Category Archives: US War Crimes

For the Peoples of our Region, the Failure of Biden’s Summit of the Americas Would be a Welcome Event

The Summit of the Americas is not the property of the host nation. The U.S. has no right to exclude, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, but has done so in disregard of their sovereignty. The U.S. is not fit to judge others or to be responsible for bringing nations together. Every leader in the hemisphere should boycott what has become a farcical event.

I applaud the decision by Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador not to attend this week’s so-called Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles and hope that by Wednesday a majority of the nations in our region would have joined him. However, I am hoping that unlike President Lopez Obrador who is still sending the Mexican foreign minister, other nations demonstrate that their dignity cannot be coerced and stay away completely. Why do I take this position?

If the threat by the Biden Administration as host of the Summit not to invite Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, all sovereign nations in the Americas’ region, was not outrageous enough, the announced rationale that the administration did not invite these nations because of their human rights record and authoritarian governance is an absurd indignity that cannot be ignored.

I firmly believe that the U.S. should not be allowed to subvert, degrade, and humiliate nations and the peoples of our region with impunity!  A line of demarcation must be drawn between the nations and peoples who represent democracy and life and the parasitic hegemon to the North which can only offer dependence and death. The U.S. has made its choice that is reflected in its public documents. “Full spectrum dominance,” is its stated goal. In other words – waging war against the peoples of our regions and, indeed, the world to maintain global hegemony. It has chosen war, we must choose resistance – on that, there can be no compromise!

The peoples of our region understand that. It is historically imperative that the representatives of the states in our region come to terms with that and commit to resistance and solidarity with the states that are experiencing the most intense pressure from empire. The rhetorical commitment to Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela is not enough. The people want actions that go beyond mere denunciations of imperialism. The people are ready to fight.

And part of this fight includes the ideological war of position. We cannot allow the U.S. to obscure its murderous history by dressing that history up in pretty language about human rights.

The idea that the U.S., or any Western nation for that matter, involved in the ongoing imperialist project, could seriously see itself as a protector of human rights is bizarre and dangerous, and must be countered. The fact that the U.S. will still attempt to advance this fiction reflects either the height of arrogance or a society and administration caught in the grip of a collective national psychosis. I am convinced it is both, but more on that later.

A cognitive rupture from objective reality, the inability to locate oneself in relationship to other human beings individually and collectively in the material world are all symptoms of severe mental derangement. Yet, it appears that this is the condition that structures the psychic make-up of all of the leaders of the U.S. and the collective West.

It is what I have referred to as the psychopathology of white supremacy:

A racialized narcissistic cognitive disorder that centers so-called white people’s and European civilization and renders the afflicted with an inability to perceive objective reality in the same way as others. This affliction is not reducible to the race of so-called whites but can affect all those who have come in contact with the ideological and cultural mechanisms of the Pan-European colonial project.

How else can you explain the self-perceptions of the U.S. and West, responsible for the most horrific crimes against humanity in the annuals of human history from genocide, slavery, world wars, the European, African and Indigenous holocausts, wars and subversion since 1945 that have resulted in over 30 million lives lost – but then assert their innocence, moral superiority and right to define the content and range of human rights?

Aileen Teague of the Quincy Institute points out that the U.S. position on disinviting nations to the Summit of the Americas because of their alleged “authoritarian governance,” is “hypocritical” and “inconsistent,” noting the U.S. historical support for Latin American dictators when convenient for US policy.

Yet is it really hypothetical or inconsistent? I think not. U.S. policymakers are operating from an ethical and philosophical framework that informed Western colonial practice in which racialized humanity became divided between those who were placed into the category of “humans” which was constitutive of the historically expanded category of “white” in relationship to everyone else who was “not white,” and therefore, not fully human.

The “others” during the colonial conquest literally did not have any rights that Europeans were bound to recognize and respect from land rights to their very lives. Consequently, for European colonialists they did not perceive any ethical contradictions in their treatment of the “others” and did not judge themselves as deviating from their principles and values. This is what so many non-Europeans do not understand. When Europeans speak to their “traditional values,” it must be understood that those values mean we – the colonized and exploited non-Europeans are not recognized in our full humanity.

Is there any other way to explain the impressive solidarity among “white peoples” on Ukraine in contrast to the tragedies of Yemen, the six million dead in the Congo, Iraq – the list goes on.

That is why it was so correct for the Black Alliance for Peace (BAP) to call for a boycott of the Summit of the Americas by all of the states in our region. BAP argued that the U.S. had no moral or political standing to host this gathering because it has consistently demonstrated that it did not respect the principles of self-determination and national sovereignty in the region. But even more importantly, it did not respect the lives of the people of this region.

A boycott is only the minimum that should be done. However, we understand it will be difficult because we know the vindictiveness of the gringo hegemon and the lengths it will go to assert its vicious domination. In the arrogance that is typical of the colonial white supremacist mindset, the Biden White House asserts that the “summit will be successful no matter who attends.”

Yet, if Biden is sitting there by himself, no manner of will or the power to define, will avoid the obvious conclusion that the world had changed, and with that change, the balance of power away from the U.S.

And the people say – let it be done!

The post For the Peoples of our Region, the Failure of Biden’s Summit of the Americas Would be a Welcome Event 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.

The persecution of Julian Assange

The British home secretary, Priti Patel, will decide this month whether Julian Assange is to be extradited to the United States, where he faces a sentence of up to 175 years – served most likely in strict, 24-hour isolation in a US super-max jail.

He has already spent three years in similarly harsh conditions in London’s high-security Belmarsh prison.

The 18 charges laid against Assange in the US relate to the publication by WikiLeaks in 2010 of leaked official documents, many of them showing that the US and UK were responsible for war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. No one has been brought to justice for those crimes.

Instead, the US has defined Assange’s journalism as espionage – and by implication asserted a right to seize any journalist in the world who takes on the US national security state – and in a series of extradition hearings, the British courts have given their blessing.

The lengthy proceedings against Assange have been carried out in courtrooms with tightly restricted access and in circumstances that have repeatedly denied journalists the ability to cover the case properly.

Despite the grave implications for a free press and democratic accountability, however, Assange’s plight has provoked little more than a flicker of concern from much of the western media.

Few observers appear to be in any doubt that Patel will sign off on the US extradition order – least of all Nils Melzer, a law professor, and a United Nations’ special rapporteur.

In his role as the UN’s expert on torture, Melzer has made it his job since 2019 to scrutinise not only Assange’s treatment during his 12 years of increasing confinement – overseen by the UK courts – but also the extent to which due process and the rule of law have been followed in pursuing the WikiLeaks founder.

Melzer has distilled his detailed research into a new book, The Trial of Julian Assange, that provides a shocking account of rampant lawlessness by the main states involved – Britain, Sweden, the US, and Ecuador. It also documents a sophisticated campaign of misinformation and character assassination to obscure those misdeeds.

The result, Melzer concludes, has been a relentless assault not only on Assange’s fundamental rights but his physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing that Melzer classifies as psychological torture.

The UN rapporteur argues that the UK has invested far too much money and muscle in securing Assange’s prosecution on behalf of the US, and has too pressing a need itself to deter others from following Assange’s path in exposing western crimes, to risk letting Assange walk free.

It has instead participated in a wide-ranging legal charade to obscure the political nature of Assange’s incarceration. And in doing so, it has systematically ridden roughshod over the rule of law.

Melzer believes Assange’s case is so important because it sets a precedent to erode the most basic liberties the rest of us take for granted. He opens the book with a quote from Otto Gritschneder, a German lawyer who observed up close the rise of the Nazis, “those who sleep in a democracy will wake up in a dictatorship”.

Back to the wall

Melzer has raised his voice because he believes that in the Assange case any residual institutional checks and balances on state power, especially those of the US, have been subdued.

He points out that even the prominent human rights group Amnesty International has avoided characterising Assange as a “prisoner of conscience”, despite his meeting all the criteria, with the group apparently fearful of a backlash from funders (p. 81).

He notes too that, aside from the UN’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, comprising expert law professors, the UN itself has largely ignored the abuses of Assange’s rights (p. 3). In large part, that is because even states like Russia and China are reluctant to turn Assange’s political persecution into a stick with which to beat the West – as might otherwise have been expected.

The reason, Melzer observes, is that WikiLeaks’ model of journalism demands greater accountability and transparency from all states. With Ecuador’s belated abandonment of Assange, he appears to be utterly at the mercy of the world’s main superpower.

Instead, Melzer argues, Britain and the US have cleared the way to vilify Assange and incrementally disappear him under the pretense of a series of legal proceedings. That has been made possible only because of complicity from prosecutors and the judiciary, who are pursuing the path of least resistance in silencing Assange and the cause he represents.

It is what Melzer terms an official “policy of small compromises” – with dramatic consequences (pp. 250-1).

His 330-page book is so packed with examples of abuses of due process – at the legal, prosecutorial, and judicial levels – that it is impossible to summarise even a tiny fraction of them.

However, the UN rapporteur refuses to label this as a conspiracy – if only because to do so would be to indict himself as part of it. He admits that when Assange’s lawyers first contacted him for help in 2018, arguing that the conditions of Assange’s incarceration amounted to torture, he ignored their pleas.

As he now recognises, he too had been influenced by the demonisation of Assange, despite his long professional and academic training to recognise techniques of perception management and political persecution.

“To me, like most people around the world, he was just a rapist, hacker, spy, and narcissist,” he says (p. 10).

It was only later when Melzer finally agreed to examine the effects of Assange’s long-term confinement on his health – and found the British authorities obstructing his investigation at every turn and openly deceiving him – that he probed deeper. When he started to pick at the legal narratives around Assange, the threads quickly unravelled.

He points to the risks of speaking up – a price he has experienced firsthand – that have kept others silent.

“With my uncompromising stance, I put not only my credibility at risk, but also my career and, potentially, even my personal safety… Now, I suddenly found myself with my back to the wall, defending human rights and the rule of law against the very democracies which I had always considered to be my closest allies in the fight against torture. It was a steep and painful learning curve” (p. 97).

He adds regretfully: “I had inadvertently become a dissident within the system itself” (p. 269).

Subversion of law

The web of complex cases that have ensnared the WikiLeaks founder – and kept him incarcerated – have included an entirely unproductive, decade-long sexual assault investigation by Sweden; an extended detention over a bail infraction that occurred after Assange was granted asylum by Ecuador from political extradition to the US; and the secret convening of a grand jury in the US, followed by endless hearings and appeals in the UK to extradite him as part of the very political persecution he warned of.

The goal throughout, says Melzer, has not been to expedite Assange’s prosecution – that would have risked exposing the absence of evidence against him in both the Swedish and US cases. Rather it has been to trap Assange in an interminable process of non-prosecution while he is imprisoned in ever-more draconian conditions and the public turned against him.

What appeared – at least to onlookers – to be the upholding of the law in Sweden, Britain and the US was the exact reverse: its repeated subversion. The failure to follow basic legal procedures was so consistent, argues Melzer, that it cannot be viewed as simply a series of unfortunate mistakes.

It aims at the “systematic persecution, silencing and destruction of an inconvenient political dissident” (p. 93).

Assange, in Melzer’s view, is not just a political prisoner. He is one whose life is being put in severe danger from relentless abuses that accord with the definition of psychological torture.

Such torture depends on its victim being intimidated, isolated, humiliated, and subjected to arbitrary decisions (p. 74). Melzer clarifies that the consequences of such torture not only break down the mental and emotional coping mechanisms of victims but over time have very tangible physical consequences too.

Melzer explains the so-called “Mandela Rules” – named after the long-jailed black resistance leader Nelson Mandela, who helped bring down South African apartheid – that limit the use of extreme forms of solitary confinement.

In Assange’s case, however, “this form of ill-treatment very quickly became the status quo” in Belmarsh, even though Assange was a “non-violent inmate posing no threat to anyone”. As his health deteriorated, prison authorities isolated him further, professedly for his own safety. As a result, Melzer concludes, Assange’s “silencing and abuse could be perpetuated indefinitely, all under the guise of concern for his health” (pp. 88-9).

The rapporteur observes that he would not be fulfilling his UN mandate if he failed to protest not only Assange’s torture but the fact that he is being tortured to protect those who committed torture and other war crimes exposed in the Iraq and Afghanistan logs published by WikiLeaks. They continue to escape justice with the active connivance of the same state authorities seeking to destroy Assange (p. 95).

With his long experience of handling torture cases around the world, Melzer suggests that Assange has great reserves of inner strength that have kept him alive, if increasingly frail and physically ill. Assange has lost a great deal of weight, is regularly confused and disorientated, and has suffered a minor stroke in Belmarsh.

Many of the rest of us, the reader is left to infer, might well have succumbed by now to a lethal heart attack or stroke, or have committed suicide.

A further troubling implication hangs over the book: that this is the ultimate ambition of those persecuting him. The current extradition hearings can be spun out indefinitely, with appeals right up to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, keeping Assange out of view all that time, further damaging his health, and providing a stronger deterrent effect on whistleblowers and other journalists.

This is a win-win, notes Melzer. If Assange’s mental health breaks down entirely, he can be locked away in a psychiatric institution. And if he dies, that would finally solve the inconvenience of sustaining the legal charade that has been needed to keep him silenced and out of view for so long (p. 322).

Sweden’s charade

Melzer spends much of the book reconstructing the 2010 accusations of sexual assault against Assange in Sweden. He does this not to discredit the two women involved – in fact, he argues that the Swedish legal system failed them as much as it did Assange – but because that case set the stage for the campaign to paint Assange as a rapist, narcissist, and fugitive from justice.

The US might never have been able to launch its overtly political persecution of Assange had he not already been turned into a popular hate figure over the Sweden case. His demonisation was needed – as well as his disappearance from view – to smooth the path to redefining national security journalism as espionage.

Melzer’s meticulous examination of the case – assisted by his fluency in Swedish – reveals something that the mainstream media coverage has ignored: Swedish prosecutors never had the semblance of a case against Assange, and apparently never the slightest intention to move the investigation beyond the initial taking of witness statements.

Nonetheless, as Melzer observes, it became “the longest ‘preliminary investigation’ in Swedish history” (p. 103).

The first prosecutor to examine the case, in 2010, immediately dropped the investigation, saying, “there is no suspicion of a crime” (p. 133).

When the case was finally wrapped up in 2019, many months before the statute of limitations was reached, a third prosecutor observed simply that “it cannot be assumed that further inquiries will change the evidential situation in any significant manner” (p. 261).

Couched in lawyerly language, that was an admission that interviewing Assange would not lead to any charges. The preceding nine years had been a legal charade.

But in those intervening years, the illusion of a credible case was so well sustained that major newspapers, including Britain’s The Guardian newspaper, repeatedly referred to “rape charges” against Assange, even though he had never been charged with anything.

More significantly, as Melzer keeps pointing out, the allegations against Assange were so clearly unsustainable that the Swedish authorities never sought to seriously investigate them. To do so would have instantly exposed their futility.

Instead, Assange was trapped. For the seven years that he was given asylum in Ecuador’s London embassy, Swedish prosecutors refused to follow normal procedures and interview him where he was, in person or via computer, to resolve the case. But the same prosecutors also refused to issue standard reassurances that he would not be extradited onwards to the US, which would have made his asylum in the embassy unnecessary.

In this way, Melzer argues “the rape suspect narrative could be perpetuated indefinitely without ever coming before a court. Publicly, this deliberately manufactured outcome could conveniently be blamed on Assange, by accusing him of having evaded justice” (p. 254).

Neutrality dropped

Ultimately, the success of the Swedish case in vilifying Assange derived from the fact that it was driven by a narrative almost impossible to question without appearing to belittle the two women at its centre.

But the rape narrative was not the women’s. It was effectively imposed on the case – and on them – by elements within the Swedish establishment, echoed by the Swedish media. Melzer hazards a guess as to why the chance to discredit Assange was seized on so aggressively.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, Swedish leaders dropped the country’s historic position of neutrality and threw their hand in with the US and the global “war on terror”. Stockholm was quickly integrated into the western security and intelligence community (p. 102).

All of that was put in jeopardy as Assange began eyeing Sweden as a new base for WikiLeaks, attracted by its constitutional protections for publishers.

In fact, he was in Sweden for precisely that reason in the run-up to WikiLeaks’ publication of the Iraq and Afghanistan war logs. It must have been only too obvious to the Swedish establishment that any move to headquarter WikiLeaks there risked setting Stockholm on a collision course with Washington (p. 159).

This, Melzer argues, is the context that helps to explain an astonishingly hasty decision by the police to notify the public prosecutor of a rape investigation against Assange minutes after a woman referred to only as “S” first spoke to a police officer in a central Stockholm station.

In fact, S and another woman, “A”, had not intended to make any allegation against Assange. After learning he had had sex with them in quick succession, they wanted him to take an HIV test. They thought approaching the police would force his hand (p. 115). The police had other ideas.

The irregularities in the handling of the case are so numerous, Melzer spends the best part of 100 pages documenting them. The women’s testimonies were not recorded, transcribed verbatim, or witnessed by a second officer. They were summarised.

The same, deeply flawed procedure – one that made it impossible to tell whether leading questions influenced their testimony or whether significant information was excluded – was employed during the interviews of witnesses friendly to the women. Assange’s interview and those of his allies, by contrast, were recorded and transcribed verbatim (p. 132).

The reason for the women making their statements – the desire to get an HIV test from Assange – was not mentioned in the police summaries.

In the case of S, her testimony was later altered without her knowledge, in highly dubious circumstances that have never been explained (pp. 139-41). The original text is redacted so it is impossible to know what was altered.

Stranger still, a criminal report of rape was logged against Assange on the police computer system at 4.11pm, 11 minutes after the initial meeting with S and 10 minutes before a senior officer had begun interviewing S – and two and half hours before that interview would finish (pp. 119-20).

In another sign of the astounding speed of developments, Sweden’s public prosecutor had received two criminal reports against Assange from the police by 5pm, long before the interview with S had been completed. The prosecutor then immediately issued an arrest warrant against Assange before the police summary was written and without taking into account that S did not agree to sign it (p. 121).

Almost immediately, the information was leaked to the Swedish media, and within an hour of receiving the criminal reports the public prosecutor had broken protocol by confirming the details to the Swedish media (p. 126).

Secret amendments

The constant lack of transparency in the treatment of Assange by Swedish, British, US, and Ecuadorian authorities becomes a theme in Melzer’s book. Evidence is not made available under freedom of information laws, or, if it is, it is heavily redacted or only some parts are released – presumably those that do not risk undermining the official narrative.

For four years, Assange’s lawyers were denied any copies of the text messages the two Swedish women sent – on the grounds they were “classified”. The messages were also denied to the Swedish courts, even when they were deliberating on whether to extend an arrest warrant for Assange (p. 124).

It was not until nine years later those messages were made public, though Melzer notes that the index numbers show many continue to be withheld. Most notably, 12 messages sent by S from the police station – when she is known to have been unhappy at the police narrative being imposed on her – are missing. They would likely have been crucial to Assange’s defence (p. 125).

Similarly, much of the later correspondence between British and Swedish prosecutors that kept Assange trapped in the Ecuadorian embassy for years was destroyed – even while the Swedish preliminary investigation was supposedly still being pursued (p. 106).

The text messages from the women that have been released, however, suggest strongly that they felt they were being railroaded into a version of events they had not agreed to.

Slowly they relented, the texts suggest, as the juggernaut of the official narrative bore down on them, with the implied threat that if they disputed it they risked prosecution themselves for providing false testimony (p. 130).

Moments after S entered the police station, she texted a friend to say that “the police officer appears to like the idea of getting him [Assange]” (p. 117).

In a later message, she writes that it was “the police who made up the charges” (p. 129). And when the state assigns her a high-profile lawyer, she observes only that she hopes he will get her “out of this shit” (p. 136).

In a further text, she says: “I didn’t want to be part of it [the case against Assange], but now I have no choice” (p. 137).

It was on the basis of the secret amendments made to S’s testimony by the police that the first prosecutor’s decision to drop the case against Assange was overturned, and the investigation reopened (p. 141). As Melzer notes, the faint hope of launching a prosecution of Assange essentially rested on one word: whether S was “asleep”, “half-asleep” or “sleepy” when they had sex.

Melzer write that “as long as the Swedish authorities are allowed to hide behind the convenient veil of secrecy, the truth about this dubious episode may never come to light” (p. 141).

No ordinary extradition’

These and many, many other glaring irregularities in the Swedish preliminary investigation documented by Melzer are vital to decoding what comes next. Or as Melzer concludes “the authorities were not pursuing justice in this case but a completely different, purely political agenda” (p. 147).

With the investigation hanging over his head, Assange struggled to build on the momentum of the Iraq and Afghanistan logs revealing systematic war crimes committed by the US and UK.

“The involved governments had successfully snatched the spotlight directed at them by WikiLeaks, turned it around, and pointed it at Assange,” Melzer observes.

They have been doing the same ever since.

Assange was given permission to leave Sweden after the new prosecutor assigned to the case repeatedly declined to interview him a second time (pp. 153-4).

But as soon as Assange departed for London, an Interpol Red Notice was issued, another extraordinary development given its use for serious international crimes, setting the stage for the fugitive-from-justice narrative (p. 167).

A European Arrest Warrant was approved by the UK courts soon afterwards – but, again exceptionally, after the judges had reversed the express will of the British parliament that such warrants could only be issued by a “judicial authority” in the country seeking extradition not the police or a prosecutor (pp. 177- 9).

A law was passed shortly after the ruling to close that loophole and make sure no one else would suffer Assange’s fate (p. 180).

As the noose tightened around the neck not only of Assange but WikiLeaks too – the group was denied server capacity, its bank accounts were blocked, credit companies refused to process payments (p. 172) – Assange had little choice but to accept that the US was the moving force behind the scenes.

He hurried into the Ecuadorean embassy after being offered political asylum. A new chapter of the same story was about to begin.

British officials in the Crown Prosecution Service, as the few surviving emails show, were the ones bullying their Swedish counterparts to keep going with the case as Swedish interest flagged. The UK, supposedly a disinterested party, insisted behind the scenes that Assange must be required to leave the embassy – and his asylum – to be interviewed in Stockholm (p. 174).

A CPS lawyer told Swedish counterparts “don’t you dare get cold feet!” (p. 186).

As Christmas neared, the Swedish prosecutor joked about Assange being a present, “I am OK without… In fact, it would be a shock to get that one!” (p. 187).

When she discussed with the CPS Swedish doubts about continuing the case, she apologised for “ruining your weekend” (p. 188).

In yet another email, a British CPS lawyer advised “please do not think that the case is being dealt with as just another extradition request” (p. 176).

Embassy spying operation

That may explain why William Hague, the UK’s foreign secretary at the time, risked a major diplomatic incident by threatening to violate Ecuadorean sovereignty and invade the embassy to arrest Assange (p. 184).

And why Sir Alan Duncan, a UK government minister, made regular entries in his diary, later published as a book, on how he was working aggressively behind the scenes to get Assange out of the embassy (pp. 200, 209, 273, 313).

And why the British police were ready to spend £16 million of public money besieging the embassy for seven years to enforce an extradition Swedish prosecutors seemed entirely uninterested in advancing (p. 188).

Ecuador, the only country ready to offer Assange sanctuary, rapidly changed course once its popular left-wing president Rafael Correa stepped down in 2017. His successor, Lenin Moreno, came under enormous diplomatic pressure from Washington and was offered significant financial incentives to give up Assange (p. 212).

At first, this appears to have chiefly involved depriving Assange of almost all contact with the outside world, including access to the internet, and telephone and launching a media demonisation campaign that portrayed him as abusing his cat and smearing faeces on the wall (pp. 207-9).

At the same time, the CIA worked with the embassy’s security firm to launch a sophisticated, covert spying operation of Assange and all his visitors, including his doctors and lawyers (p. 200). We now know that the CIA was also considering plans to kidnap or assassinate Assange (p. 218).

Finally in April 2019, having stripped Assange of his citizenship and asylum – in flagrant violation of international and Ecuadorean law – Quito let the British police seize him (p. 213).

He was dragged into the daylight, his first public appearance in many months, looking unshaven and unkempt – a “demented looking gnome“, as a long-time Guardian columnist called him.

In fact, Assange’s image had been carefully managed to alienate the watching world. Embassy staff had confiscated his shaving and grooming kit months earlier.

Meanwhile, Assange’s personal belongings, his computer, and documents were seized and transferred not to his family or lawyers, or even the British authorities, but to the US – the real author of this drama (p. 214).

That move, and the fact that the CIA had spied on Assange’s conversations with his lawyers inside the embassy, should have sufficiently polluted any legal proceedings against Assange to require that he walk free.

But the rule of law, as Melzer keeps noting, has never seemed to matter in Assange’s case.

Quite the reverse, in fact. Assange was immediately taken to a London police station where a new arrest warrant was issued for his extradition to the US.

The same afternoon Assange appeared before a court for half an hour, with no time to prepare a defence, to be tried for a seven-year-old bail violation over his being granted asylum in the embassy (p. 48).

He was sentenced to 50 weeks – almost the maximum possible – in Belmarsh high-security prison, where he has been ever since.

Apparently, it occurred neither to the British courts nor to the media that the reason Assange had violated his bail conditions was precisely to avoid the political extradition to the US he was faced with as soon as he was forced out of the embassy.

‘Living in a tyranny’

Much of the rest of Melzer’s book documents in disturbing detail what he calls the current “Anglo-American show trial”: the endless procedural abuses Assange has faced over the past three years as British judges have failed to prevent what Melzer argues should be seen as not just one but a raft of glaring miscarriages of justice.

Not least, extradition on political grounds is expressly forbidden under Britain’s extradition treaty with the US (pp. 178-80, 294-5). But yet again the law counts for nothing when it applies to Assange.

The decision on extradition now rests with Patel, the hawkish home secretary who previously had to resign from the government for secret dealings with a foreign power, Israel, and is behind the government’s current draconian plan to ship asylum seekers to Rwanda, almost certainly in violation of the UN Refugee Convention.

Melzer has repeatedly complained to the UK, the US, Sweden, and Ecuador about the many procedural abuses in Assange’s case, as well as the psychological torture he has been subjected to. All four, the UN rapporteur points out, have either stonewalled or treated his inquiries with open contempt (pp. 235-44).

Assange can never hope to get a fair trial in the US, Melzer notes. First, politicians from across the spectrum, including the last two US presidents, have publicly damned Assange as a spy, terrorist, or traitor and many have suggested he deserves death (p. 216-7).

And, second, because he would be tried in the notorious “espionage court” in Alexandria, Virginia, located in the heart of the US intelligence and security establishment, without public or press access (pp. 220-2).

No jury there would be sympathetic to what Assange did in exposing their community’s crimes. Or as Melzer observes: “Assange would get a secret state-security trial very similar to those conducted in dictatorships” (p. 223).

And once in the US, Assange would likely never be seen again, under “special administrative measures” (SAMs) that would keep him in total isolation 24-hours-a-day (pp. 227-9). Melzer calls SAMs “another fraudulent label for torture”.

Melzer’s book is not just a documentation of the persecution of one dissident. He notes that Washington has been meting out abuses on all dissidents, including most famously the whistleblowers Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden.

Assange’s case is so important, Melzer argues, because it marks the moment when western states not only target those working within the system who blow the whistle that breaks their confidentiality contracts, but those outside it too – those like journalists and publishers whose very role in a democratic society is to act as a watchdog on power.

If we do nothing, Melzer’s book warns, we will wake up to find the world transformed. Or as he concludes: “Once telling the truth has become a crime, we will all be living in a tyranny” (p. 331).

The Trial of Julian Assange by Nils Melzer is published by Verso.

First published by Middle East Eye

The post The persecution of Julian Assange first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The West Has Fallen Into Darkness

When reason hath to deal with force, yet so
Most reason is that reason overcome.

— Paradise Lost (6.125-126)

As the Western elites continue to pour weapons into Ukraine to the delight of the armaments industry and the closet Nazis of Natostan, the cult of neoliberalism, which put the Banderite regime in power during the Obama years, reaches new depths of degradation with each passing day. Both at home and abroad, the schizophrenic rift between the language of neoliberalism and the actual policies that these creatures support continues to widen. The increasingly delusional trajectory of the queen of cults is propelling us into a new dark age where literacy, reason, the rule of law, and even the survival of our species are in danger.

Subconsciously, neoliberals believe that they are carrying on in the tradition of the Enlightenment, the abolitionists, the New Dealers, the civil rights activists, and the anti-war activists that marched against the Vietnam War and the bombings of Laos and Cambodia. In actuality, what they offer today is lawlessness, unfettered capitalism, biofascism, deunionization, war, sectarianism; and the multicultural curriculum, a cousin of Banderite education, as both are predicated on the anti-humanities. It is this sophomoric hubris of neoliberals, the macabre fantasy that they are sensible, rational, and moral beings while the heathens represent intolerance, ignorance, and bigotry, which blinds them to the barbarism of their deeds. Like the lost souls in Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, neoliberals believe they are firmly grounded in reality, when they are enslaved to venal public health agencies and a mass media brainwashing apparatus which have entrapped them in a world of deception and lies — a world of shadows.

While Ukrainian civilization is inextricably linked with Russian history and culture, Banderite education is anchored in Russophobia, its antithesis. Having extirpated all things Russian from their lives, Ukrainian state ideology has become synonymous with hating Russians. No less rooted in self-cannibalization, the multicultural society has become synonymous with a hostility towards the American canon and all things Western. Both are depraved, totalitarian, anti-intellectual and anti-democratic dogmas. As Orwell wrote in 1984, “The past was erased, the erasure was forgotten, the lie became the truth.” Beware the anti-humanities, for they are the handmaidens of totalitarianism.

Indeed, identity politics and Banderite indoctrination have spawned tens of millions of illiterate, nihilistic, and atomized individuals that are devoid of a legitimate culture, cannot place current events in their appropriate historical context, are inculcated with loathing for an imaginary enemy, and can easily be manipulated by oligarchic forces. Nazi and Zionist indoctrination achieved similar results. Notably, the Russophobia in the West increasingly resembles the Russophobia in Ukraine prior to the Maidan putsch (see here and here).

The idea that neoliberalism is anchored in “anti-racism” is nonsensical, as not a day goes by without more dumbing down of children of color, mindless hate-filled rants against Russians and white people (excluding Nazis in Eastern Europe and the ones with lots of money); while the anti-white jihad ideology imbues the younger generation with a desire to launch a crusade against all things “racist.” This encompasses everything from Shakespeare to Mozart, to the principle of bodily autonomy, to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, to disposable white workers themselves. This is the most dangerous form of bigotry – sectarian hatreds that are knowingly and willfully cultivated in an education system charged with the task of molding impressionable young minds.

When not smashing unions to the wall, burning books, dismantling informed consent, and fomenting ghettoization, neoliberals can be found spending trillions of dollars dropping bombs on people and supporting death squads. Indeed, the sociopathy of American humanitarian interventionism is glaringly on display with regards to the Biden administration’s support for the Banderite regime.

Like Pavlov’s dogs, neocons and neolibs alike clamor for hellfire to be unleashed on whoever is the latest to be vilified: anti-vaxxers, conspiracy theorists, Serbs, Russians, the Taliban, the Iraqis. Entire societies are deemed to be somehow synonymous with their alleged dictators. While faux leftists have imaginary conversations about Russiagate, children in Mariupol are acquiring a real-world understanding of the horrors that have been inflicted on their society as a result of the US-backed Maidan coup. Yet we must follow these virtuous crusaders, who applaud their government for giving billions of dollars in weapons (or complain that it is insufficient, for the most fanatical) to a Banderite regime which permits fascists to get on television and openly call for genocide in the Donbass. Meanwhile, a vast swath of American society lacks adequate health insurance, adequate employment, education, the rule of law; and increasingly, even a society. As many a wise babushka can explain, before the specter of Ukrainian nationalism once more reared its ugly visage, western and eastern Ukrainians lived in peace with one another. Undoubtedly they would still, were it not for Washington providing the Banderite entity with enormous amounts of diplomatic aid, arms, military training, and assistance in executing psyops.

The idea currently being bandied about by a number of presstitutes and congressmen, that we could nonchalantly waltz into a third world war, as it would likely be confined to the use of conventional weapons, is indicative of a society that has lost the ability to engage in rational fact-based discussions. If there is a third world war, it will be nuclear. The Kremlin is not going to allow a repeat of Operation Barbarossa, and senior Kremlin officials have explicitly stated that they are not going to permit another war to be fought on Russian soil. This deranged thinking is yet further evidence of a society that has, over the past thirty years, been transformed into a diabolical cesspit of lies, propaganda, and deceit.

Some have speculated that there is a cabal in Washington pushing for a third world war, wagering that Europe and Russia would be destroyed, but that the US would somehow escape the carnage unscathed as transpired after the first two world wars, and that the American ruling establishment would then be able to create a new financial system which would cancel American debt and reverse the looming threat of de-dollarization. Should things degenerate to the point where the Russian military is targeting London, Paris, and Brussels is it not likely that major American cities would also be targeted?

While neoliberals wallow in the pathologies of cult dogma, the Russians are acutely aware of the following facts: the Banderite coup was orchestrated by Washington; battalions and death squads comprised of neo-Nazis and ultranationalists have been armed, funded, and trained by the West; and that Western presstitutes have fallen head over heels in love with Russophobia and are providing the Banderite regime with assistance in carrying out false flag operations. Furthermore, they are aware of the fact that Washington is providing the Banderite entity with information regarding Russian troop movements, a very delicate and dangerous tightrope indeed. In “Russia Formally Warns US to Stop Arming Ukraine,” Dave DeCamp comments on this ominous line that NATO is walking:

On top of arming the Ukrainians, the US is also providing them with intelligence for attacks on Russian forces. The huge amount of support raises questions about at what point Russia would consider the US a co-belligerent in the war.

Principles which were once deemed inviolable such as freedom of speech, the presumption of innocence, habeas corpus, the informed consent ethic, privacy, a healthy fear of nuclear war, integration, and even the notion that a democratic society must have an informed and educated population, are being swept away. The result is lawlessness, despotism, and savagery. Uncontrolled immigration, the anti-humanities, and offshoring, which together with medical mandates neoliberals look to as magical elixirs with which to solve every domestic problem, have commodified human beings and turned workers into interchangeable parts that lack any sense of ethics, class consciousness, a shared history, and can easily be manipulated and controlled. The Weimarization of America is well underway, and all things sacred are in danger of being lost.

The neoliberal notion of “tolerance” has become a euphemism for extremism, biofascism, book burning, and illegal wars of aggression. Witch hunts against heretics have become normalized, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to have rational discussions about incredibly serious political and socio-economic problems. The idea that the multicultural curriculum and identity studies “fight racism” when they constitute its quintessence is no less divorced from reality than the notion that a democracy can survive without the First Amendment, the Nuremberg Code, or any respect for international law. The lack of any empathy or remorse in the face of countless lives destroyed as a result of “humanitarian interventions” in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Ukraine, and Yugoslavia is coming home to roost.

“Education” has become a euphemism for fomenting sectarian hatreds and increasingly specialized job training. Revealingly, Americans with the most advanced degrees are often the most inclined to believe in the infallibility of the legacy media and the public health agencies. With a diseased society that teaches young people to kowtow at the altar of materialism and careerism while blindly following “the experts,” self-imposed ignorance is increasingly necessary to “get ahead.” Except in unusual circumstances, physicians speaking out against the Branch Covidian coup d’état will lose their jobs. The same fate would undoubtedly befall a mainstream journalist attempting to educate their readers about the gruesome realities of US foreign policy, or a professor criticizing identity politics and the scourge of tribalism.

The Guardian’s squeamishness over London cyclists being too white and male coupled with their fondness for Ukrainian nationalists – real racists – who have wiped entire Donbass villages off the face of the earth and committed crimes against humanity, is emblematic of the unhinged, devious, and wicked nature of neoliberal cult ideology.

American universities – automaton training facilities which churn out millions of aspiring Karl Brandts, Adolf Eichmanns, and Albert Speers each year – have created a conscienceless technocratic class on the carcass of what was once a sound middle class. As any number of reporters that covered the Nuremberg trials undoubtedly discerned, hyper-careerism and hyper-specialization foment amorality, and like vultures hover menacingly whereon the anti-humanities feed. Even the original Nazi doctors would have dismissed the idea of giving an experimental vaccine series to every German in Europe as utter lunacy. Yet to millions of shameless faux leftists these policies are necessary for “the greater good,” and predicated on “the science.”

That talking heads are permitted (or perhaps even encouraged by shadowy intelligence agencies) to call for people like Tucker Carlson and Tulsi Gabbard to be arrested for questioning the official Ukraine narrative is inextricably linked with the growing illiteratization and the fact that classes in civics have been expunged from the curriculum. This growing pathologization of dissent poses extremely serious risks to the First Amendment, as liberals are increasingly slandering their critics as mentally ill, evidence that biofascism’s war on informed consent poses a grave threat to our survival as a rule of law state. Should Democratic Party devotees attempt to commit (or section, as the British say) people such as Carlson and Gabbard, what legal mechanisms will prevent this from happening now that the informed consent ethic has been all but totally destroyed?

The authoritarianism of neoliberals is directly proportional to their growing disconnection from reality; and the more delirious the faithful become, the more they believe they are the paragon of reason.

James Howard Kunstler correctly points out on his blog that, in addition to the mass media, social media has played a significant role in fomenting this epidemic of demented ideation:

All this coerced insanity has been nurtured by social media’s sly mechanisms for bending narrative into propaganda: their beloved algorithms, all fine-tuned to destroy anything that touches on truth. The result is a country so marinated in falsehood that it can’t construct a coherent consensus of reality, and can’t take coherent actions to avert its own collapse.

It is remarkable that the New Deal, the public education system, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, any semblance of integration, a free press, the Nuremberg Code, and efforts to demilitarize and establish a single-payer health care system were obliterated in the name of “fighting racism,” “fighting sexism,” “fighting white supremacy,” and “fighting misogyny.” These words have become akin to dog commands, except unlike humans canines do not burn books, exploit slave labor, give weapons and military training to death squads, torture, or drop bombs on people.

Indie conservatives typically understand the dangers of identity politics and the Branch Covidians, yet often lack an adequate understanding of US foreign policy and the threat to democracy posed by unfettered capitalism. Before most leftists were enveloped by a pall of madness, that was their job.

Assuming we aren’t incinerated in a nuclear conflagration, how will reason and checks and balances be restored in a country run by toddlers, book burners, unscrupulous careerists, and homicidal maniacs? Irregardless of whether we witness the triumph of anti-white jihad, a Confederate white supremacist revival, or a takeover by the Christian Right (unlikely in this environment, as they are no fan of forced vaccination) the left’s self-evisceration threatens our existence as a civilized society and is slowly opening the harrowing portal of perdition.

Should the pendulum swing back to the traditional far-right and neoliberals dethroned, what laws will be in place to protect those who have been deposed and dispossessed? As neoliberal cultists are no longer living in the reality-based world, and are seemingly incapable of acknowledging the consequences of their actions, the path towards the spires of reason and solidarity will be difficult to forge in the long and arduous days that lie ahead.

The post The West Has Fallen Into Darkness first appeared on Dissident Voice.

US/NATO Wants War With Russia

Here is a speech Vladimir Putin DID NOT make — at least in this specific language — to the Russian people just before initiating the special military operations in Ukraine:

“It is my responsibility as the president to warn our citizens of secret, swift, and extraordinary buildup of US/NATO missiles — in an area well known to have a special and historical relationship to Russia and the nations of our hemisphere, in violation of American assurances, and in defiance of treaties and our own policies — this sudden, clandestine decision to station strategic weapons on our borders — is a deliberately provocative and unjustified change in the status quo which cannot be accepted by this country.”

Does this have a familiar feel to it?

Here is the speech which President John F. Kennedy DID MAKE to the American people on October 22, 1962, when he warned of:

… a secret, swift, and extraordinary buildup of Communist missiles — in an area well known to have a special and historical relationship to the United States and the nations of the Western Hemisphere, in violation of Soviet assurances, and in defiance of American and hemispheric policy — this sudden, clandestine decision to station strategic weapons for the first time outside of Soviet soil — is a deliberately provocative and unjustified change in the status quo which cannot be accepted by this country.

The Cuban Missile Crisis which resulted from the discovery of this military escalation by the Soviets, almost resulted in a world war and nuclear annihilation.

The tables have rotated 180º. Now it is the US which is putting the survival of humankind at risk, escalating the conflict in Ukraine by dumping more and more weapons into the conflict zone, demonizing Putin and everything Russian, apparently urging the Ukrainians to avoid a negotiated peace and to fight to the bitter end.

Do not for a moment forget . . .

There were solutions in place to prevent the entire Ukrainian situation from evolving into the terrifying mess we now see. First, there was the Minsk II Agreement of February 12, 2015, signed by Ukraine, guaranteed by France, Germany and Russia. It was ignored by Ukraine, never implemented. There is speculation that it was the US which prompted the stonewalling. Then, December of 2020, Russia itself proposed very concrete steps, as draft treaties, that could be taken to defuse the tensions and guarantee greater security for all of Europe and the world. These were formally submitted to both the US and NATO in writing. They were dismissed. Now with the conflict in full swing, Russia has repeatedly made clear its current position on ending this. What the Russians is demand is no different than what Kennedy demanded of the USSR. This has also been flatly rejected.

From the outset of the crisis, Russia has been maligned, vilified, rejected, canceled, viciously attacked at every opportunity for merely wanting the assurances and concrete reductions to the threat posed by NATO and the US on its borders, just as JFK laid out subsequent to his announcement of Soviet missiles in Cuba.

(As a revealing aside, the comprehensive scale of the vilification and attempted isolation of Russia across the planet, even in spheres completely unrelated to politics — dance, sports, art, music, cultural exchange programs, space exploration, pet shows — could not have been spontaneous. Any multi-layered attack of this scale had to have been in the works for some time. At least, that’s how I see it.)

So . . .

What conclusion can we draw from all of this? What message are we actually hearing from Biden, Blinken, Stoltenberg, Johnson, Scholz, Macron, and the rest of the US puppets around the world?

I can see only one: US/NATO wants war with RussiaWhich frankly, hardly comes as a surprise. From documents, white papers, policy statements, speeches by officials in the State Department and various administrations along the way, all easily accessed by just looking, the dismemberment of Russia and looting its vast and varied natural resources has been on the agenda for at least three decades.

Yes, folks . . .

It’s war. Not liberation. Not freedom and democracy. It’s war.

Please correct me if I’m wrong.

The post US/NATO Wants War With Russia first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Russia, Ukraine, and the USA: Trapped in a Cultural Script

Compassion for Ukrainians victimized by Russia’s violence demonstrates that human hearts care. However, beneath the visible current of compassion there’s an alarming, dangerous dynamic at play.

What’s hair-raising about this crisis is not only the violence but the fact that US political leaders and media makers are not recognizing positive and negative motivations on both sides of conflict. Instead, they’re deliberately creating an inaccurate good vs. evil storyline, a storyline that ignites unwarranted, dangerous feelings of self-righteous hatred against Russia.

The US perpetually perceives its role in conflict as that of a heroic rescuer or innocent victim upholding humanity and freedom against evil persecutors. However, 245 years of US history reveal that this perception is fiction, a psychological construct. Psychological analysts Muriel James and Dorothy Jongeward called the persecutor, victim, and rescuer scenario a “cultural script.”

Examination of 245 years of US history reveals that the perception of always being a good guy fighting evil is fiction, a psychological construct. In fact, good and bad, truths and lies invariably exist on both sides of conflict.

Nonetheless, to deceive others and perhaps themselves, US policymakers’ pattern of relentlessly legitimating their violence, deadly sanctions, and foreign coups by denying the validity of enemy grievances, hiding their own greed and aggressive motives, refusing to cooperatively negotiate, concealing enemy negotiation offers, fabricating lies, omitting significant facts, using false pretexts, and overlooking the disastrous results of a pseudo-religious faith in the problem-solving magic of weapons is so predictable that it’s hard to decide whether it’s more enraging, pathetic, boring, or nauseating.

Consider one persecutor-victim-hero drama that began in 1979. President Jimmy Carter, livid over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, claimed it was “the greatest threat to peace since the Second World War.” Actually, Afghanistan’s Marxist government, which had been trying to reform the extreme, unjust inequalities of wealth and land ownership in Afghanistan, had requested Soviet assistance against insurgents, but the USSR, the “evil persecutor,” didn’t want to send troops. When the Soviets finally complied, they explained it was because of secret US involvement in Afghanistan. The world called the Soviets liars.

Two decades later US National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski admitted that Carter had begun aiding the insurgent mujahideen—the “heroes”—six months prior to the entry of the persecutors, the Soviets. A delighted Brzezinski knew this could provoke the Soviets to invade and get mired in their own “Vietnam.” Convinced of Soviet evil and mujahideen goodness, US policymakers ignored that the mujahideen skinned Soviet POWs alive.

And now we’re to believe that weapon shipments and sanctions are needed for the US to help rescue Ukraine from “evil” Russia.

The first step in convincing the world to believe the script’s good vs. evil dynamics is to depict Russia as the persecutor who’s motivated, not by fear, but by evil. No problem! Simply label Putin as paranoid and discount Russian fears as ludicrous: NATO’s expansion into Slavic lands, NATO—Ukraine military collaboration, US missile bases in eastern Europe, anti-Russian policies and prejudice in Ukraine, neo-Nazi violence in Ukraine, neo-Nazis and ultranationalists in Ukraine’s police, military, and government, the manipulation of Ukraine by Western profit-seekers, and Western economic and political conquest—likely of Russia itself.

The next step is to paint the US as a heroic rescuer motivated purely by integrity and compassion. Simple! Muffle up all greed-related motives for antagonizing Russia: US weapon industry profits, NATO’s agenda for bases on the Black Sea, IMF goals, ExxonMobil’s coveting Black Sea fossil fuel deposits, and Biden’s connections with Ukraine’s largest natural gas corporation. Then, conceal US hopes to dominate the global energy trade, maintain the dollar as the international energy trade currency, displace Russia from Europe’s gas market, shut down Nord Stream 2, and export fracked liquefied natural gas to Europe via Ukraine.

Also ignored are the biases and aims of those social and business circles who are forever dictating US foreign policy according to their pecuniary priorities and uncooperative, control-oriented habits of international relations. President Biden’s administration, for example, includes many members of the Alliance for Securing Democracy—with an advisory board that combines neoconservatives with liberal hawks, Albright Stonebridge Group—with its interest in Russian business acquisitions, and the Center for a New American Security (CNAS).

CNAS, whose donors include multiple weapon corporations, the European Union, US Department of Defense, Finland’s Defense Ministry, Amazon, Google, and ExxonMobil, was formerly led by President Biden’s current Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland, whose husband, Robert Kagan, co-founded the conquest-seeking neoconservative Project for the New American Century. Yet we’re to assume that donors’ priorities aren’t skewing foreign policy in dysfunctional ways.

With Russia’s fears dismissed and US greed disguised, the good vs. evil script is further strengthened by permitting only shallow public analysis. For example, how do we know that Russia wasn’t deliberately provoked so that the ulterior goals of certain American social circles could be advanced under the guise of nobly responding to Russia’s aggression? The topic isn’t permitted into discussion.

Another topic given quarter-inch deep analysis is Biden’s seemingly fair-minded declaration that each nation has the right to choose alliances. It’s an unusual statement coming from a “you’re with us or against us” nation that has punished or ousted national leaders who refused to sever alliances with the USSR or Cuba.

Nuland’s leaked tapes from 2014 (which mention Biden and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan) and a US record of instigating coups indicate that Americans were likely involved in promoting the bloody 2014 coup of Ukraine’s pro-Russian President Yanukovich to install anti-Russian leadership agreeable to European Union and NATO ties. So does Biden’s “right to choose alliances” proclamation apply to nations before a US-approved coup or only afterwards?

Another enraging example of shallow analysis is the opinion falsely parroted by US “experts” that Putin’s 2021 essay, “On the Historical Unity of Russia and Ukraine,” lays bare Putin’s imperialist vision for Ukraine and his lack of recognition of Ukraine’s sovereignty and borders. Whether the experts are deliberately lying or lack reading comprehension skills, their claim is false and, given the self-righteous hatred their claim generates, utterly irresponsible.

Nowhere in the essay does Putin speak of conquering Ukraine or refusing to recognize Ukraine’s sovereignty. Putin specifically describes the relationship between the US and Canada as the type of relationship Russia seeks with Ukraine. When he speaks of “unity,” he’s not speaking of dissolving Ukraine’s political sovereignty. He’s speaking of cultural and historical ties between the two nations.

Putin’s description of the Bolsheviks’ creation of borders never suggests that he’s doing away with them. It’s possible he’s implying that Donetsk, Lugansk, and certainly Crimea have large Russian populations and do not necessarily belong in Ukraine, especially if Ukraine’s post-coup government is harboring neo-Nazism and installing language and indigenous people policies of a deliberate anti-Russian nature. Note that Ukraine and the US are the only two nations in the UN to vote against the recent resolution to condemn the glorification of Nazism.

Of course, US policymakers are not uncomfortable with Nazism and, following WWII, employed one thousand Nazis to spy on Russia. And it was US banks and companies such as Ford, General Motors, and du Pont that opportunistically helped fund Hitler’s war arsenal. Even in 1973, the US worked with pro-Nazi collaborators and US corporate funds to plant protests, propaganda, economic sabotage, and violence that climaxed in the CIA’ s horrific 9/11/73 coup of Chile’s Salvador Allende. It’s not surprising that in 2014, Russian news sources claimed that US private military contractors were training right-wing Ukrainian extremists.

In his essay, Putin clearly states his wish to negotiate with Ukraine, but not with Ukrainian leaders who are mere representatives of Western profiteers eager to use Ukraine’s land and resources for their own benefit. But, of course, US commentators either ignore the statement or, forgetting US history, discount Putin’s fears of Western profiteering as conspiracy theory.

Double standards also fortify the script. Russia’s invasions are motivated by belligerence, never legitimate fears, while US invasions are motivated by legitimate fears, never belligerence. Same behavior, different judgment.

Headlines scream of savage Russian war crimes. TV reporters interview sobbing Ukrainians. Yet US, NATO, and Ukrainian war crimes are barely publicized, their victims ignored. Same actions, different judgment. To learn about US war crimes and Afghan and Iraqi suffering, you’ve got to read investigative reporters’ books.

American groupthink, inflated by its self-righteous role in the script, and seeming to borrow from middle-school social dynamics, jeers and smears President Putin’s every word as absurd and staged. But we’re to trust Biden as honest, unstaged, unconcealing. No proof is needed. Just faith in the script.

Putin’s wish to protect Donetsk and Lugansk, self-declared republics since 2014, and end Kiev’s 8-year war that has killed 14,000 is automatically mocked as false pretext for conquest. Yet US wishes to protect Ukraine from Russia are trusted as caring, without ulterior design. The role of private military contractors, NATO, and the US in escalating civil war and provoking Russia by arming Ukraine with billions in weapons since 2014 rather than committing to non-violently resolve Ukraine’s internal conflict remains shamefully unassessed.

The consequences of belief in this drama? The US habitually uses exaggerated fears of evil enemies as false justification for colossal military budgets, NATO expansion, more military bases, troops, weapons, and nukes—all of which pour gasoline on the world tinderbox of tension, drain desperately-needed funding, and fail to resolve conflict.

If evil is equated with enemies, it becomes deceptively simple for “heroes” to champion goodness: bomb enemies into submission, impose deadly sanctions, strangulate funding, send weapons, engineer coups. But none of these methods nurture goodness. The truth is, those convinced they’re fighting evil are frequently blinded to the immorality and injustice of their own actions against people who aren’t so evil after all.

The good vs. evil script is also unjust because it enables the “innocent” to get away with all they’ve done to exacerbate conflict. The script can even enable the “innocent,” including Biden administration neoconservatives and liberal hawks, to slickly seize power, resources, and markets from those deemed evil.

US leaders’ promotion of this good vs. evil storyline appears compassionate, but it isn’t against killing. It isn’t about justice. It’s about pushing a script that provides pretext on the part of those proclaiming their own goodness to inflict injustice and violence against Russia and Putin, already verbally crucified by a mob of liars. It’s about solidifying our allegiance to US policymakers’ decisions about whom we should kill and whom we should cry for. Yet policymakers step beyond Constitutional grounds when they use their power to turn our hearts on and off, to bait us to hate some and love others to serve their greed for Mid-Eastern, Ukrainian, and Russian wealth.

We’ve got to scrap the script and view conflict impartially. We deserve accurate, sophisticated information about conflict, not propaganda that teaches us to hate. We need full truth to help us ground irrational fears of bad guys, cure the sickness of greed, and offer caring and friendship, not just for those falsely deemed innocent and heroic, but for all of us, with 360 of empathy, all the way around the world.

• View all six videos here:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuNEw9-1OIk-CwU-5vAElcg

• Read the entire essay at Countercurrents

• This article was first published at TRANSCEND Media Service

The post Russia, Ukraine, and the USA: Trapped in a Cultural Script first appeared on Dissident Voice.

To the Home Office We Go: The Extradition of Julian Assange

It was a dastardly formality.  On April 20, at a hearing at Westminster Magistrates Court, Julian Assange, beamed in via video link from Belmarsh Prison, his carceral home for three years, is to be extradited to the United States to face 18 charges, 17 based on the US Espionage Act of 1917.

The final arbiter will be the UK Secretary of the Home Office, the security hardened Priti Patel who is unlikely to buck the trend.  She has shown an all too unhealthy enthusiasm for an expansion of the Official Secrets Act which would target leakers, recipients of leaked material, and secondary publishers.  The proposals seek to purposely conflate investigatory journalism and espionage activities conducted by foreign states, while increasing prison penalties from two years to 14 years.

Chief Magistrate Senior District Judge Paul Goldspring was never going to rock the judicial boat.  He was “duty-bound” to send the case to the home secretary, though he did inform Assange that an appeal to the High Court could be made in the event of approved extradition prior to the issuing of the order.

It seemed a cruel turn for the books, given the ruling by District Court Judge Vanessa Baraitser on January 4, 2021 that Assange would be at serious risk of suicide given the risk posed by Special Administrative Measures and the possibility that he spend the rest of his life in the ADX Florence supermax facility.  Assange would be essentially killed off by a penal system renowned for its brutality.  Accordingly, it was found that extraditing him would be oppressive within the meaning of the US-UK Extradition Treaty.

The US Department of Justice, ever eager to get their man, appealed to the High Court of England and Wales.  They attacked the judge for her carelessness in not seeking reassurances about Assange’s welfare the prosecutors never asked for.  They sought to reassure the British judges that diplomatic assurances had been given.  Assange would be spared the legal asphyxiations caused by SAMs, or the dystopia of the supermax facility.  Besides, his time in US detention would be medically catered for, thereby minimising the suicide risk.  There would be no reason for him to take his own life, given the more pleasant surroundings and guarantees for his welfare.

A fatuous additional assurance was also thrown in: the Australian national would have the chance to apply to serve the post-trial and post-appeal phase of his sentence in the country of his birth.  All such undertakings would naturally be subject to adjustment and modification by US authorities as they deemed fit.  None were binding.

All this glaring nonsense was based on the vital presumption that such undertakings would be honoured by a government whose officials have debated, at stages, the publisher’s possible poisoning and abduction.  Such talk of assassination was also accompanied by a relentless surveillance operation of the Ecuadorian embassy in London, directed by US intelligence operatives through the auspices of a Spanish security company, UC Global.  Along the way, US prosecutors even had time to use fabricated evidence in drafting their indictment.

The Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales Ian Burnett, and Lord Justice Timothy Holroyde, in their December 2021 decision, saw no reason to doubt the good faith of the prosecutors.  Assange’s suicide risk would, given the assurances, be minimised – he had, the judges reasoned, nothing to fear, given the promise that he would be exempted from the application of SAMs or the privations of ADX Florence.  In this most political of trials, the judicial bench seemed unmoved by implications, state power, and the desperation of the US imperium in targeting the publishing of compromising classified information.

On appeal to the UK Supreme Court, the grounds of appeal were scandalously whittled away, with no mention of public interest, press freedom, thoughts of assassination, surveillance, or fabrication of evidence.  The sole issue preoccupying the bench: “In what circumstances can an appellate court receive assurances from a requesting state which were not before the court at first instance in extradition proceedings”.

On March 14, the Supreme Court comprising Lord Reed, Lord Hodge and Lord Briggs, delivered the skimpiest of answers, without a sliver of reasoning.  In the words of the Deputy Support Registrar, “The Court ordered that permission to appeal be refused because the application does not raise an arguable point of law.”

While chief magistrate Goldspring felt duty bound to relay the extradition decision to Patel,

Mark Summers QC, presenting Assange, also felt duty bound to make submissions against it.  “It is not open to me to raise fresh evidence and issues, even though there are fresh developments in the case.”  The defence team have till May 18 to make what they describe as “serious submissions” to the Home Secretary regarding US sentencing practices and other salient issues.

Various options may present themselves.  In addition to challenging the Home Secretary’s order, the defence may choose to return to the original decision of Baraitser, notably on her shabby treatment of press freedom.  Assange’s activities, she witheringly claimed, lacked journalistic qualities.

Outside the channel of the Home Office, another phase in the campaign to free Assange has now opened.  Activist groups, press organisations and supporters are already readying themselves for the next month.  Political figures such as former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn have urged Patel “to stand up for journalism and democracy, or sentence a man for life for exposing the truth about the War on Terror.”

Amnesty International’s Secretary General Agnès Callamard has also fired another salvo in favour of Assange, noting that the United Kingdom “has an obligation not to send any person to a place where their life or safety is at risk and the Government must now abdicate that responsibility.”

The prospect of enlivening extraterritorial jurisdiction to target journalism and the publication of national security information, is graver than ever.  It signals the power of an international rogue indifferent to due process and fearful of being caught out.  But even before this momentous realisation is one irrefutable fact.  The plea from Assange’s wife, Stella, sharpens the point: don’t extradite a man “to a country that conspired to murder him.”

The post To the Home Office We Go: The Extradition of Julian Assange first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Don’t Let Them Get Us All Killed

It was a climate of unquestioned moral righteousness. The enemy was Fascism. The brutalities of Fascism were undisguised by pretense:  the concentration camps, the murder of opponents, the tortures by secret police, the burning of books, the total control of information, the roving gangs of thugs in the streets, the designation of “inferior” races deserving extermination, the infallible leader, the mass hysteria, the glorification of war, the invasion of other countries, the bombing of civilians. No literary work of imagination could create a more monstrous evil… But it is precisely that situation—where the enemy is undebatably evil—that produces a righteousness dangerous not only to the enemy but to ourselves, to countless innocent bystanders, and to future generations.

— Howard Zinn, The Bomb (City Lights, 2010), p. 29.

Nuclear War:  The Unimaginable and Real Threat

Aware that Ukraine could well become the next Afghanistan, and that we face the chance of a nuclear war and subsequent “nuclear winter” in which 2 billion people are at risk of starvation, voices of peace around the world continue to protest the militarism of irresponsible leaders of the governments of the NATO states, Russia, Japan, and other countries. There is even criticism of U.S. and Canadian support for Nazis in Ukraine. Now, when they should be focused on repairing relations between Russia and Ukraine, as well as between Russia and the NATO states, and thereby increasing the chances of humanity’s decent survival, instead these leaders are focused on “winning” their petty macho fest in Ukraine. For example, on the 6th of March, the U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, said that plans for Poland to send fighter jets to Ukraine have gotten “the green light” from the U.S. Luckily for our species, Biden did not listen to Blinken, and instead listened to the Secretary of Defense Lloyd James Austin III, a four-star general.

“Could the Russian invasion of Ukraine escalate to nuclear war? It’s unlikely but not impossible. That should terrify us,” writes foreign correspondent Stephen Kinzer. “Unlikely but not impossible.” This is a common view today among serious international affairs analysts.

Many U.S. generals have never really been keen on the notion of nuclear war, in fact. “In 1945 the United States had eight five-star admirals and generals. Of the eight, seven are on the record saying the atomic bomb [dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki] was either militarily unnecessary, morally reprehensible, or both.”

Although “GHQ” (the General Headquarters of the Allied Powers) imposed strict censorship on discussions and photographs of the atomic bombs and its victims, the news did eventually spread via word of mouth, underground publications, etc., and people found out about the results of this U.S. experiment on the bodies of Japanese and Koreans. And over the course of the last three-quarters of a century, historians in Japan, the U.S., and other countries, such as Peter Kuznick, have done painstaking research to uncover the fact that one can say, in retrospect, that these two bombings were stupid and barbaric.

Most of us who are aware of the history of the bombings and who campaign for peace would agree with Stephen Bryen that “beyond all the rhetoric, and the sanctions [over the violence in Ukraine], Washington had better clear its head and start to think straight. That’s not happening right now but it is essential for our future security and well-being.”

By this time, our leaders should have learned from humanity’s past mistakes. Theodore A. Postol, a nuclear weapons technology expert and professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has asserted that “over the course of several U.S. administrations failing to take into account Russia’s core security concerns… ‘there’s no reflection at all’.” (Author’s italics). We are being led by ignorant, violent, reckless, macho-men.

Our Leaders Are Leading Us toward the Precipice of Global Dystopia

Here in Japan we are told that, for no reason, China could invade Taiwan at any moment, just as Russia invaded Ukraine, and that the best way to create security for ourselves would be for the U.S. and Japan to continue to build military bases on Ryukyu Islands. These are bases that are equipped with all kinds of lethal weapons, soldiers, and Osprey aircraft (for transporting such weapons and troops to places like China). They are building a new base in Henoko (on the main island of Uchinaa/Okinawa), on Miyako Island, and other Ryukyu Islands, all close to Taiwan. These two states are continually militarizing the islands of this region and putting our lives in jeopardy. One can, in fact, see the high mountains of Taiwan from Yonaguni Island (at the southernmost island of the Ryukyu Island chain, where a new base now sits) on a clear day, as the island is only 111 kilometers from Taiwan. In other words, they want us to believe that holding China by the throat with one hand, and a knife in the other, will improve our security.

In the U.S. and other countries, people are told that only Big Brother knows best, that only he can keep us, the ignorant masses, safe from overseas villains. Unfortunately, for those who tell this tall tale, the U.S. has been threatening Russians, ever since the end of the Second World War, at a point in time right after the Soviet Union had lost millions of people fighting against Nazis. There was a time when “Official U.S. war plans, approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and President Dwight Eisenhower, stated that, if so much as a single Soviet tank division crossed into allied territory, the United States would respond with nukes.” Such was our government’s posture then toward our former ally the Soviet Union. And our message to Russians even now is essentially that they “better watch out.” After years of steady success with the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), NATO’s official nuclear policy is “flexible response,” which allows the alliance to be “the first to introduce nuclear weapons into a conflict, including in reply to an attack with conventional weapons.”

It surely has not been lost on Russians that former president Barack Obama, a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, set aside $1 trillion of our tax dollars for nukes, to be spent over a span of 30 years, nor has it been lost on many Japanese that he did not apologize on our behalf when he visited Hiroshima. Some have even noticed that he actually clapped while watching footage of a mushroom cloud during that trip.

Biden has gone “full steam ahead” with increasing our reliance on nuclear weapons, following in the footsteps of his predecessors Trump and Obama. Yet, back in early December, Republican Senator Roger Wicker, perhaps feeling that Biden was not spooking Russians enough, made things extra clear with his words, “Military action could mean that we stand off with our ships in the black sea and we rain destruction on Russia capability, it could mean that,” and added, “We don’t rule out first-use nuclear action, we don’t think it will happen but there are certain things in negotiations, if you are going to be tough, that you don’t take off the table.” It is this toxic masculinity, this being “tough,” that could get us all killed.

Since our nukes were equipped in recent years with new super fuses that can destroy a large portion of Russia’s nukes even in their silos, Russia has been put into a situation where they must “use ‘em or lose ‘em” in the event that they are threatened with an imminent nuclear attack from the U.S. Unlike in the past, U.S. nuclear warheads now have “hard target kill capability.” This means it is possible to destroy “Russian and Chinese nuclear-tipped missiles and command posts in hardened silos or mountain sanctuaries, or to obliterate hardened military command and storage bunkers in North Korea, also considered a potential US nuclear target.”

Rep. Ilhan Omar, a lone voice of sanity in the U.S. Congress, said she was moved by the Ukrainians, as well as by the Russians who are standing up for peace and said, “We must avoid the knee-jerk calls to make this conflict worse.”

Unlike established politicians in many other countries, very few in the U.S. have the foresight of Rep. Omar. U.S. politicians lack understanding of what happens in wars, and especially of the suffering produced by wars. Their sons are not foot soldiers, they are ignorant of U.S.-Russia relations, they do not know U.S. history, and they have the attitude of “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” with respect to what Americans long ago did to the Japanese and Koreans in Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Thus we cannot rest easy, trusting that our lives are in good hands. They are not going to go out of their way to avoid unnecessary killing in Ukraine, whether of Ukrainians or Russians. As Bob Dylan’s song goes, “I’ve learned to hate Russians, all through my whole life. If another war comes, it’s them we must fight. To hate them and fear them, to run and to hide. You never ask questions, when God’s on your side.” (Starts at 4:00 in “With God on Our Side.” Such is our mentality in the U.S. after a half century of Cold War indoctrination, years of Roman Empire-like exaggeration of national security threats, two decades of the “war on terror,” and Russiagate.

Now, turning to their leaders, on the “enemy” side:  “Asked if Putin would use nuclear weapons, Mr [Leonid] Volkov [the former chief of staff for jailed Putin critic Alexei Navalny] replied: “As he is crazy enough, we can expect unfortunately everything’.”

A Putin ally has specifically warned us of nuclear dystopia:  “Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council who also previously served as the country’s president and prime minister, wrote in a post on Russian social networking site VK.com that Russia has been ‘the target of the same mediocre and primitive game’ since the collapse of the Soviet Union. ‘This means that Russia must be humiliated, limited, shaken, divided and destroyed’… if Americans succeed in that objective, ‘here is the result: the largest nuclear power with an unstable political regime, weak leadership, a collapsed economy and the maximum number of nuclear warheads aimed at targets in the US and Europe’.” Hearing such words, some macho Americans will say as they always do that it is “time to get tough.” This is what happens when our foreign policies are decided by tough men like Biden and Putin.

It is not really reassuring to know that a “small number of [nuclear] bombs are reportedly kept under U.S. Air Force guard at six airbases in five European countries, ready to be delivered by respective national fighter planes,” and that we have nuclear missiles on submarines prowling the sea near Russia. It is not necessarily comforting that within striking range of Russia, there are missiles that could kill millions of people over there within days of the start of a nuclear war. The “nuclear weapons should have been removed from Turkey long ago. Now, whether they’re taken out or kept in, they are going to play some kind of role in the escalating tensions.” Those words were written in 2019. Could it be possible that the presence of nukes in several European countries did worry many Russians and actually increased the chances of war in Ukraine? Could it be true that “there are any number of scenarios in which Russian military doctrine foresees the use of nuclear weapons as a rational move, wars on its border being only one such example”?

The state of U.S. political culture and education is shameful. “60 percent of Americans would approve of killing 2 million Iranian civilians [with our nukes] to prevent an invasion of Iran that might kill 20,000 U.S. soldiers.” One single man, respected and selected by a small number of Democratic Party elites, a man named Joe Biden, has the authority to initiate nuclear strikes at any time on Russia.

Political scientist John Mearsheimer has argued for years that “the U.S., in pushing to expand NATO eastward and establishing friendly relations with Ukraine, has increased the likelihood of war between nuclear-armed powers and laid the groundwork for Vladimir Putin’s aggressive position toward Ukraine.”

“By means of shrewd lies, unremittingly repeated, it is possible to make people believe that heaven is hell—and hell heaven. The greater the lie, the more readily it will be believed.” This quote has been ascribed to Adolf Hitler. A similar sentiment was expressed by Bob Marley as you “think you’re in heaven, but you’re living in hell.”

Help Needed:  War Resisters

Unlike the government leaders in the rich and powerful countries, and unlike the millions whose eyes are glued to TV and computer screens, some people are fully awake and aware, and are doing what they can to stop the war in Ukraine and build world peace. The activism and writings of Howard Zinn taught us there are always such people who stand up for social justice even in the darkest of times. The anti-nuclear weapons movement of the postwar period, extending from people like Peggy Duff and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) all the way to the anti-nuke protests of the 1980s, when tens of millions of Japanese signed antinuclear petitions, achieved significant victories, especially in terms of preventing the spread, testing, and use of nuclear weapons. The existence of various kinds of weapons of mass destruction, including new techniques of mass killing such as AI-controlled and cyber weapons, and new weapons made possible by nanotechnology, is making it more and more obvious that our choice is between ending the institution of war, or ending ourselves. In Japan, the elderly who know all about war, like the hibakusha, as well as the young, who know very little beyond what they learned from the mass media and their school textbooks, are beginning to take a stand. It is a beginning, and we have a long way to go to re-build the movement. All hands on deck!

Of course, we have to pressure our government officials to end this war. And if they do not start listening to our demands very soon, then we will have to kick them out of office, and replace them with leaders who do listen, and do respond. Every day of inaction brings us closer to the brink of global destruction, closer to the edge of the cliff towards which they have been pushing us all. Here are three of the tasks that our movement must take on:

(1) We have to raise public awareness of the dire need for peace.

(2) We need lots of people out on the streets and other visible places who are committed to tenaciously working on the project of increasing the costs of state violence. Right now, it is easy to start wars, while starting peace is difficult; we need to turn that around. The anti-nuke and peace movements of the past “brought about political pressure to end nuclear testing and stop the spread of the Bomb by mobilizing protesters—ranging from tens of thousands to even millions at its peak—that took to the streets in Western Europe, the United States, Canada, and Australia.” (Naturally, Japan also once had a large anti-nuclear weapons movement, as documented by Lawrence Wittner).

(3) CodePink brought us speeches from Abby Martin, Lee Camp, and Chris Hedges the other day that emphasized the importance of protecting freedom of expression, thereby joining other dissidents who warned earlier about censorship, such as Dissident Voice writer Rick Sterling. Not only advocates of global death and destruction have the right to speak but also advocates of life, the “greatest gift of all.” “We are the world, we are the children,” who have the right to not be nuked. Some elite extremists in government will soon start spouting lies, claiming that peace advocates are dangerous, that we are aiding and abetting our nations’ enemies in Russia, etc. The very word “peace” could become taboo. They want to silence and censor, and prevent our rational, humanitarian voices from being heard.

With millions of people now craving vengeance against Russia, and even against disempowered and disadvantaged Russians, let us build a global movement, people who refuse to take up weapons, who actively make it difficult for others to take up weapons, and who know that war is never the answer.

The post Don’t Let Them Get Us All Killed first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Ukraine: War and the Challenge of Human Rights in the United States and Beyond

Images of burnt flesh from napalm bombs, wounded and dead soldiers, scenes of U.S. soldiers burning the simple huts of Vietnamese villages, eventually turned the public against the war in Vietnam and produced the dreaded affliction, from the ruling class point of view, known as the “Vietnam syndrome.” This collective Post Traumatic Stress Disorder made it impossible for the public to support any foreign military involvement for years.

It took the rulers almost three decades to finally cure the public of this affliction. But the rulers were careful.

The brutal reality of what the U.S. was doing in Afghanistan and Iraq was whitewashed. That is why the images now being brought to the public by the corporate media are so shocking. It has been more than two generations since the U.S. public was exposed to the horrific images of war.

In the 1960s the rulers inadvertently allowed themselves to be undermined by the new television technology that brought the awful reality of imperialist war into the homes of the public. Now, the ruling class operating through its corporate media propaganda arms has been effectively using Ukraine war propaganda, not to increase Anti-war sentiment but to stimulate support for more war!

Incredibly also, the propagandists are pushing a line that essentially says that in the name of “freedom” and supporting Ukraine, the U.S. public should shoulder the sacrifice of higher fuel and food prices. This is on top of the inflation that workers and consumers were already being subjected to coming out of the capitalist covid scandal that devastated millions of workers and the lower stratums of the petit bourgeoisie.

But the war, and now the unfair shouldering of all of the costs of the capitalist crisis of 2008 – 2009, and the impact of covid by the working classes in the U.S., amounts to a capitalist tax. It is levied by the oligarchy on workers to subsidize the defense of the interests of big capital and the conditions that have produced obscene profits, even in the midst of the covid crisis and now, the Ukraine war.

These policies are criminal. While the U.S. continues to pretend that it champions human rights around the world, the failure of the state to protect the fundamental human rights of the citizens and residents in the U.S. is obvious to all, but spoken about by the few, except the Chinese government.

For those who might think that the Chinese criticism of the U.S. is only being driven by politics, and it might be,  just a cursory, objective examination of the U.S. state policies over just the last few years reveals a shocking record of systematic human rights abuses that promise to become even more acute as a consequence of the manufactured U.S./NATO war in Ukraine.

The Ongoing Human Rights Crisis

The U.S. working class, and Black working class in particular, never recovered from the economic crisis of 2008 before it was once again ravaged in 2020 with the global capitalist crisis exacerbated by covid. On the heels of those two shocks, today millions of workers are experiencing a permanent state of precarity with evictions, the continued loss of medical coverage, unaffordable housing and food costs, and a capitalist-initiated inflation. The rulers are operating under the belief that with the daily bombardment of war images, U.S. workers and the poor will embrace rising costs of gas and even more increases in the cost of food.

Doesn’t the state have any responsibility to ensure that the economic human rights of the people are fulfilled? No, because liberal human rights practice separates fundamental human rights – such as the right to health, food, housing, education, a means to subsist at an acceptable level of material culture, leisure, and life-long social security – from democratic discourse on what constitutes the human rights responsibility of the state and the interests it must uphold in order to be legitimate.

The non-recognition of the indivisibility of human rights that values economic human rights to an equal level as civil and political rights, exposed the moral and political contradictions of the liberal human rights framework. The massive economic displacements with hunger, unemployment, and unnecessary deaths among the population in the United States, with a disproportionate rate of sickness and hospitalization among non-white workers and the poor in the U.S., were never condemned as violations of human rights.

War and Economic Deprivation the Systemic Contradictions of the Western colonial/capitalist Project

The war being waged against global humanity by the U.S./EU/NATO Axis of Domination is a hybrid war that utilizes all the tools it has at its disposal – sanctions, mass incarceration, coups, drugs, disinformation, culture, subversion, murder, and direct military engagement to further white power. The Eurocentrism and “White Lives Matters More Movement” represented by the coverage of the war in Ukraine stripped away any pretense to the supposed liberal commitment to global humanity. The white-washing of the danger of the ultra-right and neo-Nazi elements in the Ukrainian military and state and the white ethno-nationalism that the conflict generated across the Western world demonstrated, once again, how “racialism” and the commitment to the fiction of white supremacy continues to trump class and class struggle and the ability to build a multi-national, class based anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist opposition in the North.

It is primarily workers from Russia, the Donbas and Ukraine who are dying. But as in the run-up to the first imperialist war in Europe, known as World War One, workers with the encouragement of their national bourgeoisie, are lining up behind their rulers to support the capitalist redivision taking place, a redivision that can only be completed by war as long as capitalism and capitalist competition continues. Yet, instead of “progressives and radicals” joining forces to resist the mobilization to war, they are finding creative ways to align themselves with the interests of their ruling classes in support of the colonial/capitalist project.

In the meantime, the people of Afghanistan are starving, with thousands of babies now dying of malnutrition because the U.S. stole their nation’s assets. Estimates suggest that unless reversed, more people there will die from U.S./EU imposed sanctions than died during the twenty year long war. And the impact of the war in Ukraine with the loss of wheat exports from Ukraine and Russia resulting not only in rising food prices globally but in some places like East Africa, resulting in death from famine.

In the U.S. where we witness the most abysmal record of covid failure on the planet, the virus will continue to ravage the population, with a disproportionate number who get sick and die being the poorest and those furthest from whiteness.

The lackeys of capital playing the role of democratic representatives claim that there is no money to bring a modicum of relief to workers represented in the mildly reformist package known as Build Back Better. Yet, the Brown University Costs of War Project estimates that the wars waged by the United States in this century have cost $8 trillion and counting, with another $8 trillion that will be spent over the next ten years on the military budget if costs remain constant from the $778 billion just allocated.

No rational human being desires war and conflict. The horrors of war that the public are finally being exposed to because it was brought to Europe again, the most violent continent on the planet, should call into question all of the brutal and unjustified wars that the U.S. and its flunky allies waged throughout the global South over the last seventy years. Unfortunately, because of the hierarchy of the value of human beings, the images of war in Ukraine are not translating into a rejection of war, but instead a rejection of war in Europe and on white Europeans.

This means that the wars will continue and we must fight, often alone, because as Bob Marley said in his song “War”:

Until the philosophy which hold one race superior
And another
Inferior
Is finally
And permanently
Discredited
And abandoned
Everywhere is war
Me say war

The post Ukraine: War and the Challenge of Human Rights in the United States and Beyond first appeared on Dissident Voice.

War Crimes, Mental Molestation and Language Rape

The incredible market for human slaughter called war existed thousands of years ago but it was a corner grocery store compared to the multi-trillion dollar moral sewer that represents modern mass murder. Part of what enables imperial and even lesser powers to slaughter at will is a rule book drawn up long ago when there might have been a possibility to just have military personnel chopping one another to bits while leaving the general populace out of the bloodletting. That certainly ended before the 20th century but what has transpired since then and up to the present is, to cite a couple of over-used therefore recognizable labels, a genocidal holocaust that has burned, bombed, shot, stabbed, smothered and shattered bodies, reducing humans to unrecognizable bloody pulp by the hundreds of millions.

The hideous reality of war and its public relations and adverting departments that allegedly inform us about it has people accepting its horror as some sort of natural occurrence like sunset, tides, weather, rather than seeing it as caused by ruling powers battling over their wealth struggles which reduce humanity to commit mass murder under the pretense of it being the natural order of things. Further, rules have been drawn by upper class educated folks with doctoral degrees legalizing mass murder who teach us just what is the proper way to bash in skulls, burn people to death and rape and murder in a supposedly civilized way.

The alleged morality of humans accepting one form of insanely hysterical murder as long as it adheres to a guidebook on the proper form of slaughter should make us all grateful there is no judgmental, vindictive old testament deity or we’d all have been destroyed after the second world war let alone after our profitable feasts of death since then when we’ve murdered even more.

This closely guarded secret that humanity suffers in wars but only when rationalizations of bloody filth called “war crimes” are committed is currently being used and abused in a form of language, thought and moral degeneracy that may finally end when human consciousness, especially American, rejects the degenerate advertising and public relations blitz posing as reporting to blame Russians for what is called by language perverts their “war crime” against the Ukrainian government. Said government is a product of a U.S. financed insurrection that dumped an elected president who favored Russia for a western political pimp favoring market forces, which include some modern Nazis.

While he has become a celebrity among morals free political employees of ruling power by informing everyone to send him weapons so that there can be more bloodshed of the loving, violence free western kind, the western world has increased military spending to record breaking figures. Our rulers, media employee shepherds, see to it that our population is reduced to sheep as much of the world is angrier than ever at the machinations of the warfare business though you’d never know it if all you had was the western media called a free press. They create mentally brutalized souls into paying hundreds of dollars for taco-pizza-burgers and calling it free food.

While Ukrainians have been dying by the thousands for the past eight years, subject to a US/NATO financed and controlled assault, Americans and the west have known absolutely nothing of what was going on and not until Russian retaliation have we heard repeated use of words like brutal, savage, slaughter and worse, to condemn what under normal American circumstances would be called a form of legal police action to purify the world and see to it that peace, love and tranquility would prevail as we slaughtered. Maybe after everyone was dead?

A nation that leads all others in conducting wars against weaker countries and murdering hundreds of thousands, at the least, and millions, at the worst, is not only bellowing murderous nonsense but manipulating good, well meaning people into swallowing editorial garbage that has some decent folks almost ready to pawn their pets to send money to suffering Ukrainians. Even worse, some perverted by venomous outpourings of what would be called vicious hate speech if conducted by anyone else, are ready to accept the potential of nuclear war in order to stop the horrible slaughter which mostly exists between the ears and comes out of the mouths of our thought police working overtime for our ruling powers.

A recent story headlined a murderous, bloody, brutal assault by Russians, which had killed two people at the time the story was filed. Sadly but horrendously over-stated in a nation which kills 4-5 Americans every hour in our private transport system of undeclared road wars to get us to work, shop, school, and conduct other freedom loving democratic economic action. This while the sanctions against Russia are causing serious economic pain the world over, including to Americans, while military spending and the mass murder business that is the backbone of our incredibly gross national product is growing faster and more dangerously and fossil fuel interests profit more than ever as environmental destruction proceeds at a more menacing pace.

This assault on reason, combined with the rape of language and the reduction of public consciousness to the level of a nation of insects, is really only an update of what has been going on for more than 100 years concerning Russia. The assault on that nation began in 1917 when the Russian revolution threatened capitalism, its global center then as now in the United States. America immediately invaded along with a group of its future lapdogs which eventually became NATO after the Second World War. The idea of a return to humanity’s roots by building a society based on communal cooperation rather than competitive actions which created wonderful benefits for some but only by reducing others to dreadful lives was too much for fanatics of the fundamentalist church of capital.

Our primitive communistic survival in the days before we destroyed hunter-gatherer people meant that when the hunt was successful, everyone ate meat and when it wasn’t, everyone ate what was gathered. This was thousands of years before vegan diets and anti-meat worship among good people who comfortably house 136 million pets in a nation where more than 500,000 humans are without shelter. The pet business was good for more than 104 billion in 2020, a mass of economic clout but still chump change compared to the 778 billion for war, which involves 750 American bases in 80 foreign countries for something calling itself “defense”. This protected folks like George Floyd from the brutal, savage, bloodthirsty fiend Putin, but was totally helpless to defend him from a few Americans with badges.

A communist ideal which held that a thousand people and a thousand loaves of bread should mean a loaf of bread for everyone sickened rich capitalists who insisted that some should get ten loaves each and the rest be damned, which is the gross foundation dressed in economic jargon that would make a house of prostitution a citadel of love. Capital said that just as sex workers made a decent living by using their private parts to make private profits for their pimps, workers of all kinds could live comfortably if they just did their jobs and didn’t ask any questions. Their media saw to it that unquestioners became everyday people.

The social seeds planted by people like Marx and Engels in the 19th century came to fruition early in the 20th in Russia, and the vicious assault on that nation began, then as now, from its headquarters in America. After 70 years of continuous physical and mental assault finally helped cause a breakdown of the Soviet Union and a return to capitalism, that was still not enough and the U.S. and its imperial lackeys kept up the war and its present experience which threatens the worst outcome for humanity. This will hopefully not only bring China and Russia closer but the people of the USA and global humanity together to transcend the danger by helping to end the degeneracy of warfare and create peace via the end of an imperial crusade to further enrich billionaires and their upper class servants while increasing mass poverty and the environmental threat to us all.

With daily by the minute assaults on consciousness reducing other wise good people to hateful idiocy demanding death for the savage Putin and evil Russians, there is glee among the perverted political economic leadership of the war business. They number a tiny group with power supposedly democratic while they brainwash people into believing autocracy – a term most hardly understand – is in charge everywhere but where it exists; in what we have been taught to believe is the free world. Benign (?) America billionaires become malevolently evil (ominous background music) Russian oligarchs, according to our mind shapers who neglect to point out they keep their wealth in the same banks – mostly American or at least using American dollars – to perform as charming space travelers or deranged killers, depending on national origin.

This perverse market freedom continues to mean imperial abuse by one nation, ours, while taxpayers absorb a debt of 30 trillion dollars paying for the empire which is bringing us all closer to a point at which we will have little time left as a human race. We need to begin acting like one very soon. That means far more than waving a Ukrainian flag and sending paychecks to the pimps of war, but no longer accepting their crimes against nature and beginning to act like what we are: a human race badly in need of global democracy to stop all wars, not just those we are told are the wrong way to butcher humans, and begin life. That calls for the end of the post World War II domination of the American empire and this present horror is hopefully a sign that it will be so. We need to turn off the anti-social media that insure further private profit and ultimate public loss and turn on humanity’s original instinct for cooperation. And hurry.

The post War Crimes, Mental Molestation and Language Rape first appeared on Dissident Voice.