Category Archives: Philippines

The West Really Hates China

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Obviously yes! It is happening, constantly.

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

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

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

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

*****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I replied to those who were interviewing me:

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

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

But Who Really Hates China and How Much?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

China Has Already Suffered Enough!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But all that the audience wanted to discuss was China!

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A century or two later, the Westerners arrived…

*****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

• Originally published by New Eastern Outlook (NEO)

How Fascist Loot Funded US Anti-Communism

In Gold Warriors, by Sterling and Peggy Seagrave, the authors reveal one of the most shocking secrets of the 20th century. It is the story of the vast treasure Japan managed to loot across Asia, today worth billions or even trillions of dollars, the concealment of it in hundreds of sites, and the secret recovery of much of it by what would become America’s Central intelligence Agency. America helped Japan cover up this vast fortune, fooling the world into believing Japan was bankrupt after the war and was unable to pay reparations for their mass murder and material damage.

Most of Japan’s vast stolen fortune would remain in the hands of imperialist war criminals, and would for decades be used to prop up Japan’s corrupt one party democracy ruled by the Liberal Democratic Party, with the CIA and the Yakuza pulling the strings behind the scenes. It would be controlled by men like Allen Dulles and John J. McCloy through their Black Eagle Trust, which managed both Japanese and Nazi War loot. The Gold would be deposited in the Federal Reserve, the Bank of England, Union Banque Suisse (UBS) in Switzerland, Citibank, HSBC and other major banks who often stole it for themselves.  The gold was also used to manipulate the global economy, finance assassinations and covert ops, bribe politicians, and finance right wing political movements like the John Birch Society domestically.

Gold Warriors tells a compelling tale of secrecy, greed, treachery, murder and lies. The book offers a window into the vast and mysterious world of offshore banking and the Gold Cartel. The authors estimate that today, the ultra-rich are hoarding over 23 trillion dollars, mostly in offshore bank accounts. Meanwhile around the world, health and education are being cut, poverty and homelessness are on the rise, and the rest of us are constantly told to tighten our belts.

The Seagraves destroy the myth that America reformed Japan after the war, revealing the shocking story of the MacArthur occupation and its alliance with fascists along with Japan’s ruthless imperial family and their huge corporate backers like Mitsui, Mitsubishi, Kawasaki and Sumitomo. They used this loot to finance Japan’s postwar recovery and meteoric rise. Companies that have since become household names made their fortunes through looting Asia and employing slave labor, including that of American POWS. When the survivors tried to sue for reparations, State Department officials like Tom Foley with corrupt ties to these Japanese corporations compared these victims to terrorists.

The Seagraves begin their book with the brutal assassination of the Korean Queen Min on October 7 1895 by the imperialist Japanese. In Japan, like in America, big business, organized crime, and intelligence were strongly interrelated. The Japanese Empire, like all empires, were cynical liars and claimed that Queen Min had been murdered by Koreans. With the strong-willed Queen Min out of the way, her weak husband King Kojong quickly became a Japanese puppet and soon Korea was a Japanese colony, while China suffered a humiliating defeat at Japan’s hands when it tried to intervene.

Japan seized Taiwan and parts of Manchuria from China. Korea became Japanese property, and they began to loot the accumulated wealth of centuries, including gold silver and prized celadon porcelains. Japan employed an army of antiquarians to seize and catalog hundreds of ancient Korean manuscripts, sending them to Japan or burning them to destroy Korea’s cultural heritage.  The Japanese even resorted to grave robbery on a massive scale, targeting Korean Imperial tombs.

Japan targeted Taiwan, colonizing the island and setting up massive heroin laboratories. Taiwan would for decades become a center of the global drug trade. Japan launched a sneak attack on the Russian Empire in 1904 and Russia was forced to sign a humiliating peace deal giving Japan control of its possessions in Manchuria like the South Manchurian Railway it had built. To turn a quick profit, Japan set up a massive opium growing operation. They bribed warlords and began buying up Chinese industries and land. Manchuria became what the authors call the center of “carpetbaggers, spies, secret policemen, financial conspirators, fanatical gangsters, drug dealers and eccentric army officers.” The Mitsui and Mitsubishi Corporations ran everything, making a fortune from their cut of the illegal drug trade. Through a series of provocations involving the patriotic societies and Japanese intelligence, Japan was whipped into a war frenzy and more Chinese land was stolen. Japan unleashed an army of experts to steal as much art and priceless manuscripts as they could.

Around the same time Japan had been conquering Korea, America had conquered the Philippines while claiming they wanted to liberate it from Spain. With its usual cynical hypocrisy, once Spain surrendered, America crushed the Filipino independence movement with the brutal tactics it would later employ in Greece, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and a long list of other countries. Of course, it had been America itself which had forced Japan to end its long isolation setting into motion the chain of events that had led to Japan’s rapid modernization and imperialist adventures in the first place. When the Second World War began to go very badly by 1943, Japan was no longer able to ship its loot back to Japan, and so began to hide it all over the Philippines and Indonesia. Prisoners of war and the local Filipinos were forced to dig massive tunnels. These slave laborers were often massacred or buried alive to keep the tunnels secret. The Japanese often buried their loot near historical landmarks and hospitals because they were less likely to be bombed. They smuggled gold into the Philippines on phony hospital ships, since they would be less likely to be sunk by American submarines. They hid some of the gold by loading ships full of treasure and sinking them for later recovery, and huge underground chambers were filled with thousands of tons of gold.

The Americans managed to discover gold was being hidden during the war, thanks to one of their spies. There were at least 176 treasure sites in the Philippines. By the time the war ended, the Americans had found so much gold that if it became publicly known it would have destroyed the Bretton woods system which relied on gold being valued at 35 dollars an ounce. The Bretton Woods system was itself backed with the huge sums in Nazi gold the US had managed to seize and hide, the authors of Gold Warriors suggest.

Back in Washington, there was already a group dedicated to stealing and hiding Nazi gold: the Black Eagle Trust. With their massive off-the-books money, they would bribe politicians and finance coups, covert operations and psychological warfare. Soon, the Golden Lily loot was being managed by the same people. It was being moved across the world, being used to prop up banks around the world. UBS in Switzerland, HSBC in Hong Kong, the Bank of England, Chase Manhattan. Hidden in 42 countries between 1945-47, the gold was used to make huge loans to Britain, Egypt, and the Kuomintang in China. Politicians around the world were bribed with gold certificates. The intersection between Wall Street and intelligence involved vast sums completely unknown to the public. The notion that the CIA could ever be held in check once it had control of this vast fortune was a joke, and it perhaps led to events like the Kennedy assassination. A nearly 60-year cover-up after that event would not be surprising when one remembers that the entire mainstream American media was controlled by former Office of Strategic Services men, as discussed in Science of Coercion by Christopher Simpson. The CIA and Office of Policy Coordination controlled much of the media worldwide as part of Frank Wisner’s infamous Operation Mockingbird, putting out nonstop Cold War propaganda.

In Japan, criminal Yoshio Kodama made a deal to turn over $100 million to the CIA for his immunity (worth 1 billion dollars today). During the war, Kodama had managed to save 13 billion in gold, platinum, diamonds and other loot. America had not bombed Japanese industries, instead targeting workers’ homes. This was likely because American corporations were heavily invested in Japan, just as they were in Nazi Germany, where American-owned factories supplying the German war machine were spared during the war. In occupied West Germany, Denazification was a scam, and so too was the removal of imperialism in Japan. Trials targeting Japanese war criminals were fixed to prevent the Emperor’s role being known. The US set up a special fund to bribe witnesses. Kodama was put on the CIA payroll, and behind the scenes he created the misnamed Liberal Democratic Party headed by corrupt politicians. The Yatsuya fund was used to  control the Japanese underworld. The Keenan fund named after Joseph Keenan, the chief war crimes prosecutor, was used to bribe witnesses to protect the Emperor and his cronies.

The M-Fund was named after General William Frederic Marquat, who was in charge of restructuring the Japanese economy. Marquat was also entrusted to disband Japan’s infamous Unit 731 that ran bio-warfare research using prisoners as guinea pigs during the war, but instead of disbanding, they were recruited by the Pentagon and used to develop germ warfare against China and North Korea. The M-Fund was used to bribe politicians, and evolved into one of the most scandalous financial scams in history. Soon, it would corrupt American politicians as well. Nixon turned the M-Fund, which had been run by MacArthur’s cronies like General Marquat along with the CIA and the corrupt Liberal Democratic Party, over to the full control of Japan in exchange for illegal kickbacks funneled into the 1960 presidential Campaign he lost to Kennedy. Part of the deal was for Nixon to return Okinawa to Japan, which he later did once he finally got elected.

Golden Lily loot was funneled back to far right movements in the US, and would help finance Joseph McCarthy’s witch hunts. Another source of such wealth was the global drug trade, as the CIA would manage it in cooperation with the Chinese Kuomintang and Japanese and Korean organized crime. Together, these sources of wealth would be used to fund the World Anti-Communist League or WACL the global network of fascist drug dealers and terrorists loved by Ronald Reagan. In the final chapter of their book, the authors provide a brilliant summary of the politics of heroin, relying heavily on Doug Valentine’s classic The Strength of the Wolf. In Japan, McCarthyism took a much bloodier course with a massive assassination program combined with a COINTELPRO-style war on anyone who dared to dissent. Even American and British officials could be targeted for assassination if they threatened to expose MacArthur’s alliance with war criminals and gangsters. For assassinations that were even more sensitive, KOTOH was employed – an acronym formed from the names of five Japanese army officers who performed assassinations.

Much of Gold Warriors describes the hunt for treasure in the Philippines. The Japanese were the masters of this, quietly returning for decades to recover their loot. Future Philippines president Ferdinand Marcos learned of the gold by befriending Santa Romana and making deals with the Japanese to recover gold, becoming one of the richest men in the world through his discoveries. It was Marcos gold that paved the way for Nixon’s visit to China, with Marcos agreeing to deposit 72 billion in Gold in China’s Bank accounts. Marcos had long been used by the CIA to bribe Asian governments into supporting American policy, and in return they allowed him to get rich by selling his gold to Saudi princes or trading it for drugs from Asian or Latin American cartels. The golden Lily loot that led to his rise also led to his downfall, when he bargained too forcefully with the Reagan White House and the CIA who wanted him to use his fortune to back Reagan’s scheme to create Rainbow dollars. Marcos then became one of the first victims of a CIA color revolution. As CIA-backed NGOs flooded the streets with angry protestors, his American sponsors kidnapped him and airlifted his fortune out of the country.

Gold Warriors reveals that from the underworld to the military and intelligence agencies, to the corrupt politicians to the titans of finance we are ruled at every level by gangsters. After reading it, one may even wonder how much of the CIA’s gold is involved today in financing charlatans like Alex Jones and the rest of the US “patriot” movement, since their radio stations are heavily involved in selling gold and silver. It is a fantastic book that anyone with an interest in the CIA, drugs, or fascism should read, because it offers a window into the shadowy world of offshore banking, where around a trillion dollars is transferred around the world every day. It names some of the most powerful families in the world: the Krupps, the Rothschilds, the Oppenheimers, the Warburgs and the Rockefellers. All are tied to banking and the gold cartel, where fortunes are incalculable. In fact, the gold and diamond cartels are still looting the world today with the same greed and brutality as imperial Japan. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo alone, ten million people have been killed in a brutal war to loot the country of gold, diamonds, uranium, and rare earth elements. Furthermore, most of the world’s gold is hoarded today in the Swiss Alps, in secret bunkers and underground tunnels designed to survive a nuclear war. The hunt for the gold stolen by imperial Japan even resumed as recently as 2001, when George W. Bush sent navy seals on a secret mission to recover it.

Local Autonomy: A Key to Protection of the Ecosystem

When Europeans first visited the east Atlantic seaboard, the hyperabundance of cod would not go unnoticed. In 1602, English explorer Bartholomew Gosnold named the peninsula, where the Nauset and Wampanoag people lived, Cape Cod after its fish stocks.

The Grand Banks of Newfoundland and Georges Bank of Massachusetts and Nova Scotia were immensely rich fishing grounds that were plundered by the early 1990s. Subsequently, a moratorium was imposed on the fisheries in hopes of recovery.1

In the case of the Grand Banks, one analysis laid the blame squarely on technology, draggers, factory trawlers and “the expansionary dynamics of capitalism [that] caused Canadian vessels to scour the seas for ever increasing profit…”2 “[O]verfishing, primarily driven by the capitalist ethic, was one of the major causes of the collapse of the North Atlantic Cod fishery.”3,4

In his book, The Plundered Seas, Michael Berrill called the Grand Banks and Georges Bank maybe the saddest story of overfishing.5 Berrill recognized the problem of protecting straddling stocks, as projections of the Grand Banks were outside Canada’s EEZ; moreover, Spain and the EU ignored the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization quotas.6

Worldwide, Berrill pointed to a peak in captured fish stocks in 1989, that signaled a maximum sustainable global catch having been approached.7 The FAO concurred, finding that “unregulated fisheries were often leading to resource depletion.”8 Given that the global fisheries are considered important for the food security and nutritional needs of the world’s population9 this should be a cause for concern.

Berrill’s solution was the management of Large Marine Ecosystems.10

There is much evidence for the efficacy of marine reserves and site management. In one study, for example, crab fishery data from 1996 to 2013 indicated that the decrease in catches after closure to trawling and gillnetting was significantly greater outside than inside closure zones.11

In the face of uncertainty, adherence to the precautionary principle seems prudent.12 Prudent and logical, but not easy.

“Fishers, like most other people, don’t like to be managed at all,” Berrill noted.13 Consequently, rules to protect the environment and its ecosystems are faced with difficulties posed by cheating, lack of enforcement, and insufficient funding.14

To overcome this these challenges, Berrill advocated that the marine reserves for protecting fish stocks should be managed by local communities.15

Community management of the Apo Island marine sanctuary

Apo Island seen from Negros

Among the over 7,000 islands in the Philippines, lies Apo Island, a diminutive tropical island, nestled at the bottom of Cebu and southeast from nearby Negros. A sign on Apo Island’s main beach informs that the island is 72 hectares of protected landscape and 619 hectares of protected seascape.

The seascape includes 106 hectares of coral reef. The reserve lies on the south-eastern side of Apo Island and was established in 1982 as a no-take area. It consists of 22.5 hectares along a 0.45 km stretch of the island that represents about 10% of the coral reef. Fishing is the major income-generating activity in the area.

The island is distinctive. There are no roads or motorized vehicles. You get around by walking. Electricity is available only from 6 PM to 10 PM each day. All the lodgings are simple backpacker style. To some this island is paradise.

Main thoroughfare on Apo Island

But people in paradise must not be complacent as a sign affixed to the side of a thatched bamboo hut warns. Titled “Threats to Philippine Biodiversity,” those listed were deforestation, mining, hunting and wildlife trade, pollution, population growth, lack of education, and illegal fishing.

Apo Island is very dependent on fishing for sustenance. But over the years, a decline in catch was noticed and fishers were having to venture farther offshore to catch fish.

Apo Island found a solution: the establishment of a marine sanctuary. This venture was led by Dr. Angel Alcala, a marine scientist from Silliman University. Apo Islander Mario Pascobello, owner of a family-operated diving and homestay business, told of the sensitive negotiations undertaken to persuade fisherfolk to accede to a sanctuary and dissuade them from deleterious fishing practices — among them dynamite fishing, cyanide fishing, muro-ami, and using nets with overly small mesh.

Pascobello related that initially the islanders agreed to 10 percent of the waters being designated a marine sanctuary. When they results turned out favorably, with an increase in near-shore catch, the Apo Islanders agreed to expand the sanctuary.

Pascobello noted that the Apo Island success has led to the establishment of over one thousand marine sanctuaries throughout the Philippines. Pascobello even was invited to Bunaken Island in Indonesia to share the Apo Island experience that helped lead to the setting up of a marine reserve there.

Blue sea star on Apo Reef

Apo Island is indeed a picturesque underwater realm. This I experienced on several dives, from swimming over a sandy plain speckled with gently bubbling vents that belied the volcanic origin of the island to admiring the kaleidoscopic color provided by nature’s marine garden of hard and soft corals — all this backdropped by a clear blue seascape. There are a multitude of sea creatures to be encountered. Anemonefishes danced in their namesake homes, sea snakes poked their heads under coral ledges in search of a meal, sea turtles glided by in ungainly fashion, while schools of big-eye trevallies and barracuda rode the currents of the outer reef. Apo Island is a testament to restoring a vibrant fishing ground, preserving the environment for future generations, and creating economic opportunities through tourism.


Turtles abound in the waters surrounding Apo island

Pascobello averred that community leadership, community monitoring, and education are the keys to the success of the marine reserve.

A 2018 UBC study suggests caution, finding that destructive illegal fishing practices still persist in the Philippines. It seems increased vigilance along with continuing education are ever more needed.

Nonetheless, Apo Island is a testament to land and marine sanctuaries as a winning proposition for the entire community.

  • All photos by Kim Petersen.
    1. It may well be that a recovery is underway, as there are signs that the the cod stocks are bouncing back. See Aaron Beswick, “The cod are coming back to Newfoundland — and they’re eating the shrimp that had taken over,” National Post, 23 March 2017.
    2. Fred Mason, “The Newfoundland Cod Stock Collapse: A Review and Analysis of Social Factors,” Electronic Green Journal, 1(17): 4-5.
    3. Fred Mason, 7.
    4. In his book 2030: Confronting Thermogeddon in our Lifetime (Arcade Publishing, 2003), Robert Hunter told of an Atlantic fishboat captain who admitted that every country’s fishers had knowingly pillaged the east coast cod for the sake of immediate personal gain.
    5. Michael Berrill, The Plundered Seas: Can the World’s Fish Be Saved? (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1997): 124.
    6. Michael Berrill, 125-129.
    7. Michael Berrill, 2.
    8. FAO, The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2016, 83.
    9. FAO, 200.
    10. Michael Berrill, 40-56.
    11. Kate Kincaid, George Rose, “Effects of closing bottom trawling on fisheries, biodiversity, and fishing communities in a boreal marine ecosystem: the Hawke Box off Labrador, Canada,” Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 2017, 74(9): 1490-1502.
    12. Michael Berrill, 55-56.
    13. Michael Berrill, 57.
    14. Michael Berrill, 38-59.
    15. Michael Berrill, 83-84.

    Draft Dodger in Chief Dodges “Historic” Opening of US Embassy, Jerusalem

    It was NBC’s Cal Parry who summed up the obscenity of Donald Trump’s ignorant and igniting decision to move the US Embassy to West Jerusalem, then to celebrate the inauguration on Monday, 14th May: “Well dressed American and Israeli officials on one side of the screen: desperation, death and fires on the other.”

    In 1948, 700,000 Palestinians began their flight from the city and the region trying to escape the massacres by Jewish militias on that date, seventy years ago. Commemorated ever since as the day of “Nakba” — disaster, catastrophe, cataclysm — following them to this day as land is stolen, families expelled and “settlements” encroach, and Palestinian history is bulldozed.

    ‘ “When the massacre started the (paramilitaries) took a kid and strapped him on an army jeep and drove him around different neighbourhoods of Jerusalem, saying ‘the same will happen to you if you don’t leave,’ ” Abu Kaya said, retelling his grandfather’s story to Middle East Eye.’

    …  not a single country currently has its embassy in Jerusalem because such a move is widely considered to violate international law.

    Further:

    Under United Nations Resolution 181, which in 1947 set out the conditions for the partition of Palestine into an “Arab State” and a “Jewish State”, Jerusalem was to be administered by the UN under a “special international regime.

    The 1949 armistice agreement that formally ended the first Arab-Israeli war divided the city along the “Green Line” into Israeli-controlled western areas, and Jordanian-held East Jerusalem, which included the Old City.

    Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war is widely recognised as illegal and violates further United Nations resolutions.

    For Palestinians then, sovereignty over the city is not something for leaders of other countries to determine, as US President Donald Trump did when he announced the embassy move in December.

    In the few minutes it took to jot down notes for this piece, the Palestinian death toll of those demonstrating rose from twenty-eight dead, shot by Israeli soldiers, to forty-three. The injured rose from 1,693 to “near two thousand.”

    Fadi Abo Salah, 30, who lost both legs in a bombing by Israeli aircraft, was one who lost his life, in his wheel chair — targeted by an Israeli sniper — in front of his wife and three small children. (Palestine Live group.)

    Israel, frequently declaring itself “the only democracy in the Middle East”, carried out a very democratic slaughter and target practice. Young, old, disabled, male, female, all were equally entitled to be shot, sniped at, tear gassed.

    Tiny Laila al-Ghandour who died from tear gas inhalation was just eight months old.1

    Journalist Sharif Kouddos recorded:

    Wails of grief inside family home of Laila al-Ghandour, 8-month old who died of gas inhalation yesterday. Her aunt says the gas came from everywhere, including drones.

    By Monday’s end he Tweeted:

    Sharif Kouddous

    @sharifkouddous

    Casualty toll from today in Gaza now stands at 55 dead, including 6 minors. 2,770 wounded, including 225 children. Of the wounded over 1,350 were hit with live ammunition, according to Ministry of Health.

    “It is unbearable to witness such a massive number of unarmed people being shot in such a short time,” stated Médecins Sans Frontières.

    As the Embassy partied and visitors “clapped and cheered”, Gaza’s hospitals, already teetering on collapse resulting from restrictions on all coming in to the besieged Strip — including electricity, with water contaminated — had surgeons operating day and night, with the injured being treated in the hospital car parks even, due to the overwhelming influx of those targeted.

    In another world, just sixty miles away: ‘Washington’s Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, stood on a stage painted with the US flag and said:

    Today’s historic event is attributed to the vision, courage and moral clarity of one person to whom we owe an enormous and eternal debt of gratitude: President Donald J Trump.  The crowd cheered and gave a standing ovation.1

    Deaths had risen to fifty nine.

    Of the eighty six Ambassadors to Israel, only thirty two attended the ceremony, with fifty four boycotting and only four EU Member countries attending.

    Moreover:

    The Haaretz newspaper reported that most EU member States did not participate in the ceremony because they have a firm policy towards the transfer of the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It said that the ambassadors of Russia, Egypt, India, Japan and Mexico also did not attend the celebration.

    Fallout has been swift. French President Emmanuel Macron in a telephone call to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and to Jordan’s King Abdullah condemned the “violence of the Israeli armed forces …” and again criticized the moving of the Embassy.

    King Abdullah, of course, has custodianship of all Jerusalem’s Holy Sites and: ‘has the right to exert all legal efforts to safeguard them, especially Al Aqsa Mosque, which is defined as “The Entirety of Al Haram Al Sharif.” ‘ As far as can be ascertained thus far, it seems that this important, indeed unique, historic custodianship was neither discussed with the King or his representatives, nor even a consideration of the Trump Administration as they bulldozed their way through diplomacy, history and all norms in their Jerusalem settlement.

    NATO ally President Erdogan of Turkey has recalled his Ambassadors to Israel and the US.

    South Africa recalled their Ambassador to Israel, with immediate effect, as the Embassy celebrations were ongoing.

    Ireland has summoned Israel’s Ambassador to protest Israeli violence.

    Kuwait moved for an emergency meeting of the UN, which was blocked by the US. A ‘draft statement included language expressing “outrage and sorrow at the killing of Palestinian civilians exercising their right to peaceful protest.” ‘

    ‘It also reaffirmed UN resolutions on the status of Jerusalem, saying that recent events had “no legal effect” under international law. The statement was withdrawn once the US indicate that it would block it, a UN diplomat said.’ (CNN, 15th May 2018.)

    Qatar condemned “a massacre” and “savage killings.”

    Germany, somewhat weakly, expressed concern at the massacre saying: “The right to peaceful protest must also apply in Gaza”, via a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman

    In the UK, the Labour Party’s Shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry in an unusually unequivocal statement said:

    We condemn unreservedly the Israeli government for their brutal, lethal and utterly unjustified actions on the Gaza border, and our thoughts are with all those Palestinians in Gaza whose loved ones have been lied or injured as a result.

    These actions are made all the worse because they come not as the result of a disproportionate over-reaction to one day’s protests, but as the culmination of six weeks of an apparently systemic and deliberate policy of killing and maiming unarmed protestors and bystanders who pose no threat to the forces at the Gaza border, many of them shot in the back, many of them shot hundreds of metres from the border, and many of them children.

    Throughout that six-week period, the UN’s Secretary General has been calling for an independent investigation into these incidents, one that should urgently determine whether international law has been broken, and hold the Netanyahu government to account for their actions. The UK should lead calls for the UN Security Council to order such an investigation today.

    These incidents must also be the catalyst for urgent and concerted international pressure on the Netanyahu government to lift the blockade on Gaza, and end Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories. No longer can Netanyahu act as a law unto himself, under the protection of the Trump administration, whose decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem today has further inflamed the situation.

    Chile, with the largest population of Palestinians outside the Arab world, raised Palestinian flags outside the main entrance of the Presidential Palace of La Moneda.

    Sacha Sergio Llorenty Soliz, Bolivia’s UN Ambassador, read the names of the Gaza massacre victims at the UN session, wearing a Palestinian keffiyeh.

    The mayor of Barcelona Ada Colau has demanded an arms embargo on Israel, demanding backing of Amnesty International’s call for a global arms embargo on Israel. Amnesty has condemned: “ … an abhorrent violation of International Law and human rights. “

    Zeid bin Ra’ad al-Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stated: “Those responsible for outrageous human rights violations must be held to account.”

    Writer, broadcaster and academic, Kenan Malik Tweeted:

    @kenanmalik

    Mark Regev, Israeli ambassador to the UK, considers the shooting dead of 58 Palestinians and the wounding of 2700 as “measured” and “surgical”. I’d hate to know what is his definition of “unmeasured” or “non-surgical.”

    The death toll became sixty.

    From the Trumposphere, Donald Trump input:

    Donald J. Trump

    @realDonaldTrump

    May 14

    Big day for Israel. Congratulations!

    However, on this day of diplomatic thuggery  — which the US State Department flagged as a “historic move” — the five times Draft Dodger in Chief it seems reverted to type. The man to whom limelight is seemingly indispensible, stayed in Washington and addressed the Embassy gathering by video, from a safe 5,897 miles away, dodging any potential conflict, demonstrations, dissent. Trump, of course, pulled out of a visit to London in February, to open the new US Embassy, which has also relocated, reportedly for fear of the massive protests planned at his stay.

    The man who can menace Iran, threaten North Korea with: “ … fire and fury and frankly the power the likes of which like this world has never seen”, cowers from peaceful protesters with placards. No wonder he had no intention of showing up in Jerusalem, even as guest of honour, surrounded by steel rings of security, in a region destabilized by the US and “allies” for decades, with the unarmed, indigenous population simply demanding some justice sixty miles away.

    Donald Trump, it seems, talks the talk but can’t walk the walk. Perhaps someone also told him Armageddon is in Israel (site now named Megiddo.)

    1. Guardian, 15th May 2018.

    Shakespeare said it best

    Much ado about nothing.

    That’s the “Russian interference” in the 2016 American election.

    A group of Russians operating from a building in St. Petersburg, we are told in a February 16 US government indictment, sent out tweets, Facebook and YouTube postings, etc. to gain support for Trump and hurt Clinton even though most of these messages did not even mention Trump or Clinton; and many were sent out before Trump was even a candidate.

    The Russian-interference indictment is predicated, apparently, on the idea that the United States is a backward, Third-World, Banana Republic, easily manipulated.

    If the Democrats think it’s so easy and so effective to sway voters in the United States why didn’t the party do better?

    At times the indictment tells us that the online advertising campaign, led by the shadowy Internet Research Agency of Russia, was meant to divide the American people, not influence the 2016 election. The Russians supposedly wished to cause “divisiveness” in the American people, particularly around controversial issues such as immigration, politics, energy policy, climate change, and race. “The indictment alleges that the Russian conspirators want to promote discord in the United States and undermine public confidence in democracy,” said Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general overseeing the inquiry. “We must not allow them to succeed.”1

    Imagine that – the American people, whom we all know are living in blissful harmony and fraternity without any noticeable anger or hatred, would become divided! Damn those Russkis!

    After the election of Trump as president in November 2016, the defendants “used false U.S. personas to organize and coordinate U.S. political rallies in support of then president-elect Trump, while simultaneously using other false U.S. personas to organize and coordinate U.S. political rallies protesting the results of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”

    The indictment also states that defendants in New York organized a demonstration designed to “show your support for President-Elect Donald Trump” held on or about November 12, 2016. At the same time, defendants and their co-conspirators, organized another rally in New York called “Trump is NOT my President”.

    Much of the indictment and the news reports of the past year are replete with such contradictions, lending credence to the suggestion that what actually lay behind the events was a “click-bait” scheme wherein certain individuals earned money based on the number of times a particular website is accessed. The mastermind behind this scheme is reported to be a Russian named Yevgeny Prigozhin of the above-named Internet Research Agency, which is named in the indictment.2

    The Russian operation began four years ago, well before Trump entered the presidential race, a fact that he quickly seized on in his defense. “Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for President,” he wrote on Twitter. “The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong – no collusion!”

    Point 95 of the Indictment summarizes the “click-bait” scheme as follows:

    Defendants and their co-conspirators also used the accounts to receive money from real U.S. persons in exchange for posting promotions and advertisements on the ORGANIZATION-controlled social media pages. Defendants and their co-conspirators typically charged certain U.S. merchants and U.S. social media sites between 25 and 50 U.S. dollars per post for promotional content on their popular false U.S. persona accounts, including Being Patriotic, Defend the 2nd, and Blacktivist.

    Although there’s no doubt that the Kremlin favored Trump over Clinton, the whole “Russian influence” storm may be based on a misunderstanding of commercial activities of a Russian marketing company in US social networks.

    Here’s some Real interference in election campaigns

    [Slightly abridged version of chapter 18 in William Blum’s Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower; see it for notes]

    Philippines, 1950s:

    Flagrant manipulation by the CIA of the nation’s political life, featuring stage-managed elections with extensive disinformation campaigns, heavy financing of candidates, writing their speeches, drugging the drinks of one of the opponents of the CIA-supported candidate so he would appear incoherent; plotting the assassination of another candidate. The oblivious New York Times declared that “It is not without reason that the Philippines has been called “democracy’s showcase in Asia”.

    Italy, 1948-1970s:

    Multifarious campaigns to repeatedly sabotage the electoral chances of the Communist Party and ensure the election of the Christian Democrats, long-favored by Washington.

    Lebanon, 1950s:

    The CIA provided funds to support the campaigns of President Camille Chamoun and selected parliamentary candidates; other funds were targeted against candidates who had shown less than total enchantment with US interference in Lebanese politics.

    Indonesia, 1955:

    A million dollars were dispensed by the CIA to a centrist coalition’s electoral campaign in a bid to cut into the support for President Sukarno’s party and the Indonesian Communist Party.

    Vietnam, 1955:

    The US was instrumental in South Vietnam canceling the elections scheduled to unify North and South because of the certainty that the North Vietnamese communist leader, Ho Chi Minh, would easily win.

    British Guiana/Guyana, 1953-64:

    For 11 years, two of the oldest democracies in the world, Great Britain and the United States, went to great lengths to prevent Cheddi Jagan – three times the democratically elected leader – from occupying his office. Using a wide variety of tactics – from general strikes and disinformation to terrorism and British legalisms – the US and Britain forced Jagan out of office twice during this period.

    Japan, 1958-1970s:

    The CIA emptied the US treasury of millions to finance the conservative Liberal Democratic Party in parliamentary elections, “on a seat-by-seat basis”, while doing what it could to weaken and undermine its opposition, the Japanese Socialist Party. The 1961-63 edition of the State Department’s annual Foreign Relations of the United States, published in 1996, includes an unprecedented disclaimer that, because of material left out, a committee of distinguished historians thinks “this published compilation does not constitute a ‘thorough, accurate, and reliable documentary record of major United States foreign policy decisions’” as required by law. The deleted material involved US actions from 1958-1960 in Japan, according to the State Department’s historian.

    Nepal, 1959:

    By the CIA’s own admission, it carried out an unspecified “covert action” on behalf of B.P. Koirala to help his Nepali Congress Party win the national parliamentary election. It was Nepal’s first national election ever, and the CIA was there to initiate them into the wonderful workings of democracy.

    Laos, 1960:

    CIA agents stuffed ballot boxes to help a hand-picked strongman, Phoumi Nosavan, set up a pro-American government.

    Brazil, 1962:

    The CIA and the Agency for International Development expended millions of dollars in federal and state elections in support of candidates opposed to leftist President João Goulart, who won anyway.

    Dominican Republic, 1962:

    In October 1962, two months before election day, US Ambassador John Bartlow Martin got together with the candidates of the two major parties and handed them a written notice, in Spanish and English, which he had prepared. It read in part: “The loser in the forthcoming election will, as soon as the election result is known, publicly congratulate the winner, publicly recognize him as the President of all the Dominican people, and publicly call upon his own supporters to so recognize him. … Before taking office, the winner will offer Cabinet seats to members of the loser’s party. (They may decline).”

    As matters turned out, the winner, Juan Bosch, was ousted in a military coup seven months later, a slap in the face of democracy which neither Martin nor any other American official did anything about.

    Guatemala, 1963:

    The US overthrew the regime of General Miguel Ydigoras because he was planning to step down in 1964, leaving the door open to an election; an election that Washington feared would be won by the former president, liberal reformer and critic of US foreign policy, Juan José Arévalo. Ydigoras’s replacement made no mention of elections.

    Bolivia, 1966:

    The CIA bestowed $600,000 upon President René Barrientos and lesser sums to several right-wing parties in a successful effort to influence the outcome of national elections. Gulf Oil contributed two hundred thousand more to Barrientos.

    Chile, 1964-70:

    Major US interventions into national elections in 1964 and 1970, and congressional elections in the intervening years. Socialist Salvador Allende fell victim in 1964, but won in 1970 despite a multimillion-dollar CIA operation against him. The Agency then orchestrated his downfall in a 1973 military coup.

    Portugal, 1974-5:

    In the years following the coup in 1974 by military officers who talked like socialists, the CIA revved up its propaganda machine while funneling many millions of dollars to support “moderate” candidates, in particular Mario Soares and his (so-called) Socialist Party. At the same time, the Agency enlisted social-democratic parties of Western Europe to provide further funds and support to Soares. It worked. The Socialist Party became the dominant power.

    Australia, 1974-75:

    Despite providing considerable support for the opposition, the United States failed to defeat the Labor Party, which was strongly against the US war in Vietnam and CIA meddling in Australia. The CIA then used “legal” methods to unseat the man who won the election, Edward Gough Whitlam.

    Jamaica, 1976:

    A CIA campaign to defeat social democrat Michael Manley’s bid for reelection, featuring disinformation, arms shipments, labor unrest, economic destabilization, financial support for the opposition, and attempts upon Manley’s life. Despite it all, he was victorious.

    Panama, 1984, 1989:

    In 1984, the CIA helped finance a highly questionable presidential electoral victory for one of Manuel Noriega’s men. The opposition cried “fraud”, but the new president was welcomed at the White House. By 1989, Noriega was no longer a Washington favorite, so the CIA provided more than $10 million dollars to his electoral opponents.

    Nicaragua, 1984, 1990:

    In 1984, the United States, trying to discredit the legitimacy of the Sandinista government’s scheduled election, covertly persuaded the leading opposition coalition to not take part. A few days before election day, some other rightist parties on the ballot revealed that US diplomats had been pressing them to drop out of the race as well. The CIA also tried to split the Sandinista leadership by placing phoney full-page ads in neighboring countries. But the Sandinistas won handily in a very fair election monitored by hundreds of international observers.

    Six years later, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), Washington’s specially created stand-in for the CIA, poured in millions of dollars to defeat Daniel Ortega and the Sandinistas in the February elections. NED helped organize the Nicaraguan opposition, UNO, building up the parties and organizations that formed and supported this coalition.

    Perhaps most telling of all, the Nicaraguan people were made painfully aware that a victory by the Sandinistas would mean a continuation of the relentlessly devastating war being waged against them by Washington through their proxy army, the Contras.

    Haiti, 1987-1988:

    After the Duvalier dictatorship came to an end in 1986, the country prepared for its first free elections ever. However, Haiti’s main trade union leader declared that Washington was working to undermine the left. US aid organizations, he said, were encouraging people in the countryside to identify and reject the entire left as “communist”. Meanwhile, the CIA was involved in a range of support for selected candidates until the US Senate Intelligence Committee ordered the Agency to cease its covert electoral action.

    Bulgaria, 1990-1991 and Albania, 1991-1992:

    With no regard for the fragility of these nascent democracies, the US interfered broadly in their elections and orchestrated the ousting of their elected socialist governments.

    Russia, 1996:

    For four months (March-June), a group of veteran American political consultants worked secretly in Moscow in support of Boris Yeltsin’s presidential campaign. Boris Yeltsin was being counted on to run with the globalized-free market ball and it was imperative that he cross the goal line. The Americans emphasized sophisticated methods of message development, polling, focus groups, crowd staging, direct-mailing, etc., and advised against public debates with the Communists. Most of all they encouraged the Yeltsin campaign to “go negative” against the Communists, painting frightening pictures of what the Communists would do if they took power, including much civic upheaval and violence, and, of course, a return to the worst of Stalinism. Before the Americans came on board, Yeltsin was favored by only six percent of the electorate. In the first round of voting, he edged the Communists 35 percent to 32, and was victorious in the second round 54 to 40 percent.

    Mongolia, 1996:

    The National Endowment for Democracy worked for several years with the opposition to the governing Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party (MPRR, the former Communists) who had won the 1992 election to achieve a very surprising electoral victory. In the six-year period leading up to the 1996 elections, NED spent close to a million dollars in a country with a population of some 2.5 million, the most significant result of which was to unite the opposition into a new coalition, the National Democratic Union. Borrowing from Newt Gingrich’s Contract With America, the NED drafted a “Contract With the Mongolian Voter”, which called for private property rights, a free press and the encouragement of foreign investment. The MPRR had already instituted Western-style economic reforms, which had led to widespread poverty and wiped out much of the communist social safety net. But the new government promised to accelerate the reforms, including the privatization of housing. By 1998 it was reported that the US National Security Agency had set up electronic listening posts in Outer Mongolia to intercept Chinese army communications, and the Mongolian intelligence service was using nomads to gather intelligence in China itself.

    Bosnia, 1998:

    Effectively an American protectorate, with Carlos Westendorp – the Spanish diplomat appointed to enforce Washington’s offspring: the 1995 Dayton peace accords – as the colonial Governor-General. Before the September elections for a host of offices, Westendorp removed 14 Croatian candidates from the ballot because of alleged biased coverage aired in Bosnia by neighboring Croatia’s state television and politicking by ethnic Croat army soldiers. After the election, Westendorp fired the elected president of the Bosnian Serb Republic, accusing him of creating instability. In this scenario those who appeared to support what the US and other Western powers wished were called “moderates”, and allowed to run for and remain in office. Those who had other thoughts were labeled “hard-liners”, and ran the risk of a different fate. When Westendorp was chosen to assume this position of “high representative” in Bosnia in May 1997, The Guardian of London wrote that “The US secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, praised the choice. But some critics already fear that Mr. Westendorp will prove too lightweight and end up as a cipher in American hands.”

    Nicaragua, 2001

    Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega was once again a marked man. US State Department officials tried their best to publicly associate him with terrorism, including just after September 11 had taken place, and to shamelessly accuse Sandinista leaders of all manner of violations of human rights, civil rights, and democracy. The US ambassador literally campaigned for Ortega’s opponent, Enrique Bolaños. A senior analyst in Nicaragua for Gallup, the international pollsters, was moved to declare: “Never in my whole life have I seen a sitting ambassador get publicly involved in a sovereign country’s electoral process, nor have I ever heard of it.”

    At the close of the campaign, Bolaños announced: “If Ortega comes to power, that would provoke a closing of aid and investment, difficulties with exports, visas and family remittances. I’m not just saying this. The United States says this, too. We cannot close our eyes and risk our well-being and work. Say yes to Nicaragua, say no to terrorism.”

    In the end, the Sandinistas lost the election by about ten percentage points after steadily leading in the polls during much of the campaign.

    Bolivia, 2002

    The American bête noire here was Evo Morales, Amerindian, former member of Congress, socialist, running on an anti-neoliberal, anti-big business, and anti-coca eradication campaign. The US Ambassador declared: “The Bolivian electorate must consider the consequences of choosing leaders somehow connected with drug trafficking and terrorism.” Following September 11, painting Officially Designated Enemies with the terrorist brush was de rigueur US foreign policy rhetoric.

    The US Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs warned that American aid to the country would be in danger if Mr. Morales was chosen. Then the ambassador and other US officials met with key figures from Bolivia’s main political parties in an effort to shore up support for Morales’s opponent, Sanchez de Lozada. Morales lost the vote.

    Slovakia, 2002

    To defeat Vladimir Meciar, former prime minister, a man who did not share Washington’s weltanschauung about globalization, the US ambassador explicitly warned the Slovakian people that electing him would hurt their chances of entry into the European Union and NATO. The US ambassador to NATO then arrived and issued his own warning. The National Endowment for Democracy was also on hand to influence the election. Meciar lost.

    El Salvador, 2004

    Washington’s target in this election was Schafik Handal, candidate of the FMLN, the leftist former guerrilla group. He said he would withdraw El Salvador’s 380 troops from Iraq as well as reviewing other pro-US policies; he would also take another look at the privatizations of Salvadoran industries, and would reinstate diplomatic relations with Cuba. His opponent was Tony Saca of the incumbent Arena Party, a pro-US, pro-free market organization of the extreme right, which in the bloody civil war days had featured death squads and the infamous assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero.

    During a February visit to the country, the US Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, met with all the presidential candidates except Handal. He warned of possible repercussions in US-Salvadoran relations if Handal were elected. Three Republican congressmen threatened to block the renewal of annual work visas for some 300,000 Salvadorans in the United States if El Salvador opted for the FMLN. And Congressman Thomas Tancredo of Colorado stated that if the FMLN won, “it could mean a radical change” in US policy on remittances to El Salvador.

    Washington’s attitude was exploited by Arena and the generally conservative Salvadoran press, who mounted a scare campaign, and it became widely believed that a Handal victory could result in mass deportations of Salvadorans from the United States and a drop in remittances. Arena won the election with about 57 percent of the vote to some 36 percent for the FMLN.

    After the election, the US ambassador declared that Washington’s policies concerning immigration and remittances had nothing to do with any election in El Salvador. There appears to be no record of such a statement being made in public before the election when it might have had a profound positive effect for the FMLN.

    Afghanistan, 2004

    The US ambassador to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, went around putting great pressure on one candidate after another to withdraw from the presidential race so as to insure the victory for Washington’s man, the incumbent, Hamid Karzai in the October election. There was nothing particularly subtle about it. Khalilzad told each one what he wanted and then asked them what they needed. Karzai, a long-time resident in the United States, was described by the Washington Post as “a known and respected figure at the State Department and National Security Council and on Capitol Hill.”

    “Our hearts have been broken because we thought we could have beaten Mr. Karzai if this had been a true election,” said Sayed Mustafa Sadat Ophyani, campaign manager for Younis Qanooni, Karzai’s leading rival. “But it is not. Mr. Khalilzad is putting a lot of pressure on us and does not allow us to fight a good election campaign.”.

    None of the major candidates actually withdrew from the election, which Karzai won with about 56 percent of the votes.

    The Cold War Forever

    On March 7 British police said that a former Russian double agent, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious on a bench in Salisbury, a city southwest of London. The police said that Skripal had been “targeted specifically” with a nerve agent. Skripal was jailed in Russia in 2006 for passing state secrets to Britain. He was released in 2010 as part of a spy swap.

    Because nerve agents are complex to make, they are typically not made by individuals, but rather by states. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has said that the Skripal case had “echoes” of what happened to Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB Operative who British officials believe was poisoned in London by Russian agents in 2006, becoming the first victim of lethal polonium-210-induced acute radiation syndrome. Before he died, he spoke about the misdeeds of the Russian secret service and delivered public deathbed accusations that Russian president Vladimir Putin was behind his unusual malady.

    Because of this the Skripal poisoning looks like an open-and-shut case.

    But hold on. Skripal was sent to Britain by the Russian government eight years ago in an exchange of spies. Why would they want to kill him now, and with Putin’s election coming up? And with the quadrennial football (soccer) World Cup coming up soon to be played in Russia. Moscow is very proud of this, publicizing it every day on their international television stations (RT in the US). A murder like this could surely put a serious damper on the Moscow festivities. Boris Johnson has already dropped a threat: “Thinking ahead to the World Cup this July, this summer, I think it would be very difficult to imagine that UK representation at that event could go ahead in the normal way and we would certainly have to consider that.”3 It was totally predictable.

    Because political opposition is weak, and no obvious threat to the ruling United Russia Party, what would the government gain by an assassination of an opposition figure?

    So if Russia is not responsible for Skripal’s poisoning, who is? Well, I have an idea. I can’t give you the full name of the guilty party, but its initials are CIA. US-Russian Cold Wars produce unmitigated animosity. As but one example, the United States boycotted the Olympics that were held in the Soviet Union in 1980, because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The Soviet Union then boycotted the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.

    Ideology and Evolution

    New York Times editorial page editor James Bennet recently declared: “I think we are pro-capitalism. The New York Times is in favor of capitalism because it has been the greatest engine of, it’s been the greatest anti-poverty program and engine of progress that we’ve seen.”4 The man is correct as far as he goes. But there are two historical factors that enter into this discussion that he fails to consider:

      1. Socialism may well have surpassed capitalism as an anti-poverty program and engine of progress if the United States and other capitalist powers had not subverted, destabilized, invaded, and/or overthrown every halfway serious attempt at socialism in the world. Not one socialist-oriented government, from Cuba and Vietnam in the 1960s, to Nicaragua and Chile in the 1970s, to Bulgaria and Yugoslavia in the 1990s, to Haiti and Venezuela in the 2000s has been allowed to rise or fall based on its own merits or lack of same, or allowed to relax its guard against the ever-threatening capital imperialists.
      2. Evolution: Social and economic systems have evolved along with human beings. Humankind has roughly gone from slavery to feudalism to capitalism. There’s no reason to assume that this evolution has come to a grinding halt, particularly given the deep-seated needs of the world in the face of one overwhelming problem after another, most caused by putting profit before people.
    1. New York Times, February 16, 2018.
    2. Mueller Indictment – The “Russian Influence” Is A Commercial Marketing Scheme,” Moon of Alabama, February 17, 2018.
    3. The Independent (London), March 6, 2018.
    4. Huffington Post, February 27, 2018.

    The True Stories That Fake News Tells: The Forced Sterilization of Women

    I am constantly amazed in this day and age where Americans have a President who touts anything he doesn’t agree with as “fake news” that is the moment that people grow cynical of the term.   Despite Donald Trump’s ability to shun astute critique of his politics, the term does carry currency in terms of how true or false news stories are.  But it is not just American media that is stuck within this paradigm of readers never knowing what is or is not true, the British who have a nationally subsidized media whereby residents in the UK must pay a TV license are subjected to another sort of “fake news,” namely, the endless stream of trivia regarding the Royal Family.

    What is “news” today can range from the entirely vapid stories of an impending Royal Wedding to the recent story of a pedophile found in his cell with his penis chopped off.  The former is entirely not newsworthy and stokes the fire of many British who resist paying television taxes because of this sort of abuse of public funds to cover “fluff” and the latter is largely untrue. Yet, both stories are widespread because who doesn’t want to read about a pedophile who has come to his just-deserved end or the happy royal marriage between a Hollywood actor and a prince?

    And this is why fake news has become so prevalent: the market forces of advertisement rewards social media shares. Conterminous to this reality of capitalism and social media there is a recent study published in Science last week, untrue stories are shared at far higher rates than factual new items:

    About 126,000 rumors were spread by ∼3 million people. False news reached more people than the truth; the top 1% of false news cascades diffused to between 1000 and 100,000 people, whereas the truth rarely diffused to more than 1000 people. Falsehood also diffused faster than the truth. The degree of novelty and the emotional reactions of recipients may be responsible for the differences observed.

    And this paradigm of news “out there” ranging from the entirely fantastical to the well-researched and objectively true means that readers are either constantly suspicious about what they read or just more gullible about the intake of news given the paucity of time to research every media byte.

    For instance, last fall when the cryptocurrency market began to rise ever so speedily, many people wrote me to ask me about bitcoin and if the stories were true about its reputed rise.  The quality of fake news is so wide-ranging today in subject matter and analysis that it is hard for people to recognize the difference between actual true news, fake news, and as I found out yesterday when posting a satirical piece about a man who abandoned his family to live out his dream of living life as a squirrel. Indeed, at times it is difficult to recognize fake news from real news simply because reality is also troublingly “unreal” and indistinguishable from fable.

    So yesterday, I came upon a story which I shared on Facebook where my stream there is largely a bookmarking of stories I hope to read in the not-too-distant future.  The story I posted is entitled “Big Pharma Co. Has License Suspended As Vaccine Sterilizes 500,000 Girls” and immediately upon posting the thread was flooded with skeptical comments asking if this is true, one wondering why the British media hadn’t reported this, and even one posting to a fact-checking website which rates news stories on the conspiracy range from “none” to “tin foil hat.”

    This article received a “mixed” review.  And on Snopes, this related to a story from 2014 which was labelled as “false” despite the origins of the story being factually correct:  a press statement released on 7 October, 2015 by the Catholic Health Commission of Kenya – Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) who state their concerns that the Tetanus Toxoid vaccine (TT) might be laced with Beta human chorionic gonadotropin (b-HCG). This press release expressed concern for the role played by sponsoring development partners since such programs had “previously been used by the same partners in Philippines, Nicaragua and Mexico to vaccinate women against future pregnancy.”  A component of experimental birth control vaccines, b-HCG caused alarm to these bishops as it is common knowledge that development aid has historically and negatively affected the bodies of women—especially those of women of color.

    Anyone who has lived in countries outside the west becomes acutely aware as to how “humanitarian aid” is peddled, offered up as the panacea to all social and medical ills, when, in fact, such aid usually debilitates local economies, medical practices, and educational institutions.  And view the video of the man at the center of this debate, former Kenyan Prime Minister, Raila Odinga (1992-2013), who has spoken at length on his concerns. Watching this video, it is clear that Odinga is no biologist and that his statement does not account for presence of b-HCG. Similarly, the Washington Post report on this subject makes clear that the results are inconclusive either way due to how the sample of this vaccine was analyzed.  Still many remain cautious about dismissing the accusations, such as Keith Donovan of Georgetown’s Pellegrino Center for Clinical Bioethics, stating:

    [T]here are aspects of this that need to be raising red flags because of history and because of the way it was all being done. But raising red flags doesn’t mean that there’s something that actually has occurred.

    What Donovan is getting at here is the importance of understanding how women’s bodies have been historically controlled by colonizing forces, especially with regards to their reproductive capacity.  The accusations which target this long-running vaccination program sponsored by the WHO and UNICEF, inoculates women of reproductive age against tetanus in a country where tetanus is a deadly health problem.  Yet the phrase “women of reproductive age” mentioned in the same sentence as any UN organization or NGO will set off alarms for many who have seen the horrors of mass sterilization programs which, oddly enough, British media has rarely covered.

    One of the most infamous mass sterilization projects in recent history was that carried out by the Peace Corps in Bolivia in the 1960s and early 1970s. This resulted in the Peace Corps being thrown out of the country in 1971, in large part because of the production of one of Bolivia’s most important films on the topic, Blood of the Condor (Yawar Mallku), by Jorge Sanjínes (1969), which informed the people as to what this US agency was doing to women.  This project involved Peace Corps volunteers distributing contraception, even inserting IUDs into indigenous Quechua women, without their informed consent.  This set off a series of accusations which in turn fueled rumors about widespread US-funded sterilization programs.  Through the 1980s there was a distrust of all US programs, food products, and birth control products.  Meanwhile in this same period, between 1965 and 1971, an estimated 1 million women in Brazil had been sterilized. And in Mexico in 1974 there was a massive sterilization program which gave an anti-fertility vaccine to 1,204 females under the guise of “family planning.”

    In Colombia, between 1963 and 1965 more than 400,000 women were sterilized in a program funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. And in the Philippines, where similar concerns of the tetanus vaccine was blamed for sterilizing women just last year, USAID has sponsored family planning programs there to the tune of $40m, with poor women being offered money to go through the sterilization procedure in rural villages.  The Philippines has a long history of sterilization projects dating back to the 1970s which has resulted in a healthy skepticism about any “vaccines” that Filipina women will logically view with great suspicion.

    In recent years, there have been numerous reports from the Gauteng province of South Africa of women who are HIV+ people told that sterilization is the “best form of contraception” and others who have been sterilized without any consent whatsoever. Similar reports have been emerging from Uganda, Namibia, and Slovakia as well. In Israel, the government has been sterilizing Ethiopian immigrants to the country with a notable decline in their birthrate in the country. And both Kenya and Chile have various important court cases which specifically address the illegality of forced sterilization in well-documented cases. It is no surprise that the former Prime Minister of Kenya is suspicious of a vaccine that has been called into question by the Catholic Health Commission of Kenya.

    Still, let us not forget where such eugenicist notions of sterilization originated.  From the early twentieth century, the eugenics movement in the UK was born which led to the formation of the Eugenics Education Society in 1907. This organization campaigned for the forced sterilization of mentally disabled women, a program supported by mostly Labour MPs such that by 1931 there was a draft bill proposed in Parliament to this end. On the other side of the Atlantic, sterilization laws were enacted in 32 of the US states between 1907 and 1937 only to be repealed from the 1970s onward. Although the sterilization was to affect the bodies of both males and females in the United States, the focus of sterilization would come to bear its weight on the bodies of women.

    For instance, in California, even when the state’s eugenic sterilization law was repealed in 1979, other legislation paved the way for operations in state prisons to sterilize female inmates. Between 2006 and 2010, there were 146 female inmates in two of California’s women’s prisons who received tubal ligations with at least three dozen of these procedures directly violating the state’s own informed consent process. Not surprisingly, the majority of those who were sterilized were not only first-time offenders, but largely African-American and Latina. The logic as explained by the physician responsible for these surgeries, Dr. James Heinrich: that the state would save money “compared to what you save in welfare paying for these unwanted children—as they procreated more.” In 2013, a journalist at the Center for Investigative Reporting published on this story which eventually led to the passage of a bill banning sterilization in California state prisons.

    And sterilization campaigns have been more than common outside of prisons in the United States and its territories such as the case of Puerto Rico where from the 1930s to late 1960s mass sterilization was underway such that by 1965, a survey revealed that one-third of Puerto Rican women were sterile.  Similar to the surgeries undertaken in prisons was the rationale rooted in the desire to save the government’s money from women who were perceived as reproducing at high rates, especially when Puerto Rican immigrants were coming to the US in the 1970s. Also, there was the fear that Latinos might edge out “white America” which is why so many Latina women in Puerto Rico, New York City, and California were specifically targeted by the government for sterilization throughout the 20th century.

    African American women have also been the targets of population control throughout the country’s history and have been disproportionately affected by sterilization abuse. In North Carolina, the state which has one of the worse records for sterilization abuse, 65 percent of its sterilization procedures were performed on black women despite the population of black women in that state hovering at 25 percent.  The case Madrigal v. Quilligan (1978) was ground-breaking in that, even if the judge ruled in favor of the doctors who abusively coerced Latina women into sterilization, this case set the precedent of informed consent, underscoring the obligation to provide forms in multiple languages for non-native English speakers.

    So while some are outraged by the claims of UNICEF and the WHO being accused of sterilizing women in countries like Kenya and the Philippines, others view the historical veracity of what similar agencies have done historically and more recently (eg. USAID’s support of Peru’s sterilization of indigenous women from 1997 through 2002 where “USAID provided $18 million to CARE for training doctors to perform sterilization and supplying sterilization equipment used in the coercive campaigns.”1

    What is important to take away from these reports is that the suspicion exercised over the control of women’s bodies by foreign agencies and/or by these agencies exercising their monetary power through local politics needs to be regarded with great scrutiny.  Has the Kenya Accreditation Service (Kenas) truly suspended Agriq-Quest Ltd’s license as a testing laboratory? I called their corporate number this morning and received no answer and went onto their Facebook page only to find it removed.  I went onto the Kenas’ website to see that Agriq-Quest Ltd is delisted.

    The whole story has not been told and we have only a few blips of information here and there that can easily seem like fake news, or a story that western media doesn’t really care to tell. The larger question is why more western media isn’t concerned about the medicalization of the bodies of teenage girls and young women to the extent that the WHO and the UN are given carte blanche to create policy and to avoid answering any and all questions put to them about these policies.

    What consoles me about seeing Odinga’s statement to the press is not that the reports about sterilization are necessarily inaccurate, but they reveal a healthy dose of cynicism towards foreign agencies that have never had these peoples’ best interest at heart.  We need to applaud the reports that may be inaccurate since they at least stick their neck out for the lives and rights of women to have a say in their corporeal autonomy, reproductive health, and lives.

    1. Peru’s Ministry of Health, “Final Report Concerning Voluntary Surgical Contraception Activities,” July, 2002.

    The World Remembers 64th Anniversary of the West-Sponsored Coup in Iran

    After WWII, the West had one huge ‘problem’ on its hands: all three most populous Muslim countries on Earth – Egypt, Iran and Indonesia – were clearly moving in one similar direction, joining a group of patriotic, peaceful and tolerant nations. They were deeply concerned about the welfare of their citizens, and by no means were they willing to allow foreign colonialist powers to plunder their resources, or enslave their people.

    In the 1950’s, the world was rapidly changing, and there was suddenly hope that the countries which were oppressed and pillaged for decades and centuries by first the European and then North American geopolitical and business interests, would finally break their shackles and stand proudly on their own feet.

    Several Communist countries in Eastern Europe, but also newly liberated China, were actively helping with a rapid de-colonizing process in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and other parts of the world.

    Those developments were exactly what the West in general and both the U.K. and the U.S. in particular, were not ready or willing to accept. ‘Ancient’ belief in some sort of ‘inherited right’ to colonize, to loot and to control entire the non-white world, was deeply engraved in the psyche of the rulers in both Europe and North America.

    Peaceful, tolerant and socially oriented Islam was seen as a tremendous threat, at least in London, Washington, and Paris. It had to be stopped, even destroyed — resolutely and by all available means. Only the pre-approved Wahhabism, which was collaborative with the West and from the onset at least partially ‘co-produced’ by the British Empire, was singled-out and allowed to ‘bloom and succeed’.

    *****

    Iran fell first, in 1953.

    Actually, it did not fall; it was brutally destroyed.

    According to the logic of the Empire, Iran had to be derailed and ruined, in order to prevent a so-called ‘domino effect’.

    As written by Irfan Ahmad, an Associate Professor of Political Anthropology at Australian Catholic University, Melbourne and author of “Islamism and Democracy in India”:

    …Major theatre of de-democratization was Iran, whose elected government was overthrown, in 1953, by a US-UK alliance. Mohammad Mosaddeq was Iran’s elected prime minister. He enjoyed the approval of Iran’s parliament for his nationalization program. The US and UK organized a CIA-led coup to oust Mosaddeq – because Iran refused make oil concessions to the West. During World War II, the UK had taken control of Iran to prevent oil from being passed to its ally, the Soviet Union. Through the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, the UK continued to control Iran’s oil after the war. The French-educated Mosaddeq was highly critical of Iran’s draining of resources to the West. Soon after getting elected as prime minister in March 1951, Mosaddeq and his National Front alliance had moved to nationalize Iranian oil and throw out foreign control of oil fields. One such was the Abadan refinery, then the largest in the world. The UK retaliated by imposing economic sanctions, backed by its heavy naval presence in the region. Mosaddeq, however, was undeterred; his popularity only increased among the Iranian people. Faced with Mosaddeq’s resistance, the UK-US alliance staged a coup to over throw Mosaddeq’s government.

    *****

    Egypt was next.  France, the U.K. and Israel attacked it in 1956 during the so-called “Suez Canal Crises”. Although the invasion eventually ended and the Canal stayed in the hands of Egypt, the country never fully recovered. There were further Israeli attacks and invasions, and after President Gamal Abdel Nasser passed away in 1970, gross meddling in Egypt’s internal affairs by the Western countries. Gradually, Egypt was turned into an impoverished client state.

    In Indonesia, a progressive and religiously tolerant President Ahmed Sukarno was overthrown more than a decade after Mohammad Mosaddeq in Iran. The coup took place in 1965, with direct involvement of the United States. Between 1 and 3 million people were brutally slaughtered.

    Sukarno’s main ‘sins’, at least in the eyes of the Western Empire, consisted of strong left wing, patriotic stands, which included nationalization of almost all natural resources. Sukarno was also one of the founding fathers of the non-aligned movement.

    By the end of the 1960’s, socialism in the Muslim countries had been almost thoroughly demolished. A dark era of collaboration, particularly in the [Persian] Gulf region, arrived.

    The 1953 coup in Iran was later replicated in various parts of the world, even as far as Latin America.

    For years it is has been no secret that the U.S and the U.K. planned and executed this deadly event.

    In its article, CIA admits role in 1953 Iranian coup, published on 19 August 2013, The Guardian reported:

    The CIA has publicly admitted for the first time that it was behind the notorious 1953 coup against Iran’s democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq, in documents that also show how the British government tried to block the release of information about its own involvement in his overthrow.

    On the 60th anniversary of an event often invoked by Iranians as evidence of western meddling, the US national security archive at George Washington University published a series of declassified CIA documents.

    The military coup that overthrew Mosaddeq and his National Front cabinet was carried out under CIA direction as an act of US foreign policy, conceived and approved at the highest levels of government,” reads a previously excised section of an internal CIA history titled The Battle for Iran.

    Declassified, U.S Department of State “Top Secret” documents from 1952, also clearly demonstrated great appetite of the U.K. to perform the coup in Iran:

    Subject: Proposal to Organize a Coup d’etat in Iran

    Problem:

    The British foreign Office has informed us that it would be disposed to attempt to bring about a coup d’état in Iran, replacing the Mosadeq Government by one which would be more “reliable”, if the American government agreed to cooperate…

    Although the U.S. government was originally hesitant about supporting the U.K. in planning to overthrow Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq, it soon changed its mind and allowed the CIA to plot and execute the coup.

    What followed was 26 years of perversely brutal rule of Shah Reza Pahlavi, as well as of the British-US control over almost all great natural resources of Iran.

    In brief: the West performed an experiment on Iran and on its people: how would the country react to a bloodbath, to overthrowing its popular leader, to a theft of its resources?

    *****

    As it did for centuries, the U.K. ‘scored’: it correctly predicted that it would be able to ‘get away with murder’. It managed to convince its offspring, the United States, that huge international crimes pay, as long as they are committed barefaced.

    And the US industrialized these crimes, as it earlier did production of automobiles or radio sets. Crimes got mass-produced. One ‘inappropriate’ government after another got overthrown, destroyed; all over the world: Congo, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Chile, Brazil, Indonesia, Vietnam… Crimes were piling up, and still are.

    1953 in Iran marked the beginning of a ‘new chapter’ in the world history – a terrible and brutal chapter.

    Iranian people and Iranian leadership are well aware of it. The country that suffered so much, the country which lost hundreds of thousands of its sons and daughters to Western imperialism, geopolitical games as well as naked greed, is now standing tall and strong, unwilling to surrender or to even budge.

    It wants to go forward, it is going forward, but in its own direction, at its own pace, for the benefit of its people.

    Iran is not alone. There is now an entire powerful alliance in place, consisting of countries from all over the world: an alliance of those who are not afraid to confront deadly expansionism and consequent terror. From Bolivia to China, from South Africa to Russia, Syria, Venezuela and the Philippines, people are remembering Iran of 1953, determined to defend their countries and the world against the greatest evil, which is imperialism!

    Philippines: Western Media is Distorting Reality

    Andre Vltchek with military leaders in Marawi, Philippines

    Covering the recent battle for the city of Marawi on Mindanao Island in the Southern Philippines, the Western media has been grossly exaggerating unconfirmed reports and rumors. It has been spreading twisted information and ‘facts’.

    At the beginning of July, I visited Mindanao as one of only a few foreigners allowed inside the besieged city of Marawi and to its surrounding area.

    General Rey, head of Joint-Task-Force, Ranao (Photo: Andre Vltchek)

    I spoke to local people, to the IDPs – those who managed to escape the city taken over by the jihadists. I also managed to discuss the situation with the highest commanders of the military in charge of the combat, including General Ramiro Rey and Lt. Colonel Jo-Ar Herrera. I encountered many soldiers, civil servants, and relief workers.

    My contacts in the capital informed me via text messages that I had been “red-flagged,” clearly, by the pro-US faction in the Philippine military. So before my presence was finally cleared from Manila, I was detained and held in a provisional military base in the city of Saguiaran. Here I was “softly” interrogated by military intelligence. A few steps away, a howitzer was firing artillery toward ISIS positions in Marawi, some 10 kilometers distant.

    Marawi ground-zero. (Photo: Andre Vltchek)

    “So you believe the United States is responsible for spreading terrorism all over the world,” I was asked late at night by one of the officers, point blank, while local starlet was imitating old Chuck Berry’s hit “Johnny B. Goode” on TV, sound blasted all over the barracks. It was clear that someone ‘behind the scenes’ was busy studying my published work.

    The Western establishment media and various servile NGOs (including those which are “defending human rights” in several rebellious and independent-minded countries) consistently demonize President Duterte, an anti-imperialist, progressive leader who enjoys well over 80 percent approval rating. It is no secret in the Philippines there are two distinct factions inside the military – one supports the president and his drive for independence from the West. The other, which is trained and often corrupted by Washington and other Western capitals, would love to see him go.

    The pro-Western fraction obviously wanted me out, detained, perhaps even disappeared. The other one that stands by its president wanted me to see the truth, even to be allowed into Marawi.

    A final decision was made late at night in Manila. I was released and granted permission to work in the besieged city. But even when the top commanders personally called the camp, there was, at least for a while, apparent reluctance to let me go.

    My first reaction after visiting the Marawi front was one of shock and outrage. What I witnessed was fundamentally different from what has repeatedly been said by most of the Western mass media outlets, as well as pro-Western local news channels broadcasting from Manila.

    It is evident, right from the start, that Marawi is not “totally destroyed,” as has been reported. Most of it is standing and standing firm. I would estimate that only between 20 and 30 percent of the houses and buildings, (most of them in the wealthy core center of the city) have sustained heavy damage.

     

    Driving through Marawi (Photo: Andre Vltchek)

    It was explained to me during the presentation by top army commanders that the ISIS-related jihadists began their offensive on May 23rd 2017 and their plan was to take full control of the town by the time Ramadan was to begin (May 26th). The military spoiled their plans; it counter-attacked and managed to contain the terrorists in just one neighborhood, retaining or regaining control of all the other ‘barangays.’

    Marawi City and its people (Photo: Andre Vltchek)

    Undoubtedly there were heavy losses, and, because of the palpable sense of fear after tremendous brutality unleashed by the terrorists, a substantial movement of IDPs (Internally Displaced  Persons). But it was never 400,000 people escaping the area, as reported in the West, but approximately 200,000 (the number once peaked at about 300,000 for a short time).

    There has been no “indiscriminate bombing” of the civilians. I witnessed both incoming and outgoing howitzer fire and also very limited bombing from the air; it was all targeted and mostly precise, aiming at the position of the terrorists. As in all other war zones where I have been working, I refused any protection, including helmets and bulletproof vests. That allowed me to remain more mobile. I did manage to come ‘very close’ to the front. It was clear the fighting and bombing were strictly contained to one area, no more than one-kilometer square. Even there, the mosques and almost all other buildings and houses were still standing, as is demonstrated on my photographs.

    Anti-Duterte NGOs and many Western governments claim that they ‘worry’ about the martial law imposed on Mindanao Island. I was told that in and around Marawi (or anywhere else on the Island), the martial law carried no brutal consequences. Even the curfew (9PM-5AM) is laxly implemented.

    Brigadier General Ramiro Rey (head of the Joint Task Force Group, Ranao) explained to me in Marawi City:

    The difference between this martial law and those that were imposed during the reign of Ferdinand Marcos is that now the military is mainly doing real fighting while providing assistance to the civilians. I absolutely don’t interfere with the work of local elected government officials. I’m actually encouraging them to do their job as before, asking them to contact me only when my assistance is needed. I never took, and I don’t intend to take, control of the area.

    Local government officials and volunteers working for various relief agencies and NGO’s operating in the area have confirmed what General Rey said.

    Old lady in Marawi City. (Photo: Andre Vltchek) 

    During my work in the conflict zone, I detected no fear among the residents. The relationship between the army and civilians was clearly friendly and cordial. As the military convoys were moving between the cities of Illigan and Marawi, both children and adults were smiling, waving, some cheering the soldiers.

    In the camps housing the IDPs, there was almost unanimous consensus: while many citizens of Mindanao Island in general and the Marawi area in particular would most likely welcome more autonomy from Manila, during this ongoing and brutal conflict almost all local people have been supportive of the military and government efforts.

    “We hope that both Filipino and foreign jihadi cadres would soon be crushed,” was an almost unanimous statement coming from the local people.

    The Military Perspective

    Soldiers preparing to head to the front. (Photo: Andre Vltchek)

    In the cities of Illigan and Marawi I was shown detailed maps clearly indicating positions of the ISIS and the military.

    Both Lt. Colonel Jun Abad from Ranao Camp and the commanding officer, General Rey, gave me a clear and detailed briefing. As of July 3rd, the Agus River represented the ‘borderline’ between the ISIS-held area and the zone liberated and controlled by the army.

    General Rey explained during our meeting in the Municipality of Marawi City (now the complex is also serving as the headquarters of the war theatre):

    The ISIS wants to establish their state on the island of Mindanao – an Islamic caliphate – right here in the Province of Lanao del Sur.

    General Rey updating. ( Photo: Andre Vltchek)

    But that’s not what the majority of local people want. Before President Duterte came to power little over one year ago, social situation in many parts of Mindanao was desperate and therefore there was at least some support for radical ‘solutions’. Since then, however, things changed dramatically. Healthcare, education and public housing are improving. Indiscriminate mining by multi-national companies has been deterred. People here, as well as in almost all other parts of the Philippines, finally feel hopeful and optimistic about their future.

    This converts into great support for both the government and the military.

    There is no doubt the entire city will be freed, soon, most likely in July or August. The only reason why it did not happen yet is that the terrorists are using hostages, both Christians and Muslims, as human shields. President Duterte, General Rey, and other civilian and military officials are trying to avoid unnecessary human losses.

    Cultural topography’ of the area is also very complex. Near the front line I was told by one of the top commanding army officers:

    We could take the city in just one day, but there would be great civilian casualties. The houses in this area are very sturdy; they are 2-3 stories high and fortified, as there are constant and brutal family feuds, called’ rido’, raging here, and have been for centuries.

    But to delay the liberation of Marawi is also very dangerous.

    Major Malvin Ligutan. (Photo: Andre Vltchek)

    “The terrorists began using captured women as sex slaves,” explained Major Malvin Ligutan, standing in front of a temporary military base in Saguiaran.

    Despite all the horrors of the Marawi war, the army refused to use brutal tactics, even after it found out that various local citizens clearly miscalculated and before the conflict began, offered substantial support to the ISIS-related terrorists.

    Captain John Mark Silva Onipig clarified:

    These people belonging to the ISIS are not only terrorists, but they are also criminals. They were dealing in drugs… And some local people knew that… Actually, locals knew quite a lot; they knew about the presence of the terrorists in the area long before all this started, but they never reported it to the authorities.

    “How did the terrorists get hold of so many weapons?” I wanted to know.

    In the Philippines, those who have money can buy as many weapons as they want on the black market.

    The situation is extremely sensitive as there is clearly the involvement of foreign fighters. On June 30th, in Saguiaran, Major Malvin Ligutan admitted, hesitantly:

    In one of the safe houses, we found passports issued in Indonesia, Malaysia and several Arab countries.

    A month ago I wrote an essay exposing the complex network of Western-sponsored terrorism in Asia (“Washington Jihad Express: Indonesia, Afghanistan, Syria and Philippines”). I argued that in the 1980’s, Indonesian and Malaysian jihadists, indoctrinated by the Southeast Asian brand of extreme anti-Communism, went to fight in Afghanistan against the socialist governments of Karmal, and then Mohammad Najibullah, with the ultimate goal of destroying the Soviet Union.

    Hardened and further brainwashed, they returned home to Southeast Asia, participated in several ethnic strives and pogroms (including those in Ambon and Poso), and then, in order to ‘bridge the generational gap’, embarked on the coaching of a young generation of terrorists, who eventually ended up fighting in Syria and recently in the Philippines.

    My essay was full of facts, and I put into it various testimonies of Southeast Asian academics, thinkers, and even of one active and prominent ‘jihadi cadre’ who is now living in Jakarta.

    Prof. Iman Soleh (Photo: Andre Vltchek)

    In the Indonesian city of Bandung, Prof. Iman Soleh, a professor at the Faculty of Social and Political Science (University of Padjadjaran- UNPAD) offered his take on why the West is now so obsessed with destabilizing and smearing the Philippines and its current rebellious administration:

    Since World War Two, the U.S. was afraid of so-called ‘domino effects’. Among other things that are now happening in the Philippines under president Duterte, the government is curbing activities of the multi-national mining conglomerates, and the West cannot accept that. Philippines are putting its environmental concerns above the short-term profits! For the millions of left-wing activists here in Indonesia and all over Southeast Asia, President Duterte is a role model.

    It is no secret that the West punishes such ‘bad paradigms’ brutally and decisively.

    Prof. Soleh continued:

    I think all that is happening is not just to ‘destabilize’ the Philippines, but also because the country has conflict areas that could be ‘nurtured’. The best example is the predominantly Muslim island of Mindanao vs. the rest of the Philippines, which is predominantly a Catholic country…

    The West is regularly using ‘jihad,’ directly and indirectly, to destabilize socialist, anti-imperialist, and just patriotic countries and governments. In the past, it managed to ruin countries like Afghanistan, Indonesia (1965) and Syria. Many believe that the Philippines is the latest addition to the ‘hit-list.’

    The China and Russia Connection

    As Drei Toledo, a prominent Philippine journalist, educator and pro-Duterte activist, originally from Mindanao, explained:

    The reason why the West is hostile toward President Duterte is simple: he is working hard to reach a peace agreement with China, a country that is seen by Washington as its arch-enemy. Another ‘adversary of the West,’ Russia, is admired by Duterte and increasingly by his people. Recently, Russia and the Philippines signed a defense agreement. The president is also forging close ties with Cuba, particularly in the area of health… Before Duterte became our President, poverty by design in Philippines was restored and perpetuated by the U.S. and Malaysia-controlled Cojuangco-Aquino clan.

    Foreign and local entities that have long benefited financially from Philippines being a weak state are now threatened overwhelmingly by President Duterte’s unifying agenda to create a socialist system in the Philippines.

    Ms. Toledo pointed her accusative finger at Malaysia:

    Malaysia benefits from Mindanao being in a perpetual state of chaos and conflict because this means we can never reclaim oil-rich Sabah.

    She also doesn’t spare Indonesia and its sinister political (anti-socialist and anti-Communist) as well as economic interests:

    As exposed by Rigoberto D. Tiglao, a Filipino diplomat and writer, Indonesian magnate Anthoni Salim, not only does have total control or substantial stakes in local mainstream media papers and networks, his conglomerate in Philippines is also based on telecoms, power, water distribution, and other public utilities.

    Or more precisely: it is based on making sure that ‘public utilities’ will never become truly ‘public’, remaining in private hands. Salim’s ‘empire’ already brought great damage to India, particularly to West Bengal where, some argue, because of allowing it to operate and to implement its brutal feudal-capitalist practices, the CPI (M) (Communist Party of India – Marxist) managed to thoroughly disgust local voters and to lose power.

    The Human Cost

    Marawi (Photo: Andre Vltchek)

    Nobody could deny the gravity of the situation.

    I witnessed exhausted glances of the people from Marawi, now living in a rescue center built on the land of the town hall of Saguiaran.

    Yesterday two infants died,” I’m told by Amer Hassan, a student volunteer from Mindanao State University (MSU).

    The reason was “different water, malnutrition, exhaustion…”

    I wanted to know more, and Amer continues:

    People are still in shock… They can’t believe what is happening. Especially those whose houses were destroyed; those who lost their relatives, everything…

    While the West is constantly criticizing, does it provide help? Amer just shrugs his shoulders:

    There is no foreign help coming… Almost all that we have here comes from Manila, either from the government or local agencies. Duterte is working very hard, helping our people.

    She escaped with her two babies. (Photo: Andre Vltchek)

    A family of three, Camal Mimbalawag, his wife Ima and one-month-old baby Mohammad, is squeezed into a tiny space at the center. Their memories are bleak. Ima gives her account almost mechanically:

    We were in Marawi during the first stage of the attack. I was pregnant, ready to give birth. We were in the city hall when ISIS attacked… They erected checkpoints; divided people into groups… they pointed guns at us… They asked: ‘Muslim or not?’…and ‘If Muslim, then recite ‘Shahadat.’ If cannot, you get killed or taken as a hostage… We saw corpses of those killed, eaten by dogs under the burning sun…

    The battle for the city of Marawi is raging. I face it from the highest floor of the building, destroyed by ISIS snipers, a place where an Australian reporter was hit just two days earlier.

    It is not Aleppo, but it could have been, if not for the heroic counter-attack of the army.

    Marawi is just one new chapter in the already long book of horrors of brutal religious terrorist acts, most of them directly or indirectly triggered by Western imperialism. In the first wave of its fight against the secular socialist Muslim governments, the West destabilized Iran, Egypt and Indonesia. Then came the Afghanistan ‘gambit’, followed by the arch-brutal destruction of Iraq and Libya. Then it was Syria’s turn.

    ‘Jihad’ is consistently used against Russia, China as well as the former Central Asian Soviet republics.

    All this I described in my 840-page book: Exposing Lies Of The Empire, but one can never write fast enough and fully catch up with the crimes committed by the West. 

    It is often easy to pinpoint Western involvement in the religious conflicts, particularly in such places as Afghanistan and Syria. In the Philippines, the link is still indirect, well concealed, but it certainly exists.

    To rebel against the Western Empire is always a costly and bloody affair. It often leads to coups sponsored by Washington, London or Paris, and even to direct military conflicts, interventions and full-scale wars.

    But by now, the people of the Philippines have had it ‘up to here’. They had enough of being submissive; enough of being plundered while remaining silent. They are assembling behind their president. Duterte’s popularity is still around 75%. The army is clearly winning the war against the hardened local and foreign jihadists. Relief operations are effective and well organized. Things are just fine.

    In only one year, the country has diametrically changed. To break the spirit of the liberated masses, to force people back onto their knees would be difficult, perhaps almost impossible, even if jihadi terror is unleashed brutally.

    Almost 100 soldiers already lost their lives. Just one day before I encounter General Rey, six of his men were injured. It is said that 800 or more civilians died. Nobody knows exactly how many terrorists were killed. It is real war: tough and merciless as all wars are, but in this case, the ‘newly independent’ country is clearly winning.

    Fillipino soldier wearing second-hand US helmet (Photo: Andre Vltchek)

    It is an incredible sight: some soldiers, patriotic and determined, are still wearing those helmets with the US flags engraved into them, or some old Israeli bulletproof vests. But have no doubts: this is real, new country! Totally different Philippines and Marawi is one of the first and toughest tests it will have to endure.

    The war united people and the army. No matter what the West and local corporate media are saying, most Filipinos know: this is their struggle; this is their president and their military fighting against something extremely foreign, violent and dreadful.

    • First published in 21st Century Wire

    The Yasukuni Gambit

    Fresh off his election victory, Japanese Prime Minister Kobe as well as several of his cabinet members and top party officials, visited the Yasukuni Shrine outside Tokyo. As usual, reaction across Asia was hostile to the PM’s visit to a shrine that honored Class A war criminals that had been part of an Imperial Japanese war machine that had slaughtered and enslaved millions in the run up to and throughout World War II. Nowhere was the anger more sharply felt than in Korea, whose 1100 years as an independent kingdom had been brutally ended by the Japanese in 1910, followed by a harsh occupation until the end of World War II.

    This time reaction was even more strident than usual, probably aggravated by the fact that the new Japanese PM had been speaking ominously about Japan taking a more aggressive military stance and their recent joint military maneuvers with the US, South Korea and Australia had been the largest ever seen in the North Pacific. The heated rhetoric from Pyongyang had been dismissed as the ranting of their crackpot leader and the heightened military readiness and missile tests he had ordered had caused the normal condemnations from the US and it allies but little real alarm.

    At 5 am three days after the PM’s visit, North Korea launched three Taepodong-2 missiles at the Yasukuni site. All the missiles struck their targets and their high explosive warheads totally demolished the Yasukuni Shrine. Without waiting to organize a joint response with its US ally, Japan immediately launched a missile counter-strike on the North Korean capital, Pyongyang,  as well as at the nuclear power plant at Yongbyon. The reactor was seriously damaged and a massive radiation leak ensued…there were serious doubts as to whether a complete nuclear meltdown could be avoided.

    Meanwhile, the South Koreans sank two North Korean submarines that it claimed were trying to sneak special forces into its territories and the US placed all its forces in the region on high alert and ordered the Sixth Fleet aircraft carrier group to sail directly towards North Korea.

    Then it happened! North Korea launched three more missiles that detonated 25km over Japan, including one near Okinawa, home to massive US bases. These were nuclear-tipped and the resulting electro-magnetic pulses had the effect of shutting down most of the Japanese electrical grid, caused extensive damage to the electronic infrastructure and, more importantly, degraded radar, defense and surveillance systems.

    Within seconds of the atmospheric detonation of these missiles, twelve nuclear missiles were launched at Japan. Half of them were aimed at US bases in Okinawa and the others at Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto as well as Fukushima and two other nuclear power plants. Shorter range Rodong-1 nuclear-armed missiles were fired at Seoul, Busan, Daegu, Incheon and the nuclear power plants at Hanul, Wolseong and Hanbit. Both Japan and South Korea were left with their countries’ major population and industrial centers devastated, a crippled electrical grid and a massive nuclear contamination problem.

    Simultaneously, another attack was launched on the US Sixth Fleet involving five nuclear armed Taepodong-2 missile used in air burst mode. The first two detonated 60km from the carrier group to blind and degrade the defense systems and the others managed to get over the middle of the fleet before detonating at an elevation of 2 km. The carrier survived but was incapacitated and most of its supporting surface ships were sunk or badly damaged.

    The North Koreans had used the majority of its entire nuclear arsenal in a decisive, preemptive attack against its arch-enemies; thereby unleashing a series of cataclysmic events that would rearrange power arrangements in the region at the price of its own demise as a state. All its major population centers and military installations were soon obliterated by US nuclear and conventional missiles and bombs, but not before launching a devastating swan song second-strike!

    Long range Hwasong-14 missiles were fired from their launch pads in the North Pyongan mountains at Hawaii,  Alaska, the US North-West and the Darwin naval base in Australia. The new solid-fuel rockets had been test fired and achieved an altitude in excess of 2,800 kilometers. Western analysts had calculated that they had the range to reach the US West Coast but they had not realized that several of the new missiles were already operational and armed with nuclear warheads. One of the missiles, which had been aimed at Silicon valley, was shot down by the US missile defenses but Pearl Harbor, Anchorage, Seattle and Portland were hit, in addition to Darwin. The warheads were only in the 30 kiloton range but casualties exceeded 700,000.

    But perhaps the greatest surprise was delivered by a “Suicide Trawler” that launched 4 Taepodong-2 missiles from 550 kilometers off the California coast at San Francisco,  Los Angeles and San Diego, whose massive naval base received two strikes. The civilian and military casualties exceeded a million deaths and several times that number of injured. The fact that the trawler was almost immediately sunk proved to be of little consolation to the victims and their families.

    With over ten million North Korean casualties, millions of survivors flooded into China and the Chinese government virtually annexed a buffer zone extending 100 kilometers into North Korean territory and took the lead in the relief efforts and the reconstruction of the parts of North Korea not badly affected by radiation.

    The actions of the North Korean regime would come to be known as the Yasukuni Gambit because of the incident that had triggered this critical chain of events, with its enormous geopolitical consequences. In hindsight, the North Korean situation had been a powder keg that could have been set off by any number of events, including the frequent simulated attacks on the country by the US, South Korea, Japan and Australia.

    Japan was finished as a regional power and indeed as an industrial power. Few tears were shed for her in a region that had suffered greatly under Japanese occupation up to and including World War II. South Korea similarly lay in ruins, a shattered shell of its former self. The American public were shocked that a third rate power like North Korea could cause so much damage to the US homeland as well as the destruction of an aircraft carrier group. The US voting public lost a great deal of its appetite for their politicians’ belligerence towards Russia and China.

    Australians also reacted with shock and their outrage was soon channeled towards the ruling party that had been so enthusiastic about following the US in threatening North Korea. The subsequent election saw them resoundingly defeated.  The Taiwanese people voted overwhelmingly for association with Mainland China under a One Country, Two Systems arrangement, similar to Hong Kong and Macau. Other countries in the region became more reticent about hosting US forces and antagonizing China, not wanting to suffer South Korea’s fate as a nuclear battleground.

    The US tried to find some strategic advantage from the situation; but with its two biggest regional allies, Japan and South Korea in ruins, its Pivot to Asia had suffered a serious setback. It would try to get the Philippines to take over the role of leading US Asian ally by promoting a color revolution against President Duterte, but with its much smaller and less sophisticated economic base and geographic location being so far south, the Philippines proved a poor replacement for the loss of Japan and South Korea. The result was that Russia and China, in tandem, came to clearly dominate the North Pacific.

    Ironically, it was China that would benefit most by leading the rising Asian manufacturing states in making up for the lost industrial capacity of Japan and South Korea. The US, wounded by the loss or extensive damage to several of its cities and the smashing of the aura of invincibility of their naval power, was beset by a wave of populist movements that saw a large number of isolationists elected to the Congress and Senate. On the bright side, the decontamination and rebuilding efforts on the west coast stimulated the American domestic, non-military industry and created millions of jobs.

    Another blessing to emerge from the tragedy was that the reality of a nuclear exchange and the resultant tremendous loss of life and property spurred the major powers to get back to the negotiating table to pursue arms control treaties that would prevent any repetition of the tragedy. This was supported by the fact that with the clear weakening of the United States and out of fear of suffering the fate of South Korea and Japan, a number of countries passed legislation to expel US military bases or to limit the number of military personnel and types of armaments that could be kept on their territories..

    It had been a painful transition but a Multi-Polar international order eventually emerged from the Asian tragedy.

    A Poetic Masterpiece of War and Redemption

    The gates of hell are open night and day;
    Smooth the descent, and easy is the way:
    But to return, and view the cheerful skies,
    In this the task and mighty labor lies.

    — Vergil, The Aeneid

    Not since Edmund Gosse’s classic memoir, Father and Son: A Study of Two Temperaments, has an estranged son written more nobly of his father than Douglas Valentine. Nobly because, apart from a brief author’s note, the son is absent from the book, except as a faithful and creative amanuensis to his father’s chilling, dark, life-long secret of his WW II years as a prisoner of war of the Japanese. A secret so horrifying that a reader can’t help but realize that its harboring throughout the thirty plus years of the son’s life could do nothing but poison his relationship with his father as it ate away at his father’s soul.

    Responding to his ailing father’s call to come home and hear his tale of the war experiences that have tormented him his whole life, the son discovers that his father has awakened him to his vocation as a writer.  By listening, the son receives the gift of telling. He answers the call. And in telling his father’s story (originally in 1984; see 2016 edition here)  the son opens himself to other serendipitous opportunities that would result in other books exposing the treacherous secrets of state criminals, notably the CIA (The Phoenix Program) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). While these latter books have made Valentine’s reputation, his first and most intimate, The Hotel Tacloban, stands out in so many ways.

    Joseph Campbell, in The Hero with a Thousand Faces, describes this acceptance of the call as follows:

    The first stage of the mythological journey – which we have designated as the ‘call to adventure’ – signifies that destiny has summoned the hero and transferred his spiritual center of gravity from within the pale of his society to a zone unknown…. the hero can go forth on his own volition to accomplish the adventure, as did Theseus when he arrived in his father’s city, Athens, and heard the horrible history of the Minotaur.

    While I doubt Valentine or his father – Douglas Valentine, Sr. – considers himself a hero in any popularly understood sense, both are heroes in a deeper sense.  They are truth tellers.  They tell truths that, if closely heard and meditated upon, could transform the lives of other suffering souls, just as they granted the father a semblance of peace and began to heal the broken bond between father and son. While nothing is more unheroic and conventional than the social lie that glorifies war and the modern Minotaurs who demand an endless supply of war victims to feed their blood lust, father and son make it clear that war is nothing but a sick racket. Many people will nod in agreement, but the Valentines, through graphic illustrations, courageously lance the festering wound that war’s depravity inflicts on all who experience it.

    Part ventriloquistic non-fiction memoir, part history, part murder mystery, part war story, part confessional – wholly beyond categorization, really – The Hotel Tacloban is a mesmerizing read that will leave you stunned and shaken, but also awe-struck by the courage and depravity to which humans can rise and fall. So gripping is the story that I find it shocking that it hasn’t yet been made into a movie.

    It is also a cautionary tale that exposes the destructive effects that guilty secrets can have on soldiers, who have returned from war terrorized by their experiences, and their families.  And, by implication, on anyone who harbors secret nightmares that eat them alive.

    Perhaps I would best describe it as a tale told in an Aristotelean tragic style that engrosses the reader from the start as one is slowly – as if stepping into quicksand – drawn into the story of a patriotic sixteen year old boy soldier’s war nightmare.  With each page the tension builds as the reader is led by the action to feel pity, fear, and disgust – the gamut of emotions that lead to a catharsis, of sorts.  At the end the reader, together with father and son, exhales, takes a deep breath, and exits the theater profoundly shaken by the experience.  Shaken into life’s profound mystery.

    Masterful in structure and eloquently written in poetic prose that belies its subject matter, it is reminiscent of the best American war writing.

    Scene: New Guinea in the south Pacific.  Late August 1942.

    On the unpublicized orders of General Douglas MacArthur (“Dougout Doug”), poorly trained units of the U.S. Army 32nd Division are unexpectedly diverted to New Guinea to back up undermanned and beleaguered Australian troops trying to stop a Japanese advance to the southern Port Moresby.  Among them is Douglas Valentine, Sr, a “sixteen, not too bright, runaway from a broken home in Pleasantville, New York, an orphan of the Great Depression.”  His best friend, Bobby Stevenson, eighteen, an Indiana farm kid and former hoopster, who cannot swim, dies in an amphibious landing, despite Valentine’s valiant efforts to drag him to the safety of a rescue craft.  “And when Bobby’s dripping body rose out of the sea,” he says,  “I saw that both his legs were gone from above the knees.  Not even his pants remained….That’s when I came apart.”

    So this kid Valentine, who should have been in his sophomore year in high school, despite coming apart, joins his unit chasing the Japanese through the jungles up to the mountain ridges.  Here’s is how Doug Valentine, Jr/Sr describe it:

    Once the momentum had swung in our favor, we were little more than flotsam swept along on the tide of the forward movement. All our time was spent tramping through the twilight gloom of bamboo forests, or through mangrove swamps thick with wide buttressed banyan trees, or across sun-drenched fields of kunai grass. We skirted pools of deadly quicksand and we trudged through the stinking, greyish-brown peat bogs which were a common feature of the water-logged terrain. Some were as large as football fields, some were the size of swimming pools, all had rotten logs and decaying branches jutting out of their foul, porridge-like mass. Swarms of mosquitoes floated above the algae-covered surface, but we walked right through….We crossed frothing streams on slippery, moss-coated logs and tramped endlessly through ankle-deep mud. Mud. Mud. Mud….Thirsty and sweaty, filthy and soaking wet, sick to our stomachs from dysentery and burning up with fever, we pushed through…

    This incantatory writing leads the reluctantly hooked reader deeper and deeper into the center of the story that takes place in the static and claustrophobic confines of a prisoner of war camp, where the boy soldier spends the next three years, rather than in his sophomore, junior, or senior years of high school.  Captured while on patrol by the Japanese after all his compatriots are killed and dismembered – “They were pulling the pants off the dead men, laughing and giggling like it was a picnic for the fucks; then chopping the pricks and testicles off the corpses and stuffing them in the breathless mouths.” – Valentine couldn’t understand why he was spared. As with Bobby’s death, guilt consumes him and follows him through his nightmare haunted life.  As he was being transported in a locked and pitch-black cell in the belly of a ship to the Philippines’ POW camp, he tells his son:

    Each time I shut my eyes to rest, I envisioned the anguished faces of the seven men on patrol.  I saw their terror and I saw them die.  Even when my eyes were open they stared at me from the infernal darkness of my cell, saying, ‘We died, but you lived.’ I felt I had no right to be alive….the ferocity of those little Japanese monsters having driven all vestiges of reverence for my own life completely out of my mind, neither would I ever know peace of mind. The faces of those seven men would be my constant companions; along with Bobby’s and Andy’s [who stepped on a land mine], and those of hundreds of others.

    The story then revolves around the sixteen year old Valentine’s three years at the Hotel Tacloban, so sardonically named for its nearness to the town of Tacloban on the Philippine island of Leyte.  The sole American prisoner together with a few hundred Australian and British soldiers, Valentine endures nightmarish conditions, totally cut off from the outside world, barely surviving with little food and water, malaria-ridden and death haunted, watching fellow diseased prisoners die all around him, being tortured and watching others being killed – all within a confined space not fit for barnyard animals.  A place from hell where time stood still, and yet a microcosm of the “normal” world where human relationships take center stage, and where, despite the limited stage for action, much happens in a condensed, intense, and dramatic fashion.

    If I told you all the details of Valentine’s sojourn in this hotel from hell, I would ruin the book for you. So I will keep some secrets. You must experience it for yourself.  Some books you just read, The Hotel Tacloban you experience. You need to check in and stay a while.  You will find the accruing intensity so chilling and so mysterious that it will shake you to your depths and leave you wondering, not just about the depravity of war and those who wage them, but about the mystery of “fate” and how sordid secrets can devour the soul and ravage the relationships of those who feel they must keep them.

    Valentine was once told by a fellow prisoner, Lieutenant Duff, a sterling Aussie camp leader and confidant for Valentine, that if they survived and were rescued, “the closer you get to civilization the less people will want to hear about this. They won’t be able to relate to the experience, and they won’t want to know.”

    He took that advice to heart for far too long: “if I ever wanted to be part of society again, I had to obliterate the Hotel Tacloban completely from my mind. I knew that if I ever wanted to get well – if I ever wanted to be whole and normal – that I’d have to start forgetting then and there.”

    Then, when Army authorities threatened him and insisted that he forget; when they obliterated his army record and created a false one in its stead (the reason why is revealed at the end); when in doing so they denied that he ever had malaria that caused him life-long health problems for which he could never get government medical services; and when guilt got the best of him, Valentine buried the truths he needed to shout from the mountain top.

    Trying to have a “normal” life and forget as ordered, he condemned himself to many decades of imprisonment in a prison camp of the mind. It was a place where the demons of memory never rest. Why he did so is more than understandable, despite the terrible consequences, body and soul.  He was a brave and admirable soldier betrayed by his own government, as is so often the case.

    War spawns victims everywhere, generations of victims, even when you survive.

    Those who wage the wars devour their children, as he came to learn.  “The fact of the matter is this:”, he tells his son, “the U.S. Army is a predatory beast with the capability to destroy anything that threatens it, from within or without.”  For a long time this fear of the Minotaur had trapped him in its lair, and his guilt held him there.  Miraculously he sensed that it would be his son, his namesake, who would spring him from the prison of forgetfulness and help him slay the monster by the simply act of listening.  And then by writing this profoundly moving book through which a father and son discover each other in the telling. It is a liberating book in so very many ways. A labor of love.

    Don’t miss it.

    Douglas Valentine with his father, Douglas Valentine, Sr. (circa 1984)