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Posted by: AGelbert
« on: January 14, 2019, 12:31:46 pm »

Bolton, a Seriously Deranged Madman, Sought Options to Strike Iran

by Mish

John Bolton 🦍, Trump’s national security adviser, had asked for military options to strike Iran, rattling the Pentagon.

The Wall Street Journal reports White House Sought Options to Strike Iran.

President Trump’s National Security Council asked the Pentagon to provide the White House with military options to strike Iran last year, generating concern at the Pentagon and State Department, current and former U.S. officials said.

The request, which hasn’t been previously reported, came after militants fired three mortars into Baghdad’s sprawling diplomatic quarter, home to the U.S. Embassy, on a warm night in early September. The shells—launched by a group aligned with Iran—landed in an open lot and harmed no one.

But they triggered unusual alarm in Washington, where Mr. Trump’s national security team led by John Bolton 😈 conducted a series of meetings to discuss a forceful American response, including what many saw as the unusual request for options to strike Iran.

“It definitely rattled people,” a former senior U.S. administration official said of the request. “People were shocked. It was mind-boggling how cavalier they were about hitting Iran.”

The Pentagon complied with the National Security Council’s request to develop options for striking Iran, the officials said. But it isn’t clear if the proposals were provided to the White House, whether Mr. Trump knew of the request or whether serious plans for a U.S. strike against Iran took shape at that time.

Mr. Bolton’s request reflects the administration’s more confrontational approach toward Tehran, one that he has pushed since taking up the post last April.

As a think-tank scholar and Fox News commentator, Mr. Bolton repeatedly urged the U.S. to attack Iran, including in a 2015 New York Times op-ed titled, “To stop Iran’s bomb, bomb Iran.”

Bolton Seriously Deranged

Bolton has learned nothing from Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, or Syria. As a seriously deranged madman in precisely the wrong place, he a dangerous threat to US and global security.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: January 13, 2019, 03:41:25 pm »

Cheney’s Lies Left Middle East in Flames 🔥 - Film Review of “Vice” with Wilkerson and Jay (2/2)

TheRealNews ✨

Published on Jan 12, 2019

Larry Wilkerson tells the story of Powell’s fateful speech to the UN that prepared the way for the invasion; he’s asked why he and Powell didn’t quit - Col. Lawrence Wilkerson joins TRNN’s Paul Jay


Visit https://therealnews.com for more stories and help support our work by donating at https://therealnews.com/donate.
Posted by: AGelbert
« on: January 09, 2019, 08:58:00 pm »

JAN 09, 2019

By Nick Turse / TomDispatch

The Mystery Military Bases the Pentagon 🦍 Doesn't Want You to Know About


The U.S. military is finally withdrawing (or not) from its base at al-Tanf. You know, the place that the Syrian government long claimed was a training ground for Islamic State (ISIS) fighters; the land corridor just inside Syria, near both the Iraqi and Jordanian borders, that Russia has called a terrorist hotbed (while floating the idea of jointly administering it with the United States); the location of a camp where hundreds of U.S. Marines joined Special Operations forces last year; an outpost that U.S. officials claimed was the key not only to defeating ISIS, but also, according to General Joseph Votel, the commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, to countering “the malign activities that Iran and their various proxies and surrogates would like to pursue.” You know, that al-Tanf.

Within hours of President Trump’s announcement of a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria, equipment at that base was already being inventoried for removal. And just like that, arguably the most important American garrison in Syria was (maybe) being struck from the Pentagon’s books — except, as it happens, al-Tanf was never actually on the Pentagon’s books. Opened in 2015 and, until recently, home to hundreds of U.S. troops, it was one of the many military bases that exist somewhere between light and shadow, an acknowledged foreign outpost that somehow never actually made it onto the Pentagon’s official inventory of bases.

Officially, the Department of Defense (DoD) maintains 4,775 “sites,” spread across all 50 states, eight U.S. territories, and 45 foreign countries. A total of 514 of these outposts are located overseas, according to the Pentagon’s worldwide property portfolio. Just to start down a long list, these include bases on the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia, in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa, as well as in Peru and Portugal, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom. But the most recent version of that portfolio, issued in early 2018 and known as the Base Structure Report (BSR), doesn’t include any mention of al-Tanf. Or, for that matter, any other base in Syria. Or Iraq. Or Afghanistan. Or Niger. Or Tunisia. Or Cameroon. Or Somalia. Or any number of locales where such military outposts are known to exist and even, unlike in Syria, to be expanding.

According to David Vine, author of Base Nation: How U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World, there could be hundreds of similar off-the-books bases around the world. “The missing sites are a reflection of the lack of transparency involved in the system of what I still estimate to be around 800 U.S. bases outside the 50 states and Washington, D.C., that have been encircling the globe since World War II,” says Vine, who is also a founding member of the recently established Overseas Base Realignment and Closure Coalition, a group of military analysts from across the ideological spectrum who advocate shrinking the U.S. military’s global “footprint.”

Such off-the-books bases are off the books for a reason. The Pentagon doesn’t want to talk about them. “I spoke to the press officer who is responsible for the Base Structure Report and she has nothing to add and no one available to discuss further at this time,” Pentagon spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Michelle Baldanza told TomDispatch when asked about the Defense Department’s many mystery bases.

“Undocumented bases are immune to oversight by the public and often even Congress,” Vine explains. “Bases are a physical manifestation of U.S. foreign and military policy, so off-the-books bases mean the military and executive branch are deciding such policy without public debate, frequently spending hundreds of millions or billions of dollars and potentially getting the U.S. involved in wars and conflicts about which most of the country knows nothing.”

Where Are They?

The Overseas Base Realignment and Closure Coalition notes that the United Statespossesses up to 95% of the world’s foreign military bases, while countries like France, Russia, and the United Kingdom have perhaps 10-20 foreign outposts each. China has just one.

The Department of Defense even boasts that its “locations” include 164 countries. Put another way, it has a military presence of some sort in approximately 84% of the nations on this planet — or at least the DoD briefly claimed this. After TomDispatch inquired about the number on a new webpage designed to tell the Pentagon’s “story” to the general public, it was quickly changed. “We appreciate your diligence in getting to the bottom of this,” said Lieutenant Colonel Baldanza. “Thanks to your observations, we have updated defense.gov to say ‘more than 160.’”

The progressive changes made to the Defense Department’s “Our Story” webpage as a result of questions from TomDispatch.

What the Pentagon still doesn’t say is how it defines a “location.” The number 164 does roughly track with the Department of Defense’s current manpower statistics, which show personnel deployments of varying sizes in 166 “overseas” locales — including some nations with token numbers of U.S. military personnel and others, like Iraq and Syria, where the size of the force was obviously far larger, even if unlisted at the time of the assessment. (The Pentagon recently claimed that there were 5,200 troops in Iraq and at least 2,000 troops in Syria although that number should now markedly shrink.) The Defense Department’s “overseas” tally, however, also lists troops in U.S. territories like American Samoa, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Wake Island. Dozens of soldiers, according to the Pentagon, are also deployed to the country of “Akrotiri” (which is actually a village on the island of Santorini in Greece) and thousands more are based in “unknown” locations.

In the latest report, the number of those “unknown” troops exceeds 44,000.

Official Defense Department manpower statistics show U.S. forces deployed to the nation of “Akrotiri.”

The annual cost of deploying U.S. military personnel overseas, as well as maintaining and running those foreign bases, tops out at an estimated $150 billion annually, according to the Overseas Bases Realignment and Closure Coalition. The price tag for the outposts alone adds up to about one-third of that total. “U.S. bases abroad cost upwards of $50 billion per year to build and maintain, which is money that could be used to address pressing needs at home in education, health care, housing, and infrastructure,” Vine points out.

Perhaps you won’t be surprised to learn that the Pentagon is also somewhat fuzzy about just where its troops are stationed. The new Defense Department website, for instance, offered a count of “4,800+ defense sites” around the world. After TomDispatch inquired about this total and how it related to the official count of 4,775 sites listed in the BSR, the website was changed to read “approximately 4,800 Defense Sites.”

“Thank you for pointing out the discrepancy. As we transition to the new site, we are working on updating information,” wrote Lieutenant Colonel Baldanza. “Please refer to the Base Structure Report which has the latest numbers.”

In the most literal sense, the Base Structure Report does indeed have the latest numbers — but their accuracy is another matter. “The number of bases listed in the BSR has long born little relation to the actual number of U.S. bases outside the United States,” says Vine. “Many, many well-known and secretive bases have long been left off the list.”

One prime example is the constellation of outposts that the U.S. has built across Africa. The official BSR inventory lists only a handful of sites there — on Ascension Island as well as in Djibouti, Egypt, and Kenya. In reality, though, there are many more outposts in many more African countries.

A recent investigation by the Intercept, based on documents obtained from U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) via the Freedom of Information Act, revealed a network of 34 bases heavily clustered in the north and west of that continent as well as in the Horn of Africa. AFRICOM’s “strategic posture” consists of larger “enduring” outposts, including two forward operating sites (FOSes), 12 cooperative security locations (CSLs), and 20 more austere sites known as contingency locations (CLs).

The Pentagon’s official inventory does include the two FOSes: Ascension Island and the crown jewel of Washington’s African bases, Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, which expanded from 88 acres in the early 2000s to nearly 600 acres today. The Base Structure Report is, however, missing a CSL in that same country, Chabelley Airfield, a lower-profile outpost located about 10 kilometers away that has served as a drone hub for operations in Africa and the Middle East.

The official Pentagon tally also mentions a site that goes by the confusing moniker of “NSA Bahrain-Kenya.” AFRICOM had previously described it as a collection of warehouses built in the 1980s at the airport and seaport of Mombasa, Kenya, but it now appears on that command’s 2018 list as a CSL. Missing, however, is another Kenyan base, Camp Simba, mentioned in a 2013 internal Pentagon study of secret drone operations in Somalia and Yemen. At least two manned surveillance aircraft were based there at the time. Simba, a longtime Navy-run facility, is currently operated by the Air Force’s 475th Expeditionary Air Base Squadron, part of the 435th Air Expeditionary Wing.

Personnel from that same air wing can be found at yet another outpost that doesn’t appear in the Base Structure Report, this one on the opposite side of the continent. The BSR states that it doesn’t list specific information on “non-U.S. locations” not at least 10 acres in size or worth at least $10 million. However, the base in question — Air Base 201 in Agadez, Niger — already has a $100 million construction price tag, a sum soon to be eclipsed by the cost of operating the facility: about $30 million a year. By 2024, when the present 10-year agreement for use of the base ends, its construction and operating costs will have reached about $280 million.

Also missing from the BSR are outposts in nearby Cameroon, including a longtime base in Douala, a drone airfield in the remote town of Garoua, and a facility known as Salak. That site, according to a 2017 investigation by the Intercept, the research firm Forensic Architecture, and Amnesty International, has been used by U.S. personnel and private contractors for drone surveillance and training missions and by allied Cameroonian forces for illegal imprisonment and torture.

According to Vine, keeping America’s African bases secret is advantageous to Washington. It protects allies on that continent from possible domestic opposition to the presence of American troops, he points out, while helping to ensure that there will be no domestic debate in the U.S. over such spending and the military commitments involved. “It’s important for U.S. citizens to know where their troops are based in Africa and elsewhere around the world,” he told TomDispatch, “because that troop presence costs the U.S. billions of dollars every year and because the U.S. is involved, or potentially involved, in wars and conflicts that could spiral out of control.”

Those Missing Bases

Africa is hardly the only place where the Pentagon’s official list doesn’t match up well with reality. For close to two decades, the Base Structure Report has ignored bases of all sorts in America’s active war zones. At the height of the American occupation of Iraq, for instance, the United States had 505 bases there, ranging from small outposts to mega-sized facilities. None appeared on the Pentagon’s official rolls.

In Afghanistan, the numbers were even higher. As TomDispatch reported in 2012, the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) had about 550 bases in that country. If you had added ISAF checkpoints — small baselets used to secure roads and villages — to the count of mega-bases, forward operating bases, combat outposts, and patrol bases, the number reached an astounding 750. And counting all foreign military installations of every type — including logistical, administrative, and support facilities — hiked ISAF Joint Command’s official count to 1,500 sites. America’s significant share of them was, however, also mysteriously absent from the Defense Department’s official tally.

There are now far fewer such facilities in Afghanistan — and the numbers may drop further in the months ahead as troop levels decrease. But the existence of Camp Morehead, Forward Operating Base Fenty, Tarin Kowt Airfield, Camp Dahlke West, and Bost Airfield, as well as Camp Shorab, a small installation occupying what was once the site of much larger twin bases known as Camp Leatherneck and Camp Bastion, is indisputable. Yet none of them has ever appeared in the Base Structure Report.

Similarly, while there are no longer 500-plus U.S. bases in Iraq, in recent years, as American troops returned to that country, some garrisons have either been reconstituted or built from scratch. These include the Besmaya Range Complex, Firebase Sakheem, Firebase Um Jorais, and Al Asad Air Base, as well as Qayyarah Airfield West — a base 40 miles south of Mosul that’s better known as “Q-West.” Again, you won’t find any of them listed in the Pentagon’s official count.

These days, it’s even difficult to obtain accurate manpower numbers for the military personnel in America’s war zones, let alone the number of bases in each of them. As Vine explains, “The military keeps the figures secret to some extent to hide the base presence from its adversaries. Because it is probably not hard to spot these bases in places like Syria and Iraq, however, the secrecy is mostly to prevent domestic debate about the money, danger, and death involved, as well as to avoid diplomatic tensions and international inquiries.”

If stifling domestic debate through information control is the Pentagon’s aim, it’s been doing a fine job for years of deflecting questions about its global posture, or what the late TomDispatch regular Chalmers Johnson called America’s “empire of bases.”

In mid-October, TomDispatch asked Heather Babb, another Pentagon spokesperson, for details about the outposts in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria that were absent from the Base Structure Report, as well as about those missing African bases. Among the other questions put to Babb: Could the Pentagon offer a simple count — if not a list — of all its outposts? Did it have a true count of overseas facilities, even if it hadn’t been released to the public — a list, that is, which actually did what the Base Structure Report only purports to do? October and November passed without answers.

In December, in response to follow-up requests for information, Babb responded in a fashion firmly in line with the Pentagon’s well-worn policy of keeping American taxpayers in the dark about the bases they pay for — no matter the theoretical difficulty of denying the existence of outposts that stretch from Agadez in Niger to Mosul in Iraq. “I have nothing to add,” she explained, “to the information and criteria that is included in the report.”

President Trump’s decision to withdraw American troops from Syria means that the 2019 Base Structure Report will likely be the most accurate in years. For the first time since 2015, the Pentagon’s inventory of outposts will no longer be missing the al-Tanf garrison (or then again, maybe it will). But that still potentially leaves hundreds of off-the-books bases absent from the official rolls. Consider it one outpost down and who knows how many to go.

Nick Turse / TomDispatch

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: January 09, 2019, 06:31:47 pm »

Longtime Reporter Leaves NBC Calling Media a “Trump Circus

BY Amy Goodman & Juan González, Democracy Now!

PUBLISHED January 9, 2019

“Prisoners of Donald Trump.” That’s how longtime NBC reporter and analyst William Arkin described the mainstream media in a scathing letter last week announcing he would be leaving the network, accusing the media of warmongering while ignoring the “creeping fascism of homeland security.” He issued the blistering critique after a 30-year relationship with NBC, calling for “Trump-free” media days and a reckoning about how the network encourages a state of perpetual warfare. We speak with Arkin, whose award-winning reporting has appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post. He is the author of many books, including Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State


JUAN GONZÁLEZ: “Prisoners of Donald Trump.” That’s how longtime NBC reporter and analyst William Arkin described the mainstream media in a scathing letter last week announcing he would be leaving the network, accusing the media of warmongering while ignoring the, quote, “creeping fascism of homeland security.” Arkin issued the blistering critique after a 30-year relationship with NBC, calling for Trump-free media days and a reckoning about how the network encourages a state of perpetual warfare.

In the memo, he writes, quote, “I find it disheartening that we do not report the failures of the generals and national security leaders. I find it shocking that we essentially condone continued American bumbling in the Middle East and now Africa through our ho-hum reporting.”

He continues, quote, “Of course [Trump] is an ignorant and incompetent impostor. And yet I’m alarmed at how quick NBC is to mechanically argue the contrary, to be in favor of policies that just spell more conflict and more war.”

AMY GOODMAN: Well, for more, we’re joined by William Arkin, longtime NBCreporter and analyst. His award-winning reporting has appeared in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post. He’s the author of many books, including Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State.

Welcome to Democracy Now!

WILLIAM ARKIN: Thanks, Amy, for having me on.

AMY GOODMAN: So, you left NBC with this explosive memo, that not only indicts NBC, your network, says basically NBC, they might not like this, but doesn’t stand out among the crowd of corporate networks in dealing with this issue of perpetual war.

WILLIAM ARKIN: Everything I said in this letter, which was a goodbye letter to my colleagues at NBC, applies to all of the mainstream networks, applies to CNN and Fox, as well. So, I’m not really singling out NBC. I was just most familiar with it.

And my decision not to renew my contract was really one of thinking to myself that I wanted to stand back and think more about what we needed to do in order to change our national security policy. We’ve been at war now for 18 years. I don’t think anybody could argue that there’s a country in the Middle East that’s safer today than it was in 2001. The generals and the national security leadership that runs the country, and now also is the commentators and the analysts who populate the news media, really are not people who we can look to as saying, “Wow! They won a war. They avoided a war. They achieved some magnificent objective.” In fact, they are the custodians and the architects of perpetual warfare. And it seemed to me like there needed to be both a different voice and a solution. And I want to step back myself and think about how we can end this era of perpetual war and how we can build some real security, both in the United States and abroad.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I’m wondering, in terms of your concerns about the coverage of President Trump and of the Trump era and your concern about the fixation—and it really is an obsession, almost—of all of the networks with covering him on not just a daily, but an hourly, minute-by-minute basis.

WILLIAM ARKIN: Well, let me just say, I’m here at Democracy Now!, and I shouldn’t bite the hand that feeds me, but you started your broadcast today making fun of the president and his remarks last night about the border. It’s almost impossible to avoid.

Donald Trump runs a circus. Every day, he gets up, he unzips his pants, and we go, “Oh, my god! What is he doing?” And then the next day he repeats, and we repeat.

So, I think that, to some degree, he sucks the oxygen out of the debate. He changes the discourse. And we haven’t figured out yet in the news media, every part of the news media, how to get beyond that. So, I’m not arguing only about the mainstream. I think everyone is stuck in the Donald Trump circus.

AMY GOODMAN: I mean, I have to take issue with you saying “making fun,” because “fun” is the one word I wouldn’t use. But, yes, we did focus on what he had to say. The more the networks broadcast directly what he has to say, this is the information that gets out to the American people, and it is so critical to take on each point. In that case, for example, that immigrants commit more crimes than natural-born Americans, which isn’t true. And it’s absolutely critical, each time those comments are made, to counter them.

But let’s get to the issue of who populates the network TV shows, which is validating an issue you have criticized for so long and investigated for so long: the national security state.

WILLIAM ARKIN: Well, you know, I’ve been associated with television for 30 years. I’ve been a journalist for about the same period of time, but it’s not my background. My background was in Army intelligence, and then, thereafter, I wrote books about the military. And I was called upon to be a journalist because there was a desire on the part of the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post and NBC to have experts helping people to understand an incredibly complex issue—national security.

In those days, when I started, we used to have civilian experts on the air, people who weren’t former government officials, people who weren’t retired generals, people who might be university professors or activists who worked in nongovernmental organizations or experts who were associated with think tanks. Something happened post-9/11, something happened in this intervening years, in which those people virtually disappeared from the airwaves, and we don’t see as many anymore.

And, in fact, we increasingly see journalists who are the commentators on what’s going on. Now, that’s a tricky position, because journalists are supposed to be unbiased, but also, at the same time, they’re supposed to be explaining to the public what’s going on with inside information.

But the end result of it is that we become shallower and shallower in our coverage, particularly in an area like national security. We’ve just become so shallow that we’re not really able even to see the truth, which is that we’re at war right now in nine countries around the world where we’re bombing, and we hardly report any of it on a day-to-day basis.

So, to me, the crisis is that we condone perpetual war by virtue of our lack of reporting and investigation, and then, second, we fill the airwaves or we fill the newspapers with stories about the immediate and don’t give an adequate amount of space to deeper investigations or what I would say would be net assessment investigations of what really is going on.

I mean, whether we should or shouldn’t withdraw troops from Syria, whether we should or shouldn’t withdraw troops from Afghanistan, whether we should or we shouldn’t improve our relations with Russia, whether we should or we shouldn’t pursue denuclearization in the Korean Peninsula—all of these questions deserve a high degree of investigation and reporting, beyond the question of whether or not Donald Trump is a buffoon. And we just don’t do it. We’re just not doing it.

And so, to me, I’m not necessarily interested in prescribing the why. I’m interested in changing the culture so that we can, in fact, better inform ourselves about national security, so that the citizenry can play a more powerful role in influencing our national security policy.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted to expand on that. Back in the ’70s, the old socialist economists Baran and Sweezy used to talk about the huge percentage of the American population that owed its livelihood directly to the defense industry. Right? And one of the things in your Top Secret America exposés is that the Cold War ended, and the threats, supposedly, in terms of state threats, receded to the United States, but yet, obviously, the military maintains its huge spread across the world. And more importantly, through homeland security, the militarization internally of the country, as you point out, has gotten to the point where people don’t even know how extensive the homeland security apparatus is of this country and the number of people that have top-secret clearance.


JUAN GONZÁLEZ: So, it seems to me that the number of people working for this apparatus has actually grown, despite the fact that the threats, the existential threats, to the United States have receded.

WILLIAM ARKIN: Well, there’s no question that the national security establishment has grown and has become far more powerful than it ever was. But here’s the change. We’ve shifted from the Industrial Age to the Information Age. And consequently, we’ve also shifted from the dominance of the military-industrial complex, if you will, to a much more insidious and much more difficult-to-diagnose information complex. So, the advent of contractors, the advent of a professional military, which means that the military itself touches fewer and fewer lives in America, all of those work together to make the national security state more and more embedded within our society, but yet, at the same time, more difficult to get to, more difficult to understand.

So, most people would be surprised to learn, for instance, that Amazon is one of the largest defense contractors, that they’re building the cloud and they’re building the data centers which support the intelligence community and support the military. And there are other civilian companies, that we associate with being civilians, who are also terrific beneficiaries of the military’s largesse.

So, to me, to diagnose properly where we stand today, the point of the Top Secret America investigation was to show the wild growth of all areas of national security and this new invention of homeland security, if you will, but at the same time to point out that it wasn’t something that was necessarily segregated from our society, it was more and more embedded within our society, and that that made it more and more difficult to analyze properly and to do something about.

AMY GOODMAN: So, you talked about the people who populate the networks as pundits, and you’ve been a fierce critic of the national security state, or at least understanding who it is who is explaining things to us. Reading from Politico, “Former CIA Director John Brennan … the latest superspook,” they said, “to be reborn as a TV newsie. He just cashed in at NBC News as a ‘senior national security and intelligence analyst’ and served his first expert views … on Meet the Press. The Brennan acquisition seeks to elevate NBC to spook parity with CNN, which employs former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former CIA Director Michael Hayden in a similar capacity. Other, lesser-known national security veterans thrive under TV’s grow lights. Almost too numerous to list, they include Chuck Rosenberg, former acting DEA administrator, chief of staff for FBI Director James Comey, and counselor to former FBI Director Robert Mueller; Frank Figliuzzi, former chief of FBI counterintelligence; Juan Zarate, deputy national security adviser under Bush, at NBC; and Fran Townsend, homeland security adviser under Bush.” And it goes on and on and on.

These are now the pundits. And so, when you have a situation like President Trump announcing he will immediately withdraw U.S. troops from Syria and halve the troops that are in Afghanistan, you have this massive attack on him that’s actually led by the permanent national security state under the guise of pundits on television.

WILLIAM ARKIN: Well, I think that you’ve—I mean, what you said stands for itself, Amy. But I would add to it that I think the real crisis is that when we have a panel discussion on television, in the mainstream press, and even in the mainstream newspapers, we don’t populate that panel with people who are in opposition. We have a single war party in the United States, and it’s the only one that is given voice. And so, really, the crisis is not so much that there are experienced government officials speaking out; the problem is that there aren’t critics who are sitting next to them saying that “You’re full of it.” And so, to me, we need to balance that.

And I think that probably because of the phenomenon of Donald Trump—let’s just be honest about it—really what we see on TV now is former Obama administration officials masquerading as analysts who are nonpartisan, when in fact they are partisan. And indeed we see fewer retired generals and fewer retired admirals, who sometimes are useful in terms of explaining the profession of arms and the conduct of military operations, in favor of these political figures who have a partisan view.

I just don’t think the American public gets well served by the fact that there isn’t a broad range of opinions on those panels. I want to see peaceniks. I want to see academics. I want to see historians. I want them to as much have a voice, in terms of understanding what’s going on, as I do see a former Obama administration official.

AMY GOODMAN: We have break, but we’re going to come back to this conversation and talk, among other issues, about one of your statements—”don’t even get me started with the FBI: What? We now lionize this historically destructive institution?’’—and much more. We’re speaking to William Arkin, a longtime NBC reporter and analyst who just left the network, penning a letter critiquing the network for supporting perpetual warfare, his criticism, talking about the creeping fascism of homeland security. Stay with us.

Yes, I’ll Chip In

Video of interview at link below:


Posted by: AGelbert
« on: December 23, 2018, 01:51:35 pm »

Gideon Levy has No Sympathy for Colonists 🦍 as a Group

December 21, 2018

Gideon Levy: all colonists and all Israelis share responsibility for the occupation and apartheid system in Palestine. There is sympathy for individuals, but there is no symmetry: the power is on the Israeli side

Story Transcript

SHIR HEVER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Shir Hever in Heidelberg, Germany.

Gideon Levy is one of Israel’s most renowned journalists, and also one of the most controversial. In 2014, after publishing a Haaretz newspaper criticizing Israeli pilots for bombarding civilian neighborhoods in the Gaza Strip, he was assigned bodyguards because of numerous death threats which he received. And this week, Gideon Levy has once again caused an uproar in Israel when he published in Haaretz a piece with the title I Feel No Sympathy For the Settlers. Levy argued that Israeli colonists in the West Bank are instrumentalizing Palestinian resistance, and used every murdered colonist as an excuse to expand land appropriation from Palestinians. Indeed, on Sunday, the Israeli Minister of Education Naftali Bennett did just that.

NAFTALI BENNETT: We are raising today a bill to regulate the colonization, which we call the law of fabric of life, because the residents of Judea and Samaria are not second-rate citizens. As in the dawn of Zionism, whenever there is terror, we have to build. We will achieve peace with the neighbors. How? When they will despair of the hope to get out of this country. And how? When we build more settlements, more schools, more kindergartens.

SHIR HEVER: [Serious] responses to Levy’s article were [not late] to follow, including calls on the Haaretz newspaper to fire him. We are joined by Gideon Levy now, so we can discuss this article. Gideon Levy is a prominent Israeli journalist, and author of the weekly column The Twilight Zone in the Israeli paper Haaretz. He’s also an editorial board member of Haaretz. Thank you very much, Gideon, for joining us.

GIDEON LEVY: Thank you, Shir. It’s my pleasure.

SHIR HEVER: Honestly, when I read your article, I also felt uneasy. There are extreme right and violent organizations which promote the colonization of Palestine, but not everyone born in an Israeli illegal colony should have their lives forfeit because of the crime of the state of Israel. Did you not write this article in order to cause a provocation?

GIDEON LEVY: No, not at all. And I wouldn’t write it if the settlers themselves and their leadership wouldn’t behave in such a cynical way. You know, hours after the attack on this pregnant woman, hours after it, immediately they took some caravans, and with their leadership–not just, you know, young people from the margins, but with their leadership, the official leadership, and brought it to what’s called an illegal outpost, which was already evacuated, declaring that this is their answer for the terroristic attack. If they are using pain and tragedy, human tragedy, and bloodshed in such a cynical way for their real estate ambitions and interests, I have the right to tell them if this is your behavior, I have no sympathy to you.

SHIR HEVER: I think my problem is when you say ‘they,’ as if all of the colonists in the West Bank are one unit. The attack on this pregnant woman that you were talking about, she has actually survived, but her baby did not. And the baby never had a political opinion, and never made a choice. And certainly the baby is not at fault of building these caravans. In a way, aren’t you actually helping the colonies with this kind of argument, as if all of the colonists are just one unit, and murdering a colonist is a political act which can justify in their own eyes the land appropriation and dispossessing of Palestinians?

GIDEON LEVY: Well, first of all, if you take it to this resolution, then, needless to say, no baby in the world deserves to be killed. I mean, that’s not a question at all. If they have political views, even if they’re responsible or not, nobody should be a victim of murders, of killings. And for sure no innocent babies, helpless babies. This goes without saying.

But yes, we can generalize the settlers–like, by the way, I think we can generalize the Israelis. Because as we, all of us, I think, all of us Israelis carry responsibility for the occupation project, whole apartheid system, because we all are part of this machinery even if we individually oppose it. But finally, we are part of it. I always say, I’m a settler. I’m part of this project, even though I dedicated my life to fight against it. But I’m still part of it. I cannot break away from the responsibility.

Because the settlers, it’s much more than this. It’s not only about political views. It’s not only about talking. It’s about their existence there. Once you go and live in an occupied territory, which contradicts international law, once you do it, once you continue to do it, you define yourself politically, morally, and legally. And you take a very terrible road by sitting there. So yes, all of them violate international law. All of them. And all of them should be [viewed] to criticism.

SHIR HEVER: Well, let’s take this idea of generalization perhaps even further. The Israeli government made several statements in the last few days that they believe that confiscating more land every time there is a Palestinian attack will deter Palestinians from resisting the occupation. But what would happen if this logic would be universally accepted as a kind of medieval justice system? But then, also, whenever a Palestinian is killed by Israeli forces, Palestinians would receive some of their land back. What would you say to this kind of double sympathy logic, as opposed to the no sympathy in your article?

GIDEON LEVY: You portray a theoretical picture of equality, and there is no equality between Israel and Palestine, as you know. So this cannot happen, not only because it’s far fetched on both sides, because nothing is equal and there is no symmetry. Wherever you touch it. There Is no symmetry about anything, by the way.

Now, getting back to what you say, the fact that Israel and the settlers are claiming that this is the Zionistic response to terrorism, mainly the [revanche] for terrorism will be new settlements. This has some political aspects, because the first time the settlers admit that their project is a punishment, and not–has nothing to do with the security of Israel. Has nothing to do with your political or religious belief.

Finally, it’s a way to punish the Palestinians and take revanche over them. OK, that’s quite a progressive step, because once we realize that it’s all about paining more the Palestinians, taking revanche more, antagonizing more, so it’s much easier to oppose this project.

SHIR HEVER: Well, that’s a very good point to end our conversation. Thank you very much, Gideon, for joining us.

GIDEON LEVY: Thank you, Shir.

SHIR HEVER: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: December 13, 2018, 04:16:22 pm »

Thu, 12/13/2018 - 15:36

In Stinging Rebuke To Trump 🦀, Senate Votes To End Support For Saudi War


“I hope … we send a loud and powerful message by passing this resolution. That we’re going to bring peace to that country and that the United States Congress is going to reassert its constitutional authority to make the body that makes war not the president,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) , one of the sponsors of the resolution, told reporters.

However, beyond sending a symbolic message, the vote is largely moot as on Wednesday, as part of the Farm Bill passage , the House 🐉🦕🦖 voted to block members from forcing a war powers vote this year. 🤬 Still, the Senate vote Thursday underscored the depth of frustration with Saudi Arabia on Capitol Hill, as well as the escalating gap between the White House and Congress on the relationship between the U.S. and the kingdom. 👍

Read more:


Posted by: AGelbert
« on: December 12, 2018, 05:58:15 pm »

December 12, 2018

Congresswoman-Elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has drafted a Green New Deal that fails to acknowledge the existence of the U.S. military as an environmentally destructive force, and the U.S. military budget (over 60% of discretionary spending) as a potential source of revenue.

CLICK HERE TO SIGN THE FOLLOWING PETITION, which World BEYOND War, RootsAction.org, and CODE PINK will deliver to Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez in January.
We propose the following edits that would allow us to join in supporting your Green New Deal.

1. Change this:

The Plan for a Green New Deal (and the draft legislation) shall recognize that innovative public and other financing structures are a crucial component in achieving and furthering the goals and guidelines relating to social, economic, racial, regional and gender-based justice and equality and cooperative and public ownership set forth in paragraphs (2)(A)(i) and (6)(B). The Plan (and the draft legislation) shall, accordingly, ensure that the majority of financing of the Plan shall be accomplished by the federal government, using a combination of the Federal Reserve, a new public bank or system of regional and specialized public banks, public venture funds and such other vehicles or structures that the select committee deems appropriate, in order to ensure that interest and other investment returns generated from public investments made in connection with the Plan will be returned to the treasury, reduce taxpayer burden and allow for more investment.

to this:

The Plan for a Green New Deal (and the draft legislation) shall recognize that much of the 60% of discretionary spending now going into the environmentally destructive project of militarism can be moved to environmental protection, and that innovative public and other financing . . . .   

2. Change this:

The Plan for a Green New Deal (and the draft legislation) shall be developed in order to achieve the following goals, in each case in no longer than 10 years from the start of execution of the Plan:

-- 100% of national power generation from renewable sources;
-- building a national, energy-efficient, “smart” grid;
-- upgrading every residential and industrial building for state-of-the-art energy efficiency, comfort and safety;
-- decarbonizing the manufacturing, agricultural and other industries;
-- decarbonizing, repairing and improving transportation and other infrastructure;
-- funding massive investment in the drawdown and capture of greenhouse gases;
-- making “green” technology, industry, expertise, products and services a major export of the United States, with the aim of becoming the undisputed international leader in helping other countries transition to completely carbon neutral economies and bringing about a global Green New Deal.

by adding this:

-- a major transition away from the environmental destruction of war and war-preparations, including the closure of most of the U.S. military bases abroad and within the United States and the thorough cleanup of the land and water in those locations.


> Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: The Green New Deal
> World BEYOND War: War Destroys the Environment
> World BEYOND War: We Need $2 Trillion a Year for Other Things

World BEYOND War is a global network of volunteers, activists, and allied organizations advocating for the abolition of the very institution of war. Our success is driven by a people-powered movement –
support our work for a culture of peace.
Posted by: AGelbert
« on: December 11, 2018, 02:23:30 pm »

US & Canada Violate International Law with the Arrest of Chinese Huawei Exec

December 10, 2018

Col. Larry Wilkerson explains that it’s not the Chinese Huawei executive that violated law when circumventing US sanctions, but it is the US that violates them by imposing sanctions that were never agreed to on an international level

Story Transcript

GREG WILPERT: It’s The Real News Network, and I’m Greg Wilpert.

This past weekend, China issued a strong condemnation of Canada’s arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei. Meng was arrested last December 1, and is now awaiting a bail hearing in Canada. The Chinese government warned Canada last Saturday that there would be severe consequences if it did not immediately release Huawei Technologies’ chief financial officer, calling the case extremely nasty. Meng Wanzhou faces extradition to the United States, which alleges that she covered up her company’s links to a firm that tried to sell equipment to Iran despite sanctions. She’s also the daughter of the founder of Huawei. If extradited to the United States, Meng would face charges of conspiracy to defraud multiple financial institutions, a Canadian court heard on Friday, with a maximum sentence of 30 years for each charge.

The news of Meng’s arrest caused turmoil in stock markets around the world for the past week because of the uncertainty it throws on US-China negotiations to stop a trade war. Joining me now to analyze this latest development in US-China relations is Colonel Larry Wilkerson. He’s the former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, and currently teaches at the College of William and Mary. Thanks for joining us again, Larry.

LARRY WILKERSON: Thanks for having me.

GREG WILPERT: Meng Wanzhou was arrested on the same day that US President Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping were meeting at the G20 summit in Argentina talking about how to resolve the trade war between the two countries. Apparently Trump did not know about the impending arrest of Ms Meng. What do you make of this? How is it possible that a key Chinese citizen would be arrested without the President’s knowledge, and throw a wrench into very delicate trade negotiations?

LARRY WILKERSON: Well, of course the administration’s response–I would have probably written this response, too, if I were caught out in such an incompetent and unprofessional act, and that’s what it was–but their response was simply that the legal is separate from the political, from the diplomatic. And this was a legal affair, and therefore doesn’t impinge on diplomacy, nor does diplomacy impinge on it. That’s, of course, a farcical answer. In any number of other areas where legal affairs and diplomacy intrude on one another the administration has taken fairly strong positions one way or the other. So that’s their explanation.

But to go to the heart of the matter, I suspect that this is just a tempest in a teapot with regard to the ultimate trade negotiations going on. China has to make its pro forma protestations, and we have to make our pro forma comments on why we did it, and why it’s separate from diplomacy, and the trade negotiations, and so forth and so on. Those are two dimensions of it. A third dimension is that this company is probably guilty of a lot worse than breaking sanctions with Iran–and I’ll come back to that. In terms of stealing things from the United States or from others in the West, in terms of technology transfer and other things that impinge on US security and our allies’ security, this company is probably one of the principal agents in the world. So I personally have no problem with someone finally taking some action to make it public that they are doing so, and get it out of the top secret codeword areas where people have to deal with it. I suspect strongly that NSA intercepts of perhaps her telephone calls may have led them to where they are.

But let me say this about the specific charge, supposedly, that they have, that she was talking about, or that she was condoning, or whatever, busting of Iran sanctions. I assume that what they mean, and I see no real specificity here, is that she was challenging the US sanctions on Iran. What, I might ask, gives us the arrogance of power to say that we can dictate in unilateral sanctions what somebody does with another country in terms of trade? Now, if they are specifying that she was breaking UN Security Council agreed sanctions of which China had been a signatory, or at least an abstainer in the vote thereon, then I can understand why there might be some anger and some legality, even, attached to censuring her, or even bringing her here and putting her on trial or whatever, if the evidence is really straightforward and damning and it was a UN-approved sanction.

Although that’s very difficult to argue, too, since we break those sanctions all the time, also. Case in point, when Donald Trump withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the nuclear agreement with Iran, he broke the law. He broke international law and he broke domestic law. Custom and precedent has come to show that executive agreements are just right next to treaty law. And you’d have to counsel a whole bunch of people, get them all together and try to figure out exactly how this would boil out, but our Constitution gives treaty law the power of domestic law. And I wouldn’t vouchsafe an argument that an executive agreement was the same as treaty unless it was affected by, oh yes, the permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany and the European Union. That sort of approaches treaty law.

So in my view–and I’m not a legal scholar, but I’ve talked with a number of them–in my view, Donald Trump violated international law and even domestic law when he violated the nuclear agreement with Iran, which is precisely what he did. So as I said, this has a lot of complex dimensions. But most of those dimensions reflect badly on the United States rather than on the case specifically being talked about, although I don’t know all the details of that case yet.

GREG WILPERT: I actually want to turn to the point that you alluded to just a moment ago, about Huawei the company being involved in kind of, in basically other kinds of violations. And I’ve heard this before, that they might have been involved in spying; that they use their technology to provide information to the Chinese government. But if this is the case, wouldn’t be the more sensible approach to just, say, tell US agencies and US companies just not to do business with Huawei? How can that possibly justify an arrest of a Chinese executive?

LARRY WILKERSON: Well let me take two parts to that question; the first part being your implication that we should deal with them straightforwardly, and deal with American companies straightforwardly. Anecdote, here. General Electric. We’re at the National Defense University, and we are talking about–we being representatives of the CIA, the DIA, Singapore, Japan, Korea. Number of other countries. We are talking about this very subject. And with the Vice President for Government Affairs, as I recall, of General Electric. We are lightly and softly chastising him for having shared intellectual material with China, apparently, that allowed China to steal a march on us with regard to–need to be careful here. Let’s just say with regard to stealth technology. The response of that GE official was that he had a fiduciary responsibility. Our response to that was are you kidding me? Your responsibility to your shareholders is more than your responsibility to the United States of America and its security? Got pretty testy after that.

All to illustrate the fact that companies like Wal-Mart, and ExxonMobil, and General Electric, and IBM, and others, of course in the past have dealt with unsavory characters like the Nazis, for example, in the case of IBM. But today it’s a regular routine for these transnational corporations. For example, when I was at the State Department, some of our most formidable opponents in legal actions at the World Trade Organization were our own companies. That is to say, companies with their masthead in the United States like Wal-Mart, like ExxonMobil, taking positions in the WTO against their own country. So these companies really have no national allegiance. In many cases, their allegiance is to their shareholders and to their overwhelming and almost insidiously perverse profits. So that’s the first answer. You can’t count on American, so-called quote-unquote “American” companies, to do what they should be doing.

The second answer is some of this stuff is very dangerous. When it comes to submarine technology, especially ballistic missile submarines, when it comes to technology like that wrapped around the F-35 fighter aircraft, when it comes to technology associated with artificial intelligence and robotics and other more sophisticated areas of technology, this is getting very serious. It becomes a battle behind the scenes, if you will, that equates to economic warfare. And I think there is a dimension to that right now between the United States and China that I would actually label economic warfare. It of course is happening with other countries, too, like Russia. To a certain extent we’re waging economic warfare, one-sided economic warfare, against Iran. And this is a dangerous area for the states of the world to get into, too. But we’re doing it, and companies like Huawei, and people like this CFO and others are–and American corporate leaders, too, are complicit in this war. And they’re in it for one reason, I think. Money. Greed.

GREG WILPERT: So another aspect of this whole incident is that Canada’s participation–that is, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada said that he didn’t know about the impending arrest, either, and implied that it was carried out by local authorities in Vancouver, where she was arrested. But just looking at what does this mean for Canada-China relations? I mean, is Canada bending over backwards now to do the Trump administration’s bidding? What do you think?

LARRY WILKERSON: That’s a good question. And having been there for four years at the very top of this business, looking at demarches being sent around the world, and so forth; looking at Beijing, looking at Tel-Aviv, looking at Tokyo, looking at, for that matter, Ottawa, and dealing with all these things, I would have to say that 90 percent of the time or better the governments do know what’s going on. That is to say, the leadership knows what’s going on. John Bolton, of course, when I heard him, said that the President didn’t know this was going on. In Trump’s case I don’t doubt that that’s not probably true, because he doesn’t seem to have much attention for detail. But that Bolton didn’t tell him was an indictment of John Bolton, not the president. So I don’t know, but I would suspect strongly that all of the leaders involved here, except maybe for Xi Jinping, knew that this was coming down the pike, and had agreed that they were not going to stop it from coming down the pike for various and sundry reasons, and you’ve just suggested one of them for Canada.

I was involved in some of the Joint Board activities with Canada when we were dealing with the Red River, dealing with the Columbia River, and other things. And I have to say that our northern neighbor knows which side of its bread is buttered, and who butters it. And at the end of the day, Canada may stand up and seem to be bold in the face of the giant to its South’s wishes. But it rarely really is. It knows its economic future and present is pretty much dominated by the United States, and it knows that if it doesn’t follow what the United States wants it to do in most cases, it will be punished. And it does not wish to be punished the way we punish people these days.

GREG WILPERT: Now, Meng’s arrest was ostensibly, as we mentioned earlier, for subverting US sanctions against Iran. Would you say that this arrest is a sign of things to come in terms of how the US is going to deal with companies that in some way circumvent US sanctions against Iran? Or is this a very specific incident that has more to do with the complicated state of US-China relations at the moment?

LARRY WILKERSON: Both. But the one part of it that truly worries me–I’m not that concerned about US-China relations. They will survive. Trade relations will survive. I’m not altogether opposed to what President Trump very artfully, imperfectly, and even incompetently is trying to do, and that is to balance the trade relationship a little bit better. I think there are a lot better ways to do it. But I do appreciate that unlike President Obama and previous presidents, he has at least taken some action, and some forceful action. At the same time, as I say, I don’t think US-China relations are going to be majorly disturbed by this. I am very concerned about the way we wield the sanctions acts in the world. I don’t know how many countries we have under sanctions right now, but it’s probably half the world in one way or another; individual states, or parts of states, or whatever. And there is a very powerful movement aborning in the world to de-dollarize the world because of those sanctions and the arrogance with which we implement them.

Our congress is majorly guilty in this business. They think the best weapon to throw at everybody is sanction that person, sanction that state, sanction them, put more sanctions on them, and so forth. Well, there’s a lot of people out there. We’ve got about 330 million in this country. Now there’s about seven-plus billion in the world. And in polls, about two and a half to three billion of those people say that the number one threat to the security of their state, of their country, of their children’s future is the United States of America. Part of the reason for that is our arrogance, and the way we do this business with sanctions and war. And we’re creating a lot of enemies in the world. We’re creating a lot of rancor. A lot of people really don’t want to see us succeed in the future. This is not a way to be doing business in the world. And Donald Trump, unknowingly, unwittingly, probably, because he thinks he’s doing great things, is augmenting and accelerating that disgust and hatred for the United States in the world.

Now, listen to what I just said. That Statue of Liberty sits out there and raises her lamp and says send me your teeming hordes, you know. We have been that image at least for most of my life. If not a perfect image, certainly an image that many of us try to live up to. Now the image of us is the same image you see in, for example, the movies about the Empire and the Jedi knights and Darth Vader, and so forth. Dick Cheney gets called Darth Vader all the time, and he laughs. He smiles at it. He actually likes that sobriquet. That’s what we’re becoming to the world. We are the Empire. We’re the Battlestar out in space that will shoot them at any moment, sanction them at any moment. Lots of people in the world despise us, fear us, and hate us; 400 million of them in Southwest Asia basically think we are the biggest threat to their future, and wish dearly that we’d get out of their area and leave them alone. This is not a way to preserve this empire. This is not a way to preserve our power. This is not a way to deal with the world. And yet it seems to be the only way we know.

GREG WILPERT: OK. We’re going to have to leave it there for now. I was speaking to Colonel Larry Wilkerson. Thanks again, Larry, for having joined us today.

LARRY WILKERSON: Thanks for having me.

GREG WILPERT: And thank you for joining The Real News Network. If you like Real News Network stories such as this one, please keep in mind that we have started our winter fundraiser and need your help to reach our goal of raising $400,000. Every dollar that you donate will be matched. And unlike practically all other news outlets we do not accept support from governments or corporations, and depend on our viewers. Please do what you can today.

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: December 09, 2018, 02:02:10 pm »


China says U.S. should withdraw arrest warrant for Huawei executive


Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s global chief financial officer, was arrested in Canada on Dec. 1 and faces extradition to the United States, which alleges that she covered up her company’s links to a firm that tried to sell equipment to Iran despite sanctions.

The executive is also the daughter of the founder of Huawei.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng told U.S. ambassador Terry Branstad that the United States had made an “unreasonable demand” on Canada to detain Meng while she was passing through Vancouver, China’s Foreign Ministry said.

“The actions of the U.S. seriously violated the lawful and legitimate rights of the Chinese citizen, and by their nature were extremely nasty,”
Le told Branstad, comments similar to those he made to Canada’s ambassador the night before.

China strongly urges the United States to pay attention to China’s solemn and just position and withdraw the arrest warrant on Meng, Le added.

“China will respond further depending on U.S. actions,” he said, without elaborating.

Le also told the Canadian ambassador on Saturday that there would be severe consequences if it did not immediately release Meng.

The United States has been looking since at least 2016 into whether Huawei shipped U.S.-origin products to Iran and other countries in violation of U.S. export and sanctions laws, Reuters reported in April.

Companies are barred from using the U.S. financial system to funnel goods and services to sanctioned entities.

Read more:


Posted by: AGelbert
« on: December 03, 2018, 09:19:17 pm »

Bernie Sanders: End U.S. Arms Sales to Saudis and Support for its Yemen War

December 3, 2018

Sen. Sanders joins Paul Jay to discuss his Senate resolution to end US support for the Saudi war in Yemen

Story Transcript

PAUL JAY: Welcome back to The Real News Network. I’m Paul Jay. We’re in Burlington 👍, Vermont at the Sanders Institute Gathering. And joining me now is someone who needs no introduction. Senator Bernie Sanders, thanks for joining us.

BERNIE SANDERS: Thank you, Paul, and thank you for the great work The Real News is doing. I appreciate it.

PAUL JAY: Thank you. Right now you’re very focused on your resolution on Yemen. Something verging on genocide going on, the Saudis’ intervention there. Talk about the resolution, and what you hope to achieve.

BERNIE SANDERS: Well, it’s not just me. We’re working with a conservative Republican, Mike Lee of Utah. Chris Murphy of Connecticut has also played a very great, good role.

What we have managed to do, what we did last week, is for the first time use the War Powers Act to move forward to stop a horrible, horrible war. And that war is the Saudi-led intervention in the Yemen civil war. Yemen has always been a poor country. But since the Saudi-led intervention and the bombing and the destruction of that country, what we have seen in the last three years is 85,000 children already starve to death. And what the United Nations tell us, the United Nations is telling us, is that millions more are facing starvation. There are 10,000 outbreaks of cholera, 10,000 new cases of cholera, every single week. So you have a country which is really being destroyed by the Saudi-led intervention in that country. And if we are successful, we will end U.S. involvement in that war. What we then do is move toward demanding peace in that area, and the humanitarian aid that Yemen desperately needs.

PAUL JAY: The U.S.-Saudi alliance, if that’s the word one could call it, is an underpinning of a whole strategy the United States has had since World War II in the region, allying with, essentially, a fascistic dictatorship that gave us al-Qaeda, gave us the Taliban, gave us the Islamic radicalization of Pakistan, on and on–including, perhaps, 9/11, because there’s–including senators who think the Saudis were directly involved in 9/11. If you’re president, what do you do with the relationship with–

BERNIE SANDERS: Well, I’m a United States senator. So I … Look, I have been doing my best to make just those points, and to say why are we deeply allied–and you know, and Trump has taken it to a new level. There is an outrage all over the country and in Congress that in the most cold-blooded way imaginable, enticing a dissident to walk into a consulate, a Saudi consulate in Turkey, killing him and then dismembering them. This is, presumably, our wonderful ally. And Trump can’t even acknowledge the reality of what the CIA has told them.

But it’s not just Jamal Khashoggi. What it is is a despotic regime run by one family, where women are treated not as second-class citizens, third-class citizens. It’s a regime that does not tolerate dissent, where there is no democracy. And it is now a regime under Mohammed bin Salman which has a very aggressive military posture which took them into Yemen. And what I fear very much, to pick up on your point, is that if we continue to back them, what you’re going to see is that the United States gets sucked into a neverending war in the Middle East.

Look, we can be very critical of Iran, and we should be. But our job is to try to bring peace to that region, not get sucked into. Their wars. So I think we have got to fundamentally rethink our relationship with Saudi Arabia.

PAUL JAY: Lindsey Graham seems to have given up on MBS and wants to dump him. But Lindsey Graham-

BERNIE SANDERS: That was yesterday.

PAUL JAY: But Graham doesn’t want to break the basic relationship.

BERNIE SANDERS: I don’t want to–look. That’s media stuff. You … look. As you indicated, this is a despotic regime, all right, which is responsible for enormous destruction in the very impoverished country of Yemen. We have got to fundamentally rethink our relationship with that regime, and try to play a level-handed role in what is a very volatile region, obviously, of the world. And do what we can to bring peace to that region.

PAUL JAY: Stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia?

BERNIE SANDERS: Yeah, absolutely. This should not be–look. These, this should … You know, when you talk about American values, that has nothing to do with what is existing in Saudi Arabia right now.

PAUL JAY: All right. Thanks for joining us, Senator.


PAUL JAY: Thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: November 13, 2018, 12:46:52 pm »

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: October 22, 2018, 01:39:32 pm »

Assassins for Hire: US Citizens, Israelis, and Palestinians Kill for Money   in Yemen  >:(

October 22, 2018

The US-based mercenary company Spear Group, headed by an Israeli and hired by a Palestinian on behalf of the UAE, conducts extra-judicial killings in Yemen. Antony Loewenstein discusses the details


Proverbs 11 King James Version (KJV)

17 The merciful man doeth good to his own soul: but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh.
Posted by: AGelbert
« on: October 16, 2018, 06:32:44 pm »

Two Koreas Advance Peace Without Trump’s ‘Approval’

October 15, 2018

North and South Korea are moving ahead with plans to build road and rail links as part of their historic peace talks. But the U.S. is standing in the way, as Trump refuses to lift sanctions and claims that the South Koreans “do nothing without our approval.” We speak to Col. Lawrence Wilkerson

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: October 12, 2018, 03:03:02 pm »

Agelbert NOTE: SEE the question about woods and wild bear habits.

Is the U.S. Complicit in Saudi Journalist’s Disappearance?

October 11, 2018

President Trump says the US is pressing Saudi Arabia for answers on the fate of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi. But new questions are being raised about the US role after a Washington Post report that U.S. intelligence intercepted communications of Saudi officials discussing a plan to capture and “lay hands on” Khashoggi. We speak to Ali Al-Ahmed, founder and director of The Institute for Gulf Affairs

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Story Transcript

AARON MATE: It’s The Real News. I’m Aaron Mate.

President Trump says the U.S. is pressing Saudi Arabia for answers on the fate of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

DONALD TRUMP: This is a bad situation. We cannot let this happen to reporters, to anybody. We can’t let this happen. And we’re going to get to the bottom of it, OK? You may want to speak to the First Lady’s office about [inaudible]. I’d rather not say. But in a very high level. The highest level. Let’s say- let me say this. It’s the highest level.

AARON MATE: Khashoggi entered the Saudi embassy in Turkey last Tuesday to obtain a document he needed to get married. He has not been seen since. Turkish officials say they believe he was killed by a team of 15 Saudis- a hit squad, they say, who flew into Turkey for that purpose. According to the New York Times, Turkey believes one team member brought a bone saw to dismember Khashoggi’s body after killing him. Saudi Arabia has denied any involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance, but it has not provided any evidence that shows where else Khashoggi might be.

And although the White House now claims to be demanding answers, new questions are being raised about the U.S. role. The Washington Post reports, “before Khashoggi’s disappearance, U.S. intelligence intercepted communications of Saudi officials discussing a plan to capture him. The Saudis wanted to lure Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia and lay hands on him there.” In Washington today a group of supporters gathered to demand answers on Khashoggi’s disappearance. Among the speakers was Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin.

MEDEA BENJAMIN: I knew Jamal, and actually was critical of him for not being more critical of the Saudi government. We had some very wonderful exchanges. And my heart goes out to his family and everybody who knew and loved him. Of course we want to believe he’s still alive, but I don’t believe it. I believe that he is dead. And you know why? Because I know what the Saudi government is capable of. And I want to denounce the Western democracies for their hypocrisy and their enabling of Saudi behavior for so many years now.

AARON MATE: Joining me is Ali Al-Ahmed, founder and director of Institute for Gulf Affairs. Welcome, Ali. First, let me ask you if you could speculate, what is your sense of the fate of Jamal Khashoggi right now? Do you think he is still alive? Or do you think the Saudis have indeed killed him?

ALI AL-AHMED: Until this morning the messages I’ve been getting are that he was alive. But today, and by the end of the day, we have- I’ve heard people have, they have seen a video of him being killed. That video was taken by his Apple watch. And that streamed to his iPhone, which was outside the consulate at the hand of his wife, and the Turkish authorities were able to go unlock the phone and then see the video. The gruesome video. So we have confirmation from people who said they were shown the video by the Turkish police. So [inaudible]

AARON MATE: Ali, this is a, this is a very explosive claim. You’ve spoken to people who say that they have seen video that was beamed from his watch showing his murder? Who are these people you’ve spoken to?

ALI AL-AHMED: This is an editor of Turkish government TV. I have his recorded statement that this is what happened, and that this is confirmation that Khashoggi has been killed. And it shows the actual murder. And it would be [inaudible].

AARON MATE: And you spoke to this editor personally?

ALI AL-AHMED: No, I didn’t speak to this editor personally, but I have his recording. I know that the recording came; he sent it to a group of friends that I am- and one of them sent it to me. So he knows one of my friends who- he sent the broadcast to his friends, and we have a common friend who sent it to me. And I have it in my phone. I would be happy to send it to you. You can check with him, he has a Twitter account.

AARON MATE: OK. Well, until we get confirmation from Turkish authorities, and Saudi Arabia, obviously it’s best to-

ALI AL-AHMED: This is government, government television. This is Arabic TRT station.

AARON MATE: OK. I’ve missed that report on Turkish television. So let me ask you-

ALI AL-AHMED: It’s not a report, yeah. This is, like I said, this by director of Turkish, Arabic TV. And he sent it to his friends. One of them [inaudible] is a friend of mine who sent it to me. And I have it. I’ll be happy to send it to you, and you can talk to the gentleman himself and authenticate it.

AARON MATE: OK. So as we await confirmation, public confirmation, from the Turkish government, let’s just talk about what is going on here. No matter what happened to Jamal Khashoggi, why do you think he was targeted? He was- some people call him a critic of the Saudi government, or a dissident. But that’s not quite accurate. He actually was close to the Saudi royal family, worked for them. He expressed some concerns about freedom of expression in Saudi Arabia. But he was not a harsh critic of the regime, as I understand it. Can you talk about who he- what he did, and why do you think the Saudi government came after him?

ALI AL-AHMED: He- Jamal Khashoggi has been always a loyalist until he came back, he came, ran away and fled to the United States. So he was a loyalist. And even after he left he was speaking on TV and saying that his allegiance is to King Salman. But he was critical of the conditions that Mohammed bin Salman, the son, the Crown Prince, was making the country go through. So he’s a loyalist, and he’s a man who made his career being a loyalist to the Saudi monarchy. So his career was built on that. He was advisor, he supported- he was a diplomat in Washington, and in London. He worked with the Saudi intelligence in the ’80s in organizing and recruiting fighters against the Soviet Union at the time. So he has a long history of loyalty.

That is actually exactly what made it worse for him, because the Saudi monarchy does not accept anything but absolute loyalty, without any shred of hesitation. And because he kind of departed from that- he’s loyal to the King. You know, maybe sometimes in a very awful way, to be honest, because he spoke about what he called a, I have an allegiance, a loyalty to the King, but then he criticized his son for his behavior and policies. Because at this time we are not slaves and masters anymore, so that, that term is kind of abhorrent to me.

Anyway, so because he is from within the ranks of the monarchy, or their proxies, it was important for the Saudi government to send a message to their followers, to their loyalists, that you cannot emulate Khashoggi, you cannot break with us and turn your back against us, because we will punish you harshly. And that is exactly, I think, the plan. The message was clear. There is no need to send 15 people to kill one man. One man could have done it. And you know, even getting rid of the body they’ll need a lot of help. But this was a message. This is executing your opponent in the street so that the population are scared. Exactly. This is what they are doing here. Again, he was not a dissident. He was actually critical of dissidents much more than he was critical of the government. And he was sometimes hostile to dissidents, including myself. But that does not excuse his execution or kidnapping. It is unfortunate, [especially for his family].

AARON MATE: Let’s talk about the message that the U.S. is sending here. So you have this report now in the Washington Post claiming that U.S. intelligence intercepted Saudi Arabian officials talking about a plan to lure him back to Saudi Arabia and lay their hands on him, as the Post says there. Does not seem- there’s no indication that Khashoggi was warned about this by U.S. officials. And then after his disappearance you have initially a very muted response from the White House. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo put out a call for the Saudis to investigate it. Sort of a mild call for the alleged kidnappers to investigate their own kidnapping. You had Trump today saying that he’s speaking to Saudi Arabia officials at the highest levels. What do you make of the Trump administration’s response so far?

ALI AL-AHMED: I’m actually surprised that this is- I’ve been here long enough to see this before. This is the highest and the strongest reaction to incidents or crimes committed by the Saudi government ever. And so, and that, when it comes to comparison, this is the, the most widespread from the administration, and from Congress and the media, obviously. Previous violations did not- although they are much more abhorrent, they did not receive such attention under the Obama or the Bush administration. Just look at the war in Yemen a few weeks ago, last month when the Saudis bombed deliberately this bus, 40 Yemeni children. The U.S. administration actually sided with Saudi Arabia, and did not have- so this is a stronger reaction.

And I think there is something here. I have no idea what it is. It has, maybe it has to do with the fact that Mr. Trump is saying you have to pay, you have to pay to the Saudi king. And this may be yet another way of pushing the Saudis- it might not be a genuine escalation on Saudi Arabia to truly improve human rights. After all, the United States has been supporting and protecting the Saudi monarchy for nearly 60 years, and it has ignored totally the violation of human rights, including religious freedom for even Americans in Saudi Arabia; and woman driving, the last country in the world. And the lack of cinemas, and basic freedom, and so on.

So this is, I think it is, it has been the strongest reaction. I know some people don’t see it that way, but that’s the reality.

AARON MATE: Ali, let me go to that clip you mentioned of Trump speaking about the Saudi king. He said this last week at a rally.

DONALD TRUMP: Protect Saudi Arabia. Would you say they’re rich? And I love the king, King Salman. But I said, King, we’re protecting you. You might not be there for two weeks without us. You have to pay for your military.

AARON MATE: That’s President Trump speaking at a recent rally. So Ali, finally, there is talk now of this incident marking a change in U.S.-Saudi relations. Do you think, if it is officially confirmed that Jamal Khashoggi has been killed, do you think that that change will happen?

ALI AL-AHMED: I doubt it. I hope so, but I doubt it. I don’t think it will happen. Because I think the relationship is dependent on maintaining domination🦕 of the country and its resources by the United States🦖. If Mohammed bin Salman is starting to grow his own wings and refusing to pay, as Mr. Trump put it, maybe then they would be extremely increasing pressure. Let’s remember, the U.S. government overthrew elected secular liberal democrats in Iran in 1953. So this is nothing new. So it’s not about how you treat your people. It’s how good you treat the American regime; what are you, how much you are willing to pay, and spend your money buying weapons, or conducting or supporting U.S. policies in the region. That has been the factor that the U.S. has used to evaluate its allies and foes in the region.

AARON MATE: All right. So we’ll leave it there. I just want to go back to what Ali said at the beginning of this interview, this claim that there is Apple watch footage of the killing. Again, nothing is confirmed yet publicly from the Turkish authorities, so we need to be cautious. There is a report on the Middle East Eye that cites a Turkish source, saying that Turkish police have audio and video evidence of the killing. But it does not name the source or identify what is the nature of that supposed audio and video evidence. And it also- the Middle East Eye also makes reference to Turkish police looking at the Apple watch worn by Khashoggi being synced to his wife’s phone. So we will await confirmation, again, from the Turkish police on the outcome of their investigation, and whether or not these reports of there being audio and video evidence being correct.

My guest has been Ali Al-Ahmed. He is the founder and director of the Institute for Gulf Affairs. I’m Aaron Mate for The Real News.


Posted by: AGelbert
« on: October 12, 2018, 01:24:24 pm »

Will the Disappearance of Journalist Jamal Khashoggi Bring Down the US-Saudi Alliance?

October 12, 2018

Journalist James M. Dorsey says Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) has suffered significant reputational damage on the eve of a major global trade conference known as Vision 2030 or  “Davos in the Desert”

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: October 12, 2018, 12:48:09 pm »

October 12, 2018

Saudi Arabia likely murdered a WaPo journalist. Here’s what that means.


Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. resident who wrote for the Washington Post, was just apparently killed on the eve of his wedding — and news reports suggest that the Saudi government was responsible.

We are heartbroken. But we are not surprised.

The Saudi government has a long history of cracking down on dissidents and murdering civilians. Meanwhile, U.S. news outlets have consistently propped up the image of Saudi Arabia’s crown prince as a reformer, giving him a free pass to continue executing activists, bombing Yemeni children in school buses, and using starvation as weapon of war in Yemen.

The New York Times and The Economist just announced they are pulling out of the Saudi government’s upcoming high-powered investment conference in the wake of Khashoggi’s apparent murder. This could be a watershed moment.

We’ve got to jump on this momentum and demand other U.S. media companies also stop legitimizing Saudi government repression and back out of this conference. Add your name now >>

BREAKING: All companies but Fox Business have pulled out. Fox must follow suit!
The man who reportedly masterminded Khashoggi’s death is Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. This isn’t his first violent repression of critics. U.S. news outlets hailed bin Salman as a progressive reformer when he lifted Saudi Arabia’s ban on women driving — but stayed silent about his brutal crackdown on women’s rights activists, including his attempts to use the death penalty against feminist activist Israa al-Ghomgham.

Mohammed bin Salman is also the chief architect of the bloody, brutal, U.S.-backed war in Yemen. Bombing campaigns targeting hospitals, school buses, and weddings that have killed thousands of Yemenis. Deliberately starving millions more. Blocking access to medicine amid the world’s worst recorded cholera epidemic. These murders are on bin Salman’s hands too.


U.S. support of Saudi Arabia has made the war in Yemen possible. And mainstream media’s refusal to sound the alarm has sealed the deal.

That’s why this is SUCH a huge moment. Influential U.S. media outlets like the New York Times and The Economist are drawing a line and refusing to legitimize Saudi government repression any longer.

If we can get the other media companies sponsoring the Saudi government’s fancy, feel-good conference to turn their backs, we will send a powerful signal that upends the United States’ unquestioning support of Saudi Arabia and jams the door wide open to ending the Saudi-led war in Yemen for good.

Add your name: U.S. media companies are complicit in Saudi repression and the slaughter of civilians in Yemen. They must back out of Saudi Arabia’s upcoming investment conference and speak out forcefully to defend freedom of speech and end U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

Thank you for working for peace 🕊,

Amy, Sunjeev, Kate, and the Win Without War team

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: October 11, 2018, 12:06:04 pm »

by Tyler Durden

Thu, 10/11/2018 - 10:29

Agelbert NOTE: These excellent comments tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth that Trump and his Wall Street BACKED 🎩 🍌 War Profiteering 🏴‍ ☠️ Wrecking Crew 👹🦍 (AND MOST of the Democrats too!) refuse to admit.

41 minutes ago

Hurting us? 

No sir, if this "arms deal with the Saudi's"  ...

(you know ... those guys who did the WTC false thingy that  MURDERED about 3000, innocent, unsuspecting people in a well planned false flag event that essentially GUTTED what George Bush called 'just a goddamned piece of paper' )

... were blocked, I can assure you it would not impact me in the least! 

Yes, I can see that the Luciferian MIC, their Israeli partners, and the Saudi's wouldn't like it-- not to mention our ISIS proxy army that has a thing for raping children and mounting their heads on fence posts at the playground where they were kidnapped or burning them alive in cages  ... but it would certainly NOT hurt me, or the many, many, common decent people that I happen to know.

But ... that of course ... doesn't matter does it. 

And by the way Mr. Trump, just what did those 15 Saudi's have stuffed in their diplomatic suitcases that day they left the Saudi embassy in Turkey? 

It couldn't have been body parts by any chance, was it??

37 minutes ago


25 minutes ago (Edited)

Totally agree Macroaggression, and I have come to a realization that the Saudi's and the Mossad work hand-in-glove. 

Mohammad Atta as I recall was a Saudi who was also working with the Mossad.  Mo and his crew had some apartments in Florida as I remember and his next door neighbors were all Mossad agents. 

When the embarassing picture emerged in the following weeks the Israelis were asked the obvious questions which they glibly dismissed as something like ... "oh ... yeah ... uhhhhh ... we were investigating Atta regarding .... uhhhhh ... a possible .... uhhhhhh .... terrorist attack on US soil."

Back in those days and before, I was a staunch Israeli supporter. 

I didn't know what a zionist was exactly, but I would have stupidily raised my hand as one if I had been asked.


My eyes were wide shut and I didn't realise it then.   George Bush's comment opened my eyes wide open and when I saw those Israelis (Mossad agents) in the white van cheering,  that did it for me.

I knew people in those buildings and they were better human beings than anyone running the Israeli government, the House of Saud, or Washington D.C. in my opinion.

36 minutes ago

"doing probably better economically than it's ever done before"?

At least Skripal is alive. Imagine if he was dead.

All governments are hypocrites. It's just the degree that varies.

37 minutes ago

Trump 👹 visiting KKK?

40 minutes ago

Trump is just looking out for his BFFs, the Saudis

47 minutes ago

Yeah, not selling bombs to the Saudi Barbarians to bomb children with in Yemen would "hurt us".   

But not selling oil equipment and civilian Boeing airplanes to Iran ... helps Israel.

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: September 21, 2018, 08:09:56 pm »

In Viral Video, Medea Benjamin 🕊   Confronts Trump Official ☠️ on Iran

September 21, 2018

At a public event in Washington, DC, CodePink’s Medea Benjamin confronted Brian Hook , the head of Trump’s Iran Action ☠️ Group , over the US withdrawal from the JCPOA and re-imposing crippling ☠️ sanctions on the Iranian people. Benjamin joins us to discuss her action, which went viral online

Story Transcript 👍👍👍

AARON MATE: It’s The Real News. I’m Aaron Mate.

The U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal has been one of the most consequential decisions of the Trump presidency that has faced relatively little public protest. Well, this week was different, when the administration was confronted directly. Brian Hook, the head of Trump’s so-called Iran Action Group, spoke Wednesday at the Hudson Institute, a right-wing think tank in Washington. As Hook finished his remarks, he was joined on stage by Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the peace group Code Pink.

BRIAN HOOK: It is time for all nations to join us in holding Iran to a new level of accountability for its destructive behavior; especially its lawless pursuit of ballistic missiles. Thank you.

MEDEA BENJAMIN: That is the most ridiculous thing I have seen. The world community wants to keep the Iran nuclear deal. Our allies. The Germans, the French, the British, they want to keep in this deal. The world community wants to keep the deal. Let’s talk about normal countries. Let’s talk about Saudi Arabia. Is that who our allies are? They are the biggest- to the world community. You’re hurting me. You’re actually hurting me. I want to ask, do you think these sanctions are hurting the regime, or are they hurting the Iranian people? They’re hurting the Iranian people. You’re making the case for war with Iran. How did the war with Iraq turn out? You’re doing exactly the same thing we did in the case of Iraq. We don’t want another war in the Middle East. How did Iraq turn out? How did Libya turn out? We have the people of Syria suffering. And how dare you bring up the issue of Yemen? It’s the Saudi bombing that is killing most people in Yemen. So let’s get real. No more war. Peace with Iran.

AARON MATE: Joining me now is the star of this viral video. Medea Benjamin is the co-founder of the peace group Code Pink. Welcome, Medea. Walk us through what you did here, and the message that you tried to bring.

MEDEA BENJAMIN: Well, thanks for having me on, Aaron. You know, it’s very hard to sit through the kind of drivel of Brian Hook talking about missile, missile, missile, Iran threat, danger, not a normal country. And my head was spinning, and I felt like I had to get up and respond to it. And I knew that in the Q&A it was going to be curated. They had passed around cards. They weren’t going to answer the questions that I had asked. And so I felt I better just get up and say my piece.

And so as you can see, I jumped on stage. And I thought it was so important to counter the path that the Trump administration and Brian Hook and Mike Pompeo are taking us down, because it is so dangerous. And I’m old, Aaron. I’ve been through the antiwar movement around Vietnam, Central America, post-9/11. And I was just sitting there feeling this tremendous deja vu about Iraq; that here was yet another administration doing lies, distortions, inventions, whatever it wanted to paint Iran as a demon that had to be addressed militarily. And you know, we’ve got to do something to counter that. We can’t allow them to take us into another war in the Middle East or anywhere.

AARON MATE: You got a lot in in just a few minutes of remarks as they were dragging you away. One of the things you said was talking about the impact of sanctions, how the sanctions do not hurt the government of Iran so much as they hurt the people of Iran. And this is a critical point, as especially now already sanctions are back in place with Trump withdrawing from the nuclear deal. But even harsher sanctions from the U.S. are going to be reimposed in November. So can you talk about what you were speaking of in terms of the impact of the U.S. sanctions on Iran?

MEDEA BENJAMIN: Yes. I’m in communication with a lot of people in Iran, and hear story after story about how devastating the sanctions already are. And as you said, in early November is the next round of sanctions to try to cut off oil exports from Iran, which is the main source of income, and will be absolutely devastating. And so I thought it was important to bring out the issue that these are ordinary Iranian people who were being hurt by the sanctions.

And the outpouring from Iran that I received after this intervention has been astounding. Yes, there are some people who are extremely nasty and actually doing death threats that I want to report to the FBI, but the majority of them have been really positive and saying how they are their lives are so difficult right now; they can’t get married because they don’t have money. They don’t want to have children because they don’t have the money to support them. They lost their jobs because the job situation is very difficult. A doctor who wrote to me and said he can’t treat his people, give them the kind of health care they deserve because of shortages.

So this is strangling not the higher-ups, not the clerics, not the government people. This is the strangulating the ordinary Iranian people. And it’s designed precisely to do that so they’ll be so angry that they’ll rise up against their government. But I think what is happening is that many people in Iran are becoming united against the outside because of this, instead of focusing on the changes they want to make in their own government. Now they feel they have to hunker down and save themselves against a potential war.

AARON MATE: And you mention that Brian Hook, the head of this new so-called Iran Action Group, was speaking about missiles in Iran. This issue of ballistic missiles. There have been rumblings in the Trump administration they want to try to push through some sort of new agreement with Iran that would limit its ballistic missiles. Can you talk about what is going on there, and what you think the Iranian government’s reaction to that will be, especially in light of the Trump ministration walking away from the Iran nuclear deal?

MEDEA BENJAMIN: We already know the reaction of the Iranian government, which is to say it’s ridiculous to pull out of a deal that was not an agreement between two countries, as Brian Hook said. It was an international agreement approved by the Security Council of the United Nations, by the European Union. If the U.S. pulls out of that it’s just crazy to think that the Iranians would sit down and negotiate another deal with the Trump administration. It makes absolutely no sense.

The rest of the world community, minus a couple of countries like Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the Emirates, want the deal to be saved. Trying to figure out how to salvage that deal. And we will see a lot of contentious things at the United Nations next week when the issue of Iran comes up, and we find that our allies in Europe are on a very different page than the Trump administration. So I think it is not rational to talk about trying to rein in Iran’s missile system when you have just ripped up a nuclear deal. And also to recognize the most sophisticated military technology in the Middle East is not in the government of Iran, it’s in the hands of Israel and Saudi Arabia, thanks to the United States.

AARON MATE: Medea, finally, I want to ask you just a personal question. You’ve become notorious for your willingness to confront U.S. officials and former U.S. officials at public events like this one. I remember there’s a famous incident where you were there when Donald Rumsfeld was entering a gathering, and you announced to the crowd, here comes the war criminal. And you stood beside him, denouncing him as a war criminal and speaking a bit about his record. I’m wondering, when you put yourself in this situation, are you ever nervous? Is it scary to go up against people, especially powerful people like your targets?

MEDEA BENJAMIN: It’s extremely scary. I don’t do this without sweating it out, and really a lot of shaking and questioning whether I should do it or should I do it. But in the end I think it’s important to do, and I think more people should do it. I wish there were people everywhere these criminals go to be popping up and denouncing them, because we make their lives way too easy when they are destroying the lives of people around the world.

AARON MATE: Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Code Pink, star of that new viral video confronting the head of the Trump administration’s Iran Action Group. Thank you, Medea.

MEDEA BENJAMIN: Thanks for having me on, Aaron.

AARON MATE: And thank you for joining us on The Real News.


Agelbert NOTE: CodePink’s Medea Benjamin 🕊 deservves the Congressional Medal of Honor for her consistent outstanding courage and heroism. 💐

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: August 13, 2018, 08:46:10 pm »

World BEYOND War info@worldbeyondwar.org

August 13, 2018

(Discussion 11) Nonviolent Civilian-Based Defense / Civilian Peacekeeping Forces🕊

Nonviolent Civilian-Based Defense (CBD) deploys a powerful coercive force that does not require military action and shifts power away from the elite and into the hands of citizens. Unarmed civilian peacekeeping provides an effective, more sustainable, and potentially transformative alternative to militarized peacekeeping.

Learn more:

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: July 23, 2018, 03:00:14 pm »

Pompeo 🦍 Speech Marks Start Of Broader Campaign 😈 👹 💵 🎩  🏴‍☠️  For Iran Regime-Change

by Tyler Durden

Mon, 07/23/2018 - 13:15


It looks like we could be witnessing a repeat of the vast propaganda system that was triggered and inundated the American and Western public in the lead-up to Iraq. Now that the Syrian proxy war appears to be slowly closing, the usual hawks have set their cross hairs on Tehran. 

Full article:



Posted by: AGelbert
« on: July 22, 2018, 07:07:32 pm »

Is Putin’s Rule a Dictatorship? – RAI with A. Buzgalin (8/12)

July 22, 2018

On Reality Asserts Itself, Prof. Alexandr Buzgalin says while Putin heads a powerful state, this is not a system of one man rule; more than 100 billionaires and a stratum of top bureaucrats have political power – with host Paul Jay

Story Transcript

PAUL JAY: Welcome to the Real News Network, welcome to Reality Asserts Itself, I’m Paul Jay. As you can see, we’re continuing our discussion in a new studio, but we’re still in New York City with Dr. Alexander Buzgalin.


PAUL JAY: Professor Buzgalin teaches political economy and is director of the Center for Modern Marxist Studies at Moscow State University. So, we’re going to pick up where we left off. You go on vacation for a lovely little August and you get away from it all, and you come back, you’re on the central committee, youngest member, I guess, maybe in history, I don’t know, of the communist party. You’re amongst the most powerful people in the county. And certainly, for decades and decades, the Soviet State looked like it would never go anywhere. And you come back from vacation and there’s no more Soviet Union.

The Communist Party, I think, is probably illegalized at this point. Yeltsin is the president, and so that’s kind of where we left off the story. We went a little bit further, we talked about the story of the next decade and the grab for cash, the emergence of the oligarchs and the many who came from the party itself and from the state bureaucracy. And we get to the end of the ‘90s with a fairly established class of now billionaires or becoming billionaires, and a very chaotic state. And Putin becomes the new leader, and that’s sort of where we left off.

The sort of common narrative of this period after Putin becomes leader is that this is the story of the rise of a one- man dictatorship. And this is what the story of this whole next period of the Russian state is. What do you make of that?

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: First of all, we do not have, and we didn’t have from the very beginning, dictatorship of Putin. In the beginning of his epoch, in the beginning of twenty-first century in our country, we had another style of life. It was continuation of the power of oligarchs with top officials. It was partnership and friendship with the West in the beginning, by the way. Partnership with NATO, partnership with the United States, even later, Putin was main advocate for joining to WTO. In Russia, we had very big opposition.

PAUL JAY: World Trade Organization.

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: Yeah, World Trade Organization. Majority of Russian, even business people- not majority as far as money was concerned, but in terms of businessmen. Is concerned. So, majority of even business people we against joining to WTO, to World Trade Organization.

PAUL JAY: So, Putin advocated more of an integration with the Western capitalism.

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: Yeah, Putin advocated, he became- I would say, in the modern sense of this word. Only after crisis, 2007, 2009- before, it was only some elements, some trends, maybe. And about democracy and dictatorship. In that period, we had growth of statism, but mainly in ideology, growth of Russian conservatism, but mainly in ideology, and it was not so strong. It was domination of liberal ideas before crisis, world crisis, 2007-2010. That was the trend. And it was, I want to remind, period when we had enormously high prices on oil and gas. It was up to one hundred fifty dollars per gallon. And Russia had an enormous amount of dollars for really nothing. And it came, it led to the enormous enrichment of oligarchs, but also some resources came to workers in budget sector, education, healthcare, to bureaucracy. It was enormous growth of bureaucracy and a little bit for ordinary workers and peasants.

PAUL JAY: And we talked earlier, in the previous segment, about even most of the oligarchs, as in medieval times, realized there needed to be a king because the competition between the oligarchs would threaten the systems of the oligarchs, and they needed a state to play that kind of role. In terms of Putin and the role of that state, there’s a perception, again, in the West, that it kind of gets used in a way that enhances Putin’s power in a sense that he can favor these oligarchs, and disfavor those, and a sense the state becomes more important than the oligarchs.

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: It’s true and not true. If any oligarch, and billionaire- and in Russia, we have hundreds, more than one hundred owners of more than one billion dollars.

PAUL JAY: More than one hundred billionaires.

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: Yeah, and the country is not so rich as the United States or China, it’s ten times, maybe, not less than ten times- many times less than the United States or China. So, if any from these oligarchs will decide to attack rules of the game or personally, president and his team, he will be in prison or he must immigrate, and so on. But that doesn’t mean state became more important than class of oligarchs and top bureaucrats. First of all, it is not even class, it is strata inside class of bourgeoisie. We have very diversified class of bourgeoisie, very different types of bourgeoisie. And inside ruling strata, new nomenklatura is name which Voslenski used for Soviet bureaucrats. And now it’s very similar. A few thousand people with families, kids and so on, who are real rulers who concentrate economic and political power.

PAUL JAY: Because they control ministries, regulation-

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: Yeah, executive power. They control ruling party, administration of president, and they control main part of wealth of Russia. Seventy percent of Russian wealth is concentrated in the hands of less than one percent of population.

PAUL JAY: We know that number here.

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: And key resources in the hands of a few families, one hundred, two hundred families. So, the problem is that they have common interests, but they have clans, like in, I don’t know, court of Louis XIV or XV in France, different clans of aristocracy fighting between themselves. But generally speaking, it is one power, one strata of aristocrats who has power. The same in Russia. We have different clans, regional clans, clans that have connected with military-industrial complex, with oil and gas, with small difference between state gas and oil corporations and private gas and oil corporations. But difference is small because top managers of state corporation are also oligarchs. And the private owners of private corporations are in the control of bureaucracy.

So, in Russia, state and private means not too much. It’s not very big difference, unfortunately. And they have common interests. And these common interests led to stagnation of the economy because the development can be realized only if big money from this capital, oligarchic capital, bureaucratic capital, will be used for investments in high-tech technologies. And it will be redistribution of power, not simply of money, but redistribution of power. It will be new, active class. Class of engineers, creators, business people, but business, productive business people, not speculators and those who take land from the oil. And they will lose their power. So, if we have not simply growth, but development, new quality of development, this strata will lose their power.

That’s why for them, it’s not profitable to change economic, social, tendrils of life, of rules of the game, better to say. And for other population, this is stagnation, and stagnation on the low level with very big social differentiation. During last decade, we had more or less the same. After crisis, 2007-2010, it was ten percent decline of production. Then, we had small growth after five years, more or less the same level as 2007, then minus two percent plus one percent, zero plus two percent, near zero. And then finally, after twenty- I will finish on this. After twenty-five years of transformation from so-called inefficient economy of Soviet Russia inside Soviet Union, we have only plus fifteen percent, twenty-five years and only plus fifteen percent.

PAUL JAY: In productivity.

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: In production, yeah, gross national product. Less than one percent per year during twenty-five years, all zig zags. And the quality is another.

PAUL JAY: Well, that’s kind of a dramatic number because, given computerization and such, productivity and gross national product in the West has gone far, far higher than that.

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: And if you compare with China, which had similar problems, but China had minimum seven percent per year, and an average eight point five.

PAUL JAY: So, what does this mean in terms of the life of working people and what their expectations were? Remember, in an earlier segment you were saying everyone thought, “Get rid of the Communist Party and socialism,” and everyone was going to have “capitalism without capitalists,” the utopia.

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: Utopia, unfortunately. So, first of all, as I said, during first years of so-called market reforms, shock without therapy, we had terrible decline of production, incomes, and social differentiation. We received real poverty. And before, it was impossible. And poverty for not only lazy people, liberal dogma, but intelligentsia became extremely poor, workers became extremely poor. After this, high prices on oil, life became a little better. But what we have now- let’s move to modern situation. As I said, twenty million people from one hundred fifty, little less, in Russia, are living under the poverty level. And poverty level is ten thousand rubles. Ten thousand rubles is one hundred-

PAUL JAY: Say that again?

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: Ten thousand rubles is poverty level.

PAUL JAY: And how many people below that?

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: We have twenty million people who has less than ten thousand rubles.

PAUL JAY: At this time?

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: At this time. And this is continuation. Before, it was sometimes little less, sometimes little worse, but more or less the same. What is ten thousand rubles? It is one hundred sixty dollars per month. Of course, purchasing power of dollar is high, but if you want to buy normal equipment, you will pay even more than in the United States. If you want to buy bread, it will be a little less. So, that’s why it is poverty. Wage of majority of Russians, working Russians, is less than thirty thousand rubles per month. This is five hundred dollars. This is not poverty, but still, country is rich with oil.

PAUL JAY: The majority of people earning that wage.

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: Fifty percent has less than five hundred dollars per month. And in the same time, we have one of the best, second or so place as far number of billionaires is concerned. Billions, not of rubles, but billions of dollars. And they are buying football teams, palaces, two hundred thirty meters long yachts, and so on. It is a country with such situation.

PAUL JAY: So, Putin is the face of this system, whether he has as much power as people think he has or not, he’s powerful and the state is powerful. But he’s the face of this system. Why, if in fact he’s running at seventy percent or so popularity, if that’s true, why?

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: This is big question.

PAUL JAY: So, we’ll talk about why Putin seems to remain so popular in spite of tremendous inequality of the society. So, please join us for the continuation of Reality Asserts Itself with Professor Buzgalin on The Real News Network.

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: July 16, 2018, 08:07:21 pm »

Growing Up in the USSR – RAI with A. Buzgalin (1/12)

Success and Mutation in the Soviet Union – RAI with A. Buzgalin (2/12)

Communism and Consumerism – RAI with A. Buzgalin (3/12)

Turning Power into Money, the End of the Soviet Union – RAI with A. Buzgalin (4/12)

“I Returned from Vacation to Find the Soviet Union had Collapsed” – RAI with A. Buzgalin (5/12)

July 16, 2018

On Reality Asserts Itself, Prof. Alexander Buzgalin says that he returned from a vacation in the countryside to find Gorbachev was arrested, Yeltsin was leader and the Soviet Union was no more – with host Paul Jay

Aleksandr Buzgalin is a Professor of Political Economy at Moscow State University. He is also editor of the independent democratic left magazine Alternatives, and is a coordinator of the Russian social movement Alternatives, author of more then 20 books and hundreds of articles, translated into English, German and many other languages.

Story Transcript

PAUL JAY: Welcome back to Reality Asserts Itself on The Real News Network. I’m Paul Jay, and we’re continuing our discussion with Professor Alexander Buzgalin. Thanks for joining us again.

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: I’m glad to be here and to talk with you.

PAUL JAY: I should say, we’re in New York City, this is not our normal studio. One more time, Professor Buzgalin teaches political economy and is Director of the Center for Modern Marxist Studies at Moscow State University. So, we got ourselves up to- you’re now on the Central Committee in your early thirties-

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: And the Soviet Union is nearly collapsed.

PAUL JAY: And they’re blaming you for it. Well, they certainly did blame Gorbachev for it, and we’re talking about, you were saying that there’s a rise within the party and within the party leadership of people who want to get rich, who had kind of given up on the socialist ideals. I guess they either decided it isn’t working or didn’t matter because they want to get rich. And while the internal factors may have been the most important, the Americans are very active in all this. Their dream is to bring down the Soviet Union. Talk about that period, and you have a very unique viewpoint, being on the Central Committee.

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: So, first of all, it was really an extremely contradictory situation, because from one hand, we had the growth of social creativity from below. We had the first attempts to build self-management in the enterprises. And the most that did it were people in big scientific production complexes. We had, in Soviet Union, like corporations, where we had research centers, production, social infrastructure, and so on. And typically, these groups, these classic corporations, had very skilled people and they had big intentions. And it was all Soviet Union council of worker’s collectives. A very interesting structure. And the last Congress, with one thousand delegates, where they participated, was very strong and important. And it’s not a well-known part of the story of the Soviet Union.

We had good interest in initiative of the young generation to build, on a cooperative basis, new houses for the life. It was very interesting initiatives in the Green Movement, which appeared from below, and so on and so forth. At the same time, from another hand, we had terrible growth of contradictions because criminal business, which existed in Soviet Union, became stronger because of the whole destruction of the institutional system. Weak institutions led to the growth of shadow economy and criminal business. A lot of former directors of state enterprises were waiting, that it will be privatization, and were trying to steal as much as possible of the resources.

PAUL JAY: This is before-

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: Just before collapse of the Soviet Union.

PAUL JAY: People see it coming. What’s Gorbachev doing about this? Or does he want this to-

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: Yeah, and- he was talking. And this is one of the problems. You know, there is this definition of revolutionary situation by Lenin, and he wrote very important things. Revolution came when those who are on the top cannot be rulers more, according to the old model. So, this is a crisis of the top. And we had crisis.

PAUL JAY: Not fit to rule.

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: Yeah, not fit to rule. And people were trying to find another solution. And what was important, we had a lot of myths created with assistance of the West, but not by the West. One of them was a myth about market. And market, for majority of Soviet people, was associated with supermarket, with a lot of commodities. It was the strikes of the miners, a very interesting initiative from below, who wanted to change the situation. I participated in the Congress and the leader of the miner’s strike said, “We want to have capitalism, the factories will belong to the workers and not the Party and nomenklatura. We want to have capitalism, where we will have resources to buy whatever we want. We want to have capitalism, where everybody will have good apartments, and it will be no privileges of people who are rulers. We want to have capitalism where workers will decide what to do.”

PAUL JAY: They want to have capitalism without capitalists.

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: Yeah, without capitalists, without unemployment, without social stratification, and so on. It was an illusion. And unfortunately, it was created by many contradictions inside Soviet Union, which we discussed before. And main contradiction was interconnected with concentration of the power in the hands of bureaucracy, and the money of social creativity of the masses, and attempts to build consumer society, conformist society. Socialism cannot be conformist, consumer society. Socialism must move in the direction of self-organization, social creativity, anti-conformism, if you want. It should be disalienation, but not conservation of alienation in consumerist form. I’m sorry for this professor’s language, but I cannot express this in any other terms. So, that’s why we had internal contradictions as main factor of self-destruction of this system. And we had chances for the changes, but here, a subjective factor could play a decisive role. 

PAUL JAY: How do you get to a point, after years of bureaucratization- but something new enters the picture, because it’s not just bureaucratized, some mutation, of socialism. Now, people want to get rich and now people within the Party leadership and sections of the enterprises, within the elite, people have said enough, now we just want to cash in. How do you get to that?

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: You already gave the answer, so I can say yes, you are right. And it was predictable. In the beginning of the Soviet Union, in writings of different people, from Mensheviks to Leon Trotsky, was made prognosis that if bureaucracy will have more and more power, and the control from below will be weak, social creativity will go down, the transformation of bureaucracy will be inevitable. They will have intention to transform themselves into the class of private owners who has both political power and economic power and no limitations, no frameworks.

Because even in bureaucratic period, in Brezhnev period of the Soviet Union, officials at the top had relatively small privileges. They had a lot of limits for their power and they had strong rules of the game. And so, the new generation who came, they wanted to have the same living standards as billionaires, as presidents and leaders of bourgeois countries. And that was main reason. Plus, as I said, decline, degradation of social creativity, led to the consumerism and conformism of majority of Soviet people. And conformism creates atmosphere where market system, capitalist system, is coming. It’s like a swamp where it’s impossible to have beautiful trees, where there will be only dirty grass and frogs.

PAUL JAY: So, talk about that period, the rise of Yeltsin and the last days of the Soviet Union.

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: So, still this is a big question mark. What happens, why we had this artificial coup d’état, what was the role of Gorbachev, who was behind? I am not a person who has secret information, so I will not give special commands.

PAUL JAY: And we’re in 1991?

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: It was August, 1991.

PAUL JAY: Where are you, what are you doing?

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: I was in the vacation, so unfortunately, I could not participate in this process. I was in the countryside, in the forest, just to relax a little bit. It was my mistake. I didn’t think that it will be so quickly-

PAUL JAY: So, most of our audience doesn’t really know this story at all.

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: So, in August, leaders of KGB and some other officials from the top said that Gorbachev is no more president of the Soviet Union. We have a special committee in emergency situations, and Gorbachev was formally arrested in his dacha in Crimea, where he was also on a rest. But then, they did nothing.

PAUL JAY: So, it’s essentially a coup.

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: It was coup, but leaders of the military coup must arrest the opposition, after all. But they did nothing. Yeltsin came to the house where there was Parliament of Russian Federation, people were walking in the streets with protests.

PAUL JAY: And who is Yeltsin, why all of a sudden, Yeltsin? What’s the power behind Yeltsin?

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: Okay, so that’s another story. One year ago, he was elected as president of Russian Federation inside Soviet Union. Soviet Union had like states in the U.S., but with more powerful structure. It was republics, fifteen republics, and Russia was the biggest and in the center. And Yeltsin was elected as president of Russia. So, informally, he has not too big power, because republics inside Federation were not so powerful as central government. But when Gorbachev was arrested, Yeltsin became in Moscow a key person, according to official status. And all opposition came to Yeltsin to protect against coup. And it was both really democratic forces and pro-bourgeois, quasi-democratic forces.

PAUL JAY: To protect against a coup from whom?

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: To protect Yeltsin against those who organized the coup d’état. KGB leaders organized-

PAUL JAY: To protect Yeltsin from the KGB?


PAUL JAY: What did the KGB want?

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: KGB wanted to stop transformation led by Gorbachev to rebuild Soviet Union. It’s also important to say that in Caucasus and in Baltic states, republics in that period, was growth of nationalism and ideas to become separate states, not states in the Soviet Union. So, the idea was, “we will use military force, we will keep Soviet Union, and all Gorbachev experiments, we will stop.” They said, “we will keep freedom of speech, but with limitations,” these organizers of the coup, “we will continue some market reforms.”

PAUL JAY: And this was mostly driven out of the KGB?

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: Some military leaders and a few people from- top officials from the Central Committee.

PAUL JAY: And they want to try to retain what’s left of the Soviet state.


PAUL JAY: Yeltsin represents these “let’s get rich” factions inside.

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: Yeah, but these guys did nothing. They didn’t arrest Yeltsin.

PAUL JAY: Why? KGB knows how to arrest people.

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: Yes, but they did nothing. There are different explanations. Again, I cannot explain this phenomenon, myself. One of the explanations was that Gorbachev decided to play a role of the person who is not responsible for this, and then came to power again with the assistance of the KGB, simply to beat Yeltsin, who became leader of opposition in that period. Another explanation was that they did not have a final agreement of what has to be done, these leaders of the coup. But really, nobody knows. It’s a very strange story, very strange.

PAUL JAY: So, this famous photograph and videos of Yeltsin on the tanks, what is that, then, what goes on there?

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: Yes, it was a few tanks and some soldiers in Moscow. But they did nothing. They were standing in the streets and did nothing. And the two guys who were killed-

PAUL JAY: This is outside the parliament buildings?

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: Outside, yes. And two guys who were dead, officially, because tanks killed them- really nobody knows what happened in reality- but I think the tanks were going back from Moscow and they accidentally were- because it was crowded, and when they decided to move from the square, two persons were really killed. And then they were transformed into heroes.

PAUL JAY: So, the section of the KGB and army that arrested Gorbachev, they allowed Yeltsin to come to power. Why? Did they say, okay, we might as well get rich too?

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: Really, I don’t have an explanation, as I said. For me, this is still a big question mark, what’s happened. No idea. Only what I can say is it’s a total crisis of the power. And the only person who was decisive and aggressive was Yeltsin.

PAUL JAY: You’re on the Central Committee. Do they have an emergency meeting, or the Party just starts to fall apart?

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: I didn’t have time to come back from this village. It’s Russia, it’s not so simple, even for a member of the Central Committee. When I was back, all was solved. And the Party also was paralyzed. It was total paralysis of legislative and executive organs. It was self-destruction of the elite.

PAUL JAY: So, you’re sitting in your cottage, on vacation- this is what, is it playing out for you on T.V.? I mean, do you know what’s going on?

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: First of all, I didn’t have any information. On T.V., it was on barely. The whole time only barely and nothing else. When I received- telephone was not working. It was a real village, and it was one telephone three kilometers from this place. So, when I found this telephone, I could not reach anybody in Moscow. So, after one day, I went to the regional center and received, more or less, information. But when I was back in Moscow, it was nothing.

PAUL JAY: Were you surprised or expecting it?

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: No, I was very surprised, of course. And I was afraid that something like that can happen, but not coup. I was afraid that it will be coup organized by republican leaders, Yeltsin and leaders of the Baltic Republics, Caucasus Republics, and so on.

PAUL JAY: And you don’t think the KGB was actually in cahoots with Yeltsin?

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: I don’t think so. I think what was real- the only hypothesis which I can propose is the following; it was informal, indirect, not final agreement with Gorbachev, and Gorbachev, it was his personal problem. He was not decisive. He could not make exact decisions, he was changing decisions very often. And he doesn’t know what has to be done. And he was a very weak leader, and for such periods, it’s necessary to have a strong leader, because personality, in the period of revolution, plays a big role, bigger than usual. In a stable system, personality is not important, or nearly not important. In the period of revolutions, strong personality and strong political organization is very important if this personality is on the top.

PAUL JAY: Well, in the next segment, we’ll pick up. You come back from vacation, and it’s not the Soviet Union, it’s Russia.

ALEXANDER BUZGALIN: Yeah, the Soviet Union is absent, the Communist Party is absent, and the whole situation is completely new, yes.

PAUL JAY: All right, so join us for the next segment of our interview with Professor Buzgalin on The Real News Network.

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: July 13, 2018, 09:51:36 pm »

Congressional Progressive Caucus Challenge Party Leadership and Congress on Militarism and Foreign Policy

July 13, 2018

The little known Congressional Progressive Caucus🕊 is the largest caucus within the Democratic Party and has an important track record in calling attention to the highly interventionist and harmful foreign policy of the US, says CEPR’s Mark Weisbrot


Story Transcript

SHARMINI PERIES: It’s The Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries, coming to you from Baltimore.

As president Trump concluded his participation in a NATO summit this week, he called for a doubling of NATO members’ military spending, from a target of 2 percent of GDP by 2024, to 4 percent of GDP. In effect, Trump is proposing even greater militarization of world affairs, both at home and within NATO.There are, however, members of Congress who have recently been pushing back against the militarization and interventionism of US foreign policy. People such as Representatives Ro Khanna, Mark Pocan, Keith Ellison, Raul Grijalva, Barbara Lee, among many others. They are all members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, or CPC. This caucus is generally not that well known, but with 78 members, ( including Bernie Sanders in the Senate) it is the largest Democratic Party caucus. It was founded in 1991 and has grown steadily in size since then. It takes positions on both foreign and domestic policy that tend to be significantly to the left of the party as a whole.Joining me to discuss the foreign policy work of Congressional Progressive Caucus and its individual members is Mark Weisbrot. Mark is the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research and is the author of the book, “Failed: What the ‘Experts’ Got Wrong About the Global Economy.” Thanks for joining us again, Mark.

MARK WEISBROT: Thanks, Sharmini, and thanks for doing this show. I think it’s a very important institution that hasn’t really gotten much attention.

SHARMINI PERIES: Thanks for that endorsement, Mark. Let’s start off by defining the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Who are they?

MARK WEISBROT: Yes. Well, it’s 70, around 76-77 members of Congress, all from the House except, as you mentioned, Bernie Sanders in the Senate. And they were formed to provide something of an alternative to a lot of the policies, both domestic and foreign policy, of some of the leadership of the Democratic Party, and turn it to the left of that.

SHARMINI PERIES: And Mark, what are the kinds of things that they are engaged in, and their past policy positions that are significant?

MARK WEISBROT: Well, they’ve taken a lot of positions on domestic issues that were always ahead, you know, on the budget, the monetary policy, the Federal Reserve and fiscal policy. What I think is most striking now, because we’re in a period where most of the foreign policy discussion is kind of retrograde, you know, even by U.S. foreign policy discussion standards, and they’ve taken consistently progressive positions on a whole variety of foreign policy issues. And I think that’s really important to see that there is this pull, because, you know, otherwise you could be really discouraged where you look. You know, you turn on the television and you look in the newspapers here, and all the debates are about various enemies around the world. And even, and you have this special period now where I think, because so much of the leadership and a significant part of the base of the Democratic Party, which would normally be taking a less-hawkish position on foreign policy, has become the more aggressive and interventionist part-.

SHARMINI PERIES: Mark, the Caucus has taken some really important positions that we’ve covered here at The Real News, like that of Yemen, and Brazil, and Syria. Give us some of those policy positions that-. You have actually worked on some of them, on the Hill.

MARK WEISBROT: Yes. Well, the issue of Yemen and the war in Yemen led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and supported militarily by the U.S., you know, in terms of refueling Saudi planes and selecting targets. And this is an actual participation of the United States in the war, and it’s unconstitutional. It’s against the law. You know, Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution reserves to Congress the power to decide on U.S. military intervention. It isn’t just declaring war, as you might, as some people read it. It actually, if you look at the legislative history, it really is any kind of military or paramilitary intervention, for that matter. That’s what the framers of the Constitution were describing when they put that in.

And so the Congress has that power, and it just hasn’t asserted it enough. This is the law of the land. And so this war is unauthorized and illegal under the Constitution. So what the Progressive Caucus and various members of the Progressive Caucus did in November of last year is they invoked the 1973 War Powers Resolution, which didn’t, you know, reinterpret the Constitution, but gave the Congress another way, a procedural way, of enforcing the constitutional power that they have. So it said that they could any member of Congress, when the U.S. was involved in hostilities overseas without the authorization of Congress, they could actually demand a debate and vote on that military involvement, and that the leadership of the House couldn’t block it. And so that’s what they did. And in the House there was some negotiation, but a resolution did pass. And it didn’t say that the U.S. had to withdraw, but it did recognize that the participation of the United States in this war was unauthorized.

And then they came back to the Senate in February. And it was a resolution-. By the way, these resolutions were sponsored not only by progressive members of Congress and Bernie Sanders in the Senate, but also by more conservative legislators who just believe in the Constitution, like Mike Lee of Utah in the Senate, and in the House there was Walter Jones and Thomas Massie. And so in the Senate, that vote was defeated, but they got, they got 44 votes for it. And it was the first time that the War Powers Resolution of 1973, which came out of the Vietnam War, was used to force that vote.

And I think this is very important for several reasons. First of all for this war, because this is the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. You have a million people who have gotten cholera from the destruction of water supplies in the bombing. And you had thousands of people die from that. And you have 8 million people on the brink of starvation. And so this isn’t over. And in fact, there’s negotiations going on right now with a U.N. envoy, and there’s some hope that there actually will be a settlement. And some more conservative members of Congress like Steny Hoyer and Eliot Engle, more conservative Democrats, they have even moved, and said to the Saudis in a letter recently that, you know, this is enough, and this has to stop, and you should negotiate a solution. And that’s because of this effort, because they use this power that the Congress has always had, but not used, to actually, you know, stop the, to try and stop this U.S. intervention. And they know, these other legislators know that this actually can be done. They can keep coming back with this, and they’re going to. They’re going to come back, and they can get a vote.

And the final thing I’ll say about this, because I think it’s so important, is it’s a structural change that the Progressive Caucus and people like Ro Khanna, Rep. Ro Khanna from Silicon Valley in California, that are leading this effort. Mark Polkan from the Progressive, co-chair of the Progressive Caucus. This, if they continue this, down this path, which I’m very certain they will, this will be a structural change. Because this will now, if you look at the whole history of the United States, there are very few wars where the Congress was leading the charge. It’s, you know-. So this will help prevent a lot of wars in the future as the Congress reasserts its constitutional authority. So that’s very, very big.

SHARMINI PERIES: Now, Mark, the Congressional Progressive Caucus, or CPC, as it’s known, is currently the largest Democratic Party caucus with 78 members, which includes Bernie Sanders from Senate. Now, however, only about-. This only constitutes 15 percent of all the 535 members of the House and Senate. Now, given the size, just how much impact can they have, how effective can they possibly be?

MARK WEISBROT: Well, the example I gave was very important because they’re changing the rules of the game. They’re actually, they’re just enforcing the rules of the game, and therefore changing, changing them. But also on other issues they have a voice where nobody can really push back against. And so when it gets in the news and it gets in the news in other countries-. So for example, there’s a letter circulating in Congress now from progressive members on Brazil, because of, you know, in Brazil they’ve got the leading presidential candidate, former President Lula da Silva is in jail right now. And it’s become more and more obvious that this is because, not because he committed a crime for which they did not present material evidence at his trial, but also, but really because he’s the leading candidate and he would win in October. And you know, you get very little real information about this in the news. But these kind of letters, they make the news. If the reporters ignore them here, which they don’t always, they make the news in Brazil. So they have an influence there, and it shows that there is this force that really is, is pushing for a different foreign policy.

And they’ve had similar letters, you know, for other countries, as well. A number of letters on Honduras, for example, when they, with the help of the United States and support of the United States, the Honduran government stole the election in November, and they came out with letters and statements about that. If you look at the election of AMLO in Mexico that just happened, the statement on that was very positive, and it went against the, all the punditry and the most of the media coverage by agreeing with AMLO on his foreign policy, where he wants a more peaceful and non-interventionist foreign policy in the hemisphere. In other words, they’re not going to support like they did, they’re not going to support the United States like they did in the Honduran election, where they came out in favor of recognizing their election, then the U.S. pretended to follow them, after the U.S. had already asked them, the U.S. government had already asked them to do that.

Now, those are the kind of things that they’re not going to do. And the Progressive Caucus will be supporting them while everybody, you read all the opinion leaders in the newspaper are worried, and saying bad things about AMLO, because he’s not lining up with U.S. foreign policy in the hemisphere. And I think what they can do is provide a progressive vision, but not just a vision like an intellectual or a professor can do, but a vision that they’re actively implementing. So it’s far outsized in relation to its percentage of the Congress, because this is, after all, these are positions that the vast majority of Americans would agree with and do agree with, and they’re not represented because of the hegemony of this foreign policy establishment, which includes the government and the media. And this is especially true in Latin America where you see almost no dissent at all, so it’s almost monolithic.

SHARMINI PERIES: All right, Mark. Now, to tie all of this back to my introduction, which was about Trump’s presence at NATO, and calling for more spending on the part of NATO members, just a few weeks ago the U.S. House passed the 2019 Defense Authorization Bill, allocating $717 billion to the Pentagon. What is the Congressional Progressive Caucus’ position regarding military spending, particularly given just yesterday the House actually reinstated their commitment to NATO?

MARK WEISBROT: Well, the caucus members, I mean, the people that are leading this effort, especially in the Progressive Caucus, are definitely for less military spending. Bernie Sanders has, of course, said this publicly, but also Ro Khanna and other members of the Progressive Caucus. So they’re definitely on the record on this issue, and they are also against, you know, what a lot of the military spending is used for, which is regime change. And that’s a very important position that they’ve taken, as well. Even in Venezuela, for example, where you don’t have any, very little dissent at all against the regime change effort that is currently underway led by the U.S. government. You have opposition, again, from the Progressive Caucus.

So yeah, they’re presenting a consistent view of a positive foreign policy. It’s not isolationist, but it’s against the destructive things that our foreign policy is doing around the world.

SHARMINI PERIES: All right, Mark. Great discussion. I thank you so much for joining us today.


SHARMINI PERIES: And thank you for joining us here on The Real News Network.
Posted by: AGelbert
« on: July 13, 2018, 09:24:59 pm »

Communism and Consumerism – RAI with A. Buzgalin (3/12)

July 13, 2018

On Reality Asserts Itself, Prof. Alexander Buzgalin says that “market fetishism”, the hunger for commodities, became a major obstacle to building socialism – with host Paul Jay

Aleksandr Buzgalin is a Professor of Political Economy at Moscow State University. He is also editor of the independent democratic left magazine Alternatives, and is a coordinator of the Russian social movement Alternatives, author of more then 20 books and hundreds of articles, translated into English, German and many other languages.

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: July 11, 2018, 08:07:09 pm »

Growing Up in the USSR – RAI with A. Buzgalin (1/12)

July 11, 2018

Prof. Alexander Buzgalin joins Paul Jay on Reality Asserts Itself; born two years after the death of Stalin, he talks about growing up in the Soviet Union

Related Bios

Aleksandr Buzgalin

Aleksandr Buzgalin is a Professor of Political Economy at Moscow State University. He is also editor of the independent democratic left magazine Alternatives, and is a coordinator of the Russian social movement Alternatives, author of more then 20 books and hundreds of articles, translated into English, German and many other languages.

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: June 18, 2018, 09:12:14 pm »

Far-Right 🦀 Wins Presidency in Colombia: ‘A Frightening Result’ 😨

June 18, 2018

Ivan Duque, who is the candidate of former president Alvaro Uribe, won a solid victory for Colombia’s presidency and will probably take Colombia back towards civil war and internal repression, with the help of the US and other conservative governments, argues Manuel Rozental, of PueblosEnCamino.org

Manuel Rozental

Emmanuel Rozental is a Colombian activist, physician, and practicing surgeon with more than 40 years’ involvement in grassroots political organizing with youth, indigenous peoples, and urban and rural movements. He has been exiled several times to Canada for political activities. Academic in social and political sciences, strategist with social movements throughout the Americas and beyond.

SNIPPET from video interview:

So our fear is now that Colombia is the spearhead of the U.S. policy for this continent. And the U.S. policy for this continent in economic terms is this: war actually is not a means to an end. The resources and territories that are needed are not only a means to an end. War is the end in itself.

The Middle Eastern wars have activated the economy and have improved the economy in the U.S. [Inaudible] that Colombia’s role is one of the Israel of Latin America. And what comes here is a model and a new phase, neoliberalism is left behind.

The new phase such as Colombia and Mexico for capital from the U.S., and pushed by, promoted by U.S. corporations and the Pentagon, is actually a, let’s call it a mafia-type capitalism which is, on the one hand, drug trafficking and drug mafias together with governments and corporations, and launching all types of wars constantly.

I am not trying to generate fear. I’m just showing the type of movements we’re seeing developing here.

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: June 18, 2018, 07:31:38 pm »

I just took this quiz and did pretty well with it. This quiz is valuable because is shows how little the average American actually knows about why these wars happen and who gets killed in them. What I got right has a "✔" and what I got wrong has a red asterisk *.  The correct answer(s) are in bold.

Quiz: Beyond War 🕊

What tends to be present where war is? (Check all that apply.)

a) resource scarcity

b) human rights violations in need of response

c) raw fossil fuels

d) Islam  * (I picked this one too and should not have  :-[)

See documentation of c here.

See documentation of not a here.

B and D are non-plausible propaganda.


Nations are more likely to wage war if . . . (Check all that apply.) [THIS QUESTION NOT USED IN FACEBOOK VERSION DUE TO HAVING MULTIPLE ANSWERS]

a) they have militaries * (I didn't pick this one  :-[)

b) they spend more than other nations on their militaries ✔

c) their people accept that war is a legitimate tool of public policy

d) they’re great

See documentation of c here.

See evidence for a and b here.


The United States sells weapons to this percentage of the world’s dictatorships.

a) 0%

b) 12%

c) 52%

d) 73%

See documentation of d here.


The majority of those killed in modern wars are . . .

a) members of a military

b) terrorists

c) evil demons

d) civilians

It’s not even close. Some examples are here.


The majority of those killed with missiles from drones have been . . .

a) criminals

b) terrorists

c) suspect profiled individuals

d) unidentified

See documentation of d here.


What percentage of suicide terrorist attacks are aimed at getting a military to cease occupying a foreign country?

a) 4%

b) 27%

c) 39%

d) 95%

See documentation of d here.


What percentage of military bases on foreign soil are U.S. military bases?

a) 49%

b) 68%

c) 81%

d) 96%

See documentation of d here.


What percentage of global military spending could end starvation globally?

a) 1.5%

b) 3% *

c) 18%

d) 62%

See documentation of a here.


What percentage of the top 4 weapons dealers in the world are permanent members of the United Nations Security Council?

a) 0%

b) 25%

c) 50%

d) 100%

They are the United States, Russia, China, France. The U.K. does not always clearly hold fifth place, though it is always in the top 6 or 7. See documentation of d here.


People have signed World BEYOND War’s pledge to help end all war in how many countries?

a) 6

b) 44

c) 107

d) 158

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: June 18, 2018, 06:50:58 pm »


A Concerned Citizens Study & Action Guide for "A Global Security System: An Alternative to War"

(Discussion 7) Transition: From an Offensive to Defensive Posture

Get your copy!  💐

A Global Security System: an Alternative to War

The 2017 edition of A Global Security System: An Alternative to War (AGSS) is now available.

AGSS, World Beyond War’s effort to describe an alternative security system, is the primary resource for STUDY WAR NO MORE.

AGSS describes the “hardware” of creating a peace system, and the “software” — the values and concepts — necessary to operate a peace system and the means to spread these globally.

Read more and view more great videos:

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: June 17, 2018, 09:53:31 pm »



Scapegoating Iran 😠

By Chris Hedges


NEW YORK—Seventeen years of war in the Middle East and what do we have to show for it? Iraq after our 2003 invasion and occupation is no longer a unified country. Its once modern infrastructure is largely destroyed, and the nation has fractured into warring enclaves. We have lost the war in Afghanistan. The Taliban is resurgent and has a presence in over 70 percent of the country. Libya is a failed state. Yemen after three years of relentless airstrikes and a blockade is enduring one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters. The 500 “moderate” rebels we funded and armed in Syria at a cost of $500 million are in retreat after instigating a lawless reign of terror. The military adventurism has cost a staggering $5.6 trillion as our infrastructure crumbles, austerity guts basic services and half the population of the United States lives at or near poverty levels. The endless wars in the Middle East are the biggest strategic blunder in American history and herald the death of the empire.

Someone has to be blamed for debacles that have resulted in hundreds of thousands of dead, including at least 200,000 civilians, and millions driven from their homes. Someone has to be blamed for the proliferation of radical jihadist groups throughout the Middle East, the continued worldwide terrorist attacks, the wholesale destruction of cities and towns under relentless airstrikes and the abject failure of U.S. and U.S.-backed forces to stanch the insurgencies. You can be sure it won’t be the generals, the politicians such as George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, the rabid neocons such as Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz and John Bolton who sold us the wars, the Central Intelligence Agency, the arms contractors who profit from perpetual war or the celebrity pundits on the airwaves and in newspapers who serve as cheerleaders for the mayhem.

“The failed policies, or lack of policies, of the United States, which violate international law, have left the Middle East in total chaos,” the Iranian ambassador to the United Nations, Gholamali Khoshroo, told me when we met in New York City. “The United States, to cover up these aggressive, reckless and costly policies, blames Iran. Iran is blamed for their failures in Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Lebanon.”

Full truth filled article:

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: June 13, 2018, 05:47:22 pm »

Trump Halts War Games, Floats Troop Pullout in Korea

June 13, 2018   

At the Singapore summit, President Trump announced a halt to U.S. war games on the Korean peninsula and said he wants to withdraw American troops. But if he does, he’ll face stiff resistance from Congress and Pentagon, warns author James Dorsey


Can North Korea Believe Trump’s Promises?

June 12, 2018   

The United States has a history of not keeping its word. U.S. just withdrew from the Iran agreement, so why would the North Koreans believe the U.S. asks Tom Collina of the Ploughshares Fund


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