The people of Kosovo were and still are cheering for joy. The European Commission (EC) recently decided that Kosovars won’t need visas any more to visit EU countries. Up to now, getting such visas was a horrendously complicated and bureaucratic procedure, especially hurtful, since Kosovo, with a population of about 1.8 million Kosovars living in Kosovo, has a diaspora estimated at 800,000 to a million, most of them in western Europe. For Kosovars, with close-knit families, 90+ percent Albanian Muslims, being able to visit their relatives and friends is a priority. So, this sudden EU opening up, was a great “gift” and a tremendous relief. But, at what price? What happened? Why did it happen this turnabout by the treacherous EU?
Let’s go back to a bit of history.
Kosovo, a strategic pivot in the center of the Balkans; a landlocked country surrounded by Montenegro, Albania, Serbia and Macedonia. Kosovo, carved out from Serbia during or after the Clinton Administration invoked war – the infamous 69 days of bombing Serbian troops in Kosovo, following a ten-year period of systematic US-NATO- European vassals’ destruction of Yugoslavia, arguably the most prosperous country in Europe at the time.
You may want to recall, the dismemberment of Yugoslavia, started with the “Ten Days War” on Slovenia in 1991, followed by the Croatian War (1991-95); then the Bosnia War (1992-95); and the Kosovo War (1998-99), culminating with the Clinton induced 69-day NATO bombing of Kosovo, under the leadership of Wesley Clark, head of NATO in Europe. The latter under the pretext of freeing the Kosovo Albanians from Serbian Milosevic’s atrocities.
Of course, how Milosevic was used by the West to literally slaughter his neighbors, so far hardly anybody has dared to analyze and write about. He was on trial by the UN International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague. He was actually awaiting a court decision on his request to subpoena former President Clinton, as a witness, when he was suddenly found dead in his cell on 11 March 2006. The Dutch court coroner immediately certified that Milosevic died a natural death. Strangely, his death came less than a week after the star witness in his trial, former Croatian Serb leader, Milan Babic, was found dead in the same prison. Babic’s testimony in 2002 described a behind the scene political and military command structure headed by Milosevic. Babic served a 13-year prison sentence. His sudden death was said to be a suicide.
Too many Serbs die suddenly in The Hague to be called ‘coincidences’. In October 2015, Dusan Dunjic, a forensic pathologist, was found dead in his hotel room, just hours before he was due to testify as a key defense witness in the trial of the Bosnian Serb and genocidal general Ratko Mladic, who was on trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity during the 1992-95 Bosnian war. Dutch police said, “we have no reason to suspect that a crime had been committed”. They gave no further detail. Case closed.
This is just to make the point that the murderous and atrocious Balkan wars were western instigated from the very preparation – including through decades long Fifth Column type – infiltration in Yugoslavia’s institutions.
Today, Kosovo lacks recognition from sufficient countries to be considered a “real country”. Kosovo is not a member of the UN, because she has only been recognized by 114 of the current 193 UN members. It needs two thirds of UN members recognition to apply for UN membership. Kosovo, of course, is not a member of the EU either, only 23 of the 28 EU countries recognize her as a country. The reasons for it are multiple and complex. But Kosovo, with a surface of 10,900 km2, and less than 2 million inhabitants, prides herself with having already two military bases, one US – a huge one, and a “subordinate” NATO base – what else.
Like all the Balkans, Kosovo wants to get into the EU as fast as possible. But, they are far from even getting onto the “accession” path – which is like the runway to fly into the EU. When you get to accession status, you have pretty much fulfilled all or most of the EU conditions and are now accepted to negotiate. And ‘accession’ is a privilege that, aside from some rather ridiculous EU conditions, depends pretty much on Washington’s use for a country, once it has become part of the overall EU vassalage. Kosovo is no priority. The US military is already there and NATO has a base – so what more is needed for right now? The EU today in many countries is considered identical with NATO.
Kosovo is hungry though, to get into the EU, so hungry, it can be easily blackmailed – and bribed – into accepting almost anything, in order to gain kudos with Brussels. The best blackmail object is visas, or the waiver of visas, particularly to western Europe, where most of the Kosovar diaspora lives – an estimated 800,000 to one million people.
Montenegro, an EU candidate on fast track, NATO member since 2017, is building or expanding a NATO base right at the border to Kosovo. In fact, it requires Kosovo to give up some 8,200 ha of her land to Montenegro, the new ‘demarcation line’ (see map – red areas are Kosovo concessions to Montenegro). According to “Prishtina Insight”, the Kosovo Parliament ratified a few weeks ago the “land concession”, also called the “Demarcation Deal with Montenegro” with 80 votes against 11 opposition. And this amidst several teargas canister explosion episodes initiated by the opposition in Parliament.
This was the deal: Kosovo give up a stretch of 8,200 ha of your land to Montenegro and you will get visa-free entry to all of Europe. Blackmail only the west in its greed and hegemonic drive is capable of exercising over countries. Identifying their weak spots – in the case of Kosovo, the desire to get easy access to their relatives and friends living in Europe, and then hitting them with an “offer” they can’t refuse.
In fact, going by the strict rules of the EU, which can only slightly be bent to accelerate access, lest more ‘honest’ EU members might protest, none of the Balkan countries are complying with the EU access regulation. Most of them are far from doing so, for multiple reasons; i.e., drug dealing, high crimes in human and organ trafficking, as well as more down-to-earth environmental conditions.
However, the EU and Washington are pushing for the pretty arbitrary target of 2025, simply because they are afraid that the Balkans may drift eastwards into the realm of Russia and on a larger scale, China. Most educated Kosovars are much more “awake” than the average European. While intellectually they may know that east is where the future lays, their trauma of being persecuted and killed by the Serbs under Milosevic, is still strong and they are leaning towards the west. Ideally, though, what they want is full independence, being able to choose their allies that best suit them, as every sovereign nation should be able to do. Not having to confront the dilemma, ‘you are either our friend or our enemy’ – which is how the west attempts to buy the Balkans’ politicians.
The western push to prepare and forge these former Yugoslav republics into EU-NATO vassals is enormous. Every military base the Balkans allow to be built in return for being integrated into Europe, is for the west a step closer to Moscow – an increased threat for the Kremlin, so the western empire believes. If these new Balkan nations play their cards right, they may have it both ways – becoming EU members, benefitting from EU subsidies and trade advantages, while leaning eastwards to Russia and China, and eventually the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the new Silk Road, China’s One Belt Initiative (OBI), the multi-trillion-dollar equivalent economic development plan, on course to span the world.
This article was first published by New Eastern Outlook (NEO)
Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, visited Israel on July 19, where he met Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and other officials. Orban’s visit would have not required much pause except that the Hungarian leader has been repeatedly branded for his often racist, anti-Semitic remarks.
So why is Orban wining and dining with the leaders of the so-called ‘Jewish State’?
The answer does not pertain only to Orban and Hungary, but to Israel’s attitude towards the rapidly growing far-right movements in Europe, as a whole. Netanyahu and Zionist leaders everywhere, are not just aware of this massive political shift in European politics but are, in fact, working diligently to utilize it in Israel’s favor.
On his visit to Israel, Orban asserted that Hungarian Jewish citizens should feel safe in his country, an odd statement considering that it was Orban and his party that deprived many Jews and other members of minority groups of any feeling of safety.
Still, Netanyahu has welcomed Orban as a “true friend of Israel” and Orban called on his European counterparts to show more support for Israel. Mission accomplished.
Netanyahu had visited Budapest in July 2017, but that supposedly ‘historic’ visit did nothing to change Hungary’s official discourse, dotted with racism and anti-Semitism. In fact, in March 2018, Orban derided Jews, focusing his criticism mostly on Jewish financiers such as George Soros.
At an election rally campaign, Orban said, “We are fighting an enemy that is different from us. Not open but hiding; not straightforward but crafty; not honest but base; not national but international; does not believe in working but speculates with money; does not have its own homeland but feels it owns the whole world.”
It is well-known that Israel and Zionist leaders are quite selective in manipulating the definition of ‘anti-Semitism’ to serve their political agendas, but Israel’s attitude towards the racist far-right movements in Europe takes this truth to a whole new level.
Indeed, the ‘special relationship’ between Netanyahu and Orban is only the tip of the iceberg. For years, Netanyahu’s Israel has been ‘flirting’ with radical right movements in Europe.
The unmistakable Israeli strategy, of course, has its own logic. Israeli leaders feel that Europe’s move to the far-right is irrevocable and are keen to benefit from the anti-Muslim sentiment that accompanies this shift as much as possible.
Moreover, the EU’s resolve to label illegal settlement products and refusal to heed calls for moving their embassies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is pushing Netanyahu to explore these new routes.
During his previous visit to Hungary, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, met with leaders from the so-called Visegrad-4, which includes Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
On that visit, Netanyahu hoped to find new channels of support within the EU, through exerting pressure by using his new-found allies in these countries. In an audio-recording obtained by Reuters, Netanyahu chastised Europe for daring to criticize Israel’s dismal human rights record, illegal settlement policies and military occupation.
“I think Europe has to decide whether it wants to live and thrive or it wants to shrivel and disappear,” he said.
Netanyahu’s arrogance is unbridled, especially as the censure is emanating from a leader who represents an ethno-nationalist state, which has just recently canceled any reference to ‘democracy’ in its newly-issued Jewish Nation-state Law.
The new ‘basic law’ defines Israel by an ethnic identity, not any democratic values. Netanyahu is now closer to Europe’s far-right racist groups than to any liberal democratic model, thus the ongoing flirting between Israel and these groups.
In fact, the term ‘flirting’ is itself an understatement considering that Israel’s ties with various far-right, neo-Nazi and fascist parties in Europe involve high-level political coordination and, in the case of the Ukraine in particular, the actual supplying of weapons.
Human rights groups recently petitioned the Israeli High Court to stop Israel’s export of weapons to neo-Nazi groups.
The Israeli-far-right embrace almost touches every single European country, including Italy and Germany, whose history of Nazism and Fascism has wrought death and misery to millions.
In Italy, the connection between Italian far-right parties and Israel goes back to the early 2000s, when post-Fascist leader, Gianfranco Fini, labored to rebrand his movement.
Initially, Fini was the leader of the Movimento Sociale Italiano (Italian Social Movement), which saw itself as the “heir to the Fascist Party”.
The rebranding of the party required a trip by Fini to Israel in 2003, after changing the name of his movement to the ‘National Alliance.’ Interestingly, in his highly-touted visit, Fini was accompanied by Amos Luzzatto, the head of the Italian Jewish community.
Unsurprisingly, far-right leader, Matteo Salvini, Italy’s current Interior Minister, went through the same political baptism by Zionist Israel – as Orban and Fini also did – by paying a visit to Tel Aviv in March 2016 to launch his political career and declaring his undying love for the Jewish State.
The same scenario is being repeated in Germany where the far-right party – Alternative for Germany (AfD) – has risen in ranks to the point that it nearly toppled a government coalition led by Chancellor Angela Merkel.
AfD has more in common with Israel than the common anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant views. The party which is “derided for anti-Semitic, xenophobic views redolent of the Nazis is also staunchly supportive of Israel,” reported the Times of Israel.
Last April, the anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic German party, enthusiastically began a campaign pushing for the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, despite Merkel’s views to the contrary.
The story, however, does not end there. What began as Israeli flirting with far-right racist movements is now Israel’s official policy towards Europe. The same story, with different actors and names can be found in Austria’s Freedom Party (FPOe), Belgium’s Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest) and virtually everywhere else.
It remains to be seen how Israel’s embrace of fascist Europe will bode, both for Israel and the European Union. Will the EU “shrivel and disappear”, or will Israel be finally exposed for what it truly is, an ethno-nationalist state with no interest in true democracy in the first place?
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]
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”.
Multifarious campaigns to repeatedly sabotage the electoral chances of the Communist Party and ensure the election of the Christian Democrats, long-favored by Washington.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
CIA agents stuffed ballot boxes to help a hand-picked strongman, Phoumi Nosavan, set up a pro-American government.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- New York Times, February 16, 2018.
- “Mueller Indictment – The “Russian Influence” Is A Commercial Marketing Scheme,” Moon of Alabama, February 17, 2018.
- The Independent (London), March 6, 2018.
- Huffington Post, February 27, 2018.
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.
- Peru’s Ministry of Health, “Final Report Concerning Voluntary Surgical Contraception Activities,” July, 2002.