September 30, 2015
“We’ve ended two wars.” — Barack Obama, July 21, 2015, at a DSCC fundraiser held at a “private residence”…
September 30, 2015
“We’ve ended two wars.” — Barack Obama, July 21, 2015, at a DSCC fundraiser held at a “private residence”…
By Peter Symonds
23 May 2015
Just days after a CNN news crew joined a P8-A Poseidon surveillance aircraft over a Chinese-administered islet in the South China Sea, it is clear the flight was a calculated provocation aimed at ramping up pressure on China. American officials immediately exploited the reportage to underline Washington’s determination to challenge Chinese territorial claims in these key strategic waters, regardless of the consequences…
Article’s original title: “US prepares new military provocations in South China Sea”
Article link: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/05/23/scse-m23.html
“Beijing strongly protests against US spy plane encounter” [China Daily] – http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/world/2015-05/22/content_20794899.htm
“US prepares to challenge China in the South China Sea” [World Socialist Website] – http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/05/21/scse-m21.html
“Is the US planning a “Gulf of Tonkin” incident in the South China Sea?” [World Socialist Website] – http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/05/18/pers-m18.html
By Thomas Gaist
3 April 2015
In yet another escalation of the drive by the US ruling class to establish unconstrained control over the world’s information networks, US President Barack Obama issued an executive order Wednesday declaring a “national emergency” over cyber attacks on US targets. The order authorizes economic sanctions and the seizure of financial assets and other forms of property from any entity considered a “security risk…”
Excerpted; full article link: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/04/03/cybe-a03.html
by Stephen Harner
Using the State of the Union address to deliver a “cheap shot”…is what President Barack Obama did on Jan 20, when he declared “…as we speak, China wants to write the rules for the world’s fastest growing region”.
And what he said next was just as provocative: “That would put our workers and businesses at a disadvantage. Why should we let that happen? We should write the rules…” Obama was clearly referring here to the US-crafted Trans-Pacific Partnership, seeking a way to spur the Congress to grant him the “fast track” authority needed to bring talks to conclusion.
That he would allege a competitive threat or rivalry with China, which is not participating in the TPP talks and was never invited to do so, to trigger congressional action evidences once again how the Obama administration has cynically made the myth of a “China threat” a central feature of its “pivot to Asia” political and economic strategy.
When first introduced, this was Pentagon-driven military and security-oriented. Its goal was to maintain US military and political hegemony in the region by reorienting toward China and augmenting through new weapons, protocols, and battle plans, Cold War alliances with Japan, [s]outh Korea, the Philippines, and Australia.
Since then the “pivot” has been embellished and informed by a distinctly neoliberal “universal values” agenda that conflates US political and economic ideology with commercial interests and by preventing any substantive change to the “rules” established in the post-World War II “American century”.
For Obama the only rules that can or should be followed – particularly, in Asia – are those recognized by the United States: “In the Asia-Pacific, we are modernizing alliances while making sure that other nations play by the rules – in how they trade, how they resolve maritime disputes, how they participate in meeting common international challenges….”
Many US readers will find nothing remarkable or untoward in such a statement. They fail to understand how people in Asia read and respond to the same words…
Excerpted / edited by Zuo Shou
Full article link: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/opinion/2015-01/29/content_19434305.htm
by Sara Flounders
January 13, 2015
How do we put in perspective the international media focus on the massacre of 12 journalists in Paris on Jan. 7 at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, notorious for its racist anti-Muslim caricatures and lack of response to the routine, daily, racist police murders of Black youth in the U.S.? Why were any protests banned in France of 15 journalists who were killed among the 2,000 deaths in the Israeli assault of Gaza this past summer? Don’t those lives matter?
The Charlie Hebdo assassinations strengthen the hand of the state, which is using them in an ideological offensive, even if the state had a role in arming and training the killers.
Why are other murders not mourned, not respected, not even reported — even the murders of other journalists? A crucial role of the corporate media is to try to shape the perception of which lives matter.
Consider the mass outpourings following several different, very public killings in the U.S. Hundreds of thousands of youths have been in the streets again and again in the U.S. confronting the refusal of the state to prosecute killer cops, even when their murderous crimes have been seen on video by millions.
Hundreds of thousands of people were in the streets of Paris on Jan. 11. French, other European, U.S. and Israeli politicians led the march honoring the slain journalists.
Twice, on Dec. 27 and Jan. 4, thousands of police in uniform from all over the U.S. converged on New York City for separate funerals of two police officers shot in their patrol car in Dec. 20. Jet Blue offered free flights to all police traveling nationally to the funeral. The U.S. vice president, New York state’s governor and the city’s mayor attended the funerals. Roads in the areas were closed; giant outdoor TV screens were erected.
Not a free speech issue
The French government’s protection of the racist journal Charlie Hebdo had nothing to do with protecting freedom of speech. This is a deception that must be confronted. In 2012 the same government that protected this vile publication banned any demonstrations or protests or even public prayers opposing the racist publication.
French law allows for the prosecution of “public insults” based on religion, race, ethnicity or national origin. But the racist, sexist, bigoted, grossly insulting cartoons in Charlie Hebdo magazine were never once a source of any successful legal action.
However, France did ban anyone from even protesting the cartoons that insulted Muslims or the prophet Muhammed.
In 2012, as protests swept the Muslim world in response to an anti-Muslim film made in the U.S., French Interior Minister Manuel Valls said prefects had orders to prohibit any protest and to crack down if the ban was challenged. “There will be strictly no exceptions. Demonstrations will be banned and broken up.” (Daily Mail, Sept. 21, 2012) Even prayer meetings and street prayers were banned. (CNN, Sept. 19, 2012)
In the same week Charlie Hebdo put out an extra run of cartoons featuring a grossly obscene caricature of a naked prophet Mohammed. The magazine was given extra police protection.
Freedom of speech and of the press is hardly sacred in France. It was punishable by a year in prison to even post on the Internet a notice of a demonstration opposing the Israeli onslaught on Palestine during the Israeli 2014 summer offensive on Gaza. France was the only country in the world to bar all demonstrations and protests in any form supporting Palestine during that time. The penalty was one year in jail and 15,000 euro fine.
It is worth noting the double standard: There is no similar crackdown against the current right-wing, fascist demonstrations against immigrants.
Role of Nazi caricature
Charlie Hebdo serves a very important purpose for French imperialism, and that is why its virulent racism has been protected at the very time that protests against it are prohibited.
Charlie Hebdo may have run cartoons to ridicule the powerful 40 years ago when it claimed to be left wing, irreverent and nonconformist. But there is a big difference between satire ridiculing the powerful — a French tradition going back to Voltaire — and the current imagery promoting fear and loathing of the oppressed and powerless. The latter is right wing and fascist in character.
In this period when Muslims are facing increasing, extreme right-wing attacks, and fascist mobilizations are growing in Europe, Charlie Hebdo functions as did the Nazi publication Der Sturmer with its vehemently anti-Semitic caricatures. Jewish people in Der Sturmer, as Muslims in Charlie Hebdo, were depicted with exaggerated facial features and misshapen bodies. Both publications use obscene, sexually explicit caricatures.
The Nazi newspaper’s caricatures were part of a policy to make Jews an object of hatred, fear, ridicule and disdain. At the end of World War II, Julius Streicher, the editor of Der Sturmer — though he didn’t run death camps but used the press to incite hatred — was put on trial, convicted of crimes against humanity and executed.
Charlie Hebdo is protected because it hardens the population against Muslim people in order to divide the population. The French government has announced a grant to Charlie Hebdo of 1 million euros, and Google donated 250,000 euros.
Charlie Hebdo is not freedom of expression and freedom of press. It is an instrument of war mobilization. It ran cartoons demonizing Serbs during the NATO campaign against Yugoslavia, and it supported NATO’s attack on Libya.
No free press
Although “free speech” and “free press” are being lauded and glorified in the murder of the French journalists, no such thing exists in any capitalist state. The press in France or in the U.S. is not free, open or accessible. The media are owned by and serve the interests of the ruling class. What can be said and who can say it is tightly controlled. The corporate media in capitalist society are owned to serve class rule. What is covered depends entirely on who can pay for publication or airtime. A handful of multibillion-dollar media conglomerates control almost all information, culture and entertainment in the Western capitalist countries — though in the past decade social media and the Internet have opened a few cracks in this overwhelming corporate control.
The media industry has an enormous impact in shaping what lives have value and what deaths go unreported, unmarked or consciously covered up.
The hundreds of thousands of deaths in wars initiated by U.S. imperialism, and with full support of French and British imperialism, are unmarked, unmourned and callously labeled “collateral damage.” The media ignore or barely mention the enormous toll in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Afghanistan. No mass sympathy is created when a U.S. drone wipes out a wedding party in Pakistan or a whole village with a hellfire missile.
The assassinations of journalists in these wars are hardly noted. There were no state funerals for the 166 journalists killed in Iraq under U.S. occupation. Chelsea Manning is in prison for releasing videos of U.S. helicopters gunning down two Reuter’s camera operators in Iraq and then circling to kill the family that stopped their van to try to help them.
According to The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms, 15 journalists were killed in the 2014 Israeli bombing of Gaza. They “were killed in civilian sites which are supposed to be safe for civilians.” Eight media centers were targeted and bombed.
U.S. bombers targeted and destroyed the RTS, Radio TV Serbia, in the 1999 U.S./NATO war on Yugoslavia, killing 17 journalists.
The most dangerous country in the world for journalists is Honduras. Since the U.S.-backed coup, 46 media and information workers have been assassinated.
The International Federation of Journalists sharply criticized NATO 2011 air strikes against Libyan television, which killed three people and injured 15. The IFJ stated that the strikes violated international law and U.N. resolutions.
If a free press existed, then Chelsea Manning would not be in prison or Edward Snowden and Julian Assange on the run, living in exile.
What media are even allowed coverage in imperialist countries demonstrates how little freedom of the press is respected. For example, PRESS TV, an Iranian news channel broadcasting in English, is banned from broadcasting via satellite throughout Europe, Canada and the U.S. Al-Manar, a Lebanese satellite station affiliated with Hezbollah, has also been banned by France, Germany and the U.S. Both Press TV and Al Manar have protested, to no avail, that this is a grave breach of freedom of speech. While both news channels are available via the Internet in limited form, Apple and Google have removed Al-Manar mobile apps.
National oppression and racism in France cannot be ignored. There are 5.5 million residents of African origin, many of them born in France and most of them citizens. A large number are from Muslim background, although not all are practicing. They are isolated by poverty in suburbs that have high unemployment, inferior schools and substandard housing.
Just as prisons in the U.S. overwhelmingly imprison Black and Brown youth, so too do French prisons. About 60 to 70 percent of all inmates in the country’s prison system are Muslim, according to Muslim leaders, sociologists and researchers, though Muslims make up only about 12 percent of the country’s population. (Washington Post Foreign Service, April 29, 2008)
Imperialism needs hatred of targeted peoples. Western politicians have cynically used Islamophobia to advance right-wing political agendas and curtail freedoms.
Regardless of whether a police conspiracy is ever exposed, we do know that the French ruling class and the corporate media are always primed to take full advantage of such acts to reinforce the repressive state apparatus and sow division among the working class.
There should not be an iota of confidence in the news stories of this massacre at Charlie Hebdo. We know only what we are being told in the corporate media by French military police and state intelligence agencies. We do know that three men, who are now dead, were tools of imperialism in their wars of conquest in Syria and Libya. More than 1,000 French citizens of Arab and North African descent have been recruited, trained, armed and used as weapons conduits, saboteurs and terrorists in the efforts of U.S. France, Britain, Turkey and Saudi Arabia to overthrow the government of Syria.
This leads to the fundamental question of whose policies are responsible for the massacre and who gains from the massacre?
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, U.S. imperialism, aided by the old colonial powers of Europe, has been engaged in a whole series of wars to reconquer countries that had achieved a high level of development based on sovereignty and control of their resources.
In their frantic efforts to recolonize Iraq, Syria and Libya, they have cynically whipped up sectarian divisions, organized deadly militias and promoted fanaticism and anarchy. That has aroused deep-seated rage against the U.S., France and Britain.
It is also highly unpopular that French imperialism is widely involved in Africa, primarily in the majority-Muslim countries of Mali, Central African Republic, Chad, Ivory Coast and Djibouti, and in Abu Dhabi on the Arabian peninsula.
The French ruling class wants to divert mass attention from their expanding wars and increasingly militarized society. The mobilizations claiming to defend a free press by defending racism must be opposed and countered.
Copyright © 2015 Workers.org
By William Blum – Published August 11th, 2014
= Cold War Two =
During Cold War One those of us in the American radical left were often placed in the position where we had to defend the Soviet Union because the US government was using that country as a battering ram against us. Now we sometimes have to defend Russia because it may be the last best hope of stopping TETATW (The Empire That Ate The World). Yes, during Cold War One we knew enough about Stalin, the show trials, and the gulags. But we also knew about US foreign policy.
E-mail sent to the Washington Post July 23, 2014 about the destruction of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17:
Your July 22 editorial was headed: “Russia’s barbarism. The West needs a strategy to contain the world’s newest rogue state.”
Pretty strong language. Vicious, even. Not one word of hard evidence in the editorial to back it up. Then, the next day, the Associated Press reported:
Senior U.S. intelligence officials said Tuesday that Russia was responsible for ‘creating the conditions’ that led to the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, but they offered no evidence of direct Russian government involvement. … the U.S. had no direct evidence that the missile used to shoot down the passenger jet came from Russia.
Where were these words in the Post? You people are behaving like a rogue newspaper.
– William Blum
I don’t have to tell you whether the Post printed my letter. I’ve been reading the paper for 25 years – six years during Vietnam (1964-1970) and the last 19 years (1995-2014) – usually spending about three hours each day reading it very carefully. And I can say that when it comes to US foreign policy the newspaper is worse now than I can remember it ever was during those 25 years. It’s reached the point where, as one example, I don’t take at face value a word the Post has to say about Ukraine. Same with the State Department, which makes one accusation after another about Russian military actions in Eastern Ukraine without presenting any kind of satellite imagery or other visual or documentary evidence; or they present something that’s wholly inconclusive and/or unsourced or citing “social media”; what we’re left with is often no more than just an accusation. 1 Do they have something to hide?
The State Department’s Public Affairs spokespersons making these presentations exhibit little regard or respect for the reporters asking challenging questions. It takes my thoughts back to the Vietnam era and Arthur Sylvester, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, the man most responsible for “giving, controlling and managing the war news from Vietnam”. One day in July 1965, Sylvester told American journalists that they had a patriotic duty to disseminate only information that made the United States look good. When one of the reporters exclaimed: “Surely, Arthur, you don’t expect the American press to be handmaidens of government,” Sylvester replied: “That’s exactly what I expect,” adding: “Look, if you think any American official is going to tell you the truth, then you’re stupid. Did you hear that? – stupid.” 2
Such frankness might be welcomed today as a breath of fresh air compared to the painful-to-observe double-talk of a State Department spokesperson.
My personal breath of fresh air in recent years has been the television station RT (formerly Russia Today). On a daily basis many progressives from around the world (myself included occasionally) are interviewed and out of their mouths come facts and analyses that are rarely heard on CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, NPR, PBS, Fox News, BBC, etc. The words of these progressives heard on RT are typically labeled by the mainstream media as “Russian propaganda”, whereas I, after a long lifetime of American propaganda, can only think: “Of course. What else are they going to call it?”
As for Russia being responsible for “creating the conditions” that led to the shooting down of Flight 17, we should keep in mind that the current series of events in Ukraine was sparked in February when a US-supported coup overthrew the democratically-elected government and replaced it with one that was more receptive to the market-fundamentalism dictates of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and the European Union. Were it not for the coup there would have been no eastern rebellion to put down and no dangerous war zone for Flight 17 to be flying over in the first place.
The new regime has had another charming feature: a number of outspoken neo-Nazis in high and low positions, a circumstance embarrassing enough for the US government and mainstream media to turn it into a virtual non-event. US Senator John McCain met and posed for photos with the leader of the neo-Nazi Svoboda Party, Oleh Tyahnybok (photos easily found on the Internet). Ukraine – whose ties to Naziism go back to World War Two when their homegrown fascists supported Germany and opposed the Soviet Union – is on track to becoming the newest part of the US-NATO military encirclement of Russia and possibly the home of the region’s newest missile base, target Moscow.
It is indeed possible that Flight 17 was shot down by the pro-Russian rebels in Eastern Ukraine in the mistaken belief that it was the Ukrainian air force returning to carry out another attack. But other explanations are suggested in a series of questions posed by Russia to the the Secretary-General of the UN General Assembly, accompanied by radar information, satellite images, and other technical displays:
“Why was a military aircraft flying in a civil aviation airway at almost the same time and the same altitude as a civilian passenger aircraft? We would like to have this question answered.”
“Earlier, Ukrainian officials stated that on the day of the accident no Ukrainian military aircraft were flying in that area. As you can see, that is not true.”
“We also have a question for our American colleagues. According to a statement by American officials, the United States has satellite images which show that the missile aimed at the Malaysian aircraft was launched by the militants. But no one has seen these images.” 3
There is also this intriguing speculation, which ties in to the first Russian question above. A published analysis by a retired Lufthansa pilot points out that Flight 17 looked similar in its tricolor design to that of Russian President Putin’s plane, whose plane with him on board was at the same time “near” Flight 17. In aviation circles “near” would be considered to be anywhere between 150 to 200 miles. 4 Could Putin’s plane have been the real target?
There is as well other serious and plausible questioning of the official story of Russia and/or Ukrainian anti-Kiev militias being responsible for the shootdown. Is Flight 17 going to become the next JFK Assassination, PanAm 103, or 9-11 conspiracy theory that lingers forever? Will the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and the Syrian chemical weapons be joined by the Russian anti-aircraft missile? Stay tuned…
Excerpted; full article link (with footnotes): http://williamblum.org/aer/read/131
A reluctant warrior intervenes against a threat to the homeland–or so we’re told
Sept 12, 2014
With Barack Obama’s September 10 announcement of a military plan to launch strikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), many pundits might be breathing a sigh of relief. The White House is finally taking the kind of military action they have been recommending for months.
But there are some serious questions that should be asked–about the threat posed by the Islamic State and about some of the assumptions guiding the debate.
–‘Striking the Homeland’
The idea that ISIS poses an immediate threat to the United States–as opposed to its non-Sunni Muslim neighbors–has been a consistent theme in the media, encouraging the public to support war…
-Obama, the Reluctant Warrior
One clear message from corporate media has been that Barack Obama is unusually reticent about using military force…[b]ut Obama’s actual record conflicts with this picture. In Iraq, Obama tried to keep more troops in Iraq than the Bush administration had agreed to in the withdrawal plan it had negotiated. Obama’s substantial achievement in Afghanistan was a massive escalation of that war…
–Congress Gets in the Way
The decision to consult Congress on the matter of starting a war–as required by the Constitution–is often treated as a weakness…
–Finally Intervening in Syria
Throughout the past year, hawkish critics of the White House and many pundits have insisted that the Obama administration should have intervened long ago…
…What seems abundantly clear is that the media’s coverage of the threat posed by the Islamic State–and the group’s savvy dissemination of appalling propaganda–have produced some shift in public opinion. As journalist Glenn Greenwald (Intercept, 9/8/14) remarked:
It’s as though ISIS and the US media and political class worked in perfect unison to achieve the same goal here when it comes to American public opinion: fully terrorize them.
[Edited by Zuo Shou]