Category Archives: Ukraine

Observations and Impressions from Russia

Introduction

For over two weeks this May, a delegation of 30 Americans visited seven regions and ten cities across Russia.  Organized by Sharon Tennison of Center for Citizen Initiatives, the entire group began in Moscow with several days of meetings and visits, then broke into smaller groups going to cities including Volgograd, Kazan (Tatarstan), Krasnodar (near Black Sea), Novosibirsk (Siberia), Yekaterinburg and the Crimean cities Simferopol, Yalta and Sevastopol.  After these regional visits, delegates regrouped in St Petersburg to share their experiences. Following is an informal review with conclusions based on my observations in Kazan and what I heard from others.

Observations and Facts

* Western sanctions have hurt sectors of Russia’s economy but encouraged agricultural production. 

Exports and imports have been impacted by Western sanctions imposed in 2014. The tourist sector has been hard hit and education exchanges between Russia and the USA have been interrupted or ended. However, the sanctions have spurred investments and expansion in agricultural production. We were told that farmers are saying ‘Don’t lift the sanctions!”

* Some Russian oligarchs are making major infrastructure investments.

For example, billionaire Sergei Galitsky has developed Russia’s largest retail outlet, the Magnit supermarket chain. Galitsky has invested heavily in state-of-the-art drip irrigation green houses producing massive quantities of high quality cucumbers, tomatoes and other vegetables which are distributed via the supermarkets throughout Russia.

* There has been a resurgence of religion in Russia.

Russian Orthodox Churches have been revitalized and gold leaf glistens on the church domes. Muslim mosques have also been refurbished and rebuilt. A brilliant new mosque is a prominent part of the Kremlin in Kazan, Tatarstan. There are many Muslim in Russia. This research puts the number at ten million though we heard estimates much higher. We saw numerous examples of interfaith unity and cooperation, with Muslim Imams working side by side with young Russian Orthodox priests. We also heard stories of how churches had been used as prisons or food warehouses during the Stalin era.

* Russia increasingly looks east.

The Russian emblem of a double-headed eagle looks both east and west; it is a Eur-Asian country. While Europe is still important politically and economically, Russia is increasingly looking to the east. Russia’s “strategic partner” is China – economically, politically and militarily. There are increasing numbers of Chinese tourists and education exchanges with Russia. In the United Nations Security Council the two countries tend to vote together. Huge investments are planned for the transportation network dubbed the “Belt and Road Initiative” connecting Asia with Europe.

* Russia is a capitalist country with a strong state sector.

Government is influential or controls sectors of the economy such as public transportation, military/defense industry, resource extraction, education and health care.  State owned enterprises account for nearly 40% of overall employment. They have universal health care in parallel with private education and health care facilities. Banking is a problem area with high interest rates and the failure/bankruptcy of numerous banks in the past decade. We heard complaints that foreign multinational companies can enter and control sectors of the economy, drive out Russian competitors and take the profits home.

* There is some nostalgia for the former Soviet Union with its communist ideals.

We met numerous people who speak fondly of the days when nobody was super-rich or horribly poor and when they believed there was a higher goal for society. We heard this from people ranging from a successful entrepreneur to an aging Soviet era rock musician.  That does not mean that these people want to return to Soviet days, but that they recognize the changes in Russia have both pluses and negatives. There is widespread disapproval of the breakup of the Soviet Union and the economic chaos of the 1990’s.

* There is a range of media supporting both government and opposition parties.

There are three major TV stations controlled by and supporting the government. Along with these, there are numerous private stations criticizing the government and supporting various opposition parties. In print media, the majority of newspapers and magazines are critical of the government.

* Public transportation is impressive.

The streets of Moscow are jam packed with new cars. Meanwhile, underground there is a fast, economical and efficient subway system which is the most heavily used in Europe. The Moscow metro carries 40% more passengers than the New York subway system. On major routes the trains arrive every 60 seconds. Some of the stations are over 240 feet underground with the longest escalator in Europe. Inter-city trains such as the Sapsan (Falcon) take passengers between St. Petersburg and Moscow at 200 kms per hour. Despite the speed, the train is smooth and quiet. It’s an interesting way to view rural Russia as one passes ramshackle dachas, cute villages and abandoned Soviet era factories. A major new transportation project is the bridge between Krasnodar and the Crimean peninsula. This short video portrays the design.

* Putin is popular.

Depending on who you ask, Putin’s popularity seems to range between 60 and 80%. There are two reasons: First, since he became leader the economy has stabilized, corrupt oligarchs were brought into check, and the standard of living dramatically improved. Second, Putin is credited with restoring international respect for Russia and national pride for Russian citizens. Some say “During the 1990’s we were a beggar nation.” Russians have a strong sense of national pride and Putin’s administration has restored that. Some people think Putin deserves a break from the intense pressure and workload. That does not mean everyone likes him or is afraid to say that. Our official Moscow guide took delight in showing us the exact spot on the bridge outside the Kremlin where she believes Putin had one of his enemies assassinated. Other Russians we spoke with mock these accusations which are widely believed in the West. As to the accusations that Putin is a “dictator”, about 75 students in Crimea openly laughed when they were asked about this Western belief.

Current Political Tension

* Russians are highly skeptical of accusations about Russian “meddling” in the U.S. election.

One foreign policy expert, Vladimir Kozin, said “It’s a fairy tale that Russia influenced the U.S. election.” They contrast the unverified accusations with clear evidence of U.S. interference in past Russian elections, especially in the 1990’s when the economy was privatized and crime, unemployment and chaos overwhelmed the country. The role of the U.S. in “managing” the election of Boris Yeltsin in 1995 is widely known in Russia, as is the U.S. funding of hundreds of Non Governmental Organizations in Ukraine prior to the 2013-2014 violence and coup.

* There is a strong desire to improve relations with the U.S.

We met numerous Russians who had participated in citizen exchanges with the U.S. in the 1990’s. Almost universally these Russians had fond memories of their visits and hosts in the U.S. In other places we met people who had never met an American or English speaking person before. Typically they were cautious but very pleased to hear from American citizens who also wish to improve relations and reduce tensions.

* Western media reports about Crimea are hugely distorted. 

CCI delegates who visited Crimea met with a broad range of citizens and elected leaders. The geography is “stunningly beautiful” with mountains dropping to beaches on the Black Sea. Not reported in the West, Crimea was part of Russia since 1783. When Crimea was administratively transferred to Ukraine in 1954, it was all part of the Soviet Union. Crimeans told the CCI delegates they were repelled by the violence and fascist elements involved in the Kiev coup. Bus convoys from Crimea were attacked with injuries and deaths following the Kiev coup. The new coup government said Russian was no longer an official language. Crimeans quickly organized and held a referendum to secede from Ukraine and “re-unify” with Russia. With 80% of registered voters participating, 96% voted to join Russia. One Crimean stated to the CCI delegates, “We would have gone to war to separate from Ukraine.” Others noted the hypocrisy of the West which allows secession votes in Scotland and Catalonia, and which encouraged the secession of Croatia, but then rejects the overwhelming vote and choice of the Crimean people. Sanctions against tourism are hurting the economy of Crimea yet the public is confident in its decision. The Americans who visited Crimea were overwhelmed with the warm welcome and friendliness they received.  Because of the sanctions, few Americans visit Crimea and they also received substantial media coverage. In reaction, political officials in Ukraine accused the delegates of being “enemies of the Ukrainian state” and put their names on a blacklist.

* Russians know and fear war.

Twenty-seven million Russians died in WW2 and that experience is seared into the Russian memory. The Nazi siege of Leningrad (now called St Petersburg) reduced the population from 3 million to 500 thousand. Walking through the cemetery of mass graves brings home the depth of suffering and resilience of Russians who somehow survived a 872 day siege on the city. Memory of the war is kept alive through commemorations with huge public participation. Citizens carry poster size photographs of their relatives who fought or died in World War 2, known as the “Immortal Regiment“. In Kazan, the march involved 120 thousand persons – 10% of the entire city population – beginning at 10 am and concluding at 9 pm. Across Russia, millions of citizens actively participate. The marches and parades marking “Victory Day” are more solemn than celebratory.

* Russians see themselves being threatened.

While Western media portrays Russia as “aggressive”, most Russians perceive the reverse. They see the U.S. and NATO increasing military budgets, steadily expanding, moving up to the Russian border, withdrawing from or violating past treaties and conducting provocative military exercises. This map shows the situation.

* Russians want to de-escalate international tensions.

Former President Gorbachev said to our group “Does America want Russia to just submit? This is a country that can never submit.” These words carry extra significance because it was Gorbachev who initiated the foreign policy of Perestroika which led to his own side-lining and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Gorbachev has written about Perestroika as follows: “Its main outcome was the end of the Cold War. A long and potentially deadly period in world history, when the whole humankind lived under the constant threat of a nuclear disaster, came to an end.” Yet we are clearly in a new Cold War and the threat has re-emerged.

Conclusion

Despite three years of economic sanctions, low oil prices and an intense information war in the West, Russian society appears to be doing reasonably well. Russians across the spectrum express a strong desire to build friendship and partnership with the U.S. At the same time, it seems Russians will not be intimidated. They don’t want war and won’t initiate it, but if attacked they will defend themselves as they have in the past.

Russian Perspectives on US-Russian Relations

Introduction

I am in Russia for two weeks with a delegation of 30 Americans organized by the Center for Citizen Initiatives. We have had informative meetings with numerous people but the following two were especially interesting and relevant to international politics: Vladimir Kozin, member of the Russian Academy of Military Science, and Mikhael Gorbachev, former President of the Soviet Union.

Meeting with Mikhael Gorbachev

Roots of the New Cold War

Vladimir Kozin is an arms control specialist and member of the Russian Academy of Military Science who has worked on arms control issues since the 1970’s. Kozin says that Russians see themselves being encircled by NATO. Of the 16 countries bordering Russia, eight have anti-Russia sentiments. He notes that the US military budget is twelve times greater than that of Russia and increasing.

Kozin says that it is a “fairy tale” that Russia interfered in the U.S. election. What is NOT a fairy tale is that the US spent a huge amount of money to influence Russian elections in the past and funded 400 Non Governmental Organizations which were part of the destabilization campaign in Ukraine leading to the 2014 coup.

Regarding key conflict points, Kozin says that Crimea was part of Russia since 1783. He notes that the despite the presence of 16,000 Russian troops and 18,000 Ukrainian troops, the Crimea plebiscite to re-unify with Russia was handled without violence, with huge turnout and overwhelming vote in favor.

Regarding hostilities in eastern Ukraine, Kozin questions why this has happened. If Scotland can consider secession from UK and Catalonia from Spain, what’s wrong with Donbass (eastern Ukraine) wanting more autonomy within Ukraine?  Why has Ukrainian President Porokshenko turned to military conflict instead of negotiating with the forces in eastern Ukraine?

Kozin believes it is vital to have an arms control summit meeting between Presidents Trump and Putin. He thinks we should work toward the complete elimination of nuclear weapons by 2045. In the meantime, the easiest way to reduce tension and the risk of war would be an agreement on “No First Use of Nuclear Weapons”.

A Nuclear War Cannot Be Won

The former President of the Soviet Union, Mikail Gorbachev, is 87 years old but still sharp.  He told us: “This is a time to be concerned. We should worry about relations between our two countries….. things cannot continue as they are.”

President Gorbachev recalled his inital meetings with President Reagan which came after six years of poor relations and hostility. In the first summit meeting, Reagan issued a long list of accusations against the Soviet Union; Gorbachev responded with his own accusations against the USA. After that meeting Gorbachev said “He’s not a hawk; he’s a dinosaur” while Reagan said about Gorbachev “He’s a die-hard communist.”

At the next summit meeting, Reagan continued lecturing Gorbachev. After listening for 15 minutes. Gorbachev stopped Reagan saying, “That’s enough. If you want to talk as equals we can go very far. Differences can be bridged. Problems can be resolved. But as equals.” Reagan asked how the Soviet Union would respond if the United States was at risk because of some kind of natural calamity. When Gorbachev said they would want to help, not take advantage, the mood changed.

Gorbachev recalled his own friendly experience talking with average Americans. He suggested that perhaps the USA needs its own perestroika.

He reminded us that it was President John F Kennedy who said “We need peace but not a Pax Americana ….. not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women”.

Gorbachev continued saying, “The current situation is not right. We need to change that. Let us stop provoking each other. Let us stop trying to tear up other countries. …. Our two countries are still central to world peace. We need peace in order to resolve other world problems.  1% of the world controls 90% of the wealth. The ruling class is happy with this but things cannot continue as they are …. budgets smell of gunpowder….. fear is being cultivated. This is resulting in a new arms race.”

Gorbachev asked “Does the USA want Russia to just submit?” Referring to Russia’s history with invasions by France in the early 1800’s and Germany in the 1940’s he explained “This is a country that can never submit…. There will be no winners in a nuclear war.”

In a sober assessment of Trump’s first 100 days as President, Vladimir Kozin concluded:

Aggravating these facts of life is the deep degree of mistrust between Washington and Moscow, which the Americans spawned and have continued to nurse.  A vicious circle has emerged in the interrelationship between weapons and trust … Clearly such an irrational phenomenon cannot go on indefinitely.

From both Kozin and Gorbachev the message was clear: We need to do something to restore discussion and stop the slide toward ever greater tension and danger.

Trump Now A Captive Of The Deep State

When the gullible and insouciant American public and the presstitutes who participate in the deceptions permitted the Deep State to get away with the fairy tale that a few Saudi Arabians under the direction of Osama bin Laden, but without the support of any government or intelligence agency, were able to outwit the entirety of the Western Alliance and Israel’s Mossad and deliver the greatest humiliation in history to “the world’s only superpower” by making the entirety of the US government dysfunctional on September 11, 2001, Washington learned that it could get away with anything, any illegal and treasonous act, any lie. The gullible Western populations would believe anything that they were told.

Not only insouciant Americans, but much of the world accepts any statement out of Washington as the truth despite the evidence. If Washington said it, Washington’s vassals in Germany, France, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Netherlands, Belgium, and Japan assent to the obvious lie as if it were the obvious truth. So do the CIA purchased media of these vassal states, a collection of whores who prefer CIA subsidies to truth.

When Obama inherited the Deep State’s agenda from George W. Bush, he set up Syria’s Assad for regime change by repeating for many months that if Assad used chemical weapons in the “civil war” that Washington had sent ISIS to conduct, Assad would have crossed the “Red Line” that Obama had drawn and would, as the consequence, face an invasion by the US military, just as Iraq had been invaded based on Washington’s lie about “weapons of mass destruction.”

Having burnt this idea into the feeble minds of the Western populations, Obama then arranged for a chemical weapon to be exploded in Syria and blamed it on Assad. Thus, the Red Line had been crossed, the insouciant West was told, and America would now invade.

The UK prime minister, the usual piece of Washington-owned garbage, rushed to the support of the American invasion, promising British support. But the British Parliament voted NO. The MPs said that the UK was not going to support another American war crime justified by obvious lies. Only in Britain does democracy still have any teeth, as we saw a second time with the Brexit vote. All the rest of the West lives in vassalage and slavery.

The Russian government also took a firm stand, admitting that Russia stupidly trusted America in Libya, but no more. We, said the Russians, will ourselves remove any and all chemical weapons from Syria and turn them over to Western “civilization” to be destroyed, which the Russians did.

What did Western “civilization” do with the weapons? They gave some of them to ISIS. This gave Washington a second chance to accuse Assad of using chemical weapons “against his own people.”

And so Washington has rolled out this hoax a second time. During a Syrian air force attack on an ISIS position, a chemical weapon exploded, or so it is alleged. Instantly Washington said that Assad had used “Sarin gas against his own people.” Trump was shown photos of dead babies and stupidly ordered a US military strike against Syria.

This was the first time that Washington had engaged in an unambigious war crime without any cover. Trump had no UN resolution, not even one that could be stood on its head as in Libya. Trump had no NATO participation, no George W. Bush “coalition of the willing” to give cover to the war crime with the support of other governments.

There are no skirts for Trump to hid behind. He stupidly let himself be pushed into commiting an unambigious war crime.

Now all his opponents—the Deep State, the military/security complex, the CIA, the Hillary Democrats, the warmonger Republicans—have the New White House Fool under their control. If Trump doesn’t do as they want, they will impeach him for his war crime.

Meanwhile the risk of war with the Russian/Chinese/Iranian/Syrian alliance grows closer. The US shows every intention of provoking this war. Washington has imposed sanctions on 271 employees of Syria’s Scientific Studies and Research Center for, in Washington’s lying words, responsibility “for developing and producing non-conventional weapons and the means to deliver them.”

In order to make this false charge stick, Washington prevented any investigation whatsoever into the facts of the alleged chemical weapon associated by Western propaganda, not by any known fact, with a Syrian air attack on ISIS. If Washington is so certain that Syria is responsible, why does Washington block an investigation? If Washington is right, an investigation would prove Washington’s case. But as Washington is again lying through its teeth, an investigation would prove the contrary. And that is what Washington fears and is the reason Washington blocked an investigation.

Why do Western peoples believe the US government, a well proven liar, who blocks an investigation and asserts that everyone must believe Washington or else be put on a list of Russian agents?

Here is the lie, the raw propaganda, that the US government has no qualms about issuing:  It comes from the US Department of the Treasury in which I once served honorably. But honor no longer exists in the US Treasury.

Are Western populations intelligent enough to understand that the only reason for Washington to block an investigation of the alleged use by Syria of a chemical weapon is that the facts clearly do not support Washington’s lie? No, they are not.

Theodore Postol, a scientist at MIT, has concluded from his investigation that the chemical weapon was not dropped from the air but was set off on the ground and that it was not Sarin gas as Sarin lingers and the alleged aid workers who were immediately on the scene were unprotected by gloves or masks or by anything. If the gas were Sarin, they would be dead also.

The Russian explanation is that the Syrian air force attack hit a storage facility, conveniently arranged by Washington, that contained chemical weapons. I have seen reports that Washington, or Washington’s vassals such as Saudi Arabia, have provided ISIS with chemical weapons. President Putin of Russia says the reason Washington has delivered chemical weapons to ISIS is that there can be more orchestrated instances of their use that can be blamed on Assad.

I think I can say in complete confidence that this is what is happening: Washington intends to wear Russia down with orchestrated chemical attack after chemical attack, portraying Russia as an inhuman defender of Assad’s alleged chemical attacks, in order to more thoroughly isolate Russia and in order to provoke opposition to Putin’s government, especially among the US and German financed NGOs that Russia stupidly permits to operate in Russia and in the Russian media. Washington’s goal is to force by the weight of world opinion Putin to abandon Assad to Washington.

US Secretary of State Tillerson, another gigantic disappointment to those who hoped for peaceful relations between the US and Russia/China/Iran/Syria, has said that the US still intends regime change in Syria. Tillerson has advised Russia to get out of Washington’s way and to “consider carefully their support for Bashar al-Assad.”

Russia cannot abandon Assad, because if Syria falls to Washington, Iran will be next, and then the Washington-financed jihadists will be set upon the Muslim populations of the Russian Federation and China.

This is Washington’s game plan. I am certain Putin is aware of it, and I think the Chinese are, despite their inordinate focus on making money.

The questions before us could not be any clearer: Will Russia and China break and give in to Washington? If not, will Washington become a good world citizen for the first time in America’s history, or will Washington issue more threats, thereby convincing Russia and China that their alternative is to wait for Washington’s preemptive nuclear strike or deliver one themselves?

This is the only question that the world faces that is worth our attention. I spent a quarter century in Washington. The evil that is in control there at the present time is unprecedented. I have never seen anything like it.

Can the world survive the evil that is concentrated in Washington, evil that has the support of the governments of the Western world?

War and Propaganda

The U.S. has been at war throughout much of its history. Some wars were blatantly wars of conquest; e.g., the Indian Wars (the near genocide of Native Americans) and the Mexican-American War. Whatever the real reasons for our military actions, they were usually sold to the public as being defensive in nature and this practice still goes on.

Some insiders have spoken more openly about reasons for wars. For example, in 1933 Major General Smedley Butler USMC, who served for 33 years and was one of the most highly decorated marines, stated:

War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses….

And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.

Another leading U.S. military figure, General Douglas MacArthur, spoke in 1957 at a Sperry Rand Corporation annual meeting:

Our swollen budgets constantly have been misrepresented to the public. Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear — kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervor — with the cry of grave national emergency. Always there has been some terrible evil at home or some monstrous foreign power that was going to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it by furnishing the exorbitant funds demanded. Yet, in retrospect, these disasters seem never to have happened, seem never to have been quite real.

Shamefully, the U.S. mainstream media plays a key role in advancing the establishment’s stories in creating enemies and in pushing the use of the military instead of diplomacy. For example, most of the influential media unquestionably spread the false claims about weapons of mass destruction before the illegal and unwarranted U.S.-led attack on Iraq in 2003. This monstrous U.S. war crime killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and caused incredible suffering and devastation that continue even today. In addition, that attack played a major role in creating the chaos in the Middle East and in spawning ISIS and other terrorists groups.

For a decade now, the influential media has been building fear of and animosity against Russia and its president Vladimir Putin. For example, the media spread the establishment’s story that NATO’s buildup of weapons and forces near the Russian border is a reaction to Russian aggression. In its coverage, the media downplayed the U.S. violation of its pledge not to expand NATO ‘one inch’ to the east if the Soviet Union would allow Germany to be reunited. Unfortunately, the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations all violated that pledge. Perhaps the media didn’t think NATO’s expansion to Russian borders might have been viewed as a provocation to Russia.

However, a key insider saw things very differently. In 1996 George Kennan, architect of the containment policy towards the Soviet Union, warned that NATO’s expansion into former Soviet territories would be a “strategic blunder of potentially epic proportions.” In 1998, Thomas Friedman solicited Kennan’s reaction to the Senate’s ratification of NATO’s eastward expansion. Kennan said: ”I think it is the beginning of a new cold war. I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else.”

The mainstream U.S. media also downplayed the importance of the U.S. supported 2014 Ukrainian coup, a major provocation that caused Russia to react as Kennan had predicted. Even George Friedman, CEO of Stratfor, a U.S. firm involved in analyzing intelligence, spoke about this coup that the media hailed as a revolution: “It really was the most blatant coup in history.”

The media continues the campaign against Russia by hyping the unsubstantiated claim that the Russian government hacked the Democratic National Committee’s emails and somehow provided the emails to Wikileaks. This problematic charge further bolsters the perception of Russia as our enemy, making the idea of war more palatable.

Disappointingly, the influential U.S. media ignores a strong challenge to this claim from former intelligence officials (Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity) who have a very good track record in evaluating evidence. Adding to the concern about these claims, it is important to remember that the CIA’s political leadership has a major credibility problem. Moreover, Julian Assange of Wikileaks, denied receiving the emails from the Russian government. Given these concerns and the lack of any solid evidence being shown to the public, a responsible media would certainly have carefully investigated the charge before unnecessarily heightening tensions between two powers with nuclear weapons.

Accuracy in reporting is especially important now since Russian and U.S./NATO forces are operating in close proximity along the Russian border and in Syria. Any small miscalculation could set off a nuclear conflict with unbelievably dire consequences for life on the planet. For example, studies by well-informed scientists have clearly demonstrated that there are no winners in a nuclear conflict. Therefore, it is past time for the mainstream U.S. media to live up to its responsibilities to the public and to carefully investigate claims instead of simply being a shameless propaganda tool of the U.S. political and military establishment.

The Conspiracy Against President Trump

March 20, 2017: Listening today to the broadcast of testimony by FBI Director Comey and National Security Agency Director Admiral Michael Rogers before the House Intelligence Committee (an oxymoron) made it clear that the Democrats, Comey, and Rogers intend conflict with Russia.

The Republicans, for the most part, were interested to know how security leaks targeted at Trump Republicans came from meetings at which only the CIA Director, NSA Director, and FBI director were present. Of course, they did not get an answer, which shows how powerless congressional oversight committees are. Comey repeatedly said that he could not tell the committee anything, because it would confirm that a press leak was true. But, he said, speaking generally and of no specific leak, most leaks come from “someone who heard something” and passes it on to the media, which also explains the inaccuracy of some leaks. In other words, don’t blame us.

The Democrats were out in force to demonize Russia, Putin, and everyone, especially Trump Republicans, who speaks to a Russian even if the person is still a private citizen, as was Gen. Flynn when he recommended to the Russian ambassador that Russia not respond in kind to President Obama’s expulsion of Russian diplomats over Christmas. The Democrats bestowed yet another demonic title on Putin. In addition to being “the new Hitler,” a “thug,” and a “Mafia don,” today Putin became a “tarantula in the center of the spy web.”

The Democrats’ position was that Flynn, by discouraging a Russian tit for tat, had interfered with the Obama regime’s policy of worsening relations between the US and Russia. Some Democrats saw this as treason. Others saw it as proof that Flynn and Trump are in Putin’s pocket, and still others see it as even worse.

The Democrats were also very concerned about lobbyists, if they be Republican, working for Russian interests, including Tillerson, the Secretary of State. The fact that every country employs lobbyists and that the lobbyists don’t always register as foreign agents, such as Israel’s lobbyists, or if news reports at the time were correct, neocon Richard Perle who represented Turkey in Washington.

Democrats were also after Gen. Flynn for saying that he had not received money from the Russian government. Flynn received a fee for attending the 10th Anniversary celebration of RT in Moscow. Is RT, a news organization, the Russian government? Its budget is supported by the Russian government, but how does this differ from the US government’s support of the budgets of National Public Radio, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Voice of America? Does this mean that everyone who gives an interview to NPR, Radio Liberty, and VOA is an American agent in the pocket of the US president? If you attend a function of one of these organizations, does it make you an “American agent/dupe”? Will there be a list of these people?

What the Democrats tried to do today was to criminalize everyone who works for better relations between the US and Russia. To be for peace between the nuclear powers is to be a Russian agent and to be put on a list. The Democrats insisted that Russia was an enemy out to get us, and the Democrats had no difficulty getting Comey and Rogers, both Obama appointees, to agree.

Comey and Rogers said that Russia was the main threat to the US, was working against our interests, and intends to harm us. Harming us includes opposing US hegemony and unilateralism. In other words, if the Russian government acts in the interests of Russia, the Russian government is harming the US. From the testimony it clearly emerged that any kind of opposition to anything Washington does is against American interests.

Both Comey and Rogers declared, falsely, that Russia had invaded Ukraine and seized Crimea by force. If Comey and Rogers are so poorly informed that they believe this, they are unfit for office. Crimea has been a part of Russia for 300 years. The population is almost entirely Russian. When the Soviet Union collapsed and Washington broke it apart, the Ukraine became independent for the first time in history. Crimea, which had been transferred by Khrushchev in 1954 from the Russian Soviet Socialist Republic to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, was included in the transfer on the condition that Russia had a long term lease on the naval base in Crimea.

When Washington’s coup overthrew the democratically elected government in Ukraine, the Russian populations in Crimea, and in the new republics of Luhansk and Donetsk, were attacked and threatened by the neo-nazi elements in eastern Ukraine that had fought for Hitler against the Soviet Union. The populations of these areas voted overwhelmingly to reunite with Russia, from whence they had come. The votes were fair and open. As Crimea is the Russian Navy’s Black Sea base, Crimea was already occupied by Russian forces. For Comey and Rogers to call this an “invasion” displays either ignorance or a lack of integrity.

Indeed, the lack of integrity of the FBI, NSA, CIA, and Obama regime is evidenced by the sustained campaign of lies, distortions, and targeted “news leaks,” that is, stories planted on the presstitutes by the intelligence services about Russian interference in the presidential election. It is all about protecting the massive military/security budget and powers. Trump threatened both the budget and the power when he declared that his policy would be to normalize relations with Russia. If relations are normalized, the carefully orchestrated “Russian threat” disappears. The intelligence services are not willing for this to happen. The US intelligence services prefer the risk of nuclear Armageddon to a budget cut.

The Democrats are probably not sufficiently intelligent to understand that they are fanning the flames of war between nuclear powers. The Democrats are desperate to find someone on whom to pin their loss of the election. Moreover, by pinning it on a conspiracy between Trump and Putin, they hope to remove Trump from office. Although Pence, who is a Russophobe, is acceptable to the military/security complex, the Democrats have hopes of clearing out Pence as well, as his election resulted from the alleged conspiracy, and reinstalling themselves in the White House.

Americans need to understand that the political competition between the Democrats and Republicans is over which party gets to collect the money for being the whore for the One Percent. Traditionally, the party in the White House gets most of the money, so that is where both parties want to be.

Michael Morell, a supporter of Hillary Clinton and President Obama’s last CIA director in an acting capacity, who was slated to become CIA director under Hillary, said, “On the question of the Trump campaign conspiring with the Russians, there is smoke, but there is no fire, at all. There’s no little campfire, there’s no little candle, there’s no spark. And there’s a lot of people looking for it.”

Morell does believe that it was the Russians who hacked Hillary’s incriminating emails but not in collusion with Trump, although the evidence is that they were a leak from inside the Democratic National Committee by disaffected supporters of Bernie Sanders.

Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said on Meet the Press on March 5 that he had seen no evidence of a Putin-Trump conspiracy when he left office on January 20.

Listening to Comey and Rogers today, if they are not working against President Trump, what would classify as working against Trump? Trump supporters ask why Trump doesn’t fire these two men who are working to block a reduction in the dangerous tensions between Washington and Russia. Are the Democrats, Comey, Rogers, the CIA and their media whores so stupid that they don’t understand what it means when the President of Russia says, “the Americans have destroyed our trust in them?”

Trump doesn’t fire Comey and Rogers, because he cannot fire them. If he fires them, the Democrats and presstitutes will explain the firings as proof that Trump is a Russian agent and is covering up his treason by removing those investigating it.

Trump is trying to use Twitter to respond to the orchestrated media assault against him and to achieve some organization among his supporters, the working class that elected him. However, Trump cannot even count on the Republican Party. Most Republicans are also dependent on political contributions from the military/security complex, and Republicans know that the intelligence agencies have all the dirt on them. To fight for Trump is to expose themselves.

It is undeniable that the CIA controls the media, both in Europe and in the US. Udo Ulfkotte’s book, Gekauftge Journalisten, exposed the CIA’s hold on European journalists when it was published in Germany in 2014. An English language edition, Journalists for Hire: How the CIA Buys the News, is due out in May. In the meantime Joel Whitney’s book, Finks: How the C.I.A. Tricked the World’s Best Writers, suffices to establish that America’s most respected journalists drank the CIA’s Kool-Aid “and thought they were saving freedom” by serving as propagandists.

People in the West need to understand that if the news they receive bears on the interests of the US military/security complex, the news is scripted by the CIA. The CIA serves its interests, not the interests of the American people or the interests of peace.

Raphaël Glucksmann against François Fillon

François Fillon is the only personality to date, to have checked all the boxes to be a genuine candidate for the French presidential elections . He has been subject to pressures from all sides to ensure that he withdraws. He is reproached for being subject to an investigation which sees magistrates pursuing him even though he does not appear to have committed any crime or delict but because he appears to have paid his parliamentary assistant on the scale of a Grade A public official. In (...)

Peace Accords or Political Surrender?

Over thirty year ago a savvy Colombian peasant leader told me, “Whenever I read the word ‘peace accords’ I hear the government sharpening its knives”.

In recent times, ‘peace accords’ (PAs) have become a common refrain across the world. In almost every region or country, which are in the midst of war or invasion, the prospects of negotiating ‘peace accords’ have been raised. In many cases, PAs were signed and yet did not succeed in ending murder and mayhem at the hands of their US-backed interlocutors.

We will briefly review several past and present peace negotiations and ‘peace accords’ to understand the dynamics of the ‘peace process’ and the subsequent results.

The Peace Process

There are several ongoing negotiations today, purportedly designed to secure peace accords. These include discussions between (1) the Kiev-based US-NATO-backed junta in the west and the eastern ‘Donbas’ leadership opposed to the coup and NATO; (2) the Saudi US-NATO-armed terrorists in Syria and the Syrian government and its Russian, Iranian and Hezbollah allies; (3) the US-backed Israeli colonial regime and the Palestinian independence forces in the West Bank and Gaza; and (4) the US-backed Colombian regime of President Santos and the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC).

There are also several other peace negotiations taking place, many of which have not received public attention.

Past and Present Outcomes of Peace Accords

Over the past quarter century several PAs were signed – all of which led to the virtual surrender of armed anti-imperialist protagonists and popular mass movements.

The Central-American PAs, involving Salvador and Guatemala, led to the unilateral disarmament of the resistance movement, the consolidation of oligarchical control over the economy, the growth and proliferation of narco-gangs and unfettered government-sponsored death squads. As a consequence, internal terror escalated. Resistance leaders secured the vote, entered Congress as politicians, and, in the case of El Salvador, were elected to high office. Inequalities remained the same or worsened, and murders matched or exceeded the numbers recorded during the pre-Peace Accord period. Massive numbers of immigrants, often of internal refugees fleeing gang violence, entered the US illegally. The US consolidated its military bases and operations in Central America while the population continued to suffer.

The Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations did not lead to any accord. Instead ‘negotiations’ became a thin cover for increasing annexation of Palestinian land to construct racists ‘Jews-Only’ enclaves, resulting in the illegal settlement of over half a million Jewish settlers. The US-backed the entire farcical peace process, financing the corrupt Palestinian vassal-leaders and providing unconditional diplomatic, military and political support to Israel.

US-Soviet Union: Peace Accord

The Reagan/Bush-Gorbachev ‘peace accords’ were supposed to end the Cold War and secure global peace. Instead the US and the EU established military bases and client regimes/allies throughout Eastern Europe, the Baltic and Balkans, pillaged the national assets and took over their denationalized economies. US-based elites dominated the vassal Yeltsin regime and virtually stripped Russia of its resources and wealth. In alliance with gangster-oligarchs, they plundered the economy.

The post-Soviet Yeltsin regime ran elections, promoted multiple parties and presided over a desolate, isolated and increasingly surrounded nation – at least until Vladimir Putin was elected to ‘decolonize’ the State apparatus and partially reconstruct the economy and society.

Ukraine Peace Negotiations

In 2014 a US-sponsored violent coup brought together fascists, oligarchs, generals and pro-EU supporters seizing control of Kiev and the western part of Ukraine. The pro-democracy Eastern regions of the Donbas and Crimean Peninsula organized resistance to the putsch regime. Crimea voted overwhelmingly to re-unite Russia. The industrial centers in Eastern Ukraine (Donbas) formed popular militias to resist the armed forces and neo-Nazi paramilitaries of the US backed-junta. After a few years of mayhem and stalemate, a ‘negotiation process’ unfolded despite which the Kiev regime continued to attack the east. The tentative ‘peace settlement” became the basis for the ‘Minsk agreement’, brokered by France, Russia and Germany, where the Kiev junta envisioned a disarming of the resistance movement, re-occupation of the Donbas and Crimea and eventual destruction of the cultural, political, economic and military autonomy of the ethnic Russian East Ukraine. As a result, the “Minsk Agreement” has been little more than a failed ploy to secure surrender. Meanwhile, the Kiev junta’s massive pillage of the nation’s economy has turned Ukraine into a failed state with 2.5 million fleeing to Russia and many thousands emigrating to the West to dig potatoes in Poland, or enter the brothels of London and Tel Aviv. The remaining unemployed youth are left to sell their services to Kiev’s paramilitary fascist shock troops.

Colombia: Peace Accord or Graveyard?

Any celebration of the Colombian FARC-President Santos’ Peace Accord would be premature if we examine its past incarnations and present experience.

Over the past four decades, Colombian oligarchical regimes, backed by the military, death squads and Washington have invoked innumerable ‘peace commissions’, inaugurated negotiations with the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) and proceeded to both break off negotiations and relaunch full-scale wars using ‘peace accords’ as a pretext to decimate and demoralize political activists.

In 1984, then-President Belisario Betancur signed a peace accord with the FARC, known as the Uribe Agreement. Under this agreement, thousands of FARC activists and supporters demobilized, formed the Patriotic Union (UP), a legal electoral party, and participated in elections. In the 1986 Colombian elections, the UP candidates were elected as Senators, Congress people, mayors and city council members, and their Presidential candidate gained over 20% of the national vote. Over the next 4 years, from 1986-1989, over 5,000 UP leaders, elected officials and Presidential candidates were assassinated in a campaign of nationwide terror. Scores of thousands of peasants, oil workers, miners and plantation laborers were murdered, tortured and driven into exile. Paramilitary death squads and landlord-backed private armies, allied with the Colombian Armed Forces, assassinated thousands of union leaders, workers and their families members. The Colombian military’s ‘paramilitary strategy’ against non-combatants and villagers was developed in the 1960s by US Army General William Yarborough, Commandant, US Army Special Warfare Center and Father of the Green Beret Special Forces.

Within five years of its formation, the Patriotic Union no longer existed: Its surviving members had fled or gone into hiding.

In 1990, newly-elected President Cesar Gaviria proclaimed new peace negotiations with the FARC. Within months of his proclamation, the president ordered the bombing of the ‘Green House’, where the FARC leaders and negotiating team were being lodged. Fortunately, they had fled before the treacherous attack.

President Andrés Pastrana (1998-2001) called for new peace negotiations with the FARC to be held ‘in a demilitarized zone’. Peace talks began in the jungle region of El Caguan in November 1998. President Pastrana had made numerous pledges, concessions and reforms with the FARC and social activists, but, at the same time he had signed a ten-year multi-billion dollar military aid agreement with US President Clinton, known as ‘Plan Colombia’. This practice of ‘double-dealing’ culminated with the Colombian Armed Forces launching a ‘scorched earth policy’ against the ‘demilitarized zones’ under the newly elected (and death-squad linked) President Alvaro Uribe Velez. Over the next eight years, President Uribe drove nearly four million Colombian peasants into internal exile. With the multi-billion dollar funding from Washington, Uribe was able to double the size of the Colombian Armed Forces to over 350,000 troops, incorporating members of the death squads into the military. He also oversaw the formation of new paramilitary armies. By 2010 the FARC had declined from eighteen thousand to under ten thousand fighters – with hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties and millions rendered homeless.

In 2010 Uribe’s former Minister of Defense, Juan Manual Santos was elected President. By 2012 Santos initiated another “peace process” with the FARC, which was signed by the end of 2016. Under the new Peace Accord, signed in Cuba, hundreds of officers implicated in torture, assassinations and forced relocation of peasants were given immunity from prosecution while FARC guerillas were to face trial. The government promised land reform and the right to return for displaced farmers and their families. However, when peasants returned to claim their land they were driven away or even killed.

FARC leaders agreed to demobilize and disarm unilaterally by June 2017. The military and their paramilitary allies would retain their arms and gain total control over previous FARC- liberated zones.

President Santos ensured that the Peace Accord would include a series of Presidential Decrees – privatizing the country’s mineral and oil resources and converting small family farms to commercial plantations. Demobilized peasant-rebels were offered plots of infertile marginal lands, without government support or funding for roads, tools, seed and fertilizer or even schools and housing, necessary for the transition. While some FARC leaders secured seats in Congress and the freedom to run in elections unmolested, the young rank and file FARC fighters and peasants were left without many alternatives but to join paramilitary or ‘narco’ gangs.

In summary, the historical record demonstrates that a series of Colombian presidents and regimes have systematically violated all peace agreements and accords, assassinated the rebel signees and retained elite control over the economy and labor force. Before his election, the current President Santos presided over the most deadly decade when he was Uribe’s Defense Minister.

For brokering the peace of the graveyard for scores of thousands of Colombian peasants and activists, President Santos was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

In Havana, FARC leaders and negotiators were praised by Cuban President Raul Castro, President Obama, Venezuelan President Maduro and the vast majority of ‘progressives’ and rightists in North and South America and Europe.

Colombia’s bloody history, including the widespread murder of Colombian civil rights activists and peasant leaders, has continued even as the documents finalizing the Peace Accords were being signed. During the first month of 2017, five human right activists were murdered by death squads – linked to the oligarchy and military. In 2015, while the FARC was negotiating over several clauses in the agreement, over 122 peasant and human rights activists were murdered by paramilitary groups who continued to operate freely in areas controlled by Santos’ army. The mass media propaganda mills continue to repeat the lie that ‘200,000 people were killed by the guerillas (FARC) and the government’ when the vast majority of the killings were committed by the government and its allied death squads; a calumny, which guerilla leaders fail to challenge. Prominent Jesuit researcher Javier Giraldo has provided a detailed factual account documenting that over three quarters of the killings were committed by the Army and paramilitary.

We are asked to believe presidential regimes that have murdered and continue to murder over 150,000 Colombian workers, peasants, indigenous leaders and professionals are suddenly transformed into justice-loving partners in peace. During the first three months of this year, activists, sympathetic to the peace agreement with the FARC, continue to be targeted and killed by supposedly demobilized paramilitary murderers.

Social movement leaders report rising political violence by military forces and their allies. Even peace monitors and the UN Human Rights Office admit that state and paramilitary violence are destroying any structure that President Santos could hope to implement the reforms. As the FARC withdraws from regions under popular control, peasants seeking land reform are targeted by private armies. The Santos regime is more concerned with protecting the massive land grabs by big mining consortiums.

As the killing of FARC supporters and human rights activists multiply, as President Santos and Washington look to take advantage of a disarmed and demobilized guerilla army, the ‘historic peace accord’ becomes a great deceit designed to expand imperial power.

Conclusion: Epitaph for Peace Accords

Time and again throughout the world, imperialist-brokered peace negotiations and accords have served only one goal: to disarm, demobilize, defeat and demoralize resistance fighters and their allies.

Peace Accords, as we know them, have served to rearm and regroup US-backed forces following tactical setbacks of the guerrilla struggle. PAs are encouraged to divide the opposition (‘salami tactics’) and facilitate conquest. The rhetoric of ‘peace’ as in ‘peace negotiations’ are terms which actually mean ‘unilateral disarmament’ of the resistance fighters, the surrender of territory and the abandonment of civilian sympathizers. The so-called ‘war zones’, which contain fertile lands and valuable mineral reserves are ‘pacified’ by being absorbed by the ‘peace loving’ regime. This serves their privatization programs and promote the pillage of the ‘developmental state’. Negotiated peace settlements are overseen by US officials, who praise and laud the rebel leaders while they sign agreements to be implemented by US vassal regimes . . . The latter will ensure the rejection of any realignment of foreign policy and any structural socio-economic changes.

Some peace accords may allow former guerilla leaders to compete and in some cases win elections as marginal representatives, while their mass base is decimated.

In most cases, during the peace process, and especially after signing ‘peace accords’, social organizations and movements and their supporters among the peasantry and working class, as well as human rights activists, end up being targeted by the military and para-military death-squads operating around government military bases.

Often, the international allies of resistance movements have encouraged them to negotiate PAs, in order to demonstrate to the US that ‘they are responsible’— hoping to secure improved diplomatic and trade relations. Needless to say, ‘responsible negotiations’ will merely strengthen imperial resolve to press for further concessions, and encourage military aggression and new conquests.

Just ‘peace accords’ are based on mutual disarmament, recognition of territorial autonomy and the authority of local insurgent administration over agreed upon land reforms, retaining mineral rights and military-public security.

PAs should be the first step in the political agendas, implemented under the control of independent rebel military and civil monitors.

The disastrous outcome of unilateral disarmament is due to the non-implementation of progressive, independent foreign policy and structural changes.

Past and present peace negotiations, based on the recognition of the sovereignty of an independent state linked to mass movements, have always ended in the US breaking the agreements. True ‘peace accords’ contradict the imperial goal of conquering via the negotiating table what could not be won through war.

When Canada Invaded Russia

The corporate media presents Russia as militaristic but ignores Canada’s invasion of that country.

100 years ago today a popular revolt ousted the Russian monarchy. Enraged at Nicholas II’s brutality and the horror of World War I, protests and strikes swept the capital of Petrograd (Saint Petersburg. Within a week the czar abdicated. Later in the year the Bolsheviks rose to power in large part by committing to withdraw from the war.

The English, French and US responded to the Bolshevik’s rise by supporting the Russian monarchists (the whites) in their fight to maintain power. Six thousand Canadian troops also invaded. According to Roy Maclaren in Canadians in Russia, 1918 – 1919, Canadian gunners won “a vicious reputation amongst the Bolsheviks for the calm skill with which they used shrapnel as a short-range weapon against foot soldiers.”

While a Canadian naval vessel supported the White Russians, Canadian pilots stationed near the Black Sea provided air support.

The war against the Bolsheviks was initially justified as a way to reopen World War I’s eastern front (the Bolsheviks signed a peace treaty with Germany). Canadian troops, however, stayed after World War I ended. In fact, 2,700 Canadian troops arrived in the eastern city of Vladivostok on January 5, 1919, two months after the war’s conclusion. A total of 3,800 Canadian troops, as well as Royal Northwest Mounted Police and 697 horses, went to Siberia, which the Whites continued to control long after losing Moscow, St. Petersburg and most of the western part of the country.

Ottawa maintained its forces in Russia after the conclusion of World War One partly to persuade the British that Canada merited inclusion in the Paris peace conference that would divvy up the spoils of the war. Prime Minister Borden wrote:

We shall stand in an unfortunate position unless we proceed with Siberia expedition. We made definite arrangements with the British government on which they have relied … Canada’s present position and prestige would be singularly impaired by deliberate withdrawal.

Ottawa also feared the rise of anti-capitalism. On December 1, 1918, Borden wrote in his diary that he was “struck with the progress of Bolshevism in European countries.” For their part, Canadian working class groups condemned the invasion of Russia as “for the benefit of the capitalist.”  The president of the BC Federation of Labour Joseph Naylor asked, “is it not high time that the workers of the Western world take action similar to that of the Russian Bolsheviki and dispose of their masters as those brave Russians are now doing?”

The allies invaded Russia to defend the status quo, much to the dismay of many Canadians who welcomed the czar’s demise and found it difficult to understand why Canada would support Russian reactionaries. Opposition to the intervention was widespread even among soldiers. According to the Toronto Globe, 60-70 percent of the men sent to Siberia went unwillingly. One artillery section even refused to obey orders.

Throughout the 1920s and 1930s western countries worked to isolate Moscow. Canada (and the US) opposed a treaty to guarantee Russia’s pre-war frontiers, which England had signed with Moscow. Ottawa recognized the Bolshevik government in 1924 but ties were severed after the British cut off relations in mid-1927.  Full diplomatic relations with Moscow would not restart until the late 1930s.

Russophobia has once again gripped the political/media establishment. A number of prominent commentators have defended the grandfather of Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland collaborating with the Nazis on the grounds it was either them or the Russians occupying Ukraine during World War II. Freeland herself deflected questions on the matter by saying Moscow may be trying to “destabilize” Canadian democracy while Brigadier General Paul Rutherford warned of Russian cyber warfare. More dangerous, Ottawa is ramping up its military presence on Russia’s doorstep (Ukraine, Poland and Latvia) to counter “aggression”.

To help clear the thick fog of propaganda it’s useful to remember how Canada responded to the fall of Russia’s monarchy. While Russia has never invaded Canada, we once invaded their country.

The United States and the Russian Devil: 1917-2017

Conservatives have had a very hard time getting over President Trump’s much-repeated response to Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly’s calling Russian president Vladimir Putin “a killer”. Replied Trump: “There are a lot of killers. We have a lot of killers. You think our country is so innocent?”

One could almost feel a bit sorry for O’Reilly as he struggled to regain his composure in the face of such blasphemy. Had any American establishment media star ever heard such a thought coming from the mouth of an American president? From someone on the radical left, yes, but from the president?

Senator John McCain on the floor of Congress, referring to Putin, tore into attempts to draw “moral equivalency between that butcher and thug and KGB colonel and the United States of America.”1

Ah yes, the infamous KGB. Can anything good be said about a person associated with such an organization? We wouldn’t like it if a US president had a background with anything like that. Oh, wait, a president of the United States was not merely a CIA “colonel”, but was the Director of the CIA! I, of course, speak of George Herbert Walker Bush. And as far as butchery and thuggery … How many Americans remember the December 1989 bombing and invasion of the people of Panama carried out by the same Mr. Bush? Many thousands killed or wounded; thousands more left homeless.

Try and match that, Vladimir!

And in case you’re wondering for what good reason all this was perpetrated? Officially, to arrest dictator Manuel Noriega on drug charges. How is that for a rationalization for widespread devastation and slaughter? It should surprise no one that only shortly before the invasion Noriega had been on the CIA payroll.2

It’s the “moral equivalency” that’s so tough to swallow for proud Americans like O’Reilly and McCain. Republican Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell also chipped in with: “And no, I don’t think there’s any equivalency between the way the Russians conduct themselves and the way the United States does.”3 Other Senators echoed the same theme, all inspired by good ol’ “American exceptionalism”, drilled into the mind of every decent American from childhood on … Who would dare to compare the morals of (ugh!) Russia with those of God’s chosen land, even in Moscow’s current non-communist form?

The communist form began, of course, with the October 1917 Russian Revolution. By the summer of 1918 some 13,000 American troops could be found in the newly-born state, the future Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Two years and thousands of casualties later, the American troops left, having failed in their mission to “strangle at its birth” the Bolshevik state, as Winston Churchill so charmingly put it.4

US foreign policy has not been much more noble-minded since then. I think, dear students, it’s time for me to once again present my concise historical summary:

Since the end of World War 2, the United States has:

  • Attempted to overthrow more than 50 foreign governments, most of which were democratically-elected.
  • Dropped bombs on the people of more than 30 countries.
  • Attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders.
  • Attempted to suppress a populist or nationalist movement in 20 countries.
  • Grossly interfered in democratic elections in at least 30 countries.5
  • Though not as easy to quantify, has also led the world in torture; not only the torture performed directly by Americans upon foreigners, but providing torture equipment, torture manuals, lists of people to be tortured, and in-person guidance by American instructors.6

Where does the United States get the nerve to moralize about Russia? Same place they get the nerve to label Putin a “killer” … a “butcher” … a “thug”. It would be difficult to name a world-renowned killer, butcher, or thug – not to mention dictator, mass murderer, or torturer – of the past 75 years who was not a close ally of Washington.

So why then does the American power elite hate Putin so? It can be dated back to the period of Boris Yeltsin.

During the Western financial looting of the dying Soviet Union the US could be found meddling in favor of Yeltsin in the election held in 1996. Under Yeltsin’s reign, poverty exploded and life expectancy for men actually decreased by five years, all in the name of “shock therapy.” The US/Western-backed destabilization of the Soviet Union allowed global capitalism to spread its misery unfettered by any inconvenient socialism. Russia came under the control of oligarchs concerned only for their own enrichment and that of their billionaire partners in the West. The transition of power to Vladimir Putin in the 21st century led to a number of reforms that curbed the disastrous looting of the nation by the oligarchic bandits. Putin and his allies vowed to build an independent, capitalist Russia that was capable of determining its own affairs free from US and Western domination. Such an orientation placed Putin in direct confrontation with US imperialism’s plans for unipolar global hegemony.

Washington’s disdain for Putin increased when he derided US war propaganda leading up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Then, the Russian leader played a crucial role in getting Iran to curtail its nuclear program and arranging for Syria to surrender its stockpiles of chemical weapons. Washington’s powerful neo-conservatives had been lusting for direct US military strikes against those two countries, leading to regime change, not diplomatic agreements that left the governments in place.

Lastly, after the United States overthrew the Ukrainian government in 2014, Putin was obliged to intervene on behalf of threatened ethnic Russians in Crimea and eastern Ukraine. That, in turn, was transformed by the Western media into a “Russian invasion”.7

The same Western media has routinely charged Putin with murdering journalists but doesn’t remind its audience of the American record in this regard. The American military, in the course of its wars in recent decades, has been responsible for the deliberate deaths of many journalists. In Iraq, for example, there’s the Wikileaks 2007 video, exposed by Chelsea Manning, of the cold-blooded murder of two Reuters journalists; the 2003 US air-to-surface missile attack on the offices of Al Jazeera in Baghdad that left three journalists dead and four wounded; and the American firing on Baghdad’s Hotel Palestine, a known journalist residence, the same year that killed two foreign news cameramen.

The Trump honeymoon is over for me. It was never actually love; hardly more than an intriguing curiosity; mainly that he wasn’t Hillary Clinton; that he was unlikely to start a war with Russia or close down the Russia Today (RT) TV station in the US, which I and many others depend on daily; and that he was not politically correct when it came to fighting the Islamic State. Trump’s “moral equivalency” remark above gave me some hope. But this all vanished with his appointment to high office of one war-loving, bemedalled general after another, intermingled with one billionaire Goldman-Sachs official after another; his apparent confirmation of his Mexican Wall; and, worst of all, his increasing the military budget by $54 billion (sic, sick) … this will certainly be at the expense of human life and health and the environment. What manner of man is this who walks amongst us?

The word is “narcissism”. New York Times columnist Frank Bruni (February 28, 2017) captures this well: “Why do I get the sense that fighter jets are Donald Trump’s biceps, warships are his pectorals and what he’s doing with his proposed $54 billion increase for the Pentagon is flexing?”

Will there ever be an end to the never-ending American wars?

How should we react to terrorism?

I hadn’t planned on returning to this subject so soon, if ever, because of the distasteful experience of last summer when at least 50 of my subscribers canceled because I said that terrorism carried out by Islamics was to some extent motivated by their religion, an hypothesis rejected by what I see as the “politically correct” who took it to be an unjust attack upon an ancient and noble religion. The fact that I, a leftist, a comrade, would say such a thing was especially hard for them to take.

Since then I have regularly received emails pointing out that neither I nor the media have the right to categorically condemn brutal terrorist actions because the terrorists are reacting to decades of Western, particularly American, violence against the Muslims of the Middle East and elsewhere; and that if only the West would stop their bombing they would stop creating new terrorists. Liberal columnists often echo these sentiments, but at the same time cannot accept the role played by radical Islamic beliefs in instigating the Islamic terror.

Not every American soldier in World War II was a knowledgable and convinced anti-fascist; nor were all of those fighting in Vietnam knowledgable and convinced anti-communists; but they deeply believed in American exceptionalism. I proceed from the assumption that Islamic terrorists deeply believe in the leading tenets of Islam though many of them may have been drawn to ISIS for a variety of reasons and may have only a passing knowledge of the Koran and may only rarely enter a mosque.

Why is it that terrorists routinely shout “Allah Akhbar” (“God is great”) while carrying out a bloody attack?

Why is it that so much of Islam teaches that non-Muslims are the enemy, that “disbelievers” are to be executed?

Why do they speak of their duty to perform “jihad”, which is usually defined as a struggle against the enemies of Islam or against the “infidels”?

Why do they speak of “martyrs”, which is often used as an honorific for Muslims who have died fulfilling a religious commandment, especially those who die waging jihad, or historically in the military expansion of Islam?

Why do they speak of martyrs going to paradise after dying and receiving heavenly rewards? Even being resurrected on earth, to once again die as a martyr, going again to paradise.

Yes, yes, I know about the terrible crimes of the IRA Catholics and the Israeli Jews, but on the scale of human moral evolution they don’t compare to the routine cutting off of heads; the whippings; demolishing 2000-year-old monuments; sternly banning alcohol, music, gays and sex; covering up women’s faces; forcibly imposing religious law; and on and on, including the worst of all: the never-ending horrific suicide bombings. ISIS has done the impossible: It has made American foreign policy look almost halfway decent.

Occasionally I reply to critics with something to this effect: Even if I completely accepted your premises, I’d still feel that it was too late. We can’t undo the harm that US foreign policy and the West have caused. The barn door is wide open and all the horses have escaped. There is an entire generation, or two generations, in the Muslim world totally committed to gaining bloody revenge against the West. It appears to be that it’s either us or them.

Explaining the cause of terrorism is not the same as excusing it.

It might be different if the terrorists focused on killing only those in the West responsible for the horror carried out against their people, but their acts of violence are largely indiscriminate; they attack Westerners at random, often with Muslim victims included; often with only Muslim victims.

As I’ve pointed out in the past, we should consider this: From the 1950s to the 1980s the United States carried out all kinds of very harmful policies against Latin America, including numerous bombings, without the natives ever resorting to the uncivilized, barbaric kind of retaliation as employed by ISIS. Latin American leftists generally took their revenge out upon concrete representatives of the American empire: diplomatic, military and corporate targets – not markets, theatres, nightclubs, hospitals, schools, restaurants or churches.

France, the site of numerous terrorist attacks, has experimented with deradicalization centers in an attempt to combat homegrown extremism. The centers subjected those they housed to intense courses in French history and philosophy. But after five months the experiment has been abandoned as a complete failure.8 My guess is that one reason for the failure is that French officials, like their American counterparts, were too politically correct when it came to questions of religion. If I were a teacher at one of these centers I would ask the students how they know – I mean really know – that “martyrs” go to paradise. They are, after all, considering sacrificing their lives for this belief. Seriously confronting this question for perhaps the first time ever, the students’ minds may well become somewhat confused, leaving them open for other challenging questions and thoughts.

For the record: I don’t support the US fighting ISIS in Syria. I don’t trust the Pentagon’s motivation, or their choice of bombing targets. They’re probably still into regime change. I’d leave the job to Russia and its allies.

  1. Washington Post, February 9, 2017
  2. See William Blum, Killing Hope, chapter 50 for the details of the Panama intervention.
  3. Associated Press, February 6, 2017.
  4. Winston Churchill, The Second World War, Vol. IV(1951), page 428.
  5. William Blum, Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, chapter 18.
  6. Ibid, chapter 5 (ends in 2005; much more is now known.).
  7. See Bob Parry, “The Politics Behind ‘Russia-gate”, Consortiumnews.com, March 4, 2017.
  8. Washington Post, February 25, 2017.

Why is the Trudeau Government Escalating its Belligerence Towards Russia?

Yesterday it was confirmed that 200 Canadian troops would remain in the Ukraine for at least two more years. This “training” mission in the Ukraine is on top of two hundred troops in Poland, a naval frigate in the Mediterranean and Black Sea and a half dozen CF-18 fighter jets on their way to locations near Russia’s border. Alongside Britain, Germany and the US, Canada will soon lead a NATO battle group supposed to defend Eastern Europe from Moscow. About 450 Canadian troops are headed to Latvia while the three other NATO countries lead missions in Poland, Lithuania and Estonia.

From the Russian point of view it must certainly look like NATO is massing troops at its border.

Canada’s military buildup in Eastern Europe is the direct outgrowth of a coup in Kiev. In 2014 the right-wing nationalist EuroMaidan movement ousted Viktor Yanukovych who was oscillating between the European Union and Russia. The US-backed coup divided the Ukraine politically, geographically and linguistically (Russian is the mother tongue of 30% of Ukrainians).

While we hear a great deal about Russia’s nefarious influence in the Ukraine, there’s little attention given to Canada’s role in stoking tensions there. In July 2015 the Canadian Press reported that opposition protesters were camped in the Canadian Embassy for a week during the February 2014 rebellion against Yanukovich. “Canada’s embassy in Kyiv was used as a haven for several days by anti-government protesters during the uprising that toppled the regime of former president Viktor Yanukovych,” the story noted.

Since the mid-2000s Ottawa has actively supported opponents of Russia in the Ukraine. Federal government documents from 2007 explain that Ottawa was trying to be “a visible and effective partner of the United States in Russia, Ukraine and zones of instability in Eastern Europe.” During a visit to the Ukraine that year, Foreign Minister Peter MacKay said Canada would help provide a “counterbalance” to Russia. “There are outside pressures [on Ukraine], from Russia most notably. … We want to make sure they feel the support that is there for them in the international community.” As part of Canada’s “counterbalance” to Russia, MacKay announced $16 million in aid to support “democratic reform” in the Ukraine.

Ottawa played a part in Ukraine’s “Orange Revolution”. In “Agent Orange: Our secret role in Ukraine” Globe and Mail reporter Mark MacKinnon detailed how Canada funded a leading civil society opposition group and promised Ukraine’s lead electoral commissioner Canadian citizenship if he did “the right thing”. Ottawa also paid for 500 Canadians of Ukrainian descent to observe the 2004-05 elections. “[Canadian ambassador to the Ukraine, Andrew Robinson] began to organize secret monthly meetings of western ambassadors, presiding over what he called ‘donor coordination’ sessions among 20 countries interested in seeing Mr. [presidential candidate Viktor] Yushchenko succeed. Eventually, he acted as the group’s spokesman and became a prominent critic of the Kuchma government’s heavy-handed media control. Canada also invested in a controversial exit poll, carried out on election day by Ukraine’s Razumkov Centre and other groups that contradicted the official results showing Mr. Yanukovich [winning].”

For Washington and Ottawa the Ukraine is a proxy to weaken Russia, which blocked western plans to topple the Assad regime in Syria. As part of this campaign, 1,000 Canadian military personnel, a naval vessel and fighter jets will soon be on Russia’s border.

Where will this lead? A new cold war against a capitalist Russia? Or a much hotter war involving direct confrontation between Canadian and Russian troops?

What would the US response be to Russian troops massed on its border? The last time Russian missiles came within 90 miles of American soil, the world came very close to nuclear war.

Canada is participating in a “game” of brinksmanship that could end very badly.