Category Archives: NATO

Turkey Once More Betrays the East

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan shakes hands with NTO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg, during the NATO Conference in Madrid on 28 June 2022. A handshake of betrayal, as Turkey accepted Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO membership.

One wonders what forces have influenced Erdogan to betray Russia in particular and the East in general, when accepting NATO membership of the two Nordic countries, against the interests of Russia.

Why would Turkey want to dance on two fiestas, the western lying, deceiving and collapsing NATO / G7+ wannabe empire, and the progressive, growing and peace seeking fast developing East, or better the Greater Global South?

Erdogan is a bit like India’s PM Narendra Modi, who wants to be part of the new expanded eastern alliance, BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa), the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU), the ASEAN ten-countries’ block, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), as well as the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the association of 11 former USSR Republics.

At the same time Modi, like Erdogan would not want to “lose out”, in case the west may not collapse, or not as quickly as it should. Do they not realize that their “misbehavior”, a benign term to camouflage betrayal, is only tolerated in the case of Turkey because of its geostrategic and geographic location, and in the case of India, because of its sheer size – 1.4 billion people, about the same as the most populous country, China?

But, under their current leadership, neither country can be trusted as a reliable ally. Not by the east, and not even in the tarnished west.

Whether the Kremlin had hoped Turkey would stick to her objection against Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO access is immaterial. What counts is that Turkey is no reliable partner and ally for Russia which had already been proven earlier, when Turkey aggressed Syria for her own petty interests, while Russia fought and won Syria’s war against unfounded US aggressions.

“The concrete steps for our accession to NATO will be agreed among NATO allies over the next two days, but that decision is now imminent,” said Finland’s President, Sauli Niinisto. “I am pleased that this stage on Finland’s journey towards NATO membership has been completed.”

According to RT (28 June 2022), Turkey will support inviting Finland and Sweden into NATO at the bloc’s summit in Spain, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto announced on Tuesday after a meeting with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson.

A note on Sweden and NATO: For over 300 years, Sweden and Russia have lived conflict-free side by side. Entering the aggressive NATO clan means a Swedish aggression against Russia.

The three countries, Sweden, Finland and Turkey, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) at the NATO meeting on 28 June, organized with the support of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

The MOU stated, for example, that Finland and Sweden pledged to “condemn terrorism in all its forms” and end their support for organizations Ankara has designated as terrorist – including the Kurdish groups PKK and YPG, as well as the movement led by the exiled cleric Fetullah Gulen, Erdogan’s archenemy.

“Turkey got what it wanted,” Erdogan said after the deal was announced.

This was another lie because terrorism from Sweden and Finland were never serious threats to Turkey. They were just used by Erdogan to pressure the NATO / G7 “alliance” into some vital concessions.

Could it be lifting of the killing economic sanctions initiated by Washington and supported by the EU?

Or, could it be, like in the case of Ukraine – a step towards acceding the corrupt and faltering European Union? A Turkish quest that is already at least two decades old.

Maybe the luminary Mme. Ursula von der Leyen, unelected Fuehrer of the European Commission, has the answer.

The post Turkey Once More Betrays the East first appeared on Dissident Voice.

June 23 Oakland Protest Against Barbara Lee’s Vote for $40 billion to fund War in Ukraine.  Join Us.

On Thursday June 23 people will gather outside Rep Barbara Lee’s office in Oakland at 11:30 am to protest her recent vote for $40 billion for the war in Ukraine. The demonstration is called in conjunction with the International Day of Action for Peace in Ukraine called by the Peace in Ukraine Coalition.  There will be a companion demonstration on the same day in at the Northampton, MA, office of Rep. Jimmy McGovern who also voted for the murderous $40 billion, and accompanied Pelosi in her recent visit to Ukraine.

This massive funding package represents a clear escalation of the war in Ukraine by the government of the United States using the Ukrainian people as cannon fodder in a proxy war with Russia.  The funding pours fuel on the flames of that war.  It will prolong the war, resulting in thousands more Ukrainian and Russian deaths, at the very least.

And this funding is one more step in escalating and widening the scope of the war – up to and including nuclear war.

WHAT: Protest of Barbara Lee’s vote for $40 Billion for the War in Ukraine. This protest is in conjunction with a global day of action against the war, preceding the NATO summit in Madrid, called by the Peace in Ukraine Coalition.

WHERE: 1 Kaiser Plaza, Oakland, California. (Barbara Lee’s Oakland Office)

WHEN: Thursday, June 23rd at 11:30 am.

WHO: Community and AntiWar activists and organizations including Code Pink, Democratic Socialists of American (DSA), East Bay Vets for Peace, Peace in Ukraine Coalition, United Against War & Militarism.

Despite promising just two months ago to “work relentlessly toward de-escalation” of the war in Ukraine, California Congresswoman Barbara Lee voted in lockstep with every Democrat in Congress behind President Biden’s war policy.  This includes not only Barbara Lee but all the other self-styled progressives in Congress, including Bernie Sanders, AOC and the rest of the “Squad.”

Barbara Lee because of her lone vote in opposing the two decade war in Afghanistan, is held up as an icon proving that there are progressive Democratic politicians who will vote for peace.  The promise held out by Lee and her Democratic colleagues that they could be a force for peace now lies in ruins.

Why U.S. involvement in the war in Ukraine must be opposed.

One can look at the war in several ways.

If it is a war between Russia and Ukraine, then it is no business of the United States.

If one believes that it is a war by an idealistic to US to defend sovereignty and national borders, ask the people of Iraq if the US respects sovereignty – or the people of Afghanistan or Libya or Vietnam or Venezuela … the list goes on and on.

If one believes that this is a war to defend democracy, then ask the Palestinians suffering under Apartheid imposed by Israel which is supported by the US government or the people of Saudi Arabia or the many other dictatorships around the world that the US has supported.

No, this is a proxy war of the US against Russia being waged to the last Ukrainian.  If that has not been evident since the role of the US in backing the violent coup in 2014 against a duly elected Ukrainian President, then it is beyond doubt now with the declaration of Defense Secretary Austin that the goal of the US is to “weaken” Russia, the declaration of Joe Biden that Putin must not be allowed to govern and the declaration of Nancy Pelosi that the US must have total “victory” over Russia.  The Biden administration has chosen to confront another major nuclear weapons power, Russia – and that confrontation constitutes an existential threat to all of humanity.

Ukraine now wages war only to improve its bargaining power at the inevitable negotiations which will end the conflict admitted David Arakhamia, who leads Ukraine’s negotiations with Russia and is one of Volodymyr Zelensky’s closest advisers. 200-500 Ukrainian soldiers dying each day with a total of 1000 dead or wounded daily, the latest numbers given by Ukraine, simply to improve a negotiating position is a highly immoral exercise.  Ukraine has now become essentially a puppet state at the mercy of the US for arms and aid.  It is naïve beyond belief to believe that Ukraine proceeds in this immoral fashion without approval of the US – or even perhaps coercion by the US to fight on so as to save face for its patron Biden.

The Biden administration can stop the proxy war.  And we have the power to influence the Biden administration and the pols who support it.  It is our right and responsibility to exercise that power and stop this war.

Who benefits from the war and who is damaged?

Cui bono? Billions in funding for the war serves the interests of weapons manufacturers, military contractors, who pocket untold profits from the war in Ukraine.  Some of these dollars go to funding the endless proliferation of hawkish think tanks whose well paid employees show up as talking heads or op-ed writers in the mainstream media doing all in their power to convince us that “the other” is evil and that war is the answer.  These are media manikins and are ideologues driven by a desire for US world domination and therefore very dangerous

At the same time funding cannot be found for the many problems we face in the US – homelessness, inadequately funded schools, crumbling infrastructure, failure to deal adequately with climate change and now even shortages of baby formula!  Inflation in the U.S. was already running at over 7% before the conflict began due to the tragically inadequate response to Covid-19 and out of control “quantitative easing”; i.e., printing money with abandon.  But the war and sanctions have worsened the inflation which is now running at over 8%.  The average American sees this daily at the gas station and supermarket where soaring prices are now the rule.

Beyond that we must look to the entire world and especially the Global South both of which are suffering beyond belief from inflation and food shortages due to the US sanctions and the continuation of the war.  Led by India, China and nations representing the overwhelming majority of humanity, the world has refused to respect the illegal sanctions.  That leaves only the US and its European allies, former colonial powers, in supporting the US proxy war.  It is not Russia but the US that is isolated.

  • No weapons for war in Ukraine
  • No Proxy War with Russia
  • No to Nuclear War
The post June 23 Oakland Protest Against Barbara Lee’s Vote for $40 billion to fund War in Ukraine.  Join Us. first appeared on Dissident Voice.

It’s Showtime in Ukraine!

Let our bleeding proxy negotiate a settlement, NOW.

Since early January, the corporate media have been proving their loyalty and their usefulness to the US foreign policy establishment. With faultless show-business efficiency, they manufactured an international political superstar, at least in Europe and the English speaking world. Vladimir Zelensky appeared on media screens, seemingly everywhere, including a turn on the 2022 Grammy Awards extravaganza.

Sad but resolute Ukrainian refugees became fodder for a blend of news and entertainment that firmly established, in our hearts and minds, who were the Good Guys and who were the Evil Monsters.

And we were encouraged to see that, sooner or later, the Ukrainian Good Guys were going to prevail over the brutal Russian fiends.

But lately there have been some tiny cracks in the wall of totalitarian perception management. And now ….

It’s time. It’s time to recognize the reality. It’s time for our bleeding proxy-warrior Ukraine to negotiate with Russia, in good faith, before it loses everything.

Right off the bat, many readers will exclaim, “You can’t negotiate with Russia! The Russians are guilty of unprovoked and unjustified aggression.”

Unprovoked and unjustified. Like an ancient Greek theatrical chorus, the corporate media have repeated that line until, now, it’s stuck permanently in our synapses. An ear worm, like a catchy melody.

I’d ask those media-addled opponents of diplomacy to imagine, just for a moment, a hypothetical situation: First, make sure you have a complete grasp of the drama’s exposition, the entire, contrived, set of circumstances which the President of Russia was facing on February 24, 2022.

Remember that the clever script writers of the US foreign policy elite had employed their best calculated, cold-blooded cunning to devise the perfect diplomatic double-bind for the drama’s Russian villain. (And, of course, they had choreographed their NATO dance line, to give their “diplomacy” the illusion of legitimacy.)

Now, ask yourself whether any American President, facing a comparable dramatic conflict, would have acted differently?

Or pretend, for a moment, that Winston Churchill, hero of numerous epic films, is, through the magic of your imagination, the President of the Russian Federation. Do you have any doubt that Churchill would have stoutly refused to bow down and appease the US/NATO leadership arrayed against him?

Azov Battalion fighters with Nazi flag (WikiCommons)

A second consideration, on the subject of Russia’s trustworthiness as a negotiating partner: The Western powers and their media mouthpieces have contemptuously dismissed Russia’s stated goal of de-Nazifying Ukraine. Western propaganda would have us believe that there is no serious neo-Nazi, ultra-nationalist threat whatsoever in Ukraine.

To the contrary, a little research reveals that the threat is very real. I’m talking about ferocious, far-right fanatics, who are heavily armed, highly trained, strongly motivated and fiercely disciplined. Their electoral base is small, but that doesn’t matter. In the media-fiction of Ukrainian democracy, with oligarchs pulling many of the strings, the ability to mobilize real-life violence is a powerful tool.

And we should remember that the US and NATO have been deeply involved in arming and training these forces, since 2014, making them an even more formidable part of Ukraine’s governing power structure. This arming and training took place off-stage, to be played out for an audience only when the time was right — when Russian tanks crossed the Belarus-Ukraine border, and the well-rehearsed Ukrainian military was unleashed, causing awesome, real-world damage and death.

Not every Ukrainian soldier is a neo-Nazi or a hard-right ethnic cleanser. But I believe it’s fair to say that those elements are the spine of the Ukrainian military. Without them, I doubt that the media-touted under-dog’s esprit de corps would be nearly as robust.

Let’s do an exercise in make-believe. Take the insurgents who stormed the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. As a theatrical event, the staging was a mess. It barely deserved to be called a riot. But that mob of actors was not lacking in motivation. Or raw talent. They clearly believed that their dramatic enactment was real. We in the audience were mesmerized and then relieved, when the play came to a sputtering end.

Now, picture the actors in that mob again. The Justice Department estimates their number to have been between 2,000 and 2,500. In your mind’s eye, multiply them by twenty-five (40,000 to 50,000).

Now, arm them. Train them hard. Organize them into squads, platoons, companies, battalions and brigades. Enforce strict discipline. Motivate them with a continued sense of ethnic superiority.

This little exercise of the dramatist’s imagination, “based upon” our home-grown January 6, should give you some idea of the ultra-right’s strength and influence within the Ukraine power structure.1

The Russians are very serious about confronting Nazis and ethnic supremacists in that country which sits right on their border. In Vladimir Putin’s February 21st speech to the Russian people, he was not using Ukrainian neo-Nazis as a flimsy pretext in a cheap melodrama.

The people of Ukraine don’t need any more media spot-lighting. Their plight doesn’t need more daily dramatizing presented as “news.” Ukrainian civilians need a permanent cease-fire. So let the talks begin. And please, remember: We are in no position to judge the sincerity of Russian negotiators, in potential talks, aimed at a peaceful settlement of this bloody conflict. In the fog of war, you never know what might happen until the diplomatic actors take the stage and begin their dialogue. The old cliche applies: You never know until you try.

The real blockage to peace talks is a triumphalist and misguided NATO and its Godfather in Washington. The US and NATO are going for broke. They are demanding that Ukraine fight on, bleeding and dying, until the US, NATO and their proxy achieve a decisive victory over Russian forces.

Furthermore, if Zelensky and his foreign policy team decide to negotiate, before they lose even more territory, they risk the wrath of the neo-Nazi, ultra-nationalists who permeate their military and police forces. They will not survive without the Godfather’s protection.

(See this article in the Kyiv Post, about veteran Ukrainian Donbas fighters confronting Zelensky, warning him, in 2019, NOT to seek peace in the Donbas. This dramatic verbal clash occurred just after his landslide election victory, playing the rôle of “peace candidate.”)

It’s time. It’s time for President Biden to assume the rôle of statesman. His NATO minions cannot object if Biden tells the government and the people of Ukraine that more billions of dollars worth of weapons will not secure a final battlefield victory over the Russians. Ukraine’s railroads, which are the means of delivering those weapons to frontline fighters, have been severely damaged by Russian air and missile strikes. And the less effective means of transport, heavy trucks, face the obstacle of damaged roads and many destroyed bridges. And finally, as the war grinds on in the Donbas theatre, Ukraine will have fewer and fewer seasoned soldiers to operate the new, more complicated weapons.

Unless Biden steps in, Ukrainians face, at best, a long, bloody stalemate, which Russia is better prepared to endure. (So far, Russia’s leaders have not called for a nation-wide, general mobilization.) Total victory for Ukraine is a cruel pipe-dream.

Biden must come clean with Americans and Ukrainians. The two real geopolitical combatants in this war are Russia and the United States. Ukraine is the USA’s tragic, foolish proxy — our poorly prepared understudy. That’s not stage blood we’re seeing on MSNB-CNN. Ukrainians are bleeding and dying while Biden & Co. prolong the agony in a vicious quest to punish and weaken Russia.

That is no way to ensure future peace. Talk. Now.

  1. From a report on hard right activity in Ukraine since 2014, from FreedomHouse.org:

    … [C]urrent polling data indicates that the far right has no real chance of being elected in the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections in 2019. Similarly, despite the fact that several of these groups have real life combat experience, paramilitary structures, and even access to arms, they are not ready or able to challenge the state.
    Extremist groups are, however, aggressively trying to impose their agenda on Ukrainian society, including by using force against those with opposite political and cultural views. They are a real physical threat to left-wing, feminist, liberal, and LGBT activists, human rights defenders, as well as ethnic and religious minorities.
    In the last few months, extremist groups have become increasingly active. The most disturbing element of their recent show of force is that so far it has gone fully unpunished by the authorities. Their activities challenge the legitimacy of the state, undermine its democratic institutions, and discredit the country’s law enforcement agencies.

    Freedom House is a non-profit, majority U.S. government funded organization in Washington, D.C., that conducts research and advocacy on democracy, political freedom, and human rights.

The post It’s Showtime in Ukraine! first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Operation Inventory Reduction: The West’s Thin Spin Over Ukraine

Watching a buffoon commit suicide is never a pleasant thing.

— Scott Ritter on a Richard Medhurst podcast, May 19, 2022

“Putin is mad and losing his marbles all over Ukraine” goes a certain conventional AmericaNATOstani talking point bombastically broadcast over all mainstream media outlets in the Collective West these days. The idea that the Collective West’s own madness has been projected upon the figure of Vladimir Putin is considered anathema, a heresy promoted by none other than “Mad Vlad” himself, whose propaganda services, we are led to believe, have unusually penetrated our own sacrosanct Disinformation Systems.

How can this be?  Put it another way:  How is it that fervor for Ukraine, or “Ukraine War Fever!”, can so instantly inundate our psyches and senses, especially after our 2-year long struggle with Covid Disorder, or whatever the “Experts” are calling that Thing now?

Several reasons “Arab Spring” to mind, so to speak, but we need to be more specific in this space.  Putin’s “crazy” move into Ukraine was not unanticipated; after all, Western Intel agencies were screaming it from every Major Media platform rooftop, giving us all pause — including myself — not to believe it.  How now — “Mad Cow!”–could Putin actually invade sacred Ukraine?

The answer is startlingly easy and obvious to any geopolitical observer worth a grain.  Simply stated, the thesis is this:  the Collective West has lost its Collective Damned Mind.  Mr Putin in Russia knows this, frets over this, yet decided to authorize finally an “operation” that could result in the ultimate calamity, a thermo-nuclear war, if the TransAtlanticans do not come to their “common senses” in time.  Putin’s quite coy here, and Lavrov, too, because:  Who knows?  Russia is both small and large on the world stage, meaning population and resources, and a little “regime change” in Russia could change the equation for certain stakeholders whose stakes have been a bit shaky of late.

The transition from Covid hysteria to Russia invades Ukraine hysteria is perhaps nowhere better described than Fabio Vighi’s March 14 article @Philosphical Salon:  “From Covid-19 to Putin-22,” where Mr Vighi elucidates the terms and arrangements of the baton pass, as it were, from one World Crisis to the next.  In Vighi’s own words he states:  “Putin’s war is the ideal continuation of the ‘war on Covid.’  The overarching aim is to obfuscate the real issue at stake, which consists of pulling mountains of cheap money into the debt-addicted economy.”  Catch-22?  The economic boomerang of “sanctions” against Russia is already being felt — Everywhere!  This was a completely stupid idea, and severely questions the sanity of any Western leader so-called. U$A president Joe “Bidenopolous” is the first such leader, manifestly, to lead the roll call of Western “leaders” to be called to account, especially considering his weird dealings in Ukrainian corruption schemes.  We’ll leave his compromised son Hunter out of this report, as others with more knowledge of Hunter’s Burisma position are certainly pointing out.  Joe Biden’s racist old ass is without question hanging out to dry over Ukraine — and is there a Victoria Nuland or Geoffrey Pyatt in the house?  Maybe some Neo-Nazis?

Which brings us all to Azovstal, the Azovstal Steel Works, where so many Ukrainian fighters have suddenly surrendered.  Mariupol was the home to the “Azov Battalion,” which prides itself on Nazi iconography, and assumed that the Collective West would have their “back,” in any case.  Mr Putin almost made a funny joke a few weeks back, when the defenders of Azov’s home base, reduced to hiding out in the vast steel factory there, said that his forces would seal that area so tightly that not even a fly could go in or out.  Harking back to the beginning of the “Special Military Operation,” many Western folks were clamoring for a “No Fly Zone” over Ukraine, presumably to deny Russian aerial operations there  Ironically, Mr Putin issued an actual “No Fly Zone” over Azovstal, declaring that not even a fly would be allowed entry or exit.  Some still claim that Zelensky’s Ukraine is at least winning the “Media War!,” as if that is a Thing.  The reality is that the Ukrainian General Staff wants nothing to do with this war, which is really NATO’s war, but they are stuck with their oaths of duty, and duty they must.

I am not a militarist.  However, honestly, anyone reading this note, please understand how horrible it truly is for Ukrainian commanders in the Donbass right now, because they have no choice.  The reality is that the Russians killing them really don’t want to be killing them, but they are “under orders,” too.  In other words, if you put it up to the Ukrainian General Staff, they would send Zelensky to Miami forever, and work it out with the Russians, who are actually quite close to them, strangely enough.  This is not exactly the piece I expected to write, but this is where it stands.

Personally, I hope that the Ukrainians lay down their arms before their arms are literally blown off by Russian munitions.  Seriously, DC politicos have been referring to this conflict as a “proxy war,” meaning a proxy war against Russia, with absolutely no explanation why we, the United States of America, should be waging a proxy war against Russia.  Just to be perfectly clear:  Almighty Russia is in no way waging a “proxy war” against U$.

So, in provisional conclusion, just to be clear, let’s say that it is the Collective West, the TransAtlanticans, the AmericaNATOstanis — not to mention the Nazis! — and not Mr Putin, who’s lost its damned mind!

The post Operation Inventory Reduction: The West’s Thin Spin Over Ukraine first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Operation Inventory Reduction: The West’s Thin Spin Over Ukraine

Watching a buffoon commit suicide is never a pleasant thing.

— Scott Ritter on a Richard Medhurst podcast, May 19, 2022

“Putin is mad and losing his marbles all over Ukraine” goes a certain conventional AmericaNATOstani talking point bombastically broadcast over all mainstream media outlets in the Collective West these days. The idea that the Collective West’s own madness has been projected upon the figure of Vladimir Putin is considered anathema, a heresy promoted by none other than “Mad Vlad” himself, whose propaganda services, we are led to believe, have unusually penetrated our own sacrosanct Disinformation Systems.

How can this be?  Put it another way:  How is it that fervor for Ukraine, or “Ukraine War Fever!”, can so instantly inundate our psyches and senses, especially after our 2-year long struggle with Covid Disorder, or whatever the “Experts” are calling that Thing now?

Several reasons “Arab Spring” to mind, so to speak, but we need to be more specific in this space.  Putin’s “crazy” move into Ukraine was not unanticipated; after all, Western Intel agencies were screaming it from every Major Media platform rooftop, giving us all pause — including myself — not to believe it.  How now — “Mad Cow!”–could Putin actually invade sacred Ukraine?

The answer is startlingly easy and obvious to any geopolitical observer worth a grain.  Simply stated, the thesis is this:  the Collective West has lost its Collective Damned Mind.  Mr Putin in Russia knows this, frets over this, yet decided to authorize finally an “operation” that could result in the ultimate calamity, a thermo-nuclear war, if the TransAtlanticans do not come to their “common senses” in time.  Putin’s quite coy here, and Lavrov, too, because:  Who knows?  Russia is both small and large on the world stage, meaning population and resources, and a little “regime change” in Russia could change the equation for certain stakeholders whose stakes have been a bit shaky of late.

The transition from Covid hysteria to Russia invades Ukraine hysteria is perhaps nowhere better described than Fabio Vighi’s March 14 article @Philosphical Salon:  “From Covid-19 to Putin-22,” where Mr Vighi elucidates the terms and arrangements of the baton pass, as it were, from one World Crisis to the next.  In Vighi’s own words he states:  “Putin’s war is the ideal continuation of the ‘war on Covid.’  The overarching aim is to obfuscate the real issue at stake, which consists of pulling mountains of cheap money into the debt-addicted economy.”  Catch-22?  The economic boomerang of “sanctions” against Russia is already being felt — Everywhere!  This was a completely stupid idea, and severely questions the sanity of any Western leader so-called. U$A president Joe “Bidenopolous” is the first such leader, manifestly, to lead the roll call of Western “leaders” to be called to account, especially considering his weird dealings in Ukrainian corruption schemes.  We’ll leave his compromised son Hunter out of this report, as others with more knowledge of Hunter’s Burisma position are certainly pointing out.  Joe Biden’s racist old ass is without question hanging out to dry over Ukraine — and is there a Victoria Nuland or Geoffrey Pyatt in the house?  Maybe some Neo-Nazis?

Which brings us all to Azovstal, the Azovstal Steel Works, where so many Ukrainian fighters have suddenly surrendered.  Mariupol was the home to the “Azov Battalion,” which prides itself on Nazi iconography, and assumed that the Collective West would have their “back,” in any case.  Mr Putin almost made a funny joke a few weeks back, when the defenders of Azov’s home base, reduced to hiding out in the vast steel factory there, said that his forces would seal that area so tightly that not even a fly could go in or out.  Harking back to the beginning of the “Special Military Operation,” many Western folks were clamoring for a “No Fly Zone” over Ukraine, presumably to deny Russian aerial operations there  Ironically, Mr Putin issued an actual “No Fly Zone” over Azovstal, declaring that not even a fly would be allowed entry or exit.  Some still claim that Zelensky’s Ukraine is at least winning the “Media War!,” as if that is a Thing.  The reality is that the Ukrainian General Staff wants nothing to do with this war, which is really NATO’s war, but they are stuck with their oaths of duty, and duty they must.

I am not a militarist.  However, honestly, anyone reading this note, please understand how horrible it truly is for Ukrainian commanders in the Donbass right now, because they have no choice.  The reality is that the Russians killing them really don’t want to be killing them, but they are “under orders,” too.  In other words, if you put it up to the Ukrainian General Staff, they would send Zelensky to Miami forever, and work it out with the Russians, who are actually quite close to them, strangely enough.  This is not exactly the piece I expected to write, but this is where it stands.

Personally, I hope that the Ukrainians lay down their arms before their arms are literally blown off by Russian munitions.  Seriously, DC politicos have been referring to this conflict as a “proxy war,” meaning a proxy war against Russia, with absolutely no explanation why we, the United States of America, should be waging a proxy war against Russia.  Just to be perfectly clear:  Almighty Russia is in no way waging a “proxy war” against U$.

So, in provisional conclusion, just to be clear, let’s say that it is the Collective West, the TransAtlanticans, the AmericaNATOstanis — not to mention the Nazis! — and not Mr Putin, who’s lost its damned mind!

The post Operation Inventory Reduction: The West’s Thin Spin Over Ukraine first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Turkey Spoils the Big NATO Party

Complacency has been the hallmark of NATO expansion.  Over time, it has even become a form of derision, notably directed against Russia.  As with many historical matters, records ignored can be records revisited, the second time around sometimes nastier than the first.

With the Ukraine conflict raging, a few of Russia’s neighbours have reconsidered their position of military non-alignment and neutrality.  Last month, both Sweden and Finland submitted membership applications to formally join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

This reconsideration must be taken with the heaviest of qualifications.  Sweden and Finland, while they have claimed neutrality and non-alignment status, have hardly been neutral on the subject of cooperation with NATO.  Since the 1990s, Sweden has become an increasingly important partner of the alliance, using its military in concert with NATO exercises.  Finland, with its 280,000 troops and 900,000 reservists, also boasts an interoperability function with the alliance.

Admission to the security club does, however, come with the requirement of unanimity from current members.  As things would have it, one country has shown little enthusiasm to acquiesce to the plan.  Turkey, at times the large fly in the pact’s ointment, sees an opportunity to extract concessions and muddy the pool of consensus.  With the Russian invasion, the Erdoğan regime has broadened its military and political efforts against its long-term enemies, the Kurds.  Militarily, Turkish forces have intensified efforts in Kurdish-run parts in northeast Syria.  Politically, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hopes to have Sweden and Finland surrender a number of Kurdish dissidents, or terrorists, as he prefers to call them.

The point for Turkey regarding the Kurdish issue is far from new.  In 2009, Erdoğan kicked up a fuss by blocking the appointment of former Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen as NATO chief, citing Denmark’s sympathies for “Kurdish terrorists”.  He also accused Rasmussen of failing to heed Turkish requests to ban ROJ TV, a Danish-based station linked to the Kurdistan’s Workers’ Party, the PKK.  The appointment did eventually come through after much haggling and a solemn promise from President Barack Obama that a Turk would be given a prominent leadership role.

Be it NATO relations with Israel, efforts to bolster Eastern European states against Moscow, or the acquisition of Russia’s S-400 missile defence system, Erdoğan has proved a determined spoiler.  In 2020, he sorely tested NATO relations by teasing Greece with a gas-exploration ship backed by fighter jet support.  The Oruç Reis was sent to waters in the East Mediterranean claimed by Turkey, with the purpose of exploring hydrocarbon reserves.  France deployed its own ships in support of Greece.  NATO had gotten into a squabble with itself.

The PKK continues its unrelenting guerrilla campaign on behalf of the large Kurdish minority within Turkey, one it has waged since 1984.  While the party is listed as a terrorist group by the EU and the United States, Sweden and Finland have generally opposed extradition of its members and sympathisers.  For its part, Sweden has welcomed somewhere in the order of 100,000 Kurds since the 1970s.  Erdoğan, in typically blunt fashion, has accused Sweden of being a “hatchery” for “terrorist” organisations.

Ankara is also unlikely to have forgotten the condemnation by Finland and Sweden of its military incursion into Syria in 2019, a move that was accompanied by restrictions on weapons sales.

Last month, Turkey’s Justice Ministry noted the rejection by Helsinki and Stockholm of the request “for the extradition of people with links to the PKK and Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ)”.  In terms of numbers, six members of the PKK and six from FETÖ have been sought for the last five years, while a further 21 “suspects” have bulked the list.

The affair has become something of a spectacle.  Sweden has extended an arm to Ankara, hoping to pacify Erdoğan even as he tells members of his Justice and Development Party (AK Party) about the devious way Stockholm and Helsinki have tried to rebrand the PKK in other theatres, such as Syria.

The propitiating move has caused tremors of worry within Sweden.  “If you want to sell everything for NATO membership,” stormed Swedish lawmaker Amineh Kakabaveh, “then go ahead but I think it’s awful.”

A note of determined stroppiness has also been struck.  “Let’s not fall into Erdoğan’s trap,” urged 17 cultural and literary figures in an opinion piece published by Dagens Nyheter.  Other Swedish papers, including Aftonbladet, Expressen and Svenka Dagbladet also ran the piece titled “Do not hand over the publishers to Erdogan!”  The key concern: the demand from Ankara that various journalists, writers and publishers be surrendered to Turkish authorities.

This point is particularly biting, given that many of these figures have become Swedish citizens.  But it is also of concern given Turkey’s notoriously poor record in treating members of the fourth estate.  The stern op-ed recalls “the attacks and assassination attempts against prominent journalists, Can Dündar, in Istanbul, Erk Acarer in Berlin, and Ahmet Dönmez in Stockholm.”

There is a certain irony in the Swedish and Finnish decision, not least in claimed efforts to bolster their security against an authoritarian Russia.  NATO, despite supposedly promoting liberal democratic values, has members (Turkey and Hungary spring to mind) who are much at odds with them.

An authoritarian Turkey, argue the 17 signatories, is fiendishly attempting to insinuate its own values into the Swedish political and legal system.  The Turkish leader’s “political manoeuvre to extradite the people who took refuge in Sweden to be free as an attempt to export his own understanding of freedom of expression to our country, Sweden.”

Despite the tangle, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg is convinced “that we will be able to address the concerns that Turkey has expressed in a way that doesn’t delay the membership”.  In the final heave-ho, all eyes will be on what concessions will go Erdoğan’s way.

The post Turkey Spoils the Big NATO Party first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Russia-Ukraine war: George Bush’s admission of his crimes in Iraq was no “gaffe”

It was apparently a “gaffe” of the kind we had forgotten since George W Bush stepped down from the US presidency in early 2009. During a speech in Dallas last week, he momentarily confused Russian President Vladimir Putin’s current war of aggression against Ukraine and his own war of aggression against Iraq in 2003.

Bush observed that a lack of checks and balances in Russia had allowed “one man to launch a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq… I mean, Ukraine. Iraq too. Anyway… I’m 75.”

It sounded like another “Bushism” – a verbal slip-up – for which the 43rd president was famous. Just like the time he boasted that people “misunderestimated” him, or when he warned that America’s enemies “never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people – and neither do we”.

Maybe that explains why his audience laughed. Or maybe not, given how uncomfortable the laughter sounded.

Bush certainly wanted his mistake to be seen as yet another slip-up, which is why he hurriedly blamed it on his age. The senility defence doubtless sounds a lot more plausible at a time when the incumbent president, Joe Biden, regularly loses track of what he is saying and even where he is.

The western media, in so far as it has bothered to report Bush’s speech, has laughed along nervously too. It has milked the incident largely for comic effect: “Look, we can laugh at ourselves – unlike that narcissist Russian monster, Putin.”

The BBC accorded Bush’s comment status as a down-page brief news item. Those that gave it more attention preferred to term it a “gaffe” or an amusing “Freudian slip”.

‘Putin apologists’

But the focus on the humour of the moment is actually part of the media’s continuing war on our understanding of recent history. It is intended to deflect us, the audience, from thinking about the real significance of Bush’s “gaffe”.

The only reason the media is now so belatedly connecting – if very indirectly – “a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion” of Ukraine and what happened in Iraq is because of Bush’s mistake.

Had it not happened, the establishment media would have continued to ignore any such comparison. And those trying to raise it would continue to be dismissed as conspiracy theorists or as apologists for Putin.

The implication of what Bush said – even for those mockingly characterising it in Freudian terms – is that he and his co-conspirator, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, are war criminals and that they should be on trial at the Hague for invading and occupying Iraq.

Everything the current US administration is saying against Putin, and every punishment meted out on Russia and ordinary Russians, can be turned around and directed at the United States and Britain.

Should the US not be under severe economic sanctions from the “civilised world” for what it did to Iraq? Should its sportspeople not be banned from international events? Should its billionaires not be hunted down and stripped of their assets? And should the works of its long-dead writers, artists and composers not be shunned by polite society?

And yet, the western establishment media are proposing none of the above. They are not calling for Blair and Bush to be tried for war crimes. Meanwhile, they echo western leaders in labelling what Russia is doing in Ukraine as genocide and labelling Putin as an evil madman.

The western media are as uncomfortable taking Bush’s speech at face value as his audience was. And for good reason.

That is because the media are equally implicated in US and UK crimes in Iraq. They never seriously questioned the ludicrous “weapons of mass destruction” justification for the invasion. They never debated whether the “Shock and Awe” bombing campaign of Baghdad was genocidal.

And, of course, they never described either Bush or Blair as madmen and megalomaniacs and never accused them of waging a war of imperialism – or one for oil – in invading Iraq. In fact, both continue to be treated by the media as respected elder statesmen.

During Trump’s presidency, leading journalists waxed nostalgic for the days of Bush, apparently unconcerned that he had used his own presidency to launch a war of aggression – the “supreme international crime”.

And Blair continues to be sought out by the British and US media for his opinions on domestic and world affairs. He is even listened to deferentially when he opines on Ukraine.

Pre-emption excuse

But this is not simply about a failure to acknowledge the recent historical record. Bush’s invasion of Iraq is deeply tied to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. And for that reason, if no other, the western media ought to have been driving home from the outset the parallels between the two – as Bush has now done in error.

That would have provided the geopolitical context for understanding – without necessarily justifying – Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the West’s role in provoking it. Which is precisely why the media have worked so hard to ignore those parallels.

In invading Iraq, Bush and Blair created a precedent that powerful states could redefine their attack on another state as “pre-emptive” – as defensive rather than aggressive – and thereby justify the military invasion in violation of the laws of war.

Bush and Blair falsely claimed both that Iraq threatened the West with weapons of mass destruction and that its secular leader, Saddam Hussein, had cultivated ties with the extreme Islamists of al-Qaeda that carried out the 9/11 attacks on the US. These pretexts ranged from the entirely unsubstantiated to the downright preposterous.

Putin has argued – more plausibly – that Russia had to take pre-emptive action against covert efforts by a US-led Nato to expand its military sphere of influence right up to Russia’s borders. Russia feared that, left unchecked, the US and Nato were preparing to absorb Ukraine by stealth.

But how does that qualify Russia’s invasion as defensive? The Kremlin’s fears were chiefly twofold.

First, it could have paved the way for Nato stationing missiles minutes away from Moscow, eroding any principle of mutual deterrence.

And second, Nato’s incorporation of Ukraine would have drawn the western military alliance directly into Ukraine’s civil war in the eastern Donbass region. That is where Ukrainian forces, including neo-Nazi elements like the Azov Brigade, have been pitted in a bloody fight against ethnic Russian communities.

In this view, absent a Russian invasion, Nato could have become an active participant in propping up Ukrainian ultra-nationalists killing ethnic Russians – as the West is now effectively doing through its arming of Ukraine to the tune of more than $40bn.

Even if one discounts Russia’s concerns, Moscow clearly has a greater strategic interest invested in what its neighbour Ukraine is doing on their shared border than Washington ever had in Iraq, many thousands of miles away.

Proxy wars

Even more relevant, given the West’s failure to acknowledge, let alone address, Bush and Blair’s crimes committed in Iraq, is Russia’s suspicion that US foreign policy is unchanged two decades on. On what basis would Moscow believe that Washington is any less aggressive or power-hungry than it was when it launched its invasion of Iraq?

The western media continue to refer to the US attack on Iraq, and the subsequent bloody years of occupation, as variously a “mistake”, a “misadventure” and a “blunder”. But surely it does not look that way to Moscow, all the more so given that Washington followed its invasion of Iraq with a series of proxy wars against other Middle Eastern and North African states such as Libya, Syria and Yemen.

To Russia, the attack on Iraq looks more like a stepping stone in a continuum of wars the US has waged over decades for “full-spectrum dominance” and to eradicate competitors for control of the planet’s resources.

With that as the context, Moscow might have reasonably imagined that the US and its Nato allies were eager for yet another proxy war, this time using Ukraine as the battlefield. Recent comments from Biden administration officials, such as Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, noting that Washington’s tens of billions of dollars in military aid to Kyiv is intended to “weaken Russia”, can only accentuate such fears.

Back in March, Leon Panetta, a former US secretary of defence and the CIA director under Barack Obama, who is in a position to speak more freely than serving officials, observed that Washington was waging “a proxy war with Russia, whether we say so or not”.

He predicted where US policy would head next, noting that the aim would be “to provide as much military aid as necessary”. Diplomacy has been a glaringly low priority for Washington.

Barely concealed from public view is a desire in the US and its allies for another regime change operation – this time in Russia – rather than end the war and the suffering of Ukrainians.

Butcher versus blunderer

Last week, the New York Times very belatedly turned down the war rhetoric a notch and called on the Biden administration to advance negotiations. Even so, its assessment of where the blame lay for Ukraine’s destruction was unambiguous: “Mr Putin will go down in history as a butcher.”

But have Bush or Blair gone down in history as butchers? They most certainly haven’t. And the reason is that the western media have been complicit in rehabilitating their images, presenting them as statesmen who “blundered” – with the implication that good people blunder when they fail to take account of how entrenched the evil of everyone else in the world is.

A butcher versus a pair of blunderers.

This false distinction means western leaders and western publics continue to evade responsibility for western crimes in Iraq and elsewhere.

That was why in late February – in reference to Ukraine – a TV journalist could suggest to Condoleezza Rice, who was one of the architects of the illegal war of aggression on Iraq as Bush’s national security adviser: “When you invade a sovereign nation, that is a war crime.” The journalist apparently did not consider for a moment that it was not just Putin who was a war criminal but the very woman she was sitting opposite.

It was also why Rice could nod solemnly and agree with a straight face that Putin’s invasion of Ukraine was “against every principle of international law and international order – and that’s why throwing the book at them [Russia] now in terms of economic sanctions and punishments is a part of it”.

But a West that has refused to come to terms with its role in committing the “supreme international crime” of invading Iraq, and has been supporting systematic crimes against the sovereignty of other states such as Yemen, Libya and Syria, cannot sit in judgment on Russia. And further, it should not be trying to take the high ground by meddling in the war in Ukraine.

If we took the implications of Bush’s comment seriously, rather than treating it as a “gaffe” and viewing the Iraq invasion as a “blunder”, we might be in a position to speak with moral authority instead of flaunting – once again – our hypocrisy.

First published in Middle East Eye

The post Russia-Ukraine war: George Bush’s admission of his crimes in Iraq was no “gaffe” first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Nordic NATO Expansion or NATO Implosion?

On May 16 2022, Finland and Sweden decided to become members of NATO.

Not only is this totally against the 1991 US / NATO promise to then Russian President Gorbachev, that “NATO will not move an inch eastward from Berlin”. Then total NATO members were 14, two in the Americas – US and Canada – and 12 in Europe. By late 1990’s, expansion started rapidly and today NATO counts 30 members, 28 in Europe and the same two in the Americas. Most of the new ones are East of Berlin.

Finland shares a 1,340 km border with Russia. Thus, as a NATO country, it would become another real threat for Moscow. Also, during WWII, Finland allied with Nazi-Germany fighting the Soviet Union, when the USSR lost some 27 million people, soldiers and civilians. Finland does not have a clean record vis-à-vis Russia.

On the other hand, Sweden shares no border with Russia and has not been at war with Russia in 300 years. Sweden, like Finland, has not been threatened at all by Russia. So, Sweden teaming up with Finland against Russia – there is something quite weird going on.  A country does not overnight seek or make an enemy when there was absolutely not a minimum threat from the “assumed” enemy. What’s going on?

Given the circumstances of these two “neutral” countries suddenly changing from “neutral” to “aggressive” against Russia, there must have other reasons than Russia attacking Ukraine. Both of these countries know exactly the background for the Russian war on Ukraine.

While war should, under all circumstances, be avoided and replaced by negotiations, one cannot ignore Russia’s worries -– preoccupations enhanced by the fact that many proposals for negotiations advanced by Russia before the war were rejected by Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy. Likewise, after the beginning of the armed conflict, proposal for Peace Talks, notably by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov were, though first accepted, then rejected, which made Mr. Lavrov assume that Mr. Zelenskyy is not his sovereign own man, but follows instructions. See his interview with Al Arabia media.

Could it be, or is it highly probable, that both Finland and Sweden were coerced by Washington, and likely by Europe / NATO to decide and ask for immediate NATO membership? Sweden, because of the North Sea, where Russia has a dominant presence?

The NATO Czar, Stoltenberg, has repeatedly said that NATO would apply special measures (or create special rules?) to accelerate NATO membership for these two countries. He reiterated on several occasions that by June 2022 Finland and Sweden could already be active members. Normally, it takes at least a year for a new NATO member to enter the Alliance. So, what’s the hurry, if there is no threat?

Before the Ukraine-Russia war, and before the billion-dollars-worth of western anti-Russia campaign, only about a third, max. 40% of the people of both countries, were somewhat favorable towards NATO – a clear minority.

After the beginning of the war, and the utterly distorted anti-Russia lie-propaganda campaign, the popular support for NATO-entry allegedly jumped to about 70%. Yet, this figure advanced by the two NATO-candidate countries, would have to be scientifically verified as both nations have a highly educated population. They know the risks they are taking by becoming de facto enemies of Russia by NATO membership.

Ukraine was a candidate for NATO long before the 2014 Maidan Coup. In fact, the Maidan Coup was an instrument to accelerate Ukraine’s NATO membership. Russia – President Putin – from the very beginning said Nyet to Ukraine NATO membership. Not only was he referring to the 1991 promise, but also to the Minsk Agreement of 2014.

After the US planned and directed the Maidan Coup in Kiev, the Minsk Protocol was negotiated by France and Germany. Under the Minsk Accord, Ukraine was to remain neutral, de-militarized, no NATO ever. The Protocol also demanded a De-Nazification of Ukraine, as well as a special status for the two Donbass Republics — Donetsk and Lugansk.

De-Nazification refers primarily to the Nazi Azov Battalion(s) that were, for the last 8 years, lambasting and attacking mostly civilians in the two “independent” Donbass Republics, causing some 14,000 deaths, about one third of which are children.

Russia – President Putin and most of the Kremlin – are particularly sensitive to the Ukraine Nazis, as they collaborated with Hitler’s Nazi-Germany in WWII in the war against Russia, when some 27 million Russians were killed. NATO knows about it. Therefore NATO, under the guidance of Washington and followed by Brussels, kept — and keeps — provoking Russia with first sending military “advisors” and clandestinely weapons to Ukraine. For NATO countries a key objective is to conquer Russia – primarily for her riches in natural resources, as well as the enormous landmass, the globe’s largest country – and for the power the dominance of large and rich Russia would bestow in this sick western personal and corporate oligarchy.

In the preparation of the war, weapons were relatively clandestinely delivered from the west to Ukraine. Now, weapon deliveries from the US and from European NATO countries in the tens, if not hundreds of billions of dollars-worth equivalent, are fully open. No secret. Not even hidden anymore. NATO countries feel they have the right to indirectly use Ukraine to fight Russia.

But what is RIGHT?

The last two decades at least, were exacerbated by the fake WEF (World Economic Forum)-imposed covid scare — lockdown, killing of the world economy, killing of common people’s livelihood, killing of children’s future – reflected in the skyrocketing teenager suicide rate and more untold misery, all of which eradicated the human notion of RIGHTS and WRONGS.

The last two decades at least, were exacerbated by the fake WEF (World Economic Forum)-imposed covid scare, lockdown, killing of the world economy, killing of common people’s livelihood, killing of children’s future – reflected in the skyrocketing teenager suicide rate and more untold misery; all of which eradicated the human notion of RIGHTS and WRONGS.

During this period, International Rule of Law has completely disappeared. Nobody respects it anymore. The judges of the International Criminal Court (ICC) of The Hague, so far have not accepted any claim that goes against the interests of the Cabal, mostly Anglo Saxon-led westerners – plus the insanely wealthy financial corporations — BlackRock, Vanguard, State Street and Fidelity.  See also Ukraine-Russia and the World Economic Forum (WEF): A Planned Milestone Towards “The Great Reset”?

But now comes the hick. Just a little detail. According to Article 10 of the NATO Constitution, all 30 members of the Alliance have to agree to a new member.

Turkey, a key NATO member, in a particularly strategic geographic and geopolitical position – opposes entry of Finland and Turkey into NATO. And this under the pretext, according to Turkish President Erdogan, that “the two Nordic countries are “guesthouses for terrorist organizations.” He [Erdogan] was referring to the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Front (DHKP/C), which have been outlawed by Ankara”.

“These countries do not have a clear unequivocal stance against terrorist organizations. Sweden is the incubation center of terrorist organizations. They bring terrorists to talk in their parliaments… We wouldn’t say ‘yes’ to them joining NATO, a security organization… They were going to come on Monday to convince us.  Sorry, they don’t have to bother,” Erdogan said.

The Swedish Foreign Ministry said on Monday [16 May 2022] that senior official from Helsinki and Stockholm would travel to Turkey to discuss the matter. Erdogan, however, indicated at the press briefing that such talks would be senseless. See this from Le Monde International.

Turkey may be a NATO country, one of the most important ones for the Alliance, due to its geographically strategic location and position. However, Turkey is also an ally of Russia. And in recent months, years, Erdogan has been tilting more to Russia, to the east in general, than to the west, towards her western NATO allies. Has Erdogan noticed how unreliable and deceptive, and trickery the West / NATO is and behaves around the world? It’s very likely.

Anticipating such a move, Jens Stoltenberg had already said days ago, that if Turkey, or any other NATO member, would oppose entry of Finland and Sweden into the Alliance, NATO would apply special measures to overrule NATO’s Article 10. He did not elaborate what measures he would apply.

But in a world without rules, everything is possible.

When in 2017, Turkish President Recep Erdogan brokered a deal reportedly worth $2.5 billion with Russian President Vladimir Putin for the purchase of the highly sophisticated Russian S-400 air defense system, there was talk of Turkey possibly exiting the Alliance. Indeed, Turkey has been “sanctioned” for doing so, and many, if not all, of the nuclear war-heads stationed in Turkey were removed and placed in Europe, most of them in Italy.

Might this be again a moment for Turkey to say and, indeed, decide to exit NATO and seek closer alliance with Russia and China – and the east in general? The Eurasian Economic Commission might welcome a strategic Turkey in its fold. For Turkey quite a positive alternative option to the constant threats and sanctions by the west.

Would NATO fall apart, if Turkey decided to leave? Good riddance! It would be a blessing for the world.

The post Nordic NATO Expansion or NATO Implosion? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Keir Starmer has returned western imperialism to the core of Labour policy

The local authority election results earlier this month in the UK were as bleak as expected for Boris Johnson’s government, with the electorate ready to punish the ruling party both for its glaring corruption and rocketing high-street prices.

A few weeks earlier, the police fined Johnson – the first of several such penalties he is expected to receive – for attending a series of parties that broke the very lockdown rules his own government set. And the election took place as news broke that the UK would soon face recession and the highest inflation rate for decades.

In the circumstances, one might have assumed the opposition Labour Party under Keir Starmer would romp home, riding a wave of popular anger. But in reality, Starmer’s party fared little better than Johnson’s. Outside London, Labour was described as “treading water” across much of England.

Starmer is now two years into his leadership and has yet to make a significant mark politically. Labour staff are cheered that in opinion polls the party is finally ahead – if marginally – of Johnson’s Tories. Nonetheless, the public remains adamant that Starmer does not look like a prime minister in waiting.

That may be in large part because he rarely tries to land a blow against a government publicly floundering in its own corruption.

When Johnson came close to being brought down at the start of the year, as the so-called “partygate scandal” erupted with full force, it was not through Labour’s efforts. It was because of relentless leaks presumed to be from Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s former adviser turned nemesis.

Starmer has been equally incapable of cashing in on the current mutinous rumblings against Johnson from within his own Tory ranks.

Self-inflicted wounds

Starmer’s ineffectualness seems entirely self-inflicted.

In part, that is because his ambitions are so low. He has been crafting policies to look more like a Tory-lite party that focuses on “the flag, veterans [and] dressing smartly”, as an internal Labour review recommended last year.

But equally significantly, he has made it obvious he sees his first duty not to battle for control of the national political terrain against Johnson’s government, but to expend his energies on waging what is becoming a permanent internal war on sections of his own party.

That has required gutting Labour of large parts of the membership that were attracted by his predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn, a democratic socialist who spent his career emphasising the politics of anti-racism and anti-imperialism.

To distance himself from Corbyn, Starmer has insisted on the polar opposites. He has been allying ever more closely with Israel, just as a new consensus has emerged in the human rights community that Israel is a racist, apartheid state.

And he has demanded unquestioning loyalty to Nato, just as the western military alliance pours weapons into Ukraine, in what looks to be rapidly becoming a cynical proxy war, dissuading both sides from seeking a peace agreement and contributing to a surge in the stock price of the West’s military industries.

Broken promises

Starmer’s direction of travel flies in the face of promises he made during the 2020 leadership election that he would heal the internal divisions that beset his predecessor’s tenure.

Corbyn, who was the choice of the party’s largely left-wing members in 2015, immediately found himself in a head-on collision with the dominant faction of right-wing MPs in the Labour parliamentary caucus as well as the permanent staff at head office.

Once leader, Starmer lost no time in stripping Corbyn of his position as a Labour MP. He cited as justification Corbyn’s refusal to accept evidence-free allegations of antisemitism against the party under his leadership that had been loudly amplified by an openly hostile media.

Corbyn had suffered from a years-long campaign, led by pro-Israel lobby groups and the media, suggesting his criticisms of Israel for oppressing the Palestinian people were tantamount to hatred of Jews. A new definition of antisemitism focusing on Israel was imposed on the party to breathe life into such allegations.

But the damage was caused not just by Labour’s enemies. Corbyn was actively undermined from within. A leaked internal report highlighted emails demonstrating that party staff had constantly plotted against him and even worked to throw the 2017 election, when Corbyn was just a few thousand votes short of winning.

With Brexit thrown into the mix at the 2019 election – stoking a strong nativist mood in the UK – Corbyn suffered a decisive defeat at Johnson’s hands.

But as leader, Starmer did not use the leaked report as an opportunity to reinforce party democracy, as many members expected. In fact, he reinstated some of the central protagonists exposed in the report, even apparently contemplating one of them for the position of Labour general secretary.

He also brought in advisers closely associated with former leader Tony Blair, who turned Labour decisively rightwards through the late 1990s and launched with the US an illegal war on Iraq in 2003.

Instead, Starmer went after the left-wing membership, finding any pretext – and any means, however draconian – to finish the job begun by the saboteurs.

He has rarely taken a break from hounding the left-wing membership, even if a permanent turf war has detracted from the more pressing need to concentrate on the Tory government’s obvious failings.

Flooded with arms

Starmer’s flame-war against the left has become so extreme that, as some critics have pointed out, both Pope Francis and Amnesty International would face expulsion from Starmer’s Labour Party were they members.

The pope is among a growing number of observers expressing doubts about the ever-more explicit intervention by the US and its Nato allies in Ukraine that seems designed to drag out the war, and raise the death toll, rather than advance peace talks.

In fact, recent views expressed by officials in Washington risk giving credence to the original claims made by Russian President Vladimir Putin justifying his illegal invasion of Ukraine in late February.

Before that invasion, Moscow officials had characterised Nato’s aggressive expansion across Eastern Europe following the fall of the Soviet Union, and its cosying up to Ukraine, as an “existential threat”. Russia even warned that it might use nuclear weapons if they were seen as necessary for its defence.

The Kremlin’s reasons for concern cannot be entirely discounted. Two Minsk peace accords intended to defuse a bloody eight-year civil war between Ukrainian ultra-nationalists and ethnic Russian communities in eastern Ukraine, on Russia’s border, have gone nowhere.

Instead, Ukraine’s government pushed for closer integration into Nato to the point where Putin warned of retaliation if Nato stationed missiles, potentially armed with nuclear warheads, on Russia’s doorstep. They would be able to strike Moscow in minutes, undermining the premise of mutually assured destruction that long served as the basis of a Cold War detente.

In response to Russia’s invasion, Nato has flooded Ukraine with weapons while the US has been moving to transfer a whopping $40bn in military aid to Kyiv – all while deprioritising pressure on Moscow and Kyiv to revisit the Minsk accords.

Nato weapons were initially supplied on the basis that they would help Ukraine defend itself from Russia. But that principle appears to have been quickly jettisoned by Washington.

Last month, US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin declared that the aim was instead to “see Russia weakened” – a position echoed by Nato former Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. The New York Times has reported that Washington is involved in a “classified” intelligence operation to help Ukraine kill senior Russian generals.

US officials now barely conceal the fact that they view Ukraine as a proxy war – one that sounds increasingly like the scenario Putin laid out when justifying his invasion as pre-emptive: that Washington intends to sap Russia of its military strength, push Nato’s weapons and potentially its troops right up against Russia’s borders, and batter Moscow economically through sanctions and an insistence that Europe forgo Russian gas.

The existential threat Putin feared has become explicit US policy, it seems.

Fealty to Nato

These are the reasons the pope speculated last week that, while Russia’s actions could not be justified, the “barking of Nato at the door of Russia” might, in practice, have “facilitated” the invasion. He also questioned the supply of weapons to Ukraine in the context of profiteering from the war: “Wars are fought for this: to test the arms we have made.”

Pope Francis, bound by formal Vatican rules of political neutrality, has to be cautious in what he says. And yet Starmer has deemed similar observations made by activists in the Labour party as grounds for expulsion.

The Labour leader has clashed head-on with the Stop the War Coalition, which Corbyn helped found in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. The group played a central role in mobilising opposition to Britain’s participation, under Blair, in the 2003 illegal invasion of Iraq.

Stop the War, which is seen as close to the Labour left, has long been sceptical of Nato, a creature of the Cold War that proved impervious to the collapse of the Soviet Union and has gradually taken on the appearance of a permanent lobby for the West’s military industries.

Stop the War has spoken out against both Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and the decades-long expansion by Nato across Eastern Europe that Moscow cites as justification for its war of aggression. Starmer, however, has scorned that position as what he calls “false equivalence”.

In a commentary published in the Guardian newspaper, he denied that Stop the War were “benign voices for peace” or “progressive”. He termed Nato “a defensive alliance that has never provoked conflict”, foreclosing the very debate anti-war activists – and Pope Francis – seek to begin.

Starmer also threatened 11 Labour MPs with losing the whip – like Corbyn – if they did not immediately remove their names from a Stop the War statement that called for stepping up moves towards a diplomatic solution. More recently, he has warned MPs that they will face unspecified action from the party if they do not voice “unshakeable support for Nato”.

Starmer has demanded “a post 9/11” style surge in arms expenditure in response to the war in Ukraine, insisting that Nato must be “strengthened”.

He has shut down the Twitter account of Labour’s youth wing for its criticisms of Nato.

In late March he proscribed three small leftist groups – Labour Left Alliance, Socialist Labour Network, and the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty – adding them to four other left-wing groups that he banned last year. Stop the War could soon be next.

Starmer’s relentless attacks on anti-war activism in Labour fly in the face of his 10 pledges, the platform that helped him to get elected. They included a commitment – reminiscent of Pope Francis – to “put human rights at the heart of foreign policy. Review all UK arms sales and make us a force for international peace and justice”.

But once elected, Starmer has effectively erased any space for an anti-war movement in mainstream British politics, one that wishes to question whether Nato is still a genuinely defensive alliance or closer to a lobby serving western arms industries that prosper from permanent war.

In effect, Starmer has demanded that the left out-compete the Tory government for fealty to Nato’s militarism. The war in Ukraine has become the pretext to force underground not only anti-imperialist politics but even Vatican-style calls for diplomacy.

Apartheid forever

But Starmer is imposing on Labour members an even more specific loyalty test rooted in Britain’s imperial role: support for Israel as a state that oppresses Palestinians.

Starmer’s decision to distance himself and Labour as far as possible from Corbyn’s support for Palestinian rights initially seemed to be tactical, premised on a desire to avoid the antisemitism smears that plagued his predecessor.

But that view has become progressively harder to sustain.

Starmer has turned a deaf ear to a motion passed last year by Labour delegates calling for UK sanctions against Israel as an apartheid state. References to it have even been erased from the party’s YouTube channel. Similarly, he refused last month to countenance Israel’s recent designation as an apartheid state by Amnesty and a raft of other human rights groups.

Last November, Starmer delivered a fawningly pro-Israel speech alongside Israel’s ultra-nationalist ambassador to the UK, Tzipi Hotovely, in which he repeatedly conflated criticism of Israel with antisemitism.

He has singled out anti-Zionist Jewish members of Labour – more so than non-Jewish members – apparently because they are the most confident and voluble critics of Israel in the party.

And now, in the run-up to this month’s local elections, he has flaunted his party’s renewal of ties with the Israeli Labor party, which severed relations during Corbyn’s tenure.

Senior officials from the Israeli party joined him and his deputy, Angela Rayner, in what was described as a “charm offensive”, as they pounded London streets campaigning for the local elections. It was hard not to interpret this as a slap in the face to swaths of the Labour membership.

The Israeli Labor party founded Israel by engineering a mass ethnic cleansing campaign, as documents unearthed by Israeli historians have confirmed, that saw hundreds of thousands of Palestinians expelled from their homeland.

Israel’s Labor party has continued to play a key role both in entrenching illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied territories to displace Palestinians, and in formulating legal distinctions between Jewish and Palestinian citizenship that have cemented the new consensus among groups such as Amnesty International that Israel qualifies as an apartheid state.

The Israeli Labor party is part of the current settler-led government that secured court approval last week to evict many hundreds of Palestinians from eight historic Palestinian villages near Hebron – while allowing settlers to remain close by – on the pretext that the land is needed for a firing zone.

Israel’s Haaretz newspaper concluded of the ruling: “Occupation is temporary by definition; apartheid is liable to persist forever. The High Court approved it.”

Labour’s ugly face

The ugly new face of Labour politics under Starmer is becoming ever harder to conceal. Under cover of rooting out the remnants of Corbynism, Starmer is not only proving himself an outright authoritarian, intent on crushing the last vestiges of democratic socialism in Labour.

He is also reviving the worst legacies of a Labour tradition that cheerleads western imperialism and cosies up to racist states – as long as they are allies of Washington and ready to buy British arms.

Starmer’s war on the Labour left is not – as widely assumed – a pragmatic response to the Corbyn years, designed to distance the party from policies that exposed it to the relentless campaign of antisemitism smears that undermined Corbyn.

Rather, Starmer is continuing and widening that very campaign of smears. He has picked up the baton on behalf of those Labour officials who, the leaked internal report showed, preferred to sabotage the Labour Party if it meant stopping the left from gaining power.

His task is not just to ensnare those who wish to show solidarity with the Palestinians after decades of oppression supported by the West. It is to crush all activism against western imperialism and the state of permanent war it has helped to engineer.

Britain now has no visible political home for the kind of anti-war movements that once brought millions out onto Britain’s streets in an effort to halt the war on Iraq. And for that, the British establishment and their war industries have Sir Keir Starmer to thank.

First published in Middle East Eye

The post Keir Starmer has returned western imperialism to the core of Labour policy first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Ending “West’s Neocolonial Oppression”: On the New Language and Superstructures

The Russia-Ukraine war has quickly turned into a global conflict. One of the likely outcomes of this war is the very redefinition of the current world order, which has been in effect, at least since the collapse of the Soviet Union over three decades ago.

Indeed, there is a growing sense that a new global agenda is forthcoming, one that could unite Russia and China and, to a degree, India and others, under the same banner. This is evident, not only by the succession of the earth-shattering events underway, but, equally important, the language employed to describe these events.

The Russian position on Ukraine has morphed throughout the war from merely wanting to “demilitarize” and “denazify” Ukraine to a much bigger regional and global agenda, to eventually, per the words of Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, “put an end to the unabashed expansion” of NATO, and the “unabashed drive towards full domination by the US and its Western subjects on the world stage.”

On April 30, Lavrov went further, stating in an interview with the official Chinese news agency, Xinhua, that Russia’s war “contributes to the process of freeing the world from the West’s neocolonial oppression,” predicated on “racism and an exceptionality.”

But Russia is not the only country that feels this way. China, too, even India, and many others. The meeting between Lavrov and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on March 30, served as a foundation of this truly new global language. Statements made by the two countries’ top diplomats were more concerned about challenging US hegemony than the specifics of the Ukraine war.

Those following the evolution of the Russia-China political discourse, even before the start of the Russia-Ukraine war on February 24, will notice that the language employed supersedes that of a regional conflict, into the desire to bring about the reordering of world affairs altogether. 

But is this new world order possible? If yes, what would it look like? These questions, and others, remain unanswered, at least for now. What we know, however, is that the Russian quest for global transformation exceeds Ukraine by far, and that China, too, is on board.

While Russia and China remain the foundation of this new world order, many other countries, especially in the Global South, are eager to join. This should not come as a surprise as frustration with the unilateral US-led world order has been brewing for many years, and has come at a great cost. Even the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, though timid at times, has warned against this unilaterality, calling instead on the international community to commit itself to  “the values of multilateralism and diplomacy for peace.”

However, the pro-Russian stances in the South – as indicated by the refusal of many governments to join western sanctions on Moscow, and the many displays of popular support through protests, rallies and statements – continue to lack a cohesive narrative. Unlike the Soviet Union of yesteryears, Russia of today does not champion a global ideology, like socialism, and its current attempt at articulating a relatable global discourse remains, for now, limited.

It is obviously too early to examine any kind of superstructure – language, political institutions, religion, philosophy, etc – resulting from the Russia-NATO global conflict, Russia-Ukraine war and the growing Russia-China affinity.

Though much discussion has been dedicated to the establishing of an alternative monetary system, in the case of Lavrov’s and Yi’s new world order, a fully-fledged substructure is yet to be developed.

New substructures will only start forming once the national currency of countries like Russia and China replace the US dollar, alternative money transfer systems, like CIPS, are put into effect, new trade routes are open, and eventually new modes of production replace the old ones. Only then, superstructures will follow, including new political discourses, historical narratives, everyday language, culture, art and even symbols.

The thousands of US-western sanctions slapped on Russia were largely meant to weaken the country’s ability to navigate outside the current US-dominated global economic system. Without this maneuverability, the West believes, Moscow would not be able to create and sustain an alternative economic model that is centered around Russia.

True, US sanctions on Cuba, North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Venezuela and others have failed to produce the coveted ‘regime change’, but they have succeeded in weakening the substructures of these societies, denying them the chance to be relevant economic actors at a regional and international stage. They were merely allowed to subsist, and barely so.

Russia, on the other hand, is a global power, with a relatively large economy, international networks of allies, trade partners and supporters. That in mind, surely a regime change will not take place in Moscow any time soon. The latter’s challenge, however, is whether it will be able to orchestrate a sustainable paradigm shift under current western pressures and sanctions.

Time will tell. For now, it is certain that some kind of a global transformation is taking place, along with the potential of a ‘new world order’, a term, ironically employed by the US government more than any other.

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