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One year before overthrowing Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2012, the Security Council of the UN anxious about the events was happening in Yemen issued a resolution according to which all belligerent sides should immediately reject violence and called on them to commit a peaceful transition of power.
On 21 February 2012, in contradiction to the resolution and the article 108 of the constitution of Yemen, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, then vice president, held a presidential election in which he was the sole candidate, and as a result of which he became president for two years. When Shia insurgency intensified against Hadi, he abdicated in January 2015 and fled to Saudi Arabia requesting help from that country.
On 26 March a coalition of some Arab countries, as well as Pakistan, under the command of Saudi Arabia invaded Yemen calling their operation “al-Hazm Storm”. The Arab countries of Morocco, Sudan, Egypt, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, and UAE have taken part in the operation, and Somalia allowed the coalition to use its military bases to invade Yemen.
The coalition claims that the reason of its attack to Yemen was the letter which has been written by Hadi, after his abdication, requesting the UN and Saudi Arabia to intervene in Yemen by land force. On the other hand, the coalition forces, in their letter to the UN, claimed that the Houthis seek for hegemony on Yemen, using this country as a base to affect the region. Therefore, they claimed, the threat of Houthis is not only against the security, stability, and sovereignty of Yemen, but also against the peace and security of the region as well as international community. Pondering on the letter, it could be inferred that the coalition is not worried about the people of Yemen, but they are deeply scared of the impact of some other countries on Yemen. In fact, Saudi Arabia is deeply anxious about Yemen to be out of Saudi’s control, which was continuous for consecutive decades.
Invasion of Yemen entailed different reactions amongst different countries. Although the US, Canada, France, the UK, Israel, and Turkey, are amongst the supporters of the invasion, Russia, Iran, Iraq and Syria were against the attack. China and the UN also declared their anxiousness about the invasion.
Prohibition of the use of force is one of the basic principles on which international law has been founded. According to Article 2(4) of the Charter of the UN, all members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.
According to The Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States adopted by the General Assembly on 24 October 1970 (resolution 2625 (XXV)), “A war of aggression constitutes a crime against the peace, for which there is responsibility under international law.”
According to the declaration, “States have the duty to refrain from propaganda for wars of aggression … [and] every State has the duty to refrain from the threat or use of force to violate the existing international boundaries of another State.” Although the declaration is not legally bounding, it is an important reliable document for the interpretation of the relevant rules of the UN charter. Therefore, the use of force for furthering national policy as well as interference in internal affairs of other countries, create the infringement of basic principles of international law.
The prohibition of the use of force has some exceptions, including self-defence and collective security system, which are not enforceable on the case of Yemen. No armed attack had been occurred by Yemen against the members of the coalition. Although the security council in its resolutions number 2201 and 2216 has considered Hadi as president of Yemen and referred to his letter in which he had requested help from the Arab League, the reliability of the resolutions, because of their being against ius cogens, ought to be regarded with suspicion. Many defenceless civilian Yemeni people were killed by the recurrent air strikes of the coalition which attacked them indiscriminately.
Although it has been claimed that the invasion has taken place based on the letter of Yemeni’s president, in should be said that Hadi was not the president of Yemen at the time of the letter. He, and his cabinet, had abdicated before as a result of a popular uprising, not as a result of a coup or something like that, as in Haiti in 1991. Therefore, he was not the representative of Yemeni people to request international community to intervene in Yemen.
To sum up, considering the rules of international law, it seems that the military operation of the coalition against Yemen is in contrast to international law; because of the fact that it was not an occupation by another state, such as Kuwait in 1990, and it was not a military coup, in contrast to the claims of Hadi, in Yemen. The Yemeni people would like to overthrow Hadi; but he supressed them with ultimate cruelty; for example, in the bloody Friday of 8 March 2011, more than 50 people were killed and 240 were wounded. Instead of listening to the demands of the downtrodden people of Yemen, the government of Hadi tried to suppress them violently; and it was condemned several times by international organisations, such as amnesty international and the UN. Now the breach of the sovereignty of Yemen and its territorial integrity is against the goals and purposes of the UN Charter. Being against humanitarian international law, it not does not help to create peace and security in the region; but it helps the terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda to grow up.
Amir Abbas Amirshekari, PhD in International Law (University of Tehran, Iran), Advocate (Iran Bar Association)
Israeli military bulldozers destroyed, Monday, a drinking water pipeline that was funded by The United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in the Central Plains of the occupied West Bank.
Mo’taz Bisharat, a Palestinian official in charge of Israeli colonies’ file at the Palestinian Authority in central West Bank, said many Israeli army jeeps and bulldozers invaded the area, during early morning hours, and destroyed a drinking water pipeline, providing water to Palestinian communities along the al-Hadeediyya and ar-Ras al-Ahmar areas.
Bisharat added that the pipeline provided clean drinking water to 47 families, and extended on 8.5 kilometers.
He also stated that the pipeline’s installation and equipment costs were 12500 euros, provided by the UNICEF to enable access to clean drinking water, and added that the soldiers confiscated large sections of the pipeline.
It is worth mentioning that this destruction is the second of its kind in one month.
Contrary to defense industry claims, missile defense does not make the world a safer place but rather destabilizes it, warned Dr. Jae-jung Suh and Ray McGovern during a recent online webinar organized by StopTHAAD.org. StopTHAAD.org is a coalition of organizations building awareness and helping to grow a movement to stop the deployment of U.S. missile defense (MD) systems, such as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, which the Pentagon plans to deploy in South Korea this year.
MD systems are designed to detect, track, intercept and destroy incoming missiles. Initially built to intercept intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), MD has broadened to include shorter-range non-nuclear tactical and theater missiles. MD allows first nuclear strike capability. During the Cold War, the doctrine of mutually assured destruction (M.A.D.) deterred nuclear powers from actually attacking each other with nuclear weapons. If one side were to attack, the other side would retaliate with a counter-attack, thereby mutually assuring each other’s destruction, and this prevented all parties from initiating conflict. The aim of MD, however, is to rid the enemy’s ability to mount a retaliatory attack and thereby secure first strike capability. This makes nuclear weapons a more “usable” option.
In 1972, the U.S. and Soviet Union signed the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. This, according to Ray McGovern, who served as a CIA analyst from 1963 to 1990 and is now an anti-war activist, allowed each country only two ABM sites. Two ABM sites are hardly enough to guarantee nationwide protection. The signing of this treaty ensured that neither country could attack the other without “suffering a crippling blow in retaliation,” said McGovern, who had the privilege of attending the historic signing event.
(Ray McGovern on Missile Defense)
In 2002, former President Bush withdrew the U.S. withdrew from the ABM Treaty, “the main source for strategic stability,”according to McGovern. Since then, the MD industry has been on steroids, and the U.S. has been building and deploying MD systems surrounding Russia. Since 2011, the Pentagon has been implementing what it calls the “European Phased Adaptive Approach” (EPPA). The four phases outlined are as follows:
Phase One: address short and medium range ballistic missile “threats” by deploying sea-based MD systems, Aegis Ballistic MD ships, to the Mediterranean Sea. Phase One also calls for deploying a land-based early warning radar, which Turkey has agreed to host.
Phase Two: expand coverage against short and medium range threats with the fielding of a land-based SM-3 MD interceptor site in Romania, along with a BMD site.
Phase Three: improve coverage against medium and intermediate range missile “threats” with an additional land-based SM-3 interceptor site in Poland.
Phase Four: enhance the ability to counter medium and intermediate range missiles and potential future ICBM “threats” with the deployment of a SM-3 Block IIB interceptor in the Middle East.
In 2014, when the western intelligence community orchestrated a coup in Crimea to expand NATO eastward, Putin’s response, according to McGovern, was in part prompted by the U.S. deployment of MD in Eastern Europe. When Putin asked the last U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union, Jack Matlock whether or not deploying MD systems on Russia’s doorstep is a threat to Russian security, Matlock attempted to dispel the argument but responded with something even more disturbing– “It is not to threaten Russia, but to create jobs for American manufacturers and employees.” Putin then asked, “Why would you ‘create jobs’ in an industry that has the potential to put the entire human race in danger?” Russia — and perhaps everyone else except the United States — seems to understand how dangerous and destabilizing MD/ABMs can be.
Speaking to western journalists at an international forum in 2016, Putin accused the U.S. of using the “Iranian threat” to justify its MD systems in Europe. “The Iranian threat does not exist,” he said. Again, Russia interprets U.S. MD as a threat to its national security and an offensive system, which disables its retaliatory capability in the face of an attack. Putin went on to say U.S. citizens “do not feel a sense of the impending danger-this worries me.” McGovern concurred– “There is no rational discussion of these problems within western media apparatus.”
“Trump has huge openings here… And this [MD systems] will be Topic A on Russia’s agenda,” concluded McGovern. “There’s no reason we can’t do another 1972 deal, not just Russia, but extended to the far-east [Asia] as well.”
U.S. THAAD Deployment in South Korea
On July 7, 2016, the U.S. and South Korean governments announced a joint decision to deploy the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system to South Korea sometime in 2017. Since then, there has been wide disapproval from the South Korean people, who have been waging anti-THAAD protests throughout the country as part of the larger protests against the scandal-ridden President Park Geun-Hye.
THAAD is comprised of five major components: interceptors, launchers, radar, a fire control unit, and support equipment. The two controversial components are the interceptor (hit-to-kill missile) and the radar (AN/TPY-2). The interceptor isn’t effective for short-range missiles from North Korea, according to Dr. Jae-jung Suh, but the radar, if deployed in South Korea, has the potential to expand U.S. surveillance over China. THAAD is built to intercept high altitude intermediate range missiles, not the short range missiles North Korea would use were it to attack the South.
The THAAD system, says Suh, a professor of politics and international affairs at International Christian University in Japan, needs to be understood as part of an arms race on the Korean peninsula as well as the broader global arms race. Suh has been a leading expert on U.S. militarism in the Asia-Pacific for several years and has recently focused his work on the THAAD issue.
The THAAD system would not protect Seoul, where half the South Korean population resides, says Suh. The Pentagon plans to deploy it in the southeastern part of Korea, and it would only be able to protect the southern half of the country, where most U.S. forces are stationed. The THAAD radar, according to Suh, would most likely be used to detect North Korean missiles headed for the United States. It would relay the information to the U.S. THAAD system in Alaska, from where interceptors can be launched to destroy the incoming missile. In other words, the THAAD system doesn’t benefit South Koreans although they will bear the burden of hosting it.
Even former President Obama seems to have known that THAAD is for protecting U.S. assets, not South Korean lives. In an interview with CBS News in 2016, he said, “But what we’re also doing is consulting with the South Koreans, for the first time, about more missile defense capabilities to prevent any possibility that North Korea could reach U.S. facilities or the U.S. population.”
Suh agrees with McGovern that U.S. MD destabilizes the world. The THAAD radar’s ability to conduct surveillance over Chinese soil undermines mutual deterrence between the United States and China. The United States already has two THAAD radars in Japan in addition to its previous-mentioned MD systems in Europe. Tensions in the Asia-Pacific have been rising since the announcement of U.S.’ THAAD deployment in Korea, and China has already retaliated against South Korea with 43 actions.
Suh proposes an immediate freeze and arms control as an alternative. Trump could decide to not deploy the controversial MD system to South Korea and downgrade or stop the annual military training exercises in South Korea, says Suh. If so, he added, North Korea would likely be willing to negotiate, which is the only path to peace.
Tracing the history of North Korea’s responses to U.S. actions since 1994 to the present underscores this point and provides useful instruction on how to move forward, says Suh. As the following chart shows, each time the U.S. was willing to engage in discussion, North Korea responded with freezing its nuclear program and even disabled it for a moment. But every time the U.S. intensified military pressure, North Korea re-ignited its nuclear program.
(Professor JJ Suh on the THAAD and the global arms race)
William Griffin is a member of Veterans for Peace and a Steering Committee member of the Task Force to Stop THAAD in Korea and Militarism in Asia and the Pacific.
Theodor Herzl is considered the Father of the present State of Israel and founder of Zionism and in his book “The Jewish State: Essay on a Modern Solution of the Jewish Question”, proposed the creation of an independent and sovereign Jewish State for all Jews of the World while promoting the creation of the OSM (World Zionist Organization) and in his work “The Old New Earth” (1902), lays the foundations of the present Jewish state as a utopia of a modern, democratic and prosperous nation in which Projected to the Jewish people within the context of the search of rights for the national minorities of the time that lacked state, like the Armenians and the Arabs.
However, aurora-israel.co/il, denounces that “the isolationist policy of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu seems to be at the antipodes of the founders of Zionism, such as Teodoro Herzl and Chaim Weizmman, who included the movement within the spectrum Progressive in the field of diplomacy, so the question is whether the diplomatic isolation of Israel can be reversed with a policy that is contrary to immobility and closure. “
Thus, the Jewish movement Peace Now in its report “Moving away the solution of the Two States”, asserts that the Government of Netanyahu plans to resume the project of building more than 55,000 houses in settlements located in occupied territory of the West Bank and East Jerusalem,
That more than 8,000 would be settled in the colony E-1, a territory of 12 square kilometers located between the Jewish settlement of Maale Adumin and the northeastern area of Jerusalem, which in practice would mean the termination of the existence of Two States and a decree In all rule to the red line imposed by US and EU. As a result, the Obama Administration allowed the UN Security Council to condemn Israeli settlements, ignoring US President-elect Donald Trump, who unsuccessfully tried to stop the resolution and breaking with his traditional stance, the United States resigned Veto this critical text with Israel and abstained, while the other fourteen members of the Council voted in favor, which has as immediate collateral effect “the energetic condemnation of the Netanyahu Government of the resolution of the Council, which demands the end of the Colonization and try to ensure the viability of the two-state solution, as well as the US decision to allow it to be approved. ”
Netanyahu and the manipulation of fear
American Harold Lasswell (one of the pioneers of mass communication research) studied post-World War I propaganda techniques and identified a way of manipulating the masses (hypodermic needle or magic bullet theory) , A theory embodied in his book “Propaganda Techniques in World War (1927) and based on” injecting into the population a concrete idea with the help of the mass media to direct public opinion for their own benefit and that allows to achieve The adhesion of individuals to their political ideology without resorting to violence “(defense of the sacrosanct security of Israel).
Edward L. Bernays, Sigmund Freud’s nephew and one of the pioneers in the study of mass psychology, in his book “Crystallizing public opinion”, unravels the group’s brain mechanisms and the influence of propaganda as a method To unify his thinking. Thus, according to his words “the mind of the group does not think, in the strict sense of the word. Instead of thoughts it has impulses, habits and emotions. At the moment of deciding his first impulse is usually to follow the example of a leader in whom he trusts “, reason why the propaganda of the Zionist establishment will be directed not to the individual subject but to the Group in which the personality of the one-dimensional individual is diluted and falls Shrouded in fragments of false expectations and common aspirations that support it, using the invisible dictatorship of fear of the Third Holocaust, come from Hamas, Hezbollah or Iran.
Following the US Senate and Congressional approval of a statement prepared by Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and Democrat Robert Menendez stating that “if Israel is forced to defend itself and take action (against Iran), the United States will be To support it militarily and diplomatically, “we will see increased pressure from the pro-Israel lobby of the United States (AIPAC) to proceed to the destabilization of Syria and Iran by expeditious methods at the Trump stage, which will be used By the US-Britain-Israel Trilateral to redesign the unconnected puzzles mapping the present Middle Eastern countries and thus achieve strategically advantageous borders for Israel, following the plan orchestrated 60 years ago by the Governments of Britain, the United States and Israel and would have the support of the main Western allies (Greater Israel, Eretz Israel), as it would try to unite the antithetical concepts of the atavism of Greater Israel (Eretz Israel) and that it would drink from the sources Of Genesis 15:18, which states that “4,000 years ago, the title of ownership of all the land existing between the Nile River of Egypt and the Euphrates River was bequeathed to the Hebrew patriarch Abraham and later transferred to his descendants.”
This would entail the restoration of the Balfour Declaration (1917), which drew a state of Israel with a vast expanse of about 46,000 square miles, stretching from the Mediterranean east of the Euphrates to Syria, Lebanon, the northern part of Iraq, Northern part of Saudi Arabia, the coastal strip of the Red Sea and the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt as well as Jordan. This doctrine would have as main leader to Isaac Shamir when defending that “Judea and Samaria (biblical terms of the current West Bank) are integral part of the land of Israel. They have not been captured nor will they be returned to anyone, “a doctrine on which would be based the current postulates of the Likud party led by Netanyahu who aspires to make Jerusalem the” indivisible capital of the new Israel “, after the invasion of his Oriental after the War of the Six Days (1967).
Copyright © Germán Gorraiz López, Global Research, 2017
Since Donald Trump’s election as US president last November and particularly since the beginning of the year, increasing numbers of refugees are fleeing the US for Canada. To do so, many are making perilous journeys through snow-laden fields, in frigid temperatures.
The Trump administration and its anti-immigrant witch-hunt are responsible for the refugees’ plight. So too is Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government. If refugee claimants are being forced to cross into Canada using fields and seldom-traveled back roads, it is because the Trudeau government has instructed the Canada Border Services Agency to continue to enforce the reactionary Canada-US “Safe Third Country Agreement” and deny them entry if they try to enter Canada at a border crossing.
The number of asylum seekers crossing from the US states of New York, Vermont and Maine into Quebec in January was up more than ten-fold from two years ago. While only 42 made the crossing in January 2015, last month the figure was 452.
A network of smugglers has sprung up, charging up to $1,000 per head to take families from New York and other cities to the Canadian border.
Since January, hundreds, often in groups of a dozen or more, have trekked along frozen rivers and fields to reach Manitoba from Minnesota and North Dakota. Many have made the trip without winter clothing and in temperatures of -20 degrees Celsius (minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit). Some have lost fingers due to frostbite.
Most of the refugees entering Canada from the US fled war, poverty and persecution in their native Africa. But the asylum seekers also include people from Latin America and other impoverished parts of the world.
The Trump administration launched a brutal witch-hunt against refugees and immigrants, with Muslims a special target, almost from the day it took office. The President has vowed to deport up to 3 million immigrants and already authorized mass deportation raids and vastly expanded the grounds on which people can be deported. He is also preparing a new executive order to re-impose the ban on refugees, immigrants and visitors traveling to the US from seven Muslim-majority countries.
Yesterday, in a further indication of the draconian character of the assault his administration is mounting on undocumented immigrants, Trump referred to it as a “military operation.”
The Canadian government’s response to the spike in asylum seekers has been a combination of callous indifference and outright hostility. New arrivals are being forced to rely on private charity to obtain the basic necessities of life, with many organizations reporting that they are already running short of supplies.
Under conditions where the US is openly violating its obligations to refugees and refugee-claimants under international law and asylum seekers are putting their lives at risk to reach Canada, the Liberal government has said it will not raise Canada’s pitifully low refugee quota for 2017.
More significant still is the Liberals’ staunch defence of the 2002 “Safe Third Country Agreement” with the United States. Under this agreement, any asylum seeker who enters Canada from the US at a border checkpoint is denied entry and the right to make a claim for refugee status in Canada and immediately returned to the US.
It is this that is causing people fleeing the US for Canada to choose high-risk routes to enter the country. Those who cross the border at an unauthorized point and subsequently file asylum claims are not automatically returned to the US. Canadian authorities can, however, later argue against granting them asylum on the grounds that they should have applied for refugee status in the US.
More than 200 legal scholars and refugee advocacy groups have called on the government to scrap, or at the very least suspend, the “Safe Third Country Agreement,” citing Trump’s anti-immigrant measures. But the government, with Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, who came to Canada as a 16-year-old Somali refugee serving as its frontman, has callously refused to do so.
When asked in parliament earlier this month about his government’s response to the spike in asylum seekers, Trudeau made clear that the plight of the refugees is the last of his concerns.
“We need,” declared Trudeau, “to make sure that we are protecting the integrity of the Canadian border, the strength of our immigration and refugee system, and demonstrating that we are there for the security of communities and individuals.”
The Trudeau government’s refusal to assist those desperately seeking to escape Trump’s deportation dragnet underscores the hypocritical and fraudulent character of the Liberals’ posturing as “refugee-friendly.” In the 2015 election, Trudeau sought to appeal to popular anger against the Harper Conservative government by making calibrated attacks on its whipping up of Islamophobia and its depiction of Syrian refugees as a grave threat to Canadian security.
Trudeau has since been promoted by the likes of the New York Times and the British Guardian as something of a poster boy for international liberalism because his government accepted 25,000 Syrian refugees into Canada in its first months in office. Not only is this a drop in the bucket given the millions displaced by the war in Syria, but Ottawa refused to accept any single men and worked with the US Department of Homeland Security to screen those it did allow in. Moreover, the majority were privately sponsored by churches and other charities, meaning that the government provided no support for them.
Last but not least, the Liberals used their “pro-refugee” stance as political cover for increasing Canada’s role in the US-led Mideast War. Yet it is the wars Washington has mounted over the past quarter-century, with Canadian imperialism’s support and participation, in the Middle East, Afghanistan and the Balkans, that have laid waste to entire societies, producing the greatest refugee crisis since the Second World War.
There are two reasons the Liberals are so adamant about upholding the “Safe Third Country Agreement.” First, Trudeau’s cynical tweets about Canada being “open” notwithstanding, they do not want to encourage asylum seekers to seek refuge in Canada. All the more so under conditions where Trump’s brutal measures could cause many to look to Canada for refuge.
Second and even more importantly, Trudeau and his government are determined to forge a close working relationship with the Trump administration and, therefore, don’t want to cause it any embarrassment or be seen to criticize it.
Earlier this month, Trudeau visited Trump at the White House and reaffirmed the longstanding Canada-US military-strategic partnership. Their joint statement pledged Canada to collaborate even more closely in US-led imperialist interventions around the globe and to forge a protectionist trade bloc under Washington’s leadership aimed at offloading the capitalist crisis onto Washington and Ottawa’s economic and geopolitical rivals.
During his Washington trip, Trudeau studiously avoided making any direct comment about Trump’s ruthless crackdown on immigrants. When, at their joint press conference, the US president launched into a full-throated defence of his 120-day suspension of all refugee claims and his discriminatory ban on persons from seven Muslim countries entering the US, Trudeau remained silent.
Canada’s Conservatives and other right-wing forces are seeking to exploit the refugee issue to foment reaction. Predictably, the Conservatives have launched a xenophobic campaign, denouncing asylum seekers for entering Canada “illegally” and demanding that the government do more to “defend” Canada’s borders.
Such claims deliberately seek to scapegoat refugees for problems that have been created by Canada’s brutal refugee policies. If asylum seekers are being forced to enter the country “illegally,” it is precisely because of the draconian anti-immigrant measures imposed by the former Conservative government and upheld by the Liberals, including the Trudeau government’s refusal to cancel the “Safe Third Country Agreement.”
Addressing the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday, Vice President Pence said “America’s Obamacare nightmare is about to end.”
He lied saying he and Trump are committed to giving every American “access to quality, affordable health insurance,” vowing an “orderly transition” from current policy to Trumpcare.
The only responsible solution is government-sponsored, single-payer, universal coverage – ruled off the table by both wings of America’s duopoly system.
Everyone in, no one left out, equal benefits for everyone, not more for some, less for others.
House Speaker Paul Ryan wants tax credits replacing Obamacare subsidies, a boon for well-off households, disastrous for low-income ones and millions of unemployed Americans, paying little or no taxes – unable to benefit from credits.
He favors “mini-med” plans, offering minimal coverage, way too little in cases of serious illnesses, diseases or expensive hospitalizations and surgeries.
He wants inadequate block grants to states in lieu of Washington’s commitment to match their Medicaid spending.
He wants Medicare benefits beginning at age 67, instead of as early as age 62 currently, along with guaranteed benefits for seniors replaced by vouchers to purchase insurance – adjusted to inflation changes artificially kept low, ignoring soaring healthcare costs.
He and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, an orthopedic surgeon turned politician, want healthcare coverage for low-income and unemployed Americans reduced, while maintaining top quality coverage for the nation’s privileged class.
They want Washington’s obligation shifted to states. Martin Luther King once said “(o)f all the forms of inequality, injustice in healthcare is the most shocking and inhumane.”
Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) advocates universal coverage as the only responsible policy. Their report titled “Beyond the Affordable Care Act: A Physicians’ Proposal for Single-Payer Health Care Reform” addresses fundamental reform vitally needed.
America spends double the amount on healthcare compared to other developed countries, while providing inadequate or no coverage for most of its citizens. Trumpcare looks like a scheme to make a bad system worse, not better.
PNHP’s proposal corrects systemic deficiencies, most of all “high cost sharing, limitations of coverage, and subcontracting to wasteful private plans.”
It focuses heavily on dramatically reducing administrative costs and other inefficiencies. It aims to eliminate underinsurance and lack of coverage affecting millions.
Though publicly financed, it relies on private providers. It reduces billing and paperwork costs – eliminating hundreds of billions of dollars in exorbitant insurance costs.
Federal bargaining with drug companies would assure much lower-priced prescription drugs. Hospitalization costs would go down.
Overall healthcare costs in other developed nations are around half what they are in America. Trumpcare will do nothing to address this.
Under Obamacare, around 26 million Americans have no coverage. Underinsurance endangers millions more. High deductibles and co-pays add greater burdens for low-income households.
Trumpcare threatens to replace a bad system with something worse. Marketplace medicine works well for insurers, drug companies and large hospital chains.
Single-payer universal coverage is the only equitable system for millions of ordinary people, struggling daily to get by. It’s a fundamental human right.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected].
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
Copyright © Stephen Lendman, Global Research, 2017
52 years-ago on February 21st, the world lost the great anti-colonial fighter, Malcolm X. Around the world, millions pause on this anniversary and take note of the life and contribution of Brother Malcolm. Two years ago, I keynoted a lecture on the legacy of Malcolm X at the American University in Beirut, Lebanon. While I had long been aware of the veneration that Malcolm inspired in various parts of the world, I was still struck by the love and appreciation that so many have for Malcolm beyond activists in the black world.
There are a number of reasons that might explain why 52 years later so many still pay homage to Malcolm. For those of us who operate within context of the Black Radical Tradition, Malcolm’s political life and philosophy connected three streams of the Black Radical Tradition: nationalism, anti-colonialism and internationalism. For many, the way in which Malcolm approached those elements account for his appeal. Yet, I think there is something else. Something not reducible to the language of political struggle and opposition that I hear when I encounter people in the U.S. and in other parts of the world when they talk about Malcolm. I suspect it is his defiance, his dignity, his courage and his selflessness. For me, it is all of that, but it is also how those elements were reflected in his politics, in particular his approach to the concept of human rights.
The aspects of his thought and practice that distinguished the period of his work in that short year between his break with the Nation of Islam (NOI) in 1964 and his assassination in 1965 included not only his anti-racism and anti-colonialist stance but also his advocacy of a radical approach to the issue of human rights.
Human Rights as a De-Colonial Fighting Instrument
Malcolm – in the tradition of earlier black radical activists and intellectuals in the late 1940s – understood the subversive potential of the concept of human rights when philosophically and practically disconnected from its liberal, legalistic, and state-centered genesis.
For Malcolm, internationalizing resistance to the system of racial oppression in the U.S. meant redefining the struggle for constitutional civil rights by transforming the struggle for full recognition of African American citizenship rights to a struggle for human rights.
This strategy for international advocacy was not new. African Americans led by W.E. B. Dubois were present at Versailles during the post-World War I negotiations to pressure for self-rule for various African nations, including independence from the racist apartheid regime in South Africa. At the end of the World War II during the creation of the United Nations, African American radicals forged the possibilities to use this structure as a strategic space to pressure for international support for ending colonization in Africa and fight against racial oppression in the United States.
Malcolm studied the process by which various African American organizations – the National Negro Congress (NNC), National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Civil Rights Congress (CRC), petitioned the UN through the Human Rights Commission on behalf of the human rights of African Americans. Therefore, in the very first months after his split with the NOI, he already envisioned idea that the struggle of Africans in the U.S. had to be internationalized as a human rights struggle. He advised leaders of the civil rights movement to “expand their civil rights movement to a human rights movement, it would internationalize it.”
Taking a page from the examples of the NNC, NAACP and CRC, The Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU), one of the two organizations Malcolm formed after leaving the NOI, sought to bring the plight of African Americans to the United Nations to demand international sanctions against the U.S. for refusing to recognize the human rights of this oppressed nation.
However, there was something quite different with Malcolm’s approach to human rights that distinguished him from mainstream civil rights activists. By grounding himself in the radical human rights approach, Malcolm articulated a position on human rights struggle that did not contain itself to just advocacy. He understood that appealing to the same powers that were responsible for the structures of oppression was a dead end. Those kinds of unwise and potentially reactionary appeals would never result in substantial structural changes. Malcolm understood oppressed peoples must commit themselves to radical political struggle in order to advance a dignified approach to human rights.
We have to make the world see that the problem that we’re confronted with is a problem for humanity. It’s not a Negro problem; it’s not an American problem. You and I have to make it a world problem, make the world aware that there’ll be no peace on this earth as long as our human rights are being violated in America.
And if the U.S. and the international community does not address the human rights plight of the African American, Malcolm is clear on the course of action: “If we can’t be recognized and respected as a human being, we have to create a situation where no human being will enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Malcolm’s approach to the realization of human rights was one in which human agency is at the center. If oppressed individuals are not willing to fight for their human rights, Malcolm suggested that “you should be kept in the cotton patch where you’re not a human being.”
If you are not ready to pay the price required to experience full dignity as a person and as members of a self-determinant people, then you will be consigned to the “zone of non-being,” as Fanon refers to that place where the non-European is assigned. Malcolm referred to that zone as a place where one is a sub-human:
You’re an animal that belongs in the cotton patch like a horse and a cow, or a chicken or a possum, if you’re not ready to pay the price that is necessary to be paid for recognition and respect as a human being.
And what is that price?
The price to make others respect your human rights is death. You have to be ready to die… it’s time for you and me now to let the world know how peaceful we are, how well-meaning we are, how law-abiding we wish to be. But at the same time, we have to let the same world know we’ll blow their world sky-high if we’re not respected and recognized and treated the same as other human beings are treated.
People(s)-Centered Human Rights:
This approach to human rights struggle is the basis of what I call the People(s)-Centered approach to human rights struggle.
People(s)-Centered Human Rights (PCHR) are those non-oppressive rights that reflect the highest commitment to universal human dignity and social justice that individuals and collectives define and secure for themselves through social struggle.
This is the Black Radical Tradition’s approach to human rights. It is an approach that views human rights as an arena of struggle that, when grounded and informed by the needs and aspirations of the oppressed, becomes part of a unified comprehensive strategy for de-colonization and radical social change.
The PCHR framework provides an alternative and a theoretical and practical break with the race and class-bound liberalism and mechanistic state-centered legalism that informs mainstream human rights.
The people-centered framework proceeds from the assumption that the genesis of the assaults on human dignity that are at the core of human rights violations is located in the relationships of oppression. The PCHR framework does not pretend to be non-political. It is a political project in the service of the oppressed. It names the enemies of freedom: the Western white supremacist, colonial/capitalist patriarchy.
Therefore, the realization of authentic freedom and human dignity can only come about as a result of the radical alteration of the structures and relationships that determine and often deny human dignity. In other words, it is only through social revolution that human rights can be realized.
The demands for clean water; safe and accessible food; free quality education; healthcare and healthiness for all; housing; public transportation; wages and a socially productive job that allow for a dignified life; ending of mass incarceration; universal free child care; opposition to war and the control and eventual elimination of the police; self-determination; and respect for democracy in all aspects of life are some of the people-centered human rights that can only be realized through a bottom-up mass movement for building popular power.
By shifting the center of human rights struggle away from advocacy to struggle, Malcolm laid the foundation for a more relevant form of human rights struggle for people still caught in the tentacles of Euro-American colonial dominance. The PCHR approach that creates human rights from the bottom-up views human rights as an arena of struggle. Human rights does not emanate from legalistic texts negotiated by states—it comes from the aspirations of the people. Unlike the liberal conception of human rights that elevates some mystical notions of natural law (which is really bourgeois law) as the foundation of rights, the “people” in formation are the ethical foundation and source of PCHRs.
Trumpism is the logical outcome of the decades long assault of racialized neoliberal capitalism. Malcolm showed us how to deal with Trumpism, and the PCHR movement that we must build will move us to that place where collective humanity must arrive if we are to survive and build a new world. And we will – “by any means necessary.”
Ajamu Baraka was the 2016 candidate for vice president on the Green Party ticket. He is an editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report and contributing columnist for Counterpunch magazine. His latest publications include contributions to Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence (Counterpunch Books, 2014), Imagine: Living in a Socialist USA (HarperCollins, 2014) and Claim No Easy Victories: The Legacy of Amilcar Cabral ( CODESRIA, 2013). He can be reached at www.AjamuBaraka.com
“A valid travel document is required for travel to the United States,” a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security told the Associated Press when asked for a comment on the findings. According to internal Trump administration correspondence seen by The Associated Press, the Department of Homeland Security decided to block Khateeb. ~ Fox News
“A Syrian cinematographer up for an Academy Award Sunday night has been reportedly barred from entering the U.S. over the finding of “derogatory information”– a vague term that can mean anything from a simple passport irregularity to terror connections.
Khaled Khateeb, 21, who worked on the Netflix documentary “White Helmets,” was scheduled to arrive in California on Saturday.
He was issued a visa to attend the awards show, however the Associated Press’ internal U.S. government correspondence reported that Turkish authorities detained him this week.”
This was the revelation that we woke up to, this morning…
It appears that US Homeland Security has once more, refused entry, to the White Helmet operatives. The previous time this happened was in April 2016 when White Helmets leader, Raed Saleh, was denied entry into the US to receive an award from InterAction, for his contributions to “humanitarian relief”. Mark Toner of the US State Department, tried hard to field difficult questions from Matt Lee of AP but failed dismally, finally admitting that it was Saleh’s possible “extremist connections” that had resulted in his deportation from the US.
AP also reported on Khateeb’s US entry denial:
Khateeb was scheduled to arrive Saturday in Los Angeles on a Turkish Airlines flight departing from Istanbul. But his plans have been upended after U.S. officials reported finding “derogatory information” regarding Khateeb.
Derogatory information is a broad category that can include anything from terror connections to passport irregularities. Asked for comment, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security, Gillian Christensen, said, “A valid travel document is required for travel to the United States.
Raed Saleh tweeted yesterday, that he was basically “too busy” to go to Hollywood and mingle with the stars of the silver screen, to further promote his Al Qaeda affiliated organisation, already multi-million-funded by the moguls of war in the NATO and Gulf State alliance.
Has the attempt to give an Oscar to supporters of terrorism for their propaganda movie, endorsing a No Fly Zone that is effectively a declaration of war between Russia and the US on Syrian soil, just failed?
Has Trump’s administration called a halt to the farce that is the promotion of this fraudulent non-Non-Governmental-Organisation, funded, in fact, by governments with Israel’s best interests at heart in Syria? Remember that during Obama’s administration, Homeland Security was overruled when Secretary of State, John Kerry, allowed Raed Saleh entry into the US in September 2016 (despite Saleh’s ‘extremist connections’) and to the UN in New York for, behind-closed-door-talks ,on why the US had failed to impose a No Fly Zone in Syria.
Regretfully we won’t be at the OSCARS due to intensity of work, our priority continues to be helping civilians & rescue operations in #Syria
— Raed Al Saleh (@RaedAlSaleh3) 24 February 2017
UPDATE: It appears that Khateeb has also been coached in the “I’m too busy helping people” excuse;
I get US visa but I haven’t traveled to U.S At all and I won’t travel to OSCAR due to intensity of work, our priority is helping our people.
— Khaled Khatib (@995Khaled) 25 February 2017
The following video is a compilation of the testimony from Syrian civilians released from a five year incarceration in East Aleppo, under a terrorist regime & occupation led by Al Qaeda factions aka Nusra Front and assorted extremist militant brigades, also funded by the US, NATO and Gulf states. These testimonies attest to the US and UK construct, the White Helmets, being nothing more than “Nusra Front’s civil defence“.
The Syrian Arab Red Crescent also told 21WIRE editor, Vanessa Beeley, that they had never seen the White Helmets conducting humanitarian work in East Aleppo, either during or after occupation by the extremist groups.
The SARC reinforcing the claim made by Syrian civilians that the NATO & Gulf state-funded White Helmets did not conduct any civilian rescues or offer paramedic treatment in East Aleppo.
Are we finally seeing vindication of the two years of independent investigation into this terrorist-supporting group of frauds, whose creators have milked the general public with a myriad of glossy, expensive marketing campaigns, designed to appeal to our better nature and to implicate the general public in crowd funding for terrorism inside Syria?
Perhaps this Oscar bid for the White Helmets is an indication of the level to which the ruling elite have stooped to maintain their facade, which has been eroded so successfully by the few brave people who have taken a stand against their global machinations, such as Tulsi Gabbard and Carla Ortiz, both of whom potentially risk their careers to present the truth of what is actually happening inside Syria.
Has the steadfast bravery, courage and resistance of the Syrian people, the majority of whom are fully supportive of the Syrian state & the Syrian Arab Army, finally demolished the wall of lies that has prevented their voices being heard?
History will show that Hollywood narrowily avoided inviting Al Qaeda, terrorist affiliates onto its red carpet…truth to power has once more emerged victorious as it did in the prevention of the Nobel Peace Prize for this same organisation of criminals, thieves and sectarian violence perpetrators & supporters, the not-so-white White Helmets. The ghosts of East Aleppo.
The White Helmets propaganda film may still be awarded the Oscar, but it will be a hollow prize when the recipients have been denied entry into the country of origin or are simply, “too busy” to attend. It will be embarassing for the producers to explain the absence of these self proclaimed, “saviours of humanity“. The truth is revealing itself bit by bit and when the White Helmets fall, much of the NATO and Gulf State war effort in Syria will be damaged beyond repair.
White Helmets and Mayday Rescue:
The Syrian Civil Defence: Wikipedia
21st Century Wire article on the White Helmets:
Syria’s White Helmets: War by Way of Deception ~ the “Moderate” Executioners
21st Century Wire compilation of most important articles and talks on the White Helmets:
Who are the Syria White Helmets
Original investigative report:
The REAL Syria Civil Defence Exposes Fake White Helmets as Terrorist-Linked Imposters
Open letter to Canadian MPs from Stop the War Hamilton (Canada):
Letter from the Hamilton Coalition to Stop War to the New Democratic Party in Canada ref the White Helmet nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize:
Open letter to Canada’s NDP Leader on Nobel Prize:
Letter to NDP from Prof. John Ryan protesting White Helmet nomination for RLA and Nobel Peace Prize.
The U.S. intelligence community’s extraordinary campaign of leaks claiming improper ties between President Trump’s team and Russia seeks to ensure a lucrative New Cold War by blocking detente, reports Gareth Porter.
Opponents of the Trump administration have generally accepted as fact the common theme across mainstream media that aides to Donald Trump were involved in some kind of illicit communications with the Russian government that has compromised the independence of the administration from Russian influence.
But close analysis of the entire series of leaks reveals something else that is equally sinister in its implications: an unprecedented campaign by Obama administration intelligence officials, relying on innuendo rather than evidence, to exert pressure on Trump to abandon any idea of ending the New Cold War and to boost the campaign to impeach Trump.
A brazen and unprecedented intervention in domestic U.S. politics by the intelligence community established the basic premise of the cascade of leaks about alleged Trump aides’ shady dealing with Russia. Led by CIA Director John Brennan, the CIA, FBI and NSA issued a 25-page assessment on Jan. 6 asserting for the first time that Russia had sought to help Trump win the election.
Brennan had circulated a CIA memo concluding that Russia had favored Trump and had told CIA staff that he had met separately with Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and FBI Director James Comey and that they had agreed on the “scope, nature and intent of Russian interference in our presidential election.”
In the end, however, Clapper refused to associate himself with the document and the NSA, which agreed to do so, was only willing to express “moderate confidence” in the judgment that the Kremlin had sought to help Trump in the election. In intelligence community parlance, that meant that the NSA considered the idea the Kremlin was working to elect Trump was merely plausible, not actually supported by reliable evidence.
In fact, the intelligence community had not even obtained evidence that Russia was behind the publication by Wikileaks of the e-mails Democratic National Committee, much less that it had done so with the intention of electing Trump. Clapper had testified before Congress in mid-November and again in December that the intelligence community did not know who had provided the e-mails to WikiLeaks and when they were provided.
The claim – by Brennan with the support of Comey – that Russia had “aspired” to help Trump’s election prospects was not a normal intelligence community assessment but an extraordinary exercise of power by Brennan, Comey and NSA Director Mike Rogers.
Brennan and his allies were not merely providing a professional assessment of the election, as was revealed by their embrace of the the dubious dossier compiled by a private intelligence firm hired by one of Trump’s Republican opponents and later by the Clinton campaign for the specific purpose of finding evidence of illicit links between Trump and the Putin regime.
When the three intelligence agencies gave the classified version of their report to senior administration officials in January they appended a two-page summary of the juiciest bits from that dossier – including claims that Russian intelligence had compromising information about Trump’s personal behavior while visiting Russia. The dossier was sent, along with the assessment that Russia was seeking to help Trump get elected, to senior administration officials as well as selected Congressional leaders.
Among the claims in the private intelligence dossier that was summarized for policymakers was the allegation of a deal between the Trump campaign and the Putin government involving full Trump knowledge of the Russian election help and a Trump pledge – months before the election – to sideline the Ukraine issue once in office. The allegation – devoid of any verifiable information – came entirely from an unidentified “Russian emigre” claiming to be a Trump insider, without any evidence provided of the source’s actual relationship to the Trump camp or of his credibility as a source.
After the story of the two-page summary leaked to the press, Clapper publicly expressed “profound dismay” about the leak and said the intelligence community “has not made any judgment that the information in this document is reliable,” nor did it rely on it any way for our conclusions.”
One would expect that acknowledgment to be followed by an admission that he should not have circulated it outside the intelligence community at all. But instead Clapper then justified having passed on the summary as providing policymakers with “the fullest possible picture of any matters that might affect national security.”
By that time, U.S. intelligence agencies had been in possession of the material in the dossier for several months. It was their job to verify the information before bringing it to the attention of policymakers.
A former U.S. intelligence official with decades of experience dealing with the CIA as well other intelligence agencies, who insisted on anonymity because he still has dealings with U.S. government agencies, told this writer that he had never heard of the intelligence agencies making public unverified information on a U.S. citizen.
“The CIA has never played such a open political role,” he said.
The CIA has often tilted its intelligence assessment related to a potential adversary in the direction desired by the White House or the Pentagon and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but this is the first time that such a slanted report impinges not only on domestic politics but is directed at the President himself.
The egregious triple abuse of the power in publishing a highly partisan opinion on Russia and Trump’s election, appending raw and unverified private allegations impugning Trump’s loyalty and then leaking that fact to the media begs the question of motive. Brennan, who initiated the whole effort, was clearly determined to warn Trump not to reverse the policy toward Russia to which the CIA and other national security organizations were firmly committed.
A few days after the leak of the two-page summary, Brennan publicly warned Trump about his policy toward Russia. In an interview on Fox News, he said, “I think Mr. Trump has to understand that absolving Russia of various actions that it’s taken in the past number of years is a road that he, I think, needs to be very, very careful about moving down.”
Graham Fuller, who was a CIA operations officer for 20 years and was also National Intelligence Officer for the Middle East for four years in the Reagan administration, observed in an e-mail, that Brennan, Clapper and Comey “might legitimately fear Trump as a loose cannon on the national scene,” but they are also “dismayed at any prospect that the official narrative against Russia could start falling apart under Trump, and want to maintain the image of constant and dangerous Russian intervention into affairs of state.”
Flynn in the Bull’s Eye
As Trump’s National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn presented an easy target for a campaign to portray the Trump team as being in Putin’s pocket. He had already drawn heavy criticism not only by attending a Moscow event celebrating the Russian television RT in 2016 but sitting next to Putin and accepting a fee for speaking at the event. More importantly, however, Flynn had argued that the United States and Russia could and should cooperate in their common interest of defeating Islamic State militants.
That idea was anathema to the Pentagon and the CIA. Obama’s Defense Secretary Ashton Carter had attacked Secretary of State John Kerry’s negotiating a Syrian ceasefire that included a provision for coordination of efforts against Islamic State. The official investigation of the U.S. attack on Syrian forces on Sept. 17 turned up evidence that CENTCOM had deliberately targeted the Syrian military sites with the intention of sabotaging the ceasefire agreement.
The campaign to bring down Flynn began with a leak from a “senior U.S. government official”to Washington Post columnist David Ignatius about the now-famous phone conversation between Flynn and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak on Dec. 29. In his column on the leak, Ignatius avoided making any explicit claim about the conversation. Instead, he asked “What did Flynn say, and did it undercut the U.S. sanctions?”
And referring to the Logan Act, the 1799 law forbidding a private citizen from communicating with a foreign government to influence a “dispute” with the United States, Ignatius asked, “Was its spirit violated?”
The implications of the coy revelation of the Flynn conversation with Kislyak were far-reaching. Any interception of a communication by the NSA or the FBI has always been considered one of the most highly classified secrets in the U.S. intelligence universe of secrets. And officers have long been under orders to protect the name of any American involved in any such intercepted communication at all costs.
But the senior official who leaked the story of Flynn-Kislyak conversation to Ignatius – obviously for a domestic political purpose – did not feel bound by any such rule. That leak was the first move in a concerted campaign of using such leaks to suggest that Flynn had discussed the Obama administration’s sanctions with Kislyak in an effort to undermine Obama administration policy.
The revelation brought a series of articles about denials by the Trump transition team, including Vice President-elect Mike Pence, that Flynn had, in fact, discussed sanctions with Kislyak and continued suspicions that Trump’s aides were covering up the truth. But the day after Trump was inaugurated, the Post itself reported that the FBI had begun in late December go back over all communications between Flynn and Russian officials and “had not found evidence of wrongdoing or illicit ties to the Russian government….”
Two weeks later, however, the Post reversed its coverage of the issue, publishing a story citing “nine current and former officials, who were in senior positions at multiple agencies at the time of the calls,” as saying that Flynn had “discussed sanctions” with Kislyak.
The story said Flynn’s conversation with Kislyak was “interpreted by some senior U.S. officials as an inappropriate and potentially illegal signal to the Kremlin that it could expect a reprieve from sanctions that were being imposed by the Obama administration in late December to punish Russia for its alleged interference in the 2016 election.”
The Post did not refer to its own previous reporting of the FBI’s unambiguous view contradicting that claim, which suggested strongly that the FBI was trying to head off a plan by Brennan and Clapper to target Flynn. But it did include a crucial caveat on the phrase “discussed sanctions” that few readers would have noticed. It revealed that the phrase was actually an “interpretation” of the language that Flynn had used. In other words, what Flynn actually said was not necessarily a literal reference to sanctions at all.
Only a few days later, the Post reported a new development: Flynn had been interviewed by the FBI on Jan. 24 – four days after Trump’s inauguration – and had denied that he discussed sanctions in the conversation. But prosecutors were not planning to charge Flynn with lying, according to several officials, in part because they believed he would be able to “parse the definition of the word ‘sanctions’.” That implied that the exchange was actually focused not on sanctions per se but on the expulsion of the Russian diplomats.
Just hours before his resignation on Feb. 13, Flynn claimed in an interview with the Daily Caller that he had indeed referred only to the expulsion of the Russian diplomats.
“It wasn’t about sanctions. It was about the 35 guys who were thrown out,” Flynn said. “It was basically, ‘Look, I know this happened. We’ll review everything.’ I never said anything such as, ‘We’re going to review sanctions,’ or anything like that.”
The Russian Blackmail Ploy
Even as the story of the Flynn’s alleged transgression in the conversation with the Russian Ambassador was becoming a political crisis for Donald Trump, yet another leaked story surfaced that appeared to reveal a shocking new level of the Trump administration’s weakness toward Russia.
The Post reported on Feb. 13 that Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, an Obama holdover, had decided in late January – after discussions with Brennan, Clapper and FBI Director James Comey in the last days of the Obama administration – to inform the White House Counsel Donald McGahn in late January that Flynn had lied to other Trump administration officials – including Vice President Mike Pence – in denying that he discussed sanctions with Kislyak. The Post cited “current and former officials” as the sources.
That story, repeated and amplified by many other news media, led to Flynn’s downfall later that same day. But like all of the other related leaks, the story revealed more about the aims of the leakers than about links between Trump’s team and Russia.
The centerpiece of the new leak was that the former Obama administration officials named in the story had feared that “Flynn put himself in a compromising position” in regard to his account of the conversation with Kislyak to Trump members of the Trump transition.
Yates had told the White House that Flynn might be vulnerable to Russian blackmail because of the discrepancies between his conversation with the Ambassador and his story to Pence, according to the Post story.
But once again the impression created by the leak was very different from the reality behind it. The idea that Flynn had exposed himself to a potential Russian blackmail threat by failing to tell Pence exactly what had transpired in the conversation was fanciful in the extreme.
Even assuming that Flynn had flatly lied to Pence about what he had said in the meeting – which was evidently not the case – it would not have given the Russians something to hold over Flynn, first because it was already revealed publicly and second, because the Russian interest was to cooperate with the new administration.
The ex-Obama administration leakers were obviously citing that clumsy (and preposterous) argument as an excuse to intervene in the internal affairs of the new administration. The Post’s sources also claimed that “Pence had a right to know that he had been misled….” True or not, it was, of course, none of their business.
Pity for Pence
The professed concern of the Intelligence Community and Justice Department officials that Pence deserved the full story from Flynn was obviously based on political considerations, not some legal principle. Pence was a known supporter of the New Cold War with Russia, so the tender concern for Pence not being treated nicely coincided with a strategy of dividing the new administration along the lines of policy toward Russia.
All indications are that Trump and other insiders knew from the beginning exactly what Flynn had actually said in the conversation, but that Flynn had given Pence a flat denial about discussing sanctions without further details.
On Feb. 13, when Trump was still trying to save Flynn, the National Security Adviser apologized to Pence for “inadvertently” having failed to give him a complete account, including his reference to the expulsion of the Russian diplomats. But that was not enough to save Flynn’s job.
The divide-and-conquer strategy, which led to Flynn’s ouster, was made effective because the leakers had already created a political atmosphere of great suspicion about Flynn and the Trump White House as having had illicit dealings with the Russians. The normally pugnacious Trump chose not to respond to the campaign of leaks with a detailed, concerted defense. Instead, he sacrificed Flynn before the end of the very day the Flynn “blackmail” story was published.
But Trump’s appears to have underestimated the ambitions of the leakers. The campaign against Flynn had been calculated in part to weaken the Trump administration and ensure that the new administration would not dare to reverse the hardline policy of constant pressure on Putin’s Russia.
Many in Washington’s political elite celebrated the fall of Flynn as a turning point in the struggle to maintain the existing policy orientation toward Russia. The day after Flynn was fired the Post’s national political correspondent, James Hohmann, wrote that the Flynn “imbroglio” would now make it “politically untenable for Trump to scale back sanctions to Moscow” because the “political blowback from hawkish Republicans in Congress would be too intense….”
But the ultimate target of the campaign was Trump himself. As neoconservative journalist Eli Lake put it, “Flynn is only the appetizer. Trump is the entree.”
Susan Hennessey, a well-connected former lawyer in the National Security Agency’s Office of General Counsel who writes the “Lawfare” blog at the Brookings Institution, agreed. “Trump may think Flynn is the sacrificial lamb,” she told The Guardian, “but the reality is that he is the first domino. To the extent the administration believes Flynn’s resignation will make the Russia story go away, they are mistaken.”
The Phony “Constant Contacts” Story
No sooner had Flynn’s firing been announced than the next phase of the campaign of leaks over Trump and Russia began. On Feb. 14, CNN and the New York Times published slight variants of the same apparently scandalous story of numerous contacts between multiple members of the Trump camp with the Russian at the very time the Russians were allegedly acting to influence the election.
There was little subtlety in how mainstream media outlets made their point. CNN’s headline was, “Trump aides were in constant touch with senior Russian officials during campaign.” The Times headline was even more sensational: “Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts with Russian Intelligence.”
But the attentive reader would soon discover that the stories did not reflect those headlines. In the very first paragraph of the CNN story, those “senior Russian officials” became “Russians known to U.S. intelligence,” meaning that it included a wide range Russians who are not officials at all but known or suspected intelligence operatives in business and other sectors of society monitored by U.S. intelligence. A Trump associate dealing with such individuals would have no idea, of course, that they are working for Russian intelligence.
The Times story, on the other hand, referred to the Russians with whom Trump aides were said to be in contact last year as “senior Russian intelligence officials,” apparently glossing over a crucial distinction that sources had had made to CNN between intelligence officials and Russians being monitored by U.S. intelligence.
But the Times story acknowledged that the Russian contacts also included government officials who were not intelligence officials and that the contacts had been made not only by Trump campaign officials but also associates of Trump who had done business in Russia. It further acknowledged it was “not unusual” for American business to come in contact with foreign intelligence officials, sometimes unwittingly in Russia and Ukraine, where “spy services are deeply embedded in society.”
Even more important, however, the Times story made it clear that the intelligence community was seeking evidence that Trump’s aides or associates were colluding with the Russians on the alleged Russian effort to influence the election, but that it had found no evidence of any such collusion. CNN failed to report that crucial element of the story.
The headlines and lead paragraphs of both stories, therefore, should have conveyed the real story: that the intelligence community had sought evidence of collusion by Trump aides with Russia but had not found it several months after reviewing the intercepted conversations and other intelligence.
Unwitting Allies of the War Complex?
Former CIA Director Brennan and other former Obama administration intelligence officials have used their power to lead a large part of the public to believe that Trump had conducted suspicious contacts with Russian officials without having the slightest evidence to support the contention that such contacts represent a serious threat to the integrity of the U.S. political process.
Many people who oppose Trump for other valid reasons have seized on the shaky Russian accusations because they represent the best possibility for ousting Trump from power. But ignoring the motives and the dishonesty behind the campaign of leaks has far-reaching political implications. Not only does it help to establish a precedent for U.S. intelligence agencies to intervene in domestic politics, as happens in authoritarian regimes all over the world, it also strengthens the hand of the military and intelligence bureaucracies who are determined to maintain the New Cold War with Russia.
Those war bureaucracies view the conflict with Russia as key to the continuation of higher levels of military spending and the more aggressive NATO policy in Europe that has already generated a gusher of arms sales that benefits the Pentagon and its self-dealing officials.
Progressives in the anti-Trump movement are in danger of becoming an unwitting ally of those military and intelligence bureaucracies despite the fundamental conflict between their economic and political interests and the desires of people who care about peace, social justice and the environment.
Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist and winner of the 2012 Gellhorn Prize for journalism. He is the author of the newly published Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare.
The U.S. Carried out Regime Change in Syria in 1949 … and Tried Again in 1957, 1986, 1991 and 2011-Today
Recently declassified records… confirm that beginning on November 30, 1948, [CIA operative Stephen] Meade met secretly with Colonel Zaim at least six times to discuss the “possibility [of an] army supported dictatorship.” [“Cold War and Covert Action: The United States and Syria, 1945-1958,” Middle East Journal, Winter 1990, p. 55]
As early as 1949, this newly independent Arab republic was an important staging ground for the CIA’s earliest experiments in covert action.
The CIA secretly encouraged a right-wing military coup in 1949.
The reason the U.S. initiated the coup? Little explains:
In late 1945, the Arabian American Oil Company (ARAMCO) announced plans to construct the Trans-Arabian Pipe Line (TAPLINE) from Saudi Arabia to the Mediterra- nean. With U.S. help, ARAMCO secured rights-of-way from Lebanon, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. The Syrian right-of-way was stalled in parliament.
In other words, Syria was the sole holdout for the lucrative oil pipeline.
(Indeed, the CIA has carried out this type of covert action right from the start.)
In 1957, the American president and British prime minister agreed to launch regime change again in Syria. Historian Little notes that the coup plot was discovered and stopped:
On August 12, 1957, the Syrian army surrounded the U.S. embassy in Damascus. Claiming to have aborted a CIA plot to overthrow neutralist President Shukri Quwatly and install a pro-Western regime, Syrian chief of counterintelligence Abdul Hamid Sarraj expelled three U.S. diplomats ….
Syrian counterintelligence chief Sarraj reacted swiftly on August 12, expelling Stone and other CIA agents, arresting their accomplices and placing the U.S. embassy under surveillance.
More importantly, Syria also had control of one of the main oil arteries of the Middle East, the pipeline which connected pro-western Iraq’s oilfields to Turkey.
The report said that once the necessary degree of fear had been created, frontier incidents and border clashes would be staged to provide a pretext for Iraqi and Jordanian military intervention. Syria had to be “made to appear as the sponsor of plots, sabotage and violence directed against neighbouring governments,” the report says. “CIA and SIS should use their capabilities in both the psychological and action fields to augment tension.”
The plan called for funding of a “Free Syria Committee” [hmmm … sounds vaguely familiar], and the arming of “political factions with paramilitary or other actionist capabilities” within Syria. The CIA and MI6 would instigate internal uprisings, for instance by the Druze [a Shia Muslim sect] in the south, help to free political prisoners held in the Mezze prison, and stir up the Muslim Brotherhood in Damascus.
Neoconservatives planned regime change in Syria once again in 1991.
And as Nafeez Ahmed notes:
According to former French foreign minister Roland Dumas, Britain had planned covert action in Syria as early as 2009: “I was in England two years before the violence in Syria on other business,” he told French television: “I met with top British officials, who confessed to me that they were preparing something in Syria. This was in Britain not in America. Britain was preparing gunmen to invade Syria.”
Leaked emails from the private intelligence firm Stratfor, including notes from a meeting with Pentagon officials, confirmed that as of 2011, US and UK special forces training of Syrian opposition forces was well underway. The goal was to elicit the “collapse” of Assad’s regime “from within.”
Indeed, the U.S. has carried out regime change in the Middle East and North Africa for six decades.