Israel.  That said, the position amongst those states is not uniform either.  In the words of Mutlaq bin Majid Al-Qahtani, special envoy of the Qatari Minister of Foreign Affairs for Combating Terrorism and Mediation in Settlement of Disputes, “Iran is a neighbouring country with which we have good neighbourly relations, and it has a position that we value in the State of Qatar, the government and the people, especially during the unjust blockade on Qatar.”

Absurdly, Pompeo has promised to see how the US might rely on a provision in the nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action it unilaterally left in 2018, which permits a “snapback”.  Triggering it would entail a return to the full complement of UN sanctions against Iran.  This novel take was also given an airing by Craft.  “Under Resolution 2231, the United States has every right to initiate snapback of provisions of previous Security Council resolutions.”

In April, Reuters noted the view of a European diplomat that it was “very difficult to present yourself as a compliance watcher of a resolution you decided to pull out of.  Either you’re in or either you’re out.”  Samuel M. Hickey from the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation also warned in May that invoking the snapback provision, especially by a non-party, “would not only underscore US isolation on the global stage, it might also undermine the effectiveness of the UNSC by creating a dispute over the validity of a UNSC resolution.”  Russia and China expressed similar readings: it was a bit rich to trigger provisions in an agreement so publicly repudiated.

Iran, in turn, huffed at the very idea of a snapback through its UN ambassador Majid Takht-Ravanchi.  “Imposition of any sanctions or restrictions on Iran by the Security Council will be met severely by Iran and our options are not limited.”

This entire act of gross miscalculation did its fair share of harm, though not in the sense understood by Pompeo and his officials.  It spoke to a clumsy unilateralism masquerading as credible support; to great power obstinacy misguided in attaining a goal.  It was not the UN Security Council that had failed, but the US that had failed it, an effort that many at the UN are reading as directed at torching the remnants of the Iran nuclear deal.  The assessment of the US effort by former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter was sharp and relevant.  “You got the Dominican Republic on board (how much did that cost the US taxpayer?)  Not a single other nation voted with you!  The shining city on the hill has been reduced to a glow, like the embers of a dying fire.”